Actually, it can’t be called “New” anymore considering we are already in the third season. The format of the program hasn’t change – the cast is brought on a tour to China (this time to Guilin), and along the way, they play silly games thought up by Na PD and team in order to win food and other travel benefits.
New blood is injected into Season III of Journey: we have 2 new maknaes – Cho Kyu-hyun (or Kyuhyun as he is commonly known), member of Super Junior group, and Song Min-ho (or Mino), rapper and member of Winner. Ahn Jae-hyeon, Eun Ji-won, Lee Su-guen and Kang Ho-dong continue to make up the rest of the team. Since Jae-hyeon and Kyuhyun are about the same age, the two guys take to each other like long lost brothers, binding together after their first intro meeting.
Kyuhyun, being a romantic ballad singer, is portrayed as the emo boy of the group. In a way, he is…kinda. (or again, it’s clever editing) In the preliminary game prior to flying to China, Na PD had wanted them to badly lose a simple game of repeatedly hitting a ball on a stick. So that the cast can be brought to a resort and made to play even more silly games (plus a forfeit of being dunked in water) for our entertainment. He assumed that Kyuhyun, being so quiet and genteel, is those non-sporty type – like Jae-hyeon, who is all made up of useless limbs. Unfortunately, Kyuhyun outperformed at the task, and the entire cast + crew had to knock off early, as promised by Na PD. Na PD nearly got killed by his writers for making them prepare all the game stuff for naught.
And Kyuhyun’s reaction is less of elation but more of embarrassment – for spoiling the fun. (aww) Though his hyungs are all celebratory and overjoyed at having avoided a tiring afternoon of shoot. (haha)
Mino, on the other hand, is 200% energy, but sometimes kinda lost in Lala-land. Which is funny, in a heodang way. Like he tries his best, but has no clue on what is happening. On the first morning in China, Mino is one of the few earliest to dash out of the guesthouse, juz cos his hyungs are running. Unfortunately, he ran in the wrong direction and lost his way. Su-guen had to pick the lost sheep up. Or when he mistakes a pomelo for a pomegranate and thinks is a suitable fruit to hide in one of Na PD’s hide-a-thing games. (made all the funnier when he is second in line and had the choice of persimmon and apples — much easier to hide fruits) And oh, this boy can sleep. The crew isn’t above blaring loud music as a wakeup call in the mornings, but Mino sleeps through them. (maybe he is really tired?)
As for the “old birds”, they remain more or less “in character”. Jae-hyeon is still being his cunning sneaky self, while maintaining his innocent-blue-eyed-cherub image. Only difference is he now openly discussed about his wife + married life, and isn’t shy sweet-talking to her on camera when he calls home to “report”. Unlike the prev season, where he still appears a little reticent when Gu Hye-sun is brought up. Am so looking forward to another short snippet into Jae-hyeon + Hye-sun marriage life (like in Season II, when the team crashes into Jae-hyeon’s home).
Since there are 2 new members on board, the “storyline” of Journey has to be edited. Instead of the familiar folklore of Monkey God et al, we have 2 new characters adapted from a computer game of the same name. Su-guen and Ji-won, who failed at the QnA round which lets the cast pick their character end up taking the new role. Ji-won has to go around in a pink dress and long green wig, and Su-guen had to give up most of his luggage cos he can only pack what goes into his turtle shelled backpack. Kyuhyun, who is third from the bottom, got Sun Wukong — and the electronic massager. His new buddy, Jae-hyeon, who picked Monk, isn’t stingy in zapping him for fun. 😛
Ho-dong repeats his favourite role as Piggy (or Zhu Bajie), though he does cut back on his annoying signature Piggy intro dance. Mino, despite being one of the top few who guessed correctly, assumed the more background (aka quieter) role of Sha Wujing.
Though Journey is by now very familiar to me (and those who have followed the series), I find myself enjoying each short ep. Like in Season II, the editing flows better now, instead of jumping back and forth (like in annoying Season I). Also, the new (and not-so-new) cast helps. I like that Kyuhyun is like a dark horse, made funnier when he shocks himself AS the dark horse. Mino is a bit out of his element, and is slightly quieter. But Jae-hyeon…he is now SO familiar with his hyungs and their antics on and off screen, that you can see him shaking off the sunbae-hoobae mannerisms and treating them as equals. (there’s this interesting scene where the new maknaes scramble to their feet to greet Ho-dong, but Jae-hyeon was like “oh, there’s hyung. Hi!” — and he only realized he needs to stand when he sees the other 2 doing it)