For a series which has a name as its title, I was surprised that there isn't a character in the new SBS K-drama Dr. Champ called Dr. Champ. Buffy the Vampire Slayer had Buffy Summers. My name is Earl had Earl Hickey as the protagonist, Veronica Mars had Veronica Mars, and even iCarly had of course, Carly with the twee voice. Halfway through the first episode, my mind was yelling, "When are they gonna introduce Dr. Champ? Where the heck is he?" After watching the pilot, I then realized how much of a noob I am. The series is aptly named Dr. Champ because this medical drama essentially follows the lives of doctors and athletes in Taerung Olympic Village -- their passion and dedication to their craft, and the path they have to tread as they overcome obstacles and push themselves to be their own individual champions. Uh, right, SBS?
Okay. Let's meet Dr. Kim Yeon Woo (played by the wonderful Kim So Yeon) -- a smart and hardworking resident at the teaching hospital of Hankook who gets to show her spunky side by kicking her male colleagues' kneecaps and ruffling their hair whenever she feels like it. Although not a graduate of the prestigious Hankook University, she was able to pass her medical residency through sheer intelligence and diligence, subsequently gaining the respect of the chief surgeon, Dr. Seo. Alas, our feisty heroine gets involved in a medical malpractice cover up by Dr. Seo, and torn between her ambition and morals, she chooses the latter. As a result, she was tersely given the boot. Adding to all the histrionics is her cheating jerk of a boyfriend as well as a family who is still in debt from her student loans.
Our next character is Judo athlete Park Ji Heon (Jung Gyu Woon). There is still much to be explored about his back story -- dead brother, antagonistic and unsupportive sister-in-law, etc. but it is established that he is a cool uncle to his nephew and more importantly, he is a dedicated athlete with insanely awesome pecs, delts, and abs! And he's not afraid to show them! Nooo sir. SBS has him pulling off a Jacob every now and then -- not that I'm complaining. Why would I? Too many hot athletes in this drama! Someone give me oxygen!
A fortuitous meeting involving a purse, a pickpocket, and a balloon lantern, establishes a bond between the doctor and the good-hearted athlete. Kim even treats Park's necrotic leg by grabbing a scalpel and incising the necrotic muscle without giving him a proper warning or come to think of it, proper anesthesia. I don't know about you, but an incision with that length, oozing with that blood, gave me the creeps while watching this scene. The medicine woman's quick thinking saves Park Ji Heon from becoming an amputee and makes him all the more smitten with her. So much so that while still recuperating in the hospital, with nothing but a hospital gown on, he borrows his patient-roomie's clothes (Ewww! Transfer of BO alert!), then invites her out on a date. It's the beginning of a cute, sweet, and funny relationship. (Not ha-ha-hilarious funny but more of, tee hee funny.)
Enter Dr. Lee Do Wook (Uhm Tae Woong), a cane-wielding, sarcastic, cantankerous, but brilliant doctor from Johns Hopkins whom the Taerung Olympic Village hires as its new medical director. Yeah I know, the comparison between House and Lee is inevitable with the latter even popping pills into his mouth in a very House-like manner. Nonetheless, I love Uhm Tae Woong and I like me some McMeany lovin'. So yeah, no fuss over here because that's two for the price of one! Wootness!! :)
Dr. Lee quickly assumes leadership of the medical board and makes the necessary reformations. He also meets an old flame; swimming coach Kang Hee Young (Cha Rye Yun) with whom, it seems, he still carries a torch for -- courtesy of a steamy, HOT HOT HOT-I-tell-you, pool scene flashback.
|Geez, get a room people!|
Meanwhile, our heroine is having a hard time finding another job, not because she doesn't have the proper credentials but because every hospital in the entire Korean peninsula is afraid of getting the ire of Dr. Seo, Yeon's ex-mentor. She goes back to her former hospital and confronts her ex-boss, just within Lee's earshot. Our protagonist doctors then chance upon each other on the elevator ride going down and Lee just basically gives her unsolicited advice on how doctors should always stick together, that she shouldn't have ratted out her colleagues -- going as far as reminding her of the "colleague as my sibling" part in the Hippocratic oath, and to consider changing careers since no one is going to hire her anyway. Mistaking him for a patient, she delivers a snappy comeback which somehow amuses him (love the smirk!). Their quick verbal exchange is witty and hilarious. Hee! Elevator scenes are always the best! :)
So Kim's jerkass, doctor ex-boyfriend isn't useless after all. He goes after her before she can leave the hospital and helpfully informs her that the Olympic Village is in need of a physician. She lashes out at him and tells him that she will never, nope, na'ah, no way, forget it, over her dead body, ever work in Taerung. Dr. Lee, of course, hears all this. We don't know if he's insulted or not, or if he actually feels some sympathy for Kim, but one thing's for sure -- this feisty young doctor has certainly caught his interest.
Finally, after numerous job rejections with self-pity and hopelessness starting to gnaw in on her, Kim decides to give herself pneumonia by getting soaked in the rain. LOL! K-dramas and their fake rain! :) No seriously, she reconsiders and applies for the post of physician at the Olympic Village. And then on the day of interview... (insert three dun sound effect here), she sees Lee among the panel members (gak!). WHO.. WHA...TH-TH-THAT CRIPPLED SCHMUCK IS A DOCTOR??? He sits down, then gives our home girl the eye, seemingly saying, "Yes, I am the awesome Dr. Lee Do Wook, medical chief of this facility, and the guy you humiliated in the elevator. YOU. ARE. SO. SCREWED!" Oh Kim Yeon Woo, what ever are you going to do now?
I'm really liking this series. Dr. Champ is intelligent, funny, witty, pleasant to the eyes, and surprisingly, fast-paced. The musical score in itself, is very refreshing and toe-tappingly sweet. It is realistic enough to be accessible yet whimsically light enough to continue to strike that balance as a medical drama and a human story. Though I cringe a bit at some of the show's medical inaccuracies, the scenes are very well done -- clever writing, great acting, and very well-directed. And good call on the charming ensemble casting! I'm crossing my fingers that Dr. Champ maintains its' high following and I'm already hoping for, and looking forward to the next episodes.
Dr. Champ! Hwaiting! ♥♥♥