It takes quite some time for "That Man Oh Soo" to actually get to its own premise. Yes, obviously, Oh Soo (played by Lee Jong-hyun) is supposed to get romantically entangled with Yoo-ri (played by Kim So-eun), some way or another. The drama is a romance after all. But these characters are far more reactive than proactive. The first major thing we see Oh Soo do is break up with a woman by proxy as a stand in for his brother Ga-na (played by Heo Jung-min), who's just a tad immature.
On the other hand his girlfriend is kind of scary. She's not incredibly scary though, so I'm kind of torn as to whether I was supposed to side with Oh Soo for dealing with the situation calmly and rationally or Yoo-ri for showing serious emotional heart. One odd factor of the humor in "That Man Oh Soo" is that characters are punished for showing emotional reactions. It's not, like, serious punishment or anything, they just briefly become the object of jokes from our perspective.
Take another scene, dealing with Yoo-ri's own lackluster sister Soo-jeong (played by Park Na-hye). This scene too is actually fairly counterintuitive. While Yoo-ri is not intervening the way we would expect, she does make a pretty clean sweep. That is, until Oh Soo shows up, expresses a more objective woman and some weird wrangling later we're left with the episode's best joke, a one-two hit of physical and musical humor.
Overall the jokes are more hit than miss, even in cases where they literally miss. The main issue with the drama is that the characters do not have very clearly defined goals. Oh Soo in particular has this weirdly complicated backstory that involves specialized tea manufacture, a serious education in robotics, and the quasi-magical power to see people's emotions. And yet, his only apparent ambition to life to is to use these abilities to...run a café?
Yoo-ri's motivation is similarly generic. Although really, in all fairness, "That Man Oh Soo" takes its time getting to the premise, apparently feeling the need to define its characters in terms of the real world before getting to the drama's main hook. I can kind of see the logic to that from a storytelling perspective. But so far "That Man Oh Soo" is, at best moderately amusing. At worst? Well done clichés. Which is admittedly better than the alternative.
Review by William Schwartz
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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] "That Man Oh Soo" Episode 1"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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