Monday, June 10, 2013

Barefoot Friends: Vietnam Arc

Overall the three episode arc of our barefoot friends' Vietnam adventure was a nice way to spend a few hours, culminating to a satisfactory finish. While the activities were structured, there wasn't really a scoring system to create competitive tension; you just rooted for them to achieve their goals because they are adorable.

The introduction videos were quite amusing, and even moreso, their reactions to them!

After some laughs at the airport, the teams were off to Vietnam to making a living as a local for a day. Although that amounted to only 10,000 - 13,000 won, they soon found out how difficult it would be.

Team 1 had to earn money on a fishing boat, pulling up traps and sorting the catch, then getting paid in crabs which they had to sell at the market. In the afternoon, they had to make Korean pancakes and sell them at the market. The most amusing highlights of their day:

~ At their briefing area in Red Sand, Ho Dong directed the staff who eventually fell over on the sand.

~ While acquainting themselves with their accommodations, Ho Dong kept calling Hyun Joong over to try out the hammock bed and to take a look at the sea horse liquor.

~ On the fishing boat, there were several beauty shots of Hyun Joong.

~ The temperature was 40C (104F) and Hyun Joong wanted to go into a bank to cool down. Are banks cool here too?  Bum Soo said that all banks in the world are cool. The security guard was not receptive.

~ After earning enough money to buy their long awaited rice noodles, they were served rice bowls. Hyun Joong even pantomimed in an effort to communicate. Alas, the restaurant did not serve rice noodles.

~ Ho Dong realized he wouldn't be able to get a discount on their pancake supplies, so he sent in Hyun Joong to get it done. Of course his aegyo worked. Bum Soo tried as well, but got laughed at.

~ Once at the market, the stall owner kept calling Hyun Joong to do various tasks, even when Ho Dong tried to get her to use Uee.

~ Hong Do asked the owner for a pinch and a kiss on his cheek, but he got slapped both times.

~ At the end of the day, the team talked about how blessed they are in their lives.  Hyun Joong said he realized that living an ordinary life is the hardest thing to do.

Team 2 found themselves in Hue where they had to earn their living by becoming cyclo drivers.  One trip around the Hue Royal Palace should take about 30 minutes and costs 100,000 dong (about 5400 won), with 40,000 dong going to the owner of the cyclo.  Their highlights:

~ Yoon Si Yoon was very personable using all the English he knew to charm his customers, asking where they're from, exclamations of "My friend!" and "Wow!"  There were many cute moments of him shouting, singing and trying to communicate with customers.

This Australian couple turned out to be very cheap.  Although the cyclo ride only cost $5 AUD per person,
Eun Hyuk didn't charge the woman since he got lost even though he pedaled her around in 40C (104F) heat.
Not only did the couple not feel the need to give him something for his effort, they didn't tip Yi Soon either.
~ Yoo Se Yoon finally got a client (thanks to the effort of his whole team converging on one tourist.)  Going uphill, he told his customer he was so heavy, but going downhill he said, "I'm scared!"  "Me too!" his customer exclaimed.  Se Yoon then sang Hotel California even though he didn't know most of the lyrics.  He realized the value of 5000 won and appreciates how hard the Vietnamese have to work.

~ When some Italian tourists told Eun Hyuk they don't know Super Junior, he asked, "Why don't you know?"

~ Yoon Si Yoon had the biggest customer of the group and struggled, repeating the mantra, "It's ok, I'm very very strong."  Then in frustration he shouted, "You said you ate only fruits for lunch!"

~ At the end of the tour, Yoon Jong Shin said, "In my life, this is the most valuable 5000 won I ever made."

~ Eun Hyuk and Yoon Jong Shin went to the market to sell Coke in plastic bags.  Thanks in part to Eun Hyuk's fans, they sold out and went shopping.  Too late, they realized they needed to save 200,000 dong.  That night they had a hard time balancing their books.

Eun Hyuk has a barefoot friend.
The mission for the following day was to find the best smile in Vietnam.  The way the producers organized the activities is probably what led to low ratings for the show.  The segment was neither interesting or exciting.  Each team split into two-person groups and the focus was really imbalanced.  

The most entertaining moments were conversations between team members that had nothing to do with the activities at hand.  Both Kim Hyun Joong and Yoon Si Yoon ended up washing women's hair.  Ho Dong and Hyun Joong finally got to eat rice noodles and praised the shop owner to get her smile.  Se Yoon and Si Yoon sang to a vendor selling shaved ice.  A lot of time was dedicated to Ho Dong and Hyun Joong going on a very disappointing sand slide. Similarly, Si Yoon and Se Yoon were sent to a deserted temple and recorded the "smiles" of a statue, rock, flower and faucet.  *yawn*

Jong Shin and Eun Hyuk visited a temple and it was mildly interesting to see them eat with the monks, however it was largely uneventful.

Uee and Kim Bum Soo weren't featured at all, but from the hasty collection of clips that flashed briefly on the screen, it looked like they might have had a few laughs that were more noteworthy than the filming of a faucet.

Highlights from finding the best smile in Vietnam were:

~ Hyun Joong said "People become good when they are happy.  Not wanting too much."  and Ho Dong decided that he makes a lot of profound statements.

~ Hyun Joong and Ho Dong in the car talking about geography and revealing themselves to be airheads.

~ Hyun Joong thought that "sand" meant cookie.

~ Ho Dong said that White Sands is like the Ohara.  The producer told him that it's "Sahara" at which point Hyun Joong doubled over laughing.

~ Hyun Joong and Ho Dong were cute sleeping in the car.  Ho Dong snores.

~ Si Yoon and Se Yoon's coversation:

   Si Yoon:  Is the BB cream too white?
   Se Yoon:  I think so, but better than getting too tan.
   Si Yoon:  It's okay because you're handsome.
   Se Yoon:  Speak for yourself
   Si Yoon:  You look really handsome up close.
   Se Yoon:  Speak for yourself.

When everyone reunited in Ho Chi Minh, they hilariously tried to decide which team won and whose situation was worse.  They came to the conclusion that Team 1 are the Body Builders and Team 2 are the Scholars as Team 1 found they couldn't argue their points as eloquently.

For their last mission, everyone had to enjoy life with the Vietnamese.  They decided to do the Harlem Shake.  Ho Dong's antics seemed to loosen up the more reserved members and everyone did a spastic workout while they developed their routine.  By far this was the most engaging segment of the Vietnam arc.

The following day, the teams went out to advertise and performed in front of a large cheering and laughing crowd.  Uee started it all off with a memorable intro, Yi Soon sent out a heart which was mirrored by the masses, and Eun Hyuk got a climactic applause at the end.  Their performance was wildly entertaining and a nice finale to their stay in Vietnam.

Jong Shin gave an inspirational speech afterwards, saying "When we first came to Vietnam, we were in our shoes.  But now we are barefoot.  The Vietnamese put a new pair of shoes on our feet with their warm hearts.  We will go home with those shoes on."

Yi Soon said, "Because this was my first variety show, I felt a little awkward in Vietnam.  But the people here didn't treat us like strangers from the beginning.  I think that's why we could wrap up our journey here beautifully like this.  It's all thanks to them. Thank you!"

Overall, I think the show needs to be more organized, or perhaps the problem lies with the editing.  The producers have to consider the types of activities that will draw in an audience versus showcasing landmarks.  It's fine to visit a temple, but if the point is to come into contact with people, either choose a different location or change the activity to fit the area. This show has the feel of having a green team behind it who lack experience, so much so that the celebrity hosts can't compensate for it.

One of the things I am confused about is the inconsistent blurring of Discovery logos.  It looks like Discovery is a sponsor of the show and all the cast members are outfitted in Discovery clothing.  So why are some of the logos blurred out part of the time?  Did the company get out of their contract and the parties decided on partial advertising?  Not sure how those situations come about.

The most outstanding member of the cast was by far Ho Dong.  He summarized situations for the audience, he played off of Kim Hyung Joong to draw him out and make him shine (for ratings, no doubt), he brings high energy to every scene he's in, interacting as much as possible with his surroundings and the people in them.  His MC experience and obvious knowledge of the business did the most to make up for the production team's shortcomings, even going as far as giving the crew instructions.  And when all of the members were together, he naturally brought up everyone else's energy.  I noticed that people let loose a bit more when he was around.  It will take more than his larger than life personality to save Barefoot's ratings, though.  I hope the producers can get their acts together.


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