Some times programs get cancelled at the first signs of trouble, and other times programs are dragged on for as long as possible despite how poorly they are doing for various reasons that are not immediately apparent. SBS’s “Barefoot Friends” might be an example of the latter. It appears that SBS is finally ready to throw in the towel and put “Barefoot Friends” out of its misery with reports coming in that state that “Barefoot Friends” has officially been cancelled and will be replaced by SBS’s reoccurring audition program “K-Pop Star.”
SBS’s “Barefoot Friends” was an ambitious program devised by ex-Family Outing PD Jang Hyuk Jae. Initial hype for the show was fairly high and continued to rise with confirmation of its elaborate MC team, comprising of returning National MC Kang Ho Dong along with UEE, Yoon Jong Shin, Yoo Se Yoon, Kim Hyun Joong, Kim Bum Soo, Eun Hyuk and Yoon Shi Yoon. The program was going to be the second pillar in SBS’s sunday variety show line up. It was meant to complement their existing and hit variety program “Running Man,” featuring the other national MC, Yoo Jae Suk.
Unfortunately, the initial concept of the program,which involved going overseas and experiencing every day life in other countries, never took off and the program could make absolutely no head way against the mass popularity of “Daddy, Where Are We Going?” on MBC during the same time slot.
SBS “Barefoot Friends” continued to meander about from concept to concept, from a brief Lee Hyori special reminiscent of Family Outing, a song producing special, and a diving special, before finally settling more recently on a “cooking and eating at home” special. The constant changes in concept did little to help the program and most likely exasperated the program’s troubles. It also didn’t help that MBC’s “Real Men” and “Daddy? Where Are We Going” continued to go from strength from strength.
Ratings wise, the program continued to average in the low single digit range, going as far down as 2.9% during its third airing. More recent episodes have averaged in the 5~6% range compared to the 15~18% ratings seen by MBC’s two Sunday programs.
Eventually, the program started to show the usual signs of a program eyeing death straight in the eye. Kim Bum Soo, who had gotten injured during their diving special, never ended up returning back to the show despite his recovery, and reports were coming in recently that Kim Hyun Joon, UEE and Yoon Shi Yoon were planning to leave the show. At this point, it appears that SBS has finally decided to show some humility by cancelling the program. The program lasted seven months, and in my opinion that was four months too many.
The now empty Sunday time slot will now be filled with the third edition of SBS’s audition program “K-Pop Star,” starting from November 24. Will this program help see a return of SBS to the top of the Sunday variety show pecking tree? It’s difficult to say given that “Daddy? Where Are We Going?” is going from strength to strength, while KBS has replaced the under performing “Mamma Mia” with the much more formidable “Superman Has Returned,” another children based program. Either way, we can now bid “Barefoot Friends” a farewell.