I watched this drama from start to finish without writing while I watched, so this is not my typical recap. I’m distilling the highlights and sharing observations.
Uncontrollably Fond Recap Episode 1
Big star Shin Joon Young (Kim Woo Bin) is shooting the climax of a series that airs that evening. As his character gets shot, he breaks character and tells the Director he’s decided he won’t play a character that dies. The Director is livid, the writer refuses to change the story, and Joon Young’s manager, Choi Moo Sung, can’t change his mind.
Why does Joon Young refuse to allow his character to die? Because he has a rare disease that will have him dead in 1 year. He tells his doctor he can’t believe he’s going to die, he feels great. He eats well. He sleeps well. He keeps his body fit. The doctor asks if he wants a second opinion. Joon Young doesn’t say yes. I would. As he sits in his car after seeing the doctor, his manager calls and begs him to allow his character to die, the episode must air that evening, there is no time for a rewrite or reshoot. This is too close for comfort for Joon Young, but with tears streaming down his face, he acquiesces.
Joon Young asks his lawyer to find her, a girl from his past. He wants to know where she is and what’s she’s doing. His lawyer is on it. Joon Young tells his manager he wants out of the documentary project about his life. He’s decided he will no longer take roles or projects he doesn’t want to do.
Joon Young goes to his mother’s eatery but she refuses to serve him soup. What’s their back story? Later she looks at a newspaper article featuring Assemblyman Choi Hyun Joon.
Assemblyman Choi’s daughter, Choi Ha Roo, is a super fan of Joon Young. Her father says you cannot trust the really good looking guys in life.
Meanwhile reporter No Eul (Bae Suzy) camps out in a wet field to get video of a company illegally dumping chemicals. They catch her filming. They put her in a room to sweat it out. They offer her cash to keep her mouth shut. She takes the money. She deposits the cash and calls the loan shark that she’s just paid $5M, now she only owes $35M. No Eul needs cash to live, cash to send her brother to college, and cash to pay back the loan shark. Unfortunately for No Eul, she’s fired from her reporter job for taking the bribe. This isn’t the first time she’s taken a bribe. No Eul points out to her boss that he’s also taken bribes. Having her boss in the “accept a bribe” club doesn’t stop her from being fired. Walking she stares at a billboard ad featuring Joon Young.
As she drowns her sorrows, Choi Ji Tae (Lim Ju Hwan) tell her she better get her act together and leaves. No Eul overhears Joon Young’s manager trying to soothe the documentary director et all about Joon Young’s sudden refusal to continue with the project. She offers to convince Joon Young to do the documentary. They don’t believe she can convince Joon Young, especially his manager. She claims she can change his mind. No Eul states if she’s successful, they’ll have to hire her.
How do you convince a big star to change his mind? You camp out on his doorstep. Imagine Joon Young’s surprise when the woman he asks his lawyer to find, rings his doorbell and asks to speak with him. She tells him that continuing with the documentary project is what he should do. Joon Young’s manager is surprised the girl from last night showed up at Joon Young’s doorstep. Knowing why she’s there, Joon Young refuses to admit her. She ends up waiting and writing a series of notes (similar to Love Actually) that Joon Young sees as he watches the surveillance video. He doesn’t change his mind. No Eul leaves a cute frowny snowman with a note that says she’ll be back.
The next morning, Joon Young packs his car to go ice hiking. As he opens the gate to exit his house, No Eul runs in front of his car, forcing him to halt. She jumps into the car and refuses to leave. He decides a fast and rough car ride will change her mind. He’s right. Soon she’s on the ground retching. He tosses her money for medicine and drives away. When he hears of an accident on the radio of a 20 something woman on the road he’s on, he fears No Eul has been hurt. He turns the car around to find her. As he spots her his lawyer calls and says he has found the girl. Joon Young says he’s found her too.
Joon Young drives up to No Eul. She asks if he’s changed his mind about the documentary project. She thinks it will help change his image from being a jerk. Ha! He asks if she knows who he is. She pretends not to understand claiming to know the big star he is. Joon Young angrily presses, “No Eul, do you know who I am”? She pauses, then admits “I do know who you are, you jerk.” Face to face they stare at each other, neither of them happy.
Straightforward story set the stage in this first episode. I can’t say I’m riveted but I’m not turned off either. There is no doubt, Kim Woo Bin is why you’d watch this series. The only question after this first episode…will they kill the leading man at the end of this series? Let’s see what the writer, Lee Kyoung Hee, does with this elephant in the room. I have not seen any kdramas written by him, so I don’t have a reference.
Kim Woo Bin (Shin Joon Young) is a good looking guy playing a major star. I believed Woo Bin’s portrayal of Shin Joon Young, a big star with some issues:
* First off, he’s dying. Yep, that’s a bummer. Will the doctor’s diagnosis stand or will he be cured at the end of the series? As the first scene showed us, stars don’t want their characters to die anymore than fans do.
* Second, his mother won’t have anything to do with him. Why doesn’t he just order take out if he wants his mother’s cooking? This is a solvable problem. Of course it is the frayed relationship that is at the heart of the problem.
* Third, he wants to find her, the girl from his past. The good news, she shows up on his door step. The bad news, she is there to convince him to do something he doesn’t want to do, so she’s not there for him, she’s there for his profession. The good news, she is persistent, hopping in his car in the early morning to convince him. The bad news, this irks Joon Young and he drives like a madman until she gets out of the car and retches. The good news, he feels bad for leaving her stranded and goes back for her. The bad news, when he confronts her if she knows who he really is, she admits it and calls him a rude name.
* On the plus side, I like his dog. I am a sucker for a cute dog.
Bae Suzy (No Eul) is a down on her luck girl. She’s in debt to loan sharks, she needs to earn money for her brother’s education, and she just got fired because she took a bribe. In fairness, her coworkers also took bribes, as she pointed out, but they out ranked her and fired her anyhow. I’ve got no reference for Suzy or her abilities as an actress. This role started out like a typical kdrama heroine. I hope No Eul gets more interesting.
Jin Kyung (Shin Young Ok) plays Joon Young’s mother who refuses to sell her son soup. She didn’t make me want to know why she’s rejecting her son. I felt no nuance from her. I felt nuance from Woo Bin’s portrayal of Joon Young, so because of that, I am interested in their back story. Joon Young’s mother looked at a picture of assemblyman Choi Hyun Joon. Is he Joon Young’s father?
Choi Moo Sung (Jang Jung Sik) plays Joon Young’s manager. Aren’t most managers in dramas kinda jerks? They all come across as partial users who somehow got tied to the big star they work for and won’t let go for anything.
Production values were solid. Lots of close ups that lovingly caress the big stars faces, and they are good looking faces! The action sequence in the beginning was decent. The speedy car ride was not so great, but I’ve yet to see a great car chase in a kdrama. The last shot with the snow falling and our stars toe to toe with each other was lovely and framed well.
Shout out to snow for reminding me of this series with her post (https://thedramacorner.wordpress.com/2016/07/04/highly-anticipated-uncontrollably-fond-premieres-this-wednesday/)
It struck me that the poster for this series has the similar colors (though more saturated) as Beautiful Mind.
The first song of the OST is out. Check out the breezy “Ring My Bell” by the leading lady, Bae Suzy via this link or the embedded video below: