Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S04E09, or Number One: Stop Tap-Dancing You Fool!

Last episode, we had three improv comedy legends get their performances hampered by someone who wasn’t very good at all. Tonight we hope to get things rolling again…by having the exact same equation. I’ve been an occasional defender of Ron West’s, as his performance in S02E14, proving that anyone can be funny when standing next to Rory McGrath. Tonight, when faced with three supremely funny counterparts in Colin, Ryan and Greg, I’m sure things will go over fine. [panicked expression]

Scenes from a Hat

Clive: “Strange traffic violations.”
Colin: “D’you know how fast you were going on that pogo stick?”
[A definite classic.]

Clive: “Seems to say ‘peeing your name in the snow’…”
Colin: Screen Shot 2018-01-15 at 9.53.22 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-01-15 at 9.53.41 PM.png
Ron, trying to do at least something funny: “Lovely handwriting…”
Clive: “Enough of old Canadian traditions…”

Clive: “Giving up smoking”
Ryan: [pats Colin down furiously]
Ha

Lightest SFAH yet, with a few obvious jokes here and there. Ron couldn’t really get a laugh.

Old Job New Job: Colin and Greg work in a burger bar, Ryan, ex-marine, joins them.

Clive asks Greg if they have burger bars in America, saying: “well, that’s your contribution to the world.”
Greg: “No, we have CLEVVAH LITTLE CHIP SHOPS! OHOHOHOHOHO!”

Ryan shows the intensity that this game needs the second he enters, making Greg bob for fries and making Colin drop and give him 20…burgers. It’s clear he’s trying to ape R. Lee Ermey, but it’s not an impression.

One of the best parts is when Colin, after being yelled at for most of the scene, finally snaps and yells, even louder, “I’M DOING THE BEST I CAN SIR!” How Ryan didn’t crack at that I’ll never know.

Ryan: “I can be a nice burger man, OR I CAN BE A MEEEEAN BURGER MAN, D’YOU KNOW WHAT I’M SAYING?”
Greg, scared out of his mind: “…..the happy meals are ready!”
[I laughed at that]

A really fun and worth-it scene. Yes, volume reigned supreme here, but also there was so much manic energy about that the whole thing worked, not just with Ryan but with everyone.

Questions Only: Ryan and Colin meet at the beach

This game gets its debut, and it’s different than future iterations- instead of being a quickfire contest, it’s more like early Song Titles- they have to stay up there and do an entire scene speaking in questions.

This scene skews homoerotic very quickly, as Ryan’s professing his love and Colin, in agreement, keeps asking rhetorical questions like ‘DOES A BEAR DOODIE IN THE WOODS?’

You can tell they’d need modification, because Colin gets very strained after a while, and Clive has no choice but to cut it. Ryan, as he heads back to the seat, is even going ‘MAN…THAT’S HARD, ISN’T IT?”

Party Quirks: Greg hosts
Ron: On a jungle expedition
Colin: thinks he’s an octopus
Ryan: a basketball player (HA!)

Colin as an octopus cracks me up, in how fast he’s moving, and how fluidly he’s moving. It’s not Ryan-esque physicality, but it’s still really funny in the amount of energy that’s there.

The game takes off when Ryan comes in, so that these three personalities bounce off each other perfectly. you have Ryan moving and dribbling, Colin moving manically with tentacles, and Greg…getting out of the way.

Greg does eventually guess Colin when Colin’s putting all his arms around Greg, which is hysterical.

Whose Line: Colin tries to get through customs, headed up by Ryan

Ryan notices that Colin doesn’t have a car, that he’s walking through customs.
Colin: “Well, I need to build up my thighs.”

Colin: “Well, my doctor told me…it was so long ago, he said …. [reads line] “damn you’re sexy”. I couldn’t take it, I had to get the hell out of this country.”

Ryan: “Now that you’re in the States, I have to read you some rules about being an American. Number one: [reads] “…STOP TAP-DANCING YOU FOOL!”
Colin: “BUT THAT’S PART OF MY THIGH-BUILDING PROGRAM!”
Ryan: “Give it up! I understand that’s what made you sexy, but you’re not gonna need that in the States!”
Colin: “I was gonna shuffle off to Buffalo!”

Colin, on his mother’s last words: “She looked at me with her big brown eyes and said [reads] “where did that kangaroo come from?” SHE DIDN’T SEE IT COMING, IT PUNCHED HER RIGHT IN THE HEAD AND GAVE HER A CEREBRAL HEMORRHAGE!”
Ryan: “My god!”
Colin: “So I decided to come to a country where there are no kangaroos!”

Ryan ends the scene by leading Colin in the national anthem…and then he goes into ‘America the Beautiful’, which is NOT our National Anthem. It puzzles the shit out of Colin, but he goes with it. Ryan does get in his last line in the song, which is “NEVER SIT ON BARBED WIRE WHEN YOU’RE NAKED!”

Another really nice round of Whose Line. Because this is longer form improv, it’s a chance to attempt a return to the more sophisticated humor of the UK version while still allowing for occasional Americanized beats.

World’s Worst: Person to be President

(from the makers of World’s Worst Person to be Prime Minister)

Ryan, getting the obvious one out of the way: “Hello, I’m George Bush.”
Greg, foretelling the future: “You know what’s wrong with this country? MINORITIES!”
Ron, with one of his few funny jokes of the night: “I hereby abolish congress, and am going to set up a gigantic water slide!”
Colin: “…Have you ever seen a penis this big?”
[This cracks up the whole panel, and Clive]

Funny round, though with a weak middle, and some unfunny Ron ones.

Props: Ryan and Colin vs. Greg and Ron

This is one of the first times where you can see that there was effort put in to make the props look strange and outlandish looking. Ryan and colin’s is a foam make-up, while Greg and Ron’s looks to be plastic or metal.

Ryan would do variants on this joke for the rest of his run, but let it be known that this one was actually really funny:
Screen Shot 2018-01-15 at 10.23.35 PM.png
Ryan: “D’you have a table for David Byrne?”

Screen Shot 2018-01-15 at 10.24.41 PM.pngGreg: “Hi, I just got back from heaven. That atmosphere re-entry’s a bitch!”

Screen Shot 2018-01-15 at 10.25.26 PM.pngColin: “HEY YOU, THE GIANT! STOP PEEING ON THE ALPS!”

A pretty fun round. Also, we’re more than halfway through, and there’s been one funny joke from Ron.

Helping Hands: Colin tries to dictate a letter to his secretary, Ryan (w/Greg’s hands)

Character-wise, this is already great, with Ryan as a vain secretary. The pen lands in his mouth, and Greg uncaps it…while Ryan spits out the cap moments later.

A lot of the game is Colin making Ryan do things, and Ryan struggling because Greg can’t see over him. It’s a very silly, Mr. Magoo-type thing that works out because of Ryan’s character, and how impatient Colin grows.

Colin: “Type me something fast so I can stay hot.”
Ryan prepares to type something, but Greg tries sticking envelopes in the paper tray, which confuses Ryan. He goes “oh, there’s paper in there, I hadn’t noticed.”

The scene ends with Ryan professing his love to Colin, and before it has time to be emotional or funny through there…Ryan throws in a boob joke and the scene ends.

Good scene, with very funny stuff, but below the standard of Helping Handses for this season.

Film Dub: Ryan and Ron argue over who gets to sit in the comfy chair. Greg is the woman.

This is a surprisingly nice Film Dub, without any real lags or dissonance on who’s speaking. Ron even does well, going ‘man, everytime someone sits in my chair I’VE GOT TO KNOCK A BOX OVER!”

Greg: “That’s alright, fellas, I’ll just lay on the floor and you can sit on ME…”
Ryan: “HEY, THAT SOUNDS LIKE A GREAT IDEA!”

Funnier than the last hunk of Film Dubs. Ryan, as he heads back, is heard aloud going “WHERE DO THEY GET THESE IDEAS FROM? ‘A COMFY CHAIR!'”

Superheroes: Acid Rain is terrorizing the world
Greg: Psychic Man
Ryan: Man Who Says Everything Twice Man
Ron: Man Who Censors Himself
Colin: Boneless Boy

Clive, getting superhero suggestions for Greg: “…Somebody there said Sperminator….unfortunately I didn’t hear.”

Greg does make the most of his superhero name, knowing the world crisis even before he reads it on the World Crisis Monitor.

Ron actually has a crafty approach- instead of using bleeps, he second-guesses, pauses, and goes ‘no, I don’t wanna say that’. Different approach.

Ron does seem discouraged by his quirk, and keeps quiet. Perhaps this is what Greg and Ryan wanted. Still, Ron does mention Boneless Boy, and Colin completely owns the quirk, falling down and doing the correct physicality.

Ryan and Ron spend about 10 seconds trying to get Colin back up, only for him to fall back down. It’s the Whose Line equivalent of Sideshow Bob stepping on the rakes.

Once Colin does figure out the solution, Ron and Ryan essentially throw him offstage, which is fantastic.

Very funny game, with good work from everybody (but Ron).

Hoedown: Skiing

Ron’s verse, as with the theme, is not funny.

Ryan, bringing it back arguably to Scenes from a Hat, ends his by saying ‘the best part is writing with pee-pee in the snow…”

Colin actually attempts to sing here, rather than doing his usual talk-singing, but his lyrics and eventual pun are pretty basic, though better than the pack here.

Not a great Hoedown, but there haven’t been many classics so far anyway.

Overall: Not as bad as the Archie show, simply because Ron’s better than Archie. Ron didn’t have an especially good show, but had some moments, and was able to produce some jokes that work, in between all the ones that didn’t. He wasn’t an obstruction, as the show went on pretty well thanks to the strength of the other three. This was a particularly nice show for Colin Mochrie, having some hysterical physicality, and some great lines early on, not to discredit some nice Ryan and Greg performances. Generally an okay show, even if it’s below the standard that’s been set by this impressive S4.

Show Winners: Colin and Ryan
Best Performer: Colin, for being really, really funny tonight.
Worst Performer: Ron. Not a great night.
Best Game: Whose Line, narrowly edging out Superheroes for just having more fantastic lines, and being a better-rounded scene.
Worst Game: Hoedown. Not a ton to it.

Advertisements

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S04E08 or ZAIRE? I asked for Lapland!

The Ryan and Greg combo continues its reign of New York, now featuring an appearance from Chip Esten, and the obligatory return of a guy…who’s been here since Series 1…and is only now deciding to leave.

Archie Hahn’s last appearance was…not good. At all. He and John Sessions sank the momentum of a perfectly good Ryan & Mike show. He’s had approximately one landmark show, S02E09, featuring a great round of Sound Effects and a great run in Party Quirks. Now, he’s got a ponytail, and looks incredibly out-of-place among the younger, and, well, better improvisers.

Scenes from a Hat

What, we START with SFAH? Okay then…

Clive: “Arguing over the tip”
Archie: “I got it.”
Chip: “Look, I circumsized him, I get to keep it…”
BUZZ
Clive, as the audience howls at this: “Yes, off to a great, tasteful start…”

Clive: “What else did Noah take with him on the ark.”
Archie comes in carrying some large object
Ryan: “…Budweiser?”
Archie cracks, as that’s better than what he had

Clive reads an incredibly wordy one about two scuba divers, which leads to Chip just floating around stage for 5 seconds…then walking off. Ryan, to at least the scene worth it, runs across as some fish.

Clive: “The last words of a sewer-cleaner”
Chip: “…that lid looks a little smAAAAUUUUGGHHH”

Clive: “A pointless way to die”
Chip, without a choice: “…THAT LID LOOKS A LITTLE SMAAAUUUUGGHHH”

A few too many on-the-nose ones, but still an amusing round. Archie hasn’t made a single joke, though.

Alphabet: Greg buys an airline ticket from Ryan (starting with F)

This is a particularly amusing Alphabet, as Greg wants a ticket to Lapland, and Ryan and Greg wonder why so many people want to go there.

Ryan: “Yes, here’s your ticket”
Greg: “ZAIRE? I ASKED FOR LAPLAND!”

For one of the first few times, they wrap up the scene positively, without missing a letter or getting confused. Even Ryan asks Clive ‘did we skip any?’, possibly referencing the time he forgot the letter O existed

Song Styles: Chip sings a reggae song to Yvette the Receptionist

For the first time, a new Song Styles format, one that’d be used to this day- Chip has to sing to a member of the audience. This works better than the ‘starting/ending line’ one, and allows for more audience participation, which the show hadn’t really had by that point.

Already, the energy that Chip throws into this reggae song is pretty admirable. He has his usual rhyming and word choice (including “sometimes I drop my drawers, and she gives me shorthand.”)

At the end of the day, this is a fantastic song styles, not only in terms of how nice of a reggae song it is, but in terms of how great the lyrics are, and how much fun Chip is having. I wonder now why they didn’t get Chip for Series 5, or a longer tenure. Possibly it was due to the return of Josie Lawrence’s better moods.

Party Quirks: Chip hosts
Archie: thinks he’s been shipwrecked
Greg: elevator operator
Ryan: champion wrestler

This is an extremely quick game, one that’s without much time for the participants to interact, but Chip carries it, guessing each easily, and having nice jokes.

World’s Worst: Person to be a Parent

Ryan: “How many weeks can you leave a baby alone?”
and then, as people are still recovering from his last joke,
Ryan: “She just loves to play with that dry-cleaning bag”

Ryan: “My baby’s not spoiled. They all smell that way…”
Chip: “WITH TRIPLETS, YOU CAN JUGGLE!”
Greg: “Son, you can really take a punch. Now it’s your turn!”
Chip: “…Hi, I’m Clive Anderson.”
BUZZZZZZZZ

You can hear Ryan and Greg doing overexaggerated laughs at Clive’s expense as they head back to the seats

Great round. Archie’s weren’t funny. We’re halfway through and that’s still 0 successful jokes on the night for Archie.

Bartender: Chip tends bar
Greg: angry about no toilet paper
Ryan: has bunions on his feet

I don’t believe Bartender has been done yet on the UK version, and having Chip kick it off is a wise move, as he and Mike would lead it to some amazing starting rounds.

Greg’s verse is a bit lowbrow, and Chip brandishes it off with ‘go on back and you can use my towel’.

Chip is still excellent at backing up at this game, giving an ‘oooohh ooooh’ as Ryan does his verse about only needing one reebok. Chip does hit this one out of the park after a crack-up at a ‘cuttin onions’ rhyme, but he brings it home by suggesting Ryan go to see Dr. Scholls.

Solid game, though not as good as the round of Psychiatrist from e5

Props: Ryan and Greg vs. Archie and Chip

Screen Shot 2018-01-14 at 9.30.28 PM.pngChip: ‘REALLY safe sex!”

Also, Ryan does his first of many ‘you have a table for Madonna’ jokes

Screen Shot 2018-01-14 at 9.32.03 PM.pngChip, with the cleverest pun of the evening: “This is Frankie, that’s a net!”

Film Dub: Ryan tries to get Archie, his secretary, to make him a drink

Not a great one, because Archie manages to disagree with HIMSELF throughout the scene, rather than just yes-anding Ryan.  Just a very haphazard one all around.

Helping Hands: Greg is seeing child entertainer Ryan (w/Archie’s hands)

First of all, I think it’s very amusing that Archie’s head comes around lower than Ryan’s shoulders.

Greg, with two balloon animals, is pissed.
Ryan: “Hey…never hit an adult…”
Greg: [throttles ryan with balloon animals]

There’s no ‘making Ryan eat something bad’ this time, but Archie has Ryan blow up a balloon, and gets it stuck on Archie’s finger. There’s a five second period where Archie’s flailing his arms and Greg’s trying to get the balloon. It may be the only funny thing Archie does all night.

Greg, post-throwing things: “this is bogus! You smell like bourbon!”

Pretty nice game, as everyone was able to keep it high energy, and roll with the punches.

Hoedown: Doing the Laundry

Archie has arguably the worst Hoedown verse ever made. It’s not rhythmic, it’s not in time, it’s not PC, and it’s not funny. George Wendt did a better Hoedown. And that’s saying something.

Again, not an especially good round, but Chip’s verse saves it from being terrible.

Overall: It’s not everyday when one person can drag down an entire show. Archie Hahn wasn’t funny at all tonight, and brought the momentum down with him, as the show awkwardly tried to use him as little as possible. It sort of worked, with Chip and Ryan having some great moments, and having games like Helping Hands, World’s Worst, Song Styles and Alphabet that really rocked. But I can’t really put myself through a show like this again when I know that Archie will only be funny by accident. Arguably the first truly bad show of S4

Show Winner: Archie
Best Performer: Chip, for mastering the games tonight, and having the kind of performance that justifies his usage this season
Worst Performer: Archie Hahn, for…not making a single successful joke on the night.
Best Game: Song Styles. Just a fantastic song by Chip.
Worst Game: Film Dub. Not good.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S04E07, or Bad Call, Homeslice…

Onto the American tapings we go, for the last time until Series 10. On this route, the producers had reevaulated their priorities after some admittedly unspectacular episodes in New York the previous year. Now, the producers would emphasize Ryan Stiles, Greg Proops and Chip Esten, as they’d worked so well in the UK tapings, as well as bringing back Colin Mochrie, Ryan’s comedy partner, as he’d done well enough supporting Ryan in S03E12.

This episode featured three of those touchstones- Greg, Ryan and Colin would share the stage together for the first of several times. Also, for the first of MANY, MANY times, Colin would share the stage with newcomer Brad Sherwood, brought in as an incredibly young option from LA, to do singing games if Jim Meskimen or Chip Esten was not in house. Brad and Colin would later go on to become a double act just as powerful as Colin and Ryan.

Emotion Option: Ryan and Brad (in adjoining shower cuticles)

The New York audience, being, well, a New York audience, is raucous and loud, perhaps moreso than S3, when giving suggestions for emotions.

The first section has no dialogue, but the visual of Ryan just coming into Brad’s shower, with a look on his face, has enough to get me laughing early on.

This is a very motion-based scene, with not a ton of dialogue or character, focusing more on movement, like Ryan vomiting over the divider in the showers during ‘nauseously’.
Ryan: “…sorry, it’s just so clean over here, I didn’t wanna…”

Then, of course, the scene ends on a soap-dropping joke. And as Brad heads back to the seat, he does a huge ‘YES’ motion that he was actually able to do that.

This was very broad, very Americanized, and I didn’t love it, possibly because I’m used to UK playings of this game being more dialogue-based.

Clive, as he usually does: “I don’t know what sort of points to give there….69, NOW-”
One guy in the audience does a full YAHOO!

Old Job New Job: Greg does Colin’s hair- Ryan, a former fireman, takes over for him

First of all, let me get the obvious joke out of the way- HAHA, COLIN’S GOING TO A BARBER’S.

Sure enough
Greg: “Same as usual?”
Colin: “Yeah, if you could just comb it up over the top…”

Ryan comes in and shoots a water hose at Colin, exposing his unbuttoned top half of his shirt. And I thought we wouldn’t get that kind of material on this show until Tony ripped his trousers.

The scene ends with Ryan picking Colin up, throwing him over his shoulder, and moving to another chair. As Ryan and Colin head back to the seats, Ryan remarks “I picked a bad spot…”, referring to where he picked Colin up. Colin replies “i KNOW!”

This was a quick one, but Ryan made the best of it, possibly giving less character than Stephen’s playings.

Props: Ryan and Brad vs. Greg and Colin

Screen Shot 2018-01-13 at 2.17.52 PM.pngRyan: “You hold Dumbo, and I’ll clean out his ears.”

Screen Shot 2018-01-13 at 2.18.32 PM.pngBrad: “So, this is all that’s left of Fred Flintstone’s car…”
I thought of that one too…

Screen Shot 2018-01-13 at 2.19.25 PM.pngColin: “DAMN THESE IMPLANTS!”
Clive, background: “Hey…”

Screen Shot 2018-01-13 at 2.20.10 PM.png
Ryan: “….DAMN THESE IMPLANTS!”

Screen Shot 2018-01-13 at 2.20.58 PM.pngGreg, with little choice: “….DAMN these implants!”

Also, note that Brad does the first of many Lost in Space references in Props. This will carry to the Aisha version.

This was an incredibly strong game of props, which is a breath of fresh air after E6. You can definitely see that Americans were much better at Props than most Brits.

Whose Line: Colin gets a bank loan from Ryan

I don’t think this game has been played on UK WL yet, and I can’t imagine anyone except for Sweeney & Steen playing it (it could be a foresight though), but if this is the debut, with Colin and Ryan, then it’s welcome.

As Clive explains the game, Ryan stuffs the lines in his pocket…then keeps his hands there…then closes his eyes. The audience does the math and laughs at this.

As Ryan closes a safe
Colin: “So how long are you gonna keep my wife in there? Until I, what, totally pay back?”
Ryan: “Well, don’t think of her as your wife anymore, think of her as collateral.”

Colin: “Her mother always said to her…[reads] ‘May 10,000 ants invade your underwear drawer…”
Ryan, with the wordplay: “My god, she comes from a large family!”
Colin: ‘She does! And damn fine workers, too…”

Colin is prompted to listen into the safe and see if his wife is saying anything. Unfortunately, he has to switch hands in order to wring the slip of paper out of his pocket and read it. Eventually he does figure out what his wife is saying: “…It’s time for the Royal Spanking!’ My god, she knows my weakness.”
Colin holds out his bum to Ryan
Ryan: “Well, I’d like to, but…I’m not in deposits, NOW..”

Ryan sticks up Colin and hands him a note.
Colin: “…You must dance for me while I name some vegetables.”
Unfortunately, this means it comes from Colin, and Ryan has to dance with the gun in his hand, while Colin yells “LETTUCE! RUTABEGA! CELERY!”

The scene ends with Colin joining him, and they both yell out vegetables as Clive buzzes in.

You can see why they still play that game to this day. There were so many great lines, the Colin-Ryan duo truly shone, the lines were silly enough, and it was just a ridiculously funny scene.

Party Quirks: Brad hosts
Greg: cheerleader
Colin: Synchronized swimmer
Ryan: cattle brander

Greg, as a cheerleader, does his patented ‘leap and touch his toes’ move that’d carry him to the early US era.

The second Colin comes in, I’m laughing hysterically. The frozen smile he has on his face, the little movements, diving into a bowl of dip. I’m gone.

And then Ryan comes in, ties up Colin and brands him. I’m literally dying here. This is very close to US WL in its physicality, and in how Brad’s running the party. This literally could have been in S1 of the US version.

Scenes from a Hat

Clive: “The good, the bad, and the ugly”
Screen Shot 2018-01-13 at 3.27.11 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-01-13 at 3.27.26 PM.png
Ryan: “…we still waiting for ugly?”
Screen Shot 2018-01-13 at 3.27.36 PM.png
Ryan: “OH, HERE HE IS!”
Colin’s face always kills me here

Clive: “Fortune cookies that tell the truth”
Greg: “…’You’re a cheap bastard and you won’t keep a tip’- HEY!”

Clive: “Mailman at a dog show.:”
Ryan comes on, sprays away Brad, tries spraying away Colin, but Colin just starts humping his leg, which cracks up the audience and amuses Ryan.
Clive: “…I mean, they only bite the person in England…speed the mail, I guess..”

Clive: “Bad ice cream flavors.”
Ryan: “mmmm, have you tried the pork?”
Clive: “…any game can end on the line ‘have you tried the pork’….any game I like, anyway…”

Solid round, but dull in a few areas

Sound Effects: Colin changes a baby’s diaper, Ryan provides Sound Effects

The first non-Archie playing of this game, and the first with this immortal duo in their respective roles.

This time, Colin has dialogue as well, even going ‘WHO PUT THE PET SNAIL THERE!’ as he hears a fart noise.

Also, the first sign of Colin’s Sound Effects brutality- a dog comes running in, and he chucks him out the window.

So many little things work here, like Colin putting the wrong end in front of the sink, Ryan’s ‘AIIIGH’ noise, the ‘pfff’ once he opens the diaper.

Even better, Colin does a sweeping motion with the diaper…and then goes to pick the baby off of the floor. It’s a hysterical touch that wins over the audience.

And then, right as Colin ties up the diaper, there’s a second beat, and then a loud ‘PFFFFFF’. There’s someone in the audience who screams at this.

Helping Hands: Greg helps Ryan (with Colin’s hands) prepare for a date

As a bonus, Greg rolls out his french accent for this game. Lots of future WL touchstones appear in this one.

And then, the classic moment where Colin throws a ton of toothpaste on a toothbrush, and brushes Ryan’s teeth as he winces.

And then, Ryan rinses…then spits into his hands, just to get back at Colin. Then, when he asks for a towel, Greg waves it in front of him and runs away.

Very funny game, though I’d put it below the more recent ones, like Jim shoving every food in his mouth, or Ryan dumping cereal in his mouth.

Superheroes: Greg, as Junk Man, has to save the world from English Television, with Ryan as Hyperactive Man, Brad as Cliche Boy, and Colin as Captain Poultry

And this staple of the American run debuts here as well.

I have to say that Greg’s reaction to the crisis suggestion is one of the happiest moments of his entire WL career.  The second someone says ‘ENGLISH TELEVISION’, half the audience goes ‘OHHHHHHH’, Clive chuckles and rears back, and Greg just starts laughing hysterically at Clive’s expense, kinda like Mandark from Dexter’s Laboratory.

Clive, eerily prophetic: “So…JUNK-MAN has got to solve English Television’s problem…though it’s perfectly obvious that he’d just turn it into American television, but…”
The audience boos this one.
Clive: “Oh, now that’ll get the crowd on my side…”
Greg: “Bad call, homeslice.”

I love Ryan’s reaction to english television, writhing back and forth
Greg: “It’s just Benny Hill all day long”
“Ryan: “I KNOW, IT’S TERRIBLE!”

[Fun fact. After its original run, Whose Line reruns would land on BBC America, and its lead-in program would always be…yep, you guessed it, Benny Hill. Kinda odd he predicted that too]

Brad, as Cliche Boy: “Sorry I’m late, but better late than never.”

Colin enters as Captain Poultry and cracks up the entire room, as he hands out eggs and gets down the motions.
Brad: “And remember, don’t count your chickens before they hatch!”

Colin: “I’m gonna go over there and peck all their cameras into submission…it’s all I could think of…”
Ryan, as Colin leaves: “LOOK AT THAT! IT’S POULTRY IN MOTION!”

This is a pretty nice debut for the game, again, seeming just like the US version, especially in how the denouement seems so last-minute.

You can tell this is an especially receptive crowd when not only do they AWWWW when Clive announces that was the last game, but they go nuts when Colin’s crowned the winner. Colin bashfully swats them away.
Clive: “A popular winner on this night, with all the Mochrie family in the audience…”

Overall: I’d feared that, like S3, we’d see a huge decrease in quality with the move to New York. HERE? NO. There was something electric in the room tonight that we hadn’t really seen yet. There was something in how each of the games went, and how the performers got friendlier and looser as the night went on. There was something in how Brad looked like he’d been doing this for years, even if this was his first show. All four were incredible, and every game was a delight. This may have been the tipping point for the producers to goad them into giving Colin and Ryan and co more of a presence on UK WL.

Show Winner: Colin
Best Performer: Ryan Stiles, for absolutely owning the first stretch of the show, and being a better supportive team player in the latter half. Colin did come close, as he came into his own on the show for the first time.
Worst Performer: Brad Sherwood, but I owe this to the strength of the other three.
Best Game: Whose Line. Absolutely classic in every way. Superheroes and Props were right behind.
Worst Game: Emotion Option, for having the least to it.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S04E06, or Well, That’s Never Stopped Me Having a Good Time…

Well, a lot has happened in the first 5 episodes of Series 4, without an especially dull moment. Before the move to New York, there was a compilation, which could only help, as these five shows are among the strongest in the show’s history.

Authors: Pant and Ethel, Where are You?
Jim: Arthur Conan Doyle
Paul: AA Handbook
Steve Steen: Jacques Cousteau
Tony: Dr. Alex Comfort
From: E3

Tony adds that Comfort has authored “the new, REVISED…joy of sex.”

Paul, after Jim supplies plot: “…there are no services on this motorway for the next fifty miles. [looks to Clive for a buzzer]”

Steve: “I turned to look at Pant and Ethel. Suddenly, it took ze form of my hideous enemy, ze shark.”
[there was a bit of Henning Wehn in that impression]

As Steve talks of ‘shifting ballast’
Tony: “…and if you DO shift a large amount of ballast…make sure it’s away from your partner’s face…”
AND THAT’S THE GAME

Short, sweet, and still an outrageously effective round of Authors. I’ll note that this game is way better when played sporadically, rather than in every goddamned show.

Old Job New Job: Jim, Stephen and Tony are plumbers. Steve used to be an advertising exec.
From: E4

This one was filmed at a taping where we’ve already seen this game. Maybe this one went better…or worse than the ‘spaghetti-yanked offstage’ ending.

Tony shows the audience that a pair of underwear’s been stuck in a pipe. Perhaps trying to call back to the underwear he stuck in his mouth during F&TS that taping.

Stephen: “We washed THIS screwdriver in Daz, and this screwdriver in Omo, and they BOTH BROKE THE WASHING MACHINE!”
I love Tony’s absolutely annoyed look as he grabs the screwdrivers here.

I prefer the one that made the taping, as this one was extremely concise, but it was still funny.

World’s Worst: Person to be Prime Minister
Jim, Steve, Stephen and Tony
From: E1

Steve and Tony step down at the same time, possibly with the same joke, but Steve lets Tony go for it
Tony, John Major voice: “I’M HEVING A VERY CONSIDERABLE AMOUNT OF…”

Then, immediately after that, nobody has any. The obvious joke cleared out everyone else’s material.

Steve, with the other obvious joke, as H.W. Bush, “…ah’m gonna be your next prime minister…”

Tony: “…hello, my name’s Jimmy Savile…”
BUZZ BUZZ BUZZ

Narrate: Jim and Steve (in a betting shop)
From: E3

Ah yes, the first ever playing of what would become a Ryan-Colin staple…but was introduced as a Sweeney and Steen vehicle.

Steve, blowing an easy line: “Yeah, I’d been whistling the speme to thports night- [runs the line backwards] Sure, I’d been drinking that day.”

This game was meant as a primary example of ‘Jim and Steve trying to screw with each other’, using every narration to direct the other person into doing something ridiculous, rather than going about a mystery scene. This works, but not as well as the game would later.

Scene with a Prop: Tony and Paul
From: E4

The most simple game ever played on Whose Line. Tony and Paul with a sign that says ‘Stop! Children!”

Tony, holding the sign: “STOP! Can’t you read?”
Paul: “I can, yeah.”
Tony: “What’s it say?”
Paul: “It says ‘Stop Children’.
Tony: “Yeah, that’s right.”
Paul: “I’m 34.”

Now, there is an edit after here, which makes me think the scene went on longer, and there was possibly more, but A.) the scene’s perfectly fine as a sub-10-second clip, and B.) Tony probably made it unbroadcastable after that. Something about children might have made this go blue very quickly.

Psychiatrist: Chip
Greg: Afraid of Water
Tony: In love with himself
Ryan: thinks he smells like horses
From: E5

Ladies and gentlemen, the first full-fledged singing game proctored by Chip Esten. The first of many.

The first number is very quaint, with Greg giving nice stuff, but Chip throwing it over the moon with a very nice rhyme of ‘that nasty H2O’, proving his impeccable rhyming abilities right off the bat.

Tony is caught off guard by the very bouncy tone of his music, so he takes a second’s glance at Richard, and then just starts bouncing around with it.

Chip has a great takedown of Tony, calling him an egomaniac.
Tony, trying the last rhyme: “…have ya got any CRACK?”

Ryan’s verse and comeback is a nice way to end it, even though Ryan can smell the ‘unstable’ pun a mile away.

This game, if anything, allowed for Chip’s longevity on this season, as he’d be an incredible asset in the singing games of this year, especially as Josie wouldn’t make the NY flight.

Props: Greg and Josie vs. Ryan and Paul
From: E2

A very short round without a ton of highlights.

Alphabet: Jim and Tony (changing room)- starting with F
From: E4

Two things you’ll immediately notice. Firstly, Jim’s excellent at this game. Secondly, Tony will not miss an opportunity to let out an ‘oOOOoOooooooOOOOOooohhh!”

Tony: “Let’s talk tactics”
Jim: “TACTICS TACTICS TACTICS. SCORE A GOAL! That’s the tactic.
Tony, forgetting what game he’s playing: “…score a goal? That’s not much of a tactic!”
Clive: “hang on…you’ve got it backwards.”
Jim: Unusual Grasp of the Alphabet you have…”

Tony takes 5 seconds before thinking of an X. Then: “….XYLOPHONE, WHAT THE BLOODY HELL’S THAT DOING IN HERE???”

Song Styles: Josie sings a Hendrix song with the opening line ‘on the M25’, and with the closing line ‘who stole my sausages’
From: E2

I prefer the tactic of giving Josie an object to sing about, but let’s see if this works.

It’s great- when Clive asks for an ending line, Paul keeps shouting out suggestions, and Clive bats him away.
Paul: “WOULD YOU LIKE AN ORANGE?”
Clive: “…I would, Paul,  but not for you to do that…”

Josie jumps right into the style, complete with some impressive stuff from Richard Vranch on electric guitar. I’ll say that at times she didn’t always comply with the beat Richard was going for, and the song was a bit clumsy, but the energy was there.

Expert: Greg interviews Ryan, an expert on taxidermy and paperclips
From E5

As good as Ryan is at Expert, this may have been his crowning achievement in the game.

Screen Shot 2018-01-12 at 10.01.06 PM.png

This is the position that Ryan holds FOR THE ENTIRE SCENE. He does not blink. He does not move. Even as Greg conducts his interview, he is absolutely immobile.

This is one of the few games in Whose Line history where the audience laughter is constant throughout. Even as Greg is talking, attempting to shake Ryan’s hand, and trying to ask questions, the audience just keeps laughing at Ryan.

The best part is when Greg finishes a question, and Ryan responds with 5 seconds of silence before Greg resumes. The audience dies at that.

Greg, trying to tie the game together: “Now, once the animal is stuffed, what do you use for the eyes? Paperclips, maybe?”
Greg, growing impatient, nods Ryan’s head for him.

As they head back to the seats, Ryan immediately goes “I’m sorry” to Greg, which he immediately brushes off.

Every Other Line: Paul’s an old man looking for false teeth. Tony reads.
From: E3

Paul: “I’ve lost me false teeth!”
Tony, cracking a bit: “Everything’s fine…”

Tony is great at reading in this game, making sure every line of dialogue, even if it has no context, feels like it has the exact same context.

Paul: “I was wondering if you could send a scuba diver down there to get ’em for me.”
Tony, in disbelief: “…SHE’S THROUGH THERE! She’s through there, laid out on the bed!”
Paul: “Well…then…I’ll go in then, shall I?”
Tony: “She’s been through a hell of a lot in the past hour.”
Paul: “Well, a lot’s been through her, from what I’ve heard.”
Tony, cracking: “SHE’S DEAD!”
Paul, with only one option: “…Well, that’s never stopped me from having a good time!”

Hoedown: Frying Pan (Ryan, Greg, Tony and Chip)
From: E5

Like last Hoedown, this doesn’t get funny until Tony’s verse, where he ends by saying “I use all my fried food to burn Jeremy Beadle!”

Chip’s isn’t much, but it’s cute, which is what you could say about this hoedown.

Best Performer: Tony, over Paul and Jim. Surprisingly the brits ruled this one, and Tony had more highlights than his companions.
Worst Performer: Steve Steen, for not having a great deal of standout moments himself.
Best Game: Expert. Easy pick, I know, but this should have been in the show. Psychiatrist and Authors came close.
Worst Game: Props. Nothing there.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S04E05 or It’s More of a Guideline than a Commandment, Really…

Now…here’s where things get interesting.

We’ve had a case where we’ve intermixed US performers with Tony Slattery- he’s worked with Greg and with Ryan. But now, for the first time, we see Tony outnumbered by them- not only Colin and Greg, both on loan from America, but…we introduce a new American talent that Patterson and co really banked on in Series 4, and that’s Chip Esten. Nowadays he goes by Charles, and he’s made a really nice career for himself as an actor on Nashville. But here, he was a young, fresh-faced improviser, surrounded by three of the greats.

After Tony is introduced by Clive as ‘everybody’s favorite homeboy’, he flashes a little gang sign, confusedly, which cracks the hell out of Chip.

Film and Theatre Styles v1: Chip and Tony (bank robber and teller)

Clive gets a ‘Russ Meyer’ suggestion. Tony asks ‘who’s that’, and Chip, of all people, has to explain. Tony, once he realizes, holds his hands out in a semi-disgusted way.

In the first few seconds of the scene, Chip is very passive, and Tony has to do a lot of the vocal heavy lifting. Tony had asked for Chip’s loafers, which Chip ends up holding up…and which end up bringing down Tony due to the smell.

Clive: “Biblical Epic”
Chip: “Bow before the shoes before you. You will have fifteen sons, and you will name them all Seth.”
[Greg loses it in the background]
Tony: “But this new commandment, the fifteenth: “thou shall wear odor eaters”
Chip: “…it’s more of a guideline than a commandment, really…”

Chip’s over-the-top Shakespearean is not foreign to those familiar with Improv-A-Ganza
Chip: “THOU SPEAKEST TO ME IN A LANGUAGE DOST NOT UNDERSSSTAAND.”
Tony, out-of character: “…what was that last word?”

Western
Chip, pulling out a Clint Eastwood impression: “…pretty fancin’ shootin’…”
Tony, calling him out: “Pretty FANCIN’ shootin? What kind of a bank are you?”
Chip, as they’ve switched places since top of the scene: “…I dunno, you’re the one behind the counter.”
BUZZ

I’m very happy that Chip was able to hold his own line that in a scene with Tony Slattery. This was very well-balanced, and Tony was thrown for a loop on a few occasions.

Film and Theatre Styles v2: Ryan and Greg (stuck in a lift)

Clive: “Now, let’s go onto a game called Ryan- No, not CALLED RYAN…”

This one doesn’t get going until disaster movie, where Ryan and Greg start frantically running to both sides of the ‘lift’, but in a synchronized was that mimics a Towering Inferno type film. It’s really perfect.

Of course, that style ends with this visual:
Screen Shot 2018-01-11 at 9.56.19 PM.png

So naturally, Clive goes onto ‘Batman and Robin’.
Greg: “…Batman, I’d like to tell you something…”

then, Ryan and Greg go right into ‘climbing a building on the floor’ position, which gets a nice reaction from the audience.

Clive: Science Fiction
Ryan:
Screen Shot 2018-01-11 at 9.58.22 PM.png
Ryan: “…it’s incredible. My penis has grown to EXTREME HEIGHTS!”

Ryan: “QUICK! PRY THE ELEVATOR DOOR OPEN WITH MY PENIS!”
Meanwhile, Tony is dying in the background.

Then, right when Ryan gets back to the seats, he does the first of many ‘throws penis over shoulder’ jokes we’d be getting this run of the show.

Not as top-to-bottom funny as the first one, but definitely more broad, and with more, well, Americanized humor.

News Report: Snow White
Greg and Tony in the studio, Chip and Ryan in the field

As usual, they do the ‘silent motioning before the scene starts’ as the music plays in, and this one might be the funniest one yet:
Screen Shot 2018-01-11 at 10.03.47 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-01-11 at 10.04.01 PM.png

Greg, unknowingly starting a trend: “…good evening, I’m Packed Nicely.”
Tony, after a few seconds, breaks.

Greg, after introducing Tony’s character in saying ‘a lot of things have gone down’
Tony: “Well, it’s very interesting that you should use the word ‘go down’ because she’s with seven very small men…”

Chip, himself starting a trend: “Packed, I can almost hear you…but I’ve got my fingers in my ear…”

Ryan, on how he handled the ‘seven men’: “Yes, I tried the slipper on all of them, and it didn’t fit anyone…”
Chip has to bite his lip hard here. For several seconds. Eventually he settles on “and she’s still sleeping…”

Greg: “What about the evil, evil witch, who’s been trying to get snow white? Briefly.”
Tony: “Bitch.”
Greg: “Right, thank you…”

Greg, as a precursor to a later pun: “I can hear something in my ear, I think it’s Chip Stunkley”

Chip then introduces Ryan as the eighth dwarf, looks him over, and says his name: “Gangly.”

Ryan’s comment about what the dwarves did to Snow White…wouldn’t go over very well if this was broadcast in 2018, but him recounting the details as Chip tries to sign off did make me laugh a bit.

Tony: “Well, it appears there are new dwarves showing up all the time. There’s Bonky, there’s Smelly…and there’s Colin Moynihan…”

Then, as the scene ends, Tony and Greg go back to arguing.

Maybe it’s the fact that I recounted nearly every line, but I adored that scene. Everyone had funny lines, everyone had something to do, it kept moving quickly but it didn’t feel like it was over too soon, and it was just…plain…funny.

Film Dub: Greg meets Ryan, who’s in a hurry

This is a very simple one- Greg plays the kid who rides a moped, and Ryan…slowly turns into Peter Graves from Airplane. There’s not much else to it than that, and it’s still pretty amusing.

Ryan: “I’m saying have you ever seen a grown man naked.”
Greg: “Well…not really, he was your brother, I think…”

Ryan, as Greg takes off: “Boy, I bet you love the feeling of throbbing metal between your legs, doncha?”

The scene ends with Ryan’s character speeding into a cafe, and lingering on this shot.
Screen Shot 2018-01-11 at 10.22.12 PM.png
Nobody knows what to do, or who gets her, so after 2 seconds of silence…
Greg, in an outraged high-pitched voice: “…Good MORNING!”

Ryan’s amused as hell at that ending, even repeating the line as they head back to the seats.

Scenes from a Hat:

Clive: “Two flies on a date”
Ryan, to Tony: “Care for some more turds?”
and then, immediately
Clive: “Breaking bad news to the emperor”
Chip, to Greg: “My lord…the flies have eaten all of your turd…”

I’ve never noticed this, but, during ‘locked in the freezer’, Greg’s initial comment, to Ryan, of ‘…four hours’ is a DIRECT CALLBACK to Film and Theatre Styles. Before Ryan can do a fart joke, Chip comes in with the defacto ending.

Clive: “Practical joking grave-diggers”
Ryan, grabbing a bone from a corpse: “HERE BOY!”
Tony:
Screen Shot 2018-01-11 at 10.27.49 PM.png

Clive notes that one of the scenes is barely legible, as he can only read, “two lovers in a hot tub…realizing….and then the handwriting goes wobbly. So ‘two lovers in a hot tub…realizing something!”
Ryan, to Chip: “…I just noticed….we’re both men, aren’t we?”

Props: Ryan and Chip vs. Tony and Greg

Ryan, with his puffy V: “We’ve been on this island too long, Fred, so we’re going to spell out ‘VERY MUCH HELP IS NEEDED.”

Very similar in tone to US WL, but not with a ton of great suggestions.

Party Quirks: Tony hosts
Chip: thinks he’s underwater
Greg: obsessed with gadgets
Ryan: made of springs

After Greg does a ton of explaining (even throwing a proto-Mind-Your-Klingon noise in there)
Tony: “…I’m going down to the pub, you’re too dull…”

This may be the first of Ryan’s more inspired Party Quirks choices, as he embodies the proper physicality, as well as confuses the living shit out of Tony.

This is one of the first times, at least in a while, where Tony ends a scene by nervously muttering ‘…I don’t KNOW!’, this time at Greg’s. There’s even a moment where, after Greg’s demonstrated something else, you cut back to Tony and he’s speechless and confused. It’s a fantastic cutaway.

A tad light, but still funny enough.

Helping Hands: Tony has breakfast with Ryan (ft. Greg’s hands)

First of all, the spout gets dangerously close to Greg’s finger as he tries to pour tea. We could have had a precursor to Colin spilling coffee on himself.

This, as with the theme, is very similar to a modern US round of this game, mostly because Tony isn’t much more than a bystander in the first part, and Ryan is doing a great deal of heavy lifting.

There’s also the first of many inspired moments, where Ryan prompts Greg to grab the box of cereal and pour it directly into Ryan’s mouth, which works pretty well.

Eventually Tony figures out he should prompt Ryan too, telling him to pick up the newspaper on the far, far end of the table. Greg has to be challenged.

Greg has to sort of dance around the table to pick up the paper…which Tony just grabs and hands to him seconds later. Ryan finally picks it up, and greg responds by slapping Tony with it.

This is a pretty damn funny game, the first of…well, what would turn into a series of Helping Handses where the goal would end up being to torture Ryan Stiles.

Hoedown: Feeding the Cat

Already, Ryan knows exactly what he’s in for, reluctantly slumping towards the step, not at all liking what he’s about to do. And this is where we’ll be from here on out.

Greg, after his verse doesn’t get any laughs, mouths something to the audience right before Ryan’s, which leads to a sustained laugh.

Tony does manage to have a really funny voice, about feeding the kitty while blind, “so sometimes I try to stuff the food in the wrong hole…”

Chip’s though, is the first of many incredibly thoughtful song verses on the show, talking about accidentally killing his cat, “and now my kitty’s lost his life, he’s got another eight…”

Dare I say it, not an especially bad Hoedown.

Overall: As S4E1 was a turning point for structure, this episode was a turning point for content. Now you can really tell that some of the humor, and some of the performers as well, were being Americanized, and even if Tony was there with UK ideologies, it didn’t especially matter, as this show sort of foretold the way the show would eventually head. This is also the episode right before Ryan, Chip and Greg would make the flight out to New York for the US tapings, and those would have humor quite a lot like this one, in that most of the performers were American (except for that one Canadian guy), and they weren’t especially sticking to more sophisticated British humor.

As for this show? Despite what it stood for, it was pretty funny, though not to the heights of the three 10/10 shows so far. It would have been a surefire 10 if it hadn’t been for games like Party Quirks, Hoedown and Props bringing up the rear in terms of content. There were so many games like News Report, Helping Hands, both F&TS and Scenes from a Hat, that were so balls to the wall funny, so when the games with quicker, quainter middles showed up, it dragged them down. All four performers were hysterical, but you get the sense that Tony felt a bit jettisoned, having to perform with three Americans that didn’t especially share his style of humor. He did have some great moments, but most of the show he was being one-upped by his contemporaries, especially in Party Quirks, and that one SFAH suggestion from Ryan. The other three were solid, with an edge to Ryan Stiles, for giving the squad-leading performance the production team needed to essentially give him the reins for the New York run, as he’d appear in every single NY episode.

Show Winner: Chip
Best Performer: Ryan
Worst Performer: Tony, for being overshadowed by the three American talents.
Best Game: News Report. Absolutely hysterical from top to bottom.
Worst Game: Props. Not enough solid material.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S04E04 or You’ve Had Two Warnings, Tony…

After a long week or so of work, I can finally watch another one of these. Even better, the lineup is a great one- Steve Frost, Josie Lawrence, Jim Sweeney, Tony Slattery. This is as strong as they get.

Film and Theatre Styles: Jim asks Steve for his daughter’s hand in marriage

Clive, getting a response: “…Theatre of Cruelty? Well, that’s what we’re doing here.”

Steve, starting the scene: “SO, YA WANT TO MARRY MY DAUGHTER.”
Jim, taking the style literally: “No, I want to marry your daughter’s hand…”

Steve: “You marry the hand, you go ahead and marry the rest of the body.”
BUZZ
Clive: “Pantomime…”
Jim: “…THE REST OF HER BODY? It’s not HERE, is it? I TELL YOU WHAT, BOYS AND GIRLS, IF YOU SEE THE BODY COME UP BEHIND ME…”

Steve even gets the audience to do a ‘OH YES HE WILL’
Jim, breaking toward the audience: “OOHH….well done…”

Clive: “Hang on, let’s up the intellectual level a bit…with the Flowerpot Men…”

Steve: [flowerpot men noises]
Jim: “…does she talk like you as well?”
Steve: [makes drinking hand motion]

Steve, as he does in these styles like Shakespeare, keeps talking until he’s out of breath, nailing the patter and rhythm. Jim, once he finishes, gives him a bizarrely confused expression. Steve shrugs.
Clive: “…I’ve got a phone call from the RSC for you two…they’re saying ‘stop doing it like that’…”

A very funny scene, one that kept the plot going, and with two people who could definitely work with each other. I’ll gripe that there wasn’t a whole lot of movement, but when one of the performers has MS, that’s not especially a fair gripe, is it?

Emotion Option: Tony and Josie (in a launderette)

Josie, inspecting Tony’s underpants: “…that’s a funny tan color…”
Tony:
Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 8.45.34 PM.png

Josie: “…OH, EXCUSE ME…”

Depressed-ly
Tony: “….that’s not the color of the underpants…i just had a bit of an AC-cident…”
Josie: “I KNOWWW, I can smell you from ‘ere…”

In the Greedily style, Tony engulfs some of the underpants
Clive: “…pity”
Tony:
Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 8.48.34 PM.png

Josie: “…you’re pathetic, aren’t you…”
Tony, preposterously: “…that’s not pity, that’s INSULT…”

Lust
Josie: “I don’t want to pity you, I want to lick you. I don’t want those clothes to go into that washing machine, I want to lick them clean, I want to lick YOU clean…”
Tony:
Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 8.51.22 PM.png

Tony: “….alright…”
BUZZ

Fantastic game, made even better by the Tony-Josie dynamic, which was about to become even stronger after the Paul-Josie dynamic would cease.

Helping Hands: Steve helps Jim (ft. Tony’s hands) set up a party

Jim, frantic as hell this game: “ORIGAMI NAPKINS! FOLD THEM INTO SOME INTERESTING THING! LOOK, A DACHSUND!”

After Steve suggests they make the place look nice, Tony…throws a little hat on a glass. This gets a nice reaction.

Jim just starts cracking up, as Tony isn’t even trying to make anything out of the props onstage, as he instead just throws them about.

It’s a quick game, but the frantic nature of it, as well as Jim corresponding his character to how batshit insane Tony was being, makes it still really funny. Hell, even STEVE cracked up mid-game, and…he’d yet to do that so far on WL.

Props: Tony and Jim vs. Steve and Josie

Tony, reaching into prop: “Okay, bingo time! Contemporary Israeli Architecture: 42!”
Jim gives Tony the most confused look after this. Tony’s even confused as to what he’s just said.

and, AS PER USUAL
Jim: “Hello, my name’s Esther Rantzen
Tony: [VOMITS INTO PROP]

Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 9.00.35 PM.pngSteve: “….NOW THEN NOW THEN NOW THEN…”
[Yeah, that’s certainly not dated at all…]

Clive, postmortem: “I think I’ll give some extra points there…for the mentioning of Jimmy Savile…”
Boy, that may have been the last time you ever heard that phrase.

Old Job New Job
Jim and Tony: Pizzeria Employees
Steve: Used to be a Mountain Climber

Steve: “Is that a bottle of cheese there? Claim it, for Norway…”

Steve takes a moment to let the wind flow through his hair (?!?)
Jim: “OH, SHUT THE WINDOW!”

Steve: “YOU MAD FOOL! TIE THE SPAGHETTI TO EACH OTHER! If one goes, we all go!”
Jim: “BUT THAT WOMAN’S EATING IT!”
Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 9.05.28 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-01-10 at 9.05.45 PM.png

Great ending to a fairly decent scene. Not as good as the first go-round, but Steve was working very hard there, and it showed. Tony couldn’t find much to do other than make a bad pun.

Prison Visitor: Josie
Jim: burgled buckingham palace
Steve: Killed a bald dachshund
Tony: ran off with a sumo wrestler

Jim takes a few moments to bob along to the music. I owe this to his knowing Richard, and the fact that sometimes Richard’s aptness, especially in terms of contrasting feelings for comedic purposes, catches him off guard.

Jim’s number and response is very quaint, very cute, and Josie has a nice comeback verse. It was one of those that just came together, and the rhymes sort of fell into place.

Clive: “But what has [Stephen] killed?”
audience member: “Jeremy Beadle!”
Clive: “…a happy-ish thought, but uh…”

Clive: “a bald dachshund…I take that as an unkind reference to somebody here, a BALD DACHSHUND…”

I’ll say that, for a guy who’d openly struggle with finding the right rhyme in his later hoedowns, Steve does admirably here, especially carrying on a German accent. Even better, the morbid nature of the act grosses Josie out…which he polishes off with an ‘OH JA!’
This makes Josie crack a bit.

Tony, to start off the scene, yells, through the bars, “LOOK OUT BEA, HERE COMES VINEGAR TITS!”
Now…lets just assume this WASN’T one of the more obscure references to come through the programme…it’s still a funny line. Sans context, it works. But Tony gets his laughs from people who do know the…again, incredibly obscure reference. Hell, it even gets Josie.

I’ll say that Tony’s is actually the least memorable of the three, as Tony stumbles on his last line, and Josie spends time calling him out on it. Other than the vinegar tits line, no uncovered territory.

[Also, I am gonna get a lot of unneeded traffic from very specific horny people over that ‘vinegar tits’ line, I think. I hope I don’t have to make it the post title.]

Film Dub: Steve and Josie (husband and wife)

Steve: “HELP, I CAN’T TURN THE LIQUIDIZER OFF!”

I do love Steve adding the little touch that has character is pregnant, especially with the line ‘it’s not going to do the baby any good’.

Josie: “When you said you were going to get me a vibrator, I didn’t know you had that in mind…”

Josie: “What you wearing this night dress for?”
Steve: “I GOT IT FROM LAURA ASHLEY…”

Quaint enough game. Proof that Steve and Josie can work together, because they certainly will in the future.

Party Quirks: Tony hosts
Josie: thinks she’s in a washing powder advert
Jim: blackmailer
Steve: heavyweight boxer

Clive: “Is the party underway?”
Tony: “Oh yes, I’ve just put my extra heavy-duty sunglasses on…in case Clive arrives without a hat.”
Hell, a few ‘OHHH’s from the audience.

Jim, as usual in this game, completely owns his characterization, channeling Eric Idle a smidge, and nefariously mixing…soup.

Jim: “Got any photographs, Tony? I’ve got some photographs, Tony…know what I mean? [slurp]”
Tony, walking away: “I haven’t got a BLOODY CLUE…”

After Steve enters to his own theme music
Tony: “this is the WILDEST party I’ve ever been to…”

Even better, Tony lets them all in, and has everyone interact with each other, which is a nice move, even if he knows who half the guests are already.

Of course, Tony nabs out Josie AND Jim in one fell swoop, earning the audience’s respect, as well as capping off a pretty fun game of Party Quirks.

Clive: “Brilliant, Tony…just a shame you’re not getting any points since you were rude about me in the beginning.”

Scenes from a Hat:

Clive: “A bald man going into a hairdresser’s demanding a haircut.”
Tony, despite the warning from Party Quirks: “…you must be joking, Mr. Anderson, I couldn’t possibly….”
Clive: “Oh, dear…you’ve had 2 warnings, Tony…”

Clive: “They think they can hear a ghost in their house.”
Steve: “Eh, George?”
Jim: “Yarr?”
Steve: “Did you hear that?”
Josie and Tony: “oooooOOOOOOOooooohh…”
Jim: “Yeah, I heard that, sounds like a ghost.”
Steve: “No, it’s the Bee-Gees, rehearsing next door!”
Jim, clutching his ears: “OH, CHRIST!”

Clive: “Behind the bikesheds”
Josie and Steve come to smoke
Steve: “…how’s it going, headmistress?”

Clive: “Ballet in a chip-shop”
Tony: “….non-brewed condiment, please.”
Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 9.36.49 PM.png

Clive: “dropping a contact lens in a bubble bath.”
Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 9.37.38 PM.png
Jim: “Hello Josie- OH, BLIMEY!”
Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 9.38.11 PM.png
BUZZ BUZZ BUZZ

Probably the best top-to-bottom SFAH we’ve had so far, as the performers knew the scene’s strength was in brevity.

Hell, I’m even gonna include the credit reading, because it’s one of my all-time favorites. Tony has to read in the style of a drunk australian soap star

Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 9.39.27 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-01-10 at 9.39.46 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-01-10 at 9.39.52 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-01-10 at 9.40.07 PM.png

I die laughing every time. THIS IS WHAT HE DOES FOR 95% OF THE CREDIT READING. Towards the end, he decides he should at least do something else, so:
Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 9.42.01 PM.png
Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 9.42.45 PM.png
Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 9.43.15 PM.png

Overall: This one started slightly weaker than the last few…but when it got good, it was incredible, and gave us some of the best games of the season, especially that killer last half of the show. Everyone was one fire throughout the night, so much so that it was very hard to pick who was best and worst. Still, from that credit reading, as well as the last two games, I might have to give it to Tony Slattery. Even if he’d slip once or twice, he was still strong as hell tonight, and giving funny material and Clive slams. But it literally says nothing, because everyone else was also giving A material, though I’ll note that Jim took a step backward from his last few, and Steve also took a step backward, though he did make Josie laugh, which is rare.

Show Winner: Tony
Best Performer: Tony, for giving hysterical stuff all night, including that credit reading
Worst Performer: Josie, as she only seemed to set up jokes, instead of tell them, tonight, save for Prison Visitor.
Best Game: Party Quirks. Out of everything, it seemed like it utilized everyone to the best of their ability, and managed to get some laughs out of everyone, including Clive. SFAH, Emotion Option and Prison Visitor came close.
Worst Game: Props, by default.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S04E03, or The Word is ‘Style’ We’re Looking for Here..

After a week of…well, employment, we’ve returned with more unstoppable Series 4 episodes! This one features that imitable duo of Sweeney and Steen, plus Tony Slattery and Paul Merton. This is the kind of lineup you could kill for, and one we’d get again exactly one season later.

Emotion Option: Jim and Steve (policeman interrogating suspect)

Audience member: “CONSTIPATED!”
Clive: “…was that a suggestion or a cry for help?”

Jim starts out by making fun of Steve’s slight speech impediment on ‘chwime’, which definitely owes itself to how comfortable the two are barbing each other.

and then:
Clive: “Jealously”
Jim: “…I wish I could talk like you…I think it’s really BWILLIANT…”

The amount of insane faces made by both parties during ‘constipated’ cracks me up.

And we end on ecstacy
Steve: “Oh, let me just take off all my clooothes…”
Jim: “…OH, BWILLIANT!”
BUZZ

Very quick scene, but still quite funny.

Film and Theatre Styles: Tony and Paul (barman and anguished patron)

Clive, hearing the audience: “…John Sessions one-man-show-OH, THAT’S *EVERY* STYLE…”

After a suggestion of Noel Coward, someone else goes ‘NOEL EDMUNDS!’
Clive: “…the word is ‘style’ we’re looking for here…”

Tony starts this scene…well, as Tony. He does the motion of pulling down a beer handle, repeatedly…then stops, and goes “oh, I’ll just put the cat down…”
AND WE’RE OFF TO A ROUSING START!

To befit Tony’s insane choice, Paul puts down a cactus, and takes a bazooka out of his pocket, as if to try and out-weird Tony.

School play
Paul, sotto voce: “……i don’t want to dooo ittt…”

Dance Hall:
Tony: “You know a song about Baby Jeezuu, don’t you?”
Paul: “I do- do I? OH YES, I DO…”
Tony, backing up, giving Paul what he’s won: “OFF YOU GO, THEN…”

Clive: “One man show.”
Paul, to Tony: “GET OFF.”

As Paul’s trying to keep the scene going, Clive buzzes in with another style…
Paul: “I haven’t even gotten anything going…ya slaphead!”
The whole audience, AND JIM, applaud this.
Clive: “…I’m sad to announce the untimely death of Paul Merton…by my hands…”
Paul: “I lasted longer than your hair did, though…”

Farce:
Tony: “HERE COMES THE REAL BARMAN! I’M ONLY STANDIN’ IN!”
Paul: “oh, standin’ in what?”

Paul: “OH, LOOK IT’S A VICAR…WHAT’S HE DOING IN THAT HORSE?”
BUZZ

That was WILD. The improv wasn’t the focus, but this was absolutely hysterical, with Paul breaking the fourth wall once or twice, and working really well to outsmart Tony (though Tony had him on the ropes).

Letter Changes: Barbeque
Jim: B with F
Steve: S with T

They wouldn’t play this game regularly until the late US era, and here it’s a differently structured game.

Jim, realizing the possibilities of replacing b with f:
Screen Shot 2017-12-22 at 11.40.39 PM.png

Jim and Steve do master this scene though, perhaps Steve more than Jim, with Steve finding some nice possibilities like it comes naturally to him.

Jim: “Have a slice of fread and futter?”
Steve: “Futter, no. Makes me thit.”
Jim:
Screen Shot 2017-12-22 at 11.43.15 PM.pngScreen Shot 2017-12-22 at 11.43.29 PM.png

The scene stays funny throughout, ending with Jim going “…what a fastard!”

Very nice one, with enough good work to surpass the silly premise.

Film Dub: Tony and Paul: chat up

The back-and-forth here is to be beheld, with lines going back insanely fast, and really funny ones at that, mostly just Paul and Tony reacting to the set and scene.

Tony, after the characters kiss: “….have you been eating cabbage?”

Very fun, quaint game.

March: traffic jams

Clive describes this perfectly as “a game that’s very, very popular with everybody, apart from those who have to play it.”

Paul, from the getgo, loathes this game, and has to start again nearly through his verse.

There’s something so great about his revised verse, and how he puts on a fake grin as he does it:
“I drive along the motorway, I’m looking everywhere.
and I drive along WITH SUCH a HAP-py EA-sy GO-ing AIR!”

Plus, with a violent and funny last verse, Tony supplies the SECOND Noel Edmunds slam of the night.

Pretty cathartic march, with nothing truly bad, and some funny lines. They’re starting to get the hang of what can be done with these types of games.

Props: Jim and Paul vs. Tony and Steve

Screen Shot 2017-12-22 at 11.55.56 PM.pngSteve: “No, that’s great, doc…can you do another one like it?”

Screen Shot 2017-12-22 at 11.56.36 PM.pngSteve: “Yes, I’m here as part of the Clive Anderson appreciation society as well…”

Jim looks at the prop, srtetches it…realizes he can’t do a goddamned thing with it, and shrugs. Clive, at that, ends the round.

Very funny round of props, though.

Clive: “Don’t worry, Paul, because you still managed to win that game, by not making any jokes about me during your uses of props…”
Paul: “I didn’t make ANY jokes, though…”

Courtroom Scene: stolen lego bricks
Jim: judge
Paul: prosecutor
Steve and Tony: witnesses

Paul, after blankly stating the supposed crime, almost verbatim from Clive
Jim: “…whoopy-doopy, I can barely wait. Carry on.”

On Paul’s first witness, Boppo the Clown, Jim cracks up a bit when Paul announces it, and when Tony bounds onstage like this:
Screen Shot 2017-12-23 at 11.12.46 AM.png

Tony dances around, drops his hat, does some incredibly goofy movements, and goes back to this stance, sort of like a Bobby Moynihan character on SNL.
Paul, after a beat: “…..no further questions, my lord…”

After a compelling statement from Steve as I. Claudius
Jim: “OBJECTION!”
Paul: “..what is the objection?”
Jim: “No idea- CARRY ON.”

Tony enters as Sissy Fairbanks, crosses to Paul and goes “you left your underpants in the kitchen…”
Paul: “…I would like to take this witness home and roger him.”

Quicker than last playing, but still pretty funny.

Helping Hands: Paul buys things in a shop from cashier Jim (ft. Steve’s hands)

This is a short, spry game, with an ironed-on set-up and formula (paul hands Jim foods, Jim either weighs or eats them). This is the first time in Helping Hands where someone shoves food in their mouth (it will become a staple of the US version).

Steve shoves half a banana into Jim’s mouth…then Paul shoves the other half in…then, looking back at the cart, goes “these mushrooms look nice, don’t they?”

There’s a struggle between Jim and Paul as to whether or not Paul will shove the mushroom into Jim’s mouth- Jim protests, but Paul eventually goes ahead with it.

that’s essentially the rest of the scene- Paul seeing something on the cart, Jim saying no with his mouth full, and Paul throwing it in his mouth anyway. I’d be lying if I said this didn’t amuse the shit out of me.

Of course, the scene ends with Paul going: “…oh, this is a nice cash register”, and Jim throwing up his arms in protest.

This succeeded far more than I was expecting, once Paul took the reins and started throwing the entire cart into Jim’s mouth. It wasn’t a great Helping Hands scene, but it was truly funny.

Party Quirks: Paul hosts
Steve: Thinks he’s mucking out stables
Jim:railway station announcer
Tony: thinks he’s King Arthur

Steve: “Oooh, you’ve got a lot under ‘ere, haven’t ya? I’m surprised the neighbours couldn’t smell that…”

Jim immediately nails the inaudible nature of his quirk, which gives him early applause from the audience.

There’s a nice amount of time where Jim, Steve and Paul interact with each other as Paul’s trying to guess. There’s some great stuff in the dynamics, too.

Tony, upon entry: “…oblong table, can’t have that, I’ll knock the edges off…”

Tony, after some great physical work, gives what may be one of the worst puns in Whose Line history: “This is, uh…this is a very old, and defunct can of non-caliber beer…it’s…it’s EX-CALIBER.”
The audience: [GROANS]
Paul: “Oh, yes, uh, you’re King Arthur.”

Really nice game, with good performances all around.

Scenes from a Hat: all four

Clive: “Party in a goldfish bowl”
Steve, circling around Jim and Paul: “Haven’t I seen you two somewhere before?”
Paul: “I dunno, I can’t remember…”

Clive: “Message in a bottle.”
Tony, doing the more obvious joke, pulling the message out:”…STING’S CRAP!”

The Prison Nativity Play is great, because Jim’s just head-butting everyone onstage, even Steve, as he goes “DON’T YOU START, MARY!”

Clive: “A cartload of monkeys”
Tony, again taking the obvious joke: “DAYDREEEAM BELIEVER…”

Clive: “Blind Date”
Paul, walks into Tony: “Sorry…”
Tony:
Screen Shot 2017-12-23 at 11.52.47 AM.pngScreen Shot 2017-12-23 at 11.52.24 AM.png

Clive: “Why don’t we end on ‘beetles making love on a leaf’
Paul, going for the gold medal: “…I’ve always liked you, Ringo…”
BUZZ

A good playing, though the obvious reference was definitely in mind on many of the scenes.

Overall: Step back from the first two shows, but still a very funny show, with four guys in peak condition, and a lot of great games. I’m putting it lower than the first two shows because there were less standout moments, and a few more lull-games than them. There’s still stuff like Helping Hands, Party Quirks and Film and Theatre Styles that really worked, but a lot of games were either too short or not consistently memorable. This show also completed Paul Merton’s S4 renaissance, as he’d only appear in one more show after this one, and he was insanely strong here, just as strong as last show. There weren’t many weak links in the show, though- Steve did well in games like Change Letter and Props, Tony had some great slams throughout the night, and Jim was his usual, energetic self.

Show Winner: Steve
Best Performer: Paul, for his second strong show in a row.
Worst Performer: Steve, only for having less masterful moments throughout
Best Game: Film and Theatre Styles, just for being insanely funny all throughout.
Worst Game: Film Dub, for having the least to it.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S04E02, or What Are You Doing With That Squeezy Bottle???

This show is sort of like the turning point in this show’s history- Paul Merton and Josie Lawrence, two people from the very first episode of the show, perform with Ryan Stiles and Greg Proops, two people that are still performing on the program to this day.

Greg, by the way, is wearing a Nine Inch Nails shirt under his jacket. And this is pre-Downward Spirl NIN we’re talking about. Go Greg.

Clive describes Ryan as ‘failed entrant of the Danny DeVito lookalike contest’. He’s playfully shocked at this…and then he gets it, and rears back laughing.

Film and Theatre Styles v1: Ryan and Greg (painting a bridge)

Clive gives them the style. Ryan, being himself, nods “no.”

After some nice silent/sfx work, Ryan, to Greg: “…it’s gonna take all day with a brush…”

Clive: “Greek tragedy”
Greg, stomping upstage: “AND LO…THE BRIDGE DID FALL…AND MY MOTHER WAS KILLED UNDERNEATH IT.”
Ryan, borrowing from Shakespeare: “If I were like your mother, I would be a woman.”
Greg: “AIIIIGGHHH”

Clive: “Woody Allen”
Greg, going into his perfect Woody: “Perfect…I’ve been trapped on a bridge with a member of the SS…”

On ‘early talkies’, Ryan and Greg get the idea to try and throw their voices and performances toward an obviously hidden microphone above them, which is a nice way of going about a relatively thankless style.

The scene ends with a great visual, of Greg taking off his glasses and giving a truly deranged expression…and Ryan screaming in terror. Very nice scene, with some great work by both of them.

Film and Theatre Styles v2: Josie and Paul (at a seance)

Paul brings Clive’s attention to someone yelling ‘porno’, which Clive scolds him for.
Paul: “I mean, we’ve done Thunderbirds before…”
Clive: “Yes, but we’ve done PORNO before…”

Paul: “Is your husband dead?”
Josie: “…well I hope so…he hasn’t been home for 4 years…”

Josie, for Western, does an escalated motion of getting on a horse.
Paul, to Clive: “…it’s porno already…”

Paul and Josie nail the Thunderbirds style, with Paul falling over in the middle of a line of dialogue.

Terminator film style
Paul, Arnold voice: “I will not be destroyed…except by a linguist coach…”

After the Clangers style, which confused Clive in announcing it
Clive: “I STILL have no idea what that is…”
Paul: “It’s PORNO!”

They finally get what they want: Clive allows for ‘gangster porno’
Josie, feeling Paul’s arm: “Say…have you got any scars?”
Paul: “No, but I can take me trousers off…”
BUZZ.

A very funny scene, even if it didn’t always go within the rules.

Video Player: Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison
Greg watches: Josie, Ryan and Paul act out

Not only is this one of the greatest standalone games in Whose Line history, but it might be one of the single funniest games of this era of WL.

Greg, grasping the concept, starts with the ending, with Paul and Ryan laying out the resolution of the scene first, and setting up the wrap-up of the rest of the scene, with excessive thanking.

The scene gets hysterical when Greg cuts to the beginning, where Josie calls Paul and Ryan to stage:
Josie: “Oy, lads. C’mere. I don’t like the governor, I think we should have a riot and kill him.”
Paul, knowing where the scene’s going: “I AGREE, WITH SUCH A PLAN, HOW COULD WE POSSIBLY FAIL?”

Josie: “Listen, I’ve made these guns out of squeezy bottles…”
Paul: “Oh, no…I’d got it wrong, I’d been making squeezy bottles out of guns…”
Josie: “You fool!”
Paul: “I’ve been doing loads of washing up, though…”

Josie suggests they “jump on the wardens”, they do, and, after a 10-second beat…
Paul: “Well, that’s got soap in his eye…”

Greg replays that scene, which causes Josie struggle to remember the beginning of the scene, cracking. Greg, saving her ass, fast-forwards to the squeezy-bottle line, which plays to…diminishing audience response, but possibly more from the novelty of seeing it again.

Josie: “Right, let’s go and get the warden, he’s over there.”
Paul, pointing out a plot hole: “Should we jump on them?
Josie, internally going ‘oh shit’: ‘….YES!”
Paul:”…Seeing as we did the last time…”

Greg fast-forwards to the riot, which allows Ryan to do something funny in this scene.
Ryan: “WE WANT THIS WOMAN OUT OF HERE!”
Paul, with his first Josie slam of the night: “Yeah, we want a prettier one!”
Josie: [glares daggers at Paul]

After this, Josie: “I can’t stand anymore of this…”
[Does a shooting motion]
Paul, and Ryan, slowly realizing: “…WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH THAT SQUEEZY BOTTLE???”
BUZZ

My god. Maybe it’s the amount of times I’ve seen that one, but I absolutely love that scene. How absurd it gets, how it gets Josie to break, how everyone has something to do, how gosh darned FUNNY IT IS. It’s a shame we never saw this game again.

Scenes from a Hat

Ah yes, the first appearance of a game that’d be etched in Whose line’s history. This one, unlike the Drew version, jeopardized on basic scene descriptions, and were done sort of one-by-one, rather than the later ones that’d take most of the round.

“Something stirs in a scientist’s lab”
Paul: [stirring motion]Screen Shot 2017-12-14 at 5.09.28 PM.png

The other thing is these scenes can go on a bit long, but for ‘buying a sandcastle’, it works, as the longer the scene goes on, the more Ryan deducts from Greg’s sandcastle: “UP- WAVE. FIFTY POUNDS. TWENTY FIVE POUNDS. TEN POUNDS.”

Clive: “Elephants packing to go on holiday.”
Paul, with the pun ready, motions for Josie to come over
Clive: “…packing their trunks, I suppose?”
Paul: “aww…”
And they both disgustedly walk off.

“A weight watcher’s party”
Paul, to Josie, WITH HIS SECOND JOSIE SLAM OF THE NIGHT: “…No luck, then?”
Josie: Screen Shot 2017-12-14 at 5.12.35 PM.png
She then carries him over to his step, goes “I’m gonna fuckin’ kill you”, and then returns to hers. Man, you wonder why this was the last Paul & Josie episode…

Clive: “Inside a microwave”
Josie, with a nice rebuttal: “No, honestly, Paul, it does get you dry…”

Paul and Josie have a nice, funny little physical thing for “people who can’t stop moving”….and then repeat it for “a morris dancing convention”.

Very solid SFAH round, though the longer ones didn’t work as well.

Expert: Josie interviews Ryan, expert on pigs and karate

Ryan, hearing the combination, inwardly chuckles.
Clive: “…this is a bit of a fluke, as I happen to know that Ryan is, in fact, an expert on both karate and pigs…”

Josie, on the type of pig Ryan uses: “And they make good pets, do they?”
Ryan: “Oh, good pets, and a great side dish…”

After Ryan reveals he speaks to his pigs
Josie: “So, if I were to give you my pet budgie, would you be able to speak to it?”
Ryan: “…well, let’s not be foolish…”

Josie, getting Ryan to speak the pig’s language: “Imagine i’m a sow”
Ryan, going into the THIRD JOSIE SLAM OF THE NIGHT: “…I have been!”

Ryan, as Josie and he go back to the seats: “Let me have your stool, I deserve to put that up there…” At least he’s bashful about the obvious slam, unlike Paul.

Party Quirks: Paul hosts
Josie: masseusse
Greg: rap artist (oh no…)
Ryan: thinks he’s a reptile

Greg’s reaction to his quirk:
Screen Shot 2017-12-14 at 5.20.54 PM.png

Paul gets Josie’s in about 15 seconds, and even Josie’s going “that one was too easy.”

Ryan’s so good at this because he’s excellent at portraying animals. His reptile stuff is really good, especially in physicality. Not to the caliber of his gazelle, but still.

Ryan, looking at Paul’s feet: “THOSE SHOES…..DAD!!!!”

Paul gets them all easily, and while it’s a quick round it’s still funny enough.

Helping Hands: Paul goes over baby protocol with Ryan (hands by Greg)

They use Helping Hands in every episode of this series. I didn’t think we’d gotten to the Aisha Tyler era yet…

Clive gives Paul shit about not guessing the scenario head on, with a baby prop on the table, and it looking very obvious.

Paul, top of the scene: “I’ve come to see how you feed and change a baby” [turning to Clive] “…apparently…”

Greg’s more cheeky motions, like playing around with the baby, throw Ryan for a loop: “You wrap it around the baby…AS IT DANCES ON THE TABLE…”

Ryan and Paul are actually great at working off of each other here, as Greg moves the baby around. Both seem to be equally befuddled.

Paul, after mistaking the baby powder for cocaine: “…that’s worth 20 quid of anybody’s money…”

This is also a great round, because there are some early examples of Ryan’s hands not cooperating. We’re not at the point of ‘no, you idiot’ yet, but Greg definitely adds some dissonance, which is hysterical.

The ending is also great- Greg has to grab the baby bottle, but Paul keeps moving it before Greg can register where it is, and it ends in this lunge to get it as it rolls off the table.

Fantastic game, possibly better than last episode’s round of it.

March: Giving Birth

Greg: “A woman came in yesterday, she was oh so very fat
it turned out, she didn’t have a baby, she’d swallowed a cat.”

Paul, starting off: “My wife just had a baby yesterday
I was so happy…I decided to go away!”

One of the first one of these to actually have consistently good stuff across the board, even with Paul, usually afraid of these sort of games.

Overall: Better than Episode 1, which means a new all time high for S4…and possibly the series in general. Everyone was not only in great form, but giving their most hysterical material, and some of the games in this, like Helping Hands, Scenes from a Hat, Video Player and the Porno F&TS, are well-regarded in history. Paul Merton excelled tonight like he hadn’t in a while, and Ryan and Greg had great showings working with each other. I’d give the lowest standing to Josie, because I feel like the amount of barbs she took from everyone slowed her down, and she didn’t have as many moments where the joke was hers.

Show Winner: Paul
Best Performer: Paul, for being his S1 self and working well with the new breed
Worst Performer: Josie, for sticking to straight woman roles and not having as many hysterical moments as the rest of the group
Best Game: Video Player. Nearly gave it to Helping Hands, but Video Player is one of those games that makes me laugh whenever i watch it
Worst Game: Party Quirks, simply because it was the shortest.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S04E01, or THIS PARTY’S CRAP!

Onto Series 4 of Whose Line, which…did things a little differently.

For some reason, Patterson and co wanted to emphasize the US invasion, so as the season was truncated to 13 episodes, he gave 6 to the US tapings and only 5 to the UK ones. This would be the last season with such a split, but this influence would eventually push all the burgeoning UK comics off the table. Also, after what I can only imagine was fatigue from appearing in nearly every show last series, Mike McShane took the year off.

We start S4 with a pretty nice lineup- Tony Slattery, Sweeney & Steen, plus a debut appearance from a guy who’s gonna be one of the heroes of the next 5 or 6 series’ of the show, former Laughing Man and frequent collaborator with Atkinson and Edmondson, Stephen Frost! In this tenure, he’s Stephen, but once Steve Steen leaves, we’ll be alright with calling him Steve again.

Emotion Option: Jim and Steve (soldiers in the trenches)

Once again, they’re doing a round of this, then a round of F&TS, which is fine.

Jim is already in a great mood, ‘mmm’-ing to Clive’s suggestion that he’s recieved all the emotions from the audience, and a cheeky ‘yeeees?’ to the scene description.

Jim starts the scene off strong, throwing in the twist that they’re opposing soldiers, and his character is German. Steve, however, makes his character German as well, which…isn’t the mood I would have gone with, but whatever you want, Steve.

Jim: “Then we shoot zhem.”
Steve, over-the-top: “SHOOT ZHEM VHEEERE?”
Jim: “Oooh, vandering accent, uh…vith the gun…”

Clive: “paranoia”
Jim: “Those soldiers! They’re all lookin’ at me!”
Steve: “VAIT A MINUTE…VHERE HAS YOUR ACCENT GONE?”
Jim:
Screen Shot 2017-12-13 at 1.43.18 PM.png

Steve: “YOU’RE NOT GERMAN, YOU ARE ENGLISH, AREN’T YOU?”
BUZZ
Clive: “Hate.”
Jim, dropping the accent: “….YOOOOOOOOOOU GIT!”

Jim: “One little slip in your throat-”
Steve: “Two little slips! The slip you had on last night, YOU BITCH!”
Jim:
Screen Shot 2017-12-13 at 1.45.36 PM.png

Clive: “End on horror.”
Steve: “….AAAAAAIIIIGGHHH-”
Jim: “YES, I’M NAKED….AND COVERED IN CLING FILM!”
BUZZ

Absolutely hysterical, with great teamwork, and a hysterical way to start S4. You could tell it was great because of how many times Steve threw Jim for a loop, and how many times Jim had to visibly recover.

Film and Theatre Styles: Tony and Stephen (customer and fortune teller)

Screen Shot 2017-12-13 at 1.48.43 PM.png
Tony: “I came to you last week, and you didn’t say anything about the revolving door…”
Stephen: “Well, you didn’t cross my palm with silver like you promised to do…”
Tony: “I’ll cross your mouth with my signet ring if you don’t shut up…”

Stephen, in the melodrama style, starts accentuating his mustache.
Tony: “MY MUSTACHE IS BIGGER THAN YOURS!!!”

Stephen, in ballet style, starts spinning Tony around by his ring finger.
Tony, to Clive: “…this is prison brutality…”

Then, literally, the last moment of the scene is Stephen LEAPING INTO TONY’S ARMS, as Tony has to regroup and realize what’s going on, then catch him. It’s a hysterical visual.

Not quite to the heights of Emotion Option, but still a great first scene for the inevitable Tony-Stephen duo.

Old Job New Job: Jim and Steve are surgeons- Stephen’s the head doctor who used to be a dustman

Ah, the debut of this game, a standard improv touchstone, and Stephen gets to be the showcase for it.

As great as Stephen is in this, Steve and Jim do a lot of the heavy lifting, bridging the dissonance between the two jobs (“THAT’S HIS SPLEEN! PUT HIS SPLEEN BACK!”)

After Stephen yells to someone offscreen
Steve: “That’s the anesthetist, and she can hear you perfectly well-”
Stephen: “She’s a what?”
Steve: “Anesthetist!”
Stephen: “…she shouldn’t drink so much…”

And then, within the applause for that joke, Stephen high-fives Jim and Steve, who both have entrails on their gloves. This scene is so silly that it’s working.

There’s a nice repetition of everyone scrubbing up in one motion. Steve, as he does, thinks of an incredibly good rationalization-
Steve: “D’you realize that the patient’s been lying in the sink this entire time???”

Courtroom Scene- Murderous Affair. Jim judges, Stephen prosecutes, Tony and Steve are witnesses

Another new scene, one that wouldn’t get played terribly often but had its moments.

Stephen: “Crime of passion, as you know, is the most common crime committed…involving…passion.” [breaks]
Jim: “WELL PUT, SIR, WELL PUT…”

Tony comes on as an airline pilot who claims he’s Princess Margaret. Stephen, in starting the questioning, bows. Tony takes this as an advance, and headbutts Stephen.

Stephen brings Steve on as the deceased’s son, and asks what they were arguing about
Steve: “It was all about you…it was about you…coming in between them, the way you did…”
Stephen, not at all ignoring a golden opportunity: “WELL, IT WAS ONE OF THOSE NIGHTS!”

Tony enters again as a panto actor, whose timing is so quick that he slaps Stephen without a moment’s notice. His energy doesn’t fit with the game, but he’s definitely making it funnier.
Jim, post-slap: ‘SPLENDID, WITNESS! Ask him to do the pussy joke, would you?”
Stephen, under laughter: “I think not, my lord.”
Tony: “NO, I WANT TO DO THE PUSSY JOKE!”
Stephen: “NO YOU CAN’T DO THE PUSSY JOKE!”
Tony: Alright.”

A really funny game, with everyone contributing something, and a ton of really nice, funny jokes.

World’s Worst: Person to operate on you

Jim, sticking his hand down the front of his trousers: “..where’s the patient, then…”
Tony: “I’m terribly sorry, I’m not the surgeon, I’m a xylophonist..”

Very funny, despite me not writing everything down

Props: Tony and Steve vs. Jim and Stephen

Screen Shot 2017-12-13 at 2.10.21 PM.pngSteve: “Well, this is the first photograph we HAVE of a black hole…”

Screen Shot 2017-12-13 at 2.11.26 PM.pngStephen: “So, have you ever been an air traffic controller before…”

There’s a ton of funny stuff here, including a bunch of topical references, and Jim and Stephen unwittingly doing the same prop suggestion twice.

Tony, holding out the prop: “NO…JEREMY BEADLE, JUMP!”
[Pulls it away, goes ‘hahaaaah!’]

Party Quirks: Tony hosts
Steve: James Bond
Jim: Thinks it’s a class reunion
Stephen: bus conductor

Tony starts off as a ‘Come as Michael Jackson’ party, writhing around grabbing his crotch. The buzzer doesn’t happen. He stops, and looks at Clive, going…’well come on’
Clive: “No, I was rather enjoying that…”

Tony gets Steve’s in approx. 5 seconds.  He then realizes he should have given more time, looks around, and goes “…THIS PARTY’S CRAP!”

Jim rolls off a long list of all of his classmates, then waits for Tony to say whether or not they’ve arrived
Tony, after a beat: “…I think you’d better go…”

Jim, not competing with Steve, suggests everyone competes for “who can pee highest up the wall!”
Tony: “THAT WAS A GENUINE CHAGALL, THAT WAS…AND IT’S MARGINALLY BETTER, NOW…”

Tony, once Clive gives him Jim’s, reacts, then confusedly wanders back to the seats.

Great round, with Tony interacting with everyone, and having great lines.

Film Dub: Tony is seeing Stephen, the bank manager

Tony’s character sits down
Stephen: “You just sat on my pet hamster!”

This one’s pretty funny, because the film keeps cutting to the horses, and Stephen and Tony have no choice but to react. Not quite as funny as casting Paul Merton as a dog, but still…

Tony’s character punches out Stephen’s, who falls.
Stephen: ‘AGH! YOU MISSED!’

Picked up as it went along, though it was just a really silly scene altogether.

Helping Hands: Jim (hands by Steve) talks to Tony about a robbery

They finally improved this game by giving it a prop table, so Steve has more to do than just wave his hands around and react.

Already, Jim sells this scene by giving his character a hilarious voice and stutter, which powers the first half of the scene just from sheer ridiculousness.

Tony demonstrates a fake beard, which is hysterical.
Jim, responding: “i’ll be wearing these, I’ll be wearing this, uh…THIS GUN!”
And then he wears it as a mustache

Tony, inspecting the table, cracking up: “What are we gonna do with…WITH THE BLUE KNICKERS!”
Jim, catching onto what Steve’s gonna do: “These I’ll be…wearing on my head…”

Tony, seeing a golden opportunity: “What about…the secret microchip which is in your pocket?”
Jim, knowing exactly where this is about to go, drops all the props Steve’s holding.
Jim: “OF COURSE…OF COURSE…WHAT A FOOL I’VE BEEN…”

The scene ends with Steve fiddling around in Jim’s pockets, and Jim awkwardly glaring over at Clive to end the game. A hysterical one, with a ton of innovations that’ll give this game legs for years to come.

March: Weddings

Jim nearly stumbles, but lands on his feet with a great ender (“as soon as I get rid of this bloody…hangover”). Richard, still knowing Jim from the Comedy Store, even waits a half second to nail the final note as Jim stalls.

Steve, as typical, doesn’t do especially well in a singing game, but like everyone else, comes out on top.

Also, Tony gets to do the key change verse, which is what happens when Mike McShane doesn’t do a series. He does a great last line: “I don’t like her, I like…the best man…”

Overall: SMASHING SUCCESS. Not a single bad game, a ton of hysterical moments, some of the strongest dynamics we’ve seen, and an insanely great way to start S4. Tony, Stephen and Jim were all equally amazing, even if Steve didn’t have as many standout moments. Incredibly rewatchable, with a ton of great games.

Show Winner: Jim
Best Performer: By a nose, Tony Slattery, for having some hysterical moments and proctoring some games in the absense of Mike McShane
Worst Performer: Steve Steen, for having less amazing moments than the rest
Best Game: Helping Hands. There was a massive four-way tie between that, Emotion Option, Courtroom Scene and Party Quirks, but Helping Hands was, to me, the most successful because there wasn’t a dry moment, and everything built on each other until that last moment.
Worst Game: Film Dub, by default.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S03E17, or Is That ‘Get Away From Those Hamsters’?

One more compilation and we wrap up S3. The UK shows were way better than the US ones, but if it weren’t for the US ones, we wouldn’t have gotten Ryan and Colin’s duo solidified.

Note- John Sessions, Archie Hahn and Mark Cohen don’t make appearances in this comp. I am thankful for this.

Authors: Three Men and a Duck
Greg: Zane Grey
George: The Bible
Ryan: National Geographic
Mike: American Greeting card
From: S03E15

This is a nicely-threaded authors through-and-through, even George playing along.

Mike, after some story’s gone by: “….to a very special waterfowl…”

Mike does evoke an early buzz from Clive because Clive thinks he’s gonna go with the obvious rhyme for ‘duck’, but he edges it, and goes with “cause there’s a lot to pluck” right as the buzzer sounds.

Song Styles: Josie sings a country song about a refrigerator
From: E16

This literally begins with Clive being accosted with styles by the audience, getting ;country’ after a few seconds of cacophony.

Very quick number, without anything too standy-outy, but not especially bad either. I sort of see why it was cut.

News Report: Greg and Mike in the Studio, Ryan and George in the field
From: E15

Oh, so they DID do more of this one during the US tapings. Good.

More hand-motions from Greg and Mike, with Mike sticking something in his mouth as a demonstration. I always adored those. And then they whip around once the camera zooms all the way in.

Greg: “Kids; water; it’s tragic and it happens…”

Unlike the earlier UK playings of this game, this one’s oddly blocked, with a random cut back to Mike and Greg as Ryan’s still going on a rant. Perhaps they should have flown some cameramen out?

Greg, to Mike: “Broken crowns and girls: is it a problem?”
Mike: “Vell, once the crown has broken, ze woman will come tumbling after…”

Mike ends this with a fun-but-bad pail pun, but overall this is a pretty nice one.

Helping Hands: Mike goes to Fortune Teller Ryan (with Colin’s hands)
From: E12

Ah, I’,m glad we get another one from this taping, because the one that made the show was very weak, and didn’t allow for a lot of hand-using.

This one definitely has more hand action, with Colin already getting a taste of how far he’d go in this game in the future, and with Ryan doing a very goofy, Jim Carrey-esque character.

Ryan is describing the woman that left Mike, and Colin makes a…thrusting motion with his hand.
Ryan: “…she likes to box!”

This scene does end up going somewhere nice, as Mike gets Ryan to channel his grandmother.
Mike: “WHERE DID YOU HIDE THE MONEY YOU OLD TROUT?”
Ryan: “…I put the money in a place where you’ll never find it.”
Mike: “Yeah, great help, that’s why I killed you in the first place.”
BUZZ

That’s a really nice, well-formed scene, that worked a ton better than the one we got in the episode.

World’s Worst: Person to sit next to at the cinema (Josie, Chris, Jim and Ryan)
From: E10

Ryan: “You know, we saw the same movie for years when I was in jail…”
Ryan, chuckling: “help yourself to some more popcorn…”

Not a great round, but Ryan had some good ones

Psychiatrist v1: Mike counsels Ryan, who’s obsessed with men
From: E15

I love Ryan’s crestfallen expression when he hears the suggestion Clive’s going with. Greg, from the seats, fans himself and adjusts his trousers.

Ryan, singing about why he hates women: “it’s their fault…having no penises are their losses…
I like guys…big strong men…sometimes I go to bed with eight or nine or ten…”

Mike caps off a decent rebuttal verse with “if you feel that you’re overwhelmed, then date Jesse Helms…”

Expert: Greg interviews Ryan, an expert on aerobics
From: E15

So…half of this compilation was material from E15, one of the worst episodes of the year. So then…why didn’t any of these really good games from it get in???

Greg: “Hello, I’m Dirk Anderson, Clive’s younger, cuter brother.”
Sadly, this gets no audience response

Greg: “Now, I was reading your book earlier, and you have a thing where you jump over hurdles, and then small animals come running at you…”
Ryan raises an eyebrow, and rebounds by talking about the fact that it used to be larger animals, but it cost a lot of trainers. I forget how good he is at this game sometimes.

Once again, Ryan ends up getting Greg in on the physical exercise at the end, saying ‘it’d be much easier if I had someone to play the hamster for me’. Ryan just succeeds at slapping back whenever someone screws him over.

Really nice game, and it works well as a Ryan-Greg scene as well.

Party Quirks: Ryan hosts (!?!?!?)
George: sleepwalker
Mike: cannibal
Greg: newspaper vendor
From: E15

Not only is Ryan hosting again, but this is the other Party Quirks from E15, which they probably got for coverage.

The best part of this is that it comes directly after Expert, and it starts with Ryan flipping onto a channel…and doing the exact same aerobic exercise from Expert. Folks, we may have discovered one of the show’s first running gags.

This one is slightly better than the first one because Ryan at least gives the players time before he guesses, and also he’s wrong on George, as he has to reroute and figure things out when he thought it’d be easier.

Mike, noticing the TV: “I’ve seen that. Is that ‘Get Away From Those Hamsters’?”
Ryan agrees, and they both do the running motion from the last scene.

It progresses more because Mike slowly lets things go, and he and Ryan have a final moment where he’s being very cordial to Ryan…while salt-ing and pepper-ing his fingers. Ryan of course nabs the final guess.

I would have very much preferred this one, AND EXPERT, in the final cut of the episode. Hell, if we would have swapped out most of the George-favoring stuff, we’d have had a better show…

Psychiatrist v2: Josie consoles Jim, who’s obsessed with James Brown
From: E10

Jim takes it a bit too over the top here, which…given the subject, is welcome, but given the comic, isn’t.

Josie’s rebuttal is cool enough, and puts a nice bow on the scene, but Jim was a bit much for me.

Film Dub: Ryan and George argue about the best song of all time
From: E15

There’s the expected bit of ‘who’s talking now’ for about 10 seconds, but once it gets going, it’s hysterical.

George: “Uhhh…HELLO DOLLY! HELLO DOLLY!”
Ryan, forgetting the song even exists: “Hello Dolly, that’s not…[remembering]…OH, HELLO DOLLY, EH?”

The scene eventually ends in a denouement involving a Madonna song.
George: “…Uhh…PAPA DON’T PREACH! PAPA DON’T PREACH!”
Ryan: “IT’S LIKE A VIRGIN. IT’S LIKE A VIRGIN, YOU KNOW IT AS WELL AS I DO!”

Not a perfect scene, but I always had a soft spot for it.

Props: Josie and Chris vs. Ryan and Jim
From: E10

Shower curtain rings and a rubber glove. Man, isn’t America great?

Screen Shot 2017-12-12 at 10.48.52 PM.pngRyan: “And this is a cow from chernobyl…”

Screen Shot 2017-12-12 at 10.49.48 PM.pngJosie: “….oh dear, I’ve lost the baby…”
Ryan even takes a moment to laugh at this once we cut back to him

Surprisingly fun Props round

Rap: George, Mike,Ryan and Greg rap about stamp collecting
From: E15

This comp should have just been called ‘the best of Episodes 10 and 15′..

Also, rap is back, in the event that Hoedown didn’t work. It didn’t, and it still made the show.

Mike, as Clive wraps up the setup, motions for an audience member to toss him his hat, and by the start of the game, is wearing it.

Also, the drumbeat has improved vastly, with more of a backbeat than just the one we’d got for the first 2 seasons. Maybe they figured the American audiences would know the difference.

Mike, Ryan and Greg made this a surprisingly nice finale for this…much-maligned game.

Best Performer: Ryan, for proving his mastery in S3 by edging out anybody else in the compilation.
Worst Performer: Chris Smith, narrowly edging out George McGrath
Best Game: Party Quirks, for being WAY better than the one we got in the show, and continuing a great runner from Expert
Worst Game: Psychiatrist v2. A bit too over the top for me.

SERIES 3 SUPERLATIVES:

Best Episode: Episode 3, for not having a single bad game, emphasizing the strength of Jim Sweeney, solidifying Mike and Sandi’s places in the season, and even letting a struggling Paul shine in Expert Translation. One for the pantheon.
2nd Best Episode: Episode 1, another Jim Sweeney episode, for re-structuring the show, introducing a ton of new games, and bringing a fresh take that really paid off, with all four performers in nice form.
3rd Best Episode: Episode 12, the first appearance of the Ryan and Colin team-up, and the home of some really nice dynamics all-around, with even Josie and Mike doing great work with either of the two.
Worst Episode: Episode 14. Just atrocious, with Archie and John bombing their scenes, and Ryan and Mike doing their best to save it but ultimately failing.
Best Recurring Performer: Mike McShane, for proving why he was essentially a regular this season, stepping up big time and being the glue of every great scene, as well as establishing a great dynamic with everyone. Ryan Stiles’ late-season kick brought him very close, though.
Worst Recurring Performer- Chris Smith, for being a straight man…and an unsuccessful one at that.
Best Guest Star- Julian Clary, E4, for coming in for one episode only and bringing out the best in not only Paul but the whole show.
Worst Guest Star- George McGrath, E15.
Best Newcomer: Jim Sweeney, for owning his first two episodes and bringing a new energetic presence to a show that was just getting better.
Performer We Wish Had More Episodes Later On: Sandi Toksvig, whose tenure on the show came to a close with her well-attended S3. Thankfully, she moved onto bigger and better things (such as QI).