Truthfully, I am not sure what to make of Na PD’s (and tvN’s) rather experimental foray into internet streaming…Journey isn’t exactly boring, but probably cos of its formatting, it kinda turns me off for a period.
Maybe I’m conservative in a way, but I do like to know how many eps I am expecting in a kdrama/ kvariety (if the latter isn’t the long-running no-end type). And it’s kinda upsetting (?) when the eps per week (i watch mandarin subbed, so they compile a week’s worth of Journey into “one ep”) do not run and end at the same time. Some “eps” are shorter, some definitely longer.
Add to the confusion is how the narrative jumps all over the place. Ok, I know it’s “variety”, so technically, there’s no such thing as a “narrative”. But I do like a consistency in time progression. For Journey, we sometimes leap back a few days for certain edited scenes, before jumping back to the present. I find that rather jarring. Although the editing crew does help out by having written words on screen to pre-empt what is happening next.
And I dunno about you (if you have caught Journey), but I find it rather dawdling…esp the opening, when nothing much happens and all we see are 4 grown men goofing around in a mini bus. But then again, the goofing around and the cast’s obvious camaraderie are what make Journey successful.
We have Ho-dong very much like the big, guzzly bear that he is, where his punches are heavy, but he is a complete IT-idiot and rather goofy. Then followed by the agile and quick-thinking Ji-won, who is still very much a kid and loves to get himself (and others) in trouble with his silly pranks. Su-guen seems more like the long-suffering middleman, who knows he will be bullied by Ji-won anyway, and juz accepts it with grace. It’s ironic that he is nominated to be Wu-kong, who I still think is a role more suited to Ji-won. But then again, Ji-won being the prankster, will never pass up a chance to select a victim for his pranks. Seung-gi rounds up the team as the nice, goody-two-shoes maknae, who not only has the brains but also the fame.
Although the narrative hops willy-nilly as it pleases, the overall arching theme of “journey” is consistent throughout. (even in the title) We are already familiar with Na PD’s Over Flowers series, where he will bring the cast on holidays — on a shoestring budget. Likewise for Journey, the cast goes to China’s Xi-an, the birthplace of the original mythical Journey to the West story. And I muz say, I am impressed with some of the cast’s mandarin ability — notably’s Seung-gi’s.
To round it off, Journey is a variety that I’d watch, when I get tired of Running Man, Three Meals, etc. Cos it’s light and you don’t really need to know what happened prior in order to enjoy what the cast are doing now.