Posted: 06 Dec 2011 06:08 PM PST
NEW YORK (TheWrap.com): Ten months after ''Two and a Half Men'' looked destined for cancellation, TV's top rated sitcom is the biggest ratings gainer of the new fall season - and anchors a CBS Monday night that looks unstoppable.
Charlie Sheen's firing on March 7 could easily have been the end of the series. Warner Bros. TV, which produces the show, was ominously silent about its future. Suggestions about possible Sheen replacements - Rob Lowe? John Stamos? - quickly fizzled out.
Things couldn't be more different now. An analysis by TheWrap of this fall's network ratings finds that ''Men'' has climbed 39.1 percent in the prized 18-49 demo - far more than any other show. (We looked at the start of the season through the week of Nov. 13, compared to the same period last year.)
''I don't think there's any question it validates the move to bring it back,'' said Kelly Kahl, CBS's senior executive vice president of primetime.
''When we were sitting around in May talking about what we would be happy with, we all agreed: If we were anywhere close to where we were a year ago, we'd be thrilled.''
The show has far exceeded such expectations - and also those of Sheen. Soon after Ashton Kutcher was named as his replacement, Sheen predicted in May that the show would average a mere 2.0 rating among 18-to-49-year-olds.
''Enjoy the show, America,'' he told TMZ. ''Enjoy seeing a 2.0 in the demo every Monday, WB.''
Try three times that. The show is averaging a 6.4 rating, far better than the 4.6 it earned last year with Sheen in the lead. It has averaged 17.8 million total viewers.
It anchors a bulletproof Monday comedy block for CBS, which also includes another Chuck Lorre comedy, ''Mike & Molly,'' as well as ''How I Met Your Mother'' and the new ''2 Broke Girls,'' the season's highest-rated new series.
To seize on the tremendous curiosity around the revamped ''Men,'' CBS followed its Sept. 19 premiere with the debut of ''Girls,'' which had the network's best-testing pilot ever.
''Men'' returned to an explosive 10.3 rating and 27.7 million total viewers. ''Girls'' arrived to a 7 rating and 19.1 million.
Both shows have since slipped from those numbers - ''Girls'' to a 5.5 demo rating and 13.8 million. But they remain among the most formidable shows on the air.
Last week, CBS won Monday night airing reruns - yes, reruns - even as its competitors offered mostly new shows. (ABC aired a mix of holiday specials, a ''Castle'' rerun, and the tanking new game show ''You Deserve It.'')
Not only is CBS winning, but it's winning for less. Kutcher earns below $1 million an episode, compared to the nearly $2 million Sheen received, including syndication royalties and other payouts.
Sheen received a $25 million settlement when he sued over his firing, but it covered back-end payments he would have received in any case.Full content generated by Get Full RSS.
Posted: 07 Dec 2011 01:37 AM PST
Death triggers a new beginning for our heroine.
WHAT would you do if the doctor told you that you only had six months to live?
When she learns that she is dying of cancer, travel agent Lee Yeon-jae (Kim Sun-ah) decides to start living.
All her adult life, the 34-year-old has been dreaming of a better life in the future, instead of living well in the present. She puts all her hard-gained earnings into her "pension" plan, depriving herself of beautiful clothes, good food ... well, basically any fun. (This is one travel agent who has never gone on holiday!)
But now that fate has dealt her a bitter blow, she decides to break away from the shackles of doing the sensible thing and start doing what she really wants. She cooks up a bucket list.
First on the list: take that big trip. But not before splurging on a new wardrobe and new look.
On the trip, the "new" Yeon-jae meets Kang Ji-wook (Lee Dong-wook) the heir of Line Tour, the company she works for. She decides to go after him to make the biggest of her unfulfilled dreams come true before she dies – falling in love.
Terminal illness – once the favourite mainstay of Korean melodramas along with long-lost-siblings and forbidden love – has lately ceased to be popular in the K-realm.
Scent Of A Woman does not only revive this familiar ingredient but also restores the household recipe in its expired state: the hero is a blue-blood chaebol (conglomerate leader) while the heroine is a poor but dignified commoner. They fall in love, to the opposition of the aristocratic family. Tragedy beckons.
While many of the recent K-dramas eschew this stock plot – or subvert it like the excellent Protect The Boss – Scent Of A Woman opts to unabashedly traverse the straight path.
Oddly, though, this melodrama manages to stay fresh, addictively so. Undeniably, a lot has to do with the multifaceted lead characters, and the two attractive actors who play them, Kim (City Hall) and Lee (My Girl) who have scorching chemistry together.
Kim has been a favourite of mine ever since I saw her fire up the screen with Hyun Bin in My Lovely Sam-Soon, and here, she gives another of her powerhouse performances, taking her Yeon-jae from the timid, ugly duckling to the spunky, vibrant swan.
Kim infuses Yeon-jae with enough celestial courage that a woman who is fighting cancer needs, without losing the petty traits that also make her very mortal. This is clear in her bucket list, which prioritises her mother who will be left alone when she dies, but the must-dos include frivolous things like dinner with her K-pop idol Junsu (JYJ's Junsu playing his onscreen alter-ego).
Her looming death notwithstanding, she makes selfish, albeit life-affirming, choices. The most touching is her dilemma of continuing her love affair with Ji-wook despite her knowledge that she will have to leave him soon.
Yup, Yeon-jae is no classic self-sacrificial heroine, but strangely, this only endears her more to viewers.
Best of all is that she never loses her ironic sense of humour, especially in her rapport with her childhood friend, now her coldly efficient personal physician Dr Chae Eun Suk (Uhm Ki-joon).
Of course, Kim also looks hotter than ever – she had to lose a lot of weight for the role and finally gets to play around in a glamorous wardrobe. Ditto Lee. He has proven his acting ability in his earlier roles, but Lee post-military service is, err, a revelation. (No, ladies I'm not only talking about the infamous shower scene.)
He gives his clichéd rich, bored kid role enough nuanced intensity to make you feel his alienation, and empathise with his fascination for the dying Yeon-jae. In many ways, he is more dead (inside) than Yeon-jae, and it is through her that he comes alive again. The time limit on her life also gives their relationship a sense of urgency, making the romance compelling despite its ominous end.
And how can I forget their tango scene. Al Pacino's famous tango from Scent Of A Woman, the drama's namesake, cannot even hold a candle stub to Yeon-jae and Ji-wook's off-the-charts sizzling tango. In those mere minutes, the drama manages to capture their intense sexual tension exquisitely. The moment that is stretched to its explosive point is so palpably sweltering that when Ji-wook tremblingly pushes Yeon-jae away, you can't help but feel the tingle up your spine. Talk about breathless!
Still, crucially, this drama series is more than the romance – it is an inspiring tale of living your life to the fullest.
Never a fan of the "cry-cry, die-die" tragic drama series (as a colleague calls them), I am glad that I gave Scent Of A Woman a chance. It is not clear yet whether Yeon-jae will survive – one can hope – but already, like good dramas should, it has stirred me to the core. This will definitely be immortalised on my personal Top K-dramas Chart.
Scent Of A Woman airs every Wednesday and Thursday at 9.05pm on One HD (Astro Ch 393).Full content generated by Get Full RSS.
Posted: 07 Dec 2011 01:40 AM PST
Here comes our very own whodunit TV drama, Dark Sunset.
NTV7'S latest offering Dark Sunset treads new grounds as it opens with a scene of death – a mysterious suicide in a mansion.
Inspired by a true story in Penang, the 30-episode drama is a modern-day tale of horror and suspense, laden with family secrets, hidden treasures and heated romance.
A family curse seems to have been triggered when Lin Zhi Cai, the only son of rich man Lin Wen Fu, is found dead. Amidst the horror and mystery, a stranger, Ye Ting Ting (played by beauty queen-turned-actress Ng Yan Yee), appears and claims to be Zhi Cai's pregnant fiancée. As she moves into the family, strange things start happening, as a generation-old secret begins to unravel.
Just like any classic whodunit, there's more than meets the eye about the characters. Everyone has a secret and anyone can be a suspect. The only character with a known agenda is Ye, who is actually a detective on an undercover mission.
"I'm soft-spoken and gentle when I'm with others, but when I'm alone, I'm this cool, smart girl who's good at analysing things," said the 23-year-old, who chopped off her long locks for the role.
Due to their conflicting interests, Ye is always at loggerheads with Chen Jian Bang (played by hot rising star Lawrence Wong), a lawyer entrusted by Wen Fu to investigate Ye's identity.
Wong offered: "We distrust each other. Chen thinks Ye is after the money, while she finds him annoying for interfering in her business. I think our interactions were the only funny and light-hearted moments in this show, which deals with such a heavy subject matter.
"Though they're at odds with each other, you wonder whether they will end up together."
Even their banters are a battle of wits, with a hint of romance. A scene in which Chen ambushes Ye, who is looking around a room with a torchlight, is fashioned into a dueling dance, with tango music playing in the background.
"We tried to trip each other and we kept laughing doing the scene," said Ng.
Wong added: "It's all done in a dance rhythm, so although it's a fight, it comes across as a dance and it ends with us falling on a bed."
However, similar to others, Chen has hidden agendas, too.
"His emotions and allegiance change throughout the show. You would only find out at the end," said Lawrence. (Sounds dark and intriguing.)
It happened that the actor was going through a rough patch at that point, which might explain how he managed to nail his part.
"I was exhausted juggling between acting and hosting (fashion programme 8 Style). And my relationship with my then-girlfriend was on the rocks. I was down most of the time.
"In some ways it matches the tone and the atmosphere of the show, as well as the emotions my character is going through," he said.
Apart from the interesting characters, the twists and turns are what make Dark Sunset a gripping drama, said Ng.
She added: "There's something in every episode that keeps you guessing. This is rare in Malaysian productions. You'd be surprised to discover who is the real culprit."
The use of lighting helps heighten the drama and brings out the eerie atmosphere surrounding the mansion of secrets, said cast member Goh Wee Ping, who plays Shi Qiang, a gardener who seems to have something to hide.
There seems to be supernatural elements as well. People turn psychotic and claim that they hear voices, he said, adding that it adds to the mystery and intrigue.
Of course, a crime thriller would not be complete without some serious action sequences, which centre mostly on Ng and Lawrence. The stars did most of their stunts themselves, with Ng taking judo classes to look more convincing in her moves. She recalled how she was required to run up to the roof of a car and do a flip in a scene.
"When I got on to the top of the car, I froze and broke down in tears. I couldn't bring myself to do it, because the (surface of the) car was so slippery. But the director kept telling me that it would look good on TV. So I gritted my teeth and did it," she said.
In another scene, she had to roll down the stairs. She quipped: "I realised that after I successfully completed that scene, they stopped assigning stunt doubles for me."
With her role "being captured and thrown around" most of the time, she ended up getting bruises every day and even sprained her leg. These rigorous scenes turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Not only did she derive satisfaction from watching the outcome, she also overcame her fear of height.
"I had over 20 balcony scenes. By the last few scenes, I could just do it with ease," she said with a laugh.
Though he plays a lawyer, Lawrence, 29, did not have it easy either.
"I was put into a suitcase! When I first saw the suitcase, I told the director I wouldn't be able to fit into it. He asked me to try and I could fit in!
"They even bought a roll of cling wrap and wrapped up my head, leaving just two holes for me to breathe," he said.
It might sound funny, but safety is no laughing matter for Lawrence, not especially after Taiwanese pop star Selina Jen (of S.H.E) suffered third degree burns in an accident on the set of I Have A Date With Spring last year.
"There's a fine line between being professional and playing it safe. I lost my cool when I found out there was not enough safety precaution for a scene involving fire. I was lying there and I could remember how the fire sparks actually flew from my back and landed in front of me!
"What if it hit my hair or face? And there's water on the floor and they were using kerosene. You wouldn't know where the fire would spread to. So I did make some noise about it," he explained.
Goh, also got his elbows bruised shooting a scene in which he rescues a puppy.
"We were shooting on a tar road. I was holding the dog and was required to roll over when a car approached me. In order to not hurt the dog, I landed on my elbows," he said.
Playing a stuttering gardener was a change for the hunky host-turned-actor, who is usually seen playing a professional or a goody two shoes in drama series. However, gardening is not something new for him.
"My condominium balcony is full of plants and I make my own fountain. So that helps a lot when I portray the role. I was like, 'No, this is not the right type of cutter,' " he said.
Goh is reunited for the third time with Aenie Wong, who plays Ke Xin, a thirty-something who holds a grudge against everyone in the family, except Shi Qiang, whom she has feelings for. Describing it as "a tragic figure", Aenie said that she based the role on someone she knows and had fun portraying it.
"Initially, I didn't like the character as it's different from me, but I convinced myself that it's just acting. I ended up feeling sympathetic for her but I disagreed with what she did," she said.
Despite playing couples in Age Of Glory 2 and Mystique Valley, the intimate scenes in Dark Sunset still came off as "a little funny" for Aenie and Goh. "It's like asking you to make out with your good friend," said Goh, adding that their friendship as well as professionalism helped a lot in handling such scenes.
"I know Aenie quite well. So we talked before the shoot," he said.
Aenie agreed: "I think in this case, the girl should take the initiative to tell the guy about her limits and give him permission to do certain things."
Dark Sunset airs on Ntv7 from Mondays to Thursdays at 10pm.Full content generated by Get Full RSS.
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