It’s been almost a year since I wrote my last list and now it really is very out of date, so here is a new run down of the best episodes since then.
(UPDATE: Another list, covering more recent episodes, can be found here.)
A lot of people prefer the episodes where it's just the seven regular members, but I think there's nothing better than when Running Man has a good guest. Having somebody new to play against really adds to the show, and when it works, it's just brilliant. Of course, when it's just the seven regulars, that's when the production team bring out their most cunning games, so I'm happy either way.
I tried to be strict, keeping this list only for the very best. And I found myself leaving out some classics, such as the Rage Virus, Reincarnation and the Jackie Chan episode. Nevertheless, these are the episodes of the last year or so that I thought were a cut above the rest.
Episodes 109, 110
The guests are Olympic athletes Park Tae Hwan and Son Yoen Jae. These two episodes contain almost everything I admire about Running Man. First, they take two non-entertainers and make them comfortable enough that they can joke around with the rest of the cast. It also demonstrates the quick thinking of the production team when a storm hits Korea, meaning that the first part of filming had to be staged in one room with improvised rules. Lastly, it shows how well the cast and crew work together when one team complains that their cameramen aren’t laughing at all so that means they won’t be on screen much when the show goes out, and also in the scene where the PD can’t get them to shut up so he can explain the rules.
Add to this two exciting elimination games including twists, traps and betrayals, and a lot of fun challenges before that, and this is my favourite couple of episodes in the last year or so.
Episode 123, 124
I've written about episode 124 before, and it's brilliant elimination game in which one player is voted as king, and is therefore invincible until a new election can be held. But apart from this, I really enjoyed the two guests, the laid back actor Gosoo and the feisty actress Han Hyo Joo. These two contrasting characters really add to the chemistry of the show.
Apart from the elimination game, there's a funny but cruel breakfast game (can't eat until you've completed it) and an evening food preparation game.
It starts off with the theme of a school trip. It's all very light-hearted and fun, apart from some enigmatic messages from mystery schoolgirls. Then, that night, a zombie apocalypse breaks out and one by one the RM team become infected, while the rest have to find a solution to solve the problem.
Beautifully put together and, since there's no real visual difference between the zombies and non-zombies, it's as much a guessing game for the viewer as the players. And I especially liked the clue about the “infected” members of the Running Man cast not liking the dark.
Let’s face it: water is funny. And this episode serves up three games based on this idea.
The first is perhaps my favourite RM game ever, in which everyone in a team has to get into a car and then use water pistols to knock cans off walls while being soaked by hoses. Then there is a pronunciation game (punishment: being catapulted into a swimming pool) and then a water gun elimination game.
Having two fighters made this into a physical ordeal that the RM regulars were never going to do well at. Both Chu Sung Hoon and Lee Si Young are funny, but I tip my hat to Lee Kwang Soo who has the nerve to take on Chu Sung Hoon in a physical battle. But the games also involve a quiz and a round of ddak-ji, so the two fighters can't rely totally on their strength.
This Running Man trilogy starred footballer Park Ji Sung, who turned out to be a surprise highlight of the show, especially in episode 97 when Yoo Jae Suk can't be there to film and he has to fill in as the host.
The superhero-soccer game is a treat, and the other guest, IU, does very well not to be overshadowed by the internationally famous sportsman. Plus, Rio Ferdinand makes an appearance. That means if I ever meet him, we'll have something to talk about.
Episodes 133, 134, 136
For a start, I thought Dong Hoon was a great guest. Very funny, even if sometimes it looks as if he's not sure what's going on. And I enjoyed Macau Tower as a location. I suffer quite badly from vertigo, and I was squirming with fear as I watched this and laughing at the same time. A peculiar feeling. Then in episode 136 there’s an elimination game which, despite taking up half of the show, never gets dull. Plus, it looks very nice, with distant tree-covered mountains and boat trips through caves.
Perhaps the jokes about Noh Sa Yeon being heavy get a little tired, but there’s no denying that this is a fun episode. Kwang Soo, Yoo Jae Suk and UEE make an unexpectedly good comedy team. All three "princesses" put in a great performance, making life hell for their male team-mates. I did feel sorry for them, though, during the swimming pool game where it is clearly very cold if you're not in the water.