Sunday, July 29, 2012

Drama Short: Big (2012) Review

Average Grade: D
Episodes 1–6: A
Episodes 7–16: F

Supernatural romantic comedy

What it’s about
After a car accident, a student finds himself trapped in the body of his teacher’s fiancé.

First impression
For once, my feelings about a drama are completely uncomplicated: I love, love, love, love Big. It makes me happy from the ends of my hair to the tips of my toes. It’s light and funny but not without emotional heft (something the past few Hong sisters projects have been missing, frankly). Gong Yoo is a slouchy, scowly vision as a high school boy with a bad attitude and a heart of gold. I can’t wait to see how the plot develops. 

Final verdict
Gong Yoo is great in it, at least. Decently executed but with an unforgivably awful, unfocussed script: Once it became clear that the writers had no idea where they were going with the show’s central body-swap mystery, I all but lost the will to watch. Someone with more motivation than me should write a fan fiction version of the final 8 episodes to right the many, many wrongs. 

My in-depth coverage

Random thoughts
• If hospitals in Korea were really so cavalier about blood being all over the place, the nation’s entire populace would have AIDS. Do they only use plastic gloves for handling spicy foods in Asia?

Episode 1. In America, we usually remove our frozen pizza from the plastic wrapper before cooking it. Not so in Korea, per episode 1.

Episode 5. I don't know if I love you or hate you, episode 5, but you sure had style. It’s like the reset button was pressed, and now we have to start all over. I just hope the show doesn’t morph into the typical love triangle now that the characters are on more equal footing.

—Did I mention that I love dramas that reward close attention? Episode 5 shows a flashback to Da Ran stapling their photo on Yoon Jae’s bulletin board, clearly using the same stapler Yoon Jae used to hem her skirt in the previous episode.

—Gong Yoo, would you mind laying off all the heavy breathing? It’s making me entertain inappropriate thoughts about you (again).

Episode 6. Um. Did I just hear “Call Me, Maybe”? Not that there’s anything wrong with that—it’s a fun bubblegum delight just right for Big’s lighter moments. I just hadn’t realized that the song's quest for worldwide domination had been quite so successful.

Episode 7.  After all the nice things I said about you, how could you be so cruel, Dramafever? Your subs for Big episode 7 are incredibly bad and downright misleading: When Ma Ri goes to the shaman, your translation says she needs the “seed” of a young boy, while the Dramabeans recap says that a young boy needs to receive the body-swapping spell’s negative energy. As the Hong sisters don’t strike me as the types to make semen jokes, I suspect Dramabeans is the trustworthy source.

—Let’s all just pretend that 8.4 seconds of “Mmmbop” didn’t just turn me into a quivering mass of teen-aged girl, okay? The instant I realized what was playing, the room felt flooded with sunlight, even though it was pitch black outside. No matter how far we may grow apart, I'll always love you, Hanson.

Episode 8.  You almost lost me with this week’s episodes, which were a little average-kdrama-y for my taste. I still love the characters and think the plot has loads of potential, though. Here’s hoping that the next 8 episodes live up to this episode’s thrilling finale.

—I call red herring on the wedding—if it really happened without some twisty plot element, would they really not show a single minute of it!?!? [Ed note: Clearly, this is an example of me giving the writers too much credit. Sigh.]

Episode 9.  Sorry Dramafever, I can’t bear waiting for you to post episode 10 tonight. I'm jumping ship to KimchiDrama, where the subs may be subpar, but sure are fast.

—What’s up with Kdramas having soundtracks consisting of only 3 or 4 songs? This show isn’t as bad as Boys over Flowers, but that “Hey you” song is headed toward “Almost Paradise” level over-exposure.

Episode 10.  Ah, the inevitable Hong sisters crafting moment. Love the pandas, love the panda panties, love that Da Ran and Kyung Joon have begun inexplicably dressing alike, a true indicator of Kdrama love.

 • Episode 11. Where is it written that all new Kdrama brides must redo their marital bedrooms in the image of their vaginas? I haven’t seen so much pink since How It’s Made went to the Pepto-Bismol factory.

—Ask and ye shall receive! This weekend I posted a demand that all future Kdramas feature sageuk scenes, and what appears in Monday’s episode of Big? Not one but two Joseon interludes. Do they know how diabolical it was not to give us a peek at Gong Yoo in a hanbok, though?

Episode 14. I’m sad to report that this show has pretty much lost me—even Gong Yoo can’t make up for all the opportunities for greatness missed while this drama is uselessly spinning its wheels. Are we really left with yet another “Who is it, really?” finale? I’m disappointed that you don’t have more to offer, Hong Sisters.

—Interesting that your unpublished book has a bar code and ISBN on the back cover. (And by interesting I mean impossible.)

Watch it at

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  1. I know it's going to be a train wreck shortly, but I can't stop watching Summer Scent. Something about Song Seung Hun's earnest face, every emotion worn right up front and center. Also, the end of ep 6 where she's hanging yellow roses from the ceiling, and he sweeps her hair back and ties it with his handkerchief, and you see most of it in shadow profile.. has to be one of the most romantic/erotic moments ever scene on this poor little computer screen.. chills! I have chills!

    1. Okay. So that scene was totally hot...until he sucked on her bloody finger! Ick, ick, ick. And I generally interpret Song Seung Hun's facial expressions as more dazed-fish-on-a-line than emotionally naked, but I see where you're coming from ;)

      The power of the Endless Love dramas is truly inexplicable, yet mighty. Maybe you'll love the whole show—and then hate my beloved Spring Waltz, which I already want to rewatch. (And/or marry, if such a thing were possible.) Keep me up to date on what you think!

    2. Oh wow, okay so I haven't seen the bloody finger yet.. Now I am getting nervous! It is a dazed fish look he's got going on 24/7. I just decide to interpret it as sexy (minus the hairdo/bangs combo). And I'm pretty sure I'll get to the point where I'm going to hate the whole thing... happened with the first two, I'm not expecting it to be too much different here, especially seeing how I kind of already know what's going to happen. *shrugs* Until then.. or the bloody finger, I am enjoying myself.

  2. This post is full of so many lols- I absolutely wtf-ed the still plastic wrapped pizza in the oven thing, and fangirled over mmm-bop (so many memories...)

    also, I love this: " Episode 11. Where is it written that all new Kdrama brides must redo their marital bedrooms in the image of their vaginas? I haven’t seen so much pink since How It’s Made went to the Pepto-Bismol factory." LOVE

    Finally, the barcode on the book thing... sigh. Seriously, were they so lazy and/or cash strapped they couldn't mock up their own unpublished book? Really?

    1. It's kind of amazing that these Kdramas are able to keep themselves in props—apparently the scripts aren't always completed when they begin shooting, so a lot of stuff must be done on the fly. This sort of explains the book: they just made it look like something you'd find on a bookshelf without necessarily knowing that it would be self-published with a printrun of one. Being a total publishing geek, I did some pausing to check out the details, and thought the book was a reasonable mock-up. (Probably better than it should have been, based on what we know about its creation.) But it's beyond me why somebody would think a 12-year-old boy would be comforted by chubby, nearly-naked angels.

      The pizza and the need for Pepto-pink bedrooms, I'm not so sure about ;) It does make me feel better to know, however, that I'm not the only childless adult on the planet with stuffed animals in my home—every single Kdrama heroine has at least one, no matter how dead-hearted she may be.

  3. Amanda, you really do notice a lot of little details when you are watching dramas and it always makes me laugh when you write your comments about them.

    1. I'm so obsessed with details it's a miracle I can get through day-to-day life, really. Thank god for this blog or the people I know in real life would have killed me long ago for my need to discuss every aspect of every Kdrama I watch ;)

    2. I'm not nerely so detail obsessed (unless I'm quoting your blog), but my family also suffers quite a bit from my need to:
      a) rationalize why I watch the dramas I do
      b) summarize every plot and character to my husband before bed (try chatting about Iljimae and all its wild wicked plotlines and posturing at 2 in the morning, or
      c) explaining in more obsessive detail everything a drama did wrong, and how it could have been better! (Big) No time specifications on that one. I could go into rant mode at any time!

    3. As an Internet geek from way back before Internet geeks were cool, you'd think I'd be used to living outside of the mainstream culture. But it never ceases to amaze me that Kdrama (and Korea, in fact) is this whole world that literally nobody I've ever met knows about or understands. Big is all I could think about for days after it aired, but it's completely foreign to everyone I know. It's a little weird and a little cool to be obsessed across oceans like this ;)

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