April 19, 2010
[FOCUS] Wednesday/Thursday drama rivalry - Part 1
Senior Reporter.Kang Myoung-Seok Reporter.Yoon Hee-Seong Editor.Jang Kyung-Jin, Jessica Kim
"Sister of Cinderella" VS "Princess Prosecutor" VS "Personal Taste"
Picking out your favorite flavor is only possible when you are dealing with ice creams. For drama maniacs, it is practically a torture that three dramas, who each premiered offering similar doses of fun, are all broadcast in the same time slot. You may have yet to decide which channel to settle on with the shows still early into their run, so here is a comparative analysis which could help you make up your mind on which show to watch real-time, which to watch the re-run of, and which to watch through your IPTV service provider.
1. The Moment of Truth: The one scene where you can witness the producers' hard efforts
"Sister of Cinderella" Song Gang-sook (played by Lee Mi-sook) wraps her arms around Goo Dae-sung (played by Kim Gap-soo) when she is startled while riding on the back of his rattling bicycle. But the bike actually rattled because Song Gang-sook had kicked its rear wheel. This single scene describes what the show's two characters are like -- the sly Song Gang-sook and Goo Dae-sung, who is clueless when it comes to women -- and sums up their romantic emotions for each other. Thanks to such scenes, "Sister of Cinderella" explained its basic set-up in one episode and went on to unfold its main story. How the producers left a lingering feeling through using restrained forms of expression, such as simply showing the bike left behind after the two characters fall from a low slanted row, rather than attempting to explain the details to the incident, was also impressive.
"Princess Prosecutor" At work, Ma Hye-ri (played by Kim So-yeon) sometimes positions herself in front of her desk as if sitting in a chair but actually without it or will pose herself in a posture she learnt during yoga class. That is how much she is of a woman who considers that beauty as a woman is important, even while she is at work, and that is why it is inevitable that she clash with the rigid organization composed of prosecutors. Such is how her character is described clearly and the element of conflict existent within the show. It is a bit disappointing to see how she, as one who has a preference for luxury goods, merely adds on a pen with a decoration on hanging from it when she decides to decorate her office at work. The show could have done better in showing Ma Hye-ri's style in more detail.
"Personal Taste" Why did Jun Jin-ho (played by Lee Min-ho) not drive his own car when he had to carry an important construction model. He could have at least called a cab. But he ends up riding a bus with Park Gae-in (played by Son Ye-jin) and as expected, the model breaks. The incident even happens when he mistakenly touches Park Gae-in's bottom and is driven as a sexual molester. The incident is trite and instead of it creating conflict, it is one that has been created in order to produce conflict. The first episode, important to the drama's beginning, wasted time by failing to bring out the characteristics of the two characters.
2. Trendy Drama Version 1.1 - What is the single 'one shot' needed to break away from using the cliche formulas often seen in trendy dramas?
"Sister of Cinderella" Main character Song Eun-jo (played by Moon Geun-young) is not Cinderella but her sister, she tries to escape rather than seek motherhood, and grabs the attention of male characters in the show with their femininity. She is a character that can be utilized by a producer who knows how to figure out the characteristics of main female characters seen in trendy dramas and flip the character over. The show excels particularly in how it shows that every woman is driven by her personal desires rather than defining good from evil.
"Princess Prosecutor" Ma Hye-ri resembles the main female character from Hollywood film "Legally Blonde." But the conflict in the drama emerges increasingly clearly as Ma Hye-ri clashes with prosecutors, the most conservative bureaucratic organization. The fact that a female character who has the looks, the money and the brains yet is senseless when it comes to working in an organization is playing the main character, also betrays the typical set-up seen in typical dramas where the main female character forever remains strong and cheerful. The only task it has left to accomplish is to persuade its viewers that Ma Hye-ri truely is a loveable character.
"Personal Taste" We live in a world where scenarist Kim Soo-hyun, now 67, has gay men appear in her drama. But he is not an actual gay but someone who is mistaken as one. And apart from that fact, the show brings together every cliche set-up possible -- a man and woman who live together but do not have sex, a friend who is always causing trouble, another friend who always roots for the main character, a casanova ex-boyfriend, and more. Let us be reminded that MBC drama "My Name is Kim Sam-soon" came out in 2005.
3. The "It" Items - The personality of female characters are defined by their items
"Sister of Cinderella" In the first scene of the drama, Song Eun-jo rolls up her hair before she starts cooking. The hair, tied up ever so loosely that it seemed it would unravel any moment, comes undone on the tip of Hong Gi-hoon's (played by Chun Jung-myung) fingers and flutters in the wind. This moment proved Song Eun-jo's attractiveness as a woman, as well as foreshadowing that she too is destined to live as the 'beautiful woman' that the mother she so despises is.
"Princess Prosecutor" The drama starts at chasing after a red car. The car, which stands out from its backdrop of the grey city, is followed by a pair of heals which too stand out at a solemn prosecutors' commission ceremony. And Ma Hye-ri, the owner of the two items, is a character who dazzles and stands out even when she's amongst other people. It is a explicit yet effective set-up in explaining the character's taste, vibe and personality.
"Personal Taste" She goes around with a Band-aid stuck to her forehead. She wears mostly hoodies and wears glasses at home. And she does not mind looking ridiculous by pinning the hood of her hoodies behind her ears. It seems that the drama is trying too hard to make Park Gae-in looks as ugly as possible when it comes to the set-up regarding her looks. But this does not mean she will necessarily be 'bad at dating' or 'have no sense.' Such a set-up only reflects her taste.
4. The Personal Taste of Princess Sister - How much are the actresses into their roles?
"Princess Prosecutor" Kim So-yeon said in an interview that she interpreted Ma Hye-ri as a character who "acts like a kid because she just doesn't know better." And her interpretation has given birth to a character who is a full-grown adult and a prosecutor who lives by firm principles, but also has yet to mature in other aspects. The enthusiastic acting she shows in the scene where she sings at a karaoke bar or her crying which makes her seem a naive character is impressive, but how she naturally spits out an exclamation of glee while holding up her drink, is a witty interpretation. Even more so when you think of her previously serious works.
"Sister of Cinderella" Moon Geun-young's acting is impressive even from the fact that she can turn over her formerly kind and innocent image. But her seeming like the rebel in almost every scene also tires out viewers. Especially more so when her pain seems to be much more deep and horrible one -- not enough to be shown in the uniform seriousness she has displayed so far. But viewers can be hopeful upon seeing from the third episode onward that her attitude toward Han Jung-woo (played by Taecyeon) and Hong Gi-hoon starts to change. Her narration is also sounding more natural.
"Personal Taste" Son Ye-jin is an actress who has many strengths yet it is difficult to see them in this show. Her having to maintain a different rhythm from other actors who speak aggressively may have made her create an unnatural set-up. The biggest problem is that it is hard to tell between her acting drunk and sober.
5. An animal, a gays and a prince -- How attractive are the men who capture the female characters?
"Personal Taste" Lee Min-ho's presence placed "Personal Taste" at the center of attention instantly. One can naturally accept the fact that Jun Jin-ho is a classy guy because Lee Min-ho plays the part. He has also become quite skilled at playing a guy who is not easy-going. But there is no additional detailed description of Jun Jin-ho's character in "Personal Taste." It is time the producers to something about it quickly.
"Sister of Cinderella" Chun Jung-myung's smile still pulls at viewers hearts. But he has to show it to teenage rebel Song Eun-jo who is in need of everything about her to be embraced. If he wants to become the man who can console her with a cheery smile despite his having experienced his own painful memories, he needs to express deeper emotions and expressions.
"Princess Prosecutor" From the very start, the show's male characters have had defined personalities -- a playful, mild-mannered man and a curt yet upright man. But these are typical characters. A considerable amount of star quality is necessary to pull off these characters. That is why the male parts played by Han Jeong-su and Park Shi-hoo cannot help seeming bland, an issue which is apart from their acting. They are in dire need of bringing out more details of their character through scenes with Ma Hye-ri.
6. Work and Love, Love and Work: The story for all three stories are set at the workplace
"Princess Prosecutor": It is impossible to perfectly reenact the process of investigation that prosecutors carry out unless the program is a reality documentary. However, "Princess Prosecutor" adds an abundance of detail into depicting the daily life of a civil servant. The show has received reviews that even regular office workers can relate to the portrayal of the job description of a rookie prosecutor. "Princess" could become a good example of an office drama if it lays out the process of investigations with common sense.
"Personal Taste": One can't really say it is specialized. The drama does not explain through what process a house is designed, how to trim the different kinds of wood in order to make furniture, or what the necessary preparations are in carrying out a bidding. The scenes where Park Gae-in takes part in a furniture exhibition and has Jun Jin-ho cut the acrylic from a blind in order to avoid an emergency situation adds onto the sense of reality in telling the difficulties one struggles as an employee.
"Sister of Cinderella": Everyone gathers together at the makgeolli brewery called "Daesungdoga." However, this Goo Dae-sung's world of abundance and is one of the things that Song Gang-sook wants, but it does not display any characteristics as a work place. One might forget that it is a brewery, if it did not show the scene of Goo Hyo-seon (played by Seo- Woo) drinking the residue left after rice liquor is drained before going to school. As a whole, the story of the self righteous self-made owner, the femme fatale-like new lady of the house, and the naive yet talkative workers and large family all seem like trite set-ups.
7. I'm your father: The parents' desires determines the fate of the main characters' fates
"Princess Prosecutor": The wealthy father who wants to form a trinity with those in politics. And the mother, always looking her best, who desires for her daughter to grow up beautifully. The two together created Ma Hye-ri, who goes to work at the public prosecutors' office wearing designer clothes from head-to-toe. That is why her character, as someone who will miss out on an overnight trip held by the prosecutors' office to attend a designer shoe auction, makes sense to a certain extent. It is why it also makes even more sense for someone like her, who is being supported by a rich father, considers it only natural to "marry someone from a pre-arranged blind date."
"Sister of Cinderella": Song Eun-jo wants to break free from her mother. Goo Hyo-seon has been pained by not having a mother. Hong Gi-hoon (Chun Jung-myung) is hurt that his father does not acknowledge him as his son. "Cinderella" draws out a strong energy from how the youth in the show try to break away from the pre-determined paths their parents have set for them. But how every main character lives a tormented life because of their parents, is too much to simply be considered coincidence. The writers may have pushed forth a somewhat unnatural setting in order to tell its story. Even Han Jung-woo (played by Taecyeon), who appears starting in the fifth episode, reveals that he lived under an irresponsible father.
"Personal Taste": Park Gae-in talks to her father on the phone but one does not even get to hear his voice. He is only a medium which allows Park and Jun to live together under one roof. Jun and his mother also seem to be on good terms but there is no explanation for this either. Of course, the gravity of a parent's role can be reduced depending on the drama's characteristics. But having Han Chang-ryul's (played by Kim Ji-suk) father be the man who has had seven wives, is an irrational set-up, more so if is aimed at explaining that the son, like his father, is a frivolous womanizer. If the father is a character existent within the story, shouldn't there be some attention paid to at least how the son of such a father feels on the inside.
8. The supporting actors mean everything to the show.
"Sister of Cinderella": She is the kind of woman who is extremely determined and will curse whether she is happy or mad but the acting skills of Lee Mi-sook comes second to none when she instantly transforms into a captivating wife. One will be astonished by the way she comforts Goo Hyo-seon with her warm and benevolent ways yet show a hint of subtleness. Kim Gap-soo's acting too is quite unheard of -- he puts on the expression of a little boy in front of Lee but in front of his family shows great charisma. Even the cunning acting skills of child actor Moon Suk-hwan is excellent.
"Princess Prosecutor": The show is well balanced overall, portraying the typical office worker well although it does not contain any scenes with enthusiastic acting. It will be worth paying attention to the acting of Yang Hee-kyung, who contributes to the comical scenes, the sensible presence of Kim Sang-ho and the stable acting by Choi Song-hyun. There is much anticipation for Choi's acting in particular with how she pulls off both a realistic senior worker and a spinster's daughter in a relaxed state of mind.
"Personal Taste": The show has a slew of good actors, including Cho Eun-ji, Chung Sung-hwa, Seulong and Ahn Suk-hwan, as well as a cameo appearance by Bong Tae-gyu, but fails to utilize them properly. They have not been given opportunities to act outside of their previously set images. Seulong in particular struggles desperately. His facial expressions, body movements and vocalization is exaggerated as if he is in a school play. It is understandable that he may be overcome with passion to act well but it seems that he is desperately in need of control.
9. ctrl+C/ctrl+V: How much did the writers break away from their previous works?
"Princess Prosecutor": Traces of the writers’ previous work can merely be found in the fact that actors Lee Seung-hyung and Baek Seung-hyeon are again on the producer's show. Unlike "Shining Inheritance" which transplanted mystery into a family drama, "Princess Prosecutor" can be said it aims more at being American drama-like because it chases after the various cases that the main character solves. One becomes even more expectant of how much “Princess Prosecutor” could achieve because the scenarist, who had been popular for creating typical soap operas, has attempted to develop on both structure and story.
“Sister of Cinderella”: It will definitely be new and interesting to see how the situation two female characters are laid in, will change because of their desires. However, one may think of dramas "Piano" and "Spring Days" because of how the characters are forced to become a family, the conflict which arises from this, and the extremely loneliness one my never be able to comprehend.
"Personal Taste": A good-looking male lead and the clumsy yet lovable female lead, and the friends which either cause trouble or give advice -- such continue to remain valid elements to creating a romantic novel. However, as a romantic comedy, it is a trite composition. The fundamental problem is that elements which should have been left out in the process of being converted into a drama, were included as the original writer of the novel took on the script.
10. The best and worst case scenarios for the dramas
"Sister of Cinderella"
Best: It surpasses viewership ratings of 30 percent and receives praise as a 'well-made drama.' Seo Woo gets complimented by Park Myeong-su on KBS' "Happy Together." Taecyeon is showered with other drama scenarios. Moon Geun-young gets top honors at the KBS drama awards.
Worst: Seo Woo gets scolded by Park Myeong-su. From a certain point on in the drama, more gangsters than actors appear. An article saying, "Taecyeon decides to focus on 2PM activities" pops up. Most of the articles are on Kim Gab-soo and Lee Mi-sook's acting. Moon Geun-young's fans console the young actress by saying she will have better luck with her next role.
Best: Word spreads among producers that Kim So-yeon would do well whatever role she played. The combination of writers Jin Hyuk and So Hyung-kyung becomes well-known. Choi Song-hyun becomes acknowledged as an actress officially. Park Shi-hoo receives the nickname "man of high ratings." Park Jeong-ah and Gil celebrate at TV personality Kim Je-dong's house.
Worst: The workers at Namoo Actors have a tough time trying to switch their facial expressions in front of the successful Moon Geun-young and the not-so-successful Kim So-yeon. It leaves no legacy like "Shining Inheritance" did. Han Jeong-su grows out his hair to decide which historical drama to appear in next. Kim Je-dong tweets on how Park Jeong-ah "should have stopped acting after SBS drama ‘When Man Love.’”
Best: Lee Min-ho is offered 15 commercials. Son Ye-jin will always be Son Ye-jin. Son Hyung-suk no longer has nightmares about drama "Every Night." Kim Ji-suk enters the military with his fans cheering him on. Domestic and international fans all stampede to visit "Sanggojae."
Worst: Even Son Ye-jin makes mistakes. Lee Min-ho is busy looking for a follow-up drama. Kim Ji-suk and Wang Ji-hea are just up and coming stars that fail to meet expectations. The best work to date by Son Hyung-suk is "Auction House."
Senior Reporter: Kang Myoung-Seok two@ Reporter: Yoon Hee-Seong nine@ Editor: Jessica Kim jesskim@, Jang Kyung-Jin three@
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