Thursday, May 28, 2015

KDrama Review: Sensory Couple/The Girl Who Sees Smells

The Gist: Choi Eun Seol's (Shin Se Kyung) life is derailed when she arrives home after school and a serial killer has murdered her parents. In the process of fleeing, Eun Seol is hit by a car and the murderer has the name tag ripped right off her uniform. The night is further twisted when the murderer heads to the hospital to off the witness and ends up killing the wrong school girl with Eun Seol's name. When Eun Seol awakes, she can literally see scents and one of her eyes has changed color. Along with her new ability, her memory before the accident has been wiped. Wanting to protect her, one the officers on the case adopts her and changes her name to Oh Cho Rim, erasing all signs of Choi Eun Seol. Jump forward several years and Choi Mu Gak (Park Yoo Chun), older brother to the girl who died in Cho Rim's place has become a cop to bring his sister's murderer to justice. The chance comes when the serial killer strikes again close to home. Mu Gak and Cho Rim cross paths, where they combine her unusual skill with his intuition to help solve crimes, leading up to the crime that changed both their lives.

And that's just the first episode. O.O Let's dig in!


1. Lieutenant Yeom (Yoo Jin Seo)

Seriously. Lieutenant Yeom is totally my hero. It's nice to see such a strong female character in what is essentially a romcom ... or a rommurdermysterything. Anyway, moving on. I love that she comes in and takes charge and the men are all respectful and deferential to her. She is their leader and that commands some real respect. I love it. I was worried we were going to have a weird love triangle with her and Officer Choi and Oh Cho Rim, which I think would have been a big mistake. But! They never do go that route. I am happy to say that Lieutenant Yeom and Oh Cho Rim pass the Bechdel test with flying colors. For those who don't know, the Bechdel test is when two women talk to each other about something other than men. Cho Rim is still fairly concerned with Officer Choi through most of the show as I can't fault her for, but I really love Lieutenant Yeom representing a well developed strong female character.

2. Originality

How about that! A romantic drama with originality. I love the emphasis on the senses in each of our characters. Cho Rim's ability is very unique and the effects for it were done well. It definitely had some questions - how does she not just get lost in a fog of smells. She seems to only see one at a time. Oh well, not thinking about it too hard. Officer Choi's narcolepsy/can't feel pain situation was also a new one for me and together you can really see the physical manifestations that their tragedies have had on them and how they cope with it.*SPOILERS* Ok, let's talk about our murderer for a minute here. Celebrity chef Kwon Jae Hee (Namgung Min) is our murderer and while he's not the world's most interesting murderer, his prosopagnosia is an interesting twist and at least patches up the plot hole of how he managed to murder the wrong witness.

3. Mu Gak

I'm going to give it to Mu Gak, I was consistently impressed with him throughout this show. Minor spoilers to follow. I was really worried about how he was going to react when he found out Cho Rim, the girl he loves, was meant to die instead of his sister and honestly, he took it like a boss! He took a minute for himself, but could then accept that it wasn't her fault and didn't blame her for what happened. Which, is better than how either Cho Rim or Lieutenant Yeom reacted. You go Mu Gak. I also really love that he pulls Cho Rim in for their first kiss after she hesitates. That could have been creepy, but it's pulled off real sweetly and I watched that scene like three times :)


1. Comedy... WHY?

So, I really wish I just jumped every scene relating to Cho Rim's comedy group. She is terrible and it never gets better. It really just detracts from the meatier scenes that I am actually interested in seeing. Also, Mu Gak's comedy bits just made me super uncomfortable, even if he's better at it than Cho Rim. I think the interspersed deadpan humor doesn't quite work out and I kind of just cringed every time. Not the best plot device ever.

2. Sugar-Coated Cotton Candy Sickly Sweet Romance

So Cho Rim and Mu Gak have great chemistry, but they are also corny to the point it's almost too much even for someone like me. Spoilers ahead. I think the epitome of this for me was the marriage proposal. He's going just so far over the top that I actually scrolled quickly through some of those scenes (balloons in the trunk - ah! I would hate that). Ultimately, the perfume thing was perfect for Cho Rim, but that episode was laying it on a little thick. They're adorable, but I think a little softening would have gone a long way. I do have to admit, though, I appreciate that Mu Gak is willing to set his pride aside when it comes to Cho Rim and go all out for her. It's a nice development from his stoicism at the beginning of the series.

3. Not Enough Side Quests

I get that we're working to catch a serial killer, but I think the best parts of this show are when they're solving the smaller crimes that we can really have fun with using Cho Rim's skills. Honestly, I'd prefer if this was more like Scooby Doo or CSI and less like ... I can't even think of a good comparison. Would have enjoyed more episodic crimes to solve!


1. Yeah, that's a lot.

Spoilers and spoilers on spoilers. So, I really really really hate that Cho Rim's father decides to just lie to her about her past. I get not wanting to just put that trauma on someone, but she's got to know sometime and I think not having the back story doesn't give her any time to cope about it. The biggest issue I have with this is that it puts her at really serious danger. He doesn't know that the murderer can't recognize her and even though they moved and she changed her name, it never occurred to him that he was connected with the case and might be tracked down? Honestly, Cho Rim was a champ, but the whole thing weirded me right out. It also, you know, doesn't help when she gets involved in the investigation anyway. I also really dislike that Officer Choi's sister died for Cho Rim. They move forward, but how is that something you ever get past in a relationship? This stupid murderer has decimated both their lives. Honestly, this point I feel a bit better about, but it really bothered me whiel I was watching it.

2. Can we catch this moron already?
More spoilers. So, the pacing of this show has some serious issues. Basically, once we find out that the murderer is Jae Hee, the chase is just drawn way out. Some shows can show who the murderer is and still keep it tense and interesting. This didn't. For me at least. We spent way too long with everyone knowing what was up and then not being able to do anything about it. Also, why would a serial killer become a celebrity? Now if anyone saw him, they'd be like, yeah it's that guy on TV. Being instantly recognizable has got to be the most unhelpful thing for a murderer. Anyway, I appreciate that he was smart, but every time I was like yes, finally, we're going to catch him! And then we didn't. Ugh. Too long. Also, I can't believe they just dangled Cho Rim in front of him and was like yeah, I'm sure this will go well. I'm willing to suspend my disbelief, but when she gets kidnapped, I'm almost like well, what did you expect? Also, while this isn't the worst amnesia plot I've seen, I was really hoping Cho Rim's memories would come back early enough to be helpful. But they really just came back late enough to be painful. Exciting at times, but paced poorly.


So...I was interested in solving the murders and figuring out the meaning behind the barcodes, but I think either they revealed his identity too soon or the show went on too long. I feel conflicted about a murderer who is equally super smart and just so dumb. I think this show was worth watching for the originality and some great chemistry, but I definitely was ready to be done with it before it was over. I thought this was going to be 20 eps. and I almost died. 16 was too long already. Fine for one watch, but will probably fall off my radar immediately.

Final Grade: C+

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