Running Man’s days of being a rating’s winner are long since gone, and it usually finishes third in its time slot. It’s probably true that Running Man keeps going largely due to overseas sales, but with ratings now firmly stuck below 10% I do find myself wondering how much longer RM can continue. On the other hand, as you'll notice when you read my choices, there was a sudden patch of very original and interesting episodes between 270 and 280. I was impressed how a show could seem so new after five years. Mind you, this period coincided with some of the lowest ratings of the year so I may be in a minority in that opinion.
But enough pessimism, let’s celebrate the best with a top ten! And this has been a year (to be exact eps 233 to 283) without any really poor episodes at all. There were plenty of very good episodes which didn’t make the list by very fine margins, such as eps 241 (Time Capsule mystery) 250 (Big Bang and water basketball) and 283 (Smile Cup). But these, in order of transmission, are my favourite ten.
(The previous part to be Best Running Man series of posts can be found here (EDIT
There were lots of couple races in 2015, based around various themes. This episode had a summer camp vibe to it, and had plenty of amusing summery games. The winning couple was given the opportunity to melt a large block of ice, inside which was a key to a box. Open the box to win.
The detectives with amnesia episode. The cast wake up in a warehouse, with their memories wiped (and their acting ability missing too).
This is the cue for a number of detective-themed games, including getting through laser-beam security (actually yellow elastic) and a Metal Gear Solid-type section where the detectives have to buy groceries without being photographed.
The theme linking this episode's games is that there are three lead roles in a drama up for grabs. These theme, though, is pretty tenuous and while some games have some feel of a dramatic scene, others are less so.
Still, that doesn't mean it isn't fun, and I especially enjoyed the Blindfold Race in which two men with blindfolds on have to negotiate an obstacle course, using only the instructions from the female member of the team.
Can Running Man stop squabbling and become a team? That's the question posed by this particular episode.
The seven regulars are locked in a large room and have to entertain themselves until they are given a mission. This mission has to be completed unanimously: either with each member succeeding or giving the same answer.
The main fun is watching how the seven interact given so much time together. They inevitably make their own entertainment, and by now they're so used to each other, it's almost as if you just have to point a camera at them, and you have a show.
The ending is rather touching, too.
An epic battle: one hundred trained fighters (wrestlers, martial artists) against the Running Man team of seven plus as many famous people as they can invite (up to 100) in the six hours before battle begins.
During this six hours, the Running Man team can reduce the opposing team's numbers by winning three mini games.
These two episodes are perhaps the least typical Running Man episodes in that most of the comedy comes from the wide diversity of celebrities that the seven members can convince to arrive and the looks of confusion on their faces when they find out what's going on.
After a slightly over-long section where the guests are introduced in pairs, the unique point of this episode is revealed: the couples will be chained together for the duration of the filming.
Gary and Ha Ha steal the show, though. Their recently rekindled rivalry has become a regular part of this show, and Gary takes a lot of pleasure in being as lazy or as inconvenient as he can.
In this episode, the theme is “rivals”. There are two teams, and each member has a rival in the opposing team. For example Song Ji Hyo and Hani are rivals in their ability to fall asleep on air.
At first, the teams have to play games to get the status of being “elders” meaning the other team have to speak to them formally, no matter what the real age difference may be. This lead to a lot of humorous tension as the “elders” gleefully demanded respect from the other team.
All of this lead up to a cage match at the end of the episode. And only Running Man could come up with a battle in which the two contestants have to fall asleep the quickest.
Gary is trapped in a box in Seoul, and the other six have to find him, using only whatever clues he can give them in a sixty second phone call. The twist was that in the box with Gary, hidden under the bed, was a box of diamonds. The six other members have to find Gary before he found the box.
An intriguing episode, and one that gave us the running joke of 7012 (the password to escape from the box), a number which has popped up a few times since this episode.
Zombie outbreak in a disused building. The seven RM regulars have to save as many survivors from a building full of zombies without getting bitten themselves. At first the zombies are slow and only react to sound, but as the game goes on, they evolve into faster, smarter enemies.
A very atmospheric episode with some excellent examples of betrayal among the RM members in the face of a zombie horde.
A social media battle. Each of the Running Man team get social media accounts and have to compete in various games according to instructions from their followers online.
It's a clever idea, and one that really works in the final name-tag chase as each member is told secretly by SMS which other member they have to eliminate.