MBC’s Mr. Back Premieres with Best Prime Time Drama First Episode Ratings of 2014

The year is less than two months from ending and there is finally a prime time K-drama that premiered in 2014 with ratings numbers that aren’t either an embarrassment or resigned mediocrity. MBC‘s rich grandpa age-reversing Wed-Thurs drama Mr. Back (Mr. Baek) just became the highest first episode prime time drama premiere of the year. Episode 1 notched a 14.2% AGB rating nationwide and 16.1% rating in Seoul.

It might be too early for MBC to pop the champagne yet since KBS did not air a new episode of Blade Man (Iron Man) due to a baseball game while the competition from SBS was the final week of the low-energy and dismally low rated My Lovely Girl which got a 5.0% rating for episode 14 and 3.2% for episode 15. Tomorrow will reveal if the ratings dips slightly for MB once there is a full slate of competition but the real test is next week when Pinocchio arrives to play ball.

The TnMS ratings for Mr. Back are also the best premiere for any prime time drama this year with 13.1% nationwide and 16.9% Seoul. Congrats to the production team of MB and for the sake of all K-drama lovers I hope this great start maybe infuses some life back into the increasingly stale and staid K-drama scene. I don’t think the premiere success of Mr. Back rests with any of the three leads Shin Ha Kyun, Jang Nara, or Lee Joon. Not that each isn’t luring some viewers to check out the drama, but none of them have the pull, as evidenced by their previous prime time dramas, to bring the eyeballs just for them alone. In fact, the first episodes of Shin Ha Kyun and Jang Nara’s last respective dramas (All About My Love and Fated to Love You) have a combined total rating less than the first episode of Mr. Back.

The drama likely got a boost with super weak competition in MLG being so lowly rating and BM not even airing, though one wonders if it even matters had BM aired since that drama has ratings even lower than MLG. I watched the first episode of MB and was pleasantly entertained. Shin Ha Kyun is mugging his way through the mounds of old man makeup but he’s such a charismatic actor that he sells the performance. Jang Nara is cute but isn’t doing anything new from any of her previous works, I never really come away being impressed with her or riveted by her acting. Lee Joon is as gorgeous as hinted from all the stills and previews which is enhanced by his excellent acting. The editing and music could use major toning down but the story nicely balances the fanciful with the heartfelt. I like but don’t love it yet.


MBC’s Mr. Back Premieres with Best Prime Time Drama First Episode Ratings of 2014 — 30 Comments

    • Really like the 1st episode and awaiting the 2nd. Storyline and acting is solid all around. It did what the the beginning episodes is supposed to do – which is draw you in and make you feel for and relate to the lead characters.

      I think it was more successful in its 1st episodes than Modern Farmers which initially was over-the-top. However, Modern Farmers has gotten better and better and by the 4th-6th episodes is nicely balancing the story, characters, humour, and heart.

      Between Mr. Baek, Modern Farmers, and Misaeng, I’m so happy that there are a good number of quality dramas. ^^

  1. It’s true that competition was weak, but I think BM would’ve gotten the same ratings as the baseball match that was airing so it resuming broadcast won’t likely be a factor. And considering that MSD was also up against such weak competition and got ratings ~9%, scoring 14.2% is quite an achievement even against such weak competition. The real competition will be Pinocchio and The King’s Face, but airing a week earlier certainly helps Mr. Back.

    I’m a fan of JNR so I’m not complaining about the ratings. Haha…

  2. Great ratings doesn’t mean great drama. Lesson I learned suffering through the heirs. I heard boys over flowers had great ratings when it first aired in Korea and was scratching my head asking how.

    Yet something like my spring days should have gotten great ratings on quality of work, but did not get any higher than 12% ratings nationally. Found out that many Koreans think sooyoung looks south asian therefore too ugly to be an actress. Lol

    Jang Nara has a small face that looks very Korean so I am sure she won’t have any problem getting 20% rating in no time. Good luck to her.

  3. Couldn’t imagine how any other OTP could have managed to bring about such a quick pull.

    My take is that the real draw of this drama comes from the two main, Jang Nara and Shin Ha Kyun. MBC somehow managed to get hold of them last minute esp Jang Nara who had just completed FTL. Both their acting are daebak. H/w must agree that the weak competition from other stations could have helped to prop up the rating figures. Next weak will be the real test.

  4. Honestly I don’t think it’s the actors, they both aren’t really draws like you said. Lack of competition helps. P&P on Monday/Tuesday too. People must be looking for something to watch finally though? The ratings lately have been so terrible.

    I can’t really see this growing though, so it’s a high start but one I doubt they’ll keep up. Maybe I’m wrong, who knows.

  5. The actors must be the reason for the ratings, JN have many popular, SHK have pretty good rep for his films.

    Mostly i dont care if the ratings is great or not as long as the drama is fun to watch because both have good comic timing specially SHK who thought was alot fun to watch in All My Romance. I just hope the drama is well written with these good older rom com actors and not just another lacking in talent idol leads like Krystal,L etc

    • Agree on a good match. A number of recent drama fallouts: matured fantastic actors partnered with stiff/wooden but popular young ladies; smiley boy boy tagged onto impressive female leads. Constant loud marketing can help to an extent but its the substance that can really hold out.

      • I feel bad for Rain watching him working with Krystal. Her stiffness(and the crappy writing) makes him look much worse. He could really good along with an experianced, talented actress in his early 30s age. I remember him and Gong Hyo Jin was wonderful together in Sang Doo Lets go to School!

  6. To be fair, Choi and Prejudice (I dislike the irrelevant Austen ripoff name) had a respectable debut, at 11.2 National, 13.0 Seoul. Not as good as this one, but better than “resigned mediocrity” in this era of lower ratings, I’d say.

    • LOL, Choi and Prejudice, that’s a good one. From what I’ve read, the drama seems pretty decent.

      Nice start for Mr Back, now to sustain the good ratings…

    • Essentially, MBC is ruling Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday! Let’s see if Pinocchio can do anything about that…

  7. WHOA WHOA WHOA. Shin Ha Kyun is also playing the grandpa?!! I didn’t even realize it while I was watching the first episode o.o” Dang, he’s a good actor.

    I actually really like Jang Nara’s acting, somehow gives the same “natural” unforced feel I get from Gong Hyo Jin’s.

  8. Mb the rate high due to less competition…but who cares. SHK n JNR area great pairs..The 1st esp is gud n funny.Only wnt to enjoy watching it. Not all dramas are everyone taste…some dun like it but there are still those who like it..

  9. Where is everyone watching this? I’ve tried DF, Soompi, and Viki to no avail. Is there somewhere else I need to know about?

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