Its not an underestimate to say that “Doctor Lawyer” was one of the most anticipated kdramas of 2022, however, as episodes aired, it became apparent to me that I set my expectations high, a bit too high…
Note: the below review is subjective. It tackles only the first half of the drama. If you can’t handle reading opinions that differ from yours, this is your sign.
“Doctor Lawyer” marks So Ji Sub’s first drama in four years and his first following his marriage news. He’s been absent for a while now, and we’ve missed him dearly. The rest of the cast as well as the supporting cast is one of the strongest from a kdrama this year, so how could this have gone wrong? How?
Let me discuss below!
“Doctor Lawyer” is written by Jang Hong-Cheol, who only has one other credit to his name which is already a bit concerning but not to pass judgment, I was still excited because I liked the actors involved in this project. I also thought that So Ji Sub would have picked a very good script for his first drama in 4 years.
“Doctor Lawyer” has many plot holes to the point that it is quite distracting and sometimes, a bit funny because it feels so jarring. Let me explain.
One of the first big plot holes in the drama happens in the premiere weeks’ episodes, when Yi Han places the same heart he had already put into another person. Purely from a common sense point of view, it makes no sense how he couldn’t recognize this heart had stitches or anything that indicates its been ‘dealt’ with previously. Even if we let go of this and it turns out this isn’t an issue in medicine, there are still too many other plot points that are honestly puzzling.
Another example would be how distrusting Seok-Young is of Yi Han even though she had been dating him for 10 years. You’d think a woman with these characteristics assigned to her to have some faith in him but thats not the case.
The drama has many other similar plot points that either fails to make sense in the grand scheme of things or fail to follow common-sense guidelines we humans usually abide by.
Granted, suspension of disbelief is needed in certain dramas, this one not only presents itself so seriously but also deals with happenings that are in the realm of the reality we live in. Thus, its only expected there would be less room for us to suspend our disbelief.
“Doctor Lawyer” also has an issue with pacing that will likely only become worse as time goes by. Each week, the two episodes are split into two parts, an hour and a half of mostly boring happenings, and a solid half-hour of actual fun. Thus, it makes the watching experience very difficult because you struggle to get through the tedious part before arriving at what actually matters and whats actually fun. The drama felt like a chore to me at times rather than a fun ride. I want to support my fav actors but I also have a limit.
Aside from that, “Doctor Lawyer” doesn’t feel like it needs this many episodes. 16 for a revenge drama is too much these days. MBC has been very slow in adopting the shorter format. I understand the limitations and concerns but I’d rather watch a 10-episode fun compact drama than a drawn-out 16-episode drama that has a supposedly good idea. Even a good idea can get easily lost in that 16-episode format.
And the thing is…. The screenwriter makes it feel like its not that difficult to take Goo Jin-Ki down. The hero gets so close to achieving that only for the villain to return from it almost by sheer dumb luck. The way they conduct business and handle themselves leaves so much room for error that can be exploited yet our hero fails. You can tell they always go back to point zero because the screenwriter says so. This also ties to the next points I plan on discussing, the characters and their motivations.
Note: The below is a discussion of the characters not the actors in case you’re confused.
Some of the characters of “Doctor Lawyer” are either boring or not very charming.
My biggest concern is with Yi Han, he’s very…. He’s the opposite of what you’d expect from a hero who is supposed to take on an empire for revenge. He doesn’t have that urge or that ‘feel’ that proves he’s so serious about it. Also, at times, what is supposed to be a very smart character behaves stupidly. As in, the character makes stupid decisions that don’t make any sense.
Yi Han is supposed to have prepared for his revenge for 5 years. You’d assume with the time he dedicated to this he must have accounted for the many possible scenarios, but it almost seems like he has no idea how to carry out his plan at times and is merely going with the flow.
He met Jayden by accident, from his point of view. I highly doubt he accounted for that. He’s helped him out a lot and if it weren’t for him, a variable, he would have been crushed already.
And its not even that the screenwriter is writing this to show you that some type of people are not suited for revenge or that they can f* up at some points. Even when he screws up, its just forgotten and we move on as if it was nothing.
Geum Seok-Young is also not charming as a character and I feel she also lacks depth or much development too. Two of the main characters are very bland and it makes it difficult for me to enjoy it as much as I would like.
The characters that are interesting are Jayden and Im Yoo Na. Jayden is basically the person who runs the show. The screenwriter did well with the writing of his character and without him, it would have been a very difficult show to watch. I’ll talk about the casting later, but know that the casting either helped or hindered some characters.
Im Yoona is also a fun ambiguous character and because Jayden exists, she’s getting ‘dangerous’ too. Both aren’t necessarily trying to be likable but they’re charming and also feel like ticking time bombs.
Jayden appears to have some hidden agenda and its been fun watching him just shock everyone around him with his behavior.
All in all, “Doctor Lawyer” characters mostly do little of service for the plot with the exception of Jayden. Most of them lack any meaningful/well thought out arc that would make me care about what happens to them.
“Doctor Lawyer” has a good cast, for the most part. Even on the supporting side, we have some very notable big names so it should have been a walk in the part but it isn’t.
If you guys recall, I said in the premiere review of “Doctor Lawyer” that So Ji Sub’s acting here is a bit surprising. I sensed hesitation back then and I expected it to go away after that. I thought he might have felt too pressured or was just warming up so it should go away but it didn’t. I still see hints of doubt in his eyes and sometimes, just pure calm with no energy.
His character is supposed to be dead on seeking revenge but his demeanor and energy suggests otherwise. I know he is a good actor. I have watched him for 10 years… it pains me to see him like this.
Added to that, he is not on the same energy level as Shin Sung Rok. In their first scenes together, Shin Sung Rok gives a beautiful theatrical performance while Ji Sub just stands there… those scenes felt so jarring… I was stunned.
I even noticed that Shin Sung Rok toned down his energy considerably in later episodes. Now I don’t know why he did that but he actually did well because the difference was too much. He stole all the spotlight from him.
Aside from that, a point I haven’t seen people talk about is the synergy between the actors in this project. I don’t see much of it here. Of course, I have no idea why thats the case but I can see it doesn’t exist. It feels like everyone is acting on a separate faraway location. No chemistry and no synergy.
So Ji Sub and Lim Soo-Hyang also share no chemistry which is an issue. Luckily, Shin Sung Rok and Lee Joo-Bin are the only ones who seem like they’re on the same page but even that is not enough to save this drama.
In the premiere episodes review, I’ve previously touched on my thoughts on Lim Soo-Hyang’s acting, they’re still the same and in fact, some of it was reinforced watching her here. I will not repeat them, you can read it there.
Shin Sung Rok definitely steals the spotlight and is the ‘key’ character to make this entire thing work. He approaches his character with so much passion and its fun to see him take on such a role.
Lee Joo-Bin has come on my radar recently, she also gave an amazing performance in “Money Heist” and she’s unrecognizable here. An amazing talent.
Lee Dong-Ha also gives a good performance here. The rest are good as per usual.
Disappointing does not mean ‘bad’ but it means it fell short of expectations in my eyes. “Doctor Lawyer” has some good points going for it but if I pause and examine the script, characters, and performances, there are so many parts that are incomplete or need more work. The sum of some of its good parts does not cover the other bad parts it has.
I had high expectations going in and wasn’t expecting to be surprised by it. At worst, I expected it to be a regular revenge drama but that doesn’t even feel like its the right term to describe it. Its trying to be, but I don’t think its being done successfully.
And of course, there is a chance “Doctor Lawyer” can turn it around. If it does, I’ll definitely talk about it. I don’t see it happening but why not have some hope it will.
So these are my thoughts on “Doctor Lawyer”, so what about you guys? did you like the episodes? let me know what you thought in the comment section below.