Have you ever had a drama you really wanted to like? Perhaps your favorite star was in the cast, or maybe even the lead guy or gal this time around. Or the subject matter looked especially interesting? Maybe you heard some great buzz about it from the major review sites or you saw the cool posters/teasers/trailers and other media goodies on Soompi News or DramaFever. You were so pumped to watch it–and then the subs finally came out. Woo-hoo! And then, after the first episode (or two, because you gave it another chance) you knew the truth. It had gone all wrong from the very start.
I felt like that after watching “Tomorrow’s Cantabile”. I made it through about 2 episodes before I couldn’t take it anymore. The subject matter: Classical Music. How could this get screwed up? And a story about 2 young people falling in love–one of whom is a bit reluctant and prickly, and the other one is a little weird–and they are both super talented? Sign me up! After SLA and Angel Eyes, I was ready for something new…but not this show. Jeez, they even had a classic manga and a well known Japanese drama production to guide the way. But never fear–a series synopsis in the hands of a K-drama writer is anything but safe. The yelling and whining by the main female character was the worst I’d seen, surpassing even the MiL on “Glorious Day”. Side characters that were too over the top, a creepy choice of casting for the conductor “Straussman” and non-humorous arrogance by Joo Won’s character wiped out this show for me quickly.
I had a couple of readers ask me to do a write-up on “Mrs. Cop”. I was totally planning on it. I couldn’t wait to see Kim Hee Ae’s return to DramaLand after SLA. What kind of project would she pick? She can afford to be super-choosy, and wait for just the right script. Would she pick something on a cable channel again; maybe something a little edgy like before? This show sure looked promising. Here’s the premise: KHA as a badass ahujumma cop who’s a mom and can take down the baddies. And she’s the leader of a bunch of men! ! Woot! I’m doing a happy dance! Bring it on! Of all the actresses in K-dramas, I wish I could could be BFF with KHA. She is everything I am not; beautiful, smart, elegant and slender. In the interviews I’ve seen and read, she seems down-to-earth and in possession of a great sense of humor. Daebak!
I love dramas with badass ladies–and if they are middle age, it’s an even bigger bonus! That’s why I tuned into “Spy” last winter–which promised (but did not deliver) a show about a former NK spy who had to return to her badass spy roots to save her family (and more importantly, Jaejoong!) from the evil commies 25 years after she defected. Somewhere along the line, that drama lost its way, and by the end, she was a shell of the tough and feisty lady she needed to be. In fact, by the finale of that show, I wanted the commie villain to be the winner! That shows you how badly things got messed up.
*Screencaps from Tiveee.com unless otherwise noted*
The start of “Mrs. Cop” shows signs of the bad stuff to come. Choi Young Jin (KHA) is having a quick dinner at the local pojangmacha. The ahjumma cook brags about knowing everybody in the ‘hood, and immediately YJ takes her up on her word to show her a pic of a suspect.
Okay, that’s nice! YJ seems so relaxed, cool and funny here. All is good. But then the downhill run begins. She gets a phone call from her sister/babysitter, reminding her to come to her daughter Ha Eun’s ballet recital, but YJ tells her she’ll call her right back–she sees that the suspect is there. YJ calls for backup, and starts chasing the baddie.The sister keeps calling/texting, interrupting the chase. Eventually YJ loses the dude, and he wipes out some young girl. The backup guys do find another minor baddie, Heo Jung Nam (who doesn’t even remotely resemble the true baddie, lol) but this guy is a two-bit, garden variety thief, and not a murderer. Of course, he is later framed/blamed for the murder–’cause, hey he’s a criminal and it’s one more baddie off the street, according to YJ’s Boss.
Justice? Pffft! Who cares as long as everyone gets off work on time, the reports are written up, and the press can roll out a story to make the cops look like heroes! Hmmm…
Right away I’m ticked off. YJ, you are either on the clock or not…so if you aren’t, then go to your kid’s recital, and shut off your cell phone. And if you are on the clock–turn off the phone or block your sister’s calls so you can focus on catching the baddie. And never make a promise to your kid you know you can’t realistically keep. By the time the case is wrapped up, the recital is done.
YJ makes it there long after the performance is over and her daughter has had a tantrum because Mom didn’t show up. So it’s established early that YJ may be a decent enough cop, but she’s a terrible mom–and that is a Big Bad Sin in DramaLand. Hey show–yunno a woman can be a good mom and a good cop too. They’re not mutually exclusive. We find out later that there is a father to this young girl, but it’s not clear if he’s alive or dead. I think they are divorced, but I can’t be sure.
If they are divorced, then I have to wonder why isn’t he shouldering some responsibility, like showing up at his daughter’s recital, or watching her some nights? Oh, yeah, I forgot. Just like in real life–the vast majority of the time, the woman ends up being the responsible one. Sigh. It was too much to hope for–the depiction of a responsible father. The babysitting sister is no peach either, constantly reminding her Unni that she’s a rotten mom, and clueless to boot. JY can’t do anything right in her eyes. How awful for Ha Eun to hear her auntie disparaging her mom all the time.
YJ doesn’t even have the respect of her male teammates on the police force. These are the kind of dudes that find any excuse to leave work early and dump the burden on their boss–because, yunno, they have important man-stuff to do:
YJ’s boss Chief Yeom is a militaristic jerk, and a full-blown MCP. (Male Chauvinist Pig) And if that wasn’t bad enough, he’s also as crooked as a dog’s hind leg! He’s getting some bribe fodder from President Kang Tae Yoo:
Oh great. Seems the MCP has a daughter studying abroad…and we all know how expensive University is these days! So these extra ‘stacks’ of Won notes should come in handy!
When YJ tries to get her Boss to sign a paper to release the murder charges on the two-bit thief, and charge that guy with burglary, the MCP flatly refuses. How dare she tell him what to do–he’s already made up his mind that guy is gonna take the fall so it looks good to the press and the stacks of Won notes keep coming! YJ pursues him onto a bus of higher-ups, which upsets him; then he gets off the bus and kicks her really hard in the shin! OMG-WTF! I can’t believe my eyes–and she just takes it! Omo. I am not liking this at all! How unprofessional–that would be a lawsuit where I come from. I can’t screencap this scene. I just can’t.
Please forgive this delusional moment, brought on by an overdose of WTF’ery:
[Good thing Seon Jae didn’t see that! Whoa, he’d be pissed! Remember how PO’d he was when Young Won threw mahjong tiles at his Goddess? I do. We’d have a real fight scene in the first episode of this show. Maybe SJ can go over to Seoul Station and find TH from “Last”, buy him a meal at Ahjumma’s, and learn how to properly fight–but without using his hands of course. He’s got a punching bag on the roof already. And he’s young and in good shape too. With a few pointers, SJ could easily drop kick that geezer MCP boss of JY, and knock his old butt out. Then he can take his Goddess on a wonderful trip through Europe, where they will stay in cute rustic cottages with sturdy four-poster beds, and ‘fool around’ all day–at least until SJ’s school starts again in Germany next month; then they can continue on there. Meanwhile, Shamrockmom can write about all their ‘adventures’ in a brand new FF! Phew! That should erase any memory of this scene!]
last half of the first episode entirety of the first two episodes of this show should be seized as evidence of slander and defamation of character by the Union representing the Seoul Police Force. I already alluded to the fact that YJ is stuck with some rather incompetent underlings. They stake out the real suspect Nam Sang Hyuk, and of course–he gets away. Literally, there’s like a dozen policemen running after this guy. What’s wrong with this picture, other than it came out too small?
[Policemen 1-12, running———————–>Suspect]
Somehow, the most competent of YJ’s team members Jae Deok (and trust me, this dude is marginal) is able to find bad guy NSH in a flood control channel/drainage ditch. Even though JD has a gun pointed at the baddie:
he manages to still get stabbed! WTH! Does this guy not know how to call for backup? Can he not order this bad guy to lay down and put his hands on his head? C’mon people! YJ shows up, but can’t call for help because there’s no cell reception in the flood control channel. So she just yells for help, while her team member bleeds profusely. SMH. Jae Deok nearly loses his life–and of course, his wife blames YJ! *head-desk* Uh, ahjumma, you knew your hubby was a cop, right? And it’s yunno, kinda dangerous-like work? And your hubby’s not real bright–so these things can happen? Get real. It’s a big bummer, but your husband chose this job knowing it entailed more than a few risks. Sheesh!
If that is not discouraging enough for YJ, she gets a call from the local Police Station. Seems that Ha Eun has swooped a stuffed animal from a local shop–again! The owner is there to lecture YJ on raising her daughter properly, which is bad enough. Then HE tells YJ that she swiped the toy so she could go to the Police Station and see her Mom!
Dayum! Talk about the mega-sized guilt trip! YJ can’t hack it any more and she turns in her badge, gun and handcuffs to the MCP Boss the next day.
He tries lamely to talk her out of it, but I’m thinking this is the best decision CYJ/KHA has made lately. Just walk away now, at the end of the first episode. Before things get any worse. I’m thinking that’s what I should do too. But of course, it’s never that simple. The announcement is made that there is a rapist/killer on the loose again in the same neighborhood. I don’t think YJ is gonna stay resigned for long. Uh Oh.
Against my better judgement, and because I am praying this show gets better (and fast!) I decide to watch Episode 2. I should have trusted my instinct. Now without a badge, gun or handcuffs, YJ sets off to check out the latest crime scene. She smartly figures out the killer stole some trendy jewelry that the victim had recently purchased, by checking the victim’s computer. Okay, that was cool. I like how she is portrayed as smart but not a gifted genius–she’s just better at looking for small details that her inept co-workers overlook. But now we are on the big downhill sled run.
The poor framed suspect in jail Jeong Nam has been beaten up by the other inmates because they think he is a rapist and a murderer. (I do not doubt this for a second. Rapists, child abusers/molesters and those who beat their wives and girlfriends are treated as the lowest scum in prisons by the other prisoners and the guards.) JY goes to visit him at the prison hospital where he divulges that he has a 7 year old son who’s been alone now for days, and is probably getting hungry….OMG. Holy Cow! JY goes straight to his house in an impoverished neighborhood that looks worse than Sillimdong. (Are there no housing code regulations in SK? Just askin’.)
and finds the kid hiding there.
I should mention that the child actors are absolutely great in this show, just like in so many other shows I’ve seen lately. They are adorable, and act so natural it’s amazing.
YJ washes the kid up in a bathroom straight outta Sillimdong. (Isn’t he old enough to wash himself up?)
and I don’t think this kid is wearing a swimsuit as he stands up. Yikes! (no screencap–this is very borderline for me.) She takes him out for pizza. (Wow, they eat it with a fork! Dang. Even at CPK we just pick up the pizza with our hands. Oh, yeah…that’s our elegant family!) and he starts to cry:
and then she disappeared! Wow, how sad is that? When he continues to cry, she tells him this line, guaranteed to induce nightmares in little boys! Doesn’t KHA have 2 sons? How can she say this? *screencap/translation from Viki*
Jeez, look out Yoon Kye Sang, Joo Jin Mo, Kim Soo Hyun, Kang Ha Neul, and every other great K-drama actor out there who can really cry! You better check everything south of the belt buckle right now, and make sure it’s all in place and accounted for! If you want, I can help with that. 😉
Tiveee and DF translate it “…you’ll lose your thing.”, so I gotta give props to the Viki Subbers for uh, letting it all out! ‘Cause that asterisk there will keep this show from getting a Mature rating! *snort*
Then JY does something that no parent worth a grain of salt would do. She leaves the little boy in the car to go into a motel and talk to the clerk/informant to see if he remembers the bad guy NSH checking in. WTF! Who leaves their kid in a car for even a minute nowadays!
I’m in shock! What is she thinking! You can bet that the little boy drops his toy, gets out of the car to retrieve it, and when NSH slips past JY, he grabs the boy in the parking lot and stabs him….OMG!
She carries the child to the hospital, which takes 15 minutes (Where are the 119 Paramedics?) The kid has surgery, but ends up dying from his injuries, and JY has a meltdown.
Yeah, it’s your fault! Who drags a kid along to a motel in pursuit of a criminal if you don’t have to? And there was no reason she had to take him along. She could have taken him home. That would have been the best plan, just pay that whiny sis some more money. Or she could have called Social Services and had him taken to an orphanage. I can’t believe this. She’s supposed to be smart! How in the world is she gonna explain this to the little boy’s dad, who is already in jail on false charges?
I do like how JY is fearless about going alone into the sleaziest places in Sillimdong to track down NSH. I am not sure I would be this courageous; then again if I was going after a child-killer, I might be.
JY ends up not resigning from the police force; she goes on a stakeout with Park Jong Ho (Kim Min Jong) and her inept underlings destroy the cafe trying in vain to catch the baddie. (Note the intensely jerky camera work in this scene. I feel vaguely ill.) YJ spots some blood on a doorway, and follows the trail, eventually cornering NSH on the roof of a nearby building.
Oh, goodie! This guy is a killer, and a rapist? He stabbed that little boy to death? I’m thinking–Go ahead YJ, pull that trigger–and for gosh sakes, don’t miss! Normally, I’d be more like, yeah, just take him into custody, and let the wheels of justice grind him up. But after he stabbed that little boy, I’m pretty good with removing NSH from the planet on a permanent basis. He’ll die anyways at the hands of the other inmates if he goes to prison, so having JY put a bullet or two in him is quite merciful.
Side note about the handgun JY is using–It looks great for television purposes, but in reality, it’s a less than perfect choice. It appears to be a Colt snub-nose revolver–not a typical current police issue handgun. She really needs to have a semi-automatic pistol that is much newer and lighter. Most police forces go with semi-automatics today, so the revolver JY has is sorta outdated, but still quite usable. I’ve tried a revolver handgun at the shooting range. They are somewhat heavy and awkward, especially for a smaller woman to use. There are tons of better choices. I showed my son (who knows a lot more about guns than I do) a screen cap of JY with the revolver, and asked what he would recommend for YJ. His choice: a Glock 17 semi-automatic (tons of info at the link, including use by various military and police forces worldwide) I’ve used that same handgun at the shooting range; I found it easy to use, and I could hit the target where I wanted with a little practice. It’s still got a fair amount of kick-back. Another observation–KHA and KMJ are both in their mid 40’s–but the scenes where they are running show that they are both in great shape. They look amazing–and much younger than you might think.
JY and NSH horse around talking up on the roof, and just as the dude attempts to show he’s going to allow himself to be handcuffed–
she shoots him! And misses! Crap! PJH arrives, and shouts for YJ to put the gun down, but NSH spouts this disgusting line:
which pushes her over the edge and she shoots him again–and this time she hits him! And then she cries! Oh wow. We later found out she only hit him in the leg. Dangit! No wonder JY was crying. She should have been able to shoot him in the head or upper torso at that close range, but then again, stress isn’t great for hitting targets. Shooting him in the femoral artery would have also worked–he’d bleed out real quick. Probably before he could get the hospital. (Take that, NSH–you child killer!)
Just in case you were wondering, KHA has less than zero romantic chemistry with Kim Min Jong. He comes off as irritatingly patronizing toward YJ. Park Jong Ho’s behavior in this scene from Episode 1 is
borderline sexual harassment as he sniffs her hair, asks her what soap she’s using, and tells her in a kinda condescending way to relax. Here’s some sample banter between the leads:
Atta girl! She smacks his butt to give him a taste of his own medicine, and like the pervy sort I guessed him to be, he has to make a crude comment:
Ugh. It doesn’t look flirtatious to me. JMHO.
Please forgive me for another delusional moment, brought on again by an overdose of WTF:
Dear KMJ/PJH: I am gonna try and forget you ever said anything the least bit out of line to a lady I wish was my Bestie. That way I can remember you as the honorable Joseon Police Chief Officer Gu; that straight-arrow, humble and thoughtful man who captured my heart in “Return of Iljimae“. In fact, for me, you stole the whole show right out from under Jung Il Woo’s (perfect) nose. I may have tuned into that show to check out a pretty ‘flower boy’ back in the day as a newbie K-drama viewer, but it was the combination of your manliness and your functional moral compass that soon caught my eye, and made me forget all about that other dude. I loved your intense gazes as you patiently waited for 20 years to have Iljimae’s mother accept you. (Have you had a chat with Joo Jin Mo lately? You guys need to talk.) This scene in particular still makes my heart cramp.
*screencap from DramaFever*
Just in case you need to remind yourself that KHA can have chemistry with her male co-star, I invite you to review the famous Elle Korea Pics from SLA. That, my friends, is chemistry caught on camera!
I don’t put any blame on KHA for this mess, other than she picked the wrong show. As bad as her character is written, she tries in vain to be cool and intelligent. Except when JY has a tantrum and yells/kicks/throws stuff. I understand she’s frustrated, but it’s out of line with the image of control she needs to show to
the clowns her co-workers.
The comments from Naver Cafe are priceless. My personal favorites: “So many WTF scenes.” and “A drama that shows how stupid the police can be. There’s 10 of them but they can’t catch that one culprit.” Preach it, good citizens of South Korea!
Show, I find you guilty of the following charges: Ridiculous depiction of police officers. Total waste of a talented actress like KHA. Tired and worn out plot details. Failure to give villains any other fashion options than black shirt and jeans with a black cap pulled low over the forehead. Copious amounts of misogyny at every level, even by the ‘good guys’. And the worst charge of all: Failure to protect a child from grievous harm in a K-drama.
Sentence for Show: Shunning by viewers. Faint hope of repentance. Show must purchase Soju or Advil for all viewers who request relief from pain brought on by viewing. Viewers must submit receipts to SBS.
Sentence for Shamrockmom for watching the second episode against her better judgement, writing a negative review on her blog which she swore to herself to never do, and for secretly wanting to watch future episodes only to see how bad this show might get: A handwritten note of condolence to KHA–and the gentle admonishment to pick a better drama next time around! I’ll be here, waiting. If Seon Jae can wait patiently for you, then so can I!