A New Leaf – A Not So Serious Review

Note: Basically around the time of the episode cut announcement, I was checking out on the show. I did finish the episodes, but literally for the rest of the series I multitasked when watching in forms of online chores, folding clothes, calling Australia, looking at smexy world cup athletes…Sometimes at the same time! The not speaking Korean part means I missed some corporate shenanigans, Dad forgetting things, and more legalese than you can shake a gavel at.  So my apologies for any incorrect assumptions or plot points, but I made my choice, and it just happens to include abs… so many abs 😉

world cup

Shit Kaka How I miss you so!

And it’s over..!

My less than subtle way of saying we may have had some good times, but much like autumn my colors changed with you show, and I’m rather glad I don’t have to pretend to be interested in legal jargon and bloody court receivership anymore.  Which isn’t to say I didn’t expect some actual law with my legal drama, and was glad cases weren’t taking extreme jumps in logic to become a much too on the nose metaphor of its main characters issues. (I’m looking at you I Hear Your Voice, which basically had me seriously considering the merits of Korean anarchy if that dramas legal system resembled real life.)

But I don’t believe I’ve ever become so nonplussed with a drama that had so many interesting characters. Maybe it was just because the writer follows the philosophy of never showing your hand too early.  Girl would probably lose less money at poker than I, but left me annoyed at all the untapped potential.

Let us count the characters given short shrift shall we.

New Leaf - Prosecutor Lee Hots New Leaf - seung rich girl Ji Won New leaf ANL - CEO cha New Leaf Khan sickNew leaf brother!

PMY make up

Her character: petered out. Her makeup: enviously good! Natural, fresh, and flawless. [insert acting ability joke here]

In Order:

Prosecutor Lee: Came around towards the end but had previously vanished for 8ish episodes. Maybe she suffered from a quick bout of amnesia which had the adverse effect with her becoming the EVVVILLEST of evil corporate tool’s and calling herself Mo Ga Bi. Perhaps she was just brushing up on her squash game.  I’m sure this will be answered in episode 17. (Update. She disappeared yet again for the finale, what the frack is going on?!)

Fiance/jail enthusiast: Came back at the tail end of ep. 15 and I was like whoa.

Ji-Won: What a weird character alteration.  Might have been interesting if given more then 6 minutes of screen time.

CEO Cha: How was bad Daddy not in every scene?!? You don’t hire him just to sit in an office chair and give an ominous look every other episode. Hire my cousin Larry if that’s all you need. The lack of build up meant this ultra showdown between him and Seok Ju was disappointing, and not something two more episodes would have fixed either.

Khan!!! : How can the greatest drama dog ever be stuck in a vet’s office for 7 episodes? Unconscionable.

Little brother: Okay so this character wasn’t all that interesting.  But he was cute as a button and his idol dreams led to the greatest scene in the whole darn show with Seung Tae’s audition and aftermath. He made magic happen so why couldn’t you stay with your sister (though that may not mean much because next up is…)

Park Min Young the Intern: This ones tricky because I actually thought that she gave one of her better acting performances. But was that because of PMY improvements?  A character that played to her strengths? Or a once intriguing character that slowly got less to do so you didn’t notice her patented PMY wide-eyes?  In fact, lets explore this a little further.

NL Park min young eyes

The Park Min Young Line of Proficiency

Definition: She heretofore represents the mysterious limbo of whether acting is decidedly “good” or “bad”. Consider her the purgatory or continental divide for acting performances.  Sometimes she has crackling chemistry and displays stout action skills. Sometimes she only has one expression used for every reaction (see above). Occasionally she’s playing an amazing character that might have been even better if played by someone else. And yet, she often gives off an endearing quality in roles that might not have come across as such if not played by PMY.  You never know what you will get will Ms. Park, but here is a helpful graph to orient yourself. (product placement unintentional):

2014-06-27 04.55.59

Let’s move onto the actor who may have stole scenes, but can you blame him? Its Kim Myung Min. More specifically I’m interested in his character’s coiffed curls (or lack thereof).  I swear his hair changed as often as campaign promises, so I will now set to prove my theory of Seok-Ju’s hair as stand-in for mood rings.

Angular prominence cut- Romantically empathetic.Seok-Ju hair epid 12 Pompadour lite – Fierce ConfidenceSoek Ju hair 7

Whispy Hospital Hair – Whimsically Confused
hospit hair epi 3Ruffled Hair, Ruffled Feathers (watch gate 2014) – Incredulous

anl 14 ruffled feather ruffled hair Perfectly smooth “Turn down for what” hair : worried, thus turned down for Dad.

nl hair 13 dad talks hair 13The John Edwards 300$ coiffed cut du jour – Calmly cunning aka I will f*^#ing destroy your well-being, and then go after your mother.new leaf episode 1 har

Besides possibly stretching the definition of the word “mood”, I believe the evidence speaks for itself.  The defense rests.

Don’t think me some legal newbie, in that didn’t “get” the legal mumbo jumbo.  I’ve taken a few law classes back in the day, but when I watch a drama I don’t want to feel like like I should be taking notes for the next mid-term.  So I will give some pointers on what the writer could have done differently by comparing it to a law show that struck the right balance of interesting cases, legal accuracy, characters, and soapiness.  The Good Wife.  This could go on for pages, but instead I’ll boil it down to two points.

1. Elevator scenes.

anl elevotro differ elevator shot

No idea what it is with law shows and elevators, but the bond is irrefutable.  A New Leaf used the closing door to symbolize escape, isolation, cutting off emotions,and solitary contemplation.

The Goof Wife  made an elevator center stage, where the enclosed space meant confrontation, freedom of expression, and … bonding with coworkers.

good wife forced confrontation nee sexytimesgood wife will door openings

2. Drinking! after a long day at court, getting a drink seems like a requirement. The Good Wife agreed. A lot.

5goodwife17screencap2 good wife drinking

These scenes provide a nice button to the case, and more importantly gathers characters in an informal setting to discuss life, and life always gets more interesting with tequila shots. In A New Leaf this was all too rare.  Think of the character development (and character inclusion) that could have been with 5 more scenes like this.

anl14-00026anl14-00027

Not so Quick Hits

  • Earlier I discussed how this writer would be better off in an multi-season format where character growth is much more of a slow burn, and the show is more procedural than serialized.  As it was, it seemed like the writer took a crash course in the Korean Legal system and had to get the law out.  Just at the expense of characters.
  • Some bright spots? Namely BF Lawyer Sang Tae (Oh Jung-Se ) Loved his wit and dry sense of humor.  I mean how can you not love a guy who is a lawyer without being a shark, plus moonlights as an idol wannabe?  Well perhaps his ex-wive(s), but that just leaves more room for bromantic gatherings.

Sang Tae singing new leafNL Bromance gaming

  • For some reason I wrote this down a couple weeks ago. Seems rather intriguing. No idea what I meant by it .”Memory – especially when his [Seok-Ju’s] Dad lost ten years of paternal hatred due to diabetic shock.”  This is how little I was paying attention at the end.  My guess would be commenting on the similar journeys father and son have due to memory loss, and how the show was bringing up the potential freedom from the shackles of the past that binds you.  You become a rebooted person who can start over, makes amends, and bring a certain innocent purity in how you live your life.  Though from seeing Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, I can tell you it’s probably not a wise life choice.  By the way did father have diabetes? Does diabetes cause dementia? Wouldn’t paternal hatred be Seok-Ju’s Dad hating his own Dad? Eh who cares.
  • I wish mi perro favorito would put out an auto-tuned song set to barking entitled “Can you do the Khan Khan”.

new leaf Khan KHAN a new leaf

  • Hey look! it’s everybody’s (namely dramaland) favorite white guy who can’t really act.  Though you do seem to have come a long way since your pushy director from Secret Garden days.  Snaps for improvement.

white guy new leaf sg

  • Though John, the English speaking asianish dude who showed up in the finale, has to be the best international extra I have ever seen in a K-drama.  His English was outstanding, only to be out-done with line readings that flowed and even gave his character a personality.  Though the conversation makes no sense as they are literally speaking two languages to each other (how does this happen so often?).  This guy should get all the American businessman roles from here on out (sorry blond Australian guy from above).
  • Speaking of finale, how does a finale episode mean even less emphasis on characters? The case I knew nothing about took up the whole hour, which is why I’m currently typing this while the umpteenth board meeting is taking place. More absentee characters and no word on Khan. What the buck show.
  • Aishe, what a sh-*&^y last episode.  But I’ll start with pros.  Khan is alive, they had a nice grace note with SJ’s dad, and I’m glad they didn’t try to shoehorn romance between the leads.  Now for the Ugh, I get they had to deal with an episode cut, but it happened early enough that some retconning for the finale episode should have been possible.  Take out 35 minutes wasted on the case of the week, and insert some clunky scenes to send off our characters.  I don’t care if the transitions don’t make sense, or the context is a bit off, because this ending totally left me hanging as a narrative conclusion for any of our players.  Bah humbug.

 My Weird List of Drama Commonalities (full list found here)

K drama illness state farm workplace episodica
let’s get political romance lite wtf ending bromance

Rating: (My rating, Overall quality)

6 bad memory watches , 7 times I fell asleep

Images  – Courtesy of Dramabeans
three amigos - finally!

The three musketeers. Coming together 9 episodes too late.

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4 thoughts on “A New Leaf – A Not So Serious Review

  1. Knewbie says:

    Now that you’ve discussed KMM’s hair in ANL, could you do his clothes too? The stripy ties and sweaters? The ajusshi cardigans? And, most importantly, the super-tight trousers? Please? Pleeeeassse??

    • Haha, yeah I just realized this might the first review where I haven’t made pithy comments on the guy’s attire. If I can come up with a snarky something then I will surely add an clothing inspired post script;)

    • Gracias and thank you very kamsa for letting me know! Love you doing your own version of Blogger analytics. Feel free to use any of my other reviews (located on the K drama reviews sidebar)

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