[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Blood" Episode 20 Final 2015/04/21,
This episode opens up with Ji-sang making one last random, pointless violent attack against Jae-wook's forces. Which inevitably comes down to nothing, and inevitably results in Ji-sang being let go. I guess this one was just for old time's sake- "Blood" has been pretty dedicated to its rather arbitrary format, and there's no reason for that to end in the last episode. It's just that this time the second half rampage actually manages to accomplish something, mostly because the drama has to end somehow,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Blood" Episode 19 2015/04/20,
I'm not sure there's really much left to say about "Blood" at this point. The drama has overstayed its welcome- I mean that literally more than subjectively. Take away all the filler and there's maybe about ten episodes worth of actual interesting plot here. But even the filler could have been potentially interesting if it actually led up to something. Again, I would have cared a lot more about Seok-joo's depth if we'd ever gotten any meaningful detail about his relationship with Ri-ta. Instead, it was just his continuing to get involved in Jae-wook's obviously bad research idea,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Blood" Episode 18 2015/04/14,
You know, let's never mind the henchmen for the moment. Why do the regular hospital employees continue to work for Jae-wook under these conditions? Does it actually say in their contracts that they're obliged to continue their employment even if their lives appear to be in imminent physical danger? The patients are so out-of-control that I'm surprised they aren't straight up handcuffed to the gurneys. Even the security guards must be pretty weirded out by now,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Blood" Episode 17 2015/04/13,
Try as I might I can't stop wondering where Jae-wook is getting all these henchmen. This just seems like a really lousy job that's more likely than not to result in a premature death to their presumably immortal lives. And the real kicker is that these henchmen aren't even any good at their job. I suspect Jae-wook could have saved a lot of time and effort by just hiring a hacker instead. Or he could have just stolen the information himself during a dinner party. That's always a pretty fun trope,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Blood" Episode 16 2015/04/07,
This episode opens up with another apparently dangerous cliffhanger rather nonchalantly solved, and we proceed from there to yet another cliffhanger that initially seems to be dangerous but...somehow I have trouble feeling the dramatic tension. "Blood" is rather surprisingly repetitive considering that theoretically this is supposed to be a long-form narrative. It would actually be much less repetitive if it had just gone with the standard patient-of-the-week format typical for medical dramas. Now there's a weird thought,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Blood" Episode 15 2015/04/06,
The format at this point is pretty much to be expected. After an apparently daring cliffhanger where it seems like Ji-sang is just about to really get into it with Jae-wook...the younger vampire just leaves. I can't quite recall the last time I saw a drama go through so much deliberate build-up only to not actually be working up to anything. Ji-sang's strategy, to the extent he can be said to have a strategy at all, just seems to be to slowly wear down Jae-wook's weaknesses by being kind of a pest,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Blood" Episode 14 2015/03/31,
Ji-sang learns a valuable lesson this episode- talking to people is actually a very good way to move the plot forward. The video by his mom stops being an exercise in showing off how Ahn Jae-hyeon isn't that good at emoting and instead is used for its substantial information regarding the infection. For Ji-sang to just be willing to share such private information with other people at all marks a long-needed improvement in his character arc,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Blood" Episode 13 2015/03/30,
Ji-sang has this rather odd determination to solve all his problems with violence, even though he's not actually all that good at fighting. In all fairness Jae-wook is equally determined to have his goons provoke violent confrontations, again not for any particularly good reason. I get the impression that writer Park Jae-beom-I doesn't really have any idea how vampires could react to each other short of just fighting,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Blood" Episode 12 2015/03/24,
The main dramatic event this episode that inspires worry is the fate of the Dracula doll. Will Ri-ta step on the Dracula doll? All right I know other stuff happened but for whatever reason that's the only visual interesting enough to linger on in my memory. Maybe it's because I understand where the doll is coming from- it had to be manufactured somewhere. Whereas "Blood" the actual drama tries to up the stakes by introducing another vampire, from nowhere,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Blood" Episode 11 2015/03/23,
After a shockingly violent cliffhanger where a furious Ji-sang physically accosts Jae-wook, this hard-hitting action is followed up by...their going into Jae-wook's office to discuss the finer points of ethics in regards to using terminally ill human test subjects for dangerous experimental treatment. This is why you have trouble making friends Ji-sang. That really should have been your first reaction. Although admittedly the cliffhanger probably would not have been quite so exciting,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Blood" Episode 10 2015/03/17,
Let's consider for a moment what the actual plot of "Blood" would be if vampires were not involved. Jae-wook would just be a somewhat ruthless researcher who resorts to somewhat underhanded techniques to procure test subjects. But, the test subjects already had questionable hopes for recovery to begin with. So the dilemma is really only an ethical one. Is it acceptable to use desperate people for scientific research?,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Blood" Episode 9 2015/03/16,
...Well, add car accidents to the list of things that "Blood" has somehow managed to make uninteresting. You know what would have been nice? If Ri-ta could have figured out this vampire stuff through inductive reasoning, or snooping, or an unrelated medical investigation. The fact that it's taken her this long to figure out what's wrong with Ji-sang when there have been so many obvious clues just makes her look kind of dumb,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Blood" Episode 8 2015/03/10,
It seems like most of the energy in "Blood" is just spent recapping stuff we should already know. The irony is that the pacing and lack of clear emphasis is such that all these reminder points are actually pretty necessary. Ri-ta herself manages to totally forget about one serious chat she had with Ji-sang, and has to be reminded by another character into provoking the flashback that better contextualizes the current situation,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Blood" Episode 7 2015/03/09,
We finally find out why Jae-wook has spent the entire drama playing practical jokes on Ji-sang instead of doing something more purposeful- whatever Jae-wook needs from Ji-sang, it requires that the younger vampire at least be alive in one form or another. This plot point could have happened in the third episode and we would not have lost anything of signifiance. I know that to some extent I should really be grateful that "Blood" finally has an actual point but it is way, way too late for the drama to still be establishing basic facts regarding the premise,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Blood" Episode 6 2015/03/03,
Ri-ta's principle motivation this episode is to prove decisively that Ji-sang has a better-than-average ability to recover from flesh wounds. Why..? Uh...I guess because she just really dislikes Ji-sang? This is exactly the kind of scale problem I'm talking about. When half of the action in "Blood" is drawn-out brawls between superpowered vampires, it's a bit of an awkward transition to go from that to petty office politics,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Blood" Episode 5 2015/03/02,
There's an awful lot of recapping in "Blood" considering the drama doesn't seem to have any actual plot. I'm really not sure why we keep getting reminded of Ji-sang's basic motivation. I thought the entire point, of dedicating the first episode to his origin story was that we wouldn't need to keep referring to it again and again. By contrast, the main interesting hook of the first episode (how vampire powers can help to make a better surgeon) is barely even explored at all here. We just get more banal conversation about how Ji-sang is probably a psychopath,...More
[HanCinema's Drama First Look] "Blood" 2015/02/28,
Korean drama has its hits and misses in all aspects, including acting. Yet this specific aspect is rarely as prominently criticized and discussed as it has been for "Blood". It is important to remember that even bad flaws do not always diminish the overall quality of a work, unless they exist in a place and form which make their influence crucial. Sadly for "Blood", its problems exist in two very important aspects of it. Its leading pair and unclear plans for the future. Is all hope lost? For a quality experience, probably. For entertainment? Not just yet,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Blood" Episode 4 2015/02/24,
Writer Park Jae-beom-I appears to have a rather curious fixation with not allowing the vampire part of the drama and the medical part of the drama to actually interact in any way. It's a perplexing creative decision- what's the point of having a vampire surgeon who can use his vampire powers to affect surgical outcomes if he never actually does it? Would "Good Doctor" have been entertaining if its main character only acted autistic outside of the operating room? Granted, that drama had its problems. But at least it was structurally sound,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Blood" Episode 3 2015/02/23,
The theme this time appears to be on the social skills of vampires- or lack thereof. OK, I can work with that. In the first place this does explain why Ji-sang is, well, so rude. Before I was worried that maybe this was the acting inexperience of Ahn Jae-hyeon, but no, Ji-sang really doesn't seem to have any idea how to convincingly talk to people. I imagine that even absent vampire practical jokes the other staff would have still started up rumors about him,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Blood" Episode 2 2015/02/17,
The origin story is still being explained here...to the point of boredom, unfortunately. About the only relevant information we get here in regard to Ji-sang's quest is the broader motive. Ji-sang is trying to explore the notion of vampirism as a medical condition which may or may not have possible long term benefits. Ji-sang's entry into the hospital scene appears to be directly related to this inquiry for information, which if nothing else certainly gives the plot some potentially interesting direction. Then the robot shows up,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Blood" Episode 1 2015/02/16,
The marketing for "Blood" has been so across-the-board I had no idea what to expect in the first episode. Even granting that, "superhero origin story" was pretty far off from anything I would have guessed. Ji-sang (played by Ahn Jae-hyeon) is a vampire who, in true familial tradition, has dedicated himself to saving human lives. It thus comes off as little surprise that there are other vampires out there who find Ji-sang's very existence to be ethically offensive,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Preview] "Blood" 2015/02/14,
The thematic shift for dramas is already happening and the new topic is vampirism. An interesting topic, certainly and one which has done well for Korean television before, most recently and notably through OCN's "Vampire Prosecutor" series. "Blood" is being brought to viewers by KBS2 and there are certainly a few less than promising elements about it, but also some encouraging ones. For better or for worse, it is kicking off the vampire trend,...More
"Blood" Son Soo-hyeon's lovely instinct 2015/01/28, Source, Son Soo-hyeon from the new KBS 2TV drama "Blood" stars as Min Ga-yeon, a cheerful character who only has eyes for Ji-sang and is the only domestic resident doctor at the Tae-min Cancer Center.
Min Ga-yeon makes a lot of mistakes and causes trouble sometimes but she's hard working and well-mannered. She's pretty when she smiles. She thinks of Ji-sang, who chose her, to be her mentor and only has eyes for him,...More
"Blood" Ahn Jae-hyeon, a vampire 2015/01/20, Source, Actor Ahn Jae-hyeon is wearing a white gown but he's actually a vampire doctor.
Ahn Jae-hyeon plays a mutated vampire who suppresses his desire for blood and treats patients in the KBS 2TV drama "Blood". Park Ji-sang looks selfish, with no feelings for others although he's actually very soft inside and misses many people. His innocent charisma takes over soon,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Accidental Couple" 2013/12/28,
For every nice and mature romantic comedy drama out there, there seem to be way too many juvenile and/or abusive and badly written romances. When it does change, however, it makes for sweet, warm and surprisingly poignant little stories that might not offer the rollercoaster cliché-filled fun more popular options do, but are remembered for the beautiful emotions and thoughts they leave one with. 'The Accidental Couple' is such a story, making it one of the best and more mature romantic comedy dramas out there,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Good Doctor" Episode 20 (Final) 2013/10/08,
I really like the music in this drama. It primes the viewer well to anticipate certain emotions, and this time around that emotion was vague melancholy. What at first seems to be a problem that will necessitate a serious climactic surgery just ends up giving way to more discussion of feelings, as characters state out their various emotional positions for the last time.
The continuation and sort of resolution to the relationship between Shi-on and Yoon-seo is sweet and endearing. The conflict they face is a bit of a last minute one, but then that's the point and central irony,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Good Doctor" Episode 19 2013/10/07,
The central romantic subplot in "Good Doctor" for the most part reaches its conclusion this episode as Shi-on and Yoon-seo become a couple. It's all very cute stuff- I really appreciate the music in this drama which does a lot for setting and highlighting the mood. It accentuates the extended culmination of this relationship in a way that really works well with the build-up we've been seeing throughout the drama's entire run.
I like that the drama chooses to have all of this happen right now, rather than at the very end of the last episode, because it's genuinely interesting stuff mulling over exactly what kind of a couple Shi-on and Yoon-seo are supposed to be- what they would do when they're together, how they would express affection,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Good Doctor" Episode 18 2013/10/01,
It occurs to me that even though "Good Doctor" is quite explicitly a medical drama, and most of its cliffhangers end on medical emergencies of some sort, the doctors in this show spend relatively little time actually doing medical stuff. Important surgeries are usually done within a few minutes, and there's rarely ever any kind of fallout or long-term implications. Do-han's stab wound was glossed over when it first happened- and even now that it's become a plot point again the problem is resolved almost as quickly,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Good Doctor" Episode 17 2013/09/30,
Shi-on has for the most part given up on directly approaching Yoon-seo about his feelings at this point, since he already confessed and now she has to do something. Yoon-seo, like a good romantic lead, tries to probe him, but since Shi-on keeps interpreting her actions on the surface level he doesn't give her the emotional reactions she's hoping for. And it's fun watching her fail. It's a neat subversion on typical romantic comedy dynamics that they don't work simply because the target doesn't know what they are.
The episode as a whole does lots of comic relief along these lines. It's incredibly goofy and dumb and yet still fun and cheerful,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Good Doctor" Episode 16 2013/09/24,
It turns out the dramatic severity of the last episode's cliffhanger was completely out of line with its influence on the actual storyline. The entire situation is resolved almost instantaneously with no fallout whatsoever. It's pretty disappointing- goofy as that entire plotline was it did have the potential to go somewhere interesting. I guess I should be thankful it doesn't turn into something stupid, at least.
There are more cute moments scattered throughout this episode, and the various plotlines move at a reasonably balanced pace, in line with the general plot,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Good Doctor" Episode 15 2013/09/23,
This drama's always been about Shi-on's character development, but this is the first episode we get where his actual behavior takes significantly larger strides toward confidence. He doesn't cower anymore, or at least doesn't do so as much. In his social interactions, Shi-on seems to have made up his mind what he's going to say, and that he's going to say it regardless of how it may make him look socially. Because, let's face it, he's always going to be the autistic guy, but better to actually at least state his opinions, since they are important ones.
I really like the sheer bluntness in the way Shi-on speaks. Most of the time he just makes dumb matter-of-fact statements,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Good Doctor" Episode 14 2013/09/17,
The medical crisis that came up at the end of the last ciffhanger is resolved a little more quickly than I would have liked. "Good Doctor" has good material when it's working with actual conflicts of doctors being put into difficult situations and being forced to perform with whatever abilities or limited skills, so this plot development, while interesting, resolves itself a bit quickly. I'd like to see more along these lines.
A larger focus is taken this episode as to the question of Shi-on and the interactions his filial relationship. We find out what happened to his mother and, I have to admit, I can see why that experience would turn Shi-on off on the whole concept of parents altogether,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Good Doctor" Episode 13 2013/09/16,
The drama dips back into emotional territory again. This time, however, it actually makes sense that Shi-on is the only character who's engaging with it, what with the problem being his family. And it might be more appropriate to write that he's not engaging with it- there's hints this episode that Shi-on's amnesia, rather than just being typical Korean drama trauma, is actually a deliberate act of will on the part of his autistic personality to protect himself from pain.
It's easy to see why he would want to do that, even outside of the justification he gives to Yoon-seo. Shi-on's work this episode is substandard, and Do-han notices it,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Good Doctor" Episode 12 2013/09/10,
Some great interpersonal dynamics come up this episode. It's actually been foreshadowed for awhile that the relationship between Shi-on and Do-han would be moving in this direction- it's just been overshadowed by the very poor patient-of-the-week plots and Shi-on's zig-zagging autism symptoms. Still, a pleasant surprise is a pleasant surprise, and watching and considering these character interactions is a genuine treat.
With Shi-on, we finally get back to the idea that he is a person who needs somebody to help take care of him. Not just one person- everybody needs to help look out for Shi-on, because it is just way too easy for him to mess things up and offend people, even when he's acting as basically inoffensive as possible,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Good Doctor" Episode 11 2013/09/09,
I think it's safe to write at this point that "Good Doctor" has completely squandered its chance to be a series that makes an intelligent, meaningful statement about autism. Try as I might I can't detect any sort of consistency in Shi-on's behavior that can meaningfully be applied to a real world person. One moment he's smoothing practical strangers over with meaningful words, and the next he's compeltely shy and nervous in front of colleagues he's met before.
Fortunately the more obnoxious parts of the story have been removed. The atrocious patients-of-the-week that have made this drama painful to watch finally leave the hospital,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Good Doctor" Episode 10 2013/09/03,
The drama seems to have forgotten most of what it's been doing the last several episodes, which is fine by me, since those episodes were just painful to watch. Shi-on is now back to being a man of fairly limited abilities. And yes, he is still solving problems with words- but not emotional ones. Just simple logical statements about the environment which he can observe and comment on.
These moments work a lot better than his amateur psychologist bit. In the first place, it ties into his original characterization as being a poor communicator,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Good Doctor" Episode 9 2013/09/02,
The last cliffhanger was solved about the way I was expecting. Shi-on, a man who I keep reminding myself is supposed to be autistic, resolves the problem by using his words. Not only that, his words succeed where everyone else's words fail. Autistic people are not good at using words. They are not good at guessing how other people react emotionally, and normally tend to avoid trying.
I'm not trying to bring real-world expertise into this review when I write that,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Good Doctor" Episode 8 2013/08/27,
Apparently this drama is about the power of love. This makes almost no sense- if there's anything autistic people have difficulty doing, it's expressing love in a way that neuro-typicals understand. This is probably the single most popularly well-known fact about autistics- their parents really stress out from the lack of apparent attachment, and this gulf between what they were expecting and the reality of their children is very emotionally painful.
It doesn't make much sense just in the context of the drama, either. From the very beginning, it was Shi-on's analytical skills that were supposed to make him ideal for the profession,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Good Doctor" Episode 7 2013/08/26,
There's lots of genuine, good emotional performances this episode as Shi-on is forced into leaving the hospital. His position as a doctor and as a person is put under scrutiny as characters attempt to make the argument that the hospital is better off with him, in spite of Shi-on's apparent screw-ups. Particular point seems to be made of the fact that it's only the administrators who particularly seem to want him to go.
Unfortunately, none of this can reverse the horribly contrived nature of this entire plot in the first place,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Good Doctor" Episode 6 2013/08/20,
There's plenty of cuteness this episode as Shi-on tries to negotiate with an adorable wolf boy about accepting medical care. Joo Won is still doing a superb job at his portrayal- it's noteworthy how, even though he's the only person the wolf boy has actually physically hurt, Shi-on still isn't scared. He just doesn't process the emotion the same way that the other docotrs do. That, coupled with his willingness to look completely ridiculous in front of other professionals, adds a very useful dimension to his character.
Unfortunately this storyline takes a very contrived turn by the time we get to the cliffhanger, one that's both annoying and feels rather pointless,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Good Doctor" Episode 5 2013/08/19,
The drama takes a very focused turn this episode. A lot of the story so far has been about fallout from reckless doctor decisions, but this is the first time we're actually forced to watch the situation play out in the long term with little to no distraction. And it's Yoon-seo that goes through the wringer here- certainly appropriate since autistic spectrum Shi-on can't internalize the degree of the screw up quite as well.
It's effective stuff- as I mentioned in my last review, the problem with "Good Doctor"'s plots so far is that they've been too exotic and there's no baseline,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Good Doctor" Episode 4 2013/08/13,
The drama does a better job engaging the audience this episode, though in a bit of a roundabout way. The previous political and mortal crises are largely done away with as two new conflicts emerge. "Good Doctor" is still trying too hard to arouse interest in the audience through extreme situations, but at least this time there's a thematic relevance that's actually appropriate to the basic storyline of Shi-on adjusting to be a doctor.
One crisis, for example, is the first one to genuinely raise the question of whether Shi-on belongs in the hospital. So far the indistinct mob calling for his dismissal has been overreacting- it's a pity they hadn't been more subdued before, because this is a far more appropriate time for righteous outrage,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Good Doctor" Episode 3 2013/08/12,
The drama isn't exactly exciting me at this point. All the appropriate pieces are here to make something, I'm just not at all sure what. This episode's ongoing crisis of the baby on life support feels curiously mundane, as if it's just a general breather from the political conflicts which, likewise, feel more like genre staples than they do something that's thematically relevant. So our characters have gotten mixed up in selfless, selfish alliances. That's interesting, I guess, but not terribly memorable.
What continues to be more interesting are Shi-on's motivations and life lessons. He is, at least partially, wrapped up in the visage of the naive newbie who doesn't understand the bureaucracy behind medicine,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Good Doctor" Episode 2 2013/08/06,
Cliffhangers normally have a pretty cynical bend to them, and the first episode of "Good Doctor" was no exception, with Shi-on awkwardly standing over Yoon-seo's bed, brushing his teeth while she wakes up. Corny as this set up is, we quickly get another excellent glimpse into Shi-on's character. Even though Yoon-seo is normally the focused victim in the context, Shi-on is obviously at a complete loss as to what he's supposed to be doing.
I really love Joo Won's performance in these scenes, because he very much acts like a man who's had to deal with these awkward encounters his whole life,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Good Doctor" Episode 1 2013/08/05,
This drama starts out rather gloomily. Bullying, horrible injures, and death are a constant presence. The more significant factor, though, quickly turns out to be Shi-on (played by Joo Won). Even as a young child, Shi-on seems incredibly detached from the world around him. There's an emotional distance between him and all these trauamtic events that's puzzling, and to a certain extent inexplicable.
To other characters, anyway. It's obvious to us in the audience, who live in more enlightened times, that Si-on is on the autistic spectrum,...More
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