The medical drama is a tough genre to pull off successfully.
The series needs to be real, but not too gory, humane, but not too sappy, and chock full of likeable characters.
The plot has to have enough believability to keep viewers from having difficulty buying into it.
It’s no cakewalk, which is why it is fascinating to see directors, scriptwriters and thespians tackle the genre over and over again.
MBC’s latest stab at the genre, “Golden Time,” is looking to refresh audiences with “bright,” “cheery” and “goofy” characters in an ER-setting.
“Pasta” actor Lee Sun-gyun, who plays a jaded intern in the series, said at the drama’s press conference in Seoul on Monday, “My character is very free-spirited and goofy.”
“I’m having a good time playing him,” the 37-year old actor added.
Of his decision to cast “High Kick 2” actress Hwang Jung-eum in the role of a medical intern, “Golden Time” director Kwon Seok-jang said, “I wanted a character who gave a bright and cheery facet to the series and Hwang Jung-eum had that.”
|The cast of MBC’s “Golden Time” ― (from left to right) Song Sun-mi, Lee Sun-gyun, Hwang Jung-eum, Lee Sung-min ― attend the drama’s press conference in Seoul, Monday. (Kim Myung-sub/The Korea Herald)|
“That sort of bright and silly quality gives elasticity to the drama,” Kwon added, referring to Hwang’s role as an upbeat intern who learns about the harsh realities and responsibilities that come with being a doctor.
Hwang, who rose to fame as a cute and girly tutor in MBC’s “High Kick 2,” said something along the same lines when describing her character, adding that the heroine she plays is “very passionate.”
Certainly, Hwang and Lee play a large role in adding a bubbly, slightly offbeat vibe to the series, but it is director Kwon who will prove crucial to spinning out a drama that has both feather-light, slightly comedic moments and intense, serious moments as well.
Though Kwon is known for romantic comedies like MBC’s sleeper hit “Pasta” and the less-successful “My Princess,” he does not put out slow-paced fare, according to Lee.
Lee, who worked with Kwon on “Pasta,” said, “I have worked with the director on ‘Pasta’ before and his dramas have this tempo, a tempo that is faster than the average drama. Given that this is a medical drama, I think the tempo is several times faster than the standard series.”
With MBC’s track record of popular medical dramas like “White Tower” and “New Heart,” it should come as no surprise that the broadcaster is returning to the genre.
The plot of the series, “Golden Time,” rides primarily on its two leads, Lee Sun-gyun and Hwang Jung-eum.
Lee plays an intern who wanted it easy and is jolted out of apathy when a traumatic incident forces him to rethink why he wanted to be a doctor in the first place.
Hwang plays an intern whose initial dream is to become a housewife with a part-time job until she slowly discovers that her real passion lies in the realm of medicine.
The whole process of awakening from a moment of jaded apathy or lack of self-awareness is nothing viewers have not seen before.
What will matter is how compelling Lee and Hwang will be at fully realizing their characters’ internal dilemmas and moments of enlightenment onscreen, and how well director Kwon will helm a drama that should have audiences gripping at the edge of their seats, cheering those doctors on.
“Golden Time” starts airing July 9 on MBC on Monday and Tuesday nights at 9:55 p.m.
By Jean Oh (firstname.lastname@example.org)