Monday, 1 January 2018
Review of Korean Drama Goblin
The following is a short review of the Korean drama Goblin. For more detailed reviews and recaps, do visit sites like Dramabeans http://www.dramabeans.com/tag/the-lonely-shining-goblin/.
While this review tries to be as objective as possible, subjectivity is restricted as this reviewer has watched the entire series at least three times, LOL holiday binge watching redefined.
What struck a favourable chord
Goofy humour that ranges from goblin vs grim reaper rivalry to pop culture jokes and implicit references to lead characters’ other works.
The quirky characters depicted in this series seem to prove my theory that the best Kdrama protagonists are at the very least quirky, at best (and in the most polite descriptive terms LOL) neurotic man-child entities. The level of juvenile humour and behaviour may jar at times with the serious themes or tries to explore but I guess the distance provided by drama really helps impart humour to situations that would otherwise be aggravating.
Tear-wringing cliches such as when the female protagonist dies and the Grim Reaper mourns her with a reflection that asserts the existence of a cruel capricious God, akin to the God of the Old Testament: “To the cruel question thrown out by God, she gave a sad answer.”
The theological/mystical elements
The gods shown in the drama are alternately capricious, generous and cruel. While immortal, omniscient and omnipotent, the gods in this series are oddly human. The depictions of afterlife seem to faintly echo Dante's Divine Comedy in its structure of Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. Personally, I found the other dimension of nothingness to which the Goblin is banished closest to the wasteland which is devoid of God.
There is a tiny bit of logic malfunction when it comes to concepts of time. For God and immortal beings, would time matter? Time matters only when it is finite and when the subject is mortal/human. To be immortal is to be outside of time, making time meaningless. But hey, I have no problems shutting down logic in the face of pure entertainment and fun LOL 😄
The glut of product placement slots
Be warned, directly or indirectly, there's product placement almost every 10 minutes. And I'm not talking about references to the actors’ other works such as Train to Busan, nope, it is like they decided to run commercials without the commercial break. Beer, sandwiches, cameras, the list is endless. Subtlety is not an art this series explores. Hence, prepare to be exasperated halfway through.
The age gap question
Frankly, I'm not too bothered by the age gap issue, the crux of the problem lies in the way multiple roles are blurred. I've seen seedier real life versions of such pairings and the reel version doesn't come close to freaky. What is discomfiting is the fact that the male lead seems to act as both lover and father figure, comforting the female lead like a child even after their amorous roles are confirmed. Age play between consenting adults is a matter of personal preferences, but the ambiguity here is what creates discordance.
While uneven in certain areas of its narrative, the series is redeemed by the “aesthetic” aspects; plainly put, audiences are likely to be too busy noting the beautiful presentations to note the flaws.
Of course, this has much to do with gorgeous photography as well as the leads who are easy on the eye. Yet, the cast is not the most apparent eye candy selection. There are plenty of "prettier" and more "gorgeous" Korean actors and actresses in the highly competitive world of Korean entertainment. It is the ability to be versatile and largely natural that helps this cast rise up the ranks.
Watch and enjoy!
Will you be a Kdrama fan?