[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Family" Episodes 19-20 2017/04/24,
Cheon-il is a good guy. One of the big riddles of "Strong Family" is that most of the time, Cheon-il has no idea how or why he is being a good guy. Sometimes the expectation game is not his fault- as is seen with the opening conflict, sometimes the more obviously beloved behavior of other people is what makes Ra-yeon start to overthink things. Elsewhere, Cheon-il's determination to see the worst of life is his biggest weakness. Poor Cheon-il. He just doesn't know how to read a room,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Family" Episodes 17-18 2017/04/17,
For the first time, Cheon-il uses his tracksuit for its intended purpose- as workout clothes, in anticipation of the big company athletic competition which he ends up taking far, far too aggressively. I was a little disappointed that Cheon-il's training montage is just general athletics. It would have made for a much funnier overall joke if Cheon-il had been taking mixed martial arts lessons and his performance on the field was a result of his mis-applying those skills in the wrong context,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Family" Episodes 15-16 2017/04/10,
The two main conflicts this time are, for episode fifteen, the question of how to best spend vacation time, and for episode sixteen, the question of how to deal with incrementally chaotic financial situations. As is usually the case for "Strong Family", the conflicts are defined by their relatively minor scope. These are the sorts of issues normal families have to deal with on a regular basis, so the problems are quite easy to discuss,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Family" Episodes 13-14 2017/04/03,
A lot of the story in "Strong Family" is very low key. I know that the central plot of the thirteenth episode was Ra-yeon trying and inevitably becoming frustrated with her attempts to fit in to a more high class mom clique. I also know that the central plot of the fourteenth episode was Cheon-il's rather creepy fixation with the person who lives upstairs and generally irritates Ra-yeon with constant cigarette smoke. Beyond that, though, what we have are a lot of very small plots with frustratingly little development,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Family" Episodes 11-12 2017/03/27,
After a couple of fairly strong episodes last week about lost dreams and obsessing over the teenage daughter's boyfriend, "Strong Family" is on weaker footing here with a storyline about annoying relatives refusing to leave the house because they're too busy gambling and annoying interns not knowing when to be quiet and stop pestering the regular employees. Or I don't know, maybe it's just me that thinks this is weaker ground, since I've never had to deal with those specific problems personally,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Family" Episodes 9-10 2017/03/20,
One factor of "Strong Family" that I rather like is the way it takes on people's imaginations. See, we are limited by personal experience. So when Ra-yeon runs across an old friend by chance, she starts thinking about bygone dreams from past years. Such dreams are inevitably painted in a fairly fantastical light. We're inclined to think of acting in terms of the polished final product we see on screen, not the rather monotonous and perfection focused process that goes into it,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Family" Episodes 7-8 2017/03/13,
I've been coming to accept that "Strong Family" is rather hopelessly mundane. It's just a story about an idiot dad who's always trying to desperately to be cool and failing, in various degrees. But it's because Cheon-il is always making that effort that he's an easy guy to root for. It's also still reasonably amusing how Cheon-il does occassionally manage to solve problems by accident, or says stuff so stupid that it wraps all the way around to being funny again,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Family" Episodes 5-6 2017/03/06,
Baek-il (played by Bae Yoo-ram) is Cheon-il's brother, who around the house wears a matching, and equally ridiculous looking blue tracksuit to match Cheon-il's red one. Don't get too used to him though. Baek-il is an obvious temporary guest star, there to remind us about the importance of having dreams, even unambitious ones, in your early thirties. Which does thematically tie into the overall idea of "Strong Family", which is that you can extraordinary simply by being extremely ordinary,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Family" Episodes 3-4 2017/02/27,
The direction in "Strong Family" is fairly unusual for a situation comedy. Observe how the camerawork is always in close quarters. We're always getting a clear look a the expressions of the various characters, yet never a clear overall glance of the rooms that they're in. The lack of emphasis on set design is odd considering the production team keeps reminding us that there's a fourth wall- by having characters talk directly at us,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Family" Episodes 1-2 2017/02/20,
Late night situation comedies are apparently all the rage these days, which is where "Strong Family" comes from. It's a fairly standard set-up. There's the dad, Cheol-il (played by Park Hyeok-kwon). He had ambition once, but now sits around the house in a goofy red tracksuit on his days off. There's the mom, Ra-yeon (played by Park Seon-yeong), who struggles to feel pretty in an ugly world. There's the daughter, Ik-hee (played by Kim Ji-min) who desperately wishes she was special. And that's what they all fight against. The encroaching dread of normalcy,...More
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