In case you want to read a recommendation, just scroll down until the funny wedding picture. :p ;)
I just finished watching “The Night’s Watchman’s Journal” and I just...can’t. For about 16 episodes it was fun dumb, where people acted dumb...and then they did even dumber stuff...and then some more! And I didn’t care! Because fun.
Everyone was approx 100 Mil more interesting than Princeling, especially Moo Seok who (next to Sang Heon) was my reason for clinging to this drama. But up until episode 16 I could basically pretend princeling didn’t exist.
So: We have a prince who lost his mother and father and his throne, who has a crazy brother who sadly is king, we have a deranged priest, tons of ghosts, a beautiful score and every single ingredient for an awesome drama. Of course the writers didn’t read the memo, so we have 16 episodes that are barely kept together by spit and charisma.
Since this is kindergarten drama everything focuses on the babies on board, so of course Sang Heon only pops up when necessary, because if he stayed longer than that everyone’d see how stupid it was to make Jung Il Woo star this drama.
It’s so damn stupid...stuuuuuupid. He has the screen presence of a piece of paper. But maybe it’s for the better, because otherwise we wouldn’t have adorable puppy Moo Seok who manages to be loyal to everyone he declared loyality (even opposing parties), to not be the center of a love triangle and generally be the good guy.
I think that was the saddest thing about this drama, you could practically see all those possibilities jumping up and down screaming for help. The Dowager Queen? Freaking fantastic and never really treated the way needed.
While I was still interested in the ending, after episode 16 it was clear everything was falling apart fast, so I jumped to epiosde 23 and it was the best thing to do. By then they had managed to get back on their feet (at least enough to finish the damn thing) and I didn’t scream bloody murder after one more episode of pointless drama, because “sheeeeeeee is at fault, not the wacko priest who wants to awaken a monster serpent.”
Those last episodes also both showed the best and the worst. The best is how they finished all those big and tiny storylines in a decent way (I loved how they handled Ok Mae’s story, because daaaamn are jumos usually the butt of the joke), the worst is that the last scene was basically: Jupp, I know what you wanted, but here I am in all my creepy glory with an extra creepy smile and I don’t care and let me finish trampling all over your agency. Oh...and you and the viewer are supposed to think this is romantic.”
Thanks drama, way to go. *shudders*
Conclusion: Sometimes I wonder what had happened if the folks in charge of Sungkyunkwan Scandal had overseen this one. Or what had happened if they actual folks in charge had made the decision to show the crazy adventures of Sang Heon and his grumpy apprentice Moo Seok.
Though maybe less horrible photoshop job, but I guess I’m not the only one having that particular wish.
Interestingly the last scene of the drama made me think of another drama I watched recently that was actually glorious and perfect and everything I ever wanted:
Shine or go crazy
This picture is a very accurate summery of the relationship between prince and merchant, with a 100% fake wedding and 100% non fake chemistry.
Wang So is a prince outcast who manages to get dragged into said fake wedding, because Shin Yool needs a husband in order to get rid of a creepy general (?). This is very patriarchy, but it doesn’t matter, because Shin Yool is awesome and funny, she is not an extension of Wang So and I just love her to death. Of course she is completely unaware that he is a prince.
The fake wedding plays a big part later, but until then the prince outcast has to go back to court and deal with all those conspiracies, the backstabbing and everything that makes a court a hell hole. Interestingly Wang So manages to be the only sane person on board the court train which makes a nice departure from “Chuno” and “Deep Rooted Tree”. Shin Yool on the other hand travels to Goryo and ends up pretending to be a man in front of Wang So. It’s as hilarious as you’d expect and they do (almost) everything right with this troupe up to only dragging it out exactly as long as it’s allowed to before getting very unfunny and stupid.
I’d love to call this drama perfect, but maybe it’s just 99,9999% perfect. It’s this rare drama where the last scene is the beautiful cherry on top, where the writers actually get the characters, where things make sense, where extra especially female characters are allowed to make their own informed decisions and go through with it. Where men actually respect informed decisions made by those feeble females.
Another thing I loved is sadly a huge spoiler, but just let me say that I liked how the court dynamics evolved over the course of the series.
It’s also a very gorgous looking drama (not just because of Jang Hyeok):
Conclusion: If you want to watch an excellent political drama that also happens to be a stunning period drama, jeez, why haven’t you watched this one yet? Shoosh, off you go.