A variety show in which cast members will go to a South Korean landmark and play games there. There are several games to be played within the landmark and at least one of them has to do with the specific landmark and with running, hence the title Running Man.Written by
The Man Who Can't Break Up, The Woman Who Can't Leave
By Leesang See more »
The most entertaining show on TV in years!
Running Man is a long running Korean variety show that began in 2010 and is still airing today as of this review. It has become extremely popular all across Asia over its roughly 160 episode run time to date, and, it doesn't take long to see its universal appeal once you start watching it.
There's nothing to spoil here; there's no linear story or end goal. More or less, it's just a simple comedy/reality/variety/entertainment/game show that airs on a weekly basis. I can't think of any show being televised in the west that's quite like it. It's a bit similar to Amazing Race, but its closest comparison is to other past KTV variety shows; X Man, Family Outing, & Infinite Challenge come to mind for obvious reasons.
Basic premise: Seven regular cast members get together with a few different guest stars each week to compete in various missions that result in the loser(s) being embarrassed &/or the winner(s) being rewarded. There's a heavy chase/tag element to the show, along with a varying array of games, role playing, puzzle solving, and daring challenges. The cast use their wits, bravery, and/or intuition in order to come out on top. It's usually very simple and silly stuff, but it does serve as an effective mechanism to deliver some solid entertainment along the way.
The cast members are outstanding in their designated roles; they originally consisted of 7 dudes who were slotted to play various personas within the bigger picture of entertaining viewers. In addition, there's one female cast member who hopped on board, and she is awesome. Other than a few early adjustments, the original cast has mostly remained intact, and they work very well together as whole In order to make this show work. They all have their own successful careers as MC's, actors, singers, rappers, etc., but they all dutifully clock in each Monday morning to play their parts on this show. They really seem to enjoy each other's company as well, and they collectively exude a clear bond as some sort of secondary working family. Search any of the regular cast members if you need more info regarding them and/or their specific roles on this show.
I've been watching this show regularly since the very first episode. It was raw and had a very limited budget in the beginning, but you could clearly see its potential; it soon found its footing, started ascending the coveted KTV ratings chart, and it has been off and "running" ever since. It has evolved & diversified over time, namely; several new concept themes were added, and the show has been taken out of its confined late night settings in favor of operating in broad daylight in full view of the public. Otherwise, its basic original premise has mostly remained unchanged.
This show doesn't have a fixed script per se, but it is produced and directed in such a way to achieve a desired outcome, so it's not "reality" by any means. The cast is basically informed as to what needs to be accomplished, then they set out to get the job done while hamming it up in typical KTV variety fashion. If need be, the show is nudged back in the right direction or a new direction, according to what's best for any given episode; fortunately, this is all done with as minimal heavy handedness as possible, so as not to disrupt the overall free flowing feel of the show. There's also a unique balance & symmetry at play with these Korean variety/reality shows between directors, cast, crew, guests, production teams, editing dept., etc...Everybody seems to be on the same page to try to achieve what is best for the overall good of the show.
There is a lot to like here. The show is packed full of fantastic guest stars on a regular basis, and the way it engages itself with the general public is fascinating to watch play out; normal citizens going about their everyday lives could soon find themselves involved in helping out the cast members accomplish whatever silly mission is at hand for that day. It also serves as sort of a Korean tourism guide and cultural experience; if you were ever planning on visiting Korea, you could literally use this show as your travel itinerary as to where to go and what to do, see, eat, experience, etc.
On the down side, the cast (who I dearly love) can be a tad annoying with their antics and clamoring for screen time (particularly the MC, who's otherwise very effective when not acting too much the clown), and it's sometimes hard to make all 90+ minutes of a particular show entertaining when you only have 12+ hours of footage to edit. The show has likely already peaked as well, and it's hard to imagine it getting any better or sustaining its pace; it's simply becoming increasingly difficult to keep the show fresh & I'm not sure how long everyone involved can keep this phenomenon going. Inevitably, all good things must come to an end, but if &/or when they ever call it quits, or various cast and/or crew members have to move on in life, etc., there is no doubt that this show will have had an incredibly successful run!
Summary; this show has been consistently entertaining and often wildly hilarious throughout its duration. Once it finds its rhythm, there are very few episodes that have disappointed in delivering very family friendly fun and entertainment on a weekly basis. If you have not been watching Running Man, you have missed out on one of the best TV shows, from any country, in years.
Bottom Line: Don't Walk, Run to watch this show before it's too late!...9 out of 10 stars!... HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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