Friday, 24 February 2012

I love you: Running Man

Goodness, has it already been a week since I last wrote? Where does the time go?

It's the usual mid-season lull, where I'm waiting to see which dramas I'm watching suddenly fall to pieces, and which make it to the end with a proper story all the way through and a decent ending. So not much to write about at the moment.

But I will take this opportunity to, once again, bow in deepest respect to the Korean game/variety show Running Man. In particular, number 74. In this episode, there are no guests, so it's a battle between the regulars. Each member is given a super power that they can use, and this is clearly to balance out their strengths and weaknesses. It also gives the post-production team a chance to show off with lots of CGI lighting effects.

 The weaker members are given strong powers, while the strongest – Kim Jong Kook – is given the power to know when someone was approaching, thanks to an audio feed from a member of the crew. Sounds good, but the ability to know whenever people are near isn't much of a super power.

It's classic Running Man: a funny opening game, followed by the main battle that starts slow and rises to a fever pitch by the end, and there's also an exciting twist halfway through. Each player knows their role in the show so well that the banter between them is natural and effortless. They know what works and what doesn't, and how to keep a game interesting for as long as necessary.

And this is where the balance between competition and comedy is so perfectly maintained. The question of "Is Running Man fixed?" is almost meaningless. I don't think anybody on the show wants to win if it isn't entertaining. This is why unlikely alliances are made between people who, seconds before, were chasing each other. Anything that keeps the audience guessing is good, even if it makes little sense when you think about it.

So I doubt that the production team sit down with the regulars and tell them who should win, but rather if someone sees how they can lose in a funny way, they'll do it. In that sense, it's not a genuine competition. But that's just the impression I get after watching it so much. And the endless inventive ideas of the production team can only be admired. I've seen sections used only once in Running Man which would be regular features in any other show.

I'm not too familiar with other Korean shows, but Running Man is like nothing on British TV. This makes me almost pathetically grateful to iSubs who do the fansubs. In fact, when Megaupload was closed down, the only thing I was worried about was "Would this effect Running Man?" Luckily it didn't, otherwise the FBI would've had one more public enemy to deal with. Or, at the very least, I would've been very cross.


  1. I think most Korean varieties are nothing like what we get to see on tv. British or American... or Latin American.

    Most my jdrama or asian dorama communities have closed down, though. T_T

  2. Yeah, the loss of megaupload means a lot of old dramas have more or less disappeared, which is a shame. I am now trying to coax my old external hard drive back to life, which invloves hopefully turning it on and, if it works, copying as much from it as possible before it remembers it's broken.