The popular drama Good Doctor has aired its final episode on 8 October 2013. 1st Year Resident Park Shi On, who was an autistic savant, manged to overcome the prejudice of people telling him that certain things are out of his limits. The drama ended with Park Shi On entering the peak of not only his professional life but also his love life.
It is little known that when KBS was first writing the script for Good Doctor, it was in the same precarious situation as Park Shi On. There was no broadcasting station was willing to take on a mini series written by a relatively unknown and non established writer, actors who has the skill but no star power as lead actors and characters that constantly create trouble, Many were doubtful that this drama could ever succeed.
This worry was like a joke. From the start of its broadcast on 5th August 2013 to the final episode, Good Doctor was always first in viewership ratings. Although there was not even one scene of a passionate kiss between the main couple, the viewership ratings nonetheless continued to increase steadily. Just as Park Shi On managed to overcome the prejudice he faced, Good Doctor overcame all the difficulties it faced and proved that itself to be an experience worth remembering.
We take a look at several themes in the drama below.
1. Television Drama: The script is the life of the drama
In the extremely competitive drama production market, Good Doctor enjoyed an early streak of good luck when it managed to secure the Monday-Tuesday drama slot with KBS2. This drama had no star writer and no actor who could guarantee that he or she would be able to solely carry the entire drama and raise its quality. Good Doctor was an anti-stereotype piece of work that didn’t contain any of the usual elements of a hit drama.
What was especially of concern was the lifeline of dramas – the script. No one trusted writer Park Jae Bum to be able to handle the lifeline. Although he had written all three season of OCM’s God’s Quiz and had a lot of experience in writing for medical dramas, this was only his first attempt at writing for a 20 episodes mini series drama whichw as to be broadcast on the big stations. It was only natural that people were worried.
Despite the various concerns, the team behind Good Doctor had said confidently before the drama’s broadcast: “Good Doctor is a very excellent project. It will prove that our country doesn’t necessarily need to rely only on famous writers and actors to be able to produce a good drama. Good Doctor’s success reinforced the point that before a drama can succeed, a good and solid script is a condition precedent.
2. Regardless of what is said, success is also achieved through talented actors
As mentioned above, Korea’s dramas rely heavily upon A List male actors to carry the drama through. For an actor to be considered by the PD as a “Production Actor”, he had to be able to guarantee a basic level of viewership ratings and also had to have international marketability. In the early stages when Good Doctor was first casting actors, there were many discussions on using a “Production Actor” for the role of Park Shi On. However, these discussions came to naught.
Eventually, Joo Won was casted for the Role of Park Shi On. Joo Won had previously acted in several KBS2 dramas such as Baker King Kim Tak Gu, Ojakyo Brothers and noir drama Bridal Mask. Joo Won managed to bring to life each of his characters and his acting skills won wide recognition. However, for a lead role which even the writer, PD and actors felt was difficult to portray, many were of the opinion that Joo Won did not yet have the delicate acting skills needed for the role. Fortunately, this worry was swept away following the first broadcast of Good Doctor. Joo Won’s expression, posture, manner of walking and speaking were all perfectly mimicking the mannerisms the autistic Park Shi On should have, shocking everyone with his extraordinary acting skills. Joo Won once again proved that the most important qualification an actor should possess is acting skills.
A PD has said: “As one of the recent rising stars in their 20s, Joo Won has once again bested himself through Good Doctor.”
3. A drama without the usual cliche storyline can also be loved by the audience
In KBS2’s Gag Concert’s King of Drama segment, Park Sung Gwang parodies a production company CEO demanding for cliche storylines to be added to the plot when viewership ratings are dropping. Adding in scenes that are ridiculous and exciting will allow viewership ratings to rise. Although the parody is funny, many in the industry have said that the parody has accurately pointed out an unlaughable fact that exists in the industry.
The cliche storylines include dramas that always have a 2nd generation chaebol, birth secrets, villains who always torture the kind hearted lead character and many other exaggerated scenes built in to excite emotions. Even if the writing reaches the state where viewer are scolding the plot for turning out to be so cliche, they can’t help but keep on watching. Cliche dramas take up a majority of the drama market in Korea. On the presence of the large number of cliched dramas, an industry expert said: “It’s because the viewers like it so much. If you really want these dramas to vanish, all you have to do is to not watch it.”
Amongst the many dramas produced each year, Good Doctor which contained no cliche storyline managed to prove that a daram’s quality can affect viewership ratings. Good Doctor has thus been appraised as a “Kind Drama”. Good doctor’s success reflects the fact that Korea’s drama viewers preference for dramas is also changing. We hope that Good Doctor will be able to perform a butterfly effect and start the end of cliched dramas.
4. Medical Dramas will never be out of vogue
There is a saying in dramaland that “Medical dramas will never be dead”, which is proof of how much Koreans love this topic. This is evident in the success of dramas such as General Hospital, White Tower, Surgeon Bong Dal Hee, Golden Time and Brain. Good Doctor is no exception, gaining first place in viewership ratings for all 20 episodes aired.
Further, Good Doctor opened a new arena for medical dramas. As the first drama to build a framework aroun pediatric surgeons, an autistic main character, healing patients and adding a mix of, it has found success with the viewers. Good Doctor has managed to break the limits of a typical medical drama and is a boost to Korea’s medical dramas which are currently on the decline.
After Good Doctor, MBC’s new drama Medical Top Team will be the next medical drama to air. The first broadcast of Medical Top Team will be on 9 October. Will this drama be able to continue the Good Doctor “Medical dramas will never be dead” legend?
Following the end of Good Doctor, the drama that will air in its timeslot on 14 October is Marry Him If You Dare/Future’s Choice which co stars Yoon Eun Hye, Lee Dong Gun and Jung Yonghwa.
Chinese translation by smilez1230 @ 韩版gooddoctor吧
English translation by Mojobobo @ Soompi Forums