Like most people, I was drawn into Running Man during the height of its popularity. Everyone was going on about that Korean variety show that could make even the most stone-faced person crack a smile. My first episode of Running Man was the first ever Park Ji-sung special in episode 95-97. At the time, I was watching it mostly because of the football element and less for the group of (what I thought) noisy, chatterboxes of a cast.
3 and a half hours of belly aching laughter and tears streaming down my face later, I was desperately calling all my friends to copy over all the episodes of Running Man. I was hit by the Running Man Fever, a very real phenomenon back in the day. In just 3 episodes, I was drawn into the ragtag group of seven members, their group dynamics and all their inside jokes, that made no sense to me at the time, but was infectious enough to make me laugh along. I found myself wanting to watch more episodes to try to at least figure out what was going on in the show. 299 episodes later, I still find myself laughing at their amazing chemistry and the Running Man brand of humor which seems to get me every time.
After 6 long years of running, it's Running Man's landmark 300th episode. 300 episodes of the cast members; Yoo Jae-suk, Kim Jong-kook, HaHa, Gary, Ji Suk-jin, Song Ji-hyo and Lee Kwang-soo, and for a couple of the earlier episodes Lizzy and Song Joong-ki, making us laugh with their antics, their quick wit, their humor, their chemistry, their friendship.
They brought their A-game to every episode, created the most memorable in-show characters like the Commander, the Race Starter and the Betrayer, and even formed meaningful bonds with each other on and off the show.
300 episodes isn't an easy feat to achieve in view of the shortened attention span of viewers today. The fans are as fickle as fickle can be, often complaining about the direction of the show, the boring games, the fact that their oppas are not invited on the show, the invite to other rival oppas, the lack of nametag ripping games, the over-reliance on nametag ripping games...it's an absolute hoot. For the producers, this is a head-scratcher because the show can't please everyone. So they go the only way they can; to make people laugh.
And make people laugh they do. Running Man's aim is to entertain people and make everyone happy. The members themselves are willing to do all and everything to get a laugh from the audience. Sure, it may seem brutal when you see them coating themselves in mud, or tearing off each other's nametags, but you can always sense that Running Man knows its boundaries, and the members know how to respect each other and the show's guests as well.
Still, this doesn't mean that they go easy on the guests. Look at Han Hyo-joo, voted one of Running Man's best female guests as an example of how brutal Running Man can be to even an actress of her standing. She's been made fun of, wrestled to the ground, and angered more times than can be counted.
Big Bang's G-Dragon, one of the most stylish K-pop idols in the world, played around in a muddy field and caked his blond hair muddy brown.
It's incredulous for the guests, and even to the members themselves, but in that silliness, there is so, so much comedy to be found. And that is what Running Man has been doing all these years.
Running Man is just good plain fun. Sure, among the 300 episodes there are a few that can be listed as boring. But the show tries its best to innovate itself through the years. The games have evolved to fit the changing direction of the show, and some of the special episodes (see Yoomes Bond, Superpowers everything, Zombie specials etc) have been absolutely amazing, with secret rules set into place, as well as the brilliant plot twists which make for some memorable episodes.
Of course, all good games must have an element of cheating, which the members often take major advantage of. Cheating is mostly allowed by the producers because it makes for terrific entertainment, and based on the popularity of Lee Kwang-soo, possibly the most frequent cheater, the fans tend to agree as well.
In 300 episodes, essentially, Running Man has shown us all about how competent the members are and how well they can blend in with each other. They complement each other so well, bickering good-naturedly with each other and playing more and more ridiculous games, engaging in even more betrayals and cheating and being themselves in front of the cameras. It's a difficult thing to find a cast that has run together for more than the Running Man members have with each other, and it's undoubtedly so that their relationship forms the backbone of Running Man as a top variety show.
I've written just a few Running Mondays ago about how Running Man may end one day. But today, on the week of their 300th episode, that reality can be safely pushed to the back of everyone's minds as Running Man celebrates an important milestone that marks their rise into the hall of variety greats.
A toast to Running Man's 300th episode. And another toast to their ever lasting friendship and bonding of the seven members.
|Credit to RMDoodles for this amazing image.|
Running Man fighting!