Many a serial drama is guilty of reinventing the wheel, but procedural ones are by nature able to get away with it. All crime shows do the same thing, but because they handle different cases and use the hook of a mystery, they offer something new through the same format every time. 'Missing Noir M' is neither original or brilliant so far, but rather than going for gimmicks, it goes back to the basics of what makes good crime stories and mysteries appealing.
First things first, the drama is quite nice in its production quality. From the nicely selected cast to its polished visuals and even some really nice score and soundtrack, it looks like OCN has gone the extra mile in making this sleek and impressive. Most shows by the station share this quality, but not all use their style well in building atmosphere. This is not just a cool-looking show. It is a cool show which uses its presentation well to enhance that.
Pacing and intricacy are very important in a mystery work, because a slow case without high stakes does not create involvement. The series wastes no time and dives right into its first subplot. The meeting between the main character and the person who holds the key to the first case happens very quickly and from then on, things flow beautifully. The show is exhilarating and the creators time the alternations between action and puzzle solving, between plot-oriented and character-oriented moments very well.
The idea of a mystery is to be revealed slowly and allow viewers to solve it along with the characters in charge of it. Pacing aside, 'Missing Noir M' manages to make its first mystery easy enough to follow and piece together, but not obvious and easy to guess from the very start. This is a tough balance to hit. The inherent problem of mystery stories is that they have to cater to all types of viewers. Some are great with puzzles and familiar with crime tropes, others cannot connect the dots and see the big picture.
While the series gets that balance spot on, however, there is one element of which sullies things a bit. Since there will be viewers who are faster at reaching the right conclusions than the characters, either the mystery needs to be very complex, or said characters need to lack all the information the viewer has or be "everyman" types. By giving into the Korean drama obsession with highly schooled , child prodigy geniuses, the series ends up having a lead who at times seems too slow for being one.
The other potential problem partially depends on viewer preference. While going straight for crime solving keeps the first two episodes interesting, it also leaves the main story without much exposure. The leading characters get little characterization and the main point of interest is a typical trauma-related one. Luckily, the series addresses that by adding questionable morality to Soo-hyeon's (Kim Kang-woo) character. There is one particular scene which hints to his beliefs playing as big a part in this season's or even series' story as the events in his past, making his personal mystery intriguing.
It is too early to tell if the show will turn serial, continue as a procedural or combine the two. OCN dramas sometimes have the flaw of introducing the main story, abandoning it and then suddenly bringing it back to wrap up the season with. Assuming the individual cases and main story arc will be woven well into each other, 'Missing Noir M' will most likely be a well made and entertaining show.
Written by: Orion from 'Orion's Ramblings'
Vasia, also known as Orion or Ori online, is currently doing opinion pieces and database upkeep. She has a love for good TV and a penchant for rambling in written form. Vasia can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama First Look] "Missing Noir M""
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