Another eventful week in dramaland as the big three networks simultaneously premiered their newest Wed-Thu fall dramas last week – SBS with megaproduction Legend of the Blue Sea, KBS with family melodrama Oh My Geum-bi, and MBC with youth sports drama Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo. I love the diversity in this batch that caters to different audiences (they should learn from the counterproductive overabundance of medical dramas and sageuks in one timeslot earlier this year grr). It’s pretty clear that SBS would be the ratings leader this time, and people are just speculating as to how much – i.e., would Legend easily surpass the peak of Descendants of the Sun? But we shouldn’t easily write off its competition, which also deserve viewers’ attention.
I’ve watched all three premieres and will be sharing my quick thoughts on the first two episodes of each. No spoilers.
Legend of the Blue Sea
Week 1 ratings: Ep1 – 16.4%, Ep2 – 15.1%
When a star-studded production is over-promoted waaaaay before it airs, there’s a tendency to close your eyes, cross your fingers, and chant “please don’t suck”. Such was my first few seconds into this drama, and I was quite pleased (relieved?) that it delivered (somewhat) on its first week. Its setup reminds me of A Werewolf Boy, with the mermaid’s innocent and almost instant attachment to a human – though this man has one of the most untrustworthy occupations there is. Lee Min-ho fans out there (I’m sure there’s a lot) might be swooning all over, but my attention was all on Jun Ji-hyun, speaking lines or no speaking lines. From being the “human” (a talkative one at that) in her past project, she’s now the supernatural one in this odd relationship, and her first few hijinks are simply delightful. This being a reunion project with the writer of You Who Came from the Stars may have helped harness Jun Ji-hyun’s brand of comedy, and I’m excited to see what else she’ll bring to the table.
The drama itself was campier than I expected, and I’m not sure yet how Lee Min-ho will fit into this kind of tone, but so far his story is being built up nicely. If there’s anything I particularly disliked this week, it would be the foreign actors. Big productions would almost always begin in foreign locations, which meant the use of subpar foreign actors who deliver Acting 101. Granted their roles are small, but their cringeworthy scenes make the drama look cheesy *getting goosebumps from the flashbacks of Heirs, The K2, DoTS, etc.* I’m hoping they’re in Seoul by next episode so I can focus on the hijinks and the romance. Nonetheless, this production will continue to rise in the coming weeks, which won’t be a surprise to anyone, actually.
Oh My Geum-bi
Week 1 ratings: Ep1 – 5.1%, Ep2 – 6.5%
Oh my heart. I am bracing myself for a sweet yet heartbreaking journey in this drama. Quite frankly I haven’t heard much about it before its premiere, but I was smitten by Heo Jeung-eun’s adorable onscreen presence and superb talent. After having glimpses of her in Moonlight Drawn by Clouds, I’m happy to see her again so soon afterwards, and in a leading role at that. She looks so cute yet seems so mature, I instantly liked her character and her performance on this show. But I do dread that my fondness of her will cause some major feels along the way. Did I mention that she weirdly reminds me of Daebak aka Lee Sian of reality-variety show The Return of Superman?
And speaking of TRoS, superman dad Oh Ji-ho has really embraced fatherhood with this new daddy role (well, he’s still less of a dad and more of a jerk as of episode 2). Not much of the main characters’ backstories have been revealed in detail just yet, so it’s interesting to find out how their past will be pieced together – along with how their bond with each other will form in present time. This drama may not be expected to make as much waves (lol) as its biggest competition, but the family aspect of the show is sure to carve out a chunk of the viewing public.
Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo
Week 1 ratings: Ep1 – 3.3%, Ep2 – 3.3%
This one was actually the first drama I reached for among the three that premiered, because of the bright and refreshing feel to it. An underdog like its heroine, Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo somehow struggles with the *weight* of its competition (lol again), though that really doesn’t come as a surprise. But this drama should not to be dismissed so easily, as I’m sure the audience would also appreciate the drama’s cheery vibe, with the familiar cast of other youth dramas (School 2015, Cheese in the Trap, Because It’s the First Time, and Age of Youth). It’s great to see Lee Sung-kyung not being a psychotic b*tch, and I’m actually liking her as the awkward yet positive Bok-joo. She’s fun and cute and sometimes a little like Baek In-ha (but kinder). That being said though, my biggest reservation with this drama as early as the casting announcement was Lee Sung-kyung’s fit to the role, i.e., if she can convince me (and the rest of the audience) that she’s indeed a champion weightlifter – and it’s not about the acting. Weightlifters are usually short and stocky, which Lee Sung-kyung obviously isn’t, because a lower center of gravity and higher muscle mass would work to their advantage. Costume and styling could only do so much to her model-like body.
Meanwhile, the reverse is my apprehension with Nam Joo-hyuk, who returns in a leading role as a swimmer (again). He definitely looks the part, but knowing how he was overshadowed as the lead in School 2015, he needs to step up and give us something beyond the script to make the romance work this time around.
We’re on to the last six weeks of the year but the world of dramas doesn’t show any signs of winding down. What do you think of the new dramas that opened last week? Are you following any of them? Which of them met your expectations? Let me know!
*Repost from my Kdrama Amino blog.*