Review. The King of Dramas provides a tongue-in-check quick-paced look into the challenges of producing dramas. The 2012 Korean drama, was originally 16 episodes and added 2 episodes when a two episode extension was granted during production.
The first 16 episodes are a frantic, fun, ride with laugh out loud moments and gasps each time the villains ratchet up the screws put to the drama producer, Anthony. Anthony used to be the powerful head of Empire Productions until a delivery man died trying to beat impossible odds (for big bucks) to get a final episode tape to the studio on-time. The scandal that ensued bounced Anthony from the industry he loved and into oblivion. When Anthony hears about a rich Japanese investor that wants to make a noir period piece he recalls a script that he scuttled 3 years earlier after using then reneging on promises to a newbie writer, Lee Go-eun. The drama takes you on a whirlwind to get this noir drama made: from initial approval, to finance, to production team formation, to casting, to battles with the network, and the production challenges.
What I liked about The King of Dramas:
Anthony, played with aplomb by Kim Myung-min, was an arrogant, confidence, shrewd man with an uncaring exterior and a heart he largely ignored. Anthony was like the Grinch whose heart was “2 sizes to small” but it “grew 3 sizes” during this series. This fur-collar sporting character was the anchor of the show and I loved him becoming a card-carrying member of “Team Anthony”.
Lee Go-eun, played by Jung Ryeo-won, was the rookie writer previously mistreated by Anthony but could not resist her beloved story being produced. Go-eun becomes a “Team Anthony” member, first as an unlikely friendship forms, then much to her surprise she falls in love with him. Go-eun had spirit and charm, aided by a supportive mother (yes, you read that right, a positive mother-daughter relationship) as she navigates her first production fighting for her artistic integrity.
Kang Hyun-mi, played with comedy zeal by Choi Siwon, was the drama’s lead actor who was arrogant, popular, with more looks than skills. Hyun-mi provided most of the laugh out loud moments of this series with a myriad of facial expressions, his crazed love of money and sponsors, and his support team that needed the patience of Job. I particularly loved the friendship that developed between Hyun-mi and Go-eun. She called him on his behavior and he had insights into her too. His American accent was spot on when he’d spout English phrases during the series.
Sung Min-ah, portrayed by Oh Ji-eun, was the drama’s lead actress, with a prickly exterior, desire to restart her relationship with Anthony and utter disdain for Hyun-mi. It took me a while to click with this character, she grew on me once she and Hyun-mi starting working more as a team.
Gu Young-mok, played by Jung In-ki, was the reformed alcoholic director, who at Anthony’s urging, came out of retirement to direct the drama. He was passionate about his work and breathed life into the drama’s production. He gave our lead actors a sound talking to when they needed it.
Anthony’s mother, literally blind, but lovingly supportive of her son, knew when his heart was being touched by Go-eon.
World Production boys, the core of “Team Anthony”, were the competent fun-loving co-workers for Go-eon and Anthony. These four guys can join my company any day.
Director Nam, an executive with a conscience that has a negative past with Anthony, but he too sees Anthony’s evolution. Anthony even provides Director Nam sage advice when he abruptly quits due to back-door maneuvering by his father.
You can see from all the characters discussed, The King of Drama has a strong set of characters who contribute to the success of this show. Each actor put their own spin on these characters so you care about them and enjoy watching to see what happens next. That, my friends, is a well written & acted show.
What I did not like about The King of Dramas:
- Our villains, the Chairman of Empire Productions and CEO Oh, played every dirty trick to destroy Anthony. After a while I thought “please, give it a rest!” Why was the Japanese investor’s son so willing to be used by these two?
- The 2 episode extension threw a snappy fun drama into a melodramatic tailspin. I was surprised the writer, who’d avoided most of the major drama clichés, added a major medical issue for Anthony. I would have loved to have seen the original 16th episode. How was it supposed to end before it was revised and episodes 17 & 18 were written to focus on the melodramatic story? Frankly, when dramas are extended the quality of the storytelling decreases in the extension episodes.
OST 1 – Engraved in My Heart by Lee Hyun
OST 2 – Blinded By Love by Yesung
OST 3 – Everything Looks Like You by Melody Day
OST 4 – Because It’s Heaven (Winter Rain) by MBLAQ
Favorite Songs from the OST in my YouTube Playlist (link or embedded below)