TELEVIEWS / Remade drama beats replayed life
Wm. Penn, Yomiuri Shimbun
Hotelier (Thursdays, 9 p.m., TV Asahi network), the Japanese version of the 2001 South Korean hit, looks like the best place to rest your TV dial this quarter. Yes, it has come to this. The Japanese drama scene has deteriorated to such a point that remaking South Korean dramas with local actors has become a very viable alternative.
Personally, I prefer my Korean dramas in Korean with subtitles, but one cannot be picky this quarter. Hotelier is just about the only thing worth tuning in to twice in a lineup top-heavy with silly series aimed at the under-25 demographic.
I don't know what's more chilling--the inanity of the dramas or the producers' belief that people really want to watch this stuff. What a disservice they do the nation's youth feeding them this continual diet of drivel.
At least the imported Hotelier storyline holds together.
Aya Ueto stars as Kyoko Odagiri, an assistant manager at the posh but financially troubled Tokyo Ocean Hotel. She seems far too young for the job but maybe she does deserve the post. They've got her spouting dialogue in English, Korean and Japanese.
Since Hotelier is based on a South Korean drama, there will naturally be a romantic triangle. But neither of the men in Kyoko's life can compare with Bae Yong Joon, who makes a guest appearance as the manager of a major South Korean hotel. Kyoko still has some feelings for her mentor Ogata (Seiichi Tanabe), the former hotel manager who left in disgrace and has been floating around Seoul ever since. On his deathbed, the hotel owner sends her to Seoul to find him. He is needed to save the Ocean Hotel from bad guy Morimoto (Naoto Takenaka)--who hires mergers and acquisitions whiz Mizusawa (Mitsuhiro Oikawa) to help him take control. Mizusawa agrees only after meeting and being attracted to Kyoko in Seoul.
Saeko plays Akane, Morimoto's daughter, who despises her dastardly dad. Trilingual but not quite three stars.
Now for the rest of a very sad week: April 16: Puropozu Daisakusen (Operation Love), this quarter's recipient of the Fuji network's coveted Monday, 9 p.m. time slot, will need some immediate surgery if it is to survive two more months.
Ken (Tomohisa Yamashita) has loved Rei (Masami Nagasawa) since third grade but was never able to tell her. Now she is marrying someone else. Having just given a speech at her wedding reception, Ken is quaffing beers and watching the slide show of her life when a Chaplainesque character in a crumpled black suit wanders in. He orders Ken to say the words "Hallelujah Chance," an incantation that sends him slipping back in time to 2002.
"That was just yesterday!" I railed, forgetting that in these youth dramas five years is an eternity. To confirm he is indeed in the past, Ken asks if anyone has heard of an "Ina Bauer."
They have not. This was the best scene in the whole sorry soap opera.
Viewers are doomed to watch Ken relive his high school life over and over again until he gets it right and wins Rei's heart. It is basically a wedding of high school baseball and the movie Groundhog Day. Ken's first attempt to correct his past fails. He is returned to the present and the next slide. But wait: "Hallelujah chance!" He is off again and previews of Episode 2 show that the plot will revolve around a coffee-flavored milk drink. I would need a little stronger enticement than that to watch this one again.
Still, it is light years above Tokkyu Tanaka San-go (Limited Express Tanaka No. 3, Fridays, 10 p.m., TBS network) starring Kat-Tun's Koki Tanaka as a brainless college student who loves trains and a coed far smarter than himself. If I offered stars for terribleness, this one would be a five-star winner. But it is not all the fault of the Johnny's Jimusho lads who are starring in everything. There just aren't many good male roles around this quarter.
Due to all the horrible crime news last week, I stopped only briefly at Sekushii Boisu ando Robo (Sexy Voice and Robo, Tuesdays, 10 p.m., NTV network) but it was long enough. The title comes from the code names of the stars--a hapless robot "otaku" guy, called Robo, and Sexy Voice, the moniker of a middle school girl who wants to be a spy. It was beyond silly, a stellar flop.
Marumaru Chibi Maruko-chan (Thursdays, 7 p.m., Fuji network) with humans is worth a glance just to see what a wonderful job the casting department has done. The actors do closely resemble the animated models. Doraemon (Fridays, 7 p.m. TV Asahi) will update the theme song and the kiddies' clothing from May 11. Shizuka-chan now wears a camisole. What next!