MBC’s sitcom “High Kick: The Short Legs Strike Back” (“High Kick 3”) seems to be in trouble. They made an optimistic start on September 19 with 12.4% viewership, however the series has already fallen into a pattern of hitting a dismal 10-11%. Previous series such as “The Unstoppable High Kick” and “High Kick Through the Roof” (referred to as “High Kick 1” and “High Kick 2” from here on respectively) had weak viewership at first however, after characters took charge and created a stronghold in performance the rating rose with demand. Things are different this time. Are weak ratings are taking over for the long term? What could be the problem?
Problem 1. There are no fresh new characters.
Actor Lee Sun Jae in “High Kick 1” went through a 180 degree change in image. He acquired the nickname “Pervert Sun Jae” while taking blow after blow on his before pristine image. Actress Na Mun Hee was along side him taking on a cutesy girl personality. Drastically changing the images of veteran actors and actresses such as Lee Sun Jae and Na Mun Hee are what keeps things fresh.
In “High Kick 2” Jung Bo Suk‘s active role was noteworthy. An actor that was only known for his cool guy image was repeatedly kicked in the butt and beaten around, but gained popularity through his dopy image. Park Min Young, Kim Bum, Shin Se Kyung, Yoon Shi Yoon, Lee Ki Kwang, and Jin Ji Hee were among the new faces that got grabbed the attention of viewers in the previous two series. These character changes and new faces made it all the more exciting for viewers, making them curious about what these characters would do next.
However, in “High Kick 3,” the characters that appear are contrary to one’s expectations. Ahn Nae Sang, Yoon Gye Sang, Lee Jung Seok are all playing characters that are similar to roles they have played before. Also, Seo Ji Suk‘s character is basically the same as “High Kick 1″‘s Choi Min Young‘s, as they both play hot headed gym teachers. Julian Kang‘s character is also not much different from the character he played in “High Kick 2.”
Problem 2. High Kick 3’s story line is too heavy and difficult to follow.
“High Kick the Short Legs Strike Back” is supposed to be about those that have “short legs.” A bankrupted, out on the street Ahn Nae Sang, an in college debt, out of work Baek Jin Hee, a parentless Kim Ji Won, are all characters that have the quality of “short legs.” All of the characters in this sitcom have a certain place where they are lacking and having difficulties. Through these characters, this sitcom’s goal is to show the modern person’s worries and troubles.
However, there are critiques and complaints that the story line is too heavy. Especially for the younger viewers, there are opinions that the story line is too complicated for this group to fully follow and understand.
In “High Kick 1,” Kang Yoo Mi’s (played by Park Min Young) thrilling spy story unfolded in the midst of the sitcom giving it a colorful twist to keep viewers on their toes. In “High Kick 2,” it was mostly love stories that were told. Daniel Choi, Hwang Jung Eum and Shin Sae Kyung’s love triangle was one that was heatedly followed.
Problem 3. There is no clear conflict.
Although it does take some time for the characters to definitely settle, there is also the problem of a clear conflict.
In “High Kick 1,” Lee Sun Jae and Park Hae Mi’s conflict was an exemplary one. There was humor in watching Park Hae Mi, a more than competent doctor, work along side her father-in-law, who was not as competent. In “High Kick 2,” there was a clear cut and humorous conflict between the skeptical father-in-law and lacking son-in-law. Both High Kick 1 and 2 had main conflicts that the audience could easily relate to and be a part of, which in turn became the back bones of the sitcoms carrying them far.
In High Kick 3, there was expectation that Ahn Nae Sang’s conflict would be the main story. However a real focused conflict has yet to emerge. Jobless and homeless Ahn Nae Sang and his family has to mooch off of his brother-in-law Yoon Gye Sang, however, rather than a portraying a conflict between the different family members there is an emphasis on more internal conflict. The conflict between the siblings Ahn Jong Suk and Ahn Soo Jung (played by Lee Jung Suk and Krystal respectively) is gaining some attention, but there is criticism that it is too weak of a plot to act as the back bone to the whole sitcom.
What do you guys think? It hasn’t been long since “High Kick 3” started. Does it still deserve a chance or is there no hope for this sitcom to blossom?