The 2011 drama lineup for at least up until March of next year is pretty solidly established. The full list and my thoughts below.
9 p.m. drama:
Paradise Meadow (SBS)
Projected broadcast period: Jan. 24, 2011 (scheduled to replace It’s Okay Daddy’s Girl)-Mar. 15, 2011 (16 episodes)
PD: Kim Chul Kyu (Daemul, Hwang Jin Yi, More Beautiful than a Flower)
Scriptwriters: Jang Hyun Joo (Coffee Prince) & Seo Hee Jung (Into the Sun)
Cast: Max Changmin (DBSK), Lee Yeon Hee (East of Eden), Joo Sang Wook (Giant), Yoo Ha Na (The Sons of Sol Pharmacy)
Synopsis: A romantic coming-of-age melodrama with cheery story and beautiful music. (I kid you not, that’s how the drama has been described by all the articles that ever wrote about it!)
Blue’s clues: Solid director, decent writers, inexperienced actor (Changmin) and bad actress (Lee Yeon Hee).
10 p.m. dramas:
Projected broadcast period: Dec. 13, 2010 (currently airing)-Feb. 15, 2011 (20 episodes)
PDs: Kim Young Joon (Last Present, Shadowless Sword, Bichunmoo), Kim Tae Hoon, Hwang Jung Hyun
Scriptwriters: Kim Hyun Joon (Iris) & Yoo Nam Kyung
Cast: Jung Woo Sung (The Good, the Bad, the Weird), Soo Ae (Sunny), Cha Seung Won (City Hall), Lee Ji Ah (Style), Kim Min Jong (A Man Called God), Choi Siwon (Oh My Lady)
Synopsis: Secret agents, terrorists, shooting, killing, lovemaking.
Blue’s clues: A director who worked mostly on making movies (this usually means that you can expect to see better than average drama cinematography). Bad writers. (Anyone who worked on Iris is a bad writer in my book. Perhaps I’m being too judgmental?) Big name stars, although for someone who has been concentrating on films, Jung Woo Sung’s acting is disappointing. If you’re looking for mindless entertainment, this might be the drama for you.
Projected broadcast period: It’s scheduled to follow Athena. If Athena ends as originally scheduled, Midas should be looking to start late February.
PD: Kang Shin Hyo (Tazza, Dear Lovers, Marrying a Millionaire)
Scriptwriter: Choi Wan Kyu (Swallow the Sun, Gourmet, Lobbyist, Jumong, Love Story in Harvard, Into the Storm, All In, Sangdo, Heo Joon, General Hospital)
Cast: Kim Hee Ae (My Man’s Woman), Jang Hyuk (Chuno), Lee Min Jung (Smile, You)
Synopsis: Deals with mergers and acquisitions in the corporate world.
Blue’s clues: “Eh” director. Writer who has lately been going more for flash than story. Solid cast.
Projected broadcast period: In May (scheduled to replace Midas) – (20 episodes)
PDs: Yoo Chul Yong (Swallow the Sun, H.I.T., Sad Sonata, Into the Storm, All In) & Oh Sang Won (Sad Sonata)
Scriptwriter: Jo Kyu Won (Iris)
Cast: Eric (Strongest Chil Woo), Kim Kang Woo (Story of a Man), Kim Yoon Seo (I Saw the Devil), U-Know Yunho (DBSK, Heading to the Ground), Kim Ok Bin (Thirst), Jeon Hye Bin (The Scale of Providence), Son Hyun Joo (Definitely Neighbors)
Synopsis: A story of people in the Korean Coast Guard.
Blue’s clues: A director who really likes incorporating helicopters into the story. Hey look, the promo photo has one too! Bad writer. A wide range of acting talent among the cast.
Dream High (KBS)
Projected broadcast period: Jan. 3, 2011-Feb. 22, 2011 (16 episodes)
PD: Lee Eung Bok (Drama Special – The Great Gye Choon Bin, The Reputable Family, Hometown of Legends 2009)
Scriptwriter: Park Hye Ryun (Kimchi Cheese Smile)
Cast: Kim Soo Hyun (Giant), Taecyeon (2PM, Cinderella’s Sister), Wooyoung (2PM), Bae Yong Joon (Legend), Suzy (MissA), IU, Eunjeong (T-ara, Coffee House), Lee Yoon Ji (Dandelion Family), Eom Ki Joon (Hero), JOO
Synopsis: Aspiring singers at a performing arts high school and the shenanigans that ensue.
Blue’s clues: Inexperienced director. A sitcom writer. Idol stars. A disaster waiting to happen or an unexpected gem? Kim Soo Hyun, why, why did you pick this project?!
The Duo (MBC)
Projected broadcast period: Late January/early February (after Queen of Reversals ends).
PD: Lim Tae Woo (Dandelion Family, Air City, The Fifth Republic)
Scriptwriter: Kim Woon Kyung (Returned Earthened Bowl, Golden Apple, I Love You to Death, The Thief’s Daughter, A Bluebird Has It, Aunt Oki, The Moon of Seoul, Hyung, Seoul Ddook Bae Gi)
Cast: Chun Jung Myung (Cinderella’s Sister), Han Ji Hye (East of Eden), Lee Sang Yoon (Life is Beautiful)
Synopsis: A yangban and a slave get switched at birth during the late Joseon-era.
Blue’s clues: “Eh” director. Air City was awful, but I think that might be attributed more to the poor writing. A writer who has been around for a long time, and has a pretty 유치한 (juvenile) sense of humor. Expect to see a lot of silly side characters. Not the most exciting actors (when it comes to acting talent), but hey, they’re all nice to look at.
Projected broadcast period: Dec. 15, 2010 (currently airing)-Mar. 10, 2011 (24 episodes)
PD: Kim Hyung Il (Forbidden Love, Dawn of the Empire)
Scriptwriters: Son Young Mok (The Iron Empress, Wind Flower, Kiss of an Angel, A Faraway Country, Last Match), Jung Hyung Min (Freedom Fighter Lee Hoe Young), Son Ji Hye
Cast: Choi Soo Jong (Comrades), Ha Hee Ra (Give Me Food), Jay (TRAX), Wang Ji Hye (Personal Taste), Kim Heung Soo (Invincible Lee Pyung Kang)
Synopsis: A story of a man running for the presidential election.
Blue’s clues: Not familiar with the director. At least one “eh” writer (Son Young Mok). Solid cast. Choi Soo Jong and Ha Hee Ra are a married couple in real life, and their acting is top-notch here.
My Princess (MBC)
Projected broadcast period: Jan. 5, 2011-Feb. 24, 2011 (16 episodes)
PDs: Kwon Seok Jang (Pasta, Kimcheed Radish Cubes, The Woman Who Wants to Marry) & Kang Dae Seon (Hon, Auction House)
Scriptwriter: Jang Young Shil (On Air, Lovers)
Cast: Song Seung Hun (East of Eden), Kim Tae Hee (Iris), Ryu Soo Young (Bad Couple), Park Ye Jin (Queen Seon Deok)
Synopsis: An average college student finds out she’s a princess. The guy’s a diplomat. They’ll probably (most definitely) fall in love.
Blue’s clues: At least one solid director (I really like him!). Not familiar with the other one director. Very questionable writer. Cast is very easy on the eyes. The leads can’t act, but they’ve been improving lately. It’s possible they may surprise us here.
Projected broadcast period: Jan. 5, 2011-Feb. 24, 2011 (16 episodes)
PD: Jang Hang Joon (Spring Breeze, Break Out)
Scriptwriter: Kim Eun Hee (Harvest Villa)
Cast: Park Shin Yang (Painter of the Wind), Kim Ah Joong (Accidental Couple), Eom Ji Won (The Woman Who Still Wants to Marry), Jung Gyu Woon (Dr. Champ), Jeon Gwang Ryul (Baker King Kim Tak Gu)
Synopsis: A drama about what happens at the National Scientific, Criminal & Investigation Laboratory. (Hmm, Korean CSI?)
Blue’s clues: Director who did mostly films (See my above comment for Athena.) The only problem is that I got terribly bored watching Spring Breeze. The director and the scriptwriter are a married couple. I wonder how that’ll affect the drama filming, if at all.
Early evening weekend dramas:
Believe in Love (KBS)
Projected broadcast period: Jan. 1, 2011-? (50 episodes)
PD: Lee Jae Sang (Gumiho: Tale of the Fox’s Child, Drama Special – Amazing Coffee, The Sons of Sol Pharmacy, Three Dads One Mom, Dal Ja’s Spring)
Scriptwriter: Jo Jung Sun (The Sons of Sol Pharmacy, Golden Era of Daughter-in-Law, School 4)
Cast: Lee Jae Ryong (General Hospital 2), Park Joo Mi (Ladies of the Palace), Na Moon Hee (The Good Day When the Wind Blows), Lee Sang Woo (Life is Beautiful), Lee Pil Mo (Kim Soo Ro), Moon Jung Hee (Oh My Lady), Hwang Woo-seul-hye (Lovers Vanished)
Synopsis: Family drama.
Blue’s clues: Overall, a decent cast. The Sons of Sol Pharmacy did extremely well, and I expect this to do well too (doesn’t have any major competitors either). The problem is that as far as family dramas go, I personally did not like The Sons of Sol Pharmacy. Oh yes, and I also thought School 4 was the worst of the School series. Sigh.
Projected broadcast period: July 31, 2010 (currently airing)-Jan. 16, 2011 (50 episodes)
PDs: Kim Min Shik (Woman Who Still Wants to Marry, Queen of Housewives, Before and After: Plastic Surgery Clinic, Rainbow Romance) & Kim Kyung Hee (Hero, Life Special Investigation Team, Ground Zero)
Scriptwriter: Jung Ji Woo (Wish Upon a Star, Family Honor, How to Meet a Perfect Neighbor)
Cast: Bae Doona (God of Study), Lee Chun Hee (Smile, You), Seo Ji Seok (OBN/GYN), So Yi Hyun (Assorted Gems), Oh Hyun Kyung (High Kick through the Roof), Lee Jong Won (King Geunchogo)
Synopsis: A story about a woman who dreams of becoming a singer, and the two men in her life.
Blue’s clues: It’s almost over. Could have been so much better. (Writer Jung is more than capable of doing much better than this.) I don’t even know where it went wrong.
Smile, Mom (SBS)
Projected broadcast period: Nov. 6, 2010 (currently airing)-? (50 episodes)
PD: Hong Sung Chang (You’re Beautiful, Daughter-in-law, Good Day to Love, Smile Again)
Scriptwriter: Kim Soon Ok (Temptation of an Angel, Temptation of Wife)
Cast: Lee Mi Sook (Cinderella’s Sister), Yoon Jung Hee (Family Honor), Kang Min Kyung (Davichi), Lee Jae Hwang (Temptation of Wife)
Synopsis: Reconciliation and love stories of three mothers and daughters.
Blue’s clues: The ultimate makjang writer. Kang Min Kyung wins my worst actor of the year award.
Late evening weekend dramas:
King Geunchogo (KBS)
Projected broadcast period: Nov. 6, 2010 (currently airing)-? (70 episodes)
PDs: Yoon Chang Beom (Seoul 1945, Empress Myung Sung, The King and the Queen) & Kim Young Jo (Cinderella’s Sister, The Vineyard Man)
Scriptwriters: Jung Sung Hee (Ja Myung Go, Moon Hee, Seoul 1945, Fashion 70s, Pretty Woman, Gook Hee) & Yoo Seung Yeol (Special Crime Investigation)
Cast: Gam Woo Sung (Alone in Love), Kim Ji Soo (Women in the Sun), Lee Jong Won (Gloria), Lee Ji Hoon (You’re My Destiny), Ahn Jae Mo (Hometown of Legends), Han Jung Soo (Chuno)
Synopsis: The story of King Geunchogo, the king of Baekje.
Blue’s clues: Should be a solid writer and director team. Pretty good cast. It might be worthwhile to check out if you’re a traditional sageuk fan.
Flames of Ambition (MBC)
Projected broadcast period: Oct. 2, 2010 (currently airing)-Mar. 20, 2011 (50 episodes)
PD: Baek Ho Min (Assorted Gems, Don’t Be Swayed)
Scriptwriter: Jung Ha Yeon (La Dolce Vita, Shin Don, Wife, Empress Myung Sung, The King and the Queen)
Cast: Shin Eun Kyung (White Lie), Jo Min Ki (East of Eden), Seo Woo (Cinderella’s Sister), Yoo Seung Ho (God of Study)
Synopsis: Desire and greed of a chaebol family.
Blue’s clues: Not familiar with the director. Solid (but very dark) writer. I really don’t like Seo Woo. Very anger-inducing characters.
New Gisaeng Story (SBS)
Projected broadcast period: Jan. 22, 2011 (scheduled to replace Secret Garden)-?
PD: Son Moon Kwon (Ah Hyun Dong Madam)
Scriptwriter: Im Sung Han (Assorted Gems, Ah Hyun Dong Madam, Lotus Flower Fairy, Dear Heaven, Miss Mermaid)
Cast: Im Soo Hyang (Fourth Period Murder Mystery), Kim Hye Sun (Give Me Food), Baek Ok Dam (Ah Hyun Dong Madam)
Synopsis: I couldn’t find anything on it.
Blue’s clues: Another ultimate makjang writer. Not familiar with the director, except that he’s the writer’s real-life husband. And typical of the writer’s past works, a newbie actress is in the leading role, if Im Soo Hyang is the lead actress here. (Interesting fact: Most (all?) of her past dramas had 5 characters in its title. This one has four. Does this signify that she’s breaking away from her earlier style?)
Ah, early next year does not look good to me. Koreans cannot do big-budget dramas very well, and I don’t understand why they keep insisting on wasting money to make them. Perhaps practice will make perfect… some day? Crazily, I’m looking most forward to My Princess. I’m gravitating toward fluff over flash.
Based on my comments, I sound like I’m very difficult to please, but that’s far from the truth. Give me a couple of good-looking young actors who are not awful, solid veteran cast to make up for the younger actors, and a story with big heart- I’ll just shut up and watch even if there are some minor flaws. Is this really too much to ask for?!