Episode 1 Review: Pinocchio (2014)
Nothing’s better than a rainy evening while every single sound of the storm feels distinctive and invigorating; the wind, the sonorous thunderbolts, the rain. Especially when you treasure the moments with the first episode of one of the most anticipated South Korean dramas this year. I’m referring to SBS’ Pinocchio of course. Yes, South Korean scriptwriters have introduced to the drama audience bizarre plots from time to time, but don’t expect an adaptation of Carlo Collodi’s all time classic The Adventures of Pinocchio. So, Geppetto, you’re fired for the time being. The title refers to a fictional syndrome, called Pinocchio’s syndrome. What’s that supposed to mean? Well, you would never be able to win in Liar Game if you were possessed by this parasitic truth detector! Every time you lie, intuitively you hiccup, no, there’s nothing wrong with your diaphragm, it’s just that whenever you lie you’re doomed to be exposed during the next second after you’ve given voice to your thoughts.
We’ve got a strong collaboration here, some forces come back together after a year’s time. The recipe worked on I Hear Your Voice and hopefully everything will flow well with Pinocchio as well. I’m referring to Lee Jong Suk who’s one of the main figures here under the name Choi Dal Po, scriptwriter Park Hye Ryun and director Jo Soo Won! Pretty strong combo, huh? So far so good, so what? So what?! Park Shin Hye’s the main female lead as Choi In Ha and the main cast doesn’t end here, Kim Young Kwang who did an exceptional work on Plus Nine Boys is here as well as Seo Bum Jo and Lee Yoo Bi that has yet to unfold her talent on her first main role. A pretty big cast of actors and actresses you’ve found around in various dramas all these years accompanies them. Some pretty strong examples are Lee Pil Mo (Hwang Gyo Dong) whom we witnessed earlier this year on the intense Emergency Couple, Jin Kyung (Song Cha Ok) who was on the refreshing and exceptional It’s OK, That’s Love and other figures that haven’t appeared yet, among others, but have a connection to the male lead-director-scriptwriter combo i mentioned above, Kim Kwang Kyu and Jung Woong In, who did a really good work on, what else, an utterly villainous character on Endless Love that finished airing not long ago.
I won’t invest on the main synopsis, after all it hasn’t started unveiling yet. During the first episode the story unfolds at the present at a student knowledge competition in which the 1st rank student of the school, Ahn Chan Soo, will find out all of a sudden that he will compete against the 34th rank student of his school who is on the same class, Choi Dal Po. The fact that’s he’s in the 34th position is simple, the school has only 34 students! It’s not only Chan Soo who’s surprised, it’s also the rest of the class and the teacher as well. The way Dal Po is being depicted through his presentation by the knowledge show is priceless! Εverytime i encounter Dal Po’s hair something cracks inside of me, he looks like a mop!
In Ha’s expression is quite representative dare i say!
As questions flow and get answered correctly by Dal Po, the last one, that will determine whether he will compete versus Chan Soo or not, triggers a chain reaction of past events that come to the surface. Well, OK, i won’t lie (no hiccups here), every time in our beloved world of dramas someone’s parent is a firefighter and a fire alarm sounds during the first episode, it doesn’t end well. It’s one of these sub-clichés we come across from time to time. In Pinocchio, Jae and Ha Myung’s father is proud of his sons whose brains function to a higher scale, yet since he’s a the chief of a fire brigade station things are about to get complicated by the moment the alarm starts echoing! During a big fire, in order to save two workers that had remained in the building, which was a false assumption of the manager working there, nine firefighters pass away and the chief goes missing without his body being found. It was the two workers’ fault that the fire started and the manager covered both himself and then with his statement at the police. So nobody knows why the firefighters had to enter the building in the first place and it seems like the chief’s fault. As expected, the media start sharpening their knives, especially after someone with Pinocchio syndrome recognizes the missing chief walking on the street. The whole family gets victimized, the reputation of the father gets overshadowed by accusations, the mother can’t face people around her, they won’t even let her buy everything required to feed her sons at the local market and the children, especially Ha Myung who is no other than the younger self of Dal Po, come face to face with the relentless world of the media at such a fragile age. It’s one of these moments that this shining world shows its corrupted face and turns into a bloody coliseum. The journalists, if one can refer to them as such, in the role of the judge shout the outcome of the trial and the mob screams incoherently in awe. We get to see the twofold face of journalism, Gyo Dong’s (Lee Pil Mo) side who tries to see through facts before reaching any assumption and Song Cha Ok’s side (Jin Kyung) that represents in the most appropriate way the greasy face of journalism. One day, the two brothers encounter the journalists out of their house, Ha Myung offers a soulful testimony in front of the cameras concerning his father, these heartfelt words from an innocent child are not enough though.
One could say this is a rhetoric question, but no, it’s one heartless being’s ravenous statement in order to achieve something transient, meterialistic and soulless, greater ratings and self-recognition that is not afraid to step upon corpses by murdering a child’s inner world. The mother is devastated, everything around her has collapsed to the point of no return and offers herself to see the fireworks with Ha Myung, a promise the father couldn’t keep. I loved the deep black sea by night as the fireworks were reflecting upon its surface.
She makes a final decision and we’re left with the impression as if she jumped off the cliff with Ha Myung. The next day a few of their belongings are the only witnesses to the media’s latest grandiose achievement, a crime in a more simple way. A tragedy’s unfolding its face and Jae Myung erupts at the sight of the journalists by responding with violence towards their immodest stare. To my eyes this is not violence, the only violence i witnessed was from the media.
The scenery changes, little In Ha and her father, Choi Dal Peng, are on the fairy boat on their way to meet her grandfather and his father respectively. By the moment they greet him he tells them that his other son will soon be there! And he appears…
The truth is, the real Dal Po had passed away many years ago, but the little kid keeps the memory alive by impersonating him in this strange kind of relation. The grandfather had found him at sea while he was sailing with his boat and for the past five months they’ve been living together. Little Dal Po’s presence is essential to the grandfather’s mental and physical health. And the grandfather himself is essential for Dal Po’s surviving. It’s a generous and warm co-existence. You have to love the moments when Dal Po scratches the grandfather’s back according to the numbers on his jacket! Neither Dal Peng nor In Ha can accept this, but they compromise for grandfather Gong Pil’s health. As time passes by, Dal Po, who is no other than Ha Myung who survived the fall and the wandering at sea, and In Ha get closer and start cherishing all these selfless, innocent and beautiful moments two young children can experience. In Ha confesses to Dal Po that she dearly loves her mother, but the only way she can get a hold of her is through the TV since she’s working as a reporter. Their parents don’t have the best relationship. The problem is that at the island the TV is broken and she can’t even treasure her mother for a while through the screen. Dal Po manages to fix the TV by hitting it, what he didn’t expect though is the fact that In Ha’s Mother is Cha Ok, the reporter that played her part in ruining his family. The TV ends broken since Dal Po reveals the truth to his… younger brother! Back at the present once again, Dal Po answers correctly! The next phase is about to begin. In the meantime, Dal Po’s appearance on the TV knowledge show catches the attention of Hae Myung.
Concluding, i have to point out that the two little kids, Nam Da Reum and Noh Jung Ui, were stellar in depicting their roles. Full of life, they never failed to express their thoughts, emotions and concerns and interact in an astonishing way with each other, but also with the people around them. Needless to say that Jung Ui definitely looks like a younger Park Shin Hye! As for now, with the second episode i’m really looking forward to Shin Hye and Jong Suk’s concrete chemistry that is about to make its appearance. The script has a lot of stories on the background, both at the present and back from the past. It definitely feels like it’s going to get very complicated from a moment and on. Also, many figures haven’t appeared yet and that’s the role of the first episode, to intrigue you enough so as to make you feel the sweet longing of the next episode! But enough with me, how did you feel watching Pinocchio’s maiden voyage?