Not since last year’s Cinderella’s Sister has a Korean drama dropped the ball and wasted so much potential as much as Myung Wol the Spy (both on KBS).
Myung Wol started off as a fun, quirky take on the spy genre. A cool, slick action-filled romp that included comedy, espionage, unrequited love and even some political thriller thrown in. Those first few episodes appeared to be moving in the right direction in terms of keeping all the eggs in the basket and finding the right balance and tone between all the moving parts.
But a couple of episodes in, the wheels fell off. The series became disjointed. The stories became too incohesive and forced. And the abrupt tonal shifts were jarring. Then there were also the abrupt production differences that made the series go from cinematic in quality to low budget morning drama in a matter of a scene or two.
Myung Wol used every romantic drama cliché in the book. It watered down the espionage and action to shoehorned fights in between emotionaless angst. And the humor that was so fresh and welcome all but disappeared.
That picture up there? Definitely captures the feel of the first few eps. But the rest of the series? That poster could might as well be for a completely different series.
Even without the backstage drama, the series itself had enough problems to deal with. You just didn’t care about the characters at all. There wasn’t anyone to necissarily root for, especially not the “destined” couple where half of the couple was an ass most of the time and other half oblivious and naïve (and not in a cute way).
The last few episodes were too little too late. Though the series’s final episodes perked up thanks to ramping up the action and raising the stakes, it just felt like the series was a lost cause. It didn’t help that the series finished with a totally contrived and completely unnecessary ending. One final unneeded twist to basically prolong the series 15-20 more minutes.
The series was disappointing for having started off so well and then quickly descending into a mish-mash of incohesiveness. But it was even more disappointing for me as a fan of Lee Jin Wook. His and the other characters were all pretty cookie cutter with little depth and even worse, no fun. Maybe we know the real reason for Han Ye Seul’s refusal to go to work.
Plotholes, messy writing, lack of emotion, strange production and inability to find a tonal balance completely made Myung Wol the Spy drop the ball and waste the excellent and fun potential it started off with.