We wish we loved Korean variety show Busted, but sadly we don’t. The show revolves around a team of seven entertainment stars who investigate a different case each episode while trying to solve an overarching conspiracy about the mysterious Project D.
The cases play out in locations as far-flung as Jeju Island, and feature cameos by well-known Korean stars as characters involved with the mystery. To enhance their deductions, the team often have to win games or missions before these characters will give them a clue.
Shows like Running Man and Family Outing pioneered a format for variety that blended outdoor activity and indoor comedy; they found that putting recognisable faces in extreme situations attracts more viewers than having them sitting in a studio talking.
This is how Keys to the Heart is more than just another weepy K-drama: it’s a wonderful film about family and acceptance
Busted was made by the same producers as Running Man and stars two of its most bankable stars, Yoo Jae-suk and Lee Kwang-soo. However, this is precisely its failing. When Running Man first burst onto the scene, it combined real, action-packed scenarios with comedic banter in a way that hadn’t been seen before. However, Busted demonstrates none of the skill and finesse it must’ve taken to strike that fine balance. When contestants aren’t busy hamming it up in reaction to a crime scene, they’re being deliberately flippant and forced with jokes and gags.
Despite its marketing and branding as a whodunit mystery show, Busted does not even pretend to attempt to combine comedy and mystery, opting instead to rely on safe, easy clichés; the mystery merely seems a weak frame to hang subpar comedy off of. While part of that can be attributed to growing pains, viewers are sure to want to cut the show off at the root, and make sure it can never reproduce again.
You can catch Busted on Netflix; new episodes weekly.
Edited by Ginny Wong