Monday, May 7, 2012

Queen SeonDeok

  • Title: 선덕여왕 (善德女王) / Seondeok Yeo Wang
  • Also known as: Queen Seon Duk
  • Tagline: The one who secures the people will acquire the world and rule the ages
  • Genre: Historical Drama
  • Episodes: 62
  • Broadcast network: MBC
  • Broadcast period: 2009-May-25 to 2009-Dec-22
  • Air time: Monday & Tuesday 21:55


Deokman was born a twin but was abandoned as a baby and sent to a place far away by her father, King Jinpyeong in order to protect her from being killed by an influenced royal court lady, Mishil who tries to snatch away the throne from the royal successor. Deokman was later brought back to the Silla palace, where she joined forces with her twin sister Princess Cheonmyong to oppose Mishil. However, Mishil devised sinister plans to have the two Silla princesses exiled from the kingdom, and in a secretive battle, Princess Cheonmyong was accidentally killed. But Princess Deokman shrewdly enlisted the help of General Kim Yusin and eliminated her archenemy Mishil. She then became Queen Seon Deok, the first female ruler of the Silla kingdom. This drama is about a story of a beautiful queen, who has to give up her love to save the people and thus, leaving behind many brilliant achievements.
Yeah, so that's the synopsis DramaWiki would like you to have.  You can have it.

Ponder Angst – So much ponder I almost stopped watching the series.  If I wasn't trying to talk my friend into watching Damo, I wouldn't have finished it.  0 points
Love “ – “ Angles – YuShin Loves DeokMan, DeokMan loves YuShin, Bidam loves DeokMan, DeokMan eventually loves BiDam, SeolWon loves Mishil, Mishil loves Mishil.  30 points.
Sizzle Oh, there was sizzle!  YuShin's "I'll always be by your side" sizzle, and when we find out he always knew DeokMan was a girl?  Whhoooooof.  And then Bidam's amazing charisma that screamed off the screen and right into my face.  Another 30 points, mostly because I loved looking at these two.
Physical Intimacy Hugs and some intimacy. 20 points.
Tragic Heartwrenching Disease and/or Character Death from Same – The white cloth of life/death was out in abundance in this series.  Nearly everyone who dies - dies from the scourge of Shilla - the dreaded bloodinthemouth.  You know when you see the white cloth come out and someone coughs?  It always comes up bloody - so you know they are about to die.  When the white cloth comes out to cool a fevered forehead?  They live. bloodinthemouth.  But we get bloodinthemouth even when there is no white cloth of Life or Death.  Stabbed in the belly?  Bloodinthemouth.  Stabbed in the shoulder?  Bloodinthemouth.  Arrow in the back?  BloodinthemouthEven Chil Sook dies only -  ONLY when he bleeds from his mouth.  Bloodinthemouth kills more people than constipation; and toward the end, it was literally gushing out of our character's mouths.  10 points just because of that white cloth of death and all the bloodinthemouth.
Tazza Factor – Ahhhhhm, the tazza.  Sorry QSD, you blew it.  You started slow, then Bidam showed up and you almost had me, and then, well, and then the show got dull. 0 points.
Going to the Beach –  There was some suicide, but nothing at the beach.  0 Bonus points.

90 points on the e-mometer, which is way higher than the series deserves in my book.  Well, OK - I'll say that the tragic ending was a tear-jerker and I was most certainly moved.  Moved still to see YuShin still by the Queen's side at the end, just as he promised in the beginning.  

So OK.  I'll let the 90 stand. 

More Queen SeonDeok

Almost a Big Fat Fail.

I had moments where I thought Queen Seon Duk was going to be another Jumong.  The Mishil Smirk. Hot Hot Yu Shin.  Bi "I'm the Duck" Dam.  Twin #1.  Woot Tae, I mean, Munno.  Some really great cliffhangers, clever maneuvers and out maneuvers.  Kites.  You just can't go wrong with kites.

You know what killed it for me?  The length.  The freaking d  r  a  w  n  o  u  t  baaaaaaatttttttllllllleeeeeesssss hiiiiiiiiidddddddddinnnnnnnnnnggggg, ccccrrrrryyyyyyiiiiiinnnnngggggg, taaaaaaallllllllkkkkkkkkiiiiiinnnnnnng    mmmmmmarrrrrrcccccchhhhhhiiiiinnnnnnggg ssssssssiiiiiiiittttttttiiiiiiiinnnnnnngggggggg aaaaaaattttttt taaaaaaaabbbbbbbllllllllllllllllllleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeessssssssss.  Oh my goodness, and it just doesn't end.  Taking for freaking ever to do anything.

And it wasn't about the length of the series.  "Jumong: Legend of the Three Han" was 81 episodes.  I was sad when that series ended because I loved every single one of the characters - I even became fond of the bad ones.  Daeso?  Come on - loved that drunken sunuvabitch.  "Jewel in the Palace" - at 50+ episodes, I think I've watched that 5 or 6 times.

But somehow I just didn't fully connect with the characters.  I thought I was going to and I really tried. In the end, it was like basketball.  I don't like watching the game because all I can focus on are the squeaky sneakers on the gym floor.  I'm not even watching the game, all I can focus on are the stupid squeaks.  I stopped caring about the characters and started counting the pans across a room when someone would say something shocking - Mishil, BoJong, SeJong, Mi Saeng, Seol won, Ha Jong, Smirking Mishil, BoJong, SeJong, Mi Saeng, Seol Won and won and won and won.

YuShin sacrificed his love for a woman for the love of his people, Woot Tae, I mean Munno intrigued me, Seol won - I loved the way he loved Mishil.  The can't kill him Chil Sook and his tender love for Seowha, and then Korea's Johnny Depp steps in.

As I said before - Bi-dayum.  Kim Nam Gil injected something into the whole series for me; not just - is he good or bad - is he Mishil or WooTae - I mean Munno - but his characterization, the flexibility in his face; this wasn't just a one dimensional character.  Bidam was the best of Mishil's spawn, a diamond in the rough, waiting to be cut and given the facets that would make him shine from within and become the strongest and most beautiful rock in the foundation of Queen SeonDeok's impossible dream.  The dysfunction of a lifetime, his fear and his inability to really understand how to fully love and trust brought about his own end.  He was a fascinating character and I cheered for him even as he got as close as 10 steps to the Queen. 

Similar to Song Il Guk's Yeom Moon in "Emperor of the Sea", it was Bidam that forced me to come back to the series.  It was his multidimensional character that brought it all together and then mercilessly ended it, not DeokMan. 

I think I would have liked to see a little more of the strong and forward-thinking SeonDeok.  The woman who brought a Renaissance to her people.  Who built Buddhist temples and helped her people grow.  It was alluded to, but never realized.  It was plot plot plot, war war war, screw with Bidam, screw with SeonDeok, screw with YuShin.  And unfortunately, I got tired of that.

Queen SeonDeok

Mishil is bad.  The kind of bad you love to hate.  The kind of bad that you really want to see wander off into the ocean and lose her shoes.  She was ancient Shilla's version of white trash -  she had a kid by just about every guy in the series.  You couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting one of Mishil's spawn.  A skank with class and a dream.

SeonDeok/DeokMan is good.  The kind of good you want to see live happily ever after.  The kind of good you want to see have babies and till the land with the man she loves.

YuShin is good.  The kind of good that makes you ache.  The kind of good that comes around once in a lifetime; that sacrifices himself completely for the ones he loves.  The kind of good that will help his apparent enemies if it means the betterment of the nation and the health of his queen.

Bidam is...Bidam is...Bidam is hot.  The kind of hot that makes you turn on the air conditioner.  The kind of hot that makes you wish he was looking at you with those devil may care eyes, with those fierce eyes, with those wounded eyes. The kind of hot and anguished and good and bad that every woman longs for really, so she can fix him, but finds out later that he's always going to be sort of a delicious mess. 

Everyone else, as far as I was concerned, revolved around those four characters.  Ass-kicking Woo Tae...I mean, Munno, the twitchy and catatonic Seowha, the can't kill him with fire or sand Chil Sook - (Korea's version of Jason in Friday the 13th), the fancy brother, the annoying husband, the hot and devoted sergeant at arms SeolWon, the Nancy King, the crying Queen, the dead twin sister, the tricksy nephew, the many toadies and on and and on and on. 

The first third of the series sets us up.  We get the Big Dipper Prophecy alluding to Mishil's downfall, the twins, the escape; relationships introduced, formed, and cemented.  Sisters lost and found and lost again.  Devotion established.  Motivations built.  This part of the series is "AllaboutDeokman and Mishil" and the people who love them both.

The second part of the series; episodes 20 - 40 or so, we are introduced to Korea's Johnny Depp - Bidam. I call this part of the series "Bi-dayum!".  Mommy was he beautiful.  Hot hot son of Mishil and King Jinji.  Disciple of WooTae, I mean Munno.  Physically abandoned at birth by his mother, emotionally abandoned in adolescence by his master WooTae, I mean Munno, later describing himself as "The Duck" - following the first person he lays his eyes on when he's born (or re-born as in this case).  That person is DeokMan.  We learn about Bidam's past, we learn about his present, and we hope for his future.  Gets pretty messed up by his Mom and her violet cohort, the Men in Purple - Her husband, her son, her brother and her lover.  Thus begins the third part....

Which should have been titled, "Men Who Carry Feather Fans Are Up To No Good".  A mess of mistrust, miscommunication, and mismanagement.  Bidam styles himself into a gay asian hairdresser, Queen SeonDeok decides she can't trust anyone, and YuShin....well, YuShin is still good, and devoted and lovely and strong and courageous and brave, workaholic though he is.  

I will grant you that the ending broke my heart.  I was moved a la "Emperor of the Sea".  I had longed for Bidam to be able to tell the Queen what was in his heart, but it was not to be.  And there were some sincerely marvelous performances, particularly by Kim Nam Gil.  Come for his hotness, stay for...his hotness.

In the end, it was all sort of a Romeo and Juliet thing with our two Big Dipper star-crossed lovers missing each other by inches; tragedy at its Korean best.  If you are into that kind of thing, you will love this series.  It just got too long and drawn out for me and I wanted to put it out of it's misery at around episode 50. 

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