There's a bit of a lag in plot this time. The athletic games have been identified as a key sticking point, but the progress characters make toward success there or even a basic understanding of what's going to be happening is pretty limited. This is a training episode with surprisingly little actual training. I suppose this is intended as a set-up for the idols' likely loss- they have nothing going for them but relative youth after all. But the parallel is...hm....
The parallel actually is pretty effective one come to think of it. What makes the episode feel weak is that lately the drama hasn't really done much to get us to sympathize with Min-gi and friends aside from making them all really pitiful. If we're going to take a break from obvious physical comedy, that's really the main element that needs to be effectively dealt with. Instead what we're left with is a great deal of build-up for a joke that probably isn't going to be funny enough to really warrant it.
My trajectory for the drama is still mostly a positive one. It's just the main object of note here is meta-analysis of the direction. Where Oh Jin-seok typically falls flat is in getting performances that inspire a lot of empathy. The script is littered with possible sympathetic moments. The main issue is that no one in the cast is selling them very well. The episode lacks much distinction, such that even a crude joke with nipples evokes more winces than comedy.
The backstory wobbles a bit on tone as well. We get more clues as to what sort of mysterious secrets may be lurking underground at night, and the entire backstory is dark enough it's difficult to really place it in the larger context of a story about goofy boy band idols trying to be farmers. I do believe that all of this is leading up to something- the storyline placement of all these characters is too specific to simply ignore. It's just that in execution as general entertainment, the episode is pretty weak.
The nicest thing I really have to write here is that the episode wasn't terribly bad or anything. It failed to elicit much of a reaction to me one way or another. The lack of visual flair or obvious sight gags ends up putting more emphasis on the dialogue, which is hit-and-miss and mostly hobbled by the fact that Oh Jin-seok isn't really an actors' director. For better or worse, at least, there's still room for improvement.
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] "Modern Farmer" Episode 4"
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