As someone who grew up watching Anerican medical dramas, I never would have expected myself to pick up a Korean series of this genre. I’m not sure why I picked Good Doctor to begin with but the plot seemed really unique and impossible to me.
Park Shi On‘s dream is to become a pediatric surgeon. As someone with an autistic social disorder Savant syndrome, Park Shi On is neither welcomed nor tolerated in his new environment. As Shi On learns and grows as a doctor, he slowly begins to change hearts and overcome his own personal challenges.
My Impression of Good Doctor:
Using my own experiences working in the hospital as reference, there were times when I was nodding my head in agreement because of the activities going on in the drama, and there were other times that I was having a hard time believing some of the situations. The realism in this drama is not perfect, but it wasn’t cringe-worthy and entirely implausible. At first, I expected some kind of E.R-House-Grey’s Anatomy calamity in every episode where saving the lives of patients was the real focus and everything was just extra. This isn’t what real life is like, but this is what you expect to watch, unless you’re tuning into a comedy sitcom like Scrubs (which in my experience, is more realistic).
The truth is, I feel like the writers may have had their only experience in a real hospital setting as a research project and the rest from books or other hospital dramas, which is why the ‘medical’ aspect of Good Doctor was very superficial and seemed poorly schemed. Even so, it did not disappoint, nor did it miss the mark. The medical details were average, but acceptable and educational.
I agree with anyone that thinks there were a lot of attention to the politics, although I found them to be quite interesting. At first, they were tedious and frustrating so I was tempted to skip over them. There were some situations that were completely ridiculous and unnecessary, such as the fate of Director Choi Woo Suk being in the hands of Park Shi On’s success, but it helped the viewer understand the faith and love he had for Park Shi On. Of course, this could have been expressed in a different way, but the drama was not lacking in anything to make me think it was a waste of time or too extreme. The political issues were just stressed out subplots but once I got used to them, I didn’t think they were so bad.
Good Doctor was not the best medical drama I’ve ever watched, but by far it is the most touching and endearing one. The hospital serves as a setting and theme for this drama, but the beauty and charm comes from something completely unexpected. The series leads the viewer through the changing hearts of Shi On’s bullies and the relationships that are built among the doctors of the pediatric surgery unit. What makes this drama so wonderful and unique is the fact that the point of it is not just bloody guts, but the bond between the people that are operating on these children. As Park Shi On is first perceived as an insecure and inconvenient new staff member, the viewer can’t help but cheer for him and become proud as he develops into a more confident and dependable surgeon.
Acting and Characters:
Joo Won as Park Shi On was completely perfect. I was so moved by his performance and portrayal of the autistic doctor. I laughed, I cried, I got frustrated along with Park Shi On who was a pure-hearted, caring man yet frequently misunderstood due to his disabilities. Joo Won got it down, from the facial expressions, the slow/careful speech, his childlike perspective, the anxious fidgeting and clumsy, yet sometimes dangerous mistakes. I was totally convinced that I was watching someone with savant syndrome the whole time. Joo Won successfully delivered this character in a realistic form and stayed true to Park Shi On, despite the character developments and improvements.
I was very happy to see Moon Chae Won as the leading lady, I am a fan of hers. As Dr. Cha Yoon Seo, her temperament and personality were strong yet compassionate. Together with Joo Won, the pair made a dynamic couple that didn’t exactly give us heart-racing romance scenes, but given Park Shi On’s situation, it’s completely understandable. Their love for each other is innocent, even more than usual for a Korean drama, however, I was always enchanted with their small love acts and Park Shi On’s happy moments with his crush. I didn’t feel like the drama lacked in romance because of Shi On’s condition. Even though I’m usually a romance shmuck, the flow and progress of the drama in that aspect didn’t bother me one bit.
All the key characters did a descent job in their acting but there were some minor details that may not even be the fault of the actors themselves. The first one is that some of the children patients were throwing out moralistic quotes fit for a Shakespeare play. I know, I know, children are very intelligent but in the drama you hardly heard the adults talking in such a manner and I get that somehow it could even mean that the writers wanted to highlight a child’s pure heart that in some way also reflected Shi On’s child-like heart, but there were some times when it was just too much and it made me lose a small amount of belief for the characters. There was also another problem with the children in the drama. I’d have liked to know the details on the permanent children’s cast conditions because they were in the surgery recovery unit for quite some time and it seemed like they had been there for a while before Shi On joined the staff crew. Sometimes we would see the kids getting check ups but except for Na In Hae, everyone else didn’t really have a proper backstory. I don’t even think we needed a detailed backstory for them, but in order to sympathize for the children, it would have been nice to know, even over a brief description, why they had been there for so long, since none of them seemed to have serious illnesses.
Another issue I had with the characters in the drama was also not the fault of the actors. It seemed that all the doctors were huddled around in the office all the time. Sometimes they were gossiping and stress-free. They’d always appear together, whether it was to hate on Shi On in their staff room or gather together during a commotion. It wasn’t occasionally either, that may be forgiven. Just about any time they had screen time, there was 2 or 3 of them just huddled in the corner, not really doing anything productive unless it was a surgery scene.
The OST for Good Doctor was very classy. My favorite song was 2BIC‘s “I Am In Love” which played often and that was okay with me ^-^ You can download and listen to it right *HERE*.
Sure, I noticed some flaws in this drama’s medical details, but it’s a beautiful story that never gets boring or draggy. If I was rating strictly on my enjoyment of it, I would have definitely scored it higher!