A quiet finale for Road No. 1
MBC’s big war drama Road No. 1 turned out not to be so big after all, and ended this week with a 5.3% rating (AGB Nielsen). It’s been averaging 4% to 5% for its entire run so this is no surprise, but it is a big disappointment, especially given its whopping 13 billion won budget.
Supposedly the response from viewers who stuck with the show was positive, but the problem is, there just weren’t that many of them. The viewers didn’t respond to the melodramatic line, but the stronger moments came when the camaraderie between the soldiers was depicted. (It’s too bad there wasn’t more of the latter and less of the former.)
[SPOILERS] The last episode:
There are a lot of factors that may account for the poor showing: For one, its competition has been strong, with Baker King Kim Tak-gu emerging as the biggest drama of the year with 40%-plus ratings. SBS has provided solid second place offerings with Bad Guy, then My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho.
On top of that, there’s the drama’s subject material. The Korean War is a big topic in entertainment this year, which is the 60th anniversary of the war’s outbreak, but perhaps it was just too heavy for a Wednesday-Thursday television show. Furthermore, Road slipped into melodramatic excess and placed a lot of importance on its tragic romance, rather than the realities of battle. Plus, there’s that other war drama, KBS’s weekend series Comrades, which is by far the superior show in terms of writing and directing.
Then, we also have the “MBC curse” — it really shouldn’t have any effect on a drama’s performance but has produced a curious pattern nonetheless. The broadcaster has not had a hit in the Wednesday-Thursday timeslot in years, and in fact has failed to produce more than one show that has managed double-digit ratings since 2008. (That show is Personal Taste. I mentioned the full list of Wednesday-Thursday flops in this post.)
Now eyes turn to Road‘s successor, Playful Kiss, to see if it will fare any better.