Two years ago (2013), three out of my four favorite actors had a drama air in 2013. I was blown away by the coincidence since most of my top four act in movies more than dramas. Unfortunately, I never wrote a post about it and thought I missed an opportunity that would never occur again. Amazingly, this year, three out of my four favorite actors were in dramas! Even more surprisingly, one of those three was Jung Jae-young. Of course, I watched all three dramas (caveat, Park Sung-woong is acting in another drama airing in early December, so I'll update the post later with a first impression).
SECOND UPDATE: I cannot believe I forgot about one drama! 2015 was an even more special year because it was not three but all four of my favorites that had dramas air this year. I completely forgot about Park Yong-woo's two episode drama which was suppose to air in November of 2014 but was pushed back until February of 2015. This actually makes it even more disappointing because I doubt something this miraculous will ever happen again, yet 2015 wasn't a spectacular drama year. Despite the high expectations and potentials, the dramas didn't meet the bar. However, my favorites are still great actors who each delivered wonderful performances.
Life Tracker Lee Jae-goo
Actor: Park Yong-woo
Air Date: 2015.02.21~2015.02.22
Rating: 4/5 (extra bonus point simply because it's Park Yong-woo)
Initial Reaction: Woot! Park Yong-woo is in another project!
Reality: Eh... I forgot about it.
Thoughts: While I am happy to see Park Yong-woo, the drama was forgettable. I still feel bad that I completely left it out, but it couldn't be helped. The story could have been interesting but felt weak. The delivery wasn't anything special so that didn't help either. Guess you can't win them all.
Missing Noir M
Air Date: 2015.03.28.~2015.05.30.
Initial Reaction: Super excited. Park Hee-soon as an officer in an OCN drama, enough said.
Reality: Park Hee-soon was good...*cricket*cricket*
Thoughts: The show started strong, but as with many episodic dramas, there were ups and downs. Unfortunately, as the drama progressed, the writing felt less tight and the crimes weren't as gritty. I would finish an episode and feel like it lacked a certain punch. While the premises would hold potential, the show failed to deliver. It might have helped to flesh out the bigger bad guy throughout the episodes and drop hints connecting to a larger picture, or go in the opposite direction and focus on characters and how each event affects their growth. However, the drama does neither well which leaves it at an awkward limbo leaving the viewer wanting more. If it wasn't for Park Hee-soon, I might have given it a 6/10 (most likely, I wouldn't have watched it at all), but I did enjoy watching his tazza scene and his floppy hair.
Behind the Scenes (Park Hee-soon playing with the child actor, so cute! He definitely loves kids):
Compilation of Park Hee-soon (ad lib or not):
Actor: Park Sung-woong
Air Date: 2015.06.16.~2015.08.04.
Initial Reaction: Ooh, Park Sung-woong playing a police officer? Sounds interesting. Plus, Lee Won-jong is always a plus.
Reality: Lee Won-jong was good.
Thoughts: I was actually disappointed with Park Sung-woong. Don't get me wrong, I thought he was good and definitely looked good doing it, but I was just expecting more. I feel like he still hasn't come out of the shadow of Lee Joong-gu (his New World character). It's not that his acting hasn't changed, but I don't feel the same level of gravitas and energy I felt from him in that movie. Hopefully, his new drama will help him surpass that character and add another dimension to his acting.
Anyways, about the show, it was disappointing. Hidden Identity went in a different direction than Missing Noir M in that there was a big bad linking the episodes together to create a larger web our characters were stuck in. The drama had interesting bad guys that were well acted, but unfortunately, the main character and the female character felt undeveloped and poorly delivered especially when compared to the bad guys who had even less screen time. Also, the final bad guy and conspiracy didn't feel as grandiose as it should have. I wished there was more tension throughout the show and a bit more utilization of the concept of undercover cops who don't exist. Seriously, undercover cops who don't exist sounds so interesting with so much potential for a drama. Alas, I guess it was not meant to be.
Park Sung-woong in action:
Actor: Jung Jae-young
Air Date: 2015.07.15.~2015.09.17.
Initial Reaction: What? Are you kidding me? Why? Why? Why? At least it isn't a romantic comedy or cop drama. Argh! I love you Jung Jae-young, but why a drama?
Reality: Even on the small screen, you are amazing Jung Jae-young.
Thoughts: I will admit, as I am writing this, I still haven't watched the last two episodes. Don't worry, I'll watch them today. To be honest, that's my biggest problem with this drama. When I'm watching, I enjoy the show. The concept is fine and the writing is alright. The performances range from spectacular to serviceable, but overall, I like watching Assembly. However, after the show ends, I forget about it, and as a result, it gets dropped to the wayside. This is why I haven't finished it. I don't feel compelled to watch despite it being Jung Jae-young's first drama! This, for me, is a hurdle dramas must pass to get from middling to great. There needs to be a certain element of addiction and curiosity instilled into the viewer. Assembly doesn't do that for me which is odd because Jung Jae-young is compelling enough and the story isn't bad.
Maybe it would have been better if the drama went "darker" by making even more social commentary. By "darker" I don't mean the tone should have been darker (I actually liked the tone), but the problems addressed in the show could have more stakes given the premise. Everything felt too individualistic when the show should have looked at the wider picture and examined the structural and systematic issues underlying everything. I'm probably too optimistic. It's a drama after all, and it's on KBS. Given South Korea's history of television and government control, I guess Assembly did it's best. This is why I wish Jung Jae-young would just do awesome movies. Dramas are losing their touch though I won't give up hope.
These clips by KBS are probably blocked in certain regions but here are some links to scenes with Jung Jae-young being what else but amazing:
Just a side note, but what if KBS gives Jung Jae-young the "Newbie" Award? Hahahaha! Very unlikely especially since the drama wasn't a rating success. Hmmm, but I wonder if they'll just snub him on his debut? I guess he can just console himself with the awards he's won from this year alone from his movies.
Air date: 12.09.2015~
Initial Reaction: Park Sung-woong is doing another drama? Yippee! He's a gangster lawyer? Awesome! He's suppose to have a Kyunsangdo accent? Oh dear...
Reality: The accent has gotten better. I'm sure my mom would cringe, but I don't care because he's so f-ing hot in this! Shallow, I know, but it's the truth.
Thoughts on Episode 1 & 2: Park Sung-woong is amazing! The show is eh. I might recap his scenes for the show if "db" doesn't pick it up. At least one thing is for sure, Park Sung-woong and his character are better in this show than in Hidden Identity, and I like his relationship with Lee Won-jong better here.
Clips of his scene: