Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Reply Series Dials Back to 1988

There's no stopping director Shin Won-ho and the Reply team. After the massive successes of the first two installments of the Reply series, it seems that the ball is rolling for a third season (reportedly) set in the year of 1988 slated for the summer season. I can't deny I'm a little excited for this new one.

While it's not confirmed yet that the time frame would be exactly 1988, I think this year would be quite interesting. They may be able to attract older audiences; teenagers of this era are now in their 40s. It'll be interesting for teenagers of today to see how their parents grew up. We get to hear some pre-modern Kpop music which will be refreshing. It's a momentous year for South Korea because they hosted the Olympics. It was also an interesting time for the people themselves as they were on the cusp of a generational shift, from the suffocating government of the 1970s to a more relaxed time.

I'm not exactly sure how much of that history will be ingrained within the story though. The IMF crisis in 1997 wasn't particularly highlighted in the first season (probably because the central characters were teenagers and were most likely oblivious to the situation. H.O.T. was more important than some economical crisis). But current events were more discussed in 1994 because the characters were older college students (and college students tend to be more sensitive to global happenings). How involved history will be to the characters will definitely be down to how old the cast will be.

Which brings up the question: how similar is Reply 3 going to be compared to the first two? In my opinion, the best things about the Reply series is how they're able to capture the lives of regular people in the past through their personal lives. This isn't some historical movie that glorifies any particular figures. They're stories about people like us but just in a different time and how, despite a difference in era, are very similar to people living today.

The worst thing, mostly in the second series, is the husband hunt. It was fun in the first season because it was new, and it was pulled off better. Afterwards it just got tiring. It extended the running time to an unhealthy length, and lent to the most heartbreaking yet useless character in the form of Chilbong. That crap is tiring then, and will most likely be if they decided to bring it up again. Hopefully they realized their mistakes and just stop it. I've seen suggestions from fans about doing a wife hunt. That might be interesting, only if they bring truly interesting potential wives. If any sort of guessing game is brought back, make sure the characters are worthwhile and gets a satisfying arc whether or not they get the guy/girl. Chilbong needs to be avenged.

The year 1988 is yet to be finalized though, so it got me thinking about what other time periods they might go to. One comment says they should do a Joseon era (sarcastically, I assume), but when you think about it, that might actually be cool. To see how regular people who aren't involved in some murder/political/incest scheme. But if that's too far back in time, I'd really like to them to go to 1960s South Korea. It's such an interesting time in South Korea; it was a decade after the war, the country is going through tremendous changes, artistic freedom is starting to be appreciated. Or, you know, because 1960s fashion and hair.

Also, what age would this new group be? We already have high schoolers and college students. Will they go back to one of those age groups or employ a different age altogether? My guess is they won't stray too far from the young, especially since the era is further back. Having older characters risks of alienating their already existing fan base. Maybe they could stay within the age range but in a different setting, say, they're all part-timers. In a theme park. And two costume actors fall in love. Is that already a movie?

Casting have yet been announced, and since we don't really know much about the upcoming series, anything goes! There haven't been anyone in particular who I've wanted to star in a drama. Most of the underrated actors I've kept an eye on from the past have gone on to bigger and better things. Since the Reply series have catapulted the stars of their actors in the past, casting is extremely crucial and is probably going to be extremely competitive.

Expectations are definitely high for this third season. Reply 1994 had a peak of 14.3% (!) which is higher than even some public broadcasting channel dramas. (That rating was also during the last episode which, I'm guessing, was during the husband reveal). If all the cards are played well, this third season might even break that number. I mean, it went that high even when they were going at a snail pace with an exhausting running time. So no pressure, Shin PD, but it better be good.

I'll definitely be writing updates in the future if there are any, since I'm very much looking forward to this third installment. I enjoyed the previous two seasons, despite feeling more frustrated than I wish to be during the run of 1994. Here's to hoping it will be great. And maybe Mom Lee Il-hwa and Dad Sung Dong-il can come and visit (or maybe even return as the greatest Mom and Dad on K-dramas? Am I wishing for the impossible?).

Pictures courtesy of tvN for 1997 and 1994

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