18 September 2022

Woo-Woo!


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Extraordinary Attorney Woo

I've fallen in love. She's Korean, smart, attractive, lovable. My previous Asian dalliance didn’t fare so well, but I’ll discuss that shortly.

Extraordinary Attorney Woo

The first ‘she’ is a television show available on Netflix, Extraordinary Attorney Woo. Wow to Woo. Characterization is fantastic. The settings give a limited peek into South Korean city life and village peace, but most interesting was a temple. The plots were consistently clever and well executed. And… this is the only time I include a food review with a telly review, but I wanted to try what he had… and she and that guy over there.

I’ve given to understand the Korean title of Extraordinary Attorney Woo leans closer to Strange Lawyer Woo. The present translation is better than the original. The Woo in question is a fresh-out-of-law-school attorney and she is extraordinary.

She’s also autistic, which makes tasks small and large difficult for her. The story line counters her autism with a dose of savant, statistically not typical but it works. She remembers everything she reads.

Although she graduated top of her class, she couldn’t find a job until her single father called in a favor, winning her an internship in the second largest law firm in Seoul. Her dad is a bit of a mystery, a man who also trained in law but chooses to run a luncheonette.

Employees at Woo’s firm are wary of her, but after initial doubts, her supervising attorney takes her under his wing, mitigating some of the office politics. And wow, their law office makes that Northern despot crackpot seem like an amateur. Colleagues refer to one of Woo's fellow interns as a ‘tactician’, which I gather imputes a sly and devious plotter, one determined to oust Woo from the firm.

Two other colleagues are of interest, one of them her romantic interest, the boy all the girls love chooses to hang with Woo.

The most fascinating amongst her associates is her former classmate, Choi Su-yeon. All through university, Su-yeon helped Woo navigate campus life just as she helps her integrate into the corporate workplace. And, just like Su-yeon constantly came off academic runner-up in the shadow of Woo’s first place, Su-yeon finds herself exasperated she’s repeating the same pattern in the professional world. And yet, Su-yeon can’t help herself. She’s kind, selfless, and fond of Woo at her most helpless and hapless. She’s a beautiful character portrait.

In case after case when all seems hopeless, Woo makes a mental connection and resolves the current court battle. She astonishes the legal world and comes to the attention of the city’s largest firm. Indeed, the two largest firms in Seoul are both run by the smoothest of women. They that reminded me of a real-life supervisor at a large Central Florida theme park. Fellow cast members in her way never felt the sharpest of blades in their backs but wondered where the pool of blood came from.

Heartless Seoul

I’d previously watched the wildly popular Squid Game. Once the series ended, I stood under a long, hot shower, brushing my teeth and tongue to get the bad taste out of my mouth. Visually, it’s fascinating and I enjoyed the M.C. Escher quadriplex. But psychologically, it’s a sick ƒ. Give me Silence of the Lambs any day.

Frankly, I don’t think of Squid Game as a horror show although hints of horror break the surface from time to time. Perhaps its most interesting scene is a short ripoff of Eyes Wide Shut, that did it better and didn’t leave the audience wanting to scrub off their skin to get clean. And after the show should have ended, we had to endure an anticlimax as the tale petered out. It's a parable, see, like the Book of Job, which requires lots of slowwww explanation.

Without doubt, my distaste of perfidy factors into my opinion. Squid Game brings us 455 (actually more) examples of betrayal… and death. Rumors that Leader Kim Jong-un hung over his toilet bowl might be slightly exaggerated. But as I said, it is extremely popular and Leonardo DiCaprio will join the production for its second season. Let me guess– he might crack open the secret organization.

One opinion, of course. Your mileage will vary.

Heart in Seoul

I’ve talked about everyone except W우우 Young-W우우. Her name is a palindrome as she remarks at every introduction. She eats the same lunch every day, gimbap (seaweed sushi). She counts to three before skipping over a threshold. She converses almost exclusively about Cetaceans (whales, dolphins). She tends to wobble instead of walk. She’s terrified of revolving doors… and I have sympathy for her.

But we, like her colleague Su-yeon, see her beauty. She’s moral and ethical, which sometimes conflicts with the law. She’s vulnerable. She tries to fit in, and she wants her father to let her make her own mistakes. She worries she won’t be able to fall in love and please a husband. She’s bloody smart. And every so often dimples pop out of nowhere.

Producers waited a year to land the actress for the rôle and they chose well.

Watchers in Korea criticized the last two episodes of Season 1. (Yes, there will be a Season 2.) Her supervisor has cancer. When Woo visits him in the hospital, someone comments that the odds of survival are good. Woo corrects them, rattling off dismaying probabilities and percentages. Viewers were offended, saying, “How insensitive. My Uncle Ted got cancer and…”

That was part of the point, of course, that autistics often misread the room. Instead of watching Woo with social horror, they should have noticed her supervisor, smiling from his hospital bed. He understood she meant no harm and showed her concern by visiting.

Extraordinary Attorney Woo cast
At first blush, it might appear an overhanging vine, but look again. It’s Woo’s obsession.

I can’t emphasize enough how clever, kind, smart, smart and charming the program is. I’m noted for detesting SOS (soap opera shite) that so often appears in series as dying shows drag on. Woo profides a surfeit of personal drama, but it never crosses the line in jump-the-shark melodrama.

Extraordinary Attorney Woo. I give it 114 stars and six thumbs up.

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for the rave review for my newest favorite program. As you've mentioned, the lead actress is indeed extraordinary. The show includes special effects (usually whale related), which are seamlessly integrated with the story and add to its charm. Even if this doesn't sound as if it's something you'd enjoy, I encourage you to try it, but be warned. Woo is irresistible.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well summarized, Wendy. In a market that offers everything, it's difficult to find anything that stands out. It's nearly impossible to say how special this is.

      I particularly smiled in the final chapter, when her father watched her walking down the street. In the first dozen episodes, she wobbled, virtually waddled, but by the end, she almost danced with happiness.

      Delete

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