New Review: Hi Venus (2023)

Joseph Zeng and Liang Jie in a poster for the Chinese television series Hi Venus.

A feel-good Chinese romcom about a female doctor from a poor background who is forced to become the hospital director’s assistant.

This is not another one of your usual medical dramas – in fact, doctoring plays only a small role, as the focus is on the administrative aspect of health care. Not only are we spared medical case after medical case (can you tell I’m not a fan of most medical shows?) but this romcom also involves no major love triangles, no jerky boss, no evil parents, no childhood connection between our leads, and shockingly enough for K-drama fans … no serial killer! And still, I couldn’t wait to watch the next episode of this drama about two adults who kept bickering and verbally sparring while slowly becoming more and more emotionally attached.

After a bit of stumbling in the beginning, this series does everything right — plot-wise (no boring episodes) and character-wise (except dressing the FL in horrible frumpy clothes for most of the show). One other imperfection is the incredibly stupid plot twist in episode 22 and the FL’s nonsensical response. Despite this unnecessary annoyance, it’s great fun to spend time with our leads all the way to the perfect happy end. Light-hearted, humorous, blessedly stress-free.

Excellent minus.


Youku (China). Written by Wang Xiong Cheng.

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New Review: Shooting Stars (2022)

Promo image for the Korean drama Shooting Stars featuring Lee Sung Kyung and Kim Young Dae.

Focusing on events taking place at an artist management agency, this is probably the best behind-the-scenes show about the Korean dramaworld – well, certainly one of the funniest. This is mostly due to the many finely drawn supporting characters (from clueless interns to bizarrely behaving actors) that you can’t help but wonder if they are inspired by real-life models. Numerous cameos from real K-drama stars and the screwball romance of the head of the PR department (the amazing Lee Sung Kyung, Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo) with the company’s biggest star (Kim Young Dae) are other highlights of the show.

This well-written mix of workplace comedy and rom-com is somewhat bogged down in the last third by some “more serious” plot developments, but in the last couple of episodes we’re back in comedy mode. Entertaining, amusing and simply just a lot of fun to watch. Don’t miss it. Excellent minus.

tvN. Written by Choi Young Woo.

New Review: From Now On, Showtime! (2022)

Photo of scene from the K-drama "From Now On, Showtime," starring Park Hae-Jin

A wild genre mix with an exceptional cast. It has all the stuff I usually don’t like in dramas, like ghosts, evil spirits, and serial killers, but to my surprise they are packaged in such a funny and charming show that they lose much of their scariness – and you can always skip a scene or two if they get to you.

Park Hae Jin (Far Away Love, My Love from the Star) plays a famous magician who is able to pull off the most amazing tricks – simply because he has three invisible ghosts working for him. Most of the plot deals with him partnering up with a female police officer (Jin Ki Joo) with whom he shares a complex past and a romantic present.

The banter between the magician, his house spirit and the ghostly crew is hilarious; the leads are gorgeous; and the touch of noble idiocy can easily be overlooked in a very satisfying ending. Excellent minus.

MBC/Viu. Written by Ha Yoon Ah.

A photo of Park Hae Jin hugging Jin Ki Joo, starring in the Korean Drama "From Now On, Showtime."
Jin Ki Joo (left) with Park Hae Jin, starring in From Now On, Showtime.

New Review: Business Proposal (2022)

A surprising hit on Netflix. A well done, self-ironic rom-com about a CEO (Ahn Hyo Seop, Father is Strange) who falls for an imposter (Kim Se Jeong) posing as his blind date.

All the fluff you want with no angst, no love triangle and an interesting second lead couple who dares to defy the trope-ical family obligations. After watching so many family dramas with role models who are ready to give up on their romances to appease their families, it was refreshing to see a female protagonist stand up to her father’s interference. A special shout-out to the hilarious Lee Deok Hwa who plays the CEO’s grandfather and likes nothing better than watching K-dramas. Well, we all can relate to that, can’t we? Excellent.

SBS/Netflix

Written by Han Seol Hee and Hong Bo Hee.

New Review: Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha (2021)

Kim Seon-ho as Du-sik and Shin Min-a as Hye-jin in the Korean drama Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha

A big city girl (Shin Min-a, My Girlfriend is a Gumiho) moves from Seoul to a small seaside village where she encounters jack-of-all-trades Chief Hong (Kim Seon Ho). In a reversal of the traditional drama trope, here it is the male lead that whips the female lead into shape – in this case to fit into the village community.
An adorably deep-dimpled lead couple, a variety of amusing side characters who have their own happy endings, and pretty scenery make for a relaxing watch. A less perfect male lead and a more convincing explanation for his hyper-helpful behaviour would have made this an even better rose-colored treat.
tvn/Netflix. Written by Shin Ha Eun.