meganbmoore: (parker and sophie)
Last weekend I watched all the available episodes of Lookout, and this weekend I’ve watched 7 episodes of Bad Thief, Good Thief (I had already seen and enjoyed the first 3 episodes well enough, but wasn’t invested yet.) For other kdrama fen who got over-invested in Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People, both of these series are pretty good followup series, though neither is a sageuk.



Neither series is perfect, but qualify for “Korean Leverage of my heart and soul” status. Bad Thief, God Thief, IMO, should have held off on various revelations until later on, and Lookout is...very clearly by a newbie writer at times-the male lead is over-complicated ( as opposed to complex) in that way where “morally ambiguous” becomes “convoluted and will anyone buy redemption at this point?” (the right actor could pull it off, but while this actor does smarmy well, he doesn’t have the screen presence and charisma to quit pull it off) and things don’t always come together the way the writer thinks they do. Bad Thief Good Thief has the more expansive and complicated plot tied to current and past politics (and almost 4 times as many episodes) but takes a few episodes to get going. It has a lot of narrative similarities to Rebel, and a few spoilery things actually had me looking to see if the two shows shared and production members or writers, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. They do share several actors, though. Lookout is much more fast paced with action scenes and a heroine who regularly is a gallant knight in shining armor rescuing other women.



They both get the “It” that Leverage had* but most shows of the type miss. That “It” is that it isn’t just cool people being attractive and witty and competent. It’s a wish fulfillment fantasy that there is someone who will see to it that the people who the law can’t or won’t punish will still be punished, an justice will be met. This is also the general “Robin Hood” fantasy, though the dynamics play out differently when it’s in a historical setting than when it’s in modern times.



Unsurprisingly, both shows, like Rebel before them, are from MBC. While SBS is floundering all over the place to figure out how to still mostly depend on an international audience when they’ve lost their biggest outlet (China) and KBS is...doing something (Like, I dunno. They aren’t the mess that SBS is, but they seem trying really hard to make their mark different kinds of dramas this year more than usual, with mixed results.) MBC is pretty much running around yelling “VIVE LA REVOLUTION” at the top of its lungs. (Ruler: Master of the Mask is also pretty heavy on the political commentary, but it’s much more focused on “Puppet ruler under the control of unseen master, BAD IDEA” while Rebel, Lookout and Bad Thief Good Thief focus more on widespread corruption and abuse of power and social standing.)



As an aside, Lookout might require trigger/upsetting stuff warnings beyond what you’d expect for these kinds of political thrillers.



*ok, Leverage had several “It”s that other similar shows lack, but I’m talking about a specific “It” here.
meganbmoore: (hwajung: jeongmyung revealed)
See this poster for the newly-airing sageuk, Seven Day Queen? This poster is very pretty, and makes me very angry.




Park Min Young may be in the center, and she may be playing the title character, but she isn’t the POINT of the poster. She’s demurely looking down and away, and almost seems incidental to the poster. See Yeon Woo Jin and Lee Dong Gun there? they’re both looking directly at the viewer, and their eyes are ALMOST level. Not quite, and noticeably not actually level with each other, but close enough that, with both looking at you, THAT’s what demands the viewer’s attention, with Park Min Young conveniently positioned well below that focal point. The message the poster sends is perfectly clear regardless of if you know anything about the plot: The men are the point, their relationship or conflict is what’s important. The woman is there as the love interest for one or both, but not the point. or the show. (To be fair, while this is the poster for the show I’ve seen the most, it isn’t the only one. The other posters are better in that she’s more of a focus, but they’re also very clearly focused on the romance, and don’t give her the gravity or import that this poster gives the men.)



This has been aggravating me since it first showed up, and the previews (after the first with all the quick cuts and the white color scheme) only furthered the impression. I still held out hope (and still do-it was my most anticipated of the current crop of kdramas) despite the steadily increasing unease the promotional materials gave me, but the first episode seemed to reinforce that impression, with most of the gravitas of the episode of the conflict between King Yeonsan and Lee Yook/future-King Jungjong and their issues with each other and Yeonsan’s daddy issues. Our Heroine was endearing and plucky, but almost incidental to most of the plot in the episode, despite supposedly being the main character. As I said when I watched the first episode over the weekend, I’m hoping that the focus readjusts itself once the childhood parts are over and it ends up the show it could be instead of the show I fear it will be.



more sageuk babble )

ETA:

Compare that poster to this poster of MBC's Hwajung (another drama about a female historical figure who rarely gets used in dramas set in her time period) from two years ago:



Once again, we have the female lead (and the series actually was originally titled Princess Jungmyung) centered between two of the male leads, and standing in front on them.  However,  Lee Yeon Hee is roughly eye level with Cha Seung Won and Kim Jae Won, and she is looking directly at the viewer.  Despite being outnumbered two-to-one, she is clearly the focus of the poster, and there's no doubt she's the lead and that this is her story, with the men playing parts in it.  Mind you the relationships are different-while there is romance and a romantic triangle (tough very one-sided) in Hwajung, neither of these men are involved in it.  One plays Jungmyung's older half brother, while the other plays her nephew (who is older than her, because, I mean, Korean Royals...) but the point and difference remain the same.



meganbmoore: (chae-ohk)
I wrote this for tumblr, where I've been writing about Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People a lot, and decided to crosspost this one here.

At this point, it’s actually a little sad that Saimdang: Light’s Diary and Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People are airing at the same time. Mind you, it’s not because one is easily one of the most hyped sageuks in years and isn’t performing well, while the other seems to have just been thrown out there as an afterthought and is pulling in good ratings, as well as better critical and popular response, it’s the content and themes. Personally speaking, I spent almost 2 years impatiently waiting for Saimdang, and was pretty sure it was going to be the best sageuk of the year when it did come out, something that I thought would hold true after watching the first two episodes. In contrast, Rebel was barely on my radar, and on my “watch now” list instead of “watch if people say good things while it airs” primarily because I liked Hwang Jin-Young’s previous sageuk (and only previous writing credit aside from a special) King’s Daughter Soo Baek Hyang. Halfway through their runs, Saimdang was moved to “I really like it but it could be better” status (with a lot of anger for how SBS execs screwed the show and LYA over, and now they’re taking their screwups out on the show, but I’m not going to dwell on that today) while Rebel has become the sageuk I just can’t see another sageuk surpassing it for a while. (Particularly since they all seem to at least partly center around the tropes and worldview that Rebel critiques.)



this ended up over 2500 words so here's a cut )
meganbmoore: (covert affairs: gimme tv)
1. I haven’t talked much about TV here recently, but I haven’t really felt fannish about US shows? Elementary and Madam Secretary are solid shows that I have great fondness for but little interest in initiating conversation about, though it is worth noting that MS is one of those shows that’s really going after the current political climate. Bones is on its final season and it’s still Bones, which mean that, like the last several seasons, it’s worth watching for the characters that I’ve been following for a decade, but not really a lot else. Supergirl is a show I was fannish about last season but am not really fannish about this season. I still enjoy it, and there are definitely very good things about this season, but the problems we were worried about when we learned it was moving to CW came to pass.  Rosewood is also still solid and enjoyable, though I'm slightly concerned that a miracle cure is in the works.

Timeless wraps up the first season tomorrow.  It's not brilliant SciFi, but it is very entertaining SciFi, and is pretty good at calling out how much US history has erased and persecuted POC.

Star Wars Rebels continues to be great, but I wish it would fully commit itself to the Mandalore plotline that’s been building up instead of the endless build up. I’m very much looking forward to some things in the trailer that haven’t happened yet.

I still enjoy Emerald City despite its problems, and I have so many questions about the past that can’t possibly be answered in the last two episodes without putting the main plotline on hold. At least it looks like my questions about Jane might be answered next episode, though.

The only new show I’ve checked out (or really plan to) is Powerless, which is a sitcom set in the DC universe about the employees of a security firm who work on inventions to keep people and possessions safe from superhero battles. It also falls into the realm of “really like but don’t feel fannish about” but really is a delight. Of the shows I’m watching, it’s also probably the one most blatantly anti-Trump.

I haven’t watched How to Get Away With Murder since it returned from hiatus and I haven’t watched any of this season of Jane the Virgin (I’m spoiled about That Thing in JTV, though). I’ll probably watch both when Netflix gets them this summer.

Right now, I’m mostly waiting for Underground, Into the Badlands and Brooklyn 99 to return from hiatus, and wondering if Still Starcrossed will ever make it to my screen.  I think all my other shows are summer/late spring shows.

2. For a few US shows I’ve completely recently:

Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events was a delight, due in large part to excellent casting and the actors’ ability to maintain an almost impossible pace for something so dialogue heavy. It’s hard to make something that requires that much dialogue and whose humor requires the narrator to step in so much to work, but they did it. My favorite character was Jacqueline, who had maybe 10-15 minutes screentime total throughout the season.

LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures is a TV show set between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi about a trio of scavenger siblings who come across a woman claiming to be a Jedi who survived Order 66, and help her look for the pieces of the kybersaber, a weapon that pre-dated the lightsaber. It’s an irreverent comedy that spends a whole lot of time mocking Palpatine and Vader, and the Empire in general. I kind of wish it was pat of the main Star Wars animated Universe canon, because there’s some good stuff in there.

I finally got around to watching the back half of season 5 of Haven now that netflix has it. I appreciated how fully it committed itself to its gothic horror roots and its devotion to the new mid-apocalyptic setting. I did not appreciate hoe it still felt th need to kill off any plot-important women who weren’t Audrey. It also somehow took an ending that SHOULD have been perfectly satisfactory to anyone and made it be awful and make no sense. Sigh.

3. I have been fairly fannish about kdramas and cdramas lately, though, but most of that portion of my friend’s list has migrated to tumblr, or are both here and there, so I forget to also talk about them here. Surprisingly, I’ve been fannish about Hwarang, which has been an admittedly fairly-average sageuk, but an enjoyable one, and utterly harmless. For an idol-heavy youth drama sageuk, it’s actually pretty decent, despite the almost universally-awful promotional material and trailers. It’s Silla-era and has enjoyable characters, and I’m easy there. It also has the worst fandom possible, largely due to stans of certain actors and their characters who believe the universe has horribly wronged them by not making the show and all the characters revolve around their favorite.

I’m also really enjoying Saimdang: Light’s Diary and Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People, but despite the split-timeperiods aspect of Saimdang, both are being fairly old-school in their approaches, and so things are really just getting started. (Unlike Hwarang, both are also excellent sageuks by any standard right now, but not to the tastes or the more vocal parts of kdramas fandom. As in, there are no idols, and they’re busy being Serious Business Sageuks.)

4. Slightly related to the above, I’m glad Moon Lovers brought a lot of people to sageuks last year, but frankly, that drama was mediocre. Entertaining and with some bright spots, but mediocre both as a sageuk and as a drama in general. It’s popularity was because of the popular idols in the cast, Lee Joon Ki fans, the fact that it wasn’t set in the Joseon era, and because it hit a lot of fandom’s buttons for character overinvestment, none of which are actually related to quality. I didn’t bother finishing it when I learned that the final episodes literally killed off every single female character except for the one history said that it absolutely could not kill off. But it got a lot of younger viewers interested in sageuks, and also got some not-so-young viewers in that didn’t typically watch sageuks, but now I can’t go to any drama sites with seeing other sageuks and popular ancient cdramas compared to Moon Lovers and somehow being found wanting, with people going out of their way to find ways to compare them. Hwarang fandom is probably the worst about that. But every drama I’ve seen compared to ML in the last 6 months or however long its been has, IMO, been a better drama.

5. Completely unrelated to TV, I’ve been checking flights for WisCon and the prices are almost double what they were two years ago. Hopefully they’ll go down in the next month or so, but I’m not holding my breath. (I also have no idea yet if I have roommates or need to start asking friends if they have room. I know one of my regular roommates isn’t going, but I haven’t heard back from the other yet. I don’t think most people start worrying about roommates in February, though…)

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