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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Family" Episodes 27-28


Cheon-il is having one of those days, as what first seems like a sneaky ploy by an adorable child to get spending money soon morphs into an elaborate conspiracy that leads to police involvement. And then disengagement, because Ra-yeon somewhat sensibly decides that this is not the kind of problem that the government should be involved in unless absolutely necessary. That's the main joke in episode twenty-seven, is just the brief glimpses we get of the temporarily altered family dynamic.

While I don't recall that episode being particularly bad in any way only the conclusion sticks out as particularly noteworthy. First there's the complicated meta-reference about how casting directors for episode television will frequently rely on the same actor for small roles, even if it creates some very bizarre internal continuity. Then there's how the big moral point quite literally appears at the last minute, and somewhat ominously is resolved through the regretful words of a teenager.

The twenty-eighth episode has no such problems, because the set-up comes up immediately. What is life, without our digital addictions? And I found it genuinely amusing how, even though we never see anyone do anything all that important with their phones, of course the long arc of the story leads to the main characters taking them back because what choice do they have? When even your immediate superiors expect participation in Kakao...

...And that is kind of messed up, isn't it? Also consider how Ik-hee's lack of a phone shuts her off from friends, when they are in fact almost always in the same room as each other, rendering the phones rather redundant. On the flip side, Cheon-il finds a way to amuse himself without phones that is suitably dangerous. It is, as usual, a credit to Seok-moon's leadership as a good boss that the situation does not get too far out of hand.

On balance I consider these above average episodes of "Strong Family", limited as they usually are by the situation comedy format. The incremental progress made in the subplots is relevant. I liked how the episode twenty-seven guest star was able to prod one of the more taciturn members of the supporting cast. It's also good how Jeong-min can confront Gwi-nam without it turning into a big fight. Even Mrs. Jo gets a good-natured lover's quarrel. Alas, Ik-hee still has a way to go in the whole talking to her boyfriend department.

Review by William Schwartz

"Strong Family" is directed by Choi Moon-seok, written by Jin Yeong and features Park Hyuk-kwon, Park Sun-young, Kim Ji-min, Uhm Hyo-sup, Park Hee-bon, Kim Ki-ri and Lee Ho-won.

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