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I had to rescue my review of Friend, Our Legend on Thundie’s Prattle. This was a no-brainer. Just who else is going to write a review of this by-now obscure, under-appreciated, dark show about gangsters? Starring Hyun Bin, in his least appealing but most compelling character of a brutal and brutalised man? I found it hard enough to watch – not because it’s bad (it’s brilliant) but because it’s depressing – let alone write a coherent review about such an angst-fest.

Rescuing my photographs from Photobucket.com (Damn you photobucket!) I am struck afresh by the palette — shabby brown, and dark. This pretty much sums up the aesthetic of the show. To go with the psychological darkness, the depths, the wringing of the heart… Oh! Oh!

Watch this if you dare. I promise you, you will never see Hyun Bin the same way again. When you see him phoning it in as another wish-fulfilment cardboard hero in another piece of lazy fluff, you’ll just want to knock his head and shout at him, “What are you doing, man! Has it come to this? Are you prostituting your talent now?”

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It’s a no-brainer. Of course I must save my precious Mawang review in Thundie’s Prattle from the ravages of Photobucket. Dang, it may be time for a re-watch, of the drama that sucked me in, broke my heart, blew my mind, and hooked me into the world of k-drama.

 

Re-watching Thank You and revisiting my review in Thundie’s Prattle, I realise to my horror that all my beautiful, painstaking screencaps have disappeared from our earlier posts on Thundie’s Prattle. *Waves fist at photobucket*. It’s not the end of the world. The graphics are still in photobucket. But it’s pretty painstaking to pull them off photobucket and insert them into wordpress, one by one. This calls for a real-life exercise in evaluation – which reviews are worth saving? Which are worth polishing for posterity?

Sorry, Sungkyunkwan Scandal, you were crack and I loved you, but you are not significant or important. Neither are my grumpy snarky reviews of Road Number One worth saving. What’s worth saving?

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Comrades. I was thinking about Comrades the other day, when the theme song rolled up on shuffle. What a great show. It was awesome. It was devastating.

I wrote my review on Thundie’s Prattle having watched just four episodes, but it never let me down. It just got better and better. Watching it was an incredible experience. The ending had me feeling broken-hearted and shell-shocked for days, as no other show has done. You should have seen us on Twitter, having a collective melt-down, and having to give each other virtual hugs. (Ah, good times!)

Why don’t they make k-dramas like that any more?

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She’s alive! And blogging!

Yes, it’s amazing. I’ve popped up again, after more than three years during which I have not once gotten the urge to blog. Which may have something to do with the fact that these days I watch maybe a couple of k-dramas a year. (By the way, any recommendations for me, from 2017?)

Then a few days ago I was sorting through my stuff when I came across Thank You (MBC, 2007) and decided to give the show a re-watch. Big mistake. Down the rabbit hole I went, marathoning over a few days when I should be doing other things, having a pleasurable weepfest. Yes, I cried. But I also rolled my eyes and LOL-ed a lot. Then I read my TY review for Thundie’s Prattle and rolled my eyes some more – gosh I was besotted by the show! And dang, did I need some fierce editing, lol! To be fair to myself, that was my very first k-drama review. But I’m a bit embarrassed now by how many free passes I handed the show. I must have been very much in love with Jang Hyuk!

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Runnnig Man poster

When my non-K-drama-watching living-in-Europe friend mentioned Running Man (SBS) to me, that was the moment I realized that Running Man was a Phenomenon. Admittedly, she read about Running Man while on a trip to Asia. But, still. “Goodness,” I said, “You’ve heard of Running Man? That’s really hardcore Korean television. Even I don’t watch Running Man!”.

That, of course, was before Running Man finally lured me into its vortex with its diabolically clever trick of guesting actors. Sooner or later, your favorite actor is guesting on Running Man (Oh Man Seok! Oh Man Seok!) and you have no choice but to check it out. Then you find yourself intrigued by the group dynamics and all the in-jokes that everyone else finds so hilarious. You find yourself watching more episodes to try to figure out what on earth is going on. And before you know it, you are totally hooked and devouring old episodes (hopefully selectively, not watching all 200 back issues).

Oh Man Seok on Running Man

I console myself by noting that I’m not the only person on the planet afflicted by Running Fever. What makes Running Man such compelling viewing? What is this evil time-sucking creature called the “variety show”, anyway?

Basically, it’s a form of reality television. And don’t we all have a love-hate relationship with reality tv?

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I’ve been in a bit of a drama slump lately. So it was terrific that at one stage there were not one, not two, but THREE current dramas I was eager to watch. Yes, folks, the drama gods are smiling kindly upon our Wed-Thurs slot!

JG poster

If you know me, you might try to guess which one I like the most. And you would probably be wrong. Because I was totally wrong in my own predictions! You might expect me, famously grumpy and unimpressed by fluff, to be most on board with the serious fare, right? At least, that’s what I expected. So wrong!

FtLYposter

Of the three, when they started airing concurrently a couple of weeks ago, the first one I would rush to watch would be… Fated to Love You (MBC). The fluffy, derivative one. I know right! So unexpected. It’s Okay, It’s Love (SBS) is coming in a close second for me. Joseon Gunman (KBS) is falling behind. What? How did that happen?

IOILposter

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*Warning: Somewhat spoilery*

After I finished watching Secret Love Affair, I had trouble sleeping (for other reasons) and found myself thinking about the show in the dark on my bed. A sign, surely, of a good show, that one thinks about it after it’s finished.

I thought long and hard about the ending. To be honest, I didn’t love it. I thought it was a tad facile. I didn’t hate it, though, it was just okay rather than bad. I thought about how perhaps I in particular and we the television audience in general have grown so used to over-stimulation and over-dramatization, that an ending that doesn’t blow us away with charred remains scattered all over the floor might seem dull.

Secret Love Affair ep15 - non-spoilery

I thought about how some people got so bored with the show they dropped it, and yet others love it to pieces. What a funny thing taste is, eh? And how I myself wasn’t exactly addicted or compelled – I easily dropped it for a few weeks in the middle – and yet how much I do actually like it. I still think it was rather slow. But I didn’t find it tediously so, and I suspect the show would hold up to a re-watch marathon. In fact, I already want to re-watch the last episode, knowing how it ends, to pick out the clues and catch all the subtleties.

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