Based on the webtoon Amazing Rumor by Jang Yi, The Uncanny Counter is supposed to evoke less of the usual light dramedy feel than most K-dramas do. No, this show is more along the lines of a sci-fi adventure series like Heroes, where seemingly ordinary humans get incredible powers that they struggle to harness. There might be some romance, there might be a bit of backstory, but there’s a whole lot more action. If that’s something that intrigues you, read on for more.
Opening Shot: On a rainy night, a young boy draws pictures of him and his grandparents on a trip while his parents are in front.
The Gist: As the kid tells his parents that they seem to be too busy for him, they promise to make time. The father gets a phone call from a fellow police detective, about to be pushed off a building, telling him to watch his back. At the same time, the car is T-boned by a truck; the boy is the only survivor, though his right leg was irreparably injured.
Seven years later, the boy, So Mun (Jo Byung-gyu), is living with his grandparents, winning awards for his superhero artwork. At school, he hangs out with his friends Im Ju-yeon (Lee Ji-won) and Kim Ung-min (Kim Eun-soo), the latter of which is constantly being bullied by Shin Hyeok-u (Jung Won-chang) and his buddies. On Mun’s birthday, they line up at this out-of-the way noodle shop, which suddenly closes when the staff is called out to battle an evil spirit.
Yes, that’s right. Do Ha-na (Kim Se-jeong) can sense evil spirits and also read people’s memories when she touches them. Ga Mo-tak (Yoo Jun-sang) is super strong and can jump far. Choo Mae-ok (Yum Hye-ran), has incredible healing abilities. They are “counters” who chase after evil spirits who embody regular humans and gain strength each time they kill and consume their victims’ souls. The three Counters battle the spirit, but he’s too strong for them, and he ends up killing the fourth member of the group. A spirit leaves the dead counter’s body, searching for another host.
Usually, these spirits look for someone in a coma, but this time the spirit, Wi-gen (Moon Sook) finds Mun, who is just walking along with his buddies. Once the counters figure out from Choi Jang-moo (Ahn Suk-hwan), the “counter in charge”, where Wi-gen went, they go to find Mun. Ha-na defends him when Hyeok-u and his henchmen come to beat Mun up, and then brings him back to the noodle shop so the other counters can let him know what his responsibility is. Since he has a life to lose, as opposed to the others whose hosts were in a coma, he at first decides not to join them. But his mind gets changed quickly.
Our Take: We enjoyed a lot of the first episode, though there were portions near the end that dragged, as So Mun “meets” Wi-gen and finds out exactly why the counters do what they do. The Uncanny Counter will have a continuing story, of course, namely So Mun’s training to hone his abilities and a deeper look at his parents’ demise, but the show will essentially contain a lot of chases and choreographed martial arts, including a lot of flying kicks and super jumps. Those extended action sequences help move the show along, and they’re well done.
Due to those extended action sequences, though, we don’t know a ton about the other counters at the outset. We have a feeling we’ll get to know them as time goes along, especially as a potential “thing” could be starting between So Mun and Do Ha-na. The actors who play the counters seem to bring enough personality to their roles to make viewers curious about their backstories. But it may take awhile to get to all of them, given that the whole “saving the world from evil” thing takes precedence.
There’s nothing too deep about The Uncanny Counter, but if you’re a K-drama fan, it might be a refreshing change from the usual “two people from opposite circumstances fall in love” trope that we’ve seen in most of the series Netflix imports to US audiences.
Sex and Skin: Nothing.
Parting Shot: So Mun blocks a punch by one of the bullies, as he realizes the importance of being a counter. “I paid you back in full already, you son of a bitch,” Mun says.
Sleeper Star: Kim Se-jeong is a lot of fun as Do Ha-na, who was the youngest counter until So Mun came along. She’s not as enthused about being a counter as her colleagues are, and it’ll be interesting to see her play off So Mun’s curiosity.
Most Pilot-y Line: Most of the soundtrack for The Uncanny Counter is more along the lines of an over-the-top Arrowverse show. But, as usual with Korean shows, there is annoying “plink-plink” music that screams “THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUNNY.”
Our Call: STREAM IT. The Uncanny Counter is a fine, light sci-fi series that will help you take your mind off heavier dramas from here or formulaic dramas from overseas. Will it get deeper as it goes along? Maybe. But the action sequences are good enough to keep people watching.
Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and tech, but he doesn’t kid himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon, RollingStone.com, VanityFair.com, Fast Company and elsewhere.
Source : Stream It or Skip It?