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BadPennyGirl

Above Sea Level

BadPennyGirl

Above Sea Level
Completed
Be Loved in House: I Do
17 people found this review helpful
Jul 25, 2021
12 of 12 episodes seen
Completed 1
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 10

Just What you Want it to Be!

Oh heck! I loved this. Some people complain about the pacing being too slow, but that's expressly because one of the main characters has never been in a relationship before and the other main character is coming from a traumatic past. Anything but slow pacing and it would have felt rushed and weird. That being said, the episodes are 25 minutes a piece, so the pace isn't THAT slow. And the evolution of all the relationships is what we come for, yes?

The music in this was very, very pretty. The theme song was sweet and the song that played when they are dealing with hard moments was just so bittersweet that it perfectly reflected the mood.

I loved the setting. As an artist myself, seeing a BL set in a designer jewelry studio was so fun. And I also got a kick because when I first saw Aaron on screen, I was pointing and yelling "He looks like an East Asian Superman". And then came the Kryptonian jokes in the plot itself! Ha!

There was a shocking moment for me when I saw Aaron topless I stopped and paused the video because I used to work in the medical profession and I immediately said "That is the best, most realistic scar makeup I have ever witnessed". As the show went on and I got to see the scars from more than one angle, got to see how they pulled, I began to suspect they were real scars. So I looked Aaron up and was amazed to find that prior to the filming of this show he had been in a car accident that nearly killed him. He was in a coma for months. Then rehab. And straight into the filming of this project. In an interview he said that the actor who played Shi Lei was the first person outside of his doctors to ever see his scars and he had been very self conscious about it. So yeah. Wow.

As for the relationship between the main 2 characters, it's awkward and sweet and careful in all the achingly tender ways you might want it to be, without being gooey. Their chemistry is magnetic and immediate. And poor Shi Lei coming out to his mom was the best coming out scene ever. It was so well acted! And really, Aaron did a superb job bringing a quiet, very wounded guardedness to Jin Yu Zhen.

Everyone did a great job. Kudos to the secondary pairings and support cast too. They rounded out the plot and drove it forward at useful moments in a seamless way.

This just took a spot in my top 5 favorites! It does NOT disappoint. Loved the pace. Loved the actors. Loved the story. My only complaint is that there just wasn't enough of it. I would have loved the episodes to have a longer format or for there to have been more of them.

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Completed
Ingredients
4 people found this review helpful
Aug 11, 2021
21 of 21 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.5
Story 10
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 10
This review may contain spoilers

A Genuine Surprise!

For the most part, the acting was superb. I was not expecting much. Not with the format and episode length and it being the small studio production that it was. But the actors acted the hell out of those roles and the production was styled to make the most of resources in an artful way.

The storyline was sweet and slightly uncomfortable in the way growing up is at times. Genuinely bittersweet but hopeful at the end. I really enjoyed the story.

The very limited set was utilized in a masterful with believable and minimalist, almost stylize redressing. The light and limited color palette throughout the drama unified everything in a homogeneous visual language where the actors, the food, and the guitar were the pop color in any scene. Very clever use of what I assume was a small budget. It made the show almost feel like a theater production. Which was super cool.

The plot was engaging enough to keep me rushing forward to watch the next episode but light enough to watch on a break. And it was easy to love the characters. The straight forward moments of tension were well done and placed to guide the pace efficiently without being heavyhanded. And the nod to it being early COVID era was a nice touch.

All in all it was a fun experience, if definitely in the guilty pleasure category. The ending was what it needed to be, realistic but hopeful. And it was a nice touch that despite their love, they didn't give up on their dreams in order to stay beside each other. This was a perfect choice. Anything else would have undermined the journey of their final year in school.

I was left definitely wanting to see a sequel. And more of the actors, writer and director of this work. Well done, everyone! This one makes my top 15 list.


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Completed
En of Love: Love Mechanics
3 people found this review helpful
May 29, 2022
4 of 4 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 7.0
Story 5.0
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 4.0
Rewatch Value 6.5

The script and editing ruined this.


This was confusing and at times didn't even give enough cues about passage of time. The timeline was obviously rushed. With only four episodes to capture the story they could have resolved some of the confusion just by using more time markers. They used a few, using one every time there was a larger leap of time would have made more sense than just leaving audiences to guess at how long the romance elements were actually taking to unfold.

And you can tell a long story in short form without making things ambiguous or confusing. If I have to read the book to decipher what is going on in the drama, then the drama is a fail. No matter how much story you pack into a series, there are tools for telling it well so passage of time and shifts of emotional attachment are clear. Movies do it all the time in less than 2 hours. There is no reason that with 4 hours to tell this story they couldn't have done a more coherent job.

The music editing was also awful. Though the other production values were nice.

But I did love the characters, especially Mark. He was really spicy and his defensive attitude was well performed. Vee was portrayed effectively for the most part as well. And I feel the actors had a compatible chemistry. Too bad the story was so damn all over the place. There was no excuse for this level of confusion and it was a waste of the on screen talent.

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Completed
Gen Y
2 people found this review helpful
Aug 23, 2021
12 of 12 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 10
Story 9.5
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 10
This review may contain spoilers

Was Quite Fun!

First, the listing of Bas' character as a support role is wrong. In all Asian venues, Bas is listed first in cast members and Wayu is listed as the main character. Wayu is the first character you see (His eyes are the first set during the intro montage) and Wayu is the first of the main cast to arrive on Campus. Even the romance between Mark and Kit depended on Wayu's intervention. So, I am not sure why MyDramaList gave him second billing.

I have a lot to say about the acting. And most of it is very positive. Bas, Copter and Kimmon all three had exactly as much screen chemistry and warmth as you might expect from people who are close friends in real life.

Bas was brilliant! I mean he just acted his heart out. Not every actor can believably cry in a scene. For instance, Kimmon can't. But Bas really connected with Wayu and I felt every second of Wayu's confusion and grief. Bas made me cry at least twice. He nailed the role of a heartbroken and overwhelmed but determined Wayu, struggling to have hope while attempting to make sense of his loss. And Wayu was genuinely good, too. A lot of nobility packed in that small character. Gutsy in an understated sort of way. He didn't stand down a single time that Padbok started drama. Of course there were silly moments too. But overall, despite the lighter college setting, Bas packed in the feels!

The acting from Copter was solid. Copter of course had amazing screen chemistry with Bas. Which is always weird because somehow he always has less screen chemistry with Kimmon, who plays his on-screen romantic partners. As snarky as Kit usually was, he was soft and sweet with Wayu. Kit's sympathy and compassion for Wayu, and ultimately his protectiveness too was very convincing. And Copter nailed Kit's frustration with Pha. Oh his facial expressions spoke volumes! His character's (initially grudging) love for Mark was a journey of eye-rolls, repressed dimples and micro-expressions that made me frustrated, but then responding to relationship overtures in an emotionally constipated, grouchy way gets on my nerves. Your mileage may vary. It took me a while to love Kit, but not because of Copter's acting, to be sure.

Kimmon brought some spice to the role of Mark in a way that was very distinct from his role of Ming in 2 Moons. Ming was a big, slutty puppy. LOL. Mark is a big, slutty puppy, but he's got an emotional intelligence that Ming lacked. He has a righteous temper too. Yes, the role of Mark was still happy-go-lucky and boisterous, but also very hurt and angry at times. He definitely got across the "Wayu and Mark are ride or die" best friends. And again Mark's anger felt very convincing when Kit was attacked. Kimmon managed to convey it all. And I have to say it. Kimmon was really fresh faced in this! He looked far younger than his 29 years at the time of filming.

Dun was excellent too. Thanu was very sexy, and warm, and noble in a quiet sort of way. Even when he was making bad choices that I knew were going to bite him in the ass later, I could totally believe he was trying to do the right thing but was genuinely torn. Dun's on-screen chemistry with Bas was off the charts! There was very little of "This is his first acting job". I think the only times he fell short of the mark were when Thanu was reacting to Padbok. Dun seemed to have a bit of trouble connecting with Thanu's emotions during some of those confrontations. But wow, the rest of the time he brought it! He really conveyed how torn Thanu was between the person he so easily grew to love (Wayu) and the person he was still attracted to (Phai), and his conflict of interests (the duty he accepted from Pharawee). The "Fevered Wayu" scene in episode 7 was fun because he was very believable as a practical doctor type, in control of the situation but very human and warm. And that kiss!!!! His energy with Bas was so gentle but so intense I made noises and "grabby hands" at my TV. Jumping into a lead role as your first acting job can't have been easy, but Dun did it justice.

Jet and Jame did well as Jack and Koh. I laughed at their shtick and Jet really managed to make me feel how much Jack truly cared for Wayu. And his total exhaustion with Padbok's drama... Ouch!

Junior sold Padbok very convincingly. He was angry and doing awful things that were not only mean but amoral. But due to Junior's skillful acting I could tell Padbok was spiraling, not villainous. I want to see more of this actor! Padbok, still has a lot to say.

Kad was hilarious as SaenSab, Wayu's cousin. Sab's plotting and scheming to help Mark find his cousin a new beau was the perfect foil for innocent, earnest Wayu. Kad delivered 150% He was hands down the funniest thing in the entire show.

Fluke was stunning and Haji was adorkable. Really very fun, both of them. They stole whole scenes.

Fergie's role just felt solid and comforting. He did a really good job conveying Jill's approachable "good guy" qualities. Those eyes! So Warm! He was pretty! And I really like his performances.

And here's where my acting compliments run dry. Pon, the actor playing Phai, looked way older than even his 25 years, let alone the 18 he was supposed to look like. And he was kind of numb in the role of Phai. I could not tell what his character was supposed to bring to the table at all, and that may also be part of the problem. Aside from the shared vision, what was Thanu supposed to find compelling? I know Pon was trying to play Phai very mild and gentle, but he came across as flat instead.

Big was awful for the few seconds he was on screen as Pharawee. But honestly, I do NOT think that was Big's fault. I am sure it was the awkward nature of the cliffhanger. We're supposed to go "WTF! Boooooo!" And I did.

The rest of the support cast did pretty well with their roles, but it might have been just a bit too much happening in the background of one show and it impacted pacing just a little bit. I managed to follow the plot of the juniors just fine. But I think most of the very small problems with Gen Y (Pon's performance notwithstanding) came from the large cast.

The relationships between Juniors Pok and Tong was highly toxic. Which bothered me at first, but in the end, I found it DID give extra character motivation to SaenDee, who straight up, would have been sorted into Slytherin.

SaenDee IS the bad guy. It's one thing to do bad stuff out of pain, or because you are not sure what the right thing to do is and you make a mistake (Hello Thanu). But SaenDee actively smirks when his actions hurt people. So even if they find a way to redeem him in season 2, he's the sort of character that gets off on causing chaos and pain. Kudos to Bank Thanathip Srithongsuk. His representation of Saen Dee was thoroughly creepy.

Tung, the actor playing Kalae, is an undervalued gem. He was sweet and warm and stalwart and funny, even though we didn't see him nearly enough.

The setting was camp, but in just the right way. There was a sensual richness to the restaurants, outdoor scenes and dorm room settings. Even stark rooftops were employed effectively as an environmental support for the harder emotions of those scenes. (If you notice, the really difficult emotions tend to happen on rooftops) Which is what art direction should be. I enjoyed the occasional peeps into the inside of the Engineering school too.

And more attention was paid than is usual for a BL drama to make sure "crowd scenes" felt filled out. Classrooms and pitch bleachers had enough actors filling seats to make it feel real.

Specific details didn't miss the mark, either. Bruises and the small amounts of stage blood looked real. The lighting moods were skillfully accomplished. Foley was solid. The shot angles and perspectives were all very mood enhancing. And the music was adorable. It's always a win when I don't have to shuttle past the intro because I hate the theme song. (Hello, Tonhon Chonlatee)

One thing I definitely disliked; I wasn't fond of the visions experienced by Wayu, Thanu and Phai. Psychicly linked visions aren't a great plot contrivance to throw into a BL unless the writers create a world where that sort of thing can just happen sometimes. In a world setting where it seems impossible to the characters, it feels over the top to the audience. Once Wayu shared a vision with Thanu their place in the overall plot finally began to make more sense, but it was still a total WTF moment every time it happened to any of them. The show writers should have worked to give the plot a more organic, realistic way for Wayu and Thanu to realize their first meeting and Pha's deceit. And really, the visions between Thanu and Phai were completely unnecessary. It would have sufficed for them just to share a strong attraction.

I wanted more info on what was happening with Pha. I'm not sure how audiences are meant to be receptive to his return, but then maybe we aren't. Maybe the lack of info on Pha is important to the longer story being told in Season 2.

And I would have liked to have found out more about Padbok's breathtaking anger management deficit to get a feel for if he's at all justified. Before we ever got a chance to give a damn about it, he began to chill out. I assume in season 2 we'll finally figure out what crawled up his butt and died and then Padbok and Thanu will hug it out or something.

In the end, I really, really loved this BL. It's probably my favorite Thai BL ever. It just somehow got under my skin. The sweet moments were really quite sweet. The funny moments were well balanced. The sad moments wrecked me. And it left me hungry for more. So it did its job. I had a lot of feels while watching it and I continue to go back to this universe. It just touched me.

I've watched it all the way through more times now than I can count. No regrets. In fact, Pok and Tong get more palatable with subsequent watches. So give it a chance. You too may fall in love with the main cast of characters, just like I did.





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Completed
Be Loved in House Special
2 people found this review helpful
Aug 11, 2021
1 of 1 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 10
This review may contain spoilers

It's a Really Nice Follow-Up

With this episode, we finally get a feel for the past relationship dynamic between Yi Zi Tong and Jin Yu Zhen and an insight into Yi Zi Tong's actual nature. It also showed more of Shi Lei's part in the plot to force Jin Yu Zhen to break free of his past and act on his love for Shi Lei.

So it was sweet, and illuminating. It rounded out Yi Zi Tong's character nicely. And it did so in an interesting way. It was also nice to finally have complete context for the accident Jin Yu Zhen had been in. We finally get a more complete feel for why he acted the way he did, early in the series.

All the acting was on par with the main series, as were the production values. It was really a nice fix if, like me, you were already missing the characters. Aaron Lai especially does a super job here playing pre-traumatized Jin Yu Zhen, who was so different than he was for much of the series. The final scene before Yi Zi Tong departed for America was heartbreakingly well acted. And I worried it was just a bit traumatizing for Aaron Lai to act out a car accident so soon after the one he had in real life.

It also left me really eager to see what roles Aaron Lai and Hank Wang respectively get up to next.

This was overall a nice, tasty treat that neatly closed the story. Like with the rest of the series, my only complaint was that there just wasn't more of it to enjoy.

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Completed
Manner of Death
3 people found this review helpful
Jul 7, 2021
14 of 14 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 10
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 9.0

Great acting, lots of SUSPENCE

Okay Max and Tul, as expected, had amazing chemistry and totally carried the gravity of the plot. Every time they do a drama together you can just feel the inevitable, inescapable draw between their characters, and this drama is no different.

That being said, it is very different in other ways. Can we say "Yay!" for actual politics? And murder? And human trafficking? And police corruption? And Max's character still not knowing how to cook? Gah!

It comes off much less as a BL drama and much more a Lite Suspense Thriller with sexy gays. But there is a LOT of gay going around, so technically, yes, it's a BL. It wasn't a college story, so that was nice. Plus, this Drama has the most impressive villains in it I've ever seen in a Thai BL, along with several really effective plot twists.

Most of the other cast members did a really good job as well! Seriously, they accepted a challenging story and made it thrilling to watch. The only exceptions were the actresses who played Nam and Dr Faii. They alternated between overacting and dead-eyed. Especially the actress who played Nam, who seemed to occasionally be playing Ophelia from Hamlet. On Quaaludes. Yikes. But it was worth it to experience the other actors. As a Max and Tul vehicle, I'd count it as a win.

On the issue of production value: Oh, it's a good thing MyDramaList doesn't have a star rating for that. It would have tanked the overall score. The main problems with production were probably the result of budgetary constraints. I think there were exactly three set buildings used in the whole show. And they all get used for multiple plot locations, without redressing the sets in some cases. So a couple of times I had to re-watch scenes just to resolve confusion created by lack of unique sets. There is a scene involving a surgery and wow, I actually giggled during that. The absurdly low quality of the set and implausibly inadequate props shredded the 4th wall. Seriously guys, it needs to look at least a little bit realistic for a surgical theater.

Film angles and steadiness at times had issues. Though that may have been an artistic choice. It looked like they had a shoulder camera and ants in their pants.

Numerous scenes were shot as 1/3 static side shots on interlocuting actors. It's not something you generally see in film because it's DEAD boring. The storyboard artists and the director needed to have actually had lunch with each other to discuss dynamic alternatives.

The one setting that consistently delivered was the wild jungle scenes. The natural setting was astoundingly beautiful. The entire, overall feel of nature was wonderful.

My major plot complaints?
1) All I'll say is no one survives falling that far. Newp. Not even into water.
2) Surgery doesn't work like that.
3) And lastly, if my boyfriend ever set up a marriage proposal under the circumstances that appeared at the end of the drama, I'd feed him the engagement ring. It was the single most tone deaf marriage proposal EVER!

But it was a romp of a story to bring out Max and Tul in, and to give their fans a something very different than the usual fare. I've watched it all the way through twice and there are moments I absolutely loved. Most of them are the cloak and dagger stuff, but the fragile moments of love trying to bloom in patently hostile circumstances was really well done too,

Max and Tul have incredibly believable on screen attraction. You can just feel it. So, Overall the series had some really breathtakingly good moments, just because of Max/Tul. This will take you on a wild ride.

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Completed
In a Class of Her Own
2 people found this review helpful
Nov 9, 2021
36 of 36 episodes seen
Completed 1
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 10
This review may contain spoilers

Oh this was Sooooo Good.

I don't run into lots of dramas involving the "Girl in Pants" trope. I wish I did. I have loved it since I was a young girl myself. It's especially refreshing as a C-Drama with Ju Jing Yi. It's largely a trope that works in a historical setting of some kind. And that's the case here.

First, let me say the cast does NOT disappoint. Seriously, Ju Jing Yi is genius. The rest of the cast were also really, really good. But she just nailed it. She and Wang Rui Chang especially. And Zhu Sheng Yi was absolutely precious! Bi Wen Jun was sexy and funny and very human as a mechanism in this. And of course Song Wei Long was just such a perfect knight/hero.

I even enjoyed the villains of the piece. Seriously, from the brave to the obsequious to the cunning, the character acting in this was wonderfully entertaining. And the support cast made this rock and roll. All of them.

Now for the plot. There were no plot holes. This NEVER HAPPENS. You cannot imagine how excited I was by a world that while it had the staple elements of any historical C-Drama with hints of wuxia mixed in for fantastical effect, the plot was solid and definitely politically driven. Even the villains had consistent motivations.

I want to thank the writers for this one. It had everything. Mistaken identities, complex politics, tragic backstories, heartbreak, hidden agendas, love and romance, redemption, and action! And somehow it was all balanced with humor as well. It was laughable that it took dressing as an actual girl to get the hero to see the heroine for what she was, but the fact that no one thought the tiny, girly little man with delicate hands and porcelain skin was female was part of the fun. The almost ridiculous levels of willing suspension of disbelief is what makes the "Girl in Pants" trope work. It's also part of what makes it fun.

The archery contest was my favorite. The build up, the delivery, the comradeship, the tension. This whole story just was full of win. But the archery contest had a little bit of everything in it. It was like a shrunken down view of the entire plot. The villains, the heroine struggling, the heroes heroing, the politics a-brewing.

The music was nice. It was pretty and had good tension to it. But it wasn't amazing. It was the one area where a little more could have been thrown in to make it perfect.

The set was adorable, high quality and it swept you authentically into this world. So I can't really add any criticism there at all. The costuming was fun. The cinematography was on point. The production values were something to be proud of.

Do not pass this one up. Really. If you are at all a fan of Ju Jing Yi, or "Girl in Pants" stories, sit down and expect to have your mind blown. I have watched this drama front to back 4 TIMES! I have also re-watched my favorite parts standalone enough times that I forgot the number. You will love this.



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Completed
Detective Samoyeds
1 people found this review helpful
Aug 15, 2021
24 of 24 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 10

This Show Has CHARM!

Okay, I have to admit this show hit a button for me, largely because I am a "Sherlockian" addict. So here you have a witty, genius, somewhat problematic refugee played by the incomparable Xu Haiqiao. And at first the show looks like a light take on supernatural suspense. Then it shifts into a "Scooby Gang" approach to murder mysteries. But underneath, it's a political suspense drama. So yes, this show packs a lot into a small space.

It was filmed entirely on a gigantic sound stage that had NO air conditioning. So whenever I rewatch this, I'm always amazed the actors and staff did so well under such extreme situations for filming. They basically were producing this series in an oven.

The cast is super solid. As I said, Xu Haiqiao was brilliant. He pulled off a young and vulnerable, genius who was utterly mischievous in such a way that it's so very easy to fall in love with Samo Douluo. His character seems like he's entirely motivated by a child-like self-preservation, but underneath he's not short of brave and even sometimes noble moments. And considering how much older Xu Haiqiao was than the age of his character, he brilliantly pulled it off.

And Li He is the perfect hero in this. Brave, tall, attractive, noble to a fault, endlessly courageous. And he makes competent look soooo sexy. Despite all this, Li He brings a humanizing warmth to the otherwise annoyingly perfect character.

There are a couple of really strong female lead characters. Zhang Xin Yuan especially does an amazing job bringing the gangster/Innkeep Gongsun Si Niang to life. So beautiful. And such a BOSS!

Liu Guan Lin is predictably excellent and stalwart as Huang San Pao. San Pao probably deserves the award for most long-suffering character in this. And he's so cute with his grouchy big brother energy regarding Samo.

And of course, Ju Jing Yi. This was not a central role for her. Her character, Shangguan Zi Su was more main support. But she was so elegant and poised, so lovely and so very cool with her eidetic memory. Zi Su was a perfect foil for Samo, who was all rough edges and energy. Seriously, her "roaming hands" montage that meant she was pulling forth memories made me want to die and come back as her princess gloves.

Where this show fails is in the post production CGI. Because it was filmed on a sound stage, there are a lot of green screen shots. Some of them are excellent and seamless and you're transported without realizing the scene isn't really filmed outdoors. But bad CGI is a regular occurrence as well. Shoddy, unrealistic, poorly designed Architecture and lighting added entirely post-production with patently hack-level textures. It can throw you out of the story from time to time, even. What really got me were the shadows that didn't obey light direction on the live set, buildings added that don't obey the same perspective as the rest of the live set, that sort of thing. Oh, and the CGI blood.... Ugh. I actually wanted popcorn, just so I could throw it at the screen.

But if you can get past that, the story is worth it. SOOOOoooo worth it. The intrigue, the politics, the murders, the tragedy, the growing relationships between the main cast, the terrifying background power behind it all that unifies what feels like a kingdom-wide string of chaos and corruption. This plot was fun and thrilling and at times just a bit heartbreaking. I loved it. And there's a tragic secret to Samo's past that is utter win!

Grab a couple friends who love Sherlockian mysteries, political dramas and buddy fics, hunker down with plenty of un-buttered popcorn (so your TV screen isn't harmed when you throw it) And enjoy the ride. Seriously. YOu won't regret it.

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Completed
Tonhon Chonlatee
2 people found this review helpful
Jul 22, 2021
10 of 10 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 10
Music 7.5
Rewatch Value 10
This review may contain spoilers

Very Cute

Khaotung was adorable. He usually plays the quiet, wise support buddy in my experience and here he really showed a bigger box of acting tools. He managed to give Chon the perfect tone of sweet, innocent and smitten without him seeming like a pushover. In fact, Chon came with spunk! (And a good right hook!) I was pleasantly surprised by the way his role was written and Khaotung did a great job.

Pod did a really convincing job with the whole "I'm oblivious to the fact that I'm gayishly bi, under the illusion (delusion?) that I'm utterly straight" trope. Even though it turns out the truth of Tonhon is a lot more complex than that, Pod brought a genuine sense of cluelessness to the character. He also sold the whole toxic masculinity thing pretty well. So, overall, his performance was solid.

Pod was also just a perfect physical foil for Khaotung. Khao looked small and cute next to Pod, who was absolutely hot in this. And somehow it managed to avoid being weird and ended up working with their dynamic.

The theme song was nice at first, but ultimately not anything special and after a while it was plain annoying.

The comedy was well timed and though it was a little heavy handed, I laughed a lot.

The sets were varied enough to keep me oriented. (Something lacking in BL's occasionally. Hello 'Manner of Death'. I'm looking at you.) Overall the visuals were best described as predictable but very solid. The ocean scenes were gorgeous. I think my favorite set was Chonlatee's home. And is it me or do most BL's use the same white sedan and black SUV in every damn one? LOL.

The villainess was just as awful as any out there. Really terrible. More so than usual it seemed, in fact. You really got an endorphin kick out of hating her. Happily, it's her own personality that's the rock in her road to getting the hero, not her gender. She really is a repulsively narcissistic, bitch. She was so entitled I wanted to strand her on some place desert Island, without a cell phone. Just for a day or so, until the polish was gone off that bad apple.

There were some really unexpected things in the show, like Chon's upbeat mom, whom he was utterly "out" to. She was a lovely fount of wisdom. (With a pretty voice!) Really just the best sassy mom character! The overall abundance of fun female characters was nice. Chon's best friend, Pang. The villainess, Amp. Miriam. Oh, and the sweet prostitute turned nail technician! Lots of great female characters.

The momentary stop-over to get Chon laid "to man him up" was a first for me in a Thai BL and was hilarious. The side story of Tonhon's brother-in-law was uncomfortable but in an interesting manner that added to Tonhon's not-so-new gay crisis.

And most importantly perhaps, I was impressed that non-consent was addressed as actual NON-CONSENT! Too often lack of consent is fetishized in TV. I know a lot of people think it's BL's only, but if you think that, you didn't watch the same Game of Thrones I did.

It was also really kind of adorable to see Toptap and Mike back together in the same BL again. Sigh... They need to be a main character pairing together in some drama.

And Na was simply adorable. I never rooted for him but I can understand why other people watching the show might have. He was cute, ready to absolutely be there for Chonlatee and underneath the fronting he was very compassionate.

What didn't I like? I think they wrote Ton and Chon's first time having sex as really rushed. It was abrupt and verging on trivialized and not the least bit romantic. It came across as Tonhon resolving his sexuality crisis so suddenly he shot himself at Chon like a Chippendales' Stripper bullet.

The only other thing I feel was missing was the character Nueng paying for his part in things. That's my biggest complaint. He was a villain sidekick who didn't really end up having to deal with any consequences for his downright scary behavior.

I will say it was interesting to see how SOTUS was employed in the plot. As a whole, it's a system primed for abuse and we get a mild taste of that in this drama with Amp.

So overall I thought this was abundant in pleasant surprises, Comfy BL tropes, solid performances by actors I've grown nostalgically attached to, some great sassy girl-power moments, and a few less unresolved toxic behaviors than I've seen in some BL's (or even your average male targeted fantasy genre piece in Western media).

Watch this one. And then watch it again with a friend. Bring hot chocolate and your favorite lap quilt. It's a fun series to unwind to.

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Completed
TharnType
1 people found this review helpful
Jul 30, 2021
12 of 12 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 8.5
Story 8.0
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 6.5
This review may contain spoilers

Do Not Miss This BL But BE WARNED!

Seriously, I am shook! This was an amazing BL for a number of reasons. It was also a BL that you should view with caution for other reasons.

But I'll start with acting. The two leads, Mew and Gulf do an incredible job and have really phenomenal screen chemistry. And the supports were all very gifted actors as well. I think there wasn't a person in the cast who didn't just knock it out of the park! Type's toxic anger management issues were so well done. Tharn's utter grief towards the end, made me actually cry, and that's an achievement. I really can't say enough about the skill with which the main actors handled the roles.

Need a little more detail? Gulf gave a brilliant portrayal of Type as a raging anger moppet, concealing a deeply conflicted, deeply tortured character in the throws of a war with himself that is far more about his unresolved emotional baggage and far less about his actual sexual identity. As a survivor of an assault Type never really was able to contextualize what happened to him and his unresolved anger transferred onto LGBT men. He's deeply hurt, in the throws of severe PTSD and so conflicted he's enormously toxic. And Gulf brings every moment of that pain and bitterness out in very real and potent emotions on screen.

Mew gives achingly humanizing dimension to Tharn, an "out and proud" homosexual with a surprisingly nuanced personality and a lot of hope left in him, despite his suspiciously horrible track record with love. This character is far from perfect though and he himself does some very sketchy shit. On paper Tharn is a kind of a privileged boy-next-door sort and as a result, Tharn could have come off as boring . But underneath the good nature there's passion, righteous anger, desperation, devotion, mountainous vulnerability, and patience--wrapped in a burrito shell of VERY poorly reined-in impulses and absolutely abysmal decision making skills. And Mew brings every moment of that to life in superb color.

And while I spent half the time facepalming at Techno's utter lack of control over his mouth, I spent the rest of the time just laughing at his antics. If there was an award for loving a difficult friend, boy Techno would win it. Mild gave an amazing performance and it left me loving Techno forever.

Kudos also go to Tong for thankless job of playing Thorn, the best and worst older brother ever. (Worst because hello, is there a reason he didn't castrate San way back when Tharn was 14!? Let alone stayed friends with the creep?) Best brother for obvious reasons. He's really good at support.

And though he played one of the more insidious, criminally culpable villains I've ever seen in a college setting BL, the actor who played Lhong brought a lot of pathos and nuance to the character. It was chilling toward the end.

The gallery of smaller appearances and background characters was a lot richer and more varied than I expected. Champ was adorably sensitive, what we see of him, and he's such a rock at the end. San was suitably sleazy feeling. P'Jeed was a GEM! Team was hilarious! Both of the actors playing Tharn's parents were rock solid adorable! I loved them! The young actress playing Thanya made me grin like, non-stop. And while I didn't think Kokliang, the actor playing Tar, was nearly as cute as I think I was supposed to find him, I certainly found him very convincingly tragic. He acted the hell out of that role! Bravo!
The actors actors do such a good job I felt effortlessly swept up in the characterizations, even when I was yelling at them for doing terrible things.

Now onto production values. For a college setting it was visually pretty authentic, except for crowds at the football pitch. Their dorms even looked more like actual dorms than I'm used to seeing in a BL. Tharn's home definitely sold his social class and his family's identity as wealthy, progressive, "modern" Thai's. P'Jeed's bar was cute, with a cool 90's retro folk rock revival feel. Lighting values were very nice. The director knew how to set a mood. Music was excellent! I am hooked on that theme song.

Now onto the plot. The plot has to be looked at on two merits. The coherency of the plot and the actual way the themes were handled. Because the drama scores differently on each.

The love story itself just kicked my butt in terms of it's realism. That was sometimes wonderful and sometimes it was chilling. Steamy and heartbreaking and dark and hilarious and tender and infuriating, all in turns. This might sound like it was incoherent, but it wasn't. The actual structure of the romance plot was brilliant in its form. Intelligent dialog, authentic emotions out the wazo, good pace, excellent employment of background characters, and it all made blessed, blessed sense. I hate plots that make no sense. It had an unexpected villain. And the ending was amazingly dramatic! I needed a damn staycation to recover from binging it. Ultimately, this one set a standard for me for me both in what I wanted in a BL and what I hated in a BL. I definitely say that the screen writer was very skilled in adapting the shoddy source material.

Now for the themes. This show is NOT an easy watch. The show deals with some seriously adult topics, so be ready for some very dark themes. I was shocked by the gravity of some of it until later when I realized who the author was. I don't hate BL's with dark themes. I hate BL's where the dark themes are treated lightly or like fetish material. And for the most part that doesn't happen in this drama.

There are two notable moments when I felt the show fell short contextualizing lack of consent properly or completely within the framework of their romance. When Tharn gets revenge on Type's rampantly awful homophobic behaviors by leaving hickeys on him while he's out cold, it's not presented with the right tone. Yes, we see later how angry Type is but the overall context is that it was meant to make the audience laugh and that's a hard no. Not, NOT good. Horrible, in fact. And there is a moment when Tharn goes down on Type in the shower. It's not exactly non-consensual, but it's OH so damn close. Shockingly close. Type isn't restrained during the oral sex, but Tharn didn't gain anything resembling consent before he went about it and at least initially, Type was scared. Now, I will say that later Tharn shows remorse for that. I was gratified to find that later the plot does address it as an unacceptable act and I feel like the apology was definitely framed correctly not only on its own merits but because of the context of how it might have made some of Type's issues temporarily worse. And that is very rare in BL's. But that doesn't mean I felt the shower scene itself was framed correctly. Because it totally wasn't. Those two moments did not get proper treatment in terms of tone and it was something I think was a huge mistake.

There was one element of negativity in the romance I feel the show didn't handle wrong, per se. The tone was grave enough. But it wasn't "discussed" in the plot. And I wanted it to be. We saw by the end that Type had stopped doing it, but I really wanted a conversation about it. So it was handled okay, but not perfectly. Type had some serious anger issues and on more than one occasion he is what I would consider physically abusive with Tharn. I do note that as the story unfolded into the after series content and into the next season, this behavior is gone. But for the times we see it, I would have liked to have seen something more deliberate in the way of an approach to show this behavior for what it was.

(BL Done right!) This drama also has one of the sweetest, most authentic and casually sexy "gently mop the sick boy's brow" scenes I have ever watched. I typically roll my eyes at those scenes. Really, many of them are less "let me take care of you and relieve your suffering" and more "hey, let me awkwardly grope you with a wet towel while you feel too sucky to stop me." Mew managed to do something during that scene I'd rarely witnessed, which is make it look like he was actually trying to cool off a sick/fevered person and not just clumsily violating his love interest's personal bubble. And Gulf's performance was heartbreaking. Seriously, where did they find these two actors!!!

(BL done sort of wrong) During the course of their early very unhealthy dynamic, Tharn, against his own expectations, fell in love with Type. LOL. Not the bad part. But during the time frame after Tharn took care of Type when he was sick, a couple of nights Tharn kissed on Type's brow when he either is asleep, or he thinks he's asleep. While it was very benedictory and not sexual, more a "may you sleep without nightmares and may you not be sick again" kind of thing--I still feel like it was a little bit "no".

(BL done right!) Tharn's relationship with the idea of love is very dear. His ability to give himself to over to love after all the mishaps of past relationships shows a generous and hopeful nature. His willingness to walk away from Type when Type has such trouble coming to terms with his own sexuality shows a solid sense of self. And this is all beautifully contrasted by Lhong's greedy, malevolent love by contrast. He is neither well meaning or generous in his love. And his lack of sense of self is at the root. So wow. That was some brilliantly woven, complex and nuanced symmetry.

(BL done wrong!) The main thing I didn't really care for was that in the real world, Llong should have more consequences for his actions, instead of getting a teary-eyed, soppy "I turned bad because I was neglected" scene at the end. I rarely like villain redemption through apologist backstories. Your past never validates or diminishes the consequences for others when you do awful shit to people. Which is the same reason why Type's toxic behavior toward Than, while understandable, is not okay. Period.

(BL done right!) Type's filial relationships are so goddamn wholesome! I mean it! I loved his family and their dynamics were just not only very loving but very casually accepting of who Tharn was. I could have watched a whole drama just about Tharn and his brother, let alone the rest of that basket of absolute sweetness. I think this family's characterization is meant to be seen as the core of why Tharn is so well adjusted in his own sexual identity.

(BL done wrong!) They don't necessarily ever have Type demonstrate any real understanding that there's a difference between a pedophile and a homosexual. He reaches a place of "I get it. Not all gays", which I think we're supposed to feel is character growth, and compared to where Type started, it definitely IS. But it's not what I hoped for. It does nothing to deconstruct the patently false narrative that Type carries within him. One that is harming real gay peoples' lives every time it's perpetuated without being challenged. Yes, sore spot for me.

(BL done right!) The address of Tar's past was hearthbreaking and spine chilling and they did NOT handle it graphicly, thank fuck! But they did handle it in a way that you really felt the horror of what was done to him and so the tone was grave and grim and pitch perfect.

(BL done wrong!) I felt that at some point some damn boundaries should have been set for San! I left the show wishing Tharn would have said "hands off of me" and Thorn would have punched him for old time's sake. Or maybe booted him in the crotch. A lot. This character is a pedophile and his perpetual place in his victim's life (Tharn), while a sadly realistic component, was really REALLY not something I cared for. He was so slimy. And I get that we're supposed to feel like he's slimy, but I felt he was so believably slimy I wanted a cattle prod in Type's hands and the two of them alone in a room for 2 minutes.

Finally, there is a reason Mew Suppasit and Gulf Kanawut won awards for best kiss. The chemistry between the two of them is the most solid between two actors in any on-screen romance that I have ever seen in any country, in any genre ever. I've undoubtedly never seen anything as authentic before. The kisses were pure art.

So if you choose to watch this be forewarned. The content is hard. Be ready for a wild ride that really, REALLY feels good at the very end but the road there is sometimes awful. If you can make it through the rough waters I feel the payoff is worth it. Bring your girlfriends, some hot cocoa, a comfy blanket and DO NOT FORGET THE BOX OF TISSUE! And if you have to tap out, hey, I almost did at several points. There is no shame. I'm glad I didn't. But it was a near thing.

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Completed
2 Moons
1 people found this review helpful
Jul 30, 2021
12 of 12 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 10

Unexpectedly Great!

When Bas first stepped on screen I was pretty thrown. I was like "what's up with the weird little 12 year old kid?" (I think at the time of filming, Bas was 17.)

That went away almost immediately. Bas has some acting chops! In fact, of the two leads, God Itthipat is the one who is wooden. I'm not sure if God is in any other BL's, but he reads just a little uncomfortable with a couple of BL scenes. Though he was perfectly cute with Bas in other scenes, so maybe that's just the way the character Phana's temperament was written to be.

Regardless, the couple is adorable often enough that I much prefer this version of 2 Moons to the alt version, 2 moons 2. Kimmon does a great job as a best friend and wing man. He really brought such authenticity to the role that I could feel his character's platonic best friend love! Copter plays Kit just as brisk as Kit was ever meant to be. Tee was a very dependable and frankly funny Beam! And I gotta be real. Tae was much hotter than God and had a great chemistry with Bas. Tae acted Forth so perfectly you could just FEEL his interest in WaYo. And the dynamic between Kit and Beam was perfect!

The scene locations had a nice feel to them. Production values were solid! The scene dressing was very detailed, something I don't often comment on unless it was bad. Not so in this case. The music was cute.

The villainess was less awful than some, but wow, still just as awful as she needed to be. And the support characters were wonderful. The Fairy gang were splendid! And Bee Napat was just adorable!

This one wasn't deep or too terribly dramatic. It was kind of fun and had a predictable enough path that if you just needed a good time watch, this is THE thing to put on. It's very 'feel good' and tropy in a silly way that makes you giggle. It's too bad they never did a season 2 with this cast. I'd have eaten it right up!

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Completed
Insect Detective
0 people found this review helpful
Dec 26, 2021
24 of 24 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 10
This review may contain spoilers

Just watch it!

The cast... OMG. They managed the awkward, warm, narcissistic, dark, loving, violent and bizarre moments in this show so convincibgly that it took my breath away.

Zhang Gala stole the show. His chatacter, Tan Jing Tian, seemed like a weird and socially awkward Sherlock, at first. But he was actually just weirdly noble, generous of spirit, selfless, brave, emotionally earnest and hungry for family. And traumatized as hell. And Zhang Gala gave it his all.

His counterpart in actor Ma Ke, was no less accomplished and the gradual moral unravelling of his dark but amazingly nuanced character, Wen Bai, was the foundation for the most tragic and beautiful moments of the series.

Seriously, people. Do not miss this. The bromance was fun. The suspense kept me on the edge of my seat. The "case fic" villain of the week platform turned out to be a larger puzzle that blew my mind. The acting was amazing. The ending was heartbreaking and the final plot twist ruined me.

Whatever you are watching right now, set it aside and binge this series. You'll thank me later.

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Completed
Detective Samoyeds Season 2
0 people found this review helpful
Dec 26, 2021
24 of 24 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 10
This review may contain spoilers

This Was All That and More!

Again, the cast wowed! The storyline got more complex, more politically driven and the bigger picture of Samo Duo Luo's part at the center of things became tragically clearer. He's a prince of a fallen kingdom, of all things! And oh yeah, does the plot get dark.

If I could wish for a season 3 of any show...

The special effects continue to wow and make you cringe, in turns. Wow in that the town environments and general outdoor environments are filmed on a giant sound stage indoors, even though they feel "outdoors". And cringe because... well... bad cgi everything. But the writing of this show can't be beat! Nor can the acting.

The only real crime of it is that season 2 ends on a cliffhanger we'll never see resolved. But we do get closure in the final scene, in terms of Samo Duo Luo, having his found family, even as the invasion starts and everything looks like it's about to go to hell. (sigh) You get the distinct feeling that Li Zhi knows more about who Samo is than Samo himself does and that setup alone just begged for a season 3 to explore.

I loved this season. Really. The main villain of the piece never did get properly revealed, but his near supernatural abilities and the fact that he was doing all his Zionist crap in Samo's name??? Well, he certainly makes a wildly unusual bad guy.

I will warn English speaking audiences, though... Unless this has been fixed in the mean time, the subs for this season were terribly out of sync with the dialog delivery, and so tracking the dialogue will be a challenge. But it's worth the effort. That is, of course, where eng subs even exist. The last half of season 2 has no subs. Watch it anyway.

Settle in with some cocoa and a warm blanket and be prepared to love Xu Hai Qiao as the adorable and brilliant Samo Duo Luo, all over again.

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TharnType Season 2: 7 Years of Love
0 people found this review helpful
Jul 7, 2021
12 of 12 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 7.0
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 7.0

It was good. But... Way more fanservice.

Not nearly as compelling a story as season 1. In season one, stuff was ROUGH. But it made sense. Not everything in season 2 did.

There is a trend I've noticed in Bl dramas. Whoever the "problem child" of the main couple is in season 1, is the one who is in the right in season 2. And this trend follows here, but admittedly with a bit better (read more complex) reasoning behind it. Even so, it's an annoying trend because they usually devolve the character, who is otherwise normally a at least somewhat sensible or upstanding a character in order to accomplish it. No exception this time on that count.

The acting between the main characters is still VERY solid. And their more dramatic performances are balanced by some really cool, soft, romance between Tharn and Type. And overall their relationship is a lot more stable, as you might expect it to be after several years.

And Tharn and Type are bracketed by some wonderful and funny support characters. Especially Mild. He was hilarious from start to stop. I nearly fell out of my seat at his "Oh no, here we go again." shtick regarding Type's tendency to live up to that old adage "When the going gets tough the tough go deep cover CIA levels of clandestine entrapment".

Which leads right into one of my pet peeves in many genres of TV or movies but especially BL's. The lack of holding the "problem instigator" responsible for his/her actions in any meaningful way. In season 2, there are several "bad guys". But the main villain who sows dissent gets his own happy ending because even though Fiat caused enormous pain through selfish, clearly immoral (verging on illegal) actions, he's seen as too young to be held accountable. The real reason is Fiat's bound for his own spin off. So fuck that. Nope. Sorry. He was an adult, and was doing adult manipulation and asshattery. He should have faced some adult consequences.

All the same, it was nice to see the whole gang together again, even if I did feel the drama in season 2 hinged on devolving Tharn's character in order to shoe-horn certain aspects of the plot.

On a technical side? The settings were more artsy and dramatic and the sex scenes even more "adult". It was clearly fanservice. Which, how you view that will depend on how you feel about fanservice to begin with. I am not always a supporter of it. I'd often rather just have a decent story.

Type's problem with his boss and said boss' workplace misdeeds was a nice side story that introduced it's own stresses for Tharn and Type's relationship and THIS was the well done part because this felt like mature relationship stresses to me. This felt like the better, more them, story.

The actress who played aged up Thanya was brilliant and lovely, and she brought a delightful feminine savvy to the plot. But the character of Thorn was a bit odd this time around. I think his behavior was written to be reflexive sibling protectiveness but came across as "nope! Tharn you aren't going through this shit again! You are my child and I will protect you." Seriously, weirdly Tiger-mom Thorn! And haha! Thanya's character was all like "Thorn, honey, sweetie. Shut up and let me handle this".

Then came Type's family scenes. I was left wondering how the very smart Type came from such an idiot sire. But that's part of the fun of Type's family, I suppose. Also, Buddhism for the win! Gulf was so weirdly cute at temple.

In the end, watch it just to see more of the characters you love. Do NOT watch it because you need more of Season 1 Tharn handling Type's ups and downs with the patience of a saint. This is, in its own way, as bumpy a ride as season 1 it just feels like they actually covered less ground because it was, over all, very out of character of Tharn. And that's probably my biggest complaint about it.

But, that being said, it did lead them straight into their special EP that was their wedding.

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