Doom At Your Service (2021) Early Impressions

Park Bo-young and Seo In-guk star in this supernatural something about a web publishing editor whose days among the living are numbered and her turbulent relationship with the enigmatic Doom “Myeol Mang” — possibly an embittered demigod. On being diagnosed with glioblastoma, and in a fit of drunken frustration Dong-kyung calls out for the world to come to an end. It’s music to Doom’s ears and he comes to her rescue in order to negotiate a deal. It’s not exactly a Faustian pact per se but there’s promise of death and/or destruction in the offing while prolonging the inevitable to D day.

Doom, no surprise, becomes an intrusive presence in Dong-kyung’s life. A being with supernatural powers and motives unclear can scarcely be trusted. When Dong-kyung impulsively mentions “living together” to keep him close by for daily re-charging, he moves his entire house into her little flat. It’s very slick and Dr Who-like. You know, bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. Eventually he follows her to work, not fully understanding why she’s still working so hard when she’s on the cusp of being taken to the other side.

For the most part the show is inoffensive fluff although it tries to make claims to starting some kind of ontological inquiry as part of this dynamic’s unfolding. First and foremost, who is Doom? What is he? Was he human? He claims not to be but he indulges in all-too human proclivities although he pretends that he doesn’t give a damn. There’s a predictable banality to this and frankly it’s been done better. I am reminded of the occasion Data the android was put on trial (Sorry Star Trek nerd here) and it was up to the court to decide if he was sentient or just a very clever automaton. There’s something of the sort going on in this show. Doom seems adamant that he’s nothing like Dong-kyung while showing traits that cast doubt on his assertions. Not convinced by his bad boy indifference, she throws down the gauntlet and swears to love him and becomes her most loved person.

The drama also throws up the question of what would anyone do if they knew that they were going to die in a hundred days. Dong-kyung opts to keep working like it doesn’t matter. It’s certainly not a bad thing to mull over especially if it means rearranging one’s priorities in light of our fragility and impending doom. Death comes to all eventually, spending a moment or two or contemplating the importance of living life with no regrets can’t be a terrible thing.

Seo In-guk is in all likelihood the only thing that would make me persevere. There’s nothing in this that’s terrible and there’s nothing about it that screams out “must watch”. I don’t mind the rest of the scenery or furniture (eg. the secondary romance) but they’re not compelling enough for me to keep watching. Even the show’s philosophical aspirations aren’t sufficiently of substance to make me believe that there’s 16 episodes in this story. But Seo In-guk as the smouldering, haughty, cynical, impish Doom is very appealing and chews up the scenery from time to time. He’s not as apathetic about his subject as he seems despite the peevish teasing and taunting. On the other hand Doom’s relationship with Deity is fraught with cryptic references teasing that supernatural space with unnecessary ambiguity. Deity walks among us as a teenage girl... the only one as powerful or more powerful than Doom. On some level she seems to take pleasure in toying with him and then it seems like she’s trying to be his Obi Wan Kenobi. Or his naggy mother.

For me it’s a rom com masquerading as some kind of supernatural fantasy about the meaning of life. I’m sure there’s enjoyment to be had in that. For a better stab at that though, I’d refer everyone to Sell Your Haunted House as a better alternative.