Taiwanese Drama Reviews
What can I say about Taiwanese dramas? They are a breed of their own; there is no way you can compare these to any other Asian dramas. They tend to be a bit on the dramatic side, but ohhh how I love them. I don’t know if there is a usual length for these because I haven’t watched enough to know; most of the time I’ve found them to be around 14-15 episodes on average (when they air on TV), with varying air times (I’ve seen 60-100 minute episodes… maybe longer). Once they’re put on DVD, they get partitioned into compact 45 minute episodes, making the episode number much greater. I think this can be intimidating for people who don’t like to make long commitments to dramas, but if the show is good enough, it’s a complete gift. I have yet to see one of these things get completely stale, despite the run time.
I am one who can tolerate a lot of “cheesiness” if I don’t have high expectations. I guess I’m just recommending that you don’t compare these shows to anything that you have seen, because in their own realm they are wonderful. I love them.
I am very subjective with my reviewing. I have been trying to be good about explain the strengths and weaknesses of everything I watch, so I hope that is helpful to you. I am careful about keeping spoilers out of the reviews, but I normally reveal certain things about the show, so if you are a spoiler nazi… watch out. Seriously, how can you give a decent review without delving into some of the material? It’s crazy hard. That’s why I don’t do it lol.
“Quality” rating = my feeling about the overall flow of the show, the production quality, the acting, and so on.
“Lovability” rating = my personal feeling about the show; despite any faults, I came away with “this much” love for it.
Corner with Love
|Genre: Romance, comedy
Episodes: 16 (TV episodes)
Starring: Barbie Xu, Alan/Show Luo, Lu Jia Xin, Dean Fujioka, Carolyn Chen, Chen Zhi Kai
Synopsis: Xin Lei (Barbie Xu), a girl from a wealthy family, and Qin Lang (Alan Luo), a guy who came to Shanghai to pursue his dream of becoming an artist, meet by accident at a corner when her car and his bike crash into each other. They meet again when Xin Lei goes to the restaurant that Qin Lang works at. They truly get to know each other when Xin Lei asks him to teach her how to make oyster pancakes. Then, Xin Lei’s parents’ company goes bankrupt. Without telling her, Xin Lei’s parents go into hiding, leaving only a plane ticket and a key to their house in Taiwan. To make matters worse, Xin Lei’s fiance breaks the engagement, due to his parents’ wishes. The only two people she has now are Qin Lang and her best friend Xi Xian. Qin Lang then tells her that he is leaving for Taiwan, so they bade farewell. When Xin Lei arrives in Taiwan, she finds out that Qin Lang’s family has been living in the house for years! After much controversy, Qin Lang’s grandmother finally lets her stay. Thus begins a magical love story.
Opinion:There was so much to love about this drama, but I had some issues with certain aspects. What was good? The characters were so freaking lovable. The acting from Barbie Xu was great (as I expected, really), and Alan/Show Luo’s was better than I was expecting. I think he needs to get more experience under his belt before he gets my full approval, but the guy is so good at doing emotional scenes that I think it makes up for any of the cheesy tactics he tries to work. The story was pretty interesting for the most part. The trouble I had with it, generally, was that they kept using my least favorite plot device: self-sacrifcing love. Whenever a character rejects his/her lover for that person’s sake (without telling/explaining), I go ballistic. Yeah, and they tended to make characters do that more than most dramas. But the parts of the show I actually liked made me come back and finish when I felt like giving up. But I really did go for a few days between episodes at times. If I was a little less obsessive-compulsive about details, I would have fast forwarded some, and maybe I would have liked the show a bit better for it. Still, all in all? I thought this show was pretty decent. I am all about chemistry, and I think there was a lot in this show. There was definitely frustration, but… deep down, I think it was worth it.
Opening Theme: Megan Lai Ya Yan – 愛的勇氣 (The Courage to Love)
Ending Theme: Alan/Show Luo – 羅志祥 – 愛轉角
Devil Beside You
|Genre: Romance, comedy
Episodes: 20 (DVD episodes)
Starring: Mike He, Raine Yang, Kingone, Tsai Pei Lin
Synopsis: After finally getting the courage to confess her feelings, Qi Yue (Rainie Yang) was handing her love letter to Yuan Yi (Kingone), but by a stroke of bad luck, he did not see and walked passed her. The person standing in front of her was the troublemaker of the school, infamously known for his devilish ways – Jiang Meng (Mike He). The devil will get what he wants, and the object of his desire was Qi Yue. Although having a cruel exterior, Ah Meng’s heart is kind and caring, which truly touched Qi Yue. The big problem remained – Ah Meng is the son of the man Qi Yue’s mother is going to marry. Even though they were not related by blood, who will accept this step brother-sister relationship? What is to become of their relationship when other lovers come into the picture?
Opinion:The synopsises (it is a word) I’ve seen for Devil Beside You don’t sound exciting enough to me. If I knew how interesting this show was, I would have started it much sooner. I was honestly hooked from the first five minutes. That is VERY unusual! One thing that attracted me to this drama was the fact that it detoured from usual relationship plan. Not to mention, Rainie Yang and Mike He make such an intriguing and beautiful couple; it’s easy to watch them interact. I was so in love with it while I was watching it! I felt like I was carrying around a piece of it even when I wasn’t watching it. To me that is a mark of a favorite. Surprisingly, when I finished it I couldn’t get it out of my system for at least a week. There was just something about it that I couldn’t forget. I do have to be realistic though, because there were several aspects that I didn’t like, but come on! I chose to overlook them lol. A few of those things include high levels of sappiness (but I loved that approx. 98% of the time lol), many “yeah right” scenarios, and too much or too little focus on secondary characters. About that: I think some characters got so much air time that on a second watching, I’ll surely skim through their scenes. At the same time, some people (I’m thinking of you, Qi Yue’s not-Qing Zi friend… I can’t even remember your name lol) were so flat and unexplored that I felt a little gypped. Oh well. It just felt a little unbalanced in that sense. And the “yeah right” scenarios… well, they crop up in nearly every episode, but if you’re like me, you’ll be able to let them pass rather easily. They do make the show pretty exciting haha. People, DBY is not only hilarious, but it has some very touching moments as well. What is there not to love about that? I personally recommend this show.
Opening Theme: Huang Yida – Jerk (Chou Nan Ren)
Ending Theme: Rainie Yang – Ambiguous Love (Ai Mei)
It Started with a Kiss
|Genre: Romance, comedy
Episodes: 30 (DVD episodes)
Starring: Ariel Lin, Joe Cheng, Jiro Wang, Tiffany Xu
Synopsis: After an earthquake destroyed Xiang Qin’s house, she and her father moved in with the family of her father’s college buddy, Uncle Ah Li. To her surprise, the kind and amicable aunt and uncle are the parents of her cold and distant schoolmate Jiang Zhi Shu, a genius with an IQ of 200 whom not too long ago rejected her endless crush on him. Will the close proximity give her a second chance to win Zhi Shu’s heart? Or, will her love for him end under his cold words? What happens when there is competition for his heart?
Opinion:This show is a classic to me. I almost think that it should be watched by everyone simply because it exists. It is by no means perfect, but it is extraordinarily lovable. I have so many good memories of watching it! I think one of the main features of this drama is how two polar opposites grow. Growing… as in growing individually, but also growing accustomed to each other and one another’s habits, mannerisms, and, ultimately, learning there is balance because of their different personalities. It Started with a Kiss has its fair share of both humor and drama, which is usually born out of the completely reverse characteristics of Zhi Shu and Qin Xiang. That, I think, is a source of some of the drama’s flaws, despite the good aspects of it. Zhi Shu is too cruel to Qin Xiang, and Qin Xiang is often too stupid, clingy, and whiny. Whatever. It works itself out, and you eventually love and understand the quirks of the characters. I think the length of ISwaK could be intimidating to some people, but I really don’t think there is anything scary about it now that I’ve seen it. Once you start watching it, you’ll appreciate its length. I really hope people do love this drama, because I did. It has a special place in my heart.
Opening Theme: Jason & Lara – Say U Love Me
Ending Theme: Wang Lan Yin – Practical Joke
|Genre: Romance, suspense, action
Episodes: 21 (DVD episodes)
Starring: Vic Zhou, Barbie Xu, Xiu Jie Kai, Megan Lai
Synopsis: A shy artistic girl, Qi Luo (Barbie Xu), is approached by a the care-free and play-boy Chen Ling (Vic Zhou), who asked Qi Luo for directions to a hospital. In a split-second Ling forgets what the hospital name was. Hurriedly Qi Luo draws a map for him, unknowing that she was drawing on the back of one her drawings. Ling thanked her but she ran off before she could hear him, he then noticed the picture and was touched. The next time they had seen each other, Ling told her about the picture but Qi Luo ignored him and said he could keep the picture. Ling was very touched by the picture and that drew him closer and closer towards Qi Luo. But his past comes back to haunt him when a new student arrives as well as Qi Luo’s past comes back. Feelings will collide when you have a jealous ex come to stand up and fight for Ling against Qi Luo and an known admirer confesses his feelings to Qi Luo.
Opinion:I can’t say that Mars was absolutely perfect, but it was a very good story. It was really worthwhile to watch it. By the end of the show, the acting was blowing me away. I think it was pretty average in the beginning, but it picked up speed after a few episodes. I know that Vic Zhou and Barbie Xu are big name actors in their realm, but sometimes that can be deceiving (I can name a few actors that do not live up to their reputations at all). However, they were amazing. Really. They made the characters real. Speaking of the characters, WOW. I thought they were quite interesting! And I feel like Mars should win for best couples. Ling and Qiluo have to be one of my favorite drama couples. They didn’t really… hit you in the face with their relationship (I don’t know how to put it); it was a quiet and beautiful thing. I think if I talk about it too much more I’ll wind up sounding very cheesy (instead of the “quite cheesy” I’m doing now). I also looooved the secondary relationship going on throughout the series. It didn’t take too much presence. Just the right amount. Annnd the soundtrack: When I first heard the main theme (“Ling (Zero)”), I thought it was way too slow. Especially as the backdrop for the opening credits! Okay, I still feel that the opening credits are a little slow and lengthy, but the song really grew on me. I also love the duet Vic Zhou and Barbie Xu do. I definitely liked the soundtrack for what it was, and I think it ultimately fit with the show very well. Ahh, all in all I think this was a very… fulfilling drama. I say that because it didn’t grab me like some, but I usually felt involved after every episode. I didn’t feel detached from the story, characters, or anything, and that happens with some dramas. I feel like it was WORTH it to watch it. I feel like I got something out of it. And that’s pretty dang good.
Opening Theme: Alan Ke You Lun – Ling (Zero)
Ending Theme: Vic Zhou Yu Min & Barbie Xu Xi Yuan – Rang Wo Ai Ni (Let Me Love You)
|Genre: Romance, comedy
Episodes: 17 (TV episodes)
Starring: Cyndi Wang, Nicholas Teo, Gino, Zhao Hong Qiao
Synopsis: Xiao Shi is a girl who has gone through many short relationships, 17 to be exact, not one lasting more than 3 months hence, she was cursed with a three-month curse. After being dumped by her 17th boyfriend, the world looks grimmer than ever. At that time, a famous idol, He Qun runs past, bumps into Xiao Shi, and they end up “kissing” on the street. Paparazzi swarmed by and to avoid a bad reputation, He Qun’s manager declared Xiao Shi as He Qun’s girlfriend of one year and fiancée. Thus, a love contract was made. This story is about how the couple learns to like each other after having disagreements in the beginning, as well as fighting the injustices the media throw at them. Will Xiao Shi finally break her 3 month curse?
Opinion:I both downloaded and watched this drama on a whim. I have heard a few people say it was good, but I haven’t caught wind of any rave reviews. Now that I’m finished with it, I can see why. I felt like it was totally worth it to watch Smiling Pasta, but I know it’s not something everyone can handle. There are a quite a few things that might be equivalent to bullets to the intolerant/impatient: Xiao Shi, her family, excessive drama. When you stick it through, you learn to see the good points about these things. Xiao Shi is annoying even to people in the SHOW, but as time passes, a lot of them (He Qun especially) gain a new perspective on her. Similarly, Xiao Shi grows as a person as the story progresses. Her family is obnoxious to the umpteenth power, but you learn from them that the bonds of family are strong. Family can drive you INSANE, but their love can make you stronger (cheesy? yeah. but true!). The drama… hey, what do you expect? The cut-throat media “character” (it’s the media in general) is a major source for drama in this show. It provides a ton of “roll your eyes” moments, but I feel like I really gained a new respect for celebrities in the lime light. It’s silly for a drama to bring that to me, but it’s completely true and I’m grateful for it. I know the media was exaggerated in this show, but I do know that there is a lot of truth to it as well. Moooving on, there are plenty of good and cute moments in Smiling Pasta. I don’t mean to bash it at all; I just want to be honest about its faults. I heard that this was a sort of Taiwanese Full House. If that’s true, Smiling Pasta wins by a mile in my book. The couple has much more chemistry, many more lovable moments together, etc. Xiao Shi is like a smarter Qin Xiang (of It Started with a Kiss). You have to give Cyndi Wang like… four episodes to become her character, but after that it’s pretty good. He Qun is a slightly cocky, but he is so human. I really liked his character (Nicholas Teo isn’t the perfect actor either, but he does have talent) because… there was depth. Whenever he acted jerky, he usually had plenty of reasons (whether they were good or not). I must make a quick note that Ah Zhe wins an award for most-improved character. He is flat as cardboard for the first half of the series, but I loved him by the end (and his and Rita’s secondary-character-ness were completely tolerable). I don’t want to go on much more, but I think this drama was really good. If you have the ability to stick to things like this (despite all the faults and holes and whatnot), you should watch it watch it watch it!
Opening Theme: Cyndi Wang – Rainbow Smile
Ending Theme: Nicholas Teo – Tears from Polaris
Why Why Love
Episodes: 15 (TV episodes)
Starring: Rainie Yang, Mike He, Kingone, Chen Yan Xi
Synopsis: Tong Jia Di needs a life besides work, paying down family debt, and more work. So her best friend Jiang Xiao Nan sneaks in a “Love” coupon in Jia Di’s raffle box praying that the lucky guy who draws it will sweep Jia Di off her feet. As it so happens, Huo Yan, the compassionate manager Jia Di has secret crush on, is the lucky guy. But, tho’ the prince can exchange the coupon for Cinderella’s love, it doesn’t mean he will, especially when his devilish younger brother is determined to exchange his “Master/Angel” coupon for her servitude.
Opinion:I have never seen anything as melodramatic as Why Why Love. You can sense it from the very first episode, but every new twist shocked me with its blatant “predictability” in being so… unbelievable. That being said, I couldn’t stop watching this show once I got past the first episode. Towards the end I wanted to shout and scream, but I could not stop watching it. The story is crazy, the acting isn’t very good, and everything is so far from realistic.. but there is something absolutely captivating about this drama. As a big fan of Devil Beside You, I loved to see people like Rainie Yang, Mike He, and Kingone cast together again (even though their roles were shockingly similar to the ones they had in DBY, as were many things in this drama). I think their past together really gave their interactions an extra boost. Bonus points go to the person who thought to add behind-the-scenes segments after most of the episodes. I laughed so hard at those things. Everyone is soooo cute together, and seeing them act out scenes so happily made me view the show in a even better light. This show will probably make your jaw permanently drop from all the melodrama, but if you’re like me, you won’t be able to say you disliked it. That’s how I feel. I feel like Why Why Love could have been so much better, but I think everyone needs to be removed from reality from time to time, and this is just the ticket. But know that I’ve warned you: this drama is on drugs lol.
Opening Theme: Wang Kingone – 我要的世界 (The World I Want)
Ending Theme: Rainie Yang – 缺氧 (Lack of Oxygen)