Thursday, October 2, 2014

Wishing Upon a K-Drama Star: Do's & Don't's For ABC's MY LOVE FROM ANOTHER STAR

The reaction to the news about ABC's remake of MY LOVE FROM ANOTHER STAR has been mixed so far, at least from what I've seen on Twitter and blogs. Fan apprehension is understandable and I share the concern that the U.S. remake won't do the original Korean series justice or may even downright mangle it.

As a longtime U.S. fan of Asian cinema, I'm wary of how ABC will translate the source material. My concern is somewhat ameliorated by knowing that the show's creator, Ji-eun Park, is on board to executive produce the ABC version. I do question, however, how much actual input she'll have regarding the tone of the show. Networks and studios have been known to offer a producing credit as a mere enticement—a notch on a person's IMDb belt with little creative involvement expected or wanted. This way, it’s possible to obtain rights or an appearance in lieu of paying big bucks.

We can only hope that executive producers Bomi Moon and Sebastian Lee and co-executive producer David Kim will not only have a similar vision for the American remake, but will also stay the course if the Powers That Be think the show needs to be dumbed down in any way. The last thing fans want is another failed show like STAR-CROSSED (a YA SFR) or BOYS BEFORE FRIENDS (a remake of the 2009 South Korean show BOYS OVER FLOWERS).

Since I'd like ABC's version of MY LOVE FROM ANOTHER STAR to succeed, I'm here with some unsolicited advice for the network, show producers, and writers Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fain.



* Treat the story seriously. It was clear to me that the creators and actors of MY LOVE FROM ANOTHER STAR took the premise seriously even though many elements of the show were highly fantastical. I expect nothing less from ABC. In fact, feel free to take a page from the WB's SMALLVILLE, a show about Superman that achieved just the right tone.

* Make the cast culturally and racially diverse. Consider casting an Asian actor as the hero. That would be stellar!

* Have the hero's powers and other science fictional elements more detailed as well as consistent. One of my frustrations with the original was the lack of clear reasoning behind the hero's powers. They don't have to be hard SF, but more plausibility and tighter structure within the story's context would be great.

* Provide a more plausible reason for the hero not being able to have physical contact with humans. Too much “wavehandium” will yank viewers out of the story.

* Keep the heroine's obnoxious personality intact. Part of the fun of Cheon Song-Yi was her spoiled, bratty nature and subsequent growth arc. Without her prickly personality and the conflict it created with Do Min Joon, the romance wouldn't have been as convincing.

* Give the heroine something to do other than being rescued every five minutes. I understand the appeal of the rescue fantasy, but after a while it became repetitious (even one of the characters commented on it!). At the very least, find more ways to show how much her love benefits the hero.

* Offer the villain a stronger motivation. In MLFAS, Lee Jae-Kyung's motivation was a bit too ambiguous, especially in the beginning. Would be fun to see him and the hero clash for more than one reason.

* Retain the original show's quirky humor to lighten the angst. Cheon Song-Yi's pratfalls and goofy moments helped make her relatable and sympathetic. Plus, secondary characters provided entertaining scenes of levity. I loved how fearless they were about it.

* Include a similar lawyer-friend for the hero. Jang Young-mok is a fantastic character.

* Use music similar to the original's mellifluous tune. And the theme song, "My Destiny," by artist Lyn is great. If it ain't broke, no need to fix it!

* Produce better special effects, especially for the space ship scenes. Maybe we can ditch the antiquated 50's style saucer this time around, eh?

* Retain the larger-than-life fashion elements. Some of the clothes in MLFAS were characters in and of themselves!

* And please keep the absolutely *pivotal* (heh) shower scene with the hero in the first episode. Shows like OUTLANDER featuring bare male chests and buttocks demonstrate how hungry women viewers are for sexy scenes filmed from a female perspective.


* Don't lose sight of what made the original show so appealing. Don't do a remake based on what you think American viewers want. Make one based on what will best serve the story. Remember, this Korean love drama is insanely popular for a reason, and that’s why you purchased the property: Again, it ain’t broken, so resist thine fixin’.

* Resist changing the ages of the hero and heroine. There are plenty of YA shows on the air currently, so keep the MLFAS leads as adults. They’re in their 20s, anyway. Recasting everyone as high school students would require a complete overhaul of the story and will just upset fans.

* Don't make the villain cartoonish. Just. Don’t. Go. There. Seriously.

* Don't eliminate the hero's need to abstain from physical contact—fans crave compelling sexual tension! Think back to MOONLIGHTING and THE X-FILES for inspiration.

* Don't let the hero infantilize the heroine by having him keep information from her that she's earned the right to know. Many women SF fans may like the fantasy of being rescued, but they draw the line at being coddled.

* Don't eliminate the interviews and extra scenes that ran after each episode! MY LOVE FROM ANOTHER STAR has a fun, intricate narrative style and yes, U.S. viewers can handle it. Look how popular ONCE UPON A TIME has been.

That's my two cents. Do you have any advice for ABC or future SFR shows in general?

BTW, if you haven’t seen this fabulous Korean drama, you can catch it subtitled on Hulu Plus or Drama Fever via their Web site or their native app on Roku, iOS, Android, etc.

Joyfully yours,