by cityhunter & Jeana , July 7, 2019
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We know that most of us on MDL treat dramas like our children and when your child gets attacked, you're bound to get defensive! However, usually, that defensiveness takes away from the enjoyment of being part of a drama community with diverse opinions and tastes. With this article, we mean to show you that two people can have completely different opinions about a particular drama and still get along! This is also to give you a perspective from both ends of the spectrum on some of the widely watched shows. Enjoy!


WARNING: MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD!


Empress Ki

Jeana's Rating: 10/10

Thoughts:


This is a story about vengeance, loyalty, sacrifice, the blurry line between good and evil and lastly, one woman's deadly quest for justice. You cannot go into this if you don't want to get invested because trust me you will. 

The beauty of this show is that everything bad that could possibly happen; happens. In most shows, you don't have to guard your heart because you're sure that when things are their absolute worse, a convenient plot device will somehow come in handy and save the characters from catastrophe, but here, there is no such luck. So you're in for a wild wild ride.

The villains are extremely fleshed out and three dimensional. This drama truly depicts that 'Evil is bad that believes it's good.' People I liked transitioned into power hungry monsters and people I hated with a passion tried to force me to feel pity for them. Nothing is black and white. The actors have done an excellent job and the highlight of the show is character growth. 

The drama is filled with small immensely impactful scenes that combine to make the whole production powerful. Every single second is nerve-wracking in some way, it comes equipped with Death Note level mind games and strategies, the violence isn't over-produced, the action scenes are beautiful, the romance aspect is emotionally intense with electric chemistry between the leads, the characters are absolutely badass and the dialogues are excellent. This is the kind of show that will keep you up at night, obsessing over it, long after you're finished.

City's Rating: Dropped

Thoughts: 

While Empress Ki might not stand up against recent works like Kingdom or The Crowned Clown visually, for its time this epic was nothing short of immersive and magical.

The characters were well developed and multi-layered, even Chung Hye, who I hate. Seriously, screw that guy. The performances were kinetic and dynamic, which went a long way toward balancing out untold hours of wispy bearded old men scheming.

I dropped Empress Ki at ep 25 after what must have been ten hours of unrelenting and ever-increasing misery. It gets rough, so if you want to try it, strap in princess. Gone was the flutter I had felt watching Ta Hwan and Seung Nyang. Gone was the thrill of seeing a woman rise above her station, in a time and place where she would have been little more than set dressing. Gone was the enjoyable intrigue. Each episode, all the things I had enjoyed watching were replaced with fresh hell and stinging disappointment.  If you’ve read my articles, or seen me on the feeds you may already know I am not here for that. It sits on my list, rated an 8 but dropped nonetheless.  



Full House (Thailand) 

Jeana's Rating: 4.5/10

Thoughts:

80% of this drama consists of filler episodes, where the characters are just staring off into space, lost in their own sh*t, and the viewer is forced to awkwardly watch from the sidelines like an unwanted trespasser. There are so many pauses after which we just get one dead scene after another, that it felt like this was some sort of a documentary instead of an enjoyable story.

I think they tried to fake depth by showing numerous angles of the characters' "deep in thought" faces and playing sentimental music in the background, but it just appeared very simplistic and unnecessary. Sure, I'm shallow, and I like watching pretty people, but I also want to watch them actually "do something," and have some personality. If I wanted to ogle them posing, I'd go through a fashion catalogue, and save myself a lot of time in the process. 

There is no character development at all and the characters lack individuality to the T. Who are Mike and Am as individuals? We don't have a  clue. There is no proper backstory that tells us about their personalities and I couldn't form any sort of emotional attachment with the characters at all. 

The remaining 20% consisted of the characters having flashbacks of the same dull scenes that they showed us before. As if they really needed repetition to make matters worse.  A lot of people were gushing about the characters' chemistry but to be honest, I don't really see it. If we cut out the hasty little pecks they pasted on each other's lips, their relationship would be perfect as that of siblings (what with all the screaming matches and childish fights.)  In my opinion, there was nothing memorable about this drama except that I'll always remember how much I yawned throughout.

City's Rating: 9/10

Thoughts: 

It’s no secret, I am a rom-com junkie. I have a soft spot for the contract relationship trope, and I love a remake, so even before starting Full House, the odds were very much in this Thai reincarnation’s favour.

I am all about meeting a drama where it’s at. That means acknowledging what the drama is trying to accomplish, and what space it occupies in the TV landscape, then judging it by that metric.  Full House is an idol drama. Its stated purpose is to entertain and make your heart flutter. If you are looking for deep dialogue and a serious examination of love or relationships you will be disappointed. Any possibility of a mature outing is yakked all over Mike’s lap by the end of the second episode. Thankfully that’s the worst of the cringe.

I found that as soon as I started to feel bored or annoyed, the plot moved on so there wasn’t much drag. The romance starts early and they keep the heat on. Mike and Aom are adorable and natural together for the most part. There’s far less yelling, and more plot than the original, which is a vast improvement.

Overall, this was a fun outing that gave me the flutters, which is all it set out to do. 



Mad Dog

Jeana's Rating: 8.5/10

Thoughts:

Mad Dog is different in the sense that it isn't far-fetched from reality, and that the plot is very well-connected and backed up by smart characters with brilliant planning, who are always trying to one-up each other. However, the strength of the show isn't its plot, rather the character development. This is a story about how a team (Mad Dog) of lovable individuals, each with their own unique talents, join hands with a lone wolf and scam artist Kim Min Joon, and how together they grow into one tight-knit group that is closer than family.

Every role is beautifully constructed, and the moment I felt that a character wasn't getting much attention, the script changed its course and swallowed down all my complaints. The dynamics within the Mad Dog team (Kim Min Joon included) are simply everything. These people have so much love for each other that at one point, I was shipping everyone with everyone. I loved their little missions, their secretive conspiring, shared glances, their smart strategies, and their protectiveness of one another so much. 

The minor touch of romance in this show is far well-done than some of the wholesome love stories I have seen. Kim Min Joon and Jang Ha Ri are a match made in heaven. The small moments they have with each other are so incredibly sweet and their chemistry is fire.

While Mad Dog did have some great "Oh shit, what's going to happen next?" scenes, it isn't a show centered on 'the next big thing'. The beauty of the show is in the small, intimate moments between the characters, the way they grow on each other, and the way they evolve together, and as individuals.

So while Mad Dog might not be everybody's cup of tea, it was a steaming mug of delicious cappuccino for me.

City's Rating: 6.5/10

Thoughts: 

I agree with Jeana, the selling point here is definitely the ensemble cast. They are the sole reason I finished it. The plot... there's a lot going on. The first 5 episodes were the strongest. After that, hours are spent chasing things I did not find interesting. Sometimes it turned out not to matter, sometimes it was important, and you aren't sure why, and other times the only thing that holds it all together is the jumbo-sized vat of drama logic they obviously kept on set. Plot hole? Cover in drama logic. Let it set for approximately 1 episode. Tease romance, and you're done! No one will notice the gaping chasm. 

While I found the actions of the villains despicable, they themselves were underwhelming, and not particularly bright. It's like watching Don Quixote tilting at windmills if those windmills were on a condemned mini golf course, and Don Quixote was the best damn windmill demolisher around. Yes, I'm glad they got taken down, but I'm not impressed that you were able to and wonder why it took that level of expertise and effort to get it done. 



My Mister

Jeana's Rating: 8.5/10

Thoughts:

I admit I was a bit wary of starting this show because I am not a fan of age gap romances. However, that concern was quickly wiped out for me when I realized that's not what this drama is about. 'My Mister' is a highly nuanced show, packed with emotion and trinkets of life lessons sprinkled all over it. It's so far away from formulaic Korean writing that it has no cookie-cutter characters, no shock value, no use of the usual tropes and it still succeeds in keeping you invested to the very last episode. 

As a show centered around ordinary people living their ordinary lives and dealing with hardship as it comes their way, 'My Mister' banks totally on its writing and honesty. The acting is excellent, with IU stealing the show as the tough and prickly little hedgehog who does everything to survive and finds love and acceptance in the process. 

One thing that really touched me was the emphasis on familial bonds. As a member of a family of five tight-knit individuals who'd give their life for each other, this message resonated with me deeply. 

The show has one of the best OSTs with soft vocals that served to enhance all the feels. The direction is crisp, and the plot never loses momentum.

The only thing I didn't like about the show was the creepy breathing in the head aspect and the oldest of the three band of brothers, whose constant crying and pity-parties got on my last nerve. But these were nearly not enough to detract from the awesomeness of this show. 

One of the most real shows out there and a must-watch!

City's Rating: 6/10

Thoughts:

My Mister. Ugh… so much lost potential. To younger people, the angst and mid-life crises of the Park brothers might seem like a treatise on how we eventually end up relinquishing the dreams and passions of youth, and the lengths we will go to reclaim them once we realize we could have more days behind us than ahead of us. To me, it just comes across as people who can’t be bothered lamenting the sorry state of their lives that they could change if they tried, and lived in reality for just a second. 

Honestly, that is my entire complaint. The whole reason I gave this such a low rating is that I personally cannot stand people who whine about situations they put themselves in, and that describes every one other than Lee Ji An and strangely enough Lee Gwang Il, the young loan shark who seriously does not get enough screen time and exploration. Every time I had to listen to a dude closer to fifty than forty whines about how unfair life is, and how magnificent he was at age 20, all I could think is where the hell are Ji An and Gwang Il? If I have to sit through someone’s complaints, can't it at least be someone who has something interesting to complain about?



Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo

Jeana's Rating: 6/10

Thoughts:

I've already said that this has to be one of the worst written shows I have ever watched. There is no character development whatsoever, and convenient plot-lines are used time and time again to further the plot. 

Everything is rushed and carelessly executed. They killed people just for emotional appeal. The relationships between the characters weren't fully explored. I mean, do you really expect my peepers to gush a waterfall if you scarcely show me a character; just enough so that he'll be in mind, but not enough so that I would actually come to care for him, and then in one random episode you show nothing but him, and quickly kill him in the next to tug at my heartstrings? Just no. 

When a show tries to elaborately sell me the fact that characters can fall from cliffs, get poisoned, and stabbed in the heart, and still survive, you know what, with some grievances intact, I might actually buy it. But when the same show also tries to tell me that someone who got their knee banged up a few years ago might, out of nowhere, lose the ability to walk, or that heartache can cause people to have chronic heart diseases, and be the thing that finally causes death, I'm sorry but I'd just have to call the bullshit out. 

Even though it was labelled as a period drama, it seemed like a parody of the genre. There were no intelligent palace politics or court intrigue. No cultural focus or attention to detail. All the antagonists were hare-brained idiots and the biggest enemy the good guys had to face was their own stupidity. Needless to say, they lost to it.

I am not gonna lie, the love story sure was cute and Lee Joon Gi is brilliant with his roguish charm and nuanced acting. No matter how overrated they get, 'good girl-bad boy' romances will always have allure. There were scenes that made me smile and swoon but they weren't nearly enough to overcome all the weaknesses of the show.

Despite all its flaws though, it did make me watch to the end. So all in all, you should enjoy Moon Lovers like you would enjoy a toddler's company: by being indulgent and not taking it too seriously. 

City's Rating: 9.5/10

Thoughts: 

I will be the first to admit that Moon Lovers has a serious tone problem. A show doesn’t have to be just a comedy, or just a romance, or any one thing. Truth is, all stories are a mix of different genres. Even at a funeral, we can find a reason to laugh. 

What Moon Lovers failed to do, repeatedly, is to handle the transitions. Are we laughing? Yeah, but are we supposed to? Sometimes I think not. They also never seemed to be able to quite grasp how funny, heartwarming, or awe-inspiring moments can arise naturally in the same instant as misery and tragedy. The funny family moments were an awkward fit in with the heavier elements of the story, and it feels like a problem of execution. Transitions in time were a constant struggle. Things got especially choppy toward the end. This, I think is due to time constraints. If they had spent less time trying to entice young female viewers with flower boy hi-jinks, and more on the plot, they would have ended up with a much more cohesive story. Or, unpopular opinion, they could have just made it longer.   

What you wind up with are many smaller stories that are wonderful in their own right with captivating performances all around. Even if you think EXO’s Baek Hyun is not a good actor (and yeah, there is a solid case for that argument), there were moments when he found that character, found that emotion and made you feel it too. These wonderful stories and performances were what I enjoyed and I enjoyed them so much that they outweighed the problems.     


Now a drama on which we have similar thoughts but different ratings!



W – Two Worlds 

Jeana's Rating: 2.5/10

Thoughts:

W is basically a badly written drama, about a badly written manhwa coming to life. To put it simply, the drama is like a rotten egg, that somehow hatched into a headless chicken, and proceeded to create chaos everywhere. It's like somebody took a couple of mindless plot-lines, threw it in a blender, and went on to whisking it to hell and back. 

The plot makes no sense. The characters make no sense. The story makes no sense. The drama is essentially a hodgepodge of confused writing, trying to mask itself as 'complicated'. So much is happening but you're reaching nowhere. And the worst thing of it all is that despite all their efforts to try and have unnecessary events take place left and right; the show still remains boring as hell. There are so many flashbacks and repetition, that half of the show is filled with the same old shebang. Seriously, when you see Kang Chul get shot, and Yeong Joo faints for the umpteenth of time, you're about ready to shoot and pass out yourself. 

The dialogues often felt scripted and the actors seemed detached from the characters they were playing. The kisses were good but the romance like the rest of the show was less than mediocre.

I mean, the beginning of the drama was also bad but they really just lost their shit midway. It's like they didn't even care about following a logical story-line anymore. However, the masochist that I am, I kept coming back to it. All these great reviews and high ratings made me think that the next episode would be surely better than the mess I just watched. I kept finding excuses for it and soon, the ending credits rolled in and the show finished, being just as horrible as it was from the get-go. 

I say, 16 hours of total waste, watch it only if you want to have your intelligence insulted. 

City's Rating: 7/10

Thoughts:

The basic elements here are great. If you're laid back you probably got a good 6  to 10  episodes in before you started getting annoyed. For me, it started when Kang Chul, an OLYMPIC SHOOTER, was handling a gun like it was a toy. That's just a personal pet peeve though. Let's get down to business.

It needs to be said: With rare exception, Lee Jong Suk plays one character over and over again. There are slight variations, but not enough to make his teasing charm a draw here, especially if you've followed his work. W was the last time I would be taken in by his grins and winks. Aside from the male lead's star power, the draw was supposed to be the slick production and magical realism. On that point they delivered. This drama looks amazing. The manga shots are incorporated well and, initially, I was very excited to explore this new reality. 

The excitement was gone by the midway point. I had started to suspect the writers didn't know where they were going. I'm still pretty sure they picked an ending out of a hat. That might be how they constructed the entire plot. So much seemed disjointed and unrelated. I was so in love with the premise that I held on, waiting for them to course correct, but they never did! Still, there were moments, fleeting moments, of awesome buried under all that "For the love of Ink Heart, go take a creative writing class!"

I know 7 seems like a high rating for something I just spent 3 paragraphs bashing. It's a mess yes, but I enjoyed the mess. There are some great performances here. There's an attempt to delve into deep ideas like who, or what makes us alive? In a landscape so dictated by the trend that we can identify 2017 as the year of the legal dramas, W tried to be something different. I can appreciate that.


So now the question is: Have City and Jeana killed each other? The answer is No. 

Everybody has a different lens while watching a show, and there is no right or wrong answer. Whether you agree or disagree with us, I hope you keep this in mind and let yourself truly enjoy Dramaland.

It was a long read, so thank you for sticking with us!


empress ki mad dog my mister scarlet heart ryeo house full (thailand) w: two worlds

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