Here, at long last, is a review for Infinite’s new variety series, Ranking King. Eleven episodes into the series, your humble writer has decided to split up this review into two parts. Warning: Spoilers ahead.
Episodes One & Two
The series begins rather awkwardly. The boys arrive at the Ranking Village, an old-fashioned compound, where they pretend not to
know each other. They walk into the village one by one, each in their own special way (Dongwoo lumbering in, Hoya dancing in, and so on), and greet each other as if they were meeting for the first time. Already they are set into their personas, which they continue to act throughout the episode. Sunggyu acts like a grumpy old man, mocking and unfriendly to the others. Myungsoo is calm and charismatic. Woohyun is conceited and cheerful, and Hoya’s personality is described as a “dark horse” in the episode, which I can only take to mean that he’s gloomy, mysterious, and quiet. Sungyeol doesn’t act like his normal self at all in this episode, instead coming off as standoffish, quiet, and unfriendly.
As far as first episodes go, Ranking King’s was not the best. Throughout the episode, the boys continued to act like they didn’t know each other, making the atmosphere more awkward than anything. Sunggyu, playing his part of the grump, didn’t have a likeable attitude at all. The show had plenty of fan service, particularly between Myungsoo and Sungjong (my biases, so naturally this made me happy). The episode overall was very slow-moving and not very entertaining.
Episodes Three & Four
Ranking King finally started to pick up in Episode Three. In this episode, the boys were given new rankings based on intelligence: 1. Sungyeol, 2. Dongwoo, 3. Sunggyu, 4. Hoya, 5. Woohyun, 6. Sungjong, and 7. Myungsoo. This ranking was also decided upon by fans, who used their prior knowledge of Infinite to rank them. Sungjong and Myungsoo were not at all pleased with this arrangement and vowed to raise their ranking. The game for this episode was based off Infinite’s comeback song, “The Chaser.” The boys were given a target and had to “chase” the target down and shoot them with a water gun. Last person standing wins. The boys spread out and searched for their targets.
Sunggyu wasn’t too bothered by this, agreeing to become Woohyun’s “slave” afterwards and following him around the area as they searched for Sunggyu’s old target, Dongwoo, who Woohyun now has to kill. Both episodes were filled with plenty of cute Woogyu moments. Meanwhile, the others look for their targets. Dongwoo has the most success in finding weapons and staying alive, and his plotting and happiness was the most amusing thing in the episode to watch. Hoya eliminates Myungsoo but is eliminated by Dongwoo shortly afterwards, turning Hoya and Myungsoo into rogues that decide to attack everyone. Sungyeol works alone, and compared to the others, he doesn’t get much screen time.
Episodes Three and Four were definitely more entertaining than the first two, having a good amount of action to keep the viewers interested while suspense to keep them watching. Still, the episodes weren’t extremely entertaining and did get boring at times, such as when the members were looking for weapons rather than each other. At the end of this episode, Woohyun was crowned king and Sunggyu was once again dead-last.
Introducing the first-ever Infinite Olympics, wherein the members compete against each other to win the ultimate title of Strength King. For this episode, the new ranking is as follows: 1. Hoya, 2. Woohyun, 3. Dongwoo, 4. Sungyeol, 5. Myungsoo, 6. Sungjong, and 7. Sunggyu. The members were ranked based on their perceived athletic skills.
The games that the boys play are simple and even silly. First up is a pea-sorting contest, where the boys have to use chopsticks to move peas from one bowl to another under a time limit. The member that moves the most wins. Woohyun wins this round, having moved thirty-five peas, and Sunggyu is disqualified for stealing a pea from Sungjong (which he denies doing). Next is a staring contest, the winner being Sungjong. Next, a juice-drinking contest, which Sunggyu finally wins first place in. Then, a block-moving contest, where the boys have to pull out blocks from tower of blocks without it falling. In the end, the winner is Hoya. The fifth challenge is actually something sports-related — free-throws. Sungjong, who claims to have never played basketball, loses pitifully while Hoya is crowned king. The final challenge uses a combination of racing, pogo-sticks, and math. The boys have to race on their pogo-sticks across the room to guess the answer to a math problem, and the first person that gets the answer right and races back to the other side of the room wins. Myungsoo actually wins at this game, but because Hoya won three gold medals from a previous challenge, he is crowned Strength King while Myungsoo takes second place and Sungjong third.
Ranking King had a rough beginning but got progressively better as the episodes went along. The first two episodes were badly acted and obviously scripted. The acting only served to make the boys awkward with each other rather than enforcing a comfortable, “bros” atmosphere the following episodes had. The very fake and scripted fan service was also awkward. The tension disappeared when the boys started acting like their normal selves and abandoned their personas. Sunggyu lost his grumpy attitude and became the other members’ victim, which he took very well. Their interactions became more natural and friendly rather than contrived and thought out. Still, I’m hoping that Ranking King will become a little more interesting in the upcoming episodes.