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I know that most of you would find it funny have probably seen MAD TV's parody of a Korean soap opera (I bet I originally found it through one of you), but for those who haven't, trust me - you don't need to know anything about them to find it funny:

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Everyone should be forced to watch the last episode of Autumn Tale. EVERYONE. It fills one with such glee even if the writers had clearly run out of plot and were forced to cobble together something filled mainly with flashbacks.

Click here for hilarity and tragedy )
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Oh, Kdramas, you manage to put Bollywood to shame with your medicine, which is a tremendous feat, what with Bollywood's penchant for magically curable blindness. Apparently in Korea leukemia can only be treated by an operation (which no one ever has the money for, of course). And eye cancer can be caused by a car accident. I have to admit the latter is my favourite crazy skience ever and it's got tough competition, such as the mystery illness of Spring Waltz which could also only be treated by an (obviously unaffordable) operation and [livejournal.com profile] dangermousie's current show, which has bullets lodged in brain which will kill the hero by some determined time.

And (in case you couldn't guess by this post) the heroine of Autumn Tale has just delighted me by having leukemia. She now lies wan and pale in a hospital bed with Playboy by her side, while Fake!Brother is off with suicidal Other Woman.

ETA: I am literally crying I am laughing so hard at Fake!Parents and Real!Mother each discovering that heroine has cancer. Real!Mother was wailing away and then Fake!Mother just keeled over sideways onto a chair. And Fake!Dad just widened his eyes as all the womenfolk wailed. IT WAS GLORIOUS.

ETA 2: I am ashamed to admit that there is a certain amount of ffing through the endless scenes of people wailing over the heroine's pale, wan face. But now we are galloping to the inevitable tragic ending.
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Well, the slightly creepy tale of Fake!Brother and Fake!Sister continues not to disappoint. Evil Real!Sister turned out to be, well, really evil and a trouble maker and an annoying sobber (heroine is a big believer in the single tear or just overflowing eyes). Anyway it was exciting to see Fake!Brother and Fake!Sister ran off together to live in a cabin in the country for a bit and made doomed plans to marry. But Playboy is still keen to marry her and is pressing his suit on her poor real mother and useless brother. Real mother wants her to be happy but useless brother wants the money. Same result either way.

As we're only on disc 4 I suspect heroine will bend and try and give in thus causing maximum angst for everyone. And then someone is going to die. I don't know that but I feel it coming as surely this won't turn out well. (Especially not as the hero has said they'll be happy. You know the kdrama gods are going to punish him for that one.)

You should all watch this so I'm not alone. It's excellent in a over the top melodramatic, creepy incest vibe sort of way.

ETA: OMG the Fake!Mum is going die of grief unless the Fake!Brother and Fake!Sister split up. WHATEVER WILL THEY DO???????

ETA 2: Other!Woman, who turned out to be nice and not evil, collapsed tried to commit suicide because of silent and disappointed love for the hero and can now only use her right hand. And now the hero has the DEEP GUILT. And Playboy is all cold to heroine because his love was crushed.

ETA 3: [livejournal.com profile] calixa suggested a new twist in our Ultimate Kdrama: the hero goes blind because of eye cancer (possibly caused by a car accident) and has to find his way across Korea and his childhood love by echolocation. AND! There will be a time travelling child who will say at the end of every segment of 'Seasons of Pain' that LOVE IS NEVER WRONG. Even when it clearly is. He will be very winsome and turn out to the child of the OTP. And their wrong, wrong love.
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After giving up on Damo because I really didn't want anything that required actual thought, I decided to watch Autumn Tale, a charming tale of quasi-incestual love made by the wonderful people who brought us Spring Waltz and Daniel Henney as Philip. And it is exactly what I craved. Due to my discs sticking at one point I missed some important things but here are the basics. We have:

1. Fake!daughter who is mixed up with Real!Evil!daughter and placed with lovely people for about 12 years. Well, they're lovely till they find out she's not their real daughter and then they get all conflicted and allow her to go back to her real mother and forget about her while they live in the US for years

2. Fake!brother. Let me tell you, I was relieved when the reveal about the parentage of his Fake!Sister (aka Fake!daughter) came through because there was some fairly intense 12 year old lusting after his sister before then. It made me feel a bit unwell and twitchy watching it, but apparently I was not supposed to be horrified by the incest taboo being less potent than it should be because they were not really related

3. Some new guy who pops up when they are adults and is a playboy. I shall call him Playboy, of course. He manages to get the heroine fired after making her become his personal maid in a hotel and then mauling her. He then gets her reinstated in a way that makes everyone think they are sleeping together (well, think it even more). I am, I believe, supposed supposed to find him a bit madcap and charming and also feel sorry for him because his stepmother hates him and we see his dad slap him. He does get plus points for not having been reared for 12 years as the heroine's brother but not for a lot else.

4. Other Woman. I think she's nice, but it's early days yet. Sometimes they lull you into a false sense of security before unleashing the horrors of Other Woman machinations on you.

5. Random parents and evil other brother of the heroine. He used to be a thug but hurt his hand and now is focused on getting the heroine to go out with Older Man who I think is a gangster. He also beats the heroine for good measure because that's the sort of person he is.

6. Evil!Real!Daughter. I haven't met her as an adult yet, but she was pretty nasty as a kid, so I think she'll have matured into a fine monster

In talks last night [livejournal.com profile] calixa, [livejournal.com profile] meganbmoore and myself vowed to write the ultimate kdrama. It will be called Seasons of Pain (alternatively translated as Times of Agony and Endless Moments of Woe). It will be set in four different time periods and involve an endlessly reincarnated OTP who keep dying of various illnesses and causes. There will be at least 7 love triangles, multiple cases of amnesia, two types of terminal illness, death in the snow, death at the beach, etc. Rain will at one point star as a cabaret singer in Japanese occupied Korea whom the heroine must spy on and falls in love with only to find out he is her half-brother. They will then go and die in a field of yellow blossoms as swelling music plays and the audience weeps. Oh, and that random white guy who speaks Korean from Stairway to Heaven will show up. Because it's an international cast. And there will be a tough, conflicted homicide cop who is the son of a gangster who falls in love with a nun who runs an orphanage.

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!. Bad Love. It's got the guy who never gets the girl from Full House and Stained Glass, elevator sex, and lots of angst. And also the hero from Stairway to Heaven, which is my all time most cracktastic kdrama. I feel it is unlikely ever to lose this title. [livejournal.com profile] dangermousie has been posting about it and whetting my interest.

2. Scent of a Man. [livejournal.com profile] calixa said it gripped her family with kdrama fever. I am enthralled with the dramawiki description : "Based on a mega popular bestseller of Korea, this drama is somewhat like the drama "Snowman" because of the fact that the step- sister falls in love with her step-brother and vice versa. Hyuk-soo is somewhat a cliched Korean character. Good at fighting and smart, but chooses the wrong path (almost as if he's forced to be a jopok); has morals; is loyal; and most importantly, loves one woman only. Eun-hae's mom and Hyuk-soo's dad, both widowed for a long time, fall in love and decide to get married before Eun-hae's mom dies. While this is going on, Hyuk-soo and Eun-hae meet. Automatically they know they are in love, but since they become family, Hyuk-soo looks at her in a way an older brother should ... or does he? Like the drama "Rustic Period," this drama has many fight scenes. However, this drama is more of a romantic drama than an action piece."

3. Autumn Tale. More quasi step-sibling love.

4. Winter Sonata. I think this is about half-sibling love. Plus the hero looks like an adult Korean Harry Potter. I am not sure if this is good or bad.

5. Damo. No step-sibling love but it is a period piece about a lady police officer and her forbidden love. There is also a love triangle which is like crack to me.

You know, all of you cast adrift by the writers strike should get into kdramas. If you like step-sibling love, terminal illnesses, amnesia, and love triangles (often all in the same drama), you'll love these.
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With gods in drag watching! How much do I love it? As much as I love the vacant expression in Hu Ge's eyes, that's how much.

But that was a long, long wait. And I think I may have to give up on this as my DVDs keep sticking at pivotal moments of angst and it's rather frustrating.

ETA: It seems as if disc 3 is fairly buggered, so I think I will have to give up on this as I can only watch about half the scenes.

ETA 2: Clearly the gods never want me to see the angstorama that is Winter Sonata. Or Endless Love. I have bought these two times and each time THERE ARE NO SUBTITLES. I am currently watching Shoot for the Stars. This is not a satisfactory substitute.

ETA 3: Holy god, is Shoot for the Stars bad. Plus the lead actress' voice goes through me like a knife. But it has Jo in Sung in it... I am caught in a terrible dilemma. CURSE YOU NON FUNCTIONING LITTLE FAIRY DVDS. *shakes fist impotently at the heavens*

ETA 4: When I say that Shoot for the Stars is bad, you'd better believe me. I am caught between loathing for the heroine and her soul destroying voice (seriously: it could probably depopulate planets) and also contempt for most of the other people. The illiterate want-to-be film star is rather nice but the rest of them...
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So. That was about the best thing ever. And it ended about as well as you can expect a series about a bunch of freedom fighters struggling against a colonial power to. Especially when that colonial power doesn't leave until 1945. But there was one scene which just ripped my heart out, threw it up in the air, and then did a little dance on it with spiked heels.

Naturally to reduce my trauma I felt I needed to post pictures.

Picspam of lovely people fighting for Korea's freedom behind cut. Also spoilers )

ETA: I finally received Last of the Mohicans and am watching it but, um, I am a bit shocked by the scene in the fort between Daniel Day Lewis and the Colonel's daughter. You know what I am talking about. Zip is also a bit strange in that you never really know what you are going to get. They've gone from Babylon 5 to Veronica Mars (and god knows when I will get another Young Riders DVD).

Last of the Mohicans comments. )
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...this is the kdrama for you.

Right now the heroine, having dumped her playboy suitor because she found out that he was only chasing her to win a bet (he was in the beginning but then he fell in love), is trying to seduce a Korean who works as a top Japanese policeman, because this will help the cause of an independent Korea. And she is so bad at it that her strategy was obviously shadowing him and then thrusting these tickets for a film at him while shouting an invitation to a date. It was the least seductiony seduction I've ever seen. And then, although he is interested in her, he refused because he can't work out why she would care for him because she's been insulting him all along for working for the Japanese. And now the heroine, her mother, seduction target, and playboy suitor are having the most awkward dinner in the world.

It is quite excellent especially as heroine's handler is a geisha who can't really work out why the heroine would have problems on the seduction front even though she is of deep Victorian sensibilities.

Plus the clothes are great.

ETA: WTF? The heroine is arrested and tortured? And neither of the guys can do anything about it?
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This will, I promise, be the end of my moaning about this kdrama. The strange thing is that I can see that this has a lot of good bits and if I did not by now loathe the hero so much (not to mention Hee-jin, the Secondary Female Lead) I think I would find it a lot better at the end. As it is, I just think he's a complete jerk and completely self-absorbed. And I still want him eaten by bears. Big, angry bears.

But most of all I hate Hee-jin. I especially hated it when we got the big reveal that her current illness was...anorexia. Look, I don't mean to say that that's not a serious illness but this being used to rouse up my sympathy for her tragic circumstances when she looks perfectly healthy and seems to be doing alright for herself what with Daniel Henney hanging around her all the time like a lost puppy who has just smelt bacon. Also, I don't think that much of the actress. She's only (IMO) got three facial expressions - all of which I am supposed to find endearing - and I already got bored of them in 'What Planet Are You From.' And I know dorama science is not exactly science of this world* but do they normally do cat scans and head x-rays when they bring you into a hospital with anorexia? It seems a bit of overkill to me and I would think they'd be worried about other bits of your body first.

ETA: I should say that what I do love is Sam-soon's family. Her sister and her mother are quite smashing especially when they are beating people who have done Sam-soon wrong about the head. Sometimes they beat other people too and that is almost as entertaining, though I do like the bits where they hit Sam shik the most. I would probably have liked this show if after episode 7 or so all it had was various members of the Kim family hitting Sam-shik.

* We should never forget that it was a dorama that confidently asserted that a car accident could give you eye cancer years later. Stairway to Heaven, your cracktastic plots will never cease to amaze.
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I started this even though I was tempted to go for the full out angstorama that Autumn Tale promised to be. Those Four Seasons ones are always dripping with the good tragedy. I don't know why but I find myself using the ff button a lot even though I've heard really good things about it and it has some excellent scenes. I, horrors, have even ffed through Daniel Henney scenes! (But only the ones with the annoying Secondary Female, Hae-Jin)

After having to put up with the actress who plays the Evil Secondary Female Lead in 'What Star are You From' I really don't like her very much in this one either. She's all mopey and whiney - admittedly she had to part from her one true love because of cancer but still she grinds on my every nerve. And I fluctuate between really liking the heroine and wanting to biff her over the heat for moping over the hero, whom I DO NOT LIKE AT ALL. The actor is cute, but the character really annoys me so watching the heroine droop over him is very irritating. Hence the judicious use of the ff button. Anyway he and annoying Secondary Female more or less deserve each other and can go and breed annoying babies for together all I care. Their combined self-absorption could sink the Titanic even without a helpful ice-berg.

Actually this is one of those dramas where I much prefer the subsidiary characters, especially the mad chef at restaurant and the floor manager lady. Not to mention the secretary of quite scary mum and her love of boxing.

ETA: WTF? Did I really need to see a scene with the hero's ears being cleaned lovingly by the Secondary Female Lead? Really???

ETA 2: Okay, given that I hate the hero and his poorly chosen girlfriend, Hee-jin, and their irritating smugness and all over gittyness, I do not see how I can be delighted by any ending that doesn't have him eaten by bears while Sam-soon and Daniel Henney run off and have a linguistically challenged relationship that revolves around madelines.

ETA 3: You know what I really hate about the hero and Hae-Jin? It's that they don't bloody care about hurting other people's feelings until they realize that they might feel something for the other person or it's not doing all well in their relationship. Then they care. Pair of self-absorbed twats neither of whom actually have any human empathy that I can discern. I HATES THEM BOTH, I DO.

ETA 4: And just when I thought I couldn't despite Hae-Jin and the hero any more I find out she is comes up as 'princess of laughter' on his mobile phone. PRINCESS OF LAUGHTER. Between that and her annoying smirks that I am supposed to find charming I am hoping that it is *both* her and the hero who are eaten by bears. I am also annoyed that I hate Hae-Jin so much that I have to ff through all of her scenes which means ffing through pretty much all of Daniel Henney's scenes.
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I swear, I am on the final episode and I couldn't be happier. I got a terminal illness! And someone walked into the sea! And there was lots of coughing of blood and crawling around hotel rooms and drama and people turning up too late and quoting of Italian movies and self-sacrifice (that bit was actually really boring).

While not quite hitting the cracktastic height of Stairway to Heaven (that one had amnesia, blindness, step-sibling love, and a terminal illness) it came pretty close. I am a bit sad now it is almost over. I should probably watch something good next but instead I am going to watch Winter Sonata. Because I have no taste.

ETA: Apparently I am not going to watch Winter Sonata because it doesn't have subtitles. I like melodrama but I don't think I'm up to watching 18 episodes of something where I only understand 'really,' 'why,' 'hello,' 'let's go,' 'I love you' and 10 other words.
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While I know no one cares I still feel compelled to share it with you:

a) I am pretty sure that we are getting (sort of) stepsibling love. The hero's adoptive father is in all likelihood the heroine's real father. I cannot tell you how much delight I feel on seeing this appear on my screen

b) there have been murder and foul deeds done by Secondary Male Lead's batty mum - the killing of the heir to a large corporation so her son (sadly illegitimate and therefore a SHAME to the family) can inherit.

IT IS ALL SO EXCITING. Can a terminal illness be far behind? I can only hope that someone runs someone over with a car before the final episode.
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1. Massively attractive people all of whom angst very nicely

2. Lots of standing in snow and rain for OTPs. I am always impressed by this. More so by the snow standing than the rain standing as the later often involves getting unattractively damp

3. Guilt trips of the sort that the nuns in my secondary school would be impressed by (and, trust me, they knew their guilt trips). The Secondary Male Lead (I don't like him so I refuse to use his name) admittedly can pull the 'I gave you my kidney' line with the hero, Dong-Joo. With the heroine he just keeps pointing out that he will go insane if she doesn't marry him. And then gives her things she doesn't want. And helps out her useless brother in ways that make him even more useless - against the heroine's wishes too. Of course, he's doing it all for her

4. Many, many stand-offs between Dong-joo and the Secondary Male Lead. They just sort of loom at each other while both saying that they will die without the heroine. There is the implied threat of violence or hostile takeovers but nothing is ever said except through subtext

5. The heroine, Ji-soo. I really like her: she is saddled with obsessive love, useless brother, dead parents, having to drop out of college because of money issues, a sequence of horrible jobs, the hero's brooding and she still is pretty cheery and stands on her own two feet. And also withstands the impressive guilt trips of the Secondary Male Lead

6. Men in suits. Kdrama fashions often wound the eyes and soul but here they've wisely gone the suit route which means much less experimentation (there are some unwise sartorial choices by Secondary Male Lead in the start but now he has become an important heir to a company he has stopped that).

7. Cracktastic plot lines. No one has gone blind yet, but I suspect it or a terminal illness is coming. Or someone running another character over with a car. I look forward to this with the glee of a five year old contemplating Christmas. So far we have returns from the dead, plotting mothers, obsessive love, evil dads, suddenly dead heirs to major corporations, and MANY OTHER THINGS.

ETA: 8. The heroine. I know I've said this before but I admire how - even though she is surrounded by all this mad angst and drama - she is sensible. Even if it does mean that she turned down the hero when he asked her to go to Japan with her because she a) doesn't speak Japanese and b) would be totally dependent on him. I feel this is probably taking principles too far but at least it made sense especially given her somewhat traumatizing experience with Secondary Male Lead
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I am horrifically enthralled by this kdrama. I would be embarrassed by this fact but I think I lack the TV shame gene.

There are quite fantastic amounts of stalkerish behaviour plus lots of 'prove your love by standing in the first snow' scenes. I feel horribly sad that no one has ever proven their love for me by doing this. If only I were a Korean drama heroine I am sure I would not have to feel this way. Of course, I'd also have to put up with losing my first love and enduring massive amounts of angst but it would surely be worth it on some insane level.

The poor heroine of Stained Glass is having to deal with many things: new found first love, dead-beat brother, rubbish life, and oppressive love of secondary male lead. I am sympathetic to secondary male lead but seriously those are some creepy obsessive vibes you are giving off. Admittedly you don't really know normal relationships because of your bastard dad and his desire to get you off the scene before Son 1 comes back, horrible elder step-sister, and pretty dreadful mum.

Also: side effect of my recent pity party for myself has been a desire to post horribly contrary things about my popular culture tastes. So far I am a bit prideful that I haven't done this except for this bit right now where I say I just don't get the Clive Owen is sexy thing at all

ETA: I am bit sad that now I have given up my paid account status I see so many ads. I think I will have to give LJ money so I don't anymore despite their odder commercial behaviour.

ETA 2: Secondary male lead redefines obsessive love even further. Ji-soo I approve mightily of your plan to move out of his house (where she is living due to complicated back story to do with useless brother and secondary male lead's desire not to see her live in teensy hotel room) as soon as you can. Run, run as fast as your legs can carry you!
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Please be aware I don't mean objectively good, but I am enjoying it immensely which is surely more important. It revolves around that tried and true specialty of kdramas, first love lost. And then regained in the angstiest of circumstances. Though the hero, though very comely, seems to creating pretty much the entire angst himself.

Anyway three young children (2 boys, 1 girl) have an idyllic (sort of) childhood together until one of them falls into a river and is believed drowned. Is he dead? Of course not! Where would the fun be in that? He is instead discovered and adopted by a passing Japanese couple (that bit hasn't been fully explained) and lost his memory a bit. I am not sure what bit because it seemed okay but I think it was the name of the town where he fell into the river. (Very selective and useful plotwise memory loss).

After the hero's (Dong-joo) first encounters with the heroine, Ji-soo, where there are misunderstandings and attraction despite her being a not very good paparazzi trying to photograph him with some actress ALL IS DISCOVERED. But oh noes! He cannot confess his love because his best friend from those childish days is also in love with Ji-Soo and is really nice even if his horrible dad hates him and publicly humiliates him for some reason. This is about where we are at. And naturally Ji-soo works at the company of the hero and he spends most of his time looking longingly at her and being caught on stairwells passionately grabbing her hand leading people to think that she IS A WOMAN OF ILL-REPUTE AND UP TO NO GOOD. After she tells him to back off he naturally is all drinking and broody and staring.

Dangermousie did a picspam here
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Before I head out I wanted to post this. According to one site this is a summary of the show: "A westernized Irish adoptee, Joong-Ah inevitably flies back to Korea to confront her past and to see the country she is really from, only to fall in love with her brother, Jae-Bok. Their love is painful, as they are never meant to be together as lovers, but merely as brother and sister. The show’s message is that there is no such thing as noble innocent love and that love is adversity itself. Therefore, love mustn’t be impeded by so-called "destiny" or family, no matter how ironic or difficult the case may seem. Although destiny is cruel and arduous, the two young lovers radiate pure happiness. The show describes how love survives the tragic bondage of family, destiny and romance."

They could well be right: I only got to episode 3 and I think I only understood about 10% of what was going on in the plot. I mainly watched it for Not!Ireland scenes involving the tragic demise of the heroine's adoptive Irish family, who apparently were IRA terrorists and whom she thinks she killed.

massive picspam behind cut )
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I really, really want to see this because, well, it mentions Ireland. But at the same time I fear it and what it might do to my poor country. Apparently the heroine is adopted into a family of Irish terrorists who manage to get blown up in front of her thus causing her (not unnaturally, I feel) severe mental trauma. In short, she goes around the bend a bit and then flies back to Korea to drown herself there because otherwise there wouldn't be a story she now hates the Shannon, that mighty body of quite lovely water.* And then she manages to fall in love with her brother, which doesn't surprise me at all as she has no step-brother handy. There is also cheating and things and some actress forced to star in soft porn to feed her family.

Anyone seen it? On a scale of 1-10 how much melodrama do you think they'll fit in? And will Ireland's name be sullied?

* This bit I have made up entirely. No, not the drowning bit, the bit about hating the Shannon.
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You know I really quite like you, don't you? You're really very cute and well written.

But please god or gods or whatever rules the universe do not have any more shots of the heroine eating disgustingly massive quantities of food in short amounts of time. I know it's all part of the 'she's no ordinary heroine and she's not at all feminine' part of your story, but no other kdrama has managed to make me feel physically as unwell as this one has. It's got to the point that every time food appears my hand hovers over the ff button just in case.

ETA: And in just in case anyone might think this is a gender issue, I would feel unwell whoever was doing the eating. It's just rather repellent to me to see anyone roll up 5 slices of pizza and shove them in their mouth. Mind you, I also can't stand those Carl's Junior commercials with all the squishy sounds, so maybe I am over sensitive.
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I saw the new Bourne movie today. It was fun but it did seem to manage to pack in more corridor scenes than your average Doctor Who episode. And the director would use the whole shaky cam thing to try and persuade me that this was exciting and that people saying 'this is a code four. he's live' was also very thrilling. Though there was excellent manpain of both the physical and emotional sort.

And speaking of manpain (and I often do these days), I am half convinced that the director of 'Silence' is not only in love with Vic Zhou but also believes he is making a Victorian drama. There was one 10 minute scene of Zhou's character just lying pale and wan on white sheets that reminded me of several Little Nell death scenes especially when his best friend pressed his hand in sympathetic angst. It was all quite excellent, really. And is it just me or does the hero's secretary half resemble an evil Barbie Hsu? I have a strange affection for Evil Secretary and her sort of thing of Secondary Male Lead.

ETA: It has been revealed that Secondary Male Lead of Silence got himself run over to ensure that Heroine and Hero would not get together. I am not sure if this makes him almost the winner on the manpain stakes or just a complete and utter nutter. Maybe the two are not so far apart? But if you like aesthetically gorgeous male angsting this is certainly the dorama for you.


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August 2011

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