What could go wrong when a conspiracy is formed between the Prime Minister of South Korea and North Korea’s super shady intelligence branch (with a North Korean spy and her maybe-former boyfriend turned surgeon thrown in the middle for good measure)? I am sure nothing, nothing at all. Dr. Stranger, the Monday / Tuesday SBS drama, is already halfway to the finish line and honestly this show is making me WTF far too much for my liking. Time for a halfway there rundown. Cheers!
For Stone Cities First Impressions post click here.
Our story thus far (in a brief semi-spoilery way)
Park Hoon (Lee Jong Suk) is the son of a South Korean thoracic surgeon. When Hoon is a child his Father is sent to North Korea by the government of the South as he is the only person they can trust to avert war (by operating on Kim Il Sung who is dying of a heart condition). Hoon is sent to North Korea with his Father, once the surgery is over the pair are faced with the reality that they cannot return to the South.
Fast-forward some years and Hoon is a high school student. He helps his Dad administer medical care to poor residents. While not learning to be a doctor Hoon is busy with his lady love, Jae Hee (Jin Se Yeon). All hell breaks loose when Jae Hee’s father is accused of political crimes – per the North’s three generation policy Jae Hee is shipped off to a concentration camp. Hoon is caught up in the events as well and ends up being forced to work at a hospital (that does not shy away from human experimentation).
Fast-forward again and Hoon’s father is dead, shot on his own accord as he urges Hoon to escape from North Korea. Eventually Hoon is able to go to Hungary to show the world what North Korea’s medical profession is capable of. While there he tries to escape to the South Korean embassy with Jae Hee (who he miraculously was reunited with when she showed up at his hospital). During the attempted escape Jae Hee is shot, falling into a river.
Jump forward even more years and Hoon is living in South Korea. He has a backroom clinic and saves all of his money to find and free Jae Hee (who he learns is alive). By chance he ends up at Myungwoo Hospital, one of South Korea’s top hospitals, and is eventually hired on as a surgeon. Enter into his life an anesthesiologist who is the spitting image of Jae Hee. Is she his long lost love? Or is she an imposter? The plot thickens as the hospital is set to become the steward of the Prime Minister’s heart operation. Who will perform the surgery and why is everyone and their brother harboring secret alliances?
Well that went downhill fast. I was completely in love with this show in the first few weeks but my fondness has dissolved into a mixture of face palming, confusion, and a desire to smack Hoon. I had a lot of hopes for Dr Stranger, and to be honest I really cannot discount it yet (since we are only halfway there). But so far I have lost a lot of faith in this show and the story it is trying to tell. Here is hoping someone sprinkles it with some drama pixie dust and it regains its footing, otherwise I have already saved a spot for this show in the bottom half of my 2014 drama list.
My main points of contention revolves around what I like to call “I am the writer of Dr Stranger it is fun to have access to this random conspiracy plot generator so I don’t have to think of stuff- wonder if they will notice nothing makes sense *click *oh that one sounds good better put that in episode 10 and forget about that whole pesky Jae Hee plot point logic” Naaaaahhhhh writernim I totally didn’t notice that nothing makes sense- yunno because I was too busy trying to figure out WHY NOTHING MAKES SENSE.
Maybe I am being a little overly dramatic but this show has a new mystery every time you turn around, none of which really seem to have a whole lot of focus. What everything boils down to is the relationship between North and South Korea, but what populates that relationship as portrayed in this show is a multi-layered conspiracy with a very hazy end goal and a whole lot of nonsensical actions. The unfortunate part is how little I care about all of the conspiracy, which I feel has a huge part to do with the Jae Hee mystery dragging out like a pirate’s peg leg in a marathon.
The Jae Hee / Seung Hee mystery has simply overstayed its welcome with me; it lost me at the point Jae Hee went from denying who she was for a good part of the drama to suddenly admitting it and shacking up with Hoon. Um, okay then. How did all of that denial play into this? Why are you admitting it? Do I even care anymore who you are?
Hoon’s reaction to Jae Hee / maybe not Jae Hee is even more frustrating; his blind belief in the woman is making him into quite the jack**s. I get you love Jae Hee, but man settle it down and think about it for a moment. Maybe two moments. And stop being a dick. If she is Jae Hee wonderful – figure out something that makes sense and go adopt kittens together. But if she is not then run for the hills. Either way, you really should spend some time thinking this blind devotion through because right now you come off like an idiot.
I also feel as though our second leads are on a losing streak. Jae Joon’s mission of revenge is one of the few points that actually kind of makes sense, but his story is overshadowed by the larger than life possible world war that surrounds our North / South conspiracies. I really like Soo Hyun’s character, but again her strong points in the show fall on deaf ears (or is that eyes) with all of the mysteries swirling around. I feel as though both of these characters belong in a different show – one that is not riddled with these diplomatic cluster f***s at every turn.
In conclusion, I hope things get better. I seriously do, because I want this show to not turn into a waste of 20 hours. I am sure there are plenty of people that do not share my opinion and I respect that. Let me know in the comments if you love it or hate, I agree to disagree and I am interested to see what everyone else is thinking. Cheers!