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Dr Brain (2021) Early Peek
Sci-fi offerings from K dramaland are notoriously hit and miss but one can hope and pray that damage to a product that’s only comprising of 6 episodes can be kept to a minimum assuming of course that there’s even a plot that can go the distance. Fortunately for all concerned this recent product shows promise. Dr Brain is the latest in a short list that boasts high quality cinematography and CGI dabbling with weird science. Lee Sun-kyun plays lead Koh Se-won, a neurologist, diagnosed with ASD as a child, obsessed with plumbing the depths of brain and finding out how it works. Because of the abnormal size of his amygdala, there’s something of the mad scientist stereotype about Se-won as he’s not above using himself or raiding fresh corpses from the morgue to be test subjects in his quest to forge new frontiers in his chosen field.
Much of the mind-bending premise here is predicated on the notion that the brain is a highly sophisticated processor- hard drive comprising of complex electrical circuitry storing information that’s easily transferable from source to destination. It’s not something one should think too hard about either … not just because the head hurts when you do. It also assumes that memories are reliable guides to the murky past when there’s growing real life research that point to the fact that they mightn’t be. Years ago when Keanu Reeves and I were much younger, he played a character called Johnny Mnemonic, minted from William Gibson’s cyberpunk tale about a courier who delivers corporate secrets in his brain for a nice asking price. This was also before he helmed the enormously popular Matrix where his mind functioned as a repository of insta-learning.
What starts off as an experiment becomes a potentially dangerous tool for Koh Se-won as he probes into the mystery behind his son’s death. Gaining access to other people’s headspace means that he has fragments of memories that seem meaningless at first until he follows the trail given to him by the cops. A man has been murdered and this man happened to be close to Se-won’s wife, Jae-yi who had taken their son to a special research centre. The detectives think that this has all the hallmarks of a crime of passion fingering the husband has suspect #1 but Se-won, who’s having bouts of waking dreams of familiar and unfamiliar faces, feels compelled to set the record straight.
It’s a fascinating twist on the old supernatural thriller genre. Se-won through the vehicle of “science” with all its whizz bang accoutrements has become an archive for memories like the occultic medium or psychic conferred with special abilities communing with the dead or wandering spirits with unresolved grievances. His goal then is to navigate a labyrinth of seemingly contradictory perspectives to get to the bottom of the mysteries that has disrupted his well-ordered existence. I am reminded of last year’s Uncanny Counter and Mystic Pop-up Bar in that regard.
The show also features Lee Yoo-young, Park Hee-soo and Lee Jae-won as key players in this sci-fi crime story.