I watched these two dramas back-to-back, and since they have similar themes I thought I might as well review them together. Of the two, I think Missing Noir M had the better consistency for plot, being consistently heartbreaking and mysterious. It’s true that I enjoyed the beginning episodes of Pied Piper more though–the episodes where he could be anyone, whistling into the phone and blowing stuff up. But there are two other categories, so let’s see how the numbers match up.
Missing Noir M: 4/5 on story, 5/5 on characters and a 4/5 on philosophy.
Pied Piper: 3.5/5 on story, 4/5 on characters and a 5/5 on philosophy.
Also, I’m changing the format of the reviews a bit to make them easier to write/read. I hope this helps–let me know what you think!
As always, * words refer to a spoiler, below the review.
Pied PiperMissing Noir M
Missing Noir M: James Gil is brilliant. He’s worked with the FBI solving the hardest cases and is now back in Korea–where duty calls once again and he heads up a team for special missing persons cases. But there’s more than meets the eye in all of these crimes–and the criminal isn’t always who you’d expect.
Pied Piper:Joo Sung Chan makes the hard decisions. When you have to take a loss and there’s no good options left, he’s the one to negotiate the best ending. But not everyone agrees on what that ending should be–and one creepy, whistling villain will kill to make his point. On the Police’s Crisis Negotiation team, talking someone down from a ledge is and easy day at work.
I like the episodic style of storytelling (thank you, western tv) so these shows were a refreshing change from the usual arcing Kdrama plots. They both felt like a mix of the best–solid character development each episode while still changing up the storyline every few hours. I must admit, however, that Pied Piper lost a bit of steam in it’s tail episodes*, losing it a few points in the story department.
Pied PiperMissing Noir M
Missing Noir M: I have to say I’m a sucker for the Sherlock Holmes character. I love mysteries on their own, but there’s just something about the brilliant, morally ambiguous detective that attracts me as a viewer. And there’s no shortage of attraction here– Kim Kang Woo does a great job as James, making him both coldly calculating and breathtakingly human. Not only him–all of the characters are wonderfully developed, with well placed exposition on their backstories and insights to their character**. Even when introducing a character late in the series I loved them because of the acting and writing***. Wonderful job.
Pied Piper: This show also has wonderful characters–but it felt a bit lacking when compared to MNM. There’s one person in particular I wish had been further developed, but more on that below****. Joo Sung Chan and Myung ha, however, were both superbly acted and fleshed out–their differences in personality showed through in even the little actions, as well as their negotiation style. One thing I really did appreciate is the kick-butt nature of Myung-ha’s character. She didn’t sit in the background–oh no. She was twisting arms and body throwing terrorists and talking smooth with the best of them. Rare in a kdrama, and so well done. The subtle touches of romance were great too.5*
Here too Missing Noir M gets the jump in my ratings, and it has to do with the villain of the week. Each of these shows has, as I mentioned, a fairly episodic storyline. And each of the villains has something a bit more to their backstory that needs explaining. Missing Noir M went the extra mile and made my heart break for each of the villains in turn–and then made my blood cold when I realized I shouldn’t have sympathized. 6*
Pied Piper image via askkpopMissing Noir M
Missing Noir M: The guns. Oh my goodness the scenes with the guns! To shoot or not to shoot, that is the question. I loved the way some of the tense scenes brought out the highlights and lowlights of our duos philosophies.7* Missing Noir M had me questioning justice like I never have before (that’s a lie, I love thinking about this sort of thing)–it told its messages with eloquence and skill and I loved it. That was only the icing on the cake, however, to the real dilemma: when someone is driven to commit a crime, who’s really at fault–the enforcer or planner? The victim-turned criminal, or the original villain? There are too many examples to list, as every episode–in both dramas–deals with this question.
Pied Piper: This show, though. It took all of the philosophy of MNM and added another layer–Negotiation. Not only did we have the shoot/don’t shoot dilemma raised with the SWAT team pressing forward, there’s the added questions on how far someone ought to go to understand the perpetrator of a crime. When is it okay to respond to their demands? And once you’ve understood them so well, how willing should you be to see them punished for their crimes? 8*
Although Missing Noir M had a bit more flair, I have to say I loved the philosophy of Pied Piper to bits. There was just something about the way Sung Chan and Myung Ha interacted–the way they dealt with negotiation–that intrigued me. It makes me wonder what kind of negotiator I would be, and how good am I really at listening?
*WARNING: HERE THERE BE SPOILERS*
MNM image from DB photobucket
*Pied Piper loses steam: Around episode 13, it’s fully established that Yoon Hee-Sung is our baddie and we follow the cat and mouse of catching him. It comes a bit too late for my taste though, and makes it hard to switch tracks from “who the crap is this terrifying villain” to “oh snap, their reporter friend is secretly a terrorist.” This drags the plot a bit, because the show makes up for it with more small scenes on his part.
**MNM character insights: Oh, Jin Seo Joon. My heart. It breaks. In the most heartbreaking way. Not only your past on the streets and eventual rise to regular society–but the way you had to meet with it again.
***MNM late character: Oh Dae Young’s wife!! Show, you have done me wrong, not telling me if she lives. I’m extremely ticked about that one. She needs to live. I loved her–all of the aegyo, the passion while protesting, the excitement when she found out she was pregnant… and she only had like–four episodes in minor scenes!
****Pied Piper underdeveloped character: *sigh*. I really wish they’d either revealed the villain in an earlier episode (say, 2-3) or left him unmasked to the very end. Because I loved the creepy whistling, and Yoon Hee Sung did a good job… but I didn’t get the full effect of his creepiness in the flashbacks.
5* Pied Piper romance: That scene–the one where he’s at her house and the lights go out–was priceless. Just the right change of pace, a bit of cute before they went back to chasing down criminals. It was also so fun to watch his concern for her grow and develop. I wish they’d tied it up with a little bow and gotten them together in the epilogue, but oh well.
6*MNM Shouldn’t have sympathized: that freaking sketchy con-artist. She had me–she totally had me. It seemed so believable for a kdrama–the frozen con artist’s heart is melted by the warm halmoni. But no. She was just a bad word. Revenge is sweet, though, and I’m glad Grandma donated her fortune.
7* MNM gun shooting philosophy: There were four scenes that really stuck out in my mind. The first is when James doesn’t shoot at the cliffs, and both criminals die. The second is when detective Oh throws off James’ shot, and the villain manages to stab and kill his victim. The third is when Oh hesitates, and the perpetrator dies… but there’s more to the story. And finally, when Oh changes his thinking… and shoots the man he believes kidnapped his wife. It’s hard to put into words, but it makes you think hard about when you ought to use violence to resolve things, and how justice ought to be served.
8*Pied Piper how far do you empathize: That court case though. While utterly ridiculous in realism, Sung Chan’s takedown of that scumbag prosecutor felt so good. The man ought to have his license revoked for using object lessons like that. But the woman on trial–how much ought she be punished? If she’d killed him while he was assaulting her, it would have been self defense. And he was still threatening her. So how should I feel about her sentence? I’m glad she still had consequences–but a record is so far reaching. Good gracious talk about mixed feelings.
did we make it? I know it’s long, but it’s also a 2-in-1 review. So the others will be shorter. let me know what you think of the format!
Thanks for reading,