I can only assume that it is. After all, how else would Lee Seung Gi become a Gumiho (I mean, perfect plot element- you like the guy that was a gumiho in a past life?) Unlike the awful first entry into the Star Wars universe I have high hopes for this prequel. I cannot wait until they do the awkward finger guns. And Jar Jar Binks is nowhere to be found. Automatically better.
All delusions aside I am enjoying this drama. With only four episodes aired as of this post the story thus far promises an exciting twenty episodes to come. Gu Family Book is airing on MBC, filling the Monday / Tuesday slot previously occupied by Horse Doctor. So long horse doctor, hello Lee Seung Gi. Henceforth is Lore in Stone Cities first impressions which in no way are influenced by a certain leading man….
Meet the players
Choi Kang Chi (Lee Seung Gi)
The half human half gumiho main character. Kang Chi’s parents played out a tragic love story that ended with both of their deaths. Sent down a river- literally- Kang Chi was raised as a human. With trouble at home Kang Chi is driven to set off on a voyage of self discovery.
Yeo wool (Suzy)
A martial arts instructor, Yeo wool is one bad ass girl. She works at her father’s martial arts school. During episode three she is warned that her fated love will soon appear and she must avoid him at all costs.
Jo Gwan Woong (Lee Sung Jae)
A multi generational baddie this nobleman wreaked havoc for Kang Chi’s parents and as the story prepares us will do the same for Kang Chi. An evil laugh villain for sure I anticipate several evil white cat stroking moments ahead for this character.
Park Mu Sol (Uhm Hyo Sup)
The nobleman that raised Kang Chi. Moral, upright, and as the story explains an all around nice guy, he is unaware of Kang Chi’s true nature but suspects the boy is not entirely human.
Our Story Thus Far (in a brief, un-spoily sort of way)
The first two episodes are dedicated entirely to the back story of Kang Chi’s parents. Our leading man’s mother is the daughter of an accused traitor. Sold to a giseang house she experiences her father’s death and her family’s shame. Kang Chi’s father is a one thousand year old mountain spirit / Gumiho (talk about a May/December romance!) who meets his true love when she is tied to a tree outside of the gisaeng house she is sold to. Love strikes and through a series of events the two become married. Butterflies rejoice and magic glowing beads circle in the air as the two revel in their marriage and the Disney like happiness of the forest.
Unfortunately their happiness is cut short. As supernatural love stories sometimes go Kang chi’s mother finally realizes her husband’s hidden supernatural nature and freak outs- literarily. Like betray him freaks out. And so the sad love story ends with Kang Chi being cleverly sent down the river only to appear in front of a nobleman, the man that will raise him to be unaware of his otherworldly origins.
I love it. I am a longtime fan of stories featuring paranormal events (yeah, I still watch Dark Shadows episodes when I am bored and love me some Buffy) and this show is playing up the out of this world moments in a way I cannot get enough of.
When I step outside of my love for the supernatural elements of this show I find a few things lacking. Such as suspense. Maybe I have seen too many dramas like this but a lot of things are predictable. As soon as a question of motivation or character is raised it is answered in the next scene. How will raising the mystery baby be lucky? Oh- your wife and baby just lived through a horrible birth. How will betraying your husband feel? Wait for the monk to show up and tell you just how bad you screwed up. It will be only a minute before he comes into the scene and starts his rant. Is abandoning your maid to run away a bad idea? Um..wait five minutes and you will see.
In addition to the quick closure of uncertain consequences I am still on the fence about our lead actor’s performances. I have loved Lee Seung Gi in all of his works, completely biased of course, still I only consider a handful of his roles well acted (the pretty aside I can still be critical. King 2 Hearts was the pinnacle of his acting in my opinion.) Suzy as a lead is new to me and so far I have not had a chance to see what she is really made of. A few more episodes will tell if I am left groaning or cheering this duo.
Visually this drama gets it right- mostly. The CG guys had way too much fun on a budget in some scenes (snake on tree for example) but largely the directing and cinematography go a long way towards portraying a mystical world where it looks like strange creatures could exist. The forest scenery that made the backdrop for the origin story were visually stunning, giving the viewer a glimpse into what a mystical mountain home painted by myth may look like.
Lastly I really love the comedic elements in this story. They are thrown in at just the right time, reminding me of a paranormal gem that aired last year- Arang and the Magistrate. The highlight of the funny is our wandering monk who I will henceforth refer to as K-drama Rod Serling. After all he appears whenever we need a gentle push in the plot. Like explanations of the supernatural- the emotional consequences of actions- or the general ‘this is the twilight zone’ type explanations. Love you Kdrama Rod Serling. I knew you existed somewhere.
So tune in. Let me know what you think so far. Are Suzy and Lee Seung Gi meeting expectations? What do you think of the story so far? Cheers!