Updated: Jun 20, 2022
I have been enjoying Season 4.5 of 1N2D.
The reason I am calling it Season 4.5 is that for some reason, the new PD is taking the show to what it once was.
The show is starting at the highway, they are interacting with people, they are eating garbage meals, and participating in classic games like the 99-second challenge and tollway missions.
Most importantly, they are bringing back the stories of the UNESCO sites, cities, and personalities that made the show a KBS staple program.
So with the new direction, I am going to list down the best 1N2D seasons. Of course, the obvious picks are at the top but maybe you want to check out my rationale for picking Season 1 over the rest.
Oh, did I spoil you?
4 | SEASON 2
Season 2 happened with Lee Seung Gi joining the military and Eun Ji Won opting to concentrate on other activities. Late in season 1, Kang Ho Dong quit the show because of his tax evasion case. This left Lee Su Geun as the de facto leader with Kim Jong Min and Uhm Tae Woong as the season 1 remnants.
Joining the cast are Cha Tae Hyun, Kim Seung Woo, Sung Si Kyung, Yoo Hae Jin, and Joo Won.
Needless to say, this season sucked. I felt that there was no real dynamic here. Su Geun feeds off of Ho Dong, Seung Gi, and Ji Won and while he has chemistry with Jong Min, it’s hard to look at Su Geun as the leader. Also, Seung Woo is the oldest and it feels as if he has chemistry problems with the other cast members. Not to say something crappy or discriminatory here but there is a reason why Moon Se Yoon and Defconn are cast members – because they spit the same leader vibe as Ho Dong. And while yeah, Defconn never really positioned himself as the leader… Se Yoon is constantly stepping up to the role.
Here, leadership is suspect.
I guess the mood changed when Hae Jin came in. The difference between Hae Jin and Seung Woo is that Su Geun finally had a sparring partner. Unfortunately, Su Geun would then get into a gambling scandal that forced him out of the show and abruptly start the third season.
And here’s the other thing – the rest of the cast feels as if they are rich kids going on a trip without the sense of road wild variety. This format changed after the departure of Ho Dong and in season 2, it feels as if they never really connected with the crowd. Joo Won is good at sports but he is not the maknae from hell like what Ji Won, Seung Gi, Mong, and Jong Min were. Si Kyung has this feud with Jong Min but his pissed-off face isn’t bringing the laughs. Like I know Si Kyung is a decorated singer like Kim C but at least even if Kim C isn’t as funny as the other cast members, he looks awkward enough to bring in the laughs. Tae Hyun and Tae Woong have this neat chemistry but this is more of their love for kids or animals than for the sake of being funny.
They also milked the fact that Tae Hyun is the dude from My Sassy Girl. Aside from Tae Woong, Tae Hyun interacted well with both Su Geun and Jong Min but it isn’t as good when the two are gone elsewhere.
3 | SEASON 4
This is the first season in which there was only one holdover from the previous cast. At this point, Jong Min is now the facto image model of the show and he is now comfortable in his role as the resident village idiot.
However, because he is the season 1 veteran, Jong Min also serves as the reluctant leader of this core of… other idiots. As far as leadership goes, Jong Min is a more versatile version of Su Geun wherein he mentors Ravi and Seon Ho to become better dumbasses, and Moon Se Yoon acts as the show’s version of Kang Ho Dong. It’s odd to see Se Yoon at first in this role considering that he’s not as famous as his other castmates but he’s also helping Youn Jung Hoon. While Dindin needs to tone down as the loud and unfunny maknae wannabe, Jung Hoon is the silent give-it-all guy. It took time for Jung Hoon to get comfortable with things but now he gives out the Kim C vibes with his silent shtick. With that said, Jung Hoon is also not lazy and naïve – which is something Kim Seung Woo and in some ways, Kim Joo Hyuk wasn’t during their seasons in the show. Whenever Passion Jung Hoon appears and that glam rock music sets the mood up, it feels like the show is turning into Law of the Jungle and the rest of the team hates his guts.
And then there’s Ravi and Kim Seon Ho. In some ways, Seon Ho is positioned similarly to Lee Kwang Soo. Seon Ho may be a variety rookie but his interactions with Jong Min are awesome. Seon Ho feels as if he’s the stressed-out flower boy that should have done more… but can’t. Ravi meanwhile is what Joo Won should have been. Ravi says things that he shouldn’t say… or a normal human being wouldn’t dare think… and this makes him funny. I remember the episode in which they were stuck on an island in which Ravi and Seon Ho didn’t trust Jong Min… and they paid for it.
It was great and I’m going to miss those interactions with the departure of Seon Ho and Ravi.
With that said, Na Inwoo is a breath of fresh air. He's a character that 1N2D has never had. Most of their maknae are mischievous, crazy, and naughty. Inwoo is like this... but more innocent and childlike.
But easily, this is the season in which Jong Min showed that he could carry a team. When he acts as leader, it’s more of bumbling rather than strict… and more of show tenure rather than competence. Jong Min would lose his team’s respect when they are using their brains but when it calls for street smarts and show experience, Jong Min just leaves the other castmates in awe.
In the initial episode of Season 4, Jong Min lectured the group that they should never give their best in games because they might get hurt. True enough, when the cast finished an entire cup of coffee with fish sauce instead of spitting the goo upon impact, they rushed to the comfort room to “release” stomach tension. Also, Jung Hoon hurt his finger in one challenge which made him a non-participant in other challenges. Jong Min knows what he’s talking about and in some ways, this is what he learned from Ho Dong and the past members.
Is Season 4 going to eclipse Season 3? I believe so - especially if they continue their current trend. Ever since the departure of Ravi and PD Bang, the show, as mentioned, felt like a mimic of the first season. Jong Min has assumed the Su Geun role to the extent with Se Yoon going full Kang Ho Dong and Jung Hoon becoming a bit more vocal and a bit more snarky - as if he's a cross between Kim C and Cha Tae Hyun. Dindin is doing the Seung Gi stick (wholesome know-it-all) with In Woo hamming it up as a combo of early Jong Min and Ji Won.
2 | SEASON 3
Remember the members. This is the only season I really checked out from start to finish. Jong Min’s continued his village idiot shtick from season 2 and the group finally had a strong leader in Cha Tae Hyun. While Tae Hyun isn’t the oldest, he helped the castmates by responding well to their jokes.
I know, laughing like a hyena isn’t really a comedy skill at first glance but it is integral in building up the confidence of its members. Joohyuk was naturally shy but when he gets Taehyun’s response, it feels as if he springs back to life. Jun Ho is crazy because he likes to sabotage situations either with his laziness or his inability to understand the games. In some ways, his interactions with Jong Min are kind of like Jong Min’s interactions with Su Geun in season 2. Jun Ho really became Su Geun’s successor – complete with the multitude of topless moments and insane antics to bring in the laughs.
Baker Boy Yoon Si Yoon joined the squad when Kim Joo Hyuk left and he brought some sort of Seung Gi-like vibe (feeling intelligent but surprisingly incompetent). It felt as if the season continued on, Si Yoon is on the verge of turning evil – especially since he was really hanging out with Jun Ho at the time the season ended. Joo Hyuk is actually great as the fish out of water oldie. The way he exited the program is pretty much the way he was in the series - the caring elder that would rather sacrifice his comfortability for the sake of the younger members. Meanwhile, Defconn kind of struggled in the comedy department when he forces it on the castmates but when he is the butt of the jokes, his reactions are hella funny especially when he really gets pissed with either Jun Ho or Jong Min. It’s a shame that Lee Yong Jin only spent a brief time in the show because I can really see the intern exploding to awesomeness as we have seen in his stints in Player and Running Man.
And then there’s Jung Joon Young. He is the maknae that I really thought is the right way to be the youngest in this show full of laughter hunters and practical jokes. Joon Young reads the situation well like how Eun Ji Won was. When Ji Won had a guest appearance at the start of season 3, Joon Young’s brand of comedy scared the season 1 mainstay. There were even episodes wherein Joon Young leads the group because of his intelligence.
It’s a shame that he had this off-cam psycho persona. While MC Mong messed up his television career by taking out his teeth for the sake of not enlisting in the military, Joon Young messed up big with the Burning Sun controversy. Because of this, Tae Hyun, Jun Ho, and a lot of its off-cam staff were also affected and the show had to go to a near-year hiatus with the possibility of cancellation.
This sucks because season 3 is really the better successor to season 1. They have this cohesive unit in which some hunt for the jokes and the others look for the reactions. Unfortunately, especially with the way it ended, KBS might be looking for the castmates with the least tendencies to mess up the opportunities than promote some sort of chemistry.
And this brings me to the best 1N2D season.
1 | SEASON 1
It’s not even close. 2 Days 1 Night’s Season 1 cast is still the best. I am not talking about their original cast members. This is entirely about these six individuals – Kang Ho Hong, Lee Su Geun, Eun Ji Won, Kim C, MC Mong, and Lee Seung Gi. These six paved the way for the current number and the mood of the show.
Kim Jong Min spent two years in the military and he came back overwhelmed because his asinine character was given to Mong and Ho Dong tagged him as the unfunny cast member. In some ways, it held Jong Min back. I am a fan of Jong Min but it’s because he carried the team after season 1.
And speaking of Ho Dong, Jong Min gained his hopeless character because he saw that Jong Min is struggling. 1N2D has a leader. Better yet, this season has a dominant old man to set things straight for his teammates.
This episode says it all. Su Geun, Mong, and Ji Won are strong on their own but when Hodong appeared, the crowd went into a serious frenzy. Inasmuch as I love Running Man, there is a reason why season 1 dominated like hell.
Ho Dong is the leader, Su Geun is the comic relief, Kim C is the straight man, Seung Gi is the feeling smart flower boy, Ji Won is the unconquerable maknae, and Mong is the resident dumbass.
They really work well.
And it’s not just about the cast members. Their missions have more interactions with the people. It’s also harsher. Of course, they have people protecting them but imagine going to a faraway destination as a penniless hitchhiker? Or… you need to do odd tollgate stopover jobs in order to get money or to succeed in the missions. Losers have to act like losers just for the game winners to give them good food scraps. When Ho Dong was at the helm, he would scold the other losers when they were begging for food. This made every game a battle for survival. Even the sleeping missions were packed with agendas. I remember one episode wherein the losers messed up the good night's sleep of the winners because they were tired of losing. There were also instances in which they need to protect something which is why they need to rest… and stay vigilant at the same time.
But again, I’m going back to their interaction with the crowd. Ho Dong, Su Geun, Seung Gi, Ji Won, and even Mong were too strong in this situation and the only ones that could combine real love for the people with unadulterated entertainment value are Jong Min, Cha Tae Hyun, Jung Hoon, and Ravi. In season 1, there were viewer specials, which made the show more popular with kids and kids at heart.
Finally, the show had an absolute gem in Director Na Young Seok. Season 3 brought the fun back to the show… but they were still getting babied as compared to Director Na’s mad dog approach. Season 1 had a whinier cast and wants none of their drama. This is why there were more mudflat scenes, more island-hopping adventures, more nature scenes, and a lot more of the zaniness.
I'll probably do a better list when I get the chance. I am going to list down the members of 1N2D from Seasons 1 to 4.
I'll probably do a Starting 5-like blog of whom I think is the ultimate 1N2D roster. I'll basically have a leader, the cheery sidekick, the incompetent intelligent, the mischievous maknae, the serious goofball, and the wild card. I think the best roster of the show needs to have six but to change things up, I am going to have three wildcards.