Upping the Addiction: A Dodo’s Review of 2010 Dramas


So I’m a procrastinator. Sue me. But it’s still technically 2010 over at my end so this end of the year drama review is still valid! This was a good year for dramas, but also a year where I saw a lot of great drama blogging sites pop up. Just look at my blogroll links and you’ll find out that most of them were created in 2010. I myself started to blog early this year, a baby step I took to overcome my fear of expressing my opinions in public places. For years, I was afraid to write or say anything, having remembered teachers berating and humiliating me for my outspokenness that were not permitted in a private school. However, my love — or was it addiction — of dramas exacerbated to new heights this year, and I could no longer bottle up my own emotions in a private journal. It’s more fun with two, they say. Hence, although this blog has a small readership and is fairly new, I’ve found a group of drama lovers such as myself who have encouraged me to continue writing. Much thanks to them and my real life friends for letting me continue to rant and rave about dramas.

(Before you read on, you should probably know that the majority of this review was written under time pressure, kind of like a Food Network Challenge. Hence, it’s really not my best work. But venture on, if you dare!)

At first, I didn’t really want to write an end of the year drama review, since practically every drama blogging site has one. But what the heck – I like a challenge. I’m only going to write about the dramas I’ve finished and am currently watching, and it does not include the dramas I’ve finished that aired prior to 2010 or the ones I dropped. Instead of calling this a review, this is really more of a reflection, based on my personal emotions. The length of my commentary on each drama also varies, since I’m crunched for time. This brings the total of 2010 dramas I’ve watched to 20, a number alone that almost triples the amount of dramas I watched in 2007, and is twice the number of dramas I watched in 2009.

God of Study

I don’t know why, but God of Study was the very first Korean drama I picked up in 2010. I suppose it’s because I’m a shallow fangirl/noona who saw Yoo Seung Ho and was immediately smitten. Regardless of the reasons why I chose to finish this, God of Study is an interesting case of where I felt totally indifferent to the characters and thought that it was brainless entertainment. Yet instead of running away and dumping this after the first episode, I finished it, even if I did fast-forward through some of the boring parts. Don’t judge. I don’t have time to watch crap. Whoops, did I just say crap? Yes. This was crap but better crap than some of the other dramas 2010 offered. To think that I dropped Jejoongwon for this! O, smite thee, drama gods! Smite thee!

At times banal, this drama tried to relay a message of how mere dummies can turn into geniuses as long as they were forced to study. And pushed to study some more. I suppose this drama would have been an encouragement to those prepping for the SATs, but because I’m not in high school anymore, I fast-forwarded throughout any scene that prolonged its focus on cramming for those exams. Been there, done that. I don’t want to remember those nights of hell, thankyouverymuch. The teens in this drama including T-ARA member Ji Yeon, Go Ah Sung, Yoo Seung Ho, Lee Hyun Woo, and Lee Chan Ho saved this drama from completely falling apart. The group chemistry was particularly strong and it was for them that I watched this. Bae Doo Na, as some K-drama critics have already noted on numerous online community sites, was completely wasted in this drama. She was actually a bit aggravating, but I think it was just her character. I didn’t really get her little romance with Kim Soo Ro but then again, I didn’t understand the teen love triangle in the latter half between  Ji Yeon, Go Ah Sung and Yoo Seung Ho. Oh well. This is definitely not a drama I want to rewatch nor is it a drama that left deep impressions. Even if you happen to see Yoo Seung Ho’s beautiful face on the God of Study poster and you fall in love, this isn’t something I recommend, even if all you want is mindless fluff. There’s other stuff out there that’s better to watch.

Pasta

Oh, Pasta. I wrote up a short review for this drama on my tumblr, but ultimately decided not to repost it onto this new account once I knew I would be including it in my end of the year post. I doubt I can offer anything new to say about this drama that hasn’t already been said. In terms of plot progression, the drama trudges slowly but it’s also food porn that causes you to salivate instantly at one glance. The writing was poor, with the writer writing in circles to create some kind of angst. It’s to Pasta’s credit that the chemistry between leads Lee Seon Kyun and Gong Hyo Jin kept this drama from falling apart. Thank the drama gods smell-o-television hasn’t been invented yet or else I would’ve died and gone to heaven in each episode. I actually didn’t fast-forward much since I really enjoyed the adorableness of the OTP. However, I didn’t care so much for the kitchen drama or the constant bickerings between Team Italy and Team Oldies.

As much as I did like the charming OTP, I regret wasting my time on this when I could have watched something else. It’s not so much because Pasta was a bad drama, per se, it was more of a drama that could have been palpably understood through recaps. In fact, the recaps made the drama much more interesting. When this drama was over, I wanted to SHOUT! LIKE! THIS! — a little something I learned from The Chef aka. The Voice aka Lee Seon Kyun.

Oh! My Lady

Alright, I’m a pretty big Super Junior fan. I’ve been one ever since I watched their reality TV show Super Junior Full House years ago. So a chance to watch Choi Siwon in a Korean drama? Sign me up, please! To be honest, though, I wasn’t expecting to be moved by anybody’s performance in OML. I wasn’t blown away by the cast list, having never seen any of ’em in a drama before. So the only expectations I had for this was to be entertained. Was I? Check. Double Check. OML was such a delightful, entertaining watch. It was fluffy but not the kind that would instantly dissipate into the air. Sugary goodness in moderation is always good for the soul, no?

What made this drama work for me wasn’t the romance but the father-daughter relationship between Choi Siwon and Kim Yu Bin. They were so. CUTE! (See picture above for proof.) I wrote up a post or two just on Kim Yu Bin, who is possibly the cutest little doll I’ve ever seen.  I never quite liked the romance between Chae Rim and Choi Siwon. They had their adorable moments, too, but I just could never feel their chemistry, and I also felt that the love squares were unconvincing. But all of that aside, the chemistry between father and daughter sustained this drama and was its biggest strength.

Cinderella’s Sister

I remember being so excited about this before the drama premiered since it was based on the premise that it would be a revenge drama with a twist on Cinderella and the Stepsister. I saw the cast and thought that for sure, this would be a masterpiece. Where can we go wrong with Chun Jung Myung, Moon Geun Young, Lee Mi Sook, and Kim Gab Soo? Never mind that Writer Kim Kyu Wan hasn’t really written any dramas that I’ve watched before. This will be an awesome show. Not.

What bugged me was Seo Woo, the pampered princess with hidden colors. I didn’t like her. Her eyes bugged me. Her high-pitched voice was screechy. She got better later on, but that was a pretty bad first impressions. I didn’t sign up for an angsty melodrama that dragged on for ages but that’s somehow what I got. I know bloggers have said that after four episodes and the character time jumps, the drama officially took a turn for the worse. Personally, I enjoyed it until halfway through, when I realized that the drama wasn’t going anywhere and that PIE aka Chun Jung Myung wasn’t going to take off his shirt. That made me eternally sad. I did have several favorite moments in this drama, even during the latter half, causing a flicker of hope to rise — and die. I still remember Chun Jung Myung’s Ki Hoon called out, “Eun Jo ya, Eun Jo ya,” which caused my heart to pound like crazy. This drama could’ve been so good if someone like Noh Hee Kyung or Jung Ha Yeon took over the writing. Sigh. But no, we were stuck in a plot circle for episodes. So should you skip this? Please! Save yourself before you drown from Moon Geun Young’s flood of tears.

Prosecutor Princess

Possibly one of the more underrated dramas I watched all year. Just sayin’. I didn’t buy the first episode at first, which was full of sparkly shoes and decorated handbags. I checked into PP just to see Kim So Yeon in a leading role. Out of the three dramas in this time slot, PP’s premise was the least appealing. A gal who preferred to shop instead of doing prosecutor work but later matures to become a good prosecutor? Compare that premise to a drama that’s about a guy pretending to be gay while living with the girl he likes and a drama that twists the Cinderella story. PP sounded absolutely dull, compared to Cinderella’s Sister and Personal Taste. But by the end of the series, I liked this one the best. How ironic. PP single-handedly proved that one should never judge a book by its cover, or a drama by its cast.

The acting may have been OTT in the first few episodes, but the drama mellows out and finds its footing through the OTP. It’s true that the prosecuting cases and office scenes weren’t interesting but it doesn’t matter because I wasn’t watching the drama strictly for the law cases. I watched it for the sweet, developing relationship between Ma Hye Ri and Seo In Woo. I loved everything about this couple — from their bickering to their kisses. Oh, goodness, their kisses. Park Shi Hoo and Kim So Yeon get my vote for Best Kiss of 2010. That should be telling you something. Their characters really grow on you after several episodes, and it’s one of those dramas that progresses with each new episode. Even if you’re not a fan of Park Shi Hoo or Kim So Yeon, by the time this drama is over, I guarantee that you will be.

Personal Taste

More like Personal Waste. So much freaking potential. So wasted. Enough said.

Or not. I was looking forward to seeing Sohn Ye Jin and Lee Min Ho in a rom com together. Again, just like with Cinderella’s Sister, that’s not what I got. I did not expect recurring melodramatic angst with practically no humor. I can count on one hand the number of times I laughed throughout this entire series. That’s pretty sad, Show.

It wasn’t so much the crappy directing and editing that irked me but just how aggravating and grating the entire drama was. The music also got really old really fast. (Sorry Jo Kwon! I love your voice but hearing the recurring chorus of “Like an idiot” in practically every scene was tiring. I must also add that it took me nearly three weeks for me to find the willpower to watch the finale, only because I knew there was going to be a mountain full of angst before the happy ending.

Chuno

If you’ve read my Chuno review, you know that this is a drama that leaves me quite conflicted. I’ll be the first to admit Chuno wasn’t as great as it tried to be, but I also find myself defending it to friends who hated it. I never was in love, yet I never wanted to break up with it, either. There’s not much that I can add to what I’ve already said except that months after this drama finished airing, I strangely still think of Lee Dae Gil. To this day, Jang Hyuk‘s performance left a tiny mark on my heart. Whereas the rest of the characters in this drama are slowly forgotten, this one character remains. This drama was all Jang Hyuk, his acting raw and heartfelt. It was his desire to find Un Nyun (played by the rather boring Lee Da Hae) that he became a slave hunter.

Bad Guy

The writing, especially near the finale, killed anything I enjoyed about this series. Even Kim Nam Gil, Han Ga In, Kim Jae Wook, or Oh Yun Soo couldn’t save this shipwreck from going down under. C’mon, I invested time and watched this. This drama wins the category for The Most WTF Ending in 2010. Period. Can I show you what this drama COULD have been if it continued to be like the trailer below?

Watching that trailer for the first time gave me goosebumps. I was hooked. Halfway through, the drama showed sign of insanity but I still trudged forward, hoping against hope that the ending would somehow make sense. By this time, I got massive headaches. Then the finale came along and I wanted to puke. Literally. At the stupid cop-out ending of our hero. Everything that I had watched for the last 17 hours was pointless. There’s no logical argument to support the ending. Let me clarify something: Sometimes the ending doesn’t change how much I like or hate a drama, but if a drama’s biggest appeal is everything that leads up to that ending, and that end sucks big, fat boba balls, then of course I’m going to hate the entire series. Because I don’t like to be teased and tricked by false hope. And that’s what Bad Guy did — it dangled and teased me that the ending would somehow make sense, and it just didn’t work out. It was like the writers were trying to mess with us because to me, THAT ENDING DIDN’T EXIST. In fact, I will forever be in denial of that finale. The ironic thing was that after I finished this drama, I laughed until my stomach hurt. I didn’t cry but laughed until I felt satisfied. I had a choice between laughing hysterically or throwing tons of bricks at my computer screen. I chose denial, and therefore, laughed.

Dr. Champ

One of the prettiest shows I’ve watched all year and also contains one of my favorite bromances of the year. It’s fun and underrated. For a sports/medical drama, it surprisingly focuses a lot on its character and their growth. I may not have enjoyed Kim So Yeon as much in this drama as much as I did in PP, but I fell in love with Jung Gyu Woon and Jung Suk Won. An absolutely riveting performance from the both of them amidst shaky plot lines in the latter half.

My Girlfriend is a Gumiho

I’ve been a fan of the Hong Sisters ever since You’re Beautiful, even though I’ve watched most of their past dramas prior to YB. I’ve always found myself feeling extremely happy after watching an episode of their dramas and MGiaG is no exception. It’s also one of those shows that tend to get better with each episode. I truly love this show because it’s full of heart and cuteness that I just can’t get enough of. Full of symbolism, this drama does not disappoint in acting, directing, music score, or writing. Again, there’s not much that I can add to this after my MGiaG review. It’s my favorite drama of 2010 and one that has made my favorites list. Oh and btw, I am now forever a fan of Lee Seung Gi and Shin Mina. They’ve also got my vote for favorite couple of the year .


Playful Kiss

I’m almost embarrassed, but proud to admit that I’m a PKisser, having stalked the internet daily for over eight weeks for recaps and news of Playful Kiss. Never before did I join online forums or threads until this drama came along. What’s interesting is that this drama should have come and left quietly, yet it sparked a tremendous online fandom as well as a few controversies. It’s a flawed drama with monkey editors that were probably half-awake on their jobs, and a writer that opted for the slow train instead of the speed rail. Despite its flaws, I still think about the wonderful online camaraderie this little drama brought, and the hours I put into writing analyses on the characters in discussion threads.

This drama sometimes irked me and had me biting on my fingernails; I wasn’t always satisfied with the way the plot unfolded. I did find myself often defending Oh Ha Ni, who was brought alive by the up-and-coming actress Jung So Min. I recently rewatched one of the YouTube webisodes, and was reminded of why this drama eventually grew on me. Oh Ha Ni and Baek Seung Jo were one of the highlighted couples of 2010. Never mind the fact that the latter was often robot-like in his actions, quite different from most K-drama men.  I loved the character of Ha Ni because she was the one who chased and fought for this relationship, to the distaste of some viewers. Perhaps her fervent adoration for a boy came off as annoying to some, especially when her love interest was coldly indifferent to her for half the series, but this was the aspect of Ha Ni I liked the most. I’m probably not alone when I say that Oh Ha Ni reminded me of my younger self, which is why many viewers have called Playful Kiss a drama that brings slices-of-life through its characters.

Even when I got annoyed at Ha Ni for trying to find her identity through Baek Seung Jo in some of the episodes, where she seemed to find herself only when she was with him, half of the time, the reason for my annoyance was because of some similar personal experience. The only other characters I found interesting were the Baek family, who never failed to put a smile on my face.

Now that this year is over, it’s safe to say that PK was one drama I vehemently ranted about in both Real Life and in the online world. It was a drama that brought me out of lurk mode, and for that, I’m forever grateful.

Autumn’s Concerto:

In the beginning, I refused to even touch this drama because of one thing: It’s a Taiwanese drama. Oh, and because some guy from F4 was going to be the male lead. I’m not a fan of Taiwanese dramas because <whispers> most of the time, they tend to be like crap. Of the most stinky kind, such as when one eats too much beans and ice cream. I came to this conclusion after watching some Taiwanese dramas that are considered to be “the best” in recent years. They always disappointed me and left a bad aftertaste in my mouth. When Autumn’s Concerto aired and it received good critical review, I was still hesitant to try it. I promised myself that I never would. Never, ever, EVER! Absolutely not. Sigh. I hate it when I make promises that I can’t keep. I admit that my curiosity got the better of me. After the constant video teasers that someone (a guy-friend, no less) sent me during our IM chats, I couldn’t resist the temptation. I took a bite of the forbidden fruit and…I didn’t die.

After watching just the video teasers, I didn’t choke to death or have my eyes fall out of my head. No, instead, I was mesmerized with the story. It was okay. It was decent. It was not what I had expected and in fact, it exceeded all my expectations! So why was this drama so captivating? Two words: Ady An. She is remarkably, hands down, one of the greatest Taiwanese actresses I have seen on screen. She can actually act! Even when the second half of the drama got ridiculously slow and predictable, it was bearable because of her. Nothing else mattered. Besides her, nothing particularly grabbed my attention when watching Ady take over her character of Liang Mu Chen. Another actor who rocked his role was Xiao Xiao Bin, who played Liang Xiao Le. He may still be a little kid but he was absolutely fantastical! Oh my gawd. This little boy is not only adorable but he’s a tremendous actor! Watch out ladies! In a few years, this little boy is going to be a hottie on wheels! One scene where he chases down Guang Xi practically keeeeled me. Unfortunately, Van Ness Wu wasn’t that great, but he does have screen presence. This was my very first impression of him as an actor but he just couldn’t pull it off. I am a fan though…but I’m not blind to his acting imperfections which including quite a lot of OTT antics. What he lacks in acting, he makes up in looks. So it balances out. Have I mentioned yet that I’m shallow?

Joseon X-Files

There’s really no way my little dodo-sized brain can possibly write a review worthy of this drama. So here’s a list of reasons summing up why I liked this series: Pretty cinematography. Skillful directing. Thrilling story. Puzzling pieces that give glimpses of a bigger picture. Shortness of the episodes but complexity of the story. Contrasting characters. Stellar acting ensemble. Intense. Scared the crap of out of me. Caused me to put my thinking cap on. Ambiguous and up for interpretations, which is always a good thing. Pure genius.

My only complaint? It didn’t grip me entirely in the emotions category but it doesn’t matter since this is my vote for Best Substantial Drama of 2010.

I am Legend

I once sworn off any drama starring Kim Jung Eun, having once seen her in Lovers in Paris. I was appalled at the OTTness of her acting and it wasn’t a very good first impression. It’s been years since I’ve watched her in anything, and boy I love it when I’m wrong about somebody. This gal is a natural, breathing life into her character. Despite the lame turn in the drama, when Show decided to pursue law cases instead of rock bands, Kim Jung Eun stayed consistently fantastic. It had potential and this drama does lose its identity halfway through, but all in all, I don’t necessarily regret watching this because at least it kept me invested most of the time.

Sungkyunkwan Scandal

Another one of those pretty dramas that was delectable to watch! Sungkyunkwan Scandal is a drama that I love, but also a drama that pissed me off. I wasn’t quite as addicted to SKKS as I was to PK but regardless, I was an addict. This drama’s greatest strength — and appeal — was Song Joong Ki and Yoo Ah In. (Just look at my current blog header above) If you’ve heard about SKKS and you don’t know this, then you clearly aren’t informed. These two boys set the bromance standards for years to come. I found them more enjoyable than the actual OTP itself. Although I liked Micky Yoochun and Park Min Young‘s performances, nothing can compare to Yummy and Moony scenes. N-O-T-H-I-N-G. Yes, I felt it was necessary to spell it out for you.

It’s true that the last four episodes take a turn for the worse, however, this drama remains one of the best rom-coms of the year. Because of the bromance, of course. I can’t really elaborate more because everything else I’ll say will be redundant. Bromance. FTW!

That Love Comes

Can I cheat here and just say for you to read my recaps? Because honestly, you’ll get paragraphs and paragraphs of comments there. Fine, fine. I’ll write a short blurb here. Seeing as how this is the second Chinese/Taiwanese drama I finished in 2010, there’s a reason why I finished it. First off, Joe Cheng is awesome — and hot. What? I’m shallow. So judge me. Second, it’s 12 episodes long and an average of 30 minutes per episode. Then there’s the pretty cinematography and music. Third, the adorableness and sizzling chemistry of our main couple.
I disagree with those that thought that the acting was horrible or that it was way too cheesy. Sure, perhaps this drama is a bit simplistic but it has a lot of heart. Something I always appreciate. At the heart of this drama is our OTP, and they kept me going despite the sloppy writing towards the end.

Runaway: Plan B

I like Rain. A lot. The actor, not the water droplets that fall down the sky when the sky turns cloudy and gray and..you get my drift. Just had to make that clear, in case anyone has NEVER heard of Rain. But seeing as how it was the same director-writer duo from Chuno, I wasn’t very excited for this. I watched the first episode and was indifferent, and commented on the drama’s cheesiness in a first impressions post. A few episodes in, after all that chasing and running, the drama upped the ante and got interesting. And it got good. Then it lost steam, but remained a fun ride, without so much cheese.

Marry Me, Mary

Pro: The awesomeness of Jang Geun Seok, Moon Geun Young, and Kim Jae Wook.

Con: Everything and everybody else. The plot took a turn for the loony ride, and I just couldn’t keep up. I was confused at the sudden character changes and how schizophrenic the writing became. I was close to dropping this in the end, but alas, my fellow English editors wouldn’t let me.

MMM was perhaps my biggest drama disappointment of the year because it had more logical loopholes than I could keep count and everything was just so…so…boring! There, I said it! *hides under a desk* Thank goodness for the fast forward button (one of the greatest inventions on Earth) or else I would have never made it through. I don’t know — The love triangle was cute but not engaging enough for me to keep watching. I think it lacked the comedy factor, opting for ridiculousness instead. As much as I love the main cast (excluding Kim Hyo Jin), this drama wasn’t worth the time. I’m sad Show and I didn’t work out but oh well, that’s life. Time to move on!

Whew! I made it! Yay! I’m looking forward to what 2011 dramas may bring. Happy New Year, everybody!

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6 thoughts on “Upping the Addiction: A Dodo’s Review of 2010 Dramas

  1. Congrats on your first year-end review! Wow, that’s a lot of dramas! Agree with you about what an underrated drama Prosecutor Princess was. It got a pretty bad rep because of the first 2-3 episodes, but once you get past that, it turned out to be a gem of a drama, yeah?

    • Hi blue!

      I can’t believe you read this but thanks so much for stopping by! Haha. I was so crunched for time and I wish I didn’t procrastinate until the last day to write this up. So much I could’ve said for each drama but not enough time to analyze.

      Yes! PP = underrated. Much agreed. ^^

    • Hi meteor!

      I think that’s why PK resonates with viewers because it is a simple, feel-good drama. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and for a while, I thought that perhaps PK wasn’t suiting my tastes, but it eventually grew on me.

      Thanks for stopping by DBJ! Hope to see you again! 😀

  2. good review on Autumn Concerto.. have the same sentiment as yours. just watch this out of curiousity and I wss hooked.
    yes.. love syungkungwan scandal… love mickey and park min young!!

  3. I just chanced upon PK at mysoju…thank goodness I did.

    It isnt the best drama ever created. It has many flaws. It could be dragging for some. Oh Ha Ni’s daydreamings could sometimes be too much.

    BUT, this is one drama I could watch over and over again and I dont know why. It’s because of this drama that I ventured joining PK chatrooms, etc. Short vid clips or OST from PK is enough to easily put a smile on my face.

    There’s nothing to be shy about being a PKisser. 😀

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