The Fangirl Verdict

Completely biased reviews and fangirling


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Flash Review: Producer

I’m very pleasantly surprised by just how much I enjoyed Producer:

  • Despite not being so keen on its initial mockumentary style;
  • Despite its notoriously long episodes that run for at least 80 minutes each; and
  • Despite not being all that interested in Show’s premise to begin with.

I suppose I could call that a triple-whammy happy bonus?

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Are kdramas getting worse / “dumbed down”?

So recently, a couple of comments on the blog have combined to give me pause for thought.

And instead of just answering the latest question in the comments section, I thought it was interesting enough, and thought-provoking enough, to put it all in a new post, and see what you guys think.

Well ok, that, and the fact that as I chewed on my answer to the latest comment, I realized that there were just too many facets to the answer than I felt could fit reasonably into a simple comment.

Basically, the question is, have kdramas gotten worse / more “dumbed down” in recent years?

Let’s dive in together to take a look, shall we?

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Review: Bad Guys

THE SHORT VERDICT:

Slick, dark, and appropriately fierce, Bad Guys is a short little series that packs a pretty big punch.

Everything is carefully and beautifully filmed, and for the most part, Bad Guys manages to hit that sweet spot where the writing is complex enough to be interesting, yet simple enough to be accessible to the average viewer. Add a pretty excellent cast to flesh out the interesting premise, and Show is a winner in almost every checkbox.

My beef with the show is that it gets too melodramatic at parts, which detracts from its unique brand of cool, and instead places it closer to standard kdrama fare than it needs to be. The cinematography also feels less deliberate as we get into the later episodes. Despite its shortcomings, though, Show remains an interesting and engaging watch.

Gritty and disturbing at times, yet heartening and uplifting at others, Bad Guys manages to be badass with heart.

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Year In Review: 2014

If there’s one thing that everyone seems to be able to agree on, it’s that time is flying. Like, seriously. Where has 2014 gone?

I can hardly believe that 2015 is almost here, promising/threatening gifts of dramas chock-full of vampires, multiple personalities, and other psychological disorders goodies.

Before 2014 makes her exit, though, I wanted to come out and give credit where it’s due. Coz as much as so many of my friends in dramaland have been talking about a meh drama year, I feel like I had a pretty good drama year, actually.

I know. How did that happen, right?

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Sunshine The Second!

 

Guess what, everyone! The blog got a second Sunshine nomination!

Thanks to Indigo of Between Wor(L)ds for the love! And man, you DO ask some very tough questions!

I’m so pleased with myself now, coz after the blog’s first Sunshine Award, I’d told Lady G that I’d be getting her to play in future blog award type thingies.

Seeing Indigo’s tough questions, I’m mighty impressed with Past Me’s foresight. Coz I’m gonna need all the help I can get! Ha.

You’ll know what I mean when you see Indigo’s questions!

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Review: Miss Korea

THE SHORT VERDICT:

Quiet, low-key and unassuming, Miss Korea is the modest little drama that could.

What Miss Korea lacks in big plot movement, it makes up for with attentive character establishment and development, which gives this series its almost-but-not-quite slice-of-life, almost-family-drama feel. Populated by earnest characters who feel ordinary, real and likable, Miss Korea is the kind of show that one develops a slow but enduring affection for.

Another helpful thing to know: Despite its title and premise, Miss Korea isn’t really about beauty pageants per se. It’s more about how ordinary people muster up their inner mettle, to face seemingly insurmountable challenges; not only to survive, but to pursue meaning and happiness in their lives.

An underrated, heartwarming little gem.

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Food in Kdrama: An Obsession?

Today’s post is inspired by a conversation with blog regular INTJ.

After I posted my review of Let’s Eat, we realized that our respective experiences of the show were like night and day, to put it mildly. While I enjoyed the drama a lot, INTJ did not enjoy the show. At all.

I’ve understood for a long time that as viewers, we all respond to dramas and actors differently. A drama that one person loves to bits could be completely meh to someone else. And, an actor that inspires love in one person could inspire irritation in another. We all approach the world with our own filters, after all.

What gave me pause for thought is a follow-up email that INTJ sent me after our initial thought exchange on Let’s Eat. In it, he mentioned that he’s heard people around him say many times, “all Koreans do in their movies is eating.”

Well now. I’d never seen it that way before. This piece of information definitely made me think. And that, well, brought about a bunch of thoughts.

Given that INTJ’s mentioned several times before in other comments that he’s deeply interested in learning about the differences between cultures, I thought it apt to share my perspectives in a post.

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Review: Dream High

THE SHORT VERDICT:

Fresh, fun and earnest, and backed by a breezy soundtrack that’s easy on the ears, Dream High ranks as one of my all-time favorite music-centric, high school dramas. Heck, it’s one of my favorite dramas, period.

Despite its youth-y premise, Dream High has a pretty universal appeal, with its emphasis on friendship, loyalty and finding & pursuing your dreams. What the idol-heavy cast lacks in finesse, they more than make up for with earnestness. And then there’s Kim Soo Hyun, Uhm Ki Joon and Lee Yoon Ji in the main cast, lending acting cred and nuance to the overall package.

The drama takes an episode or two to get into its groove but once it does, it’s cracky, delicious goodness.

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Review: You From Another Star [My Love From Another Star]

THE SHORT VERDICT:

A drama that’s got a light, frothy and often comedic outer shell, but harbors an inner core that’s poignant, stirring and heart-in-your-throat moving.

To be sure, if one put on a hard logical lens, this show’s flaws may be too glaring for one to overlook. But for those who can turn that logical lens to a blurry soft-focus, and amp up the emotional lens to a setting high enough to engage with the characters on a more visceral level, that touching inner core is the satisfying, gratifying reward.

Separately, Jeon Ji Hyun and Kim Soo Hyun are both truly excellent in their roles. Even better? Together, they are pure magic.

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Pure Pretty: Daniel Henney

So I was determined that I would post something other than Pure Pretty, after unveiling 2 Pure Pretty posts one after the other. Y’know, so that the blog wouldn’t appear too frivolous and fangirly. *clings to denial*

But after a pretty exhausting work trip, followed by a long and hectic weekend, I just didn’t have the mental bandwidth to continue writing my review of You From Another Star. *contrite* When my brain’s had enough time to recover its drama-appreciating faculties, I promise that the YFAS review will be the first thing I tackle. *pinky swears*

While resting my brain, I thought I’d do some research for Pure Pretty. And we know how that’s gone before, heh. A little research soon turned into a sizable haul of pretty, which I couldn’t wait to share with you guys. And so I bring you Daniel Henney, who single-handedly commanded almost all the votes for future Pure Pretty that got floated after the first 2 posts.

Can’t say I don’t aim to please, eh? 😉

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