I’m a newcomer to this long-running Korean variety show (since 2005, according to Wikipedia). My previous attempts at watching it have always been ruined by IC’s biggest failing: it can be pretty inaccessible if you haven’t seen the previous week’s episode. It’s one of the most popular shows on Korean TV, so they must be doing something right, nevertheless it makes very few concessions to new viewers. Perhaps, after nine years of high ratings, the production team thinks there simply isn’t anyone left in Korea who hasn’t already seen it.
But a few weeks ago, I tried again. The format is simple: each week the seven regulars have to complete a challenge set by the production company. It could be anything, hence the name “Infinity Challenge.” It certainly makes for a wide range of situations. In the past few weeks, the team have had to learn cheer leading to encourage members of the public, to play a huge game of Yut, and to learn how to be a detective.
This week’s episode began with the punishment game from last week which I watched thinking “This is exactly the sort of thing that put me off last time.” There’s almost no explanation about what you’re looking at. You just have to go with the flow. Infinity Challenge is an odd show (perhaps even brave) because there’s a pretty good chance you won’t understand much about the first episode you see.
However, once you’ve got past that first barrier, it’s much easier. It relies a lot on phsyical humour, which usually rises up out of the situation they’re in. It’ll be a while before I get all the in-jokes, but I’m in no hurry. I can see this show becoming quite addictive. It’s unpredicability – the same thing that put me off at the start – is exactly what will keep bringing me back.
However, watching Infinity Challenge for the first time is a bit like trying to jump onto a moving merry-go-round. You’re sure it’ll be fun once you’re on, but they could at least slow down a bit to give you a chance.