Sunday, December 09, 2007

Beware with the Ordering

Being well trained in the Chinese strategic board game “Go”, I should have known by heart that executing the proper ordering of steps is extremely important to succeed a strategy. Heaven knows what a dumb I turned into when I am dealing with fictions and dramas, especially long dramas. I would watch the first couple of episodes, then jump to the last couple for the ending, as if I have no patience to follow the storyline without first seeing the ending. Actually there is still a strategy in my use of time for entertainment - if the beginning and the ending do not appeal to me, that would be the end of the time I would spend for that drama. Not bad, eh?

This happened to the acclaimed drama “Sandglass”, the collaborated work of director Kim Jong Hak and scriptwriter Song Ji Na. I bought this drama for two reasons; first it was of course because of TWSSG. Why? Because it was also the collaborated work of director Kim and scriptwriter Song. I want to know their styles a bit better. Second it was because of the following introductions made by the …

“One of the first genuinely unmissable Korean dramas, Sandglass became a cultural phenomenon when it first aired in 1995, and the yardstick by which all subsequent productions would be measured. The show was a talking point at water coolers around the country, captivating households with its thrilling story of organized crime and political upheaval. Sandglass secured a staggering 65% audience share, with reports of stores and businesses closing early so workers could be home in time to watch each week's new episode.


Sandglass powerfully explores the conflicts between friendship, loyalty, and duty. Don't miss this intense and unpredictable 24-episode television masterpiece… and prepare yourself for a thrilling and truly unforgettable ending.”

Talking about the unforgettable ending of “Sandglass”, I did watch it with my usually “drama viewing strategy”, the last episode was truly unforgettable, extremely touching, but also disturbing to my point of view for life, I decided to put it aside until I REALLY have time to connect the dots between its beginning and ending. Friends, if you have watched “Sandglass”, feel free to discuss your views with me, I would be very interested.

Talking about ordering of steps, for Bae Yong Joon’s drama, I NEVER EVER jump to the end. I concluded that Bae dramas deserve all my spare time to savor, especially the scenes with him appearing. So what went wrong, my dear H, with TWSSG ending episode? It is obvious that I would not and could not jump to the ending since I followed the airing one episode after the next, no on knows the ending till the actual airing of episode 24. The problem is, I went to work during that day, I have to watch the downloaded episode typically a day behind the broadcasting day. The “ordering” went wrong this way – Wednesday Dec. 5th, 2007, after a long day of work, I dragged my tiring body back home a bit earlier than normal working hour, hoping to cheer myself up with the happy ending of the last episode. The first minute when arriving home, I went straight to my laptop, directly navigate into my usual TWSSG link, immediately overwhelmed with complaints about the ending. What? Taewang died? All four gods died? What’s gonna happen with Jumoochi’s twins? What’s gonna happen to out lovely poor girl Sujini and the little prince? Why Lord Hwanwoong would kill his love Sae-oh, but Taewang Damdeok would not kill the evil Kiha? I saw people were angry, screaming, exploding. What? There was another version of the ending by the scriptwriter? What? The original ending was more peaceful and happier? Reading these comments and extra information, I got deeply depressed and unconsciously avoiding the watching of the last episode.

Two days later, with the releasing of the Chinese translation, I finally settled down my mind and started watching it, telling myself that I have to watch it with my own eyes and think with my own minds before I judge the situation. The outcome was, even though there were some pitfalls in the shooting and post processing, the ending is definitely a convincing, moving one. I like it. It can be made more beautiful and hopeful for a lasting entertaining memory, but it is satisfying in the way that it was cleverly made open-ended.

Lesson learned? Follow the right order, don’t jump ahead, don’t be influenced by others view, better yet, don’t read others comments until you watch it by yourself. You do not want to miss a great drama by judging the ending first. See that's how I missed the "Sandglass", except it is much more tolerable than missing the TWSSG. Only for once, I wished my internet connection was lost those couple of days so that I did not read about the ending before watching it for myself. But on the other thought, without internet connection, I would not be able to download this episode.

Anyway, these babbling is all about – I wish I did not read those comments and be depressed about the TWSSG before I watched it myself first! Over and above all, TWSSG is an exceptionally fantastic drama. Hail to the team and especially to our HRH!


jaime said...

hehe dear h,

I'm the worst when it comes to reading books and watching a drama, I need to know the ending first before I decide if it's worth going on.

TWSSG doesn't really count for me as I watch it on and off, so the ending doesn't mean much to me yet. But I agree with you, we should really reserve judgement until we watch through the whole story, and in our language too (not by guessing the Korean dialogue). Now when I know BYJ and KJH put the emphasis on the lesson learned being a human-being rather than a 2000-years love story, then maybe I'll watch the drama from a more philosophical angle.

love ... jaime

HeippieH said...

Dearest Jaime,

So you are another impatient cat? You made me think that there are more of us type out there, storytellers should better watch out for us. They'd better start from writing the ending first. I can't not imagine the writer would not have an ending in mind first before starting out a big project like TWSSG.

TWSSG is about Taewang and the four gods. Love story is for adding taste and making it more dramatic. The main theme is about how Taewang grew to become a real king and how the four gods helped him in his journey. My ideal ending is to see Taewang achieved his goal - bring peace to his people, there are various ways to show it, it does not mean we have to see Damsu happily ever after, does not mean we have to see our favorite characters living a happy life, but I really want to see Taewang's achievement after so much bloodshed and sacrifice from himself and so many people - that peace is finally back to his people.

Love and hugs.