Monday, March 4, 2013

The Horse Healer Guide to Facial Expression(s)

  There's just something about this drama. I like it, but I'm not entirely sure why. It's not the acting, which is okay but not great. It's not the writing. (Again, decent, but nothing special.) And it's definitely not the directing, which is usually quite heavy-handed. (Actually, I blame most of Horse Healer's faults on the directing.) Although I'm unfamiliar with many of the actors, those I have seen before are not showcasing their talents in this particular drama.
  But despite all its faults, there is something that I find very engaging about Horse Healer. And maybe I should blame that on the director as well. I'm not entirely sure what that ineffable something is, but for now I'm hooked. I can't say that I love this drama. Nor do I feel like it's drama crack. But I enjoy watching it, and I find myself looking forward to the next opportunity to watch more.

I just like this shot.
  It's especially strange for me to feel this drawn to a drama for this long (24+ episodes and counting). Even marathoning it, I'm still fully engaged. By this point, my love for The Great Queen Seondeok was seriously beginning to wane, and I peaked at episode 26. Gaksital is probably the longest drama I watched all the way through, but the last several episodes I watched more out of sheer determination than actual addiction. I found that I had to force myself to watch them, even though I enjoyed them all. It just stopped pulling at me so much for some reason. (However, in looking back on Gaksital, I still feel that it holds up as an amazing drama, and I do love it. I'm just not sure that I can watch much of it again. Especially not the torture scenes.)
  Horse Healer has its requisite gory surgery scenes (it is a medical drama, after all), but they aren't as frequent as, say Dr. Jin. It also has your typical ineffectual villains, birth secrets, torture, and crazy storylines. The main character Baek Kwang Hyun is also able easily to overcome every obstacle and is practically perfect in every way. He should be more boring than he is, but instead I find myself really liking him. (There is also a particular story arc where his trouble isn't resolved in just one episode, and it feels like for once he can't just wave his magic acupuncture needle and resolve everything. It's truly the most satisfying plotline so far.)
  And maybe what I love about this drama is the fact that even though it's trying hard, it's not really overreaching itself. Plus, it has many of the elements that I find endearing in kdramas, such as its sweetness, earnestness, innocence and the slow-burn romance that we often see in sageuks. Don't get me wrong. I love the passionate, bickering, fiery romances of most other dramas, but sometimes it's nice to just take things slow, too. And that's most fitting in this kind of story.
  With all that, I've decided one of my favorite things about this drama is the freeze frame at the end of every episode. Most of the time, it's like the director just says "Okay, Cho Seung Woo (Kwang Hyun), give me your freeze-frame face." Seung Woo: "Are you sure? Maybe we could try something a little more subtle this time." Director: "I don't DO subtle! Now do The Face!" Seriously, it's the same expression almost every time. There are exceptions, but for the most part, it's his shocked face. (Teenage Kwang Hyun's version is always open-mouthed. Heehee.)
  So, because I find it so amusing, I've decided to compile the freeze frames from each episode in one place. And I'm generous enough to share. You can thank me with cookies later.
Episode 1: Even baby Kwang Hyun knows to make The Face.

Episode 2:  Two shocked faces are better than one.

Episode 3: Crying face.

Episode 4: "My horse just did what?!"
Don't look an ailing gift horse in the hoof.

Episode 5: Buy 2, get 1 free.

Episode 6: "My poor little pony."

Episode 7: "Poopy hands! Poopy Hands! Nursie has poopy hands!"

Episode 8: Don't worry about memorizing it. You'll see this face a lot.

Episode 9: "Who's that guy? And why is he so chummy with my crush?"

Episode 10: "I can do it too!"

Episode 11: "I swear I didn't do it!"

Episode 12: "I can do it! I can do it nine times!"

Episode 13: "You didn't know I'm a genius?"

Episode 14: "Nothing can stop me! Not even broken bones."

Episode 15: "That's a sharp sword. And it's pointed at my neck."

Episode 16: "He is not dead yet. He can dance and he can sing."

Episode 17: "Wait, who's that again?"

Episode 18: Pink slipped.

Episode 19: "Just listen to me for once!"

Episode 20: "Wait. Let me get this straight. You're telling me that the guy who repeatedly tried to kill me and is generally out to ruin my life doesn't like me?"

Episode 21: Birth secret reveal. Psych!

Episode 22: "Didn't I just do this?"

Episode 23: "Say what, now?"

Episode 24: "That can't be good."
Episode 25: "I can do all the surgeries. ALL OF THEM."

Episode 26: "Please don't cut me."
Episode 27: "Tetanus!" Dun dun DUN!

Episode 28: What? Just a boat?

Episode 29: "Off to new adventures in old Qing."

Episode 30: "I'm hot with facial hair."
or "My sworn enemy is everywhere!"

Episode 31: "Tetanus again? I'm pretty sure we did this story already."

Episode 32: "If I'm in the Forbidden Palace, and everyone calls you Highness, and you're dressed in yellow, then that must mean that you're—nah! Couldn't be."

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