Saturday, April 6, 2019

REVIEW: Quiz from God, Season 1 (live action TV series)

Quiz from God is a South Korean medical crime drama. This review is just for the first season, which is all I've seen so far. I watched it via Netflix


I forgot to write down characters' names and am therefore getting them from AsianWiki, so apologies if the name romanizations don't match the ones in Netflix.

This is a medical crime drama primarily focused on a genius young medical examiner who used to be a surgeon and who has just been assigned to a crime investigation team based in a university (I have no idea whether this setup would be considered believable to South Korean viewers, but it seemed odd to me). The team concentrates on murder cases that might in some way involve rare diseases or medical conditions, either on the part of the victim or the perpetrator - they perform second autopsies after initial investigations have failed. As the series progresses, it becomes apparent that the genius medical examiner, Han Jin-Woo, may have a rare medical condition of his own. He manages to successfully hide it from most of his colleagues, but a mysterious person who's secretly watching him and keeping tabs on him seems to know quite a bit about his illness and other aspects of his life and is willing to use that knowledge against him.

Until the last few episodes of the season, the series tends to focus on individual murder cases that are introduced and wrapped up in the space of a single episode.

I generally enjoy medical and crime dramas, so I figured this series would be right up my alley. Unfortunately, my viewing experience was marred by a less-than-stellar translation - the subtitles clearly could have used some polishing, and the dialogue tended to come across as more childish than I suspect it should have.

I also found the overall premise to be difficult to buy. Even if I did my best to accept it, several of the cases didn't initially seem to involve rare diseases or medical conditions, so why had they been sent to the investigation team in the first place?

While the overarching villain was indeed creepy, I had issues with a lot of the stuff that happened in the season's final episodes. For example, the heart rate monitor bit was ludicrous. Even if you took it at face value, what the heck was with that giant spike on the heart rate monitor? There was absolutely no need for that, and its existence should have meant that the character forced to wear it would have been in pain and bleeding for the rest of the series. Instead, he ran around like the giant spike he'd poked through his wrist was no big deal. Also, I couldn't help but worry about how close that spike must have been to his artery.

If I continue on with the show, it'll be because several of the medical mysteries were enjoyable to watch get solved, and I enjoyed the Han Jin-Woo and Kang Kyeong-Hee pair-up.

As with shows like House, M.D., I found the medical aspects of this series to be interesting, although I'm sure that more than a few of the conditions covered weren't 100% accurately depicted. Some of the depictions might even have been problematic - I recognized some potentially problematic phrasing around the few mentions of autism, for example.

Many of the storylines could potentially have been included in similar US TV shows, but that wasn't always the case. For example, one episode focused on a woman who died after falling asleep in her room with the fan on and her window closed. From what I could gather, there must be some kind of South Korean superstition about this. One of the members of the team felt the death confirmed that superstition, while another member of the team was bound and determined to prove that something else resulted in the woman's death. A similar US TV series example would probably be something like an entire episode focused on the sudden death of someone who swam less than 30 minutes after eating.

Jin-Woo's relaxed, playful, and occasionally childish nature was a little annoying (there were times when I felt he should have behaved in a more professional manner), but thankfully he was balanced out by the very professional and no-nonsense Kang Kyeong-Hee. I could see that Jin-Woo was supposed to be the brain to Kyeong-Hee's brawn, but the writing didn't always support that as well as it could have. There were times when Kyeong-Hee did things that I don't think a supposedly tough and experienced cop should have done. At any rate, this was one of the few South Korean dramas I've watched with almost no romance, but the end of this first season indicated that things would be changing in the second.

I'm still not sure if this is going to be the only season of this series that I watch. It might be fun to see Jin-Woo and Kyeong-Hee try to solve medical murder mysteries while simultaneously exploring their newly developed romantic relationship. That said, I have lots of other things sitting in my Netflix queue that could potentially be better.

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