Saturday, March 31, 2012

Secret Garden


Secret Garden

QuickPlot: Claustrophobic Rich spoiled Captain of Industry (Kim Joo Woon) meets Orphaned poor hard working Stunt girl (Gil Ra Im). He is entranced, she is angered, he is entranced, she is annoyed, he is entranced, she is intrigued, he is disgusted, she is hurt, they drink magic flower wine, switch bodies; hilarity and drama ensues.


I read about this drama back in 2010 when Jang Hyuk was slated as the Rich Claustrophobic Captain of Industry. There were some issues with his management company and aigooo - Hyun Bin was cast as the Rich Claustrophobic Captain of Industry. I haven’t seen enough of Hyun Bin’s work – in fact, the only other drama I saw him in was “My Name is Kim Sam Soon”, where he played Leg Wounded Rich Spoiled Captain of Industry. So sadly, it felt like I was watching the same character.

Ha Ji Won –I’ve seen her in Damo and Hwang Jini. Different characters, both fierce and striking. She impressed me with her grace and intensity. Her character Gil Rae Im started out all fierce and butchy, then turned plucky, then got all weepy and apologetic toward the end. I was a bit disappointed.

In the beginning of the series, I found much that was endearing; puzzled over her lack of social standing, money and breeding, KJW can’t stop thinking about GRI. When he walks, he imagines she’s there with him, when he’s at the opera, she’s there with him, wherever he goes, there she is, moving at his pace, just there. Gil Ra Im eventually gives in to her feelings and is willing to accept whatever spoiled Kim Joo Woon is able to give, just as he realizes that what he wants to give her is everything. It’s really very sweet.

K-drama staples – this series has ‘em. Modern-day palace machinations at the shopping center, evil mothers, scheming sisters-in-law,the white cloth of life made an appearance, oh and the sacrificial if-one-of-us-has-to-die-let-it-be-me episode. The chemistry between HB and HJW definitely kept me coming back – there were lots and lots of achy moments that made my belly flop.

Oh and Lee Phillip as Director Im Jong Soo? Wow. I had more empathy for his character quietly loving GRI. Sigh. Nice.

The odd stuff? The whole Oska hallyu singing sensation and the ruinous relationship that left him a bitter bitter player plot didn’t do it for me; and I never quite got the gay ingénue that developed feelings for him – that felt contrived. However, I did feel bad for gay ingénue leaving and having no one in the end. And was I supposed to believe that Son Ye Jin was into Im Jong Soo at the end or was she just hiring him to be a director? Didn’t get it. KJW’s mother was a monster – just a plain, evil, hateful, bitter dreadful excuse for a human being.

Hyun Bin behaving as a woman? Hilarious and adorable. Ha Ji Won acting as a man? Well, she was pretty butchy as it was – all Coffee-Princey, so not such a stretch. On reflection, the body switching thing, I think it was simply a mechanism for the sacrificial if-one-of-us-has-to-die-let-it-be-me episode and that was too bad. It could have been more. We could have seen KJW learn to have appreciation for how and why GRI lives as she does, GRI could have learned bits about KJWs crippling and heart-attack provoking claustrophobia…but maybe that was too obvious. Better we all just get awkward at work and learn that Joo Woon’s security password is 36 24 36 and that Ra Im’s roommate leaves the bathroom door open asking if it smells bad. You can’t miss with a good poop joke.

Ponder Angst – Not a lot of ponder angst. This was not a ponder-fest. There are some moments that reflected on the past, but that was all Oska’s and his woman’s and it was blessedly brief, because I didn’t care. 20 points

Love “ – “ Angles – KJW loves GRI, Oska loves whatshername, hot hot Director Im Jong Soo loved GRI, one of the other students at the Action school loved GRI, and Joo Won’s mother loved no one but herself. 16 points.

Sizzle – Ah, the sizzle. As I said, there were some sizzly moments between KJW and GRI, some aching looks from Im Jong Soo and that kept me coming back. 10 points.

Physical Intimacy – Lots of stiff kisses, wrist grabbing, hugging and a couple awkward cappuccino lip locks. The payoff kiss at the Christmas party went on too long and seemed a little, I don’t know, slick somehow. I wanted to give them a hanky to wipe off their faces. 10 points.

Tragic Heartwrenching Disease and/or Character Death from SameThere was no death from disease. GRI’s dad dies in a heroic flashy elevator car of death, and Joo Woon has a claustrophobia induced fainting spell. GRI is brain dead for a little while, but that all gets fixed. I’ll give it 10 points for Dad’s fiery fireman death.

Going to the Beach – Nothing in the bonus round. Too bad mom didn’t do us all a favor and smother herself in all that organza she wore. Hag.

So, 71 on the e-meter. It wasn’t a bad series, but I won’t be watching it again. The last 5 episodes or so felt rushed and not really in concert with the whole. The editing seemed sloppy and some of the story lines were dropped without any explanation. The effort to pull it all together in the last quarter of the series with Ah Young’s predictive dreams was lame.

When the squealing charm of Hyun Bin acting like a girl wore off, I wondered how the series would have been different had Joo Woon been played by Jang Hyuk.

And I could have done without the leopard print robe.


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