JTBC is truly the ruler of 2020 in terms of kdrama quality; I’d say the majority of their dramas were thoughtful and fun to watch. “The Good Detective” is one of those good good kdramas of 2020 and is on my list as one of the best of 2020, and I am here to explain why and talk about why I think you should give it a try.
Note: this is a subjective spoiler-free review but I’ll try my best to include others opinions while discussing my own.
Screenwriter Choi Jin Won has worked on many kdramas across the years but this is the first time I watched one of his projects and I must say, for the majority, the plot made sense and was concise in its delivery, the major details were all well thought out and at the end connected beautifully. Writing concise scripts isn’t easy and when writing a script about police and murder, logic or common sense often takes a backseat but I felt that “The Good Detective” has done a good job making this process seem so real.
Kdramas about police and murder investigations have been a staple in our community, however, over the years, I felt that the newer projects didn’t have the same impact the old ones had, I think it mainly had to do with the repetitiveness aspect and how all investigations become alike the more kdramas you watch about such topic. “The Good Detective” avoided becoming that, and successfully managed to grow each episode and became one of the hit JTBC dramas of 2020.
I wouldn’t say that “The Good Detective” has the most popular cast members but the performances and the script itself was so good that people stuck around regardless. The reason this drama wasn’t particularly popular is because the lead actors aren’t that well-known internationally, the main lead is an ahjussi actor, Son Hyun Joo, who many of you will remember in “Itaewon Class,” he played Park Seo Joon’s father.
Kdramas about murder are usually well-made in terms of directing, editing and performances, the issue I find is always with the script. “The Good Detective” really stands out from the rest of the pack because it presents a more realistic approach to detectives.
The drama doesn’t try so hard to make you like the characters, and at first, they show you how flawed police can be and how human greed can ruin so many lives, it doesn’t try so hard to portray the lead detective as this moral standard best guy that you usually encounter in kdramas. I was pleasantly surprised by that.
The script continuously got better; it didn’t go downhill or slow down during the second half, it got a bit confusing in the middle but it remained fun. My guess is, Screenwriter Choi Jin Won either completed his work before shooting a good portion of the drama or he had a solid idea about how he wanted the drama to play out, the script is consistent enough for me to make this assumption.
“The Good Detective” doesn’t try to paint people as pure evil or good, it’s a gray area that many of us navigate, no one is 100% good or 100% bad and I liked that message, people can be good in so many areas but also bad in others enough to cloud our judgment of how their sins should be handled/prosecuted. It has a lot of life lessons included and I always appreciate it when kdramas do that.
Out of the majority of 2020 kdramas, I’d say “The Good Detective” had one of the better scripts, anyone who appreciates well-written scripts, like me, will like this one.
As I said previously, “The Good Detective” characters are interesting humans, the lead detective played by Son Hyun Joo isn’t that likeable at first but he had a good character arc and goes through good development throughout the drama runtime.
However, one of my slight complaints has to do with the second lead played by Jang Seung Jo. Aside from Son Hyun Joo’s character, I felt that the other characters didn’t have much of a chance to grow and evolve throughout the drama, I wanted to see more and to know more about them, especially about Jang Seung Jo, Oh Jung Se and Lee Elijah, their characters are sometimes purposefully vague and mysterious but I felt that they became tools for Son Hyun Joo’s character rather than independent characters.
It won’t mess much with your viewing experience but since I liked this drama so much and I liked both Jang Seung Jo and Lee Elijah characters, I would’ve loved to see more of them and to see them evolve as characters even more. The writing definitely lacked in that department, the only character that I’d say gets properly fleshed out is Son Hyun Joo’s.
Character growth for the majority of the supporting characters was kept to minimal especially for Jang Seung Jo’s character. Lee Elijah’s character also felt so replaceable and had nothing particularly special or interesting about it.
The drama describes Jang Seung Jo’s character as the guy who got a lot of money through inheritance, this very random ‘trait’ is just there but it could’ve been used so much better, it just kinda felt like the writer wrote it down for the sake of making Jang Seung Jo’s character stand out from other characters in other kdramas about the same topic.
Oh Jung Se plays the bad guy and I thought casting him was a complete waste of talent, he could have done so much better but the character felt two dimensional and very bland, almost like a prop. He is a seriously underrated terrific actor who could’ve shown so much more had he been given the opportunity to do so.
“The Good Detective” is a goal-driven kdrama and sometimes, all characters feel slightly robotic and two dimensional as if they’re there to serve a purpose rather than exist on their own. I like goal-driven plots but seriously felt that the characters needed more work.
The characters grew on me with time; they all had characteristics that could be interpreted badly but the more I got to know them, the more I grew attached to them, they became a part of my Monday-Tuesday routine.
There is nothing I can say about anyone’s performance other than AMAZING. Every single actor perfectly embodied their character and helped bring it to life, and even when some characters felt very disposable and irrelevant, the actors performances gave them life and purpose.
Having said that, none of the performances were outstanding to me and I know many will not agree with this, but let me explain.
I enjoyed the drama a lot but the majority of the characters were easily forgettable, they’re not unique enough to remain in my memory as some of the other interesting characters I had seen in 2020 kdramas.
I think the reason is the way they were written, they felt like props. Son Hyun Joo’s character was the most memorable certainly and I’d say actor Jo Jae Yun as well.
He had a very difficult character to do and he did tremendously well. I think he gave one of the best performances by a supporting character in 2020.
Should I watch this drama?
“The Good Detective” is an interesting kdrama and you guys know that I am very picky with what I watch till the end, if you usually follow my blog and like my recommendations, then you’ll like this one too.
I must say I am slightly biased towards crime dramas because I personally like fast paced dramas, to those who prefer romance and slower kdramas, this might not be the best choice. If you don’t usually enjoy such content [crime, prosecution], you will likely not enjoy this either.
Some people might also be afraid of seeing such kdramas because they tend to be a bit graphic [sometimes], it all depends on you, if you like such type of content, you’ll probably appreciate this drama.
So these are my thoughts on “The Good Detective.” If you’ve seen it let me know what you thought of it in the comment section below and if you haven’t but did so because of this, I’d like to hear your opinion about it after you watch it.