9:53 pm - 12/08/2012

2012: Something for everyone? [Year In Review, Part 1]

Review extravaganza time!

I know: Already? It feels like just the other day I was killing myself to corral all my thoughts in coherent fashion in a monster review of 2011′s dramas, and already it’s time to lose sleep wrangling my thoughts together for 2012. Time sure flies when you’re having fun, or old. Guess which one I am?

These days I shy away from blanket statements like “This was an awesome year” or “This was a terrible year.” Dramaland has been putting out so much material that all the nuance gets sucked out of a flattening statement like that. If anything, 2012 was the year it overflowed with variety—so yes, there were terrible shows, and there were awesome shows, and there were shows every step in between. But thanks to the explosion of cable programming—aided by the launching of not one, not two, but four new cable stations boasting big drama lineups—there was just about something for everyone.

I’ll start with the non-drama series, since they’re a different format than our standard prime-time miniseries. It seems apt to talk about them together, to compare apples to apples. As with all years, I add the caveat that not all the year’s dramas are talked about in this post, but future reviews in our year-end series will do a pretty good job covering the spread.

Vampire IdolCollapse )

You’re Here, You’re Here, You’re Really HereCollapse )StandbyCollapse )
Ma BoyCollapse )
Color of WomanCollapse )

History of the SalarymanCollapse )The Moon That Embraces the SunCollapse )Dream High 2Collapse )

Shut Up: Flower Boy BandCollapse )Rooftop PrinceCollapse )Queen In-hyun’s ManCollapse )Dr. JinCollapse )GaksitalCollapse )I Do, I DoCollapse )BigCollapse )Arang and the MagistrateCollapse )Answer Me, 1997Collapse )FaithCollapse )Vampire Prosecutor 2Collapse )Nice GuyCollapse )Oohlala SpousesCollapse )

I’m setting these dramas off in their own section, because as of this writing they’re all still airing. But some are already near the halfway mark and next year’s a long way off, so I’ll touch on them briefly here.

I Miss YouCollapse )King of DramasCollapse )Jeon Woo-chiCollapse )School 2013Collapse )

Source: Dramabeans 

What did you think of dramaland this year?

The best
The worse
Didn't watch any
Old school dramas were the best anyway

My favourite by far this year (and one of my favourite period) was Arang. What about you guys?
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sandra_hall 9th-Dec-2012 07:06 am (UTC)
Such a meh year. I only finished ma boy and heundae lovers. I'm pretty sure I only finished watching heundae lovers cos I read the recaps and watched a highlights reel instead. Maybe one day r1997.

I'm so super psyched about school 2013 though. It feels like the promised land of k-drama

msdaccxx 9th-Dec-2012 07:43 am (UTC)
I think this was a very strong year. Still watching Arang, which is shaping up really well - I love folklore-based stuff and it's very smart and funny and the world-building is great. I've got through Moon Embraces the Sun, Gentleman's Dignity, Gaksital, Reply 1997 and Nice Guy. Gaksital wins - oh my Park Ki Woong feels why are you not more famous and in everything? - followed very, very closely by Reply 1997. I watched them at the same time so Gaksital wouldn't kill me dead entirely and I could have a little cheerer upper with Reply 1997. As a nostalgic teen drama, I rate it beside Freaks & Geeks, and I don't say that lightly, I tell you what! Fantastic, fresh performances and very, very funny.

Gaksital was superb and packed a real emotional punch. It was very tough viewing at times and I give all props imaginable to our two leads because they had to do some pretty devastating stuff on a long shoot and they really delivered. I liked the slight staginess of the sets and art direction and the occasional logic gaps (where did Kang To do all those quick changes?) as it seemed to reflect its manwha roots well.

Gentleman's Dignity was let down by a weakish ending and occasional resort to cliche, but was otherwise very good and grittier than you would expect for a rom-com. Acting-wise, the younger cast members didn't do so well next to the older cast (see Reply 1997 for a good mixed-age cast) so that was a weakness too, but generally I loved it as a piece of frothy fun with a few interesting sharp edges. Big up Hong Pro! You were great!

Edited at 2012-12-09 07:51 am (UTC)
dreamerbri 9th-Dec-2012 10:50 am (UTC)
from this list, i only saw "ma boy" because it was only 3 episodes. i want to watch a few more but i haven't got around to watching them yet.
exo_cath 9th-Dec-2012 11:11 am (UTC)
Did you like Ma Boy? I watched it and thought it was really cute ^^
asth77 9th-Dec-2012 11:16 am (UTC)
I know no one else does but I completely loved History of the Salaryman!
itsplashes 9th-Dec-2012 02:30 pm (UTC)
I forgot about this! It's on my to-watch list, but I haven't had the time to actually start watching.;;
hurtmybones 9th-Dec-2012 11:22 am (UTC)
Queen InHyun's Man>>>>>> the rest. And I'm sad What's Up never gets mentioned in lists because it was a better "musical" drama than SUFBB for me

oh and the main pairing in Reply 1997 ruined the whole thing for me. they were awful

+ May Queen is still airing and it's gr8!

Edited at 2012-12-09 11:23 am (UTC)
kakkoi_x 10th-Dec-2012 12:38 am (UTC)
yes to may queen <3 lmfao i loved that scene in ur icon i cracked up SO loudly my roommates thought i was cray
hurtmybones 9th-Dec-2012 11:31 am (UTC)
and just because

liferule91 10th-Dec-2012 05:34 pm (UTC)
was this a bts part?
cause ive seen this drama like 4 times and never scene it
itsplashes 9th-Dec-2012 02:29 pm (UTC)
Still haven't watched Queen Inhyun's Man, Nice Guy, and Gaksital, but they're all on my to-watch list.

Dropped Big, Dream High 2, and Faith.

Not done with Arang and the Magistrate (but this is probably one of Lee Junki's best work as a drama actor; less overacting and more depth).

Skimmed I Do, I Do (oddly watchable) and Color of Woman.

Never planned on watching Dr. Jin lol.

My favorite this year: Answer Me 1997. So awesome I actually kept up with the subs as they came out; I usually watch dramas only when they're done. I do agree with Dramabeans though. I did feel like the first half was the drama's stronger point. The longer last few eps didn't pack the same punch as the rest of the series, but by then, I was so invested in the characters that it was all good to me.

Followed by: Shut Up Flower Boy Band. Pacing more even. Although I did find the lead girl annoying sometimes? I think it's what kept me from rating this higher than Answer Me 1997.

Also finished The Moon that Embraces the Sun (started off well--I really loved the kids--but when they grew up, things got really weird. Also didn't think there was chemistry between the leads. The heroine as a character lost what made her strong and interesting when she was young) and Rooftop Prince (adorable characters, great chemistry between the leads, but plot meandered after a good start and sort of got lost as it went along. Villains got all confused about what they were doing too lol).

I wasn't planning on watching I Miss You because I haven't liked a melodrama in a while (and I kind of got traumatized by how bad Miss Ripley was), but I somehow found myself picking it up anyway because I liked the kid actors from The Moon that Embraces the Sun. Plot is really heavy and, of course, the characters are crying in every episode. Lots of triggery stuff (at least for me), but I keep watching it anyway. There's something oddly compelling about it. Will withhold full judgment until I finish it. :P
weerainbow 9th-Dec-2012 03:57 pm (UTC)
Your comment about Arang and the Magistrate is making me definitely want to put it on my list of dramas to watch. I really enjoyed him in Iljimae and Time between Dog and Wolf so to hear you say he acts really well in this one gets me excited :)
weerainbow 9th-Dec-2012 03:53 pm (UTC)
For me Reply 1997 and Queen In Hyun's Man were my favourites largely because along with a good solid cast and storytelling they were COMPLETE. It really bothers me when a story isn't fully told in a drama. I don't mean where there is mystery that is part of the story but when there are holes in the storyline or incomplete parts I get so frustrated. If I had time I would write my own version just to get the satisfaction I was robbed of while watching the drama.
I'm watching Faith at the moment, about half way through, and I'm enjoying it so far.
Vampire Prosecutor 2 is pretty high on my list for this year too. Though it wasn't quite as consistent as the first season I still felt it was well put together and personally I think one of its strengths is in the casting! Roll on Season 3!
kazu_kumaguro 9th-Dec-2012 05:48 pm (UTC)
I seriously have this irrational contempt for Big for its lack of Shin.
I mean the ending, no Shin, really? just the back of his head, really!? after waiting for idk how many episodes watching his pretty face sleeping in hospital bed, REALLY!???
and it's not like he is a bad actor or sth.
ohlookshiny 9th-Dec-2012 07:46 pm (UTC)
my favourites were shut up flower boy band, queen in hyun's man + arang.

gaksital was great as well, though i wasn't as emotionally invested as everyone else. joo won's acting was brilliant, the boy deserves his growing popularity. faith and love rain were oddly compelling for me, though they had alot of flaws. acting/directing was great in nice guy and i'm happy for the whole cast for getting the recognition they deserve (especially moon chae won, loved her in the princess' man last year) but i couldn't connect with the show at all and dropped it around the halfway point. same with missing you, though i love yoon eun hye and yoo seung ho, the writing is so uneven.

huge disappointments: big (what a waste of gong yoo), a gentleman's dignity (hated the main guy with very fibre of my being, had zero plot, all the dude's were so sexist. loved kim woobin though), moon/sun (i watched it all the way to the end for kim soo hyun, but gdi it was just SO boring).

currently i'm enjoying school 2013 and cheondamdong alice.
steelsigns 9th-Dec-2012 08:42 pm (UTC)
Oh dear, I can't even really remember what I've watched, but I'm going to try. Here goes. What's Up, Big, Dream High 2, Shut Up Flower Boy Band, Reply 1997, To The Beautiful You and Nice Guy. And since it's the holidays now, I'm hoping to watch School 2013 and because I've been hearing good stuff about it, King of Dramas. Oh oh oh! Also very excited for the next flower boy installment with Park Shin Hye!
t_domination 9th-Dec-2012 10:27 pm (UTC)
tVN did it right this year. all the big cables were mehhhhh. Reply 1997: 10/10 would watch again. BIG: 1/10 gongyoo saved that show. queen inhyun: 10/10 their chemistry was 4real I miss you: 9/10 not enough tears for this show rn. To the beatiful you: -1/10 minho pls stop acting.
terezija 11th-Dec-2012 06:53 pm (UTC)
So agree about "To the Beautiful You"! But then again, we all expected it wouldn't be about acting, just cheese with colourful clothes and furniture. I would also add "Full House 2" to worst drama list, but then I could only bear watching two episodes so perhaps it miraculously gets better, I wouldn't know.

Sadly it looks like I haven't seen the best dramas of the year, off to download Queen Inhyun's Man and Bridal Mask after reading the post :)
aleash1989 10th-Dec-2012 03:26 am (UTC)
Out of all the dramas on this list, i don't understand why people like Rooftop Prince. I liked why I was watching it, but the ending and unanswered questions left me unsatisfied. There were also little plot things that were unimportant to the overall storyline or could have been done in better ways. I think my main questions were about Lee Gak's family - where were his parent's and his cousin's mom, how was Lee Gak's cousin's related to the family since he wasn't related to the grandma, what was with the grandma's unhealthy obsession with Lee Gak?

Big and I Do, I Do (the role reversal was very promising) left me disappointed in their endings. Though I must say I ADORED all the shoes in I Do, I Do. Oh the shoes! Dr. Jin had so many dumb and gross moments. I only watched to Jaejoong, and then I loved the eye candy that was Dr. Jin. Reply 1997 was so amazing! I may not have grown up in Korea in the '90s, but as a fangirl, I could connect with the fangirls on the show. I also agree that the series lost some of it's charm after the character left high school. I like that it didn't shy away from having a gay character like some shows do. Oh and the leads Queen Inhyun's Man had the best chemistry I've seen in any Kdrama. OTP for life!

Edited at 2012-12-10 03:32 am (UTC)
raviolikenshin 10th-Dec-2012 05:19 am (UTC)
king of dramas is the drama of the year for me
followed by shut up flower boy band

and then the first half of may queen. the second half nty.
joy_twinz 10th-Dec-2012 10:19 am (UTC)
Reply 1997 is the best, imo.
liferule91 10th-Dec-2012 05:32 pm (UTC)
Did everyone forget about Love Rain.

It was flawless past the first 5 episodes.
edanz_castle 11th-Dec-2012 04:42 am (UTC)
Love Rain never happened lol
edanz_castle 11th-Dec-2012 04:52 am (UTC)
For me personally it was a really good kdrama year. My fav. obviously being Shut Up Flower Boy Band, Bridal Mask, Queen In Hyun's Man, Reply 1997,Rooftop Prince and now the recent KIng Of Dramas.

Dream High 2....I still don't know how I made it through that drama. Maybe it through the power of Jiwoon's face. I liked Kang Sora's character but that whole drama needed something.

Big... It was a big UH-OH! While the comedic side was entertaining, the plot sank to the damn sea.

FAITH. I love Lee Minho and I watched that drama for Lee Minho. I came to like the plot but the progression was slow which made it boring.

Arang...it was good. But still...story progression was slow and I got bored.

Ma Boy was a really good mini-drama. I really enjoyed it. I laughed I aww'd. I loved it.

I Do I Do, I can't say much because I didn't make it past episode 3.

The Moon Embraces The Sun was really good. I loved Kim Soo Hyun (except for his loud wailing's) in this. It dragged but I enjoyed watching them all.

muramatsu_aoi 11th-Dec-2012 05:59 am (UTC)
And there I get reminded how behind I am on drama watching.. The fate of the other couple in K2H made me veer firmly off watching it.

I really loved the amount of thought they put behind QIHM. The ending wasn't a cop out IMO..
terezija 11th-Dec-2012 06:46 pm (UTC)
Thank you for posting these reviews! Very helpful in deciding what to watch next. I'm afraid I've been quite disappointed with the 2012 dramas I've watched so far (gave up and didn't finish Faith and Dr. Jin, Nice Guy made me really annoyed half-way though, Rooftop as you say has its hilarious moments but the story as such not great). I'm halfway through Arang and intrigued to see Bridal Mask. Wish me luck! :)
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