allkpop TV Guide [Variety Edition]: Infinity Challenge Ep. 287
The cast of 'Infinity Challenge' are back and ready to entertain once more! In a brief recap of the happenings over the past seven months, the cast gathers to present an episode of "Muhan News". Barbs are exchanged - Jung Hyung Don and Jung Jun Ha become defensive in the wake of their failed variety programs ('Lululala' and 'Man and Woman', respectively), and even Yoo Jae Suk can't escape the criticism for the current situation with his 'Come to Play' - although that doesn't stop him from showing off his new smartphone!
The cast touches briefly upon personal issues such as Jun Ha's marriage and Hyung Don's announcement of twins before jumping straight into a celebratory performance by Hyung Don and Defconn with their live presentation of their recent hit track, 'The Song That's Even Worse When You Listen to It During a Bad Time' (what a title!).
Jung Jun Ha documents the current variety trends with a short and simple presentation. Is Park Myung Soo's hosting skills really that awkward on 'I Am a Singer 2'? And what of 'Running Man' and its meteoric rise to stardom? Jun Ha points out that the success of 'Running Man' has left a lot of failed programs in its wake - including his own!
The second half of this episode is filled by a compilation of the 'HaHa vs. Hong Chul' match that originally aired earlier this year, and which was cut off at the middle due to the labor strike. In preparation of the grand finale to be aired next week, the compilation brings the viewers up-to-date on the score thus far - four wins for HaHa versus a meager one for Hong Chul. Who will emerge as the winner of this battle royale? All will be revealed next week.
Does anything really need to be said? It's 'Infinity Challenge' - one of the goliaths of Korean variety entertainment and it's finally back after 174 days of being cast off MBC as one of the casualties of its long-term strike. Now, the strike is finally over - for better or for worse, seeing as how it failed to achieve its intended goal, the ousting of current CEO Kim Jae Chul.
If one were asked to describe a textbook-perfect example of a group variety program, it would be 'Infinity Challenge'. Many programs, such as 'Qualifications of Men' and 'Running Man', have a similar format (several fixed cast members who play their way through games, skits, and experiences), but nothing comes close to the gold standard, and with good reason.
All of the cast members have their role, and they play it wonderfully - the result of seven years of camaraderie and symbiosis. The relationship chart, if it were to be drawn, would be full of criss-crossing lines, brackets, and Venn diagrams. We have HaHa's rivalry with Hong Chul and the brotherly relationship between Jung Jun Ha and Park Myung Soo - not to mention the myriad of individual characters: intern Gil, class leader Yoo Jae Suk, little kid HaHa, electronic brain Jung Jun Ha, trickster fox Noh Hong Chul, 'great Park' Park Myung Soo, and annoying face Jung Hyung Don.
This episode ensured itself success within the first five minutes, where the cast members quickly - and gleefully - began tearing into blistering-quick repartee and ad-libs upon ad-libs flying everywhere. There's a reason why this show has (comparatively) fewer subbed episodes available for the international fans: subtitles simply don't do this show justice.
One of the strengths of 'Infinity Challenge' is that it has a history of making veiled political parodies and poking fun at the status quo. The 'Speed Special' last year was analyzed by many to be a statement on the issue of Dokdo (a spit of land to the east of the Korean peninsula, and claimed ownership by both South Korea and Japan), and the 'TV Wars' tag-team race was clearly meant, in part, to be a commentary on the fierce battle between television stations in Korea (aided and abetted by the choice of captions for that particular episode).
Since political statements are accepted as a part of 'Infinity Challenge' in a way no other variety program has achieved, this gives the show enormous freedom to tackle current issues, and one of the biggest reasons why I welcome it back to the fold of currently-airing variety shows. With the election gearing up in Korea, and numerous other social issues to tackle, one requires a show like 'Infinity Challenge' to provide some insightful - and hilarious - commentary on the state of things.
To be sure, though, political commentary isn't the main goal for 'Infinity Challenge' (overt commentary should be left to shows such as 'PD Notebook' or 'Saturday Night Live Korea'). Its objective, and raison d'etre, has always been laughter - whether it be Myung Soo yelling at Gil for not being funny enough, or a breathless chase by the 'trickster' Hong Chul, or a moment of insanity with Hyung Don and Jun Ha. The characters are familiar, and if nothing else, this comeback episode has proven that they've still got it. They're still the best.
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.
Monday, July 23rd
Come to Play ::: MBC, 11:15 PM
Hosts - Yoo Jae Suk, Kim Won Hee
Say hello to the two giants of the Korean music scene - Hallyu stars Super Junior (represented by Yesung, Eunhyuk, Shindong, and Leeteuk) and legends of the 80's Sobangcha! Watch in amazement as the two idol groups - one representing the last century, and one standing up for this one - battle each other to determine the best idol group of them all. Who will be the winner? Find out on 'Come to Play'!
Tuesday, July 24th
Win Win ::: KBS2, 11:05 PM
Hosts - Kim Seung Woo, Tak Jae Hoon, Lee Soo Geun, Lee Ki Kwang
It's the 'Concubine', actor, and variety gold Cha Tae Hyun on this week's 'Win Win'! With his myriad variety skills in tow, what sort of laugh-a-minute conversations will he dish up this time? Listen to his stories about his fellow '1 Night 2 Days' members, and much more. Don't miss this episode of 'Win Win' with Concubine Cha!
Wednesday, July 25th
Golden Fishery – Radio Star ::: MBC, 11:05 PM
Hosts – Yoon Jong Shin, Kim Kook Jin, Kyuhyun, Yoo Sae Yoon
Say hello to cool guy PSY, soulful balladist Bobby Kim, and 'Nation's Fairy' Lena Park (Park Jung Hyun)! Why did PSY have to leave for America? When did Park Jung Hyun break the heart of a top male star? And just what happened when Bobby Kim decided to indulge in too much alcohol? The answers to all these questions and more, plus some wonderful performances by some of Korea's top singers, on this episode of 'Golden Fishery - Radio Star'!
Thursday, July 26th
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, July 27th
GO Show ::: SBS, 11:05 PM
Hosts - Go Hyun Jung, Jung Hyung Don, Yoon Jong Shin, Kim Young Chul
Say hello to the 'Laws of the Jungle 2' producer, Lee Ji Won! Find out the truth behind the wilderness variety show with never-before-told stories about the cast and crew. Also, it's showtime with PSY and Kolleen Park (professor of music and musical stage director)! Don't miss what they have to say on this episode of 'GO Show'.
Saturday, July 28th
[Note: 'Infinity Challenge' will be airing at 4:00 PM next week instead of its usual 6:30 time slot.]
Infinity Challenge ::: MBC, 4:00 PM
Hosts - Yoo Jae Suk, Park Myung Soo, HaHa, Noh Hong Chul, Jung Jun Ha, Jung Hyung Don, Gil
It's the grand fanale of the 'HaHa vs. Hongchul' competition! Borne out of a petty rivalry, the two same-aged friends battle it out to determine who is superior. Competing in a variety of events - from the mundane (geography, vocabulary) to the hilarious (opening bottle tabs, catching balls by their pants) - it's a battle to the finish line as the two 'Infinity Challenge' members determine, once and for all, who shall be called hyung! Also, say hello to beautiful actress Lee Na Young as the 'Infinity' crew members depart on a vacation. It's fun times for all on this week's episode of 'Infinity Challenge'!
Sunday, July 29th
[Note: due to the London Olympics, there will be no new episodes of 'Running Man', 'Laws of the Jungle 2', 'I Am a Singer 2', and 'Infinity Girls' this Sunday.]
1 Night 2 Days Season 2 ::: KBS2, ~6:20 PM
It's part 2 of the '1 Night 2 Days' members' Jeongdongjin vacation! In the previous episode, the members had to travel to the eastern coastal city by only going straight. Arriving late in the day, the cast are tuckered out and ready for some playtime, but rain soon scuttles those plans. In the middle of the cold, dark, and rainy night, the members are brought out into a tent set up next to the beach. Mysteriously, one by one, they are called off into the darkness... what fate awaits the members? Stay tuned for the next episode of '1 Night 2 Days'!
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