I’ve probably watched dozens of Korean daily dramas (I'm not sure that’s actually something to be proud of ) and the quality does go all over the map. A handful were truly memorable (either because they were really terrific, or really terrible) while most of them were quickly forgotten.
I think “Tale of Two Sisters” will rank amongst the quickly forgotten. Having missed out on the early episodes (which were apparently quite entertaining) I have to go by the later episodes – which, frankly, really weren’t all that funny. I can’t think of a single character that made me grin, and the ones who tried the hardest to be funny (like Gieun) were more obnoxious than amusing.
Of course, you don’t need humor if you’re running a strictly dramatic series. But here, the storyline was a bit shallow (boring) and the characters dull and one-dimensional. Seyeong was the kind, but eternally naïve, dingbat. And Yerin was the Monster Girl. Yes, Yerin came around at the very end, but how much more interesting might she have been if we’d seen those demons tormenting her from the very beginning.
And, one of the characters that did change and grow (Baker Dad) evolved from being a likable kind of guy that we could really respect, to someone who was simply a ridiculous, out-and-out buffoon.
Seyeong is a total babe, no doubt about that, but good looks aren’t enough to pull a series along by itself.
In all honesty, if ajk hadn’t been providing us with his wonderfully caustic daily reviews, I probably wouldn’t have kept watching this one. Some years ago (when KBS pulled the plug on Chicago) I stepped in and did episode summaries for the last few episodes of the then-airing KBS daily drama, "Love and Obsession." It was, in a sense, rewarding work, and I was certainly happy to help out all the Chicago fans who had been left hanging, but man, that was hard work! So, thank you, ajk, for your efforts. I think it's really helped to reestablish some of the sense of camaraderie we all felt before KBS abandoned Chicago.
As for "Tale of Two Sisters," I'm giving this one a D+. And, if it weren't for the twist at the very end, I'd have given it a straight D.
I started tuning in due to ajk's posts and the series dealing with the topic of adoption. Most Korean couples won't even consider adoption. We talked a bit about that during That Winter, The Wind Blows. I wanted to see how the big reveal with Seyeong was going to be handled. I lost interest before they ever got to it. I only watched about 25 to 30 episodes in total and forwarded quite a bit through some of those. I didn't really care for any of the characters. I was sympathetic towards Seyeong early on. She was too dense & naive and it got on my nerves. We got a lot of silliness with no real plot development. The title of this series should have been Tale of Dumb and Dumber. I did enjoy reading ajk's posts though.
I kinda figured Knov1 was going to dish out an "F". Of course, I graded on a curve ("Two Sisters" really wasn't much worse than most dailies) while he obviously scored it on a more objective grading scale.
Objectively, yeah, this show was a stinker.
So much wasted potential in this show! I barely mentioned (probably because it was plainly obvious) how Baker Dad's character was completely, totally wasted. Rather than the ridiculous Sara Kim pairing, just suppose the writer had matched him up with a quiet, reserved, responsible kind of older single woman. Baker Dad would have had to go through all the angst over feeling obligated to his late wife ... but that could have been resolved.
Too bad (I suppose) that such a storyline would have been too grown-up for the show's presumed age 18-24 target audience.
It's been a while, but as I recall in the popular series "Who's My Love," didn't we see the pairing of the show's painfully shy, middle-aged woman with the introverted, chain-smoking movie director that she had met at the coffee shop? At first glance, that was an unlikely combination ... but as we saw, it worked out nicely.
Wish they could write material like that nowadays.
Been meaning to get back to this for a while; wanted to think about the show and digest it but then holiday stuff kept gobbling up my time. Finally....
The one other daily drama I had watched, it was full of people acting like jerks to each other and clinging to grudges and bad ideas and just generally being immature. I even had to take a couple of breaks from it because all of the stupid behavior was so annoying. But by the end of it, they had gradually let go of it all and became a much more agreeable group of people, to the point where it was sad to see it end because they had finally become likeable enough that you wanted to see more of them.
"Sisters" went the exact opposite way. It started with so much promise, I looked forward to each episode. And then right around episode 45 things started going downhill, and most of the rest of it was almost painful to watch. It was like script terrorists suddenly took over the thing and were hell-bent on destroying it. By the end I was relieved that it was over because it was so painful to see how far the thing had fallen. You just wanted to see it put out of its misery.
It started out simply enough. There was nothing particularly adventurous about it; in fact, you could almost fault it for choosing a TV network as the setting (Way to go out on a limb, guys). And some of the content was typical: the grandpa insisting on old traditions being followed; the looking down on adopted children; stuff like that. But there were some very interesting characters and situations being set up, and a lot was going on simultaneously (which I like). And I found myself laughing out loud at least once in nearly every episode. Somebody on the writing staff definitely had a good touch with humor. Generally the show didn't take itself too seriously; it had a slice-of-life feel to it and it was very enjoyable. And they also did a good job of setting up some solid backstory. Particularly for Yerin, how she had been adopted out of her orphanage and then returned by her family. You could see how it was tearing at her and how it made her react to Seyeong so negatively even though she kept admitting (early in the series) that part of her didn't want to do the bad things she was doing. That kind of inner conflict made her more interesting.
So it had a lot going for it. But then we all know what happened. Suddenly in episode 45 the whole feel of the series went sour and it never recovered. At that point they had already done way too much of the Monster Girl stuff, but not only did they not move on from it, they ramped it up and made it nearly the whole show. We were told that this was sisters "fighting" and learning to get along with each other. But that's not what we were seeing at all. What we saw was Seyeong being bullied, and it wasn't entertaining or enjoyable. It was horrible. What's worse, the only regular break from it was several agonizing minutes of each episode given to attempted funny stuff with Gieun that was absolutely NOT FUNNY. And then near the end, the Gieun stuff being replaced by Baker Dad/Sara Kim attempted funny stuff that was also NOT FUNNY.
What made it even harder to understand was the number of interesting stories that they completely dropped in favor of Monster Girl. The ones that come to mind right away:
--Seongsu had nearly wrecked the film company with his previous movie, but he and Ilyeong prepared that new script that they were sure would redeem him. They even gave up their honeymoon so they could work on it. Then Yongdeok looked at it and said it was too much like another movie that had already been produced, and tossed the script aside, and we never saw it again. After the show devoted so much time to it? Dumb.
--A significant early storyline was the attraction between Donguk and Iyeong. She's ten years older than he is, and is divorced with a kid. Besides it being an interesting story, you'd think the core viewing demographic for daily dramas would love it. But eventually she spurned him and told him he should be with someone his age, and then she all but disappeared from the series. I was looking forward to seeing that relationship develop, whatever happened, but they completely pulled the plug on it.
--The bakery! Small business with a dedicated craftsman and a superior product, going up against mega-store...that kind of story practically writes itself. For a while it even looked like Gieun might find herself there; she realized the marketing problem it had and it seemed like she would end up working there and helping turn the place around (and in doing so turn herself around). But by the end we weren't seeing Baker Dad doing any baking, and the bakery was nothing more than a location backdrop.
--Yerin's bio-mom. She was big in the first half, but by the end they totally wrote her out. There should have been some sort of reconciliation between her and Yerin. And when Yerin was grabbing her side in pain in the later episodes, they just dismissed it as coming from stress. That was weird because it could have led to a great storyline with her bio-mom giving her medical help just like Yerin gave her. Moreover she really did seem to turn her life around; she was working hard and the last we saw of her she looked better than she had looked all series. Why would you dump a character like that?
--Mrs. Kim and Baker Dad. Something seemed to be starting to spark between them. The two of them were sort of a strange couple but every scene with them was interesting and you genuinely wondered where it was going. Then that all got dropped so they could bring in Sara Kim and turn Baker Dad into a complete idiot. Terrible move.
--The whole thing about keeping Yerin's adoption hidden, and the fears that it would damage her career and Mrs. Kim's career. That was a big driver of people's behavior early on, but eventually it was completely forgotten. Some good material could have been written about how the network and its viewers would have reacted to it.
A few other things, good and bad:
--One thing the series does deserve credit for is Seyeong ending up with Jeonghyo rather than Jaeseong. Nobody saw that coming and it was a good ending for her. We all kept saying that she was better off with Jeonghyo but we assumed it would never happen. But it did and that was a pleasant surprise.
--I mentioned this earlier but I really did not like the fact that both Jeonghyo and Donguk ended up as wealthy executives who got their jobs handed to them by their parents. Both of those guys came from humble origins and you wanted to see them overcome their obstacles and do well. But what would have been so awful about Donguk becoming a good baker or Jeonghyo becoming a good producer and finding happiness that way? It felt shallow, that this was how they became "successful." And frankly neither one of them seemed like the type who would want to be a CEO in the first place.
--I did like that the show brought back things that seemed to be long forgotten. The broken-fridge lie, the flash drive with the incriminating footage, stuff like that. It's fun when a show rewards the viewer for sticking with it.
--As the show progressed, it developed a serious problem with situations that were ridiculous to the point of being embarrassing. Things like Jeonghyo getting a leg cramp and nearly drowning in a shallow pool he was standing in, or Seyeong desperately going through the trash to find a document that obviously was a computer printout and could simply have been reprinted. There were way too many stupid things happening when you had to wonder why nobody in the entire production spoke up and said "This is absurd and would never happen--can't we come up with something more plausible?"
--One thing we've seen in other series that this show reinforced: If you're asked to extend a series and you don't think you can come up with original material to do it, then don't do it! And if you think you can do it, then pick up the story from your planned ending and go forward, rather than trying to pad the planned story with filler in the middle. The last thing this show needed was trying to recycle used plot ideas and stretch out its middle for fifteen more episodes. It failed miserably.
As for Yerin's fate: Okay, they decided she'd die. Like it or not, you have to respect them for doing something unconventional. But the way they handled her character at the end, it was very weak. Dragging the Monster Girl stuff for dozens and dozens and dozens of episodes, and then trying to redeem her in a big hurry in the last few episodes, it was totally implausible. Either start her redemption earlier so it can be credible, or else don't do it at all and let her die as she was. The way they did it, it just didn't work. I had to wonder if they were trying to avoid what happened with Queen Seonduk, when the ratings tanked after Mishil died. Looking back on it, it seems like they were trying to keep the bad-girl thing going as long as possible and were afraid to let go of it for fear of denting the ratings.
Bottom line: What I concluded after watching the entire series is that somebody got a hold of it partway through and deliberately gutted it. Don't know who and don't know why. Maybe executives were tinkering with the story to try to please focus groups. I can't imagine who would be pleased by the way the series changed, but it slowly gained viewers throughout its run so apparently somebody was doing something to manipulate the numbers in their favor. Still, you have to wonder if the show's creators are happy knowing that their once-good work was taken apart and trashed for the sake of a few ratings points. So much for artistic integrity.
....It's been a while, but as I recall in the popular series "Who's My Love," didn't we see the pairing of the show's painfully shy, middle-aged woman with the introverted, chain-smoking movie director that she had met at the coffee shop? At first glance, that was an unlikely combination ... but as we saw, it worked out nicely.
Wish they could write material like that nowadays.
Uh, YEAH, wish they could write material like that nowadays. Now I'm sad. LOL.
From Dae Jang-geum: Sun-dol: "Are you trying to dry me up and kill me? Why do you say the same things over and over every day? Rather, come and hit me once! Aigu!" But then: Dr. Lazarus: "By Grabthar's hammer, by the suns of Warvan... You shall be avenged."