범인은 바로 너 (Korean)
Originally Broadcast – 2018-Present
2 series so far
Starring: Yoo Jae-Suk, Ahn Jae-Wook, Kim Jong-Min, Lee Kwang-Soo, Park Min-Young, Oh Se-Hun, Kim Se-Jeong and Lee Seung-Gi
Available on Netflix
Tackling different mysteries in each episode of this game show, seven sleuths get closer to solving the biggest one of all: What happened to Project D?
Chaotic, confusing and frequently hilarious, admittedly Busted! isn’t much of a mystery show but it is enormous fun.
Busted! (범인은 바로 너) is a comedic show that blends elements of game show, mystery and escape room formats to create something quite unique and often very funny.
The main cast is comprised of seven celebrities, each of whom play fictionalized versions of themselves (several cast members are from the long-running, popular Korean variety show Running Man). They have been experimented on by the mysterious K, injected with the DNA of great detectives to give them their abilities.
Each episode presents the team with a scenario that adapts different mystery tropes. For instance scenarios include a magician vanishing during a stage show, a cold case, several locked rooms and a case with supernatural elements.
It did take me a little while to adjust to the show’s sense of humor and to fully understand the concept but by about halfway through the first episode I was fully on-board. Those who are already familiar with Korean variety shows will not have that issue (I have since become a big fan – this show was my gateway).
Not every case is equally compelling and I will say that some clues will be hard for non-Korean speakers to crack (any involving Korean homophones for instance). Even when a puzzle was beyond me though, the chemistry between the cast remained highly endearing and I appreciated the imagination and creativity on display in creating so many different puzzles.
The majority of the puzzles though are pretty accessible – a few even rely on a knowledge of English – and the best cases are thoroughly entertaining such as The Vanished Magician and Battle of the Detectives.
I should say that for all the mystery-theming this show is first and foremost a comedic variety show with a focus on physical games and location-hopping. The success rate for some of these challenges is quite low and often there is a good dose of luck involved (or waiting for Park Min-Young to solve the problems for the boys) but almost every situation prompts lots of comedic bickering.
More than anything it left me with a tremendous desire to head to an escape room and solve some puzzles for myself and gave me a long list of places I really want to visit in South Korea (top of the list – C-Through Cafe in Seoul’s Yongsan district which produces gorgeous painted coffees and the lava caves on Jeju Island).
The second season debuted a few months ago and I was pleased to find that the quality of the games and puzzles remained high. The episodes do have a stronger connection to each other than in the first season with several characters and elements making repeat appearances. This means that the overarching plot feels more cohesive, particularly in the middle of the season, and I was more engaged in that story.
There is also a casting change that I have mixed feelings about. I enjoy the new cast member’s interactions with the existing group a lot but miss the departing cast member’s willingness to look extremely silly. I would also add that the way the character is written out is not particularly satisfying though I hope that will leave the door open for a return.
Though it may not be much of a real mystery show, I find Busted! to be enormously entertaining. Two seasons in I remain impressed by the creativity of the puzzles and situations and, more than anything, I thoroughly enjoy the interactions of the group.
Season Two ends in a bit of a cliffhanger and, so far, we are still waiting for a third season to be confirmed. Obviously I hope that we get news of that soon!