Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S02E16, or Bet You Never Expected to find me in your Urine

Onto the compilations. You know the drill- I’ll be judging these games in the context of their specific tapings, and how they would have done had they made it into the episode.

Film and Theatre Styles: Sandi and Mike (two people in a car crash)
From: E11

So…this one was filmed probably after Sandi and Mike’s first F&TS, maybe due to the sadomasochism sequence (“I’ll get the plunger”) being too racy for TV? Ah well, it’s a great pairing either way.

Of the many really good suggestions people offer up, somebody goes “SCOOBY-DOO”, which cracks Mike up, leading to an okay Scooby impression (“THAT’S RIGHT!”). Adam Hills’ is still better (“…RAAGGGY?”)

Sandi, starting with great physicality: “It is NOT MY FAULT that the crash propelled you out of your car, and stuck me in mine! I don’t think you need to shout at me…especially since I’ve got my head through the sunroof, and it’s quite painful…”

War film
Sandi: “Something at nine o’clock…[realizing she’s in the wrong direction]….which is over that way, I think…”

Clive: “Agatha Christie”
Sandi: “I think I’ve discovered something that could be of great importance in the crash.”
Mike: “Yes?”
Sandi: “…..I’ve got no engine and no brakes.”

Mike, in making a point, flubs a line and tongues the rest of his sentence…breaks, and goes with it- ‘STARRING JERRY LEWIS!’
Sandi, answering the question of when she first discovered it was him: “…it was when I first met you at those speech therapy classes…”

The scene ends with a rather compassionate moment between Sandi, now a car-alien being thanks to the Sci-Fi style, embracing Mike, then going “….this could be fun, you know?”

I’d dare say that this scene was more top-to-bottom entertaining than the one we got in the taping, which had the ‘plunger’ moment and that was basically it. Either way, the Mike-Sandi F&TS would have been the highlight of the show.

Duet: Josie and Mike sing a love duet about a food processor
From: E4

This was after Mike’s Chuck Berry number and Josie’s flamenco number. Maybe this one got cut for time, because so much was being spent on Song Styles.

This number is, what else, incredibly sweet, incredibly powerful from both ends, and shows that these two were even better when they worked together. I might have even thrown this one in instead of the Song Styles, as this one was friggin’ phenomenal all-around.

Tag: Neil and Josie start, Mike and Ryan enter later
From: E8

Screen Shot 2017-11-18 at 3.20.00 PM.pngMike: “DON’T LET GO OF THAT, OR THE ELEPHANT WILL GET REALLY MAD!”

Screen Shot 2017-11-18 at 3.20.55 PM.pngNeil: “Excuse me, uh, which way is the olympic games?”
Ryan, teeth gritted: “I HAVE NO IDEA.”

Screen Shot 2017-11-18 at 3.22.15 PM.pngRyan: “Bet you never expected to find ME in your urine!”

Not as good as Ryan’s first round of tag, and had some lulls and references I didn’t get, but still pretty funny.

Interview: John, from the NME, interviews Paul, Peter Pan
From: E3

We see Griff and Ron heading back to their seats, so I’m guessing their Interview wasn’t even good enough for the compilations.

Paul sets this on a good path with a first answer: “It doesn’t matter how many hotel rooms I trash, or how much cocaine I shove up me nose, cause I can always fly out the window before the cops arrive.”

John: “Well, you can’t really play a stratocaster going through the sky in your nightie with an arrow in your ass, can you?”
Paul: “…No, Keith Richards did it in 1965, so…”

Perfectly alright interview, as John was able to at least TRY to collaborate, but Paul was kind of muted…possibly going back to his intense dislike for John.

Rap: Ryan, Josie, Neil and Mike rap about Veterinarians
From: E8

Ah yes, the intensely unmusical Neil Mullarkey having to do rap. Lovely.

Ryan’s was a little quick and didn’t go 100% to the beat, but was funny.

Josie: “Being a vet is lots of fun [begins to crack] sticking my hand up an animal’s bum….”

Not a particularly bad rap, as people were definitely into it, but…still not the greatest singing game for all four. They’d do better once ideas like March, Gospel and…er…Hoedown were introduced.

Props: Paul and Mike vs. Josie and Tony
From: E15

Screen Shot 2017-11-18 at 3.50.00 PM.pngTony: “…hello, do you have an unwanted incontinent elder relative?”

Screen Shot 2017-11-18 at 3.51.28 PM.pngTony: “………HELLO, I’M A MAN WITH A SHOPPING BASKET ON MY HEAD…”
He and Josie break halfway through that one

And, as usual
Josie: “Hello, I’m Esther Rantzen”
Tony: [vomits into prop]

Really nice round, as both pairings were in great moods. Could have used this with the leftover time from Authors.

Song Styles: Josie sings a hymn about a fish slice
From: E13

I think they did this one just to have an extra if the love ballad was too long for air.

This song was still really good, and on the same par as the Love Ballad, which must have made the editors torn when one had to make air. Great rhymes here, too.

Party Quirks: Sandi hosts
Tony: is slowly inflating
Ryan: does everything twiceJohn: a Roman emperor
from: E5

Another playing from this taping? I do agree that the one that made air was a bit too truncated thanks to Clive, but…why didn’t this one make it, then?

Ryan immediately is a champ at this game, by going right into his quirk, pausing as Sandi takes a guess (“there must be an echo in here”), and then continuing as if nothing’s been said.

Again, Sandi is great at guessing. It’d still take her a while to figure out how to interact with everyone.

John, ONCE AGAIN, is a bit too talky in his quirk, but it’s a nice enough game, arguably more of a standard playing than the other one.

Film Dub: Arthur asks Sandi on a date
From: E11

Again, there was a Film Dub in this taping, and it wasn’t good, so…why didn’t THIS one make it in?

(Also, a note that this movie, featuring the hairy gentleman, has been used in a few US WL film dubs)

This one is funnier than the other one, because Sandi sets up a ‘here’s what I want you to do’…and then her character doesn’t talk for a little while, and the guy rests his head on her hand. It’s the kind of film-scene dissonance that’s actually really funny, because of how the performers are reacting to it.

Sandi: “The way your hands are carpeted are just how I want the front one done.”

Again, better than the other one, funnier than the other one, even if Arthur’s still not great at this game.

American Musical- Mike, Josie, Tony and Greg- driving a car, getting up in the morning, and skiing
From: E1

Once again, this is another game that was played in the episode, so…let’s see why this one didn’t make it in.

The opening segment, with Mike and Josie, is actually fantastic, and flows seamlessly throughout, almost as if it was written.

And then, of course, Tony enters and does a variant of his usual dancing character, i.e. “Hi, I’m Ralph, the dancing ski instructor!”

Greg enters and powers the scene to its second segment, which proves he was able to carry a scene early on. It’s a bit odd that they progress to part 2 with all four people there, but it works well because they all have an idea of what they’re doing.

This scene actually has a great ending, with Mike, Josie and Tony skiing wonderfully…and then Greg runs back into the scene and crashes over them. Cherry on top of a scene that would have done great in the taping, possibly in place of the musical we got in that taping.

Best Performer: Mike McShane, barely edging out Sandi Toksvig for having a ton of great games over the course of the night.
Worst Performer: John Sessions, for slowing down the momentum of his games.
Best Game: Film and Theatre Styles, for rivaling the already awesome one we got in that episode, and barely edging out Musical.
Worst Game: Rap, by default, as no games in this were truly bad.


Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S02E15, or Shut Your Face and Put this Collar On

Tony Slattery! Josie Lawrence! Mike McShane! Paul Merton! The culmination of the last two series of Whose Line. The four best performers in the show’s history up to that point, all on one stage. This…would be good.

Authors: A Day at the Seaside in Singapore having a Hungarian Meal
Josie: nursery rhymes
Paul: Yakoshimo Okomo
Tony: ITV Continuity Announcer
Mike: Mark Twain

Paul does fake Japanese, stopping only to say ‘goulash’ in english, and stopping earlier than the buzzer.

Clive started being more liberal with the buzzer the more everyone talked about prostitutes, but it was a very funny round.

Film and Theatre Styles v1: Josie and Paul, Cinderella meets her Fairy Godmother

Again, this scene works well because of Josie and Paul’s chemistry, and the fact that they’ve done a million of these. In this one, you get a sense of one trying to outsmart the other (sort of like a later Colin and Ryan scene).

Oscar Wilde
Paul: “A man who drinks with the handle facing himself is clearly a liberal. A man who drinks his tea without the cup has clearly gone mad.”
Clive: “…it’s as though Oscar has walked in…”

The 3-D style is a great opportunity for Paul and Josie to go mad, and act towards the camera, sort of like Paul and Ron’s slapstick style from earlier in the season.

A very fun scene, with a nice amount of progression.

Film and Theatre Styles v2: Mike and Tony (recruiting the Magnificent Seven)

The first part of this scene ends with “dog-raper” Tony saying “shut your face and put this collar on” to Mike. As if the prostitution theme in Authors caused Clive enough trouble..
At the buzzer, Paul’s completely losing it in the background, as are both performers, struggling to keep frozen. Tony even goes, motioning to Mike, “don’t blame ME…”

Really good scene, though, even if the rest of it could never match up to the opening laugh.

Song Styles: Toaster
Mike: Gospel
Josie: Motown

Mike, of course, has a rousing, energetic Motown number. It also has a great stinger line: “praise be Jesus the bread…goes in light, and comes out dark.”

Josie starts her Motown number by doing two different backup singer voices, including a deeper one. Which is fantastic- that WAS Motown..

It’s actually a really cool number, with a ton more vocal hookage than Mike’s, ending with a really nice high note, and some nice applause from the audience.

World’s Worst- person to be stuck in a lift with

Josie: “I’ve just been out to buy a carving knife…”
Paul: “Hello, my name’s John Sessions.”
[THE AUDIENCE LOSES THEIR MINDS HERE. Josie, Tony and Mike all have nice reactions, too.]
Paul: “Yes, that’s right, Hitler’s the name, what about it?”

Party Quirks: Tony hosts
Paul: obsessed with trivial facts
Josie: a cavewoman
Mike: narrating the party

Paul: “Did you know that Cliff Richard, in a previous lifetime, was a carmelite nun?”
Tony: “I’m sorry, I’m getting terribly bored, would you like a Twiglet?”
Paul: “D’you know that the word Twiglet was invented in 1874 by Gustav Twiglet?”

Josie, sniffing Tony
Tony: “….you’re not Anne Diamond, are you?”

Solid enough round, as Tony did allow everyone to interact, though it wasn’t as clean as last show’s playing.

Rock Opera: carpentry, rugby, washing a car

First of all…this is a really good variant on Musical, as it allows for more melodic moments, and more of an emphasis on guitar than on Broadway-esque stuff. The Mike and Josie section of this game works really well because they can adapt to this style, and once Tony enters, he can work even better with it.

Tony: “I’m a rugby player…and I WANT YOU…TO SEE MY *BALL!*”

It’s even better when Tony, Mike and Josie set up exactly who Paul’s going to be, the Sponge Man, and he enters with a bound, bringing a musical spike with him. It’s even in a way where Paul doesn’t have to sing, and the day can be saved, even if it sacrifices a more concrete ending.

They get a ton of applause at the end of this, and it’s well deserved- this was an incredibly cohesive and fun scene that didn’t have to be overly funny, but was just a really good musical scene.

Overall: Not quite as good as E14, but still a pretty solid finale to a middling season. All four performers did well, though there was a lack of true highlights, save for World’s Worst and Rock Opera. Josie and Tony had the best games of the night, and Mike had some solid moments but mostly played defense. Paul, despite having some nice lines, was a bit off tonight (also, this was filmed close to the Xmas Special), owing to his eventual hospitalization post-season.

Show Winner: Mike
Best Performer: Josie, for a TON of great moments
Worst Performer: Paul, for being quieter than the rest, despite the Sessions slam
Best Game: World’s Worst, for being a stellar top-to-bottom playing. Rock Opera came close.
Worst Game: Authors. It was cohesive enough, but Clive didn’t allow enough time for it to truly blossom.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S02E14, or Whose Front, Though?

Onto the last two episodes of a relatively boilerplate Series 2 (though admittedly less scary-hectic than S1). This one features the LAST RORY MCGRATH EPISODE, thank the lord, as he’d retire to the producer’s office after this. It also features aggressive American comic Ron West, and…thankfully Tony Slattery and Sandi Toksvig.

Authors: Annie the Orphan, Get Your Rifle
Ron: Kurt Vonnegut
Sandi: Enid Blyton
Tony: Marquis de Sade
Rory: Desmond Morris

Note that everyone keeps adding suffixes to their authors after Ron goes with ‘Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’. We get ‘Enid Blyton Sr.’ and ‘Desmond Morris…….the Third.’

Tony: [slaps self] “mmmmmm…”

This is a pretty well-connected round, as everyone’s getting equal time and working together, as well as coming up with really funny stuff.

Very simple scene, but effective because nobody was disrespectful.

Film and Theatre Styles v1- Ron and Sandi- taking a pet to the vet

Sandi: “Well he doesn’t look good, but YOUR TIRES are in great condition, you can see the hull of the tread on the back…”

Sandi’s acting in the horror style is really good, nailing the sort of macabre staccato and eventual romanticism (“WAIT….I THINK I LOVE HIM…”)

Clive: American gangster
Ron: “…so, you’ve been seein’ my dog, huh?”

The reason why this scene works is that Ron and Sandi are able to adapt to each other, and not have any jarring mood changes. Sandi’s able to control Ron’s propensity for more obnoxious, bawdy choices, and reeled him into just naming various animals and getting them into jokes. It’s not THE FUNNIEST, but it’s good improv.

Film and Theatre Styles v2- Tony and Rory (two commandos in a submarine)

Audience member: “FARCE!”
Clive: “Grass?? OH, *FAAAHSE!*”
Rory: “If anyone HAS any grass, by the way…”
Clive, covering for this: “Yes, Rory likes to play football…”

Tony, top of the scene: “….I love you.”
Rory, with the periscope: “….going up…”

The ‘farce’ suggestion actually works well, with Rory lowering his trousers to cover for Tony and Rory’s relationship, to hide from someone coming in. Works even better than Stephen Fry’s dare I say it.

Jackanory style
Tony: “D’you know what we’re going to be doing with our missiles?”
Rory: [cracks]

Rory: “Ladies, stop shaving your legs!”

This was a very funny scene, owed to the fact that it was so silly to begin with, and got progressively sillier as it went on, while still holding onto the plot. Rory even behaved, which goes back to Tony bringing out the best in bad improvisers in this game.

Interview v1- Tony, from a rock magazine, interviews Sandi, Snow White.

Tony: “So, is it true that you went to bed with each dwarf in turn? Or is that just light gossip?”
Sandi: “Well, I think it’s fair to say that I’ve loved each dwarf individually…in their own special, little way.”
Tony: “….are they very little, in every way?”
Sandi: “Well, certainly Grumpy’s not very big…and I think that’s what makes him quite so grumpy…”

Sandi makes a reference to having Coca Cola and crisps.
Tony: “…yeah, I bet you have 7 up as well…”

Sandi, on her relationship with the Wicked Witch: “well…it’s not been carnal, but we do like to do it looking in the mirror.”

Really great work from both parties- Tony from setting up a character and slinging lines (literally and figuratively), and Sandi in responding well literally every time.

Interview v2: Rory, from TV AM, interviews Ron, Rasputin

Ron has a nice move in getting Rory to interact- Rory spends the first 10 seconds setting up his own character, and the show, without actually getting to the, well, interview. So Ron, trying to get him to the point of the game, yells ‘I AM RASPUTIN, TALK TO ME NOW!”

Rory: ‘What’s particularly grabbing about this morning’s Sun to you?”
Ron: “I thought it was very interesting…that a woman could give birth to a mermaid!”

As Rory ONCE AGAIN tries to NOT-interview Ron, Ron instead complains of Bolsheviks all around the studio, which leads to some really nice saving-of-the-scene.


World’s Worst- Things to say/do at a funeral

Sandi: “His last words to me were ‘I’M COMING, DARLING’, it was so nice- oh, you’re his WIFE…”
Ron: “Uh, yeah, Mrs. Smithers…he owed me ten pounds, if you could see your way clear…”
Tony: “Uh, dearly beloved, ashes to ashes- oh, this is too dreary, we should do something else, uh YESSIR I CAN BOOGIE…”
Screen Shot 2017-11-17 at 4.34.34 PM.png

Truly great Ron, with fantastic stuff from Ron and Tony

Props: Tony and Sandi vs. Ron and Rory

Screen Shot 2017-11-17 at 4.47.01 PM.png

Sandi: “Well, I know it looks a bit vicious darling, but honestly it’ll make sex so safe!”

Screen Shot 2017-11-17 at 4.48.00 PM.pngRory: “Salman, it’s a great disguise!”
[Topical joke!!!]

Screen Shot 2017-11-17 at 4.49.04 PM.pngRory: “…I now pronounce you man and basket..”

And, of course, the return of:
Sandi: “Hello, I’m Anne Diamond”
Tony: [vomits into prop]

Film Dub: Sandi and Ron


Actually, the lack of a prompt gets them working early, and it’s a nice little scene. I did laugh at the loud kissing/vomiting noises Ron and Sandi made.
Sandi: “Boy, that’s the fastest we’ve ever done it.”
Ron, as they get cigarettes: “Boy, time for a smoke, huh?”

Ron, reading a letter: “…I’ve been called to the front.”
Sandi: “…whose front, though?”

Actually a pretty nice scene, even when it had every motive to be bad (especially with the lack of a prompt).

Party Quirks: Tony hosts
Ron: thinks he’s a reptile
Sandi: having a secret love affair with Tony
Rory: Accident-prone

Sandi, from the getgo, is amazing: “ooh, someone else is here, TONY, DARLING HOW ARE YOU, you left your watch….”

Sandi, after Ron has a nice line about eating penguin eggs: “Tony, quick word…..you, uh, left your underpants…”

Rory electrocutes himself ringing the doorbell, bellowing out an “OH SHIT!”

After Rory falls off the step, Tony: “…not an England fielder, are you?”

Rory: “Tony, uh…I’ve got a twiglet stuck up my nose…”

Ron: “The rival gang that I often battle is the amphibians…”
Tony: “I dunno, West Side Story?”

Tony barely manages to guess everyone (Sandi does help in guessing Ron).
Clive: “Tony, you really are a natural at that game, aren’t you?”
Tony, bashful: “Oh, I’m sorry…”

Overall: Not a single bad game on the night, and a ton of really nice moments throughout. Everyone behaved, though Rory had a few more flaws than everyone else, even if he still had more highlights than his last time out (especially in Props). Ron had his best show of the season, really standing out in World’s Worst and Film and Theatre Styles, and holding back his more aggressive responses. Sandi and Tony, as per usual this half, excelled, having great lines and great improv throughout. Tony had the better show, just for controlling Rory in F&TS, and just having a very funny show all-around.

Show Winner: Sandi
Best Performer: Tony for the second show in a row.
Worst Performer: Rory, but not without improvement.
Best Game: It was a very close race between Film and Theatre Styles v2, Interview and World’s Worst, but….Interview takes it by a nose, just for the work Sandi and Tony did off of each other. Maybe on another watch World’s Worst takes it.
Worst Game: Interview v2. Still funny, but Rory was adamant about not collaborating with the person he was supposed to be interviewing.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S02E13, or BEARDED COLLIE!

The showdown of S2: New Hero Greg Proops vs. Old Difficult John Sessions. While Josie Lawrence and Tony Slattery wait around in the background.

It’s great- during contestant intros, one person claps after Greg’s name, and Greg immediately smiles wider.

Thank the lords: John Sessions is in the room, and we start with something other than Authors:

Film and Theatre Styles v1- Josie and Greg (couple arguing about the state of the bathroom)

Greg, inspecting something in his mouth: “This hair…was on my toothbrush. It’s one of yours!”
Josie, finding a golden opportunity and running with it: “….Yes, but a little more curly, NOW…”

Robin Hood style
Greg, looking down: “You never called me Little John before…”

A bit truncated, but Greg and Josie worked really well together, and had some nice moments.

Film and Theatre Styles v2- Tony and John (visiting the pawnbroker)

Audience member: “BEARDED COLLIE!”
Audience, Tony, John: “….???”
Clive: “D’you mean ‘one man and his dog’? I’m gonna keep that in, there…”

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Tony manages to outdo actual shakespearean actor John Sessions in a Shakespeare scene. John just starts going on, like he usually does, in the style.
Tony: “Oh, nonny my liege, what a dull git of a clown…”

The 60s Michael Caine style actually does well for them, as they both have some great acting moments, and work off each other with trepidation.

Of course, that scene ends with Tony grabbing John in an embrace. Which is a great visual.

Clive: “…..bearded collie.”
Tony: [gets down and pisses on John]

It ends a bit clumsily, but it’s still been a fantastic scene, as Tony was able to needle John into actually trying for once.

Song Styles: Josie sings a love ballad about a fish slice

Very cute number, with a ton of really great rhyme moments. Proof that Josie could literally make a fantastic song about anything in this era.

World’s Worst: Person to be Arriving at a Party

John, throwing back to 2×03: “Rocky Mountain HIIIIIGHHHH…”
Greg, holding up something: “Hey, I think I ran over your german shepherd outside…”

John has a joke get complete silence here. Just thought you ought to know.

Tony had the best lines in this scene, and they were mostly physical.

Rap: Dental Hygiene 

Tony: “PAUL DANIELS MAGIC SHOW, TERRY AND JUNE. SKY TELEVISION-….oh no, I thought it was ‘Crap’- it’s rap, sorry…”

Like usual, a bit haphazard, but Greg and Josie have some really good ones to finish it up.

Party Quirks: Tony hosts
Greg: a robot
Josie: Peter Pan
John: 60’s rocker

Greg: “I brought you some 3-in-1 oil, I hope you enjoy it.”
Tony: “….well, let’s go upstairs to the bedroom, then…”

Josie as Peter Pan is wonderful, especially when her chipper attitude contrasts with Tony’s cluelessness.
Josie: “All you need is happy thoughts and you can be up there?”
Tony, chuckling: “UP WHERE???”
Josie: “…Up anything you like!”
Greg, finding an excuse to break slightly: “HA HA HA HA HA HA.”

Tony, responding to John: “Yes, I bought it especially for lou- FOR LOO? FOR THE LOO!”

Very nice round, with Tony able to guess everyone, and John basically giving his away.

Advertisement- John selling odor eaters with heavenly music

(This is the same music that they use for the Scene to Music with Tony, Steve and the washing powder. Just FYI)

This…isn’t very good. John turns it into a movie trailer. It doesn’t work.

Musical: Tony, Josie and Greg- going to a film, getting into a car crash, riding horses

So…John didn’t want to do Musical, so they had him do Advertisement while the rest go and do Musical. I’m just laughing at how much of a git John was.

Right off the bat, this is an inspired, unified wonderful one, with Josie and Greg working well together, Tony doing a routine as a tap-dancing horse, and…John Sessions doing his part and not having anything to do with this scene.

Tony: “Do you know why I’m the horse of your dreams? Because of THIS!”
Moves back, motioning to his gigantic horse cock

The scene even ends pretty well, with Tony crashing the car into a tree. It may not be a happy ending, but this was a cute scene, and everything worked pretty damn well.

(FYI- This credit reading is the only time in Whose Line history that someone was able to get through the entire credits, every name, without missing a single one. Go Josie!)

Overall: Like the rest of this stretch of the series, very middle-of-the-road, with some good moments and some blah, Sessions-related moments detracting from them. The other three were all great, with emphasis going to Josie and Tony, for completely owning their scenes, though Greg had some quieter highlights throughout.

Show Winner: Josie
Best Performer: Tony, for really funny stuff all night
Worst Performer: John Sessions, for being really difficult, as usual
Best Game: Party Quirks, barely edging out Musical for feeling fully-formed and having more laughs.
Worst Game: Advertisement. Here, John, have your own game.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S02E12, or We’ll be on the Moon…….SOON!

And back to another John Sessions episode. Yes, Mike and Sandi are here, which will definitely help, but backing up John is something of a ‘guest star’, ex-Muppet Show writer and future slime aficionado Chris Langham, who…well *looks* the part of someone who’ll be blacklisted from showbiz in 20 years.

Authors: Flash Gordon goes to Shangri-La
Mike: Dr. Seuss
Chris: Jack London
Sandi: Joy Francis
John: Alan Bennett

Clive: “Now what we need from the audience is a title for the story, something nice and exotic and interesting.”
Audience: “…..”
Clive: “….more interesting than complete silence, for example…”

Sandi does bring a nice line of “well, no wonder they call him Flash Gordon” to the until-then-listless game.

John, as usual, doesn’t connect his bit to the story, goes on for 20 seconds more than everyone else, AND DOESN’T GET THE CONCEPT OF IMPROV.

The second round is a little better, as Mike does have a great rhyme ending with “they were buggering the mighty Grinch.”

Chris has a nice recovery: “Black Jake strapped the heffalump to his shed- SLED….AND HIS SHED!”
He does a cheeky eyebrow move to the camera after here.

This wasn’t a bad one, as Sandi, Chris and Mike all did well (with an emphasis on Sandi), but the momentum stopped every time John started speaking. You think he’d have learned by now.

Film and Theatre Styles v1: Chris and John (Headmaster and Pupil)

Already both Chris AND John do a number of faux pas- Chris doesn’t listen to John and instead makes jokes on his own, then spends 5 seconds not being able to think of how long he’s been there, then turns the scene slightly sexual early on, then ALONG WITH JOHN, goes over the buzzer for 10 seconds.

And then, in the Berkoff style, they ONCE AGAIN, keep talking well after the buzzer, still going on with puns and jokes and things. Clive has to intervene and go “CHRIS! SHUT UP!” while pressing down even harder on the buzzer.

Clive: “Is my buzzer on strike, or are you playing in the style of two deaf actors??”

I would like to note here that when Chris does an American accent, in a gruff manner….it sounds a weeeeee bit like Jim Henson’s voice, as Kermit or just in general. It’s a very…muppety American accent. This makes sense.

The Thunderbirds style SORT OF saves it…John does try to bail the scene for no reason, but the physicality is there, especially when Chris tries tying his shoe and falls over.

This was a very shoddy scene, not helped by how inconsiderate Chris and John seemed to be toward the fact that this was supposed to be a lawful improv scene.

Film and Theatre Styles v2- Sandi and Mike (boss falling in love with secretary)

Almost immediately you can tell how amazing Mike’s chemistry with Sandi was, owing to last episode as well.

Clive: “Let’s go with a fly-on-the-wall documentary”
Sandi: “…Oh?”
Mike, slowly turning to Clive: “Ohh…what is a ‘fly on the wall documentary’?”

The Tarzan style brings this back on track, as it ends with Mike wanting to ‘make banana love’ to Sandi, and getting in a very suggestive position behind her…the second the buzzer goes. Sandi does an ‘aw maaan’ gesture.

The Film Noir style does bring this one home nicely, with great acting from both, and a good ending line
Sandi: “Cigarette?”
Mike: “Yeah, right in my eye. AAAHHH!”

Not as good as their last scene together, but still pretty nice.

World’s Worst- person to go into space

John, as Bowie I assume: “Planet Earth is blue…and there’s nothing WE can do…”
Mike: “Cindy left me. I don’t care if I DIE…”
Sandi: “While we’re up here, I thought we should talk about the liberal party and whether or not we should rename ourselves…”
Chris: “….but I suppose, in a sense, we’re ALL latent homosexuals, aren’t we?”
John: “You know I’m a poet, they’ve sent up here…I’ve written a Moon Poem…”WE’LL BE ON THE MOON……SOON!”

Pretty nice one, with equal amounts of good stuff from everybody, though John and Chris’s were still a bit too talky at times.

Props: Sandi and John vs. Mike and Chris

Screen Shot 2017-11-16 at 1.58.39 PM.pngSandi: “Darling, I SAID you should have had a circumcision, this is ridiculous…”

Screen Shot 2017-11-16 at 2.00.17 PM.pngMike: “YOU WANTED A *LARGER* DOG, YOU WANTED A *LARGER* DOG…”

Relatively fun round. You can definitely see some Muppets influence in Chris’ energetic offerings here.

Film Dub: Chris and Sandi argue over what to have for dinner

This was a nice scene, and there were some great moments with Sandi and Chris’ back-and-forth, but I can’t completely love it with some of Chris’ more aggressive choices, including a racist joke and a few ‘bitch’ drops toward Sandi’s character.

Tag: Chris and John start

John, on the floor: “Antony…do you know that the people downstairs…have been making love to a Cornish morris dance?”

Screen Shot 2017-11-16 at 2.30.00 PM.pngMike: “….oh, COME ON, I’M NOT RACING AGAINST A DEAD PERSON!!”

Chris taps out Sandi to get near John’s back, saying “no, I WANT TO BE HERE…”
John, taking this as a scene: “I haven’t gotten my scout badge yet, sir…”

Screen Shot 2017-11-16 at 2.31.49 PM.png
Sandi: “But, doctor, I’m SURE the baby doesn’t come out this way…”

After a really nice scene here, Mike taps out Sandi, and Chris has a second to shake his head as Mike gets under his legs.
Then Sandi taps out Chris, gets in that position, and goes “…i had nothing to say, I just had to do that…”

Once again, not only is this a really nice round, but John doesn’t contribute at all after he’s tapped out.

Party Quirks: Sandi hosts
Chris: finds everything baffling
Mike: an eskimo
John: a society wit

Chris is actually great here, as Sandi explains the fun party game, and he’s just completely dumbfounded, going “WHY???”

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Chris is carrying this game, by pointing out all the flaws in it, such as “I tell you what, there was a big bloke in here earlier, and now he’s gone! How’d that happen?”

As John’s doing his one of his many heady phrases, Sandi motions to Chris that John may be a bit of a wanker.
Chris, repeating the motion: “Sorry, but what does THAT mean???”
Sandi: [facepalm]

Solid scene, though, as usual, Clive had to rush to a climax. Sandi is beginning to get better at letting the participants interact, though she’s still not great at interacting with them.

Overall: A step up from the last show, but not by much. This show was, as usual this season, hampered by John Sessions’ inability to be a team player, and a lot of the worst moments were thanks in part to him. Also as usual this series, Sandi and Mike were the heroes, with emphasis going to Sandi Toksvig for some really great choices throughout the show, and for proctoring a really nice Party Quirks.

I’m gonna dedicate a whole paragraph to Chris, because his case is an interesting one. In some early games tonight, like Film and Theatre Styles and Film Dub, he was downright disrespectful, self-effacing and didn’t get the concept of good improv. However, in later games, like Props, Tag and Party Quirks, he worked really well with others as well as off of them. So it’s very hard to make a statement about whether he was good or bad, as he was both throughout the show. I’ll make it quite clear, though, that he had more positive moments than John.

Show Winner: Mike
Best Performer: Sandi, for having a fantastic all-around show
Worst Performer: John Sessions, as usual
Best Game: Tag, for bringing out the best in everyone
Worst Game: Film and Theatre Styles v1, for just being really messy all-around.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S02E11, or I’ll Get the Plunger

Three strong semi-regulars, in Josie, Sandi and Mike, plus a GUEST STAR, a guy who’s appeared on several panel shows I’ve covered, Arthur Smith! We’ve seen different levels of Arthur- on Qi he’s behaved, but barely. On Buzzcocks, he repeatedly gave Mark and Sean a hard time. Here? Who knows.

Clive: “Arthur Smith, with a face that’s less lived-in and more squatted-in.”
Screen Shot 2017-11-14 at 4.19.28 PM.png
Yeah, now we know which Arthur showed up tonight.
Sandi, by the way, is the first to try and quell the angry Arthur.

Film and Theatre Styles v1- Josie and Arthur- interviewing a prospective butler

Arthur’s improv, almost immediately, pales in comparison to Josie’s, especially in the Gangster Movie portion, when Josie holds a gun to him.
Arthur: “…two fingers won’t make me remember.”
Yeah, but Josie just offered a gun, and you should…nevermind, it’s pointless talking to someone from a program from 25 years ago.

Josie: “You got a cigarette?”
Arthur: “I have, but you’re not allowed to smoke on TV.”
BUZZ. Some of the audience groans. Josie facepalms.
Arthur, who’s dropped character: “Unfortunately….UNLESS YOU’RE PETER COOK!”

This scene never really gets going because Arthur can’t seem to yes-and, but Josie, during the pantomime, does manage to make it surprisingly great by getting the entire audience involved in an ‘OH YES HE IS’ on the subject of Arthur being an idiot. From the background, you can see Mike howling with laughter at this.

Film and Theatre Styles v2- Mike and Sandi- housewife and plumber knee-deep in water

From the farce style, this scene takes off, with Mike doing some fantastic physical work, swimming into the kitchen from under the dining room table.

Screen Shot 2017-11-14 at 4.28.27 PM.pngBuzz
Clive: “…….I may regret this, but sadomasochism.”
Mike: [howls out in pain]
[From the background, Josie’s visibly wincing in pain]

(Rocky film)
Sandi: “It’s the American dream….a boxer who makes a successful living as a plumber in England!”

The ending bit, James Bond, is fantastic, with Mike and Sandi chasing each other around with insane contraptions. Once it ends, they’re both smiling and cracking up. This was a really fun game, and had some very silly physical moments.

Film Dub- Arthur and Sandi return home from holiday

Sandi, 5 seconds into the scene, has to reprimand Arthur on playing the game. (“Darling, don’t speak when it’s my turn.”)

Very silly scene, one that didn’t really get going as a lot of the dubbing consisted of “OHHH, now- OHHH, IT’S THAT!” from Arthur.

Song Styles: Lemon Squeezer
Mike: Heavy Metal
Josie: Folk

Mike’s insane guitar playing/flailing right off the bat gets people’s attention, gets some early applause from the audience.

Mike’s song was pretty good, though I couldn’t really follow what time-sig he was going off, especially compared to Richard’s beat. Very powerful, more of a heavy metal song than Josie’s was last season.

Josie’s song is the better of the two, for being really thoughtful, and closer to a Bob Dylan folk song to John’s regional folk number last series, as well as having good rhyming and improvisation.

World’s Worst- Person to go on Holiday with

Arthur: “Hello, I’m Clive Anderson!”
[The whole panel gets a kick out of this one. I think Arthur just did the first Clive slam in Whose Line history]

Bit of a bawdy, kind of done-before round, but Sandi had some strong stuff here

Props: Mike and Sandi vs. Josie and Arthur

Screen Shot 2017-11-14 at 4.47.13 PM.pngJosie: “And tonight, we’re going to be talking to Elton John, hello Elton…”

Screen Shot 2017-11-14 at 4.47.52 PM.pngSandi: “MR. REAGAN, WE FOUND YOUR BRAIN…”

Mike, handing the slimy prop to Sandi: “Here…if you loved me, you’d swallow it…”
The panel has a nice reaction to this.

Sandi, handing it back to Mike: “I love you, I swallowed it, and this is the end product…”

Clive, postmortem: “I think two points each for the, uh…the two usable ones we may get out of that…”

Party Quirks: Sandi hosts
Arthur: Shady dealer
Josie: schoolgirl from a girl’s comic
Mike: possessed by the devil

Arthur, trying to show off his cheaper caviar: “BELUGA! BELUGA, DARLING!”
Sandi: “Well, bless you…”

The scene goes well enough, but Mike is shafted by people sort of talking and not giving him the proper stage to turn into the devil and all. He does have a nice line, looking at Josie’s photos and saying “you look so nice IN A PROPER CATHOLIC SCHOOL DRESS.”

Sandi, up to her wit’s end with Josie’s quirk: “…I don’t know who you are, but you can piss off, frankly…”

Clive eventually does explain Josie’s quirk
Sandi: “I thought she was very good…after a while I wanted her to stay with me, because I was lonely.”

Musical Producers: Arthur and Sandi discuss a musical on bricklaying, Josie and Mike act it out.

This game returns, though I honestly I thought it was more geared towards the 6-person structure. Not opposed, though.

Once again, Arthur’s not agreeing with his scene partner. He goes more for laughs than for good improv, which is slightly problematic.

Good news is Josie and Mike, as USUAL this series, are elevating the scene from being too blah, and giving some nice charisma to a very boring idea.

Sandi: “And he’s plastered!”
[Third time tonight that a Sandi pun has gotten unnecessary groans from the audience]

The best parts of that scene were the Mike & Josie songs, as Arthur and Sandi got a bit too bogged down with details for me. Quaint enough scene.

Overall: Very middle-of-the-road show. Nothing terrific, nothing horrible. Arthur had good lines, but was the wrong choice for an improv show. The girls ruled this one- Sandi with some great lines, puns that I LIKED, and some great scene work, and Josie with some insanely good musical moments, and making some great work out of even dire-looking scenes. Mike didn’t have too bad of a night either, he was just overshadowed by Josie and Sandi.

Show Winner: Arthur
Best Performer: Josie, for excelling in several games tonight.
Worst Performer: Arthur, for not following a ton of improv rules.
Best Game: Film and Theatre Styles v2- lots of really fun scene work
Worst Game: Film Dub. Never really got going.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S02E10 or The Man has the Morals of a German Shepherd..

Ah yes, another round of ‘why exactly did they bring THEM back?’

Jan Ravens, whose inefficiency in the fields of improv, decency and humor, returns tonight, along with newcomer Lee Simpson, another veteran of the Comedy Store Players (and, like Neil Mullarkey, another unsuccessful one as far as Whose Line is concerned).

Good news is Slattery and McShane are here to actually add some comedy.

Clive intros Tony as someone “who learned everything he knows about comedy on Clive Anderson Talks Back”
Screen Shot 2017-11-10 at 3.41.37 PM.png

Authors: A Dabchick by the Riverbank Meets with a Speech Therapist
Lee: T.E. Lawrence
Jan: Duchess of York
Tony: Package Holiday Brochure
Mike: Joseph Wambaugh

Clive: “Now we need a title for this story, so, uh, anyone?”
Audience: “……”
Clive: “NO! Now, uh…”

I still don’t like Jan. She’s just rather annoying and obnoxious, and her Duchess of York bit isn’t great.

Tony’s bit is quite funny, and he’s doing his best, but this is basically a dead authors because of Jan’s reluctance to actually carry the story along.

It got a little better as it went on, but in my opinion there wasn’t a ton going on here.

That’ll Be Charlie Now- Mike as Charlie, Lee, Tony and Jan at hotel reception.

This game, in my opinion, was more effective later down the stretch when it became Here He Is Now, but worked fine in the early era with people like Mike and Tony as Charlie.

You can tell how important Tony’s presence on the show was, as after Lee and Jan had some fine quirks (147 cigarettes a day, boil on his nose), Tony goes right in with “does he still expose himself to women?”
Jan: “He did it to me last time I saw him…”
Lee: “Now he does it to men as well…”
Tony: “D’you know the funniest habit he’s developed? He’s begun spitting in people’s ear, and then sucking it out!”
Jan, finally following by his example: “I’ve heard that he grabs hold of men’s nipples and twists them.”
Lee, not leaving Jan out of this: “AND WOMEN’S…”

Mike, the second he enters, ripping open his suit jacket: “ROOM SERVICE!”

It’s fantastic when Mike enters and starts doing all of his traits. Only problem is Clive ends the scene too quickly for there to be any resolution or ending, so while it’s a fun scene, it could have used a beat or so more.

Film Dub: Jan and Tony are on their Honeymoon

Jan complains of a hideous growth on her face
Tony: “Don’t be silly, I’ve got a hideous growth down here, you just can’t see it!”
Jan, on a shot of a gorilla: “Oh, there it is!”

This one doesn’t especially get going, but I did enjoy Tony switching between doing voices for the character and the gorilla, reminding me of Paul Merton’s future performance as a dog (“…..woof.”)

Song Styles: Mike sings a Motown number about a plumber

Mike makes this a pretty great, Diana Ross-esque number, even though it doesn’t COMPLETELY nail the style. It’s still a good song, even if, like the theme tonight, it was a bit short.

World’s Worst: Thing to say/do when making love

Clive prefaces the suggestion with “….I don’t think this will be a very good idea.” As if he knows how blue Tony’s going to make this.

Tony: “…..YOU STAY THERE, I’M COMING IN!” [lunges]
Mike: “……what’s that?”
Tony: “Hang on, I’ve got someone who can join us- C’MERE BOY!”
Mike: “Women? Orgasms? Can’t be bothered…”

Good enough round, but Jan’s…weren’t funny.

Props: Lee and Mike vs. Jan and Tony

Screen Shot 2017-11-10 at 4.13.47 PM.pngJan: “…it’s a geranium…”

Also, tonight features an appearance from the soon-to-be-inescapable “hi, I’m _________” [Tony vomits] gag.

Rap: Banking

Clive: “Banking, though I don’t think there are many RHYMES for banking….”

Lee BARELY gets over the obvious rhyme “To try to pass the time, I like to…..do a crossword puzzle.”

Jan’s, as with the theme, isn’t funny.

Tony: “Banking is a subject close to my heart/ me and my current account are never far apart/ you go to the manager on closer inspection/ he’s really dishy….he gives me an erection???”
Tony just seems surprised and weak at arriving at that particular rhyme. Also, for the first time in a while, Clive is absolutely losing it at the desk.

The whole room needs 15 seconds to calm down from Tony’s. Finally, Mike, who’s used to this, just goes, to the camera, “The man has the morals of a german shepherd!”

Party Quirks: Tony hosts
Lee: Thinks he’s in a play rehearsal
Jan: Air stewardess
Mike: Thinks he’s Scarlett O’Hara

Lee actually does a really nice job here. Halfway through, Lee asks someone offstage, probably the director, “Yes, uh, is Tony going to talk like this all the while? No, that’s okay, I’ll…”

After Mike has a particularly compassionate line about “never starving again”
Tony: “…you’re not Elizabeth Taylor, are you?”

Another really nice playing where Tony is not only able to guess everyone, but also is able to let everyone interact with not only each other, but him. A bit quaint for my tastes, but still fine.

American Musical: Walking in the Mountains of Northern Italy, Pulling Out Weeds in the Garden, and swimming

Knowing how the last time Jan did a Musical went, I’m a little skeptical.

The first segment is fine, setting up a story, characters, and a mood. I don’t like Jan, so her motif she offers is a bit repetitive, but it’s a fine first segment.

Lee, however, shifts this story into high gear, appearing as the thought-dead father, who’d escaped to the mountains of Northern Italy, which is a great touch, as well as keeping the first segment in mind.

Lee does offer an awkward shift- he wants to do a solo scene as the husband as the wife and son, Jan and Mike, are still onstage. So, luckily,  the characters do factor in, first disguising as birds, then, Lee finally realizes they’re the same people. Small hiccup, but it evens out.

Tony, right as there’s about to be resolution, enters: “Hullo, everybody, I’m Carlos…the mad gardener.” He’s cracking up as he says this.

While this does lead to a funny little ending (“he’s a yanker….and a wanker”), it doesn’t tie up the story, and, a lot like the REST OF THE SHOW, it doesn’t really go anywhere after setting things up. And sadly, I have to blame Tony for not making an effort to end the scene together, rather than in a semi-solo showcase.

Overall: One of the first truly bad shows of the season, maybe worse than the Jimmy Mulville show, because at least a few scenes and jokes got off the ground there. This one had a lot of scenes that went nowhere, a Jan Ravens performance that was damn near poisonous to scenes, a newbie who was good but stumbled once or twice, Tony Slattery and Mike McShane doing their damnedest to save the show, and only one or two games that actually felt fully realized.

Show Winner: Lee
Best Performer: Mike McShane, for energetically making his scenes the highlight of the show. Tony came very close.
Worst Performer: Jan Ravens. Just…not good.
Best Game: Rap, by default, for at least coming up with the show’s sole laugh-out-loud moment.
Worst Game: Musical, for not going anywhere and just ending with a thud.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S02E09, or I’M STARTING THIS TIME, SESSIONS!

Ah yes, now we come to the ‘Series 2 trying desperately to be Series 1’ portion of the show. Paul Merton and John Sessions, featuring another Archie Hall appearance, and a return from a balder, more clean-shaven Jonathan Pryce. After a few episodes of progress, this may lead us back a bit.

Authors: Death of a Dog at the British Grand Prix
Archie: Alice Walker
Jonathan: Diaries of Noel Coward
Paul: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
John: J.R.R. Tolkien 

Authors is back, because so is John.

‘British Grand Prix’ is suggested
Paul: “….features quite heavily in Sherlock Holmes…”

There’s already an effort to keep the story going, mainly driven by Paul who brings the dead dog into the picture, spoiled slightly by John.

Jonathan, building off his first go-around: “Tuesday……Binky was there……..carrying a dead dog under his arm…”

Paul: “If I’m not mistaken, said Holmes, we had this dog last week, didn’t we?”

Very concise game, without many missteps. Also, John finally gets as much time as everyone else, which is refreshing, and FAIR.

Film and Theatre Styles v1- John and Jonathan (interrogation prisoner)

[this could be a scene from Brazil!]

There’s a glut of audience suggestions here, so Clive doesn’t get them all. Jonathan hears someone yell out Chekov, and tries subliminally getting it in: “*COUGH*CHEKOV!*”

Jonathan, as usual, is having a grand old time- given the scene suggestion, he ties his hands behind his back and goes, to the audience, ‘guess which one I am!’

Already, you can see, as usual, how great John and Jonathan work together, and how much tension they can build between each other.

Open University
John, to the audience: “If you’re going to talk to a prisoner, the…essential thing that you must first of all do is wear 1973 clothing, and talk to him in a very bad camera position.”

Jonathan, doing aggressively compassionate Chekov, grabbing John: “What happened?”
John: “I don’t know!”
Jonathan, realizing: “…that was your mic…”

Jonathan, after John’s gone on for a while: “…gosh, if I’d have known this part was going to be so small, I’d never have taken it…”
Clive: “you’ve, uh…clearly not worked with John before.”

Clive: “Let’s go into a science fiction b-movie.

That was a very, very loose scene, which cracked Jonathan up a few times, and lost the plot a bit (Jonathan was out of his shackles out of nowhere), but you can tell that Jonathan and John still work well together, and Jonathan knew how to work with him.

Film and Theatre Styles v2: Paul and Archie (person seeing an undertaker)

As Clive writes down Thunderbirds, Paul explains to Archie what that is, complete with marionette movements.

Paul, as an undertaker, on coffins: “We have chip-board, hard-board or solid oak. If you go for chip-board, their ass will be out of it inside a fortnight.”

Archie, on the Batman style, goes for a Jack Nicholson impression
Paul: “I know that face, with that weird smile and white makeup…it’s Barbara Cartland! The coffin’s for yourself, then, right?”
Archie: “No, it’s not, it’s-”
Paul: “Should be!”

On the Thunderbirds style, Archie does the puppet movements just as Paul told him…and then Paul does it ten times better than Archie did.

Very fun scene, with back-and-forth work from both, though Paul, as the better improviser, did a bit more than Archie, despite his efforts.

Props: John and Paul vs. Archie and Jonathan

Screen Shot 2017-11-09 at 4.39.09 PM.pngArchie: ‘Ah yes, we had to remove your stomach, you had a rather bad ulcer…”
Screen Shot 2017-11-09 at 4.39.49 PM.png

Good enough game, though rather short.

Sound Effects: Archie supplies sound effects while Paul starts his car.

This is a really funny one. Archie’s constant not-starting noise of ‘NO-NO-NO-NO-NO-NO’ is frigging great, especially when Paul turns on the radio, Archie does 3 seconds of ‘I Started a Joke’ by the Bee-Gees, then goes right back to ‘NO-NO-NO-NO-NO’ when Paul tries the ignition again.

Even better, Archie does an impression of a radio being switched to different channels, then lands on…a Thatcher speech (“I…think the internal problem can be solllved…”)

Paul eventually has to let the other cars go around him, which is a really nice twist (he’s on the road???). After the third honking card, Paul throws in a ‘fuck off’ and lets them go around.

There’s a nice ending with Paul getting into a helicopter, but it ends up a bit clumsier than the rest of the scene. Still nice enough, though, as Sound Effects was one of the few games Archie truly excelled at.

Interview: Archie, from a hard-hitting documentary, interviews John, as Moses.

Archie: “And so, as I understand it, you claim to be the leader of your people…”
John: “….I didn’t CLAIM, they just came up to me, you know…”

Archie: “Alright, now we have to go back in time, back to the mount. YOU WERE HANDED *TWENTY-FIVE* COMMANDMENTS, NOW WHAT HAPPENED TO THE OTHER FIFTEEN?”
John: “Well, it was all the BASIC things, like ‘never wear green and grey’…”

There was a very defined ending, as there was a moment where John took a great opportunity from Archie and said no. Archie then looked to Clive, going ‘please end this thing.’

Film Dub: Paul and Jonathan are in a Supermarket

This wasn’t a GREAT film-dub, but Jonathan and Paul did well at reacting to the scene’s goings-on, and were great in working off each other. Paul’s best moment was threatening to do something, Jonathan calling out to his men to watch, and Paul going “I HAVEN’T STARTED IT YET!”

Party Quirks: Paul hosts
Archie: A jealous lover
Jonathan: A pirate
John: A Sumo Wrestler

First of all: Haha, Weatherby Swann has to play a pirate. There. We got that over with.

Archie: “Shall I come in, or shall I just FORCE ENTRY?”
Paul, after Archie has already walked in: “…..I think you better come in…”

Paul: “Well, [Archie], it’s been a long time since we’ve seen each other, and I don’t know what you’ve been up to….but I can guess….”

The second Jonathan bounds in, full pirate stuff, Paul goes: “I’ve got a friend for you, he’s over there!” [Pointing to Archie]

Archie, on Jonathan: “WHO IS *HE?*”
Paul: “That’s, uh, that’s an old friend from school! That’s Alan!”
Archie: “HAS HE HAD YOU???”
Jonathan, who can’t resist: “OHHH ARRR, I’VE HAD HIM, ARRRGH!”
Paul: “He seems to think so, I can’t remember…”

Really nice Party Quirks, even if John was a bit too wordy with his.

Overall: Surprisingly good, and surprisingly full of laughs, despite some improv faux pas here and there. Jonathan was a bit less put-together than last time, and broke a bit too much for me. John was, as usual, not great at getting laughs, or respecting other’s improv. Paul Merton was good, but…dare I say it…Archie Hahn was even better tonight, excelling in a number of games, working well with people, and culminating in a really nice role in Party Quirks. Paul’s definitely not far behind though, even if this is the part where his role in the show begins to slide downhill.

Show Winner: Archie
Best Performer: Archie Hahn, for coming in when no one expected it and taking charge.
Worst Performer: Jonathan, who, despite having fun, couldn’t keep things together.
Best Game: Party Quirks, narrowly edging out Sound Effects on account of making me laugh slightly more.
Worst Game: Film Dub, for being a bit too haphazard for my tastes.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S02E08, or Never Come Too Early

Back to our regularly schedules Series 2, post-Xmas-ep

Here we have two strong semi-regulars in Mike and Josie, an incredibly promising up-and-comer in Ryan Stiles, and a guy who’d make his one-and-only appearance here (not counting the comic relief special), the square-chinned Neil Mullarkey.

Clive intros an All-American show, with…Ryan, a canadian (from Seattle), Josie and Neil from the Comedy Store Players, “and Mike McShane, from Taunton.”


Film and Theatre Styles v1: Josie and Neil (the first two people on earth)

Neil, as people are shouting out styles: “I heard ‘Neighbours'”
Clive: “Okay, obviously your friend in the audience wants Neighbors…”

Neil and Josie are obviously great at working together, as evidenced by their work in the Gangster film segment, when Josie has a secret and Neil is drilling her out of it. Even better, Neil ends by picking up a log and smoking it.

Neil: “There are little people coming out of [the apple]: are they maggots, or are they from another world?”
Josie: “Wait- I know maggot language!”
Neil, motioning to the cigarette: “You’ve been smoking some of this as well, haven’t you?”

With the western ending, and the peck-on-the-cheek Josie gives Neil…and how awfully close together they are, it’s pretty fitting that they have really nice chemistry, and concocted a really cool scene as well.

Film and Theatre Styles v2: Mike and Ryan (two people on a plane)

Audience member: “War and peace!”
Clive: “That was a NOVEL, the last time I read it…”

Mike asks for a drink
Ryan, the steward: “Little nervous?”
Mike: “Haha-yeeeahhh…”
Ryan: “You’ve heard about the pilot, huh?”

Tennessee Williams
Ryan, with the amazing pun: “Why look…out on the wing….engines!”
[or, injuns, in that accent]

Ryan does manage to move the scene into ‘Mike needs to fly the plane’, and the horror style moves Mike to scream, in a demonic voice, piloting the plane, “WE’RE GOING TO *HELL!*”

Clive: “A bit of war and peace.”
Mike, taking him literally, starts shooting gunfire
Ryan, holding up a peace sign: “Hey, don’t do that, man…”

This style actually progresses the scene, giving both characters Vietnam backstories, instead of just going for the Tolstoy, which is a really nice decision from both Mike and Ryan.

After a very silly vaudeville ending, the scene ends. Mike and Ryan did a ton of great stuff here, with some great ‘moving along the scene’ improv moves, and some great character work. Also, ton of really good jokes.

Song Styles: Cheese Grater. Mike as a boogie-woogie song, Josie as Kurt Weill.

Clive asks for an everyday household object
Audience member: “TERRY WOGAN!”
Clive: “…he’s not everyday yet, is he?”

Mike’s boogie song is really, really fun, and a pretty standard boogie song, as well as being a relatively standard song styles.

Josie’s is…MASTERFUL. It’s a dark, cynical and powerful song, that uses the theme of cheese grating as a metaphor for fascism. I was not expecting something this good from that style.

World’s Worst: Person to Audition for a Soap Commercial

Mike: “So you, uh…you put the detergent in, and- MY WIFE DOES THIS CRAP, I DON’T DO THIS…”

Not a ton going on here, though Mike had the best work by far.

Props: Ryan and Josie vs. Mike and Neil

Screen Shot 2017-11-09 at 2.25.28 PM.pngNeil: “I’m afraid there’s been quite a lot of inflation in this country. These are two pound coins…”

Screen Shot 2017-11-09 at 2.26.27 PM.pngRyan: “HEY, LOOK OVER HERE, HUH? HEY BABY!”
Audience: “….”
Ryan: “Construction Worker, IT’S A CONSTRUCTION WORKER! WHAT?!?!?”

Film Dub: Neil and Ryan are flatmates talking about Josie and Mike

This is a clip from Plan 9 from Outer Space. Score for Whose Line for landing more Ed Wood.

Neil: “Well, I dunno, I don’t like the things they wear!”
Ryan: “The things they wear? Well, why don’t you take a look at…yourself?”

Neil, after Mike’s character has stopped grabbing his neck: “OW….oooh, I like yooou…”

Party Quirks: Neil hosts
Ryan: bad stand-up comedian
Josie: thinks she’s at a prenatal class
Mike: roadie for a rock band

Neil, back to this season’s theme of getting the wrong people to host, hosts. He steps down nervously, going “Sorry, I don’t want to come too early…”
Clive: “Yes, never come too early…”

Josie, doing great, just lies on the ground right when she walks in. Even if Ryan is being showier, she’s nailing her quirk immediately.

Neil, guessing Josie: “Are you, uh, Sarah Ferguson?” Oh, nono…”
The audience doesn’t love that one.

Tony, at his wit’s end guessing Ryan: “You must be, uh, Tony Blackburn-”
Clive: “So close, but that’ll do…”

Good enough scene, because Neil let everybody interact, even though he wasn’t great at interacting WITH them.

American Musical: WWII airplanes, being a caretaker in school, and winning the pools.

This particular playing had great moments of solo work, like Josie telling off her boss, and Ryan explaining why he’s down on his luck, but there was something a wee bit awkward in pulling everything together into one narrative.

Neil’s entrance is even more awkward, and I get what he’s trying to do in make a secret more public, but…he’s one of the more unmusical people ever forced to do a musical game on this show (including Stephen Fry).

Mike, whose horniness has been saving this scene: “I’ll be your dog, as long as you’re rich.”
Ryan: “I’ll be your husband, you…stupid bitch.”

This one at least ended well, but was a bit clumsier than the last few Musicals, thanks to Neil mostly. Still not without its inspired moments, though.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t include Ryan’s reaction to winning his first Whose Line:
Screen Shot 2017-11-09 at 2.44.46 PM.png

Overall: Perfectly quaint show, without too many good or bad moments, and with the occasional spark of madness along the way. The performances were relatively equal, though Neil did have a few missteps that may have led to him not being on any more shows, though he at least deserved one more try in my opinion. Mike, Josie and Ryan all had strong shows, with the emphasis going to Josie for some strong work throughout.

Show Winner: Ryan
Best Performer: Josie, coming up strong throughout the show
Worst Performer: Neil, solely for Musical, but also for some little things.
Best Game: Film and Theatre Styles v2, a great showcase for Mike and Ryan’s improv abilities.
Worst Game: World’s Worst, for being very boilerplate and dull, save for Mike McShane.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S02E07, or CHWISTMAS???

A Christmas Special on Whose Line, with 6 performers instead of 4, and 45 minutes instead of 30. Why, oh why, did they only do this once?

Additionally, they managed to pick one hell of an impressive lineup at this point in the show’s history. The four people who’d been appointed the stars of the show at this point, this being Josie Lawrence, Paul Merton, Tony Slattery and Mike McShane, as well as two people who’d made relatively impressive debuts, in Greg Proops and Sandi Toksvig. At this point in time, I don’t think I would have made any different picks, though I’d note that Sandi wasn’t the standout of her debut episode, though having Ryan, Mike and Greg on one show would be a bit of an overload.

As Clive describes Paul as ‘the man behind many of Julian Clary’s stickiest moments’, Paul shoots him a very distressed look, going “EXCUSE ME?” with a muted mic.

Mike’s beard, making its debut, makes it a bit clear that this show was taped closer to the end of the series, after Sandi had made several more appearances and cemented herself as a semi-regular.

Authors: Santa Gets Lost on the London Underground
Greg: Clement Moore
Sandi: Jane Asher’s Book of Party Cakes
Tony: Child’s letter to Santa
Mike: Robert Heinlein 

After Tony presents his author, the audience ‘awwww’s, while Tony mimes wanting to throw up.

Once Clive gets the ‘on the London Underground’ portion of the title, he offhandedly says ‘that’ll make it easy for you, Greg.”
Screen Shot 2017-11-06 at 3.43.10 PM.png

Greg, beginning: “Twas the night before Chwistmas [seeing his gaffe] CHWISTMAS? Okay, TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHWISTMAS…”

Tony: “…Dear Santa, please don’t bring me a large bowl like you brought last year, ya fat git…”

Greg: ‘Yes, the reindeers were randy, they wanted to bonk/so they knocked Santa down, and they started to tronk.”
Greg realizes how little sense he’s making and cracks up.

Film and Theatre Styles v1: Paul and Josie (caroler and house owner)

The thing with putting these two together, which the producers must have known by sitting them out of authors, is that right off the bat they’re wonderful, and this scene starts off with a great premise and some great moments, even before the styles come in.

Paul: “There’s a lot of crows outside in your garden…”

Paul, as Clive buzzes in: “If you look through the REAR window…”
The audience groans

Josie has a great moment of physicality in the science fiction section, turning devilishly into a lizard-creature.

There’s a very silly ending, but it’s still a nice enough scene, and had some pretty cool moments here and there.

Film and Theatre Styles v2: Mike and Greg- a child waking up to find the real Santa

A.) Another great pairing, and B.) Perfect scenario for these two

Clive: “Uh, Greg can you play a child?”
Greg: “Uh…no, contractually I’m forbidden to.”
Clive: “…well thank you for watching Whose Line is it Anyway…”

Already, the scene is perfect
Greg: “How do I know you’re not some mugger who wants to steal my stuff?”
Mike, holding something: “The anatomically correct cabbage patch kid you wanted this year?”

Greg: “Santa, how can I ever repay you?”
Mike: “…you can put that doll away and give me the love that dare not squeak its name…”

I love that Mike as Santa mentions, in the Western style, that his worst enemy is Donald Trump. Whereas now he’s everyone’s worst enemy…

So…Mike and Greg as Laurel and Hardy is the sight I didn’t know I’d been waiting to see all my life. That was pretty damn perfect.

Pretty nice scene, dare I say better than Paul and Josie’s.

Song Styles: Christmas Crackers
Mike: Jazz
Josie: Swiss yodeling
Mike and Josie: Music Hall

Mike’s song works well, and he definitely has a mastery of the style. You can tell they were going for a longer runtime, as Clive lets the songs go on longer tonight.

Josie’s is very impressive, as she takes a pretty thankless style and makes a really nice, melodic number out of it.

Clive: “Not only was that a brilliant improvisation, it’s also Switzerland’s entry into next year’s Eurovision Song Contest..”

Mike, heading up for the duet, trips on a step
Mike: “…I was just overwhelmed by the song…”
Clive: “…yes, and the set was overwhelmed by you…”

The duet is incredibly cheeky, especially for a music hall kind of thing, but it works, as this is the first time where Mike and Josie are allowed to work together in this game (this will be a fruitful pairing).

Rap: Hangovers


Tony prefaces his with a bit of gibberish.

Sandi ends hers with a “boy…you…sure are well hung”, and is immediately displeased with herself.

Paul, looking really uneasy: “….LAST NIGHT I HAD SOME CAKE AND no…start again…I just can’t do this game at all, but I’m gonna do me damn best…”

Greg ends it strong, complete with flailing.

This was, as usual, hit-or-miss, as you can tell they really don’t like this game, but it worked more tonight than it usually does.

Party Quirks: Sandi hosts
Greg: verbalizes every thought
Paul: Sandi’s true love on the 12th day of Christmas
Josie and Tony: the front and back end of a pantomime horse
Mike: US TV Christmas Special

SANDI HOSTS??? You have Paul, Tony and Greg, three champion Party Quirks hosts. Why would you go with Sandi Toksvig, as nice as she was in 2×05?

Sandi, upon Tony and Josie’s entrance: “…have you met the neighbors?”

I’ll say that Tony and Josie’s pantomime horse work is some really good teamwork and physicality, even though Sandi guesses them relatively quickly.

Mike immediately nails his overly-compassionate style, speaking directly to the camera and introducing everyone.

World’s Worst: Thing to Say/Do in the Hospital at Christmas

Greg: “If you die, can I have your presents?”
Mike: “Hello, my name’s Eric, I’m the Enema Elf, now let’s see the South Pole…”

Not a ton in this one, but good enough

Props: Mike and Paul vs. Josie and Sandi vs. Greg and Tony

Paul, trying to work a prop: “…hang on….no, it’s not going to work.”
Clive, patronizingly: “hang on, it’s not going to work…”
Paul: “No, I wanted a special effect, but it wouldn’t-”
Clive: “And people will never believe this is really improvised.”

Paul, one round later:
Screen Shot 2017-11-06 at 5.44.37 PM.png
Mike: “Perhaps you’ll remember me from your first acid trip at LEEDS!”
Paul, as the buzzer goes: “THAT’S THE JOKE I WAS GOING TO DO!”

Screen Shot 2017-11-06 at 5.46.09 PM.pngTony: “…Bo Derek. Myth or Reality?”

And then, next go-around, Mike breaks the prop, right as the buzzer goes. The rainbow funnel thing comes away from the stick.

Screen Shot 2017-11-06 at 5.47.40 PM.pngJosie, a la Sid Vicious: “I…AM AN…ANARCHIST!”

A very nice round, however the second Clive calls the round, Mike, happily, goes “THHHAAAANK YOU!”

Musical Producers: Sandi and Paul produce a musical on stuffing, vomiting and swimming, while Mike, Greg, Tony and Josie act it out.

This is essentially musical, but as Musical would have been too crowded with 6 people, the producers were added to at least give less musical performers like Paul and Sandi something to do.

This works exceptionally well, not just because there’s a new element to organize the musical a bit more, and potentially take it out of the performers’ control, but it allows for showcases for multiple people in multiple parts of the scene.

There’s a joke Paul has when Sandi mentions they need a sleazy bastard to take the wonderful first scene and create conflict (again, perfect scene construction), and he, with a smirk, goes “who on earth could we get to play a sleazy bastard”, knowing full well that Tony’s about to enter the scene. If Sandi hadn’t cut him off, he would have completed the slam.

Tony’s song reminds me how underrated the man was in singing games, as well as how willing he is to work with people in these games.

Josie: “Don’t worry, dear, relax-o. We won’t really be sick, we’ll use Pax-O”
Mike: “That’s a good idea, what the hell is Pax-O…”

Paul, postmortem: “I like the lyric on that, but I don’t think the Americans are going to understand Pax-O.”

Greg enters as the Christmas Fairy, which is great, because Tony gets to pull it two ways and go “WHO’S *THIS* FAIRY??”

Greg actually throws a pretty damned beautiful ending onto this scene, letting Josie fulfill her wish, and giving a pretty great melodic moment…before punching Tony in the gut to end the scene. Cherry on top of a really well done, well-crafted Musical scene, definitely taking advantage of the 6-person setup.

Overall: WHY DIDN’T THEY EVER DO THIS AGAIN? THIS WAS SO GOOD! Not only is it a perfect time capsule of Whose Line in its golden age, but it’s a show where literally everyone was able to shine, and put in their best improv over a 45-minute special. Not too many dull moments, only in a smaller-scale World’s Worst. Plus, a number of games, like Mike and Greg’s F&TS, the haphazard Props, and that really nice Musical Producers, really shone, regardless of the Christmas angle. It’s hard to tell who had the best night, as everyone did really well, even if Sandi was a wee bit underedited, but Mike had a ton of standout moments, and Paul and Tony also had some great moments. A really nice top-to-bottom Whose Line.

Show Winners: Everyone
Best Performer: Mike McShane, for having standout performances in multiple games tonight
Worst Performer: Sandi, only because we didn’t really see enough of her
Best Game: Musical Producers, for letting the whole cast shine, and giving a truly great musical game to a 6-person structure.
Worst Game: World’s Worst. Just not a ton of good moments.