Top 50 Drew Carey Whose Line Episodes of All Time (#s 25 to 21)

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Right. So, as the last post of this was probably  controversial for consisting of 5 episodes that were placed too low, this post will be controversial because of these five being higher than the ones that were too low. While these five are, in my opinion, classics, they’re definitely lower-tiered classics, and they have enough  consistency and prowess to land in the Top 25.

I realize some of these might  be hard sells, but…hopefully you’ll sort of see where I’m coming from.

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#25: S06E01
Fourth Seater: Chip Esten

Taping: 505, S5 Sessions

One of the biggest mysteries of the ABC run of Whose Line is why it took them until the show had basically been  already  cancelled, in summer 2004, to air 6×01 and 6×06, the last unaired material from S5. Why did all of S5 go by without seeing this show get on?  Why would ABC keep this from us? There was no explicit content, no conflict of interest, no host wanking in an LA porno theater.

At least ABC was wise enough to open S6 with this one. Well, maybe not ‘wise’, as no other show in that 10-episode season could ever dream of matching up to this one, but wise that at least it’d start the ‘recobbled’ seasons with a genuine gem.

The thing to note about 6×01 is that while the first half is noticeably weaker than the second, it’s not remotely bad or weak itself. Hollywood Director is an underrated one, and the eventual ‘Mr. T, Mr. Magoo and Mr. Ed’ recasting is one of the goofiest ideas Colin has come up with THAT HAS WORKED. You also get games of Doo-Wop and SFAH that feel like CW versions, just in length and in lawfulness while still working. Doo-Wop is also probably one of the best ones of the ABC version just on  account  of the sharpness of the bowling puns.

But…this second half is possibly one of the most cathartic and insanely-well-curated of any in the series.

Songs of Horror is arguably in the top 5 GH playings of the run, and this is even without a lot of the strong  Chip-Wayne songs  that  remained on the cutting room floor, like apparently a nice Aerosmith song. No, what makes this one great  is just the strength and undeniable quality of the Ryan and Colin banter. BECAUSE…MY GOD. Right  from the start, the HOR-ROR jokes are so goddamned funny, and it’s the kind of thing that gets funnier with repetition.

Plus, Colin’s eventual segue-breaking of Ryan is funnier when  you realize it was the culmination of a season-long running gag of Ryan doing segues and Colin just letting him. None of these made air, but this happened throughout the first 5 tapings of the S5 sessions, and even some later ones. It just kept happening. And Colin seeing Ryan do the first one [JITTERBUG], and completely ramming the  next two over his head is the perfect ending, because Ryan’s completely caught off-guard [“alright, you proved your point”]. But yeah, all of this together, and Wayne and Chip’s songs [“if you were a werewolf, you’d get some  hair on your head”], just make this one of the funniest Greatest Hits ever, and there is a LOT of competition for that.

And then we end with one of the best Helping Hands playings ever, because it’s not just Ryan  torture porn, and he gets Drew to drink lotion and get bug-sprayed. But…Ryan opening the champagne and getting drenched is one of the most cathartic moments of the show. Especially after this sort of thing had been teased in HH playings before and it’d never really happened, but  the DIRECT HIT, and Chip laughing  his  ass off in the back, made it picture-perfect.

So, this one made us feel like we were gonna be okay in the recobbling era, and gave us the last great S5-tapings episode.

Highlight: Colin: “I remember one time I went to a circus and I saw a strong man bend a car- BEND A CAR? *PAT BENATAR!*”
Ryan: [dies]

Now, as for another ‘we’re gonna be okay’ episode:

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#24:S01E20 
Fourth Seaters: Denny Siegel and Greg Proops

Taping: 109, S1 Sessions

This is the only Season 1 show on this list. That’s not to say S1 of the show isn’t good, as it’s solid and the reason we got a full run. Season 1 is just…less good than the rest of the series. It’s still very prototypical and tries a lot of things that doesn’t work. The show also hasn’t hit its groove yet, and Drew doesn’t get fully comfortable til midway through S2.

A lot of Season 1 is more similar to Season 10 of the UK version. Wayne’s not a regular yet, there’s more LA-area imports giving the show a try, there’s more games per show, and we’re not at peak WL capacity yet. There are fleeting instances, like Ryan’s foal trick, and a few later shows, but…it doesn’t really click until 1×20, which is basically WL pulling out all the stops.

First of all, pairing Denny and Greg was a smart idea, because the two of them have very similar comedy sensibilities, and they worked well together in games like Fashion Models and Party Quirks. Greg  also has one of his last shows where he’s able to really stand out without Ryan, Colin and Wayne getting in the way. Denny also does well here, though her S2 efforts would weigh the show down a bit.

It’s also evident how much more live the games feel in this one. Props has some great back and forths [“ARE THESE THE BIGGEST CONDOMS YOU HAVE?”]. WN has Ryan drenching himself and bringing that back later. Multiple Personalities and 90-Second Alphabet are fluid and well-done as 3-man games. World’s Worst is the first great quickfire round of the US run, Hoedown’s one of the best S1 ones, and Fashion Models is one of the best playings of the short-lived game.

But where the show really feels like it’s headed into the consistency it’d reach in  S2 and S3 is in Party  Quirks. This is a round that  combines the best elements of both UK playings  [Greg having trouble with quirks and saying smirky things] and US playings [Colin interacting with other players and getting  them to crack]. Colin’s ‘hands-in-pockets’ quirk cracked me up so much, mostly from him torturing Ryan but also how it was some of the most intimate work anyone had done to that  point, and Greg and Ryan  were definitely caught off-guard by it. That  sort of fearless Colin work wouldn’t be  out of place later in the  run.

This is the kind of S1 show I wish there was more of- not a bad game in the bunch, funny momentum, a solid four-man team, and some insanely live games.

Highlight: Colin  sticking his hands down  Ryan’s pants as Ryan confusedly tries to continue his quirk. This is Colin’s answer to Ryan’s ‘foal being born’ quirk from 1×01.

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#23: S03E18
Fourth Seater: Brad Sherwood

Taping: 310, S3 Sessions

I refer to what I said a few posts ago about the 310 taping being one of the best overall WL tapings, because every show we got from that one impressed me. There’s another Brad taping that has 3 shows on here, and we’ll get to another one next post, but I do love the 310 one, and I loved how 2 episodes from it surprised me with quality.

This one…may have been the biggest surprise. I knew it’d be good, but TOP 25 GOOD? Whoa.

The game everyone knows this one for is If You Know What I Mean, and…it’s obvious why. It’s one of the better IYKWIM playings, yes, but…that  Brad moment makes it 10 times funnier. Just to see  Ryan drop like a brick and Colin, who’d been right with them, use this joke to tilt the game and sort of go ‘that one’s beneath me’.

And yet that’s not even  the best game of the show. Greatest Hits is ANOTHER one of the best ones of the run, mostly on the strength of the Ryan-Colin banter, and Colin using Ryan’s unintended ‘blue’ runner against him [“What is it with you and the color blue?”]. Colin  and Ryan are among their most-wound-up and sharpest in  this playing, and Wayne and Brad are among their most put-together doing  music.

Even the games that usually don’t work, like Award Show and Props, both work really well here, and keep the show solid all the way  through. There’s a lot of subtle character work and plot work going on in each game, even Award Show.

And Weird Newscasters might be one of the most impressive uses of plot in a short-form-friendly game. The game goes by, Wayne and Colin do their quirks, and then Ryan starts killing people. It’s a complete deconstruction of the  game, by way  of collaboration. Everyone is collaborating with Ryan’s decision  to end the game with a bloodbath, even  if it means Brad spending the last  half of the game, which he  usually signs off, slumped over on the  stool. I love Colin’s decision to bring his easily-frightened character full circle with running from Ryan, and being the  only character to survive. There’s so many  layers to this one [as well as Award Show and Greatest Hits] compared to other, more simple playings.

An underrated, fantastic gem of an episode. Hopefully this one will get more love now that  I’ve pointed it out.

Highlight: Ryan: “wait a minute…soul is also a music style.”
Colin, absolutely stonefaced: “Yes. SOMETIMES BLUE.”

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#22: S07E22
Fourth Seater: Kathy Greenwood

Taping: 409, S4 Sessions

This is the last  Season 7 show on the list. I hope that, by including a few shows from it on this list, I’ve boosted its reputation from simply  ‘rejects from Season 4’. There’s a few gems in this season, and it’s generally pretty strong, proving that the S4 sessions were really good and ABC just didn’t have room for all of it.

Imagine if this one went out in S4, though. How much bigger and badder would Season 4 had felt, then?

This really is a testament to the 409 taping, where even games unconnected by a runner are just really strong and substantial. Narrate happens in the middle of a taping with 3 different running gags [the tape recorder, Kathy’s goat, Ryan licking Colin’s head], and comes off like it could go out at any time, completely unconnected…while also being arguably the best individual game of the taping. One of the reasons I love Narrate  is that it acts like a chess game between Ryan and Colin, and  you can  see individual moves against each other until one of them ‘wins’. And nowhere is it more evident than here, where Colin sets Ryan up to be wearing a thong backwards and RYAN STILL WINS. So much back and forth, so much interplay.

And the weird part is, you’d think Narrate would be  the centerpiece of the show, but it really isn’t. LMAD starts this show off with a bang, and the Colin-Ryan-Wayne dynamic, where Wayne is handcuffed to Colin, who himself is running from Ryan, is the sort of monkey-in-the-middle type improv exercise you encounter a lot. Colin handled it like a pro, but just his way of bolting whenever he senses Ryan’s about to lick his head is so well timed. I love that this gag recurs in SFAH and Hoedown, both of which are also really good.

Like 4×08, there are only  a few games, but every moment counts, and there’s barely any clunkers or wasted energy. You just get big long blocks of improv, of great improvisers bouncing off each other, and it just works. The runner adds a bit, and there’s the suspense of ‘will Ryan lick Colin’s head’ [just like the suspense of ‘when will Drew find out Wayne fucked with his tape recorder’], but it’s mostly just strong, funny improv all the way  through, and a fitting  sequel to 4×08, which…we will get to eventually.

Easily the strongest show of the recobbling era, and, sadly, the last 10/10 show for me of the Drew run.

Highlight: Ryan ending his hoedown verse with FINALLY licking Colin’s head, and Colin just biting  his lip and shaking  his head

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#21: S04E25
Fourth Seater: Chip

Taping: 403, S4 Sessions

One of the most beloved shows of the UK show is 6×04, where Ryan comes in with a bright orange shirt and everyone keeps making fun of him for it throughout the show. It’s funny for lots of other reasons, including a great round of Superheroes, but the shirt jokes power it to the funnier moments.

…a lot like 4×25. Which is a funny show, and a truly  great one, with the backbone consisting  of numerous jabs at  Colin for wearing a tacky orange  shirt.

Superheroes is, like Captain Hair, a perfect episode starter considering this  runner. Right out of the gate, the audience knows where the crux of the humor is going to come from, and that they might as well start now. And Colin playing Tacky Shirt Man is one of those fulfilling, satisfying Superheroes characters, especially once Ryan starts playing one of the  instruments on Colin’s shirt, and Wayne throws in a ‘DAAAAAAMN’.

Plus, like with Captain Hair, the shirt jokes not only factor into the rest of the show [like Sound Effects, Newsflash, Scenes from a Hat, Hoedown WAIT SHIT THAT’S THE WHOLE SHOW], but OTHER SHOWS FROM THIS TAPING [literally the other 3 offerings all have numerous more shirt jokes, even Colin going “I can’t believe I’m missing bald jokes.”]. This may be one of the strongest runners in the post-S2 era

And yet we still get strong games around that. Newsflash into SFAH is an underrated block that just works for me, because Newsflash is the most successful of the three ‘numerous people wiping out’ rounds we’ve gotten on WL, and it’s just funny to see Colin numb  to it as the audience freaks out. THEN  RIGHT INTO SFAH, which is another strong one, and has the nice lounge act suggestion. We even have a really good Hoedown  in this one, on the Backstreet Boys, which gives us good  verses from ALL FOUR PERFORMERS. EVEN DREW.

Sound Effects, though, makes me laugh the hardest. Whose Line has proven time and time again that getting old ladies to play SFX isn’t always a good idea, but here, Flo and Carmen cracked me up. They A.) did sound effects, and B.) understood humor, which is all you need  in this game. The repeated ‘[cavalry noise] WEEEEHOOOOO’ that they’d do just…it’s too funny. How Colin and Ryan kept composure is beyond me. Also, Carmen’s voice as the Queen  is seconded only to Ashley from 3×12’s voice of God as the silliest random characterization in this game.

Just…a consistently funny show with some extreme heights and a load of shirt jokes. This is a classic…and we haven’t even  gotten into the Top 20 yet.

Highlight:
Colin: “Listen, the demanding queen”
Carmen: “…Oh my God!”
Ryan: “…apparently the Queen takes offense with your shirt!”
Carmen, forgetting what game she’s playing: “LOVE THAT SHIRT.”

 

We delve into the Top 20 next. These next ones are some more solid, potentially overlooked ones that set up the ramp into the COLOSSAL HUGE ONES.

QI Watchdown: K2 (Kit & Kaboodle), or FORGIVE ME FOR BEING SO STUPID.

I’ve discussed this, but after this season of QI, the BBC passes down a moratorium that all panel shows have to have at least one female panelist in every show, or possibly at least one person of color as well. The era of ‘Phill-Bill-Jimmy’ panels, or stacking of male panelists, is nearly over. And this episode is the penultimate one, but  it’s a very cool panel because it features one trusted anchor and two guys  that are gonna  recur for the next few seasons.

Joining Ross Noble are Colin Lane, an Australian improviser and television personality who’s done 6 other shows after this one and is the latest result of Stephen and Alan’s Oceanian scouting tour, and Noel Fielding, someone I’ve covered on the blog before during Buzzcocks, and who I’m very excited to cover again, especially on the same panel as Ross.

All the buzzers are attention-catchers, like a train horn or a bell, except for Alan’s, which is a recording of Alan going “STEPHEN! STEPHEN! I WANT *POINTS*!”. Very early  quality to these buzzers. The equivalent of giving John Sessions a buzzer of a child’s voice going “OH, ME SIR! I KNOW THE ANSWER!”

Stephen brings up that Colin’s two-man  team won the Perrier award at Edinburgh Fringe back in the day, and Colin mentions who he beat…obviously with knowledge that 3 people onstage have. Alan, knowing the  answer, starts yawning, rolling his eyes.

Alan: “I went to Melbourne, and stayed at Colin’s house, and he put the Perrier award on the bedside table…”
HA

Even better, the award for best newcomer at that same 1994 Edinburgh awards went to someone else in attendance, a very bashful Noel Fielding.

The first topic is cat litter, and other uses, and Alan mentions  the ‘put your phone in rice if it falls in the toilet’ thing, and if that works for cat litter
Stephen: “There’s an episode of Elementary that’s based on that very fact”
Alan: “…there’s an episode of Jonathan Creek where I weed in some cat litter…”
I do love Alan
Alan: “I say I…THE CHARACTER, JONATHAN…’

Noel brings me right  back to why I loved him on NMTB, talking about using cat litter to conceal vomit, and how it turns into them outlining  it, and “you just have to vomit in the shape of a dead body”. I missed him so much

The whole panel starts laughing at a picture of a woman smoking a gigantic cigar
Colin: “That’s actually a normal-sized cigar, but a very  small woman…”

Stephen explains the cigar companies added ingredients of cat litter to get around taxes
Ross: “but unfortunately a lot of large cats leapt up and weed on  their faces…”
PFFFFF

Getting Ross and Noel on the same panel was a smart idea, cause  they’re both collaborating on the idea of putting air in cigarettes, and Ross even says they should put in helium so they just float in mid-air as you smoke them

Ross thinks the kitty litter chemicals are highly flammable, which isn’t true, and Alan demonstrates lighting a cigarette and fire just blasting through. This episode’s cracking me up already.

Colin points out the dent in Churchill’s cigar in the photo they use
Ross: “That’s from when a small kitten landed on  it”
HA

Stephen mentions the Scopes Monkey Trial, which Noel takes literally: “I’m imagining a trial with monkeys…like gorilla warfare…”

Stephen: “A large jar of kitty litter in the fridge can get rid of unwanted smells”
Alan: “…with the lid off?”
Stephen: “YES.” [sighs]
Alan: “Cause people would put it in with the lid on, you KNOW that…NOT ME, I know the lid off, but other people would put it in and say ‘THE  FRIDGE STILL STINKS…FRY!”
Stephen: “kitty litter…doesn’t come…with a LID”
Alan: “OR A JAR….YOU BROUGHT THE JAR UP!”

Stephen has a moment where he says the word ‘trims’, then just says it again with Ross’s accent “TRIIIIMS”
Noel, Ross accent: “Gotta put some TIGHTS in me SHOES.”

Stephen: “Name the product that put Kendal on the map.”
ALL FOUR PANELISTS: “AAAAHHHHHH….”
Stephen: “…I’m being pointed at…”

Colin: “I do have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Alan: “Kendal Mint Cake.”
KLAXON
Perhaps the rebuttal to Alan nabbing Greg  Proops last series

There’s a tactile bit where all four can inhale snuff. Alan, of course, makes the obvious cocaine joke

Ross has the funniest reaction- he puts the whole container to his face, gets some all over his mouth, then just gets  a water bottle and pours it over his eyes.

Ross: “Honestly, it’s fine, it’s good- PUT IT IN YOUR EYES!”
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I friggin  love Ross

Noel: “This is probably the only time my nan’s gonna watch  me on telly, and I’ll be like that the whole show:”
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Colin, asked what flavor he got, has a smart move: “the flavor says ‘kitty litter…'”
It’s actually champagne, but he sells it. Thank the gods for improv skills

Stephen: “What does your lid say there, Noel?”
Noel: “What flavor? Jealousy.”
HA

Stephen gets to Ross
Ross: “I CAN’T SEE.”
PFFFFF

Colin: “Your flavor’s ‘madness'”
Ross: “It’s ‘peanut butter'”
Noel: “…no, says ‘Perrier'”
HA

Stephen does mention that after snuff, the snot does end up looking brown. So Alan blows his nose, and:
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[GROANS FROM AUDIENCE]
Noel: “It looks like the Turin shroud…”
HA
Stephen: “I can see the face of our lord!”

Screen Shot 2020-07-22 at 5.32.46 PMAlan: “…is that Little Mix?”
Of course.

Ross: “I don’t want to alarm anyone, but the one at the top left is me…”
Ross just thrives on this show
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Stephen talks of someone who had no profession of “no accomplishment whatsoever”, the first celebrity
Colin: “Katie Price.”
OOOOH, settling into the UK real quickly, there

On the celebrity who went pantsless, Stephen: “and there were snuff boxes produced of her-”
Alan: “muff boxes?”

Stephen also mentions a wristwatch that had this celebrity do lewd things as the hands moved
Ross: “Oh, you wouldn’t want a grandfather clock with a pendulum version…”
JEEZ
Alan: “…I don’t even know why that’s funny…”

On portraits of Kitty Fisher:
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Noel: “…the one in the middle doesn’t really look  like her…”
Ross: “The one in  the middle looks like Alan  Sugar…”
Sure enough, they do a close-up
Alan: “OOOY STAHTED WITH NOTHING…”

Ross, back to the Kitty Fisher point, as Alan Sugar: “I’ve taken my wealth, and I’ve swallowed it. You know what, you’re gonna get down on your knees and you’re gonna wait for that note to come out…”

Ross: “That’s why she didn’t have the knickers on, she was just waiting for that to come  out…”
Stephen, as this is beneath him: “OHHHHHH…”
Alan: “THERE IT IS! THERE IT IS!”

Stephen: “Name some features you don’t want in a submarine”
Ross: “Is it patio doors?”
HA

Stephen says Alan is close with ‘gases’
Noel: “Oh, I’ve got it…bouncy castle.”
I love the way Noel thinks.

Stephen: “We have to stick to our letter, and we’re in the first World War”
Noel: “oh, kennels?”
Stephen, perhaps picturing it as well as I did, just buckles

Stephen: “It was a steam-engine submarine…which meant it needed funnels…”
Alan: “…yeah, a really, really, really LONG funnel…”

Stephen: “Eventually, when they tried to maneuver,  sea-water poured down the funnels and put the boilers out.”
Alan: “No shit!”
Noel does a great impression of a train  horn submerged in water, which cracked me up
Ross: “It sounds like a phone going  off…[muffled ring] ‘hello, yes, this type of phone won’t be invented for several years”
The bizarre comedy logic is off the charts tonight and I love it

Stephen: “and the crew, which was 56 men-”
Alan: “Wrote a letter of complaint…a STERNLY-WORDED…’

Screen Shot 2020-07-31 at 11.06.41 AMStephen asks what this ‘kit’ would be used for
Colin: “Scratching a window and then cleaning it”
Colin’s not as vocal as the other 3, but he’s still having a solid night

Alan: “The man on the  right  doesn’t really need the extended squeegee…with a  little more effort, you could have gotten to the top…”

Stephen says it involves a fish
Ross: “Does it involve gettin’ the barnacles off a whale?”
Stephen: “FISH….Book 1, Chapter 1, Line  1 of QI…WHALES ARE NOT FISH.”
Ross: “WHOA, WHOA, WHOA, they TRAIN fish…they put scourers on the backs of fish, and  they have them swim up to whales [mockingly] which we all know aren’t fish…and then they take the barnacles off, SMARTASS…”

Noel: “They won’t come off, that’s not how you get barnacles off of whales, it’s with…sarcasm.”
It’s a very old-school QI joke

Stephen reestablishes the ‘second largest  fish’
Alan: “is it a giant squid?”
Stephen: “FISH.”
Alan: “a jellyfish?”
Stephen: “….FISH!!!”

They all figure out it’s a basking shark
Stephen: ‘for the last time, a buzzer will-”
Alan’s buzzer: “I WANT POINTS!”
Stephen: “…in your dreams.”

Screen Shot 2020-07-31 at 11.14.48 AM.pngAlan: “I’VE GOT A COAT HANGER STUCK IN MY MOUTH!”
This has to be one of Alan’s first of his famous fish impressions

Stephen: “it’s a beautiful animal..”
Noel: “not really…”
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HA
It’s like his snowman face, or even  his  Duncan Bannatyne face

Stephen’s confused by Ross saying they can use a hammerhead to scour the basking shark
Ross: “it’s like a squeegee, it’s the same shape”
Stephen  NOW understands
Alan: “No, you TRAIN IT”
Noel: “yeah, and get an octopus to hold it”
I love this panel
Stephen: “FORGIVE ME FOR BEING SO STUPID.”

Noel: “Do they on occasion swallow slightly smaller sharks? Like a Russian doll, there’s just 19 in there…”

Stephen: “Graham Hall, and his wife-”
Noel: “is that the name of that shark?”
EVERY JOKE IS HITTING
Ross: “it’s frightening when you say- ‘QUICK THERE’S A GRAHAM!”
Yeah, I’ve got one in 5 episodes and he sure is frightening

On another kit, luminous pins and wheels of cotton
Alan: “sewing in the dark”
Ross: “disco nanas?”

Stephen, realizing halfway what he’s setting them up for: “Dr. Eric Dingwall specialized in exposing something…”
The audience beats them  to the punch, as does Stephen: “not his own dingwall..but-”
Alan: “the wall of his ding.”

Stephen makes a point that all psychic mediums are frauds. Certainly a stance, there. To quote Greg Proops, “you don’t want dead people callin’ in…”

Ross has the best response: “hang on…my granddad says ‘shut your face’…”

Noel: “it’s quite weird, because we look like we’re in a seance.”
Alan: “You ALWAYS look like you’re in a seance…”
Noel: “…I’m getting a basking shark”
Ross: “What’s that? You were touched inappropriately by a man called Graham?”

Just seeing these four riff, just on the table with all the hands, just proves how good, and how compatible, this panel is, and how strong this show is.

Stephen: “What comes flatpacked and takes 4 months to assemble.”
Colin: “…Ikea dining table”
KLAXON

Stephen mentions Isambard Kingdom Brunel inventing a flatpack hospital during the Crimean  war
Ross: “when they set it up, they want ‘ah, it’s a school…we’ve got the wrong one”
Ross is killing it this show

Stephen mentions Brunel swallowing a coin doing a magic trick for his  kids and needing a tracheotomy
Ross: “It was a hell of a trick cause when the coin went in…it didn’t have his face on it..”

Stephen points out ‘Mr. Ikea’, the founder of the company
Alan: “IAN KEVIN EDWARD ALDISHAM.”
Audience member: “EEEEYYY”
Stephen: “…ooh, there’s an Ian Kevin Edward Aldisham, by amazing coincidence, IN THE AUDIENCE.”
I’m surprised the guy from Buzzcocks who did an ‘EEYY’ when Mark mentioned Isambard Kingdom Brunel didn’t go off tthen

Colin says the largest  IKEA is in Sydney, and Stephen and he point out, as a Melbourner, Colin’s teeth clench when  he says “lovely people”, obviously not genuine.

Noel has a funny story of doing a gig at the Sydney Opera House, and then looking out and scanning the skyline for the very venue he’s looking out of.

Ross, on the ‘biggest in the  southern hemisphere’ thing Colin mentions, says he once was at the ‘second-largest playable guitar in the southern hemisphere’, which he says ‘and you can see the sign’s been crossed out…’

Stephen: “what was a roman  soldier’s salary”
Alan: “wine, prostitutes”
Noel: “just the outfit”
Alan: “40 quid?”
Stephen: “audience?”
SEVERAL CRIES OF SALT
KLAXON
Alan and Ross gleefully point at the audience for that
Alan: “LOOOOSERRRRS!”

Colin, despite not being  as weird as Ross or Noel, is adding a lot of charisma to this show, and his conversation with Alan about wine is very fun

This ends in a very cool prop ending, with everyone breaking a piece of wood suspended by  a piece of paper. Colin, who doesn’t think it’ll work, tries it and breaks right through, which  shocks and impresses him

Stephen tries to break three bricks, and manages to break the bottom two.

Stephen brings up another set of two bricks
Noel: “you gonna do it with your penis?”
NOEL

Alan challenges Stephen to break only the middle of the three, and despite a lack of confidence, Stephen manages the  feat, which  is impressive as hell

Noel: “I can’t believe I put my hood up in case there were shards…”
Ross: “what, shards of his SPLINTERING WRIST?”
PFFFF

Stephen, though, is honest that he used trick bricks, “so don’t try it at home.”

Ross SOMEHOW WINS WITH +4. EVEN HE’S SHOCKED.
The audience winds up in  last for the salt question

Overall: A fantastic show, with  one of the best  four-man dynamics I’ve seen in years, and some of the funniest, strangest jokes. Noel and Ross worked together well, Colin and Noel fit right into the show, Colin’s nice-guy sensibilities matched well with Alan and Stephen, Ross had a career night, and even the snuff bit, which occasionally repulsed me, got some charm just from Ross’s mishap. Lots to love from this one, and certainly an improvement over the last show.

MVP: Ross
Best Guest: Noel
Show Winner: Ross
Best QI Fact: flatpacked hospital
Best Runner: Graham scraping whales

Hopefully it won’t take me as long  to do the next one, featuring two welcome newbies and a personal favorite semi-regular.

Top 50 Drew Carey Whose Line Episodes of All Time (#30-26)

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These five episodes barely missed the Top 25, and make up the last bit of the first half of this countdown. Additionally, every episode in this post scored either a 9 or a 9.5 on my initial watchdown. Starting next post, we start covering 10/10 shows.

This post features four undeniable classics, and a fifth that a lot of you guys are going to argue is too high.

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#30: S04E27
Fourth Seater: Brad Sherwood

Taping: 412, S4 Sessions

There hasn’t been too many moments where production intervention into a scene has made air. I mean you can name some, like the recent ‘lasers from my nipples’ Song Styles, or the producers following  Drew back in after the commercial in 4×08, or even 5×20’s IDS, which was intervened solely because someone had to tell Laura to get back into the song.

But the main thing is that whenever things go wrong, or whenever scenes break down and have to be restarted thanks to production, the improv is usually going to suffer. It’s good for HUMOR if these sort of goofs make air, because the performers aren’t gonna let that go, but it’s bad for the improv because…we have to see improv mistakes and divebombing scenes make air.

And that’s why 4×27 is this low. It’s a classic, don’t get me wrong, and is filled with some of the most chaotic energy  a Whose Line episode can have…but because it gets so loose after  Title Sequence, and because a lot of the games sacrifice quality for joke opportunities, it’s not an immaculate show.

You get a glimpse of an immaculate show in Let’s Make a Date, because that game is handled exactly like a runner should be. LMAD itself is a wild,  hysterical game from all 3 performers, especially Ryan sprouting from Colin’s neck and Colin running around trying to get him to break. Brad, knowing he wasn’t gonna top those two, still popped in with lines whenever he could. Even without the inevitable ear-lick that’s referred to for the rest of the show, including SFAH and Hoedown, it’s still the kind of wall-to-wall fantastic game that deserved a stronger show, even if it got a funnier one.

This show also has a few games, like If You Know What I Mean, Duet and Hoedown, which while good and worth airing, may have been a bit too ‘okay’ for such a good episode.

And then there’s Title Sequence itself, which operates off of spite. Nobody  wants to agree to put ‘Hitler’ away entirely, and Ryan, Colin, Brad, Wayne AND DREW are all pissed that the producers had to nix the idea. And that spite is felt SO MUCH throughout this game,  even when Ryan throws up a ‘sieg heil’ in the game and Colin gives him an insanely  funny ‘don’t do that’ look. The spite carries into SFAH and Hoedown, and it’s the sort of spite that, while funny, doesn’t entirely contribute to a full, enjoyable experience.

This is, in reality, a good show with two classic games. One is classic for its quality, the other is classic for its content.

Highlight: “The name of this 70s sitcom you guys are gonna be singing about is Bill Cosby and the INSURANCE SALESMAN. FUCKIN’ HILARIOUS, ISN’T IT?”

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#29: S02E39
Fourth Seater: Chip Esten

Taping: 219, S2 Sessions

I’ve noticed that ‘last tapings of the season’ can lead to just undeniably loose and insane moments. S3’s last taping  brought us the ‘nice pants’ runner, and…admittedly, a very sick Ryan. S4’s last taping gave us some of the raunchiest Jeff Davis material til the mid-Aisha-seasons. S5’s last taping may have been too relaxed, but still gave us that format-breaking Greatest Hits with Colin jumping in with Wayne

For reasons I will get into later, this taping may  be the most insane season capper of them all. Because unlike other seasons, Season 2 had NINETEEN TAPINGS. NINETEEN. That can lead to either a burnout or a flourish. And with everything that went on in this taping, it was definitely a flourish.

A lot of what makes 2×39 works is carryovers from 2×36. Film and Theater Styles, and parts of Newsflash, carry the Captain Hair energy. And F&TS, Hoedown and Foreign Film Dub are all riding on the high of the games from E36. All of those games are strong without  a runner, and some of the best playings of the season, even if FFD is one of those ‘what the hell are we doing’ games.

Duet is one that should be talked about more, because it’s one of the best audience member Duets of this era, and I feel like Chip and Wayne know it the second they head back to the seats. Katie isn’t just a fast food worker, she’s a fast food worker who gives them material just by naming the small-town place she works, and specifying that she works BEHIND the counter [Ryan: “in front of the counter, that’d be a CUSTOMER, Drew..”]. So many fun details factor into this Duet that it’s a wonder more people don’t recognize it as a classic.

Thankfully Newsflash is an all-timer, though. Newsflash is one of those games where you can go back and study reactions at different points, and just how Colin contrasts with himself on the screen. Or, really, how Chip and Ryan stifle laughter as Drew HOWLS from the seats. There’s a reason this show aired last in S2, and it’s because this is a game that needs the show to be established before it really works, and after a strong S2, this game feels earned.

The slight incongruence between the exemplary Newsflash and some of the other games lowers this for me, but…I can’t not have this show on the countdown. It’s a law, or at least it feels like it.

Highlight: Chip, in Newsflash: “now, I notice you’re not wearing sunglasses to help you with that horrible shine”
Colin, finally:
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Incredible. Every time.

 

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#28: S05E06
Fourth Seater: Kathy Greenwood

Taping: 433, S4 Sessions

5×06 comes in the midst of one of the most lethal hot streaks in the show’s history, and as a two-parter of ‘great shows to introduce to people who’ve never seen WL’. It’s one of those shows that feels like it has everything, and has time to fit in a  runner.

The first thing this show does well is, as the first pick from a taping, it cherry-picks the best games forward. It also goes around future runners like the ‘cerebral’ one, and just organizes a really nice gameload. Questions Only, Infomercial and Hoedown are all pretty strong. Newsflash is funny. These SFAH suggestions are the best ones from this taping. Song Styles is a fun ‘backup dancer’ one.

But also, these games fulfill more than their usual uses. Questions Only goes into the deep-worldbuilding improv that occasionally comes out in higher-concept QO rounds [I refer to the Bates motel and Frankenstein castle playings as other examples]. Same with Infomercial, which very  quickly devolves into the sort of ‘watch Colin and Ryan’s thought processes in real time’ playings. So many points once the green goo comes out, you see Ryan go from wanting to chuck it  out to wanting to never let go of it. Great to analyze.

Newsflash, while a bit cringey in points, is funny because it’s a responsive, explosive clip that the audience and Ryan and Kathy keep reacting  to, and Colin does some of his  funniest, most stoic work as proctor. I didn’t give him enough credit before, but this is one of his better Newsflash runs.

Song Styles..isn’t just a ‘backup dancers’ one. It’s a strong song in itself because Wayne’s in his element in the disco style, and is just throwing out fun lyrics while the other 3 dance goofily in the back. PLUS, THERE ARE AFRO WIGS. LITERALLY EVERY  WIG IS FUNNY. Wayne just wears it after the game.

So much of this show is substantial and good that when the runner hits, late, in Scenes from a Hat, it just feels like the cherry on top. And it’s a very funny SFAH, with a lot of great jokes, but…’the letter h’. My god. Of course they keep calling  back to it throughout the rest of the show. Of course Colin brings it up in hoedown. And just Colin’s smile after Ryan’s done the joke. They know how lethal of a joke it is. Of course they know.

Just a very simple, formulaic but in a good way, method of making a good WL episode. Great games, good energy, a runner, and callbacks. And this just works for me.

Highlight: “If lessons in love and sex were taught on Sesame Street”
Ryan: “THE LETTER H.”

[sigh] now…please be kind on this next one….

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#27: S02E23
Fourth Seater: Greg Proops
Taping: 216, S2 Sessions

So…let’s rip the bandaid off slowly. The Africa episode is hysterical, but it doesn’t make my Top 25.

A couple amazing things about this episode before I explain why:

-This episode is Greg Proops’ biggest contribution to the US version. I’ve talked briefly about how Greg was the 4th-seater most likely to get shafted by the editors, and how he barely had many chances to shine in  the US, but  screwing with Drew about Africa all show certainly was one of them. I also throw his Colin  burn in Hats in here, and his “wow, you  can fit four in there” in  SFAH.

-Weird Newscasters is a solid one that doesn’t get talked about enough. Ryan’s musical quirk is one of his strongest and silliest ones, Wayne’s hysterical with responding to his audience member bailing on him, and Greg has arguably his best round as the anchor.

-This might be the funniest African Chant. Maybe not the best, that might be Mike the Astronomer’s [“GOOD MORNING MR. UMBUTU, GOOD MORNING TO YOU!”], but the insanity of Drew’s ‘Africa is a country’ snafu just moves throughout this entire game, as well as Ryan, Colin and Greg’s effete ‘AWWOOOOOO’s for Chris. This is probably the most notable AC because people remember the cries of ‘CHHHRIIIIS’, and just how much trouble Wayne had with the other 3’s inefficiency.

-The gag doesn’t continue if not for SFAH A.) being really good, or B.) Colin bringing it up as ‘the title of Drew Carey’s second book’ [“the difference between continents and countries”]. From that point on, you can’t stop the gag, and it keeps rolling through Hats and 90-Second Alphabet.

As to why it’s not higher…I had to ask myself which  was stronger, the runner or the content? The runner won. There are GOOD games in this show, but no CLASSIC games. What is classic is the runner of ‘Drew thinks Africa’s a country’, and that sifts through pieces of several games. But no one game here feels like a city-upon-a-hill great game. This is a show that feels good, and is funny, but doesn’t have many substantial games, even compared to a lot of S2 episodes.

I love this one, it’s a classic…but it’s not in my Top 25.

Highlight: Greg Proops: “It’s also a CONTINENT if you’re a geographer…”

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#26: S04E17
Fourth Seater: Brad

Taping: 412, S4 Sessions

I don’t know why it shocked me so much that 3 of the stronger wall-to-wall tapings of the US version were Brad Sherwood tapings. Dude was a standout in the UK version, his improv mentalities led to a number of his inventions becoming staples on the show, and he worked well with all 4 regulars.

Going  into Season 4, I knew 4×27 would impress me, so my expectations for the other episode from that  taping was slightly lower…and 4×17 absolutely blew me away. There wasn’t really a runner, but…the first four  games have some of the strongest momentum I’ve seen on this show in a  while. Literally every game is good until IDS. And not just good…PHENOMENAL.

Weird Newscasters, okay…this game NOT ONLY has  a good jealous Colin quirk, and it not only has Wayne’s entire greased pig quirk, which is a highlight reel game for him, but it has all four coming together NOT ONLY as a payoff to Colin’s quirk, but to help Ryan through his pregnancy. So much of it is just phenomenal, collaborative stuff, and it’s one of the funnier WN playings of the season, and of the ‘Wayne  screws with Drew in  WN era’.

Then we have the seamen Two-Line, which is funny because these three are amazing at this  game and this is one of the better ones they did. So many great improv moves from all three, and some great proctoring work from Colin. And yes, here the greased pig gag becomes a runner.

And we follow that with the second-best Quick Change, though  the best in terms of improv, because Brad just does his best work here as the villain, Colin has some really silly  Miss Kitty lines, and…the ending riverdancing gag just hits on so many levels.

SFAH ties the entire show together, has the legendary ‘Latin American Soccer Announcers on Their Day Off’ round, has a great run  of connecting suggestions, and ends with the wonderful ‘Odd Things  to find Beautiful’ one. It’s the perfect capper of momentum, and if there were a better Drew game [The Kangaroo 3HBS should have gone here instead of in 7×01] this might be a classic. Not that IDS is bad, it’s just…anticlimactic.

This one just works because of how the quality just skyrocketed from the first moment and refused to let up til the last  game. Even if there isn’t really a ‘defining moment’ here, it’s still a stellar show that deserves more love, even if it just misses the Top 25.

Highlight: Latin American Soccer Announcers on Their Day Off:
Ryan: “I’ll have a cheeseburger, some fries, and a COOOOOOOOOOOOKE”
Ryan, returning: “….you forgot my COOOOOOOOOOOOOOKE”
Ryan, returning  yet again: “WHERE THE HELL’S MY COOOOOOOOKE?”

 

We dive into the Top 25 next. Our first 10/10 shows appear next. We also get our last  appearances from Seasons 6, 7…and 1.

Top 50 Drew Carey Whose Line Episodes of All Time (#35-31)

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These five that we’ll be covering on the countdown are all really good, and I’m going to do my best to explain why they’re in the 30s and not higher. I sincerely hope you’ll agree with me.

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#35: S05E19
Fourth Seater: Kathy Griffin

Taping: 509, S5 Sessions

See?

I was very critical of the S5 guest star episodes, solely because it’s a direct descendant of the guest-star heavy CW era, and the underlying assumption that improv shows can’t succeed without guest stars that…I really wish we get rid of soon. A lot of them didn’t work because A.) the guest star wasn’t into it, or B.) the show went too far in tailoring the show to the guest star’s needs. Typically, the people who did the best in these tapings were the ones that didn’t take themselves too seriously at all and took the ‘yes-and’ mentality of improv seriously.

This is why David Hasselhoff has impressed me in now TWO different improv environments. Clearly, he comes from the Joe Namath school of ‘I’m gonna give everyone the Hoff experience, even if it’s not really me’, but in giving this Hoff experience, David began to give hints as to who he was on the inside, especially in 5×19.

First of all, outside of all the Hoffing, this is a pretty solid show. This is one of the few US shows to BEGIN with Newsflash, and a rather sharp one at that [I love Colin and Ryan’s Ben references]. Two-Line was another strong round, and proof that Kathy Griffin could be as good as Ryan and Colin on this show. I do think it’s odd that right after those two games, we don’t see her again this show, but…such is ABC’s candid sexism.

The Hoff games are all hysterical. Song Styles, while baseline, is fun just from how much Hoff gets into it. Dubbing is one of the better Guest Dubbing ones we got, just from David’s strengths, and weaknesses, in the game, as well as the ending ‘weapon’ joke. And then there’s 3HBS, which is a legendary game solely from how much David’s trying to remember the ‘one word at a time’ rule, and how often he fails. It also works as an antithesis to You’ve Got Sole, which I think it genuinely hard to watch just from Drew’s plight into sadness- This THBS just takes David a bit of time to grasp the concept, and once he’s failed once or twice, his head remains high, and he still makes some very funny lines work late. Plus, the ending of this one references THBS, and comes off better because Drew acknowledges how far he’s come as an  improviser since S2. A much more wholesome ending.

The haphazardness of how this was edited keeps me from placing it higher, but this is still a great episode with one of the first successful guest star bits on WL.

Highlight: THBS
Ryan: “MOTHERS…”
David: ‘….OF INVENTION.”

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#34: S04E30
Fourth Seater: Greg Proops
Taping: 416, S4 Sessions

This is one of those shows that I remember liking as a kid, but came off slightly more one-dimensional than I’d have liked on this like. It’s still a fantastic episode, and still has some of the best lines and exchanges, but something about how a lot of the action and great lines come in between scenes sort of compromises the actual scenes. If you’re going to have your runner in between games, the games themselves have to, themselves, be really damn good.

The first half of this show, Weird Newscasters and Whose Line, is very passable and alright, despite the presence of the ‘lightning rod of hate’ runner, and Wayne’s ‘girl scout possessed by the devil’ quirk. I equate it to 4×03, where a game has a runner directly wrapped around it, but 4×03’s Narrate is memorable and carries the runner with gusto. Here, WL is kind of weak, and only the runner saves it a little.

Then Action Replay happens. This Action Replay is probably one of the best one’s. Greg and Wayne’s scene works insanely well as a standalone, even though the whole point of their scene in this game is to screw over Ryan and Colin. The fact that it’s funny and works, regardless of setups, means a lot here. And then, of course, Colin and Ryan come in and make it funnier, culminating in Colin nearly ruining his back in an upside-down stunt [not sure what’s funnier, his initial ‘agh’ or Drew’s ‘GAK’ version of it].

This episode is probably the apex of the ‘it’s always funnier when Colin gets hurt’ argument, not only for portraying a funny incident when Colin gets hurt [“it’s okay, my pack is halfway up my ass”], but also for making DREW look bad for laughing at Colin, and taking a minute of the show to do so [Ryan eventually has to go ‘you want me to throw one of my blue shoes at him?’, unifying the season-long runner]. It’s also equally funny when Colin uses his battery pack injury as another way of lengthening the ‘lightning rod of hate’ runner, bringing it up in  a killer Hoedown verse, and getting out of the show without looking too bad for getting hurt in Action Replay.

It’s really just a testament to Colin Mochrie. We laugh when he gets hurt, but we’re on his side when he uses it as a way of getting back at Drew. Colin is the universal hero of Whose Line, and there’s a reason why so many fans of this show love him so much.

Highlight: Colin does a hoedown about hockey without making any noise, and moving his lips. At the end of his last line, he feels discomfort, and goes “my battery pack”, making the runner last in a very  creative way.

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#33: S02E22
Fourth Seater: Kathy Greenwood
Taping: 215, S2 Sessions

It’s this simple- 2×22 is a classic for two games, and two games only- Song Styles, where Wayne sings a strip-o-gram to Lee the Lunchlady, and Narrate, where Ryan grabs Colin and kisses him. Both of these games are legendary enough to land this in the Top 35, and make this a classic worth watching.

The rest of the show is…a normal S2 show. Fits in more with 2×20 than anything  classic. I’ll say that Weird Newscasters is a favorite solely because of how collaborative Ryan’s eventual prison break is, but…Scenes from a Hat is a fairly normal round, and  Hoedown’s kind of weak without Ryan’s outtake blooper. It’s very unassuming, and, other than a few SFAH  references to the kiss, it doesn’t really supplement the other 2 big games like a great show would.

That shouldn’t diminish those games, though. Song Styles is a classic for several reasons, including the now-legendary backstory that Lee met Wayne and the gang at lunch and took him to be  a clean, sweet Christian boy, and this game was the complete subversion of that. To say that this SS goes in Wayne’s highlight reel is an understatement- this entire game he is fighting his morals. He wants to be nice to this person and respect her views, but he also wants to do the best he can with this style, and…that part wins out. “Two big meatballs” always makes me laugh, but mostly because of how the ENTIRE BACK ROW loses it once they realize where Wayne’s going, and how he loses it as well.

And then there’s the Maltese Burger. People forget that in the leadup to the eventual kiss, there’s a fantastic Narrate game with some impressive back-and-forth, some great lines, Colin drinking his fries, and Ryan giving a pretty good rationalization [Colin being a former employee] that  gives context to the entire scene, including the kiss. And when the kiss happens, it’s less for shock value, and more an emotional character moment. I credit Whose Line, and games like this, for destigmatizing the same-sex kiss on television.

Let’s not forget that this is also one of Kathy Greenwood’s first shows, and while Themed Restaurant isn’t great for her, she does have nice moments in Weird Newscasters and Scenes from a Hat. Even though she’s still a bit green, she’s definitely still a big part of why this show works. She’d become a better support performer over time, as we’ll see on this list, but she’s fine here.

Still, even though  this show is sort of lopsided towards its two big games, said big games are among the highlights of not only Season 2, but of the whole show. So it deserves to at least be up here.

Highlight: Colin pimps Ryan out to do something ‘totally unexpected’ in Narrate, so Ryan just grabs Colin and kisses him.

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#32: S05E03
Fourth Seater: Brad Sherwood

Taping: 406, S4 Sessions

There’s a post worth writing that’s just the evolution of Wayne Brady as an improv performer. I’ve been watching the CW version as it airs, and the Wayne that’s on there is a ton more confident and fearless than the Drew era Wayne. Nowadays he’ll take off his shirt or pants, or go far into dangerous comedic possibilities. CW Whose Line is arguably HIS show more than it belongs to Aisha, Colin or Ryan, and it’s going to be fun to see him begin to dominate the CW version.

And it will also be fun to contrast it with this episode, where Wayne gets caught wearing a thong.

This is one of those runners that sort of began Whose Line’s descent into more of the lowbrow humor that A.) the CW version would love, and B.) was a far cry from runners and jokes from the UK version. And look, lowbrow humor is fine once in a while, and I’m not expecting Whose Line to always be a sophisticated, thinking man’s show, but humor doesn’t always have to come from sex or suggestive moments.

That being said…the eventual reveal of Wayne wearing a g-string, after a spirited Award Show, is funny  because, like Song Styles in 2×22, it contrasts entirely with the belief that Wayne is this squeaky-clean, good Christian boy. And Wayne’s embarrassment in this episode is tied directly to that, and his image- the entire rest of the cast is laughing at him and telling him it’s okay.

The embarrassment continues right into Party Quirks, as he misreads the quirk, which he doesn’t figure out after  the game. Wayne having a bad night is seen as a very human moment for him, but not the kind of human moment where it’s clear how much he sucks [like Archie Hahn bringing castanets]. Everything the rest of the cast throws at him [Ryan’s “someone’s THONG is too tight”, Colin’s “Butt-cracks of the rich and famous”] is done out of love and respect, but out of relief that it wasn’t one of them.

[Also, Brad makes a LETHAL Stephen Hawking joke in Party Quirks and gets out scot-free, but Wayne wears a thong  and  he’s the laughingstock of the lot? Colin’s horrified mild character break after that Brad line always sticks in my head]

This show also includes a fantastic Bartender, where Wayne redeems himself with a fantastic ‘in love with Brad’ number, which Brad ably replies to. This also has a pretty damn good Scenes from a Hat, with the ‘songs from a musical about breasts’ one taking up half the game and getting sillier as it goes on. And it’s also just a strong Colin  show, just for his ‘performing seal’ PQ quirk cracking me up.

This is definitely the kind of show that would fit right in with the CW version, just in how loose it is, and how strong the actual games are.

Highlight: Wayne whispering to Brad after Award Show that he’s got a g-string on, and the shocked reactions from Brad AND DREW.

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#31: S02E24
Fourth Seater: Chip Esten

Taping: 211, S2 Sessions

One of the reasons I wanted to do a watchdown like this is because, like many whosers, I grew up reading LKK’s episode reviews. These helped me figure out some of the analysis of this show, and helped me discover why the clearer-improv games worked more for me. I remember her really enjoying this episode, especially Greatest Hits, and I didn’t know how the rest of it would hold up.

Well…2×24 is one  of my sentimental favorite shows of the Drew era. It’s not the showiest S2 show [it’s flanked by one], but it’s one of the most consistent, which is a relief, as it came from the same taping as one of the all-time classics of the entire show.

Now, a few outrageous claims: this Superheroes is one of the single most successful ones they ever did. Colin gets the simple task of doing cheese puns, and the other three just do all these hysterical physical moves. I love Ryan’s Random Acts of Violence boy being picked up by Wayne’s Captain Hugs a Lot. Just the contrast of those two is insanely funny.

Also, the Title Sequence, Satan and the Schoolgirl, is the best one, solely because of how hard it is for a game of Title Sequence to really work, and just how naturally all four performers played this, despite the bizarre premise [I love Colin’s smiling, bunny-eared Satan].

From there it just plays like a hits montage. Scenes from a Hat is one of the best S2 ones. Narrate is one of the best Narrate playings, solely because of the speed at which Colin reacts to the obvious ‘lube job’ Ryan  throws back at him.

And then Greatest Hits happens. GH is already  an awesome game of this, with Wayne and Chip doing great yodeling and college fight song numbers, and some seasonably good banter, but…the moment where Ryan can’t think of a title and Colin rats him out to the audience is one of the single most genius moments in the show’s history. It is the ultimate Ryan-Colin moment, because it relies solely  on their partnership and how well they know each  other. It’s also genius because the second Colin realizes Ryan is stalling for time and has nothing, he gives the camera one of his usual spikes, which we’ve seen in Tapioca, Arctic Tern and Horror GH playings when Colin gets Ryan good. Here [I’ve capped it above], it’s one of the subtlest camera spikes, but just that knowing look gets me every  time.

And then Colin continuing, as Ryan stalls, “OH, THE ANTICIPATION IS INCREDIBLE. I BET IT’S GONNA BE SO HILARIOUS”, is just…he pimps Ryan out just cause he can. It’s the cousin of ‘Ryan’s coming up with funny, he’s next’ from the UK version. And Ryan’s “have I ever told you how much  I love working with ya” is one of the few times this early where Ryan just breaks character and talks to Colin just as an improviser. There is so much to analyze in this minute of show that it makes the game so successful for me.

This is genuinely one  of the best shows of Season 2, and one of my favorites of the show, even though it didn’t make the top 30.

Highlight: “Have I ever told ya how much I love working with ya?”

 

We dig right into the Top 30 next. Some very big shows in this next bit.

Top 50 Drew Carey Whose Line Episodes of All Time (#40-36)

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Right. Into the Top 40 we go.

This section of the countdown features our very first entries from Season 3, which are also the last entries we’ll see from S3 until much later in the countdown. Says a lot about S3’s overall quality, I think.

In fact, we start with a Season 3 episode:

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#40: S03E39
Fourth Seater: Brad Sherwood

Taping: 407, S4 Tapings

So…this is a weird one.

I just remember my puzzled reaction getting to this one on  the watchdown. We’re on  the heels of two of the strongest episodes of S3, episodes 37 and 38, both of which we’re going to get to later on in the countdown, and we end Season 3 with…not only a random Season 4 taping episode, which I could at least understand for the 100th show, but an episode with only four games in it.

And then, as I watched it, this episode made sense. Letting these games go on for longer than usual, especially Let’s Make a Date and Greatest Hits, allowed us to see more from them in terms of quality, and allowed a clearer picture into this taping [which, as we’d see a lot of material from it over the next few seasons, is a really good one].

This is also a rare episode from a big, running-gag friendly taping that manages to avoid a great deal of the running gags, and even the moments that do make it in [Ryan peeing in Brad’s water, Wayne’s drummer motions in WW] still work without context.

But this episode is on the list for two real reasons- 1. This Let’s Make a Date is one of the most elaborate, and most successful, ones they ever did, and seeing both rounds of it in its entirety allowed it to get every drip of humor out, even from Brad and his usual LMAD voice. 2. This Greatest Hits round is one of the more successful long rounds that made it to air, mostly from the quality of Wayne and Brad’s songs, which are all great including an awesome Supremes number and…lots of really funny Brad moves in the other two [I refer you to ‘sportin’ wood’], but also from just some high-tier, heart-of-S4 banter from Ryan and Colin, ending in Colin blanking on a title and slowly drawing  out “ROOOOOOOOOOOUUUULETTE. OF. LOOOOOVE.”, in a way that is too damn funny.

Those two insanely strong, extended games hold up the rest of this one, including a routinely strong Two-Line, and a crowd favorite World’s Worst [“and NOW-NOW… LADIES AND GENTLEMEN-GENTLEMEN….. HHOOOOOOEEEDOWNDOWNDOWNDOWN”]. But this is a very strong way to end S3, even if it is technically a preview for Season 4. It’s a strong improv-heavy show that goes all over the spectrum of what makes this show great, and it perfectly compliments the previous two shows.

Possibly one of the best season finales the show ever did.

Highlight: Ryan, as Tom Hanks in Cast Away, ends the LMAD round by paddling to shore with severed head Colin as Wilson. The scene breaks, and both exchange a look and crack up.

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#39: S05E15
Fourth Seater: Kathy Griffin

Taping: 509, S5 Sessions

A lot of people don’t like Kathy Griffin. She’s on this countdown twice. I happen to think she’s one of the better female fourth seaters the Drew era could get, and challenged the other four in terms of ability AND in terms of vulgarity.

Anyway, this one is probably the most complete portrayal of Kathy on Whose Line. Two of the other 3 shows she’s in are guest star shows where she’s mostly sidelined, and the third has a ‘this is what’s left’ quality to it [while still being good]. This one is a ton of Kathy material where she’s active in scenes, and holding her own while the other 3 attempt to crack her up [she stays pretty stoic despite pressure].

The first half is a strong, if standard, bit of material. Questions is a really strong round for all four with a lot of nice left hooks from Colin. Weird Newscasters is another strong one where Kathy and Wayne make the best of their quirks and Ryan takes a whoser’s jacket to do magic tricks. They seem to be building to something, but are still solid games that deserve watches.

Then Irish Drinking Song happens.

Irish Drinking Song is great because it already has the feeling of a game that’s been done twicee times, and you get the sense that they’re trying not to have to do a third. And for most of this IDS, it’s strong, slightly suspect stuff that would, in another universe, lead to a fine, lawful ending. But because Ryan progresses the story from  graduation to ‘today I just got laid off’, Colin just does a similar variation in time and ends the song, rhyming with Wayne’s ‘do’, with ‘there’s blood in my stool!”

The reaction is pretty much the best part. Wayne, for one of two times in this game, is barely even laughing, just going ‘WHY?’ Why do this NOW, when we’ve already got this going. By this point, they’ve already done two ‘tattoos’ ones, they’ve gotten the unairable ones out of their system, and now Colin pulls this and either they have to do another one or pick one of these to air. Even back at the seats they’re still in disbelief [Colin: “I shouldn’t be the last person.”].

And the rest of the episode, the performers are still shaken by why exactly Colin would do this. Wayne brings “I’ve got blood in my stool” into SFAH, and Colin himself even brings it into WW, both rounds of which are pretty strong for other reasons [including Wayne and Kathy’s strong, passionate kiss in SFAH]. The weird thing about this episode is that after IDS, the quality slides a bit comparative to the first three games, but the strength of the runner, and also the energy in the studio, keeps the momentum going right to the end of WW [“hey, there’s blood on my stool!”]

Just an outrageous, well-structured episode with one big moment that sustains everything.

Highlight: “there’s blood in my stool! OHHHHHH”

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#38: S03E07
Fourth Seater: Jeff Davis
Taping: 304, S3 sessions

I often wonder what Whosers at the time thought of the occasional additions to the fold we got over the first 3 seasons. What did they think of when Denny first showed up? What did they think when Kathy first appeared? Mostly every other recurring performer came from the UK shows and were semi-trusted [even Karen Maruyama], so I do wonder how occasional completely new performers went over with everyone.

I don’t wonder that about Jeff Davis, though. From his first show in 3×07, he fit in so wonderfully with the show that it shouldn’t be shocking that he’s still on it 20 years later.

Like 3×39, the tentpoles lift this one. Weird Newscasters is top-to-bottom solid, not only because Jeff comes off as a pro with his horseracing quirk, but…Wayne’s is one of his all-time-greatest ‘let’s screw with Drew’ WN performances. The ‘desk balancing’ thing he does is funny  AND impressive [‘me been workin’ out’], and his perseverance in screwing with Drew right to the very end of the gag is one of the reasons why Wayne is one of the most entertaining performers of this era. Ryan, meanwhile, is smart for not only building off of Wayne’s quirk with his, but allowing Wayne to interact with his audience member as well. It’s one of those collaborative WN rounds that comes along ever so rarely.

Similarly, Greatest Hits has some of the best Colin-Ryan banter of the series, and so many odd details from Colin  [“for as long as I can remember, I’ve had memories”], as well as some strong duo work from Jeff and Wayne, starting their immortal GH duo out on a strong stretch. And also, you have one of the best SFAH rounds of Season 3, a solid enough Party Quirks, and a memorable Hoedown verse from Ryan.

This show establishes a fourth seater that acts as an equal to Ryan, Colin and Wayne, without underediting them or pimping them out too much. This was something the ABC editors learned over time with Chip and Brad, and arguably never learned with Greg. And the fact that Jeff has such a  strong first  episode, while also letting Wayne, Colin and Ryan still lead games and do their usual work, speaks volumes for Jeff’s prowess as an improviser.

Jeff has only two shows on this countdown, but the other one won’t be on here for a while. And you can probably guess which one that is.

Highlight: Scenes from a Hat, ‘if you celebrated mundane events as if you scored a touchdown’
Jeff: “IT’S A BOY?? YEEAHH!” [launches downward]

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#37: S05E09
Fourth Seater: Chip Esten
Taping: 513 Taping, S4 Sessions

Typically, when a taping is pushed to the next broadcast season entirely, it says that maybe the producers don’t know what to do with it. This happened with the last Chip Esten taping of S3, where the producers didn’t know how to make a show out of a taping where Ryan looked dead for half of it. It happened with several S4 tapings, including TWO memorable Kathy ones and the last Jeff one of S4, and it happened in S5 with Chip’s Valentine’s Day taping.

And with most of them, especially 5×09, you have to wonder…with episodes THIS GOOD, why wait??

Like, so much of this episode is just packed with so many games that work separately, that have been on Youtube as funny moments on their own. It never occurred to me that they’d all be in the same show. Granted, sometimes it makes this show feel slightly incompatible, which is why it’s down here on the countdown, but the laughs are definitely worth it.

First of all…the transition from Drew complimenting Colin to giving him Stinky Man as a Superheroes name is one of the funniest juxtapositions. Even Ryan loved it. That Superheroes round is a pretty fun, just because the game of the scene [Colin smells bad] is easy, and Ryan, Wayne and Chip all have fun contributing.

The first half doesn’t do this one justice for a bit because you get games that are solid, like the SFAH where Wayne makes Drew do a lap dance for him, or a really underrated Stand Sit Lie, but until Party Quirks you don’t get why this episode is so great. And Party Quirks…is one of the funniest ones. It’s the sort of thing like the UK version’s one where all three would be going at once [Mike in love with cameras, Colin as all 7 dwarves, Ryan as animals crossing the road], and they’d just keep building and getting funnier. Wayne’s repeated booed acts are all funny, Colin’s usual S4-era ass work is fantastic, and Ryan’s usual ‘series of things tormenting Camera 2’ bit always works. But the funniest part is when Ryan is right up against the camera and Colin has to inspect Ryan’s pants. There’s so much suspense, not in the world of the scene, but for Ryan, who knows Colin’s about to do something, but isn’t exactly sure what quite yet. And when Colin finally shoves a hand down Ryan’s pants, it’s…too damn funny.

Is that even the biggest laugh of this episode, though? I’m not sure. Show-Stopping Number is flanked by two of the funniest reactions in the show’s history- Drew nearly chokes to death on an Altoid, which is so amusing that you wonder why they kept it in, and Wayne finishes his haphazard ‘without a hole, where would you be’ number and immediately cracks up at how bizarre his lyrics are. It’s one of the few times where Drew’s cut to commercial and we still see everyone back at the seats struggling to compose themselves, ESPECIALLY DREW. That entire reaction is why I love Drew as a WL host. He’s an insanely receptive audience member, and it’s even funny when he’s laughing his ass off.

Is Helping Hands therefore a disappointment following those two? Probably, but at least Ryan has to gargle olive oil.

The scattershot comedic highlights of this show nearly erase the sin of it not airing in S4. It’s one of the funniest ones that people don’t seem to talk about it, and if I was smart, this would be higher. But I’m not smart, as you’ll see by the next entry.

Highlight: Ryan, in Show-Stop: “Didn’t get the suggestion, almost didn’t get the hint; CAUSE DREW ALMOST CHOKED ON AN ALTOID MINT”

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#36:S03E30
Fourth Seater: Brad
Taping: 310, S3 Tapings

So if I said all of these amazing things about 5×09, about how it’s so funny and should be better remembered, why is 3×30, an episode a lot of you haven’t given a second thought to and might be  shocked to see at #36, higher than it on the list?

A.) Because it’s my list.
B.) Because it’s more consistent.

Someday, I’m gonna work on a project where I stitch together WL shows that came from the same taping into big, elongated shows. It’s probably gonna happen post-watchdowns, or maybe at a period of my life where I have nothing going on [so maybe soon!]. But when I put these together, I think it’s going to confirm my current theory that the 310 taping might be the single most consistent, funniest Whose Line taping of all time.

While we will see more proof of this later on, 3×30 is probably the most surprising piece of evidence, as it’s the third of three aired episodes from this taping and has the preconception of having diminishing returns, when in reality it tops the previous episode it came from, 3×24.

Like 3×39, this episode only relies on a few games, though still 5. Like 3×39, there’s a ton of substance in this show, but unlike 3×39 it’s not limited to a few games. Even Duet, where Brad and Wayne sing a vaudeville number to a sea-otter mascot at an aquarium, is substantial because the raunchy lines work as well as the musicality. Even 3HBS, a song about warts, works because of how odd Colin, Wayne and Brad let it get. There’s not a lot of ‘take it or leave  it’ games here.

You also get games here that cement the normalcy of games that were added at the beginning of S3. Director has the feel of an earlier playing but still is granular enough to get individualized laughs and work from the concept. Sound Effects, one of the more memorable ones on youtube, works because even with effete, ineffective audience members, Ryan and Colin can still work out a funny scene with several hilarious justifications  for SFX. Gloria’s baby noises go right up there with Bridie’s ‘wooooo’ noises and Cynthia’s “HOOOOH” as the most hysterical noises to come out of this game.

And then there’s…the best Quick Change they ever did. I’ve talked at length about Brad’s contributions to this show, and how a lot of Quick Change, Interrogation, If You Know What I Mean, games like that wouldn’t be on WL without Brad. And Quick Change is his best contribution, because it just tests the performers’ patience as well as their quick-fire skills. Drew is a better caller than a performer in this game, but even Colin has moments of struggling in Quick Change.

This one, I reckon, should be taught. So many improv moves and responses and variations are so smooth and well-done by Brad, Colin and Ryan that it’s kind of maddening that they didn’t do this game more often. Colin’s “OKLAHOMA” gag was one I’ve always loved, and so many parts of this [“I was having dinner with a thin woman”, “HELLO FELLA”, “AH, THE HEAD”] are quotable among the right WL fans.

Simply put, this taping is so strong that even something resembling outtakes from better shows can turn out to be strong as hell and among the best of the show’s S3 work. And that’s why it’s higher up than ‘red buttock blue buttock’

Highlight: Gloria throwing a babbling high-pitched noise in the middle of SFX, and Ryan immediately casting it as his child that’s wandered into the room.

 

We finish the 30s next. Some classics are up here, and a lot of ones that maybe  shouldn’t be this low.

Top 50 Drew Carey Whose Line Episodes of All Time (#45 to 41)

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Continuing with the remainder of the 40s, I would just like to remind you all that these are just my opinion, and if an episode that you like, and a lot of people like, winds up lower than you expected, it’s not an indictment on your feelings. Like what you like, your opinion is yours and can’t be touched.

I’m just doing this countdown on an improv perspective, on a comedy perspective, and on a quality perspective. So if an episode you love is down here, then maybe it didn’t work in one of those 3 areas.

Anyway, onto the list, starting with #45:

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#45: S07E13
Fourth Seater: Kathy Greenwood

Taping: 433 Taping, S4 sessions

Yes, more Season 7. It’s actually pretty good if you don’t treat it like a season of rejects. Season 4 is still a strong season, one of the strongest, and if it’d had 39 shows rather than 31, this show, and a few other S7 ones on this list, would be in it.

This one blew me away  on the watchdown. I knew this taping had some good content, but this one was just…impressive as hell. Here’s your indicator- when Props, which has the memorable Drew Jar-Jar Binks mishap, is the weakest game, you’re doing pretty damn well.

This is, at its heart, a very concise, fine-tuned show. There’s not a lot of games, mostly due to Helping Hands, but the ones that are here count. Director is one of the stronger playings of the US series, and yes I’ll admit that Director is a game that doesn’t always works because of the frenzied nature of the game itself, and Kathy is one of the few people who can make it work more often than not. Scenes from a Hat is arguably funnier than 5×06’s, and has a lot more consistency, including that ending drag-away for Colin. Helping Hands is also one of the better ones of this era, not only because Kathy is great at this game, but it’s more than the usual ‘Ryan eats odd things’ schtick of this game, with Colin AND Kathy adding a lot more to the inevitable disgusting chomp.

And then there’s Three-Headed Broadway Star, which is one of the funniest renditions of that game they ever did, and one where pretty much every line has something funny or interesting about it [“your” “face” “….ISN’T.”]. That game, despite Director already being strong, powered the rest of the show for me.

Plus, this is a rare S7 show that doesn’t seem to be over-edited or tampered with, and feels like a late cut from S4 that could have made it in easily, which is what the best S7 ones feel like. Genuinely great stuff from a place you’re not expecting.

Highlight: Colin adding an extra ‘A’ to a spelling of ‘PANTS’ in 3HBS.

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#44: S05E01
Fourth Seater: Whoopi Goldberg

Taping: 507, S5 Sessions

I get the sense from 4×14 that Dan and Mark wanted the Whoopi Goldberg episode to be like the Robin Williams episode. Like, ‘hey, we’ve got a guest star, it’s a comedy icon, watch them be outrageous’, that kind of thing. And…Whoopi Goldberg is great, but she’s not Robin Williams. Robin is a force of nature that can infect any scene with madness and spontaneity. Whoopi is a lot more lawful.

What made 4×14 a disappointment is that Whoopi was just…a normal fourth seater, and Wayne, Colin and Ryan still had to do a lot of the work. Thankfully, there existed a version of 4×14 where Wayne, Colin and Ryan could do the work and Whoopi could still come off admirably. It’s called 5×01.

Granted, a lot of these games did use Whoopi as the sort of ‘LOOK IT’S A GUEST STAR’ sort of thing, but the majority did at least use her as a member of the team, rather than as a centerpiece. She gets to play Questions Only, Two-Line Vocab and Three Headed Broadway Star, and comes off admirably in all three, especially QO, where she plants one on Colin and Ryan comes in and asks “how does it feel to kiss a woman for a change?”

Heck, the Props round is an underrated classic, not only just for the goofiness of Whoopi and Wayne  doing  Props ideas [one of which gets Wayne to nearly walk off], but also the exaltation of seeing Colin and Ryan’s Props team for the first time in  a while, and how it led to so many funny and weird ideas [Colin’s Batman one cracks me up for some reason].

And yet the strength of this show comes from the other, more showboat-y games. Helping Hands is a funny one, not just because Whoopi was a good support player, but Ryan had some deeper character and scene choices than this game usually calls for, although it did help that Ryan had a running gag involving constantly grabbing a beer jug.

And the Living Scenery here, despite a gag involving Whoopi’s hair, is one of the better guest star ones solely because Whoopi’s a fellow improviser and can hold her own…and also because of Ryan and Colin screwing with Wayne whenever he tries to do a scene part without a prompt. There’s more variety to what’s funny than in other guest games like this.

So, not to the caliber of the other big guest episode like this, but definitely an improvement over 4×14, and a great show to open S5.

Highlight: In Living Scenery, Wayne suddenly starts acting like a carousel horse and doing the music. Colin, who doesn’t want to give Wayne the satisfaction, goes “oh, look, it’s Crazy Ted”, and Wayne has to completely pivot.

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#43: S05E11
Fourth Seater: Brad Sherwood

Taping: 508, S5 Sessions

A lot of shows known for one game were really analyzed when I was doing this countdown. For instance, The Cat show is sort of nothing without that central game. In a way, so is the Meow show, 5×20.

5×11 vexes me because it has a little more than The Big Game That Everyone Remembers, but it’s the sort of substance that you forget is there except when you come back to it.

For instance, this show has the first ever playing of Questions with Wigs, and it’s an excellent beginning to the game’s canon. There’s also a solid SFAH [‘alright, now bend over and sneeze’], Ryan carrying all of PQ, and an underrated IDS where Wayne calls back to the Florence Henderson episode.

And then there’s Greatest Hits, which features the Arctic Tern moment that the fanbase hasn’t shut up about since. From a scene standpoint, I can see why- GH is pretty legendary, and Colin’s “BACKSTREET BOYS” move nailing Ryan is one of those joyous, immediate satisfaction Whose Line moments that’s just funny in the moment and keeps going. Additionally, the rest of GH is really good, and Brad and Wayne have some great moments throughout [I love the guitar smash fakeout in the Who style], culminating in the ending ‘warming up for an opera’ song, which is legendary.

There is enough that’s monumental about Greatest Hits to make the rest of the show look better by comparison. If this show didn’t have the Arctic Tern movie, it’d still be a solid show, and a fine S5 entry, but I don’t think it’d be as well-remembered, or be on  this list. There are a few shows later in  the list with a Big Game That Everyone Remembers that  do better with this.

Highlight: “And what sound does an arctic tern make?” “…….BACKSTREET BOYS!”

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#42: S07E19
Fourth Seater: Chip Esten

Taping: 502, S5 Sessions

This is one that’s a sentimental favorite of mine, and I remember catching it on ABC Family back in the day and absolutely loving it, just for how funny it seemed without me knowing every beat from internet overexposure. Granted, not every favorite of mine from this era of my fandom shows up on this countdown [4×18, the Bigfoot show, didn’t make it], but after only Newsflash let me down on this watch, this one does.

Why does 7×19 work? Well, the central runner, with Drew’s talking photograph of himself, is only a small piece of this show. According to taping reports, Wayne kept screwing with it during Drew games, but the pieces we got of it this show were just enough, and set a very goofy mood for the proceedings.

It mostly works because the bulk of this show is just strong, reliable improv. Director is a favorite of mine, just from how cinematic and fun the original scene is, and also just how fun the recreations are [I love Chip’s Elvis face]. Party Quirks is a really damn good one, as all three quirks give Chip some trouble, and Colin and Ryan’s will get me laughing uncontrollably everytime I remember them [Ryan’s various dog faces are too funny]. Bartender is a highlight just off of Ryan and Colin’s verses, and also just a reminder that Chip was excellent at this game and should have played it more. And Hoedown is also a classic not only for its Ryanless nature, but for Drew, Colin and Chip giving really funny verses.

This show works in a way that not a lot of S7 shows do, in that it’s just a strong-all-the-way-through show that just keeps surprising you with how funny it gets. It also has some insanely live moments all night, and the kind of spontaneity and looseness that makes me yearn for more material from this taping.

Highlight: Chip’s killer Hoedown verse in place of Ryan:
“My wife caught me with a prostitute
She came into the room, and she began  to shoot
And then she went  and yelled, all around the town
I know there’s more prostitutes, I  guess that’s one ho down.”

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#41: S02E09
Fourth Seater: Brad

Taping: 202, S2 Sessions

So with this entry, I’m confusing two different groups of people. I’m confusing the people who aren’t familiar with the blog and may not have  thought of this one as Top 50 quality, and I’m confusing the people who are familiar with the blog, and remember how much praise I heaped upon this one on the initial watchdown.

This is a great episode, and it’s another early triumph, coming from the second taping of S2, and right after the taping that gave us 2×04 and 6×05. It also did produce several moments that I still laugh out loud at. But I genuinely think the Top 40 are all better than this one, which says more about the Top 40 than it does about 2×09, which is still awesome.

Like…this Weird Newscasters. WHY IS THIS WN SO GOOD? Yes, the Colin quirk is iconic and there’s a reason the Best of special included it, but Ryan including Colin as his weather pointer throws it over the edge, especially the moment where Colin visibly doesn’t want to, and Ryan just tries to convince him, while barely keeping composure. It’s one of my favorite WN playings, and that photo I use as the header for this episode is just the beginning.

This one also has the first playing of the new version of Song Titles, which works as an excuse to see Brad kick ass and Colin come in and softly go “theme from Titanic”. It also has, again arguably, the first great SFAH playing in the US, not only with the ‘c’mere Colin’ moment, not only with the velociraptor moment, NOT ONLY with “TEACH ME HOW TO SING LIKE YOU”, but one of the best Clinton jokes they ever did on WL [“Things you wish you hadn’t said to the president” Ryan: “I DO.”]

You also have Brad’s only 3HBS, and one he makes work with gusto, though Wayne proclaiming cheese a religion also helps. And Hoedown is also solid. Gangsta Rap is the only weak link in this show.

This show works because 2×07, from the same taping, foreshadowed a fun environment without the show quality, and actually seeing a quality show from this taping felt right. Plus, it’s one of Brad’s best shows, and it’s one of the best early S2 shows, before the show would change forever 3 shows later.

Highlight:  Colin, as a wannabe nudist in WN: “THESE…DAMN…SEATS ARE VINYL!”

 

We break into the Top 40 next. We finally get some S3 representation on the list, as well as a memorably vulgar S5 moment.

Top 50 Drew Carey Whose Line Episodes of All Time (#50-46)

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Welp…I promised on Twitter that I wouldn’t be doing CW WLIIA immediately because I wanted to spread it out…in a way I hadn’t done with the ABC version. So I was planning a hiatus…but I didn’t want to completely stay away from the blog, because I’m getting a lot of views and don’t wanna ruin that.

So…this was the idea I got. A countdown. The best Drew’s Line episodes.

Keep in mind, I started a similar countdown with Never Mind the Buzzcocks, and that has remained unfinished with 20 entries left to go. But here I have  more incentive. Here, I have a ton more emotional connection to this show, have watched all of these episodes numerous times, and can talk about these from a standpoint of ‘I love this show, I’ve loved it for like 18 years, and I can take emotional attachment away and analyze what made these episodes great’. With Buzzcocks, I didn’t grow up with them, so a lot of it was educated guesses on which ones were the best.

Here…the fanbase has made it clear which ones they think are the best. And there’s an episode that the entire world seems to think is #1 that…a lot of people are gonna be pissed when it falls below the top ten. So, fair warning there, plebs.

At the same time, I’ve made spots on this countdown for some of my favorites, and some shows that are genuinely awesome all the way through that don’t seem to get brought up enough by the fans. There are shows I might be ranking way higher than anyone figured I would, or way lower. This will ultimately be my way of figuring out what the fanbase thinks are the best episodes- by how accurate or inaccurate this list is.

Some things to keep in mind on how I put together this countdown, first:

  • All eight ABC seasons are fair game, even the ABC Family seasons.
  • Every episode in this countdown garnered a rating of 9.0 and above on the initial watchdown. Said ratings were also taken into account once I ranked these shows.
  • No shows from Season 8 made the cut. One show from Season 1 made the cut.
  • The most represented fourth seater is Chip Esten, who has 13 shows on this list.
  • The most represented season is Season 5, which has 12 shows on the list.
  • Not every classic running gag episode made the cut. 5×20, the MEOW show, was left off the list for not being a consistent enough show without the runner. Same with 5×18, the fig ol’ futt show. Nothing is sacred, I’m not giving space for mythology.

Right. Onto my…really odd pick for #50

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#50: S06E05
Fourth Seater: Greg Proops
Taping: 201, S2 sessions

Okay, kind of an oddball pick, but let me explain.

Season 6 is the first of 3 ‘y’all are on your own’ seasons for the ABC version. After the end of S5, ABC made it clear they weren’t taping any more shows, and that any additional episodes would be for either a replacement block or for, even worse, a summer replacement block. ABC for Season 6 just asked for 10 episodes. They didn’t have to be good, they just needed to air. The stakes were low for the network and the fans.

With really two exceptions, Season 6 would consist of a lot of normal-seeming, inconspicuous episodes. So imagine you’re looking through season  6 and finding a lot of okay stuff…and then you get to episode 5, a S2 Greg taping…and you realize how good it is.

From a game and packing perspective, this seems like a standard S2 show. Superheroes, Questionable Impressions, Song Styles, Props, Hoedown. The usual suspects. Nothing too mind-blowing. But you also put into perspective that this was the first taping of Season 2. The show is both  trying to up the ante from Season 1 AND trying to stick to the laurels that make season 1 successful.

From that perspective, Superheroes makes sense- it’s a low-key, not-too-explosive, character-based Superheroes with a great initiating name of Shedding Cat Man. This game seems more akin to a S1 playing than a S2, as does Wayne’s Gospel Song Styles. And the first half does seem pretty low-key, with only Superheroes and an interesting-enough pioneering Questionable Impressions standing out.

But then around Moving People, the show takes off. It’s a bawdy scene, about a snake bite, but Colin and Ryan are so good at reacting that it’s naturally funny, and sets the rest of the show in motion. What follows is one of my favorite Hats playings, and a very different-sounding Hoedown [Linda joins in on bass for the only time] with a classic Colin and Ryan verse.

This show is on this list because it captures everything great about the early S2 tapings. It doesn’t FEEL like it’s trying to deliver big funny moments…and yet that’s exactly what it does in multiple games. This is the kind of Whose Line Dan & Mark specifically tried to artificially make happen in later seasons, when in reality it would just humbly show up here.

Highlight: Ryan starts frisking Greg, as Shedding Cat Man. Greg responds with “I’M NOT THAT KIND OF PUSSY”, which throws Ryan for a moment.

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#49: S07E02
Fourth Seater: Kathy Greenwood
Taping: 408, Season 4

The inclusion of some Season 7 episodes on this list is going to confuse some people, solely because Season 7 and 8 seem to work on an entirely different level of quality than the original run, even including S6. Season 7, which is mostly just S4 v2, had episodes work for me when they most resembled functioning, working regulation episodes. My favorite ones of the season were just ones that impressed me all the way through, and maybe had some semblance of a running gag.

This one has a very minimal running gag, as an audience member for SFX doesn’t know Ryan’s name, and he keeps screwing with her for the rest of the show, and even into other shows from this taping. That gag only enhances games like Sound Effects and Show-Stopping Number, both of which are already pretty damn good.

But what clicks most for me this show is really  the  S7 quality of ‘this seems new and different’. A lot of very minor moments popped to me because they weren’t familiar to me, via fandom overplay, like Colin shutting down Ryan’s skylight logic in SFX, or Drew making Wayne do a song about a Mexican soul food restaurant, or even Ryan making the western Themed Restaurant into defending against ‘the Indian restaurant across the street’, which is a smart move that turns an offensive stereotype into a modern application that isn’t offensive.

The biggest games in this one are ones that would have killed in the original one, like LMAD, where Colin plays a rebellious frog as Ryan plays a Colin cultist, one of the best non-Brad Two-Line Vocabs, and the aforementioned SFX. Hell, even Film Dub works here, AND carries into Show-Stop. This has the continuity and levity of a show that should have aired in Season 4, and calmed the nerves of WL fans who figured the leftovers in S7 would be entirely dire.

And as there are a few more S7 shows on the list, I can confirm that it wasn’t all dire.

Highlight: Middle of show-stopping number, Ryan looks directly at the audience member who forgot his name one show earlier and goes “IN CASE YOU FORGET, MY NAME IS RYAN.” It is the most spiteful, bitter callback joke in  the show’s history, and it works.

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#48: S02E17
Fourth Seater: Brad Sherwood
Taping: 208, Season 2

I’ve said this many times, and I’ll say it many more, but Season 2 of Whose Line was when the training wheels came off, and the show realized what it could really do.

Like, Season 1 was fine and all, but  I get the sense that the  show was being more careful, not only with content but also with the level of improv they were putting out, just being very safe and palatable for standard 1998 audiences. And then with S2, the real Whose Line sort of crept out.

This episode is a good example of the ‘real WL’ the masses were seeing in Season 2. Ryan’s Weird Newscasters quirk, while dwarfed by a Colin quirk 8 shows earlier, proves how willing the performers were to go weird and go blue without caring too much about audience, and production, response. The way Ryan goes right to the pole in WN is a very  classic moment, but also a natural progression that’s funny because it’s not shocking in the sense of the scene. You also get the beginnings of some ‘show has been defined’ sort of moments, like Colin coming into PQ with Drew Carey’s secret diary [“The beer was flat, so I fired everyone who worked for the company”], and Ryan plugging TDCS in Whose Line.

But…the reason why this one is on the list is the bottom half of  the show, and how simply a lot of nuggets of greatness come through. Whose Line is one of the earliest examples of how the Colin-Ryan duo can throw each other without compromising the scene [“I’ve…not got long left”]. It’s also the kind of scene that couldn’t be done in S1, with these accelerated improv ideologies and back-and-forth that came right from the UK version.

You also have Colin’s “with the wig, you remind me of Julia”, which is one of the most bizarrely funny things ever to happen in a Scenes from a Hat game. The whole show has to stop for a few moments. This is one of the first times where WL feels dangerous, like it’s meant to just wreck conventions and make people laugh regardless of reason.

Just a really funny show, topped off with a great hoedown, and some of the best early dynamic work between all four. One of those early S2 episodes that foreshadowed the tone the show would take for the rest of the run.

Highlight: “Bad songs to sing in prison.”
Colin: “with the wig, you remind me of Julia…”

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#47: S04E03Fourth Seater: Chip Esten
Taping: 309, Season 3

This was on  Up channel a year or so before I started the US watchdown, and I remember watching it and remembering how much I loved it. Going into S4, I was expecting this to be one of the better ones to that point.

And…honestly, this one is a lot less than classic. True, there are no bad games in this show, but a lot of the games in here, like Weird Newscasters, Duet and Hoedown, are merely passable and don’t add a ton to the overall arc of the show [though Hoedown reestablishes a runner]. A lot of the shows that pop up later on the list, including one from this very taping, have a few stellar games that establish a strong momentum throughout, and this one is very stop-start in its momentum.

But the reason this show is remembered at all is because of how sneaky the momentum, and the runners can feel. Weird Newscasters establishes the ‘Ryan the freak’ runner, and there’s an undercurrent of it ALL THROUGHOUT NARRATE. It’s one of the few games that’s basically a direct sequel, and response, to the game before it. Not even in a sort of runner way, but just from an emotional and thematic standpoint. Drew is pissed at Ryan for all off Narrate, and then an insanely funny Narrate happens and they reconcile. There is so much plotting and arc in just the first two games of the show that it saddens me that the rest of the show happens separately from them.

There’s also Infomercial, which is a classic solely for Colin’s famous proclamation [see Highlight], and Hoedown bringing that gag back plus including a classic Ryan slam from Chip. But most people seem to forget Three Headed Broadway Star, a genuinely competent singing game from Wayne, Ryan and Drew that ends with a unison note that nearly upends the entire thing.

So yes, a very funny show, and definitely a classic, but because it’s not consistent enough for me, it’s stuck down here.

Highlight: Colin taking out a horn in Infomercial and proclaiming “DOOT-DO-DO-DOOOOOO! I HAVE NO HAIR!”

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#46: S02E04
Fourth Seater: Greg

Taping: 201, Season 2 sessions

Yeah, we’re doing bookends for this first post.

Another episode from the first taping of Season 2, this one came out early in S2, and…like 2×17, was one of the early indications that Whose Line was going to be as funny and challenging as it is to this day.

Somehow, what makes this one work the most is the emphasis on physical humor. The big gag in LMAD was essentially a game of monkey in the middle with Ryan constantly getting in between Colin and Greg. Colin and Greg do one of the silliest renditions of an Ingmar Bergman film I’ve ever seen just by overlapping profiles. Colin and Ryan end GH by slow-dancing with each other passionately.

And of course, the big moment, where Drew trips over the world’s worst step and the rest of the crew immediately rush to make sure he doesn’t look bad in falling with him, is one of the single classiest improv moves in the show’s history, as well as one of its most comedic physical things.

There is some non-physical work in this show, like a strong Film Dub, Wayne’s awesome GH songs, Colin bringing up the Happy Funk Band and its unfortunately typo, and some impressive stuff in F&TS and THBS.

This one in general is just a very thorough, insanely fun show with a lot of amusing little moments, and a standard for the season, and the show to this point. It’s not very showy, and it may seem light compared to other entries, but it’s an early triumph that has a lot of momentum driving through it, to the point that the WW moment feels cathartic.

Highlight: Drew backs up and trips over the World’s Worst step…and Ryan and Greg respond by falling as well.

 

The next five should be up in a  day  or so. These include a famous GH gag, a guest star, and a favorite S2 episode of mine.

Whose Offseason: Trust Us With Your Life Episode 8, or You’ll Never Know When There’ll Be Another War..

Alright, folks. We’re nearly done. I’m nearly done talking about this…disappointing, excruciating show. And thankfully we get an amusing one to end with.

Our guest star is the cheapest booking yet, but still a classy one- Jane Seymour is a renowned character actress, starring as a Bond girl in Live and Let Die, and eventually  as 90s soapy-thing Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. She also had a good time on Dancing with the Stars, if I remember correctly.

The fourth seater is one of those perfect storm kind of things. So, Dan and Mark are doing an improv show in London…they’ve been told to get female performers…a landmark lady improv performer’s a London resident…why not?

So Josie Lawrence shows up to a WL-product for the first time in 13 years, after spending the last few decades on soap operas and continuing her epic run at the Comedy Store. This couldn’t be a more welcome appearance, as I still adore covering Josie on this blog, and I even liked her S2 WL episodes, of which there’s probably still material that’s sitting in a WB file somewhere.

Glee Club It: Wayne is Jane’s surgeon father who’s performing a life-saving operation on Jonathan, and Colin is a panicky nurse, Josie will enter as Jane

Ah, fuck we’ve gotta do this game again…

Jane has a fascinating detail about how her father had her and her siblings sit in on surgeries at young ages, as “he did not want us to be hypochondriacs”
Fred: “I gotta talk to you cause I’m a hypochondriac, so I’ll get some tips from you.”
That’s funny! That’s the kind of line I’d expect from Fred’s Best in Show character

I love the small detail of, after the  ‘back to normal’ sound clip, Wayne looking at Jonathan and sort of exchanging a ‘that’s you’ look.

Jonathan starts the scene doing a painful back-lean as the patient, eventually going “can we get a gurney first?”

I did laugh  at Wayne making an incision, the cue coming in, and all three sort of bobbing their heads to the music in unison, smiling.

Wayne: “it’s surgery, let me start
I’m an OBGYN, you’ve got the wrong parts”
HA

I also love that once the normal cue comes in, mid-note, Wayne pivots immediately to ‘that’s it, we’re finished’, like nothing happened

I do love the meta nature of Wayne saying “I’ve missed you, too” to Josie once she enters. Because I have, indeed, missed covering Josie on here

Josie: “Can you open him up again just for me, daddy?”
AND THAT IS WHY

Josie of course excels in this game, even finding a rhyme for ‘hemoglobin’, and doing a really  substantial, strong song for this.

Colin isn’t doing much in this scene, but I do love him leaning in to do a ‘OOOOOH’ in unison with Wayne

A pretty good round of this. Everything sort of worked out, with no real flaws, except for an absence of Colin.

Jane: “I especially liked that back-bend”
Jonathan waves, and winces
Fred: “Yeah, he’ll be in the hospital soon for that…”

Guess the Country: Jonathan is Jane and Wayne is her father traveling around Europe in a beat-up old car for which he’s doing all his own sound effects, Colin and Josie are the various people they meet in the different European countries they travel through

Jane’s detail of her mother bringing tomato and lettuce plants with them on these road trips “just in case…another war broke out, we might have to barter our food or something” just shows how authentic a storyteller she is

A new game, inspired by Jane’s story, which is kinda cool

Once Colin realizes they’re going  to need to guess his and Josie’s dialects:
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Colin, in a German accent: “YOU’LL NEVER KNOW when they’ll be another vaarr…”
[‘Don’t Mention the War’ buzzer goes off]

Josie and Colin come back speaking French and smoking
Jonathan, taking them literally: “We’re in CANADA!”

Wayne, driving off, now suddenly with a southern accent: “Those folks from Paris and France are really really- WHERE AM I FROM ALL OF THE SUDDEN?”
HA
Jonathan: “YOU’RE NOT MY FATHER! GET OUT OF THE CAR!”

Wayne runs out, and then returns with his old accent: “I’M SORRY, SOME TEXAS BLOKE CAME IN…”

Josie comes in with a very thick northern accent, and Colin responds by going ‘ARRR’
Wayne, for some reason, guesses Scotland, which makes Josie confusedly look back at Colin
Jonathan: “Yeah, the PIRATE part of Scotland..”

Josie literally gives it to Wayne
Wayne: “You’re from Devonshire…because you used Devon and I USED MA’ BRAINNN…”

Wayne correctly guesses Spain, and Josie does a long vocal flourish
Wayne: “…we must be in the Muslim part of Spain”
JUDGE’S RULING?….The judges say that joke isn’t problematic. Thank you, judges

A mildly amusing scene. Didn’t work much as an improv ‘game’, but there was a lot of fun stuff that happened, honestly with Wayne and Jonathan

Face the Music: David mimes to Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues

I am so glad this is the last  time I have to see this damned game [til I inevitably cover Fast and Loose in like…4 years]

As usual, a complete thud

Sideways Scene: Wayne is James Bond in a hotel room seducing bond girl Jane Seymour, played by Jonathan, suddenly voodoo villain Colin breaks in

Jane talks about filming  Live and Let Die, which is a sentimental favorite of mine. She tells a story about filming a scene with a forklift that ended in Jane falling on “a part of Roger Moore’s anatomy that incapacitated him for a few days”
Fred: “I noticed that in some of his later films he had a little higher voice, too”
Fred is having a great night

I love Jonathan’s amused turn towards Fred once he learns he’ll be playing Jane in this scene

Jonathan and Wayne just hopping in the bed is an amusing visual

Colin has  a variation  to his usual ‘shuffling into the door’:
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It actually is pretty funny to see Colin using voodoo dolls to make the other two flip around and lift. Very inspired

In Star Wars style, Wayne has a great swift move in moving his legs up to block a Colin lightsaber move. This game is all about cool physical moves and less about good lines, which can  still work, but isn’t exactly the greatest  from an improv perspective [which  is where i’m coming from in writing these]

An alright scene that lost steam as we got into the styles

Putting Words Into Your Mouth:  Jane, voice by Colin is Dr. Quinn, who’s been kidnapped by a Mexican bandito, played by Wayne, Wayne gets bitten by a snake, Josie, voice by Jonathan is Wayne’s jealous girlfriend who bursts in on them as Jane is treating him

Wayne: ‘wait is that a sna-OW, MY CHALUPA.”
…i’ll allow it

Colin: “DO NOT WORRY, QUICK, TAKE OFF YOUR PANTS.”
Jane cracks a smile
Colin: “Trust me, I’m a doctor!”

Colin: “Let me just heat up this branding iron”
COLIN. Save that for Florence Henderson’s dubbing!

Jonathan: “I love him…let me [break] suck the poison out…”
Colin: “NO, If you do that, you’ll die a horrible death”
Wayne: “That’s okay, I’ll die, it’s cool!”

Colin: “Now, drink this”
Wayne: “what does it do?”
Colin: “…it’s…perfume.”
PFFF

Wayne, remembering some continuity, ends the scene by letting Jane go
Colin: “wait….I did all that with my hands tied?”
Yes, they  forgot that detail, but remembering it at the end puts the scene into a fun kind of perspective

A pretty good Dubbing.

Musical Tribute: All four sing a Bond theme to Jane

Wayne’s first rhyme: “She gave Roger Moore much groinal pain.”
HA

It is so good to have Josie in a singing  game again, and dueting with Wayne, even if it’s in a disappointment like this show

Jonathan: “In that purple dress she’s like a sexy Barney…”

A short song, and Colin, once again, got shut out.

Overall: An okay show with some mild charm. Jane was a great guest, and seemed to enjoy herself. Wayne had another big night, and Josie boosted things as much as she could, but once again we had a very broad undercurrent and some one-note games.

Best Performer: Wayne scores again, finishing off his strong end to the series. I guess Episode 1 was a fluke.
Worst Performer: Colin, despite his strength in Dubbing, once again was shut out of a lot of games.
Best Game: Dubbing had the most laughs and the best work from all four.
Worst Game: Face the Music
Guest Star Rating: 8/10. Jane was solid without being too far from the standard.

TUWYL SUPERLATIVES:
Best Episode: Episode 5, the Jerry Springer episode, for having the best energy, the best jokes, the best guest star, and feeling the most like a regular WL episode.
Worst Episode: Episode 1, the Serena Williams episode, that just put a bad taste in my mouth from the start for being really unfunny, uncomfortable improv.
Best Regular: Wayne Brady, for recovering from a  bad E1 run by nailing the rest of the series and standing out in a big way in the  second  half, paving the way for his more confident run in the CW version.
Best Fourth Seater: Brad did the best job of fitting right in with the other 3 and dominating scenes rather than sticking to support work.
Best Guest Star: Jerry Springer, E5, being the most into it and having the best time
Worst Guest Star: Mark Cuban, E3, for…being so misogynistic it made my skin crawl
Best New Innovation: Sideways Scene being a 3-person F&TS variant, I guess.
Most Infuriating Detail: Rap It and Glee Club It as flagship, starting games.

My final verdict: Trust Us With Your Life is indeed a disappointment with too many ill-fitting features, like Rap It/Glee Club It, the tacked-on guest feature, David Armand, Fred Willard’s prompter-reading, and so many so-called ‘hip’ improv decisions. But a lot of this show, especially  the last four, wasn’t as bad as I remembered, and actually did a lot of improv things right. It just kills me that the first four  shows were so bad, especially the first three, and committed so many improv and comedy sins.

And as for Fred Willard…yes, he  was so wooden on the prompter reads, and yes he didn’t have many moments where he really got into the show, but his interviews, and off-the-cuff interactions with the guest stars, and occasionally the performers, were nice. Would I have preferred Hugh Dennis or Clive Anderson in the role? Hell yes. But was Fred Willard as bad as I remembered…not quite.

And neither was this show. This is still the dregs of the WL story, and this still has a lot of brutal moments to get through, but there’s still a lot of funny, well-improvised things hiding in this show. I’m not exactly glad I got through  it, but there’s more worthwhile stuff here than  I’d like to admit.

The best thing about Trust Us With Your Life is that it directly leads Dan Patterson and Mark Leveson to reconsider their plans to move on from Whose Line in the US. Maybe the fans wanted less of a retread and more of a return.

COMING UP NEXT: I’m gonna do a countdown of the Top 50 Whose Line episodes of the Drew era. And then after I successfully button up that era of the show…we hit the CW.

Whose Offseason: Trust Us With Your Life Episode 7, or I Left My Hair Back at the House

Like Drew Carey’s Green Screen Show, the official run ends in progress for Trust Us With Your Life.

After disappointing ratings for episodes 5 and 6, both improvements on the shows that went out first, ABC decided to cancel the show, or in PR-speak ‘put the show on indefinite hiatus’.

So, right, it’s not getting ratings, people aren’t showing up, ABC was right, fine, cancel it. Cut and dry.

Except…that’s not entirely why ABC cancelled the show.

On July 18th, 2012, Fred Willard was arrested at a Los Angeles porno theater for allegedly…getting a bit too into the afternoon feature, and getting caught with his pants down. Logically, there’s really nothing wrong with going to a porno theater and doing that, but when you’re an established star, like Paul Reubens or Fred Willard, people tend to raise more eyebrows. Hell, Fred even joked in an official press release that he enjoyed the film otherwise. It’s a very human thing.

And yet the repercussions were grave. Fred was fired from his PBS hosting gig on Market Warriors, and ABC, after letting two more episodes air, decided to cancel the show to subvert any angry, offended white moms who’d be in outrage over a masturbator hosting an improv show…featuring lewd and vulgar jokes.

Now, if ABC had not waited until June to air Trust Us With Your Life, as it could have been ready anytime from January on, they could have avoided this precarious decision. It could have been a midseason replacement for any of the [sigh] fine ABC shows from the 2011-2012 lineup. But instead, they waited til summer, which is apparently peak wanking season in LA, and walked right into this.

The best way I can describe it is this: ABC, in not having confidence in Trust Us With Your Life, engineered a failure by picking a host with no experience hosting an improv program, and waited until the last possible second to air it. Then, when said host was arrested for indecent exposure, they finally had an excuse to take it off the air.

This move in 2012 should have spelled it out plain and clear to Dan Patterson and Mark Leveson: ABC is not what it was. If they were going to continue to make improv programs without a proven ABC star [like Drew Carey], ABC was going to continue to do whatever they wanted to ratfuck them. So this probably led to Dan and Mark shopping a later improv program to other channels, specifically Warner-based ones.

The Trust Us With Your Life story sadly does not end at ABC pulling the plug in late July 2012. Out of the goodness of their hearts [heh], ABC decided to put the last two episodes of the run online, on their official website, so that the already-small market the show was catering to could gobble them up before some wise fella on youtube could figure out how to rip them.

And that’s where we begin Episode 7. With the stench of a network that doesn’t want this show to keep existing, and a host who occasionally wanks.

Okay, Episode 7. Our fourth seater is Nicole Parker, a broadway actress, MadTV alum and youthful presence on a show made famous by old white guys. Our special guest, the last  of the S5 call-ins, is David Hasselhoff, beefcake extraordinaire. This should be good.

Fred asks if there’s anything David’s afraid of
David: “Um, women…” [smirks at audience]
HE IS ON TONIGHT
David: “…ex-wives..”

Dramatic Episode: Wayne is the young David Hasselhoff, Nicole is David’s sister, who he is terrorizing, Colin will come in as David’s disapproving father, Jonathan will arrive later as a firefighter

Nicole: “Okay, I’m gonna go into take a shower, THAT’LL BE OKAY, RIGHT”
Wayne, nailing David’s charm: “…that’ll be just fine…”

After Wayne throws the alligator, he lets out this very overconfident laugh that..is so David Hasselhoff. Wayne is coming out to an early lead so far.

Colin, going back to David’s ‘four letter words’ comment: “HOLD ON, HOLD ON…I heard some four-letter words, like LIFE.”

Jonathan: “SOMEBODY DONE SET  THE DRIVEWAY ON FIRE…couldn’t have been him, he’s too good looking.”
David: [DING]

An okay scene. The problem I’m having with a  lot of this show’s dramatic episodes is that the performers don’t expressly set up ding/horn moments like in IAG. They just do parts of scenes, and if someone honks, they just kind of keep going anyway. There’s no real degree of accuracy, like this game was made to have.

Putting Words Into Your Mouth: David, Wayne’s voice, is a waiter at the marina club getting over-friendly with Nicole, Colin’s voice, who’s a flirty divorcee, after a while Jonathan, her jealous ex-husband storms in just at the end of his rope

Wow, Dubbing’s early this show

I notice that, like on his NMTB gig, David will have a thought, and then immediately before telling the story or saying  the thing, he’ll assign an immediate judgement call on it, like ‘ahah, that’s great’ or ‘that’s gonna get me fired’, before doing it.

My favorite detail of the intro is that once David realizes what game this is, as Fred explains it, he  starts moving his mouth to match Fred’s words, practicing in a sense. I kinda like that

Wayne: “You appear to have the…reek of age and desperation  about you.”
Wayne’s big night continues.
Colin: “why thank you, I just bought it for 5 dollars a gallon”

Wayne: “But seriously, you are beautiful, and I, uh…am too.”
ANOTHER GOAL

Colin, as Jonathan enters: “NO, NO, he was just helping me clean up my poopdeck”
COLIN MOCHRIE. REALLY???

I love how Nicole does a little skip as Colin says “FINALLY, TWO MEN ARE GOING TO FIGHT OVER MEEE!”

David’s impressive dancing ends the scene, which I liked, as it brought out the best in everyone, including David.

Hollywood Director: Colin is Michael Knight on a date with Nicole in his car Kitt, voiced by Jonathan, Wayne is a villain who suddenly appears on a motorcycle in an attempt to kidnap Nicole

I kind of love the little wry smile David has when talking about playing Michael Knight. You can tell he loved playing this character, arguably more than he did doing Baywatch.

For the first time this series, Wayne is placed into one of his ‘token criminal’ roles that he tried to get out of on ABC

Colin: “Usually I look better, but I’m undercover right now, I left my hair back at the house..”

Jonathan: “everytime you touch my stickshift, my red light goes faster..”
OKAY, JONATHAN…

Colin, to approaching Wayne: “…are you a bad guy?”
Wayne, flipping up mask: “JA.”
PFFF

French people style:
Nicole has a really good accent. Colin grabs her and faux-kisses her.

Jonathan just starts babbling at Colin in real french, causing Colin AND Nicole to start arguing back at him. THAT  made me laugh

Wayne, as the villain, enters as, to quote Jonathan, “LE MIME. LE MIME.”, and Wayne just does these goofy miming moves as he approaches

Bitchy stylists:
Jonathan: “MICHAEELLLLL…your toupee is in the GLOVEBOX.”
Jonathan is finally winning me over on this show. It only took 6 episodes and a move to streaming.

Colin, to Wayne: “Don’t even start.”
Wayne: “I should, because obviously you did not.”
THE WHOLE PLACE ‘OOOOHHHHs’

The Bollywood number, which Cat Gray springs in on, is kinda competently done, and Nicole seems to lead it, which works, as she’s been doing support all night.

Jonathan has a move that cracks me up:
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Just hearing this melodic sound emitting from the two-shot is funny enough, but then getting this shot of Jonathan bellowing makes it funnier

Wayne:
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SUCH A GOOD PLAYING. Jonathan had the funniest moments, but all four impressed me, and that final Bollywood style was so well done.

Face the Music: David mimes to Holding Out for a Hero by Bonnie Tyler

[sigh]

It finally occurs to me that David Armand looks like a more inbred version of Ashley Slater from Freak Power.

Not only does this scene not work, but David doesn’t get it.

Sideways Scene: Colin is David filming a romantic scene with Joan Collins, played by Jonathan, Wayne is Joan’s jealous boyfriend who storms the set in his car

Colin as great  at doing some balancing and lifting showing off for Jonathan

Jonathan also pulls a really nice flip and lands in a standing position. Jonathan is having his best show yet, but Wayne still had a nice start.

Colin, Wayne and Jonathan all doing the same frantic running in unison made me laugh
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Kung Fu
Jonathan: ‘flips self over Wayne’s face’
Wayne: “oh, I just saw your hidden tiger”
IT’S HIDDEN DRAGON, WAYNE.

There’s an obvious  cut between kung fu and space movie, as they’re clearly in different positions

Okay, and better than recent Sideways Scenes, but not a great deal to it.

Musical Tribute: All four sing the finale to the German rock opera, Der Hoff

It was bound to happen eventually, folks

David also does a very easy joke about David’s Berlin Wall concert: “it was so good that they had to tear it down once the show was over”

Wayne: “it takes a really brave man to be 6 foot 4 and where a red thong”

I like that Wayne and Nicole are leading this number, Jonathan’s mostly doing backup, and Colin  is…conserving his strength

Nicole even does a callback to the top of the show, going “Be careful of all those scary ex-wives”. Man, imagine a Whose Line episode with Nicole Parker and Wayne doing a GH tag team. She would have been awesome!

Colin sees a break in  the song as his opportunity to sing, and rears back: “….AAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!”
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GONE

Wayne does a ending verse, as Colin crouches on his chest, and does a couple lines straight
Wayne: “he can  do all of this, and….[turns to  Colin]…why you so close?”

A really strong, fun number to end with, though Jonathan [and Colin] didn’t have a ton to do. Colin did make me laugh with his moves late, though.

Overall: A few one-note games slowed us down, but I liked this one. Having Nicole Parker added a lot of fun energy and a lot of good musical moments, especially in Director and the very-solid Song Styles at the end. This also was a great show for Wayne, who took the lead a lot tonight, and Jonathan, who was more visible than usual and had some great lines. This isn’t to say Colin had a weak night, but he took support more often than not, and had a quieter night than usual. David was his usual charismatic, up-for-whatever self, and while the show did rest a bit too much on his TV laurels, he seemed to enjoy himself.

Best Performer: Wayne carried the show tonight.
Worst Performer: Colin, as stated, was a bit quieter than usual, despite his funny move in Song Styles.
Best Game: Director had the most depth, and the best work from Jonathan and Wayne.
Worst Game: Face the Music.
Guest Star Rating: 9/10. The Hoff seemed to really work out this time.

COMING UP NEXT: At long last, the end of this damned show. Our most low-key guest star yet, but…a fourth seater booking that I am very excited to get into.

Whose Offseason: Trust Us With Your Life Episode 6, or A Steaming Pile of Dirt

This episode, episode 6, is the last one to officially air on ABC, airing immediately after episode 5 as part of the burning-off of this show in summer 2012.

The not-great news is we have Craig Cackowski’s second and final appearance here. I didn’t like him in E2, and I’m not sure if he was a great fit for the show, kind of like Fred Willard. The good news is our special guest is a trusted friend of the show and someone who  delivered one of my favorite guest-star episodes of Whose Line, Florence Henderson. So hopefully this one will be as good as her WL.

Dramatic Episode: Colin is the young Florence preparing a meager breakfast with her brother Craig, Wayne will play Florence’s dad who enters dragging her favorite pet hog off to slaughter, Jonathan will play the hog

Fred announces Colin will be playing Florence. Florence, who knows Colin, goes “aww…”

Colin, owing back to one of Florences’s words for herself: “SHADDAP, I’M SASSY!”
Florence: [HONKS REPEATEDLY]
Craig: “…well, not very  classy, maybe you’ll acquire that later in life…”

Colin: “What are we having for breakfast?”
Craig: “A STEAMING PILE OF DIRT.”
HA

I love the move of Wayne going to shoot Jonathan, then losing the gun and Jonathan, as the pig, pointing the gun at Wayne. Jonathan can do that sort of goofy move really well

Colin reasons with Jonathan: “I know, fluffy, but…we’re eating dirt, what would YOU do?”
Wayne, not on the same improv wavelength as Colin, snaps Jonathan’s neck

A charming, but very short, scene.

Shorter and Shorter: Colin is Florence and Wayne is the overly-affectionate boyfriend on a double date in Wayne’s car with Craig and his girlfriend Jonathan, Jonathan and Craig leave the car briefly to go into the woods but they return having rolled in poison ivy

SPEAKING OF SHORT SCENES…

Florence: “Colin, you’re me all the time, what is it?”
Fred: “He requested that.”
HA

Fred: “Jonathan  and Craig  leave the car briefly to go into the woods…I don’t know why…”
Florence: “OHHH…”
Screen Shot 2020-07-13 at 3.56.52 PM.png

Jonathan, in a very silly girl voice: “NOOWHEERE TA GO BUT THA WOOODS…”

Craig: “I’m gonna take my  girlfriend JONATHAN OUT BACK…”
Craig is thankfully much better this show

Wayne is alone with Colin, and of course tries to shoot his shot
Colin: “…let me read something from the Bible.”
GREAT MOVE

Then Wayne grabs Colin and plants one, then kissing him all  over the head. Knowing, probably, that he has to do this scene a few more times.

On the 30 second one, Jonathan’s opening line is EVEN SILLIER and done in an EVEN GOOFIER VOICE.

I do love how this gets more goofy as it gets shortened, and you just see Wayne and Craig sort of peeking out of character to remember the chain of events

A pretty fun scene, though not as good as last show’s.

Face the Music: David mimes to My Favorite Things

[facepalm]

Nothing to report here.

Hollywood Director: Colin is Carol Brady showing a flirtatious prospective house buyer Craig around, suddenly Marcia, played by Wayne, runs in with a broken nose followed by Greg, played by Jonathan who’s trying to smuggle in an animal mascot he’s stolen

Craig, going back to Florence’s note about the show: “I understand you sleep in the same bed as your husband…HOW RISQUE!”
And Craig’s redemption arc continues
Colin, going  back to the top of the show: “…I’m a little raunchy.”

Colin: “As you can see, we have this large staircase…I’ve never actually been up there, so I don’t know where it leads…”
Again, it helps that they’re fans of the material

Wayne does some really good face movements as broken-nosed Marcia.

Jonathan does some serious gyrating trying to hide the ferret
Colin: “Greg, you know we don’t allow that sort of dancing in the house”
Jonathan:
Screen Shot 2020-07-13 at 4.13.30 PM

Spanish  Game Show:
Colin, immediately: “HOLAAAAA!”
PFFFFF

Craig, fluent in spanish, throws in a Sabado Gigante reference
Colin: “Oh…me and el-husband-o in  same bed-o”
HAHAHAHA

Colin fixes Wayne’s nose, and Wayne does a full mariachi yell

Horror movie:
Craig: “…don’t make me get in that bed with you…”

Wayne has a great physical move of being literally dragged across the stage by an unseen presence, and just reacting in terror

Jonathan, entering:
Screen Shot 2020-07-13 at 4.18.37 PM.png
DEAR GOD

Wayne in the Jamaican Gangsters style is…too damn good.
Craig: “His accent be  much more authentic…”

A pretty good Director scene.  They certainly knew where the funny was.

Sideways Scene: Wayne is Florence trying to persuade her onscreen son, played by Jonathan, that his infatuation is just a silly crush, a horrified Marcia Brady, played by Colin, happens to come in at an awkward moment

No dubbing this show? Did Florence do another vulgar motion?

Florence brings up Barry Williams and her, and saying that a lot of people wanted it to have been a full on affair, even if it wasn’t.
Fred: “probably including Barry himself…”

Screen Shot 2020-07-13 at 4.23.01 PMI like this one because there’s enough evidence that this scene is normal that the little things they  do in these positions are still cool, and it’s not world-breaking yet

It’s kind of cool when Wayne jumps up on the table, because he takes a second to figure out how to get his feet firmly on there

I also love how, in the Jackie Chan style, Wayne fishes the chair over to himself using his legs, which is honestly a very Jackie Chan move

Not a very memorable Sideways Scene, but there were good physical moments.

Credits: Messages from Random Acquaintances 

Colin: “Florence, I’m Bobby Brady, I was giving out signals, WHAT THE HELL.”

Craig: “Hi, Florence, I’m an adorable orphan that’s been added to the cast of Trust Us With Your Life to boost ratings.”
This is a great  joke, but…Craig really is the Cousin Oliver of the WL family, tbh

Overall: Not as good as the last  two, but still not bad, and with a lot of good moments. Ultimately, a lot of the improv here was pretty disposable, and there were lots of broad scenes. But we still had Director and Shorter and Shorter to keep the quality  up, and Florence seemed to be  in a good mood tonight, though not quite as lively as her S5 appearance. This was a better show for Craig, but once again Jonathan Mangum has yet to really find his way on this show, as Wayne and Colin have continued to excel here.

Best Performer: Colin had the best lines.
Worst Performer: Jonathan keeps being stuck doing support work. I feel bad for him.
Best Game: Director did the most tonight.
Worst Game: Face the Music
Guest Star Rating: 8/10. Florence did well enough without being more than just her stories.

COMING UP NEXT: Cancellation and controversy…but ABC is ‘nice’ enough to drop the last two shows online. We dip into the WL rolodex one more time for a fun guest booking, and introduce a one-off fourth seater gig from a completely new performer.