Let’s begin our year by taking a nice, long stroll with Poo Dee E-Sarn, a lakorn that aired back in 2013 on Channel 3. I will endeavor to cover recaps for this, releasing a few episodes a week. This show has that lighthearted, romantic comedy feel to it that keeps me coming back for more. It is to be savored and drawn out as long as delectably possible, and with it being an evening lakorn, there are a total of 31 episodes, in 55 minutes increment. Let’s get our slow burn going, one bite sized episode at a time.
Poo Dee E-Sarn is a remake of the lakorn with the same name back in 2001 starring Cherry Khemapsorn and Au Thanakorn. In this latest adaptation, Mai Warit and Prim Prima take on the much loved characters Nai Amphoe (District Officer) Chet and Saleenda (or Yang). A heartwarming lakorn with its traditional setup of good versus bad, justice versus corruption and its easy-going jaunt in the storytelling is a rare thing to behold, and easy to overlook. I want to champion that underdog, shine a light on this evening lakorn and show you that the right character and good writing can be even more riveting than an overrated, primetime lakorn. Making something look easy is truly the hardest thing to do.
This is a story about doing the right thing. So let’s get right to it.
EPISODE 1 RECAP
We open with the police staking out by a well-to-do home. Inside we meet Nai Amphoe (District Officer) Kreuk sharing the concern with his wife that Loi has made allegations that he is aiding and abetting foreigners to enter the country illegally. His boss says that the allegations would be baseless if there are no evidences. But the thing that concerns Nai Amphoe is that he has multiple allegations against him, including drug dealing. He tells Madam that Loi doesn’t like him challenging his power and illegal business, so he wants to take Nai Amphoe down. (Later we will come to know the Loi he’s referring to is Phor Yai Loi, the most influential man in Isan region).
Saleenda (Prim Prima), Nai Amphoe’s daughter overhears the tail end of the conversation just as she is about to go out with her friends. Nai Amphoe reassures her not to worry a thing, that some powerful man is just bullying him, but Saleen argues that it sounds rather dangerous. We see the police entering the premises, shushing the maids. Nai Amphoe tells Saleen that his driver, Pong, alleges that he’s dealing drugs and helping foreigners to enter the country. Saleen doesn’t want to go out now (because who would) but dad keeps urging her to go, making light of the situation so as not to worry her.
But too late for that, because as Saleen leaves the house, the police apprehend her, and the remainder of the force confronts Nai Amphoe that they have evidence behind the allegations and are taking him into custody. Oh snap. Nai Amphoe tells Madam that this is all a misunderstanding and that he’ll clear things up at the station and will return before she knows it. Saleen begs the police to release her dad and that he’s being accused, but they have orders to obey. Oof that goodbye scene seems very final. In tears, Saleen laments to her mom that they must find a way to help dad.
In a brighter day, a man drives his motorcycle through a rural town flanked by temples and the green countryside, in a town called Panomphai. The first thing he notices as he pulls into the government building is the unkempt condition: there is trash all over the entrance, laundry hanging on the exterior walls, a man napping on the porch, and worse of all, the station closing for lunch while civilians wait in a long queue for help. LOL.
He sees the administrative office employees carrying on with their lunch like they have no care in the world. He taps on the window only to be told that they are closed for lunch and he needs to wait in line, so he taps again, and they question whether he understands the Thai language. The man takes off his sunglasses and lectures that there are rules that state during administrative office hours, the Amphoe employees must assist civilians. The female employee argues that she doesn’t care about what the rules say, she’s taking her lunch break. He demands to know her name and position, and we come to find that she’s Pensee, working in the registration division. But the shocker of them all, she learns that he’s Chet, THE interim Nai Amphoe recently assigned to their region, her new boss. Pensee nearly collapses in shock, along with her coworker, Somjai. HAHAHA.
They walk him into his office, which looks more like an abandoned room where bums reside. The lights don’t even work, heh. Pensee makes an excuse that they weren’t aware of his arrival and didn’t get the room cleaned. A few more Amphoe employees line up, fixing their eyes on the floor. It is clear to Chet that ever since the old Nai Amphoe left, no one had entered the room. Pensee relents that she will ensure the room gets cleaned tomorrow, but Chet demands for it to be done today, he also wants the daily record, much to Somjai’s dismay.
Once outside of Nai Amphoe’s earshot, the employees wonder why he’s so young, that he can’t be older than 30 years old, and that they heard he already has a PhD. Somjai says he’s so fierce on his first day, and Pensee says it won’t last long because she’ll show him. But literally two seconds later, we see Chet by the door having heard the whole thing (heh) and punishes her for disrespecting him. She gets toilet cleaning duty after work, either that or take a leave of absence.
As Chet examines his new office, we flashback to the conversation with his boss, who says that the Minister has him lined up for an executive secretary role and could use his doctorate knowledge. However, Chet has his eyes set on starting from the local ministry division: most specifically Isan province. His boss almost spit out his coffee, and says that Isan is the most difficult region, which is exactly why that appeals to Chet. He’s a man who likes a challenge, the harder, the better.
Chet spots a photo frame of the previous Nai Amphoe’s family. His eyes take in Saleenda’s face. Long Chat (which means Uncle Chat), the janitor, gives a thoughtful pause then says that the old Nai Amphoe is currently in police custody. Chet relents that it’s unfortunate because the man had won Nai Amphoe of the year and his reputation proceeds him. Long Chat seems very saddened by that but does not say more.
In the court proceeding however, things went south for Nai Amphoe Kreuk. He has been charged guilty for all counts, and punishment is the death penalty. Oh snap. However, the court takes into consideration that Nai Kreuk has done some good deeds for the country and has lessened his punishment to life in prison instead. Nai Kreuk falls to his chair, devastated by the rendering of the final decision, he has dedicated 30 years of his life to the government. Oof. Madam tells her husband that the attorney will pursue the case further and take it to a second court. The attorney adds that they must find Pong (the driver) and prove that Phor Yai Loi had paid him to accuse Nai Amphoe of the wrongdoings. Saleen concludes that Pong is the only witness that could clear her father’s name (for now), and one would have to go to Panomphai to find him. Saleen vows to prove her father’s innocence. Mom tells her to leave it to the lawyer, but Saleen can’t stand still while her father suffers. Mom says she’s a woman, and questions what can she do? Well now. Saleen says to leave it to her. This one won’t let a little challenge such as being a woman, stand in her way.
Next days in office, Nai Amphoe Chet has already whipped the administrative office into shape. The exterior is spotless, the employees are on their best behavior, but unfortunately, he notices an empty desk. Chet says ever since he came to office, he has not seen Chayan report to work. Somjai makes an excuse that Chayan is sick, but Chet demands to see the yellow card, lol, and that Chayan must report to him in an hour otherwise he will get reported. So fierce, I love it. Pensee and Long Chat make a wager, that Chayan would not show up because he is not afraid of anyone outside of Phor Yai Loi. Long Chat relents that Nai Amphoe Chet is not afraid of anyone either.
We see that Chayan is with Phor Yai Loi as he hands over a hundred fake ID’s that he recently processed for Phor Yai, like the good lap dog that he is. Phor Yai isn’t impressed since he asked for two hundred fake ID’s. Chayan relents that he will get the remainder, it’s just the timing is sensitive because there’s a new sheriff in town and he doesn’t want to raise suspicion. Ai Win, Phor Yai’s right hand man, snipes that there’s nothing to fear since Phor Yai already took down the toughest Nai Amphoe. Phor Yai agrees to lay low and avoid creating unnecessary enemies. Chayan doesn’t want to report to the new Nai Amphoe, but Phor Yai orders him to be on his best behavior and to go right away. Win wonders if the new Nai Amphoe is as stubborn as the previous one, and Phor Yai says it doesn’t matter because he managed to send the top Nai Amphoe to jail.
On his way out, Chayan spots Yodying who can’t stand him. He flirts with her anyway. She orders him not to greet her next time and that hearing his voice makes her want to barf. Lol. Chayan wonders to himself if she could barf once he kisses her. Pfft. Yodying tells Phor Yai, her dad, to keep Chayan away from her. Phor Yai says to ignore him, because Chayan brings them a lot of money. In fact, he suggests Yodying to pretend that she likes Chayan back so that they could own him until he dies.
Chayan shows up for work finally and brings hope to Pensee. She thinks he would set it straight with Nai Amphoe. But they are sadly mistaken. Chayan barges into Nai Amphoe’s office without knocking and receives a firm reprimand, to knock before entering. Chayan flippantly retorts that he never had to knock before. Chet finishes his afternoon prayer and turns his tough eyes at Chayan, he orders Chayan to exit the room, knock, and wait until he has been given permission to enter. Lol. They have a battle of wills staring contest until Chayan folds and steps out. Lmao.
The employees rush to him, wondering if he succeeded in putting Nai Amphoe in his place. Hahaha. Chayan glares at them and instead, turns to knock on the door. I’m dying. LOL. Long Chat chimes in that Nai Amphoe Chet is not playing. That, he is not. In the office, Chet calls Chayan out for missing five days of work without a doctor’s note. Chayan says they shouldn’t focus on the little things, and that he could do something to make up for this. He explains that even though he didn’t show up for work, he still “worked” at home. Chet lectures that he’s a civil servant, and his job is to show up for work. Chayan is punished with deductions to his paychecks, as well as removal from working in registration. This hurts more than losing money from his paycheck. Chayan argues that Chet has no right, but as the interim Nai Amphoe, he has every right. BOSS.
The administrative employees watch Chayan walk off in a sulk but gets scolded by Chet for standing around gossiping.
Saleenda arrives in Panomphai looking manlier. Ha. She has a shaggy wig on, wearing baggy jeans and in head to toe denim. I mean, she still looks like a girl to me, lol, but let’s just go with it. She walks by a group of girls and gays, and they all fangirl over her, asking for her number. We come to know her new name: Yang. She looks around her dad’s old stomping ground. This is her way of making her mission a little easier, by disguising as a man.
That was a solid, telling first episode. We glean so much about the characters we will be spending 30 more episodes with. Chet is a fierce leader with a strong sense of justice. He has a vision of what a successful civil servant looks like and does not take the easy route, as evidence by his choice of province. Isan is the largest and poorest region in the country. Instead of moving up in the state of ministry, he opts to learn the ropes and meet the people. Although the title could mean “Isan Gentleman” I felt that the words “poo dee e-sarn” could also refer to the people inhabiting Isan. And since our city guy is taking a foray into the population of Isan, I felt that we are going to experience the Isan effect, including a very female counterpart.
Saleenda is similar to Chet in that stubborn, fierce sense of justice way. She could be like a lot of people (men or women) who entrust in the law and let the lawyer handle the petition. However, Saleen lost a little faith in the law by setting out to find her own evidence. What may seem naïve, is actually really brave. Perhaps by meeting the very best of men, by meeting Nai Amphoe Chet, the confidence in the law could return, along with the faith that the government still has the people’s best interest at heart.
I am excited to take a jaunt in Isan, especially with the preview that Yang (Saleen) will be living and working at Nai Amphoe Chet’s house. How will they meet? Will Chet believe that Yang is a boy? Oh you just wait for the hijinks, you’ll be thanking me later.
One word: Mai Warit (okay that’s two). I first caught him in passing and not really inclined to watch any of his lakorns (I know, I’ve been regretting it ever since.) But I became mesmerized with him after watching Nuay Lup Salup Love, where he plays the versatile spy. There’s just something about his acting and the way he portrays his character. Now in a span of a couple of weeks, I am watching all of his lakorns at once – ha! And I will say, this Nai Amphoe of his, is to die for.
Special thanks to:
Neko for the better quality photos you see here. The struggle in looking for a good quality video (despite being only 5 years old) is real.
Bitterkisses for introducing me to this lakorn in the first place, she watched this lakorn for a year, you guys.
To all the girls who squealed me with.