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Chris Wu (Actor) | Ann Hsu (Actor) | Lego Lee | Huang Jian Wei (Actor)
Aired in 2015, the first season of Taiwan mini-series Wake Up swept multiple awards at the Golden Bell Awards with its brooding yet riveting story of a weary anesthesiologist framed for malpractice amid a bigger medical conspiracy. Two years later, the series returned with similar themes and wider-reaching conflicts in an ambitiously complex tangle of medical procedural, human drama, crime suspense and socially conscious drama.
Compared to the first season's lean six-episode run, Wake Up 2 doubles its length to 13 episodes, and more than doubles the production budget and cast. The first season's main cast of Huang Jian Wei, Tiffany Hsu, Chris Wu and Michael Huang all return, but in diminished roles, as screentime is split with new joiners Lego Lee, Summer Meng and Kaiser Chuang.
Huang Jian Wei continues to be the tired and troubled man of integrity as he returns to Taiwan after spending time in the Middle East with Doctors Without Borders. Besides battling PTSD and a lingering brain injury, Dr. Hsiao has to head up the newly formed trauma unit of Kang Lian Hospital and deal with not only medical emergencies but also the hospital's competing egos. Among his headaches is Lego Lee's Dr. Xiong, a temperamental surgical resident with elite skills but trouble following the rules, leading to problems with both colleagues and patients. He also moonlights as an underground rapper to air his grievances against a medical system that fails to put saving patients first – patients like his father who died after getting turned away by hospitals.
The problems of the characters and their work environment are further situated within the greater unrest of hospital politics, corruption and abuse in the pharmaceutical industry, and the continued fallout of the defective anesthetic cover-up scandal from the first season. Summer Meng's investigative medical journalist and Chris Wu's now-reformed character of Yeh Chien Te take on the cause of the victims, whose struggle to be heard drives one desperate man to resort to bomb attacks.
From the very first episode, it's clear that Wake Up 2 operates on a different scale than the first series as the audience is quickly thrown into the ground zero of explosions at a Jordan hospital and a Taipei subway station. The expanded story, cast and budget make the second season less intimate than the first series, which slowly unwound its medical mystery and created deep profiles of Huang Jian Wei, Tiffany Hsu and Chris Wu's characters. As an ensemble drama, Wake Up 2 may not be able to allot each character as much screentime to connect with the audience, but the (also expanded) writing and directing team successfully connects the many characters to each other and their intriguing interrelated conflicts.
Though there are many threads and themes packed in, Wake Up 2 remains tonally consistent, cohesive and involving. The investigative and crime suspense elements add thrills, danger and urgency, while the doctors' struggles and conflicts engage serious discussions on the medical profession, social responsibility and the value of life. As one of PTS's signature dramas of recent years, the Wake Up series remains thoughtfully anguished, richly written and well worth a watch in its second season.
Other Versions of "Wake Up Season 1 & 2 (DVD) (PTS TV Drama) (Taiwan Version)"
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