Category Archives: Review

Review: Do You Like Brahms?

THE SHORT VERDICT:

A restrained, loving study of music, characters, and their relationships, Do You Like Brahms? boasts characters that are carefully and tenderly drawn, relationships that feel patiently and organically grown, and a narrative filled with music-related touches that demonstrate an understanding of and empathy for musicians.

Our cast is very solid all-around, with each actor bringing their character to life in a way that feels real and believable. I loved extra, our sweet, bashful, very well-matched OTP, played by Kim Min Jae and Park Eun Bin. Not only is their romance handled thoughtfully, their individual journeys as musicians and as people, are teased out carefully too.

A very enjoyable ride, particularly if you identify as an introvert &/or a musician.

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Review: Record Of Youth

THE SHORT VERDICT:

The story feels kinda meandering, and Show’s tone vibes Scripted Hollywood Rom-com rather than earthy slice-of-life drama, which is a decidedly rather odd combination. Overall, everything in this show comes together in a way that feels a touch uneven, but if you love Park Bo Gum, Show is a solid way to get a nice dose of Bogummy, because this is basically all a showcase for him and him alone. Everything and everyone else just happens to be there as varying levels of set dressing.

With the right lens, Show is a pleasant enough watch, even though it never grabs me in the way that I want it to.

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Review: Flower Of Evil

THE SHORT VERDICT:

If you don’t mind a heavy emotional emphasis in your mystery thrillers, this show might work for you. Show serves up a good amount of tension around its main hook, that Moon Chae Won’s character discovering that her perfect husband may not be as perfect as she’d thought. At the same time, though, emotions often take precedence over things like protocol, due process, and well.. good ol’ logic. Show makes up for it with a healthy serving of twists and turns which work to keep you on the edge of your seat – but these will only really work, if you’re not wearing an overly analytical lens.

Lee Jun Ki and Moon Chae Won put in excellent performances, and together, they share a chemistry that is engaging and compelling. I’d even go so far as to say that their chemistry as a couple is what holds the show together even when logic falls apart, because I am rooting for them that much.

I thought Show’s ending leaned a touch underwhelming, but I’d say this is still a solid ride.

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Review: Into The Ring [Memorials]

THE SHORT VERDICT:

Fresh, different and quirky, Into The Ring is much more than its premise might suggest. Rather than a pedestrian look at politics at the municipal level, it’s more of an underdog story with a dash of superhero flair, and a good dollop of awkward, adorkable romance. Nana and Park Sung Hoon are great in this, particularly together, and they were the bright spots that I consistently looked forward to, during my watch.

I do have some quibbles with Show’s general handling, but this is, overall, a solid watch that rocks its own brand of weirdness and kookiness, and is, in the end, a pretty unique breath of fresh air, in Dramaland.

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Review: The King: Eternal Monarch

THE SHORT VERDICT:

This show is very ambitious, in just about every sense of the word. It aims to be this very shiny, expensive, mind-bendy parallel worlds thing, with an epic romance at its center, and it therefore aims to blow your mind and sweep you off your feet, in one fell swoop.

Because Show is that ambitious, though, I feel like it doesn’t quite manage to keep all its ducks in a row, all the way through. Sometimes it kinda-sorta blows my mind, and sometimes it kinda-sorta sweeps me off my feet, but it doesn’t manage to do either with any degree of consistency.

Ultimately, Show is neither as brilliant as its fans say it is, but neither is it as terrible as its critics say it is, either. It’s actually not bad, with some slightly hefty lens management.

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Review: My Unfamiliar Family

THE SHORT VERDICT:

My Unfamiliar Family is a drama that feels familiar and yet fresh at the same time, to my eyes.

It feels like a lot of the things I like in family dramas, condensed into a more efficient 16 episodes rather than a sprawling 54 episodes, presented with more polish, and sprinkled with a harder dash of reality, than the average family drama. Show has more surprises up its sleeve than the average kdrama, which makes this almost (but not quite) feel like a soapy watch experience. Yet, at the same time, there is a solid amount to unpack with this show, which makes it feel meaty and serious.

Altogether, Show feels kind of spicy and interesting, while managing to remain raw, heart-hitting and thought-provoking, at the same time.

An unusual combination of drama flavors that makes for a refreshing watch.

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Review: It’s Okay To Not Be Okay

THE SHORT VERDICT:

A meaty, dark, whimsical melodrama that examines the difficulties faced by people suffering from trauma and mental illness, It’s Okay is not an easy watch at all. There is lots to unpack, difficult feelings to feel, and even internal biases to examine. So if you’re looking for a fluffy rom-com, this is probably not for you, for right now.

However, it is remarkably satisfying to witness our characters’ journeys, because those journeys are teased out so organically, that all of the growth and progress feels earned and true. Fantastic performances by our cast – with a special shout-out to Oh Jung Se for his impressively amazing interpretation of an autistic character – brings everything to life, and it’s not hard to get invested in our characters’ journeys.

There are a few bumps in the road, but overall, this proved to be a very satisfying watch.

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Review: Find Me In Your Memory

THE SHORT VERDICT:

Find Me In Your Memory does a rather unusual thing, by tapping into one of Dramaland’s favorite sources of dramatic tension – the stalker arc – and then using it as a platform for our main characters to work through the healing that they need. In this way, Show sets itself apart from other healing dramas, which tend to be more introspective in vibe, by being comparatively more action-heavy instead.

Despite a tendency to use tropes in its narrative, Show manages to serve up characters and relationships that feel real and relatable, where growth feels earned and true. The OTP relationship is portrayed as sweet and restrained, and taps nicely into the chemistry between Kim Dong Wook and Moon Ga Young, which feels sweet and natural. As a bonus, the secondary loveline between Kim Seul Gi and Lee Jin Hyuk is super cute.

Not groundbreaking by any means, but a solid watch overall.

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Review: Hi Bye, Mama!

THE SHORT VERDICT:

Hi Bye, Mama! is the kind of show that makes you face difficult emotions and feel all the difficult feelings – and then make you grateful for having felt it all. Show has a bittersweet premise, and treats it with sensitivity and poignance, with a side of levity. For the most part, Show manages this delicate balance well, and makes me laugh and cry, often within the same episode. The performances from our cast are strong, and I am particularly impressed with Kim Tae Hee and Lee Kyu Hyung; this is literally the best I’ve seen from both of them. And Kim Mi Kyung, is, as always, a treasure to have onscreen.

On the downside, I felt we spent too much time on stuff to do with the ghost community, and that ended up feeling like filler. I also feel like Show suffers from some pacing issues, causing the last third of our narrative to feel somewhat stalled.

Overall, though, in spite of what I feel are its downsides, Show still manages to feel like a solid, worthwhile watch, with a lot of good ol’ heartachey feels.

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Review: Oh My Baby

THE SHORT VERDICT:

When Show is at its best, it manages to balance fun, comic moments with heart-hitting poignance and thought-provoking themes. The episodes feel deft and efficient, the feels are served up fast and furious, and there’s a cracky quality that makes you want to watch episodes back to back. (Which is what I did, when I loved this show most.)

The problem is, to me, Show is at its best only in its first half. I think Show’s second half slumps somewhat, unfortunately. For the most part, our story remains cohesive and the characterization of the people in our story world makes sense. However, I was personally rather underwhelmed by how Show chose to handle its ending (though you might not have the same issue, since I know folks who actually like the ending).

Overall, a heartfelt ride that manages to feel worthwhile, in spite of Show’s flaws. Also, Go Joon is pretty great at playing a dorky guy in love, which is a treat to watch in itself.

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