01 December 2020

K Drama Review: Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol

This is our second on-air drama after Record of Youth. This choice was easy because of Go Ara. We loved her in Reply 1994. We were not so happy with Ms. Hammurabi so we wanted to give her another chance. I was also curious about Lee Jae Wook, who's part of Hyun Bin's agency. 

Although I did not end up really liking the story, it was entertaining nonetheless. 

Story


DoDoSolSolLaLaSol tells the story of Gu Ra Ra (Go Ara), a rich girl who goes through a lot of unfortunate events. Her mom passed away a few days after she was born. She studied piano and was set to get married after her graduation. However, her father's business went bankrupt and her dad died of heart attack on the day of her wedding. Ra Ra's wedding was called off because her mother-in-law only wanted her because of her money. Ra Ra ended up homeless and found herself in Eun Po to meet a person called DoDoSolSolLaLaSol, who invited her over. 

In Eun Po, Ra Ra meets Sun Woo Joon (Lee Jae Wook) again. They met previously during Ra Ra's wedding when Joon was asked by the injured delivery guy to bring Ra Ra's wedding bouquet. The story revolves around Joon and Ra Ra's life in Eun Po where they fall in love and meet wonderful friends. 

The Good

Lee Jae Wook as Joon

Ahhh, I was right to be curious about Lee Jae Wook. He is very appealing. Although he might not be as flawless as other oppas out there, there is something very intriguing about him. 

Right from the start, I knew Joon was the type of guy who's easy to fall in love with. He's shy, quiet, and mysterious and might even be mistaken as a snob. But he's very reliable.

The problem with his being very dependable was that he did everything for Ra Ra. That was both annoying and sweet at the same time. He kept so many jobs to provide for Ra Ra yet he was able to satisfy all of her whims. Where did he find the time to work the entire day and still remodel the flower shop to turn it into Ra Ra's piano academy? 

Another great thing about Joon was that he did not say much. He would even verbally refuse Ra Ra's requests. However, he was a man of action. Despite what he said, he still managed to do everything for her. He did even the little things, like using a book to fan Ra Ra when she was napping. Although I know that it was not wise for Joon to spoil Ra Ra, it was still fun and sweet to watch. 

If I have not been clear, let me repeat it again, I love Lee Jae Wook. Although Joon was flawed (and that's a writing problem that I'll discuss later), Lee Jae Wook was able to deliver and give it his all. He was credible when he rescued Ra Ra when she was kidnapped. He did well in his confrontation scenes with his mother. And those smirks and little side smiles are what he does best. I loved his deadpan delivery everytime he said no to Ra Ra only to end up doing everything anyway. I look forward to seeing more of Lee Jae Wook in the future. 

Go Ara as Gu Ra Ra

Go Ara is one of those cute and lovable Korean actresses. She can win you over even before she speaks. Her eyes and face can already convey a lot of things. When we started watching this show, I realized how I missed seeing her sparkly eyes. I would still say that she was cutest and most natural in Reply 1994. But Ra Ra is a much better version than the extremely passionate and positive character she portrayed in Ms. Hammurabi. 

Ra Ra was a sheltered girl. It was not her fault though. Her father raised her that way and Joon sort of reinforced that when he spoiled her. I was not hopeful for her after all the misfortunes she went through. I didn't think she'd survive after her dad died. But thanks to Joon, she pulled through. Every time she broke up with Joon, I thought she'd finally lose it. Yet she managed to bounce back every single time. Never mind if she had weird coping mechanisms - like cleaning and eating a lot. At the end of the show, I was proud of how Ra Ra turned out. Among the characters, she was probably the most fully developed one. 

During the earlier episodes, Oppa was complaining about how Go Ara seemed to be exaggerating her acting, especially in the funny scenes. However, I found the "exaggeration" acceptable. I felt that was just how her character was written - a girl living in a bubble who was masking her fear and sadness by appearing excessively joyful. 

It was great to see the different cute faces of Go Ara in this show - that gullible smile that made people think she was clueless, that cute smile that helped her get away with almost everything, the cautious "drawing the line/boundary" smile for Dr. Cha (Kim Joo Hun of Encounter), and that sympathetic, encouraging, and loving smile reserved especially for Joon. 

Go Ara's acting here helped me navigate through the different emotions Ra Ra went through - I shared her sadness and confusion after she found out about Joon's identity and her emptiness and grief after she thought Joon was gone for good. Just like Joon, Ra Ra's character was also heavily flawed but being a great actress, Go Ara still managed to bring out the best in her. 

Joon and Ra Ra 

Despite the age difference, the gap was not that apparent. Lee Jae Wook and Go Ara had good chemistry, much better than what Go Ara had with her partner in Ms. Hammurabi. 

As I mentioned above, Joon spoiled Ra Ra. I especially loved that scene where he washed her hair because her arm was injured. A guy who does not mind doing "girly" tasks is definitely a treasure. 

Yes, it's nice to have guys who allow their girls to be independent. But it's also nice to see guys who are overly protective of their girls and treat them like damsels in distress. I know this is not realistic but it's nice to watch unrealistic stuff once in a while. I would understand if guys don't appreciate this kind of drama because it creates exceedingly high expectations in girls. But I think girls would enjoy watching something like this from time to time, something that would make us fall in love again. 

Joon's kindness and sensitivity to Ra Ra's needs made their relationship work. He was ready to do or give whatever Ra Ra needed even before she asked for it. He wanted to open a piano academy for her even before she realized that that's what she wanted. He built a separate room for her because he knew she needed privacy since she lived with people who were strangers to her. He stopped her from selling her car because he knew how much she valued it. He bought back the car when she finally sold it and he gave it back to her. He volunteered to take care of Mi Mi, Ra Ra's dog, because her landlady would not allow her to bring it home. And while I did not agree with how Joon lied to Ra Ra about his illness, I understood that he did it because he did not want Ra Ra to suffer. He cared so much for her that he even went to the extent of having a staged photoshoot with a fake girlfriend to make her despise him. Joon loved Ra Ra and I felt that in every little thing he did. All of his actions were borne out of his love for Ra Ra. 

One of the hurdles that Joon and Ra Ra's relationship had to go through was the revelation of Joon's identity as a rich kid who ran away from home. I was generally happy with how this storyline was handled. While it hurt her and made her want to distance herself from Joon, I loved how Ra Ra accepted the sincere and heartfelt apology and confession of Joon. I'm glad Ra Ra heeded the advice of Mr. Kim (Lee Soon Jae) who said that she did not really need to know Joon's family background and age. What was essential was that she knew who he really was as a person. I loved how Joon expressed his indescribable longing for Ra Ra - with a letter containing the notes to a song. So, yes, it was great that the show did not make a super big deal out of this issue. I just wished all other problems in the show were handled the same way.  

I loved the twist that brought back Joon and Ra Ra together after Joon's identity was revealed. It was clever that the show left us hanging for a week, thinking that Ra Ra married Dr. Cha just around five months after she broke up with Joon. Then we find out a week later that it was a staged wedding for Ha Yeong (Shin Eun Soo) and Seung Gi's (Yoon Jong Bin) business. I loved how Joon gatecrashed the wedding to snatch away the love of his life. I admit though that Joon found out about the "wedding" in a very convenient way, i.e., overhearing Ra Ra's ex-fiance talk about it. 

While I loved Joon and Ra Ra's story and I was happy that they still ended up together, I was not pleased with how their ending was handled. But I'm saving that for later. :)

Kim Joo Hun as Dr. Cha

I was mostly neutral towards Kim Joon Hun. I found him quite funny in Encounter. He was mostly okay as Dr. Cha. I would even say he did well despite the limitations of his character. 

Dr. Cha was the third person in the love triangle. However, I felt that it was such a give away that he was not going to get the girl. 

After completing the show, I ended up confused with Dr. Cha's character. I was not so sure about his purpose. Most of the time, I felt that he was placed there to merely serve as a decoy for DoDoSolSol and to make it appear that Joon had competition, even if he was turned down by Ra Ra right away. 

Yes, he did add some spice to the story and the show attempted to make him a bit interesting with his male housemate and his reconciliation with his ex-wife. Over all, however, I felt that his character was not fully developed and explored. And that is such a waste because judging from how Kim Joo Hun portrayed Dr. Cha, there's so much more depth in there that was waiting to be discovered. 

Other Actors and Characters

Most of the shows characters were lovable. Even the TWD ladies who spent most of their time hanging out at the salon and talking about their desire to divorce their husbands ended up likable. They're like those ahjummas that brighten up your neighborhood. 

Mr. Kim was also very endearing. I loved how he acted as Joon's guardian and how he gave him time to sort out his affairs. It's just unfortunate that he seemed to have been abruptly plucked out of the show after he got sick only to return for a short time during the Christmas party episode. 

My most favorite characters would be the unlikely gang of Joon, Ra Ra, Dr. Cha, Seung Gi, and Ha Yeong. It was such a weird mix but it made me happy to see them together. They helped each other out and they were always there for each other. I loved how Seung Gi and Ha Yeong were brave enough to climb over the fence of Joon's house because they could no longer take how miserable Ra Ra was. And how Seung Gi agreed to cover for Joon in the hospital. And how Ra Ra and Dr. Cha agreed to that staged wedding to support the kids' business. And how Ha Yeong loved Ra Ra like a sister even if she stole the man of her dreams. And how aloof Joon ended up having strong bonds with Dr. Cha and Seung Gi. Yes, they were an odd group but they proved that real friends come in different shapes, sizes, ages, and places. 

I liked Shin Eun Soo and Yoon Jong Bin. They acted naturally and they maximized whatever screen time was given to them. I hope to see them in more dramas in the future, especially Jong Bin. 

Music

I loved how classical music was used throughout the show. It was like getting a crash course on classical music. I especially loved the arrangement of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star that Ra Ra used for her graduation recital. I still hum it once in a while. 

The Bad

My problem with the show was how the story was written and executed. 

The pilot was compelling. A lot of things happened at the same time - Ra Ra graduated,  her music teacher left, her wedding was called off, her dad went bankrupt and passed away, she was scammed with the apartment that she bought, she moved to a new town, and she got into an accident. Joon was working in a construction site and guys were looking for him because he ran away from a rich family. One would think that this one's going to be very promising and we'll be very busy dissecting all these issues in the succeeding episodes. Looking back, however, I guess that should have been a warning that the show might be trying to do so many things in 16 episodes. 

Yes, the loopholes were already there right from the start. Like how Ra Ra was still posting on Instagram where her location could probably be traced even if she was advised by her dad's secretary (Ahn Nae Sang as Secretary Moon) to lie low because her dad's creditors might run after her too. But I was telling myself to just enjoy the show and not mind the illogical stuff. 

While I mentioned that the exaggerated acting of Go Ara was acceptable. There were some that did not sit well with me - like Joon's mom and Director Chu, the guy tasked to find Joon. I guess they were supposed to be funny but they came across as annoying most of the time. I also found it weird that Joon's mom went around carrying envelopes with huge amounts of money that she gave away whenever she needed someone to do something for her. She appears to come from a really rich family and it was totally not classy for her to be doing that. 

I also felt that the other characters were underdeveloped. For instance, Secretary Moon and Professor Gong (Moon Hee Kyung) seemed to be very close to Ra Ra and her family. They genuinely cared for her. So it felt quite weird that they never bothered to check on her after her dad passed away. They knew how dependent she was on her father and I don't know how they can just expect her to be fine with living independently. And while they did come back for a few scenes towards the end of the show, it felt like that was done to just get rid of their characters. Like other shows that try to tackle a lot of issues, I guess the problem here was the show had a lot of characters. And while it would be difficult to develop everyone's stories, the Reply series and Prison Playbook proved that it can be done. I believe simplicity is key and it would have probably been more manageable for the show if it limited the number of characters so as not to make the others appear as mere token characters. 

Another problematic storyline for me was the one with the stalker (Kang Hyoung Suk as Ahn Joong Ho). I admit that it made the earlier episodes quite exciting but I was not happy with how it was not properly resolved. Yes, he was arrested. And he was the reason why Joon was finally found by his family. But we're unclear on whether he had mental health issues. Why was he obsessed with Ra Ra? I can't help but feel that this suspense/thriller storyline was sloppily inserted in the middle of the show to sustain viewers' interest. 

I also felt that the show had time management problems. They had a couple of stretched stories and episodes, probably because they did not have a deep enough material to work with. Episode 11 for instance was obviously a filler episode. Joon was not in Eun Po so they had to create a storyline that would still require him to be part of the story. Thus, they showed flashbacks of Mr. Kim's love story where Joon played the young Mr. Kim. I honestly felt that it was a waste of time that could have otherwise been spent in developing other characters and storylines. 

As I mentioned above, I was ready to accept the illogical stuff. I was very patient with the loopholes. However, the bombs dropped towards the end were just too much. I know I should be happy with how the story ended but I felt that the journey to get to that ending was not properly laid out. 

First, I felt that the show was pushing the destiny thing too far. It would have probably been acceptable that Ra Ra and Joon actually first met during Ra Ra's graduation recital and that he took her photo with his best friend. It would probably still be okay and coincidental that they met again during Ra Ra's wedding. I'm even willing to accept that they had a casual encounter in a cafe. But I found it quite incredible and absurd that Ra Ra could not remember that Joon paid for her juice a few years ago even if they spent some time together on one table. Is it not human nature to remember the people we are indebted to? And yes, the cafe had to be named DoDoSolSol too. And that incident had to happen on the day Ra Ra ran into her stalker. I am fine with destiny storylines but I hope it's something built up properly or it's quite plausible like the one we had in Crash Landing on You

But what really ruined the show for me was the storyline on Joon's leukemia. Yes, I get it. It was acute and it's supposed to come suddenly. But it totally felt like it came out of nowhere. There were no build ups whatsoever. Yes, he had a couple of nosebleeds in the earlier episodes. And I was wondering if the show was already laying the predicate then. 

Joon was hospitalized when he pretended to be sick so he can escape to see Ra Ra. Did they not run tests on him at that time? Yes, Seung Gi took his place but is it not SOP for hospitals to take tests the moment you arrive? I don't think they'd let you rest first before they run your tests, especially in emergency situations. More so if you're the son of the hospital's owner. 

And if Joon were really very sick, why did they allow him to spend two more days with Ra Ra? Sure, it's good for storytelling but that does not make sense if time is of the essence. His dad was a doctor and I'm sure he knew better. 

And even assuming that all of the above were acceptable, I was still terribly disappointed with how Joon lied to Ra Ra about his condition. Although it might have probably been borne out of his concern for Ra Ra, I just felt that because he had this great love for Ra Ra, he should have told her the truth to give her time to be with him even for one last time. I absolutely hate lying in the guise of protecting the people you love. Won't it hurt them even more that they are unable to maximize their time with you because they did not know what you're going through? They might even end up hating you because of how you're acting, without knowing that you were already terminally ill. 

And what's up with Joon's mother giving the impression that Joon was dead??? Why did she let a lot of people suffer over something that was not yet certain? Was that not too mean especially for Ra Ra who went through a lot in her life, including that relationship roller coaster she had with Joon? Was she not mentally and emotionally abusing and torturing Ra Ra? Would it not have been better for her to give hope to the people who loved Joon? 

And five years without any communication whatsoever from Joon was just such a long time. What if Ra Ra got married? Or what if she hurt herself because she was too depressed with how her life turned out? I honestly cannot understand what the show was trying to do here. And given how crappy things were, the least they could have done was to show the Eun Po gang's reunion with Joon. 

Yes, the show started out promising. Towards the end, however, especially the last two episodes, it felt like a hodgepodge with no clear destination and they kept adding conflicts and stuff to stretch the show. In the end, the show failed to touch on anything too deeply. They just showed enough to stir the viewers' interest without really fully developing anything  like the stalker angle, Joon's relationship with his dad, Ra Ra's friend Sia, Ra Ra's ex-fiance, and Mr. Kim's son. I felt betrayed because the show seemed to have just milked my emotions by making me cry whenever someone was sick, leaving, or breaking up. 

As I mentioned above, the actors were great. They made do with the limited material they had. And whenever I remember the disappointing ending, I just think of Lee Jae Wook - how I discovered him here and how he made my TV screen sparkle like a star twinkling up in the sky - and all's well again. :D

Oppa says...4.2.

Noona says...4 because of the actors, most especially Lee Jae Wook. 


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