Final Review: While You Were Sleeping

sab: There are hits and misses in Sleeping, but on the whole, I enjoyed it pretty much. I will start off with the misses first — Sleeping had me really dozing off in the mid-late part of the show, when it starts to get pretty much repetitive. The same cycle of Hong-joo/ Jae-chan/ Woo-tak dreaming something (usually negative), will ALWAYS get a positive spin by the end of the case. I feel Sleeping hasn’t really push its potential of the prophecy vs Fate idea. I appreciate its debut, which very nicely SUMMARISE the entire show — that Fate can be changed, and the 3 (2, at first) characters who have a chance to get a glimpse of the future can do that.

Unfortunately, the positive sell starts to wear off mid-show, and Sleeping got kind of boring. It becomes so much same-old same-old, that several of the cases in between the start and end, just kinda blur into one for me. So it really didn’t create the suspense it COULD have done with the ending when we are already shown so many examples of how the ending will be — i.e. good. Even Officer Choi’s death didn’t hit me as hard as it should, cos by then, Yeo-bum is already a goner. In fact, I am left wondering why Yeo-bum is so stupid to knock him down. Cos this is the surest way to give up and tell the entire world you are guilty. (not thinking, i suppose) [kooriyuki: I was expecting him to kill Officer Choi and it’s quite facepalm when he really did it. But Officer Choi T.T]

That said, Sleeping does pretty well on the emotional front, with the theme of underdog winning the day. Yeo-bum is set up as this scheming but slick villain, who is popular and trusted among friends and his ex-colleagues. Even Jae-chan’s dad took a liking to him, since he offered teenage Yeo-bum such a huge cash gift as an exchange in helping young (punky) Jae-chan up his test scores. Adult Yeo-bum retains that same snakey charm (remember he was once Hong-joo’s boyfriend), and unless the character crosses him, s/he will never know Yeo-bum’s true face behind that beaming smile.

In contrast, Jae-chan has and always been much of a loser and punk. But like the proverbial underdog, he manages to win everyone’s heart by the end of the day, and also reveal the ugliness beneath Yeo-bum’s polished facade. So on the surface, Jae-chan may have won a few court cases against Yeo-bum, in actuality, he has won ALL of Yeo-bum’s friends. Jae-chan’s colleagues who initially thought their new maknae to be clueless and socially inept, now feel he is not just one of them, but a representation of what they should be — a role reversal for a maknae, who is usually at the bottom of the pack.

And I suppose this is where the charm of Sleeping lies. There may be a corruption factor inherent in the prosecution system, represented by Yeo-bum, but this is overshadowed by the camaraderie and build up of relationships between all the good guys. The threesome who are Oracles are just a small subset of the entire friend-friend system in Sleeping. From the prosecution office to the police precinct, to even the news station, everyone is bent on “doing good”. So much so that the ending of Sleeping isn’t a rude awakening at all, but a continuation of a happy dream.

kooriyuki: Most of the characters are decent folks if not a tad boring because I felt they’re kind of 2D. I do think Woo-tak had more dimensions and it probably helps that Jung Hae-in is the actor bringing the character to life. Some of the villains of the case of the week are more interesting too, to the extent that I wish I can know more about them. I also felt that Jae Chan’s colleagues were a bit underutilized, so it was a total surprise to have Officer Choi being so intertwined with our Oracles.

I feel Show is more like a human drama than a fantasy drama because the fantasy is just a side theme. The bickerings of Jae Chan, Woo-tak and Hong Joo are more of a highlight than the dreams, because I suppose it becomes kind of predictable that our gang of three Oracles will somehow save each other. Show is a decent watch and kind of breaks the “curse” of pre-produced dramas falling short of expectations, but the missed opportunities of better uses of the superpower denies it the chance of being unforgettable.

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