[First Impressions] “1 Night 2 Days” Season 3 – Giving An Old Dog A Fresh Coat Of Paint
Disclaimer: The writer is not really an expert at anything much and is just a mere casual fan of “1 Night 2 Days.” The writer has been known to be rather weird and cynical at times. The writer’s opinions certainly DO NOT reflect the opinion of Soompi’s news team or Soompi as a whole.
I don’t tend to do a lot of these first impression articles. Variety Shows like “1 Night 2 Days” always tend to be slow burners and judging the merits of a show on a single episode is always bound to be a rather futile effort. It’s like looking at a new born baby and instantly saying that said baby will grow up to be a super model, get it wrong and you end up looking like a bit of a fool. Get it right, though, and you just look like a very lucky fool. But this is the internet and if there is one mode of communication that allows me to blabber randomly about something I’m interested in then this is it.
So for this first impression review, I shall be taking a look at the new redesigned “1 Night 2 Days” Season 3 featuring a new cast, new staff and hopefully a new touch on the long lived formula. Did the first episode in this new saga for KBS’s premier variety show offer something fresh and interesting or is the old dog on its finally legs? (Warning: Trying to actually paint an old dog is not recommended under any circumstances unless it’s with a marker pen, then it’s hilarious.)
Stranded in the middle Of the sea, almost like a metaphor for the show’s current status.
As I mentioned above, this isn’t the first time I’ve written a first impression review for a variety show. The last time I wrote one of these was two years ago when I offered my thoughts about the then newly launched “Invincible Youth Season 2.” Looking back at it now, it’s almost scary to see how much of it ended up being correct over the long run, but now I’m just tooting my own horn.
What Went Right And Wrong With “1 Night 2 Days” Season 1 And 2?
Season 1 and their focus on the people
Anyway back to “1 Night 2 Days,” and the best place to start is to discuss what the previous seasons did right and what they did wrong. “1 Night 2 Days” in its various guises has been around for the better part of six years. In that time it has gone through through two major cast and staff changes. The initial cast line up lead by MC Kang Ho Dong and PD Nah Young Suk was the pinnacle of “1 Night 2 Days” both in ratings and interest. It then moved into it’s second season in 2012 with a new staff line up lead by Choi Jae Hyung PD. There was another staff change near the end of Season 2 with Lee Sae Hee PD. We now have season 3, led by Seo Soo Min CP and Yoo Ho Jin PD, the former arguably being KBS’s most important variety show PD in recent years. Yoo Ho Jin PD is a familiar face for old time “1 Night 2 Days” fans, having previously been the junior PD during Season 1.
Season 2 ended up being a misfire
Why exactly am I talking about the staff line up? Simple, it’s a good way of determining what direction the show is going to take. One of the strengths of Season 1 was the direction that Nah Young Suk PD eventually ended up taking for the show. Casual observers of the show may assume the focus of the show is its trademark “Luck Of The Draw” games and the concept of travelling to sights not widely known. But that wasn’t really why Season 1 enjoyed such popularity. The strength of Season 1 was the cast and one of the strengths of Nah Young Suk PD was his ability to take his brigade of jolly men and make them supremely likeable.
The crew led by the now famous Nah Young Suk PD
It was never about the destination but the fun that was had on the journey there with a group of close friends. Every set piece in the show was designed as a way of making the cast seem closer knit and approachable. Even the constant cast versus staff battles were a way of creating artificial conflicts to get the cast to seem more like one cohesive unit. That concept eventually expanded to include the staff as well and so by the end of Season 1, viewers gained an attachment to both the cast and the staff. It’s a great way of building rapport for the show, and it’s arguably the core reason why Season 1 saw the success that it did.
Season 2 somewhat disappointing cast line up
This is however where Season 2 fell very flat. Choi Jae Hyung PD was famously known for shows such as “FC Shoot Dori” (I wonder who remembers that lovely show) and “Invincible Baseball Team.” Both shows are a bunch of sporting rookies working together and having a good time irrespective of their skills. On the surface, that kind of approach seems to be a natural extension to the foundation that Nah Young Suk PD laid down but there is a key difference that ends up undermining the whole concept. In both of these sports based shows, the ultimate goal was to improve their skills and get a series of winning results. This kind of mindset carried over to how Choi Jae Hyung PD ran “1 Night 2 Days,” and it showed. There was a bigger emphasis on bigger and bigger set pieces and games as a device to move each episode forward with the goal being a better meal and a better sleeping environment. It became less about the people and more about the games. There was also a lot more games that pitted the members against each other rather than working as one whole team. Ultimately, the cast was merely a pawn used to protect the queen, the trademark “Luck of the Draw Games.”
And yet they seemed to have so much potential in the beginning.
It was frankly the wrong approach for the show but it was just one of many niggling issues I’ve had with the show. The cast of Season 2 also eventually end up being rather tame. By the end of Season 2, we had seen the likes of Lee Soo Geun, Uhm Tae Woong, and Kim Jong Min for the better part of 4~5 years. Long lived casts aren’t an issue in itself as long as they constantly evolved their characters but Uhm Tae Woong never really changed much from his original “Looks okay but isn’t really great at anything” character. Likewise with Lee Soo Geun, who worked great as a supporting character for Kang Ho Dong but by himself he lacked an avenue to bounce off jokes with and tried to cover up this failing with more and more exaggerated actions, usually to mixed results. The new cast members such as Cha Tae Hyun, Joo Won, Kim Seung Woo, Yoo Hae Jin, and Joo Won were interesting but they never seem to interact on a more natural level like the Season 1 members did. They seemed more like good colleagues than good friends.
First Impressions of “1 Night 2 Days” Season 3
Season 3 and their random hodgepodge cast lineup
So how does the new season of “1 Night 2 Day” change things? First is the new cast and staff. The new cast line up Kim Joo Hyuk, Kim Joon Ho, Jung Joon Young, and Defconn joined by veteran members Cha Tae Hyun and Kim Jong Min was initially something I was somewhat sceptical about. The cast line up seemed rather cobbled together with whoever they could find with a free schedule slot. However, this had an interesting side effect and that was giving the show a fresh look and feel to it. The cast line up is varied in terms of age group and profession with most of these faces being relative new comers to variety shows such as Kim Joo Hyuk and Jung Joon Young, while members like Defconn and Kim Joon Ho never really had roles this substantial. With faces this unknown, you tend to view them with rather low expectations yet despite this just this sense of watching some new and different helped to meet and somewhat exceed my expectations.
No games, just some nice casual conversations, member to member.
I previously mentioned that one of the issues I had with Season 2 was its overemphasis on the game aspect of the show, and thankfully that seems to be a problem that is addressed in this new season. It might be because it’s the first episode, but the focus of the episode was clearly on getting to know the members and the journey to their first destination. It featured a lot of conversations with each of the members, and the only real game they had (the lunch time game) was about getting to know each other through a quiz. The focus of the editing was also clearly on the members themselves rather than the set pieces, and it really helped to quickly acclimatize the viewers to all the new faces.
The two veteran members starting afresh with a new PD
The first episode also took a much slower pace to “1 Night 2 Days” Season 2. If Season 2 was a raging bullet train, Season 3 is more like a casual scenic route. Season 2’s focus on games meant that set pieces and the show in general moved along at a rather dizzying pace to the detriment of the show. The first episode of Season 3, however, took a much more laid back approach; there was no rush in how the episode progressed and you were given time to really get to know the members through their dialogue and interactions. It’s a great change of pace and one I feel suits the concept of the show more.
Kim Jo Hyuk, the surprise star of Season 3 so far
I talked about the new cast briefly above, but I should probably talk about them a bit more. There is clearly some awkwardness amongst the members which is understandable given it’s the first time most of these stars have worked together. Yet despite this they seem to work well together, especially Kim Joo Hyuk who seemed to quickly adjust to the rough and tumbles that are variety shows. Veteran members Cha Tae Hyun and Kim Jong Min also took on new roles as a sort of middle man for the new members. In this new role, both members helped to fill in any missing elements in the show, whether that be to help keep conversations going or act as an intermediate between the cast and the staff.
Defconn being the likeable people person
Defconn also did his part by acting as the support member, the member that is in the background that reiterates what is currently happening in the segment for the benefit of the cast and viewers. Defconn also ended up playing the MC role in his dealings with the general public. He sort of reminds me of the type of support Lee Soo Geun provided in Season 1.
Jung Joon Young and Kim Joon Ho will hopefully acclimatize soon
Jung Joon Young and Kim Joon Ho meanwhile were not as noticeable in the first episode, but I’m not particularly too concerned about them. Jung Joon Young has shown himself to be an interesting character through his antics on “We Got Married,” and Kim Joon Ho is a known unit, having appeared in numerous variety shows. Their biggest issue would be how long it takes them to finally click with the rest of cast, but once they do they should provide some interesting dynamics, and I see them being roughly similar to the Eun Ji Won and MC Mong pairing in Season 1.
The new captain of 1 Night 2 Days, Yoo Ho Jin PD
While we shouldn’t look too much into first episode ratings given that tend to be higher than average on account of people just having a quick gander to see what has changed, coming first in its respective time slot after playing catch up with its competitors for the better part of almost a year is a great start of the new show, and hopefully they’ll be able to keep up the momentum in future episodes.
The crew that will be leading KBS’s charge to become more youthful
KBS’s official slogan for their Autumn program reorganizations is “KBS is becoming younger.” Youthfulness imparts a sense of new energy and freshness while implying that KBS is becoming younger has the connotation that they are going to learn from their mistakes and make a fresh start. The new season of “1 Night 2 Days” certainly started off on a good leg. It had this sense of freshness that was absent from Season 2 and its focus on the people rather than the games seemed like it was turning back the clock and going back to what “1 Night 2 Days” was all about. In a way the new season definitely reflects KBS’s program reorganization slogan, but it will do well to make sure it keeps that thought squarely in the back of its mind as the show moves forward. If it does, then I think we could see the return of the “1 Night 2 Days” we all knew and loved.
*Lordbordem is the writer that cures his boredom by occasionally writing long and snarky articles on Soompi. He also once went head to head with a Koala. He lost.