20131225_seoulbeats_exo1Also known as: things are getting better and we get another example of the man-tears that makes every fangirl’s heart burst. Unless you’re Lay that is, for poor unicorn ended up sleeping whilst his teammates cried their hearts out.

But now I’m getting ahead of myself, so let’s backtrack to the third episode of Exo’s first foray into the craziness that is variety: Exo Showtime. I’ve mentioned in the first post that the first episode was off-putting due to the obvious scripted nature but after watching up to episode four, it’s safe to say that the producers and Exo have found a balance so that not only can the situations be controlled, but also Exo’s personalities can slip through. Or at least, their public personalities that is. It’s either that or the editing team has gotten really good at giving us viewers the good stuff.

Before going any further, if thou has not watched the third and fourth episodes of Exo Showtime and the second episode of WINNER TV, then please go back to the main page — for this article will reek of spoilers.

The third episode focused on the preparation for the birthday of arguably one of the best idol rappers to come out of SM Entertainment: Chanyeol. The first half starts off with the members meeting up to buy a present, supposedly for someone they want to give for the end of the year, leading our resident Happy Virus to suppose that there was a possibility of a member not receiving any. But of course, that is only him because all the others use their time to buy him a birthday present.

While this is the focus, we also see the different situations the members are in and them playing around while looking for a gift. The two pairs that get the most time are Kai Sehun and KrisTao and it is easy to see why.

20131225_seoulbeats_exo_kai and sehunWe see Chan-yeol attempt to piggyback his way through by joining 2/3 of the maknae line – our favorite brat, Sehun and one Kim Jong-in. Or Kai, though I personally find it hard to call him Kai when he is offstage because he is just not. And can we just mention that this maknae line is a bunch of cheapskates? Not only did they try to buy something from a street vendor (which failed seeing as they forgot to bring money), Kai then directed them to a convenience store, believing that there are a “bunch of hidden items” within. In the end, they buy their hyung cotton buds, gloves, mouthwash and band aids, amounting to the maknae line spending the least at 7,100 won.

Of course, Kris and Tao join together; after all, Kris is Tao’s favorite gege or hyung. Like Baek-hyun and Chen, these two naturally gravitate towards buying Chanyeol clothes. We also get a glimpse at just how Tao gets Kris to buy him clothes – admit it; you’ve wanted to see this ever since Tao first mentioned it. The two later go to another store which starts playing “Growl” as soon as “Crooked” is finished, leading Kris to declare that the store has great sense, before moving to a rack of underwear with a delightful glee in his voice as he chooses one for Chanyeol before settling on a pair of Spongebob briefs made from France. Or at least that was intent until he found out the price (54,000 won) and hurriedly stepped away from the counter. In the end, Kris does come back to buy the Spongebob underwear, which results in Chanyeol snorting when he sees it the first time.

20131225_seoulbeats_exo_chanyeolThe members do safely purchase their gifts for Chanyeol and as he is led to the interview room where the presents and the ‘Happy Birthday’ sign is, he promptly registers that the episode is all about him. Of course, a Korean variety show wouldn’t be complete without some sort of challenge and Chanyeol is told that he only gets to keep the present if he is able to guess correctly who bought it for him. He is able to get five correct and is forced to say goodbye to a particular hat he had been lusting for. In the end, he does get to keep them, or at least it is alluded to as he proceeds to wear most of his presents.

Episode four shows us the Christmas party of the members. Once again, the members buy presents. We don’t get to see the process this time but we do get to see the process of figuring out who gets what present. Once again, we have several members spending less money due to a spending limit of 10,000 won.

Surprisingly, Sehun is fast becoming my favorite member. His present, which ended up in the possession of Baekhyun? Bubble tea, straight from the member famous for loving bubble tea. In fact, the boy didn’t just buy one, but two. That’s not to say the other members didn’t get creative with their presents. Baek-hyun’s present that was given to Chen was picture of himself.

After exchanging presents, they move to eating the presents that are edible before moving on to an arm wrestling tournament where our beloved Grandfather Suho manages to win against Kai. The eventual winner is Xiumin, who was up against Tao. As a bonus round, we also get a leader vs leader match and surprisingly, Suho wins. Kris not only loses to Suho, but to Chanyeol, igniting a fire within Sehun to ask for a match, in which Kris manages to hold on…by holding back Sehun’s arm multiple times. Also, Kris, you lost your image once you had an alpaca son named Ace.

20131225_seoulbeats_exo_suhoThe last half of the episode had us return to its initial format of the members answering questions from the fans. The question was who cries the most tears, leading to a long discussion on who truly does cry the most. The episode ends with the members watching a movie, bringing the Exo portion of this article in full circle as we go back to the beginning: the members crying while Lay and Chen have fallen asleep.

Compared to the third episode that was filled to the brim with the mischievous maknae line and the random wittiness from Kris and Tao, the fourth episode was not as spontaneous but was still a step up from the first episode that dragged on after a while.

As for the latest episode of WINNER TV, I’d just like to ask: who is the real hyung? Jin-woo or the KangNam couple? Before moving on to that, for those curious, WINNER was able to successfully complete their first official overseas performance since winning YG WIN. In fact, the boys were also able to step backstage in the VIP area after the concert for a moment and get some encouragement from Big Bang. Or what passes as encouragement – they are told to eat which then leads to a series of jokeful banter. Needless to say, Seungri needs to get back on a variety show ASAP.

20131225_seoulbeats_big bang and winnerThe main focus of the episode is how the members spend their time off. They end up splitting into three groups – Seung-yoonTae-hyun, MinoSeung-hoon and Jin-woo ends up alone. While it was obvious Mino was going to partner with Seung-hoon, the interesting part was the members forcing the maknae line to spend time together. And after the very, very awkward moments in the first episode where the maknae line were forced to room together, it’s easy to see why.

The maknae line’s mission is one for the ages: sing on the streets of Shibuya, earn money and buy a couple tee. They start their day after splitting from Jin-woo with one of them declaring that they had a feeling that it would be the start of a very difficult day. And yes, they were right. After a quick research at a store, they figure out that they eventually need to make 10,000 yen to buy the couple t-shirts and the money for the sticker booth.

If for no more, then their segment was a joyful watch to hear them singing. Their voices have a different texture from one another and it was interesting to hear them sing Adele’s “Someone Like You” and they really must have some sort of duet released one day. Also, there is something fun in watching (and hearing) someone go off-key. I’m talking about Seung-yoon of course.

After stopping at a billboard of G-Dragon and giving a bow of respect, they then head off to start the main part of their mission. While they do have a small audience, they do not start collecting funds easily. In the end, they collect a little over 1,000 yen and head directly to buying the couple tees and taking a picture.

As a bonus, we also get Tae-hyun stripping again. If this is going to be an every episode kind of thing, I have no problems with it.

Meanwhile, the rapper line’s mission was to make grandmother’s dance. Because they have to go the furthest from their hotel to the town of Kawagoe or “Little Edo,” they wake up the earliest to figure out the commute. And here we see these two being the only ones wearing casual clothing while all the others in the subway are wearing suits and the like.

20131225_seoulbeats_winner_mino and seunghoonAfter a brief subway ride, they later find out that they have missed the bus by five minutes and that the next bus would be in an hour, leading them some time to feed the pigeons as well as play with several kids. I can almost hear fans yelling for Hello Baby; after all, it is the automatic response to any idol interacting with a child it seems.

Once the duo arrives, they first do some gift shopping before moving on to the completion of their mission. And thus, we experience the rapper line being childlike and just giving us some laughs with their silliness.

They are the first team to achieve their mission, and with easy success too. And while they could have stopped with only doing it once, they do it several times more. After all, why take a three hour commute just to do a mission once, right?

Jin-woo chose to visit Tokyo Tower and was given the task of filming a romantic scene. His chosen scene is from the movie Pride wherein the male lead gives the female lead a kiss in front of the famous monument. What makes it funny is that the scene consists of two lines: “Maybe” and “Must be,” and the scene is practiced by the hyungs, inducing laughs as the other two try to throw Jin-woo off as much as they can. An easy task since the eldest in the group was already blushing after watching and replaying the scene time and time again.

He heads out the same time as the maknae line and it is here where he is told by the maknaes to not get hurt or lost, to not follow bad people and to not pick up and eat food from the ground. By all rights, it should be the other way around but it works seeing how young Jin-woo looks.

As for his mission, he gets off to a wobbly start as he mistakenly takes an underground passageway as the entrance of the subway. And thus, the eldest hyung became, as the captions put it, the ‘international lost child.’ Truly, he has earned the nickname as he wanders about for more than hour, trying to figure how to take the subway going there. A ten minute walk became three and a half hours for this lost deer.

20131225_seoulbeats_winnerWhen he does make it to Tokyo Tower, where he truly stumbles is in his hesitation on approaching a random female stranger to do the brief scene with him. Ultimately, he is able to ask a female and they do the scene. While he was a lost puppy going to Tokyo Tower, it seems he didn’t get lost going to the meeting place, though he did arrive last.

After their time to roam around, the members then meet up at the famous Hachiko statue at Shibuya station. They then head to the amusement park where the punishment for those who have failed their missions are carried out. And because Jin-woo was late, his mission was ultimately declared as a failure and leaving him alone to wander about in a haunted house.

While it is also fairly obvious that there is some sort of scripting in WINNER TV, it is not that apparent. If anything, it’s safe to say that it is a skeleton-like script – the only thing scripted is the days mission and would have the members announce it in some manner.

All in all, WINNER TV is shaping up to be the cornerstone of YG’s efforts to make WINNER an instant success. While YG WIN introduced them to the public, it’s easy to see that WINNER TV is here to endear them to us buyers.


(MBC, Mnet)