Since April was shortened due to the Sewol disaster, it will be included with the May episodes for this recap.
Show rankings for April/May
1. 1 Night 2 Days
1 Night 2 Days repeats as the monthly champion, due largely in part to their superior consistency compared to Running Man and Infinite Challenge, who struggled with show structure and behind the scenes turmoil, respectively. The highlight of for 1 Night 2 Days was almost certainly the “Day Trip” arc, which were for the most part fast paced, fun, and unique, with good motivations for the members to work hard to win the games. The rest of the 1N2D episodes in the month were generally average.
2. Running Man (tie)
Running Man was all over the place in April and May, with some very good episodes mixed in with some very poor ones. There did seem to be a concerted effort to try new ideas, which generally worked out quite well for the show as the cross country race and time travelling episodes each turned out nicely, while the MC Yoo and Ddakji War episodes were at least decent. However, the Mafia Game two-part episode was quite dire at times. Still, there were mostly positives for Running Man this month, as they seem to be working hard to break out of the rut they’ve found themselves in of late
2. Infinite Challenge (tie)
The timing of the ferry sinking, Gil’s arrest, and the rescheduling of the rally race could not have been worse for MuDo, and as a result they were left having to improvise to a certain degree. The result was the 2014 MuDo elections arc, which was solid in concept, but definitely seemed a bit rushed at times, which prevented it from really taking off. The only other episodes were two Speed Racer special eps, which were solid, and the doomed Hong Chul marriage arc, which was quite good but was unfortunately (and quickly) killed by netizen outrage.
Variety Cast Members Top 3 for April/May
1. Park Myung Soo – Infinite Challenge
Myung Soo wins the MVP award this month, largely due to his hard work during the Speed Racer specials, where he combined his usual gag antics with some dramatic moments on the track. While his jokes were a bit hit and miss during the Election arc, Myung Soo was nevertheless one of the more active members and played a key role in several episodes by serving as the ‘target’ for many of the other members better jokes.
2. No Hong Chul – Infinite Challenge
The star of several of the early Election episodes, Hong Chul put in some very impressive performances where he very nearly carried entire episodes by himself – if he had not been active in the first few election episodes, they would have been much much worse. He slowed down a bit towards the end, but never had an outright bad episode and was at least solid throughout the month(s).
3. Yoo Jae Suk – Running Man
Although he had a few episodes where he uncharacteristically faded into the background (most notably in the Mafia and Ddakji episodes), Jae Suk also provided two of the most important variety performances of the month as well. He was obviously central to the MC Yoo episode, being onscreen for the majority of the episode, and was excellent in his MC role during the “cross country” race where he got some very good performances out of inexperienced variety guests.
Variety Cast Members Bottom 3 for April/May
1. Song Ji Hyo – Running Man
Ji Hyo defends her title for the second month in a row, unfortunately. Despite starting the month with one of her better performances in awhile during the Cross Country race, she spent most of her time in the other episodes being either heavily edited out, or not included in major segments (such as sitting out the final mission of the time travel episode, ddakji war, etc).
2. Lee Kwang Soo – Running Man
A very unusually weak month for Kwang Soo, who repeatedly found himself on the sidelines in many of the episodes aired this month. This was partially due to large groups of guests crowding him out, but he also seemed much less energetic than usual, often content to just exist as a background character.
3. Ha Ha – Infinite Challenge
This month was quite unlucky for HaHa, who may have been the member most negatively affected by the schedule difficulties that arose. He had been putting in some good performances during the Speed Racer arc, and gaining some positive momentum in that series. Unfortunately, the Election series relied heavily on skill with talking and ad-libbing, which are undoubtedly HaHa’s weak points from a variety standpoint. As a result, he spent much of the month stuck in the background while the others performed.
While he’s valuable more for his reactions and energy than his comedy skills, Tae Hyun seemed a bit more withdrawn than usual in March and his performance suffered as a result. He was also pushed to the sidelines a bit during the ‘no smoking’ episodes, as he’s a non-smoker, but he was mostly just ‘there’ for the other episodes as well.
Guests Top 3 for March
1. Ryu Seung Soo – Running Man
Assisted greatly by Jae Suk’s ability to get the best out of inexperienced guests, Ryu Seung Soo’s performance in the cross country race was one of the better performances of the month, variety members included. His mung personality and goofball antics were genuinely hilarious at times.
2. Ji Suk Jin – Infinite Challenge
His rambling speeches and over-the-top Jae Suk support added a lot to the Final Debate episode, and complimented what was a very good month overall for Suk Jin.
3. A pack of wild goats – 1 Night 2 Days
While they were clearly a bit inexperienced in variety, they showed good reactions (and some decent body gags), and managed to provide a memorable and chaotic guest appearance during the final Pungdo trip episode.
Guests Bottom Three for April/May
1. 2NE1 – Running Man
Despite the fact that 2NE1 are the only mainstream K-Pop group I sort-of like, they have always been death on variety and talk shows. Their appearance on RM was no exception, and was made worse by the number of other guests and the physical nature of the games involved.
2. Kim Bo Sung – Infinite Challenge
While he didn’t really do anything -wrong- per se, his inclusion was basically just a lazy capitalization on a fad that added nothing to the episodes in which he appeared.
3. Lee Sang Hwa – Running Man
I think Sang Hwa has a bit of variety potential in her, but a three-episode long that was shot over two days was just way too much for her at this stage, which left her as the only member of that large guest group who really didn’t do much of anything in any of the episodes.