New Journey to the West: Episodes 11-15
javabeans: We’re back with Week 3 of New Journey to the West, also known as Episodes 11 through 15, and now that the numbers are climbing I find it increasingly confusing, this new format where they kept TV broadcast procedure and chopped it up for the Internet, rather than just embracing the Internet and making a show FOR the Internet.
girlfriday: Especially when as a whole, the weekly chunks just add up to an hour of television anyway.
javabeans: If Na PD was so keen on making episodes that are short, bite-sized clips that can be watched out of order or on the go, why did he insist on releasing an hour every Friday? Why not just do one per day then?
girlfriday: Yeah it’s an interesting one-foot-in, one-foot-out kind of mentality.
javabeans: And why are the clips getting longer and longer? The first week it felt like they were meant to be 5 minutes long, and now they’ve doubled that and there’s one episode in this week’s bunch that’s nearly 20.
girlfriday: Basically, it should just be aired on tvN as one show. At least they finally announced that the show will run for five weeks in total, so we have an end date.
javabeans: I find it amusing that they said it got “extended” by one week to make it five weeks, and the rest of us were all, “Oh, was it four weeks? At least now we know when it ends.” Because we were just sitting here hoping they wouldn’t drag out weekend trip to China into fifty episodes. There’s only so much time I can spend watching a guy figure out a chant or a route to a restaurant before I’m glazed over in boredom, Na PD or no Na PD.
girlfriday: Let’s hope today’s episodes are funnier.
girlfriday: Na PD tells the boys that they have a free day today, and all they have to do is meet him at a gate by 12:30.
javabeans: What’s the catch? What nefarious trap has he sprung?
girlfriday: Yeah exactly. Seung-gi seems to be immediately wary as well, knowing that there’s gotta be a reason he’s setting them free.
javabeans: Hee, Ho-dong is still trying to adapt to this new style of variety (the reality format that’s not as structured or emceed) and says all he has to do is focus on the mission without thinking of the cameras. And then Seung-gi grabs a camera and waves it all in his face as he talks, telling him not to pay it any mind.
girlfriday: They set out with cameras in hand without any crew, and already I’m nervous that they’re going to mess this up somehow.
javabeans: I’m always curious as to whether they REALLY REALLY only have those cameras, and there’s no VJ around that we’re not seeing, because… well, we’ve seen guys mess up cameras too much for Na PD to trust that they’ll get everything, right?
girlfriday: One of my favorite 1N2D trips is the one where they sent the boys off with cameras after extensive instructions on how to use them, and they filmed all day with no audio.
javabeans: HAHA. How did they show that on air?
javabeans: Was there a Chipmunks track dubbed over or something?
girlfriday: I think there were subtitles.
javabeans: I love that one episode, I don’t even remember which Na PD show it was, where the crew ditched the cast somewhere mid-travel but were nervous that the cast would mess up the filming, and then the crew members were sneak-filming them from long distance, huddled on a hill off in the distance. And I think the cast totally put the cameras down frequently too, missing whole conversations.
girlfriday: Yeah that was Yoo Hee-yeol and Co. These guys are way more camera-conscious though, and set up two cameras at the noodle restaurant where they stop to eat.
javabeans: Yeah, they even think to get shots of the cooks in the kitchen and of the food. You can’t be totally un-aware of the cameras because they all know you want insert shots and extra footage. Though I do think the goofs are way more funny, even if you have to watch someone filming everyone with their heads cut off or something.
girlfriday: It turns out to be very little so-called free time (so, par for the course for Na PD), because the boys leave breakfast and find that they have a helluva lot of walking to do to get to their gate in time. Su-geun: “Then how come he said to do some sightseeing on the way? He said it in such a relaxed way!” Cut to: Na PD laughing maniacally.
javabeans: They increase their pace as the clock ticks down, riding tandem bikes when they get to the Xi’an city wall, and Na PD’s devil laughter gets cut in between scenes.
girlfriday: Waitaminute, who’s filming them now when they’re on the tandem bikes, huh?
javabeans: Ohhh. Haha, that’s right, there are no cameras out! Ah, then at one point we cut over and Na PD is taunting them from the car that’s driving apace with them.
girlfriday: LOL, he is the epitome of the taunty annoying little brother.
javabeans: They arrive at their destination and catch their breaths, and every time Ho-dong asks questions or comments about the tourist location, everyone reminds him, “That’s old style [emceeing]! You said you wouldn’t go back to the old style!”
girlfriday: Na PD takes the guys to the Museum of Terracotta Warriors and Horses, but because it’s so crowded with tourists, they kill some time in the car.
javabeans: Ji-won: “You know the [English] word can?” Ho-dong: “Of course! I can!” Ji-won: “What’s the past tense?” Ho-dong: “I can’t!” They crack up and then press him again. Ji-won: “Past tense!” Ho-dong: “Look to the future, punk!”
girlfriday: Ho-dong gets mad, so then they ask him to stump them with trivia too, only Seung-gi gets every one of his questions right, and he just gets sadder.
javabeans: I enjoy Ji-won’s question about what the word for mother-in-law is in English. Seung-gi: “Mother-in-la?” Ji-won: “What’s a la?” Seung-gi: “I dunno.” Su-geun: “Long mother?” Ho-dong: “I’m not even embarrassed not to know this! Why would I know this?” Su-geun: “Then side mom? You know, the mother at your side?”
girlfriday: They should both be embarrassed, really. Finally Na PD lets them out of the car, and leads them away holding up a little red flag like a tour guide.
javabeans: The first pit is pretty amazing, full of life-sized terracotta warriors and horses (I’d wondered at the museum name, and then saw the display and figured yup, that’s pretty much what it is), and they spend some time marveling at the rows and rows of life-like statues. Then they move on to the second pit, which seems to be mid-excavation. Ho-dong sighs in total earnestness, “The past is amazing, and the present is amazing, and it makes us anticipate the future.” And then he pauses to admire his own pithy commentary.
girlfriday: Pffft, he always ruins it for himself.
girlfriday: Na PD takes the guys to dinner and says he ordered ten things. Seung-gi: “Why is he being like this?”
javabeans: He’s keeping them on their toes by throwing in a nice act every once in a while, so that the suspicion mars their ability to even enjoy the nice thing.
girlfriday: The first dish arrives, and surprisingly, they all get to eat. But it only lasts for one bite, because then Na PD takes it away and says, “Now that you’ve had a taste, we’ll play a simple game.” Muahaha.
javabeans: It’s hilarious how quickly they go from tasting things excitedly to putting down their chopsticks in disgruntlement.
girlfriday: Seung-gi just sighs that he knew it would go down like this. Na PD: “The game is: I Eat Or The Staff Eats.” That’s an evil game!
javabeans: Ji-won misses the first question to ask a question about the game format, which of course Na PD counts as a wrong answer, and Ho-dong totally snaps at him while the staff chows down on potatoes. You don’t mess with Ho-dong’s food! I can’t wait till Ho-dong is the one who screws up.
girlfriday: Do you think Na PD missed saying “DDENG!” like that?
javabeans: Yes. He probably wakes up in the middle of the night screaming it.
girlfriday: He probably makes his children play games to eat their dinner.
javabeans: It’s extra mean to make them taste it before the game. I would just forfeit the taste. Hmph. They lose the second dish too, and Seung-gi complains that the staff is really hateful right now, eating so enthusiastically. Ho-dong says the hunger is making him sensitive and tries to tell himself not to be mean.
girlfriday: Honestly, I’m not even hungry right now, but the idea that they’re starving makes the food look better. It’s all so mental.
javabeans: Ho-dong settles down to focus on the third round, and Na PD asks if he’s cheating under the table. (As if you could even cheat in this game!) It’s hilarious because the accusation is so absurd and it’s Na PD’s bad, but then Ho-dong’s indignation is so over-the-top that everyone laughs at how hangry he is.
girlfriday: They finally get a good round going rattling off various chicken brand names, and they only need one more right answer to be able to eat. It’s Ho-dong’s turn, and instead of a brand name, he blurts, “Marinated chicken!” and the hilarious part is that you can read it on his face, that he knows it’s wrong as the words are coming out of his mouth.
javabeans: HAHA, Seung-gi mimes beating Ho-dong with a stick, and Su-geun puts his punishment buzzer on Ho-dong’s head. You know Na PD’s doing a dance in his mind right now. He offers Seung-gi a taste anyway, and then Seung-gi mimes beating Ho-dong with a stick again. And then the stakes rise when a huge pot of meat is brought out.
girlfriday: Ho-dong messes up again, and they lose the pot of meat. Saaaaaad. Na PD just shamelessly eats it in front of them at their table, like a happy troll.
javabeans: They even switch seats so Ho-dong gets an easier spot in the rotation, and then we’re in the pork stew round. They lose this dish right away because Seung-gi doesn’t know any cigarette brands, and now I’m thinking Na PD is gonna have to order more food just to keep this game going. Wouldn’t it be hilarious if this went on so long that eating all the prize food became a punishment for the staff?
girlfriday: It’s really about to go that way, but at least it’s fun to watch. When Seung-gi loses the cigarette round, Su-geun jokes that he’s going to take Seung-gi outside to teach him how to smoke.
javabeans: Ho-dong gets serious before the next dish, giving his team a pep talk drawing upon his athlete background, about how they need to not choke under pressure, which of course they point out is HIS problem, not theirs. When he gets a preview taste, he tells the guys, “Don’t worry, I don’t really like this one, let’s just take this round lightly.” Okay, reverse psychology it is. “Just think that getting this round right will be your punishment!”
girlfriday: It seems to work, because they fiiiiinally get through one round and get to eat a dish.
javabeans: Is this whole brand-name game just Na PD’s attempt to draw sponsors?
girlfriday: Yeah and also probably just to be like, See what we can do on the internet that you can’t do on broadcast TV? Ho-dong says it’s confusing because it so goes against his nature, and says it looks like they’re filming a TV show, “And the staff all look like people in their right minds…”
javabeans: The next round wins them fried rice and a dragon ball, and hilariously, Ji-won the Genius makes a comeback by offering up, as names of Korean car models, the K-3, K-5, and K-7 sedan from Kia. Ha, can they even do that? But Na PD just looks sour and doesn’t call violation, and everyone cackles.
girlfriday: Lol, but then as soon as they get their first dragon ball, Su-geun offers it back to Na PD for all the food that the staff stole from them. He’s totally serious too, and the other guys all crack up and Seung-gi agrees that it’s not a bad idea.
javabeans: They win the last dish, too, by naming ice cream brands. Ji-won caps off the round in a sing-songy neener-neener tone, and I know it doesn’t have this meaning to them but I can’t help but hear “screeeeew baaaaar” (the Screw Bar) as “Screw youuuuu.”
girlfriday: It totally sounds like that, and it’s awesome.
girlfriday: On the car ride home, the guys start taking their mics off and Ho-dong talks about how nice it always feels to take a mic off. Na PD agrees that it’s like shackles to a TV personality, though Su-geun pipes up that he’s happy to be wearing one again.
javabeans: They pause to get some coffee, and Su-geun takes off his headband because people keep staring at him. Which gets him a zap right away, of course, since there’s no way Ji-won would let him slide. Then as they sit down in the cafe, he zaps him again, and the boys pass around the zapper just to try it out. Ji-won totally pretends like it’s no big deal until he gets the zap, of course, when he totally jumps.
girlfriday: That zapper could keep them busy for weeks.
javabeans: Hee, after passing it around for ages, they hand it over to Na PD and insist he try. He complains that he’s scared to try (like that’ll stop them?), whines while waiting, then totally jumps at the zap.
girlfriday: How can someone who inflicts so much punishment as his job be such a big baby?
javabeans: They return to their lodgings, and then we get a series of captions over a black screen: “This is a true story. The case of the disappeared shoes. The culprit is among us.”
girlfriday: Na PD comes in to say that they’re going to have a morning mission for old times’ sake, only he’s not going to tell them what the mission is, or what time they have to wake up. He’s going to post instructions into their group chat room, but with no notice of when.
javabeans: So of course, they end up all glued to their smartphones after Na PD leaves, not wanting to miss the instructions. At 1:42 AM, Na PD texts, “Tomorrow’s morning mission is…” and they all bolt upright to listen in, and he just finishes, “good luck with that.”
girlfriday: Then he means to text It’s an individual game, only he ends up sending with a typo: “It’s your individual boob.” LOL.
javabeans: They do sleep, though, and it’s 7:30 AM when Na PD texts from one of the restaurants in a nearby neighborhood. Ji-won has already guessed they’re heading there, though I guess the question is what the game is. Na PD says, “Yes, it’s where you’re thinking. Run there. Then you’ll get the next hint.”
girlfriday: One by one the boys start getting up, and curiously, Su-geun gets out of bed already wearing shoes (did he sleep in them??), and Seung-gi can’t find his shoes at all. Su-geun tips him off that Ji-won stole the shoes (of course, that’s so Ji-won’s style). But Ji-won’s just lounging in bed.
javabeans: Way to misdirect suspicion. Ji-won and Ho-dong get up barefoot and look around in confusion for their shoes. The guys find their shoes after looking around, at which point Su-geun is in the lead. They all start running, but it’s far enough that they all slow to a walk eventually. Su-geun says he thinks Ho-dong hid the shoes, because he got up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and found his shoes in his bag. True story, or more suspicion-diverting?
girlfriday: Su-geun seems pretty suspicious, given that he slept in a pair of sandals. Su-geun starts running again, and they almost pass the restaurant before Na PD calls out to them. Su-geun lets Seung-gi win first place.
javabeans: Ji-won can’t find his shoes, so he ends up going in bathroom sandals. He grabs his kick scooter, which seems like a brilliant idea until the show points out that his VJ runs faster than Ji-won’s scooter is going. At this point they all think Ji-won fell victim to his own plan, though I still think Su-geun is mighty suspicious.
girlfriday: He’s definitely at the top of my list, though I wouldn’t put it past Na PD to have stolen the shoes to make them suspicious of each other.
javabeans: Then we cut to scenes from last night, showing us the clues and painting each of the cast members as suspects. It’s edited together like a crime thriller, and then we’re told that we’ll get the answer… next week.
girlfriday: WHAT? Boo.