The time has come. This post will undoubtedly be the hardest I have had to write, insofar as the Awards this year go. It’s the Daesang, the award of awards. The best drama. This is the drama where everything came together–the acting, the writing, the directing, the emotional punch in the gut. I will make one caveat, however:this drama isn’t necessarily my favorite drama of the year. I know, call it a cop out, but sometimes your heart just loves the flawed stuff better… isn’t that why Second Lead Syndrome hurts so bad, because they’re so perfect but the girl doesn’t go for it?
Anyway, let’s meet the contenders: Marriage Contract, W: Two Worlds, Signal.
Phew. I just took a ten minute detour to avoid finishing this. Back on track!
I ended up picking these three dramas because they have all done something rare for me in a kdrama, book or other form of storytelling: I have rewatched them all in part. Normally it takes a few years at least for a re-run. This happened within a few months. And each drama had different reasons for doing so.
Marriage Contract: This drama packed the emotional Punch that just blew me away. Rewatching it, I’m noticing even more how detailed these characters are, how well thought out their interactions are and just how sizzling the chemistry between our leads is. The tension is real. That’s clearly its strong point, but the directing and script have always been on par with the drama. It’s not a high stakes drama, so the tone isn’t intense, but the bittersweet can be very difficult to execute and this drama has it down.
W: Two Worlds. This drama has a crack factor you would not believe. It got me doing things I’d never done before the first time I watched it, like read all 500+ comments on every recap. I only stopped reading in the last few when I sense some of the audience was falling out of love with the drama, and I couldn’t bear to let that happen to me. I loved it too much. And the crack didn’t leave for the rewatch. My pulse still raced when Chul stared down his creator, and when the freaking Nazgul killed a whole studio full of people. And the acting, and the directing! That camerawork just astounded me. Literally like a comic came to life.
Signal: The first thought that comes to mind when I think of this drama is “well made. Impeccable.” From the music to the acting to the tone, everything was perfect. Absolutely perfect. And I was hooked, absolutely. The question is, did its slickness take away from its heart in the end?
Well, let’s find out. The lucky winner is:
It took me a long time to come to this decision. A long time. I’ve had since the beginning of the month to think about it, after all. And that stuff up above? Well, the more I thought about it the more I thought it really had a stellar amount of everything that made the other two great… plus a production value that I absolutely drooled over. So how did it nearly meet Marriage Contract and W: Two Worlds in their powerhouse strengths?
Well, it certainly tapped into the emotion well enough. The budding romance between Soo-Hyun and Jae-Ha. The tragic brothers and the… the… the bad word red scarf that led to his hyung’s death. The movie theater scene. Rescuing her from the serial killer. Racing to save hyung. All of those were emotional beats that really wrenched me. They may have lost their shine a bit the second time around, but they were still fond callbacks.
W: Two Worlds had the magic. It was blessed with the touch, that special something in addition to its objective qualities. But Signal wasn’t much different, with a special sort of tone that kept me coming back every week on the edge of my seat. And the tone was so particular, so special to that drama. The OST helped immeasurably. There was some intrusive PPL (Suuuuubbwaaaaay), and I don’t know about the stetched-screen past choice, but those are minor flaws in the face of this show. Again, the second time the urgency of the thrills was lessened… but still there.
Signal really did have everything. And every time I considered choosing another drama for the Daesang, it was Jae-ha’s desperation, his run to save hyung, that kept coming back to me. So really, we might have Cho Jin Woong to thank for this award. I hope he gets the real thing someday soon (did he win it at TVn’s awards?)
Thanks for reading and tune in tomorrow for another day of Christmas!