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Fighters, fashionistas spice up small screen


Poised to continue a winning streak garnered by hits like "Brilliant Legacy" and "Swallow the Sun," SBS goes head to head with MBC`s "Queen Seon-deok" tonight and looks set to carry on its weekend prime time title with the new series "Style."
SBS` new Monday and Tuesday night series "Dream," which starts tonight, recalls the Hollywood flick "Jerry Maguire." "200 Pound Beauty" star Joo Jin-mo plays a slick and mercenary sports agent whose sudden fall from grace gets him to grow a heart of gold. Featuring "Boys Over Flowers" hottie Kim Bum as a K-1 fighter and K-pop singer Son Dam-bi as a Tae Bo instructor, the star-studded cast presents a formidable threat to rival series "Queen Seon-deok."
Wrestling ratings away from the historical epic, however, will not be easy. MBC`s "Queen Seon-deok" brought in nationwide viewer ratings of 30.5 percent (AGB Nielsen Media Research) on Tuesday and is showing no signs of relinquishing its right to the Monday and Tuesday night prime time throne.
"Dream," however, promises to put up a good fight. A hot male cast, which includes a team of five hunks called the Flower Fighters, serves as eye candy for female viewers, while hot property Son Dam-bi and the world of K-1 fighting promises to nab male viewers.
The tried-and-tested story of a man who hits rock bottom and helps himself and a team of underdogs will appeal to audiences, as will the love triangle between Son Dam-bi`s, Joo Jin-mo`s and Kim Bum`s characters.
While SBS` new weekend series "Style" faces less competition than "Dream," it bears the burden of following in the footsteps of its blockbuster predecessor "Brilliant Legacy." The hit series racked up nationwide ratings of 42.2 percent (AGB Nielsen Media Research) on July 19, putting the pressure on "Style."
The upcoming series, which is based on Baek Young-ok`s award-winning novel, maps out the inner workings of a fashion magazine. "Tazza: The High Rollers" star Kim Hye-soo plays the harpy vice-director of the company. "Beethoven Virus" actress E Jiah plays her lowly assistant. Hallyu star Ryu Si-won and newcomer Lee Yong-woo add a romantic edge to the series.
The plotline brings hit flicks like "The Devil Wears Prada" and series like "Ugly Betty" and "Stylista" to mind, spinning out the familiar tale of the struggles of a frumpy assistant at a fashion rag and her tough-as-nails boss.
When "The Devil Wears Prada," which featured Meryl Streep, came up at the press conference last Monday, Kim Hye-soo shied away from comparison.
"Because Meryl Streep is such a great actress," said Kim. "I dare not imitate her."
The 38-year old veteran revealed concerns she faced regarding her return to the small screen after a four-year hiatus.
"I thought, `If I want to take in the real agenda, can I handle this schedule?`"
Kim rose to the challenge of playing the role of Park Ki-ja, a ruthless perfectionist with a penchant for designer goods. At the press conference, Kim highlighted the efforts she was making to add dimension to her role as a fashion mag`s vice-director.
Co-star Ryu Si-won, who is also returning to Korea`s small screen after four years, drew a crowd of around 350 Japanese fans to the press conference last Monday.
"Wherever I go, I think that about nine out of ten people recognize me," the Hallyu star discussed his rise to stardom in Japan over the past five years.
Fans laughed in response to his comment, to which Ryu teasingly answered, "Oh, is it 10 out of 10?"
Fans cheered.
In regards to his role as a macrobiotic chef, the 36-year old actor answered: "I like cooking... I also had a cookbook published."
Starring opposite Ryu is "Beethoven Virus" actress E Jiah. This is the second time she is working with a major Hallyu star, having starred opposite Bae Yong-joon in "The Legend."
"It is an honor," said E, when asked what it is like working with major stars like Ryu, Bae and "Beethoven Virus" actor Kim Myung-min.
Playing an ugly duckling who finds her inner swan, E revealed that her character starts to develop a sense of style in the fifth episode but isn`t likely to make a full transformation until the second half of the series.
"I read the book, and the difficulties and episodes that women undergo while living in society came across as very fun, I believe," E discussed the original. "There are a lot of parts that I can relate to... And there are a lot of stylish episodes."
As with any fashion forward series, viewers will not only be paying attention to the plot, they will also be paying attention to the outfits. And according to Ryu, "Style" director Oh Jong-rok focused on the fashion from the get go.
"It will be fun, in part, to watch how outfits are styled," said Ryu. "I think women will really enjoy it."
"Style" starts Saturday on SBS at 10 p.m.
"Dream" starts tonight on SBS at 9:55 p.m.


By Jean Oh