Friday, May 17, 2013

Dr Jin Review (2012)

Drama Rating: ***
Personal Rating: Decent

Similar to the jdrama Jin, the Korean series Dr Jin is also based on the Japanese manga although adapted to Korean historical events that happen in the Joseon Dynasty during the ascendency of King Gojong. Dr Jin is a modern day neurosurgeon who gets mysteriously transported back 150 years and begins to interact with the people there. Will he ever get back and what impact would he make on history?

*Spoiler warning*

This drama initially seemed quite promising but opened up a can of worms with the time travelling. The script flowed confidently during the first few episodes as though there would be a clear, well-thought-out explanation for it all. But as the series progressed, the number of flaws with the storyline began to accumulate. There were places where lines were added just for the sake of consuming time, the Minister of Finance was pretty much treated as a clown, a doctor and a former loan shark provided input for wartime battle strategies and even unrealistic medical procedures occurred (ie. Dr Hur saving the kid by tying two knots outside the body?). Most importantly, as a time travel drama, special care needed to be taken to ensure the logic and explanations made sense but this seemed like a bothersome point that the scriptwriter wasn't too keen on fully clearing up which affected the credibility of the storytelling.

Despite the issues with the script, the cast generally did a good job portraying the characters given to them. Song Seung Heon plays the titular Dr Jin decently although the scriptwriting made his character rather frustrating. On the one hand he continually preached to others about how he shouldn't do things to change the future and yet he continually did so himself. While there's nothing wrong with a character not practicing what he preaches (there are people like that), it does make the drama rather frustrating to watch. Park Min Young has certainly improved her acting skills since her stint as Kim Nana in City Hunter. Her character was certainly not overly difficult to act in this case but she did reasonably decent job. Most notable among the rest of the cast was Kim Jaejoong whose portrayal of Kim Kyung Tak actually exceeded my expectations.

The violin theme song between Dr Jin and Young Rae played a very prominent role throughout the series but felt rather cliche and designed to elicit feelings from the audience. The rest of the soundtrack was fairly standard kdrama fare that complemented the on-screen action fairly well but was otherwise unremarkable.

Although the primary story (to the scriptwriter anyway) generally seemed to be focused on the progression of history and the ascendency to power of Prince Heung Seon, the primary focus of the audience (or at least me) was more on how the time travel portion would be explained. While I haven't read the original manga, I wasn't too impressed by the explanation provided in the final episode as it left more open questions than answers. This was a shame because the cast actually did a decent job but they alone couldn't bridge the logical gaps in the script.

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