First Thoughts on Doctor Frost

Well this is a show I could get into very, very easily. Doctor Frost’s first episode is a teensy bit underwhelming as we’re teased with far more than we get, but it remains firmly on my watchlist. I’ll definitely be recapping this one though the recaps might be a bit late what with all I have on my plate. The first episode largely focuses on our characters, through the lens of their first case that is.

The premise is intriguing in and of itself, a newly appointed psychology professor (with a side job as a bartender) consults with the police on solving a variety of cases, along with his spunky assistant.
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His deductions are prized as Doctor Frost (named so due to his prematurely snow white hair) is a master at reading people. Umm…so was this whom they hired when HWJ left the university? This similarity between characters is made all the more amusing by the fact that Lee Sang Yoon and Sang Chang Eui are best friends. But that’s where the resemblance ends, Doctor Frost, unlike the wonderful HWJ, is apparently incapable of feeling emotion in any way. That works well for him in some ways as he views every situation objectively, and rationally. On the other hand, it does make him quite oblivious to how proper interpersonal reactions go. That is, he cares rather little for when the proper time is to reveal or say something, and coldly proceeds with his own agenda. Or the police’s rather, Frost doesn’t seem to have an agenda of his own. Yet.

It’s hella difficult to play a character like for the simple reason that it’s hard for him to come off as human, or be relatable in every manner. This isn’t your average I’m-pretending-to-not-care-about-the-world-when-all-I-need-is-a-pretty-woman-to-need-my-help sort of scenario. The fellow literally feels nothing. Happiness, sorrow, absolutely nothing. As such, Song Chang Eui really has his work cut out for him in this role as he can’t even show the slightest hint of a smile. (It’s a shame though, seeing what a lovely smile he has!) He simply clinically observes, and comments, without a care in the world. But there’s more behind that constantly ticking mind as we see early on in the show.

Dr. SONG SUN, whom we still don’t know much of, is blatantly against Dr. Frost’s (also called Dr. Baek) appointment, saying that he enjoys playing with others’ emotions and is a murderer. Wait what? (Ha Woo Jin, is that you?)
vlcsnap-2014-11-30-09h25m45s159 vlcsnap-2014-11-30-09h25m47s185 vlcsnap-2014-11-30-09h26m13s188 vlcsnap-2014-11-30-09h26m22s17 vlcsnap-2014-11-30-09h26m48s20 That does seem a little harsh, and melodramatic seeing that the fellow surely can’t enjoy play with emotion with he can’t feel it. But he does appear to have been responsible for a murder seven years ago (or so we’re told), seeing how he keeps imagining a girl speaking to him, asking why he came back.
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Rather than having killed someone, I believe some mistake of his led to the death.  Dr. Song flashes back to finding the dead girl in a bathtub with her wrists slit. Suicide? The girl appears to have been quite close to Dr. Song as she essentially states that there’s no way in hell that she’s going to be working with Frost. Dr. CHEON SANG WON, the head of the Depart of Psychology for the university merely sighs, stating that he wants Forst to know more of human emotion. I suppose that makes sense seeing the disdain Frost appears to have for emotion in general. The show gives us these tantalizing glimpses into the past which hurriedly end as we focus on the first case. It’s a shame as I find the character vastly more interesting than the case in question (though the case is fascinating in its own right).

Assistant YOON SUNG AH, who’s here on a scholarship rounds out our three main characters. She’s a student at the university and serves as the sole assistant in the university’s counseling center (of which Frost is now the head). Once again, we have startling similarities between her and NDJ, in their kindness and strong urge to help others. YSA differs in that she’s way less reserved, and is quite proficient at judo. Frost actually catches sight of her prior to their official meeting and dismisses her as “the exhausting type”.
vlcsnap-2014-11-30-09h30m37s248 vlcsnap-2014-11-30-09h30m44s81 She, on the other hand, upon hearing of him believes there’s  no way that someone who lacks all emotion would ever be appointed as a counselor.
vlcsnap-2014-11-30-09h31m58s49 vlcsnap-2014-11-30-09h32m08s151 Their subsequent meeting as professor and assistant is then all the more hilarious. This essentially sets the tone for the remainder of their interactions. She treats him with grudging respect with bursts of annoyance at his disregard for other’s feelings, and he treats her with…well…nothing…no emotion right?
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He merely leaves whenever he feels like she’s being annoying. Which is often. But their interactions are characterized by this wry humour that’s super entertaining.
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(It’s even funnier when you hear the absolutely serious manner in which he says it and her subsequent peeved reaction)
vlcsnap-2014-11-30-10h45m01s102Oddly enough, it’s Frost that sets the tone with his manner of speech. I foresee some hi-jinks ahead with these two!vlcsnap-2014-11-30-10h50m58s92 vlcsnap-2014-11-30-10h50m59s105 vlcsnap-2014-11-30-11h12m45s107
(Ouch! Harsh but true)

Dramabeans does cover the entirety of the first case (which was pretty well plotted) over here:
http://www.dramabeans.com/2014/11/dr-frost-episode-1/
so I won’t go into the details for now. Yet if all the cases continue to go this way then there’s no doubt that we’ve a winner on our hands. My only issue with this show is the same one that I have with God’s Quiz. I enjoy what’s going on with the characters far, far more than whatever the cases are (no matter how brilliant). But the beauty of the show lies in the little hints they sneak in here and there and tease you with throughout the episode, with everything cumulating in the final two episodes. It really keeps you on edge, and there’s no doubt and I’ll be sticking around for it.

Choi Jung Woo who played mentor to the cheeky Doctor Han in God’s Quiz’s first three seasons continues to be an OCN staple, here as Dr. Cheon. I’m not sure if there’s more to him bringing Dr. Frost back besides the whole learning emotions bit, but he does appear to have Frost’s best interests at heart. Dr. Song is an enigma so far. Enemy? Friend? Ex-lover? (now that would be a hoot seeing how Frost is)Should be interesting enough to find out. Detective Nam aka Cha Sung Won’s partner in You’re All Surrounded, appears as though he’s stepped out of said drama and appears to be nothing more than precisely what he is, Doctor Frost’s police buddy.

It’s almost a pity that this in the form of a show, rather than say, a book, as the cases would work brilliantly in book form, keeping you guessing until the last minute. The problem with having this in show format (the sole problem really) is that the camera tends of focus on tiny bits and pieces during scenes. Objects that we know are going to be important later on, and therefore pay more attention to now. It’s a damn shame, as focusing on these details this way means that you sort of guess where things are going before they even go there.
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The cases may be brilliantly structured when viewed objectively, but focuses on the left-handedness and right-handedness, then Anna’s different reactions to the bouquets, as well as the shoe size forces the active viewer to consider all possibilities. As such, when the final twist comes in, you’re not as surprised as you would be, were this a book. In a book you can throw a few stray words here and there and no one will pick up on it immediately, until they reach that twist and go “oh crap!” and flip back, marvelling at the storyteller’s ability. It’s much more difficult in a show, especially one with a case-per-episode format, as things come to light that much quicker, unlike Liar Game (<3) where details from episode 5 (THAT PAINTING OKAY?) show up in episode 11 (brilliant, utterly brilliant, and HWJ, just marry me, alright?).

Now for the rampant speculations section of this review. With a show like this, nothing really is as it seems. Having not read, the webtoon or any other spoilers, I’m going into this with nothing but the mind of a conspiracy theorist. There are two possible reasons that Doctor Frost is truly incapable of emotion: he was born that way (which would definitely make for some fun  hi-jinks but isn’t exactly story-building material) or something caused him to turn that way (now that would be vastly more interesting). Seeing the routes OCN has taken in the past with Dr. Han’s split personality and such in God’s Quiz, I’m more inclined to believe it’s the latter. Plus there was something strange about Frost’s reaction when YSA was pinned to the wall by Anna’s manager. (First time I’ve ever seen a guy wield a saucepan as a weapon, btw).
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He spoke to the man with a curious sort of urgency, rather than his usual detachment. For some reason, Frost is not immune to desperation. And I’m pretty sure that counts as emotion. So why can’t Frost feel anything else?  What made him that way, a drug? a person? It can’t have been that girl’s death as all things indicate to Frost having been emotionless seven years ago as well.
Speaking of which, why did he imagine her at the university? It certainly wasn’t a conscious effort on his part as he appeared rather surprised to see her there (more indication that he isn’t entirely emotionless). If he was truly responsible for some error that led to her death, then is this some manifestation of guilt? Which is, of course, more bloody emotion, I think we can safely say that there’s more to Frost than we’ve been led to believe. Particularly, a rather complex past with Dr. Song.
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Add that to the fact that no one knows Frost’s real name, and we’ve got a killer show on our hands.
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I love the use of the second hand in the stylized title of the show. What with the connection to Frost’s talents with hypnosis, as well as the ticking clock that announces each episode, it’s a pleasant quirk to see. vlcsnap-2014-11-30-10h55m56s251 vlcsnap-2014-11-30-09h18m28s132
As is the fact that Song Chang Eui continues to play a professor. It’s pretty funny as the last drama I saw him in (Heartstrings) also had him playing professor.
vlcsnap-2014-11-30-09h45m32s236The way Frost sees things is also rather interesting, and reminds of me of Sherlock in a way, though Frost is much more…clinical, and perhaps a tad robotic (oh, that lack of emotion!)
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He appears to have a mind palace of his own, à la Sherlock, but I honestly think that’s a staple of most geniuses (so no plagiarism).

A similarity with God’s Quiz lies in the somewhat didactic tone YSA adopts at the end of the episode when typing up the case report. I suppose it’s more reflective than outright didactic, but it’s actually rather pleasant to see the case translated into her thoughts, and the food for thought that gives us. plus it ties back beautifully to the title of the episode (in this case: The Desire of Others).
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This is honestly shaping up to be a really good ride. Should be interesting to see where it goes!

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2 thoughts on “First Thoughts on Doctor Frost

  1. Pingback: DR FROST. OCN. | IKurate

  2. (spoiler)
    Good review. I agree that he isn’t entirely emotionless.
    From watching the first episode, I actually was interested on this show when one of the bartender talked and suggested that Psychology is about “mind-reading” and Frost answered that Psychology isn’t about mind-reading but rather Brain science, I thought, “alright, finally a show with a character that is realistically logical.” At the end of the day no-one can read minds, you can only infer from behaviours or what you can measure or observe – obviously these things also have limitations.

    I actually think that the main character, FROST isn’t as harsh or mean as what other people would perceive him as. First, he is just direct and would not hold back – obviously people would get hurt or may get angry by what he says, however sometimes you need someone to tell you the truth no matter how good or bad it is and he is the sort of person who could do that. For instance, in the last scene, he said that the fake actress that she was “a fake.” WHich is actually true and technically he isn’t the one who should be blamed for telling her that, instead what actually caused the pain was done by herself – you can’t blame the society for your own life, at the end of the day you can only control your own life.

    I do think however, that in the very beginning of the show, IT IS VERY OBVIOUS that he isn’t emotionless. For me the “acting” looks more like an guy trying his best not to show emotion rather than an actual person incapable of feeling any emotions. This is because:

    1. Various scenes have shown that his facial expressions change and you can actually observe facial expressions (e.g. you can tell from the eyes alone that his emotion/expression varies when he talks).

    2. One scene explicitly showed that he has emotions. It is when he “shouted” with an angry face to the manager of the actress, asking where the “real” actress was. Anger is an emotion too.

    Therefore if the they wanted the actor to act as if he does not have emotions, they (everyone involved in making the show) should first do their research properly and watch how someone without emotions would be acting – and if they do, they’d realise it’s not actually going to make the show interesting anymore.

    This is because someone who isn’t capable of feeling emotions should, first respond to questions they think they need to respond to therefore if he does not want to answer he won’t even care if he make others angry. Second, the answers to questions are very direct. Third, if Frost feels that the assistant is bothering him then that is actually not how you’d expect a person incapable of feeling emotions should respond then – he shouldn’t even be annoyed or talking to her. In the first place he shouldn’t even be studying or have graduated in the university unless he feels he need to. This could suggest that he actually has emotions AND stating from the beginning of the show that HE DOES NOT HAVE EMOTIONS is basically wrong (and annoyed me a bit).

    It is very difficult to act as someone lacking emotions, therefore if the show wanted to display a character lacking emotions or incapable of feeling emotions, they should’ve done it right. Disappointed but it’s still an alright show, there are plenty of other good things about the show (I won’t mention them, as they’re for myself) so I’ll continue watching it.

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