Starting tonight, viewers will be hard-pressed to settle on a program. Joining MBC`s effervescent "Cinderella Man," SBS` "City Hall" and KBS` "While I Was Looking" are bringing their own blend of romance and comedy to Wednesday and Thursday nights.
The bubbly trio of dramas puts reality on hold, spinning improbable tales of twins swapping lives, of a romance between a post office worker and a top star, and of an inexperienced rookie politician who inadvertently becomes town mayor.
So which channel will audiences settle on?
Though it is still early in the game, SBS` "City Hall" is a strong contender. Helmed by the blockbuster-making duo, producer Shin Woo-chul and TV scriptwriter Kim Eun-sook, this tale of an elite deputy mayor with aspirations for presidential candidacy and of an unwitting female government employee who becomes town mayor may sound a bit dull on paper, but the previews that have been airing on SBS are downright funny.
"My Lovely Samsoon" star Kim Sun-ah and co-star Cha Seung-won roll out the punches, with Kim playing a clumsy Lucille Ball-type to Cha`s cynical and sour politician. Both Kim, who proved her comedic prowess in the hit MBC drama "My Lovely Samsoon" (2005) and in the flick "She`s On Duty" (2005), and Cha, who drew laughs in movies "Ghost House" (2004) and "Kick the Moon" (2001), possess impeccable comedic timing and a knack for playing lovable buffoons.
"Mi-rae is the cutest and most lovable character that I have seen as of yet," said Kim of her role as a clueless public servant. "My character could come across as cute or give off an entirely different vibe, depending on how I play her. So, in order to fully absorb the character, I tried hard to look cute on a regular basis."
Co-star Cha plays an ambitious town deputy mayor who meets his match in Mi-rae.
"Through this opportunity, Jo Gook goes through a series of somewhat outrageous and diverse situations that make him gradually change his political values," said Cha of his character.
"At first, because I was playing a politician, I was worried about not being familiar with political terms, but while there are politics, the focus is on the situations and happenings between people," Cha added.
Based on what Cha said, viewers are unlikely to get bogged down by political jargon or bureaucratic details. Add to that producer Shin Woo-chul and scriptwriter Kim Eun-sook`s winning streak -- from their most recent "On Air" (2008) to "Lovers in Paris" (2004) -- and chances are that "City Hall" has what it takes to hit a homerun.
KBS, however, promises to give "City Hall" a run for its money with their latest Wednesday and Thursday night series, "While I Was Looking."
Veteran actor Hwang Jung-min plays an average guy who has never had a proper date in his 30-something year old life. That is, until top star Han Ji-soo comes crashing into his world. Hwang`s Goo Dong-baek, a post office worker, helps actress Han out of a tough situation only to find himself agreeing to pretend to be her significant other for six months.
At a press conference last week, Hwang, who played a kind and simple farmer in the flick "You`re My Sunshine" (2005), admitted to certain similarities between Kim Seok-joong of "You`re My Sunshine" and Goo Dong-baek.
Hwang explained his decision to play the simple-hearted Goo: "I thought, `Won`t a different character emerge?`"
"200 Pound Beauty" star Kim Ah-joong will star opposite Hwang as actress Han.
When asked why she chose "While I Was Looking," she answered: "Well, because, first of all, the script was really fun."
Both actress Kim and co-star Hwang have a gift for comedy. In the preview screening, a Chaplin-esque Hwang drew laughs as his star struck character fumbled and stuttered around Kim`s Han Ji-soo.
"City Hall" starts airing on SBS and "While I Was Looking" on KBS 2 TV at 10 p.m. tonight.
By Jean Oh