[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] "God's Quiz Season 4" Episode 12 Final 2014/08/03,
The opening clearly establishes that the cliffhanger from last time was not, in fact, a fake out. The bad guys really were that petty and vindictive, and the good guys really were just not smart enough to plan for a double cross. So, with no apparent usable evidence, and a dead forensic investigator that apparently no one cares about outside of the main team, how exactly is the story supposed to get resolved here?,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "God's Quiz Season 4" Episode 11 2014/07/27,
The drama converges into the final plot point here, as the opening helpfully illustrates the various parts of the story to date that are relevant to the incoming final proceedings. Jin-woo is, appropriately enough, immediately tossed into disarray by some bizarre revelations about the kid he's been intermittently caring for over the course of the season. We gets lots of answers- but obviously not enough to render the final episode a moot point,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "God's Quiz Season 4" Episode 10 2014/07/20,
The theme this time is motherhood. Jin-woo runs into the mother he was not expecting, and elsewhere in the team, a request comes down to help another mother who pretty obviously is taking the rap for her son's crime. Or is she? That's what the mystery boils down to- pretty standard set-up, and dealt with in the usual investigative style of the drama. The main hook, as usual, is the emotional resonance. This time of a mother's love,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "God's Quiz Season 4" Episode 9 2014/07/13,
Well that was a pretty stupid resolution to the cliffhanger. Granted, we knew that Kyeong-hee wasn't actually going to die or anything, but it was all a dream? Really? I guess that makes me feel a little better about Jin-woo dropping what I assume was a decent cup of coffee. I bet it was good coffee too. Fortunately, for the rest of the episode we focus mainly on the current mystery, and the overarching storyline is largely confined to its own mysterious bits,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "God's Quiz Season 4" Episode 8 2014/07/06,
The mystery this time involves an overabundance of clues. At one point Jin-woo even stares up at the giant clue board perplexed as to how all of these various elements could possibly fit together into a single coherent plot. In all honesty I'm not sure I fully understand all the complexities that were going on there, even if a decent attempt is made at an explanation. What this episode is really going for, though, is the catharsis of backstory,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "God's Quiz Season 4" Episode 7 2014/06/29,
The drama is slowly gaining confidence in regards to the broader personal vendetta storyline. After the opening establishes the unsettling demise of the victim, we get right into Jin-woo and Kyeong-hee discussing personal matters (mostly just the kid Jin-woo' been hanging out with). This then tumbles right into a dangerous confrontation with that guy who looks really rugged and mean,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "A New Leaf" Episode 16 Final 2014/06/26,
The drama gives up any pretension of having an actual ending, as writer Choi Hee-ra decides to instead serve up a final case. While there are several parts of the case that relate to earlier storyline movements, for the most part this is just Seok-joo and his team working to do the right thing. They collect information, investigate and, ultimately, act as negotiators in order to bring about a just and proper resolution,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "A New Leaf" Episode 15 2014/06/25,
We finally get some much-needed characterization for Ji-won and Ji-yoon, as this episode opens with a simple conversation they have about what their motivation is in life, and what they see the law as being useful for. I like how Ji-won is actually pretty charming here, and his arguments reasonably persuasive. The guy isn't a monster, he's just looking out for himself and accepting the reality of the system,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "God's Quiz Season 4" Episode 6 2014/06/22,
While the last episode was content to wallow in exceptionally paranoid fantasies about the criminal element, this time "God's Quiz Season 4" goes the exact opposite direction and gives us a surprisingly relatable story about the miserable modern life of office workers. This episode was a bit of a shock to me. I suppose mainly because I'm not totally sure how anyone even pegged this as a murder in the first place. The poisoning involved here happens mainly because people think it sounds impossible,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "A New Leaf" Episode 14 2014/06/19,
The drama has decided its final conflict will be a battle of wills between Seok-joo and Ji-won. Too bad we know almost nothing about Ji-won's actual personality. "A New Leaf" has had a lot of trouble developing its characters beyond Seok-joo. I can't decide whether this was because of poor scripting or whether the drama's material was just too ambitious from the get go. There's just not enough time to do the series the epic justice it so badly wants to have,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "A New Leaf" Episode 13 2014/06/18,
The focus this time is less on the legality and more on the amnesia- though not Seok-joo's, exactly, but rather that of his father, whose medical condition reaches a greater state of debilitation. We get more stories about hopes and dreams from the old days here, as Seok-joo asks Sin-il basic questions, and the older man gives full honest answers. Unsurprisingly, Seok-joo does not like the answers,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "God's Quiz Season 4" Episode 5 2014/06/15,
This time the drama deals with a serial killer who throws women away in refrigerators. It's about as pleasant as it sounds, but really, anybody watching "God's Quiz Season 4" by this point must have a pretty decent tolerance for squeamishness. This is the most directly engaging episode so far- a crisis situation is laid out and the detectives have to race to capture the killer before he strikes again,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "A New Leaf" Episode 12 2014/06/12,
I got the feeling early on this episode that Yeong-woo is making up his plan as he goes along. The man is way too cool at Seok-joo's resignation, and it's difficult to see what sort of long term benefit Yeong-woo is supposed to reap from the departure of the firm's best lawyer. He appears to be assuming that Seok-joo will never turn against the firm at any point. Which I suppose may be logical from his perspective. We as the viewer know better mainly because we're watching a dramatic narrative,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "A New Leaf" Episode 11 2014/06/11,
Seok-joo has to ask himself an odd question this episode- if I were me, what would I have done in order to help the company? He doesn't like the answers that he finds. Probably the worst of it is that he knows exactly the kinds of skills and reasoning it took to get him to this point, but that for him to use his abilities in this particular way is, well, pretty evil. There's no silver lining to anything here. Seok-joo really just has no idea what to think,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "God's Quiz Season 4" Episode 4 2014/06/08,
The format changes slightly this time. Instead of shocking the viewer with explicit images of blood in medical environment, it just implies horrible things have happened to people in a bloody medical environment. The main target of this abuse is a baby. Yes, that's the mildly political territory "God's Quiz Season 4" has decided to take us to this time, and it's about as pleasant as it sounds,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "A New Leaf" Episode 10 2014/06/05,
The question as to why Jeong-seon accepted a proposal of marriage from Seok-joo is mostly resolved here. The other way around not so much, but "A New Leaf" is following the appropriate dramatic principles of only revealing a little bit of the essential information at a time in order to keep matters engaging. Although at this point there really are a lot more questions than there are any hints at answers,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "God's Quiz Season 4" Episode 3 2014/06/01,
The theme of this episode is dancing. I use that term rather loosely here- it may be the central plot point in terms of this mystery the team is working to solve, but regarding the troupe of detectives who are our continuing lead characters? I suppose there's one scene of metaphorical dancing, as a bit of social confusion ensues when someone arrives who's unaware of the pecking order. And there's literal dancing, in another scene of cute voyeurism,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "A New Leaf" Episode 9 2014/05/29,
The drama's still building up to something. What I'm not totally sure. It's obvious at this point there's a conspiracy against Seok-joo, but given that neither he nor Ji-yoon have any clear indication that something foul is afoot, for the most part we're just left with vague scheming that will presumably be dealt with at a later point once all this has been set up. That doesn't really bode well for the conflict department, although the material here is interesting enough to stand on its own,...More
[Hancinema's Drama Review] "God's Quiz Season 4" Episode 2 2014/05/25,
The drama continues with more angst about storyline events that happened between seasons involving characters I don't really know anything about. And that's the last I'm ever mentioning that. It's probably clear by now that the fourth season is probably not the ideal starting point for this drama. I'd just be repeating everything from the last review if I wanted to get into why this episode doesn't work, and that feels rather pointless.
So let's get into the objective strong points. The production values are excellent,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "A New Leaf" Episode 8 2014/05/22,
The drama takes a brief break from the legal proceedings to delve into Seok-joo's currently unknown past. The whole thing about a missing fiance sounds horribly contrived- but like a lot of the amnesia elements in "A New Leaf", it's actually pretty well integrated with Seok-joo's non-communicative standoffish character. As far as we can tell the main reason nobody can tell Seok-joo what's going on is because he never shared information about his personal life with anyone. Whether he had a good reason for this is as yet unknown,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "A New Leaf" Episode 7 2014/05/21,
We finally get to an episode filled with hardcore legal action. For most of the first part Seok-joo and Ji-yoon are investigating the exact particulars of the case, looking for inconsistencies and possible points of reasonable doubt. Then for the second part Seok-joo does his actual legal wrangling in the courtroom. Seok-joo is a very serious, very skilled lawyer, amnesia notwithstanding. His inquiries make for a hard cold strike even against characters who aren't really bad people,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "God's Quiz Season 4" Episode 1 2014/05/18,
The opening is fairly boilerplate action detective stuff. There's a tense chase that unravels because in TV land criminals have a pretty unreasonable ability to shrug off bullet wounds. So everybody gets a little beat up and worn out. There's no serious drama going on here- "God's Quiz Season 4" is just clearly setting up the kind of program it wants to be- an episodic crime thriller with characters we all know and love.
Well, most of us know and love anyway,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "A New Leaf" Episode 6 2014/05/15,
Seok-joo finally takes a step to turning his life around, though goodness knows it takes forever for him to get there. I thought we were going to watch him do some actual lawyering but it's only at the very end that he finally decides to use his legal powers for good instead of evil. It's a nice moment to build up to, but did we really need an entire episode to do it? It was obvious from the minute this woman showed up that she would be a part of his overall redemption arc,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "A New Leaf" Episode 5 2014/05/14,
It turns out Seok-joo does have one personality trait that pretty clearly wasn't there in the first two episodes- curiousity. The weird personal recognition cliffhanger at the end of the last episode bothers the man here, and he works figure out what's happening. This might signal a problem at the law firm, but fortunately Seok-joo's prior lifestyle of apathy was a two way street. He didn't care, and he was aided in this by other characters who also did not care.
Oddly, the main person we'd expect to encourage him with this personal change is Ji-yoon,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "A New Leaf" Episode 4 2014/05/08,
Seok-joo does a lot of hands-on investigation this episode regarding a current case. Unfortunately it's difficult to tell what this means for his character- we didn't see enough of Seok-joo pre-amnesia to know whether this is a break in the routine for him. I'm going to assume that it is- Seok-joo is famous enough that his plan doesn't really make any sense,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "A New Leaf" Episode 3 2014/05/07,
It takes half the episode for anyone at the law firm to figure out where Seok-joo is. Strangely enough, his presence is clearly missed- everyone's in disaster mode trying to deal with the problems posed by his absence. Symbolically that says all we really need to know about Seok-joo's life right now. He is valued as an instrument in the legal machine- not an actual flesh and blood person. Note how Ji-yoon completely biffs a chance to find Seok-joo because she decides it's more important to deal with the legal stuff than an apparent medical emergency,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "A New Leaf" Episode 2 2014/05/01,
The focus this time is on the full rape trial, and the unusual perspective this drama offers is an interesting one. Normally the perspective for this kind of plot is outrage over the crime of rape. By contrast, "A New Leaf" puts us in the same neutral state as Seok-joo. The guy obviously doesn't like or endorse rape, but his job is to defend the probable rapist, and that's exactly what he does.
Seok-joo's competence is unquestionable. Note how I used "probable rapist" above. Obviously we, the viewer know better, but the argument Seok-joo presents is rock solid,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "A New Leaf" Episode 1 2014/04/30,
Seok-joo (played by Kim Myeong-min) is a very competent, very stone cold lawyer who has long since stopped caring about the kind of work he does. The opening sequence is a very serious expose of war crimes during the Japanese Occupation. The tone very much feels like a firebrand work about the dark days of the past- then Seok-joo opens his mouth and, with a powerful commanding voice, lays out a strong legal framework that, while technically correct, feels rather horribly unjust.
The uncaring lawyer isn't exactly a novel concept in legal fiction,...More
[HanCinema's Column] Unconventional Korean Dramas 2014/02/01,
Being a movie fan making a jump to dramas can be a daunting experience. The two are very different in many ways. From budget to tropes, from acting to directing, they are worlds apart. While there are genres even Korean films do not often touch, Korean drama is much more limited in its diversity. Sageuk, melodrama, dailies, romantic comedies, the types and formats of series are limited,...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 Si-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 Si-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 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 comes 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 Si-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 Park 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
Korean Films at the 12th PiFan 2008/07/18, Source, The 12th Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival (PiFan) kicks off this July 18 – 27 with the biggest line-up of genre films in Asia. Best of all are the return of high-profile Korean films to the fest and a warmer interaction with the local film industry after setbacks in previous years. KOF,...More
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