Prepare for a shock. There’s a new variety show on the block, and the cast manages to go an entire episode without playing Rock, Paper, Scissors. What is this strange new concoction?
Lee Seung Gi’s comeback drama might be plagued with broadcasting scandals, accidents, and delays, but his new variety show gets off to a moderately paced but entertaining start. He is joined by three other members: Actor Lee Sang Yoon, Comedian Yang Se Hyung, and BTOB’s Yook Sung Jae. These intrepid four travel to the homes of influential people who will be their master of life and school them in whatever he or she feels like. They even have their own Master Mobile (or Scooby Van, depending on how you look at it). The inside of the motor home is covered with pictures of famous figures, both Korean and otherwise, who might end up being future masters.
Welcome to the Seung Gi Show
Lee Seung Gi spent his required time in the army, away from the spotlight, and now this PD wants to catch people up on his current life. The first part of the episode is all Seung Gi, all the time as we watch him workout, watch tv, and turn in for the night. I’m a fan of this actor since he gave me my all-time favorite drama, The King 2 Hearts. But if you find this part slow, hang on just a little longer. Seung Jae is coming.
Lee Seung Gi looks over the moon to finally be higher on the age totem pole. He always had to play the catering maknae in shows like 1 Night, 2 Days and Noonas Over Flowers. Now he has Seung Jae, also known as “Yook Sungjae Handsome Psycho” by his friends. (You might recognize him as the spoiled “nephew” on Goblin.) From the way he lies in bed while belting out love ballads and hugging a Pokemon pillow, to standing on the street with his coat hanging off his back like a Superman cape, this kid exudes a unique vibe. I can’t tell if he’s just at that young and clueless age, or if he’s a true heodang (empty headed). The way he tried to sit on top of his suitcase twice and failed, I think it may be the later. Seung Jae starts winning his hyung over from the start as he greets him with a thermos full of hot coffee. Later in the show, the cast is adding colored stickers to the pictures of the people they want to meet and Seung Jae places his sticker on Seung Gi’s cheek. The object of his affection practically glows with happiness. It’s so cute. Seung Gi is known as quite the heodang, himself, so their collaboration bodes well for the comedic future of the show.
Operation: Stab Our Cast Mate in the Back
Lee Sang Yoon suffers the most in the first episode. He is a brand new resident to the Variety world and his linear brain can’t quite follow the convoluted twists and turns of this playful format. When asked about his favorite quote by the crew, he mentions Einstein and goes into a long, brainy spiel. The hilarious sound effects and matrixy graphics they add over top makes the whole thing funny instead of boring. Seung Gi worries that this Variety Newbie might be too tense in the beginning and decides to prank him by invading his apartment with the rest of the cast. They force their way in and confidently declare that Sang Yoon is the first Master of the show. Surprise! His three co-workers string him along for quite awhile as they inspect his place and lie about finding a woman’s hair in the office. His facial expressions cover everything from shocked, stubborn, and unhappy to 2-seconds-away-from-a-breakdown.
I Get It. You like TWICE.
Like many Korean service men, Lee Seung Gi likes the K-pop girl group TWICE. A lot. After he’s mentioned them however many times, the producer offers to video call them. Turns out Sang Yoon is quite the Ahjussi Fan, as well. The look on his face when the girls answer and Se Hyung shoves the video phone directly in front of his nose should be seen first hand. The poor guy tries to stay cool and then crumbles like a fourteen year old boy. The cast goes through some adorable floundering as they talk to their musical crushes.
First Shooting Location: A Haunted House
The first mystery master’s house could double for a horror movie setting, complete with overgrown bushes and creaking gates. At the top of a seemingly endless flight of stone steps, the lonely house even has a note on the door inviting the guests to enter at their own peril. Just kidding. It says to make themselves at home and he’d be right back. Even veteran variety star Lee Seung Gi looked nervous when the crew announced they were leaving. Instead of being followed by multiple cameramen like most shows, strategic cameras are already placed around the property, leaving the four truly alone to explore their surroundings. They have no idea whose house it is and, when Seung Gi finds an invoice with the owner’s name on it, you get the feeling he wishes he hadn’t eaten those rice crackers that were laying on the counter. I admit I didn’t recognize the four-decade-long rock legend that is revealed in the end as the homeowner and first master. But the nerves show on everyone’s face as they give him a deep bow (Well, almost everyone. Seung Jae looks blissfully smiley like he’s singing the Pokemon theme song in his head).
The pacing of this show is nothing like the frenetic, head smacking tone of Running Man. But it has a charm all its own. Every cast member is likable and their early chemistry works well. I assume it will get even better as they grow more comfortable together. I look forward to the different ways their famous masters will torture their new apprentices. I hope they don’t go easy on them.
(The show is subbed on Kocowa if you are a subscriber or you can probably catch the new episodes free on their 24 hour Taste option on Sundays. It is also on Viki. If you want to check it out and have shelled out the extra dough for a Viki Pass Plus, you can watch it right away. It should be available for everyone else in another 15 days. *Sigh* The joys of capitalism.)