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[personal profile] olmue
I normally don't watch much TV because it isn't as satisfying to me as books, but my sister hooked me on this fantastic Korean TV show called W - Two Worlds. It's a portal story about some characters who live in a comic book world, and some other people who live in the real-life world of the comic artist, whose daughter is a cardiology intern. Kang Chul (which translates as "steel") is the hero in the comic. He won an Olympic gold for shooting at age 17, and shortly thereafter, his family were all shot dead by his gold-winning gun. He's innocent, but in the absence of finding the real killer, he spends time in jail, thanks to the urging of an ambitious politician who uses the capturing of the "criminal" to further his career. Eventually, Chul gets free and (as so easily happens in a comic!) manages to become a multimillionaire, running a TV show for unsolved crimes. Many crimes have been solved on the show (called "W"--for "who?" and "why?")--but never his own personal one.

In the real world. W is a bestselling web and print comic. It updates in real time, and the author, Oh Seong Moo, has gotten quite successful over it. But he is also one depressed alcoholic. And the comic is starting to take on a life of its own, not accepting all the changes he makes in it, and sometimes acting of itself. He freaks out and wants to put an end to it all--even if it means killing off his hero before Chul ever reaches his goal of finding his family's murderer. However, the night before the final episode is due, Mr. Oh disappears. His staff are worried. His daughter, Oh Yeon Joo, comes over to help look for him. While in his studio, she is pulled into the Cintiq drawing tablet by a bloody hand. It's Kang Chul. He's been stabbed, and desperately needs help. She's a doctor, so...she saves his life before realizing that something is really, really weird. She's in the comic world, but as she later tells one of her father's assistants--they are just like us. They are human, too. There is a lot of crossing back and forth, with all of the complications that arise from stuff like that, and let's just say that dad isn't entirely in control of the comic anymore. And bad guys are on the loose!

This show is so, so good! It's 16 episodes long (to date I've seen 10). And every one has a major plot twist at the end. I'm a writer, and I've read thousands of books. It's pretty hard to surprise me. But man, this one does! It has quite a metaliterary bent to it (develop your antagonists! Give them names and faces and personalities, or they'll come after you!). It's philosophical (Plato's cave, anyone?). It's got tons of action and romance and how the heck? and oh my gosh what is going to happen NEXT?? And it's FUNNY. I've skimmed a couple of other Korean dramas and been bored because there isn't enough humor to balance out the serious parts. I think that the harder you want serious parts to hit your reader/viewer, the more you need to employ a judicious use of humor. It makes people feel full, it creates contrasts, it allows relief so your reader doesn't get tired.

One of the interesting themes is power--because different characters have tremendous power in certain settings. It's interesting to see what they do with that power, depending on their sense of morality. People in relationships (even without manga portals) have tremendous power over their significant others. Some of my favorite parts are where Yeon Joo and Chul are working together to do extraordinary things, balancing their various areas of power for the benefit of each other.

One of the particular strengths I'm noticing also is that the writer is not afraid to follow the consequences of choices. And, she's not afraid to pause the action scenes and let the viewer feel. There have been a couple of extended scenes (one in a bookstore, one after a dream--you'll know the ones if you've seen it) where the main characters are just GUTTED--and because the script pauses on these, boy, they really hit hard in the feeeeeeelings department. Sometimes I read books and it's like the authors have taken the advice to start late and end early a little too seriously. Yes, you need action and you need plot developments. But if you want all of those developments to mean something to the reader, you've got to give a little screen time to the reaction/consequence. Let the important moments sink in. It's an investment in the characters and the book and the reader.

Anyway, the writing is sooooo entertaining. The acting is excellent. I have no idea how the writer will solve this one, but I really hope she pulls it off! So grab some popcorn and get watching. :)
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