Chief Detective 1958 early reviews: Lee Je Hoon's MBC drama opens to record-breaking ratings. Did viewers love it? | Web Series - Hindustan Times
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Chief Detective 1958 early reviews: Lee Je Hoon's MBC drama opens to record-breaking ratings. Did viewers love it?

Apr 21, 2024 05:38 PM IST

Lee Je Hoon is finally back in Chief Detective 1958, leading the prequel to a classic Korean series. Here's how the audience reacted to the weekend premiere.

The Taxi Driver finally returned as the Chief Detective from another era on Friday, April 19, marking Lee Je Hoon's much-awaited return to the K-drama space. Suffice it to say that the ever-charming actor's absence was deeply missed as one looks at the Chief Detective 1958 (수사반장 1958) premiere viewership ratings. Though ushering in a new saga of stories, the former Taxi Driver's latest series is a prequel to the classic Korean series Chief Inspector that aired from 1971 to 1989.

Yoon Hyun Soo, Lee Dong Hwi, Lee Je Hoon and Choi Woo Sung in Chief Detective 1958.(MBC Drama)
Yoon Hyun Soo, Lee Dong Hwi, Lee Je Hoon and Choi Woo Sung in Chief Detective 1958.(MBC Drama)

Just as the original series succeeded in blowing off the roof in its prime, the 2024 MBC drama also premiered to a record-breaking start. Per Nielsen Korea, Episode 1 clinched an average nationwide rating of 10.1%, surpassing the limit set by any and every show to have aired on Friday and securing the highest premiere rating of a Friday-Saturday drama in MBC history.

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From every aspect possible - the cast, the series' classic nostalgic pull, and once again, Lee Je Hoon's presence - Chief Detective 1958 would inevitably make waves on the small screen. Despite its ever-so-high opening, did the series delight the viewers?

Chief Detective 1958 reviews: What's the viewers' verdict on Lee Je Hoon's 2024 comeback?

With the first weekend past us, the retro investigation drama has already checked in two episodes starring Lee Je Hoon, Lee Dong Hwi, Choi Woo Sung, Yoon Hyun Soo and Seo Eun Soo. Created by Park Jae Beom (Vincenzo, Good Manager, The Fiery Priest), the new MBC drama is set in the late 1950s, ten years before the original Choi Bool Am-starrer classic set into motion.

Je Hoon leads the squad as the titular detective, Park Young Han, who is always a step ahead in apprehending criminals by channelling all his characteristic eccentricities. With three colleagues by his side, who complement his esoteric ways equally, he strives to serve the people and blow the lid off corruption hiding in plain sight.

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However, his happy-go-lucky aura should not be misconstrued as one-dimensionality. The audience has already picked up cues on his potential traumatic backstory and can't wait for the bittersweet plot to unravel itself.

Even before the premiere saw the light of day, fans were struck with hopeful enthusiasm, knowing that Lee Je Hoon and Lee Dong Hwi would be sharing the screen for this retro series. The Friday-Saturday episodes began an endearing dynamic between two new “besties” that fans will hold on to for a long time. The leading duo's shared comic chemistry was hailed top-notch as an X/Twitter user commented the obvious: “Lee Jehoon and Lee Donghwi tandem is top tier; these roles were so perfectly made for them 😭.”

As always, Lee Dong Hwi commands the screen while holding his own. Twitterati has again fallen for his hilarious wits and charms and is having a ball witnessing his comic timing and dialogues unfold in real-time.

On top of the bromance, the romance also set the bar high. Je Hoon's adorable screen presence, paired with Seo Eun Soo's sweet magnetism, hit the mark. Rounding off each other's personalities, viewers declared Lee Je Hoon the “bf who talks a lot” and Seo Eun Soo the “gf who quietly listens.”

Other users didn't hold back while praising her gentle amiability: “#SeoEunSoo is so gorgeous here! Who will not fall in love with Lee Hye-ju, I totally get them!”

Striking back hard with his effortless suave stance, Lee Je Hoon quickly became the favourite thing about the latest MBC premiere. His quirky body language tapped into aggressive physical comedy, and left his fans rolling on the floor.

Alongside Kim Soo Hyun and Kim Ji Won's ongoing Queen of Tears, Chief Detective 1958 has become an instant weekend obsession for many. If the former has the power to inspire fans' hearts with poignant feelings, the latter has the comical strength to take that load off at once.

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Choi Bool Am's cameo warmed up an instant fire of nostalgia, setting off a balance of all heartwarming themes and genres put together to cook the sweetest dish.

The first set of episodes focussed more on putting together the ideally well-matched hilarious combination of detectives. As fans wait to see how they will cook the broth, here are some other fan reviews of the Chief Detective 1958 premiere:

  • “#ChiefDetective1958 first two epi SO GOOD.I love the mix of comedy & action!i love YoungHan & his sense of justice & humor! love his dynamic w/ sangsoon! LJH hasnt disappointed me yet LDH such a charismatic actor! Excited for the romance & to see our loser hero w/ his loser squad!”
  • “I didnt expect #ChiefDetective1958 to have this much comedy 😂 and it really hit the spot.”
  • “And so, the team is now complete. They have already won my heart.”
  • “The chief detective 1958 team is officially complete! can't wait to see our squad working together to give justice to those who needed it! 🕵🏻‍♂️🚨🚓”
  • “It's the way jehoon's characters always has some traumatic backstory .”
  • “I always hear its main theme & watch some clips of the og drama on varshows. this opening makes me emotional🥹 no wonder it got double-digit rating for its premiere. putting this on my watchlist.”
  • "Park YoungHan is so "Kim Doki" coded. I'm already in love." (A fan wrote, referencing Lee Je Hoon's Taxi Driver character)
  • “An intriguing storyline with a stellar casting, #ChiefDetective1958 has all the makings of a crime thriller.”
  • “Gear up for retro cops in this Comedy Action, #ChiefDetective1958. Great start! Didnt think I'd like it but it has a light touch on heavy subjects, already invested in the story and characters which are chaotic but in a good way. The comedy is on point.”
  • “Love #ChiefDetective1958 ! Comedy, action, bits of romance all thrown in. Team is a good mix of brain, brawn with sense of justice & passion. Hope they don't play out the 🩷triangle cuz everyone in the team is precious!”

Catch Chief Detective Episode 3 on Friday, April 26, at 9:50 pm KST on MBC TV. International viewers may stream it on Disney Plus Hotstar.

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