Come Back Mister Review
Come Back Mister is a 2016 sixteen episode Korean drama that tells the story of two men, who unexpectedly die, and are granted a 2 month window to return to earth in new bodies to resolve issues they left behind.
1. Likeable Leads. The leads (Oh Yeon Seo and Rain) and the episode 1 “original” leads (Kim Su Ro and Kim In Kwon) cared about their loved ones. Young Soo was overworked and neglected his family in favor of his work. Gi Tak was a former gangster turned chef who could not deny his former love’s request for help. Both leads wanted to help their grief stricken loved ones in their 2 month window on earth. Young Soo wanted to exonerate himself and his family from the stigma of suicide, determine if his wife loved him, and ensure his family could face the future. Gi Tak wanted to raise the status of his former love, an actress, back to an “in” status instead of an “out” status. Whenever a scene utilized both sets of leads in a scene, the emotional ante was increased. The original leads were not cameo roles. I thought the original leads would only be part of episode 1 but they were cleverly woven in throughout the series.
2. Story had comedic flair and dramatic moments. The first segment of episodes had a comedy undertone that both leads delivered with gusto. Rain and Oh Yeon Seo gamely did what was needed to make the physical comedy scenes light and fun. The comedy lessened as the drama moved into the final phase of the series. There were surprises. There were dramatic moments that worked.
1. Story meandered and morphed with a final episode plot point that was perplexing. The story started out funny and light, then it meandered a bit (the writer’s path was a mystery), then in the latter episodes the leads’ worlds collided intertwining their destinies in surprising ways. When the writer elected to eradicate one of the leads from existence without a reason I was surprised and confused. I’d watched our 2 leads grapple through 93% of the episodes together, helping each other and then poof, one of them was erased. The rules the given to our leads at the beginning of their 2 month stint on earth: 1. Keep their identify a secret. 2. Not use their body as revenge. 3. Not interfere with the living. Both leads broke these rules, so why one was singled out for eradication, did not make sense. I was perplexed that the coda of the series ended with the host bodies our leads inhabited (who mattered little) not the leads themselves (who mattered a lot).
2. Secondary characters that did not resonate. Young Soo’s wife (Lee Min Jung) was not fleshed out sufficiently to make me care about her. She cried pretty. She had surprising secrets. I never emotionally invested in this character. Gi Tak’s former love, Yi Yeon (Lee Ha Nui), was surrounded by an angry vindictive ex-husband and an evil manager. She was drawn to Gi Tak’s new persona, but she was standoffish and wary (understandable given the past and current men around her). While I appreciated her struggle to reinvent herself, she never grabbed me emotionally.
3. Missed opportunities. Initially the characters stated they could not control what the reactions of their bodies. I thought this could be fun having the leads stuck in bodies that were attracted to or repulsed by others without the ability to squelch actions of their host bodies. That possibility was never explored. Missed opportunity. The epilogues featuring the illegitimate son on the island were cute, then disappeared, then reappeared. When the character was featured in the final episode, I did not care about him, he’d been a sidebar the entire series. The writer missed opportunities to make the character more than a concept so when he was rescued he’d matter. The “who is the father” plot point was raised but never fully resolved. The writer missed the opportunity to strengthen a child’s future. Is it Alzheimer’s or not? One character struggled with memory loss but that plot point was dropped. Bad follow through by the writer. I think you get my drift.
The Characters that worked for me:
1. Gi Tak (Oh Yeon Seo) had a heart of gold for those he loved. Oh Yeon Seo did a terrific job portraying a man stuck in a woman’s body. Having a man’s soul inhabit a woman’s body can be a challenge for the actor. Oh Yeon Seo was up to the challenge. She managed to be manly and struggled to learn how to be feminine. But apart from the physical aspects of the role, Gi Tak turned out to be a man that cared deeply and was willing to sacrifice for those he loved. Unfortunately, the backstory of his relationship with former love Yi Yeon, did not resonate as a great love story. But it did show Gi Tak’s strength…if you need me I’m there. Oh Yeon Seo’s chemistry with the leading man actor, Rain, was superb. Oh Yeon Seo’s chemistry former love Yi Yeon, Lee Ha Nui, was very good. I’d previously watched these two actors excel in their joint scenes in Shine or Go Crazy.
2. Young Soo (Rain) wanted to help his family to grieve and be ready for life without him. Rain did a good job portraying a mediocre man placed in a sculpted man’s body. When Young Soo explored his new hot body, Rain lovingly stared at his six-pack abs and grinned in glee. I always appreciate Rain’s willingness to portray what a scene requires. Rain can over emote but that’s better than under emoting. His chemistry with Oh Yeon Seo was terrific. They became a unit, helping each other navigate their own goals. As the story line tightened their connections to each other, their close knit relationship became stronger with revelations. How Young Soo died in episode 1, falling from a ledge of the department store to unfurl a banner, yes that sounds ridiculous as I type it, was silly. Everyone assumed he had committed suicide. Young Soo worked to clear his own name and relieve the shame from his family. He was single minded in this pursuit and did not seem to care he caused his wife pain in pursuing this. It was a bit odd that he pursued his newly widowed wife romantically in his new body with vigor.
3. Seung Jae (Lee Tae Hwan) was the silent muscle man. Strong and quiet men resonate with me. Seung Jae had few lines in this series but his earnest desire to help, even if he chose poorly to make that happen, drew me to him. For a while I thought the writer would pursue Seung Jae’s attraction to the female body Gi Tak was in, but that was dropped. I also thought maybe he’d realize that it was Gi Tak in the body, but that did not happen. I was not a big fan of the writer’s choices for this character in the final episode. He seem marginalized at the end.
4. Guardian (Ra Mi Ran) helped our leads navigate their new reality She was comedic relief most of the them but had a softer compassionate side when warranted. She could have been featured more prominently. She had a crush on Seung Jae too, so I cannot fault her taste in men. In episode 8 Young Soo was scolded for his obvious hints about who he was and was threatened with the consequence of being eradicated from life, so the writer did foreshadow the possibility.
Do I recommend this series? Maybe. This series had good moments of comedy and drama both. I watched this series because of the actors playing the leads. If you like Rain or Oh Yeon Seo, they acquit themselves well in this series. They did what they could. But the story inconsistencies and perplexing plot choices downgraded the overall enjoyment of this series.
The OST has 23 songs on the 2 disc compilation and 18 tracks were released during the series in a 7 part OST. This is a good OST, plenty of variety with memorable songs. See dramawiki for details. My favorite is song is “Even a single day” by Kim Su Yeon. The playlist is embedded below or check it out via the link.
1. Again by Noel
2. Feel Alive by Topp Dogg
3. Feel Alive (Rap Version) by Topp Dogg
4. Moon Light by Son Ho Young
5. Because It’s Love by Ailee
6. Eyes Shut by Lee Hyun
7. Sadness of Love by Na Yoon Kwon
9. Spring of life
10. Heaven Train
11. Uncle K
1. Back Then by Ho Joon Topp Dogg
2. X-Out by Ryu Ji Hyun
3. You by Sang Do and Ho Joon of Topp Dogg
4. Two Faces by Su Yeon and Jung Seul Gi
5. Falling in Love by Sang Do of Topp Dogg
6. Even a single day by Kim Su Yeon
7. Department Comic
8. Han’s Life
10. Life Style
11. Remembering you
12. Heaven Tension