Just Bananas About: Week of 9/11/15

I have to admit that I’m not all up on the Web-TV format as I’m more of a traditionalist when it comes to TV.  I supposed that’s going to change big time with more and more shows choosing to distribute via the internet and, what we in the industry call, over-the-top service (OTT).  However, I couldn’t resist not watching New Journey to the West.  In some ways, the show doesn’t feel like a TV show at least when you consider how it’s edited. Rather, it’s a bunch of web shorts chronicling the group’s trip to China.  In other ways, there are elements that are classic Na PD such as beautiful aerials of the city they’re visiting and games.  Of course, you can’t leave out the most important part, the camaraderie between the cast members.

Ja Mezz, Andup, Song Mino [WINNER] – 거북선 (feat. 팔로알토) (Turtle Ship (feat. Palo Alto))

자메즈(Ja Mezz) , 앤덥(Andup) , 송민호 [WINNER] – 거북선 (feat. 팔로알토)

Journey to the West is an ancient Chinese novel about characters that travel to the west to repent their past misdeeds.  In short, the cast is also taking this pilgrimage and they represent the main characters in the novel such as the pig (Kang Ho Dong), monkey (Lee Su Geun) and a river ogre (Eun Ji Won) lead by a monk (Lee Seung Gi, naturally).  I couldn’t help but crack up at Lee Seung Gi’s nicknames for Su Geun and Ji Won, Sang Am Dong Betting Guy and Yeoiudo Divorced Guy.  Burn.  Lol.

It’s nice to see the gang back together and it’s clear that there is no love lost since they’ve been apart.  They essentially pick up from where they left off on 1 Night 2 Days with their silly antics.  The night before they had gotten together for happy hour and Ho Dong got really drunk that he didn’t remember the rest of the night.  Although they are co-cast members, they’ve known each other for so long that they’ve become family.

They all meet together to have breakfast before heading to the airport.  Na PD tries to tell them what the show is all about, their mission and where they’ll be going in China but he gets interrupted several times.  Instead of the usual high quality graphics, it seems that Na PD went low budget with by showing title cards in the form of a to-do list.  It’s quirky and seems fitting for the format.

He informs the cast that the production came up with a crown, adapted from the novel, which will go to the person who fails the missions.  Eun Ji Won is quick to point out that the crown seems to be the exact size of Lee Su Geun’s head.  The crown also comes with a device meant to cause electric shock and a remote control put on a chain so that the victim is at the mercy of the remote control holder.  Before Ho Dong is able to lay his hands on the remote, Ji Won takes it and tries to put it around his neck but Su Geun stops him knowing that Ji Won won’t have any reservations about constantly pushing the button.

Shortly after, the group has a conversation that literally had me rolling on the floor, laughing.  Ho Dong asks about the weather in China and wonders if there’s any part of China that’s cool.  They all tell him that it’s hot there right now and Ho Dong asks, what if they went up to a mountain.  Ji Won confidently tells him that it’s even hotter there because… they’re closer to the sun.  Seung Gi wonders aloud, ‘How did you come to that conclusion?’  Ho Dong doesn’t help the matter much when he says the temperature is just lower there.  So Su Geun asks, ‘Why is it cold on an airplane?’  Wait for it..  Ji Won: ‘Because they turn on the AC there.’  I’m laughing so hard that I can’t breathe.

Back on the bus, Na PD tries to get back into some important talking points about the show… like where are they going.  As soon as the boys hear they are going to Xi’an, Eun Ji Won and Lee Su Geun immediately start speaking in fake Chinese and repeating the name of the city.  The pronunciation of the city sounds close to a Korean curse word.  I love that Lee Seung Gi comments that there were always immature kids like them on class trips.

Na PD informs them that if they win the mission, they’ll win “Dragon Balls”.  If they win all 7, the production will grant them wishes.  Eun Ji Won immediately goes for erasing all the negative internet comments about him.  I’m not sure how feasible that it is but I’m not gonna burst Ji Won’s wishful thinking bubble yet.  The ultimate loser must wear, from top to bottom, Uniqlo’s Heattech in 40 degree Celsius weather (104 degrees F).

It’s interesting to watch the group when they land in China and waiting for their bags to come out.  Seung Gi is studying his guide book while Su Geun and Ji Won change the time on their watch because of the change in timezone.  Ho Dong is just sitting there.  Picking his nose.  Eww.  Ha.

At the happy hour the night before, the rest of the group members ask Ho Dong to please join Kakao Talk.  Because you can tell if someone has read your messages or not, Ho Dong uses that excuse for why he hasn’t joined the popular messaging app.  However, it’s most likely because he’s not so tech savvy as his younger cohorts.  At the airport, Ho Dong downloads the Line app and Ji Won tries to show him what the icons mean but he pushes Ji Won’s hand away.  Cut to two days later into the trip, Ho Dong is addicted to the app.

Outside the airport, the group is given their first mission.  They must find their living quarters on their own. Basically, it’s the same mission Na PD gave to the grandpas on their trip to Taiwan except that Na PD doesn’t write down the address for them.  They can only hear the address read aloud to them by one the production staff members.  They all take out their phones to record him.  Na PD gives them all a certain amount of cash to find their way to their accommodations.

Ji Won and Seung Gi decide that they’re just going to play the recording to the taxi driver.  The taxi driver knows exactly where they need to go but the two don’t have enough money.  Luckily, some fans notice Seung Gi and help the two out by writing down the address on a piece of paper for them.  They even direct the duo to the bus ticket booth.  Ji Won grumbles (maybe some cursing?) on and on about how difficult this mission is and it’s interspersed with a calming scenery and music.

Meanwhile, Ho Dong listens to the recording and tries to mimic reading the address into his phone.  Ha, total fail as the app has difficulty understanding him.   Finally, he enlists the help of a security guard who writes the address down and directs them to the bus ticket booth as well.

The two teams are on different buses racing to not be the last one to arrive at the lodging.  They are also down to the last ounce of power on their phones.  Na PD has an answer for that as he gives Su Geun a battery pack charger that’s both Android and iOS compatible.  It’s in a fanny pack that’s shaped like a monkey’s tail with the cords coming out at the end.  On the bus, Su Geun realizes that maybe it’s embarrassing to be wearing the tail as there are some people giving him weird looks as he charges his phone.

The show ends there and I’m looking forward to seeing what the other games on the show will be like.  It seems there’s going to be a lot of the classic games we saw on 1 Night 2 Days, except it seems like they can say brand names in the web shorts.  Looking forward to tonight’s clips.

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