Whose Watchdown is it Anyway? S01E09, or Size Doesn’t Matter

There was a moment of awe, like the hero had arrived, when Tony Slattery first appeared. I imagine there’s a similar moment of awe now that his comedy partner and soon-to-be S3 regular (sort of), Mike McShane, has arrived at Whose Line. Alongside Tony, Josie, and….you know, the git…he’ll try to bring some balance to this rocky season of Whose Line.

Already Mike looks jolly, optimistic, and surprisingly clean-shaven. The S3-era McShane beard will be upon us very soon. John, meanwhile, still has his hangover stubble, which will, I imagine, be a permanent fixture at this point.

Authors: Night of the Crumpet
Mike: Louis L’Amour
Josie: Brothers Grimm
Tony: Dr. Alex Comfort
John: William Faulkner

I love how the other three do more sophisticated choices, and Tony always does a more bawdy one, like this week, where he’ll be playing Authors as the guy who wrote The Joy of Sex.

Josie and Mike are doing a great job in connecting and storytelling, and then Tony…
“The elf was little, but, of course, size doesn’t matter.”
There’s a nice applause for this.
Just as Tony’s about to continue, Clive buzzes
Tony:
Screen Shot 2017-10-16 at 3.04.14 PM.png

I’ll mention that Mike’s the first person other than John Sessions to get more than 20 seconds of time before the buzzer. The narrative could be shifting.

Josie’s great in this, doing some very good-natured fairy tale stuff, but she goes on for about 10 seconds, setting the scene, then drops her plummy fairy tale voice and goes ‘when are you going to buzz the-‘
BUZZ

Tony’s second time, he doesn’t get more of a sentence out either.
Screen Shot 2017-10-16 at 3.09.01 PM.png

Film and Theatre Styles v1
Mike and Josie- a wife tries to murder her husband

Mike has to explain to Josie who Russ Meyer is right before the scene starts, so when Josie makes like having large bosoms, you can tell she’s got at least a piece of his appeal.

This scene works because Josie and Mike work quite well off each other. The film noir scene shows this the best, as Josie sets Mike on fire, and Mike keeps the style going, and walks into the next room for a drink, while still on fire.

And then, with Gilbert and Sullivan, the back in forth between them is even better, culminating in Mike’s sung ‘why is the doberman in my bed/he’s gonna kill me and bite my head’, and a final, melodic note held by the both of them.

Film and Theatre Styles v2
Tony and John- borrowing coffee from a neighbor

The scene actually starts on a really nice note, with John establishing he’s a very posh, wacky neighbor.
Tony: “You’re doing tai-chi, aren’t you?”
John: “…no, I’m just a wanker, that’s all…”

Clive: “Stock exchange information film”
Tony: “Of course, the price of coffee can rise and fall, and here to talk about that, is…John Sessions!”

This one also works, because John, despite no-butting a few times, is actually working really well here, switching accents and building character, while also building Tony’s by contrast, during the Escape Film segment, and playing off Tony really well in the Restoration Comedy section.

Tony, after John has spent all of the Restoration section talking: “RRRRather would I spite thy…blongy…[realizes how ridiculous this has gotten]…WHAT??”

Came close to going off the rails, but John, to his credit, owned that scene

World’s Worst- person to receive an Oscar.

Mike: “I don’t deserve this award…so I’m gonna club myself to death with it on live TV…”
Josie: “…I’d like to thank everybody I know, really, it begins in 1905…”
Tony, no teeth: “…I’ve waited tho long for thith award….and it maketh me want to THING! THEEEEER’ETH NOOOOOO BUTHINESS LIKE SHOOOOW BUTHINESS…”
Josie, pointing at the statue: ‘WHERE’S HIS WILLY???”
Tony: “…….GUESS WHERE I’VE HIDDEN MY AWARD?!?!?!?”

Really, REALLY good stuff all around. At this point, it feels like Tony, Josie and Mike just have a shared energy that sort of wilts whenever John comes on.

Remote Control: Hedgehogs
Mike: Miami Vice
Josie: Treasure Hunt
Tony: Game for a Laugh
John: Floyd on Fish

There’s good work all around here. John just keeps falling over after every buzzer, which…only works if you’re an australian soap opera actor (for a credit reading). Tony is already at his peak of black humor, which definitely helps.

American Musical: Waking Up, Playing Football, and Getting Stopped by the Police

This one starts out with Josie and Mike, so it’s starting at a musical high, which is nice. Mike misreads the suggestion a bit, and sings of his dream of passing and throwing a sewn pigskin.
Josie, of course: “Darling, d’you know what this means? You’ve just invented American Football!”
Mike, realizing what he’s done: “THANK GOD!”

Tony comes in, as the arrested son, and…he’s a really good singer, which I often forget. And then, he has that immortal line: “I was walking down to street, I was on my way to luncheon…when I was stopped by a policeman…and he abused me with his truncheon.”
Because what the hell else can you rhyme that with?

Mike: “Did he beat you?”
Tony: Yes”
Mike: “Did he whack you?”
Tony: “Yes”
Josie: “Did he make you drop your pants?”
Tony, horrified: “…NO!”

John does make the scene stumble a bit by bringing back the ‘waking up’ motif at the end, and not really listening to what’s happened, but…he does have one good line.
John: “I just remembered…I have tuberculosis.”
Tony: “That’s GREAT NEWS!”

This was actually a really good playing, miles better than the E6 one because everything fit together, and even if John definitely brought up the rear, he still contributed a nice line at the end.

(Also…Mike’s Jimmy Stewart impression at the end is pretty good. Not necessarily Ryan’s, but good.)

Overall: A phenomenal show, topping even E5 for the best of the series. Everyone was on the same level, and Mike came out of the gate with a performance that made it look like he’d been doing this for years. Tony had a great show, Josie had some great musical moments, and John…you could tell he knew that he wasn’t cutting it on the show, and tonight just didn’t work at ALL for him.

Show Winner: Mike
Best Performer: Mike McShane. First of many show wins for him.
Worst Performer: John
Best Game: American Musical, for having some fantastic moments and working all the way through. World’s Worst came close.
Worst Game: Remote Control. Just had the least amount to it.

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Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S01E08, or WHERE’S MEL??

Two newcomers join Paul Merton and…sigh…SERIES REGULAR John Sessions. First is Richard Kaplan, an American comic that…to be honest, Wikipedia hasn’t heard of either, and Griff Rhys-Jones, who John so effortlessly did an impression of a few episodes back, comedy partner of Mel Smith and future eater of socks.

Already, Clive is 100% at ease in the host’s chair- none of the awkwardness of Episode 1 is present, and he’s ready to take on the world.

Tonight also marks the first appearance of John’s hungover stubble, as it’d be present for the rest of the series.

Authors: Kurt Waldheim’s War Diaries
Richard: Raymond Chandler
Griff: John Milton.
Paul: Sunday Sport
John: Friedrich Nietzsche

Griff, as he hears the title suggestion: “Is that what we’re gonna do?”
Clive: “Yeah…why, d’you have a problem with that?”
Griff: “No no, I…”
Clive: “Milton used to write a lot about that sort of thing…”

This is a pretty good playing of Authors, by the way. All four seem to be better at emulating AND connecting, especially Griff and Paul.

Griff, by the way, has the look of Rob Brydon and the sound of Jared Harris. Not the worst combination, by the by.

Film and Theatre Styles v1
Paul and Richard – businessman wanting to buy a sandwich shop.

Audience Member: “RUSSIAN CONSTRUCTIVIST SEMINAR IN THE 1920S!”
Paul, of course: “CAN YOU BE MORE SPECIFIC?”

Clive: Spaghetti Western
Paul, taking Clive literally: “D’you want that with bolognese?”

Richard: “If you cut my sandwich…i’ll have to cut you.”
Paul: “I’ve got a fistful of ham, here…”

Really good scene, if a bit quick. Richard and Paul were great at emulating the Monty Python style (Richard even went into a pepperpot voice), and the horror ending was great, if a bit frenzied.

Film and Theatre Styles v2
John and Griff- explaining how to use the nuclear button.

Immediately as Arthur Miller is suggested by the audience, Griff muddles over to John, worriedly. I don’t think he knew who that was.

John and Griff work really well off each other, as evidenced by the Laurel and Hardy style and the Arthur Miller style- John starts off doing the Crucible, and through Griff, works into more of a Death of a Salesman-style domestic drama.

As Clive interrupts John and Griff arguing about the button.
Griff, to Clive: “DON’T *YOU* PRESS THE BUTTON…”

Another nice scene. I have no idea how Griff is taming John (maybe it’s out of admiration?), but it’s definitely working.

World’s Worst: Person to be U.S. President

Griff, with the obvious answer right off the bat: “Hi, I’m George Bush.”
Richard, with the other obvious answer: “Hi, I’m Michael Dukakis.”
Paul: “I, LEE HARVEY OSWALD, DO SOLEMNLY SWEAR…”
Griff, a la Reagan: “I’m a bad actor too…”
John: “HELLO, I’M GRIFF. SO IF YOU’RE GONNA ASSASSINATE HIM, YOU’VE GOT TWO OF US!”

Lots of good stuff in this one, though a ton of dated references.

Props: John and Griff vs. Paul and Richard

Screen Shot 2017-10-12 at 4.18.36 PM.pngPaul: “I’m afraid this is all that’s left of your wife.”

Screen Shot 2017-10-12 at 4.19.40 PM.pngPaul: “D’you get bored at Christmas? Why not try a foam rubber bum?”

Solid enough, though John’s, again, went on for too long.

Remote Control- Traffic
Richard: American game show host
Griff: One man and his dog
Paul: American cop show
John: Noggin the nog

Griff didn’t even have to say a word to make his bit funny, doing a dog getting hit by a car. It just friggin’ worked.

Very light, but it sort of worked. Richard was playing it a bit too intense, I think. Griff’s worked. John’s…I did not get, though I think that may have been the point.

Party Quirks
Richard: from Mission Impossible
Griff: a bad ventriloquist
John: from the future

Richard, quick to disarm something: “…listening device.”
Paul: “Yes, it’s my telephone…”

Griff, as a bad ventriloquist, cracked me up…because he just started strangling Paul halfway through, and it worked.

People don’t like Richard, and I do understand that the way he sort of gives himself away in this game can definitely rub people the wrong way, as it rubbed me.

John, examining Paul’s table: “You mean to tell me you DON’T break these down now and use them as contraceptives?”
Paul: “…..not the twiglets, no…”

Clive, postmortem: “I was gonna give [Paul] points for not mentioning Twiglets this week, but as you managed-”
Paul: “When in doubt, go for the Twiglets laugh…”

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that the credit reading this week was John reading the credits as Griff…WITH Griff. The impression definitely stands out, and having Griff next to him as he does it leads to a classic one. What happens is that Griff starts doing it straight, and John’s going over the top…and Griff, in jest, starts going over the top, as it’s evidently how he sounds.

And then, as John finishes reading the credits: “…….WHERE’S MEL???”

Overall: Better than the last few, but still flawed. Having Griff brought out the best in John, Paul, and especially Griff. John had some nice moments, Paul had another traditionally nice show, and Richard…while he had some good moments, never really stood out in the right way. I was rooting for him, and he had a few good lines here and there, but, while he wasn’t THE WORST, he wasn’t anything special either.

Show Winners: John and Griff
Best Performer: Griff. He was just on tonight, and his humor worked with the show.
Worst Performer: Richard. Didn’t really work out too well for him.
Best Game: Both Film and Theatre Styles. Both worked really well and I can’t pick one specific one.
Worst Game: Remote Control, solely because it had the least to it out of every game.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S01E07, or SPACE…AND BOOBS.

What’s worse than having 1 famous git? TWO OF THEM! John Sessions AND Rory McGrath in the same show! This is gonna be a tough one to get through.

Oh well, at least TONY’S BACK, as well as Jonathan Pryce. So it should be evenly matched, at least.

Authors: Stanley the Stockbroker and the Day of the Big Bang
Tony: Dennis Wheatley
Jonathan: Egon Ronay
Rory: Jorge Luis Borges
John: Robert Louis Stevenson

Rory spends about 20 seconds doing his author intro, working in a Jeffrey Archer joke that doesn’t work as well as he thought.

Tony: She found herself suddenly sucked into a vortex of child sacrifice, depravity, and goat droppings.”
Buzz
Jonathan: “The goat droppings were served up on a rather tasteful…”

Rory’s consists of talking mostly in Spanish for his entire timeslot. Again, at least RORY can understand his humor…

Okay round, but far too much time for John vs. everyone else.

Film and Theatre Styles v1
Jonathan and Tony- conversation with a loan shark

Jonathan, giving his character a voice: “I, uh- I used this voice last time, I reckon-”
Tony, building on it: “Yeah, I recognize you from last time, you were in debt then as well…”

Clive: Japanese Noh Theatre
Jonathan: [speaks Japanese]
Tony: “NO!”
[And I’m gone for about an hour]

Tony and Jonathan compliment each other well throughout the scene, continuing the plot to an extent, doing well in each scene (especially bedroom farce). It was evident that Tony was carrying it a bit, but Jonathan did well, especially in the Gilbert and Sullivan ender.

Film and Theatre Styles v2
John and Rory- one has smashed the other’s car

Rory, after the last scene: “Come on, John, we’ll piss on ’em….well, not now, after the show.”

Already, Rory is just plain disrespectful, to John AND to Clive. He brings up a racial stereotype, then talks over Clive as he tries to add a style.

Now…THE PROBLEM WITH HAVING JOHN *AND* RORY IN A SCENE TOGETHER…Is they’re like children- once you get them going, like in the Punch and Judy style, they keep going until about 15 seconds after the first buzzer.

Good news is John and Rory NAIL Brechtian theatre.
John, mounting Rory: “Are you sad on the mountain, sad with a weakness, sad with the happiness of the people below you?”
Rory, channeling Paul Merton: “I will be if you stay there…”

During the black-and-white minstrel portion of the scene, which tries not to be racist but fails, I am reminded that John Sessions is, in fact, a UKIP supporter..

World’s Worst- Person to Meet on a Blind Date

Tony: “Hello Peter, I’m Tony, does it matter that you’re expecting a woman?”
Tony: “Hello, you must be Deb- BLOODY HELL, NOBODY TOLD ME YOU HAD A FACE LIKE A DOG’S BUM!”
Jonathan, after a very quiet round: “…I just wanted to say that I did lots, but they were all edited out.”

Amusing enough round, with Rory giving way too many unfunny ones, and Tony giving diamonds.

Props: Johns vs. Tony and Rory

Screen Shot 2017-10-10 at 5.38.57 PM.pngJonathan, a la the stock exchange: “No no, SELL…SELL…”

Screen Shot 2017-10-10 at 5.40.53 PM.pngJonathan: “I know I speak for John…and myself, and the rest of the crew….we just want to thank you all, so much…”

Kind of a weak round, but Jonathan and Tony seemed to be having fun.

Advertisement:
Tony: BMW
John: Toupee

Tony, as the dramatic, soap-opera music comes on: “…have you ever wanted to own something that is the extension of your penis?”

Tony’s is really nice, because he nails the sexual nature of the ad, and comes off as still suave and a a good salesman. Plus, he nails it in about 30 seconds, which is nice.

John’s was…interesting. He had an odd, Kremlin-infused interpretation of the sinister music, and turned it into a very…interesting add. I’m not sure whether or not it worked.

Film Dub:
Rory and Jonathan- complaining to a hotel manager

Rory groans as he realizes what game he’s about to play, sort of like how I groaned when I realized this was a Rory McGrath episode.

For some reason, Rory’s really good in this game, and Jonathan takes more of a passive approach, which was the opposite of how he played last time. This was actually really funny, though it petered out towards the end, due to some ‘i’m talking now’ lines.

Remote Control: Pornography
Tony: Star Trek
Jonathan: Call my Bluff
Rory: Breakfast Television
John: Sgt. Bilko

I really don’t see the point of playing this in the same episode as Authors, as they’re essentially the same game, but, whatever they want.

Rory: “I’m standing in for Anne this morning, who’s having her baby. Good luck from the team, we all hope it’s a human.”
[How did RORY MCGRATH beat Tony to an Anne Diamond joke?]

Tony: “SPACE……..AND BOOBS. Lots of them. These are the voyages of my hands.”
and then “Lt. Uhura, would you like to gasp at my veiny bang-stick?”

Somehow, that one was really good, even if there wasn’t a ton of teamwork abound. Everyone did really well, though John and Rory STILL couldn’t figure out when to shut up.

Overall: Okay show. Very, very okay. If somebody else would have been on in Rory’s place, we’d have been in good shape, but Rory and John, funny as they are, were too manic and cheeky to do good improv. Jonathan had a lower-key day after his excellent showing in Episode 5, and Tony…as good as he was in E4, he was even better here. As time went on, he’d have more opportunities to shine.

Show Winner: Rory
Best Performer: Tony, of course.
Worst Performer: Rory. Would have went with Jonathan, except he didn’t do a ton wrong when he was on, and Rory relied too much on being funny and obnoxious than on his improv skills.
Best Game: Remote Control.
Worst Game: Film and Theatre Styles v2. Very off-color, and not in a great way.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S01E06, or ‘You’ve Got Hair and You’re on Television!’

And after a great height…the show sails downward…to an episode with Jan Ravens and George McGrath. The former, plucked from Spitting Image, is…annoying, and the latter, better known for his work writing for Pee Wee’s Playhouse, is just plain weird.

At least we have comedy legend Graeme Garden and…sigh…SERIES REGULAR John Sessions [I’ll keep doing this until either HE realizes it, or production does].

Already, George just looks kind of off-putting, as Clive says he’s ‘one of the funniest performers in America…at least according to people who haven’t seen Dan Quayle in action yet.’
(Even he smiles weird. I’m…unnerved.)

Authors: Sleeping Beauty
Graeme: J.B. Priestley
Jan: Pam Ayres
George: Roget’s Thesaurus
John: D.H. Lawrence

(I love the irony that an unsuccessful QI panelist chooses to emulate the style of ANOTHER unsuccessful QI panelist.)

George already gets the audience going with his choice of ‘Dr. Roget, the thesaurus guy…’
Clive: “…you’re making it easy for yourself, aren’t you?”

Already I can see why Graeme was such a legend at that point- he goes right in, smoothly and impressively, as Priestley.

As annoying as Jan is, she does nail the pastiche of Pam’s poetry, though whether the emulation or Jan herself is unbearable is up for debate.

Already, George isn’t very impressive…basically begging Clive to buzz toward the end.

Also, once again, John’s addition really doesn’t have anything to do with the rest, and his goes on for 20 seconds more than everyone else’s.

As boilerplate as George is, he does have a great line of ‘she was…making her eyes wide, and her legs as well’.

Again, it seemed like the objective to CONNECT the story to each other was an afterthought.

Story: A Day in the Life of a Rubber Duck
Moral: A rolling stone gathers no moss.

This game, in its…what, 4 playings, was used as a way of showcasing George, who narrated 50% of them. It’s an interesting game, even though it gives George most of the power (though I’d prefer Stephen Fry’s iteration of it).

I don’t enjoy judging people, but…have a look at the person next to the woman Clive gets the suggestion from:
Screen Shot 2017-10-10 at 4.10.03 PM.png
I’m led to assume that Steven Tyler, Wayne Coyne and Robert Smith had a baby.

This fellow eventually has to give the moral, which he pronounces as “a Rolling Stone…gathers no…meuss…”
He says it like Inspector Clouseau would, which…gets a reaction out of Clive.

The reason George works in this game is because he’s able to react to what happens in the game, sort of as if the performers are betraying him. This is definitely a form of dissonance, and it’s not full-on yes-anding, but…it works here.

George: “But soon, there was a jingle at the door.”
Graeme: [shakes his keys]

George: “He was covered in moss. She hadn’t seen him for years, which he’d spent in the forest, and he’d become absolutely covered in moss.”
Jan: “Grandpa, you’re covered in moss!”
George, rolling his eyes: “She said, repeating what the narrator had said over and over already..”

Graeme, being surrounded by less-than-savory scene partners doing all the work for him, does work in good line, after Jan gives another direction: “…you’ll have to speak up, I’m covered in moss.”
George: “…said the grandfather, repeating it JUST ONE MORE TIME…”

And then Jan, ripping the fucking fourth wall wide open: “I made a cup of tea really quickly for the purpose of the improvisation.”

George: “Soon, there was another jingle at the door. It was Keith Richards.”
The audience, now knowing EXACTLY WHERE THE SCENE IS ABOUT TO GO, groans.
And then John, his character chosen for him, has to, in a second’s notice, go into a Keith Richards impression.

Keith: “Hello, I’ve just decided to roll in.”
George, who’s growing on me in this game: “He said, making a PUN.”

Also, this game has a TON of dissonance, with Jan not yes-anding, John making an obscure reference, and …just, losing the scene for 30 seconds.

George has to PILEDRIVE the scene towards gathering the moss off of Graeme, leading to John going “no, Rolling Stones doing gather moss.”
George: “He said, giving the moral away a BIT early…”

That game…was kind of a mess. Again, nobody was really working together, George’s game-keeping was a bit distracting, and only Graeme, in his two lines of dialogue, had an idea of what the scene was supposed to be.

Props: John and Jan vs. George and Graeme

Screen Shot 2017-10-10 at 4.28.41 PM.pngGraeme: “Put the apple on your head, I’m your father…”

Screen Shot 2017-10-10 at 4.29.47 PM.pngJan: “What d’you think of the crazy colour then?”
John: “…I think you look like a git.”

Great bit when George does a gag…it get no response…and then Graeme does the exact same gag, and from RECOGNITION, the audience finally applauds.

Screen Shot 2017-10-10 at 4.31.16 PM.pngGraeme: “George…you’re an angel!”
The delivery makes this one work so well.

Not a terrific round (especially on John and Jan’s end), but Graeme had some great ideas.

Party Quirks:
George: an alien
Jan: Thinks it’s her house
John: a leprechaun

George as an alien demonstrates exactly how weird he is as a performer. At least Graeme, as he has all night, responds with panache.

Jan, immediately after walking in, goes “Hi, I’ll just have a shower, okay?”
So, halfway through and she’s FINALLY done something funny.

Graeme, getting the doorbell for John, and immediately he sticks his ears out.
Graeme: ‘Come in, somebody nor-…oh, no…”

The problem with having TWO People that won’t shut up, Jan in ADDITION to John, is that when Graeme is trying to guess one of them with only a few seconds left, he can’t get a word in edgewise, but he tries.

Graeme guesses Jan as someone who complains about everything. Beat.
Ding-Dong
Clive: “Oh, I meant to go- [buzz]”
Graeme, smirking, opens the door: “AH, IT’S THE INVISIBLE MAN!”

Every Other Line:
John and Graeme- pilot at mission control. John reads, Graeme reacts

End line- Don’t accept gifts from strangers.

John: “You’ve never been even civil to any of my friends, man or woman, have you?”
Graeme: “…I AM a civil pilot, damn you…”

This was an alright game, though you can tell Graeme was trying to swerve the game back to the plot as much as he could.

Film Dub- Jan and George
Morning after a heavy night before.

I actually do love George’s out of character exclamation once the guy in the clip takes his shirt off. He’s trying desperately to stay in character, though.

Jan: “Darling, I have got something to say to you-”
George: “I know, you’re from India-”
Jan: “No…”

That scene didn’t really have an ending, but Jan and George tried well enough with it.

American Musical:
Making a cup of tea, puberty, and going to a television recording.

You can tell this isn’t going to go well when both George and Jan call for ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ at the same time.

John, as the Dad: “You’ve got the whole world waiting for you, the sky’s as solid as a rock! Well…well, not the sky, but the MOUNTAINS…are solid as a rock…”

This is a bit of a wonky scene, as it takes a bit to actually progress, but Graeme shows up to get us to the television recording, and the scene comes alive a bit.

Jan, trying to make a point out of all this: “You see, son, you’re not strange!”
John: “You’ve got hair, and you’re on television!”

That game wasn’t as bad as I feared, but it was very hard for them to connect everything, and make a point. Also, John refused to sing. In a game called Musical.

Overall: Not great, but, as I used to refer to this one as the WORST ONE EVER, not…necessarily befitting of that title. There’s a few good moments, and Graeme’s giving it his absolute all. Still, Jan was pretty lifeless, and didn’t have very many good moments, John continues to disagree with all the people he’s supposed to be yes-anding with, and George…is, well, a strange case. On one hand, he made good decisions in games like Musical and Story, but on the other hand he took a sort of ‘everyone else is against me’ approach to a few games, and that may have hurt him. He’d have one more appearance, as would Jan, and it would fare….slightly better, when surrounded by better improvisers like Ryan Stiles, Mike McShane and Greg Proops.

Show Winner: Jan
Best Performer: Graeme Garden, providing a pretty great guest appearance.
Worst Performer: Jan Ravens, for…trying a bit too hard.
Best Game: Party Quirks, for having the least amount wrong with it, and for Graeme’s performance.
Worst Game: Story, for just having so many improv no-nos in it.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S01E05, or ‘Yes, you’ve got it right, I’m a complete imbecile!’

It’s the ultimate game of ‘one of these things is not like the others’. Let’s see, we’ve got Josie Lawrence, Paul Merton, CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED ACTOR JONATHAN PRYCE, and SERIES REGULAR John Sessions. Which one d’you think would be an out-of-left-field choice to be on Whose Line?

BESIDES John Sessions…

At this point, Jonathan Pryce had already been in his most renowned film, Brazil, so…what he had to gain at this point I’m not sure, but he would appear on the show three times, twice in this Series. I honestly don’t even remember how well he did, too…

Some foreshadowing in the intros, as Clive says of John, “without whom, this program…would probably have someone else in it…”

Authors: A Day in the Life of a Horny Llama
Josie: Agatha Christie

Jonathan: King James’ Bible
Paul: DIY Manual
John: Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Clive, on Jonathan’s choice: “That’s very appropriate for a sunday…unfortunately, the program airs on a friday, so…less appropriate, possibly, for the show…”

Also, for once John actually has to dig to find a tougher author, instead of doing a safe bet like the last 4 weeks. Also, as it gets no response, Clive goes ‘and apparently very popular with the audience…”

Already, I must applaud Jonathan for taking Josie’s offering, continuing it in the style, and making it extremely funny, rather than making it about himself…JOHN…

At least John brings the subject back to llamas in the end, rather than going on about Argentinian silk for too long. All in all, solid playing, first time I can really say that about a game of authors.

Film and Theatre Styles v1
Josie and Paul- Jack and Jill

Clive, reading the audience: “German art film….from John Sessions’ friend, we’ll give him that later on…”

Possibly the greatest start to a scene in the show’s history:
Josie: “Seems only a few years ago since we went up that hill, Jack…and here we are, married, with 42 children. And all because I took you home, to bed, and poured vinegar and brown paper on your sore head.”
Paul, almost immediately: “Yeah, not much of a contraceptive, was it?”

Spaghetti Western:
Paul brilliantly: “Don’t call me Jack, I, as you know, have no name…”

Paul: “I am the man who stands on top of a hill with a brown paper head.”
Clive: Pantomime.”
Paul: “AIN’T I, BOYS AND GIRLS?”

Paul: “Now I want all the ladies to sing the brown paper song, and I want all the men to go down to the bar and order a glass of whiskey.”
Clive: “German art film.”
Paul: “Or a lager, whichever’s easiest…”

As soon as I think it’s gonna end with a whimper, the last style, James Bond, leads to Paul and Josie concocting a helicopter made out of a cigarette lighter and a toothpick comb.
Josie, after Paul has mimed the helicopter taking off: “…we should have gotten in it, don’t you think?’
BUZZZZZZ

That was absolutely brilliant, even better than Paul and Tony’s from last episode. You could tell they work off each other extraordinarily well, and that Josie and Paul could both add a TON to the scene. I can tell that Paul’s inclination is to underplay his characters, which doesn’t always work, but it worked here, especially in the Spaghetti Western and German Art Film styles.

Film and Theatre Styles v2
John and Jonathan- reporting a crime.

You can tell Jonathan’s good because John assumes a specific type of accent…and Jonathan is able to locate it and provide the same accent himself. He’s that good, folks. Unlike Peter Cook, he’s impressive at improv AND sober.

Also…John AND Jonathan doing Beckett is something I didn’t know I wanted until I got it, because obviously both men have a grasp of stuff like Endgame and Godot and such, so the absurdity is definitely present.

John, ‘Pirate Movie’- “I’m made out of saturated technicolor, you can’t stab me!”

Their Commedia Dell’Arte is very similar to the Beckett (again, bravo to them for brushing up on theatre histories and such), especially in terms of physicality. My gripe with this scene, like most of John’s, is that there’s less emphasis on the plot and more emphasis on the styles.

And then, with Le Carre, the plot reenters the scene…just as Jonathan’s doing a very muted and low-key George Smiley (so…so Alec Guinness, then). The whole time, John’s trying to needle Jonathan into confessing, or saying something, and Jonathan doesn’t need to do much more than raise his eyebrows and change facial expressions.

Not as good as Josie and Paul’s, and even Clive mentions that they sort of lost the plot halfway through, but still nice just for the chemistry, and for the obscure theatre references.

World’s Worst- people to audition for Romeo and Juliet:

Paul: “So…this Juliet’s 15, then, isn’t she???”
John does his as Bob Hoskins, which…must have been a hoot for Jonathan, who’s worked with him.
Josie: “Well, I think I’d be naturally for the part, actually. Shackesspeare is my favorite writer…”

Again, very quick round, but better than the last few playings of this.

Song Styles: Television
Josie- Heavy Metal
John: Folk

I’d like to mention that we FINALLY HAVE RICHARD VRANCH ADDRESSED BY NAME THIS SHOW. It only took 5 episodes…

In setting up the heavy metal music, they’re a singular bleep from Richard’s guitar.
John, from the background: “What’s that, Danish music?”

The second the guitar riff starts, Josie goes right into action, licking the microphone and prancing around angrily.

If I can nitpick, the riff/vocals are less heavy metal and more, like, hard rock, similar to Led Zeppelin…but by god, the sheer power Josie brings to this is impressive as all hell.

The second Josie finishes the last long note, she clutches her throat and mouths ‘oh, FUCK!’ Amazing number, but it must have done a number on her vocal chords…

Clive: “Well, we better have something meaty for John to do it in the style of, now…”
Audience member: “FOLK!”
There’s a nice ironic reaction here.
Clive: “I think that was a style…and not just a comment…”

There’s a great moment where John realizes that he’s going to have to do this folk song acapella, as Richard doesn’t even come in with a cue, he just sits there, nodding.

John’s folk song has a ton of effort put in, and is pretty nice considering how these usually go, with a ton of really good, funny details, even though the song overstays its welcome by a bar or so (then again, don’t most folk songs?)

Film Dub: Paul books a hotel from Jonathan

For one of the only times, Clive mentions what the source material is from, the film Plan 9 from Outer Space (the audience groans at this.)

I applaud Jonathan giving his character a scottish accent, as well as Paul’s 2-second realization that he is, in fact, playing two characters.

Rather good scene, even if there were a few bits where neither was sure who was supposed to talk. Jonathan made a bold choice by turning this scene into a denial halfway through, but he managed to make it work.

Party Quirks:
Josie: a superhero
Jonathan: an exorcist

John: Thinks he’s underwater

I’m still giggling at Jonathan’s entrance. He goes right in with enthusiasm and vigor, but forgets there’s a huge drop-off between the step and the ground floor, reacts, and then continues enthusiastically.
Jonathan: “HI-…oh, fuck…..HI, PAUL!”

Even better, as Jonathan’s COMPLETELY selling his exorcist, he gets Paul’s head to spin around, and you can hear Paul’s neck crack on his wireless mic.

John, of course, has THE John Sessions moment, muzzing in, in mid-monologue: “We were, of course, French…our long navels going in and out, under the water….”
It takes John 2 seconds to realize what he’s done.
John: “….OH, SORRY.”
He cracks, limping back offstage as Clive buzzes him out.
John: ‘YES, YOU GOT IT RIGHT, I’M A COMPLETE IMBECILE!”

Overall: THIS…was our first truly fantastic Whose Line. The first of many. Not a single bad game, not a single bad participant- even John Sessions behaved tonight. I was very impressed by Jonathan Pryce, how good he was tonight, and how he wisely chose to not hog the spotlight (John was already doing that). Josie had a show even better than her last two, and Paul did pretty well himself, though he was definitely downplayed this week. Surprising amount of classic scenes, and proof that John was not the centerpiece, as the show even went on at the behest of him.

Show Winner: Josie
Best Performer: Josie, though this was very tough. She excelled in every game she was in.
Worst Performer: John, who still had more missteps than successes today.
Best Game: Film and Theater Styles v1. A classic game that should be taught to prospective improvisers.
Worst Game: World’s Worst, but only by default, and for having less good points than the others.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S01E04, or ‘This started out with me giving YOU a mission…’

And on the fourth episode…the hero arrived.

Tony Slattery, the guy who’d be responsible for 90% of the humor during this early era of Whose Line, makes his debut tonight. Here he’s in top form, spry, witty and sharp. We’re gonna try to hold onto that Tony as long as we can. He joins a panel including Hill Street Blues Star (and future director of Alvin and the Chipmunks 2: The Squeakquel) Betty Thomas, as well as Paul Merton and (sigh) SERIES REGULAR John Sessions.

Clive, introing Paul: “Now, there’s been an enormous public response since Paul was last on the program…but DESPITE that, we decided to have him back…”

Authors: Jack and the Beanstalk
Tony: William S. Burroughs

Betty: Mickey Spillane
Paul: Barbara Cartland
John: Anthony Burgess

Immediately Tony makes an impression, using his Burroughs to turn this kid’s story into immediate sleaze. Instead of John, who’ll use a safe bet for his own merits, Tony can use a tricky author to give the story some legs.

For what seems like the fourth week in a row, John uses a repetitive author to give himself 20 seconds more screentime than the other four.

Another one-round version of this game that couldn’t really get anywhere.

Film and Theatre Styles v1
Paul and Tony: homeowner and builder

Immediately from this Paul and Tony scene, you can tell they work well together, and that they both have a considerable amount of improv training. Right from the Greek Tragedy scene, they use it to keep their scene going instead of dilly-dallying in the style (like John likes to do).

And then, with Hollywood epic, Tony nails the drawl and emphasis of a 60’s Hollywood epic star (like Charlton Heston or somebody).

Clive: “Musical!”
Tony: “…ya know-”
Paul: “I bet this reminds you of a song, doesn’t it?”

And, the soap opera ending
Tony: “Your plumber’s dead. He was killed by the spirit of your dead father.”
Paul: “And I’m expecting his baby!”

Nothing classic, but a really good F&TS round, which is nice, but that means we have to get to John’s.

Film and Theatre Styles v2
John and Betty: a husband and wife argue over a map.

There is a nice moment where someone in the audience shouts ‘Ealing comedy’ as a style, and Betty has no idea what that is. John can be heard saying ‘Kind Hearts and Coronets’, though I imagine it hurts his soul that somebody doesn’t know what that is.

Clive: “So, start with your- d’you have maps in America?”
Betty:
Screen Shot 2017-10-09 at 6.00.22 PM.png

You can tell, though, that John is leading Betty by the hand through the scene, as if her not knowing what an Ealing comedy was made it easier for him to.

I will say that the best part of this is Betty and John’s silent film portion. Due to the vague location, they don’t move around a lot during the scene, but they still look good doing their silent film movements.

They end on Bogart, and if Betty was already failing at keeping it together, John’s SURPRISINGLY BRILLIANT Humphrey Bogart impression makes it tougher, as he goes into a full tangent about the war to end the scene.

Surprisingly, John had the stronger scene, as it’s becoming quite clear to me that Betty wasn’t really cut out for the program.

Props: Betty and Paul vs. John and Tony

Screen Shot 2017-10-09 at 6.07.04 PM.pngTony: “Hello, and welcome to Failed Prototypes of Our Time. #14, the first condom…”

Very quick round, though I’ll say that Betty was better here than she’s been all night.

Every Other Line
Paul briefs John on a mission- John reads, Paul improvises.

This is a game they didn’t play nearly enough, as it’s a great opportunity for a performer (say…Paul or Stephen) to play off of a ‘brick wall’ character.

Paul’s able to show his strength by working off of little details, and bringing them back over the course of the game. One of John’s lines mentions Charles and pastries, and Paul works it into the game. Later, when John asks what he smells on the wind, Paul goes “oh, that’s just Charles again…”

John eventually has a line about ‘carrying out your mission.’
Paul: “…MY MISSION? This started off with me giving YOU a mission…and then Charles came in, you insulted the Dumps, and…..[hitting the ending line] OH DEAR, I’VE LOST MY SHOE!”

Didn’t work as well as I imagined, as even Paul couldn’t be able to contain the material John was dishing out, but still relatively funny.

Film Dub: Tony and Betty
A couple argues about what to watch on television.

This just reminds me how damned good Tony was at this game, shilling out lines like ‘I’m about to break WIND thanks to you’, and ‘don’t shake your maternity bra at me…”

Screen Shot 2017-10-09 at 6.18.16 PM.pngBetty: “…oh, NOT AGAIN, STOP BREAKING WIND!”

This was obviously a bit broad, but Tony and Betty worked off each other well, even if Betty was still a bit awkward and basic at this.

Party Quirks:
Tony: has no backbone
Betty: investigative reporter
John: An intrepid explorer

Tony’s quirk reminds me how good he could be at physical comedy, even if he just has a metal pole up his ass.

The second John enters, he controls the scene, doing his travelogue-type narrating even as Paul tries to work out the other quirks. Betty just goes silent. John still has not gotten the whole ‘collaboration’ bit of improv.

Paul: “…and this is a bloke who used to have a pole in his back.”
Tony, trying to help him: ‘WHHHHYYYY?”

The game ends abruptly as Paul runs out of time, having not gotten Betty or Tony, even if they were giving their all. Still, impressed how Betty worked off of people in order to try and get Paul to guess them, though points deducted for her breaking.

Overall: An alright show, with some definitely down momentum, a few games that didn’t really go anywhere, a guest performer who wasn’t cut out for the show and a SERIES REGULAR…who STILL WON’T DO GOOD IMPROV WITH OTHER PEOPLE!!! Luckily, we had Paul and Tony on hand to do some truly great stuff, with an emphasis on Tony who was already in career form.

Show Winner: John
Best Performer: Tony, even on his first go-around.
Worst Performer: Betty. Just not really the right type for the show.
Best Game: Film and Theatre Styles v1, for Paul and Tony’s chemistry.
Worst Game: Props. Way too quick to make a point about

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S01E03, or ‘Nothing if not subtle…’

Okay, NOW onto the good stuff! Even if this is Series 1, and we’ve got some more awkwardness to wade through, we still have Episode 3 to save us.

Why? In addition to Josie Lawrence and, sigh, SERIES REGULAR John Sessions, we have TWO ‘guest appearances’- one from former WLIIA-Radio series regular and all-around icon STEPHEN FRY…and, another…from comedy icon and friend of Dudley Moore, PETER COOK.

Having, obviously, seen this one before, I can tell you, with certainty, that A.) this is a much better show, and B.) Peter Cook is drunk. Very drunk.

Top of the show, Peter’s got his feet up, slouching. He’s already gone, and he’s already won the show.

Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 3.03.28 PM.png

Authors:
Stephen: John le Carre

Peter: Albert Goldman
Josie: “women’s magazines”
John: Ernest Hemingway
Title: A Day at the Races

Immediately, in doing his John le Carre, you can see why Stephen was a regular on the radio show- he gets the style, the patter, everything down completely.
Also, even drunk Peter is funny Peter, as he gets he author’s mannerisms down as well as keeping the story going, which…Josie doesn’t do as much.
John sort of carries on despite the story, and…yeah, that’s Hemingway alright.

Another one-rounder, though. Clive remarks: “Ten points to each of you, though a five point deduction for Peter…just to make things difficult for him at the beginning.”

Film and Theatre Styles v1
Peter and Stephen- one requiring the other’s parliamentary vote.

Audience member: ‘Chekov!’
Clive: “…pardon?”
Audience member: “Chekov.”
Clive: “…oh, I’m sorry, I thought you were being rude to me…”

Reason I love Stephen #4,029: starting his scene as a prospective member of parliament, he goes “…hello, sorry, I don’t want to tax you too early on, but…”

On ‘farce’, Peter slaps Stephen around a bit, and Stephen drops his pants. Yes, that would definitely be farce.
Peter, after the buzz: “…nothing if not subtle…”

Peter and Stephen, in their travelogue voices, talk of the orange beaver
Stephen: ‘It has one enemy, one enemy in nature,”
Peter: “Yeah. Me. I hate those things…”

Peter and Stephen worked well in that one, even though they began to lose the scene, and at the fourth style, Peter, exasperatedly went ‘good gracious, we’ve done three already!’

Film and Theatre Styles v2
Josie and John: a couple breaking up.

Audience member: “British satire!”
John:
Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 3.20.13 PM.png
Clive: “British satire…what a shame we’ve not got Peter in this one…”

It’s always nice when John gets to do Shakespeare in these (remember, he’s buds with Kenneth Branagh), because he gets that one spot on.

Dare I say it…John and Josie work even better here than Stephen and Peter. They have great chemistry, they trust each other, and John doesn’t walk over Josie like he’s done everyone else. Plus, they nail the British War film, with John taking a moment to take a call: “Hello…yes…no, it can’t be done…I can’t give you a cigarette over the phone…”

The next suggestion is ‘blue movie’, which confuses Josie
Clive: “Surely you’ve seen some…well, you must have BEEN IN some, then…”
Josie, cracking: “SHUT UP, ME MUM AND DAD ARE IN!”
Clive: “…have they been in them as well? Oh, that’s extraordinary.”

Right as the very-well-done Blue Movie portion ends, Josie motions to her folks in the audience ‘I HAVEN’T SEEN ANY!’

Props: John and Peter vs. Stephen and Josie

Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 3.29.01 PM.pngStephen: “…look, Vince, either the BBC believes in Doctor Who or it does, but how am I supposed to make seventeen monsters out of this???”Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 3.31.13 PM.png
Stephen, science documentary voice: “…..THIS….IS SALIVA.”

Not a great round because, again, John’s suggestions are too drawn out for a quick fire game, and Peter didn’t exactly get that it was back and forth…or quick-fire.

Panel: On Smoking

This is the only time this game was broadcast, possibly because it took a bit to set up, but maybe because it wasn’t the right tone for the show? Not sure. Either way, it’s odd to see Clive play a part in a game that doesn’t involve buzzing.

Peter, to set up for the game on smoking, puts out a cigarette.
Clive: “Oh, I think you’re all ready to talk about that, aren’t you?”

Peter, heading into the game: “I’m terribly sorry I’m late…what happened was, I was smoking…and my boa caught fire…”
Clive: “That does illustrate one of the perils of smoking.”
Peter: “And one of the perils of BOAS…”

Clive: “And the fellow in the glasses and the tea cozy, what is your name?”
Stephen: ‘uh, Richard, but I prefer to be a Dick, really. Call me Dick. I answer to Dick.”
Clive, being Clive: “…well, I think we all answer to dick, but…”

John builds up a specific character with a voice, but it’s mainly an excuse to hog the spotlight for 40 seconds more than he should. He’s really not good about that sort of thing.

The game is alright, but it’s a bit disjointed, especially as clive’s trying to keep it going. Josie does have a nice runner of pulling out various wigs, and saying they’re made of certain types of hair on the body.

Stephen: “I mean, I could stop smoking tomorrow if I wanted to, but could [John] stop being a bigoted git? I don’t think so!”

Clive: “What is your opinion of taxation on cigarettes?”
Stephen: “How do you tax a cigarette? PEOPLE should be taxed, possibly smokers.”
As he says this, Peter’s also asking how you’re supposed to tax cigarettes. Damn if he’s trying this show.
Stephen: “You try taxing a cigarette, see how it goes- ‘excuse me, could you give me a quarter of your income?’ EXACTLY MY POINT!”

The game ends abruptly, and with barely any action from Peter or John, but damn if Stephen Fry didn’t carry that entire game. It was rather good, mainly because everyone said funny things, even if Clive was trying to keep it going a bit too quickly.

Rap: Childbirth

The Hoedown’s grandpa. Just seeing Stephen squirm in doing a Rap is good enough for this one (though, not as good as his sheep rap in a little bit).
Clive, as Stephen winces at the game’s mention: “…Stephen does this on his own, anyway…”

John’s rap voice is a BIT TOO SIMILAR to his reggae from Episode 1. Not much better, either.

Josie’s is…well, a usual Hoedown-esque performance for her. AND THEN WE GET TO PETER COOK’S RAP, which is, to be honest, the only time he truly shines the entire show. He just breaks out of his stupor and delivers a really nice, really game rap verse. Miracles never cease.

And then Stephen just…talks through it. He does try to rhyme, but…it’s not really a rap. I can’t not like it, though, because he’s Stephen Fry, and the pathetic no-selling of it still works.

Overall: Definitely a much better show, with more highlight games, even if there was an undercurrent of sleaze, brought on by Peter Cook’s drunkenness (and as much as I’d like to credit that to production…actually, for once, I *CAN* credit that to production, especially a certain producer whose name rhymes with Schmory SchmGrath). Still, there wasn’t anything terribly wrong with the show, save for a few missteps from a compromised Peter, and John Sessions still refusing to play with others. Stephen and Josie had great nights, and Peter could still come in the clutch for a few fun moments.

Show Winner: Peter
Best Performer: Stephen, for absolutely nailing the show, and having several great lines
Worst Performer: Peter Cook. As legendary as he is, he just wasn’t in peak condition tonight.
Best Game: Film and Theatre Styles v2, as Josie’s and John’s chemistry BARELY edges this ahead of Panel.
Worst Game: Props, as much as Josie and Stephen tried.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: UK S01E02, or Not Funny, but Clean!

Well, I’m here, so I might as well do another whose line. This one…less friendly pastures, but still reasonable enough lineup-wise.

Tonight’s show features Archie Hahn, back for more after a more-pleasant-than-expected first show, Rory Bremner, a few seasons before his semi-regular-ship on the show would be begin, Jimmy Mulville, the…uh, producer of the show?…..and, our SERIES REGULAR, John Sessions. A bit more uneven than show 1, but still…effort is shown.

Clive, at moment one, fucks up, by saying “a series of improvishal-NO, IMPROVISATIONAL!”
The audience even catches him on this.

Clive also calls this week’s bunch of performers as ‘a collection of deadbeat entertainers, stand-up comics and friends of the producer.” Jimmy, actual producer…has no response.

The contestant intros are a bit more biting this week, and you can tell Archie is a ton looser here, if at all possible. John’s is my favorite: “John, who only today was described in these words: “A genius, with a talent matched by any young contemporary…in fact, I’m absolutely marvelous.”

Authors:
Archie: Truman Capote
Rory: Clive JamesĀ 

Jimmy: Dylan Thomas
John: James Joyce
Title: A Day at the Seaside

Archie announces he’s doing Capote by doing, well, a Capote impression (which to me, sounded a bit more like Droopy Dog)
Clive: “…but you’ll do it in his voice, will you?”

Jimmy: “Erm…who was it?”
Clive: “Have you read ANYBODY?”

This is Jimmy after Rory finishes his:
Screen Shot 2017-10-07 at 4.18.18 PM.png
For about 5 seconds. Man, he really wasn’t cut out for PERFORMING improv, was he?

This round is a bit quicker than last episode’s, with more than one round, quicker pace, and, well, more accents. John’s James Joyce is, well, as meandering and repetitive as Joyce himself.

Also, Jimmy’s very unprofessional, making a few too many cheeky asides for my tastes.

Film and Theatre Styles v1
Archie and Jimmy- boss tells an employee they’ve been sacked.

It’s different here, because Clive is skeptical about putting down ‘Godfather’, as he was sticking to specific styles of film, but this would get more and more loose as the series would go on.

Jimmy and Archie do a bit of plotting pre-scene…which is kinda awkward and vocal.
Clive: “…and we’ve got up to nine hours to go about it…”

Archie’s move to become Marlon Brando at the drop of ‘Godfather’ as a style is a great one, as he does the cheek-kiss to Jimmy.

Okay, as bad as Jimmy’s improv is, I’ll give him credit for this:
Archie: “I’ve known you 22 years, I’ve raised you since you were a lil baby…”
Jimmy: “A *LIL* BABY? ARE YOU TALKING CHINESE?”

Clive: “Let’s go Aussie Soap”
Archie: “…alright mate?”
Jimmy: “Yep?”
Archie: “You’re fired.”
[It’s that simple.]

It’s exciting to me that the scene ended with Jimmy getting blown in the head with a rifle, as he sort of kept the scene from truly getting going, and, again, was a bit too cheeky.

Film and Theatre Styles v2
John and Rory: buying from a used car salesman

Clive gets a suggestion of ‘Brazilian Soap Opera’
Clive: “…Are you on any particular medication right now?”

Rory and John have such a good time doing ‘Amateur Dramatics’, that they bypass like 5 or 6 buzzers. Also, Rory tries doing a Noel Coward accent and asks himself ‘what the hell am I doing?’

It was more evident here that John and Rory could work together…and yet John, whenever he could grabbed the scene and couldn’t stop talking. Rory had to fight the buzzer to get a word in edgewise.

World’s Worst:
Person to confront someone on their deathbed
The highlights:
John: ‘YOU HAVEN’T SEEN STAR WARS? Well, um, Ben Kenobi arrives back from the planet…”
Jimmy: “I bet you feel stupid bein’ a bloody atheist now, don’t ya?”
John: “Just one song before ya go…’I MET A GIRL…WHO SANNNNG A SONG…THAT HAD NINETY FIVE VERSES TO GO…”
Jimmy, LUNGING at the camera: “….FUCK ME, YOU LOOK TERRIBLE!”

Props:
Jimmy and Rory vs. Archie and John
Screen Shot 2017-10-07 at 4.45.38 PM.png
Jimmy: “Well, I went in, and I said ‘I want one like Michael Jackson’s…”

Screen Shot 2017-10-07 at 4.47.24 PM.pngJimmy: “For the mono-ped who wants to be seen at night!”

After a few more, in desperation, Jimmy just stares at the camera and goes “and if you’ve got any more ideas for uses for this, send them in on a postcard…CAUSE I CAN’T THINK OF ANY!”

Screen Shot 2017-10-07 at 4.49.25 PM.pngRory: “Okay, MR. PRESIDENT, WILL YOU PLEASE COME OUT OF THE WHITE HOUSE, THE ELECTION IS OVER, YOU HAVE NO CHANCE.”

Sound Effects:
Archie and Jimmy- mowing the lawn.

Quick game, without many real takeaways. Archie’s good at sound effects, and Jimmy did alright.

Couples
Rory and John- in the laundromat

This is basically Film and Theater Styles, only with impressions. So, if they have Rory, they might as well use him.

It’s also a nice way of reminding me that Rory does a fantastic David Attenborough impression, and John, who just simpered a bit instead of doing his Richard Attenborough, isn’t great at teamwork.

Rory, as Prince Charles, pointing to the laundry machine: “…d’you think Harry’s having a nice time in there?”

And then, once the time is right, John goes into an absolutely PERFECT impression of Griff Rhys-Jones, who’d be on the program…seven shows later. Rory’s Mel isn’t too bad.

Clive, getting the suggestion of Torville and Dean: “Oh, brilliant…it’s gonna take us 5 hours to get the ice rink set up…”
Rory, without any options, mimes slipping on ice.

Overall: A very uneven show, with different people on different planes of improv existence. Jimmy was not cut out for the show, John still isn’t good at teamwork, Rory only excelled when he was around impressions, and Archie, though he had some good moments, was down from the last show.

Show Winner: Rory
Best Performer: Rory, by default, for keeping the latter half of the episode afloat.
Worst Performer: Jimmy, for being very bawdy and bad at improv.
Best Game: Couples, which had the most good moments, despite losing the scene.
Worst Game: Sound Effects. Just had the least to it.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: UK S01E01, or THOSE GUINEA PIGS ARE MY PETS!

I promised myself I wouldn’t start a new watchdown until I was done with Series I, but I’m bored, and I happened upon a few Series 1 clips, and I’m ready to bring it on.

The difference between Whose Line is it Anyway and shows like QI and Never Mind the Buzzcocks is that I’ve watched this one down before, years ago, when they first popped up on Youtube. Also, thanks to some BBC America reruns, I’ve had the privilege of watching this one on TV. So a few of these moments I’m well aware of, but I figured I’d want to go through the entire UK series again, for good measure.

I’m an avid fan of the US version, which is still on, and inspired me to go into improv comedy myself. I’ve talked improv with Colin and Brad, which was…a top 10 experience, but a very lucky one as well. So, going into this watchdown, I have experience with Improv as well as all levels of WL lore. My one weakness is the first series of the show takes us back further than we’ve gone so far, to 1988, so I may not be great on current events. But I don’t care. It’s Whose Line!

We’re starting with Series 1, Episode 1, as we should. Tonight’s show features a series regular, John Sessions, the famous git, who’d be in stock til halfway through Series 2. It also features a series regular from another show, Paul Merton, who made a name for himself here long before he met Ian Hislop and Angus Deayton. It also features a legendary semi-regular improviser, Josie Lawrence, capable of lighting up any program she’s on. And, as custom for Whose Line in the UK, there’s an American, Archie Hahn, who you’ve probably seen in This is Spinal Tap or…something, idk, who is here to make the other three look GOOD.

And, of course, there is a host- Clive Anderson, who could be insanely funny even in the confines of being a host. That’s enough talk. Let’s begin.

For the record, John Sessions is even highlighted in the INTRO of the SHOW. Man, wait until the audience figures out that he’s not very good!

I’m already noticing that Clive is INSANELY stiff behind the desk, as well as in front of the prompter. He’s going to learn to relax a bit more.

The contestant intros would be shorter and less descriptive, but here they’re very long and drawn out.

Authors:
Archie- Stephen King. Josie- Louisa May Alcott. Paul- Janet and John books. John- Charles Dickens.
Title: Through the Garden Gate
They used to start with this one all the time in the first few series of WL. Why? I’m still not sure, but it’s a simple enough game because it doesn’t really involve collaboration with each other.

I always dug that Clive let the improvisers pick their authors. I occasionally think they may have been suggested by the producers, but…let’s just stick with suspension of disbelief for a moment.

Josie’s suggestion of Louisa May Alcott comes with a disclaimer- ‘for those who don’t know, she wrote Little Women, Little Men, and Little Wives.
Clive: “Yes, and little else.”

Archie gives his Stephen King an odd accent that switches between New England and…England. Not sure what he was going for then. Paul’s is the first to actually go for humor rather than likeness, getting the character names wrong and going for a leap pipe joke. Also, both Josie and Paul jokingly keep going a beat after the buzz. The game ends after only one round, which is odd, as Archie and John are a bit shortchanged, but Clive admits that Archie gets more points for actually incorporating the title.

Sound Effects: Paul and Archie

Ah yes, the original, two person sound effects, rather than the americanized ‘let’s ridicule the audience’ Sound Effects. Getting Archie instead of JOHN SESSIONS THE POSTER BOY to do Sound Effects is an odd choice, but…he is a voice actor.

Paul does most of the heavy-lifting here, obviously, but he definitely has a stranglehold on the ‘surprise’ aspect of the game, by smashing his radio and opening and closing his mirror door. Plus, he even says some things aloud, which…I didn’t know you could do in this game. I did get a genuine laugh out of Archie giving the toothpaste squeezing out a fast-esque noise…and Paul rolling his eyes and undoing his trousers. Fantastic teamwork between the two, and funnier than the last game by far.

Song Styles: Telephone
Josie: Stephen Sondheim
John: reggae

One of the audience suggestions for a household appliance is ‘AJAX!’
Clive: “No, we can’t advertise…not with me working for Vim…”

You could tell immediately that Josie knew how to nail Sondheim, his alliteration, his ascending and descending. Even if hers was less than a minute long, Josie proved early on that she was master of the singing games on the show.

John, meanwhile…from the moment Richard Vranch starts the reggae beat on the piano, he just looks confused and perturbed. However…surprisingly, John delivers a relatively fast-paced little reggae number. It bordered on being a little racist, but I doubt it was TOO intentional. I mean, it was 1988 for god’s sakes..
All this being said, it wasn’t exactly…musical? Like, he was just sort of talking quickly in a semi-reggae style? And he just wanted it to end. This may be what we’re in for, folks…

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that after John’s song, they cut to the audience, and we see that sitting in on the show tonight is someone who, in only a few episodes’ time, would be absolutely dominating it:
Screen Shot 2017-10-07 at 1.19.08 AM.png
I…can only imagine that Tony Slattery enjoyed the show. If he didn’t, and if he decided not to come on…god knows if we’d still even be talking about Whose Line in 2017.

World’s Worst: Person to be an ITN Newscaster
Someone in the audience seemed to be confused by Clive’s cry of ‘whoever’s got one, go ahead’, as there’s a confused suggestion of ‘…KABUKI?’ from the audience. Paul has the best reaction, trying to trace the yell.
Screen Shot 2017-10-07 at 1.18.10 AM.png
Some of the highlights:
Archie: ‘thirty-seven children were ki-‘ [breaks]
Clive, after a few minutes of Josie, John and Archie: “…now, give the others a chance, Paul, please!”
Paul, finally getting one: “This is CON…”[turns back, giving up]

[This…wasn’t a very good round. At all.]

Props: Archie and Josie vs. Paul and John:
Highlights:
Screen Shot 2017-10-07 at 1.26.21 AM.png
Archie: “….you’re gonna stick this WHERE??”
Josie [breaks]

and then, of course:
Screen Shot 2017-10-07 at 1.27.11 AM.png
Paul: “You’re gonna stick this WHERE?”

Screen Shot 2017-10-07 at 1.28.51 AM.pngArchie: “…mom, we’ve got to cut the cord soon, this has gone on too long…”

Not a ton of great ones, but Archie and Josie’s teamwork really surprised me, and they got a ton of good ones done together.

Party Quirks:
Josie: Agony Aunt
Archie: Werewolf
John: Theatre Director

Paul gets to be host, which as just as well, because this is where he excelled the most on the show (amongst other places). Of course he’s put out twiglets. If he didn’t, it would be a Paul episode.
Clive: “Lot of points going for this, Paul. You could win.”
Paul, a la Bill Murray: “…I realize the gravity of the situation.”

As Paul and Josie are talking, Clive, meaning to ring the doorbell, accidentally buzzes.
Paul, giving the series its first trademark moment: “Excuse me, there’s someone at the microwave…”

Archie takes silence once the door is opened, looking at the moon, then turning back to Paul, then back to the moon.
Paul: “….not today, thank you.”
Slam.

Archie, as John and Paul are talking, starts gnawing at something on the other side of the room.
Paul: “THOSE GUINEA PIGS ARE MY PETS!”

Paul, after another beat of Archie: “…I know what you are, I just love watching you do it…”

Paul, stalling for John: “I know exactly what you are……..but let’s not talk about YOU…”

Overall: Good for an Episode 1, but not THE GREATEST way to start the series. A few of the games fell flat, there wasn’t a ton of teamwork, especially initiated by the REGULAR, JOHN SESSIONS, ABOVE THE CREDITS, and a lot of the games ended too early for anything to come of them. But, on the plus side, you had Paul Merton bringing the place down whenever he could, Josie doing a great musical number, Archie Hahn not only following the rules, BUT actually playing well with others, and John Sessions…trying…though, a little too hard.

Show Winner: Archie
Best Performer: Paul, for being funny whenever he was onscreen.
Worst Performer: John, for missing a ton of opportunities, especially as the REGULAR.
Best Game: Party Quirks. Good work all around here, and laughs throughout.
Worst Game: World’s Worst. Never got going.
Best Runner: “You’re gonna stick this WHERE?”

QI Watchdown: I13 (Intelligence), or “MARGARET, GET THE CORNFLOUR!”

Again, many times in Series I, QI tried to recreate classic lineups while still trying to plug forward with newer comics. So this show, featuring PHILL JUPITUS, as well as David Mitchell and Jo Brand, is reminiscent of a Series C or D taping, which is good nostalgia. With four left to go in I, this Series still has momentum, but doesn’t have as many ‘WOW THAT’S AMAZING’ shows as the first half did.

Tonight’s buzzers, each in succession, form the famous theme to Mastermind, though I would have appreciated some dramatic spotlights, or a smirking Paul Merton in the background. Alan’s is, of course, ‘UHHHHHHH….PASS!”

Stephen asks a question he prefaces as being incredibly difficult, and discussed in many academic circles: “How do you get a goose interested in volleyball?”
Jo: “…I’d like to reply with the question ‘How do you get ANYONE interested in volleyball?”

Stephen: “Name an intelligent bird.”
Jo, waiting for her Mastermind buzzer to end: “…..me.”

Jo: “Not really, I’ve got a very low IQ.”
Stephen: “Oh, don’t believe that for a second…”
Jo: “It’s 83.”
Stephen: “…my god, you’re barely even human-”
Jo brushes this off, saying she’s kidding.

Phill has a nice point that crows are only perceived as evil because of the dark music that accompanies them. If you put on more fun music, and give them a sombrero, there’s a different effect. This is a very Series B-esque digression, too.

Stephen: “What was the first move the government made to assemble the boffins at Bletchley Park?”
Alan: “…singles bar.”

This episode is starting with less emphasis on humor and more emphasis on ‘isn’t that amazing?’. Stephen talks of Alan Turing’s death by poisoned apple, and that it was widely believed that Apple computers dedicated their logo, the apple with the bite taken out of it, to Turing.
Stephen: “I was actually in a position to ask one of Apple’s founders, Steve Jobs, about it, and he said ‘no, it isn’t true….but god, we wish it were.”

(I find it very ironic that all of this Alan Turing information would be made public a year or so later, with the release of The Imitation Game.)

Stephen: “How long does the perfect job interview last?”
Jo, after waiting for her buzzer to end: “…how long does a blowjob take?”
The place goes mad. Jo is so far killing it tonight.
Stephen: “The extraordinary thing is…the answer is exactly what I’ve got on my card, and it’s ‘TWELVE SECONDS!'”

Stephen: “Have you applied for a job?”
Jo: “Yeah, I applied for many. Never got any, though.”
Stephen: “Well, you got this one.”
Jo: “Right…because I slept with you, as you well know…”
Stephen: “only the best 12 seconds of my life.”

Stephen, listing some questions they’re not allowed to ask at job interviews, stumbles a bit: ‘Are you originally from the O.K.- sorry, UK-”
Phill: “Yeah, but if you’re interviewing for a cowboy, that’s a good question…”

Stephen discusses that people aren’t supposed to answer the ‘what are your weaknesses’ question with a subverted strength, but a mild weakness.
David: “‘I’m a terrible thief…I, just, I love other people’s stuff…”
Stephen: “I also can’t concentr-Oh look, there’s a squirrel!”
Phill: “What are your weaknesses? Heroin and masturbating, not necessarily in that order…”

Stephen: “What are your strengths?’ Ah, now don’t say-”
Alan: “odor, I’ve got a powerful odor…It’ll only get stronger as the day goes on…”

Phill, on other questions they might ask to test your wit, gives a solid Phill answer: “Will you be participating in ‘Take your Kestrel to Work Thursday’?”

Stephen, pulling out another ‘Ingenious Interlude’, says ‘I’ve been trying to get better at these little chemistry experiments.’ Again, they’d be a permanent fixture come Series J.

After this Interlude, where Stephen puts a corn-starch fluid on a speaker, and has it react to sound pressure.
Phill: “You have just ruined every speaker of every QI viewer…”
Stephen, trying to continue: “Isn’t that creepy?”
Phill: “MARGARET, GET THE CORNFLOUR!”

Halfway through the show, a robot appears with some drinks. Having watched this show for several series, I’m not even shocked anymore.

Stephen introduces the robot, Asimo, to the panel.
Alan, as Asimo’s internal monologue: “Here i am, brain the size of a planet…opening DOORS,,,”

Stephen: “Why don’t you show us what you can do?”
Asimo: “I would love to!”
Alan: “Is it gonna kill me?”

Asimo approaches the audience, after going down some stairs.
Stephen: “Now he’s gonna do something that nobody in the audience is going to believe.”
Phill: “STUDIO AUDIENCE KILLED BY RUNAWAY ROBOT.”

Stephen: “Well, I think it’s only fair that you get some points.”
Asimo: “Thanks…but what I’d really like is a dance with Jo.
Jo:
Screen Shot 2017-10-03 at 4.38.24 PM.png

I will say that having Asimo and Jo doing some fun, funky dancing together is one of the most original, cool moments in the show’s history.

Alan, as Asimo departs: “I can’t help feeling…that he is heavily weaponized…”

As they discuss if Asimo had the right voice, Phill brings out a gruff, ‘allo’ voice that could also be taken as one of his many dialects from NMTB (“ALLO, I’M FROM BOTSWANA!”)

David: “I think it would have been more reassuring if its dancing was more robotic. I find its attempts to be human…tragic.”
Stephen: “WELL AREN’T YOU EASILY PLEASED???”
Phill: “What I’d like to happen now, is for it to be like Jerry Springer and for the robot to come on, going “WHO. ARE YOU. CALLING. RUBBISH.” And then big blokes in QI black t-shirts have to pull it off of him. “GET. OFF. ME. YOU. SLAGS. HE WAS. ASKING. FOR IT.”
Alan: “I. WANT. A .DNA. TEST.”

Stephen, starting GI with a question from the job interview section: “How many piano tuners are their in the UK?”
Alan, frantically, grabs the Nobody Knows card.
Stephen: “IS THE RIGHT ANSWER!”

Stephen: “On a clock face, how many times per day do the two hands overlap?”
David: “…Yeah, this is definitely a question to avoid answering at all costs..”

The behind screen for a new question has a blue sky, and clouds coming quickly.
Alan, without a choice: “….theeeee Siiiiimmmpsoooooonnnsss….”

Overall: Solid episode, boosted by some really interesting stuff, and great performances by Jo, Alan and Phill. David had a quieter show, and brought up the rear, but he still won the game. Jo had the best lines, Phill had some great moments, and everybody was able to collaborate on jokes. Plus, ASIMO’s appearances made the momentum grow even more. A truly nice one, even if it took a bit to get going.

MVP: Jo
Best Guest: Phill
Show Winner: David
Best QI Fact: Cornflour vibration
Best Runner: Asimo