TV Binge: The Uncanny Counter (Season 1, 2020)

The Uncanny Counter (Season 1, 2020)

Cast: Byeong-kyu cho, Jun-Sang Yu, Se-Jeong Kim, Hye-ran Yeom, Seok-hwan Ahn, Hong Nae Lee, Sook Moon, Kwang-il Choi

Noodle shop employees by day and demon hunters by night, the Counters use special abilities to chase down malevolent spirits that prey on humans. – IMDB

Watch on: Netflix

Its been a while since I’ve seen any Korean series. The last series I watched was probably some romantic drama in early 2000s, whenever the Korean series phase hit with Autumn Sonata and then I watched the Korean remake of Meteor Garden which in my opinion is the worst remake of all of them made so far so that was equally not very appealing so consider me a little hesitant about Korean series. The Uncanny Counter gets a whole new perspective though because its not a romantic drama and its an action comedy about a ragtag team of demon hunters called Counters who with their special abilities hunt down evil spirits embedded in humans to send them and the souls their trapped to Yung, which I assume is something like a gateway to afterlife whether to Heaven or Hell. As the team starts hunting down, they end up reaching one case to the next that links to their own past and want to investigate and chase down the truth behind what happened as the danger level increases as they encounter the rarely seen highest level of evil spirits.

The Uncanny Counter does a great job because of its balance between the tones. Even in its most dangerous scenes, it manages to give time for the characters to still have their personality show which adds in some humor and vice versa. The story itself has a lot of funny little moments especially with the new addition of So Mun (Byeong-kyu Cho), an eighteen year old high school student which gets pulled into this unexpectedly. The progression and pacing of the story over the 16 episode season is pretty decent as well. The story starts off with the basics and slowly draws connections to Ga Mo-Tak (Jun-sang Yu), who has amnesia from his accident to So Mun’s past. The investigation spirals into something more complex pulling in supernatural elements along with politics and crime. It gets rather intriguing as the Counters characters have more depth throughout and their characters start to connect whether its Ms. Chu’s motherly care for everyone and her touching backstory or Ha-na’s slowly warming up to So Mun as her abilities prevents her from wanting others to be in contact with her physically. These four deliver some great moments together and their chemistry and balance is their characters’ personality develops rather well also. The team actually has one more member who is the monetary sponsor for their operation who is also a Counter but mostly not on the field who is a rich man with a big corporation called Jang-mul (Seok-hwan Ahn) who is a whacky character and brings a ton of laughs whenever he appears.

Talking about the characters, the show has a good deal of them. Whether its the criminal and bad guys involved especially in the second half when its focused on investigating the past of Mo-Tak or the other people involved from So Mun’s grandparents and his best friends, they all have their own place. Especially in terms of So Mun’s best friends, Woong-min (Eun-soo Kim) and Joo-yeon Im (Ji-won Lee) who are truly supporting characters but makes everyone wish that they had friends like those. Plus, they have some hilarious dramatic moments. At the same time, the bad guys are pretty great especially in the depth of how it goes behind the dirty doings and how the evil spirit hides in one of them and that story arc really gets taken for a crazy ride. I do have to say that while the evil spirit being pulled out of the body is meant to be scary, a lot of times, its rather goofy except for a few times especially when with the higher level evil spirit that gets revealed and the body it has taken over. Some of it is a little over the top but still, there are some unpredictable paths that it takes.

Overall, The Uncanny Counter is a great South Korean series. Its a lot of fun and a ton of good action sequences. The characters are done really well and the whole story is rather unique. The series is based on a webtoon called Amazing Rumor by Jang Yi and according to MyDramaList is set for Season 2 expected to release in 2022 which should be awesome and definitely looking forward to that if that is true. The show was a blast even if it only released 2 episodes per week on Netflix. Its done now so if you haven’t seen it now, you can binge through it as quickly or slowly as you want.

TV Binge: Million Pound Menu (Season 2, 2019)

Million Pound Menu (Season 2, 2019)

million pound menu

Host: Fred Sirieix

Million Pound Menu is currently in its second season. Its main concept is that various restaurants concepts or food trucks or simply developing ideas are brought in to compete for a chance to run a pop-up restaurant for a few days to test their idea and functionality to impress several investors and hopefully end up getting an offer to invest and partner with them to take the next step.

While I can’t remember season 1 really well, Season 2 is structured where the first step is to put three restaurants against each other to cook the four investors of the panel their most popular/outstanding dish and to share their vision and concept for their restaurant as well as lay out their deal. The investors have to come to a consensus on one restaurant team who progresses to the next step to get a chance at the pop-up restaurant. In that process, investors who aren’t interested can drop out. Day 1 of the pop up restaurant is a soft launch dinner service where its open to public and the investors dine together to try out the menu and service. If they are satisfied, they progress to the next morning to discuss their business plans. If they pass this part, its the final stage of Day 2 lunch service at full price where the investors come back separately to dine alone and understand how the public feels about the concept and the food. At the end of Day 2, the investors have until 7pm to return if they want to offer them an investment.

Million Pound Menu is only 8 episodes long and it works to its favor because it is about investments and the progress of the meals and such. The show is edited fairly well to capture those moments in the services where the issues occur or the highlights of the discussions between the restaurant owners and the investors regardless of which meeting it is. There’s always that part of having the reason of why an investor backs out when they do. Its a decent show to see whether its the different concepts of restaurants but also gives the mentality behind investments as well as business plans and what different investors view a different path for some of these restaurants. What’s nice here (different from say shows like product-based investment shows like Dragon’s Den/Shark Tank), the investors can offer a different deal and modify the amount they plan on investing. There’s a certain level of flexibility there.

While I think that most of the investors are pretty intriguing to watch, the host Fred Sirieux is also quite knowledgeable but has an element of being over enthusiastic. It might his accent or how its shot that makes him that way. He does balance a lot of it well as he does help out the different restaurant owners and gives them advice when he sees things going wrong. However, the hosting is sometimes a little over the top for my liking. Obviously not enough to stop watching, but its something to point out. There are some neat restaurants presented here and its always a bet on whether the investors do end up coming back or not. Its a fun show and its about restaurant investment which is pretty interesting in general.

Netflix A-Z & TV Binge: Daredevil [Season 1, 2015]

Sorry for the lack of Netflix A-Z this week.  I was trying so hard to find time to watch Daredevil and it just ended up being put later.  I had wanted to review Danny Collins but I didn’t really feel like watching that and everyone has been raving about how great Daredevil is.  I had started it a month or two ago and fell asleep (because of fatigue) but never got back into it.  What’s a better time, right? Perfect timing, really because I’m hearing that Daredevil and Jessica Jones are just a part of a bigger series in the making by Netflix called The Defenders.  I wonder how that is going to work out or if even the superhero-verse will not out-do itself by then. Still, this deserves a fair shot. I mean, 98% on Rotten Tomatoes?

Let’s check it out! 🙂

Daredevil [Season 1]

daredevil

Creator: Drew Goddard
Cast: Charlie Cox, Elden Henson, Deborah Ann Woll, Vincent D’Onofrio, Toby Leonard Moore, Rosario Dawson, Bob Gunton, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Wai Ching Ho, Peter Shinkoda

A blind lawyer, with his other senses superhumanly enhanced, fights crime as a costumed superhero.- IMDB

Marvel’s Daredevil is onto something good.  I promise you that.  However, I must disagree with the 98% Rotten Tomatoes score. There are much better shows out there that haven’t even merited that score.  Daredevil is full of great characters and the story is good.  It gives us a good idea of who Matthew Murdock is and why he chooses to become “The Devil of Hell’s Kitchen”. There’s a lot of character building for his character.  I guess the best place to start is that Matthew Murdock looked so familiar to me and then I learned he is Charlie Cox.  What does that mean? He is the romantic guy in Stardust.  Wow! That guy to Daredevil? Its quite the transformation. I applaud him for a job well done. His character is well put together.  We get his back story from his father, growing up, his mentor, discovering his gifts and just why he became this masked vigilante in the shadows trying to save Hell’s Kitchen from what he can’t do in his day job in the courtrooms.

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Except any series isn’t complete without the supporting characters,  lets start with Murdock’s best friend, Foggy and office assistant, Karen played by Elden Henson and Deborah Ann Woll respectively.  First of all, I’m pretty happy that Deborah Ann Woll is getting a more substantial role with a lot more character development.  I liked her in True Blood but playing something like this hasn’t exactly reached depth but her character has truly grown with the events that have gone down in Hell’s Kitchen.  She’s no longer the scared girl at the beginning of the series caught up as a victim. However, on a much more feel-good level, Foggy is a great character.  The bromance between Matt and Foggy is a huge focus, especially near the end of Season 1.  They are quite awesome together, just like scenes with Karen and Foggy are also really great.  One of things that comes into focus is that Matt seems to forget about his friends because of the bigger issue he is focusing on but there is a change when it starts to show a bond growing between him and Karen also.

daredevil

 In any superhero sort of movie, its excellence grows from its villain.  Many times, I don’t appreciate certain movies because the villain did not live up to be the threat that they should have been. In this one, the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen’s foe is Wilson Fisk.  The series takes a long time to build on who Fisk is and what he wants to achieve.  We even get a chance to see that he is human, that maybe he is looking for something, maybe even something noble just not in the right way.  Yet, something about Fisk is off and there is some imbalance and discomfort about his character.  Maybe its his awkwardness in his voice or his interaction with others.  Maybe its not knowing what other secrets he holds and who his secret organization is and what its all about.  Whatever it is, the onion is peeled open bit by bit.  Wilson Fisk, played by Vincent D’Onofrio is built so well as a character and a villain.  There were times I’d kind of sympathize for him and then he’d make me change my mind to really hating him.  It was a really good casting choice.

Daredevil

On the terms of supporting cast in smaller roles, one of the most compelling goes out to Fisk’s assistant, Wesley.  He would go “Hmm” frequently and then be like the master of tactics, pulling strings and playing the cards in the open, covering for Fisk in the shadows.  Toby Leonard Moore plays this role and I can’t recall seeing him anywhere else.  There’s always a tension and I kept thinking that there was something else floating around in his brain, wondering what he’d surprise us with next.  Aside from him, in very much a cameo is an older character that was only for one episode but such a compelling character called Stick, played by Scott Glenn.  That’s not to mention the masterful and cunning role played by Wai Ching Ho as Madame Gao.

daredevil There are many, many things done right for Daredevil.  Yet, I can’t say that I’d give it such a high score that Rotten Tomatoes did.  Its really that I didn’t enjoy the pacing.  I can understanding building the characters and giving it layers, increasing the thrills and tension, improving and breaking relationships.  All that is present here.  However, what we got in the whole 13 episodes was questions after questions, deaths and people caught in crossfire and then more questions and it was a cycle of building on whatever was before.  There was no resolve.  Madame Gao came up with a sort of twist and some profound bit about whatever we saw isn’t the end goal; there was a hint of someone bigger being behind all this; and yet, still more questions.  Sure, the ending kind of wraps up the story of the 13 episodes fighting the big bad villain, aka Wilson Fisk but this is no resolve or even hints of what is the further mystery.  My point is that if you weren’t going to build on it more, why show it in the first place, right?  I guess I can and should be more forgiving because TV series should give the audience to watch the next season but its just really in my face.  There are so many questions that remain unsolved that I feel like the season shouldn’t have ended with that many loose ends, or maybe its for those that know the source material (which I don’t).  Whatever it is, something is missing when the season wrapped up.  I’m not saying that I didn’t enjoy it, because I did and I thoroughly thought that finale was great and the characters were great, but at the same time, even TV series need to be a little more self-contained sometimes.

Have you seen Daredevil Season 1? What are your thoughts on it? Am I missing something? 

For the next selection, E..it should be fairly easy as there is limited choices for 2015 releases. Any guesses?