talonjensen

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Reviews

Schitt's Creek
(2015)

low-brow, obvious humor
Just too low-brow for me, not my thing. I prefer my shows to be more uplifting, optimistic, so there is that.

I need humor that is more unpredictable, not something that makes me think trailer trash (sorry, I know that term isn't PC, but I did live in a trailer park with my Aunt for a couple years, so I have some experience there).

For 7 years I worked at a brokerage firm on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, so I've known more than my share of wealthy/celebrity people who weren't intelligent or self-aware, so that could also be my turn off, too close to my experience. Regardless, if you like it, I won't judge.

The King's Woman
(2017)

Tried to like this
I really wanted to like this, but there are so many plot points that don't make sense. So many actions that just fly in the face of reason, even for those times, it just didn't work for me.

Most of the actors do a good job, production values are better than average, but the script is just too difficult to believe. The actor playing the King is somewhat wooden in this show as he also was in Love 020. I initially thought that was because of the way his character was written, but now that I've seen him in two shows, I think it is just his acting.

The main point of this is that the King has grown up with little to no people he can trust in his life, so he is cruel and paranoid. He desires, I wouldn't say loves, the female lead, Gong Sun Li, because she helped save him when they were younger.

SPOILERS BELOW: As King of the most powerful kingdom he is able to use force and blackmail to get what he wants. And, so Sun Li comes to the palace as a concubine, but she is pregnant with Jing Ke's child.

The King favors her and treats her well enough that eventually she falls for him as she realizes the cause of his cruelty. This isn't Stockholm Syndrome because that isn't really a thing, it isn't listed in the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders". It is simply the natural empathy most people can feel when they spend time together and begin to appreciate the good with the bad.

There are many mistakes in the script, an example would be in episode 31 when Sun Li is in a palanquin with Min Dai, who has stolen her dagger. Min Dai pulls the dagger and cuts herself putting the dagger in Sun Li's hand. The main problem I have with this is Sun Li is a martial arts expert, especially with a sword (or even a dagger) and Min Dai has no martial arts skills. This being true, how come Sun Li didn't take the dagger away from Min Dai while they were talking? Or, why is the dagger in her hands after Min Dai cuts herself? Min Dai tells the King that Sun Li tried to kill her? If Sun Li had tried to kill Min Dai she would be dead.

Another, very simple complaint is when people are chained, in prison, the handcuffs are three times larger than their wrists and could easily fall off? I know there is a limited budget for every show, but really?

I'm not a fan of the deuxs ex machina, magical poison of the last episode that allows the King to win in martial arts. It feels like a cop-out for poor writing skills.

I have many more criticisms, but those are enough of a sample, so you can decide if I am too critical or not.

And, finally, you do need to know that this is a tragedy. It is important because sometimes I want to watch a show that leaves me feeling uplifted and sometimes I don't care.

Bei hui gui xian
(2014)

Modernized Shaw Brothers production
It is important to note that this film is done in the old Hong Kong, Shaw Brothers style, so the comedy and some of the drama is over the top and the plot skips around. It is just updated to 2014.

Ming and his friend con people out of money. Ming's expertise is using his good looks to scam women out of money.

A wealthy, dying man hires gangsters to capture a very rare butterfly which lives in a valley known only to a generational line of women in a remote tribal village in China. A-Long, the current keeper of the secret valley is working in Beijing as a waitress and Ming is forced to get the secret location from her when they put an explosive necklace on his girlfriend Mimi and a tracker bracelet on Ming.

Ming meets up with A-Long and they eventually travel to the remote tribal village and the valley of butterflies. Ming begins to realize that he has actually fallen in love for the first time and has to figure out how to save A-Long, Mimi and the butterflies, if possible.

I'm not a huge fan of this style of movies, if I were I would probably rate it higher. It does generally have higher production values than the old Shaw Bro movies of the 70's and 80's. And, some of the drama, plot and acting is NOT over-the-top, a good thing to me. However, my rating is based on comparing it with other 2014 Asian movies and, in that reference, it isn't that great. But, I did watch it to the end and some of the actors are good. If a show is awful, I won't even finish it.

Ailiseu
(2009)

Spy thriller, good tension, better than average production values
This is a review of season one. The story line is fast paced and keeps your interest with tension. The production values are better than average for a Korean TV series, with the exception of the then, trendy, camera jerkiness which is horrible at times. Don't expect the production values to be as good as a movie.

There are the typical plot holes, but the show moves fast enough you can mostly ignore them. It is amazing to me that still, in 2020, most Korean shows never admit the ability to track a cell phone for location or recent calls after a bad guy or phone number has been identified. Regardless, I didn't mark this 2009 show down for that omission because my review is in comparison with other Asian dramas.

The show is well written enough that I couldn't always tell what was going to happen next, which I really enjoyed. Most shows follow pretty standard plot lines and this one follows a common overall plot arch, but the details were often difficult to predict, especially early in the show. Later in the show it becomes more formulaic.

The main characters aren't the best actors in the world, but they had chemistry with each other and with others, so that worked well.

SPOILER ALERT! I have to admit that I was disappointed in the tragic ending which I assumed was a vehicle to pull the female lead back into the spy agency. But, turns out that is not the case. So, just another Asian drama with a tragic ending.

I am usually very analytical (an engineer by education), but I generally want my shows to lift me up at the end, so that is entirely emotional and I did not enjoy the ending.

I just want to mention that Season Two is mostly new characters, weaker writing and weaker production values. It starts roughly 3 years after season one.

Gunsmoke: The Wiving
(1974)
Episode 6, Season 20

Abduction of the Sabine women revisited
When this came out I had just graduated high school and it was already a little politically incorrect. Now, in 2020, it would never be made unless it was some type of porn video.

When I was a preteen I watched Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954) on TV and really liked it. So, I liked this version of the story. Later on I found it was based on the story set soon after Rome's founding of the Kidnapping/Abduction of the Sabine Women.

I think it is well done and I enjoyed it, after they arrive at the ranch, the father is surprised to find his sons kidnapped the women and has to "think on it". They aren't sent back immediately, but are courted by the men, the women eventually decide being married and living on the farm just might be better than being a dance hall girl. I did enjoy the characterizations showing very different women and very different men and wondering where the attractions would occur. There is much more to it than this, but I don't want to give away too much.

If the viewer focuses on the usually misleading idea that abducted women will come to like their abductors, then you will hate this show. It does happen in real life, but it is rare and not politically correct. Certainly never as benign as represented in this show.

The Twilight Zone: The Old Man in the Cave
(1963)
Episode 7, Season 5

Different interpretations
Depending on which part of this show you pick, you can get different interpretations.

The final dialogue in the show talks about "faithlessness". But, what I got from the show revolves around the people's destruction of "the old man in the cave". People have difficulty trusting someone or something that is different from themselves. Difficulty trusting something they can't understand or relate to.

Baegabondeu
(2019)

Nonstop, who will win changes every 15 minutes
This is pretty tense and I have to admit I did shed a few tears, so good acting (but, as a parent I am susceptible to some of the emotional manipulations used). The plot is about greed and corruption, both corporate and political. It seems the major corporations involved will pretty much do anything and every politician can be blackmailed or corrupted. I haven't been this disgusted with politicians and secret agencies since I watched Scandal (2012).

I'm only half way through the first season and it is keeping me entertained, so that is much more than most shows. If you can put up with a lot of "deus ex machina" then this show is for you!

Deputy
(2020)

Maverick against the establishment with left politics
Like most people I enjoy the maverick against the establishment plot line. But, you will have to decide if you can ignore or support the liberal political statements. It is rare/unusual to have a left-leaning cowboy maverick and I did find the 2nd episode had less politics than the 1st (I saw the 2nd episode before the 1st).

Like most Americans I am usually between the political left and right, so I am choosing to ignore the political statements and enjoy the show, we'll see if I can keep watching.

As someone who grew up in a rural area and spent most of my teenage summers working on my uncle's ranch, I can relate to the cowboy/maverick lead character and enjoyed his challenging of the status quo and condescending bureaucracy. It is good enough for me to watch a few more episodes and hope it gets even better.

A Cinderella Story: Christmas Wish
(2019)

3 star is generous
Hmm, I really don't have positive things to say about this show. But, if you like to listen to a nasal voice that is auto-tuned, then you might find this interesting.

Unfortunately, I didn't like any of the characters and it even put my wife, who loves these Christmas movies, to sleep.

Watched maybe 20+ minutes, don't waste your time unless you just have to see every Christmas movie.

Daybreak
(2019)

it is good to try new/old things, but in this case, fail
Failure is good, you can learn from failure and do better next time.

Show tries to be witty, but fails. Talking to the camera, jerking back and forth in the timeline, trying to make new stereotypes, all characters extreme caricatures, over-the-top acting, etc. has already been done and abandoned. I guess one more try because it is a newish generation?

Also, so much swearing that it comes across as poor writing.

I gave it the old try and must admit I didn't finish episode one. This would appeal to teenagers who love slapstick and awkward jokes, slim plot, there were some of those in my high school.

The King's Avatar
(2019)

okay, but needs a better script
I really wanted to like this show and I did give it six stars, but so many flaws and missed opportunities makes it disappointing. Watching any series to the end means an automatic five stars from me.

All about different people trying to come together as a team, but many of the motivations and actions don't make a lot of sense. More troubling are the strange happenings. There are booths that each team goes into when playing and yet, someone dressed in black like a ninja can spy on a player, from outside the closed booth, and wirelessly report that player's position to the opposing player? The network/server room is unlocked so someone can go into in and unplug the network? There are no video cameras in the arena, booth or server room? The captain of a team can be detained by the "esports police" just as the team is getting ready to play a match? And, the reason isn't given until the final ruling (punishment) is given?

There isn't much suspense in the gaming. I greatly enjoyed the gaming portion of Love 020, which was more about jealousy, revenge, relationships, growth, etc. than it was about the game. In this show gaming takes a bigger stage, but we can't relate as well as to a game we aren't playing as we do to human emotions. There are people who cheat, hate, seek revenge, and try to blacklist other players and teams, but not much growth or self-reflection except for the players on the main team. Overall I found the gaming boring with a few interesting moments. And, just to be clear I've been gaming on computers since the 1980s.

A side plot is the aging of gamers, which makes them old in their late 20s. Just made me laugh, seems the pain of repetitive strain is seen as an age thing, not something that can be treated or prevented.

Good stories are all about conflict and often resolution, yet artificial conflict where someone cheats and lies against you then you instantly invite them to join your team?

The main team does learn that it is easy to like each other when things are going well, but much more difficult when faced with adversity.

While I don't dislike the lack of romance, in this case it might have helped make the show less boring. The show is slightly better than your average Asian series, but not in the league of the best ones. If you like gaming, can suspend disbelief, live without romance, put up with plot holes and illogical decisions then this show is for you.

Stuber
(2019)

toxic masculinity addressed?
I read one of the things this movie addressed was toxic masculinity. Well, there is certainly masculinity and a toxic script.

That is about all I've got. Just move on, not even worth the time to see if it is on TV. You will want those minutes back.

60 Il, Jijeongsaengjonja
(2019)

Excellent adaptation
Clearly the story borrows heavily from the U.S. original, which borrowed from other stories. However, the Korean version is different enough that I have really enjoyed it and just finished watching episode 9.

Very nicely done, often some strong tension until a crisis is resolved. And the resolution is not always predictable. The special effects aren't up to the level of the U.S. version, but otherwise I have no complaints.

I'm hopeful they will be able to keep it up.

Diamond Lover
(2015)

Different Versions
First there are two versions of this. The original is 65 episodes. I first watched it on Netflix with only 24 episodes. My wife watched the full 65 episodes and watched the last two episodes on Netflix with me, she couldn't stop complaining about all the missing information, including people never appearing in the 24 episodes. She was very upset with the ending.

It did make me understand some of the crazy things in the Netflix version. Scene cuts and sound changes that looked like poor production values were because of editing out two-thirds of the episodes. Half of the last episode is flashbacks with one new scene at the end.

Still, this is better than your average Asian drama. It is the standard fat person, Mi Duo (Yan Tang), who suddenly gets thin. There is just enough background to see her life in a fat suit. She is seriously hurt in an accident and undergoes major surgery becoming thin and beautiful. This gives her more confidence and changes her life, she begins working for a company where the CEO, Xiao Liang (Rain), was once kind to her as a fat person, so naturally she will fall in love with the CEO. But, she does have a childhood friend, Lei Yi-MIng (Jin Luo) who is now a doctor, also lives in Shanghai, and, while a former womanizer, is just beginning to understand he loves Mi Duo.

The rest of the drama is just the normal break up for this reason, get back together, break up for that reason, get back together, etc.

My wife insists that I watch the full version, so I will come back and update this review afterwards.

My wife tells me that in real life Yan Tang and Jin Luo are a couple. If you like them you can also see them in Jin Xiu Wei Yang (2016), which I have seen and liked it better than Diamond Lover (2015).

Well-Intended Love
(2019)

Fundamental relationship problems
Suspending disbelief is difficult when the CEO is also allowed by the police to act as a detective and go along with them and, of course finding, analyzing critical data.

However, the biggest problem with this show is a lack of understanding of relationships. You can't build a relationship on an abusive, possessive basis. Nor can someone, in this case the CEO, fundamentally change his personality so quickly.

SPOILER: The CEO's family owns a hospital so he is able to fake medical records indicating the objective of his desire (definitely not love) has leukemia and he is the only compatible donor.

Then, he gives her many rules to obey and, at one point, actually holds her captive. He treats her as a possession.

How in the world can a loving relationship be built on these fundamental misunderstandings of the difference between love and lust? Then we are to believe he quickly controls these destructive tendencies and real love comes out of this?

I couldn't suspend enough disbelief in the basis of this show and I think I am being generous with a 6 rating. While not everything is awful, I also found the bad guy, someone worse than the protagonist, to be a caricature of evil with no redeeming qualities. A bit too extreme in today's entertainment where I expect most characters to be a mix of good and bad.

Bonanza: Five into the Wind
(1963)
Episode 29, Season 4

A murder mystery plot
This is a murder mystery where Little Joe is the obvious killer because he finds the dead man stuck with his knife, removes the knife, and it holding the knife in his hand over the dead man when discovered.

The story starts with very different people taking a packed stagecoach. Little Joe, a saloon singer, Laurie Hayden (Kathleen Crowley), a rough fur trader, Howard Benson (Kelly Thordsen), an arrogant son of a Baron, Roberto DeSoto (Mario Alcalde), a prissy, judgmental woman, Nora Whitley (Betsy Jones-Moreland) and an older man, Leon Henshaw (Dabbs Greer).

Howard tells them he makes a lot of money as a fur trader and has $5,000 in his pocket right now. The stagecoach driver has a heart attack and the stage is overturned with the horses running off. They all survive and begin walking with a little food and water and a wild wind. Only Howard and Little Joe are familiar with the country and which way to go. They find a cabin/way station and spend a night there. Howard makes advances to Laurie, which she rejects, so he gets rough and Little Joe intervenes. Near morning LIttle Joe finds Howard dead and is holding his knife when Nora starts screaming and everyone awakes. Little Joe is knocked unconscious and has his hands tied because they all think he is a killer. Unfortunately, Little Joe is the only one who knows which way to go and leads everyone further into the wilderness, into a cave where he tells them they aren't going anywhere until the killer confesses.

Everyone is thirsty, hungry and tired when Laurie tells the old man, Leon, to tell Little Joe.

SPOILER: Turns out there is some important information that the travelers hadn't shared with each other. Leon is Laurie's father and has just been released from prison, but he swears he didn't kill Howard and provides reasoning why he wouldn't, yet. Then Nora comes in with Roberto and a gun, they take the last water and prepare to leave when there is some gunplay between LIttle Joe and Roberto with Nora being gut shot. Roberto tells her he loves her, but where is the money? Turns out Howard had promised to marry Nora, but wouldn't do it and didn't have any money. Nora killed Howard because he wouldn't marry her. Nora is upset about Roberto's concern for the money and shoots him, then she succumbs to her wound.

In the end Little Joe is happy to be back at the Ponderosa and scolded by his father when he puts his boots on the table.

Bonanza: Mirror of a Man
(1963)
Episode 27, Season 4

better than expected
This show started out a little slow for me, it didn't seem too interesting. But, for me, it definitely got better as it went along.

A notorious family of outlaws, father, Luke Barnes (Ford Rainey) and four sons. Two of the sons are already dead leaving two sons, twins, one, Jud (formerly Homer) who has changed his name, is married to Amelia (Nancy Rennick), who has no idea of his past, and now is a "top hand" for the Cartwrights and one, Rube, who has no guilt when stealing or killing. Both of the sons are played by Ron Hayes. The father seems to love both of them, but with a preference for Rube, most likely because Rube has stayed with him. They have been searching for Homer/Jud and have finally found him.

Rube kills Sol Breckenridge (Joseph Breen) while stealing a horse from his corral, so there is a posse looking for him. Jud tracks them down and confronts them, Rube takes Jud's place in order to steal some more so father and son have some money to live on while Jud is held at gunpoint by his father. Rube wouldn't cooperate with the Deputy Clem Foster (Bing Russell) so is being held in jail while Ben, still thinking he is Jud, talks the deputy into releasing him so he can help Little Joe go pick up an expensive horse. At one point Ben is also being held at gunpoint and tells the father that all a man has for his reputation is the children he leaves behind.

SPOILER: In the end, Luke, the father, has to choose between his sons. he shoots Rube just before Rube is going to shoot Jud. Then he rhetorically asks, "Why would I kill Rube". Ben answers him and says because you want to be remembered well.

Bonanza: The Good Samaritan
(1962)
Episode 13, Season 4

Hoss tries to help his friend Wade Tyree
Hoss's friend Wade Tyree (Don Collier) has turned into an alcoholic since he got jilted. Before that Wade worked tirelessly on his farm.

Coincidentally, a single mom, Abigail Hinton (Jeanne Cooper), and her daughter, Bonnie (Noreen DeVita), arrive in town to marry a man who married a rich widow and took off for San Francisco. Hoss tries to get Wade and Abigail together.

SPOILER: After some misunderstandings and challenges, they actually do get married, but there are still emotions to work through and challenges such as a drought, exhaustion and pregnancy. Wade is mostly on the edge of frustration, depression and going back to the bottle.

Eventually Hoss is stunned when Abigail stands up for Wade against Hoss, but it seems to light a fire under Wade, who is ready and willing to fight for his family. Hoss is frustrated that people are so difficult, but Ben reminds him that is what makes people so interesting and rewarding, just as thunder foreshadows rain.

Overall a good, but not great episode with few surprises but good acting.

Bonanza: Day of the Dragon
(1961)
Episode 11, Season 3

Impressive treatment of Chinese minority
I won't go over the plot, other reviewers have done a good job of that. I want to say this episode is impressive because of the non-stereotypical treatment of Chinese. The main character Su LIng (Lisa Lu), starts off acting submissive, but is clearly experienced and intelligent. I have a little vested interest in this because I lived in China, have a Chinese wife and four, half-Chinese children.

One point the other reviewers didn't mention was the bit of "Tom Sawyer" in Su Ling. There is a scene where she is happily watching the Cartwright brothers peel potatoes for her.

The other main Chinese character is, according to LIttle Joe, the best doctor in Virginia City. It is so nice to see both characters in non-stereotypical roles, both of which show intelligence and compassion. It did make me chuckle when Su LIng described American culture, specifically American "freedom", as "inscrutable".

As a little added bonus, it is great to see what a long career Lisa Lu has had, I greatly enjoyed her recent role as the grandmother in Crazy Rich Asians (2018).

Wagon Train: The Jesse Cowan Story
(1958)
Episode 17, Season 1

Feud brought to the Wagon Train
An Appalachian feud brought to the Wagon Train.

When the Cowan brothers, Jesse (George Montgomery) and Bob (Mort Mills), come back to their homeland, after fighting on different sides in the Civil War, they find their Cowan relatives all dead or missing. A local tells them the Beals had massacred everyone then left to join a wagon train out west. So Jesse and Bob take off to find the Beals for revenge.

When Major Adams (Ward Bond) takes them in, the first person Jesse sees is Sally Jo Beal (Penny Edwards). Sally Jo and Jesse have never spoken before because of the feud, yet have been infatuated with each other for years.

After a fight Major Adams make them agree to a truce until the end of the trail, but Rufe Beal (Lee Van Cleef) is unable to hold to that, as is also Bob.

Jesse tells Sally Jo it can never work between them, but Sally Jo listens to a wise grandma, Dorcas Beal (Olive Carey) who basically tells her to follow her heart. The elderly leader of the Beals, Ance (James Burke) has a heart attack/stroke or something deadly while arguing with Rufe and soon dies. This leads the Beal clan to decide to return home, but Sally Jo doesn't want to go.

All this drama has been happening with the pressure of an Indian attack, which eventually occurs. Pretty predictable story, some good acting, poor characterization of Native Americans (as someone with Native American heritage, I do pay attention to this, but mostly give old shows a pass, I don't expect them to be corrected or destroyed, bad/incorrect history is still important to preserve).

Bonanza: The Bride
(1961)
Episode 18, Season 2

okay
This is a fairly predictable story where a younger woman, Jennifer Lane (Suzanne Lloyd) shows up at the Ponderosa claiming she is the new Mrs. Ben Cartwright, having recently married Ben. Ben is away on a trip to Carson City for business, but soon shows up. After getting over her shock at marrying someone else, Jennifer runs up to her room, and the Cartwrights decide to visit the town where she married the fake Ben Cartwright, but they need Jennifer to identify him.

On the way they visit the camp of an old miner, Ned Birch (Hank Worden). After leaving Ned's camp, Ned is murdered and an envelop addressed to Ben Cartwright is dropped next to him.

On arrival, Ben goes to Sheriff Mike Latimer's (John McIntire) office where Ben is arrested almost immediately.

Jennifer is upset about the murder, but continues to do what her boyfriend Frank Milton (Adam West) wants, including identifying Ben Cartwright as the man she married.

Eventually LIttle Joe and Hoss are also in jail, leaving Adam to sort it out and he goes after Frank.

SPOILER:

In the end the main bad guy is Sheriff Latimer, who always wanted a place like the Ponderosa. But, he is shot by Adam as he is getting ready to shoot Jennifer in the back. Jennifer is trying to tell the truth to the drunken mob now that her boyfriend Frank died in a struggle with Adam.

The Time Machine
(2002)

enjoyable difference from original
This is an enjoyable remake that doesn't follow the original closely and I'm okay with that. I really did enjoy the differences and the update.

Most of the acting is better than average, the effects are good for prior to 2002, the writing is good, the movie mostly keeps moving.

SPOILER: The only question I have is while he is attempting to figure out how to defeat Emma's death in the timeline, it never occurred to him to put her in the time machine with him and go back a hundred years? Then, her death could still happen on schedule, no reason to defeat fate. Of course, the rules could be written differently, but why not at least try?

It seems as a time scientist the possibility would have occurred to him, and I would have liked to see that option explored. One could always argue that he just didn't get to it before the accident throwing the time machine into the far future, but that is unsatisfactory.

Zhi Yin Danshen Zai Yiqi
(2015)

uneven, but good
It is a typical Asian show where the couple don't really get together until the last episode, so there is romantic tension throughout.

Throw in a hunt for a serial killer, whom the audience can identify sooner than the characters in the show. Then, some rich family tension over who will lead the company into the future and the current, female head fighting cancer. Also, some revenge from past misdeeds and you have a few plot arcs to watch.

The story is a bit uneven. Some things just didn't make sense, so you just have to accept and look past them. The relationship between the two main characters, Qiao Sheng Yu (Joe Cheng Yuan Chang) and Jiang Ke Xin (Lulu Xu), is awkward, but I think it is supposed to be awkward. I have seen relationships like that in real life. There is the childhood friend, Chi Bo Yuan (Jiro Wang), who tries to defeat their romance, right up until the end. The revenge is mostly embodied in Ke Xin's evil rival Manni (Viann Zhang).

The ending, like most Asian dramas, feels a little rushed. Events happen quickly, with little explanation, in the last few episodes. Most of the characters experience growth and change, although much of that is in the last episode when they are trying to tie things up (denouement). This drama will surprise you, then show you what happened, in a flashback, that you didn't see.

Overall I enjoyed watching it enough to finish it, so good, but not great.

Zheng hun qi shi
(2014)

Uneven
Very uneven. It started off slow, slow enough that I considered giving up, but it did get better and I watched it to the end. Right there that deserves four stars. There are shows I never finish. Unlike most of the Asian shows I watch this wasn't on Netflix, I watched it on fastdrama dot me.

Lai Hai-Ning (Sonia Sui) is the editor/COO of a small publishing house. She's had a nine year relationship with a philandering author, Fang Cheng-Hao (Jerry Chih-Wei Huang) , she always forgives him for his affairs, but won't marry him. Life seems to be in rerun for them.

After they break up, and he leaves the small publishing firm, Hai-Ning decides to publish a book where she meets 100 candidates for marriage with herself. She really wants to understand why people get married, because she couldn't.

The 100 candidates she meets are a wide variety of people that provide some interesting situations including: some crazy people, some emotional moments, a reveal about her mother, an old boyfriend of her mother, even a rich CEO. Many are pretty cliche, but some have interesting, even emotional stories.

SPOILER: Hai-Ning has decided to not publish the book because she hasn't figured out why people marry, in spite of being involved in several marriages and a few more relationships.

The best character developments are with Hai-Ning's coworkers who provide some interesting, eccentric side stories, especially artist, Wen Bei-Sze (Bei-Bei, Ching Fang).

There are two candidates that Hai-NIng actually connected with, a CEO Benjamin Lun (Christopher Ming-Shun Lee), who is too controlling, and an ex-con bicycle messenger, Ho Chung-Wen (Hans Chung) who likes photography. In the last few minutes of the last episode she finally hooks up with Chung-Wen (and decides to publish the book). While this relationship was foreshadowed in some previous episodes, it isn't satisfying because they don't seem to have much chemistry and the show ends with her out-of-work and him living on his bicycle messenger salary. I almost would have picked the CEO at the end because he learned from his mistakes and truly cared more about her happiness than his. Because I didn't believe in the relationships with either man, it wasn't a great ending and we weren't given a hopeful future. Hai-Ning actually had more meaningful conversations with the gigolo candidate!

It is difficult to tell if the main issues are from the writing or the directing, either way, both are involved in the problems, the acting is fine. If you like watching some odd-ball characters and can put up with an uneven series with an unsatisfactory ending (for me), then watch it.

The Oath
(2011)

Better than average
The basis for this Singapore drama is about the conflict or the complement between western medicine and traditional Chinese medicine. The male protagonist, Wu Guo En (Christopher Ming-Shun Lee), was set to become a western doctor, but a choice to save a life instead of being on time to his medical final exam forced a change to traditional medicine. Guo En went to China for six years to study traditional medicine and is now back. His former lawyer girlfriend, Ye Zhi Yi (Ann Kok), hasn't moved on from their relationship and has struggled somewhat with depression.

During medical school, Guo En's main rival, who usually came in 2nd, was Guan De Wei (Ix Shen). De Wei has spent six years working at a hospital where his mother, Professor Zheng (Liyun Lin), is both a hospital administrator and a medical school professor. De Wei is proud that he has never made a surgical mistake, very strict and rigid. Dei Wei did go through tragedy during the past six years when he was unable to save his girlfriend, Moon, from death. De Wei also loves Yang Min Fei (Jesseca Liu), a doctor he mentored at the hospital, who still works there.

Both Guo En's father, Wu Zhi Xiong (Shucheng Chen), and Min Fei's father, Yang Li Ming (Richard Low), practice traditional medicine, but Min Fei doesn't believe it holds much value because her father was unable to save her mother, who died while she was young. Both of the fathers know each other and often verbally spar.

I appreciate the fact that most of the conflict doesn't come from simple communication problems or covering the truth, which is very, very common in Asian dramas. Don't read further if you like being surprised by watching the show.

SPOILER: Guo En and Min Fei meet, clash, and fall in love. Zhi Yi faces depression and attacks from a disgruntled husband in a legal case.

Professor Zheng sees complementary skills in combining western and traditional medicine, but her son, De Wei, increasingly resists. De Wei views Guo En as a rival he has never beaten and when he finds out that Min Fei has fallen in love with Guo En he is furious. Min Fei finds out she has inherited the same fatal disease that her mother passed away from, AML.

Eventually, De Wei makes a mistake fatal to a patient while in a hurry to meet with a German researcher who might be able to help Min Fei. De Wei tries to cover up to the point that he puts other lives in danger, including one of his interns, Guo Jian Zhong (Zhen Huan Zhang) whom he lets fall down a hill where he gets hit by a vehicle. De Wei also goes to great lengths to discredit Guo En and causes him to lose confidence.

Eventually, De Wei threatens Jian Zhong's gambling, idiot uncle who retaliates by running him over with a car, also injuring Guo En, who loses his memory of the past six years. Ironically De Wei dies, but could have been saved if Guo En had confidence and had been able to stay conscious long enough to do a tracheotomy.

Guo En gets back together with Zhi Yi because he doesn't remember his relationship with Min Fei. Min Fei encourages this because she expects to die soon. Guo En and Zhi Yi plan their wedding, but Guo En's memory is coming back.

I was disappointed that Min Fei's fate is not resolved, so it must be implied that she died after getting back together with Guo En. Then, Guo En is alone and Zhi Yi has lost him THREE times: once going to China, once when he came back and fell in love with Min Fei, and once again, after planning a wedding, when his memory returned. Anyone would be depressed from that!

I prefer happy endings because I see so many unhappy endings in real life, but I still think this was better than average for an Asian drama, mostly because the majority of the conflicts were not based on "I'm going to lie to you to protect you from heartache, but in doing so create more heartache for you" which is so very, very common in Asian dramas. Even when Min Fei decides to break up with Guo En because she is sick, she tell him that reason straight up.

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