With this episode "Doctor Frost" moves from being frustrating to just being kind of bland. This time the connection to the university psychology department is even more tenuous. The drama has increasingly little obvious correlation with the source material, or even with previous episodes. Why does it have to be flashbacks? Wouldn't it be a lot more fun to just show Doctor Frost going to the colored rooms?
In some sense it might be unfair to frequently compare "Doctor Frost" with its source material. But that's genuinely the main interesting part of the drama worth discussing right now. Doctor Frost himself doesn't actually do all that much this episode. The entire story of the murder is told through flashback. Aside from a few deductions there's no particularly good reason for Doctor Frost to even be around at all. Seong-ah too is mostly just reduced to a passive observer.
So let's discuss the actual murder, since there's little in the way of long-term characterization. It's...well, the nicest thing I can say here is that the writing is coming from a decent place. These are serious social issues, even if I'm inclined to quibble with the exact context. "Pride and Prejudice", it must be noted, has taken the whole sexual harassment issue at a much more interesting angle by identifying it as a part of a long term trend rather than the act of unrelated individuals.
Here, though, "Doctor Frost" suffers from its adherence to the crime procedural format. Everything has to lead up to a murder explanation somehow. It's frustrating in particular because the drama directly addresses the issue of smile masks in modern retail culture. This is excellent material for psychoanalysis in a standard, relatable context. But no, everything has to turn in to an elaborate revenge scheme. It's just awkward.
For some other weak praise, I can honestly write that this episode didn't make me particularly angry. But that's only because the previous one set my expectations really low. At this point "Doctor Frost" is quickly becoming the kind of television program you have running in the background, because no individual event that happens is all that important in predicting or garnering tension for later story developments. The worst of it is that there's clearly the potential for this drama to be so much better if it would just challenge these genre trappings and take more influence from the source material. Unfortunately, that just doesn't seem to be happening right now.
Review by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Doctor Frost" Episode 3"
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