KBS Drama Special is a weekly program consisting of short-episode dramas, usually between one to four. White Christmas, spanning eight episodes, was an exception. Similar programs, such as TV Novella and MBC Best Theatre, have existed in the past and they were known for refined stories and compelling artistry. They offered venues for promising writers, producers and actors to develop their talent and gain experience.
Unlike serial dramas that often drain staff with tight schedules and excessive workloads, one-episode dramas have been known for encouraging experimentation and diversity that delight viewers who desire fresh stories and expressions. For rookie actors, single-episode dramas were the testing ground that cultivated their careers.
High cost of producing high quality episodes, low viewing rates and depletion of subject matter, however, have challenged the life of single-episode dramas that from time to time the programs that air these works halted. After all, profits are also important to broadcasting companies and actors. Dramas that run for 16 to sometimes 50 episodes tend to have greater chances of gaining viewership and attracting lucrative commercial filming stints.
Then in the spring of 2010, KBS resumed its single-episode dramas under Drama Special and aired 24 works in the same year. In the following year, 23 works were aird between June and November. In June of 2013 Drama Special launched its third season with Swamp Ecology Report and has aired its tenth drama.
Between December and May when one-episode dramas are not on air, Drama Special Series is in action, broadcasting shows that extend to two or more episodes. Rock Rock Rock, White Christmas and Ordinary Love are such. While these short dramas maintain the quality of the single episodes, longer air time affords more opportunities to attract public recognition and compete with other dramas.
In spite of the difficult or evolving economics, Drama Special has faithfully continued its role, bringing both newbies and experienced actors together to work with different writers and producers to create works that are original and poignant. That is why I keep looking forward to this program. While all works of drama are created in travail and are deserving of appreciation, Drama Special especially augments my appreciation and affection for television drama. It always leaves lingering thoughts. Most recently, watching Still Cut and When I Was the Most Beautiful, I kept returning to this – Why does life ache so much..we learn to forget, but how it aches.
If you have not watched a Drama Special yet, you should now!