Thank you very Kamsa HSKoS! Finally, my belated review on the surprise show of the summer, oh my how I will miss this world, the characters, and SIG! Perhaps my want to still be in this universe is why I am a week late in writing the wrap-up for the show (though it probably more to-do with life conducting my lack of blogging time, but, shhh that sounds much too boring).
Before I turn into a mushy puddle of complete and utter Seo In Guk Teen Beat fangirling, let me say this drama boasted one of the all-around greatest drama ensembles I’ve seen in quite some time. Not only were they crackling with chemistry, able to bounce off one an other, and featured people who were human instead of the too-perfect saint devoid of personality or the equivalent of Hitler’s spawn. Most all characters were given more than just one trait and often had their own side arcs that ran parallel to the main story, which is easier said then done, especially with your typical K-Dramas.
But enough with this actual review nonsense, considering Soo Young (Lee Ha-Na) was always overly stretching her bungee jumping metaphor, let’s add to the amusement park ride analogy by delving deeper into these side-characters, or shall I say side-show characters…
Sang Hee (Lee-A-Rin): Tilt-A-Whirl – Because you will go through a wave of emotions similar to the plethora of contorted faced she makes daily.
Hong-Bae (Phillip Choi): Food/Concession Stand – Because this guy was always trying to get someone to eat with him. Never the reason you come to Amusement Park de Savvy, but you need him all the same.
Yoon-Joo (Shin Hye-Sun): Educational Rides – Because she just graduated from School (2013 that is) so recently! Plus those rides leave ample opportunities for quick make-out sessions with a significant other such as…
Ji Dae Han (Lee Joo-Seung): (full-faced photo not available) Ferris Wheel – Oft considered the boring, forgotten ride for “wussy’s”, but those who save ferris [wheel] discover the new sights, sounds, and yes, make-out hot spots that this ride can offer.
Chang-Soo (Jo Han Chu): Mind Eraser/loop-de-loop coaster – Because anyone who goes on that thing ends up a frazzled, stuttering, adorable mess.
Twiddle Dee and Twiddle Dum: Children’s Bumper Cars – These kooky competitive kids are often so oblivious to the world outside their narrow goals/bosses pet lifestyle, they think they can inflict damage to the other even with the tightly enclosed format the boss keeps them in. Speaking of…
Jae Cook (Han Jin Hee): The Tower of Terror – He strikes fear amongst the masses. To some he is intimidating but enjoyable. For others he can cause psychological damage, especially if your name is Tower of Terror Jr.
Dak-Hwan and Tae Seok: Hybrid Water Coaster – Tons of mindless fun, and like Oreo cookies and the Olsen Twins before them, they just work better together. Also, they have attire for both the wet and dry portion of the ride (guys this was meant innocently, I swears!)
Gramps (Kwon Seong-Deok): Kiddie Rides – Perhaps a bit weird to go on/witness yourself, but with a young (or young at heart) whimsical soul at your side, it can lead to infectious smiles and all the Kodak memory moments.
Hyung: Cashier – You may be able to always count correct change, but that doesn’t change the fact that I forget about you once I have my ticket. You may be required as entry to the park and these weird-ass rides, but about the only thing memorable with the encounter will be the lovely cheekbones (and face and body and … where was I going with this again?)
Father: Carousel – Such a comforting presence at any age. Will hold you up whether your feet are on the ground or oscillating between two points. He will be there for you like a certain Rembrant’s theme song.
Part of the reason why this cast clicked so well has to have some credit given to the director (Yoon Je Won), who allowed each scene to breath, without the clipped, harshly edited form that seems so prevalent in K-Dramas. This reminded me in both directorial style and attitude to American/UK workplace comedy The Office, whose format allowed for tertiary characters to become more prominent if they could prove themselves interesting/funny early on with their few lines and/or scenes.
I’m now realizing that this basically pits cast members against each other for lines/plot inclusion, meaning a few might get squeezed out. I giveth exhibit A, aka that third Comfo office women. Amusement park ride: losing your parents/group at the theme park. What? it’s a sad affair and prevents you from going on the other rides.
Note: This previous segment was in no way, shape, or form some thinly veiled reference to character’s “rides” being a euphemism for sex. I just really like theme parks y’all. Now, any other future reference to the act of hanky panky that you are unsure of whether tis indeed a reference to “Ridin’ Dirty”, well it probably is. I am occasionally a 12-year-old boy/crazed mermaid like that.
Who I am kidding, even with its brilliant cast, Seo In Guk’s portrayal of Min-Seok goes beyond explanation. He was magnificent, charismatic, and leaves no one in doubt that this former Idol is the real deal. In fact, I’m going to go all Kanye West for a moment and declare that he is the greatest Idol turned actor of all-time! Sorry Jennifer Hudson and Lee Seung Gi, but SIG is so good, they literally used TV magic to clone him cause we all needed moar! In fact, I nominate SIG for any prospective Korean cloning dramas (aka the Asian version of Orphan Black) that appear on the horizon.
With his out of this world performance, it meant everyone else had to bring their A-game if they had a chance to possibly keep up, and that includes clothing stylists. Besides the fact that Min-Seok turned girls to women anytime he put on a perfectly tailored suit. The character’s casual clothing was equally creative and revealing of the character’s state of mind/intentions. Here now is my interpretation of Min-Seok’s T-Shirts.
Athletic Champion (Epi. 3) – Here Min-Seok is still getting acclimated to the student/hockey player/business executive schedule, and though he can handle push-ups and paper work, perhaps the only thing he wants to be champion of in this moment is sleeping before he begins his new Clark Kent lifestyle once again.
Boston (Epi. 6) – Here he displays decidedly un Min Seok-like behavior by lashing out at Yoo-Ah. Well as someone who has watched all of Boston natives’ Matt Damon‘s filmography, I can say that there isn’t a better place to represent unfiltered anger and yelling then pop-culture’s representation of the city of Boston. How do ya like dem Apples?
Boys (Epi 9-10) – The shirt that started me down this rabbit hole of T-Shirt teases, this shirt is everything. Used during his first date with Soo-Young, it’s obvious purpose was to not-too subtly indicate his age and status in life compared to his decade older girlfriend. As a bonus, it would surely make for a great outfit at any gay night club, and you gotta love multipurpose clothing!
Palm (Epi. 10) – Palm tree slam, California, here is your semi irony tee where our couple is seemingly sunny and happy on the surface, but much like California’s abundance of fake plastic trees and artificial implants (LA loves their plastic surgery almost as much as Seoul) all is not as real as it seems on the surface. This is highlighted in the color pattern of the shirt, with the duality of colors representing his pure intentions (white) and his inner state of mind/turmoil (blue)
Iceland (Epi. 11) – “Your as cold as ice..” sorry to bring 20 year old song lyrics into the picture, but do you get the picture? This whole episode is little colder than is the norm, plus the fact that if you take the word “Ice land” literally then you could make the argument that with himself feeling lost and saddened in his current predicament with Soo Young, the only domain he has left is his Ice land aka the hockey rink.
Bad Tooth – I was perplexed at first sight with this cheeky get-up. I mean does it have something to do with his food? Will his personality undergo an unfortunate make-over? Is this a Doctor Who reference?!? Alas, all my quandaries were for nought when I soon realized foreshadowing remained the key to unlock this shirt’s calcium laden secrets.
Hype – This shirt is basically the 2nd lead this episode, always prominently displayed as Min-Soek goes through the roller coaster of emotions due to his injury and realization he may never play hockey again (this on top of his girlfriend leaving him). Whether he was taking everything in stride, putting on a brave face for his loved ones, or breaking down in the rain, HYPE remained. His reaction to his world and purpose crumbling around him was so in-tune with his happy, helpful, and self assured character. Which makes me think he, (and in his showcase episode Seo In Guk) surely lived up to the hype.
Sonic Youth (!) Epi. 15 – Besides indicating his excellent taste in 1st wave indie rock (come back Kim and Thurston!) This shirt indicates the dichotomy between Min-Seok and his hyung whose identity he [Min Seok] had been using. In this episode hyung has finally returned from Germany, and we finally see how different these brothers are in temperament, temper, and temperature.
Stay Gold (Epi. 17) – Last episode, where all the arcs are coming to a close as we send our character’s off into the great unknown. With this scene we are once again shown the type of good-hearted, passionate guy Min-Seok is and will always will be, no matter what age. Upon first seeing this shirt/sweater (swirt?) I instantly recalled the emotional climax of S.E. Hinton’s book The Outsiders, where Johnny recites a Robert Frost poem to protagonist Ponyboy as he himself lays dying. The poem indicated that nothing good can stay, or all must come to end eventually, which is true for both our characters and we the viewers, who must prepare our feeble hearts for no longer having the privilege to see Seo In Guk run rampant on our screens 2x a week. With the show over didn’t it feel like you were missing a little charismatic spark courtesy of SIG mania?
And just for kicks – (Epi 5) Soo Young and her bout with novelty shirts: Patty and Jimmy. Early on Soo Young was quite the mess, with this picture as visual evidence. What’s more interesting are all the indications that she is bound for coupledome in the not too distant future, from the athletic shirt (also foreshadowing her gym dates as an attempt to help Min-Seok), the couple bunnies, and even the green and pink storage containers. These two characters became a united force when they finally remained together and this shot is indicative of such.
Finally, this show was rife with witty, comedic dialogue and comedic sensibilities that wasn’t just based on slapstick.
I fully appreciated this, and took note via screen shots of some of my favorite lol phrases. (Warning: some are missing context and that comedic timing touch)
Other favorite line I shall be using: “Do you have a conscious to stomach?”
Not So Quick Hits:
*Jung Soo Young’s characterization really grew on me, in the beginning I found her overly pathetic and reeking of potential noble idiocy, but one constant I loved about her character, her sad Charlie Brown (and by extension Arrested Development) walk whenever her mood was down and out.
*However I’ve mentioned previously I’m so glad she was this strange bird, and that’s precisely what caused Min-Seok fall for her, (no She’s All That/K-Dramas make-overs here!) It wasn’t until after they got together did we begin to witness naturalistic changes to how she carried herself, and her confidence. This is was fantastic because not only do female leads rarely go through such character arcs (more often they remain the steady support system for the male lead to finally become less of a dick), but they both helped each other grow and evolve. I think those crazy kids will make it.
*However the fantastical couples/pairings didn’t end with our OTP, as we had several instances of classic pairings, some of which I will visualize below:
*This last one was especially touching. Their sisterly bond was another rarity for dramaland, and completely resurrected the Yoo-Ah character for me, who I previously waved off as your classic super stalker 2nd lead. The depth to their relationship was also fascinating, with high schooler Yoo-Ah often showing maternal tendencies to her much older sister/guardian Soo Young.
*I can’t believe it has taken me this long to mention another great, complex 2nd lead (who had the added bonus of being spine chillingly attractive). Jin-Woo (Lee Soo Hyuk) provided more than is usually given to your typical chebol.
In most dramas this would be your lead – the cold rich guy who starts to change his ways when he meets the plucky hardworking female. However his less than noble actions should and were too much for him to get the girl, a fact I’m glad the show acknowledged.
Problem was, he never remained a consistent presence on the show, especially in the final half (where he was barely shoehorned into the final episode) and I do wish he was given more to-do rather than tragic backstory as evidence for his behavior, because this detailed character (and actor) deserved a little more.
*To take a random detour to house Jin-Woo, there was one detail that caused me to imprint on other musical images, inducing severe indie kid glee. Let’s look at the artwork above the door shall we?
Hmmm that looks awfully familiar. Tis oddly reminiscent of my favorite Scandinavian band’s jackalope iconography of which I may be such a fan that I have my own socks. For those unaware this is the band Miike Snow, whose two albums I wore out during my DJ days (listen to “Sans Soleil“, and I promise you’ll feel better), and will always insert a plug if ever possible.
*This show managed to name check several things I quite enjoy, only adding to my fervent devotion to all things Savvy High Schooler who Conduct’s Life as King. For instance, name checking the blessed World Cup!
And even better, an extended sequence that is all things cycling, biking, and making fun of biker types. I mean If I could marry a show, I would grab my fixed gear and head to city hall cause I LOVE bike humor. And having bike humor lead to character revelations? Perfection.
* Another instance of this show being completely tuned into my frequency, the literal wedding of my dreams. First off the popcorn proposal. Never understood the classical romantic gesture be resigned to receiving flowers. The real way to Soo Young’s (and my) heart. Food. Replace popcorn with jars of Jam and Peppermint candy, and then I would know he was secretly proposing to me all-along. I’m coming Min Suk/SIG!
But let’s not stop there, the wedding was equally splendid, because who needs a ceremony to take place in a stuffy old building with unnecessary decorations you spend days mulling over, when it can just take place on a fubol field.
Now scheduling your honeymoon 1o minutes after the wedding starts is a ballsy move I don’t think I could stomach, but having your co-workers provide the entertainment, including the Master of Ceremonies and song interludes? Brilliant.
*Newly found K-Drama pet peeve: Fake glasses. Yes I understand the horrors of glare that can cause havoc amongst unsuspecting viewers… Feast your eyes on the unnatural sight of a K-Drama character who has his lenses in. (Warning look at your own risk!)
Is it not hideous! From this very specific angle I cannot see his eyes. Though his character suffers from dementia seemingly causing the upside down frames, the real reason must be alien. Tis the only reasonable solution…Let’s get back to dramality where our characters sport obvious lenseless glasses, which totally doesn’t take me out of the show at all, and never causes me to wonder why they spent so much time having Soo-Young fiddle with her spectacles which proved to be less then spectacular because they are totally fake. (Last time I complain about such a trivial issue I swears. But I had to one last time)
*Random background songs I noticed: Electric Light Orchestra “Living Thing” (I think), that Maroon 5 song ft. Rihanna, Jack Johnson diddy, I think a Bruno Mars song with the lyrics “you better get away runaway”, and of course “Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head”.
* Loved when Deok Hwan and Tae Sook ate at a random Chinese restaurant even though Tae Sook works at his family’s Chinese food business. I think this was a sneaky running gag, and if so, props writers!
* As you can see I went a little crazy with the screenshots this time around, with my words to pictures ratio being abnormally high. Because of this, I still haven’t fully finished this review, and will hopefully get around to a more analytical, wordy series overview in a week or two, but for now enjoy a few more tastes of some visual splendor.
My Weird List of Drama Commonalities
|high school||noona romance||fab four||opening credits|
|rooftops||trifecta perfecta||eng done right||killing me softly|
|makeoutFY||Nickname – Popcorn Sister & Hubby Lee||The Good Parent||directing|
My Rating/Overall Quality
9.5 semicircular mosses, 9 artisanal hockey pucks