Tuesday, March 26, 2013
KDrama Review: Secret Garden
The Gist: Gil Ra Im (Ha Ji Won) enjoys her life as a stunt woman, getting chances to work on bigger and bigger movies. Her life is complicated when she meets a bizarre, incredibly wealthy man named Kim Joo Won (Hyun Bin). Immediately, the two are at odds as Joo Won has a tendency to look down on Ra Im, as fascinated as he is by her. They can't seem to keep apart as an unlikely phenomenon causes them to switch bodies. Now they have to work together to make sure no one notices something is amiss, gradually learning more and more about each other. That understanding of one another plants the first seed of something more between the unlikely pair.
1. The Stunt Work
Honestly, as little as I really enjoyed the characters in this drama, the role of a stunt woman is definitely something different. I think the moments we get to see Ra Im and others practicing are some of the more interesting because it adds a little bit of intrigue to the situation. There's also a level of irony here because Ji Won is probably using a stunt woman for her stunts, which somehow I find kind of hilarious. Either way, it's an interesting profession and causes a special kind of problem for someone imitating her without her skills.
Yoon Sang Hyun plays Joo Won's cousin, an egocentric star. Ra Im has a great admiration for Oska and her fandom makes Joo Won angry. Now, while I feel that pretty much all the characters have some things to work through, I really liked Oska's development throughout the show and thought he was portrayed excellently by Sang Hyun. Really, at the end of the day, I think Oska was my favorite character with the right balance of sentimentality and comedy.
1. The Romance
Any show that has me putting the romance in the meh category isn't on a strong foot. While I think the acting was fine, I really disliked both of our leads. I don't know if that is only bad writing or a combination of bad writing and not really liking the actors. I'll hold judgment on the second until I see them in other things and just say that I found both characters pretty obnoxious. Ra Im is slightly more redeeming, but she still is overly stubborn and kind of mean. Joo Won is supposed to be haughty, but I found him completely infuriating for almost the entire show. He really has little regard for how Ra Im thinks of him and keeps pushing himself on her. It's a little concerning. That said, I do think that when they put their differences aside, they are a good pair, but it definitely could have been better.
2. The Side Characters
Aside from Oska, this show didn't really have any memorable side characters. Actress Park Chae Rin (Baek Seung Hee) is more like a stereotype than an actual character, the director (Lee Philip) had a sort of one sided love but not much development, and the disapproving matriarch is so overdone I just can't take it anymore. Seriously, can we have someone who's wealthy who's mom/aunt/grandma just wants them to be happy? It's not so bad in a show with lots of good qualities but I feel like the character well on this show is so shallow that I just don't think it makes up for it.
1. The Body Swap
Reading the synopsis for this show, I thought that the body swap was the most prominent feature, but it really isn't. Honestly, it was more like a totally out of left field side thought. Even though it forces our leads to work together, it was done so haphazardly and ended abruptly that I felt the show didn't really need it. The major revelations come when the two of them are back in their normal bodies. The whole thing felt weird and I wasn't sure exactly what I was supposed to be getting out of it. I felt either that the show should have committed to it more fully or done away with it. Instead it felt like a hiccup to the progression of the normal show.
If I'm hunkering down for a 20 episode show, it better have a slamming plot and some great characters. In my opinion, Secret Garden has neither, so those 20 episodes felt way too long. It's not good when in the middle of the show I just want to get to the end and the end is so far away. I think the pacing of this show could have used a little speeding up and it would have benefited from being cut down significantly.
So... I'm surprised by how little I liked this show. The plot wasn't that entertaining and the leads were pretty far from likeable. The body switching, while not original, had some good moments, but was overall kind of like a bizarre side plot than anything else. Would not watch again. Generally unimpressed. I have no idea how this show rated better than Mary Stayed Out All Night - you should definitely watch that instead.
Final Grade: D
Note: Once again, this is just my opinion and considering it's been on the front page of dramacrazy's most popular list, someone must like this show.