Starting tonight, all three major broadcast networks are revamping their Wednesday and Thursday night primetime line-ups.
KBS places its bets on the tried-and-tested melodrama, looking to reel viewers in with a young and hip cast featuring former child star Moon Geun-young, boy band 2PM member Ok Taec-yeon, “Fashion 70’s” hottie Chun Jung-myung and “Tamra, the Island” heroine Seo Woo.
Opting for the feel-good value of comedy, SBS takes their series to court. In the new drama, “IRIS” actress Kim So-yeon enters the realm of slapstick as a fashion-forward rich girl-turned-prosecutor.
But it is MBC that holds all the cards for this timeslot.
When done wrong, rom-com can be overly saccharine. When done right, it is the perfect pick-me-up.
“Personal Taste” is rom-com on a good day.
Never mind the star-studded cast “Boys Over Flowers” heartthrob Lee Min-ho, top actress Son Ye-jin and boy band 2AM member Im Seul-ong the entire premise screams upbeat, funny and charming.
In this spring romance, talented yet steely architect Jin-ho (Lee Min-ho) ends up rooming with a messy tomboy of a girl, Gae-in (Son Ye-jin). Gae-in agrees to the new living situation under the mistaken belief that Jin-ho is homosexual.
Therein lies the axis of comedy and stirrings of love around which the series will revolve.
The two are doomed to fall for each other, thanks to their close proximity. The gender reversal, with Gae-in as the unkempt, boyish figure and Jin-ho as the put-together, metrosexual roomie, plays on a timeless “Twelfth Night”-type plotline, minus the cross-dressing of course.
Lee Min-ho, who perfected the art of being prickly yet endearing in the hit comic book remake “Boys Over Flowers,” upheld his end of the romance in the highlight reel at last week’s press conference.
More known for her roles as a vixen (“The Art Of Seduction” (2005)) or a demure damsel (“Summer Scent” (2003)), Son, at first glance, cut an unlikely Gae-in.
The highlight reel put an end to such concerns. Her portrayal of Gae-in was spot-on.
Disheveled, goofy and downright lovable, Son’s Gae-in conjured up a popular slang term for single, unmarried career women: “geoneomul” (Korean for “dried fish”) girl.
For those who have not heard the latest moniker, a “geoneomul” girl is someone who is great on the job, put-together and talented. But once she gets home all she wants to do is slap on a pair of sweats, pull her bangs back with a rubber band, chug beer and chew on dried strips of squid. Hence, the expression “dried fish” girl.
The popular Japanese comic book series “Hotaru no Hikari” reportedly spawned the term, painting a comedic picture of a single career girl who finds herself living with her squeaky clean boss. In 2007, the comic book series was reworked into a Japanese TV drama.
When asked whether or not she drew inspiration from the heroine of “Hotaru no Hikari” for Gae-in, Son answered that the director of “Personal Taste” mentioned the drama version’s heroine.
“But I haven’t seen it,” the 28-year old actress said at the recent press conference.
Instead, Son revealed that she was sparked by another popular Japanese comic book series “Nodame Cantabile,” which was made into a Japanese television drama in 2006.
The original charts the escapades of the musically gifted Nodame a.k.a. Noda Megumi, who, though adept at the piano, is not adept at personal hygiene.
When asked if Gae-in will be as dirty as Nodame, Son answered: “She will be severely filthy ... There will be cups of ramen rolling around.”
“She is very easy-going and off-the-wall ... I think she is the most comical and absurd character that I have played yet.”
Co-star Lee Min-ho, on the other hand, will be playing a chic, spick-and-span architect, a role he feared might overlap with his “Boys Over Flowers” persona.
“The director told me to put emphasis on the character’s touchy personality so I told him I wanted to focus on other aspects since I did cranky in ‘Boys Over Flowers,’” said Lee.
If MBC is going for a light-hearted gender bender rom-com, then KBS is betting on the appeal of a melodramatic twist to the classic fairytale, Cinderella.
The drama proposes a different take by turning the spotlight on Cinderella’s sister. Though Gregory Maguire already did it in his book “Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister,” the heroine of KBS’ “A Sister of Cinderella” is an entirely different sibling from Maguire’s Iris.
The story revolves around the romance between a cynical stepsister Eun-jo (Moon Geun-young) and her prince, Ki-hoon (Chun Jung-myung). The Cinderella of this tale, Hyo-seon (Seo Woo), covets the same prince.
The highlight reel, however, did little to suggest that this was a new take on the beloved fable. Scowling and looking weepy in bedraggled clothes, Moon’s stepsister seemed more like a modern version of Cinderella than an evil stepsister, while Seo Woo’s Cinderella, beribboned and frilled, evoked the wicked sibling rather than the cinder-clad sweetheart.
The addition of a faithful suitor for Eun-jo, played by 2PM member Ok Taec-yeon, furthers the sensation that the stepsister is merely a Cinderella in disguise, with a grimace and attitude to boot.
If there was a bit of sugar to the original, this version, said actor Chun Jung-myung at last week’s press conference, “is not a sweet and cute romance.”
Sweet and cute, however, are precisely what SBS’ new series, “Prosecutor Princess” is going for. “IRIS” actress Kim So-yeon plays a luxury brand-loving rich girl who embarks on a brand new career as a prosecutor.
The concept of a primped and pampered girl taking the world of law by storm is a good one. After all, “Legally Blonde” was such a success that it even spawned its own musical. But “Prosecutor Princess” is up against some stiff competition and it will be interesting to see where the cards fall tonight.
“Prosecutor Princess” airs tonight on SBS at 9:55 p.m.
“A Sister of Cinderella” airs tonight on KBS 2 TV at 9:55 p.m.
“Personal Taste” airs tonight on MBC at 9:55 p.m.