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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Idle Mermaid" Episode 9

2014/10/02

The real shocker this episode has nothing to do with the story, but rather the production run. Apparently "The Idle Mermaid" is ending next week at a total of ten episodes. And no, this most certainly was not pre-planned. Up until last episode we'd been getting a countdown timer to how many days remain before Ha-ni faces her ultimate fate. That timer is absent this time. I suspect this downsizing of dramas is a corporate decision by tvN, as "Golden Tower" was also abruptly cancelled, with yesterday's episode simply being a clip show review.

All right, that's enough as far as gossip goes. How does this episode do in terms of merit? Well...somewhat ambiguously, to be honest. The retreat continues as the main characters attempt to come up with a new pitch. They are, in fact, successful with this, eventually coming up with an idea for convenience store styled Korean food that actually sounds like it would be pretty good. I imagine there's some sort of culinary reason why it wouldn't work but hey, this is fiction.

On such grounds, I'm also willing to forgive to some extent the big closing scene. From the perspective of a pitch competition what happens makes no sense. Yes, the argument Ha-ni presents is a good one from an advertising viewpoint. But I'm pretty sure that when it comes to a project that's going to need actual funding, an argument must be presented that the project has long term economic viability- not just that it's an easy sell.

From a meta perspective that's really been the main problem with "The Idle Mermaid" as a whole. The characters are frequently cute and charming in the moment, yet the drama frequently forgets that its main essential conceit is about the challenge of fleeting spasmatic love versus something more long term. And while the construction of the story clearly frames this as a comparison between Si-kyeon and Hyeon-myeong, it has consistently failed to give us any reason to root for Hyeon-myeong aside from the fact that he used to have a lousy girlfriend, who is also standing around the margins being vaguely villainous.

It's because of reasons like this that "The Idle Mermaid" frequently feels like it's never actually left the concept stage of being a modern day retelling of The Little Mermaid story. At best this is just a backdrop on which the drama hangs a lot of character-centric jokes, which simply aren't that amusing because the characters in question aren't that deeply written. The uninspiring conflict we're treated to here as a result is consequently not very surprising. The stakes simply haven't been clearly enough defined for the drama's outcome to be worth caring about.

Review by William Schwartz

"The Idle Mermaid" is directed by Baek Seung-ryong, written by Kim Ji-soo-III, Park Ran-I and features Jo Bo-ah, On Joo-wan, Song Jae-rim and Park Ji-soo.

 

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