I Watched So You Don’t Have To: June Drama Premiers – Savvy Trot Gunman

Joseon Gunman Trot Lovers

So this last drama cycle should be deemed a  disappointment, with no crazy successes (MLFTS), cult obsessions (SLA), or even so bad/crazy its good (God’s Gift, though for a couple weeks Doc Stranger was vying. Then the complete suckiness took hold).  So with the next cycle gearing up, I figured I would try watching the first weeks worth and deduce the critical and popular reaction.  Then three months later we can all see how wrong I’ll be, Yay!  I will try to keep everything organized so people can use this as a guide if need be.

High School King of Savvy – (King of High School)

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Where to Watch – on a newish site kdrama.com

Dates:Monday + Tuesday’s. Premiered  June 16th

First Impressions: Yes!!! so far 1/1 which is more than I can say for any of the dramas I’ve followed recently. Anytime a pilot episode, (especially a romcom) can hold my interest for the whole hour, at the very least it indicates a crackling cast, with a writer who knows how to integrate exposition.  Well HSKoS does that and oh so much more! Act now and you’ll get a leading pair that already seems well-developed, full of their own quirks and lovableness.

High_School_King_of_SavvyAlso, you have a second lead whose actor is aging like a fine wine, but also proving an exception to the rule that a chebol has to be an ice cold, uncaring, arrogant ass.  Not that he isn’t some of these things but so far there seems to be shadings to his character that I’m itching to explore.

Speaking of those three characters, this is shaping up to be quite the trifecta perfecta going on, where thus far both men are in play for OTP, (unlike 95% of dramas where you know who is going to end up with whom) and more importantly I like both options.  This literally never happens and maybe why I’m so freaking excited for this drama, because not knowing the endgame can be fun for rom-coms, with the added bonus of having the drama hopefully oscillate my emotions for who I want to be the peanut butter to Ha-Na’s Jelly.

And oh yeah, Lee Ha-Na‘s character – amazingly weird.  How refreshing is it to have a female lead whom the people say as being this strange bird, and actually having the quirk fest to back it up.  Don’t get me started on the Hollywood archetype, where you have a Katherine Heigl whose co-workers  may say she’s an odd duck with no chance at bagging a man, but her only flaws either superficial and deep seem to be a proclivity for falling down stairs.  Embrace the weird!

And since I didn’t mention it earlier, Seo In-Guk is fantastical and deserves all the awards because he is perfection in every single way.  That is all.

And finally, many shows who classify themselves as Romantic Comedies are often RINOS  (rom-coms in name only, snap!) where the comedy is lame or non-existent.  Here its going a mile a minute, and though much came from establishing scenario humor, because the cast from its leads to tertiary characters all have comedic potential, I see my funny bone being tickled for weeks to come.

Prediction: I think the blogging community will embrace this as the next drama not to miss.  As for international popularity, I think it might slip through the cracks, with its fairly ridiculous concept, and because it’s not on the big two drama sites.  As for overall quality, with ample of story possibilities at their disposal and no concerns following two episodes, the sky’s the limit, so I’m feeling a 8.5 rating in the end.

Ratings % guess – 1.8% average (which would be a slight success for a cable network)

Random guess for future happenings: Halfway through, the hyung version of SIG will return causing trouble with all love lines. In the final episode, a flash-forward shows that little sister Yoo-Ah (Lee Yeol-Eum) and hyung are dating.

Should you watch? – Unequivocally YES!

Trot Lovers (Lovers of Music)

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Where to Watch: Viki, Dramafever, KBS world (Youtube)

Dates: Mon. Tues. starting June 23rd

First Impressions: Wow this cast is deabak!  Throughout the first hour its soon became a parade of memorable character actors with myself saying “ooo I love that guy!” every five minutes.  But with people from IHYV, SLA, MLFTS, AM97, and QIHM , I do wish the material would do them justice.  The direction leaves much to be desired, and overall it all seems okay to decent, but is just missing a little something for me to be hooked.

The two leads have the unfortunate task of following up their last leading role, which happened to shoot them to stardom, and are also two of my favorite dramas characters.. ever. Tough act to follow, so it may bit a bit of bummer to see them play such stock personas. However, Jung Eun-Ji gives her character a sort of charming feistiness that thus far has put her above your typical candy.  Ji Hyun-Woo, who in the pilot is #skinning from all the booty and gun show shots shown (which I had no problem with;)  remains to be seen.  Both his character and looks are so different from his previous incarnation as time traveling Boong-Do. Personally it was quite jarring, but hopefully character depth will occur sooner than later (as right now a goldfish would be unable to swim due to shallowness).  At least the two leads were shown having palpable chemistry even with their interactions firmly planted in the complete and utter hatred stage of the relationship.
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My favorite part of the show thus far is Shin Sung Rok‘s performance portraying one of the strangest chebol’s/human beings I’ve seen in dramaland.  Perhaps it’s just because he is the only question mark I have in terms of plot/character trajectory, or maybe its the fact that his haircut + not acting like a ring-twirling serial killer is getting to me in all the right ways, but if I continue to watch the show he will be a major reason why.

Overall this seems like a throwback drama, not that there is anything wrong with such a show, but besides the occasional old school song selection, isn’t bringing anything new to the table. This may be the point, where the creators were aiming for a Hallyu 1.0 feel to fit with an older style of music.

Predictions: Problem with attempting a drama with old school format, styles, and music, is younger audiences may not be interested, while the older folks may want to stick to weekend dramas with characters who are over the age of 30.  This does not bode well for this show, and thats before you consider how middle of the road the first batch of episodes turned out being. Because of my love for the actors I truly hope it succeeds either critically or ratings wise.  Unfortunately, I feel dismal ratings are in its future, with a guess of 7% average when its all said and done.  Hope I’m wrong!

Random Guess For Future Happenings:  Trot Lovers goes way of Chicago (the musical). No, not with a series of murders set to Jazzy tangos (though I would be on board for life if that happened).  Instead, it becomes a stealthy musical by having several musical numbers played out within Eun-Ji’s mind/day dreams.

Should You Watch?: I would say yes this if it premiered earlier in the year, but with the dearth of tasty looking dramas coming up, me thinks there are better options.

Joseon Gunman

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Where to Watch: Dramafever

Dates: Wed. and Thursdays starting June 25th

First Impressions:gunman29 As someone who often has to be pushed into sageuk dramas, I must say I have never been so convinced to watch just from a few stills.  Not since History of a Salaryman has an ad campaign seemed so effective. It’s just so mesmerizing, thought out, and pretty. Plus a nice visual metaphor with the whole dawn of a new era concept.  That isn’t to say I’d miss this one without the pictures, I mean it is Lee Jun-Ki in a gat after-all.  And the show hasn’t disappointed on that front, even the leading lady is wearing them!

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But back to Jun-Ki, it’s nice to have him back on my screen, and in a role he is totally owning thus far.  What else is there to say? – He’s charming, cheeky, adorable, and a little full of himself, which means he’s probably about to have life smack him in face soon enough, but for now I’m enjoying his playfulness, and his character progression should be amazing as I would expect nothing less from Hanbok wearing Jun-Ki.

Nam Sam Mi‘s performance as a noblewomen who moonlights as a male scholar was not something I was expecting, but turned out to be a delightful surprise.  From her cross dressing tendencies, to her toting what must be the smallest pistol in all of Joseon, me thinks she won’t only be around solely for damsel in distress purposes.  I already dig the rapport with our two leads, let’s hope the impending trouble won’t split them up for too long!

Does anything need to be said about the direction.  Everything’s gorgeous, the fight choreography is crisp, and even the projectile graphics are well-done.  Let’s hope they are far enough ahead of schedule so a certain artistic quality will remain for the duration.

I don’t have a whole lot else to say besides I love it so, with this being the least fusion-y of the sageuk’s I’ve watched, so I’m ready for the historical epicness with love, politics, and Korea’s future path on the line. OoO Speaking of, love this setting (late 19th century). I might consider it the first wave of modern globalization, In which newer technologies, mass production, and trade were leading to a different landscape, society and world, which was something every country had to deal with. Basically this drama has lots to play with when it comes to such matters, and they’ve already done a comparable job with putting little modern touches here or there.  Like the second’s leads hanbok?? so much pretty and I want one.

Before I begin to gush on overdrive, I will say that I’m expecting the drama to do a 180 fairly soon, so my only concerns lie in how its handled.  But from what I’ve seen thus far, it all looks street ahead!

Predictions:  I see big things in it’s future, namely double digits that will end in the .20 range with and average of .18.  Mostly because right now it’s the only sageuk on, and should already be rolling be the time Night Watchmen premiers.  Though really,  with its classy cast and high pedigree director, attracting eyeballs shouldn’t be too much of a concern.  For myself, stick the ending and I think perfect 10’s are possible.

Random Guess for Future Happenings: At some point the leads have a kid, with the show ending in what looks like freedom from old Joseon, until said kid witnesses the Japanese takeover, who promise to assimilate Korea into a modern hybrid empire of sorts.  Irony boom.

Should You Watch?: Should you watch??? – Nah, totally skippable (let’s see if you read above)

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