The picturesque port city of Busan welcomes the ‘Running Man’ crew! Off to the right, there are some flowery archways – which, of course, turn out to be nothing more than paperweights as the viewers are introduced to the guests for this episode:
Divided into three teams of four (Green Team - Lee Jong Won, Gary, HaHa, Song Ji Hyo; Purple Team - Im Ha Ryong, Yoo Jae Suk, Ji Suk Jin, Son Byung Ho; Red Team - Kim Jong Kook, Lee Kwang Soo, Go Chang Suk, Shin Jung Geun), they set off on their first game – a board-game-esque race where the dice determines their fate. Will they jump one space, or two? Which direction on the game board will they travel? And what about – dare they say it – going backwards? It’s all up to fate.
And so it goes for the next few missions, and the Running Men are deceived into thinking that this is just your simple finish-the-mission-and-go deal. They couldn’t be more wrong.
The Green Team arrives at their final mission stop – a colorful village populated with friendly residents. Their mission? Find the key! But there’s something off about this village, and it quickly becomes apparent when the villagers start chasing after them – with water guns! That’s right: the residents are armed with weapons. Suddenly, the colorful village doesn’t look so inviting anymore.
With every team passing through some form of the ‘gauntlet’, the herd is noticeably thinned by the time they’ve arrived at the final race location. Every team is given a key, and it takes two keys to open the final treasure chest which contains the grand prize for the day. Yoo Jae Suk and Im Ha Ryong from the Purple Team use their shrewd minds to eliminate HaHa early on.
Meanwhile, the Green Team and the Red Team are engaged in a fierce battle. After one of the most hectic moments in ‘Running Man’ hide-and-seek history, the casualties are Lee Kwang Soo, Gary, and Lee Jong Won; this hide-and-seek game is unfolding at a breakneck pace!
Finally, the only ones that are left are Kim Jong Kook, Song Ji Hyo, Yoo Jae Suk, and Im Ha Ryong. Ji Hyo and Jong Kook face off against each other before the Purple Team intervenes, trying to steal Jong Kook’s nametag (which contains the key). But, alas, the Tiger isn’t the #1 Running Man for a reason – and he snags the final victory at last.
And in a final, touching moment, Kim Jong Kook shows us what it really means to ‘respect your elders’ as he gives up his grand prize – a 3-day trip to Busan, all expenses paid – to the runner-up, Im Ha Ryong.
Next week, it’s Girls’ Generation‘s Taeyeon! (squeeee!) (Yes, I’m a guy.)
I have to confess: I enjoy ‘Running Man’ much better when the cast aren’t busy playing “oh my God look who just came in through the door”. Big-name stars are nice, and they give a welcome boost to the show’s public perception, but more often than not these guests prove to be a hindrance, rather than a supporter, to the games themselves.
With that being said, this episode was nothing like that, and I thoroughly enjoyed the performance of the guests in this episode. Five guests would usually seem to be a few heads too many, but thanks to the carefully-planned division of teams in this episode (which were announced right off the bat without any hi-jinks), everyone got their fair share – no complaints there. And best of all, there was no need to ‘baby’ them like some other guests would’ve required. ‘Running Man’ is the best when everyone is performing at 100% – whether it be chasing, or betraying, or making a joke out of a breeze – and when the shackles come off, the show gets really interesting. Today was one of those days.
Something else that’s notable about this episode: The ‘Monday Couple’ makes a brief comeback as Ji Hyo and Gary share a ‘telepathic’ moment together. Monday Couple fans, rejoice!
Okay. We all know Ji Hyo is dating, and most of us should have the sanity to know that the Monday Couple is/was/continues to be an act. A lot of people miss the Monday Couple because, well, they thought they were real. I miss them too, but for different reasons: without it, Ji Hyo and Gary are in desperate need of new characters. Ji Hyo’s “ace” schtick is getting less and less mileage as the show goes on and Gary, apart from the occasional poetic haiku, has been the literal definition of the folding screen.
So with that being considered, I welcome the kind-of revival of the Monday Couple. At the same time, though, I would hope that this ‘I still love you, but you rejected me’ plot line is temporary, both for Ji Hyo (who has nothing to gain from a love-line now) and Gary (who, let’s face it, is trying too hard – and it shows). The ‘jilted lover’ performance is good for a few cheap laughs, and it’s been used liberally in the past few episodes, but it’s time to transition to something new.
But apart from that, I think it’s commendable for a show to keep changing like ‘Running Man’ has done in its more than two years of existence (so far). With only the nametag as the lone identifiable entity, the cast and crew of the show show us something different, every time.
A lot of variety shows have a tendency to fall into the all-too-common ‘comfortable zone’ after a few months at the top. With ‘Running Man’, though, the one thing you can always be assured of – every week – is that there’s going to be something new. It still doesn’t stack up to some of the legendary Korean variety shows like ‘Infinity Challenge‘, but I’m happy to report that it’s getting there. If the crew keeps churning out new ideas, and the cast can keep up with their creativity while supplying some of their own, the continuing success of ‘Running Man’ is all but assured.
Here’s our recommendations on what to catch for the week coming ahead. Keep in mind that these picks are the writer’s personal choices; your own opinion may vary. All times in KST.
Monday, September 17
Come to Play ::: MBC, 11:15 PM
Hosts – Yoo Jae Suk, Kim Won Hee
One of the oldest variety shows still on the air, ‘Come to Play’ has completely changed its concept, and it invites you back to settle in and enjoy the show! With two brand new corners – the ‘True Man Show’ aimed at eliciting reactions from male viewers, and the ‘Basement Concert’ focusing on nostalgic renditions of the music of yesteryear – this isn’t your grandfather’s ‘Come to Play’. So throw your preconceptions away and come to play!
Tuesday, September 18
Strong Heart ::: SBS, 11:15 PM
Hosts – Shin Dong Yup, Lee Dong Wook
It’s yet another fantastic slew of guests on the newest episode of South Korea’s biggest talk show, ‘Strong Heart’! SISTAR‘s Dasom, Lee Ji Hyun, Kim Ji Hoon, Kim Jang Hoon, and Kang Ye Sol take center stage. What’s the truth behind the relationship between Kim Jang Hoon and the heiress Paris Hilton? It’s the return of the ‘Dangyeonhaji’ queen from ‘X-Man‘, Lee Ji Hyun! And could there possibly be a love triangle between Leeteuk, Dasom, and Kang Ye Sol? So many stories, so little time on ‘Strong Heart’!
Wednesday, September 19
Golden Fishery – Radio Star ::: MBC, 11:05 PM
Hosts – Yoon Jong Shin, Kim Kook Jin, Kyuhyun, Yoo Sae Yoon
[Preview not available at press time.]
Thursday, September 20
Happy Together 3 ::: KBS2, 11:15 PM
Hosts – Yoo Jae Suk, Park Myung Soo, Park Mi Sun, Shin Bong Sun
[Preview not available at press time.]
Friday, September 21
GO Show ::: SBS, 11:05 PM
Hosts – Go Hyun Jung, Jung Hyung Don, Yoon Jong Shin, Kim Young Chul
Were you a fan of the now-cancelled SBS ‘Heroes‘? Then you’ll love this episode of ‘GO Show’ – it’s the return of the comedy queen, Noh Sa Yeon! Together with Park Gi Woong, Lee Sung Mi, and Ji Sang Ryul, this episode promises laughs on a scale you’ve never seen before. Don’t miss it!
Saturday, September 22
Infinity Challenge ::: MBC, 4:00 PM
Hosts – Yoo Jae Suk, Park Myung Soo, HaHa, Noh Hong Chul, Jung Jun Ha, Jung Hyung Don, Gil
‘Infinity Challenge’ welcomes Olympic gymnast, the ‘nation’s fairy’, and one of the cutest girls on the planet, Son Yeon Jae! Watch and learn as the rhythmic gymnast attempts to teach the ‘Infinity Challenge’ members all about gymnastics: balance, poise, artistry, beauty … it already sounds like a winning combination! Don’t forget to tune in as hilarity ensues on this Saturday’s ‘Infinity Challenge’!
Sunday, September 23 (double feature)
God of Victory ::: MBC, 5:00 PM
Hosts – Kim Yong Man, Tak Jae Hoon, Kim Soo Ro, Noh Hong Chul, Kim Na Young, Lee Jae Yoon, Kim Jae Kyung
The battle continues between two of Korea’s most athletic girl groups around, KARA and SECRET! With three events completed and KARA leading 2 to 1, the stage is set for SECRET to make a comeback. But before that, we have a surprise appearance from Goo Hara‘s older brother: what kind of effect will this home-field advantage have on KARA? Who will win to claim the title of the ‘Goddess of Victory’? Don’t miss the epic conclusion!
Running Man ::: SBS, 6:00 PM
Hosts – Yoo Jae Suk, Ji Suk Jin, HaHa, Lee Kwang Soo, Song Ji Hyo, Kim Jong Kook, Gary
It’s the twinkling goddess of Girls’ Generation, kid leader Taeyeon! She joins the cast and crew of ‘Running Man’ for a fun-filled energetic frolic with the previous episode’s guests in tow. But it’s not all fun and games on ‘Running Man’: how will she handle the brutal onslaught of the Running Men out to get her? And what kinds of tricks does Taeyeon have up her sleeve? Tune in to find out!
Do you have a (currently ongoing) program you’d like to see reviewed? Tell the author via Twitter (@MtnMadman).