Its been a while since I saw a Kwon Sang Woo drama and when I saw that he was starring in Medical Top Team along with Ju Ji Hoon (Princess Hours), Jung Ryeo Won (Which Star are you from?), and Choi Minho (To the Beautiful You), I immediately had high hopes for this medical drama starring an all star cast.
Kwon Sang Woo stars as maverick doctor Park Tae Shin, a skilled general surgeon with impeccable commitment to his patients. During an event, he crosses paths with cardiothoracic surgeon Seo Joo Young (Ryeo Won) for an emergency case which sparks off a relationship of mutual respect and rivalry between the two, especially when they are both recruited by Han Seung Jae (Ji Hoon), the chief of Kwanghye University Hospital’s Internal Medicine Unit to become part of the Medical Top Team, a group of elite doctors whose aim is to make medical breakthroughs in patients suffering from diseases with less than 50 percent survival rate. But politics gets in the way as the hospital’s Vice President Shin Hye So (Kim Young Ae) starts a power struggle with Chief Han over the operation of the Top Team. Things take a turn for the worse when family ties become involved in the struggle.
The powerhouse cast behind this drama is enough of a reason to tune in. But I was surprised to find out that the drama did not fare too well against strong competition during its airing. Perhaps, it was because Medical Top Team failed to establish its genre early on, a problem that seemed to persist through the series’ entire run. It started off strongly as a medical drama and set the stage for a possible romance between main stars Kwon Sang Woo and Jung Ryeo Won, but as the drama went further, it seemed that the writers had a change of heart, and paired off Ryeo Won with Ji Hoon instead with Sang Woo shifting to Oh Yon Seo, who played Choi Ah Jin, a resident doctor who was also part of the Top Team. I had no problem with this development because it made sense given the storyline, plus Kwon Sang Woo’s character was very flexible and charming that it did not seem off putting to pair him up with a slightly younger character. The problem with MTT was actually its failure to make up its mind about its focus. There was stuff about family. There was stuff about politics. There was bromance, which was my favorite part of the series and some backstory elements that seemed to be aborted sometime into the series. It seemed like a hybrid of sorts, dabbling at various elements that made it confusing for the viewers at times.
The doctors of MTT, at first seemed like they were inspired by characters from American TV series like Grey’s Anatomy and House. During the first episodes, it seemed like Dr. Seo was being groomed to be the Korean version of Dr. Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh) but as the series progressed, she lacked the tenacity and feistiness of Grey-Sloane Hospital’s cutthroat heart doctor. Dr. Park on the other hand, seemed like a version of Dr. House but as the series progressed, it was revealed that he was too emotional and attached to the patients to think clearly when things got tough. Doctors seemed to focus more on the politics, responding sluggishly to emergencies, which was a shame and negated their top team status.
Acting wise, this series was top notch. Episodes 6 and 17 which showcased Dr. Park and Dr. Han’s torment truly tore at my heart and affected me, and this level of acting made me stick with the series despite some of its lapses. And this alone, is certainly worth spending hours to watch the series. It also alances out the funny and the serious adding characters like Kim Ki Bang as romatically awkward neurosurgeon Dr. Jung Hoon Min, and Park Won Sang as veteran anaesthesiologist Jo Jeon Hyeok with their respective love stories and bromances with radiologist Dr. Bae Sang Kyu (Alex) and Dr. Park. Oh and did I mention how adorable Choi Minho is in this series. You just want to give him a big hug whenever he appears on screen.
All in all, Medical Top Team is still a series to watch if only for the great chemistry among its stars and the cliffhanger medical cases that the Top Team handles throughout the series. The ending is a bit open ended but it can be interpreted as an opening for the next step of the Top Team or the actual end to the series. Whichever the case, its still a good watch at 20 episodes.