There are a few kdramas you watch because once you watch it you realise that they are very different from those you already watched. Alas – something different! That’s what I said to myself when I watched Hwayugi or Iris and this is definitely what I said when I first watched Memories of Alhambra.
Years ago, I would watch a drama straight from when it was aired in Korea. Weekly. And I get a high because I can watch the drama unfold slowly and there was something about watching something together with everyone – with bated breath – we see it progressing beautifully or tragically or if it is doomed in ending or not.
That was then. But now when I don’t have the luxury of time – I only catch it whenever – that means piles of episodes were already shown when I started. (But when I really really really liked one – I painstakingly find time to watch it weekly – but that’s rare) And when I started with Memories of Alhambra – I think they were already on eight episodes. Haha. But it didn’t matter to me because once I was hooked, those numbers seem to be so little – I can catch up in no time!
And I did – it only took me two episodes at best to get hooked to this series and one day to finish those eight episodes! Easy-peasy!
This came to my radar because my little sister were very insistent on telling me to watch it. There is a difference between telling someone that a series is very good or that a series is very good you need to watch this. This time it was the latter. And I was not disappointed.
What drew me in is actually my fascination to computer games – but I was not a gamer, I wish I did but was not – that fascination to computer games but is depicted very rightly so by Hyun Bin no less – made me watch it. That looking for the sword kind of joy and the effects and it was amazing that they put picture in the kind of feelings you experience upon playing a computer game but with much much more experience. I like those kinds of story telling – it makes you feel.
And this was the the best strength of this kdrama. 🙂
It makes you feel you entered a new world – props to this writer – I know this writer received so many flak after the show ended but we wouldn’t have been able to enter that world without her. (I began looking at those writers ever since I started on Hong Sisters drama way way back)
I never was very convinced that Hyun Bin was worthy of his status, not until I watched him here. He – very well so – put the drama on his shoulders and carried it until it ended – and that’s how you described some dramas that from the onset, you knew they can go either way: a mediocre ending that didn’t make sense or a doomed ending but you still watch it because its characters which were portrayed excellently.
Hyun Bin was great here – and I am glad that I get to watch him here and made my assumptions about him wrong – because I only saw him in My Name is Kim Sam Soon and Secret Garden and I was not able to hold out until the end of Hyde, Jekyll and I (four episodes at best and I was burnt out) – I thought he was just another pretty face who could somehow act but here – no, he made acting as top priority and the looks second. I never admired him more that I did here.
And Park Shin Hye always always delivers. Ever since I watched her in Stairway to Heaven, she was excellent – back then and until now. That’s not something you can say to everyone because at some point they will underdeliver but her – no, though she makes some characters frustrating (I’m looking at you – The Heirs) you will always be reminded that this actress is excellent.
Story, plot twists and ending aside – one of the things I laud is how they made the love story work. If it was just me I will never be able to fathom how a twenty seven year old fall in love with man twice divorced who conned you into buying an apartment but instead bought the rights to your brother’s computer game and he didn’t even tell you that something’s bad happened to your brother. But they did so – with Hyun Bin and Park Shin Hye’s acting prowess and from back then they look with a lot of age difference, I started watching Shin Hye when she was still a child but I started watching Hyun Bin when he was already the hero in a drama but they made the age difference fade away by their acting. (Unlike Goblin though) (Plus it IS Hyun Bin!)
What I can say about this drama is that they had so many things going on, plot devices and plot twists and their retelling on every episode is somewhat brilliant and I am satisfied with how it was. Not the super-satisfied tone but not also the I wasted 16 hours of my life watching this!
There is something to be said about a drama that made sense and reason WHILE you were watching it – even if the ending does not fit your idea of a perfect and reasonable ending – rather than a drama who can’t tell you a thing while you were watching it but bombards you with a lot towards the ending you can’t absorb because they withhold a lot and it now seems a last minute effort to save a drama. I prefer the former, though younger me would just be frustrated with both!
Maybe what’s frustrating is that a lot of people wanted this to be something – it has a lot of potential and sometimes you watch a drama because it has a promise – that it will take you somewhere wonderful at the ending and they didn’t – but actually they did – they took us to a journey but not the destination we expect, so maybe that’s where this drama fall a bit short. I like it from episode one up to the first half of the last episode. 🙂 I didn’t like how it ended – but that’s everyone. I didn’t hate it – I just didn’t like it.
So yes, Memories of Alhambra does not fit your idea of perfect – it didn’t to me also – but it was good while it lasted and for that, I am happy to waste away those times that I watched it because even if it frustrates me to not watch Hyun Bin’s character finally have his rest after being an unofficial hero – I was glad that I get to watch amazing characterisation and plot. And maybe that’s how we learn – besides who can tell you a perfect drama? Perfect only exists if you close your eyes on its flaws because sometimes a drama is so good you were willing to forgo the illogical things – for it to work.