[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Road to the Airport" Episode 16 Final 2016/11/10,
The airport, throughout "Road to the Airport" has been the drama's most consistently powerful yet understated metaphor. Think about it. Why do you go the airport? Because you want to go somewhere else. Everyone in this drama is always jumping on airplanes at a moment's notice precisely because their lives are inherently transient and changing, yet these constant renegotiations are never satisfying. Everyone just ends up trying to leave again out of boredom,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Road to the Airport" Episode 15 2016/11/09,
The big fight between Soo-ah and Jin-seok ends up not happening (for now) due to people being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Where "Road to the Airport" gets to especially puzzling territory, though, is how this seems to work out for the better. Sure, Jin-seok briefly terrorizes Hyo-eun, and throughout the episode is motivated primarily by petty spite caused by Soo-ah's emotional affair with Do-woo. Yet by the end, he has actually managed to come up with a much better long-term plan than Soo-ah did, for all the wrong reasons,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Road to the Airport" Episode 14 2016/11/03,
Hye-won coming to terms with the end of her marriage to Do-woo is relatively easy to manage. As is explicitly mentioned here, Annie's death alone was more than enough impetus to force their break-up, and Soo-ah is blameless except to the extent she helped to stave off an otherwise inevitable depression on Do-woo's part. But where does that leave Soo-ah when it comes to her own marriage, which is slowly disintegrating as she attempts to prevent Jin-seok from realizing what's going on?,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Road to the Airport" Episode 13 2016/11/02,
Now that the big mysteries and dramatic revelations have all been cleared up, "Road to the Airport" is left asking the basic question of "now what?". It's easy to forget that, as generally unhelpful as they have been in the role of spouse, Jin-seok and Hye-won are not aware of what's been going on with Do-woo and Soo-ah, even if they have suspicions. Both of them have reason to believe there is hope for reconciliation, even if they are also both badly underestimating the extent to which their generally non-responsive demeanors have poisoned that well,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Road to the Airport" Episode 12 2016/10/27,
Motivation is the most ambiguous watchword at play in "Road to the Airport". On first glance it seems like Soo-ah is just ignoring her feelings. But really, what's actually going on is that Soo-ah is torn between the blatant contradiction in her wanting Do-woo while still having a basically comfortable and familiar life. Soo-ah has spent much of her adult life making a very self-conscious effort to avoid upheavel. It takes a lot of thought for her to arrive to the end of a difficult decision,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Road to the Airport" Episode 11 2016/10/26,
The same visual idea that director Kim Cheol-gyoo use to bring Seoul to life is equally as firmly on display in Jeju, as we're treated to longing sad visages of a landscape that by and large is just a gigantic coastline bounded by a road. That's the one part of Jeju tourism that never shows up in the ads- how inevitably you're going to spend a lot of time on thus bus traveling on obscure roads. Nothing is quite so awful as being stranded that far out. Unless you're Soo-ah, and need the moment of serenity,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Road to the Airport" Episode 10 2016/10/20,
The vicious circle of rationalization takes hold in this episode of "Road to the Airport"- and I was surprised to find that it actually motivates Soo-ah and Do-woo to make constructive long-term decisions rather than destructive ones. Major confrontations force them to realize that there are few things in life they genuinely care about at this point. All the same, given the general enmity Soo-ah and Do-woo feel toward their current spouses, they're making the tactically sensible decision not to try and solve their problems with more romantic love,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Road to the Airport" Episode 9 2016/10/19,
Right away Soo-ah acts impulsively this episode...for the sake of Hyo-eun. This caught me a little off-guard. After last episode I had thought inattention to Hyo-eun was being built up as a potential pratfall to Soo-ah's increasing intimacy with Do-woo but no, apparently Soo-ah is just as self-aware of the obvious life lessons flying around "Road to the Airport" as the rest of us and is capable of making important life decisions accordingly,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Road to the Airport" Episode 8 2016/10/13,
It's impressive how quickly "Road to the Airport" has gone from making Soo-ah and Do-woo's situation look romantic to making it look like a horribly bad idea. Soo-ah is, by nature, such a forthright person that she simply lacks the proper energy necessary to maintain any kind of romantic affair. It's a weird contrast to Jin-seok, whose main natural resistance to extramarital entanglements is his tendency to get bored very quickly with silly women who want to get entangled with married men,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Road to the Airport" Episode 7 2016/10/12,
As Do-woo has to deal with the fallout from a second funeral, I do find myself wondering whether "Road to the Airport" is taking matters a bit far in the whole "make Do-woo sad" department. In order to maintain sympathy for the lead characters as they edge into an affair, Do-woo really has to break down completely with regards to emotional support. Given how unresponsive Hye-won was when it came to her own daughter, it's little surprise the woman is similarly unhelpful with the death of her mother-in-law,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Road to the Airport" Episode 6 2016/10/06,
There's a very great look, near the beginning of this episode, on Do-woo's face. What's he looking at? The reaction on Soo-ah's face as she takes in another good look at scenery. Ever since Annied died this is something that has been missing from Do-woo's life- someone who likes looking at things simply for the sake of looking at things. As an architect Do-woo is a strong appreciator of aesthetic. So it's with a keen sense of irony that he comes to realize no one else in his life pays attention to that stuff,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Road to the Airport" Episode 5 2016/10/05,
Once more we're left to stark contrasts about how Soo-ah and Hye-won react to grief. Well, really, we don't actually know if Hye-won is reacting to grief, something else, or just a combination of all these factors. What we do know is that Hye-won is legitimately acting really weird, and Do-woo is increasingly bothered by her attempts to straight-up expunge Annie's existence from all living memory. Observe how her attempt at seduction is just...very awkward,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Road to the Airport" Episode 4 2016/09/29,
While It's tempting to just write Hye-won off as being evil, I have trouble doing so because Hye-won's situation is very complex. And besides that, no one especially wants to confront a grieving mother, especially Do-woo, who is not Annie's biological father. But even if Hye-won's failings as a mother are defendable, her failures as a wife most certainly are not. Scene by scene, Do-woo continues to suffer and Hye-won simply obliviously refuses to so much as acknowledge him,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Road to the Airport" Episode 3 2016/09/28,
Initially it was easy to peg Jin-seok as being exactly the kind of man who would have an extramarital affair. Yet I wasn't sure why. Jin-seok is a tad brusque, but aside from obviously high self-esteem there's nothing in his attitude that makes adultery seem all that inevitable. As we see this episode, that much really is enough. The very fact that Jin-seok seems so attractive, and obviously enjoys the presence of attractive women, is enough to draw attractive women to him,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Road to the Airport" Episode 2 2016/09/22,
Hye-won (played by Jang Hee-jin) is Do-woo's wife and Annie's mother. In the aftermath of what happened to Annie, Hye-won's behavior is...odd. She doesn't really act like a grieving mother. Everyone grieves in a different way, and this is why Do-woo doesn't push hard on this point, but the scenes we see which Do-woo does not clearly imply that Hye-won's actions are suspicious. Soo-ah's husband Jin-seok (played by Sin Seong-rok) similarly does not see eye-to-eye with his loved one on what to do, although their situation is admittedly far less extreme,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Emergency Couple" Episode 21 Final 2014/04/05,
In the first episode of "Emergency Couple" a specific point was made of the fact that the emergency room is a terrible place for relationships, and the interns were distraught at what the experience was going to do to their social lives. I bring this up now to note that there was almost no evidence of this throughout the drama's run. The doctors have consistently had an inordinate amount of conveniently timed social meetings with each other, and this episode is no different.
The fundamentals are strong, as usual. In terms of the romantic comedy genre "Emergency Couple" continues to hit all the right notes, having moments that are cute and funny,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Emergency Couple" Episode 20 2014/04/04,
The main conflict this episode is over the prospect of Jin-hee and Chang-min going to a movie. It's about as high stakes as it sounds, and the tension is oddly lacking for a penultimate episode. The movie is "Thread of Lies" by the way. It's difficult to guess how we're supposed to relate the story of that particular film to the proceedings here. I guess they're both about appreciating the things you love in life before they're gone forever?
It's as good a theme as any really, but none of the characters in "Emergency Couple" are in any immediate danger of leaving,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Emergency Couple" Episode 19 2014/03/29,
This episode is devoted to Chang-min's hands. It's pretty much exactly as dirty as it sounds too. The humor in "Emergency Couple" can get crude sometimes, but it helps a lot that ithe drama's heart is in the right place, even if Chang-min is not very good at finding Jin-hee's. The same brand of cheesiness as usual, then. But now that I can empathize with the leads the general tone comes off a lot better
I do think Chang-min and Jin-hee have learned a little bit from their ordeals,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Emergency Couple" Episode 18 2014/03/28,
The loveline between Jin-hee and Chang-min is getting to be a little corny. Sure, it's sweet at times, but the dialogue strains itself with all the cliches. An attentive viewer will note that the dynamic between these two has been completely reversed from what it was earlier. Now instead of Chang-min trying to persuade a skeptical Jin-hee, an enlivened Jin-hee is trying to convince Chang-min that they can start again.
I do like that the characters themselves acknowledge the breadth of the cliches at this point,...More
[Hancinema's Drama Review] "Emergency Couple" Episode 17 2014/03/22,
The opening of this episode extends the basic morose sequence we had last time, as the fallout from Tae-seok's stay in the hospital is finalized, and the consequences come into effect. There isn't much more going on here than there was in the last episode. "Emergency Couple" is in the awkward place of trying to wring drama out of a character we don't actually know all that much about. The best that can be hoped for is interesting character interactions- but everyone acts about the way we'd expect them to at this point.
Much more interesting material abounds as the episode continues its discussions of the divorce themes,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Emergency Couple" Episode 16 2014/03/21,
Almost the entirity of this episode is built around the drama of whether or not Chang-min's father is going to survive his stay at the hospital. The ability of this conflict to inspire any kind of real tension is greatly damaged by how long the action goes on- there are multiple false starts that end up inconclusive. Also I'd have a much easier time caring about this person if the drama actually explored his character in much detail. Oh Tae-seok is played by the always excellent Kang Shin-il but that's about all that's going on here,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Emergency Couple" Episode 15 2014/03/15,
I'm pretty sure that real hospitals have policies against ex-patients making repeat visits for social purposes. Especially if those ex-patients are bearing gifts, or trying to make administrative requests. Obviously, "Emergency Couple" is not dealing with a real hospital, but this disconnect between life and drama shows really badly in episodes like this. It establishes all too clearly that the drama is creating conflict artificially, and the ensuing outbursts are just painful to watch. Also it makes the poor baby cry. And just when I'd been admiring how good an actor that baby is, too,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Emergency Couple" Episode 14 2014/03/14,
The drama gets a much needed boost in the characterization department with the appearance of patients. No, not plot devices which exist solely to demonstrate the medical abilities of the main cast, which is all we've seen so far. Actual people. Specifically, a little boy who has self-worth issues thanks to a lack of parents, and a priest who's rather crabby about young people these days and the lack of respect they show to the institution of marriage.
The relevance of these scenes is indirect, obviously, and I doubt we're going to see either of these people ever again,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Emergency Couple" Episode 13 2014/03/08,
...And now it would seem "Emergency Couple" has moved on to boilerplate romantic drama territory. There's not really much in the way of jokes anymore. The only particularly funny one this time around is a bit of simple wordplay. I actually really wanted to know more about that guy who was brought into the hospital. How many job-related accidents can a person in that profession have that necessitate going to the emergency room?
But no, the doctoring this time around is terribly casual, almost blase really,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Emergency Couple" Episode 12 2014/03/07,
So I...guess this is just a romantic comedy now? That's about the only way I can interpret the events of this episode. Chang-min appears to have just about completely forgotten the events that led up to his divorce. Jin-hee seems to have some vague memory of what happened, and is certainly putting up more resistance to the idea. But no matter how I try to cut it, "Emergency Couple" is definitely trying to make a case that these two works together as a couple,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Emergency Couple" Episode 11 2014/03/01,
Well, the drama's finally come up with something for Ji-hye to do- Ji-hye, the ex-girlfriend doctor of Cheon-soo, in case you've forgotten. Weird factoid for today- Choi Yeo-jin, the actress playing Ji-hye, is actually younger than Song Ji-hyo, who plays Jin-hee. I'm not sure whether this age difference is also intended to be reflected in the characters, but in any event, the fact that Ji-hye can only be in her mid-thirties at the most makes her new plot thread all the stranger.
Here's what we've know about Ji-hye up until now,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Emergency Couple" Episode 10 2014/02/28,
Poor Jin-hee. It's never a particularly fun time when mooching relatives, having burned all their other bridges some way or another, force themselves on a household using "but think of the baby!" as an excuse. I like the frustration the early portion of this episode gives off. Of course Jin-hee's mad but she can't be that mad. It's not like her younger sister, younger sister's husband, and baby are awful people or anything. They're just messy idiots.
Not much is really done with that focus this time around though. For the most part the emphasis is on that simple expression- what do you care? Chang-min is suddenly taking every hypothetical romantic infraction against Jin-hee bizarrely personally,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Emergency Couple" Episode 9 2014/02/22,
The main conflict this time is kind of dumb. However, it's dumb mainly because the original storytelling device itself is also dumb. Yes, "Emergency Couple" has finally forced its main characters to question the logic of their pretending to be strangers. Pretty good timing too. This kind of plotting goes down much easier on the edge of jokes than it would on the end of a serious dramatic conflict.
Case in point- the whole thing with the baby. It's hard to tell whether the baby is really dying as opposed to just crying,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Emergency Couple" Episode 8 2014/02/21,
The drama appears to have finally settled on a consistent tone- light romantic comedy drama. The emphasis is now on how Jin-hee and Chang-min react to specific, clearly defined situations rather than their just generally overreacting to everything. "Emergency Couple" is now actively pushing the Jin-hee / Cheon-soo loveline, and the tonal shift is coming at the best possible time. The romance simply wouldn't be plausible if Jin-hee was acting the same way she did in previous episodes. Here the scenes, and the related flashbacks to scenes in previous episodes, come off as cute,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Emergency Couple" Episode 7 2014/02/14,
Jin-hee has, as usual, gotten herself into a big unnecessary mess by overreacting. What makes the opening of this episode different, though, is that she actually faces meaningful consequences. Of course her sister makes a clean getaway. And of course the people who actually run the club have no interest in helping Jin-hee track her down. That's not even getting into the general embarassment factor. Yes, Jin-hee has good reason to be mad- that doesn't excuse her failure to act diplomatically though.
I'm not sure how but this mess of an event goes a long way to helping rehabilitate the characterization,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Emergency Couple" Episode 6 2014/02/08,
We get more exposure of the supporting cast than usual here, and I find that as characters, the other interns tend to be a lot more tolerable than our two leads. They just have a much better sense of restraint. This episode one of them does a lot of talking with Chang-min's mom. And that's all it is, just talking. As horribly unreasonable and unlikable as Chang-min's mother has been throughout the drama, it's totally possible to get her to be cooperative just by being polite and non standoffish.
It's too bad Jin-hee is having such trouble with this restraint,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Emergency Couple" Episode 5 2014/02/07,
I really hope "Emergency Couple" just up and ditches the whole Jin-hee and Chang-min are pretending to be complete strangers angle. The misunderstandings it creates among their co-workers are much worse than whatever benefits they think they're reaping by not having to acknowledge each other publically. And the downsides of this should be really obvious by now, given how much time they have to spend negotiating with each other in private over random trivialities.
What's most puzzling to me about this drama is how little time anyone spends actually doing their job,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Emergency Couple" Episode 4 2014/02/01,
Cheon-soo (played by Lee Pil-mo) is the mean superior in this drama. His main shtick is being extremely unnecessarily harsh on the interns, or really anyone who needs it, in order to establish that it is really super important for everyone to take this job as seriously as possible. Lee Pil-mo does good work here, and there's nothing wrong with the character directly. The problem is that every other character in this drama is of such questionable competence that most of the time I find myself wondering why Cheon-soo never follows through on his threats,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Emergency Couple" Episode 3 2014/01/31,
...And so we get right into the sexual tension. Honestly this storyline development is a fairly annoying one. Remember that until the last episode, none of these characters had ever met each other in a working environment before. And for the most part no one did much work in that second episode either. We're still very much in the early phase of the drama where people are still feeling each other out.
And the immediate conclusion we get about why Jin-hee works so hard to save Chang-min's life is that she likes him,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Emergency Couple" Episode 2 2014/01/25,
The perspective shifts this time around from Chang-min to Jin-hee. Jin-hee has broken the cardinal rule of pretty much any social relationship ever- make a good first impression. In retrospect it probably would have been a better idea for her to show up late with a doctor's note rather than stumble out into the middle of the introduction still wearing her dirty clothes from last night. Not just Chang-min, but all of the other interns are icy toward Jin-hee, probably because they don't think she'll be around that long,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Emergency Couple" Episode 1 2014/01/24,
What most immediately jumps out about the lead characters in "Emergency Couple" is that they're not particularly likable. They're not unlikable, exactly, but from the very beginning there's a sort of seething resentment and aggression that's rather unsettling. Chang-min (played by Choi Jin-hyuk) is trying to push product. Jin-hee (played by Song Ji-hyo) is trying to avoid conflict. Neither character is particularly good at what they do. This leads to a spectacular breakdown where they inevitably vent their frustrations on the one person who they can most easily hurt- each other,...More
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