I still can’t get over how heavy King Flower (AKA Substitute Princess OR Replacement Princess OR The Adventure Of King Flower) has left me tasting. I need something to leave me feeling light and airy, and I think I have found it with Love Around. The plot was light enough to lift me from whatever KF has left me with! Or maybe it is because I just need a break from what KF has done to me. The first thing that really caught my attention aside from Annie Chen and George Hu playing OTP for the second time in a year (their first pairing was in the daily Love, Now) is the super addicting songs used in the drama which is sung by Taiwanese-Korean Bii. It is so addicting and catchy! So fitting for this drama. (: And now Bii is my new love!
Obviously SETTV is playing with the success of Annie and George in LN to put them together in a second year in the same year, in fact of my memory I don’t recall this occurring anywhere in Taiwanese drama history before. It sure is a way to lift up a drama, because rating wise it almost broke a 2 which is a good sign for the drama run. Viewers aren’t turning in because of the plot but rather they are there to see their OTP reunite, and I’ll admit that I tuned in because I know that they are the OTP.
Having never seen Annie and George act together before but having heard praises on what great chemistry they have, frankly I was quite disappointed with how they started off. I just didn’t feel the chemistry here! George was quite stiff with with his acting, like he was reading a script (like seriously. You could see that he was forcing words out of his mouth!), while Annie over acted quite a bit. I expected to see them sizzling with chemistry, or at the very least being comfortable around each other, but instead they appeared quite forced around each other. At least the music was good to hear, but even they overplayed it with music appearing in almost every scene! Hopefully Annie and George’s chemistry will take a turn for the better now that their respective character has had their share of break-up traumas.
The drama starts off with Zhou Zhen (George Hu) who is spending his birthday reminiscing over a video about his birthday celebration with his (ex) girlfriend two weeks ago. He gave her a watch and she agreed to fulfil his wish of celebrating his birthday with him every year. Meanwhile Liang Xiao Shu (Annie Chen) is literally running for life to get to make it to her 9:00am work start time as a radio DJ at Asia FM 92.7.
Zhou Zhen dials to the radio station to broadcast a song to his (ex) girlfriend. His chauffeur and friend, Fei Li (Zhao Jie), comes to pick him up and when his chauffeur excitedly makes plans to celebrate Zhou Zhen’s birthday, Zhou Zhen cuts him short and solemnly tells turn on the radio. Xiao Shu plays the song, stating that Mr. J has dedicated this song to Miss. C for two weeks straight. Xiao Shu tells Mr. J (over the radio) that she doesn’t know what has gone wrong in his relationship with Miss. C but if he needs her support she will be there for him.
Miss. C is listening and right after the broadcast Zhou Zhen turns up. He returns her the watch, asking her to return back to his side. She tells him the truth of why she broke up with him – because he is a gangster and she doesn’t want to be looked down upon because of his identity. She asks him to let her go and he agrees. She returns the watch to him but her tells her to keep it. She tells him that since he doesn’t want it, she doesn’t either, so she smashes it on the ground before walking away.
Zhou Zhen is mending his broken heart by hitting balls at a baseball pitching ground. Xiao Shu beautifies herself and heads off to buy a birthday present for her boyfriend, Jason. She heads to a baseball shop and spots a unique signed baseball bat that she is sure Jason will love. However, this bat is not for sale and can only be won through the stall’s baseball competition.
Xiao Shu signs herself up for the competition and decides to go throw some practice shots. She finds a spare stall but turns out that Zhou Zhen has bought that spot. She isn’t willing to let that go so easily and goes to reason with him but it doesn’t get through.
It’s competition time and Zhou Zhen (and other onlookers) watches as Xiao Shu fail to bat even a ball and instead gets hit herself. She sees that Zhou Zhen is really good at baseball so she enters his stall to ask that he participate in the competition for her. Just as she goes to explain her reason, a ball comes her way but luckily Zhou Zhen manages her move her out of danger. After that epic safe, she explains that today is her boyfriend’s birthday and that bat has the signature of a sports star whom her boyfriend adores. He, too, would wish that his girlfriend would gift him a present that he loves too, right? That cuts it and he goes to win the competition for him.
It’s raining and Xiao Shu goes to catch a taxi it turns out that it is Zhou Zhen’s taxi. Realising so, she quickly gets out of the taxi and stands in the pouring rain waiting to catch another taxi. Seeing her so, he goes to offer her a ride. During the ride, she reaches for a tissue on the far side of the taxi but then falls on his lap. Though she quickly apologises for what has happened. She then receives a call from her mother whom she persuades to keep her date out with Jason a secret from her father that she doesn’t even realise that Zhou Zhen has already headed back to him hotel complex and that he has already paid for her share of the ride.
Zhou Zhen goes to find his younger sister, Zhou Ying Ying (Elleya Tao), who has taken up the pool all to herself. He betrates her for being so spoilt. She tells him that she doesn’t like people being there while she swims which makes her recall how he told Xiao Shu that he doesn’t like to bat when there are people around.
Feeling bad about it, Xiao Shu goes to the hotel complex in order to pay Zhou Zhen back the taxi fees. However, there she spots her boyfriend hugging up another girl. She goes to find him who breaks up with her while Zhou Zhen watches as the scene unfolds. He explains that he doesn’t want a conservative girlfriend like her. Unable to stand that douchebag, Zhou Zhen goes to punch him for her.
Zhou Zhen finds her and tells her that she was brave enough to stand up to him but when that douchebag scold her, she can only sit and cry? He tells her that since the douchebag doesn’t love him, to him her love is like static, and that she is just wasting her efforts. The two see a bickering couple and goes to voiceover the scene; she realises that Zhou Zhen is lovelorn too. She questions if they can love another person and he sincerely answers that he has no idea.
Xiao Shu takes Zhou Zhen to the restaurant where she intended to celebrate Jason’s birthday to celebrate Zhou Zhen’s birthday instead (she found out his birthday when she went to claim the bat and saw that his birthday is also today) in order to thank him for what he has done. However, the birthday cake that came out has a picture of Jason. Together, they break the cake up in sight of her break-up.
The two walk home together and come past Jason’s home. Together they “exact revenge” by letting the air out of Jason’s tires.
Xiao Shu then falls flat on the floor asleep so Zhou Zhen goes to piggyback her. Unable to get an address out of her, he takes her to his hotel and along the way, she drops her phone and handbag. He tucks her in bed and wipes away her tears before splashing his face with water.
The door rings and some police officers turn up. The police officer ask for some identification details about Xiao Shu but Zhou Zhen is unable to give any so the police officer suspects that he wants to make some illegal sexual contact with her.
Obviously the plot is not the selling point of the drama, but rather the OTP. In fact there isn’t any narrative aspect with this first ep, it was more about bringing these two people together in order bring them together again. This ep was to provide a meeting grounds for the OTP and it did so in a way that viewers are familiar with. There wasn’t anything screaming “fresh and innovative” about the plot, because if anything people are just tuning for the OTP. However, it is not just the OTP that I want to see; a good drama also needs a good plot. Now that the initial phase of their meeting is over, hopefully the plot will pick up and actually have some narrative sense to it.
I know that Annie and George have chemistry, it’s just that they haven’t showcased it yet. I didn’t expected to see them like this, because for them to have just recently finish LN and then be reunited so soon, I expected their chemistry to flourish or at the very least still be there. But something has just gone wrong for them, because their chemistry seems to be going downhill. I never would have thought that it would be possible with them but I am guessing I was wrong. They are the selling point of the drama so they have to bring together the drama, and if they aren’t giving the chemistry that viewers expect to see, the drama will unravel.
There is the whole “gangster” aspect that is yet to play its part in the drama so I am hoping that it will be what lifts up the drama and allow Annie and George to showcase their chemistry.