Surplus Princess (aka The Idle Mermaid) is a 10 episode Korean TV drama from late 2014. It's a pre-teen oriented Korean TV fairytale type romance drama that you'll probably have to be both very young and very female to enjoy...and, even then, you might not like it. It was supposed to be 16 episodes, but the viewing public said otherwise and it was called off after 10 episodes. Obviously, a show that can't fulfill its 16 episode time slot due to poor ratings is not going to be receiving a glowing review from me!
Story: A pretty mermaid has a crush on a handsome human. She hastily drinks a magic potion to become human for a while in order to be with him. Unfortunately, she didn't realize she now has only 100 days to find her "true love" before she downed this concoction, lest she disappear from this world forever.
This is another K-drama that was basically only airing on my TV for the viewing pleasure of my young nieces. It was rated for 15 years old, and that's basically the age range it caters to. It's not very well done though, due to its relentless predictability, lack of intelligence, and overall immaturity.
Perhaps I'm just getting too old to even review a show such as this anymore, but with age comes wisdom, and I can easily recognize when a youthful show of this nature is basically just half-assing their way through a lazily written story solely for the sake of watching pretty young people try to find themselves, love, the meaning to their existence, and blah, blah, blah. This show is awash with walking hairdos and abs trying to figure out how to be men, and doe eyed cuties trying to figure out how to become a woman. I have nothing against the main cast, and I actually rather like several of them from their present and previous works. The problem here is all of these performers are too old to be acting as if they're still relationship stunted middle school students (which is frequently how they are portrayed).
The immaturity factor cannot be overstated here; the male lead (who's playing a college aged grad or thereabouts, despite the fact that he's roughly 32 years old in real life) cries at least once in 6 different episodes (Yes, I counted). I have long since become accustomed to "men" crying in these K-dramas, but that is a 60% crying ratio per total episodes, and that is simply UNACCEPTABLE! There's also no shortage of scenes where he's generally just sulking or moping around as if he were a petulant child. The female lead/mermaid is assigned to play an aegyo factory that fluctuates primarily between elation and despair throughout the production. As expected, this leads to her basically being either super cute, or super annoying, with little room in between. Both characters are likable enough during the few instances where they're acting like "normal/regular" young adults but this (sadly) occurs far too infrequently. Much of the supporting cast suffers the same fate. i.e. there's lots of "I'm so sad", now "I'm so confused", now "I'm so happy" approach to storytelling here.
This entire dichotomy of having the cast act like pre-pubescent teens one minute, then hot young adults the next, just doesn't work very well. This show would have been much better served to either employ a younger cast or be more thoughtfully written to allow the actors & actresses they've hired to be more diverse and well-rounded people, and a little more mature overall. Even the older actors & actresses on this show are often subjected to this immaturity, and it is painful to watch.
The production values are good enough for a fantasy TV K-drama, but the writing just sucks. As an example of this; the dude the mermaid has a crush on suffers from prosopagnosia (which is a disorder where you can't recognize other people's faces), except, sometimes he apparently doesn't suffer from it at all. It's a bizarre and obscure character trait to include to begin with, but worse is the fact that it serves no real purpose to the overall story, and it's occasionally brought up then dropped again several times throughout the show. The lead mermaid character seems more concerned with clubbing, making friends, goofing off, getting a job, and so forth, as opposed to concentrating on NOT DYING within the 100 day limit she's allotted! Toss in some bad '80s American music and entertainment references, an early overuse of post-edit screen captions, cast members breaking out selca shots and song & dance routines out of nowhere, pointless brief cameos from K-Pop idols (as well as an industry wannabe who has no business being in front of the camera), and on and on it goes.
This show is frequently disjointed. and yet it is incredibly predictable at the same time. There were many times where I questioned what the hell was going on, but there was never a doubt regarding who would ultimately be with whom, and what would basically occur to the entire cast of characters over the course of its run time.
Summary: I try to be as objectionable and fair in regards to any review I write for these K-dramas (regardless of the audience they're aimed at), and I have seen numerous youthfully oriented shows which I've rather enjoyed. But this ain't one of 'em. It has a few worthwhile moments here and there, but not nearly enough of them. As such, I can't recommend this show to anyone (regardless of how old you are)!
P.S. My 13-15 yr old nieces (and their similarly aged girl-friends) ultimately thought this show was just silly nonsense. And, if they thought it was immature (as did I), then your show got some problems!
Bottom Line: A very generous 6 out of 10 stars, and I'd have a hard time defending even that high of a rating if pressed.
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