Now Watching: November 2015

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I lied.  It is December.  Confession:  I have not been keeping up with mydramas last few weeks but some deserve shouty fangirl screams while the rest are dying for cursing.  Hear hear!

The Awl/송곳


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From the PD and Writernims of I Live In CheongDam Dong.  From the PD and Writernims of I Live in CheongDam Dong!!!!  From the PD and Writernims of I Live in CheongDam Dong!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Good that I gave Because It is the First Time another go because of Sweetest soul J, and that reminds me I marked my calendar for this, confident even if it breaks my heart crapping, I still have Ahn NaeSang and HyunWoo to droolz at, at the very least.

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The promo tagline is this is Misaeng2015 and that scared me a little.  M did manage to draw me in with stickiest molasses-esque snuggy feelings for the neat little guys beating the establishment somewhat and my vice for cute Uncles and young hot things with some talent soaking up awesome from the uncles they luck out working against, and producing fine even if green jobs,  my catnip…when the substance did not really amount to its raves later on and I could not bear to part with it, not that it was objectively addictively perfect a ride in hindsight.   When I click on The Awl, I was readying myself for slight letdowns of being too Misaeng at its very first confrontation of the ordinary (very hottt for me) uncle Ahn to put on a show as some superhero incarnate, fighting for little guy’s missing wages against the big bad wolf…such of the ONLY jajangmyeon joint dealing the fooddrug to the hood, expecting scene would pile on the excess of all affirmative fuzzy feelings instead of grounding it on genuineness, too willing to please and hook me in irrationally.   Surprise! It was simply, succinctly convincingly done in one little scene.  No drag, no milking. Then came along Ji HyunWoo.

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Admittedly he is not face-wise beautiful in my manrem, but he took my heart and everyone’s else in Queen InHyun’s Man.  I have forgotten about him, and I did not get the memo he’s back hotter and in more control.  He mastered a blank poker/manga face here that can emote in starkness, perfect for the source material AND drama.

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I am betting on this being based on a true event, substantiating story to ground it from being anything trivial.   Hey, and there is Doc and Unni from ILICDD in it, and imagine my earth shaking deafening squees seeing them!

Yang Ge Dance/ 大秧歌

I have a feeling I must’ve stepped on someone’s toes with my caustic tongue somehow somewhere, who is now newly working at ShanDong Film and TV Co (ShanYing in short) and he/she sets out a petty goal in 2015 just to F! with me,  I do not recall it, BUT I AM SORRY, SINCERELY.   This is the fifth C drama I have consecutively watched intently, mostly alongside my folks (not counting 父母爱情, 马向阳下乡 earlier the year) with ShanYing’s name attached, which I had expectations, and never would I thought this is a possibility.  Yang Ge/ 大秧歌 is utter unwatchable CRAP.


Old Farmer was not addictive, the genre does not appeal to, say, me, but it was so great on the acting alone. JIANGXIN I LOVE YOU!  I had so much slashy fun with Disguiser, and plenty of hot actors great performances all around to savor even when writing has holes and HuGe is awful in it.  JINDONG please let me think notty thoughts with you in it.  Nirvana in Fire’s writing is worthy for the caliber yumeh to poop on, but acting, no complaints, production value was a Monet, great at a distance but slops under scrutiny, disappointing given this is a PD who would dishevel WH’s Commander Gu’s flap on his breast pocket in a scene as one of many subtle touches illustrating Gu’s state of mind and NiF is the opposite, everything is for overrated praise or show…yet lazy, flags of this being too hastily done than usual.  But still I can appreciate SY is making the best out of the script by an incompetent writer (posted NiF out as an online serial at a slashy trashy BL novel site) should never hustle to write ‘political whatever’ ever again.  Love Me If You Dare was at the bottom of my ShanYing expectations, and I have lesser complaints henceforth. I did dream it could be very good, and I could girlcrush heroine, not happening.  I will squarely park my brain and enjoy the gorgeous of WH delivering a role he can sleepwaltz in, very prettily.  My opinion of original novel is writer is perhaps not jack of all trades, but surely master of none: the romance is not enticing enough, frankly often cringeworthy, leaving me wanting more, the murder mysteries have none of the edge of seat tension nor tight logic.  This stays loyal to novel, improves on the writer’s very draggy pace, and we got to witness WH saying some most cringeworthy embarrassing lines a CN romance novella will make them hero say and only he can deliver them somewhat and we do not break into allergic hives.

I will have a fan MV : Love Me If You Dare x ISWAK themesong.  This song still makes all things fluffy… and…i can quit you drama:

Yang Ge though, has NO lookable male faces.  Lead actor Mr Yang, physicality of a typical character actor, with his leading hero status, should be nothing but wowing me in acting a safe bet I assumed.  NOPE.  He can not even deliver lines without my end receiving it as mimicking a Wang Baoqiang and this is not a comedy. At first I tolerated his take on a country bumpkin of a character, then the more I watch on, the more unnerving, unintentionally his presence is.  He is a year older than a WallaceHuo, and looks his own age, mid 30s (+ 5 years).  Physically he is comfortably YangZi’s Dad bracket, honest, true, no exaggeration my part.  Here he is playing a TWENTY YEAR OLD I later learned, as story goes on, I HAVE NOT RECOVERED FROM IT.   Apparently this actor’s interpretation of an orphaned uneducated 20 yo is he is retarded and can not enunciate simplest un-choppy phrases.  The actress playing his mother, looks 10 years younger than him and real age only 2 years older.  She is very good, very convincing in her role, WITH the good looks.  Her romantic interest, Hero’s Daddy, again another nondescript not a looker uncle, but my peeve is he is amateurish acting wise.  Then there is YangZi’s heroine’s grandmother, which is straight from the worst 1 dimension K daily makjang evil Matron prototype and another first I have witnessed, an horrible actress. I have never seen any C drama where I have a bone to pick on a veteran actress being the WORST in acting.  Yet YangZi is prettier than ever, and so poised and marvelous scene to scene it is hard to not watch.


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The young actresses, even in supporting roles, the maids and such, ALL overqualified great.  ^宣璐/Xuan Lu playing the maid of YangZi, was the glorious dancing beauty in 舞乐传奇/Legend of South West Dance Music, ie if you want ‘historical, political intrigue’ this budget of peanuts little manic hit is the real deal, NEVER a NiF.  Argh.   WHY encourage me to blast a hate post and eat my words as a bookend after I have professed my love for you ShanYing nonstop?!   How is this not like a toxic romance with a great on paper but at the core shitty bf?!?!?!  I do not want to hate you, do not make me.  Lets part ways sane, shall we?!?!?!?

I know nothing much about the 500+ years history of the ShanDong culture of the folkdance ‘yang ge’ the drama is based upon.   But really, this should put SY to such shame, of all their productions, this would be mere disappointments my end, but they royally pooped on a drama waxing poetic on their local cultural treasure of the folkdance I need to YT on when they did a yumeh job on such a dance number in drama. I ran out of bless your hearts and middle fingers.  I was expecting to be thoroughly educated of the dance and its cultural significance but this is a nauseating potboiler a Qiong Yao would not allow out on the talentless FUG male actors alone 20 years ago.

But this does make me love Yang Zi more, what those disgusting uncles at ShanYing made you suffer through for this and you rise from it all and be unscathed kickass awesome still, defining what is elevating CRAP.  This is her first very anticipated leading role working with such a team, I trusted to be very worthy of her time.  I know I do this too often, but will it kill you SY, if you insert a WallaceH here instead of Love Me Whatever Dare and make this palatable to enjoy some YangZi even just for me?!



If I could force Love Me If You Dare back in a mold and rebake it to my liking, with a dash of Disguiser molten love oozing, this would be the good panettone resulted, still a fruitcake, but right place, right time, a slice of heaven almost.

I have the virginal genius, check, but this go at a CN 30 sth not too much of a looker, never dated a lady nor has any friend Sherlock v1930SH is the opposite of a full of it snob even if his glorious (usu we r told, seldom convinced) brain is entitled to be smug, super reluctant, not much of an aspired hero loftily romancing he is sole savior of country as the sacrificial martyr, but content with laying as low, as mundane an existence forever as a clerk for the wet market with perks of bringing home the fresh fish and poultry, cooking a lovely dinner, enjoying it with his Mom, his only precious kin left in world after Dad, the patriotic spy dead in action, thus making him a gloomy cynic of the doom they are living in, the last resort of a dingy alley in French quarters of IJA occupied SH in the 1930s.  We start the first few exhilarating episodes of drama when he is dragged into a twisty espionage while not missing his concern over keeping his fish alive.  I savor when he lets out any workings of his brain, it is as brilliant as it convincingly should, braincells in action for me to see for myself, none of the posing and empty spelt out praises of the sorts of late SY heroes MeiCS nor SimonB.

My main enjoyment in Red lies in a beyond worthy heroine.  She scarily reminds me of a Mr White when we first met him in Breaking Bad.  This gentile, gentle soul is capable of unimaginable cut throat masterminding of revengeful murders with innocent batting of eyelashes and a bit of understandable unraveled nerves.  She makes callousness a virtue.  Her grace in their romance is so genuine, none of the coy or whatever a lady should behave as decorum dictates hohum.  She will speak her heart, put it on her sleeves, decorous as a lady who has survived, been scorned in love, staring at middle age spinsterhood with no desperation back in those days. Yes I am still witnessing a coupling of mousy looking 30sth, romancing, saying the darnest words like in the puppy love they are, but I never flinch nor cringe.


YES.  I still get my shoujo hijinks.


She is artfully more observant, competent, intelligent than the rest of the characters except our hero without any awareness nor bashfulness,  yet being brought up quite well off a privileged sheltered life as the only daughter of a pharmaceutical company owner, she stays naive and at times unworldly, lacking the wariness and meticulous consideration one may demand for a true brilliant better half of this hero, but that is congruent to character, way more than I can ask from any ‘smart’ heroine in this genre.  She is what I wistfully hoped the heroine of LoveDare would be improved on from the original, but our drama Jenny there comes across aligning more with a Kotoko from Itakiss.  LESIGH.

This is slightly overrated than the praises and far from the perfection I expected of a  9.3/10 rating at douban/cn metacritic , it has slow placid meandering tangents not tickling.  Guy2 loyal stubbornly honorable good cop is lovely, and his romance with heart of gold vavavoom high class escort is cute, hero’s Mom is delightful but I care very little about the rest of the sidekicks most fans adore as well, due to them robbing me screen time engrossed in hero and heroine.  I need to also praise it for sticking with the authenticity of being set in SH.  Mom is never seen without her perm nor makeup even just dining with her son. The MomSon banter is my source of happy and giggles.

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Many actors speak like my RL distant SH aunties and uncles with the distinctly accented mando, to my sentimental fondness.  These folks believably live, breathe SH, as mundane and uninteresting as all the little details of their daily routine can be, it does cut into the tension, but otoh this makes a less demanding watch when there are bouts of episode I can casually comfortably watch as intermissions.  What I can appreciate way more after the dread that is NiF, all the antagonists have somewhat compatible with hero functioning minds, capable of contorting proper, deserving challenges.  Like most C drama this could do with half the episodes easy if succinctly edited, but the drag, the ff-able mundane daily lives of the regular folks are not obnoxious, especially considering when the script is in full gear thriving when hero is saving the day, it is as good as it gets.

Because my loathing of pretentious NiF and thus ShanYing sees no bloody bounds whenever I hear or see a mention, I am desperate to watch as many decently written underrated C drama delivering what it promises, be it truly in a reality-defying implausible world of superhero wuxia or plain old cliched idol period fluff, or for a wimp to brave an omnibus of love stories with very scary ghosts in it, flaws and all.

侠僧探案传奇/Tales of a wuxiahero-monk-detective

Exactly as title says, which I made up.  Official Eng title is Of Monks and Masters, I think.  This is a little watched mini-drama of 10 movie length episodes. Perhaps a lesser known fact outside China, there are four well known Shaolin Temples, all appearing in the credits endorsing, all the more fascinating because this does not pander a gratuituous light on buddhism nor the practice of it.  On the contrary it hints on disparaging the often futile journey of humankind in spiritual enlightenment.  A monk can ascend to sainthood, yet flipside of coin he is as likely to fall into the abyss of evil.  The Sherlock here is 李少白, I bet a word play on the most genius C poet demigod drunkard Li Bai.  The cop in need of genius’ help/Watson here is a Detective Dee/狄八方.

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I am lured in by these few gifs, talk about artistry in framing when the director is a trained cinematographer venturing out and indulges every moment in nothing but his life’s training. The story won’t meet everyone’s logic, it is not as brilliant as I could dream but never have I seen a wuxia so true to a distilled homage to what GuLong’s wuxia frenetic poems should leap from pages to screen since the works of Tsui Hark in the 80s-90s. It illuminates a world with this je na sias quoi miasma of awakened enhanced invisible wuxia forcefield I feel like I leaped back in time in ecstatical nostalgia…when drama work might not have all the fancy wrappings but heaps of dedicated trappings to lure and captivate audience with its essence with the best controlled ancient aesthetics, putting, yup, NiF to SHAME.  And why not do it my way, pwn NiF some more with a picspam of random screencaps, huh?! I do not know a thing about any actor, hero is a more normal looking Li JunKi facetwin.  There is no need to critique any acting, they all just blend in seamlessly.    This is my vote for best cinematography in a C period of 2015 nothing comes distant second to.

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The Ferry Man 2/ 灵魂摆渡 2

This has the precious YangZi romancing Ma Ke I can sigh a relief in appreciating the young actor in something deserving without the cringing, unable to stand the second hand embarrassment staring at him looking like a miserable drag queen clown last in HuaQianGu.  This is an out there webdrama poking at folklores, supernatural on the surface and delving down it will hit you hard with relatable emotions and sweeping romance.  It does not take itself seriously, not the drama, not the characters themselves inhabiting, it has kitsch, but more importantly it has earnest HEART.   Bonus it also has 宣璐/ Xuan Lu, whom braved the ShanYing crap Yang Ge Dance above with YangZi (please be bffs PLEASE) and here playing the formidable 1000 yo supernatural Ferry Man possessed fangirl.

^How on earth can I not relate to this and roll on my bed

秦時明月/ Legend of Qin
I just watched an episode instead of the much anticipated MiYue. How can i quit you TangRen when you can dependably masterfully do C idolperiod fluff still after a slump with all the needed cotton candy nuts and bolts like nobody’s business?!

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This hits the jackpot with a just right for role charismatic idol serviceable talent a la young HuGe in Jiang JingFu, which could also be ceasing the opportunity to audition for the upcoming GuoJing in LoCH remake. I approve! He is nothing but likable, bode of a jock he is in rl, face is properly manboy good looking, can carry any young period idol hero role physically to sate our shallow, long touted as a perfect facemesh of a young HuGe x YuanHong. Now that he has slightly improved in skills and given a non headdesky script this is surprisingly the right moment to shine. His TianMing is somewhere between a GuoJing and a YangGuo, he has his boyish simpleton moments but not shy to hit on a pretty thing playing the dumb card convincingly in the open. He is even more effortlessly cutesy than HG in CP1 to my shock. TangRen’s aesthetics in piling on pretty men is not disappointing here, bromance is blooming ep1, 2 evry way possible.

Qin JunJie is also his handsome self here, so underrated given bit roles, he is a very solid young actor deserving better.  I am already shipping them as a decent pairing for me as GuoJing and YangKang.

Michelle Chen still would not suit any period without care of attempting mannerisms, period, she is pleasant looking and cute but horrible fit for role which asks for someone looking off bat fiercely smart fiesty medicine woman saint, not a pudgy cute harmless auntie. Still, i can tolerate her, much less aggravatingly bugging than playing THE most beautiful cipher XLN. LuYi is back to form gorgeous in white like a male version of a XiaoLongNu lol.

Lu is very assured in an older gen hero role at last, must be a relieved breather from all the headdesking working w yumeh. Hu Bingqing, our heroine has this stunning subtle beauty imo quite suitable for role, no quips on her acting chops too, again another pleasant surprise.  This delivers a too simple story of the RPG game of a boy (the chosen one) becoming a hero, nothing more but when a fluffy silly drama does not try too hard, it clicks. For those who have watched WuXin the Monster Killer, we have the most entertaining sickkick GeneralGu/ actor Wang YanLin 王彦霖 back as the most entertaining sidekick, YueYa/Gina Jin is also playing a substantial role

Themesong is awesome, wouldn’t expect less from Yoga (wbwb xoxo)



I still love my guilty pleasure From 5 to 9 to bits.

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I will grumpily give you my entire heart, YamaPi for being perfect and perfectly convincing with such natural comfortable chemistry with Satomichan in this impossible for any other human not looking exactly like a YamaPi feat.


Okashi no Ie

This is my precious alone time I spent with this precious gem.  It has immense beauty in its direct simplicity.  Everything we should know about life, we complicate, befuddling… like that constant regret we hid and tried to forget yet haunts no matter how many years flew by.   It serves me one most memorable scene at least per episode, last episode has me lol a hernia, but mostly it warms me up at times with a moved string of tears nonstop like nothing else in this best effortless slice of life fairytale about the mundane we thought we knew how every brick falls but storytelling is so eccentrically fresh.


16 thoughts on “Now Watching: November 2015

  1. You are watching Awl! I’m waiting for it to be fully subbed and then marathon it. It’s only 12 epis so should be a breeze.

    Will you disown me if I say I rather enjoyed NiF? 😀 Well, for the episodes I did watch before I got distracted with something else.

    Annnnd once again you are pimping cdramas that I have no way of watching, unless they appear somewhere with subs attached. 🙂 Is that “Tales of a wuxiahero-monk-detective” somewhere accessable? I might take a looksee even without subs, it looks so pretty.

    1. Wave and hugs!

      I am only up to Awl4 but it is still promising and I still wanna watch on, to think I am having a hard time sitting through half an ep of Reply1988… why oh why.

      NiF is very nicely produced, lovely acted, I just hated the writing and I put this production company at the highest standard possible since they had done perfect dramas prior, this did not match up to what they are capable of at all. It’s mostly just me, you are aligning with 99.9% of the world 😀

      If you are adventurous with MonkTales I watched it here: again I am only up to the second ep but it is my kind of Gorgeous, the detective work is a bit juvenile, not convoluting at all, hope you can follow fine enough. My hook is I have heard the ending is insanely da bomb best some of the well versed C netizens have seen making the drama flaws negligible.

      1. *Waves back* 🙂

        Ah, so Awl is still promising? Good to know. I didn’t even start Reply88 – TPTB pissed me off with the return of the hubby hunt and the bloated episode length, heh. Going by the re-caps I’m not really missing anything.

        NiF is very pretty but it’s looooong and I can take only so much palace politics at ago, so it’s on hold. I may get back to the remaining 40 or so epis at some point.

        I found the MonkTales on me own (so proud of my google fu) and I’m at ep 5 now, LOL! No idea what they are saying, save for a word here and there, but i’m still finding it surprisingly easy to follow. And it’s such a feast for the eyes! You really notice that when you have to rely on your eyes to get the story. I sometimes pause and just look at the pretty. 😀 Btw. any idea what the names of the Hero’s sidekicks are?

        1. THAT is some super awesome googfu! Impressed!

          Well, there is frankly not much politicking going on, at least nothing worth sitting through in NiF because it all amounts to TPTB like the rest kissing hero’s foot constantly. It is bizarrely stupid (I know I have said it too often describing it lol) if anyone can cover up HuGe’s face and not droolz/hypnotized by his gorgeous for a second.

          Oh name of that strange foursome! I am only up to ep3 myself, so I am assuming none of these are dead XD

          HeroMonk is 李少白/Li ShaoBai (literally Li lil’ White: my guess is this implies this is a slighter in genius way of the drunken poet extraordinaire)

          Reluctant Gimp of Emperor of Shady voodoos Detective is 狄八方/Dee BaFang, Dee is synonymous to upright detectives of Tang/Song dynasties ie Han Chinese legends. BaFang means all direction, implies he is sharp and alert of everything. In e1 another dot on his name, the character Fang makes it Wang, which reads 80,000 the amount on that suspicious ancient check specifically issued from that bank of death our hero snerked at the detective as possibly a suspect as well who knows. His surname Dee is made up of the character dog and fire, hero did not miss jabbing him first bickering meeting when Det. asked him, a ‘word reader’ to use his surname to predict Hero’s luck that fateful day. Our hero told him he can foresee himself meeting a rabid dog (stabbing some more of corruption going on in the late Song court.)

          The seemingly sleazy robin hood, well known in the jianghu, kungfu master thief is 飞贼龙九/Flying Thief Long Jiu/ lit. Nine Dragons. Perhaps he has nine lives and can fly.

          Feisty pepper lady is 赵菱儿/ Zhao LingEr, word play/same romantization as the well known heroine in Chinese Paladin, star making for the now big names HuGe and Crystal Liu, where our heroine’s Ling is much more down to earth water caltrop/devil pod/flying bat nut, hard pointy exterior and not much a sweeter bulb/corm. It is believed to be an herbal medicine relieving drunkenness or fever, cleansing toxins, indirectly nudging at our hero and detective huh? It is a constant in my Grandma’s offering basket giving thanks to ancestors during Midautumn Festival being one of the most ancient nourishing staple.

          1. Thanks for the names and the accompanying explanations. Yup, they are all still alive, as of ep 7. Well, it’s only been Hero Monk and mr Detective for the past 2 epis.

            I guess, we can say I’m officially hooked. XD This show has taken over my life, hjälp! I can’t seem to stop watching, I had to forcefully close the browser after the 7th just now, LOL! It’s getting late and I really should try to get bed in good time for once. I’m pretty sure there’s going to be a post once I’m done. I wish I could understand the dialogue as there sure seems to be a lot of meaningful stuff being said.

            1. It is as if you are pmping me back! I am still at e3, falling quite madly myself but with absolutely no time to indulge.

              It does delve deeper into human vices like greed for money, frolicking in lust, addiction to gambling, so forth. Karma is the theme threading I suspect. Feel free to drop me a line on sticky bits you would want to know more about the dialogue in the eps I have seen.

              Can’t wait for your post!

              1. I finished it! And oh boy, am I in awe! The last 2 episodes… I’m pretty sure I forgot to breathe at some point towards the end. These guys sure know how to mess up with your head and things got darker as the story progressed. Ended up with almost 70 screengrabs, LOL! So, Now I’m dying to write about it but don’t have the time! Besides, I do have to sort out my thoughts on the drama in general.

                And I’m taking you up on that offer. There’s only so much I can deduct without understanding the dialogue. I may have got it totally wrong but there seems to be awfully lot of talk about inner workings of shaolin/wulin, like what is the proper path to take. I think there are mainly 2 different factions and they really don’t see eye to eye. Also, why does everyone want a piece of our Hero? I have an incling but as that’s part of the finale I’m keeping mum. XD The prince (?) mr Detective is so reluctantly serving is somehow mixed up in it too.

                Anyways, feel free to give me any tidbits you like. I’m totally going to use all of it in my thesis… erm, post. Just so you know. *g*

                Oh, btw. this is also available @ bilibili in glorious 1080p. 🙂

                1. Bravo!

                  Hugs and sorry i couldn’t enjoy the drama along promptly with you the weekend. My Grandpa passed on and my world here is definitely a worse place without his presence.

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