Great central romance and annoying supporting characters.
“Flowers” took on a challenge by making the heroine a depressed police officer. She’s a compelling character—you can see the atypical depression in how she walks like she’s carrying a huge weight—but she’s not fun. In the early episodes, she sometimes lashes out in ways that are downright mean.
Depression is about as funny as cancer, so there’s plenty of uncomfortable moments before the depression story drops out of view, perhaps because the show was cancelled and the writers had to scramble for a resolution. In any case, Officer Cha is in trouble at work and in life, and the show never quite offers the audience enough to counterbalance those travails. The plot twists are entertaining—especially the arc about a very expensive missing accessory—and the lovers’ repartee is full of good lines, but it’s hard to escape the downer moments.
The supporting characters are mostly one-dimensional. Everyone will probably have their own candidate for most irritating: I vote for Kim Dal, but the psychologist’s haircut deserves mention as potentially the worst hack job since the invention of scissors. Most of the secondary characters never fully come to life, with the exception of Officer Jo, Cha’s newbie partner on the beat. He gets the chance to be funny, irritating, awkward, and in the end, a great guy. But none of the other characters make much of a journey, which is a waste of good talent.
Because of the uninteresting secondary characters and complex heroine, 90% of the pleasure here comes from watching the hero. The actor (Yoon Shi-Yoon) makes Seo Jeehae a charismatic guy who can only be described by the old-fashioned word “jaunty.” He has that liveliness that makes him hard to stop watching, a quality that has nothing to do with the good looks he possesses in spadefuls.
The character’s mysterious past makes him reserved and self-possessed, older than his years, and diffident toward the wealth around him. He appears as comfortable in the role of valet parking attendant as he is flashing his Rolex in an expensive members’ club. It doesn’t hurt that the guy loves to dress up in perfectly tailored suits, like a twenty-first century Cary Grant. Seo Jeehae is as jaunty as an old black-and-white movie idol.
In fact, at one point he refers back to a Hitchcock classic from the thirties. He handcuffs himself to Officer Cha and cheerfully says, “I saw this in a movie once.” He’s a guy playing a role in the world, and as the series goes on, Yoon Shi-Yoon shows us more and more sides of him—the many roles he’s invented for himself—and maybe even some of the truth. Yoon Shi-Yoon manages to make Seo real without sacrificing his dashing, larger-than-life qualities.
I wish we could have seen this couple in a show supported by better supporting characters. But I did watch it all the way to the end, which is mostly due to Yoon Shi-Yoon. He put in some overtime on this one. This is the first show I’ve watched with him and I’m going to hunt the rest down, you can bet. Even a flawed K-drama still offers a ton of goodies that you won’t find anywhere in US movies and TV at the moment.