July 10, 2013

Vampire Prosecutor Season 1 Revisited

I can’t really say why balmy nights turn my thoughts to the blood-sucking undead. Summer and vampires just seem to go together.

Since my dramas-to-watch list is ever-lengthening, I don’t usually watch one I’ve already seen. However, everything I liked the first time in Vampire Prosecutor Season 1 – acting, cinematography, music – is just as good the second time around. And the two episodes that wrap up the season are considerably clearer. I think I finally have a firm grip on the storyline.

Now that I’m free to focus on details other than plot, here’s what jumped out at me.


Stabbings. Everywhere. Stabbings and more stabbings. With evil-looking serrated fishing knives, barbecue forks, palette knives, 2x4s studded with nails (although I suppose technically that’s more of a puncturing), screwdrivers (ditto), and on and on. Is there a single episode without at least one stabbing?? What is this obsession with penetration?!

What he wrote on the business card. I wondered about this the first time around, so I paused, and painstakingly typed the message into Google Translator. And the result: (drumroll…)
“Please contact.” Qué mundane :(

Funky fangs. Vampire Prosecutor fangs are non-traditional. The lateral incisors (next to the front teeth) grow pointy to match the canines, so there are actually double fangs on each side. Yet victim necks show only two holes, not four. Ahem, continuity, anyone?

Product placement. So hilarious how all the handeupones suddenly turn into prominently displayed BlackBerries in Episode 11, when BlackBerry became a sponsor. And so, so wrong. Have you ever seen a single BlackBerry in any other Korean drama? Does anyone under 35 (anywhere) even use a BlackBerry?

And the Emmy goes to… Marvelling all over again at Yun Jung Hoon’s otherworldly performance. He’s utterly right in all the varied nuances of the role. And continuing to enjoy Lee Won Jong playing… well, Lee Won Jong. Who could do it better?

As for Lee Young Ah, her character is continually undermined, undercut, manipulated, and patronized, as female characters in Kdrama always seem to be. She’s spunky, dedicated, brave and true in spite of it all, but – there’s always a but. She’s sexually repressed, or naive, or engaging in negative self talk at inopportune moments, or passing the abuse down the pecking order, or doing stupidly dangerous things to prove herself. I’m flashing back to the 60s U.S., when a female character could be skilled, or well-adjusted, but never, ever both. Argh.

Of course, Yoo Jung In gets off lightly compared to power lawyer Yoon Ji Hee (Jang Young Nam), who is knocked off her high horse with a vengeance and remorselessly trampled to a pulp before being unceremoniously terminated. Just in case any budding Korean feminists might be getting ideas.

Show and tell. Please! DramaFever’s subtitling is the only English subtitling for Season 1 I could find. Which is a pity, because it wasn’t as thorough as it could’ve been. Newspaper articles, documents, and signs in Hangeul which are meant to provide important information to the viewer are frustratingly unsubtitled.

In a blog podcast I listened to once, a DramaFever translator said she didn’t really pay attention to content when she was subtitling. That explains a lot. I may jump over to Viki for Season 2. I’ll bet volunteers subbers who do it for the love of the drama are less prone to cruise control omissions.

Stand-ins. There are two episodes where viewers are misled about the identity of suspects, and it sure looks like multiple actors for a single character were used to accomplish this. C’mon now, that’s cheating!

And if it’s that hard to prevent viewers from recognizing suspects, how credible is it that other characters don’t recognize them, especially in Episode 4? There’s also the question of how someone rose from murder suspect to chief judge in 4 years. That episode gets high marks as a morality play. As a cogent story, not so much.

Looking for more on Vampire Prosecutor Season 1?
Read my episode reviews.

Next up:
I’m finishing the Damo recaps (girding myself for the inevitably painful ending) before I watch anything else. I swear I am!

Current Events:
On a more serious note, I want to say how deeply saddened San Francisco Bay Area residents are by the Asiana airlines crash last weekend, which took the lives of two young Chinese passengers. It has been a top story in the local news ever since. Our hearts go out to the friends and families of the dead and injured.

It’s now being reported that Koreans feel shamed by the incident, since Asiana is a Korean airline. That makes no sense. The airline is privately owned, and if it turns out that inadequate supervision of a pilot who was new to the plane and the airport is the cause (which has not yet been confirmed), the company management is answerable, not the entire citizenry of Korea. Bad management decisions can happen anywhere. The U.S. is certainly not in any position to point fingers on that score!

In any case, there is plenty of blame to go around, since one of the girls may have been killed by a local emergency vehicle en route to the burning plane, a horrible tragedy for all concerned if that turns out to be the case (also not yet confirmed).

I, for one, am thankful that so many people walked away from the wreckage with only minor injuries. It was bad, but it could’ve been so much worse.

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