Review – The Gang Doctor / Young Pal

Review – Young Pal

What was this show, exactly?  A bit of a Sleeping Beauty fairy tale, a bit of a medical mystery, a bit of a mystery thriller and a bit of a mess.  The concept was interesting: a struggling young doctor takes side gigs patching up the mob to help pay off the debts he’s accrued keeping his dying sister alive.  So, an honorable guy doing dishonorable things – everyone’s favorite gray scale hero.  We have the cops tracking him down and his constant struggle to stay out of reach of the law, which was fun while it lasted (the first couple of episodes were very exciting).  On the other end of this, we have Sleeping Beauty, a corporate heiress who was severely injured in an automobile accident/suicide attempt and has been kept in a medically induced coma for years by her family.  First by her father, who kept her asleep so he wouldn’t have to deal with her, basically.  And then by her brother, who kept her asleep so he could take over the corporation.

Gangster doctor wakes up Sleeping Beauty… and we have some sibling showdowns, some elaborate backstabbing, and some corporate evil maneuvers as secrets are revealed, sickly sisters are tossed about for ransom, and attractive people with very little chemistry fall in love.

sleeping beauty

It was a decent show.  It felt a bit disorganized, as if the writers couldn’t agree on certain points.  Characters would disappear for long chunks of time then reappear randomly.  I felt there were quite a few tangents in the plotline.  And the whole thing could have been chopped down to 12 episodes easily.   The last four or five episodes in particular were boring and convoluted.

Personally, I kept thinking of The K2 while watching it – and how that show is superior.  They have a strangely similar vibe… with the fairy tale angle and the nasty family politics and the anti-hero thrown in the middle of it all.  They both also managed to make some fairly simplistic sets seem convincingly “futuristic” and high-tech.  But The K2 was thrilling, whereas this show just managed to be “okay.”  I recommend Super Wook instead (Review of The K2).

Overall Rating – 6.5/10.  Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.

Review – Tomorrow’s Cantabile / Naeil’s Cantabile

Review – Tomorrow’s Cantabile / Naeil’s Cantabile

Surprisingly odd, funny and enduring drama about a bunch of talented young musicians.  It’s a drama filled with a big cast of memorable characters – each with their own instruments and problems – but each with a common goal:  To Get Better, To Succeed.  The friendships and struggles make this show shine.  I thought this might be a mindless throw-away show, which is why I popped it in this week… as I’ve been extremely tired after work and wasn’t in the mood to think much.  I was just looking for a feather light diversion, but instead got a quality gem of entertainment.  I laughed, I worried, I got emotionally involved, and I wondered what would happen to ALL OF THE CHARACTERS as the show moved from episode to episode.  It starts off quite silly but quickly settles into more structure and higher stakes as the plotlines establish themselves.

Overall Rating – 8.5/10.  Brainwashed Into Loving Classical Music Through Adorable Characters.

Much More About Everything and Everyone – Spoilers too….

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Review – Bridal Mask

Review – Bridal Mask

Bridal Mask is one of the most epic, emotional, action-packed, gut-wrenching shows I have ever watched.  It takes place during the 1930’s, when Japan had colonized the country.  The hatred between the local “Joseon” people and the Japanese is palatable.  Though some have been striving to live and work in peace, overall it is a volatile time rife with government, military, and police corruption.  The plot centers around a young Korean man who has betrayed his people by joining the Japanese military to help them end the rebellion, in particular catch the infamous masked crusader known only as “Bridal Mask.”  He is despised by his own people and distrusted by the Japanese, with the exception of his best friend, a kind-hearted elementary school teacher.  A series of tragic events lead both of these men into their terrible fates.

Overall Rating – 9/10.  When Elementary School Teachers Embrace The Dark Side… (also known as:  The Problem With Eye For An Eye Is There Are Always More Eyes)

It would be a 10/10 but I confess it could have probably cut about ten entire episodes and not suffered from plot loss.  More discussion (and spoilers!  sorry, I can’t help it) follow.

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Review – Doctor Crush / Doctors & Good Doctor (Diagnosis please…?)

Review – Doctor Crush & Good Doctor

So… pushed myself to watch some medical dramas… some of my LEAST favorite shows of all time.  Ugh.  Is there any thing more tedious than watching people being rushed about on gurneys, those annoying machines that are always beep beep beep beeping cause something has gone wrong or dropped too low or too high or whatever?  A bunch of people continuously washing their hands and slicing up humans like it’s Top Chef.  Gross.  Clearly I am not cut out for the healing arts.  I’m grateful that others are… but it’s not my cup of tea.  And I am rarely interested in anything that occurs within the horror white washed walls of hospitals.  But still… I thought I’d try.

The first time I tried Doctor Crush, also known as Doctors, I didn’t make it past episode six.  Despite the somewhat promising first episode and unique premise (rough and tumble bad girl decides to mend her wicked ways and focus on turning her life around – to become a surgeon, of all things, motivated by the suspicious death of her grandmother… and the encouragement of a hunky doctor-turned-teacher-turned-romantic-interest who also becomes a surgeon again), it quickly did a belly flop into snoozeville.  After six episodes, I thought to myself… I’ll never get these hours of my life back.  I must abandon ship! I must run before the love I have for Park Shin Hye is diminished.  I really liked her and that older teacher dude, too… though their chemistry was off.  Way off.

Seriously, I am uncomfortable even LOOKING at this picture, that’s how bad the chemistry was…

Which dooms a romantic storyline, so the show lost its spine right there.  They seemed like friends, I guess… but every time they were out having one of their “romantic” dates, the smiles of the male lead seemed fake and strained and our female lead actually seemed physically uncomfortable.  The actors tried.  But I wasn’t buying it.

Then I gave the show a second chance, months later, and completed the series.  The second time around, I did enjoy it a bit more but it still felt lacking.  The tall Yoon Gyun-Sang was awkward as a physician and a character, his one sided crush on the female lead felt forced and convoluted.  The beautiful Lee Sung-Kyung was slightly more interesting, as the insecure pretty girl who was used to being at the top, but her character came across as unintelligent… and she was supposed to be a freakin’ brain surgeon so I had trouble believing anyone could be so dumb and so brilliant at the same time.

As I was watching, I wondered if I wasn’t being overly critical of the show.  I mean, it wasn’t that bad, was it?  But then cameo actors would show up and suddenly everything became exciting, interesting, and completely engaging.  The motorcycle riding thug played by Ji Soo stole every scene he was in, for example.  I also want to add that our leading lady had real chemistry with this guy… I’d love to see them paired up in a show, wouldn’t you?

The grandmother?  Brilliant.  Namgung Min came in as the father of two young boys who both had brain tumors – around episode 13 – and I was overwhelmed with how he could turn a bit part into the most profoundly moving few episodes in the show.  Namgung Min was the nail in the coffin, in my opinion.  After he showed up, and basically turned every other plotline into a stale piece of bread, I knew I wasn’t being overly judgmental.

There’s a scene in the last episode where a stern father is coming to comfort his grown son – who is facing a serious surgery.  And the son confesses he’s terrified his life will be ruined after the surgery, or worse, he might die.  And the father grabs his hand and yells at him that he won’t die.  And then both are overcome with emotion, the son crying, the stern father unable to look at him turns away but still holds his hand.  Now, that scene was amazing.  And it was two side, side characters.

  

This is my problem.  Why are there no scenes like this with our leading characters?  Or even the principle side characters?

Doctors just wasn’t that great.  Tolerable, yes.  Memorable?  No.

Overall Rating:  6.5/10.  A Flatlined Medical Romance.

Good Doctor was much better.  Even though I didn’t love it, at least it was interesting.  An autistic genius doctor struggling to overcome his ticks and social limitations to function properly enough to make it as a successful surgeon?  Okay, I’m intrigued.  The actor was brilliant, too.  He was brilliant in Bridal Mask and he was brilliant in this.  Moon Chae-Won was also lovely, as always, as the sorta doofy but genuinely sweet surgeon who took him under her wing and into her heart.  Though I liked her, she never felt fully believable as a surgeon.  Opposite this sensitive pair, we have just about everyone else… a well rounded cast of doctors and patients.  And of course, the head of pediatrics, the hunky young doctor who spends the majority of the show screaming at or belitting our autistic doctor.  It’s rough.  There’s a lot of abuse disguised as tough love, and a lot of flat out abuse.  And yet… I don’t know… I wasn’t entirely emotionally invested since the outcome seemed obvious from the first episode.  I would have stopped watching this show – but it had something unexpected….

The Good Doctor provided small moments of beauty.  Almost painful in their sincerity.  If it had been delivered in another show, it would have seemed too corny, too cheesy, too force-fed lesson-of-the-day… but because they snuck it in between bloody operations and screaming doctors, it worked.  These moments were largely delivered by the autistic doctor, but not entirely… sometimes they came from the children, or the staff, or the just through an expression or a moment of understanding between two characters.

The romance was sweet but also kinda… hm… well, it’s difficult.  The man has the emotional maturity of a 10 year old.  He’s incredibly smart and sensitive and kind… but it’s hard to imagine a night of passion with him in the bedroom.  Though I am no expert on the subject.  Perhaps that’s just another thing he would surprise everyone with and also be extremely good at… who can say.  It seemed unlikely.  But whatever, that’s not all there is to romance, after all, as this show clearly demonstrates.  Our lead male offers love in a strangely pure form and our leading lady is able to receive it with equal kindness of spirit.  They were, in a way, a wonderful couple and truly unique in the history of k-drama.

I’m not sure I’d recommend either… but if you’re gonna watch a medical drama – Good Doctor is your best bet.

Overall Rating – 8/10.