Saturday, December 27, 2014
The Great Doctor (live action TV series), via Netflix
I started watching this series after reading Hello Book, So Long Sleep's review of it. It had previously been in my Netflix queue, but I'd avoided it because Lee Min Ho was in it. Lee Min Ho played Goo Joon Pyo in Boys Over Flowers, and I was worried about having to watch another smirking jerk of a love interest. Thankfully, Choi Young, Lee Min Ho's character in The Great Doctor, was about as far from Goo Joon Pyo as you could get.
At the start of this series, King Gong Min and his new Queen are traveling together with Choi Young and several others as their body guards. The Queen is badly injured and their doctor is only able to slow the bleeding. Without help, she'll soon die. There are signs of the magical gate that a legendary great doctor is supposed to have used in the past, so the King sends Choi Young to find the great doctor. The gate takes Choi Young hundreds of years into the future, to our time (which he mistakes for Heaven), where he finds Yoo Eun Soo, a plastic surgeon. After wounding a random man similar to the way the Queen was wounded and making Eun Soo save him, Choi Young drags Eun Soo back through the gate.
Eun Soo is convinced, at first, that she's just at the set of some kind of elaborate movie, but she eventually realizes the truth. As she gradually adapts to life in this new and dangerous time, others learn of her existence and either want to use her for their own ends or to kill her. Meanwhile, Choi Young tries to fulfill his duty to his king while dealing with his growing feelings for Eun Soo and doing his best to keep the promise he made to help her get back to her own time.
This show was incredibly good. The Great Doctor has joined Coffee Prince and My Girlfriend is a Gumiho as one of my top favorite K-dramas. My only caveat is that Eun Soo is fairly annoying in the first four episodes. I only made it through those first few episodes because of Queen No Gook, who practically radiated “strong, proud royalty.” Park Se Young did an excellent job in that role.
King Gong Min was a fairly weak ruler, especially in the beginning. He was riddled with self-doubt and had a tendency to abuse those few who he felt could be trusted. He accomplished quite a bit throughout the series, but only with the help of a few trusted supporters, and I could see why the death of his Queen would completely wreck him (this takes place several years after the point where the show stops – I went searching on Wikipedia to get some more info about the people and time period). However, I absolutely adored the awkward and very formal romance that developed between him and his Queen. He initially hated Queen No Gook because she was a Princess of Yuan, the country where he'd been held hostage for years and which had control over Goryeo, his own country. Over time, they became incredibly close and loving, which definitely helped make up for how long it took for Choi Young and Yoo Eun Soo's romance to blossom. Court Lady Choi's enthusiasm for their relationship was so much fun.
I don't recall Lee Min Ho being all that attractive as Joon Pyo, but apparently personality matters a lot to me, because I had the biggest crush on Choi Young. He wasn't the greatest guy at the start of the show, kidnapping Eun Soo after badly wounding someone to force her to prove her abilities as a doctor. However, I quickly warmed up to him. He'd lived a hard, bloody life, and he was so stoic and bound by duty that it sometimes hurt to watch. Still, he was so good at what he did that it wasn't hard to believe he'd somehow figure out how to satisfy his duty to his king while at the same time helping Eun Soo, even if the situation seemed impossible. The little signs, here and there, that he was starting to fall in love with Eun Soo were wonderful, and I desperately wanted everything to work out for the two of them.
This show took me over a month to watch, mostly because I was worried the ending would be tragic. There were signs that Eun Soo would become separated from Choi Young, or that one or both of them would die. So I'll reassure anyone who might want to watch this and say “Yes, it ends happily.” Several beloved characters do die, so prepare yourself for that, but the romance between Choi Young and Eun Soo has a definite happy ending. I still don't quite understand how Eun Soo's actions didn't completely destroy the timeline (do we know if the real Choi Young ever married?), but I don't really care. My only complaint is that the ending felt a little rushed. I'd have liked to see more of Choi Young and Eun Soo together and happy.