Friday, December 13, 2013

My Return to K-Dramas in the Form of Reply 1994

Hello, everyone. Long time no see. I know, I suck. Life got in the way. Mostly college stuff, but life too. And apparently the last post I made was last March which in internet time is a billion light years ago. I'm exaggerating but you get what I'm saying. Anyways, the point of this post is to talk about the first K-drama I've watched since, well, March 2013. To many of you that seems ridiculous, but again... Life happens. And that chosen drama is... Reply 1994.

To be honest, I was pretty excited about this drama from the get-go. I loved the Reply 1997. I thought it was fresh, hilarious, and just all around wonderful. (Oddly enough I've never talked about the drama here. I'm inconsistent that way. I recommend it anyways, if you haven't watched.) So when the same team were planning to do a sequel-ish type of deal, I can't help but look forward to it.

And then, there's Yoo Yeon-seok. I have a thing for him. Okay, that sounds weird. But basically I've watched him in a few roles, from the 2010 indie movie Re-encounter, to 2012 megahits Architecture 101 and A Werewolf Boy. Okay, so only those three. But the roles are pretty diverse, if I say so myself. In Re-encounter he was, how should I say this, a little bit of a wuss. Or a bucket of wuss. In Architecture 101 he was a, pardon my language, a douche bag. And finally in A Werewolf Boy, he was just pure ass. Even though those roles aren't the typical "oh my gosh I'm so handsome and charming please love me" types, he just draws you in. He's a great actor and I always look forward to his performance. I just can't help but wonder how he would be like if he were to play a more pleasant role.  I want to be able to watch him and not have an urge to punch him in the face.

So Reply 1994 should be a good thing. And it is. For like 8 episodes.

I don't know about you but I feel like the episodes are getting way. too. long. An episode that runs for an hour and a half? Come on. I can watch a complete story in the form of a movie within that time. Also, why is the story so slooooow. I remembered Reply 1997 to be a zippy ride. Reply 1994 did provide that in the beginning, but it seems to be slipping on a banana peel in slow motion. Just stop with the weird longing looks and cut to the chase already.

To be fair, I do still find it a good drama. I'm on episode 10 right now and it's not the worst drama in the world. Heck, it's not even half bad. Like with the first Reply installment, I love how they don't obsess over one love triangle. Although I've read that the latter episodes spends too much time with the main triangle. Boo. But even then, I still think the story allows the viewers to see not just the three main characters. Everyone is interesting in their own way and could basically have their own spin off show if they wanted. Especially the parents (who are the same pair in the first installment). They don't bicker as much in 1994 which is somewhat of a relief (or not?). Their story is always very touching. Sung Dong-il and Lee Il-hwa are amazing and have such great chemistry.

As for similarities, it's annoyingly obvious. There's the whole guess the husband. I can't believe in episode 15 they haven't even revealed him yet! Ugh. There's the (spoiler?) brother who's not an actual brother. There's the idol who is maybe gay (or at least has a man crush. Who can complain about that, amirite?) Also our main girl and her friend are obsessed groupies. This time, Na-jung (Go Ara) is all hearts for Lee Sang-min, an actual once college basketball player and her friend Yoon-jin (Min Do-hee) is a big time Seo Tae-ji and the Boys fan girl. Both our leading ladies are foul-mouthed, impulsive types. There's a potential husband that's always clashing with our girl and another that's a total sweet ball (but that's typical of any dramas, so whatever).

I suppose these similarities are inevitable. You want to emulate the original hit as much as possible, in hoping that the spin off or sequel or whatever you want to call it can project similar success. And it's been proven pretty successful. For a cable drama, it's nabbing at its peak a double digit of 11.8%. This is definitely a lot more than that of the original which peaked at 9.47%. To be fair, 1997 was basically during its premier an unknown drama without all the hype or even much publicity, versus 1994 which had so much hype thanks to its predecessor.

But right now I'm getting bored. And easily distracted. Which is probably why I haven't been able to swallow K-dramas which has a tendency to stretch everything way too thin. But hopefully 1994 can give us the goods quick before everyone wants to punch it in the face. Also, an hour and a half episodes? Seriously? Cut it down to bite size pieces okay. You know like those fancy petit fours? Tiny morsels of delightful palate cleansers? Can you tell I've been reading and watching too many cooking/food material?

Anyways, enough of my rant about the drama. Let's get down and dirty. Who do you think will be the husband? Are you team Trash (Jung Woo) or team Chilbong (Yoo Yeon-seok)? I think it's not a surprise for me to say I'm totally rooting for Chilbong even though in the latter half (spoiler) Trash x Na-jung is on a sailboat to happily ever after. (I know because I'm impatient and read recaps. As you can tell I'm as impatient as a baby crying for mom's delicious stuff.) But I'm slightly partial to the nice, sensitive types, which is obviously so wrong of me. Oh K-dramas, how you ruin everything. And also I just want to see Yoo Yeon-seok's character be happy and not die in shame for once, okay.

PS. Hello new readers! It seems like while I was away the flow of readers have been constant and I'm very thankful. I won't promise consistently posting like I used to, but I'll try if and when I involve myself in Korean entertainment. As in, involved as a reader because I'm not that good at anything entertainment related, guys. Believe me. Well, happy reading :)


  1. Hi you. Welcome back! We'll beat you up later for disappea- *ahem* Long time no see! Hope life and college is going well for you. I get you on the whole dramas being stretched way too thin. I didn't notice it too much when I was newer to dramas but now it's hard finding something I don't have the urge to fast-forward through, even 'good' ones. I keep trucking on though.

    At some point I need to give Reply 1997 a shot. I decided to just wait for it to finish and then find out if it's worth it, and if it is then I can marathon through.. or, watch it as close to marathon-form as I have the time/inclination for. :)

    1. I can totally relate! Back in the day I can swallow the gawdawful Boys Over Flowers. Nowadays even the dramas that are considered good is so slow to me.

      You should totally watch Reply 1997. I think the pacing was pretty good. Most episodes are under 1 hour (I think towards the end they were about an hour-ish, but never as atrocious like 1994 with an hour and a half.

  2. Glad to have you back. I missed you :)

    I know exactly what you mean that the episodes are way too long and the story keeps dragging along. This is the main reason why I can't seem to *get into* this season as much. I love the characters and the overall the show is still enjoyable, but it just gets quite tedious when nothing really happens during these 1,5-hour episodes. Why did they have to stretch the show out like this? Why not keep it short and sweet like with 1997?

    I am totally on team Chilbongie. I want him to get the girl so bad, but I still feel like Garbage is the end-deal. Though I haven't seen the newer episodes yet (since they are so fucking long that it takes forever to chew through a single episode) so I don't know how things are moving along these days. It would be the best Christmas present ever if Chilbongie turned out to be the husband. Please, Santa, pretty please?

    1. When they decided to make the damn episodes 1,5 hours, they should at least use half that time for the secondary characters who are perfect in my opinion. But no, they decided to run around in circles. Sigh.

      Ah, I wish Santa would give Chilbongie a happy ending too! I can't with the way he looks longingly at Na-jung. I'll just wait until the episode they actually revealed the husband to decide whether or not I can sit through more of it. Is that weird?