I've mentioned before that a lot of what makes "Golden Tower" work so well is the fact that it typically doesn't have much in the way of villains. This episode is a pretty good demonstration of why. For most of the runtime the focus is on the guy with glasses who, for whatever his general reasons, is being a bad person and we're just sort of waiting for him to get his inevitable comeuppance. He works fine as a background character but in full focus the man's just really unpleasant to watch.
"Golden Tower" has always worked best as an ensemble comedy, but here we're mostly just reduced to watching the guy with glasses as an anti-hero with all the other characters pushed in to the background. The general lightness of the characterization, usually an effective strength for the kind of low brow humor the drama focuses on, here becomes a weakness since there just isn't any good way to get a good story arc out of this. I don't want to see him succeed but I don't really want to see the guy suffer either.
But even outside of this context, the humor's not terribly good this time around. The main problem is that it's just not in any apparent service to a larger broader point. We've got the goatnapping, we've got the antique roadshow and we've got the gambling but none of these stories have anything to do with each other thematically. They're all laid out as general sketch comedies, and they neither denote progress with the characters or statements about rural lifestyles as a whole.
On a base level too the jokes still don't really work. The references are frankly a little lazy. One piece ends up being a giant riff on the ice bucket challenge, and maybe here it's just my sense of humor that's defective, because I really don't see what the appeal behind the ice bucket challenge is supposed to be in the first place. Is pointless hypothermia funny? I guess maybe if you like that kind of basically sadistic humor this episode might be passable, but it's just not the kind of good-natured ribbing I've come to expect and love in "Golden Tower".
Still, we do have some reason for optimism. Once again the final act of the story is just an excuse to lead in to next week, and the preview makes it imminently clear that "Golden Tower" is dead set on a parody of "Tazza: The Hidden Card". That entire genre trend is ripe for this kind of material and, as a matter of fact, this kind of casual gambling (although not so high stakes) is a common trend in rural communities. So hopefully the drama will be able to make a decent recovery.
Review by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Golden Tower" Episode 9"
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