[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Fantastic" 2017/04/22,
If there is one thing to say about "Fantastic" is that the drama has bold ideas. Combining the promise of a happy, light series with the premise of its lead dying of cancer is a very daring move, although one Dramaland has not succeeded very well in yet. Still, this drama tries to juggle the illness, romance and a hefty dose of family drama to go with,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Fantastic" Episode 16 Final 2016/10/22,
So-hye continues to be sick. While "Fantastic" is fairly ambivalent about So-hye's exact fate for some time, it's the same basic holding pattern the drama has had ever since So-hye had to be hospitalized. All there really is to do anymore is look at the various relationships between the main characters, and admire the depth and strength of their social bonds. Even when it leads to somewhat humorous scenes like So-hye and Hae-seong one-upping each other in the prior sacrifice department,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Fantastic" Episode 15 2016/10/21,
And now, Seol's in-laws move to force some last minute conflict in a predictably abortive attempt to scuttle a happy ending. Jin-sook's plan is pretty dumb. Really, So-hye should have mentioned the extortion attempt back when she was at the police station. Besides that even if it's not technically a breach of contract nobody going to want to work with Jin-sook when the best case scenario is that she's an idiot who keeps important information in a non-secure phone,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Fantastic" Episode 14 2016/10/15,
On one end I'm somewhat annoyed that the situation regarding Joon-gi continues to be stretched for time when it appeared to have largely been concluded last episode. But then again, isn't that what melodrama has always been about- stretching the pain out for as long as possible? It's a sensible strategy really, because death is at its most especially unpleasant when it lasts for a really long time. And even after that, grief is a factor,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Fantastic" Episode 13 2016/10/14,
The focus on So-hye's weirdly melodramatic disease symptoms is removed here for the sake of instead focusing on Joon-gi's more traditionally tragic melodramatic disease symptoms. The results are about what might be expected. The acting is unavoidably corny as the emphasis is instead placed on the inherent empathy of the situation. Friends don't like it when other friends are in for a bad time. Even if Hae-seong hates letting go of So-hye for even a moment, well, Joon-gi is a bro. And that's what bros are good for,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Fantastic" Episode 12 2016/10/08,
So-hye has a form of brain cancer. Up until now I never really thought that the specific kind of cancer So-hye has was ever going to be all that important, since its usefulness as a plot device was in the generic way disease forced So-hye to reconsider her life. Well, here, So-hye ends up coming down with symptoms that I'm pretty sure are completely made up. So what we're left with is a woman in her thirties suddenly turning into a character from a very different kind of melodrama,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Fantastic" Episode 11 2016/10/07,
A disproportionate amount of the action in "Fantastic" takes place in the hospital. Granted the entire premise is that So-hye has a (possibly not) terminal illness, but matters do take a turn for the slightly silly when both leading men also end up needing medical care for completely unrelated problems. Then they have silly hospital-related adventures together as they bond, and aw, who doesn't love some good male bonding on-screen?,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Fantastic" Episode 10 2016/10/01,
With So-hye out of the hospital, "Fantastic" enters into a fairly predictable holding pattern. Obviously Hae-seong is quite pleased to have her around again, and this is a significant booster to his mood. But the sacrifice dynamic has been reversed in a possibly more risky direction. Even doing his own stunts Hae-seong isn't in that much physical danger. So-hye, however, knows full well that her health is at risk, and has to make a conscious effort to ignore that,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Fantastic" Episode 9 2016/09/30,
It all starts out fun and games- the usual romantic hijinx as So-hye prepares to go into more serious treatment and Hae-seong simply reassures her. But the main plot quickly turns troublesome as Hae-seong is threatened by a scandal. To be honest it's kind of a silly scandal. The closest analog I can think of is what happened with Gary awhile back, and that was so obviously unverified Gary's agency didn't even respond to it until the guy in the video asked them to, because as a Gary fan he was deeply hurt by the idea that someone would use his tattoo to defame Gary,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Fantastic" Episode 8 2016/09/24,
A brief flashback fills us in on the question of how much Hae-seong knows, and also when he knew about it. It's noteworthy how just because Hae-seong is discretionary with the information he has doesn't necessarily mean that So-hye is happy with all the implications. While on the surface level it can seem rewarding to be dealing with a stand-up guy like Hae-seong, on the deeper level it can seem rather unfair if one and only one partner is making noble sacrifices,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Fantastic" Episode 7 2016/09/23,
Mi-seon (played by Kim Jae-hwa) is the third best friend of So-hye and Seol- the one who everyone has to call when they're in trouble. Mi-seon never really has any plotlines of her own, she's just a useful shoulder to cry on. Consequently, her character offers some much needed perspective when it comes to difficult questions like, am I happy, and should I do such-and-such risky behavior considering the possible trade-offs?,...More
[HanCinema's Drama First Look] "Fantastic" 2016/09/18,
Terminal illness is a common and very old theme in Korean drama, but like everything else rich with melodramatic potential, it has often been subjected to shallow and cheap treatment. Love for tears and tension over love for meaning is less common these days, however and so we see productions which make the effort to treat serious topics with more respect. It is too early for me to say "Fantastic" is such a production, but it is on the right path,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Fantastic" Episode 6 2016/09/17,
While Jong-gi clearly skirts the line of medical ethics, all of his actions are very clearly in line with trying to calm So-hye down and see herself as a person whose life has value. It's very noteworthy how Jong-gi has gotten So-hye to go from mental breakdown in earlier episodes to participating in a support group this episode. The support group scene is wonderful, by the way, precisely because it really gets at how the mental toll of illness is just as bad as the physical, and how it really helps just to get positive encouragement from peers,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Fantastic" Episode 5 2016/09/16,
Joon-gi (played by Kim Tae-hoon) is So-hye's doctor. Given that So-hye is dying, that's a very awkward position to be in. While Joon-gi obviously wants So-hye to get better, So-hye's problems are just as much mental as they are physical at this point. In So-hye's general desperation to find some last minute meaning in life, she has been willing to latch onto any kind of validation possible- even if it means an obviously unethical relationship with her own physician,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Fantastic" Episode 4 2016/09/10,
The production team continues with the very wise decision to be more about drama than forced comedy. We see this episode even more clearly that Hae-seong, as utterly obnoxious as he can be given the opportunity, is really just looking for the chance to be a good guy. It's uncanny how well Hae-seong is able to compose himself during action scenes. While ostensibly acting is the actual important part of his job, note how Hae-seong does not appear to be using a stunt double. That's dedication which can't easily be faked,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Fantastic" Episode 3 2016/09/09,
There's some badly needed sympathetic characterization for So-hye and Hae-seong this episode as they respond to the aftermath of the big kiss at the last cliffhanger. In contrast to the normal romantic comedy implications of that trope, "Fantastic" instead gets into the issues of self-worth that provoked So-hye and Hae-seong into acting that way. So-hye has, of course, been in a generally rotten mood since getting her bad medical prognosis. Hae-seong, however, has really bad insecurities when it comes to his lack of acting talent,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Fantastic" Episode 2 2016/09/03,
Seol (played by Park Si-yeon) is So-hye's old friend, and a bit of a wreck. Literally, even, considering the last episode's cliffhanger, and the woman's precarious life situation isn't much better. We very quickly go from Seol giving standard reassurances to So-hye to seeing her get in a huge fight with her current partner to even bigger existential crises as violence and base hostility quickly become the order of the day,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Fantastic" Episode 1 2016/09/02,
So-hye (played by Kim Hyun-joo) is a drama writer. Her sense of confidence and competence is well-displayed metaphorically in the opening action scene of "Fantastic". To succeed in the cutthroat world of drama production, So-hye has had to be the best of the best. But no matter how good she is, every so often So-hye has to rely on the help of such disreputable persons as Hae-song (played by Joo Sang-wook). A handsome and arrogant actor, to date the only notion we have that Hae-song may be a good person is the man's genuine love toward his grandmother,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Preview] "Fantastic" 2016/08/27,
"Terminal illness" and "comedy" do not exactly seem to match outside of the black comedy genre, yet Dramaland keeps trying to make it happen. Unfortunately, it usually fails. Even so, "Fantastic" is another drama which promises laughs and fluffy romance, along with great female friendship and other interesting concepts. The series does have promise and if it succeeds where many others have failed, it will be a pleasant surprise,...More
[Orion's Drama News] All the Dramas 2016/07/30,
My partner in not-crime, Lisa is busy over at KCON and I am here feeling lonely with a plethora of drama news. So I figure, what better therapy to loneliness is there than to share them all with you? I usually focus on specific noteworthy happenings and news, but today I switch it up. I feature three upcoming dramas and their news before piling on even more drama-ness with the usual upcoming drama goodies section. Let me pamper you,...More
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