Two mega dramas of cinematic proportions are taking over weekday nights on SBS.
Though both promise to deliver, at best, a saccharine dose of romance and melodrama, great fodder for one and top stars for the other forecast a successful winter for the major broadcasting channel.
Starting tonight, the long-awaited and aptly titled "Terroir" brings the magical world of wine to audiences. Headed by the talented film/television actor Kim Joo-hyuk and his beautiful co-star "Jumong" actress Han Hye-jin, this drama -- arguably Korea`s first dramatic series on wine -- hopes to lure viewers in with lush scenes of France and the intoxicating combination of wine and romance.
Responses to the upcoming drama, however, have been mixed.
"Since this is a drama on wine, I hope that its content does not twist the truth in regards to its topic," one viewer wrote on the show`s official bulletin board. "I am saying this because I am worried that a lot of snobs will come out of the woodwork after this series airs."
Another viewer wrote: "I think this drama will truly depict a romance that is like wine...I think this drama will help warm a cold winter for me."
Whether "Terroir" -- which parallels the establishment of a wine restaurant and the relationship between a wine master and his prodigy-cum-love interest -- will deliver an accurate portrait of the world of wine; remains to be seen.
One thing is for certain, "Terroir" sets the precedent for future wine-related dramas in Korea; though news reports state that there may be a TV adaptation of the popular Japanese comic book series "Kami no Shizuku," which translates to "Drops of God," in the future.
Unlike the hit comic series, however -- which is credited with creating an explosive new demand for wines in Asia -- "Terroir" does not focus on a wine enthusiast`s quest to find the top 13 vintages in the world. Like its title, it is rooted in a sense of place, namely the restaurant around which this drama revolves, and how that place comes to create a deep and elaborate story for the characters involved.
But the success of "Terroir" will lie in its ability to strike a balance between romance and wine. Too much emphasis on wine may incite boredom, excessive melodrama may cause the series to lose its credibility.
With a serious oenophile-oriented series taking up the Monday and Tuesday night slot, SBS seemed to think it wise to put something a bit more mainstream into its Wednesday and Thursday night slot.
Following close on the heels of "Terroir," comes the star-studded and therefore appropriately titled "Celebrity Sweetheart."
Headed by top Hallyu star Choi Ji-woo, this series does not pretend to be anything other than a full-blown epic melodrama.
Bearing scenes shot in Japan, this romance documents the relationship between a top Asian actress and her relatively poor ghostwriter.
Sound familiar? "Celebrity Sweetheart" director dispelled all confusion about the inspiration behind his series.
"This drama drew its inspiration from `Notting Hill,`" director Boo Sung-chul said in a press conference held last week.
"We wanted to give audiences a `melo-gift box set,`" he added.
Actress Choi Ji-woo, known for her tear-jerking roles in the hit series "Stairway to Heaven" (2003) and "Winter Sonata" (2002), is a perfect fit for the drama. Co-star Yoo Ji-tae, however, may prove to be a wild card.
The talented actor, who swept audiences away in the dark flick "Oldboy" (2003), admitted to a lack of experience in the world of television.
"This is the first time I am doing a drama," said Yoo.
Actor Yoo seemed to take comfort from the quality of the filming, stating: "The filming itself used a lot of cinematic techniques as you can see from the preview."
Perhaps the film-like quality of this drama will put Yoo at ease. And despite his relative newness to the medium, his superb acting chops are sure to imbue this potentially sappy script with a good dose of realism.
"Celebrity Sweetheart" starts airing on SBS on Dec. 10 at 9:55 p.m.
"Terroir" starts playing tonight on SBS at 9:55 p.m.
By Jean Oh