Here is the long-awaited “Final Thoughts” post…and I have a special surprise for you all. 🙂
Jules, who has been graciously helping out by providing screen caps, is also weighing in with her thoughts!
Not only were her screen captures a big help for me as I recapped the last few episodes of Rooftop Prince, but she’s also a very welcome and valuable addition to the “Musings” creative team. 🙂 The above cover picture for this post sufficiently demonstrates my point; I could never, not even IN A MILLION YEARS, be able to produce such a creative and adorable picture to accompany this post. I, for one, am glad she’s on board, and she’s suggested some really fun ideas for this website, ideas that I’m hoping we can implement in the next few weeks. 🙂
So without further ado, I present to you a couple of final thoughts from the two opposing sides of the Atlantic Ocean: Jules from the United Kingdom and Snoopy’s Twinkie from the United States. I hope you enjoy! 🙂
Jules: For much of its run, I found Rooftop Prince to be cracky, addictive and – above all – entertaining.
The drama begins with a murdered princess, a displaced, time-travelling prince, his minions, and the woman whose life (and home) is turned upside down by the sudden presence of four strange men in her living room.
Park-ha is a woman with no real family and no real connection to the world; she’s living her life, but without forming any attachments beyond the somewhat superficial relationship she has with her step-mother and with Se-na, her step-sister. Into this fairly staid existence storm Yi Gak and the boys (Man-bo, Yong-sool and Chi-san), demanding she cook for them, telling her tall tales of time-travel and royalty and making her fall in love – with the boys as her newly-formed family and, of course, with the prince.
Yi Gak, for his part, is thrown into this new world, disoriented, still grieving his dead wife, and determined to return to Joseon times and bring those responsible for the Crown Princess’ death to justice. To me, it then makes perfect sense that upon his discovery of Se-na (the probable reincarnation of his dead wife), he then decides that marrying her and closing the circle of fate in this lifetime, is the most likely way to return home. I watched, holding my breath in anticipation, as he fell, slowly and irrevocably, in love with Park-ha and rejoiced at his decision to be with her regardless of fate and of the possible consequences.
I loved, too, his discovery of Se-na’s true face, though I wish we’d been given some sort of explanation for her rather inexplicable hatred of Park-ha, as even as a young girl her actions towards Park-ha were fairly extreme. (and, of course, by ‘fairly’, I mean ‘very’.)
Tae-mu, although less nuanced than Se-na (and for this I credit the talent of Jung Yu-mi as an actress), seemed to have a reason for his dislike of Tae-yong; this in no way excuses his actions, but at least we as an audience are shown why he might have felt the impulse to push his cousin overboard. Why he did it – and continually attempted to frame and/or murder Yi Gak/Tae-yong – no-one without a degree in psychology could explain.
Rather a large portion of the drama focused on Tae-mu’s efforts to sabotage Yi Gak and take over the company and, if I’d been at all emotionally invested in this storyline, I may have found it interesting. Perhaps if we’d known and cared about Tae-yong and seen that Yi Gak was trying to save his inheritance it might have had an impact, but as it stood, the company was not Yi Gak’s – heck, even the family wasn’t his – so the corporate machinations served no real purpose, other than to make me wish they’d move on to something more relevant to my interests – like Park-ha and Yi Gak getting handsy in the park, or the boys thinking up ways to make money to make their noona’s life a little easier.
For me, this drama was all about family – the kind you’re born into and the kind you make for yourself – and the sort of love you’d cross time to find, so having the finale say that she’d lost all of that (and knowing it would never be regained) was heartbreaking. But what I found even more dissatisfying, was the fact that the drama tried to give me Park-ha and Tae-yong (who I’d understood was in a vegetative state, so… what the?) as some sort of compensation. I realise that I am perhaps part of a small minority, but honestly, people? Are not interchangeable. And you might argue that Yi Gak and Tae-yong shared the same soul, but to that I’d say: even were that the case, their personalities were not the same. Your experiences, your losses, your highs and lows and everything in-between make you who you are, and no-one – not even your reincarnated doppelganger – can replace you. And, too, I feel sorry for poor Yi Gak, who got to spend the rest of his life alone and lonely and longing for a woman he could never, ever have.
Still – despite what the latter half of this review might indicate – I did truly enjoy Rooftop Prince: for its laughter, for its heart and perhaps even for its implications regarding second chances (for Yi Gak with Park-ha, for Se-na with her family and yes, okay, fine, even for Park-ha with Tae-yong); it’s a show I’ll remember with a fond smile and will hold dear for a long, long time to come.
Snoopy’s Twinkie: Let me first confess that I did not watch the complete series, so I feel that my assessment of the series may be colored by that fact. After all, I didn’t see the first six episodes and then missed a few in the middle (episodes 9-13), so I wasn’t as emotionally invested in the characters as some of you. Basically, the episodes I recapped are the episodes I saw. So…I didn’t witness the comedic moments that chronicled the Joseon F4 bumbling their way through their first few days in modern Seoul. However, I certainly heard about them, which I guess makes up for having missed it…kind of. LOL. One of the most memorable scenes I heard about was when they mistake the elevator for a changing room and get caught with their pants down–literally–in front of various groups like a group of school girls. The general consensus out in dramaland? The verve and hilarity of the earlier episodes were priceless and left the viewers feeling disappointed and deflated when the drama lost its sparkle halfway through the story. Personally, since I didn’t see those earlier episodes, I didn’t feel as though the drama let me down…at least not until the end.
In addition to the comedic moments, I missed out on many of Yi Gak and Park Ha’s earlier bickering as well as heartbreaking moments as Yi Gak makes his preference for Se Na clear while Park Ha’s burgeoning interest in him is rudely crushed (i.e. Yi Gak’s bracelet gift to Se Na that Park Ha mistakes as a gift for her). In some respect, I suppose it’s a good thing that I missed this part of the series since it saved me the angst associated with Se Na. By the time I saw her in the later episodes, her venom did little to poison my enjoyment of the show; Yi Gak and Park Ha’s affection for each other was too well established in my mind to be marred by any nuisance from Se Na or from Tae Moo for that matter.
I found the series a light piece of drama that offset the serious tone of The King 2 Hearts, a drama I was watching around the same time, and provided me with many hours of enjoyment as well as new “Musings” friends. That’s my gut–emotional–reaction to the series.
On a more critical note, though, I found the ending a disappointment. Because the writer was able to incorporate so many intelligent and humorous moments into the overall plot, my expectation for a unique ending kept increasing as the story edged closer to its conclusion. I found myself hoping for the unexpected, something that I could not have suspected or imagined.
So when Tae Yong miraculously awakens from his coma, remembers his interest in Park Ha even after all those years in a coma, and seeks her out, I wasn’t “impressed”; there was no ingenuity in that part of the conclusion. The story’s effort to provide the “happily ever after” felt hollow and forced, especially when Tae Yong magically transforms into the Joseon Yi Gak, complete in his royal garments. Although I appreciated the show’s intention to provide Park Ha with her lost love–Tae Yong, who possesses the “same” soul as Yi Gak–the heavy-handed manner of the ending left me underwhelmed. My expectation of an intelligent ending? It vaporized as quickly as a piece of ice on a scorching hot sidewalk in the middle of August.
As Park Ha smiled at Tae Yong/Yi Gak with tears in her eyes, all I could think of was “Poor Yi Gak. He probably lived the rest of his life yearning for Park Ha.” Now, I suspect that if this story were even remotely rooted in reality, Yi Gak would have eventually remarried in consideration of his royal duties to secure an heir to the throne, but the idea that Yi Gak couldn’t have his Joseon Park Ha–Bu Yong–while Park Ha at least got to love the modern version of Tae Yong…*heavy sigh*
The more I think of the logistics of this series, the more I find loopholes where there shouldn’t be and character inconsistencies that I don’t want to find…and then I am forcibly reminded of something Samuel Coleridge said about fiction, that it is a “willing suspension of disbelief.”
And so, like the veteran kdrama viewer that I’ve become after 20 years of watching drama after drama (I can’t believe my first Korean drama was back in 1992), I shall willingly suspend my disbelief and simply accept the notion that Park Ha finally ended up with her Yi Gak.
After all, Korean dramas are notorious for their weak endings. I shall just dwell on the hilarious and sweet moments of the story. 😉