4 shows

Mar. 8th, 2017 09:59 am
sarea: (park bo-young)
[personal profile] sarea
I have watched the pilot or more of four shows recently, and I have two I recommend, one I semi-rec, and one I don't rec at all.

Let's start with the bad news, shall we?

Riverdale: I'm sorry, [personal profile] slitherhither, but this show is not good at ALL. The writing is bad, the acting is... not terrible, but not great, certainly not enough to overcome the bad writing, and the overarching mystery feels like such a retread of shows that actually did it well. Basically, this is another CW shallow teen drama. And I'm not necessarily anti-shallow teen dramas as a rule, but you have to give me something to hang my interest onto (like Vampire Diaries). Going in, I didn't even have the reservations that [profile] jade_okelani and [personal profile] adelagia had about the show; they both said the same thing, that they were really into the comics as kids and what they were doing with the show felt "wrong." I read Archie a bit and shipped Archie with Betty, but it wasn't a passionate interest of mine. So I was more than willing to be swept up in whatever guilty pleasure Riverdale had to offer. Sadly, there was no GP to be had at all.

- One trope that has always turned me off is student/teacher. So the fact that Archie is having an affair or whatever with one of the teachers is such a major turn off.

- I'm okay with all the actors who are playing each of the characters, though none of them stand out, either. Archie, as with Jason Blossom, looks like such a fake redhead it's laughable. Veronica, who reminds me of Amy Poehler, has really crazy long eyebrows that are distracting. They practically go down the bridge of her nose!

- The part of the ep where it just was a huge red flag that this was not a show I wanted to watch: When Veronica kisses Betty at cheerleading tryouts. So eyeroll worthy, omg. The fact that the head cheerleader calls it out as being lame doesn't negate it -- it's just their way of trying to have their cake and eat it too.

- The mystery surrounding the murder/disappearance of Jason Blossom is reminiscent of Veronica Mars, except VM was actually a smart, edgy show that was well written, well thought out, and well executed. Riverdale, at least from the pilot, is none of those things. As Jade said, it was like someone watched Veronica Mars and Dawson's Creek and decided to mash them together (unsuccessfully).

Jade: I don't give a fuck about Jason or who killed him. [In] Veronica Mars... you fucking loved Lily, even when you hated her. She was way too interesting to be dead. It hurt that she was dead, because it hurt Veronica, hurt Logan, hurt Duncan--but mostly because it just seemed wrong. Even if you hated her, it seemed wrong that she wasn't there anymore. And you FELT that in the pilot, so you cared. Ugh.

Me: Lilly was a real person who had awesome things about her and a lot of flaws. Everyone on Riverdale is a caricature of a person.

- They tried too hard to make Veronica a likable character from the get go. It's actually not good for us to like her right away; I would have preferred that development to happen down the road, like with the Quinn character on Glee. Because with her being a cool person, it makes the love triangle sooooo blah. Obviously she's getting together with Archie at some point, which begs the question of what kind of friend does that to another friend?

At least in the comics Veronica and Betty were best friends, and had been friends since they were children. But this Veronica is new to town, so she doesn't have the same background with Archie, as in she hasn't known him as long, so she doesn't have as much "right" to him, especially considering she's trying to be a good friend to Betty.

- It's not even that I ship Archie and Betty so hard or anything; it's more that I feel like everything I'm watching is a waste of time, because regardless of the fact that I prefer Betty with him -- I do feel like they're aiming for that ship to be endgame. (Well, as much as an American show can "aim" for anything, since they base their decisions not on story but on whether and how the can keep a show going.) In which case, everything that's happening is basically pointless filler. You don't have to give me the endgame ship right away, but you have to make me want to watch it play out in the middle of the swill you're putting out. They've done the opposite.

Goblin: This is my semi-rec. I'm enjoying it, but also... not. I was realllllly excited about this one, because the story sounded good and Gong Yoo was cast as the lead -- I believe it's his first drama since being discharged from the military -- but the reality of it has been somewhat lacking. The theme song is haunting and lovely, the cinematography is gorgeous, the acting is great... basically everything but the story itself.

- Gong-yoo looks so much older than I'm used to seeing him, lol. And that would be fine if the lead actress couldn't pass for 17, while he can pass for 40. The two of them don't seem to be a very good fit, couple wise. I don't really sense much chemistry between them, but maybe that's just me.

- I like the lead actress okay, and from what I've read, she's actually supposed to be a really good actress. But I'm just not sure I really like her character. I find so many things about her grating, most especially her penchant to be on the verge of tears one minute and then cheerful and worry-free the next; I think it's supposed to be charming? Whereas I find it really irritating. She has a pretty shitty life, with crazy stuff that goes down, but she never seems to worry about anything beyond her immediate problem -- and even that worry goes away as soon as Goblin appears, FOR NO REASON. Like, HELLO, ask him for help! Don't just give him a pressed maple leaf, you got real shit going on! The result is that she comes off as flighty and immature, with an inability to actually take control of her own life.

- They apparently want to draw out Goblin's backstory, but it's so piecemeal and nonsensical so far that instead of being intriguing, it's irritating. Who was the woman with the ring, and who was she to Goblin? Why did she tell him to go after the king, only for Goblin to move suuuuuuuuuuuuuper slowly and end up getting everyone, including himself, killed for no reason? How does she relate to the chicken shop owner woman?

- Speaking of the chicken shop owner woman, she and the Grim Reaper both keep getting praised by other characters for being incredibly attractive, and I could not agree less! I don't find EITHER of them very attractive at all. He's just not cute, period, while she has the kind of shallow attractiveness that fools you on first glance, before you realize that it's all smoke and mirrors.

- Then there's the old-now-young woman in red. WhoTF is she, and how does she know so much? Why/how is she helping things move along? Why was she "old" (in quotations because it was literally the worst old-age makeup I've ever seen, and I'm including that episode of The X-Files where Mulder and Scully aged on a submarine or whatever it was), and why did she turn young again?

- There are so many "mysteries" on the show that they feed you tiny pieces of, but never give you enough to make you ask more questions; you just ask the same questions over and over. It's not effective storytelling, and like I said, doesn't make me intrigued to know more. It only frustrates me because I don't know what the fuck is going on. Jade seems to have more tolerance for this than me.

- The only character I like without reservation -- and this is a surprise, because there's really no logical reason for it, and he wasn't a character I liked much in the beginning -- is Deok-hwa. He's totally irreverent, seems to have no usefulness at all, is needlessly rebellious, and is kind of shallow and arrogant. And yet, he says the funniest shit ("I'm a third-generation rich boy"), is comfortable with who he is, and seems to be the most well-adjusted character on the whole show. And on a show where so many characters seem to be suffering from ennui, an identity crisis, or other angst, he's very refreshing.

The OA: I knew almost nothing about this show going in; I had learned about it in an article about the lead actress. I knew it was sci-fi, and that was enough for me to give the pilot a shot. Unlike Goblin and Riverdale, its overarching mystery is pretty intriguing, and they are able to successfully balance the mystery with giving the audience enough bits and pieces to keep us interested. I'm not crazy about the lead actress, but the story and writing are good so far, and the characters aren't two dimensional. It kind of feels like a sci-fi version of The Breakfast Club, lol.

Strong Woman Do Bong Soon: I rec this one unreservedly, with my whole heart. <3 Park Bo-young is almost impossibly adorable, sweet and likable. Well, to me, anyway. I've liked her in everything I've ever seen her in, starting with You Call It Passion, a movie I saw on one of my flights somewhere. She seems to be transitioning from doing movies to doing dramas, and so far, I'm loving it. Oh My Ghostess was her first drama in awhile, and her transitions from being the mousy restaurant worker to being the bubbly ghost were impressively night and day. I don't think she looks as good with the lighter brown/orange hair she's rocking as Bong-soon, but she's a different character so I'll live. ;)

Park Hyung-sik is a very pleasant surprise as Ahn Min-hyuk. I've never seen him in anything before, and usually when I watch K-drama these days, part of me laments that the hero isn't being played by SIG. ;) In this case, there's no lamenting at all! Jade and I both loooooooooooooove him!

I also love Ji-soo as In Guk-doo. I first saw him in the movie One Way Trip, and I had liked him very much there, too. Jade isn't as crazy about him, but honestly he's helping me like even the secondary pairing. I like the actor, I like the childhood friends thing (hello, Answer Me 1997!), etc. I do prefer her with Min-hyuk, but I can enjoy the Guk-doo ship too, which is a nice change of pace from my usual feelings about K-drama triangles (that the second lead should just GO AWAY).

The plot for this one, with the serial killer, is oddly dark for the rest of the show, but I'm okay with it. There hasn't been that much to put up with so far. Jade and I are both curious about who the culprit is, of course, and our theories have ranged from "It's Guk-doo, and he's working with someone!" to "It's the guy who claimed he was a witness to one of the attacks!" to "It's her twin brother!" At this point I think it would be a little too dark for it to be her brother or her crush, but who knows.

I think it's a little weird that they're having Guk-doo's girlfriend be interested in the twin brother, though. That's such a needlessly angsty complication, and for what? To free Guk-doo up to like Bong-soon? But couldn't they just get rid of his girlfriend some other way? Does she have to be a character that we get to know and who has a side story? Or is it to make it okay once he's revealed to be the serial killer? :P

I'm also not sure why we care about the mom and her friends and whatever they're doing with the local development stuff. Bong-soon's mom, by the way, play Yul's mother in Goong, and we haaaaaaaaaaaated her. I like her a lot more in this, even though she's once again playing kind of a bitch, lol. But it's the kind of bitchiness I can tolerate.

Another storyline I'm scratching my head about is that of the mob leader. I don't know who he is or how he fits in, but he seems to know Bong-soon or her family or possibly Min-hyuk (or maybe Min-hyuk is the one who knows him) somehow. I have no clue. I don't know why they have to keep bringing the mobsters back at all... that and the high school gang Bong-soon seems to be accumulating/leading... I have little to no interest in these developments.

It seems obvious at this point that the person who's behind the threats to Min-hyuk is the one brother he trusts, the second hyung who was on his side when he was young, and who Bong-soon finds the least threatening. Poor Min-hyuk, how devastating would that be? He already feels like his whole family hates him; for the culprit to turn out to be the one brother he thought he could trust would be so awful.

One of the things I like most about Min-hyuk -- other than that he says some pretty funny shit -- is that he likes Bong-soon for her strength. One of the prevailing things in K-dramas that drives me crazy (especially in older shows) is that the women just get physically pulled along everywhere, and seem to have no say or control over the things that affect them. Sometimes, I can take it and even like it (Yi-jeong/Ga-eul comes to mind), but mostly I get impatient with it. Even when they don't intend it, the guys just seem really overbearing when they behave that way.

Min-hyuk is arrogant and overbearing, but in an appropriate capacity -- he's her boss, after all. But he doesn't physically drag her from place to place; he does it by word and circumstance, which is way more tolerable. Most of all, though, he appreciates Bong-soon's strength (as Jade says, "he likes her because of her strength, rather than despite her strength"), and it's really refreshing to have a male lead who is secure enough in his masculinity to not only be cool with how strong she is, but to even deliberately annoy her by acting as though he's a gay man who's attracted to her childhood crush. (I also give props to the Yoon-jae character in Answer Me 1997 for being totally accepting of Joon-hee's sexual orientation and not making a big deal -- or any deal -- out of it.)

The one thing I wish they'd do differently is that I don't need both guys to realize they like Bong-soon at the same time. It'd actually be more satisfying if Min-hyuk's realization came later, but it seems like it's already too late; he's already looking at her differently. I don't mind the signs of quasi-jealousy he's displayed toward Guk-doo so far, but I'd prefer that he not recognize why it bothers him until down the road. I can't even articulate why I have this preference; I guess it's because I don't have any desire to see Min-hyuk pining away in one-sided love for her, while she's happy about Guk-doo returning her affections? It's kind of what happened in High School King of Savvy, and I wasn't crazy about it then, either. The biggest thing is that Jade and I both LOVE the dynamic that Min-hyuk and Bong-soon have right now, and we want to see more of it, rather than his suddenly softening toward her and vice versa.

Anyway, I highly rec the show, and I both am glad and regret that we decided to watch it as a WIP. :)) On the one hand, I really look forward to each new episode; on the other hand, it's torturous having to wait!
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