Cable network tvN’s long-awaited series Wise Prison Life made its premiere Wednesday night with an impressive nationwide TV audience rating of 4.638 %, which is quite high for a cable drama that has just started. What is notable about this achievement is the fact that the series doesn’t have superstars in its cast or a very famous screenwriter in its production team to attract a large number of audience. It seems like all the viewers needed to watch the drama was PD Shin Won-ho’s name on it.

PD Shin Won-ho is the award-winning director of highly acclaimed and hit dramas Reply 1988, Reply 1994, and Reply 1997. 22 months after the end of his last TV series, he is back with another project that boasts of a unique and fresh content. Wise Prison Life is a black comedy that centers on the story of a famous baseball player who becomes a criminal overnight, giving the viewers a rare glimpse of everyday life in prison for someone whose successful career was ruined in an instant and those around him. It’s not actually the kind of synopsis to lure everyone so easily into watching the show but thanks to PD Shin’s credibility as a director, the drama is off to a good start with a nationwide TV audience share that beats Criminal Minds‘s record, and for that matter, all other 2017 cable dramas’ pilot episode ratings.

Wise Prison Life Poster 3

Criminal Minds hit the headlines last July for pulling off a successful premiere with a rating of 4.187 % which was at that time the highest-rated premiere ever for a cable drama in 2017. It could have held that status until next year if not for Wise Prison Life, which broke its record by starting off with the highest pilot viewership among all cable dramas that have been broadcast to date by JTBC, OCN, and tvN this year.

Completing the top five cable dramas in terms of pilot episode rating are Man to Man (4.055 %), Strong Woman Do Bong Soon (3.829 %), and Bride of the Water God (3.660 %).

As far as TV ratings are concerned, Wise Prison Life has had a really successful start, but can it sustain this achievement until the finale? The rating for the second episode tonight should somehow give an answer. In any case, the pressure on PD Shin, writer Jung Bo-hoon, and the main cast—Park Hae-soo, Jung Kyung-ho, and Krystal—to maintain the quality of the drama will last throughout the broadcast.

Over at the three major broadcasters, SBS’s newest series Nothing To Lose obtained 6.9 % and 8.0 % for its first two episodes while KBS2’s Mad Dog pulled in 7.4 %. MBC, meanwhile, made a rerun (which got 3.7 %) of its Saturday drama Money Flower pending the premiere of Hospital Ship‘s successor.

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Me? Just an ordinary lad with an extraordinary (says this something called 'stereotype') habit of watching Korean dramas. It started with action-filled City Hunter and the rest, as they say, is history.