2013 was a year in which there were no obvious standouts, though admittedly I only watched about 18 current Kdramas as the rest of my time was filled with catching up on older series, Jdramas and movies. Batzy may have seen less than that. So with an apology to those who didn’t make the cut due to my not having viewed them, I’ll get right to my favorite dramas of the year.
Panda says: Who can deny the chemistry between So Ji Sub and Gong Hyo Jin? It was like Dokko Jin and Goo Ae Jung (from the 2011 hit, The Greatest Love) all over again, but with ghosts. Though director Jin Hyeok’s inexperience with the horror genre was painfully obvious, he imbued the drama with romance through camera angles, lighting and wardrobe. And fortunately the masterful CG helped keep our ghosts credible and at times, frightening. Significant writing flaws delivered an anticlimactic plot resolution (Hong sisters, why can’t you be more consistent with your genius?), but the character development and flawless delivery on the part of the cast elevated this series to memorable and heart-fluttering status.
Batzy says: Loved it! I am known to have a love-hate relationship with the Hong Sisters, but this was definitely a great drama. I was not a fan of the CG, though the very first episode was way scarier than the rest. Character development was smooth and believable, leaving me with high expectations after every episode. The ghosts each had a story that made me care about what happened to them as well as leading into empathy of the emotional connection between the ghosts and the main character. Memorable and heart-fluttering indeed. (Plus L from Infinite was in it too, so that didn’t hurt.)
Panda says: A wonderful example of noona-love; this drama was charming, gripping and concluded oh so sweetly. The fact that student Park Soo Ha was more mature than lawyer Jang Hye Sung at the start, really lent credibility to their relationship. Jung Woong In played a strong villain, keeping us on edge. His backstory made him somewhat relatable, and his thoroughly sociopathic delivery gave me the chills. Though the courtroom drama was unrealistic to the point of being frustrating, the skillful handling of relationships and character development more than made up for it.
Batzy says: I am a fan of some noona-love, and this drama filled my need for it. I was drawn in by the action of Jung Woong In as the villain, he was incredibly convincing as his character, invoking cringes, chills and disgust. It was awesome! Panda-Unnie hit the nail on the head with why she liked it, and I agree.
7th Grade Civil Servant.
Panda says: This bumbling spy comedy was surprisingly multi-layered, examining issues of human relations and trust in a dishonest world. Although it was perplexing that they cast leads with a ten year age difference and presented them as being equals, Choi Kang Hee and Joo Won made it work with hilarious physical comedy and warm gazes. It would have helped if Choi Kang Hee didn’t have that horrible ahjumma/young boy haircut that was rarely styled to look the slightest bit young and feminine, though. With a nice balance of plausible villains, entertaining side characters (especially both sets of parents), good pacing and humor, 7th Grade Civil Servant delivered solid entertainment all the way up to its lighthearted conclusion.
Batzy Says: I did not see 7th Grade Civil Servant but I did see Good Doctor. Joo Won owns the screen as an autistic doctor. This drama not only shows the ostracizing on a person with a disability but reminds us they are human and feel as we do. Good Doctor shows how one can overcome challenges. (psychical and social alike) It’s a feel good drama with bumps along the way. It was a pretty steady amount of humor, and seriousness. Moon Chae-won and Joo Won have a great relationship that entices the audience to look into your heart and fill it with compassion. Patient stories and surgery scenes were not overbearing or disgusting. It was filled with various story lines without making the viewer feel overwhelmed or uneasy. It flowed well and tugged at my heartstrings from time to time. Awww.
There were a few other dramas that I (Batzy) loved but not to the full extent of the previously mentioned.
Batzy Says: Two Weeks was the drama that gave me my thrills. The story was intense and I related to the urgency that Lee Joon Gi felt, and it was believable every step of the way. It had love, pain and action, which is a recipe for success.
Batzy Says: Monstar was the adolescent/teen drama for me this year. Starring Jun Hyung from B2st, the cast of Monstar made for credible high school students with issues. Revolving around the stories of the main characters, each supporting member had an almost equally important life torment that played to why they were who they were and did what they did. The ability to understand everyone’s character without drowning out the main story is a feature that I love in dramas.
And now for the contenders for worse drama of the year. In this category there was a standout which tops my list.
Nail Shop Paris.
Panda says: Though the acting was a bit rough and the production was at times awkward, this series had the potential to tell a good story. Unfortunately, the writing screamed “Student Project”, though it had just enough hook to make me tune in on the off chance that it might end well. Ha! First of all, the whole gumiho angle was mishandled into being extraneous and boring. Our heroine was nothing but a wishy-washy stalker. Then two points of our triangle received personality transplants that made them go from cool to downright unlikable. Jin finally revealed a deeper side to himself, but then it was completely ignored after one episode. Instead of character development, we got character development, and throughout the whole thing, the nails were clunky and hideous. Nail Shop Paris, give me back my ten hours!!
Batzy Says: Nail Shop Paris was hands down, the worse one. The heroine of the drama drove me nuts. I found her voice to be very obnoxious at times. The nails were ugly, which led me to believe maybe flower boys shouldn’t run a nail salon. Even the eye candy wasn’t enough to save this drama. I was excited to see Thunder from MBlaq acting, but at times I was just too aegyo’ed out.Right when I thought we were going to get more info on Thunder and his interesting background story, it was just dropped. What the heck happened to his interesting story?! Song Jae-Rim (who was also in Two Weeks) became the guy I was rooting for, but once he managed to get more air time, his character made the weirdest change and turned from Bad Ass to Clingy Boyfriend with issues. What a disappointment.
Jang Ok Jung, Living in Love.
Panda says: This drama was beautifully shot with a talented cast and a long overdue viewpoint. Perhaps its downfall was letting the writer of the original novel also write the screenplay. It seemed that Choi Jung Mi had a list of essential points to include in the drama, but failed to connect them emotionally. I could see how outside forces were twisting Jang Ok Jung and Lee Soon into actions they didn’t want to take, but the script simply didn’t allow me to sympathize with them on an emotional level.
Panda says: Dailies are known to be crazy, ridiculous even, in their convoluted drawn out scenes full of weeping, blank stares and neurotic behavior. Your Lady wins the prize for dumbest leading couple ever. In fact, I refer to the series as Dumb and Dumber because they really are so mind-numbingly dumb that I started rooting against them early on. “You deserve what you get!” I yelled at the screen almost every episode. Its glaring flaw was also the genius of the show because guess what? I kept watching. Yup 120 episodes. This was the drama I loved to hate.
Batzy Says: I am not sure if it was because I was watching the incomparable Master’s Sun while I was watching Who Are You or if it was just crap. Sorry, Who Are You just did not cut it for me. Despite the barely audible dead yet hot boyfriend, there was really no reason to continue with this drama. The story dragged and the interactions between the female lead and the ghosts were just terrible. Her reactions lead to an overuse expression of being shocked and fearful. I won’t be recommending this one.
If you like what Panda and Batzy have to say, check out their blog at International Fangirl.