2012 Dramas I Adored
Happy New Year! This final part of my year-end review series is short, but full of things that that I honestly have enjoyed watching from beginning to end, which are surprisingly rare to find these days. You'll note that my favorite shows have started shifting from traditional K-drama fare to the more serialized western shows, which I haven't engaged this much in for years. For these, I reviewed my thoughts on the season(s) that aired this past year:
Queen In-Hyun's Man
Forever and ever just a beautiful experience in drama viewing. A trifecta of acting, writing, and directing. Yes, I understand the qualms with the ending, but it personally didn't bother me. The sweeping soundtrack and mindblowingly realistic chemistry between the leads carried this one through to the finale. It's one of those dramas that lives in your heart for the experience, that you can literally look back on and remember the days of waiting anxiously for new episodes during the week.
I Do, I Do
So admittedly parts of this were slow, but I still enjoyed it as a whole, and really am amazed that they were able to make such a sweet romance out of a risky premise and large age gap. In short, this is the kind of love I'd like to encounter when I'm 40, which is probably hugely impractical but so fun to watch.
I do think they copped out a bit with not showing any part of the one-night-stand scene (since it appears they did film some content), but I can forgive that. My one qualm is with the fact that Kim Sun Ah literally stayed rod skinny until the final 10 mins, yet everyone around her was making comments on how she'd gained weight and etc.
Lee Jang Woo is so freaking adorable, and I really look forward to seeing more of him in the near term. As for Kim, this is probably the most I've liked one of her characters. Yes, she was stiff and frustratingly cold at times, but I like the mature confidence and independence of Ji An. The second leads were refreshingly not like standard second leads, and managed to be supportive (though admittedly flat). I enjoyed the heck out of this while watching, and while I'm not keen to do any rewatching soon, I still give this a top designation for the year. Just an all-around fun, heart-warming drama that restores your hope in a truly circumstances-transcending bond between two people.
Mad Men (Season 5)
Holy cow this was a good season. As it should have been, considering how long it took them to put this out. I've only recently gotten into the series, so this was the first season that I actually watched during airing, meaning that dreaded weekly wait. It's one of those shows that feels detached and that you don't have to be in a particular type of mood to enjoy, but still holds its addicting grip over you, purely on its own merit.
I'm happy to say that Don has somewhat lost his swarminess, thanks to staying largely monogamous for an entire season. I'm still not too fond of the person who inspired that, Megan, as she still strikes me as desperate, deceptive, and sexually manipulative, but at least it's entertaining to wonder how their dynamic together will continue to evolve.
The morbidity of certain moments in this show were shocking, but in the best way possible. Lane's death, and the young Sally witnessing a blow-job between two elderly, wretched people? Brave stuff.
I still hold to my original conceit that Peggy will end up with Don (or at least I hope she will, since I'm still doubtful of Megan's longevity with him). But the pair that really shone this season was Joan-Don, who had some of the most heartfelt, genuine dialog and character moments together. Joan brings out the gentleman in him, and the two have a sparkling rapport. Since this isn't Gossip Girl, I won't hope for a hook-up between them, but I do want plenty more scenes together in what's to come.
The Vampire Diaries (Season 3-4) *Spoilers*
This show really went up quickly in my rankings. Season 2 has probably been my least favorite of the series so far, but since then everything's been moving along beautifully. There's never a dull moment here, and just when you think all the ideas have been postulated, the writers manage to pull out something new and novel yet perfectly befitting the world they've painted.
I'm loving season 4, which has really amped up the romance and conflict of everything. I'm still on the Damon-Elena ship, and probably will be forever since Stefan's a boring, try-too-hard type of guy no matter what they make him do and you can't deny the real-life Ian/Nina sparks.
The sire-bond plot twist was pretty amazing, and undermined yet progressed almost everything between Damon and Elena. So on one-hand, it means she really did love him before turning, but on the other, it means she now must separate from him to stay free. Elena's such a boring straitlace that I think she probably would choose Stefan every single time, given the choice, but I find her far more interesting and likeable as a character when she's with Damon. He makes her seem less goody-two-shoes, and they've always had the most interesting, charged scenes in the series (ever since that Georgia roadtrip in season 1).
The mid-season finale was a bit of a let-down, as OF COURSE the hinted "death of a day 1 character" would be some old lady nobody cared about. I almost got excited when I thought it'd be Tyler, because I'm not a huge fan of him and honestly I'd prefer Caroline with Klaus. The behind-the-scenes interviews have clearly indicated that the actress for Caroline, Candice, isn't too keen on the idea as she thinks Klaus is a "mass murderer" (what a straitlace she is too, and as if her character is in any place to call names on murders). But I do like Caroline better when she's with Klaus (she's my least favorite character in the show, and has been since the high-pitched whining started in season 1), and I just like Klaus overall and think he deserves some happiness for once in his life, even if that means being with her.
I have high-hopes for when the show returns, and even more hopes for the long-term.
Beauty and the Beast
As I mentioned, this is a show that surprised me in how much I enjoy it. That's not to say the plot is very meaningful, as despite its dark premise it comes across as light as air, but it's a fun watch. I'm very excited by the mid-season finale we left off on, as it's unclear whether Vincent simply transformed but is still in possession of his mind, or if the beast took completely over (but is so sweet to Kat! Love!)
It's interesting too now that Evan will be in on the secret, and I expect he'll be won over to their side and work to help them out eventually. Commence male rivalry once the truth emerges to him!
Revenge (Season 2)
This season has managed to outshine season 1, which surprised me since I feared they'd run out of good material. The plot thickens, and I like seeing the different sides to everyone. We get Emily showing her past weaknesses behind the elegant front, Daniel being a nosy villain of sorts (who's finally interesting to watch!), Nolan displaying surprising depth (as well as bisexuality - I'm still not sure), and Victoria revealing more vulnerability behind her bitch mask.
I've formerly watched the actress, Emily VanCamp, in Everwood when she was pretty much a kid, so it was a bit strange at first to see her in this role. But she totally owns it, and the more I see of her the more I like her. She manages to come across as capable, super classy, yet internally soft. Here's one lady with plenty of confidence, and who you just know will manage to come out on top each time.
I'd actually like to see Emily end up with Nolan, despite how ambiguous his sexuality remains. They really react well off each other, and it's sweet how Nolan cares so much for her despite her rather cold behavior to him.
I'm not sure I love it, but I find it fun to watch. It's overdramatic and the performances almost all over the top, but the prettiness, decent songs, and pure drama keep it interesting. Hayden's bitchy Juliette is the only character I like watching, as everyone else is a bit pathetic. Connie Britton's lead lady is too passive and seems too desperate to reclaim her fame, Scarlet is boring and lame as a teary rock, and all the guys very average in both the looks and charisma department. The husband-mayor-race thread is also incredibly dull, and I pretty much zoom away whenever he starts talking.
The cliffhanger proposal was pretty interesting though, and I'm excited to see what'll happen once the show returns next year.
Hart of Dixie
Surprisingly, Wade and Zoe are still going strong, much to my happiness. Dare I say they might end up being the ultimate pairing? I like that they put Wade with Zoe and George with Tansy, which ended up being two semi-predictable but cute couples. And seriously, George and Zoe would have to do some serious battling to try to match the chemistry going on from the Wade scenes.
I am not, however, a Lavon / Lemon fan, and honestly I'm tired of all the back-and-forth between these two. The actors don't have very good chemistry together either, which just makes a strange relationship even weirder to watch. Honestly writer, something a bit more creative please?
That's all for this year! Here's to looking forward to even better, more drama-filled 2013!