The drama series will be set at a prison where a baseball player called Kim Je Hyuk who turns into a convict overnight and an elite prison guard called Lee Joon Ho and a variety of people experience prison life. The drama will share the lives and stories behind these prisoners as well as events that take place there.
Cast & Credits
Five years back, I switched from watching dramas that have already aired to dramas that are, as we put it, "currently-airing". We've all had that transition at some point, and to me, a good currently-airing Korea drama has two potential flaws - one, certain scenes are too boring so you skip over or skim over them; two, when you come back a week later to watch fresh episodes, you might not find the drama as appealing as you did last week. But once in a while, you find a drama like Wise Prison Life. A drama where you can't skip a single scene and cherish each and every moment. A drama where you come back to watch new episodes, dive right in and feel like you never left.
The script is so well-written. There is no strong intensity or urgency in the drama, but only in small doses. And the feels are so sweet, heartwarming and beautiful. I don't know how to describe it, but you'll understand if you have watched the Reply series. You would end up loving the smallest details and the entire journey would make you an emotional mess (but in a good way, thankfully).
Coming to characters, the writers have always been my favorites for the characters they develop. No wonder everyone wants to work with them! And Wise Prison Life has some of my favorite characters ever. And in one single drama! I loved every single character and their personal journeys as well as their shared journey. They are all so lovable and cool. I can't even pick a favorite! They're all so amazing and their friendship and their struggles make me cry even after finishing the drama. Kim Je Hyuk is such an inspiring character, not just because of his perseverance, but also because of his non-judgmental, humble personality. Joon Ho is the best friend one could have! I am so glad Jung Kyung Ho did not skip out on this one (let's face it, his role isn't as meaty as we would have all expected). He was perfect! His brother was hilarious! And OMG LOONY!!! And OMG LIT. PAENG!!! And...okay, I shall stop. Bottom line, all of them were so awesome, and I am overwhelmed.
Not only did this drama have a great OST, I also ended up discovering Kim Kwang Seok and his beautiful songs because of it! The rap intro OST was super lit. Mino and Yoon did a song for them too. I love them, they are one of my favorite musicians (and so is WINNER). In fact, I was really surprised when I saw Yoon in this, because I have had a huuuge crush on Yoon for a long time. But yes, this is not the time to talk about KPOP crushes! LOL. And Yoon did a very decent job here. The romance was perfectly incorporated in the story. It was not overbearing and neither was it lacking. I liked Krystal here and also the romantic interest of Jun Ho (who I'll not name because I have learned to keep my reviews spoiler-free. Mostly, LOL).
Overall, this drama is for everybody! It's a rare gem. Everyone must watch this!
Story: [9.5/10] Prison Playbook is one of those shows that sort of starts out slow and provides you with very little information. The series begins with an episode that is very vague. You learn very little about the character as well as the over-arching story at the very beginning. The story begins to unfold as you continue deeper into the series. You begin to learn about Je Hyuk and his personality. You also get to learn about his many different cell mates as well. Some good, others not so good. The good ones are awesome though when they group together and sort of form a little brotherhood of sorts with Je Hyuk. I'm definitely enjoying the mini-brotherhood/sisterhood themes that have occurred in dramas in 2017. I.e. the brotherhood you see in Prison Playbook and Save Me, the sisterhood you see in Avengers Social Club. I also enjoy the fact that the series is not very predictable as well. Overall it's a very well written drama about prison. The comedy needs a little more work though, hence the 9.
Acting/Cast: [9.5/10] I found the acting/characters in this show to be really refreshing. The first reason is the fact that our main character Kim Je Hyuk isn't really the brightest of the bunch. Why does this seem refreshing to me? It's refreshing because it makes the show a lot more realistic and credible. There are so many different shows I've watched where the main character had everything. He/She is usually the smartest, good looking, richest, and the best at a certain skill. Je Hyuk became a character that was easy to relate to for me because he seemed more like any other every day average joe. Well... other than the fact that he was one of the best baseball players in Korea at the time. Even that though is evened out by the fact that he uses his perseverance in order to help him get better at baseball. It's a lot more realistic to see a character struggle to get to his/her goal (rather than be born with the skill). It was also nice to see Jung Woong In play a nice person for once. I swear he has played the villain in every other drama that he's in. Again I found his character very relatable and admirable. His character acts tough on the outside, but on the inside he's a teddy bear. He takes a lot of scorn from the prisoners but he often tries to do what is best for them. In fact I was a big fan of all of the prison guards except the Captain Na guy (You can't have all nice prison guards, that would make for a boring story).
Music: [9.5/10] Music is pretty likable. It uses an array of different tunes for different situations. The whole -cricket- whistle thing sort of gets old though.
Rewatch Value: [7,0/10] I possibly see myself rewatching this show in future. However it definitely would not be one of my top priority dramas to rewatch. The problem that I had with this show was that it was about 90 minutes long. Each episode is generally about one main topic/struggle that the main character(s) have to go through. Generally most Korea dramas have episodes that are 60 minutes long. The fact that this show is 90 minutes long meant that some events were essentially dragged out 1.5x longer than usual.
Overall I'm a big fan of the show. I thought the show started out pretty slow, but I began to like the show more and more as I learned more about the characters. It was an easy show for me to relate to because it is a show in which you have average Joe characters proceeding through life and going through some very realistic misfortunes. My only gripe about this show was that I was use to the 90 minute episodes. I found it hard to binge the show. I ended up watching about 2 episodes a day before deciding to go do/watch something else. Prison Playbook definitely distinguishes itself from its competition though. It's one of my most favorite dramas for the winter season. I recommend you give the drama a try.