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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Doctor Frost" Episode 5

2014/12/21

The mystery this episode involves a particularly interesting psychological phenomenon with all sorts of fun creative possibilities. Most detective procedurals work under the assumption that the human memory is a flawless mechanism for recreating past events. This, of course, isn't true at all. "Pinocchio" got a lot of mileage out of the fact that even a person who can't lie can still spread major falsehoods through making an erroneous assumption.

Nothing so dramatically intriguing happens in "Doctor Frost", unfortunately. The reason for the murder is clearly uncovered about halfway thorugh. And there, once again, lies the major problem in this drama. Doctor Frost can't psychoanalyze a corpse. It's really hard to make any kind of intriguing psychological analysis regarding the persistence of human memory when the only people who can directly discuss these memories are dead.

Irritatingly, the deaths are just played for transparent tragedy. One victim turns out to have a personal relationship with Seong-ah. That's nice, I guess, but have we ever actually seen this person before? It would be a lot easier to feel bad about people being maniplated into committing suicide if we actually knew something about who they were. In the limited context of the episode they just kind of come off like chumps. People who kill themselves typically put a lot of thought into it. Depression isn't just a switch that can be toggled on and off through secret code words.

This is probably the main reason why "Doctor Frost" is so frustrating. There's the clear pretension that the drama wants to explore psychological issues, but pretty much every episode has just been contorting itself to match the current psychological issue to a murder somehow. It renders all the dramatic situations completely implausible, thereby nullifying the main appealing story point the drama's high concept had in the first place. It's inconceivable, really, why "Doctor Frost" is so determined to undercut itself.

There's also the relationships between the long-term characters, but these are fairly undeveloped and unimpressive as well, given that these people only exist to move forward the plot points of the mystery. The ending too has a bizarre implication regarding Doctor Frost's backstory, making him seem like a character out of "Liar Game". To be clear, "Liar Game" has its strong points- its universe is at times bizarre, but always internally consistent. "Doctor Frost" is lacking in that, and it's hard to be optimistic about whatever the long term trajectory is going to end up being here.

Review by William Schwartz

"Doctor Frost" is directed by Seong Yong-il, written by Heo Ji-yeong adn features Song Chang-eui, Jung Eun-chae and Lee Yoon-ji.

 

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