In a nutshell: This was a bio-pic, which is not my favorite type of storytelling. And the reasons why it’s not my favorite genre did happen in this drama. So it won’t be going into a favorite-list. But, I’m glad I gave this a watch. I feel like my knowledge of the Korean rock scene has nudged up from “absolute zero” to “minimal”. (Which is kind of awesome; it’s only up from here!) Also, I really enjoyed watching No Min-woo tackle such a meaty role. I’ll be keeping an eye on him as one to watch. (I know. A tough, tough job.) I can’t say I enjoyed the story as a story, but the introduction to Kim Tae-won and his music was enough to satisfy.
No Min-woo: He did a great job playing the young, cocky Kim Tae-won (I’m now so, so eager to see him play that sort of brash character again), then morphing into the broken-hearted, unsure, yet somehow still fiercely proud, Kim Tae-won. It was a little harder believing him as the careworn, worldly-wise, old-man Kim Tae-won (oh, the curse of being so youthful and good-looking!), but if I handwaved his appearance, No Min-woo did a decent enough job playing old and tired.
Bio-pic bugs: I’ve never been a huge fan of biographies as stories. For one, real lives rarely follow a dramatic arc. The show did a fairly good job creating an arc, but the pacing got a little weird. A times it seemed bogged down as Kim Tae-won struggled with the same issue again and again. Then suddenly we were several years down the road and… issue solved? Kind of? (Honestly, I was never sure he found his music or his place or his peace. But maybe that continual struggle was the point?)
Another bug, real lives usually come with a massive cast of characters. And boy, did this drama have a massive cast of characters that tended to breeze in and out of the show with little introduction. But here I think it’s more me at fault. I’m not really the intended audience as I knew nothing — nothing — about the Korean rock scene, then or now. The drama was definitely interested in educating people into that scene, but they assumed (as they should have) a certain level of knowledge. I watched Walk the Line knowing little to nothing about Johnny Cash’s story; I still recognized Elvis when he appeared. I strongly suspect several of those characters that blew in and out of the story were supposed to garner that level of recognition.
Bottom line: In this end this is very much a “your milage may vary” drama, depending on your interests and knowledge. The cool thing is, it’s only four episodes, so if you’re at all curious it’s definitely worth checking out.