The Producers: Episode 3
The Producers continues to be one giant meta joke on showbiz, with more cameos that can be counted and mile-a-minute jokes about everything from casting to executives to getting a show off the ground by pure dumb luck.
The mockumentary framing device remains but is scaled back a bit (there’s been talk in the press from producers about making the show less experimental, grumble grumble), but thankfully the sense of humor remains. I really hope Producers sticks to its guns with its initial concept, because the deadpan humor and mockumentary style is what makes it fresh and interesting, and I’d hate to see it lose that flavor.
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Triump – “Just Friend” [ Download ]
EPISODE 3: “Pheasant instead of chicken, unintentionally”
Just in case there wasn’t enough meta around here, today’s episode begins in a show within a show: KBS’s morning talk show Hello, hosted by Shin Dong-yup, Lee Young-ja, and Cultwo. Only the guest for their “National Problem Contest” segment (a play on “National Singing Contest”) is our rookie PD Baek Seung-chan.
He awkwardly joins the hosts who introduce him as a variety PD at this very network, and they share his problem: that he doesn’t want to go to work. He tells them about the noona he followed here, and how he discovered that she’s already dating someone in the variety department.
Shin Dong-yup cringes and wonders why he’d want to date a female variety PD at all, and then all their mouths drop when Seung-chan tells them about the other man cheating on his noona with another variety PD.
Seung-chan says that he saw them going into the same apartment after work one night, and Shin Dong-yup says he sent his story to the wrong show (meaning that it belongs on his 19+ cable talk show Witch Hunt). The whole thing is edited like a real segment with a real guest, and it’s cracking me up.
Shin Dong-yup tells Seung-chan that they’ve brought the PDs in question to their studio, and Seung-chan does this hilarious slow double-take as the MCs explain that this is the concept of their show—they bring everyone into the studio to talk out the problem. LOL.
The camera cuts over to Joon-mo and Ye-jin sitting side-by-side in the audience and looking pissed. Joon-mo growls into his microphone: “I told you not to be seen around me, didn’t I?” Ye-jin: “I said let’s kill him.” Seung-chan darts awake in terror—it’s a dream, of course, fueled by the episode of Hello that’s playing on his laptop right now.
His little sister runs in with a gift box and asks him to give it to her (idol) oppa because it’s his birthday tomorrow, and Seung-chan counters humorlessly, “I’m your oppa.” But his reluctance is really about not wanting to step foot inside KBS tomorrow, and he cries in defeat, “I don’t wanna go to work!”
In the morning, Ye-jin comes out to the hallway to collect her milk delivery and finds it empty. She looks around wondering if there’s a milk thief in the building, and two seconds after she goes inside, Seung-chan peers out from around the corner, holding two bottles of milk.
He mutters to himself that this doesn’t seem like just a one-night kind of a thing, and then realizes that he’s on camera with the documentary crew. He mentions cautiously that he said some things that were probably too private, and asks if some of the earlier footage of him could be edited.
Suddenly the documentary PD behind the camera asks what entry class he’s from, pulling rank as a sunbae. He asks Seung-chan if broadcast is a joke, and tells him to shoot and edit the whole thing himself then. Properly chastised, Seung-chan drops it.
Of course, the following interview with him as he’s heading out for work is over-edited for no apparent reason, cut-cut-cut-cut-cut, just to be snarky about his request. See, here, I edited you.
They ask about his day ahead, and Seung-chan talks about having to recast 1 Night 2 Days, and how the writer in charge of casting told him that with their terrible ratings and a week left before broadcast, they can’t waste their time chasing after pheasant—they have to settle for chickens. “I’ll be going to catch chickens now.”
Joon-mo and Ye-jin sit down to breakfast without their milk, and without thinking, Joon-mo hands Ye-jin the jar of jam when he can’t open it. She pops the lid in one go, and he wonders why she isn’t like other girls who can’t open jars or change their own light bulbs and run to oppa to do it for them. Says the guy who couldn’t open the jar just now?
She scowls and says that his girlfriend must snare quite a lot of men with that act, naming the various PDs she’s dated in every department. Joon-mo gets defensive and says that it’s better than not being able to date like Ye-jin, and we get a quick flashback montage of all the times Ye-jin came crying to Joon-mo every time she got her heart broken.
He drank with her, answered his phone in the middle of the night, and carried her home on piggyback with assurances that she’s not someone you get sick of easily, otherwise he wouldn’t have known her for 25 years.
Ye-jin tells him to enjoy his life with the girl who can’t open jars or change light bulbs then, and says that he’s dumb enough to avoid the breakup for so long that he’ll end up at the altar with her. Instead of just telling her that he already broke up with her last night, he yells at Ye-jin to focus on her own problems like how she’s homeless and squatting here.
He tells her not to stick her nose into other people’s private lives, and she balks at his word choice, making her feel like a stranger.
Joon-mo is accosted on the front steps of KBS by that reporter who seems to know everything before he does. Speculation is already running wild about the new cast of 1N2D, and it’s pretty funny to watch how the typical casting storm is brewed.
The reporter guesses that he’s going after Shin Dong-yup and Yoo Hee-yeol, fishing for confirmation. When Joon-mo challenges him to go ahead and write it, the reporter decides that they must’ve rejected the offer, and threatens to go with that headline unless Joon-mo gives him the exclusive.
Even funnier is the fact that the reporter was right, and the docu team goes around interviewing all the potential cast members. Yoo Hee-yeol doesn’t want to be with Yoon Jong-shin; Shin Dong-yup wants to do it if they can get Jeon Hyun-moo; Jeon Hyun-moo has too many shows but will do it if they can pay enough; Shin Dong-yup hears that they can’t match his base salary and says no immediately; Yoo Hee-yeol hears that and quits too, and so on and so forth.
Joon-mo sighs in his staff meeting to hear the results and insists that you have to approach casting like dating, with a little push and pull. They tell Joon-mo to do it himself then, since he’s so good at dating, and Seung-chan fires a death glare at him.
That catches Joon-mo’s attention so he tells the newbie to throw out his genius ideas, and Seung-chan is oblivious to the fact that they’re teasing him. He tells them about how he’s been mapping out the history of KBS variety shows, and busts out a graph to explain his 7-year popularity cycle theory that goes back decades.
It’s an explosion of geekery, and he ends with the conclusion that if they did a matchmaking show concept, it would be popular… in 2016. After a long beat, Joon-mo only says one thing: “Did you go to Seoul University?” Seung-chan: “Yes…” Hahaha, how does Joon-mo turn Seoul U into the butt of a joke?
Outside the apartment complex, Ye-jin gets stopped at the trash bin by Seung-chan’s mom, who refuses to let her throw eggshells away in the food trash. She actually stands there and holds the lid closed, and tsk-tsks that a woman should really be able to run a household properly.
Ye-jin takes offense and asks why men don’t have to do the same, and when Dad shows up she dumps the trash and makes a break for it. Ye-jin’s words seem to have an effect on Mom though, and she argues with Dad about having to give up her career just to take care of him when he never amounted to much and she’s smarter, demonstrating by pray-yelling in Hebrew.
Ye-jin grouses at all the couples crowding the streets of Yeouido, here to see the cherry blossoms and making her commute longer. She decides that they should all be uprooted, but then her thoughts drift back to all the times she had wanted to see the cherry blossoms with Joon-mo, and how he always said, “Next year! Next year! They’re there every year! Did we not go last year?” while slumped over his desk working on something.
At the office, Ye-jin finds Seung-chan hard at work erasing old tape labels with a whiteout pen, and asks if he needs some help. He says he’s on it and doesn’t need help, but Ye-jin insists that he does, and picks up a tape and slides it in the tape eraser.
Realization dawns on his face as she explains that he was probably tasked with erasing the content on the tapes, not their labels, but adds a patronizing, “You did a good job with that though.” Is there a hole he can crawl into somewhere?
He asks her not to tell Joon-mo about this, and she says that’s probably going to be difficult because it’s too funny. He begs, so she offers a deal—she’ll pay the car repairs back in installments, and hands him 30,000 won (out of 830,000 total). Somehow he ends up thanking her, and she tells him to go buy snacks if he’s grateful, making sure to call it part of his training.
CP Kim tells Joon-mo not to ever have kids, complaining about how much it costs to pay for all of his daughter’s tutors and lessons. Joon-mo jokes that he ought to make her an idol trainee because they pay for all that, and CP Kim seems to actually consider that as an option.
They head up to meet with the director, scoffing at Seung-chan’s stupid matchmaking idea, only to have the director pick that one excitedly. CP Kim offers to take the lead on casting idols for the show, using that as an excuse to talk to all the agents about taking his daughter as a trainee.
Ye-jin finds Joon-mo’s ex-girlfriend crying in the bathroom, and annoyance turns to glee when she finds out about last night’s breakup. She gives her a hug and a pep talk, and Seung-chan freezes in his tracks when he sees them come out of the bathroom together looking super chummy.
He’s more confused than ever about Joon-mo’s love triangle, and he interviews that this isn’t Hollywood and he can’t seem to get used to this kind of liberal attitude, but stops mid-sentence as women walk down the hall dressed for a runway.
Seung-chan presents Ye-jin with her bag of snacks, and she takes him to task for failing to get sausages. He says that she told him to get chips, and she can’t believe he didn’t read between the lines to include sausage.
She tells him that a PD needs to be more sanmai not nimai, and Seung-chan has to go ask a floor director what those words mean. FD Joon-bae tells him that they’re Japanese words, and that nimai means sincere, earnest, unfunny, and sanmai is its opposite—funny, and a little dirty.
CP Kim tells Joon-mo that he got all the idols they need, unaware that all the talent agents are avoiding him like the plague. Joon-mo jumps the gun and calls the reporter to tell him that they got Hani of EXID.
Ye-jin gets squarely ignored by her maknae writer, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that she doesn’t have much authority on her own team. She takes offense at the writer getting packages from Cindy’s fans when she’s the head PD, but the writer points out that Ye-jin is on the outs with Cindy’s fans since her last Music Bank appearance.
Ye-jin pulls out her phone to argue that Cindy’s the one on the outs with the public, pulling up all the negative comments made about her by netizens. Cindy is well aware of the comments herself, and makes her manager oppa read them aloud.
She asks why they aren’t reporting these people, and the manager says these are nothing compared to the stuff in her anti café, and Cindy glares, “Oppa, are you a member of my anti café?” Busted.
Ye-jin finds her car blocked in the parking lot, and after a few attempts to push them out of the way herself, she calls Joon-mo (who doesn’t answer), and soon Seung-chan is pushing cars. He hems and haws before asking where she lives, and Ye-jin names her old neighborhood and her future one, leaving out her current stay in Yeouido.
He follows it up with: “Do you have a boyfriend?” I can’t believe he just asked her that. She asks if he’s trying to set her up with someone, and he says no, he was just wondering if she liked anyone. This is going to get so misconstrued.
Ye-jin thinks for a long moment, and just then cherry blossoms start to shower down on them. They both look up, mesmerized for a spell, and Ye-jin muses that other people come to Yeouido in the spring but she always wants to leave because of the traffic. “But if I had a man I guess I wouldn’t? Because we’d walk together looking at the cherry blossoms.” She whirls around and asks why he wants to know anyway, and he quickly reminds her that she told him to ask her anything. She shoos him away, calling his questions useless.
The 1N2D staff burns the midnight oil, and the team looks on curiously as Joon-mo presents his new cast of six idols, three boys and three girls. They point out that he’s basically doing Seung-chan’s idea after he said it was dumb, and Joon-mo insists he did nothing of the sort.
Joon-mo: “What did I say?” Seung-chan: “You said, ‘Did you go to Seoul U?'” Joon-mo: “See, I was so impressed that I was asking if he went to Seoul U!” Lulz. He manages to say the exact same words with the total opposite intonation.
Ye-jin waits and waits at home, disappointed when her brother walks in instead of Joon-mo. Little bro Ye-joon can tell noona has been sitting by her phone all night, and guesses that she called Joon-mo repeatedly because he didn’t pick up.
He sits her down and tries to say as gingerly as possible that she’s the type of woman that men get sick of easily, and gives her the advice to cool off a little and make men wait, instead of answering texts right away and always being available. She scoffs and calls that game-playing, but Ye-joon says it’s just about giving the other person space, and time to think about you.
Cindy sits alone in her giant apartment and against her better judgment, tries to join one of her anti-fan clubs. Yikes, don’t do that.
Her first attempt at a comment—”Cindy is annoying because she’s too perfect”—gets rejected with an automated message asking if she’s Cindy, so she settles for an actual insult just to gain access.
She gets a text from Seung-chan and smirks knowingly, having expected a come-on of some sort, but is rendered speechless when he actually only texts to remind her to return the umbrella.
The 1N2D team takes another hit when their star cast member Hani gets caught in a drunk altercation and has to spend a night in jail. (And puts on a show for the entire police station from her cell.) She has to be pulled from the program before they even start, and now the other members are ready to pull out if they don’t find a replacement.
Joon-mo asks if they don’t have any celebrities in their back pockets to call on, and one PD suggests (Cha Tae-hyun’s real-life friend) Hong Kyung-min, hur. Joon-mo asks what they’re supposed to do with a married man and a bunch of idols.
Seung-chan pipes up and asks what about Cindy, and everyone humors him by saying she’d be perfect, obviously thinking that she’d never do it in a million years. Joon-mo tells him to go ahead and call her up, and promises to do whatever he wants if he can get Cindy on the cast. Seung-chan nods in excitement, completely missing the sarcasm in the room.
Ye-jin spends all night wondering where Joon-mo is and checking his empty room, and when she gets to work in the morning, she calls Seung-chan over to ask him instead. Hearing that he was at work all night with a crisis lifts her spirits.
Joon-mo meets with the director, who conveys the KBS president’s message that he’d like it if they got someone like Suzy or Cindy instead. Joon-mo just gapes. CP Kim and the director take turns telling Joon-mo about the good ol’ days and their exaggerated casting gets back in their prime, and CP Kim reminds Joon-mo that he was close with JYP once—didn’t he help tape up his see-through pants once?
They encourage him to go try, and then as soon as he leaves, they admit to each other that their stories ended with rejections from Kang Ho-dong and Yoo Jae-suk.
Seung-chan’s dad shoots the breeze with a food stand ajusshi and brags about his PD son, calling it very important work. Two seconds later, Seung-chan shows up at that very stand to buy snacks as ordered by Ye-jin, deflating Dad’s fragile ego. Food stand ajusshi: “So that’s your Seoul University grad prosecutor-turned-PD son?” Wah waah.
Seung-chan gets Cindy on the phone and she’s amazed that he’s this persistent about the damn umbrella. He sighs that she was supposed to return it today, and she tells him that she’ll pay the stupid late fees. Seeing his chance, he says he’ll come get it right now then, and goes running to meet her.
Meanwhile, Joon-mo heads to JYP, where he gets the runaround by an assistant and taken on a tour of the building. He gets put on a conference call with JYP, who’s in Japan, but first he’s subjected to an excruciating promotional video.
Cindy sits down with Seung-chan and agrees to listen to what he has to say, and learns from her manager that it was Joon-mo who bought her the food the other night, not Seung-chan.
She sees the pancakes in Seung-chan’s hand and says she’ll accept them, and he moronically tells her that these belong to someone else, embarrassing her and sticking his foot in his mouth, as usual.
He finally gets around to telling her about 1N2D, and she asks why she should do it when it only benefits them. Seung-chan tells her that he did some studying, and found that many top stars revived images and launched second careers through variety shows, and it seems to work in getting Cindy’s attention.
It’s too bad that they’re interrupted by her agent CEO Byun, who storms in and demands to know who he is and what he’s got in his hands. Seung-chan just blurts, “They’re pancakes and you can’t have any!” He’s like a dog with a bone.
Joon-mo naps through the JYP video and finally gets him on video call. JYP is super eager to pitch his new idols and get them on KBS shows, but then the minute that Joon-mo mentions Suzy, the connection stalls.
JYP’s face freezes while the connection is buffering, and Joon-mo gets distracted when CEO Byun calls to say that his maknae PD is with her. He runs out and asks the assistant to request Suzy for his show, and the second he leaves, JYP stops pretending that his video froze. LOL.
CEO Byun takes Seung-chan to task for suggesting that Cindy lose out on gazillions in concert revenue just to join a variety show, and he admits that he didn’t know the vast money at stake. He starts in on this super sincere speech about how money isn’t everything, and somehow ends up insulting CEO Byun twice over, calling her sanmai and money-hungry. Cindy smirks.
Joon-mo busts in and drags Seung-chan out, and CEO Byun asks if Joon-mo is trying to get revenge or something. He scoffs that he’d have to want to deal with her to get revenge, and yells at Seung-chan for associating with these weirdos.
Cindy is suddenly verrry interested in Joon-mo, and confirms with her manager that he was the one who bought her dinner.
Joon-mo asks Seung-chan what he wants for dinner, yells at him when he says whatever, then shoots down every single choice he makes. But at dinner, Joon-mo pours him a drink (ignoring the fact that he said he can’t drink), and seems to soften a little.
CP Kim and PD Hong-soon come by to join them, and Joon-mo tells them about his call with JYP, complete with hilarious demonstration. Hong-soon mentions the PD swap just in case 1N2D is in the toilet, and CP Kim feeds Seung-chan drinks until he can’t see straight.
Ye-jin walks home alone under the falling cherry blossoms, Joon-mo and Seung-chan get rip-roaring drunk, Hong Kyung-min begs to join 1N2D, and JYP has an actual bad connection when he tries to have a real meeting.
Chapter 3 of CP Kim’s book is on casting, with the sub-header “It’s the beginning of a relationship.”
Seung-chan sneaks away from the dinner table teetering on his feet, and walks home still clutching the bag of pancakes.
Cindy sits at home that night asking people on the internet what it means when a guy uses an umbrella as an excuse to contact you but only seems interested in the umbrella.
And Ye-jin decides to hell with space, and texts Joon-mo to call her back. She lights up when the doorbell rings, thinking it’s him. But when she opens the door, a very drunk Seung-chan is standing there red-faced, holding her pancakes out.
He puts them in her hand and doesn’t let go for a long beat, then collapses on her shoulder and passes out.
We get two more cameos from Jang Hyuk and Lee Chun-hee as Ye-jin’s ex-boyfriends, who interview that she constantly ditched them for Joon-mo.
She’d be too busy with Joon-mo on the weekends to go out on dates. She wouldn’t go see the cherry blossoms because she promised she’d do it with Joon-mo. Whenever she was drunk, Joon-mo would come to get her.
Chun-hee (as ex Min-chul): “It felt like I was dating a married woman.” Jang Hyuk (as ex Hyun-sung): “I can take one look and see that Tak Ye-jin likes Ra Joon-mo. They seem to be the only two who don’t know.”
I’m partial to this writer’s tendency to pack all her romantic punch into the epilogue—it always feels more bittersweet when delivered that way, usually because it involves one party being kept in the dark about how the other person feels. Or in this instance, that Ye-jin and Joon-mo are the only ones who don’t know that their friendship is more than a friendship, which is all the funnier when it comes from her ex-boyfriends. It seems so obvious when they say it, not that Ye-jin would ever admit it. She does seem more aware of her feelings than Joon-mo, but worse at expressing them. But that’s kind of her constant problem with everything, and I like Ye-jin no matter how prickly she acts, because we always get to see the B-sides where she fails at everything and actually doesn’t wield as much influence as she’d like. She’s all talk and quite bumbling underneath her prideful outer shell, and the more weakness we see, the more I find her lovable and endearing.
She’s actually at her funniest with Seung-chan because he gets to witness more of her false bravado than anyone, and I’m liking their strange bully/mentor/lackey relationship because she confuses him so. I can’t wait to see how this misunderstanding is going to complicate things, if Ye-jin reads his interest as romantic, or if he starts developing real feelings for her. For me the romance is all about the two best friends figuring out that they’re meant to be, but there’s a whole lot of comedy to be mined until we get there.
I really wish that IU were playing Cindy with more oomph, because it’s hard to engage with her scenes in the same way as the others when she seems sleepy and bored, which I’m sure is her take on bitchy starlet—it’s just not coming across as genuine. For her sake (and the drama’s), I hope the character gets to warm up and find a softer side, if for no other reason than to make her more believable as a character. I did like seeing more of her vulnerability when she was looking up her own anti-fans online, so maybe what we need is just more time spent developing her character. I’m sure that when she joins the 1N2D cast—’cause she has to be the accidental pheasant here—it’ll work to make Cindy more likable to us in the way that Seung-chan described variety shows making stars likable in real life. It could be a clever layering of meta, that is if it works.
The biggest laughs still come from Kim Soo-hyun’s awesome deadpan face and the way he does those mockumentary interviews like he’s actually missing an entire set of social cues. The geekiness works so well with his lack of social graces, and I love that he has like a negative ability to read sarcasm, as if over-earnestness can create a sarcasm blind spot. I’ll never tire of him and Joon-mo having entire conversations where they don’t understand each other, because Joon-mo is being snarky and Seung-chan can’t read it, leaving Joon-mo frustrated and Seung-chan perpetually in a pit of single-entendre. Plus, Seung-chan’s petty hate just makes it even better because he’s constantly at war with himself for seeking Joon-mo’s approval while hating his guts, and Joon-mo wants to keep hating him even though the kid keeps doing everything right. In this drama, they just might be the couple to beat. Hell, I’ll forgo all romance as long as they can stay together forever.
- The Producers: Episode 2
- The Producers: Episode 1
- Smiles and scowls at press conference for The Producers
- Producer’s playful partner-go-round posters
- Hidden camera teasers: Producer meta, or Meta Producer?
- Petty jealousy revs up on Producer’s morning commute
- Oh Snap! Cozy Producer, Hidden Ex-Girlfriend
- Cha Tae-hyun goes behind the 1N2D camera for Producer
- Script reads for new KBS spring dramas Producer and School 2015
- Kim Jong-kook joins Producer as Cha Tae-hyun’s sunbae
- Gong Hyo-jin considers Producer opposite Cha Tae-hyun
- IU courted to reunite with Kim Soo-hyun in Producer
- Cha Tae-hyun to play veteran variety PD to Kim Soo-hyun’s rookie