FROM POTATO TO POTAHTO
From the team that brought us the High Kick series, Potato Star 2013QR3 (or Potato Star for short) is a tVN daily sitcom. When a comet falls to Earth in 2013, all sorts of weird things happen to the Noh family and their neighbors.
The thing I really liked about High Kick 3 is the team’s ability to bring the cornball humor in a family drama setting. There isn’t much of a difference in the way they’ve treated the characters of Potato Star as there were plenty of heartwarming family stories. I thought by being on a cable network it would broaden their horizons a bit as to the subject matter of the storylines or their jokes. Perhaps, I’m so used to American and British sitcoms that all Korean sitcoms appear very PG but I don’t feel that they’ve really raised that bar from the standard broadcast network guidelines.
While the central character changes from episode to episode, the heroine is mainly Na Jin Ah (Ha Yeon Soo), an underdog who goes from a fast food employee to becoming a full-time employee at the toy company her father helped to build. She meets her mysterious next-door neighbor and resident techie whom she nicknames Hong-Berg (Yeo Jin Goo) which is a combination of his real name, Hong Hye Sung, and Mark Zuckerberg, whose career he longed to emulate. Afterwards, he donned so many other names that I ended calling him by several different names.
Meanwhile, Jin Ah is hired as an intern at the Kong Kong Toy Company where she meets her perfectionist of a boss who graduated from Harvard University, Noh Min Hyuk (Go Kyung Pyo). I rolled my eyes every time he corrected someone’s English on the show. Maybe it’s funnier for the Korean audience but having grown up in the US makes the joke come off in a different way. I don’t know if this is a thing for study abroad kids who return to Korea. Although, I thought it was hilarious to see Hwang Jung Eum lose her cool with him in the first episode.
Min Hyuk comes off as a cold-hearted boss but I liked that through an injury he loses his memory and returns to being a kid. There’s a nice dichotomy seen that makes his character that much richer when he regains his lost memories. One revelation he has while being a “kid” is that he’s attracted to Na Jin Ah which is a far cry from the way he treated her when they first met.
While the Jin Ah, Hong-Berg and Min Hyuk love triangle initially did give me butterflies and the main reason I tuned in day after day, I grew increasingly frustrated with Min Hyuk and his Na Jin Ah crush. That storyline simply goes nowhere. He’s so passive-aggressive about his feelings that that the story stays status quo. To the very end. To be clear, whether the show made them a couple or not is irrelevant, but the story of their relationship has to take you somewhere. They are in the same exact place in Episode 120 as they were in Episode 60. It’s like creating this great relationship with the audience and then telling the audience that you just want to remain friends.
Initially, I started off the sitcom being annoyed with Noh Soo Young (Seo Ye Ji), the younger Noh sister who is basically a rich princess type. She drags her boyfriend, Julien (Julien Kang), all the way to Korea so they could be together and quickly grows tired of him. However, she is quite a different character at the end of the series and I love her endearing, quirky relationship with the delayed reacting Jang Yool (Jang Ki Ha).
Overall, the series is filled with many quirky characters and storylines. Some are funny and some are endearing which made it an easy sitcom to sit through all the way to the end. Not every episode is going to be a winner but I felt that the earlier episodes were wittier. The sitcom loses most of its comic steam and gets repetitive in the middle of its run, relying on the same droll character quirks and catchphrases in the 2nd half.
At the end, I felt there were a lot of loose ends which warranted a somewhat neatly tied bow of a conclusion. Especially those stories featuring Na Jin Ah and Hong-Berg. So the sitcom ends the same way it begins, the same day-in and day-out activities on repeat and the uncertainty of what’s to come in the future.