Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Review: Shine or Go Crazy

Shine or Go Crazy is a 24-episode fictionalized historical drama depicting King Gwangjong's rise to power. Wang Soo (Jang Hyuk) is banished to the mountains as a child because of a prophecy foretelling his bringing bloodshed to the palace. Shin Yool (Oh Yeon Seo) is a princess of Balhae who is also a victim of prophecy, as she is fated to become the light for a country not her own. She barely escapes with her life, to be secretly raised by a palace maid and warrior. The two meet under unusual circumstances that will link their destinies and bring the prophecies to fruition.

The Good:  Though the pacing was ponderous, the storyline was rich with romance, comedy and political intrigue, entertaining gender bending, and a poignant love triangle as well. There were enough twists in the plot where it wasn't entirely predictable, which made up for a less than exciting pace. The drama had an excellent cast of characters. Each had their own motives, and it was interesting to see how allies could become enemies and vice versa, Although there was a definite antagonist, it was clear that each "side" was doing what they thought best, especially in light of Wang Soo's rather radical intentions for that point in history.

The Bad:  As I said, the pacing was ponderous, and there were about four episodes in the middle that absolutely dragged. Despite this, the finale seemed a bit rushed and choppy in the way it wrapped things up, even leaving a loose end. And while I did not mind the actual ending, the way it came about was entirely unsatisfactory as it was inconsistent with the lead characters' behavior up until that point.

Shine or Go Crazy is based on the 2014 web novel, Bitnageona Michigeona by Hyun Go Woon. It received an average AGB Nielsen rating of 11.3% nationwide and 14.4% in Seoul which reflects how entertaining and memorable it was. With some improvements to the writing, it could have been great.

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