Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Scandal ep 1-6

The show starts getting fun when the dots start connecting...

I was hesitant to watch Scandal. Many housewife doramas are there just to make up the numbers every season. Many are run-of-the-mill in-law shows. The same old stuff about suburban mums. Once in a while you get something inspired like Saito-san which takes a different spin on the typical suburban housewife stories. The main reason I decided to give Scandal a chance is Suzuki Kyoka. Her acting in Karei naru Ichizoku was great. In terms of acting, that dorama was magnificent with the sole exception of KimuTaku but Suzuki Kyoka's performance put her in my books as a great actress.

Scandal is pretty much the Japanese version of desperate housewives, which is a bad and good thing. The bad thing is you have four women with very fake personalities. Suzuki Kyoka is the proper 40 year old mom who cares about appearances. Hasegawa Kyoko (Dragon Zakura) is the dreamy mom of a struggling household who has a fantasy blog and cries all the time. Fukiishi Kazue is a former 3rd rate model married to a plastic surgeon 20 years her senior who treats her like a caged bird and lastly, Momoi Kaori is the old one of the group who is cynical and stressed out by her jobless husband and hikkikomori son.

If she can look as good as her mom at that age, she'd be a good catch. :)

The beginning of the show was hard to watch because all these characters are so super fucking flawed that I was grasping at straws to find any reason to cheer them. They are pretentious, useless and talk way too much without doing anything. Hhhm, sounds like some people at my workplace. Flaws usually equals depth. It is necessary to stereotype the characters first before adding layers to their personalities. Usually watching people who don't mean what they say can be interesting because of subtle verbal jousting but these four women are so flawed to the point of caricature that the world would be a better place without them.

Pillow fight!

Luckily, Sawamura Ikki is there to keep it interesting. He has been the supporting act in so many jdoramas and he is always a hoot to watch. His chemistry with Suzuki Kyoka is excellent and their interaction funny as. It is clear that the writer was aiming for a subtler, dark comedy feel with the flawed characters but it only worked with Kyoka and Ikki IMO. I was kinda bored to see Kita Yoshio in this show as a cop. Every time I see a middle aged character in a show, I expect it to be him. The Japanese Diet needs to pass a law to allow him to act in maximum of one jdorama per season. He is putting all the old dudes out of work. Nevertheless, his acting in Scandal works although it is merely a toned down Negative Yoshio. Maybe its just that he is antagonistic to the four women that made me support his character.

I have to admit, the Bara hime no mori bits are pretty funny.

I know it sounds kinda bad but its much easier to critisize than to praise. What makes Scandal work is the story. Every single character has a past and things to reveal. The revelations are simple but the important thing is how and when things are revealed. This is the strength of Scandal. The writer plants questions and ends every episode with a cliffhanger. Answers are revealed in the next episode which leads to more questions. Just when you think you've got it figured out, something new brings doubt to your mind.

Its unfortunately Fukiishi Kazue doesn't have much of an arse to shake. That's probably why she's a 3rd rate model.

Yes, Scandal is a mystery dorama and a bloody well written one at that. It is when the story shifts into high gear by the 3rd episode that the show becomes engrossing. When the characters act in certain ways to progress the story, then it is good. Maybe the writer wanted to start slow or maybe the writer realised that dialogue relating to character development does not work. Its hard to do a mystery and character dorama with so many characters and luckily it shifted into story mode early. I'd rather doramas have a crappy beginning and good end thana good beginning that quickly fizzles away.

Do check Scandal out and watch at least four episodes. If you're not screaming for the fifth episode by then, this show's not four you. I'm so tempted to watch ep 7 raw but it may be better for my blood pressure to wait for all the subs and watching it in one go.


marspeach said...

I'm glad you like it! Ep 7 gets even more exciting. I can't wait for the raw of ep 8 to be out.

sparqi said...

OK finally a dorama which sounds worth watching!!

Jung said...

It is pretty refreshing to see a dorama with people who can do more than just read lines. And you're right about all the characters being flawed. But maybe that's how people are in real life.

I find it interesting how I still haven't developed attraction for any of the characters up to episode 6. In fact, I find everybody in the show quite despicable, including the risk-averse loser lawyer husband. Yet, the writer has managed to weave all of them into a single plot over the course of 5 episodes without losing my interest. Alright, I do have a soft spot for Hasegawa and her mobile blog antics... but she's cheating on her husband!

They need to make a show like this starring 4 dorama otakus, going around solving crime...

Akiramike said...

I guess that's the strength of the show. There's no likable character but you keep watching to see what happens. Maybe the fact that no one likes the characters means that the writer can do whatever he/she wants for the ending and no one will mind.

tUrtleAE86 said...

Not sure if you've seen this, but this was my first introduction to Fukiishi Kazue. ^^


Data said...

Ah, Scandal, my favourite drama of the season. Not only did the writer Inoue Yumiko manage to create so many interesting and convincing characters to laugh and cry with, she also did it while combining what's technically a mystery-suspense story with a lot of comedy and melodrama. Mostly I just enjoyed following the misadventures of the 4 "stupid housewives," as Kohinata the police inspector calls them, and how they learn more about each other and themselves as they nose around.

Can you see Hasegawa Kyoko's pregnancy in this? A little, I guess. Hasegawa is 30 already - time flies.

Btw, it's noteworthy that a bunch of guys are remaking Sideways with Kohinata Fumiyo in the wine snob leading role and Suzuki Kyoka the woman he's romancing, so we'll be able to see a different effect there. Namase Katsuhisa (Trick etc.) and Kikuchi Rinko (Babel) are also in that one.

Anonymous said...

I'm not surprised that you liked this show. Discovered it due to my crush on Momo Kaori and this turns out to be the best housewife drama IIRC. Too bad that it's been forgotten as time flies.