I feel like a kid in a candy store. A drama filled candy store that just opened next to the candy store I already spend far too much time in (also known in my house as those Korean shows I lose sleep watching). This week I finished my first Taiwanese drama, the deliciously screwed up Autumn’s Concerto (thank you everyone for the recommendation!), and now I am poised to launch into the next Taiwanese show I have missed – all while looking like a five year old faced with rows and rows of penny candy, each one crying out to be eaten.
While I am enjoying this new facet of entertainment I want to give props to what I just watched. So here is Lore in Stone Cities slightly unbalanced look at the 2009 melodrama autumn’s Concerto. Cheers!
Meet the Players
Liang Mu Cheng (Ady An) ~ There is this girl whose mother died. But never fear- her wealthy dad remarried! Ohhhh..then her dad died right after going bankrupt. Then her step mother tried to abandon her. But never fear! Everything will be okay because her step mom shacked up with a creepy bento seller! Wait a minute- this guy is freaking creepy. I don’t really think everything is going to be okay…
Ren Guang Xi~There is this guy whose family owns a university. What a cute kid! Then his father commits suicide. Oh no! That is sad. Then his mother appears to have caused it all and spends her time pushing him into 23 hours of activities a day. So the kid turns into a young man and enrolls in the family university, never attends, and spends his days as a player and general troublemaker.
He Yi Qian~There is a girl who appears to have everything- a dad who has his own super shady company, an education in the states, and..um..I think that is it?!
Hua Tuo Ye~There is a guy who loves flowers and martial arts. Huh? Well of course they can go together! He also loves the tragedy stricken girl. A lot. A whole lot. So much so that he enrolls in the university where her family are bento sellers in order to be around her. Unfortunately she does not really love him; she just likes him as a friend. Awwwww. Did I mention that there is a whacked out gangster that tried to recruit our flower loving martial artist?
Ren Guang Xi, the aforementioned playboy troublemaker, meets Mu Cheng, the aforementioned tragic story girl by accident. After their initial meeting, which is a classic meet cute, the two are thrown together due to a bet Guang Xi makes with his friends to kiss the new bento girl and take a picture as evidence (because seeing a bazillion girls is not sleazy enough, incorporating bets and photos into the mix makes it all the less heartless. Insert sarcasm here).
Warning: spoilers ahead!
The bet brings the two together and through a series of encounters the two fall in love. Following the classic drama trajectory the two learn from each other- Mu Cheng teaches Guang Xi how not to be a bastard while Guang Xi teaches Mu Cheng how to rely on others for support. The new couple face melodramatic challenges culminating with Guang Xi’s sudden diagnosis- a brain tumor with a 15% chance of surviving a surgery (without the surgery he has a 0% chance).
But wait! Guang Xi’s overbearing mother wants her son to accept a new form of surgery, raising his chances to 30%. Guang Xi is against it because the hospital where the operation would be performed is owned by evil CEO He, whose daughter desperately wants to go out with Gaung Xi. As drama logic goes if he has the operation then he will be indebted to the He family and have to go out with the daughter. So he says no due to his undying love for Mu Cheng. Mom does not like this answer and asks Mu Cheng to leave Gaung Xi, as his love for Mu Cheng is the only thing keeping him from the surgery. Like all the noble idiots before her she agrees.
In a dramatic scene that can only be played out in a melo such as this Guang Xi wakes up after having anesthesia incorrectly administered (huh? Can anyone say malpractice?), realizes he is getting the experimental surgery he declined, runs out of the hospital (can anyone say lack of security?) and all the way to Mu Cheng’s house. Mu Cheng is busy leaving with her flower loving martial artist BFF and will have none of the “I love you, stay with me through my brain surgery” bit- after all she has to let him go to save him. Mu Cheng leaves, Guang Xi runs after her only to be stopped by her creepy step dad who stabs him. Oh, then he wakes up with amnesia. And Mu Cheng realizes she is pregnant. Wow…I bow down to you Autumn’s Concerto.
Such is the setup given to us in the first six episodes. Episode 7 and on take place 6 years after this sad string of events and finds Guang Xi living as a successful lawyer (who is once again heartless and now engaged to the daughter of CEO He) with no memory of his past except for vague and fuzzy flashbacks. While defending a man accused of sexual assault he has one such flashback and ends up punching his client (it reminds him of Mu Cheng’s sleazy step dad’s trial) all of which lands Guang Xi with 240 hours of community service. As the drama gods dictate he is sent to carry out his community service in a tiny village where Mu Cheng and her (their) son resides. Will he remember? Will they fall in love again? Will the son figure out who his alien dad is? Will our flower loving martial arts BFF prevail? Those and many more questions will be answered in episodes 7-21.
I think I have a tendency to associate wholly opposing ideas with one another. Case in point, this drama reminded me of Boys over Flowers in feel and execution. So how do I relate a k-drama featuring a cast of flower boys with a Taiwanese melodrama about suffering, mature subject matter, and a longing that makes the most patient person scream? I can only explain it as such:
While different in genre and origin both shows kept me at the edge of my seat for what I can objectively say is the wrong reasons-at least critically. The story was a mess, the directing was supbar. Yet the basic idea was like crack. Both shows presented an unbelievable series of events; with an equally unbelievable sense of logic spread evenly among the characters- lottery sports contest and noble idiocy anyone? The stories made no sense but were addicting, so addicting I could not stop watching what I know is a mess of a narrative.
Autumn’s Concerto presented a melodramatic setting full of twisting illogical plot points that drove the story further into the territory it claimed- a territory full or tragedy and WTFness (which I know is poor form but applies to this show, at least in my mind). So, with all of my criticism do I recommend it? Absolutely. For the same reason I loved BOF. It is just plain fun. Even if this show is much more tear ridden (yeah, I cried a lot during this one) than good it is worth it. The story in its entire base form tugs at the heartstrings- cute kid, loneliness, and memories come together to form a tri-fecta of melodramatic goodness. The bad balanced with the good, not the great into a riveting over the top narrative. Needless to say I will be tuning into another Taiwanese drama soon, I already have my eye on a few of them. I thank Autumn’s Concerto, with all of its BOF like goodness in getting me hooked to a different form of dramas.
Let me know what you thought of this drama. I loved it and thank everyone that recommended it. Cheers!