Good Doctor Review
Nutshell Summary: Good Doctor is 20 episode 2013 Korean drama about an autistic but brilliant diagnostic pediatric doctor. He is given 6 months to prove himself when he joins a team of pediatric surgeons. Will he be accepted or rejected by his peers, patients, and other medical personnel? Will he achieve his goal of becoming a pediatric surgeon?
1. Well conceived and evenly plotted story. This series was written by Park Jae Bum, a writer I had not sampled previously. Jae Bum’s vision was clear for the characters from episode 1 through 20. The writer provided superb balance to every episode – there was a heart-felt moment, a surprise, and a cliffhanger. I shed plenty of tears watching this series which was laden with touching moments, some sad and some lovely. Jae Bum took a direct and sensitive approach in dealing with the leading man’s autism. Initially, the hospital staff did not want to accept him. But he proved them wrong OR they challenged him and he improved. That is a subtle and powerful. Our leading man wasn’t perfect, he had medical gifts but he also made mistakes and grew. In fact “growth” is what every key character in this series achieved. Before watching this series, I was concerned that two elements would lessen my viewing experience – medical gore and procedural plots. There was medical gore but I learned how the surgeries would go. The subtitles were never placed on top of the gore, so I would watch when a character spoke enabling me to read the dialog and miss the blood. This series was not procedural e.g. “patient of the episode”. Yes, there were several patients but they spanned multiple episodes and each mattered in the sum of the series.
2. Superb ensemble cast. Good Doctor packed an emotional punch. The writing was crucial and the actors brought this story to life. Throughout the series this pediatric surgical team faced and dealt with the highs and lows. Every actor contributed to this emotional impact of this series. The child actors, the youth actors, the adult actors all worked together to create a hospital staff that I wanted to get to know better each and every episode. The lead characters gelled with the support characters. Characters that initially did not seem to matter, evolved and became important during the run of this series.
1. Leading man’s father was an awful man and difficult to watch. This was crucial and necessary to the story. He didn’t learn much from his mistakes. His growth was minuscule. But that limited growth was the correct choice for the writer to make for this character. There wasn’t the cliched “saw the error of my ways” moment for this character. He wasn’t capable of it.
Characters that Worked:
1. Leading man, Joo Won, gave a flawless performance as the autistic gifted medical doctor, Park Shi On. I enjoyed Joo Won in Tomorrow’s Cantabile (good story for Joo Won’s character) and Young Pal (okay story for Joo Won’s character). But Shi On is the best character and performance I’ve seen Joo Won deliver. His mannerisms for this character never faltered. I liked the character and rooted for his acceptance and evolution. This character touched and helped every character grow. Even characters that loathed him initially succumbed to his honest and kind ways. The romance in this story slow and sweet. Joo Won had excellent chemistry with the lead actress Moon Chae Won.
2. Leading lady, Moon Chae Won, had a challenging role and hit a home run. She began unsure if Shi On should even be allowed to practice medicine in the hospital. Then she evolved to become his mentor, his friend, his unrequited love interest and finally his mutual love interest. That is quite journey for any actor to deliver and Chae Won did it well. I especially liked when she realized that she felt “more than friendship” for Shi On and how she dealt with this. She didn’t shy away from her own feelings. She handled the opposition to their relationship.
3. Lead surgeon, Kim Do Han, portrayed by Joo Sang Wook, demanded that his pediatric surgical team deliver the best care for their patients. He wasn’t afraid to doubt, push, and eventually accept Shi On. He openly challenged Shi On to expand beyond his comfort zone and deliver well rounded care not just superb diagnostic skills. Beyond his doctoring skills, Do Han evolved to be more in touch with his own emotions and relationships. He became Shi On’s surrogate brother. The actor, Sang Wook, has a killer smile which the character flashed more as the series went on.
4. Everyone else. Frankly, every character mattered and contributed. I’m not sure I can say that about any other series I’ve watched.
Moments I Remember:
1. Preemie baby. I was emotionally hooked to this series with this character.
2. Shi On holding vigil and repairing the red dress. No one understood why he did this but he was undeterred even when directed to stop. In the end, the patient’s parents were deeply touched, and the other characters realized the gift Shi On provided. This was the most touching story of the series for me.
3. Shi On’s drawing on his apartment wall. The drawing represented those he loved and lost. Simply lovely.
4. Shi On’s setback after his father arrived. When the abuser from his past reentered his life it upset Shi On and affected his ability to practice medicine. With the support of the other characters and his own will, Shi On was able to get back on track but it wasn’t easy.
5. Brother relationship with Do Han. Initially Shi On viewed Chief Surgeon Do Han as a mentor. But through playing basketball with Do Han, giving a stethoscope to Do Han, etc. Shi On and Do Han forged a brother relationship. The evolution of their relationship was a joy to watch.
6. Shi On’s song to Chae Won. Chae Won overheard Shi On’s heartfelt declaration through this sweet song. The producer gave us a glimpse of what their future life could be like. How could Chae Won be anything but touched?
7.__Chae Won’s realization that she cared for Shi On as more than a friend. A simple moment of interaction garnered a reaction from Chae Won. She felt a physical response to him. She was surprised and didn’t ignore it. She took her time when she confessed her feelings.
Would I recommend this series? Definitely. Good Doctor delivered a rich story from start to finish. Throughout the series you experienced touching moments, tense moments, friendship moments, edge of your seat moments, romantic moments, and fun moments. Good Doctor delivered characters and actors with synergy who created a hospital medical team whose cohesive impact outweighed the individual stories of the doctors, nurses, patients, etc. And yes I’m ripping off Aristotle for that statement “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
Special shout out for the recommendation of this series to Mark Freburg . Thanks for the endorsement. I watch and blog episodes of series that catch my fancy. But I also watch other series “for fun” and write a review (almost always). This was a terrific “for fun” series.
The OST has 19 tracks. The primary songs were released in 6 parts over the series. See Dramawiki for details. Picking a favorite song was difficult. I’ll select “Looks Good” by Ha Dong Kyoon though “I’m Crying” by Baek Ji Young was a close second. The playlist has vocal songs and is embedded below or check it out via the link.
1. Miracle by Lee Young Hyun
2. I Am In Love by 2BiC
3. I’m Crying by Baek Ji Young
4. Looks Good by Ha Dong Kyoon
5. How Come You Don’t Know? by Kim Jong Gook
6. Love Medicine by Joo Won
7. Dacapo by All the Staff
8. Can You See? by Eye to Eye
9. If I Were by Joo Won
10. If I Were (sung by the character Shi On) by Joo Won
11. Green Mes Various Artists
12. Butterfly Various Artists
13. Savant Syndrome Various Artists
14. Shi On’s Dream Various Artists
15. Opening Theme Various Artists
16. Importance Five Stars Various Artists
17. Daily Life Various Artists
18. To My Partner Various Artists
19. From Heaven Various Artists