Friday, October 11, 2013

Heirs Episode 1: English is as English Does

I watched the first episode of the new Korean drama Heirs. It has been hyped a lot because it has Lee Min Ho in it. He plays a rich teenager (teenager?) who gets sent to America to get out of his family's hair. Park Shin Hye plays a poor teenager whose sister in America lies that she is in college and marrying a wealthy man. There are various other rich mean kids who go to an elite high school. Its sort of like Boys Over Flowers except Lee Min Ho isn't Goo Jun-pyo in this one. His older brother is. Mostly I liked it, and they do say that you have to give a new show a trial of a few episodes before you pass judgement, but Really?  It is taking place in America - and the worst part of it is the Americans.

The people playing Americans are awful. You cringe every time they open their mouths. You'd think a show filming in the US could have found some reasonably good English-speaking actors. Apparently not. The worst offenders are the annoying surfer dude and the abusive boyfriend. Although random beach-goers are not immune. What does this say about Korean casting directors? They totally cannot tell?!?

DramaFever co-produced the show with Hwa and Dam Productions. DramaFever being an American company, you'd think they would like us to look good. Maybe someone is making a statement, though. Nampyeon says that when he lived in Japan years ago, most of the Americans he saw (guys in the US navy) made him cringe. They were loud and rude; dressed loud and talked loud. And rude. Gave us a bad name.

Someone wrote a review of Rooftop Prince which claimed that in Korean dramas you can either have good acting or good English but not both. That show featured a Korean girl who was raised in the US and her American friends who visit Korea. They were good actors when speaking Korean but their English lines were a joke. Very stilted. Heirs has the same disease.

I enjoyed hearing the Koreans speak English. We don't hear Korean accents very much. Foreigners are allowed to speak with accents. Accents are fun. Usually. Rachel the Fiancee has very good English. They can have her talk all they want. The mean girl played by  Krystal Jung should be able to speak well; she was born in California.

I was happy to come across some favorite actors from other dramas, notably Court Lady Choi. I'll go look up her name for you: Kim Mi-kyung. She's great wherever she shows up. She probably won't get to sword fight though. Another one is the charismatic gumiho from the backstory at the very start of Gu Family Book. He's playing Lee Min Ho's bossy older brother, Jun-pyo. Then there is one of the two teens from Gentleman's Dignity who pretty much stole the show. And the cute messy-haired drummer from Heartstrings.

These are all high school kids, huh? Trying to cash in on the teen market before Lee Min Ho gets too old? News for you: he is already too old. But he will be even older when he comes back from the army, so if they are going to do this it has to be now. Oh well, Tom Welling was pretty old to be playing Clark Kent in high school. How long was Michael J. Fox playing teenagers?

Waiting for Episode 2. Fighting!