First Impressions: Watcher

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Disclaimer: If you haven’t watched the first two episode of this drama, there will be spoilers for those in this review.

Native Title: 왓쳐
Release Date: July 6th, 2019 (released every Sat and Sun)
Episode #: 16 hour long episodes
Platform: Viki
Director: Ahn Gill Ho (Stranger, Memories of the Alhambra)
Writer: Han Sang Woon (The Good Wife)
Genre: Crime/Thriller
Starring: Han Seok Kyu, Seo Kang Joon, and Kim Hyun Joo. Rest of the cast can be found here.

Fitting to be firing back up the first impressions posts with this drama, as the last one that I wrote was for another Seo Kang Joon drama, Are you Human Too. Watcher was high on my watch list out of the new crop of dramas for the month because of two reasons: this is an OCN drama and I tend to enjoy their dramas more than the other networks, and because I very much enjoyed Seo Kang Joon’s performance in Are You Human Too. I was excited to see him in another drama that was in a genre I much more preferred than his last drama, Third Charm. The kid has talent for his age, and I enjoy watching it.

Crime dramas, in general, are what I gravitate towards the most as far as a specific genre. I like stories that involve puzzles and require the audience to be figuring out the clues with the characters to find out what is actually happening. In general, this is mostly seen and done better in crime dramas as opposed to any other genre, and it’s why I tend to favor them most. If the crime drama doesn’t have that element, I’m much more likely to not get invested and drop it all together. For this drama, however, that was very much not the case.

The drama captured me from the very beginning. I was very much intrigued by what was going on and what was happening with the storyline. I’ve noticed there are a lot of times in dramas that I tend to be slightly bored, or let my mind wander, and this was not the case for this one. From the very beginning when we see Young Goon as a young child sitting wrapped in a blanket at the police station with headless adults asking him questions about his father and flashes of his helpless mother dying, it sucks me into the story and the why’s.

I’ve always enjoyed stories where there is the “competent underdog” of sorts, the mistreated when they are in fact good at what they do. You see glimpses of that in Chi Kwang. He is banished to the basement where there’s not even a working water cooler, no other staff to help because of the position he is in. And yet, he is known by others for his work. He has the basement office because there are higher ups that know his worth in the precinct, he is there because he hasn’t been entirely written off and this is all they could do. The Internal Affairs department is by default a department (whether it is liked or not) an essential one, and highly important especially while police corruption cases are at a high. The series touches on the public perception a lot and although it can be said he was put there because it was a much hated job internally, things can be said for allowing him to be the one calling the shots there.

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Corruption in police is a trope that I don’t tend to enjoy as much. It’s on par with the “bumbling idiot” cop, as I start to really empathize with the innocent on how those in power and that are there to help them are clearly failing them. However, with this drama I did not mind it. I wonder if it is because of how closely of a tied connection it is for all the characters that there is a sense of the victims taking back the power that pushes me through it? Whatever it is, it’s working.

One of the elements that this drama does well, and is highly effective is it’s use of flashbacks. Every drama has them, it’s something we can’t get away from, but in this drama it is used to pull you into the mind of the characters. The flashbacks aren’t really for us. On the surface, yes - they help you fill in the clues as to what’s going on especially with a drama that has a lot of story that shaped what it is today from the past, but the flashbacks are really to drive the mentality of the character and to understand why they are doing what they are doing. They are haunted by these memories of the past, and the flashbacks are set up to be abrupt almost debilitating reminders. Attorney Han’s hands being drenched in blood as she is watching them (a literal washing the blood off her hands, perhaps?), Young Goon not being able to stop the corrupt cop as he watches on from his past turmoil as a child, frozen. It plays nicely in the show and never once did it not make me even more curious of their past storylines.

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Out of all the characters and plots of the story, I find Attorney Han to be the most intriguing. I love a character that is presented in a way that makes the audience second guess every motivation, or in turn every feeling they (the audience) have for them. We don’t know what she is doing or why for the most part, we can only guess and even with those guesses the show makes you question everything you thought and make you believe that you could be wrong. She also sets up a character that I enjoy the most: the morally grey character. So many times characters are presented as cut and dry, especially in kdramas. If they are a villain, they are a villain: an almost caricature of what a villain actually is. We don’t see the characters that are neither extremely one way of the other. Not every villain is a villain all the time, not every good guy is good all the time. Having her presented as a character that is neither and both at the same time is intriguing, and honestly what I find most fascinating about the entire drama.

I do enjoy how all the characters are starting to come together and are intertwined. I find it fascinating the glimpse you see of how Attorney Han is remorseful towards Young Goon. I especially enjoyed that even though Young Goon’s father is a corrupt cop, it is only brought up a handful of times. They don’t make as big of a deal out of it as another drama would. Chi Kwang has a such a strong relationship to Young Goon, as he is not only the one to investigate his father but you find out that Young Goon’s father was a mentor to him, and yet that doesn’t stop Chi Kwang from distrusting him or using that as a means to get vengeance. So many normal tropes that could have happened, didn’t and that’s refreshing. It also helps keep you on your toes and that is essential in this drama as it is part of the overall tone itself. In the end, it is only really Soo Yeon’s character that is underdeveloped. I don’t know if this is because her connection has yet to come into light, or that because she doesn’t have a connected storyline she will be pushed to the side as filler. Either way we’ll have to see how her character plays more as the series progresses.

All-in-all this was a great start for a drama for me. It left me wanting more after the ending of the second episode. I thought about all the puzzles that needed to be fit together for a while and I’m excited to see how this one progresses. As long as it doesn’t lose steam as the four work together and focus on the bits and pieces of the puzzle and try to skew away from that in trying to come up with content to fit the amount of screen time they have, I think this could end up to be a solid drama.

May 2019 Dramas

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May 4 Different Dreams-이몽 // MBC Saturdays (Kocowa, Viki)

Espionage drama set during the Japanese colonial occupation. Looking forward to this one because it looks intriguing and the costume design is gorgeous. I also have to support Kim Kyu Jong.

May 6 Abyss-어비스 // tvN Monday-Tuesdays (Netflix)

Supernatural drama where the two main leads die, and are revived in a different body from a soul-reviving marble called the Abyss. With Park Bo Young and Ahn Hyo Seop as leads, this one is probably going to be entertaining. I also love a good supernatural, and with this being on Netflix it’s a safe bet that I will be trying this one out.

May 6 Secret Life of My Secretary-초면에 사랑합니다 // SBS Monday-Tuesdays (Kocowa, Viki)

No one knows what this one is about. Does he have facial blindness? Is he actually blind? Did he kill someone? Who knows. Not super interested in this one (it doesn’t look to be my type drama) but I might check this out just to see what’s going on. I absolutely loved Jin Ki Joo in Come and Hug Me.

May 8 Save Me 2-구해줘 2 // OCN Wednesday-Thursdays (Godspeed)

I have not watched the first season of Save Me, but was told that it wasn’t needed. Thriller/psychological drama about a town and their connection with an over zealous religious group. As long as I can find a place to access subs, I’m 100% down with this one.

May 11 Voice 3-보이스 3 // OCN Saturday-Sundays (Godspeed)

Third season of the Voice series that follows an Emergency call center. As far as I know, this one is a continuation, and I have not watched the other two seasons so I probably won’t be watching this one, but may check out the first season this summer.

May 15 Absolute Boyfriend-절대 그이 // SBS Wednesday-Thursdays (Viki)

Romcom about a girl who falls in love with a robot, based on the Japanese manga. Honestly, I’ll probably watch this one. The cast looks pretty great with Yeo Jin Goo, Bang Min Ah, and Hong Jong Hyun.

May 15 Angels Last Mission: Love-단, 하나의 사랑 // KBS Wednesday-Thursdays (Kocowa)

An angel recieves a mission to find true love for the main character, but in turn falls in love. Hands down my most excited drama of the bunch. The teasers look great (which I know is iffy because it can go a different route), but I’m hoping for a semi-dark melo.

May 22 One Spring Night-봄밤 // MBC Wednesday-Thursdays (Probably Kocowa, Viki)

Jung Hae In and Han Ji Min star in a story about a couple’s relationship. It seems to be a noona romance that isn’t the central premise? Not much is out, and there isn’t a teaser that I can find. Honestly, not super interested in this one.

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May 29 The Wind Blows-바람이 분다 // JTBC Monday-Tuesdays (Viki)

A married couple divorces after one finds out they have Alzheimer’s and the reunite years later. Pretty sure this is a remake of a Japanese drama. Probably another show I will not be watching.

May 31 Aide-보좌관 // JTBC Friday- Saturdays (No word if Viki has it)

Political drama about a chief aide and young lawyer. Not super into political dramas, and this one might be harder to find subbed.

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Watch List of Doom

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It’s the beginning of November, and seeing as how I haven’t done a currently watching post since this summer, an update felt needed.

To be honest, I am a bit behind on some of the airing shows. Between the demise of DramaFever (and subsequent discussions on twitter), the start of the new podcast I’m in (Certified Noonas, check us out!), and getting sick (to the point that I couldn’t even watch anything), I’ve been playing major catch up. I sadly have to spend most of my day at work so it’s been slow, but this past week I made a huge dent and I’m sure I’ll be caught up by the end of this week.

-CURRENTLY AIRING-

Where Stars Land - 여우각시별

Despite this past weeks direction into a territory I don’t want, and the fact that everyone seems to hate this drama, I am really enjoying it. Is it perfect? Absolutely not, but it’s a fluffy pretty drama with actors I like and hidden moments that I am really enjoying. I might do a full review on this one once the show is completed, because I have a lot to say on it.

The Beauty Inside - 뷰티 인사이드

This is the surprise drama for me. It has taken my heart. I was not in the mood to watch this when it first aired, and figured with the plot that it would be an okay show but not something I would fall in love with. I was wrong. The characters relationship’s are fantastic, and I’m in love with the moments they are taking with the two leads just enjoying each other’s company. Episode 10 had me tearing up; it was a beautiful episode.

The Smile Has Left Your Eyes - 하늘에서 내리는 일억개의 별

This show is so good. It is by far my favorite of the group. The writing is fantastic, the acting outstanding. I am intrigued and it’s always leaving me wondering what is going on and why. The whole tone of the show is fantastic. I’ve been really good and haven’t spoiled myself from the jdrama version, because I am loving the feeling of being on the edge of my seat every week.

Terius Behind Me - 내 뒤에 테리우스

I have no clue what is going on with this show. It isn’t a good show. At all. It doesn’t know what it wants to be and changes every single episode but I find myself not being able to look away. I’m more intrigued by it’s existence than anything else.

The Player - 플레이어

I’m fairly far behind on this show and it ends next week, but it’s still on the list because I really loved it and have every intention on catching up (maybe before the finale? A girl can dream). The cast has some killer chemistry and they are having fun which shows. And Krystal. I liked her before, and now have a crush on her.

Ms Ma, Nemesis - 미스 마, 복수의 여신

This best way to describe this show is a great weekend afternoon watch. I’m not an Agatha Christie fan so I don’t know how closely it is following to the Miss Marple stories, but I am a mystery/crime fan and this one is fun.

Twelve Nights - 열두밤

I started this drama purely because we wanted to discuss it on the podcast and liked it much more than I thought. I probably wouldn’t have even picked it up if I didn’t have to talk about it, but it’s a nice quiet show.

-EVERYTHING ELSE-

100 Days Prince - 백일의 낭군님

I’m really not a sageuk fan, so I tend to not even attempt any of the ones that air, but too many people were talking about this one, and I’m definitely one to be moved by peer pressure. I ended up marathoning a ton of episodes one weekend…and then DramaFever was killed. I haven’t really picked it up again, and I fear it might end up in that “on hold” hole that I like to put things that I know the ending to but hope that I can watch it.

Love Myself or You/Pleasantly Surprised - 喜歡·一個人

I feel like I always want to have one non-Korean drama on my watch list, and this one came on because of that. And Jasper Liu’s smile. He has a very nice smile. It’s been sort of sidelined - have you seen that airing watch list I have accumulated? I still pick up an episode here and there and need to finish it soon.

Sassy Go Go/Cheer Up - 발칙하게 고고

This was also a show that I picked up before this crazy round of shows, and now that Ghost Detective is done I’ve moved it back to the watch list in hopes to get me to watch it again. I’m about half way through the series, but it is a high school drama and I just have to be in the mood to watch it.

I also watch my same variety/reality shows pretty much weekly: Running Man, Home Alone, and Happy Together.

I try to be fairly good about updating My Drama List, so if you find you really want to check out what I’m watching, that’s a good spot.

Netflix List Updates 10/20/18

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When I first got into kdramas and spent a lot of time watching them, I noticed that Netflix would take off something without warning only to have it appear again months later.

Seeing as how I love lists (like, a lot), I decided to keep a list of kdramas that they had and try to update them every month or so to keep up with what was changing, and figure out what I was missing.

The past couple of months I’ve been falling out of the habit of keeping up with the list religiously, and figured that with DramaFever’s demise there is strong possibility that Netflix will be adding more shows in the coming months, so I have updated the list.

I have a page on the site dedicated to it here, that I will try to be better at updating. It currently also has a less-than-updated list of jdramas, which are a little harder to update because of the lack of category on the site. It takes much more detective work to officially say a title is Japanese over say a Chinese title. But, at any rate, a small list is there. As I get more into Taiwanese dramas I might end up adding it as a section to the list as well, but again - they share the fate that Japanese dramas have without a dedicated category link.

There hasn’t been much difference to the list since the last update, but I figured that dedicating a post every time I do an update so you can see the movement would be beneficial. A note: I live in the US, thus you’re list might very slightly than mine if you live in a different country.

Adds:

YG Future Strategy Office

Switched (jdrama)

Drops:

Real GOT7