Blood-curdling mysteries and beaches laden with muscled and tanned lifeguards, these are the images that come to mind when you say summer television.
But starting next week, viewers will be plunged into the sweeping adventures of a female monarch-to-be before being romanced by the worlds of figure skating and advertising. By mid-June, audiences will be tickled pink by a doctor`s courtship of a bachelor who can`t land a wife.
In other words, drama`s spring trends pretty much seem to hold true for this summer too. Romantic comedies or heroine-centric period pieces are still in style.
Among the trio of dramas slated to hit TV screens in late May and June, KBS` "The Man Who Can`t Get Hitched" holds the most promise.
Headed by actress diva extraordinaire Uhm Jung-hwa, this spin-off of a Japanese television series centers around a picky and obstinate bachelor, played by "Jewel in the Palace" star Ji Jin-hee, and the doctor who falls head over heels for him, portrayed by none other than Uhm herself.
"There are a lot of similarities between how I look and how Moon Jung (Uhm`s character) looks on a regular basis," said the 37-year old actress during a photo shoot for the drama. "So, I am trying to naturally incorporate the real Uhm Jung-hwa into my character."
Uhm, noted for her sexy and sassy roles in flicks like "Singles" (2003), recently played a femme fatale in "Insadong Scandal." This time around she will be trying gentle and refined on for size.
On June 10, "Triple," the long-awaited collaboration between MBC "Coffee Prince" director Lee Yoon-jung and scriptwriter Lee Jung-ah, will air its first episode. The upcoming drama will navigate the arenas of advertising and figure skating.
How do the two worlds overlap?
Figure skater Ha-ru, played by actress Min Hyo-rin, is the stepsister of advertising agency account executive Shin Hwal. Ha-ru ends up bunking with Shin and his two high school friends-turned-ad agency coworkers.
Depending on how the scenario plays out, "Triple" could become an unwieldy series that attempts to give viewers an insider`s look into the art of advertising and of landing a triple axel, or it could be smart and focus on the relationships between Ha-ru, her stepbrother, his two buddies and Ha-ru`s coach, who, surprise, surprise, also happens to be Shin Hwal`s wife.
The question that seems to be on everyone`s lips is: Will "Triple" be as successful as "Coffee Prince?"
The only thing that "Coffee Prince" and "Triple" seem to have in common, besides sharing the same director and scriptwriter, is that they are fronted by a male cast. Yet, if "Coffee Prince" attracted viewers with a trio of hot young baristas and their equally hot boss, "Triple" seems to be less focused on employing eye candy tactics and more interested in bringing in an eclectic range of actors, from veteran Lee Jung-jae to former boy band "g.o.d." member Yoon Kye-sang.
How the series plans on mending the apparent age gap between 36-year old Jung and 30-year old Yoon, when they are supposed to be high school pals, remains a mystery. Rounding out the male trio is "Coffee Prince" star Lee Seon-gyun.
"Le Grand Chef" actress Lee Ha-na will be sharing a romantic storyline with both Lee Jung-jae and Yoon Kye-sang as Ha-ru`s figure skating coach.
Starting next Monday, MBC will be documenting Queen Seon-deok`s rise to the throne. "Doctor Bong" star Lee Yo-won will be taking on the role of the first female ruler of the Silla Dynasty. Flanked by "Hourglass" actress Ko Hyun-jeong and "Again My Love" actress Park Ye-jin, actress Lee will portray the early days of Queen Seon-deok`s life, when she was a princess.
While Lee plays the lead, actress Ko threatens to steal the spotlight as femme fatale Mi Shil, the woman who holds the royal family in the palm of her hand. Ko`s interpretation of her character promises to bring a full-bodied complexity to the role.
"I think that Mi Shil was probably a very lonely person," said actress Ko. "Faced with the challenges of survival and the need to stay on top in this game of power, Mi Shil would have had to invest a grueling amount of effort. Based on this, she may come across strong, but on the flipside, under those circumstances, I take into consideration the possibility that she was a fragile woman, always on edge and fearful."
MBC`s "Queen Seon-deok" is slated to air its first episode on May 25, and will be playing on Mondays and Tuesdays at 9:55 p.m.
KBS` Monday and Tuesday night series "The Man Who Can`t Get Hitched" is slated to hit the small screen on June 15 on KBS 2 TV at 9:55 p.m.
MBC`s Wednesday and Thursday night series "Triple" is set to start on June 10 at 9:55 p.m.
By Jean Oh