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See bottom of review HERE.
Directed by Kim Kyung-Yong
Written by Kim Hee Jae
Originally aired in Korea on OCN (Orion Cinema Network)
November 11 to December 29, 2006
Production: Yellow Film/OCN, Korea
Video: YA Entertainment (USA)
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1 [anamorphic]
Region 1: NTSC
16 episodes, approx 60 minutes each
• Behind the Scenes Featurette
• Music Video
• Promo, Teaser & Trailer
16 episodes, approx 1 hour/episode
Extra features: 23 minutes
1 box set, complete on 6 discs
Gatefold, single slipcase
Release Date: April 24, 2007
Someday ~ Comment
(see Introduction to Korean Drama HERE)
Eight years after his enormously successful music video, Un Homme et une femme (A Man and a Woman), Claude Lelouche expanded on his fanciful investigations about romantic love in 1974 with Toute une vie (And Now My Love). His idea was to set up the inevitability of fated lovers by following preceding generations. Sarah's and Simon's past and present lives intertwine, as it were, but they do not meet until the final frame. And when they do, we are convinced they will fall in love. An intriguing idea.
Fictional and historical lovers from Anthony & Cleopatra, Tristan & Isolde, Romeo & Juliet, Lord Nelson & Lady Hamilton, and Manhattan's Isaac & Tracy have had their moment on this most seductive and compelling of stages. So why shouldn't South Korea have their say. And they do, on a regular basis in one angst-filled drama after another on network and cable television. The latest, and perhaps most inventive of these was one of the most popular TV series of 2006: Someday, made by Yellow Film, the same production company that gave us Alone in Love [reviewed HERE]. Adult in tone (by which I mean: mature, than laced with graphic sex and violence), Someday explores four perspectives on romantic love and how the characters that represent those perspectives affect one another as they play out their various destinies.
What I found particularly remarkable about the story was how the characters reacted to the romantic love catalyst. Two of the more likable characters turn into monsters: one of them knows it – in fact overstates his own culpability. Another fails to realize it, and continues almost to the bitter end to appear to be a gentleman, while simultaneously manipulating others for his own ends. And the one I least expected to be a sage, was so, and insightfully.
As is usual with Korean TV dramas the acting is of very high caliber. Special marks go to Lee Jin-Wook as Seok Man and Bae Doo-Na as Hana. We saw Lee Jin-Wook previously in a smaller role in Alone in Love. There was a certain quirky quality to that character as well, but Seok Man is infinitely more complex and troubled. Lee Jin-Wook started off in films in Once Upon a Time in High School before settling into television. He has already done six series in four years. Someday is his fourth and most ambitious role to date. He manages the light and painful moments with equal conviction and integrates them into a seamless and unforgettable character. No less can be said of the chameleon-faced Bae Doo-Na, now 28, who has had considerable experience in both film and television since 1998. She was the archer sister in The Host [reviewed HERE]., the more solid of the small group of friends in Take Care of My Cat, and the dying sister in Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance. She also had important roles in Linda Linda Linda and Barking Dogs Never Bite. She has had a simultaneous career in television, but nothing as important as Someday. Doo-Na is quite good at looking blank – so coming to life slowly is like watching a flower bloom in time lapse.
By the bye, you may see some editorials that say things like " The first Korean drama to integrate animation and live action. . . " Well, that strikes me as a bit ambitious. "Integrate" is an ambitious word for what Someday actually does. There is a smidgen of animated drawings, which only makes sense since the Someday project involves not only a book, but also an animation, so to show what the project might look like is useful, but it isn't integrated in the same way as in Anchors Aweigh where Gene Kelly and Mickey Mouse occupy the same frame. Compared to the usual Korean TV drama, there are some creative, but hardly innovative, ways that drawings and animations turn up, including as comic book panels and speech bubbles but, as nice as these touches are, they are few and far between. I only mention this because I don't want to get your hopes up waiting. Some of the best art direction in the series involves Hana's drawings, and each episode ends with a freeze frame that evolves into a drawing. It's very beautifully done, especially accompanied by the Someday theme and the accompanying voiceover.
The Score Card
The Series : 8.5
Hana Yamaguchi is a Korean, living in Japan, brought up by her maternal grandmother after her own mother deserted her at a young age. Hana has been, for the previous three years, an accomplished and very popular comic book artist - both in Japan and Korea. But, despite what her readers might imagine (because of her characters and stories), Hana has rarely ventured out of her own inner life. Even more than your garden-variety only child, she is closed off, detached, narrow of focus. Understandably, given her family history, she has never known romantic love – and this is the kicker – and neither does she believe in its existence. "Cynical" is hardly adequate enough to describe here aversion to the idea. As Episode 1 starts off, Hana is told her work is no longer in fashion and she decides to stop drawing altogether.
Elsewhere, in Seoul, Go Jin Pyo, a young psychiatrist working at an upscale convalescent hospital, indulges his passion for graphic novels, especially Hana's. While he is creative, caring and insightful with his patients, Jin Pyo hasn't a clue about his own romantic fantasies – which, as it happens, center around Hana. When she passes through his life during her search for her neighbor, he takes this as a gift from the Fates. He feels entitled to her simply because of his passion.
Kim Seok Man is a sort of a missing persons detective, working out of his motorcycle (he is very nearly homeless). Dr. Go calls on him when his patients fly the coop. A few years earlier, when Seok Man was a teen, his family was wiped out in an auto accident that put another boy in a coma. Seok Man feels responsible for the accident and has since been helping to pay the boy's hospital bills. Funnily enough, though Seok Man and Hana share a similar loss, their apparent attitudes about life and love are polar opposites. He goes out to meet life instead of waiting for it to come to him. He engages complete strangers in a way that, to Hana, as we shall soon learn, appears worrisome, for he does not accept conventional boundaries. On the other hand, Seok Man refuses to appreciate danger when it is right in front of his eyes.
Yoon Hye Young is a 30 year old entrepreneur whose animation production company is always on the lookout for new projects. Hye Young has carried a torch for Jin Pyo for the past ten years. They are evidently intimate and come and go into each another's lives like close friends. Neither is willing to make the final commitment - though, despite their equivocal comments to each other, it is clearly Jin Pyo who is holding things up.
Early in the series, an elderly street sweeper suddenly dies, and neighbors are commissioned by the authorities to go through the old man's personal effects since he had no living relatives. After the memorial service held in Hana's back yard, another neighbor makes off with his ashes and vanishes with hardly a trace. Life begins to intrude on Hana's otherwise constrained existence and she decides to take a few days off from her otherwise humdrum and passive life to follow what she thinks is the trail to Korea, thus leading her into the lives of our other three characters.
Image : 7 (6/8)
The score of 7 indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other standard definition DVDs on a 10-point scale for SD DVDs. The score in parentheses represents: first, a value for the image on a 10-point scale that accommodates both standard and high-definition DVDs – where any score above 7 for an SD is outstanding, since the large majority of high definition DVDs are 8-9.5. The second number in parentheses indicates how that image compares to what I believe is the current best we can expect in the theatre or, in the case of made-for-TV fare, as first shown on television.
I understand from YAE that Someday was originally filmed and broadcast in high definition. Copies of each episode were shipped as "high definition digital beta tapes" which were then converted by YAE to 480i for authoring in standard definition. There is a flat look to the image, almost as it the director went out of his way not to add lighting. The contrast is often low and the color seems a little desaturated (or perhaps it's just the result of low contrast.)
Audio & Music : 8/9
Being a Yellow Film production like Alone in Love, the sound mix is up to the task, blending music, foley (though much of the sound is live) and dialogue with intelligence and clarity. And like other outstanding Korean dramas, this one has a smart soundtrack. More varied than most, Someday includes a theme with a definite bossa-nova flavor – why I cannot say, but somehow it works. The OST is worthy of a separate purchase.
Subtitles & Translation : 8.5
The translation is very good in terms of its being in good idiomatic English and representative of each different character. On the other hand, I continue to wonder if YAE doesn't G-rate some of what I would expect would be expletives. Otherwise the subtitles are white, outlined in black, readable, and not too large, even for a projected image.
Operations & Box Design : 8
I like the magnetic snap case design, permitting the easiest access to the contents of any previous YAE K-drama. However, once opened, it is necessary to expand and lay flat one or the other of two inner boxes in order to get to any one of them. I consider this a fault, though it beats hell out of having to lay out the entire six disc set (remember the Alien Quadrilogy?) In the case of TV series the most sensible solution is slim cases for each disc. I gather that YAE has market-tested this question, and my preference is not in favor. Oh, well.
The menu design continues the thinking demonstrated for Alone in Love: When you click on "Episodes" a window comes up showing thumbnail scenes in motion, long enough to get the idea and short enough to move onto yet a second scene in the same chapter. Capping it off, there is no attempt to show those thumbnails in proper aspect ratio, which would have taken up too much room across the frame and instead are artfully arranged in different shapes across a row. Brilliant!
I should point out that the introductory montage that starts off each episode does not contain footage used in the drama. Think of it instead something like a Mozart opera overture that sets the mood, even though it uses no themes that occur later.
Extras : 4
Disc six contains the final episode plus about 23 minutes worth of extra features that include several promo pieces of various lengths, sources and descriptions. These are generally light-hearted looks at the series, its characters and principal actors. There is a peculiarly Korean self-effacing and self-conscious humility about the actors who seem to be having a genuinely fun time making this drama, despite its often serious tone. In fact, from watching these bits of fluff you would have no inkling of how dark this drama gets. One thing that bothered me about the promo pieces and music video was the persistent, non-removable and distracting logos and identifying titles that appeared on, above or below the image. I took off an extra two points for this.
There is a Korean Region 3 edition, without subtitles, that I did not preview.
Despite the relatively few interesting extra features, this is series is warmly recommended.
The shortest distance between Soon Tek-Oh and Liza
Minnelli was found to be:
1. Soon-Tek Oh - to - Stephen Sondheim (Oh appeared in Sondheim's "Pacific Overtures" and met him there)
2- Stephen Sondheim - to - Liza Minnelli (Minnelli has performed numerous Sondheim numbers, and participated in the Sondheim Celebration at Carnegie Hall, with Sondheim present; undoubtedly they met several times)
Other routes were found by these runners-up, who will each receive a DVD with Episodes 1-3 of the drama series.
• Bill B
Fairfax Station VA
• Paul K
• Nick S
• David C.
• Philip McM
• David R
San Francisco CA
THANKS FOR PLAYING!