That was painful: Doctor Stranger Series Review

After twenty hours of extremely unethical surgery contests, conspiracies, and love Doctor Stranger has come to an end. The SBS drama took the top Tuesday / Wednesday rating spot as it completed its final suture. There was a lot that Doctor Stranger had going for it out of the gates, and there is a lot about this show I was disappointed with. Time for a Stone Cities final review. Cheers!

Official Poster Doctor Stranger

For happier times please see the first impressions post here.

For slightly less depressing times please see the halfway there post here.

For the reality of the situation read on.

I usually format my final reviews rather simply- the good and the bad. What I liked and enjoyed and what made me shake my head. Unfortunately I cannot utilize this simple layout for the final review of Doctor Stranger. Why, you ask? Simple. I want to punch this show in the face with a scalpel. Or-in more polite terms, I really ended up disliking this drama.

So my final opinion of this show?

The storyline was too big for its britches.

Doctor Stranger was at the bare bones a story of tragedy – of being an outsider, of reclaiming love when everyone around you (everyone with more power than you) has other plans for your future, of healing and moving on when the truth is revealed. Sounds interesting, right? Well, not so much. The narrative was clogged up with confusing conspiracies, poorly utilized characters, and plot-lines that dragged on and on and on. Logic was overlooked and the show broke its own story rules multiple times.

Doctor Stranger Ep 20 3The doctors of Myungwoo University Hospital committed so many questionable acts that I found myself wondering how the whole place was not shut down. The politicians who plotted against each other never revealed a good guy (because as stupid as it sounds I was trying to hold on to one of them being good in the end). North Korean spies came in and out of a top hospital at will, and shot people. And were shot, but lived. And shot people. And then more unethical medical practices went on. And I face palmed a lot.

Doctor Stranger Ep 20 4I cannot help but think that the writer wanted this show to be so much more than the original story’s intent could handle. It was like they put elements of a decent thriller, a heartwarming medical drama, and a tragic love story in a faulty blender and threw it into a bathtub full of lukewarm water. There were some sparks early on, but soon everything was killed by the pure overload. I lost faith as a viewer when mysteries made little sense, reveals made even less sense, and episode after episode hinged on characters forgetting the hard questions and flying towards the easy answers.

Doctor Stranger Ep 20 1The story did not do the characters justice. The second leads, Jae Hoon (Park Hae Jin) and Soo Hyun (Kang Sora), were wasted. Jae Hoon had a mediocre revenge plot that was utilized for conveniences sake while Soo Hyun would have been an amazing character in a straight forward medical drama (the doctor that needed to grow, professionally and personally). The larger extended cast were fodder for the conspiracies flying back and forth and did little to really grab my attention (I have to say this- Lee Chan Yi’s character was a complete and total waste of what could have been an awesome little sister role).

Doctor Stranger Ep 20 2Our main leads, Jae Hee (Jin Se Yeon)  and Park Hoon (Lee Jong Suk), were a mixed bag. While Hoon was the focus of our story, Jae Hee was his Achilles heel. Or at least that is what she should have been. Her identity was the first major mystery that called this show home, and the first mystery that utterly failed to produce anything other than groaning and disappointment on my end. Was the mystery doctor Jae Hee? Well, yes. Why was her identity dragged along? Tension of course. How did it matter in the end? It didn’t really because Hoon figured out who she was early on and her secret identity was nothing more than a plot device used for…um…actually there was nothing great narrative wise that came out of this mystery. Nothing but a long dragged out mystery I failed to care about.

I hate to be so negative when reviewing a show, but I can’t help it. I was really disappointed in this drama. The premise seemed promising, the cast seemed promising. It was hard to latch onto something so quickly to see it fail so miserably. If you need me I will be sipping a mojito and trying to remember happier times. Like episode 1, when I thought everything would work out in the end. *Tear*

As always let me know what you thought in the comments. I realize my perception of this show is rather harsh, so let me know if you loved it. I agree to disagree and want to know what you loved or hated about the show. Cheers!

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38 thoughts on “That was painful: Doctor Stranger Series Review

  1. I haven’t seen the show (still hedging, coz a couple of my readers appear to be enjoying it. Granted, they talked about the show when they were in the early-ish eps), but I enjoyed reading your review, and I LOVE what you’ve done with your screenshots! Made me giggle, they’re hilarious! That is a true talent right there ^^

    • Thanks! Honestly I would not recommend this show, but I know there are quite a few people out there that loved it. I guess it just was not my cup of tea. At all. Not even a little bit *shakes fist*

      • Well, kudos to you for making fun screenshots even in the midst of post-show upsetness 😉

        Also – Really? There are people who love it? Wow. I’ve only seen frustration and angst around the show’s plot from those watching live, and hopeful enjoyment of Lee Jong Suk in the early eps from those not watching live. I’m gonna wait till the early hopefuls are done and see whether they like it or hate it, coz I’m leaning more towards avoiding it at the moment 😛

      • Yes, I have encountered people who like this show. I was shocked 🙂 Mind you I spend far too much time lurking on forums.

        I would seriously avoid this drama. It fell flat. All of the promise of the first few episodes ended in disappointment, it was a bitter pill to swallow.

      • Not watching this but I echo kfangurl’s shock to learn that there are people who like this one. I’ve seen nothing but er..a range of negative emotions expressed that was pretty entertaining to watch frm the sidelines 🙂

  2. The first episode was wtf, the last episode was wtf, but the character of Hoon as portrayed by Lee Jong Suk was gold, and it had a great cast minus Jin Se-yeon. I previously could never figure out if I never liked her characters or found her not my cup of tea as an actress. This show confirmed that is was the latter, because putting her next to Kang Sora, wow. I never understood why Kang Sora took a second lead role here until I realized she got way more screen time that JSY. I’m not a second lead shipper-cast leads rarely lie, but darn if the dynamic between Hoon and Quack didn’t confuse me lol and make me think for one hot minute, wait, what, who is the female lead again?

    I did read the dramas original intent was a straight medical drama and that the script was revised to please the powers that be spice it up. I’ve also read that the script was revised during filming. Simply put, it was a hot mess. Nothing in it made sense, and I knew that by episode 4 it was not going to depart from the wtf. My advice if anyone absolutely feels the need to watch this drama? Skip the first episode, skip all the politics bs scenes, skip scenes with Quack’s brother and father, and just watch scenes with any of the 4 leads. Any confusion over wth is going on would be the same if you watched all the scenes! And maybe play a drinking game like drink when Hoon bares a shoulder or touches Quack, or when you can’t tell if Jae-hee is frowning or sad lol.

    • I have come to the conclusion that I do not like Jin Se Yeon as an actress. After Age of Feeling (and the s-show that was) I still had a reluctant sort of faith (or misguided belief) in her, after Doctor Stranger I realized I really do not care for the girl. The funny thing is I can’t really pinpoint what it is…maybe lack of emotion?! She always seems to put on the same front regardless of the situation, at least in my opinion. Kang Sora I absolutely adore. This is the first time I have watched her in a drama (my experience with her was previously limited to WGM with Leetuk, and I fell in love with her there). And I don’t often (if ever) get second lead syndrome, this show marks my first full on *aish wtf* case of second lead sickness. I really thought Hoon and Quack were the better couple. Too bad the writer disagreed.

      I think if this show had figured out its genre – thriller, medical, or whatever it was trying to be – things would have been a whole lot more consistent. In the end Doctor Stranger tried to be too many things at once without successfully capturing one genre, one feeling , or heck one decent narrative thread. Color me disappointed.

      But hey- party now that it is over!!!!!!!!! Cheers!

      PS- Your idea for a Doctor Stranger drinking game is genius!!! We need to start a K-drama drinking game thread somewhere because it feels like there are at least a handful of dramas that would improve with this viewing method 🙂

      • Though I am totally biased to any Lee Jong Suk drama, I have to agree that the storyline’s huge mess. I also believe that the competition theme is not the most creative way to show surgery scenes (and very unethical, for most of the matter) and that its genre as medical drama can still remain without making a compromise over the reality of being a surgeon.

        I was also more interested with Lee Jong Suk-Kang Sora chemistry than any other pairing in the drama. If they did continue with the pairing, I would have forgiven the messed-up plot. They just nailed every scene where they are together!

        But what can I do, I mist support Jong Suk oppa until the end…

  3. I TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOU!!!! After watching episode 9, I couldnt bring myself to watch ep 10. But knowing how I am, I started to watch it. I then became soo annoyed when she asked him how he found out who she was, with a big o smile on her face like a freaking ditz. “Like, oh my gawd! When did ya know??” N then, they went off and hung out like newlyweds. That’s when I thought, “oh hellz! Screw this drama!” The guy is too whipped to realize what the freak had been happening all this time. Done with the drama!! I don’t even want to know what will happen.

  4. thx for you review!! i am so glad that i only wasted 6 hours of my life before I decided to turn to you for spoiler. I fall inlove to this drama in first episodes…but since history taught me that that K-drama has a knack for wasting 2nd lead charachter that was built up in the early episodes.

    I mean..they’ll show one or two scene that give us insight about their layered personalities and troubled past. make us feel for them and root for them and then..completely throw them into garbage later in second half of the series for the sake of lovey dovey cheezy act of the main lead. and boy…do I right….

    I love all the cast. and I give the director thumbs up for the execution. But the writing can not be helped.. at all.

    Kudos for this drama for introducing me to Park Hae Jin. that face and charisma doesn’t come often in k drama world.

  5. Too late coming in here but wth. I am here to just agree on a lot of things. I don’t normally read reviews before watching a drama because of the spoilers but for this one, I’m regretting it. My generic go-to was ratings, however, this drama’s ratings made me face palm a lot during the 20 hours I was watching it. How did it get the number one spot for its timeslot??? *facepalm*

    Anyway, I really just had to look for people who would agree with me on the cast. Jin SeYeon – it’s the first time I’ve seen her and she didn’t leave a good impression. I think it’s both her acting and the way JaeHee was written that ticked me off the moment Hoon found her in Seoul. And it didn’t help that she’s the lead character because her plot was seriously not lead-character-worthy. I get that her story was supposed to hook the viewers and it did for a couple of episodes until the reveal that for me was just much too soon. Nor did it help that Quack’s plotline was wayyyy more interesting. I’ve never shipped second-leads with the lead, but like most before me have said, this was well beyond an exception. For a moment, I was really just hanging on that something would happen with them. Wait scratch that, I think that hope was the reason why I stayed to the very last episode. But then Hoon still went with JaeHee and I just found myself in a little corner thinking that at least Quack and JaeJoon get the screentime their plotlines deserved.

    Sigh. I could go on with this for a few more paragraphs but I think I’ve already wasted hours watching this drama and ended up hating it more that I don’t think it’s even worth it to rant on with. Just relieved now that I’m not the only who taught so.

    PS. I still love Lee JongSuk to pieces, and Sora, and HaeJin, and medical dramas. Just needed to vent out my frustration.

  6. Agree with your review. it is spot on!!
    For the first time I was so disappointed to see when the lead man got the girl. She was not the right one for him. I never felt any kind of love or relationship been built between Jae Hee and Park Hoon. But I saw and i felt the love between Soo Hyun and Park Hoon. I’m so disappointed in that. And this has too much conspiracy, but nothing looked realistic and everything looked so messy. I only watched it because of Lee Jong Suk and Park Hae Jin.. They could have create a better connection between those two like in You who came from stars.. Anyway watch this only if you are crazy for LJS or PHJ. otherwise don’t waste time. That is my advice.

  7. I stil find it Gud, at least dae focusd much on Medical aspect…d operation scenes were incredible…I Stil lyk dis drama coz 4 me d main reason i watchd was bcoz of d medical stufz nd Jong Suk…4rm My syd I’d say its Way Beter Cmpared 2 “The Musical” a kdrama dat was suposd 2 b abt musicals bt d drama Was Bad….it wasnt fit 4 dat title

  8. I agree Jin hasnt been much of d A Gud Actress in dis Drama
    Wen I Saw her in d 1st Eps i was api dat at least d gal is a familiar face.
    I lykd her Actin in Bridal mask nd a litle 4 5fingers
    Bt her actin in dis drama wasnt xo well.
    My advice. If u r hopin 2 b a doctor, if u Love Operation Scences or If U R a Big Fan Of Lee Jong Suk Nd Park Hae Jin den u cn watch dis drama… Dia r much more worse kdrama dan dis….d Endin was Nt Wel bt nt as Disapiontin as Dat Of “fashion King”
    who agrees wit me?

  9. After I initially commented I appear to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and
    now whenever a comment is added I recieve 4
    emails with the exact same comment. Perhaps there is a means you can remove me from that service?

    Kudos!

  10. I thought that Jin Se Yeon was good in this, altho idk why the writers made her character like that. She’s not bad actor. She almost died before getting married. I was going to be like “this cant be another Bridal Mask Curse”

  11. Maybe I am so late for this but I just watched Doctor Stranger and gave up on ep 10. So here I am searching some spoilers and end up here! I just need to know the ending oke? I am soooo agree with your opinion. That’s what I feel really. And you are hilarious! Awesome!

  12. Before anything else, I just wanna say that Kang Sora is such a promising actress! Her acting is not annoying at all. Thank the Lord above. And I love her chemistry with Kim Hae Jin. I need to see them in another drama please!
    But I gotta admit that Soo Hyun and Hoon’s pairing won’t be that bad either. I seriously got confused because I’m not sure as to which pair I’ll ship (ended with SH+JJ).

    I kinda like the drama. Although the supposedly medical scenes are beyond reality, it’s entertaining enough if you decided not to be critical and technical about it. I can only imagine though if the plot isn’t as complicated as they try to make it seem right? But props to the staff, at least the story flow didn’t confuse me. They’re atleast able to connect Hoon to Joon Jae’s revenge and so on.

    Well, I like the romantic scenes terribly. Sigh. 🙂 Sora and Hae Jin tho. Love this pair terribly!!!!

  13. d drama was interesting at d beginin bt everytin got borin as tym goes on.the story plan of this film was good bt it was all rushed makin one nt 2 undastand d basic tinz. also i would loved it if park hoon had love seo yoon rather dan jae hee in d drama, i felt good chemistry btw dem.

  14. Although I love Lee Jong Suk so much, this drama did not do him justice. The drama itself could have been better without the prime minister in it. It was enough to bring in the thrill with different cases of patients like in good doctor. It was meant to be a series like Blood however the main plot was twisted and just plain boring. Park Hee Jin was the most sensible and promising actor in the series. Still, I would give it a 6/10.

  15. I must say I don’t mind this drama mainly bcos Lee Jong Suk is in it. I also understood the plot n wasn’t really confused although I don’t really like the plot. I watched it till the end as I am LJS big fan and really love his acting n will not miss any of his dramas no matter what.

  16. I’m up to episode 10 and I actually felt disappointed that he will end up with Jae Hee.:(( should I continue watching or not.:(

  17. I totally agree with you guys! after five episodes , I’m perplexed and that’s why I’m here~ lol. I dont know what is happening especially at the lead girl~ Hokaaayyy!! I know it’s for a thrill . But really, the role of jong suk here is so frustrating!! it’s like.. Eternal search for jae hee?? for god sake! yeah, dr. quack plot is wayyyy more better~ i dont know if i can sleep without finishing this. so yeah.. this is for Lee Jong suk.

  18. Last, I’m watching the “Doctor”, or “Doctors crush.” And I love it. The plot is perfect, The role of every character , Most of the scenes are touching, aaand the lines are quotable. Ugh. I know, Doctor stranger was made 2 years ago. so i think they learned a lot from this.

  19. I felt so at home here srsly.. I thought I’m the only one having secon- lead syndrome. I tried to at least like jae hee but I terribly fail everytime. I just hate her plotline as it was simply tiring and lame.

  20. For me this drama is very hard to adore.Because of persons like prime minister, cha jin soo, the story had tragic situation. So I hate them the most. I feel happy when park hoon and jae hee reunited. Many friend said that jae hee is no good for park hoon. But I tkink that she loves truly him.Because loving someone truly but can’t express because of the villains, we can’t afore it for a single second. I like park hoon because he has true love for jae hee.If park so ra doesn’t fall for park hoon, it will be good for park hoon, jae hee and second male lead also.It will be good end.But I also feel bad for park so ra.Because unfulfilled love is very hard.So i wish park so ra and lee jong suk are best friend but not lovers.

  21. For me this drama is very hard to adore.Because of persons like prime minister, cha jin soo, the story had tragic situation. So I hate them the most. I feel happy when park hoon and jae hee reunited. Many friend said that jae hee is no good for park hoon. But I tkink that she loves him truly. Because loving someone truly but can’t express because of the villains, we can’t adore it for a single second. I like park hoon because he has true love for jae hee.If park so ra doesn’t fall for park hoon, it will be good for park hoon, jae hee and second male lead also.It will be good end.But I also feel bad for park so ra.Because unfulfilled love is very hard.So i wish park so ra and lee jong suk are best friend but not lovers.

    • MIRA,
      I think you are being subjective. Jae Hee isn’t worth loving… If she was, then the actresses did not convey it well enough for the viewers to know that.

  22. Well i think this review explained why i can’t seem to finish this series! After 2 years, I still can’t! From Episode 6 to Episode 11 i die of confusion. Started out so great but got soooooo messed up in the middle. It’s like I dont know what they’re trying to do. And bash me for it, but I just hate the fact that Hoon has this undying, unchanging, unrevocable, super duper faithful love to that girl. Well i see that miserable circumstances really do formed a bond so great with two persons, but it doesn’t mean it stayed like that forever, because in reality, people change and feelings fade. I cringed when Hoon repeatedly said “I will protect you” but got hit in the head the next second. Dafuq! Although I love LJS much, I can’t support this series. I decided to give it a try again after two years but realized I can’t tolerate this kind of drama.

  23. Hi,

    Thanks to this review, now I know I was not the only one got great disappointments from this series, since Lee Jong Suk was the main character! And Episode 1 made my cry a lot, but now after reaching Episode 10, I think I’m gonna cry out of disappointment. 😥

    A friend recommended this series to me, and now I’m gonna get back at her. Because I wasted my 10hrs or more just for this crappy narrative.

  24. Wow! You guys are right. Am up to episode 15 and I can tell you that it’s only because of Lee Hong Sun. This is also my first time to root for the second female lead in a k-drama (at some point, I thought she could be the lead female of the drama). Her chemistry with Park Hook is so evident. She’s way better than Jae Hee!
    Just so disappointed to know that she won’t end up with him… 😞
    Still gonna finish it though because… well… it’s Lee Hong Sun. 😉

  25. This drama is very disappointing. I hate how Lee Jong Suk ended up with Jin Se Yeon. It is better if Kang So Ra ended up with him. My goodness! Jin Se Yeon has poor acting skills. She didn’t even give justice to the drama. You will just waste your 20hours if you watch it.

  26. Lmao it’s 2017 and i just finished the drama. I started to watch kdramas recently so this was my 3rd drama and I chose is because of lee jongsuk. So I didn’t even thought about checking reviews but after finishing it i just HAD TO because I was sure that I’m not the only one who got annoyed and UGHjfncolfgoslof! Now I’m feeling better after seeing that many of you has same opinion. Gotta say that I kinda enjoyed the show since I skipped the politics scenes and scenes when hoon was with jae hee. In the beginning I already felt like this is gonna be messy so I chose to crop it 😀

    Shortly: I preferred Hoon and Soo Hyun. Didn’t like Jae Hee at all. Somehow jae hee and hoon scenes felt so fake. But then I felt so bad for Jae Joon if Soo Hyun and Hoon ended up together. The most exciting moments were when Jong Suk was doing surgeries.

    I was so angry with the ending but luckily not anymore. Gotta move on 🙂 Btw I also finished W aaah it was so good and i ship Jongsuk and Hyo Joo ❤ I think their chemistry was the best so far (Jongsuk with the female lead)

  27. Believe me guys,this would have been the best movie ever only if jae hoon ended up with oh soo(the quack). I ws really disappointed wen this didnt happen.

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