, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hospital Playlist hits a home run with its brilliant concoction of the slice-of-life and medical genres, topped with oodles of warmth. It’s certainly one of my favorites this year. Maybe the most favourite.

It is set in a hospital (natch) called Yulje Medical Center and makes us a viewer of the professional and personal lives of the doctors there. Particularly the five doctors who are friends since their days of medical studies.

With only 12 episodes and a great number of characters, it was easy for a drama to focus on a select few, keeping the others ornamental. But Hospital Playlist imbues each character with its own unique voice and personality, giving ample importance and depth to each. Even the minor characters are well written and well acted. I hate long episodes (evidenced from my constant quibble when a show is more than 1 hour in length through my posts and tweets). But I found Hospital Playlist so engrossing that I kept on wanting more while watching it. I simply cannot wait for Season 2! The show has all the qualities of the Answer Me / Reply series — magical poignant moments, lovely characters and relationships, extracting humor from mundane situations, heart-fluttering romance, meta fun, lots of old songs, movies and TV show references and realistic touch to everything.

It’s amazing how the drama never feels episodic despite being a medical drama with multiple patients. Also, every episode keeps on giving us more details of an individual and by the end, we know more about him or her than the time when we first met them. No one is one dimensional. Talking about the main 5, they are simply wonderful together. As a viewer, the easy charm of their company is delightful to bask in. Each episode is dedicated to one of these as we navigate through their daily routine of work and personal interactions. I love that everyone here has a distinctive relation with rest of the 4 and yet, when they are together, the five have a beautiful unabashed rapport and comfort that can only come after being friends from so many years. Their band practice sessions are the highlight and a source of fun, charm and emotional bonding. I simply loved the songs and them performing it every night. The camaraderie between our five main leads is outstanding.

Jo Jung Suk plays Lee Ik Joon, a hepatobiliary surgeon and a single father. He is the most affectionate, social and easygoing among the friends who loves to help others emotionally. He is considerate and thoughtful. But he also has a side to him which he doesn’t show to others, of hurt and pain which comes from his divorce and unrequited love he never confessed. He is someone you can always rely on for advice, professional or personal. And I LOVED his scenes with son Woo Joo (who is absolutely adorable) — super cute. Jo Jung Suk gives a pitch perfect performance, effortlessly bringing ebullience and gravitas.

Then there is Chae Song Hwa, played by Jeon Mi Do. She is a character with the most realistic personality. She is mature and understanding and yet assertive. She is a neurosurgeon and I love that the drama never emphasizes on her being unmarried at 40 or feeling self pity because of that. Jeon Mi Do is a veteran musical actress, and unsurprisingly, she is brilliant and so graceful.

Jung Kyung Ho plays Kim Joon Wan, a cardiothoracic surgeon. He is a bit short-tempered but not overly so. He is mature and blunt. A bit impatient but he also has a soft and caring side, which gets revealed bit by bit, but never feels surprising as we see his candid nature with friends. His love line with Ik Soon is so sweet, especially how he is giddy with joy when she says yes to his confession. Ik Soon is a delightful character. Jung Kyung Ho nails his role, and Kwak Sun Young is endearing.

Kim Dae Myung plays Yang Suk Hyung, a obstetrician and gynecologist. He is the most introvert of the bunch who enjoys his own company more than anything. And yet, he shares such a great camaraderie with the other four. Suk Hyung is a gentleman, a devoted son and a really calm and composed person. I enjoyed his reluctance to being social. The resident Min Ah grew on me gradually after an initial impression of being slightly annoying. I also liked her crush on Dae Myung as both have opposite personalities. I’m looking forward to their future dynamics. Kim Dae Myung owns his role and Ahn Eun Jin is vivacious.

Finally, Yoo Yeon Suk plays pediatric surgeon Ahn Jung Won. He is such a softie! I loved how adorably he treats his patients. He is very caring and aspires to become a priest. There are funny cameos by Sung Dong Il, Ye Ji Won, Kim Sung Kyun and Oh Yoon Ah as his siblings who have all devoted their life to priesthood. At first I thought Jung Won is indifferent and oblivious to resident Gyeo Wool’s feelings for him, but I could gradually see the signs of his feelings for her and that added to my giddiness for this couple. Gyeo Wool is another interesting character — studious, sincere, a bit clueless of her surroundings and hopelessly in love. Yoo Yeon Suk delivers a winning and adorable performance. Shin Hyun Bin as Gyeo Wool brings heart and smarts to the part.

Apart from above described residents, two other stand out as well. First is Jung Moon Sung as Do Jae Hak, who works with Joon Wan. He is quite emotional and soft-hearted, and also nervous with his senior. But as we see more of his journey, he becomes more confident and both Jae Hak and Joon Wan change a bit, the former becoming more confident and the latter softening in his company.

Then there is Ahn Chi Yong, played perfectly by Kim Joon Han. His crush for Song Hwa was pleasantly unexpected. I liked his gentle and calm demeanor. I have to say that I was getting impatient when all the supporting characters were being introduced but soon I was absorbed in their tracks as well.

The two interns Yoon Bok and Hong Do were cute and in a way a representative for us to understand all the medical practices and procedures happening on the screen. I’m so glad that the drama didn’t show the surgeries in detail and frequently. Kim Gab Soo and Kim Hae Sook provide a lovely friendship arc of their own in the drama. Needless to say, they are great!

I loved the soundtrack of Hospital Playlist, mixing new songs and old songs. It also has one of my favourite songs ever, ‘Me To You, You To Me’ from the movie The Classic, and in a meta reference, it briefly mentions the song Emergency Room from Delightful Girl Choon Hyang (my first drama and also, my most favourite) which is actually composed by band Izi which had Kim Joon Han as a drummer. (Thanks my Twitter friends for this trivia!)

There is a blissful old school feel in Hospital Playlist. With so many characters and their paths, the show deftly keeps all the plates spinning. Even if all our main five characters have their own personality traits, the common value in them is that they are all skillful in their work and compassionate, good people at heart. And they surely know how to unwind after a tiring day!

BOTTOM LINE: Hospital Playlist is comforting and heartwarming — like a warm blanket on a cold day.

MY RATING: 10 out of 10