Sunday, October 23, 2016

REVIEW: Noble, My Love (live action TV series)

Warning: This review contains spoilers.

Noble, My Love is a Korean drama consisting of 20 episodes that are each about 15 minutes long. The short episode length was unexpected (I'm used to K-drama episodes being about an hour long). It was also the best thing about the series. I don't know that I'd have been able to finish it if it had been 20 hours long. I expected it to be about a cold and arrogant CEO whose heart was thawed by an unexpected encounter with a sweet and energetic veterinarian, and maybe a dog. What I got was...not quite that.

Cha Yoon Seo is a veterinarian who is struggling under a mountain of debt. Her practice is small and caters mostly to rural clients, and she has to be available 24/7 just to get by. She's proud of what she has accomplished, but things do get awkward whenever she talks to former classmates, several of whom now have high-paying jobs at more fashionable locations.

Lee Kang Hoon is a rich, successful, and handsome CEO. People love him, even though he's an arrogant jerk. He first meets Yoon Seo when the dog he's using in a commercial escapes – she finds the dog and gives him water (don't expect much from the dog - he never shows up in the series again). They meet a second time after Kang Hoon is stabbed while escaping a kidnapping attempt. Although they didn't exactly hit it off during their first meeting, Kang Hoon becomes obsessed with thoughts of the kind-hearted veterinarian who stitched him up. How can he win over a woman who seems so determined to turn down everything he offers her?

Well, that's a nicer way of putting it. In reality, Kang Hoon becomes obsessed with “helping” Yoon Seo, whether she wants it or not. He tracks her down and asks her what she wants to charge him for helping him, bitterly expecting that she'll hand him an inflated bill. Instead, and only because he refuses to go away, she charges him a reasonable amount, about what she'd ask the owners of her animal clients. This is outrageous to Kang Hoon, who thinks his life is worth much more than that, so he offers Yoon Seo a slick new animal hospital in a better but much more expensive area. She refuses for lots of reasons that make perfect sense but, again, Kang Hoon won't take “no” for an answer. So he buys her current clinic's building and schedules it for demolition, because he is a horrible human being.

This happened in episode 4. There were very few ways Kang Hoon could have been salvaged as a romantic hero, and most of them would have involved him recognizing his own horribleness. Sadly, that never happened, and yet Yoon Seo eventually fell in love with him anyway. I would have much preferred her to fall in love with her former college crush, who seemed to be nice enough, if somewhat lacking in determination (seriously, why had he never tried to figure out why Yoon Seo pushed him away?).

Every time things went wrong for Yoon Seo, I loathed Kang Hoon more. No matter how nice her new clinic was, since she hadn't worked to get there she didn't have an established client base in that area. It was all Kang Hoon's fault, and yet instead of apologizing he used her lack of clients against her in order to bind her more firmly to him. It was horrifying.

At the same time, some of the things that happened were things that Yoon Seo allowed to have happen. That stupid contract, for one thing. In episode 7, Yoon Seo stupidly signed a contract that forced her to have daily contact with Kang Hoon, destroyed what little private life she still had left, and basically put her at his beck and call. Later she made things worse by agreeing to move in with him (in part because he made it impossible for her not to agree, because he was horrible).

Speaking of that contract, what the heck was a K-drama doing referencing that horrible fanfic, 50 Shades of Grey? For no reason whatsoever, the contract referred to Kang Hoon as the dominant and Yoon Seo as the submissive, and neither one of them laughed at the stupidity of it. I'm still wondering what the point was supposed to be, other than to connect Kang Hoon with another fictional overbearing jerk. It's not even that the series was steamier than most K-dramas – the most Kang Hoon and Yoon Seo did was awkwardly kiss.

There were maybe one or two good episodes in this whole series. Episode 18, for example, actually felt like a decent, if compressed, K-drama episode, with family drama and Kang Hoon displaying his vulnerable side. Unfortunately it was too little, too late. Plus, I could have smacked Kang Hoon when, in episode 20, he told Yoon Seo “Please have it my way this one time.” Excuse me? When did Kang Hoon ever not get his way?

The ending was a mess that didn't even fit the series' internal logic. Why did Yoon Seo balk at a prenup when she'd been perfectly willing to sign a stupid contract that put her at Kang Hoon's beck and call? Kang Hoon's sibling issues evaporated like they never existed, there was never an explanation for the kidnapping that almost resulted in Kang Hoon getting killed, and Kang Hoon's mom accepted Yoon Seo way too quickly and easily.

All in all, even considering the short episodes, I can't recommend this series.

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