2014 End of Year Review!

Wow, another year has flown by and I am starting to feel really old….Which, numerically isn’t true, but man does it seem like dramaland across all countries keeps churning out more and more dramas. This is my first time doing a year end review, so go easy on me! I was also really busy this year, and unfortunately ended up dropping a lot of dramas or putting them on hold!

Korean dramas

The Prime Minster and I (Dec 9, 2013 to Feb 4, 2014)

I rather liked this drama (apart from that silly ambiguous ending that I prefer to forget about). Like most people, I was wary about the all too real age gap between Yoona and Lee Bum Soo, but thought that the drama (and actors) handled it gracefully and with charm. The Prime Minister and I doesn’t boast the strongest plot, relying heavily on the over clichéd contract marriage trope, but still manages to charm the viewer through the main leads, as well as the children. I loved watching the Sound of Music while growing up, and The Prime Minister and I was strikingly evocative of the same dynamics between Maria and the children.

Santa-mochi’s verdict: A big sugar cookie paired with a glass of traditional eggnog. Goes surprisingly well together, and the sugar cookie acted tasted better than expected.

Miss Korea (Dec 18, 2013 to Feb 26, 2014)

This drama was one I tuned into because of my appreciation for Mr. Voice (Pasta, Coffee Prince), and one which I didn’t have any expectations for. Imagine my surprise when I kept tuning into Miss Korea week after week, impressed with the heart behind this 90s style drama about two exes trying to save their careers – one has a failing cosmetics company, the other a dead-end job as an elevator girl. The organic chemistry between all the characters, not just the two main leads, made this drama one of the most enjoyable kdramas I have watched. I don’t recall any blatant drama plot tropes, and the one instance of noble idiocy was quickly shut down by our female lead. Hoorah! All of which makes it a shame that not many people tuned in domestically to watch it, and international reception was lukewarm at best.

Santa-mochi’s verdict: This is the christmas tree that looks like it won’t grow up well compared to the other trees that had all the water and attention but whaddaya know it grew to be just as tall and beautiful and well rounded to win that gold star. Plus it has the best ornaments in the biz.

Liar Game (Oct 20, 2014 to Nov 25, 2014)

I was highly anticipating Liar Game after watching the original Japanese adaptation. The series changed a few things for the better in my opinion, including changing how gullible/naive the female lead is to setting the entire game up as an actual tv show (which made the setting a lot more believable). I suppose that should have clued me in as to the slight backstory change as well, which wasn’t bad, but a little jarring to see revealed at the end when I was expecting something else. Putting this aside however, Liar Game was surprisingly riveting. I was beyond impressed with the three main actors, especially Shin Sung Rok, who plays Do Young the host. Smartly paced with impressive acting, Liar Game was a quick and enjoyable watch.

Santa-mochi’s verdict: A super sleek super shiny all metal rubics cube which is impossible to solve unless you’re an all around genius or have a game show to explain everything to you.

Healer (Dec 8, 2014 to Present)

I just started Healer (it won out over Pinocchio for me), so unfortunately I don’t have much to review yet. You can check out recaps on Dramabeans though!

Taiwanese dramas

Apple in Your Eye (Aug 8, 2014 to Oct 31, 2014)

I heard some good things about Apple in Your Eye, and decided to try the first few eps before fully committing to it. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get past episode 3 because there wasn’t anything really pulling me in to the story, and although Blue Lan was doing a decent job, Amber An’s character seemed 2-dimensional and whiny most of the time. The plot also reminded me a lot of IUUI (Jasper Liu’s past drama), with two people who grew up as siblings who eventually fall for one another.

Santa-mochi’s verdict: It’s a puzzle that looks straightforward until you start piecing it together and realize that someone didn’t cut the pieces properly so there’s holes and gaps.

Lovestore at the Corner (Apr 18, 2014 to Oct 10, 2014)

I had such high hopes for Lovestore at the Corner, which gave me similar feelings to Amour et Patisserie. While Amour et Patisserie was a bit weak in that each episode had a different “story” that didn’t always seem connected, Lovestore at the Corner used book quotes to cement and appropriately address its characters. Until… it turned into exactly the same thing it had been trying to avoid, a cliché mess of various jealous love triangles that just dragged on and on. I ended up dropping it partway through because it had lost all appeal.

Santa-mochi verdict: A new gingerbread recipe that promises all the right things but then ends up just the same as the recipes you used before. Plus, it burned in the oven.

In a Good Way (Nov 8, 2013 to May 16, 2014)

In a Good Way came about as a breath of fresh air in the midst of draggy, serial rom coms that were stuffed with clichés. It enjoyed huge popularity, and was lauded as refreshing and down to earth. These are all very true, but for me, IAGW started to drag on a little too much at 26 eps. I will confess to stopping after episode 10, and just reading the recaps on koala’s playground. It was cute, but a little too much like the daily dramas that are more like diary entries and not my taste. That being said, IAGW was a definite hit, and was well loved by a lot of people – it just wasn’t my taste.

Santa-mochi’s verdict: A slice of clean sourdough that, after weeks of turkey and stuffing and rich chocolate, seems amazingly tasty. After a while though, it gets a little stale.

Fall in Love With Me (Apr 6, 2014 to Aug 17, 2014)

Started out cute enough, albeit a bit shaky on the premise that one guy could switch his outfit and no one would recognize him. The drama sort of addressed this issue at first, by having the main lead doubt him and be suspicious of him. However, the chemistry between the two leads was lacking, supported by a flimsy backstory. This was a drop for me, as well as a lot of other people after ep 12.

Santa-mochi’s verdict: A build-a-bear that, no matter how you change its clothes, still looks the same.

Screen Shot 2014-08-02 at 11.23.12 AMPleasantly Surprised (May 23, 2014 to Oct 17, 2014)

Although I was not a fan of Puff’s character in Just You, I really liked her in Pleasantly Surprised. It definitely helped that she and Jasper had a good chemistry, and that the character was better developed in this project. I actually rather liked the relationships between all the characters in this drama once they matured a bit – secrets didn’t drag on, and any noble idiocy was shut down fairly quickly as well. I also was a big fan of how the two female leads ended up being friends, rather than at each other’s throats. Plus…cutest kid actor! 🙂

Santa-mochi’s verdict: Sweet, fizzy champagne that tickles and warms your insides.

Mr. Right Wanted (Nov 7, 2014 to Present)

Much like healer, this is a drama that I’ve just started and haven’t watched enough of yet to really give a review. However, so far it’s everything that Lovestore at the Corner tried to be, but failed at.

Chinese dramas

Da Mo Yao (Sound of the Desert / Ballad of the Desert) (Oct 1, 2014 to Nov 27, 2014)

Let me first offer a disclaimer: I don’t like historical dramas. I don’t know much about the time period and they often drag on far longer than I have the patience for. The only reason I picked up DMY was because of Nee Nee and HeiSui, and my fave Eddie Peng. Boy was I glad, DMY was a blast to watch in the beginning. The biggest drawback for me however, was Hu Ge’s character in the second half. He became so wishy washy and mopey that I started skipping his scenes. Thankfully in the end he pulled through though!

Santa-mochi’s verdict: Some dark spiced cider, that tastes amazing and warms your belly, but maybe scalds your throat a bit on the way down.

Tiny Times (Jul 10, 2014 to ?)

After watching the movie and being disappointed by it, I wasn’t keen on starting the drama. However, my other fave Ivy Chen was in it, so I figured I could give it a shot. This drama didn’t experience any of the popularity that favoured the movie, which boggles my mind because the drama had everything I wanted from the movie. Perhaps it was the fact that the story was able to be spread over a greater length of time, but all the conflicts and friendships were explored poignantly, and I never had a moment where I was scratching my head wondering what just happened (which happened too frequently with the movie). Definitely give it a shot! It’s a bit dark though at times (think MARS dark), so be prepared.

Santa-mochi verdict: The book that the crappy movie you saw was based on and you don’t think it really sounds that great because you saw the movie and it wasn’t good but you do give it a chance and it turns out to be so much better than you thought

Aaaaaaaand that’s a wrap! Thanks for sticking with me this year guys, and I hope I didn’t bore you too much 🙂 There will be a giveaway coming soon in the new year, so be sure to check back for that!


4 thoughts on “2014 End of Year Review!

  1. I like how you described IAGW, it did get stale in the second half. Not as good as I expected it would be. Same thing happened to the second half of Pleasantly Surprised in my opinion because the last few episodes are very hard to past through, they should have ended it with about 16 episodes. It’s quite a waste of the cute and fun cast in my opinion.

    The romance in The Sound of Desert is just <33333333333, WJ and XY are sooooo cute together, I didn't like MX's character in the novel too so I didn't care much for him but his ending was so tragic that I felt bad for him in the end. But I really love how fearless is our main OTP, they don't care the stares they get from others which is rare at that era. I love it.

    I dropped Lovestore at the corner halfway through it too, it was pretty good in the beginning until it goes all angsty on the romance, sigh.

    1. I think dramas dragging on and getting stale is a common problem now, because I’ve started noticing it more and more. Even Lan Ling Wang, which i really loved, began to drag with that episode extension.

      Yes! I really love how WJ and XY didn’t care about social norms, and XY still held her head up when she was pregnant in front of the court. I like how they’re both passionate about one another, and don’t bother to hide it 🙂

  2. Hmm maybe I have to pick up Tiny Times (drama version). I am really hesitant to watch it after watching the movie version……but it sounds like the drama is much better.

    I liked Blue in Apple in Your Eye but the heroine got on my nerves. T_T

    1. I would definitely say give it a try! I couldn’t for the life of me understand why the girls had a fight over the artsy girl’s bf, but in the drama it’s so sad and well explained. That’s not to say the drama is perfect, but I enjoyed it so much more than the movie.

      yeahhh she’s the reason I dropped it. I figured if I didn’t like 50% of the OTP to start with my opinion would just go down from there.

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