Over The Rainbow is a Korean television drama (K-drama) that can be loosely described as 8 Miles meets Honey mixed with a dash of Footloose. Despite how unappealing that sounds, it is not necessarily a bad thing. However, it is not a good thing either. Over The Rainbow is the story of four individuals that trails their love affairs and passionate careers, which is to (literally) sing and dance. The series shines as a K-drama, utilizing the strong elements that make up a K-drama (over-the-top drama, love triangles, etc.). However, I had trouble stomaching the underlying story about young adults wanting to dance and sing. It was a little too much for me. In short, Over the Rainbow is a compelling watch, but it is not as mature or well-developed as other series in the genre.
The series introduces the leading characters in their high school days. Hyukjoo Kwon (Ji Hyeon-Woo) is a troublemaker at school with no ambition to study. He is in a gang and working his way up the ranks. His family is poor and he is willing to make whatever sacrifices necessary to support them. His principal, who everyone calls Clorox, wants to save him. He works effortlessly to push him in a different direction. Hyukjoo's life begins to change for the better when a he is given a singing scholarship. However, it is not the scholarship that impacts his life.
Pride Entertainment is a talent company that invests in hip/hop singers. Their latest protege is Rex (Hwan-Hee), one of Hyukjoo's classmates. Rex is a shooting star whose view on the world has been tainted by his rise to fame. Clorox and Pride Entertainment announce the scholarship to Hyukjoo at a school assembly, and accidentally embarrass him by talking about how poor he is. In the aftermath, Hyukjoo rejects the scholarship and decides to drop out of school. Clorox refuses to let him drop out and teams him up with a dance group. At first he joins his peers (Smart, King Mart, Manjong, Youngsuk, and Youngdal) to get Clorox off his back, but he soon finds that dance is something he loves. It becomes his motivation to stop being a gangster. Coincidentally enough, they name their dance group "Gangster".
About the same time that Hyukjoo joins the dance group, a beautiful young girl enters his life. Her name is Heesu Jung (Kim Ok Bin). Heesu is a Korean teenage girl who has been living in New Zealand for the last three years. Her father is a minister and does a lot of missionary work. Presently, she is in Korea for church business. She ditches out on her dad to realize her dream, which is to become a famous entertainer. She loves hip/hop music. Heesu runs away from home and moves in with Hyukjoo's family and becomes instrumental in the early foundation of Gangster.
Two years later. Hyukjoo and Heesu are in a relationship. They care greatly about each other. Heesu is slowly making her way in the business as a singer/dancer. Hyukjoo and his friends are happy being backup dancers. They were just hired by Pride Entertainment to be Rex's (who has become a big star since Hyukjoo's last encounter during the scholarship fiasco) backup dancers. Life is perfect. Or so Hyukjoo thought. Heesu's attention shifts from Hyukjoo to Rex. She sees Rex as her golden ticket to fame.
Around this time, the fourth main character is introduced. Her name is Sangmi Ma (Seo Ji-Hye). Sangmi is a young girl who is a big fan of Rex. She has had no ambition to be in the entertainment business. However, after she is the victim of a car accident (Rex is the guilty party), she "blackmails" Pride Entertainment into giving her a job as a singing protege. No one likes her at first, but she slowly grows on everyone. The result is couple love triangles involving the four main characters. As the series progresses, the drama focuses on relationships changing between the four, as well as the rise and fall of their careers.
In addition to the main storyline, there are a few subplots. For instance, Heesu's relationship with her father plays a small role in the early episodes. It helps define her personality and what she is capable of doing, or rather, what she is willing to do to see her dream come true. Another subplot deals with Hyukjoo's father. He is a singer that never made it. He sings at a local lounge for a guy who ripped off his family. Coincidentally enough, Hyukjoo's former gang boss becomes his dad's manager.
What works for Over The Rainbow is the drama. When the story is focusing on the relationships between the four main characters, specifically the love triangles, is engaging and entertaining. The driving factor is that it gets very soapy with lots of over-the-top melodrama. However, at the same time there could have been some improvements with the drama. The underlying storyline about the four youths and their rise in the hip/hop music/dance world just didn't do it for me. I had a hard time taking them serious. For that reason, I did not really fall in love with this series or its characters.
In the end, Over The Rainbow is not a bad K-drama, but it is not one of the better ones either. The drama, mostly due to its hard-to-take-serious storyline, does not feel as mature or well-developed as other series in the genre. However, it still encompasses some strong melodrama and has enough eye-rolling over-the-top moments to keep your attention. If anything, this K-drama should make for an enjoyable watch.
This release is given in anamorphic 1.78:1 ratio widescreen* color. The picture quality is excellent, providing a clear and clean picture with minor color distortions and compression artifacts. Both dark and bright colors are represented very well.
* Please note that the rear of the box cover incorrectly states the feature is presented in 4:3 full frame color.
The audio is given in Korean 2.0 stereo sound. The track is dialogue driven and has limited use of the surround/stereo capability. The music sounds good; it is dynamic and vibrant. For non-spoken language options, there are English subtitles.
For extras, Someday comes with a couple interview and behind the scenes featurettes, bloopers & gag reel, and a full length episode from a comedy/prank reality television show. Here is the breakdown:
- Bloopers (1:50): is a short clip that probably won't be very interesting for non-Korean speakers. It is not subtitled and it is hard to tell what's going on. From what I can infer, there are two different scenes shown and the mistake is highlighted and replayed with Korean narration/text pointing out what exactly happened.
- Gag Reel (8:08): is another extra that will not be of much interest to non-Korean speakers. There are no English subtitles, but lots of Korean narration and text. It is similar to the bloopers clip, except there are more goofs.
- Interviews (18:14): is the first extra with English subtitles. You will finally have a chance to understand what is being said. It is a sequence of interviews with cast members: Ji Hyun-Woo, Hwan-Hee, Kim Ok Bin, and Seo Ji-Hye. They talk about some of the hardships fulfilling their roles, working together, the dancing/singing aspects, etc.
- Candid Camera (44:56): is another extra with English subtitles. It is a full length television special of a candid camera reality television series that tries to catch people in silly situations. It is hosted by Lee Kyung-Gyu. Joining him is a Korean guy named Brain. They work with the producer and Ji Hyun-Woo to get Hwan-Hee, who they call Fany, in several sticky situations. They get him by placing him in a bunch of fixed situations, where Fany basically gets ignored and Brian gets the attention, or Fany gets stuck with the bill.
- Behind the Scenes (4:16): is a short featurette about the series (it has English subtitles). It provides a look at the dance moves, which has the male cast (painfully) doing the splits. Ouch! They also get sprayed with a hose.
Over The Rainbow is a K-drama about four young adults who want to be entertainers in the hip/hop scene. This sixteen episode mini-series details their relationships in the form of friendship and romance, and their professional endeavors as singers and dancers. The soapy melodrama provides a strong subtext for engaging and entertaining content. However, the hip/hop singing and dancing aspect makes the underlying storyline hard to stomach. I felt it left the drama less mature than other K-dramas. For that reason, I think Over The Rainbow is an enjoyable mini-series that is worth watching, but no more than once.