Whenever a series with a similar theme to a previous hit comes out, it is almost certain to get severely criticized.
KBS` "Worlds Within," a new drama that bears striking similarities to SBS` "On Air," will face judgment tonight when it airs its first episode.
Like "On Air," this star-studded series tracks the drama production process. But unlike its predecessor -- which revolved around a manager, an actress, a scriptwriter and a producer -- "Worlds Within" focuses on the relationship between two program directors, played by celebrities Song Hye-kyo and Hyun Bin.
Through Song and Hyun`s characters, viewers will get an inside look into the world of television, with a bit of romance on the side.
But will it be compelling enough to nab the same high ratings as "On Air"?
KBS has done everything in its power to make sure "Worlds Within" does not flop.
<**1>Not only did they bring Song and Hyun on board, they enlisted the director of KBS` "Full House," Pyo Min-soo, and the screenwriter of KBS` "Goodbye Solo," Noh Hee-kyung.
Pyo -- whose last KBS drama "In-soon is Pretty" failed to garner high ratings last year - and Noh will be hard-pressed to outshine Shin Woo-chul and Kim Eun-sook`s "On Air."
It is too early to tell if they have what it takes.
"This series is about the production of dramas," said Pyo at last week`s press conference, leaving the Korean press feeling ambivalent about how exactly "Worlds Within" would portray the drama-making process.
Screenwriter Noh did little to clear things up. "I think we have been planning this drama for over two years. This time I relied a bit more on the actors and was able to express myself more freely. This is a fun and entertaining drama," she said.
Actress Song Hye-kyo, however, was able to shed some light on the upcoming series.
"Melodrama functions as the main thread of this series," the 26-year old actress said. "The rest is primarily work-related."
Song voiced her confidence in director Pyo, whom she worked with on the hit drama "Full House" (2004), and in scriptwriter Noh.
"Noh`s writing is so good, it makes playing my role a challenge," she continued. "It is hard to pull off natural and realistic acting."
Song, who is slated to take on the role of rookie director Joo Joon-young, admitted that it was not easy getting back into the world of dramas after a four-year hiatus.
Co-star Hyun Bin, who will be playing her ex-boyfriend and colleague, is also returning to the small screen for the first time in two years.
Hyun shot to stardom in the blockbuster series "My Lovely Samsoon" in 2005 and won female viewers over in KBS` "The Snow Queen" (2006). Now, he`s back to woo his fans as a talented and charming director in "Worlds Within."
While his role may look suave on the outside, Hyun confessed that it was "a bit embarrassing to play a director in front of one."
Judging from the preview, Hyun`s embarrassment translates into confidence on the small screen. And it looks like the star power of Hyun and Song may be enough to wrest the top spot away from rival MBC drama "East of Eden."
"Worlds Within" starts airing tonight at 9:55 p.m. on KBS 2 TV.
By Jean Oh