Friday Drama Review: “Good Doctor”

Good-Doctor-04“A long time ago, my brother said, ‘No matter how scared you are, you have to accomplish what you want to. That the one who endures and gets past everything is the coolest person in the world.’ To me, people and the world are scary. I remember my brother’s words and I gain strength.”
— Park Si On | Good Doctor

 

Storyline/Synopsis: My Rating 7/10

A brilliant, but socially awkward autistic man, Park Shi-on is allowed to be an intern at a university hospital with the help his lifelong friend and mentor, Doctor Choi Woo-suk. Despite Dr. Park Shi-on’s obviously superior medical skills, staff and patients alike have difficulty dealing with the social stigma attached to someone ‘different’.

 

Script/Acting: My Rating 7/10

Following the new paradigm in Korean drama formatting, early episodes had a stand-alone feel to them, with short stories told and guest actors inserted for an episode or two. The format evolved into a more standard drama style as the characters were developed and the main plot took over as the main component.

good doc joo wonFrom the very start the story seemed fresh and intriguing. Joo Won’s (Bridal Mask, 7th Grade Civil Servant) character, Dr. Park Shi-on, autistic savant, was compelling from episode one and his character became more appealing with each new installment.

The difficulty in playing an autistic person was accomplished with amazing perception and compassion. The character was quite convincing both in mannerisms and in the empathetic portrayal of the needs and dilemmas faced by people with handicaps of one sort or another. good doctor moonKudos to the scriptwriters for the educational and socially proactive components of this script!

Moon Chae-won (The Innocent Man, The Princess’ Man) also played an intriguing role. As one of the few empathetic doctors at the hospital, her character, Cha Yoon-seo, initially takes on the role of caretaker, or ‘big sister’ to Park Shi-on. The turbulent transition she makes as she begins to see Shi-on as a functioning adult (who is in love with her) is convincible and sweet.

good doc do hanThe head pediatric surgeon, Kim do-han, played by Joo Sang-wook (Feast of the Gods, Giant), was a much harder sell. Playing a hard-nosed surgeon with little patience for problems within his department, he initially insists that the Shi-on can never be a “good doctor”. A difficult love life, his passion for his job and his respect for Director Choi did much to soften the edges on what could have been a lifeless, plutocratic character.

good doctor kimKim Min-seo (7th Grade Civil Servant, Moon Embracing the Sun) as Yoo Chae-kyung was one of the weaker characters in the drama. Her conniving, backhanded manner of undermining those around her (even those she loved?) made her the ‘bad guy’, and the poor excuses offered for her behavior only made her appear petty and childish. The chemistry between her and Joo Sang-wook was unpersuasive. One saving grace for her character was the respectful way in which she interacted with Dr. Park.

good doctor banner1The university hospital officials sported a team of K-drama favorites: Chun Ho-jin as Director Choi Woo-suk, the man who rescued Park Shi-on as a boy and raised him to be a doctor in his own footsteps; Jo Hee-bong as Go Choong-Man, hapless manager of the pediatrics department, blown by the winds of politics, and who, with a great sense of comic timing, eventually falls under the spell of honest friendship offered by Dr. Park; Na Young-hee as Chief Director Lee Yeo-won; Jung Man-shik as Kim Jae-joon, control-hungry Chief of another department in the hospital.

 

Music: My Rating 8/10

A nice collection of ballads, including two sung by Joo Won:

“Miracle” Lee Young-hyun  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BTavs7ufK4

“I Am in Love” 2BiC  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unftZ0HhG6Q

“I’m Crying” Baek Ji-young  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dj6OzNpr9I8

“Looks Good” Ha Dong-kyun  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6Ox4LWLjxo

“How Come You Don’t Know?” Kim Jong-kook  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_8wiMEJZqs

“Love Medicine” Joo Won  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tdbo0__GGBU

“If I Were” Joo Won  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBDdVkrwig0

“Can You See?” Eye to Eye  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPcXTZr6Zpc

Overall Charisma: My Rating 7/10

The recent spate of exemplary dramas that have weak endings is becoming a serious issue. For many of the recent dramas, Good Doctor included, the general feel is that the story progresses smoothly and then, suddenly, a wrap-up episode concludes everything. The natural story-telling progression is disrupted and fails with a poorly thought out climax and resolution.

The frustration for me, as a drama aficionado, is that while the bulk of the drama was immensely engaging and enjoyable, the lack of a suitable conclusion was a huge letdown. The ending was not wrong, or bad, but abrupt and weak.

Overall, the drama is a worthwhile watch. The characters are compelling and the stories intriguing. Wonderful child actors fill the screen with aegyo and appeal. Episode after episode held my attention and left me anxiously awaiting the next installment.

   

 Happy Drama Watching!

 good couple

 

Director: Ki Min-soo, Kim Jin-woo
Screenwriter: Park Jae-bum

 

 

Friday Drama Review: “World Within”

UThe-World-That-They-Live-In-Poster1aka “The World They Live In” – Hidden Jewel Among Dramas

[Soju Drama Queen] Review of “The World that They Live in 그들이사는세상”

Falling under the heading of “How in the heck did I miss this one?”, ‘World Within’, also known as ‘The World That They Live In’, is a hidden gem, to be sure. It wasn’t on anyone’s ‘Must See’ lists. It wasn’t on KoreanDrama.org’s ‘Most Shared’ list either. Yet it stars Hyun Bin (Mr. Gorgeous, himself) and Song Hye Kyo of ‘Full House’ fame and now starring in the new drama ‘That Winter, The Wind Blows’.

 Storyline/Synopsis: My rating 7/10

Ok, so it’s a drama about making dramas, which in and of itself can be somewhat tiring as a theme. The writer, however, took off in a nice direction: “Live Your Life Like a Drama.” Focusing episodically on different characters in the drama production company, the writer (and actors) were able to make truly interesting characters real. Had it just been a story of how dramas are made and the stresses involved, the drama probably would have been a flop. This however, was about character development.

 Script/Acting: My rating 8/10

Those now familiar with my peculiar tastes, may know that I have a particular fondness for Castgreat characters and good character development. This drama sported some unusually complex characters. Painstaking attention to detail was used in creating realism in the characteristics of the players. Our heroine learns to love and respect countless personalities that she (and the audience, to be sure) despises at first blush, by coming to understand the human side of their nature rather than just the surface characteristics. Take Bae Jung Ok as actress Yoon Young: at first glance a promiscuous, shallow and completely unlikable persona develops into a rich, complex, intelligent, strong woman who knows herself well, including her weaknesses.

hyun binThere are frustratingly realistic relationship woes – people so wrapped up in their own twisted feeling that they can’t express what they really feel. Frustrating in the sense that we can empathize with the feelings, not that it creates dissatisfaction in the viewing. Even the people we see as total jerks or idiots in the beginning (sorry, Uhm Ki Ju and Daniel Choi) become real human beings by the end of the drama without sacrificing their personality traits one iota in doing so.

The relationship between Jung Ji Oh (Hyun Bin) and Joo Joon Young (Song Hye Kyo) was also convincing and captivating. Real love, real fights (about real issues), real break-ups and make-ups. Nothing seemed forced or inauthentic.

The cast, by the way was stellar: Along with those mentioned above – Seo Hyo Rim (Sungkyunkwn Scandal, Scent of A Woman, Me, Too, Flower), Kim Yeo Jin (Can You Hear My Heart, Road Number One), Lee Joon Hyuk (City Hunter, Secret Garden, City Hall, Equator Man) and veteran actors like Kim Gab Soo (Sungkyunkwn Scandal, Cinderella’s Sister, Chuno), Kim Chang Wan (Coffee Prince, Iljimae, Queen of Reversals), Kim Ja Ok (Coffee Prince, High Kick Through the Roof), Lee Ho Jae (Goong, Flames of Ambition), Na Young Hee (Rooftop Prince, Baby-Faced Beauty, Style), and the inimitable Yoon Yeo Jung (King 2 Hearts, Unexpected You, Can Your Hear My Heart, What’s Up Fox).

 Cinematography: My rating 8/10

The cinematography for a drama about dramas would be expected to be exemplary. I will admit that I was not disappointed. Fun and interesting tidbits enticed my sense throughout the series. The retelling of an old story was acted out ‘Broadway-stage-style’ by the main characters with spot lighting and stage set-up. The directors’ imaginings were dramatized using pencil/pastels for one director, photo-shop style for another. Great special effects abounded – fun (or sad, as the case may be) dissolves as fantasies faded, etc.

The locations were limited but put to good use. Great lighting and sound.

Music: My rating 6/10

While the music was appropriate to the drama, there was nothing that I’m going to go running after to put on my iPod.

The ballad is really nice, though: ‘Care’ sung by Sung Si Kyung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NaVjjnMrPE

“It Was You All Along” Kim Jo Han (Spanish subs was all I could find!) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBR9a21jlNQ

Overall Charisma: My rating 8/10

There was an ineffable quality to this drama that made everything work. I loved the characters. I loved the tensions. I loved the theme. I loved the realism. The writer did a remarkable job creating memorable people that I wanted to empathize with. Not something I can say about every drama.

Put this one on your ‘To Be Watched” list!

Happy Drama Watching! huggy