Though I’ve seen a bunch of Thai films, I haven’t really watched many drama series from that country just because the recommendations I come across with have dramas that don’t sound like ones that I’ll like. Overall, I only got to watch three Thai dramas so far. First is the Thai adaptation of Full House. (I actually liked that more than the Korean drama.) The second is one of the Ugly Duckling series entitled Perfect Match. (It’s so-so.) The third is the latest drama series I finished and actually loved a lot — The Gifted.
The Gifted is science fantasy suspense series based on the thesis film by Dhammarong Sermrittirong (SandOtnim on YT). From what I read from some reviews, it’s altered in some ways but still essentially carry the original’s purpose.
The series is about a 10th grader named Pawaret Sermrittirong (or Pang) who is of the lowest class in their year. To his surprise, after a placement test, Pang gets to enter the Gifted Program, the top class.
The story, then, follows Pang as he and his classmates discover the reason why they are put in the Program and as they uncover the secret the school hides. It’s a series mixed with suspense, comedy, and a bit of romance.
Apparently, the story is written to reflect on the educational system of Thailand which emphasize on the importance of the students’ grades. Each student are placed on a class based on their academic performance, so those that excel are put on the higher sections while those that don’t are on the lower sections. In the story, those of the higher sections have more privileges — food, breaks, toilets, attention of teachers. They are favored. Meanwhile, those of the lower sections get the short end of the stick. This injustice is constantly shown throughout the series.
Somehow, that situation reminded me of how, in our country, there are also “star” sections, where the brightest students are gathered together so they can study more advanced lessons than the rest. Since I got into a small school in elementary and high school, I personally can’t relate with such segregation because the teachers chose to actually distribute the top students among the few sections available. I think it’s also a way so that those who are struggling could receive help from those who can understand the lessons quickly.
Nevertheless, the story’s reflections on the “need to perform better” hits closer to home because of the experiences I have in the university. While I just had some average life in primary and secondary education, I felt like I got plunged into an intense battle when I stepped in tertiary level. In the story, even if Pang is on the lowest class, it’s still a fact that he’s attending a top school. There’s a sense of familiarity for me because I’m attending a top school in the country, too, and there’s so much pressure that comes with it. There’s that pressure to excel and while that in itself isn’t really bad, I find it negative when a lot of people starts to compare. Either with fellow students in the uni or with students from other uni/colleges. Good thing there’s no such thing as sections in uni. Phew!
Anyway, back to The Gifted, Pang questions the education system of the school and even more after knowing more about the school. It’s enjoyable to watch him and his friends gradually uncover the secret. Along the way, we’re introduced to Pang’s Gifted classmates and we see how they discover their “potentials” and how those affected each one of them.
There are 10 of them in the Gifted Program and the first half of the series is mostly about each of them, save for two. Those two’s lack of exposure doesn’t really take away anything from the story, but it just feels weird to me that they’re introduced but we get to see them for only a few minutes for the entire 13 episodes. Anyhow, Pang and the other 7 have interesting stories and characters, so it’s still good.
However, I thought it was underwhelming thinking about how these characters were given exposure then how they were involved in the climax of the story. In a way, it surprised me because I have different expectations, but I still would have wanted more. Especially with an ending like that, one can only scream for A SECOND SEASON, PLEASE!!! It brought a lot of questions. It also felt like I was brought back to the beginning while at the same time, it felt like it was the ending… or the beginning of the end. In any case, I just want more of it.
Anyway, part of what makes the series more interesting is the editing. Really. Props to the production team for it. I was afraid that because it has science fantasy/supernatural genre, it would look cringe-y, but it managed to avoid it, at least in my opinion, because of the clever use of editing, the lighting, and camera shots. The timing of when a scene is shown is well-done while the accompanying background music to the scenes are fitting. The series effectively invites viewers to theorize what truly happened and who did what. That makes the viewing experience more fun! It was nice that there are times that the show surprised me with more than what it initially presented.
Another fun thing about it is that a lot of the actors are good, even those who are just supporting characters that are only in one episode. Out of them all, who impressed me a lot is Atthaphan Phunsawat (widely known as Gun, apparently) who played Punn. He got to show a wide range of emotions during his episode and it’s simply amazing. They say that he’s a child actor, so it’s great to know that he’s got that skills honed well. Another actor who impressed me is Ramida Jiranorraphat (or Jane) who acted as Claire. I think I enjoyed watching her also because of her character and story are amusing. Wachirawit Ruangwiwat (Chimon), who played as Wave, is an eye-candy who can act, too. His character is infuriating for the most part, though. Korapat Kirdpan (Nanon) played as Pang and delivered a performance that isn’t overwhelming everyone, but isn’t underwhelming as well. Everyone played their part well, so it’s satisfying to watch. One of my pet peeves in shows are the glaring gap among the acting skills of actors when the show focuses on a group of people.
Because the actors are good, we can enjoy the story more. As was said, it’s a science fantasy suspense series. The friendship between and among certain characters are fun to watch, too. A lover of hardcore romance should not expect anything totally romantic, though there’s a canon couple among the characters. If one likes subtle or implied romance (or enjoys putting different meanings to platonic relationships), then there are still some things to enjoy here. It must be noted that GMM TV is known for their BL shows. The Gifted is not a BL show, but there are scenes that BL fans can enjoy. It’s not enough to shoo away non-BL fans, though.
I loved this show so much that I couldn’t help but finish it quickly. It’s only 13 episodes. GMM TV cut each episodes in 4 parts. It somehow bothered me because the duration of each cuts are not equal. Some only around 9 minutes, others around 13 minutes. Then again, they based the cuts on what’s happening and every end of the cut is a cliffhanger, so there was no way I wouldn’t click on the next part soon. I enjoyed this so much and I seriously hope there will be a second season!
GMM TV graciously provided official English subtitles for the series. It’s available here. This is one of the things I like about Thai and Chinese drama community — there are official channels that provide English subs for the international fans! Yay!
On another note, I just saw the trailer and good thing I actually didn’t watch it before starting the series because it spoils a lot about their potentials. I think I wouldn’t enjoy it as much if I saw that first.