I always have one of these threads in the show boards here. So I'll do one for this board as well, even though I was alone in watching this series by the end. Anybody else who has anything to say about the series, good, bad or indifferent, please do share whatever you want to say about it. I want to review the episode threads first and then I'll post a wrap-up like I always do.
Although obviously it seems somewhat dated by now, i do have a soft spot for this drama, i think the second half is far superior once the gladiator stuff and cliff jumping is gone( should point out back in 05, these cliches were pretty much firsts, so the enjoyment was not ruined back than ). The soundtrack is still awesome (not those wretched songs). Looking at it 12 years later id say its the last 20 episodes that make it. I could skip the first part, the unrequited love stuff was totally never ending and unrealistic .
I'm a little disappointed that people did not like this more. I enjoyed it very much when I first watched it. Of course it is dated, and I think we're all getting a bit jaded, having seen so many of these shows by now.
If I could find it, I'd like to go back and reread my original review of the show. One thing I'm sure of - Jung Hwa is the absolute worst heroine in the history of K historicals.
The music is still awesome, as is Jon's hair :-) The ending is still awful, with the least deserving character being the one to survive.
The music really powers the drama along, its really uplifting . I really liked Chae Si Ra as Jami, she was so great, and i was totally let down by her performance (and bad writing )in Iron Empress, i thought it was going to be an extension of Jami as the historical character was pretty evil (well so we are led to believe).
The least deserving character went on to Jumong playing his floppy minister, he was so different in that(aside from being clean shaven) that i did not even realize it was the same actor until about half way through .
Mugwump i did like the ending, i know in real life it was a bloodless coup (save for Bogo ), but if you check out Musa The Warrior,you can see the KBS midset, funny one of my faves Jang Gil San is another that has a"kill em all" (actually a staple of Samurai films in the 60's)ending, only in that case it has a similar message as EOS, that power and money is always the winner.
DramaFever has a rating system for viewers that uses one to five stars. I gave it three stars, right in the middle. Looking back over the episode threads here, I pointed out a lot of problems and complained about things pretty regularly. But this certainly wasn't the worst historical I've ever seen. The complaints were generally because the problems were so obvious that you wonder why they weren't addressed and fixed. This could have been a much better series and it's too bad it wasn't, considering that KBS clearly didn't scrimp on the series budget-wise.
--Visually it was gorgeous. Has to be the best-looking historical we've ever done here. Amazing wilderness location shots, everything from coastlines to deserts, all of it beautiful. The town and market settings the producers found, they looked great too. Good job of scouting locations for those. And the old ships were fantastic. Lots of nice shots of those old ships sailing on the open water (somewhat marred by constantly posing everybody on decks standing like statues--totally phony-looking--but still nice).
--As I said, KBS didn't scrimp on this one. The production quality was very good. Lots of extra effort went into scenes and images to make them better. Things like Master Yi's funeral; the way they set up all of those pirate guys on that island rock, it must have been very difficult to get them all out there, and a little dangerous too, and it was for just a few seconds of visuals. That stuff costs serious money. Plenty of smaller touches, too. Like all of the spoken Chinese. That was a great decision; added authenticity and I appreciated that. Lots of extra touches in the production were added and were done well, even though they added to the cost and complexity.
--Some very nice music. It got a little repetitive by the end but that's typical for these series. Hated the sappy pop ballad for the Eternal Triangle, and that annoying guitar rock bit that intruded too often. But except for those two it was a good music score. Most of the KBS historicals seem to have good music and this one was no exception.
--Some good supporting characters. The blacksmith and Master Jo were two of the best. Jung Yon was a very likeable character because of his simple honesty and his directness. Also what they did with the two main female characters being successful in business, that worked reasonably well. These historicals try hard to involve women characters in the stories, understandably, and it's not easy. Some of them haven't been successful with it at all and the characters are almost outlandish. But these two women being successful as traders, it was believable and didn't detract from the story at all.
--The setting of this series was different from any of the other historicals we've done here: not in the capital (mostly) and not all about kings and royals (mostly). It was a nice change to focus on something different. And personally, I did learn a few things here and there, which is my favorite thing about these shows. Not a ton of things, mainly because JB's life isn't well documented, but there were some interesting tidbits here and there.
--KBS spent all of that money on the production, but the writers they hired weren't up to the task. The storyline was way too flimsy and insubstantial for 51 episodes. And it wasn't parceled out properly either. So much time on all of that gladiator-slave stuff, and by the time they got to the more substantial material later on, they didn't leave enough time to tell the story very well and it felt kind of hurried. Some ridiculous premises too, especially in the first half. The Chinese government having a foreign company control the Grand Canal--seriously? Ugh. Too much of that kind of silliness.
--The Eternal Triangle. I've never seen a romantic story that was so flat and UNromantic. It sucked most of the life out of the first half of the series and didn't do the second half any favors either. The writers seemed to have no idea how to convey emotion. They just couldn't, or wouldn't, write full, human characters that expressed their feelings properly. Instead, we got all of that staring. Unbelievable the amount of time that those three spent staring at each other or into the distance. Apparently the staring was supposed to convey deep emotional thinking but all it did was become almost a running joke by the end.
--Not enough main characters. Over and over again, everything kept reverting back down to the same few people, and it got to the point of being almost silly. Especially since this was supposed to be JB's story, not YM's not Madam Jami's or Master Yi's or anybody else's. The real YM who assassinated JB, starting off as a pirate? The very idea of a mass murderer getting forgiven and getting a high government position (leading the king's guards, at that!), it created massive continuity problems and wasn't even remotely believable. Oh, and Madam Jami being expelled from China for life, but later going back and negotiating trade deals with the government. No. Stop it already.
--The Joong-dal character. Have we ever seen a more disagreeable, unpleasant character who was so annoying and added so little to a series? Can't think of one. I felt sorry for the actor because he was trying hard with the material he was given. But what was his character supposed to be contributing with all of that exaggerated behavior? Is this just a cultural difference--did Koreans find him funny? And that sidekick of his didn't help either.
--For all of the visual excellence, there was one big consistent problem: the nighttime scenes being way over-floodlit to the point of looking amateurish. I think most viewers understand that nighttime scenes will be dark--duh--and that it may not be easy to see every little detail. A little extra light doesn't hurt, but constantly in this series it was way too much.
--Why did everybody have to do a forward flip over a wall? Geez that got annoying. Just climb over the bleeping wall and be done with it already. Okay the producers were trying to add some pizzazz but it was another thing that turned almost into a running joke.
Overall the second half of the series was much better than the first half. The Eternal Triangle stuff dominated the first half; once the series moved more away from that and JB returned to Shilla and started fighting the pirates, everything moved along at a better pace and the series improved. Hindsight is 20/20 but it's too bad this wasn't a 40-episode series with less time spent on the Eternal Triangle and without all of the staring and other silliness that got in the way. And without the ending--most of the final episode, like it or not (and we've dealt with that in the Episode 51 thread so I won't rehash it), it wasn't needed at all.
But having said that, I see in looking through the 2008 board for this show (in the "Off Air" section), most people liked the series much more than I did. A lot of the same criticisms as above but generally more positive overall. And a lot of things in DJY, which aired after EOS did, clearly were "borrowed" from EOS--so obviously a whole lot of people liked this series plenty, enough to emulate parts of it the following year. Maybe the series looks different nine years later, after having seen a lot more historicals in the meantime for comparison.
Either way, it was certainly worth revisiting here for the benefit of anyone who hadn't seen it before.
Yeah I know you soured on it pretty early, jewel. Sorry it wasn't more to your liking. Seem to be a lot of varied reactions to it on DF too. Hope you like the next one better.
One thing I forgot to mention. One of the reasons I wanted to watch EOS was to give Choi Soo Jong another chance. Watched him in DJY in 2006-07 (the second historical I had seen) and later learned about how he was in so many other series and how everybody thought he was so great. I didn't think he was anything special at all in DJY and wondered if it was just me not having watched enough historicals yet to appreciate him. Well after watching EOS...I still don't get it. It's been explained to me why the Korean audience likes his acting style so much and it makes sense why, but personally the guy just does nothing for me.
He certainly wasn't given a great character to work with in this one, writing-wise. For a main character JB was hard to like much. Virtuous, yes, but it turned him arrogant and foolish at times. Mostly showed not much intelligence for someone who was supposed to be so smart, and never showed any gratitude to Madam Jami for sparing his life when she could have snuffed him out very early. And he was such a total wussy-boy with Jung-hwa, it was almost embarrassing. So it would be a disadvantage for any actor. But pretty much the whole series the guy had that same monotonous bored doe-eyed look on his face. Hardly ever smiled or showed any convincing emotion. And putting him in these alpha-male roles, he just doesn't have the charisma or the physical presence for me to buy it. He looks good on TV with the pretty face and the big eyes, but beyond that...well...
Not going to belabor it; huge numbers of people love the guy and will want to tar and feather me for disagreeing. No right or wrong here, entirely personal taste. But he was a main reason for my watching this series and this was my reaction after finishing it.
A lot of the reasons why peeps liked this, as you pointed out AKJ,it was a precursor to DJY, inc sadly the eternal triangle droolin over Chulin . I like him but he is too stiff and wooden, in EOS he was upstaged by Song Il Guk as YM or Yom Jang in other prints and history (he was Yom Jang in the KBS Broadcast i saw in 05, Yom Moon was used in the version aired in Hawaii and Yom Jang in LA and SF ). This was my second historical after Damo (which is more fusion and good lord i disliked that one ). A bit too much Ninjer nonsense in this one as well .
I think CSJ was better in Wang Guhn. As the years role by its hard for him to step out of character, he is very one dimensional (though he was good in Comrades and The President ). He seemed a good Yi Soon Shin (not subbed, so hard to tell really)in that recent Imjin War docudrama (which i would have liked had it not been for the god awful depictions of Nobunaga and Hideyoshi ). The thing is now we have reached the point where if we see CSJ in a historical we know he will be a stiff upper lip character of moral fortitude, so we look to the supporting cast to balance out what we know will happen .
Just so it isn't lost forever, this is the brief review I posted on DF (along with a rating of three stars out of five).
Not the worst sageuk I've ever seen, but no better than mediocre. Visually it's gorgeous--nature scenes, location shots, old ships--all beautifully done. Good production quality and some nice music. But the storyline was just too flimsy and insubstantial to fill 51 episodes, and it was severely bogged down by the sorriest, most unemotional love triangle you'll ever see. Also characters spent insane amounts of time staring at each other or into the distance; became very annoying. The second half was better than the first half, but overall this one isn't good enough to recommend, not with so many better series to watch. Too bad; would have been much better at 40 episodes with all of the unnecessary and weak material removed. P.S. Shame on DF for removing the series with no advance warning! Had to go elsewhere to finish it.
I just discovered that as of today DF has scrubbed everything about the series from their website, including all of the member reviews. Was able to recover this one by Google-searching phrases and fragments to reconstruct it directly from results. Not that I think it's anything special; I just don't like the games that DF played with the series and especially don't like their deleting all of that member-contributed content.
p.s. Oh and I see that they've also deleted all replies to member reviews. There were some good follow-up comments in those, and a few times when I called out some idiot (politely) for watching an episode or two of a good series and trashing the entire series. Don't know what the DF people are thinking but this kind of stuff isn't exactly the way to maintain customer loyalty.
p.p.s. Just discovered that my review still exists on my profile page for "Latest Reviews" which displays a member's three most recent reviews. So to correct the record, DF apparently hasn't 100 percent deleted the content; there's just no way to see it aggregated for EOS. And once I post three more reviews it presumably will vanish from my profile page too.