Veteran actor Cha Tae-hyun returns to TV screens as the gruff instructor in Police University . The 16-episode series from Korean broadcaster KBS2, which airs on Mondays and Tuesdays, follows the trials and tribulations of young recruits at a police academy and their contentious relationships with their instructors, especially one assigned there against his will. Cha plays Yoo Dong-man, a prototypical middle-aged Korean detective who locks horns with his superiors and gets too invested in his cases. His latest assignment is to break up a criminal organisation fuelled by cryptocurrency. Undercover at an illegal gambling den, he stakes and loses 100 million won (US$85,000) of his own money, yet despite protestations from his partner Park Cheol-ji (Song Jin-woo), he continues on the trail with the help of a hacker known as Yoon, who he meets, and can only communicate with, on the dark web. Yoon is actually Kang Sun-ho (Jin Young), a high schooler with a gift for programming who has been living with his foster family – friend Seung-beom (Choi Woo-sung) and father Yoon Taek-il (Oh Man-seok) – ever since the death of his parents as a child. During a judo competition, Sun-ho uses his hacker skills to help Seung-beom confess to a crush he has, but he’s suddenly lovestruck by the sight of Oh Kang-hee (Krystal Jung), another competitor. Flustered, he unintentionally puts up Seung-beom’s confession on a screen with Kang-hee’s face. In the confusion that ensues, he ends up running straight into her on the mats, triggering the show’s first slow-mo close quarters encounter, as confetti rains down around them and treacly music kicks in on the soundtrack. But Kang-hee is having none of it. She sees what he’s been up to on his laptop and judo flips him across the room. Six new Korean dramas to look out for in August 2021 Having introduced its main characters, Police University then explores Sun-ho’s complex home life, as his lack of career direction frustrates his foster father, Taek-il. Dong-man then comes crashing into his life when his squad car drives straight into Taek-il’s truck, sending him and Seung-beom to hospital. No one is seriously injured in the crash, but medical tests reveal that Taek-il has Stage 1 cancer. It can easily be treated, but the boys need to come up with seven million won to pay for the treatment. After grappling with his conscience and egged on by Seung-beom, Sun-ho swipes that amount from cryptocurrency criminals and Taek-il gets his operation. However, Dong-man finds him out and drags him to the precinct. He eventually lets him go, but with a harsh warning that if he ever sees him again, he’ll bury him. Since Dong-man’s latest fiasco earns him a transfer and Sun-ho has discovered which university Kang-hee intends to enrol in, the pair find themselves face to face again all too soon during the final interview to enter the Police University, with Sun-ho in the interviewee chair and Dong-man grouching from the interview panel. It’s now that Police University jumps right into action and sets the various elements of its story into motion. It’s colourful and vivacious, and the early stretch is marked by webtoon stylings – but part of the reason it can move so quickly is also one of its weaknesses. The show is saddled with a cliched set-up and overly familiar characters. The story is easy to follow, but only because we know where it’s going. It kicks off with a shoot for a recruitment ad for the Police University, featuring the main characters and thus presumably taking place sometime in the future, which gives off the impression that the show itself may be an extended recruitment promo for the police force. But it’s not the first time we’ve seen a police academy in Korean entertainment. Four years ago, Park Seo-joon and Kang Ha-neul were the new recruits in Jason Kim’s hit action-comedy Midnight Runners , who end up using the skills they learn during a long night when they track down men who kidnapped a girl off the street. There’s a flash of that here also, as Dong-man and Sun-ho soon realise they already know each other online; and as the veteran cop stubbornly continues his investigation, he eventually recruits Sun-ho. Surely it’s only a matter of time before Kang-hee, who is clearly the most capable among the police freshmen, joins them in their quest. In addition to the story lacking originality, the early episodes of Police University are laden with a lot of exposition, which prevents the individual storylines from gathering momentum. As a result, some potentially interesting set pieces, such as an exercise drill during which freshmen face off against each other with paintball guns, fail to generate any catharsis. Hopefully, we can put this down to growing pains and look forward to a more engaging story as the show builds over the next few weeks. Police University is streaming on Viu.