Taiwanese Drama Review: Skip Beat/ Extravagant Challenge

Skip Beat is available on Viki.

Skip Beat via Wikipedia

Note: I will refer to this drama as Skip Beat, because in my eyes it is a better name than Extravagant Challenge.

SYNOPSIS:

Gong Xi (Ivy Chen) was abandoned by her mom at an early age. Her childhood best friend’s family took her in. Gong Xi’s best friend was a guy named Bu Po Shang (Donghae). Shang lived and breathed music, but his parents had other plans for him. Shang’s parents wanted him to takeover their hotel. Shang’s parents also had plans for Gong Xi; they bred her to become the wife of a hotel president i.e. Shang’s wife. Shang was not into the excessive control his parents exercised and he ran away. Of course, Shang asked his best friend, Gong Xi, to make the journey to Taipei with him.

Gong Xi lived for Shang, even though she had troubles of her own, including being abandoned by her mother. Gong Xi would never let Shang see her hurt, because she did not want to trouble Shang. Thus, Shang became oblivious to Gong Xi’s needs and became selfish. Gong Xi only got comfort from “Corn,” a guy she met by her neighborhood creek. Corn was able to obliviate her sorrow by providing her with a purple rock keepsake. Thus, after Gong Xi’s encounters with “Corn” she formulates in her mind that he is a mythical man that can do anything. Gong Xi believes Corn no longer needs the rock because he has enough power to overcome all his obstacles on his own. One of those obstacles is surpassing the success of  his father. Nevertheless, Gong Xi’s time with “Corn” was cut short when he moved away.

At first, it was Shang and Gong Xi against the world. Gong Xi gives up an acceptance to college in order to join Shang in Taipei. When they first arrive, everything is going great in their relationship, even though Gong Xi has to work several jobs to support Shang while he pursues his music dreams. Nevertheless, as Shang’s music starts to become popular, their relationship changes. Shang no longer values Gong Xi and sees her more as a doormat. This is partially due to the fact that Gong Xi lets Shang treat her that way and Gong Xi gives Shang everything.

Gong Xi ignores all the signs that their relationship has changed until she catches Shang flirting with his manager after a performances. Shang tells Gong Xi that he doesn’t want to be with her or go along with his parents’ plans for their relationship. Shang also says that Gong Xi is nothing without him and can’t become famous on her own. In that moment, Gong Xi becomes possessed by demons and accepts Shang’s challenge. Gong Xi vows that she will become famous and have her revenge on Shang.

Gong Xi, who has no experience in acting or other entertainment skills, tries out for Taiwan‘s top agency, L.M.E. Through a series of ordeals and pleading, Gong Xi’s passion succeeds in helping her to get her foot through the L.M.E. door. Although, Gong Xi is at the bottom of the totem poll. Gong Xi is placed in a new department called the “Love Me” department. It features artists who have potential, but have a long way to go before they can debut. “Love Me” department members have to do tasks, sometime menial, for other people at L.M.E.. If they succeed they are rewarded or punished with stamps that add or take away from a “Love Me” team members score. If a trainee gets enough points they can graduate from the “love me” team and be a certified artist. In the beginning, Gong Xi is the only member and she is required to wear a bright pink jumpsuit.

One person who is not amused by Gong Xi is Dun He Lian (Siwon). Lian is extremely irked by Gong Xi’s presence within the company. Lian immediately recognizes that Gong Xi does not want to become an actor for the art alone. Lian knows that Gong Xi has other motivations. When Gong Xi admits to Lian that she is solely there to get revenge on Shang, Lian becomes even more appalled. Lian then pushes Gong Xi to become a better person and a better actor. Lian hopes that eventually Gong Xi will give up her need for revenge and wants her to avoid Shang in the meantime.

Shang has always disliked Lian and his ultimate goal is to become a bigger star than Lian, a scheme which Gong Xi knew about. Shang feels betrayed by Gong Xi when he finds out that Gong Xi is now working with Lian. Shang starts to have second thoughts about letting Gong Xi go, because Gong Xi is becoming a different person under Lian’s tutelage.

Moreover, Lian and all the other people around him, recognize that Gong Xi is changing Lian too. Lian becomes an even greater actor. Is it due to that fact that Gong Xi is Lian’s purple rock?

REVIEW:

1/2

Hmmm, if you just read the synopsis above you probably are a little excited. The premise for Skip Beat is excellent and it originated from that manga. The final product was a problem of directing and the script. There was a real lack of direction in the execution of the script and there were moments of utter boredom. This may be due to fact that the script was turning into an acting 101 class. Delving deeper, I would say that there were too many internal dialogues and telepathic conversations, bad dubbing of Lian and Shang’s voices, anachronistic haircuts for Gong Xi, a lackluster ending, and too extreme of a focus on the art of acting. However, if you are an actor, then you may find this drama more interesting. On top of all of these problems, I still finished it, but that was mostly because it was only 14 45-minute episodes.

How did I get here? I watched the Korean Drama Oh My Lady which also starred Siwon and that was pretty good. Note: Siwon is apart of K-Pop group Super Junior. There were still several positive points about this drama and most of them were the actors. If nothing else, Skip Beat seems like a drama that cemented the acting ability of its stars.

Pros:

Ivy Chen as Gong Xi:  At first, I though she was annoying, but by the end of the episode 1 I was an avid fan. There is a very thin line between STFU you are so annoying and you are annoying but still cute. See Ariel Lin in It Started With a Kiss and to a lesser degree Jung So Min in Playful Kiss. I mean I stuck with her through all the haircuts, the chicken suit, the “love me” jumpsuit, the art of vegetable cutting, obliviousness to love, demons, and the constant whining. Furthermore, few people can turn the possessed look on and off like that. I wonder where she gets her inspiration?

Super Junior: I was disappointed that Siwon and Donghae had to have dubbing. Siwon has some really great facial expressions. When the news of Siwon’s father came out, The script just left that whole part of the plot on the table and decided to walk away. I understand that the manga that this drama is based on is not finished, but still…. So, if you want some real leading man Siwon, watch Oh My Lady, where he is cast as a idol who turns out to have had a baby out of wedlock.  In Oh My Lady, he hires an older woman as a housekeeper with a child of her own and falls in love with her. (Maybe I will review it?). Donghae as Shang were also great, but there was that dubbing. His dubbing was awful in the beginning, but they eventually changed voiceover artists. Donghae’s character had less screen time than expected. I really felt like Donghae’s storyline and background added another layer to the story, but the script did not properly exploit the angst.

Secondary Characters: Lian’s Manager was amazing. He was cute, even though he was goofy. Lian’s manager helped the Lian-Gong Xi ship set sail and he was going to go down with it. Nan Qin, Gong-Xi’s former enemy and eventual best friend in the “love me” department, was cute. The relationship transformation between Nan Qin and Gong Xi was adorable. Bianca Bai, who plays Nan Qin, was really under utilized. Nan Qin’s character literally disappeared. The tag team of Luo Li, chairman of L.M.E., and Shen Deyuan, the casting director for L.M.E., provided a source of comic relief. The compilation of Luo Li’s character traits that included a comical all-mighty king and a serious father figure with bounds of wisdom was brilliant. Shen Deyuan was also hilarious as a man that could not say no to Gong Xi, because he was possessed by her demons.

S-O-L-O by Super Junior and Opening Theme: This theme song and opening cracks me up. It is the reason why I had really high expectations.  The song is stuck in my head, because they would play different instrumental versions of the song constantly in the background.  

Ending Theme That’s Love or This is Love by Donghae and Henry: Just a good sweet catchy song. 

But does it remind anyone else of Rugrats? 

Highlights

  • Mei Li, the little girl who is the co-captain of the Gong-Xi- Lian ship.
  • Chicken Outfit and Chicken Fights
  • Dancing Demon Spirits
  • “Love Me” team dance
  • “Love Me” team acting scenario
  • Gong Xi’s superfast bicycle
  • This Phone. Manager is the best. In fact the only drama I can recall with
  • ith a bad manager was Secret Garden.

    Retro Phone for Iphone made by Pop Phone via Overstock.com

Ugh….

  • Expressing love for another person by saying you want to act with them. How about “I like you.”
  • Imaginary Kiss, no real kisses
  • Press Conference for Lian, because he can’t do the role justice
  • “Corn flew up to the sky” —> Really?
  • Clumsy and shy director… overplayed my friend
  • Calling through poop
  • You could not pay me to see “Dark Moon.” Like watching C-Span3
  • Gong Xi’s hair styles, especially when they are different in the same scene. One time maybe, but several times is a bit much.
  • Corn is Lian, but it is never really stated.Right?
So that is 2 1/2 stars, but I still liked it. Just was bored at times, but that was mostly because of Dark Moon (though there were a lot of Dark Moon scenes). It is another drama-lite, if you have the time and want to feel good, it does the job.
Next Up: It Started with A Kiss and the sequel They Kiss Again. This is also the Taiwanese version of Korea’s Playful Kiss, but it came out earlier. I am not sure when I will get to it, because I have several Korean Dramas to do and one Podcast review.
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8 comments

  1. Pingback: I Want One: Native Unions’s Retro Pop Phone « Public Investigation
  2. Pingback: Live Action Review: Extravagant Challenge | cheratomo
  3. lifewithdramas

    I recommend It Started with a kiss and they kiss again!! After all these years it has still stayed as my favourite drama!! 🙂 btw after reading your review i think i will give skip beat a miss…..

    • peevishmagnifyingglass

      Well, I love It Started With a Kiss and They Kiss Again. I just finished watching In Time With You, also staring Ariel Lin, and that was so amazing too. So now, I will go back and rewatch It Started With a Kiss, so I can write a review. Skip beat wasn’t bad, but unfortunately it is not a re-watch, it was more the fault of the script than anything else…

  4. Pingback: Korean Drama Review: I Do I Do « Public Investigation
  5. Gunjan

    I think Skip beat was good …definitely not a re-watch but if they consider giving a second season I will not miss it…….I would love to see some love scenes and kiss scenes and shang apologizing to gong xi……

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