Dal-po (played by Lee Jong-suk) is doing a TV quiz show in the present day. No, wait, sorry, about a decade ago. As of the first episode we still haven't made it to the actual plot yet. It's all just background, most of which takes place in another flashback, where young Dal-po (played by Nam Da-reum) experiences increasingly extreme melodramatic tragedies. At several points I wondered whether these flashbacks would have gone down better later on in the drama- that's a heck of a way to start a story out, with an extreme emphasis on overwrought desolation.
The tone improves substantially with the appearance of little In-ha (played by Roh Jeong-eui). This is mainly because her arrival signals the end of very extreme plotting and moves the story to a more subtle direction. Her perspective is actually the best possible one to figure out where Dal-po is coming from. The situation is obviously ridiculous, and in In-ha's mind, patently insulting. Nonetheless, little Dal-po makes a pretty compelling argument. He is doing no harm, and Gong-pil (played by Byun Hee-bong) didn't exactly have much to look forward to on a day-to-day basis until his real family showed up.
It's at this apparent point of general resolution that we come to the dramatic coincidence that will no doubt define the core of the drama's conflict. Normally I would complain about screenwriting this convenient, but "Pinocchio" has clearly set up a thematic angle to justify itself here- the notion of six degrees of separation. All of us are elaborately connected to each other somehow, and that this attraction may or may not be a manifestation of general fate.
I don't know how much I really believe in all that to be totally honest. "Pinocchio" hasn't really slipped up in any obvious way, but it hasn't provided much of an argument yet either. What we're mostly left with is the first half (which I disliked) and the second half (which I liked). But the drama is a holistic enough product that we can't really have one without the other. Note the ominous scene at the end, where one character is staring at a familiar face on television. This moment only has any impact at all because of the very extreme first half.
The performances are good so far, which is more of a testament to the child actors than anything else. They're not going to be around for much longer, though. Still, Park Shin-hye does give a fairly effective performance here as the older In-ha- a girl who is surprisingly nonplussed about a very embarrassing medical condition. Too bad we know the source of this confidence- but then, that character conflict, like so many others, is really the whole point of "Pinocchio" in the first place.
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 email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Pinocchio" Episode 1"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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