[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Doctor Frost"
By Vasia Orion | Published on
All kinds of characters have faced crime in OCN series. From coroners to simple detectives and from vampire prosecutors to superheroes. "Doctor Frost" takes a slightly different approach and looks at the individuals, rather than the crime itself alone. While less exciting than similar shows in terms of suspense and lacking a strong gimmick, it offers that unique exploration of crime through a different lens. That of what aids and breaks people's minds.
The titular Doctor Frost (Song Chang-eui) was given his nickname due to the condition he developed after being in a car accident as a child. While he can understand emotions and "read" people, he cannot feel sympathy or experience those emotions himself. Working as a bartender by night and also aiding the police with investigations, he decides to take on an additional job as a professor of psychology. Joined by his cheerful and emotive assistant, Yoon Seong-ah (Jung Eun-chae), they solve cases by looking at the individuals and their mental and behavioral problems.
Romantic comedy elements are not usually present in such shows neither are they necessary. This series does feature some bickering and the potential for something romantic between its two leads. However, it is the opposite nature of them, the chemistry and what this brings out of the male character that make it interesting and appropriate for this work. A man who cannot display emotion and a woman who feels and shows too much clash in interesting ways and this adds to the topics the series explores, but also adds lightness.
This more intimate approach extends to the rest of the work and its individual cases. Social commentary on crime is present, but the work adds an additional layer of exploring human mental and emotional pain as well as fascination over them. The mysteries related to the crimes are of course the focus, but why the crimes were committed is as important as to the how and by who. This is a much more effective way to highlight the issues presented and the strength of this show along with its quirky investigative duo.
The series sadly suffers from an identity crisis about midway and it is a real shame. Originally an episodic format, the drama suddenly throws a main plot into the works and at the same time seems to abruptly sever the main pair's connection and bonding. The mysterious new villain's identity is very easy to guess and the character development starts feeling contrived and plot-serving in order to face this new foe. The disconnect between the two parts is obvious and the transition came late and clumsily.
In a short series, keeping the main plot hidden away for half of its run means there is less time for that central story to be developed well and create investment. It would have been possible if there was more time to bond with all the characters, but as Frost is someone who is originally hard to connect to, the shift arrives just as things on the character development end start getting good, taking that much needed bonding with it.
"Doctor Frost" is like a more understated and relaxed version of the usual crime shows. There are crimes and there are moments of suspense, but when the main characters are not law enforcers and the human mind is the focus, substance is placed over style. While the plot is not handled well, the series could still work as a first season to a bigger show. If or when that time comes, they will hopefully introduce the season story right away and give all its parts time.
Written by: Orion from 'Orion's Ramblings'