Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S09E09, or I’m Sorry, You Have a Creamy Center.

Back to our regularly-scheduled, guest-host-heavy S9

We go back to the same taping as E5, the Jeff Davis taping, to bring the second guest star from that session, Laila Ali, who honestly accomplished more on the ‘celebrity’ circuit than she did as an actual boxer. She did all the ‘celebrity’ shows. Celebrity Apprentice, Dancing with the Stars, this. And yet she forgot to have an actual career. 

…probably not a good idea to insult a boxer, even if it is Muhammad Ali’s daughter, so I’ll tread with caution this episode:

By the way, in case any of you are wondering, YES YOU ARE lady still doesn’t get the concept of not looking directly at the camera as we zoom in:
Screen Shot 2020-09-27 at 11.18.17 AM
[It’s like the bit from Disaster Artist where James Franco as Tommy does the line he keeps forgetting…but staring directly into the camera]

Scenes from a Hat:

I still don’t get the concept of not airing dedicated openers like Let’s Make a Date or Weird Newscasters in favor of starting with SFAH, but…guess it had to air

“Unlikely Cartoon Characters to Cameo in an Adult Movie”
Ryan, looking up: “RUH-OH.”
[I’m genuinely glad that Ryan’s Scooby Doo is one of the things that made the jump from ABC to the CW]

Colin, also bringing one in: “ENTER, STAGE RIGHT!”
[not as good as ROSEBUD, EVEN, but close]
Ryan, not over the ending physical choice:
Screen Shot 2020-09-27 at 11.24.56 AM

Jeff does a Porky Pig climaxing one, but Colin tops it with a priceless Elmer Fudd “be vewwy vewwy quiet…”

Aisha has a very fun move: “weird things to happen…….”
and just holds the pause long enough. Jeff has to clarify, like ‘THAT’S IT?”
Aisha, now cracking up: “…at a doctor’s exam…”

Wayne: “Alright, we’re almost finished with your examination, I’m just gonna need you to transport a couple packages for me…”
Wayne: “You wanna go to Mexico, right??”

Colin, with an especially grave delivery: “…I’m sorry, you have a creamy center.”
Ryan, with…the most dementedly disgusting one: “You took the laxative earlier? Alright, would you lie on your stomach?…..PULL!”
The whole cast loves this one
Wayne: “THAT’s the creamy center…”

Aisha: “Things that you might regret saying on a first date.”
Ryan: “…just did it.”

Ryan, to Jeff: “…so, uh…is your MOTHER seeing anyone?”
Jeff’s streak of playing the woman this taping continues
Jeff, of course, does the response: “…is your FATHER seeing anyone?”

Colin, unimpressed: “but me somethin'”
Wayne: “creamy center?”
Colin: “bigger.”

Jeff, to Colin: “aaah, hop in the trunk-THE FRONT! THE FRONT!”
Colin’s immediate apprehension is hilarious here

Screen Shot 2020-09-27 at 11.33.44 AMWayne: “So, uh, you mind if my friends come along?”
Colin: [gropes Ryan’s chest]

A pretty good SFAH. Again, a bit long for the CW, but this had more substance, more really funny runs, and the creamy center runner.

Dubbing: Flirtatious fashion photographer Colin is taking pictures of supermodel Laila, voice by Wayne, when her jealous model boyfriend, Ryan, angrily kicks down the door and confronts them

Colin, with a fantastic accent: “Oh, you are giving me so maach I can barely stand it”

I do love Wayne making Laila just…giggle for a bit

Colin: “well let me just hold my camera and see what develops”

Ryan now begins to kick the door down to confront them, like it says in the script, but…after several kicking sounds, nothing’s happened. Colin just…opens the door. I kinda love that

Ryan: “USUALLY my wife kicks in the door for me…”

Wayne swears it’s just ‘a bit of modeling’
Ryan: “You told me you were going to a waterpark and I find you with him?”
…just the visual of Laila Ali at a waterpark…
Colin: “I CALL MY SPACE THE WATERPARK, she was not lying, you scrawny piece of beef…”
Ryan: “I didn’t know it would be in the nude- PUT SOME CLOTHES ON”
And he’s meaning to point at Laila, but…of course, Colin’s the one who starts putting on his clothes. I am really enjoying the improv moves of this scene, even if it’s mostly Ryan and Colin

Ryan: “Do you wanna be with him or do you wanna be with me?”
Colin: “I WANT TO-“
This running gag of Colin answering mistakenly is cracking me up

Wayne even throws in Laila being narcoleptic, which Laila does well
Ryan: “You can’t wake her up, I know the codeword- CHICKEN!”
Laila does have the comedic timing to get back up at that. 
Ryan, chuckling, perhaps knowing what this will set someone up for: “only one thing wakes her up, and that’s chicken.”
Wayne: “WOW.”
Wayne, ‘yeah-sureing’: “yeah, the actual word- I understand!”

Wayne then pimps Colin out to lift Laila, and Colin…
Screen Shot 2020-09-27 at 11.49.16 AMScreen Shot 2020-09-27 at 11.49.26 AM
LAILA IS SHOCKED. As is the audience. 

A truly excellent Dubbing. Yes, Wayne and Laila eventually found there way in, but this was a truly great Ryan and Colin scene, with some great moves from both of them both off of each other and off of Laila. Clearly the best Dubbing yet, and just a great improv scene in general. 

Aisha: “1000 points to Colin’s back doctor.”

Props: Ryan and Jeff vs. Wayne and Colin

Neck-rests and Lampposts. A rare lower-budget Props from the CW

I do love this one:
Screen Shot 2020-09-27 at 11.58.02 AM
Ryan: “lemme give you a hint…it ain’t heaven.”

Jeff does a funny one as Padme from Star Wars, and attempts to kiss Ryan, which he wriggles away from

Screen Shot 2020-09-27 at 11.59.50 AMColin: “…I dunno, but he died happy..”

Wayne does a funny automated movement with both Props, then looks at the camera and goes, blank, “The Empire Strikes Back”, then keeps going

Jeff: “Arrr, Redbeard…”
Screen Shot 2020-09-27 at 12.01.46 PM
Jeff eventually cracks at Ryan here

Screen Shot 2020-09-27 at 12.02.45 PMColin: “well, doctor, I was running, and I didn’t see the wall…”
Man, this audience…

A good Props. Not the best one this season, but some amusing stuff throughout.

Greatest Hits: Songs of Acne

First CW Greatest Hits. 

Colin: “We’ll be right back to the CW remake of Grumpy Old Men, with Justin Timberlake and a Fetus, in just a second…”

Ryan: “If Erin Moran married Scott Baio, what would that be?”
Colin, once again refusing to get it: “…old news.”
Ryan segues this into Mariachi. Colin just…shakes his head at the camera

A pretty good Mariachi number from Wayne and Jeff, but once again Laura and Linda stop a bit before Wayne thought, and he has to clumsily tie it up

Ryan: “our apologies to the Hispanic community”

Ryan’s goofy faux-French is amusing as hell, even if actual Canadian Colin keeps negating all his French

This is Wayne and Jeff at the start of the Les Mis number:
Screen Shot 2020-09-27 at 12.10.53 PM
Jeff, I think, is still trying not to laugh at ‘Oily Cheeks’

Wayne, of course, has the melodic sort of Les Mis stuff down, and makes this work insanely well. 

Jeff, with a great lyric: “Look at your complexion, I can see my own reflection”

Jeff, in the middle of a Wayne verse, throws in a melodic, proto-Pavarotti noise [we’ll be seeing his Pavarotti a lot on the CW]

The Les Mis number is insanely good, a fantastic Wayne-Jeff collaborative number with both sort of knowing when to come in and not stepping on toes, and escalating with the music. 

A good GH. Not great, and the Les Mis number is more notable than the rest of it, but a decent start

Helping Hands: Ryan, hands by Colin, is Laila’s grizzled trainer helping her prepare for her first big fight

For the very first time, all three CW-era staples, SFAH, Greatest Hits and Helping Hands, all end up in the same show. Going forward, finding a show without any of those three will be a RARITY. 

Also, lol, Laila’s already in costume as she comes out, can’t take the time to just throw that robe on onstage

Ryan, in a great Mickey impression: “what’s your nutrition, whaddaya been eatin?”
Laila: “eggs-“
Laila: “…eggs are bad?”
Ryan: “they’re bad for chickens, and they’re bad for us!”

Colin just…stuffs a handful of unsauced pasta into Ryan’s mouth. In a carry-over from last show, there’s a spoon hanging but thankfully not in the line of fire yet

Laila is a good, basic, scene partner here. Just keeping the scene going, bouncing off of Ryan. Not PERFECT, not at Wilson Bethel levels, but she’s better than Kyle Richards was

Ryan takes a moment, tries to swallow…and then Colin’s hand comes up, inevitably leading to a spit. The big laugh here is Colin just wiping his hands on Ryan’s jacket, trying to get the germs off.
Screen Shot 2020-09-27 at 12.21.47 PM
Both Wayne and Jeff are facepalming in the back

Then Ryan has to drink the disgusting energy drink, which means…yeah, more ‘ryan eating and drinking gross things’ fodder for this game

Ryan, absolutely disgusted: “MMM! TANGY!”

Ryan: “I used to be a boxer myself! Boxed under the name of Saturated Fats!”

Ryan, with Laila with gloves on, and him with pads: “now…I’m not gonna have these anywhere near my face…”

This is a good way of revenge against Colin, as Laila’s punching COLIN’S hands, and Ryan’s just realizing this at the first one
Ryan: “…I’m gonna put these down right now”

Ryan, as Colin unpeels a banana: “a lot of people can eat a banana a little bit at a time, but that doesn’t show dedication”
The audience knows what’s coming. Ryan even buckles as Colin puts the banana close to Ryan’s mouth

Laila, after the banana trick, has a great “…but WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH BOXING?”

A good Helping Hands. Not great, as it went too much towards gross food even in a boxing setting, but the scenes with actual fight training with Laila were good, and Laila was…fine as a foil. 

Overall: An okay show. Had a strong start, and a good SFAH and Dubbing, but…nothing after that impressed me too much. Props, GH and Helping Hands had brief moments of success, but nothing that lasted throughout the whole game. Which is a shame, because Dubbing was a rare achievement for improv this season, and SFAH had everyone in a good mood. Laila did alright, she didn’t piss me off, and she had fun, but…didn’t stand out much either.

Show Winner: All Four
Best Performer: Ryan Stiles, impressing me in multiple games tonight.
Worst Performer: Wayne did more backup work than Jeff, and Jeff stood out more to me in GH, so…Wayne sadly goes here.
Best Game: Dubbing was masterful, and one of the best guest games of the season.
Worst Game: Helping Hands went too much into ‘Ryan eating gross food’ and kinda wasted Laila Ali
Guest Star Rating: 7/10. Did what she was asked, but not much more.

COMING UP NEXT: We finally get to see our last taping of S9, introduce a very underrated fourth seater, and get some more CW synergy, though…slightly more short lived.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S09E08 or ….CHIPS CHIPS CHIPS CHIPS

The main difference between the CW version and the Drew version is that the Drew version was predominantly guestless episodes whereas the Aisha version is predominantly guest star episodes.

Which is an adjustment.

Fortunately, the CW would gradually start airing more guestless shows as we went on, leading to our current structure of burning off the guest shows in one season and doing a ton of guestless shows during the following season. Because the fans prefer the guestless ones, and CW has thankfully caught onto that.

This is our first guestless show, and it happens because Dan & Mark feel that they don’t need a second guest star in a Keegan Michael Key taping, as Keegan is already a big enough star. Which is a fair assumption. I initially thought Keegan would be a guest star rather than a fourth seater, so this has all been a welcome surprise.

So we go back to the same taping as E3 and do a guestless show. Just improv games, no frosting. Imagine that

Questions with Wigs: At a family wedding

This game returns, and will eventually become a steady warmup/opener

Colin shakes his head as he comes down. Ryan points to Wayne, Keegan and Colin, then to his own head. Funny observation

Aisha: “I know Colin’s excited for this particular game?”
Aisha: “cause 2 of them are…by choice, I think”

Wayne and Keegan get into a run of stopping in the middle of questions and them still counting, and Keegan gets too carried away and goes “…IF YOU DON’-ooohhhh.”

Wayne: “Cake?”
Screen Shot 2020-09-25 at 11.14.37 AM
Aisha: “…no that was just a mistake, keep going.”
Wayne: “hold on, lemme….CCCAAAAAAAAKE??”
I love whenever Wayne screws with Aisha in this game

Colin enters, and…makes the joke very easy:
Screen Shot 2020-09-25 at 11.16.44 AM
Ryan: “…aren’t you supposed to wear a wig?”
[I think Chip pulls a similar joke in about 6 seasons]

Colin clarifies he’s Friar Tuck
Ryan: “You’re Friar Tuck?”
Colin: “You’ve heard of me?”
Ryan: “Who hasn’t?”
Colin: “what have you heard?”
Ryan: “…….NOTHING!”

Keegan, Pink Wig: “so, are you one of my little monsters?”
Colin, not a Gaga fan evidently: “…is that a euphemism?”

Ryan enters in a red wig, and goes “..are you here with someone?”
Colin, not even trying to go against that: “…yep.”
Screen Shot 2020-09-25 at 11.21.12 AM

This visual alone gets most of the room laughing:
Screen Shot 2020-09-25 at 11.21.57 AM
Ryan: “….I don’t even have a question, YOU LOOK DAMN GOOD IN THAT!”

A pretty fun starting round for this game. Not to the heights of future installments, but a few fun moments. I mean, it’s not to the back-and-forth standards of previous UK/US rounds, but…I’m not really expecting it to be.

Aisha: “5 points to whoever can give me a hug at the end of the show and not creep me out.”
Ryan: “…so no points?”
Keegan: “So we’re all out?”
Screen Shot 2020-09-25 at 11.25.33 AMScreen Shot 2020-09-25 at 11.25.42 AM
I love this
Aisha: “…I need mace!”
Wait two episodes

Sideways Scene: Two prisoners working out in their cell while planning a breakout, and Wayne is a tough prison guard who bursts in, suspecting trouble

Keegan begins the scene miming lifting weights
Colin, waddling over to the beds: “WE’RE GONNA NEED ALL OUR STRENGTH”
Such a funny disposition

Gags like these are easy in this game, and they work, just by making a meta sort of subversion out of the concept
Screen Shot 2020-09-25 at 12.14.38 PM

Keegan and Colin work out an entire gameplan to fool the guard, meaning there’s actual improv moves and good dialogue in this game! YAY!

This week in amusing Wayne accents: a typical irish cop accent as the guard

Then, Colin leaps:
Screen Shot 2020-09-25 at 12.21.56 PM

The ‘horror movie’ style actually works better after 2017:
Wayne: “GET OUT!” [closes door on Keegan]
Jordan Peele, watching in support of his friend in 2013: “……….interesting…”

Keegan, opening the door, pointing to a possessed Wayne: “IF I DIE, YOU’RE NEXT!”
[guest-written by Jordan Peele!]

I love Keegan’s stuff, yelling outside the door, opening it and getting yanked back out.

Colin’s Bollywood dancing is a good, and lawful, way of ending this scene.

Guys…they did a Sideways Scene that relied on actual improv moves for a bit and kept the scene during the styles. They actually did it. This is up there with E5’s for the best one yet, and Keegan’s moves impressed me, as did Wayne’s as the styles kicked in.

What’s in the Bag: Two doctors who have arrived in a remote town where farmer’s wife, Wayne, is giving birth

Ryan, pointing out the oddness of the scene: ‘well, I’m glad they brought along TWO doctors for this…”

Wayne, in another good accent: “Mah tightenings have come…quickeninence…sly…”

Wayne, doing an udder-grabbing motion: “you mind if I continue working?”
The scenes that don’t require improv work have great improv work tonight!

Ryan, putting on sunglasses: “I’m just gonna put these on in case her water breaks…”

Colin, who’s doing better than previous playings: “You’re gonna get a little dry, so I want you to suck on these goldfish.”

Also, Ryan has a great move in using earbuds to listen to Wayne’s stomach

Colin, looking through a wallet: “…hey, I’m treating for dinner tonight!”
HA! More wholesome version of the ‘date’ line from last show

Wayne: “I ain’t never had no birth like this, and I’ve had 28 kids….last year.”
Wayne is adding so much character to this scene.

Also, Ryan just shoves a tic-tac into Wayne’s mouth. Classy

Also, Colin just…shoves a random…feminine hygiene product in Wayne’s mouth as a thermometer.

As Ryan proclaims ‘the head’s crowning’, he grabs a tiny little beret/hair tie thing to try to grab the head, which was very silly
Wayne: “She’s tiny like her daddy!”

Wayne, turning over: “this is my good side…”
Colin, head still in the handbag: “…you’re kidding yourself.”
Wayne: [dies]

This is the best What’s in the Bag yet, because it’s the closest to an actual improv scene with plot and structure. Wayne had a lot of great character details, Colin and Ryan had great responses, and it just had really live energy right to the end.

Ryan, looking at a receipt as he hands the bag back: “who orders 6 burgers at a time??”

Colin: “GOOD NEWS, you’re not pregnant!”

Wayne is still trying to get the taste out of his mouth.
Keegan: “Creepy hug?”
Screen Shot 2020-09-25 at 1.25.02 PMScreen Shot 2020-09-25 at 1.25.14 PM
I forgot about this gag, and I love it so much. Screen Shot 2020-09-25 at 1.25.26 PM
This is so funny.

Also, this means we have our first inter-taping runner, as Colin’s ‘want a creepy hug’ in Dating Videos in E3 is a direct callback to this

Scenes from a Hat:

How have we gone several shows without SFAH? This is the CW version, right?

People you don’t want to sit next to on an airplane
Colin: [vomits repeatedly]
Ryan, in a very 2013 reference: “what exactly did you mean by ‘binders full of women'”
I miss Mitt Romney being a harmless out-of-touch rich guy and not, like…dooming American democracy

Keegan has a great gag, crying repeatedly. Wayne augments it by coming up next to him and going “uh…SIR?”
Keegan: “sorry, it’s my first time.”
Great teamwork

Ryan: “…I really should be up in the cockpit.”

Colin: “where are the washr-…it’s alright.”

Wayne does his usual ‘frrrt’ gag
Keegan augments it by doing a ‘ruining the in flight movie’ joke, then coming off with him…taking a beat, grabbing Wayne and coming back on and going “DID YOU FART?”
Keegan playing so much by the most basic improv rules, hear being never refusing a gift, is why he’s such a great fourth seater.

Keegan has a great one for ‘inappropriate things to say at a funeral’: “…is this all the hors d’oeuvres there are?”
THAT is great

I also love Ryan writing ‘666’ on the guy as a prank.

“flavors rejected by ice cream chains”
Colin: “scoop of baboon-ass?”
Wayne, calling back: “aaah, you must want a little ‘stick-in-mouth cappuccino’
Ryan: “Do you want a cone or a bowl of jockstrap?”

A pretty good SFAH, though, and this is weird for this era, but a bit long in places. The plane one should have been its own World’s Worst, but…we have one this show.

Helping Hands: Ryan, hands by Colin is a Mexican chef who is teaching his eldest son Keegan how to prepare food at the family restaurant

Yeah, you can tell these S9 tapings were designed entirely around guest stars. Not a lot of true IMPROV improv games here. It feels almost, heh, like another guest star show.

Keegan starts the scene with a Mexican accent
Ryan, perfectly: “…I dunno how you ended up hispanic, we’re from Jersey.”
PERFECT MOVE. Gets them out of racist accents.

Then, as Keegan drops it, Ryan goes “where’s that hispanic accent I told you to use?”

Ryan and Keegan doing the ‘come eat our food’ song while waving maracas [or, as Ryan calls them, mariachis], is super silly.

Ryan: “we’ll put a little chicken in first…hopefully it hasn’t been sitting around too long…”

Ryan: “and of course, a LOT of guacamole, we’re not even gonna use a spoon for-…THAT’S SOUR CREAM, okay…”
I love how Ryan’s face changes between wanting the guac and getting sour cream. Sign of a west coast eater.

Ryan: “I’m gonna put some guacamole in, you know why? Never had sour cream before because I HATE THE TASTE.”

Colin does finally grab a bit of guac and throw it in the burrito.
Ryan: “we’ll take the spoon out, that’ll hurt.”

The eventual creation is just…a drippy mess, and you can hear the audience squirming. You can also see Wayne completely clenching himself in the back as Colin balls it up. And, of course, Colin pulls another spoon out. Which calms Keegan down
Keegan: “I just wanted to make sure the spoon was supposed to be in there…so you’re getting your potassium AND your iron.”

Ryan does take a huge bite…and thankfully, Colin’s hand lingers cause Ryan spits it right back out

Ryan, as the awful taste lingers on his mouth: “……CHIPS CHIPS CHIPS CHIPS”
I cackled

Keegan shoves the whole basket of chips in Ryan’s face and Ryan just…goes right in

Ryan then goes for a shot of tequila: “get me a clean glass, I don’t want the one with sour cream in it.”
Superman has kryptonite. Ryan Stiles has sour cream.

Ryan takes a sip and nearly doubles over, spilling some in the glass.
Keegan: “Whoa, dad, have you already HAD some tequila?”
Ryan: “well, I didn’t actually expect it to be real tequila.”
How long have you been doing this show, Ryan? They ALWAYS get the good stuff

As Aisha buzzes, Ryan just…can’t get over the blowback. ‘WOW.”

Aisha: “and -1000 to Wayne Brady, who was WINCING SO HARD.”

Ryan: “I almost cacked.”
Aisha: “and an additional 500 points for using a word i’ve never heard before.”
Ryan: “I’ve never actually thrown up on the show, that woulda been great…Colin woulda just shoved it back in my mouth anyway…”

A really good Helping Hands. Keegan was an excellent foil, as he kept throwing jokes back at Ryan and reacted as much as Ryan did. The amount of stuff Colin put Ryan through was admirable as much as it was disgusting, there was good character dynamic, and Ryan going for the tequila made for a great ending. Perhaps not quite as good as the Wilson Bethel one, but still really good.

Overall: Like E3, another really strong show with great improv moves, great in-between scenes energy, and a really strong overall mood to it. This is the first WL that really felt like the same tone and feel as the original, just in how loose the performers were, and the fact that there were no guest stars. This show gave us the best playings of Sideways Scene and What’s in the Bag, a solid first playing of Questions, and a really damn good Helping Hands with that exclamation point on the end, and some good stuff in SFAH. There’s also runners, slack energy, Aisha getting along brilliantly with the cast, and Keegan once again fitting right in with the show. I think it might edge out E3 for the best of the season, as it didn’t have any lulls or even any slightly inferior games. I was that impressed, y’all.

Show Winners: Wayne and Keegan
Best Performer: Wayne Brady wins another one. Not only did he have the most game wins for me, but his ‘creepy hug’ runner cracked me up every time.
Worst Performer: This one came down to process of elimination. I can’t give it to Keegan, he was strong all night. I can’t give it to Colin, he had amazing moves in What’s in the Bag and SFAH. By process of elimination, it’s Ryan. Once again, he got thrown more than he threw others.
Best Game: …screw it, Helping Hands. Was gonna go with either Sideways Scene or What’s in the Bag, but neither had the heights of HH.
Worst Game: Scenes From a Hat felt the most perfunctory of all the games, even though I still liked it.

COMING UP NEXT: We go back to the Jeff Davis taping to catch a boxing legend as guest star, and a debut of a classic WL game that will go on to become one of the CW’s most overplayed ones.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S09E07, or RUN, DAMN YOU, RUN!

Into the second half of S9 we go. We go back to the same taping as E2, and cap our second of two Heather shows this season. Will she be featured more tonight than she was in E2? I sure hope so.

Our guest star tonight, one I had heard of, is Lisa Leslie, WNBA star, basketball legend, and one of the most imposing sports stars of her era. I imagine it’s part of this show’s quest to continue to find women taller than Wayne for him to sing to.

I love Colin, as Aisha sprints down the stairs to start the show, audibly going ‘RRRRUN, DAMN YOU, RUN!’. We’re already loose, which is nice

Weird Newscasters: Colin anchors, Heather, Ditzy beautician taking the opportunity to promote her waxing salon, co-anchors, Wayne, Appearing on Girls Gone Wild, getting increasingly outrageous, does sports while Ryan, moonlighting as a phone sex operator and keeps taking calls during his report, does weather

Colin’s top story is a simple one: “9 out of 10 people addicted to brake fluid can’t stop.”

Heather: “This is my first time talking…uh-“

Heather does bring in Colin, as someone who’d used her waxing product, and tries to get him into a testimonial

I feel like Wayne’s was started in progress, cause he doesn’t even start doing the sports, and flirts with taking off his jacket.

Wayne does eventually get goaded into flashing, which:
Screen Shot 2020-09-24 at 6.10.41 PM
…I sure hope that keeps his mic in place. 

And, inevitably:
Screen Shot 2020-09-24 at 6.11.32 PM

Ryan, answering a call: “Hello?…..oh, yeah, it’s gonna be wet.”

Ryan, answering another: “…it’s a small craft warning for you…”
It’s like he’s done this before

I love how, as Colin signs off, Heather waves and goes ‘hello’. 

A pretty good WN, not to the caliber of the two we’ve seen thus far, but pretty good, and with good stuff from all 3. Not too showy, though.

Song Styles: Wayne sings a Justin Timberlake song to Lisa


First of all. The height difference:
Screen Shot 2020-09-24 at 6.20.33 PM

Wayne and Aisha are just kinda excited that Lisa Leslie made it on.
Lisa: “…it’s me! Hey, guys!”
…That seems to be a mixture of Melania Trump going ‘HELLO?’ in the middle of an interview, and, once again, HELLO. THANK YOU.

It’s very cool that Wayne does a Timberlake song. People may forget this, but Timberlake actually had a resurgence in 2013 with his album The 20/20 Experience, with two hit singles, ‘Suit & Tie’, which this backing track is modeled after, and ‘Mirrors’, which was my junior prom song. Most people tend to forget this part, as well as everything else he’s done since 2007, but this was a thing. 

Wayne: “Because there’s no one better, I wanna climb up a stepladder to you.”
okay so, A.), nice of Wayne to do an early height joke, and B.), why do I keep having to link to jokes from other shows?

Lisa has a double-take at ‘when I’m next to you, it feels like I’m in outer space’
Lisa: “outer space, really?”
Wayne: “let me use my own analogies, sit down and be quiet….you just shoot balls, that’s cool…”

I also love Wayne backtracking on any sexual lyrical activity, saying “you’ve got a husband, it’s only in this song”

I also love the bit where Wayne admits he never learned basketball, and he got made fun of, “SCREW ‘EM CAUSE I’M ON TV, HAHA!”

My biggest laugh came from Wayne asking Lisa to stand up and dance, and then when it’s made VERY CLEAR how much taller Lisa is than Wayne, he quickly tells her to sit back down again

A pretty quaint number. Wayne had some more lyrical edge to this one, and a lot of it came from knowing Lisa IRL. Lisa didn’t do much but enjoy herself. Not a ton to this one, but pretty good nonetheless.

Newsflash: Ryan and Heather in the studio, Colin in the field in front of dental surgery

We’ve finally hit my first ‘ah yes, I remember this one’ of S9.

I did like Ryan and Heather’s opening banter
Ryan: “I’m just saying you could move a little bit, let me know you’re enjoying it…”
Heather: “I’m TRYING, I’m trying…”

I got a good laugh from Colin standing in front of an initial shot of closed teeth, and going “….THIS IS INSANE.”

Ryan: “By the way, you won Newsman of the Year, they delivered your plaque today…”
Okay, that’s a nice pun there

Right here, the dental procedures turn into injections, and the audible distress from Heather begins

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Heather has time to do an easy ‘the tooth is unbearable’ pun

I kinda love Ryan and Colin sort of deciding who gets to talk, both easily disgusted [even if Colin doesn’t know what’s going on]

And then the deep drilling continues:
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Heather, who’s hysterical in this game because she’s damn near squirming, just yells ‘GET OUT OF THERE!’, with the force she’s good at employing

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Now it’s beginning to hit Ryan


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Ryan: “Oh god, I can’t even watch…”

Heather, here, has an incoherent yelp in pain, which, on the CW cut of this show, IS CENSORED FOR SOME REASON. Every time I used to watch this, I always thought Heather belted out a big ‘FUCK!’ at this part, but apparently it was just to make something innocent look juicy by adding a bleep. I played it a million times, there was nothing in the international version of that clip that resembled an expletive. She mouths ‘oh my god’. That’s it.

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Colin, after he guesses correctly, has a moment to glance into the monitor…shudders and goes back to his seat

Aisha: “1000 points to Colin Mochrie…for…”
Colin: “…not seeing it?”
Aisha: “YES. You are the winner of that, because you didn’t have to look at it.”

A really strong Newsflash, solely for the extent of Heather and Ryan’s reactions, and also Colin’s determination to keep them there as long as possible. A good Newsflash to start with in this version.

What’s in the Bag: Wayne is biking through a forest when he crashes painfully, and then Ryan and Colin are two paramedics who rush to his aide

Aisha, to the ladies: “I hope there’s something really fun like A FOOT…or a NAKED PICTURE.”
I haven’t said it enough, but Aisha Tyler is a great host for this show. She completely gets the sort of tone we’re going for, without bogging it down with dirty jokes like Drew. The way I see it is- Clive is above the performers in status, Drew is below the performers in status, Aisha is along the same lines of the performers in status, and that’s honestly the most successful contrast.

Aisha, owing to E1’s playing: “and I hope there are some life-saving medications…in those purses.”

Ryan uncaps a bottle of water to help Wayne, then thinks about it, and goes “…I’ll give him something else later, I don’t know who else has been drinking this…”

Ryan: “Just in case this doesn’t work:
Screen Shot 2020-09-24 at 9.02.26 PMRyan is, like in E1, much better at this game than Colin

I love the timing of Ryan throwing on sunglasses right when Colin uses a handmirror to reflect the sun. They’re THAT in sync

Colin, looking into the purse: “…OOOH, I’m ready for a date later”
…..oh my, I think we can all guess what he found

Ryan, with a phone: “Just checking my texts…OHHHHH…”

The scene ends, abruptly imo, with Ryan AND Colin using earbuds as stethoscopes, AT THE SAME TIME. Ryan, at buzz, goes ‘YOU’VE GOT A PAIR TOO?’

Better than E1’s in that it was more of a scene structure, more funny things happened, and there was more interaction both with each other AND with the people who gave the purses up. A more complex, and therefore funnier, playing of this. 

As Aisha explains that they’re gonna give the bags back later, Ryan:
Screen Shot 2020-09-24 at 9.08.10 PM
[“hmmm, I have 192 unread tweets from somewhere in Europe”]

Aisha, predicting the CW edit: “and though it may be cut from the show, SAFE SEX IS IMPORTANT!”

Aisha makes a ‘Canadian points aren’t real points’ joke, but I love Colin raising his arms and slowly dropping them as the line sinks in

Living Scenery: Ryan and Colin are a honeymooning couple making the most of their first class flight, when their plane hits a big storm and is forced to make an emergency landing in the ocean. Heather and Lisa are props.

Again, Wayne gets to sit out

Leslie shakes Colin and Heather’s hands, then, as she sees Ryan, mutters ‘oh, normal sized people…’
Lisa has a very underrated sense of humor
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Ryan and Colin start by sitting in their seats, Lisa and Heather
Colin: “I’ll take the bony one- OH, THIS IS COMFY”
Ryan, as Lisa leans back: “MINE’S RECLINING”

Colin, as Heather moves her arms around Colin’s chest: “OH WAIT, IT’S MASSAGING ME.”

Ryan points to some geese outside the plane, and Heather and lisa do those motions
Ryan: “…it’s okay, they’re flying WITH us.”

Heather’s ‘bird getting caught in the engine’ move cracked me up

Lisa brings down a hand as the oxygen mask, and Ryan breathes: ‘…ooh, mine smells GOOD!”

Screen Shot 2020-09-24 at 9.20.11 PM
Ryan: “Put your seatbelt on!”
Colin: “I’ve GOT it on…I dunno what the hell YOU’RE doing…”

They got on the raft, and ryan turns to Heather, and says to Colin: “This one’s going flat, pump it up”
Wayne bowls over in the back. THAT’S MEAN!

Continuing with torturing Heather, Colin uses her as a ham radio, and uses her boobs as the dials. WHY IS EVERYONE GOING AFTER HEATHER’S TITS THIS SEASON? COME ON!

Ryan suggests he climb to the top of that coconut tree, obviously Leslie
Colin: “are you sure you wanna do it, cause I could easily-“

Colin: “Do you see anything up there?”
Ryan: “Nothing…but I’ll stay up here just in case something happens along…”

Colin and Ryan set up a tent: 
Screen Shot 2020-09-24 at 10.36.15 PM
Colin: “…that can’t be right.”
Ryan: “What kind of tent is that?”
Colin: “I don’t even know how you get in it!”
Ryan: “it’s an antennae, and we haven’t even got a television!”

Aisha calls it after Lisa and Heather widen the tent.

A pretty good Living Scenery. Not much of this sort of led us out of the normal motions for this game, but I will say it had more to it than E1’s. 

Aisha: “I just think Colin has some explaining to do”
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And that, right there, is why Heather is a better fourth seater than Kathy Greenwood.

Overall: A weirdly paced show that had its strongest points in the middle, and took a bit to get there and back. The tentpoles, WN and Living Scenery, felt very basic to me. Newsflash was the height, and it employed a lot of the live feelings that should have been in other games. Song Styles was good, but could have been better if Lisa was a bit more engaging. What’s in the Bag was an improvement but cut slightly short. This is an imperfect show, but it’s far from bad- the middle 3 games are pretty good and improvements on earlier playings this season. But I can’t drag this show out of the middle of the road, really, even with that Newsflash. Best news is Heather had more to do than in E2, and we got a lot more of a sense of her humor and how she makes scenes work…but this show wasn’t as good as E2. 

Show Winners: All four
Best Performer: Ryan Stiles did a lot of comedic heavy lifting tonight, and had some of the best observations and moments.
Worst Performer: Colin was once again on setup duty. 
Best Game: Newsflash. Absolutely huge.
Worst Game: Weird Newscasters kinda came and went. 
Guest Star Rating: 7/10. Lisa did what she was told, and had glints of personality. I just wish she’d done a bit more.

COMING UP NEXT: At long last, a guestless episode from S9. Of course, that’s the power of getting Keegan Michael Key on your show, you only need one guest.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S09E06, or I DETECT ALCOHOL.

We return to the same taping of E1, which means we get our second and, sadly, last Gary Anthony Williams show of the season. Because we only have 12 episodes, and 2 episodes per taping, we don’t have a full extent of a lot of these tapings, and we only have 2 guest star shows to see Gary in this season. Unless the CW FINALLY releases supplementary episodes from S9, we may never know what other games went down.

This is also the last show of the first half of S9, which…you do a 12-show ninth season, that shit happens.

Our guest star this show is Wilson Bethel, from Hart of Dixie, a comedy-sorta-thing that was on CW at the time. I hadn’t heard of him otherwise. Bethel has gone on to do stints on Daredevil and All Rise, so he’s a TV auxiliary actor type. 

Weird Newscasters: Colin anchors, Gary, upbeat old Cajun musician who’s hard to understand, co-anchors, Wayne, an entire episode of Oprah’s Favorite Things, does sports while Ryan, grotesque hostile alien whose weatherman disguise is slowly wearing off

  1. I love how caught off-guard Ryan is by his quirk. “I WAS HOPIN’ I’D GET THAT!”
  2. Did Ryan’s quirk give Heather’s girlfriend the idea for Monsterland?

Colin’s top story is simple but funny: “scientists turn back time…end up with the word ’emit'”
Even Gary breaks for a split second at that

Gary’s cajun gibberish, which must have been an old bit he did onstage or something, is EXEMPLARY. [Though it’s hard for me to think ‘Gary’ and ‘cajun’ without thinking of “even THAT n…..EVERYTING IS BIGGAH OVAH HEAH…”]

Wayne has clearly seen enough of these episodes, cause he’s nailing Oprah’s ‘trying not to lead with excitement’ thing, and the eventual “look under your seats…”

Wayne: “Under everybody’s seat, there is…ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, I’m tired of giving you people my crap!”

This turns into just Wayne as Oprah just deciding to give HERSELF the favorite things. “I’M TAKING MYSELF TO THE LAKERS GAME. MMMEEEEEEEE.”

Also, I love that among the things Wayne’s getting, he includes “a translator disk so I can listen to the cajun man and understand what he’s saying”
That’s a nice linking move

That might honestly be one of my favorite Wayne WN quirks. It doesn’t feel like his usual physical/many voices schtick, it’s a genuine character move with genuine satire attached to it, with enough energy to bring him through and make those lines really work, and he doesn’t have to rely on the host as a crutch. Phenomenal stuff.

Gary: [more gibberish]
Wayne, with his device: “I UNDERSTOOD HIM!”

Ryan, with a very stilted delivery: “Hello, people of earth…what I meant to say was ‘people of Southern California”

Ryan’s very good at this sort of gradual physicality. Then, once he spurts out, he grabs Colin by the face. 

I love the move where Colin shoots Ryan, Ryan dies in place…then Ryan just sends out another facehugger and goes for Colin’s face again. So well timed!

I know we’re coming off a strong WN in E4, but this one might have been stronger. So much collaboration, so much of a continued, cohesive story, and so many great quirks. Gary wasn’t too showy, but he was reliable in his ‘one thing’, Wayne pulled out all the stops in the best way, and Ryan facing off against Colin made for an exciting and fun ending. Fantastic WN, a highlight for sure.

Duet: Wayne and Gary sing a Motown song to Wilson

Gary’s first singing game!

There’s allusions to Wilson taking his shirt off a lot on Hart of Dixie, and he jokingly begins to unbutton his shirt.
Aisha: “Gary, you already took your shirt off earlier, so…”

The opening visual of Wayne and Gary doing some motown hand back-and-forth motions and Wilson fitting right in between them doing them is great

Hell, Wayne even works in “Aisha’s droolin, wants you to take off your shirt”
Screen Shot 2020-09-23 at 12.07.50 PM

Gary has a nice line: “I’m talking about Wilson, not Wilson Pickett”

And the hook of the song does end up being about getting Wilson to take off his shirt, which is at least amusing, even if it’s a cover for Wayne and Gary not having much to work off of

Gary does have a VERY NICE line next:
“You’re from the Hart of Dixie, I’m a Dixie man
Let me run your fingers all through your Dixie land.”

I am enjoying Wilson’s growing discomfort:
Screen Shot 2020-09-23 at 12.12.46 PM

Wayne has a great melodic bit in his next verse, before going with ANOTHER great line: “I’m gonna take all of my troops and storm the south of the Mason Dixon line”

Gary has another amusing line in the chorus: “and if you’re gonna take your shirt off, Wilson, turn your head and cough!”
…because sure
This line COMPLETELY breaks up Wayne, and he’s trying to compose himself as he repeats it for the chorus. 

Wilson just sidehugs Gary as the song fades out, and it’s a very silly, very fun way to end the song. Just a dissolution over a random ball-grab gag. Ryan’s dying in the back, too

A really, REALLY good scene. Yes, it was slightly thin in material, but Wayne and Gary’s musicality and lyrics were both fantastic, and they kept Wilson on his toes the whole number. Not a TON to it, but still a fun song.

Sideways Scene: Colin and Gary are two bickering buddy cops who’ve been suspended from duty for being out of shape [LOW BLOW], so Wayne enters as the show-off police fitness coach who’s come in to force them to exercise

The audience starts cracking up midway through the scene description, realizing the punchline. Aisha even goes “I don’t know why, you guys are getting ahead of everything…”

Colin: “Can you believe that they said WE’RE out of shape?”
Gary: “I cannot believe it…reach into my pocket and get my donut out for me…”

Colin decides to do some pull-ups, and:
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Sort of a sibling to his ‘hanging off the lamp’ one

Like usual this season, Wayne comes in with an impressive british accent

Gary: “Commander, watch my upper body strength as I lift my partner above my head”
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For ‘Paranormal Activity movie’, Wayne has the most creative idea:
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I’ve always remembered this move, it’s insanely clever

Penguin documentary:
Gary: “Morgan Freeman, where are you now?”

Aisha buzzes once Wayne starts breakdancing in mid-air. 

A good scene, but it always annoys me how quickly they lose the actual scene once the styles kick in. This one, the scene essentially ended right before the styles. I mean, good stuff to begin with, and Gary did surprisingly well in this game, but…you’ve gotta do better at being a Film and Theater Styles variant

Colin, on the penguin sliding bit: “You know what the floor is, that piece of wood there? Not good when your testicles go over it.”

Three-Headed Song: Wayne, Ryan and Wilson sing ‘I Can’t Live Without Your Rubber Ducky’

I always forget they did THBS at some S9 tapings. A few never made air.

Wilson, of course, isn’t exactly at home in this game
“Your rubber ducky is so
Wilson: “….excellent?”

Wayne: “Your”
Ryan, somehow combining the two: “RUBBY”
Wilson, completely caught off guard: “…DDU[…]CKY?”
Screen Shot 2020-09-23 at 2.56.21 PM
I mean, I would be too…

And now we have
“your love of rubber makes me
Wilson: “….feel weird.”
Wayne, letting a measure go by: ‘….yes”

This song feels like it’s about to go off the rails so many times due to Wilson pausing, and thinking a bit too much, before his words, but because Wilson plays this game lawfully, everything sort of fits together

Ryan: “every”
Wilson: ‘rubber” [loses it again]
Wayne: “ducky”
Ryan: “has”
Wilson: ‘a”
Wayne: ‘….THING.”

The line “quack, quack, quack, ON ME” is…not only perfect, but also Wayne kinda calling back to Weird Newscasters

I do love the final line: “I love my rubber ducky like anything, but I don’t love you.” Ryan SELLS the final note, and Wilson cracks one last time.

Sadly, this is the last THBS that makes air, and while it was an odd variation, I still loved this one, and it had a very earnest, stay-together kind of quality even if Wilson kept cracking up. Good final note for this game to end on, and a good idea for a guest game. Wish the other ones of these aired.

Helping Hands: Ryan, hands by Colin, is a senior doctor in a small town in Alabama, and he’s teaching medical student Wilson about medical stuff

Ryan: “A SENIOR doctor, you mean like an OLD DOCTOR?”

Ryan: “…you know what this might be?”
Wilson, seeing the blood pressure gauge and knowing he can’t do the obvious answer: “…nitrous.”
….not baaaaad

Wilson is a much better foil for Ryan than Kyle was in E4, and knows to do the more novice, sort of nervous character. Sign of a good actor and an open improviser.

Ryan, as Wilson puts the blood pressure gauge on Colin’s arm, smirks: “Make sure to pump it up nice and tight!”
YES. Finally getting his revenge on Colin. Even though…the rest of the game remains and he’s still probably gonna be at Colin’s mercy

Ryan: “I always use gloves, even when I’m AT HOME I use, uh, gloves”
I think he was gonna elaborate but Colin’s struggle with the rubber glove distracts him

Ryan holds up the urine sample, and Wilson, buckling yet again, goes “I KNOW WHAT THAT IS…”

Of course, this is setting up Ryan to drink the sample [it’s gotta be apple juice], but Wilson, impressing me even further, grabs the sample, takes a huge sip, and throws the container behind him. Like a pro. Aisha’s impressed as hell.

Ryan: “I am waiting for your diagnosis.”
Wilson: “…he’s been smoking weed, sir.”
Ryan: “…I’m wondering how you knew that.”
Wilson: “I’ve, uh, been known to partake myself.”
Ryan Stiles, noted occasional pot smoker: “THEN WELCOME TO THE LEAGUE.”
Wilson is fitting in SO WELL HERE. I’m really impressed

Wilson even suggests Ryan take a glob of vaseline and spread it on his face, prompting this…uh, visual:
Screen Shot 2020-09-23 at 3.14.13 PM

Wilson: “…it’s the kind of thing they don’t teach you in med school”
Ryan: “No, you don’t seee…THAT IS A FACT. A FACT. A FACT.”
And Colin gesticulates as he says this. Man, the goofy energy of this scene has rose dramatically

Colin slams his hand on the table
Ryan: “Ow, that hurt…I didn’t even DO THAT and that looked like it hurt…”
Oh, man, they’re just getting lost in the fun

Wilson correctly identifies the cough syrup
Ryan: “You seem to know a lot of these drug references.”
Wilson: “…listen to a lot of rap music, sir.”
He’s so damn good in this

Of course, Colin makes Ryan drink cough syrup out the bottle.
Wilson: [dies laughing]

I love how Aisha, even if Wilson’s covered in vaseline, gives Wilson a hug at the end of that, KNOWING he knocked it out of the park

A really funny Helping Hands, made even better by a fantastic support performance from Wilson Bethel. This character dynamic made it a lot better than most ‘Ryan eats disgusting things’ scene, also because Ryan knew when to work off Wilson, and vice versa. A better dynamic than the Kevin McHale one, honestly, though it’s tough to decide if this one is the better playing, though. 

Overall: This might be our best pure ‘guest star’ episode yet, better than the Kevin McHale one, for just seeming like a really cohesive improv show that happened to have a [very] worthy guest star. The non-Wilson games ranged from exemplary [WN] to okay [Sideways Scene], but all three Wilson games were really good. Duet was an excellent Gary-Wayne number with great lyrics, THBS was a great, cohesive round of that even with Wilson’s crack-ups, and Helping Hands was a strong round with great support by Wilson. Wilson went above and beyond the gig, came off energetic, yes-anded, and seemed like he was having a ball, even while drinking piss. I don’t think the Candice Accola show has the sort of lull in the middle of Sideways Scene, so it still reigns supreme, but this was a fantastic show. 

Show Winner: All four
Best Performer: This was down to the wire between Wayne and Gary, but Wayne’s fuller night gives him the edge.
Worst Performer: Colin mostly stuck to support and setups tonight, and also got hurt quite a bit. Not a BAD performance, but not as good as the other three.
Best Game: Helping Hands edges out Weird Newscasters for consistency, but this was TOUGH. 
Worst Game: Sideways Scene started strong but really fell off. 
Guest Star Rating: 10/10. Wilson really impressed me, and came off like a pro in scenes with Wayne, Ryan and Gary. 

COMING UP NEXT: Like clockwork, we go back to the Heather Anne Campbell taping and get a guest appearance from a WNBA legend.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S09E05, or Very Sparkly, Pretty, Camp

Five episodes into the CW series and we finally get a seasoned, well-regarded fourth seater on the program. Jeff Davis, after bathing in some Harmontown energy for a few years, arrives at CBS Studios. And I won’t even mince words- Jeff is gonna RULE the CW version. He will rule this version like Brad and Chip ruled the Drew version.

Today’s guest stars are Mary Killman and Mariya Koroleva, two members of the 2012 US Olympic Synchronized Swimming team. Like Neena and Veena in S5, this is more of a ability gimmick booking than an actual personality booking, and there’d be a few more of these in the coming seasons. 

There’s a bit of the opening I’ve always remembered, and I think it’s more prominent in the other episode from this taping. As they zoom into Aisha, there’s one very prominent woman in a hijab looking at the camera, making an overexaggerated laughing face. They tell you at tapings to look forward, not make it look like you’re mugging to camera, but this lady just seems transfixed:
Screen Shot 2020-09-22 at 4.46.08 PM
I always thought, when I watched this on TV for the first time, that she was responding to ‘I’M AISHA TYLER’ with ‘YES YOU ARE!’. Again, maybe it’s more prominent in E9, but…I always remembered it. The YES YOU ARE lady. Right up there with the annoying laugh lady from US S5, the dude in the tacky Colin shirt during the CW tapings, and the Greek lady that keeps checking looks at Ryan as Aisha does her intro in the CW tapings. 

Something from the exuberance of the intro makes me think this MAY have been the first one taped. Not too sure, though

Hollywood Director: Two criminals cutting through an electrified barbed-wire fence to break into a warehouse, Wayne is a security guard who arrives in a Jeep full of guard dogs to stop them

I love the confused Wayne expression at ‘Jeep full of guard dogs’, and then the strained pause as Aisha goes “GENTLEMEN…..TAKE IT AWAY.”

The Jeff-Ryan duo is already strong, as evidenced by Jeff going ‘didn’t you read the sign?’ to Ryan as he gets electrocuted, and just casually unplugging the fence
…and then Ryan goes ‘well there’s a door there, too’
They’re so damn good together, and Whose Live has cemented this

Wayne makes a broad entrance with an accent and a bunch of dogs, which is what we rely on him for, really

Wayne throws in a higher yip
Ryan: “…a chihuahua?”
Colin: “CUT CUT CUT”
Ryan: “I saw a chihuahua, I visualized-“
Colin: “SHUT UP.”

Colin has a line that completely sums up the CW run: “we need to get a younger audience [smirk] that’s why I’M here…”

Frat boy style:
Ryan, grabbing the fence: “…whoa.”

Then, right as Ryan notices the door:
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Ryan is so damned confused. “the hell was that?”
Colin: “no…no…”
Oh, Wayne…

Ryan: “I’m sorry, I didn’t know we were shooting that kind of movie.”
Colin: “…well, NOW we’re not…”

“Do it sexy”:
Screen Shot 2020-09-22 at 5.09.15 PM
Once again, I applaud the depth of these cameras

Wayne enters as the dogs, and:
Screen Shot 2020-09-22 at 5.13.30 PM
…of course

Jeff: “We were being sexy until that happened…”
Ryan: “That FELT like a chihuahua…”
Wayne, as the audience awws: “No, that’s a great dane, baby…”
Aisha buzzes there, but…honestly, that’s not a bad point to leave on

A good Director. Not as good as the Keegan one, but everybody did well, and it had some good momentum, provided mostly by Wayne

Jeff, to Wayne: “I saw your nipples.”
Aisha: “Whooo hasn’t?”

Duet: Wayne and Jeff sing a boy band song to Mary and Mariya

Thank god, the first duet of the season, and the first time Aisha doesn’t have to say ‘Song Style’

As Mary and Mariya come out, there’s a chant of ‘USA’ from the audience. Ah, pre-Trump-era nationalism…

Screen Shot 2020-09-22 at 5.19.06 PMRyan: “I was gonna wear that exact same thing…”

I love Jeff being startled by where they’ve landed onstage before the song, and then just trying to model after them

So Mary and Mariya are just…doing their routine together, sort of muttering commands as they go, as Wayne and Jeff sort of sing around them. Yeah.

I love Wayne’s butchered attempt at imitating their hand-signals, though, and so do they.

Jeff: “I’d be so proud if one of you was my daughter
Although it looks a little weird out of the water”

One of them does an arm move that startles the hell out of Wayne, nearly knocks him over, and he, as a coping mechanism, just backs off his feet. It’s amusing as hell

Wayne: “and for that ass, you gotta get a gold medal.”
…Wayne Brady.

Wayne, as an attempt at one-upmanship, initiates a two-man headstand:
Screen Shot 2020-09-22 at 5.25.23 PM
The girls love this one

In all honesty, this is the best song to a guest star we’ve gotten so far. Jeff and Wayne had enough material here for good lyrics and musicality, and some funny things happened. It’s not MUCH, to be fair, but it’s better than some of the ones that have come before this one.

For the first of many times, Jeff and/or Wayne attempt to follow the guests off backstage. 

Aisha admits that “EVEN I had a little crush on them, but I’m a girl, I like sparkly things.”
Oh, Aisha, trying to stay in the closet. In case any of you are wondering, one of the sparkly things she may have been referring to is Emily Bett Rickards…who we’ll run into later.

Forward Rewind: Colin and Wayne are snowboarders performing crazy stunts when Wayne wipes out disastrously, Ryan is the fearless paramedic who arrives on his snowmobile, Jeff is Wayne’s distraught girlfriend who skis to his aide

A carryover from IAG. Will it translate well to WL?

Aisha refers to “a sound that’s going to instruct you guys to either rewind or forward the action”, and she plays the clips, which…are just Wayne saying ‘forward’ and ‘rewind’
Ryan: “Well, it’s not only a sound, it’s the real words!”
[To quote Conan O’Brien, “WHAT KIND OF A CRAPPY SHOW IS THIS?”]

Very quickly into this scene, Aisha finds a hook- Colin yelling ‘WATCH OUT FOR THAT TREE’ and Wayne falling and rolling on the ground, which she replays about 3 times. After we’ve gone forward and Colin’s said it like 6 times…Colin just says it again for good measure.

Ryan comes in on a snowmobile and immediately skids and gets some in Colin’s face. Aisha presses rewind, and Ryan has to undo that. Also, I love Ryan carefully walking backwards, making sure he doesn’t trip over the stage.

Jeff jumps in and knows exactly what this scene needs: “ANTONIO…NNNNOOOOOOOOOO!”
Then, as Aisha presses rewind, Jeff does the full intensity of that line in reverse. His NOOOOOOOOOs get funnier every time he has to do one.

Ryan, getting down: “let me check his pulse.”
Jeff: “Give him mouth to mouth.”
Ryan, stifling laughter: “…I haven’t judged whether that’s necessary yet…”
He looks back to production, where the forward/reverse noise is coming from, realizes no one’s done anything yet, and sighs, going in for Wayne.

Inevitably, Ryan gives Wayne CPR…and then has to do it again when someone finally calls rewind.

Then, once they have to go back to the top, everyone perfectly does the right order and intensity of these lines backwards. 

This scene works so well that once Wayne and Colin get back to their opening positions, it gets some deserved applause from the audience. 

So…I put that against some of the best playings from IAG. This one had funny repeated material, some good screwing with [on Ryan’s part], and no real lapses or mess-ups in continuity. This was so fluid and expertly-done, and a great way to start this game off in this version.

Living Scenery: Colin and Ryan are two adventurers hacking their way through a snake-infested jungle, when night falls, they make camp- Mary and Mariya are props

Colin, shaking hands: “I’m apologize for anything that may happen, I’m so sorry.”
All class

Colin: “…looks like there’s a lot of bush we have to get through.”
Screen Shot 2020-09-22 at 5.52.34 PM
…then Jeff gets it.Screen Shot 2020-09-22 at 5.52.49 PM

Ryan, barely keeping it in: “…I don’t know where to start…”

Ryan, in a moment of calm, cracks up again, still in disbelief

Ryan and Colin take the girls backpacking. As Ryan puts his down to set up camp, Colin goes “I could have gone a couple more miles…”
Of course

Colin: “You know they have snakes over 50 feet long…”
The girls: [start squirming around]
Colin: “…there’s a small one.”

Ryan: “Alright, now we’ve gotta find some wood to start a fire.”
Ryan then realizes exactly what he just set up Colin for
Ryan, smirking: “why don’t you go collect some wood…”
Colin: “I’ll do everything, you just try to stand there and…not look creepy…”
Ryan: “I’ve been married a lot longer than you have.”

Mary and Mariya do a good fire miming, and then sort of curl up.
Colin: “…well that didn’t even last like a SECOND…”

Ryan, shaking his head again: “might as well get the sleeping bags ready…”
Ryan knows exactly how pervy this looks. And he’s just trying to keep his composure.
Colin, very unsure: “I’m just, uh…”
Ryan: “You wanna stay up and talk for a while?”
Jeff is literally slapping his knee in the back

Colin: “We’ve gotta have our strength ready for tomorrow. Let’s hit those sacks.”

Right as Ryan’s going to attempt this, Aisha buzzes. Oh, decency, returning.

A pretty good Living Scenery, which I’d put somewhere between the Lauren Cohan one and the Candice Accola one. Ryan and Colin were doing funny things, but there was also this thin line of decency they were afraid to cross, and that made the game kind of difficult. Funny, and it was good to see Ryan squirm, but…a bit limited.

Ryan: “We should just change the name of that game to ‘creepy thing.”

Sideways Scene: Jeff is a seductive housewife who has invited hunky electrician Colin over to fix the light on her ceiling, and Wayne is the husband who comes home unexpectedly in the middle of a storm

As an ender? Man, CW has a lot of faith in this game, more faith than is warranted

Jeff has played the woman twice tonight. Colin has played 0. How the table has turned.

Also, I love Colin’s double thumbs-up when he learns he’s playing a hunky electrician

This is a clever Sideways Scene, because it sets up not a dramatic infidelity scene, but a broadly comic one, with Wayne singing to himself ‘I’m married to the most beautiful woman in the world’ as he begins to come in.

Colin: “I’m an electrician?”
Wayne: “Then…why is she touching your butt?”
And as Jeff gets over Colin to explain:
Screen Shot 2020-09-22 at 6.10.38 PMScreen Shot 2020-09-22 at 6.10.52 PM
That is absolutely perfect. Colin knows exactly how to play this, and it’s so funny.

Hell, the turn in Twilight of Colin being a vampire actually works! As does Wayne’s errant werewolf noise. He just leaps right over Jeff, which is fun as hell

Kung-fu style
Jeff: “You think you can come into my house?”
Wayne: “…because it’s mine as well-“
Such a funny move

There’s a great ending in Disaster film, as Colin opens the door to a, as he yells, “STORM!”
Screen Shot 2020-09-22 at 6.14.52 PM

Probably the best Sideways Scene so far. Made the best use of the slapstick, the tone-shifting, and the all-out broadness. All three performers were great here. 

Aisha, confirming this was the first taping back: “Drew couldn’t be here tonight, so he asked me to give you all a million points and send you his love.”
A very sweet ending beat for this show. 

Overall: A good show with a few uneven points. I enjoyed the improv games more than I enjoyed the guest games. Not that Duet and Living Scenery were bad, just…basic compared to the other 3. Director was a strong, energetic opener, Forward/Rewind was genuinely awesome, and Sideways Scene was the strongest playing yet. Plus, Jeff got right back to where he left off in IAG, and came off well alongside everyone. Wayne also had a nice night, especially in the first 3 games. i wish they didn’t need a guest star in every show this season, cause this one would have benefitted from Greatest Hits or SFAH. 

Show Winner: All four
Best Performer: Wayne Brady for ruling the first half, having some energetic moments, and barely breaking a sweat.
Worst Performer: Ryan, once again, broke more than he broke others.
Best Game: Forward Rewind. Damn near masterful.
Worst Game: Living Scenery was less about what was done and more about what couldn’t be done. The game equivalent of Ron West as Censors Himself Man.
Guest Star Rating: 7/10. Did their jobs, had fun, didn’t sink too far into the smut. Pretty standard. 

COMING UP NEXT: We return to the Gary taping to take part in some more obligatory CW corporate synergy

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S09E04, or Imagine If You Will…

Around this point in the run, we got a sense of normalcy, I think. We know what the show’s capable of, we know it’s gonna be very guest-based, and we know it’s at least short. So the rest of S9 feels slightly less special for this reason, arguably. 

Still, E4 is a first appearance for future fourth-seating icon Jonathan Mangum, fresh off LMAD [that stands for Let’s Make a Deal] and IAG. The guest star is Kyle Richards from Real Housewives of New York. Because…sure, CW. That’ll get people to watch.

Weird Newscasters: Colin anchors, Jonathan, excited game show host announcing the grand prize, Colin, co-anchors, Wayne, in the video game Grand Theft Auto, does sports while Ryan, a day in the life of a female supermodel, does weather

I love Wayne’s cute little ‘YES!’ when he finds out his

WN has new theme music! It’s the kind of thing where the original was funnier to me because I equate the final sting with funny images, like Chip standing on the desk paddling, or things like that. It’s inherently funny for me, like the UK version’s News Report theme. With this new music, I don’t have that connection yet. It’s very clean and professional.

Colin: “I’m your anchor, Jesu….Getoffofmycloud”
I’m glad they didn’t cut to Ryan there, considering the last time he made a similar joke

Colin: “A concert promoter who said he had the world’s tallest piano player was found to be lying today when the piano player was 5 foot 10. Just another case of a man lying about the size of his pianist.”

Jonathan: “You get the prize, the SHINIEST prize we have given away all year.”
Screen Shot 2020-09-22 at 10.50.22 AM
I’ve grown to love Colin’s very faint reactions to bald jokes

And then, Jonathan tries something, and…I love this succession of shots:
Screen Shot 2020-09-22 at 10.51.31 AM
[“Okay, he’s gonna try to lift me, let’s see how far he gets”]Screen Shot 2020-09-22 at 10.51.39 AM
I was dying laughing at Colin’s reaction here. It reminds me of a similar face, I believe, that he makes when Jeff nearly breaks his leg in a game of GH.

I think one of the best parts of using HD cameras for the CW version is we get more layered shots with deeper reactions:
Screen Shot 2020-09-22 at 10.53.57 AM

Jonathan feels his back failing, and yells “HELP”
Wayne helps JONATHAN UP
Jonathan: “NOT ME, HIM!”
PFFFFFF! That got me

I love that Aisha plays along and does the full excited game show contestant routine. This is something Drew Carey couldn’t exactly nail if it happened to him
Screen Shot 2020-09-22 at 10.56.49 AM

Colin, rushing back to his seat: “This just in, Jonathan only does one show.”

Also…this is just the first third of the game, and I already love it.

Wayne goes over and punches out Jonathan and collects his properties. 

Wayne, the second person to involve Aisha, goes over to the desk: “GIMME MY MONEY.”
Their scene does end slightly clumsily, though

Ryan gets the physicality down perfectly. “I’m going to start with my breakfast…an almond…”

Ryan: “Oh…I didn’t even notice I’m not wearing anything…”

A pretty good WN, though how could any of it compare to Jonathan’s? Ryan and Wayne’s were good, but basic for each of them. Jonathan’s completely opened us up to his skillset and humor.

Ryan, back at the seats: “That’s never happened on this show before. ‘SOMEONE HELP ME.'”

Aisha admits she’s never played GTA and “I had no idea what to say to you? What does a girl say in the game?”
Wayne: [LOUD MOAN]

Props: Ryan and Jonathan vs. Wayne and Colin

Wayne does a callback to WN by slapping Colin across the face with the prop asking for his money

Screen Shot 2020-09-22 at 11.13.06 AMColin: “i’m Chernobyl Mickey!”

Colin, milking Wayne: “I sure hope you’re a cow”
Wayne: [shakes his head no to the camera]

Ryan: “…this is the biggest sled you can find? I can barely fit my ass on this thing!”
I do love Ryan’s amused look as he attempts to skid across the floor with the prop

Screen Shot 2020-09-22 at 11.15.54 AMColin: “Welcome to the land of five penises”
Wayne: [cracks up]
Colin, looking down: “SIX! SEVEN!”

Screen Shot 2020-09-22 at 11.17.09 AMJonathan: “so, just go ahead and put the jockstrap in your pants and we’ll start the game”
Ryan: “…is this the biggest you have?”

Ryan, as a fly: “mmm, that’s some tasty lookin’ shit over there, isn’t it?”

An okay props. Not as good as last show’s for me. Colin and Wayne clearly had the better round, solely because they had better props. I would NOT want to have been stuck with Ryan and Jonathan’s.

Ryan asks what his props actually were: “I was thinking they might be sleds”
Aisha: “Yeah, you put your butt on them and…”
Ryan: “Well that’s why that [prop usage] didn’t get a laugh, I guess…like, HEY, LOOK AT THIS *SLED*….IMAGINE IF YOU WILL…”
I love that we get more banter, even if it is mostly international versions that keep them in

Aisha: “I’m going to take 500 points away from Colin for not being able to count his members.”
Colin: “Only 5 were working.”

Dubbing: Ryan is the handsome owner of a Beverly Hills fashion boutique and Kyle, voice by Colin, is his demanding customer and suddenly her rival housewife Wayne comes out of the changing room wearing an outfit that Kyle decides she wants

Aisha, as she explains the game to Kyle: “and try to hold onto reality…as the madness ensues…”
Screen Shot 2020-09-22 at 11.40.28 AM
I think we can pinpoint the exact moment that Kyle regrets this booking decision

Kyle is putting her all into moving her mouth. Colin can only sort of match that. “DRESS ME, YOU FREAK.”

Wayne, opening the door: “CHING-A-LING-A-LING-A-LING…”
Ryan: “Uh oh, it’s Chingalingaling.”
Kyle just…gives Ryan a look out of character for that one

Wayne does another posh Dubbing voice, this time with some jawline clenching action

Colin: “Alright, can you do the splits? Like this?”
Kyle: [goes right into a split]
Screen Shot 2020-09-22 at 11.45.37 AM
LOOK AT JONATHAN, AS WELL. MY GOD. I was right, every picture just tells a story with this HD camera.

And Kyle just…kicks off her shoes and glares at Wayne. I know that some whosers aren’t fond of Kyle on this show, but that move just makes her look insanely game, which is something guest stars need on this show.

Ryan, with a GREAT move: “You’ve COMPLETELY RUINED that dress!”
Putting reality back in there

Wayne then…throws off his shoes, and attempts to do a split himself, already knowing this won’t end well. He barely makes it all the way before Aisha buzzes and he just…crumples.

So…very basic Dubbing, and a lot of it went by without laughs, but the split, sort of like Lauren Cohan’s kick, added a live aspect that sort of brought it out of the scene and went into performance one-upmanship. Which…was entertaining, but the scene itself wasn’t too special. Kyle was fine, and her energy brought a lot to the proceedings. 

Jonathan, in a contrast from WN, has to help Wayne back to his seat, where he’s barely able to move. 

Wayne, who can barely even get a sentence out, just points at Aisha and goes “do your damn job…”

Sideways Scene: Jonathan and Wayne are undercover cops are bugging the apartment of a gangster, played by Colin, who’s fleeing a shootout and bursts in

Wayne immediately has to get over Jonathan, and we hear an audible ‘OHHHH’ from Jonathan as they collide. As you remember from IAG, Jonathan does not hide when he’s uncomfortable.

I kind of love that they have an actual working ceiling fan on this mat, and it can spin. It adds some texture to the setting, and some more slapstick potential for the scene

Our very first [Colin shuffles through the door] laugh

Colin’s doing a full shooting back thing as he slides through the door, even interrupting his zeal with “OOOOH, DOORKNOB!”

I love Jonathan balancing on the furniture piece and acting like he’s gonna fall

In ‘martial arts film’, Jonathan does a really impressive leap up nearly over Wayne. He’s having a solid show

Superhero film, Wayne does a full Spiderman and climbs up the wall by crawling on his knees, which is a good meta gag

A decent Sideways Scene. Like usual, a little empty after the styles, but the opening scene was pretty fun

Aisha gives points to Wayne and Jonathan
Colin: “what about the old bastard?”
Ryan: “I wasn’t in it.”

Colin even shows off an injury:
Screen Shot 2020-09-22 at 11.58.56 AM
Colin: “i pulled off the scab from the last time I did this scene…”

Ryan admits: “One time I stepped on my penis and it hurt SO BAD…”
Aisha: “I can’t…I can’t move on, after Ryan said that I can’t move onto anything for the rest of the night”
Ryan: “Very few women can.”

Helping Hands: Ryan, hands by Colin, is a sassy female flight attendant showing first class passenger Kyle all of the amenities in her cart

From the start, Kyle is very much holding back and letting Ryan do most of the improv. Not a great sign

Colin throws some of the vodka in the glass, and then the rest in Ryan’s mouth. Ryan, as the minibottle comes near his face: “oh god..”

Ryan, uncovering the meal: “OH, IT’S PASTA. WHAT COULD BE MESSIER?”

Ryan throws a lei over Kyle, does some Hawaiian gibberish, and says “that’s Hawaiian for ‘I don’t want to eat this'”

The lingering shot of Ryan with the pasta hanging from his lip looking seductive is, uh….probably a hit in Greece. 

Ryan, after swallowing the pasta: “I’m gonna have a little more booze.”

Ryan downs what looks like Fireball, but he’s not sure what it is. He takes a WHILE TO GET IT DOWN, and Colin’s just slamming the table as he tries. Something goes flying off the table

Midway through the scene, Kyle has done next to nothing. 

Colin pours the coffee, and…owing back to last time, Colin puts his finger in it to stir it. It must not be very hot. Kyle has to sort of rub the coffee stains out of her hair and face, and Ryan apologizes like 10 times.

Ryan, at one point, flubs a line, and Kyle and he just sort of crack a bit, as the scene’s just gone well into clusterfuck territory.

Colin ends up throwing the pasta into the coffee. Wayne and Jonathan are wincing in the back

Yeah, uh…not as good as E2’s Helping Hands. Kyle wasn’t a great scene partner, most of the humor in the scene came from Ryan having disgusting concoctions and there was no real back-and-forth. I did enjoy Ryan’s adventures with Fireball, but there wasn’t much else to this scene that didn’t feel like it could be in any other HH.

Overall: An okay show, but the guest games drag it downward. Weird Newscasters was a phenomenal start, and Jonathan brought a ton of energy to this show, but…Kyle Richards sucked most of that energy out of it, and both forces nullify each other, leaving us with a very okay, forgettable show. Props and Sideways Scene were lower tier playings, Dubbing and HH don’t compare to earlier playings. It felt like a very run-of-the=mill guest show, but I look at E1 as one of those, and that’s a better show. This isn’t without its moments, but it could have been a lot better.

Show Winners: Colin and Wayne
Best Performer: Colin had the most standout moments tonight.
Worst Performer: Ryan was once again relegated to support, except for Helping Hands, where even then Colin had most of the funny moves.
Best Game: Weird Newscasters was a ton of fun, and a great intro to Jonathan. 
Worst Game: Helping Hands was not pleasant.
Guest Host Rating: 6/10. Kyle was great in Dubbing, but was a brick wall in Helping Hands that took away from Ryan. It’s like her agent told her to do the show specifically under the guise of not needing to do anything.

COMING UP NEXT: Jeff Davis finally returns to Whose Line, and brings with him the first of a string of unusual guest bookings. Not by name, but by interesting occupation.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S09E03, or I’m Normally Not Within Your Target Demo

Onto a relatively big show, and not just because it marked the second week of new episodes for the CW. It’s a big show because Keegan Michael Key is the fourth seater, and he’s resting on Key and Peele energy. It’s also big because it’s the first of many times the show will use its status as a CW show to collaborate with other CW shows, in this case The Vampire Diaries, which was still pretty big in 2013. Candice Accola from that show is our guest star, or ‘star guest’ if you’re mental.  I hadn’t really heard of her when I watched this. ‘oh, she’s on a CW show. cool.’

Still, it’s an opportunity to see one improv legend tussle with 3 of ours, which is cool.

Hollywood Director: Ryan is on a space station examining an alien life form with his android assistant, Keegan, and Wayne is the mother alien who bursts in to attack them

Ironically the first broadcast ABC playing of director also involved a performer playing an android. It’d fit a lot better if the first UK playing of director was a scene from the movie Alien as well, but it’s actually the second one. 

Already, Keegan’s off-putting android acting is impressive enough to garner some audience reactions. Keegan, as he’d hint here, is a shockingly underrated actor [watch Don’t Think Twice for proof], and already he seems to fit perfectly.

And then Wayne comes in with really good alien physicality. I like that they’re essentially going sans-jokes in this first scene and just playing it straight

Wayne does screw Keegan’s character up, so as he falls on the floor, Keegan yells, for the audience’s sake, “HALF OF ME!”. That is a very stage-improv move.

Also, I love Keegan reattaching his lower half as Colin paces, forming his inaugural crap-line of the show

Bitchy fashionistas
Ryan: “We have to dress the alien up in something, he can’t go all GREEN like this…”

Hell, Ryan and Keegan working off each other picking outfits is also really good. I like that Wayne, both times so far, has given them time to bounce off each other and do character stuff pre-physical-ending

And then, Wayne turns his banging noise into a bumping bass beat to walk the catwalk to, which is very fun

Springer show
Keegan, at the autopsied alien: “I TOLD YOU, ALIEN! I TOLD YOU WE’D MESS YOU UP!”
He’s a natural. A natural, I tell you

Also, as Ryan and Keegan argue, more proof that Ryan and Keegan are great at working off each other

Then, when Wayne enters, he and Keegan have a full-fledged slap fight with hands and everything. It’s like a more well-choreographed version of Lauren Cohan’s kick.

An INSANELY STRONG Director game. Keegan is already a standout from the very beginning, and his scenes with Wayne were so fun. Colin is still recovering his previous energy with the show, especially here.

Aisha: “I’m gonna nominate you all for a Canadian Emmy”
Colin: [nods]
Keegan: “A CEMMY.”
Aisha: “Which is worth about as much as the points on this show.”
The audience, and Colin, aww. Keegan even darts towards Colin for his reaction
Aisha, behind her: “ARE YOU ALL CANADIAN?”
Colin: “YES WE ARE.”

Props: Ryan and Keegan vs. Wayne and Colin

This is how Props pairings would go for the rest of the CW series. Ryan and guest, Wayne and Colin. No flexibility.

Screen Shot 2020-09-19 at 4.48.49 PMColin: “welcome to the tribe of erectile dysfunction!”

Ryan can still make a ‘table for Madonna’ joke work in 2013

Screen Shot 2020-09-19 at 4.51.13 PMWayne: “yeah, officer, I saw the whole thing, dude came and just cut Bugs Bunny in half”

Screen Shot 2020-09-19 at 4.52.24 PM
Colin: “I’m confused…”
Audience: […]
Colin, realizing what’s wrong:Screen Shot 2020-09-19 at 4.52.33 PMAudience: [applauds]

I think this was Keegan’s contribution, cause Ryan picked a lot of his old standbys:
Screen Shot 2020-09-19 at 4.54.23 PMKeegan: “Whoa, Dracula, you’ve got a LOT of plaque…”
THAT is great

Wayne and Colin seem to be running out, and so:
Screen Shot 2020-09-19 at 4.55.40 PMColin: “What do YOU want for Christmas, Old Mr. T?”
Wayne just cracks. He can’t even do the impression

Keegan’s great because he can SELL jokes that Ryan can breeze through, like the ‘table for Madonna’ one, and also a ‘cartoon awooga eyes’ one that Keegan puts SO MUCH FORCE INTO.

Ryan does have an original, meta joke up his sleeve:
Screen Shot 2020-09-19 at 4.58.21 PMRyan: “These are the OLD shoes I used to wear on Whose Line.”
That’s a great one

A strong Props. Not sure if I’m blinded by recency or being away, but these felt really fresh. You also see the beginnings of the loose Wayne-Colin props relationship that’s gonna rule the next 8 years. 

Hell, as Ryan returns the props, Aisha whacks him on the butt with one of Wayne’s props. Again, she’s new at this, but she’s already very much in on the fun.

Aisha even mentions the old shoes, asking Ryan what happened to them
Ryan: “I decided to tone it down this year”
Screen Shot 2020-09-19 at 5.01.37 PMSo yeah, for the CW run, Ryan’s gonna be using socks more than shoes to express himself. I think one of the S9 socks was a ‘strippers on a pole’ pattern, but I don’t think that made air.
Aisha: “1000 points to Ryan for going into Wayne’s trailer and stealing his socks”

Aisha asks Colin if he’s sporting ‘a little extra gel tonight?”
Colin: “Yeah. Oh, on my hair?”

Song Styles: Wayne sings a latin pop song to Candice


Once again, Wayne doesn’t ask any opening question. Let’s see how much material he has. Also, interesting to note, no stool. 

Also, as the backing comes in, both Colin and Keegan start bopping to it in the back

Wayne: “On the CW, you are Nosferatu”
…that’s a Chip-style verbose rhyme

Candice is proving very game, and is energetic enough to keep up with Wayne in terms of dancing and movement. 

Wayne, giggling the second he thinks of this: “why don’t you turn around so I can stake you from behind”
CANDICE AND AISHA LOSE IT. Keegan even erupts in the back. Colin essentially mutters ‘WHAT?’ to Ryan, and by the time we cut back, both Colin and Ryan are confused
Screen Shot 2020-09-19 at 5.12.53 PMI don’t blame him

Wayne runs out of lyrics quickly, and he just starts repeating refrains until the song ends. Candice even mistakes when the song ends, and does a ‘stand on one leg’ bit thinking it’s the end, but it goes on for one more stanza. Wayne, not expecting this, looks and goes ‘OH, EN POINTE!”

Wayne does throw in one more line: “I’m normally not within your target demo, but OH.”
Candice digs that. It’s the kind of meta line I can respect

A fun number but, for the second time in a row, Wayne boosts this one on the strength of his dancing, singing ability and rapport with Candice, and not his lyrical ability. So it’s another one-sided one, though Candice was enjoying it. Still…I cannot ignore that ‘stake you from behind’ line. That was…hysterical.

There’s some good banter here about ‘on point vs. en pointe’, but Aisha’s french accent [‘EH PWAAAH’] is the highlight.

Dating Profiles: World’s Worst Dating Profiles

A new game, except…it’s Hats, but without the Hats. It’s an early prototype of CW World’s Worst, but fixed to be like Hats. Plus, the background is in on it:

Screen Shot 2020-09-19 at 5.18.15 PM
That’s…an interesting element that only gets used once. like, the green-screen background really only changes for this and for Sideways Scene this season, and then acts as a stationary background basically for the rest of the run.

Colin: “…want a creepy hug?”
[the CW hashtag for this was ‘creepy dates’, so it fits that this is the first one]

After a few standard ones:
Screen Shot 2020-09-19 at 5.20.50 PM
Colin: “I THINK YOU’RE VERY ATTRACTIVE. And…if you don’t mind a guy with another guy…”
Screen Shot 2020-09-19 at 5.21.52 PM
Colin, with no other options: “….up his ass?”Screen Shot 2020-09-19 at 5.22.01 PM
Sterling Archer voice: “uhm, are we not doing phrasing anymore?”

Screen Shot 2020-09-19 at 5.23.54 PMScreen Shot 2020-09-19 at 5.24.02 PMScreen Shot 2020-09-19 at 5.24.12 PMScreen Shot 2020-09-19 at 5.24.32 PM

Colin, meanwhile, is trying to calm the audience, just going ‘no’, ensuring them that this probably won’t air.
Screen Shot 2020-09-19 at 5.27.34 PM

Wayne, still not over that: “CHECK YES!”

And now Wayne realizes he’s still in position, and goes “….I don’t even know what the fuck I was gonna say…”

Ryan: “I don’t know if it turns you on, but a lot of people tell me I look like a very mature Neil Patrick Harris”
Even in 2013, the Doogie Howser jokes continue

Colin’s mime is hilarious, while also being adorable and not especially being a ‘bad date’

Wayne: “I don’t have any pictures of myself, but I have plenty of you.”

Keegan: “and so how big are your hips?….oh, jeez, I creeped MYSELF out..”

Colin, motioning to himself: “nothing on here has ever been used.”

Ryan, with another one of his standbys, throws his dick over his shoulder. Yes, in 2013 on the CW, that gets on the air. 

So…that didn’t work as a Hats game obviously, but as the unofficial first World’s Worst of the CW era, as all subsequent WW playings would be in this format, this was so fucking good. Possibly one of the best WW in the full show’s history. Not only the ventriloquist joke, but…so many consecutive lines worked, proving that the hats crutch was an excuse to do easy puns. Yes, we’d see Hats in this version, but this WW possibly outdoes them all. 

Ryan: “I find out something new about Colin every day.”
Colin: “It started out different in my head.”

Living Scenery: Ryan and Colin are two intrepid mountaineers facing various obstacles in a bid to reach the summit of Mount Everest. Keegan and Candice are the props

Wayne doesn’t get to be tortured in this game? Aww..

Although…kind of interesting that the only fourth seater that appears in 4/5 games of the first 3 shows is the one that is a semi-big star at the time of this taping. So…slight bias?

Ryan, to Candice, perhaps owing to an unaired dubbing: “we’re gonna get to hear you speak this ga-OH, NO WE WON’T!”
Candice: “No, I’m the mute guest this evening.”
[somewhere, Vernon Davis chuckles]

Keegan, to start off:
Screen Shot 2020-09-19 at 5.43.07 PM
Ryan: “…the mountain doesn’t really look that high, does it?”

Colin, in the hut, shakes Keegan’s head: “…try again later.”
Colin taking bald jokes out on Wayne and Keegan must feel cathartic
Colin says it’s for confidence, “knowing that I can have choices made by my little black ball.”

The second Colin uses Keegan as a backpack, you can see Wayne completely shift in the back, trying to get an angle on Keegan to see whose back will go out first

Keegan and Candice operating the ‘mortar machine’ is a very nice apparatus, and more proof that Keegan’s energy and quick thinking are WELCOME in this show.

The best part of both these factions of performers is they’re terrific of responding to each other. As Keegan and Candice form an avalanche, Colin goes “luckily they stopped right in front of us”
So Keegan does this:
Screen Shot 2020-09-19 at 6.56.52 PM
Colin: “Ohh, these poor mountain goats!”
It’s not just a game of prop response, it’s a game of Colin and Ryan responding to said prop response, which adds another dimension to this game [I also put ‘that’s our car telling us we should drive it’ in 4×08 into this category, or even ‘Crazy Ted’]

Colin, as Keegan does milk noises: “you know what, this might be my last chance for food, I better milk this one.”
Ryan loses it once Colin does Keegan. “Nono…”
Ryan, still not wanting to do that to Candice: “…no…he’s angry that you want to milk that one…”
Wayne, in the back, is just facepalming

I love Keegan chirping across as an eagle at the top of the mountain
Colin, not giving him the satisfaction: “You don’t see bats up this high usually…”

Ryan says they’re going to sled down, Colin stays in front of Candice
Ryan: “…I had a feeling you’d take that one…”

Candice, as Colin mounts:
Screen Shot 2020-09-19 at 7.30.36 PM

PFFFHAHAHAHA. Oh my gosh, Colin

Colin, about to get on Candice: “this is gonna be the most exciting thing we’ve ever done.”
Ryan, about to get on Keegan: “I HOPE SO…’

Ryan, after a bit of riding, gives Keegan a break, and goes ‘we’re at the bottom’. BUT COLIN KEEPS RIDING.
Colin: “I don’t care!”

As Aisha buzzes and Keegan helps Candice up, Ryan goes ‘I hope we didn’t crush you…’. As Colin hugs her, he even goes ‘I’m so sorry’

Colin, back at the seats: “I LOVE MY WIFE.”
Aisha: “You are a PARENT, Colin Mochrie…”
Wayne: “…not hers…”
Colin, as we fade out: “as far as I know…”

So…that was a fantastic Living Scenery. Miles better than E1’s. It didn’t seem like the usual bit of ‘going through the motions’ and ‘ooh let’s do suggestive things’. It was a great use of Candice, and the game soon became ‘lets keep screwing with her’. Keegan was fantastic at scene work, and he worked insanely well with Candice to set the stage. Both Colin and Ryan had fun moments. A genuinely great game, and a good trend-setter.

Overall: I was toying this whole watch with whether or not this was better than E2 for me, and around World’s Worst it won out. The difference is E2 is…a really, really good version of the same sort of formula most guest episodes have. It’s being formulaic, but done well. This episode deviates from that formula, the guest games are A.) funny and B.) structured around the cast games, and might be even more consistent. Song Styles is a dud for me, but it still made me laugh. Everything else felt very high-tier. Candice was a very basic guest but still played along well. Keegan blew me away as fourth seater, having fantastic moments all night, though clearly more comfortable in scene-based environments than Props and World’s Worst, where it took him longer to win me over. Director and Living Scenery were great bookend tentpoles, and Props and World’s Worst were fantastic quickfire rounds. For the first time, this show feels fully-realized in a way that matches up to and combats the Drew version. A success on several levels, and though not a perfect show, our first great one.

Show Winners: All Four
Best Performer: Colin Mochrie. After a few more subdued shows, Colin finally came alive tonight, and had the most funny moments all night.
Worst Performer: Ryan stuck to support work for most of the night, as well as resting on stand-by jokes in Props and Dating Profile.
Best Game: In a sharper mood, I’d say Living Scenery, but…fuck it, Dating Profiles was just wall-to-wall funny, and powered itself off of the ventriloquist joke.
Worst Game: Song Styles. Despite the ‘stake from behind’ joke, which I still think is hysterical, this one had barely any material for Wayne to pick from.
Guest Star Rating: 8/10. Candice didn’t do much at all outside the realm of ‘serviceable’, but she was far from bad, and she seemed to be enjoying herself.

COMING UP NEXT: Our first Whose Line appearance from the great Jonathan Mangum, and a guest star appearance from a Real Housewife of Beverly Hills, because getting Glee stars as guests wasn’t trashy enough

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S09E02, or It Adds Texture to the Experience

Back when I was covering Trust Us With Your Life, I mentioned that immediately after its premiere in 2009, pop culture seemed infatuated with a show on FOX called Glee. It’s the reason Ryan Murphy is still rolling out edgy, FX genre projects, it’s the reason why the whole world shakes whenever someone like Cory Monteith or Naya Rivera dies tragically, and it’s the reason why Jane Lynch now has a career as a game show host, or essentially as the less-problematic version of Ellen Degeneres.

However, in 2020, a sort of backlash has set in about Glee, in that people are just now realizing how trashy the writing was, how secretly homophobic the show was despite being a launching pad for several LGBTQ+ careers, and how…bonkers the show could be at any moment. And it was beginning to set in right after its cultural peak around 2010. After the show’s third season ended in 2011, the peak had passed, several of the principal cast members were ‘graduating’, and the show’s pop culture bubble was beginning to pop as it was becoming more normalized as part of Fox’s lineup.

So while it was odd to see Dan & Mark cashing in on the show in 2012 with the ‘GLEE CLUB IT’ round in Trust Us With Your Life, it’s even odder to still see the CW cash in on Glee, on a competitor’s network, in 2013. It is an attempt made by two british men to try and predict what American teenagers want to see without accounting for changing fads and trends. 

And that’s why the second episode of a two-show premiere night in July 2013 is a principal cast-member from Glee. 

Not just any Glee cast-member. Kevin McHale, who played the lovable [at least that’s the vibe the promotional material sent out] Artie, the wheelchair bound underdog member of the central glee club. Which isn’t a bad get. It’s not like, uh, I dunno, Cory Monteith or Naya Rivera or Lea Michele or Chris Colfer or Amber Riley or Heather Morris or Darren Criss [those last three would be on later]. But he’s a principal cast member, and he’s a guest on WL. So, uh…to the young people still watching Glee in 2013, congratulations.

The good news is this is the first Whose Line episode for new fourth seater and carry-over from Improv-a-Ganza Heather Anne Campbell. Heather, by this point, has spent a year on the writing staff of SNL [unsuccessfully], and has been writing, and doing voice work, for Fox’s ADHD for a year or so. She’s also still on The Midnight Show in UCB LA, but of course she is. The Whose Line gig will supply the stability her career has been needing, and will lead her towards the podcasting and writing gigs she’s procured to this day.

With that, we can get into Episode 2:

Okay, so…maybe it hasn’t aged well that Aisha’s intro for Heather is ‘Golden Globes’. Heather has gotten a double-mastectomy in the last few years. She no longer has any Golden Globes. 

Scenes from a Hat:

WE START WITH SFAH. That’s a bold statement from the producers.

Also, I’m glad the whosers weren’t predicting games in 2013. Like 10 predictions would have been thrown out the window with SFAH going first. Everyone would be incorrect except for, like, Gormley or somebody.

“Things You Shouldn’t Say After Sleeping With Someone for the First Time”
Wayne, with Heather: [giggles]
Heather’s next move proves she’s gonna be just as active and aggressive as the boys:

screen-shot-2020-09-18-at-11.31.46-amThis is a great move, because it’s a good response to a lot of the male-centric humor the show has done.
Wayne does take it a step further after a few seconds of this:
Screen Shot 2020-09-18 at 11.33.38 AMScreen Shot 2020-09-18 at 11.33.47 AMHeather literally SCREAMS at that. Proving, again, that she’s quick and capable of selling a performer’s joke. Perfect.
Hell, Heather, Wayne and Aisha are still laughing at that as they get back

Colin: “that was…amazing….[pulls out hand puppet] “I AM SO GLAD YOU LIKED IT!”
PFFFFF. Goin a little Robin Williams there, Col…

Wayne does an outdated joke: “it’ll be so much better after my surgery.”
After the audience groans, he stares down the camera and goes “…BUT IT WILL.”
Not a great joke, but Wayne’s comeback makes it better than it has any reason to be

“Lines you wouldn’t hear in a weight-loss commercial.”
Heather: “There’s no hope for you!”
I’ve always loved that one. And it’s a great intro to Heather on this show

Colin’s also just makes me laugh, just casually going: “Oh…Thar She Blows!”
PFFFFFF. Only Colin can make that work

“Things You Can Say About Your Favorite Pair of Shoes, But Not About Your Partner”. Okay, NOW it’s ‘partner’ all the way. Ironic thing is they could have kept it at ‘girlfriend’ and it could have still applied. 
Wayne, after hesitating for a good 2 seconds: “I don’t like it when I’m inside of you and you squeak.”
Wayne literally winces as he recovers from the fact that he just said that, and the audience is wincing along with him.
Ryan: “hm…these used to fit tighter.”
Wayne, as the audience applauds him, goes back up: “HE can say THAT…”
I love that. Wayne is dominating so far this round.

Wayne: “The tongue keeps getting in the way!”

Aisha: “Bad things to say when you’re running for office”
Ryan, with a joke that made a lot more sense coming off of the 2012 election: “and, uh, I don’t really care about that 47%…”
YEAH. Remember when Mitt Romney said that and we thought, ‘oh, that’ll kill his chances of being president’? Good times, good times.

Arguably a much more substantial SFAH than last show, with more variety, and, more importantly, much more from Wayne Brady. 

Aisha: “You know some people like a nice squeak…it adds texture to the experience…”
Heather and Wayne crack at that line. Colin looks around, very confused

Screen Shot 2020-09-18 at 11.44.53 AM[adds to reaction image folder]

Song Styles: Wayne sings a gospel song to Kevin

Aisha, still new at this, refers to the game as ‘Song Style’. Who are you, Drew Carey trying to pronounce Ryan’s last name?

Kinda odd that we start with Gospel, cause so many S5 song styles ones were gospel, but Wayne’s good at it. Also, unlike later seasons, Wayne doesn’t ask Kevin any questions to work off of him, he’s just got baseline knowledge, which…probably isn’t much

At least Laura and Linda do it in a different key this time.

Kevin, as Wayne does his opening bit, does, for the record, gets really into it. I do like that Wayne does say that ‘you can get rich by sitting in a chair with wheels’, owing to Kevin’s character. On one hand, cast disabled actors in disabled parts, on the other hand, at least Wayne’s giving Kevin shit about it

Wayne, who KNOWS KEVIN, does mention ‘before you was on Glee, you was in a boy band’. Kevin’s initially coy, but does do some goofy dancing with Wayne.

Also, as Kevin’s doing his gospel dancing on the chair, Colin, who’s enjoying this, does a little jazz-hands in the back

Once again, Wayne sort of goads Kevin into singing as well, saying ‘normally I handle all this business myself’.
Kevin, to his credit, impressed me by doing a very soul-esque voice, going ‘I CAN’T SING LIKE YOU’. 

Kevin: “I may be a little light-skinned, then-“
Wayne, with an accompanying hand-signal: “LITTLE…”

Wayne, with a very 2013 line, goes “I’d do anything to get off of here and get my black ass onto Glee.” Reminiscent of a line Wayne later has about Nashville.

Wayne, after Kevin leaves: “my daughter’s gonna think I’m so cool now…”

So…here is where I am conflicted. Musically, this was a great number. Energy-wise, Kevin was right there with Wayne, and there was a lot of great vocal and energetic moments in this song. Lyrically….not so much. This is another Wayne number that’s more about likeness and less about actual substance, even detailing that he wants Kevin to dance and sing. It’s clear he doesn’t have much material, and Kevin isn’t the best at improvising lyrics, but they can both make up for it in ability. Which…I guess makes them kindred spirits. 

I’ll emphasize again- Wayne gets better throughout the CW version. Once he learns to ask the guest star a question or two to have something specific to sing about, these numbers get a lot better. These two-singer numbers also improve once they become official duets, like Amber Riley’s number, or Elizabeth Gillies’, or even Wayna Morris’ trio with Wayne [and Jonathan]. So as is, this is a very prototypical, basic Song Styles that I can’t fully enjoy. Kevin wasn’t the problem. Kevin was great. There just wasn’t enough…’there’ there, if you know what I’m saying. 

Dubbing: Ryan is the high school choir teacher helping Kevin, voice by Colin rehearse for the lead role in a singing competition and Kevin’s arch rival Wayne comes in to prove he can perform better

Again, owing to how well Kevin knows Wayne. Ryan and Colin give him a handshake. Wayne just slaps his arm. 

Colin’s goofy vocal warmups coming out of Kevin is funny enough.I also kind of love that because of the lower mic volume, it sounds more distant. Something about distant, muted dialogue coming from offscreen is inherently funny to me

Colin has this very silly long note that Kevin holds
Ryan: “STOP, STOP…you sound like an old Canadian, that’s horrible!”

Wayne enters dramatically
Colin: “oh, it’s you…..Rextal.”

I love Wayne using a posh british accent for his character.

Wayne: “I’ve seen your work with the old man Canadian choir…”
Screen Shot 2020-09-18 at 2.28.20 PM

Ryan goads this scene into what most Dubbing scenes inevitably turn into- a competition between the guest and a performer, of some sort. 

Colin has Kevin say he’s gonna hold a note for ‘up to 50 minutes’
Ryan: “I’LL TIME YOU.”

Ryan does has a smart move, as Colin holds a note- Ryan looks to the camera and goes ‘FIFTY MINUTES LATER’.

Colin, ending the scene with pride: “and even though I sing with only one testicle…”
Kevin: [adjusts self]
Okay, he’s GOOD.

Wayne does end the scene by making up with Kevin’s character.
Ryan, knowing we need to end with a laugh: “and I have THREE testicles…”

So…despite that being a very basic Dubbing, there were some good moves, and a good performance from Kevin, that kept me from disliking it. That’s the thing, this is the second consecutive fairly standard guest game, but because of what Kevin’s putting into it, I can’t hate it. 

Sideways Scene: James Bond, played by Colin, is seducing a beautiful Russian spy, played by Heather, in a hotel room when acrobatic master criminal Wayne enters to attack them

Yes, this game returns from TUWYL. 

The simplicity of this game remains, but the act of Colin shuffling over to Heather romantically while still…awkwardly shuffling across the floor, still works, and gets a laugh out of Aisha

I also love Heather lying on the bed, and Colin doing a running leap onto it, in this position. This game is an excuse for everyone to do some really cartoonish physical gags, and they’re working so far here.

I also love Wayne flying into the scene from above. “I came from the attic!”

Having Heather in this scene is cool, cause in Poltergeist style, she’s good at flinging herself up towards the top of the mat quickly. Wayne even has himself BOUNCING OFF THE BED, upside down

In cirque du soleil style, we do this:
Screen Shot 2020-09-18 at 2.39.59 PM
I think they’ve gotten the hang of this game since TUWYL.

A pretty good Sideways Scene, a lot better than some of the ones in Trust Us, and with great physical work from all 3, but especially Wayne and Heather.

Helping Hands: Ryan, hands by Colin is a carny at the local fairground and Kevin is a tourist who has come up to his stand

Just would like to point out that, like Gary, Heather has appeared in two games tonight. The anti-fourth seater bias is in full swing.

Also, first of many Helping Hands games in the CW version. This will become a crutch for them in several guest star shows

Aisha, as Colin’s still getting in position: “if you gentlemen are ready…”
Ryan: “We’re NOT ready.”
Aisha: “Not the first time I’ve heard that from a man.”
…Aisha Tyler is just female Clive Anderson. She’s so damned quick with these guys, and pretty unflappable at that.

Kevin has a smart move and uses a british accent
Ryan: “Oh, you’re from Britain, aren’t you? I’m so sorry.”
…ryan half the production crew is english

Ryan, as Colin picks up the fishbowl: “it’s the…magic, guess your weight goldfish’

Kevin: “is it alive?”
Ryan: “nah, once you get through the eyes, it’s alright.”
Ryan is as fearless as ever in this game
Kevin: “you see in britain that’s a delicacy, we love the eyes”
Ryan: “REALLY? SCUSE ME A SECOND.” [spits into Colin’s hand]

Ryan then introduces a trick of “pouring popcorn into my mouth and shooting it into the other person’s mouth”. So, he blows like 10 kernels towards Kevin, most of which fly everywhere, but:
Screen Shot 2020-09-18 at 2.56.26 PM

I also love Heather and Wayne’s reactions:Screen Shot 2020-09-18 at 2.56.43 PMScreen Shot 2020-09-18 at 2.56.54 PM

Aisha even applauds.

I also love how, as the applause dies down, Colin tries tossing popcorn into Ryan’s mouth and repeatedly misses.
Ryan: “Can’t get it into my own mouth…”
Kevin, perhaps foreshadowing 2020: “Hope you’re not sick…”

Kevin knows how this game works, and has Ryan eat the chocolate covered banana on a stick [how’d a Bluth banana make it onto this show?]

I do love Ryan getting brain freeze shoving the frozen banana in his mouth. 

I also love Ryan shoving dried funnel cake in his face and going, eventually, “…I don’t know WHAT THE HELL that is…”

The scene ends with Colin throwing sugar in Ryan’s face and it looking like a cocaine explosion.

A pretty good HH. Kevin was a fantastic sounding board, and was very good at taking on Ryan’s performance, which itself was like no time had passed. It wasn’t entirely ‘Ryan eats gross things’, cause some of them weren’t gross, but I like how varied some of the things on the table were. I did sense a late edit as Kevin was about to ask something, and I wish we’d seen more of Kevin doing actual improv. 

Ryan: “…I’m gonna walk back into the hotel like this. ‘HEY!'”
Screen Shot 2020-09-18 at 3.06.59 PM“GOD I LOVE THIS TOWN!”

Aisha does throw in a Charlie Sheen joke, and the audience awws, perhaps knowing that Ryan is FRIENDS with Charlie Sheen.

Overall: Better than Episode 1. Kevin was a better guest, there were more consistently funny games, the guest games had more good improv moves rather than self-fellating, and Wayne had an excellent show, dominating several games. I think SFAH, the last half of Dubbing and Helping Hands were the highlights, and it was also nice seeing Heather coming off strong not only as a performer but also as an active audience member in HH. Yes, she’s still under-edited, and she will be for a bit, but she’s still coming off strong here. Also…not a ton of Colin-Ryan games tonight, which allowed for different dynamics. Wayne and Kevin got along well together, Wayne and Heather had nice laughs, and…Kevin and Ryan had two great scenes together. Not exactly perfect, but a better show, and a good use of a guest star.

Show Winners: All Four
Best Performer: Wayne Brady. Dude owned the entire first half of the show. 
Worst Performer: Heather wasn’t in a great deal of the show, but had fantastic support work all night, which is why I’m sad that she still needs to go in this category.
Best Game: Helping Hands edges out SFAH for seeming fresh, loose, and surprising [that popcorn catch]. 
Worst Game: Song Styles was insanely basic. 
Guest Host Rating: 9/10. Kevin was clearly having a ball, doing good scene work, and getting the rules of improv. A good pick for this show, despite the Glee connection, which didn’t come up too often after Song Styles.

COMING UP NEXT: Some CW corporate synergy, and a debut appearance from a sketch comedy hero that WAS, IN FACT, A big deal in 2013. 

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S09E01, or That One Looks Like It Could Kick

The watchdown, finally, continues. After a long hiatus, we pick up with…the CW version, returning after a long hiatus.

So, when we last left off, Dan and Mark’s improv ventures hit a bit of a snag. After Trust Us With Your Life failed in Summer 2012, they had failed at two improv projects in a row [that and Fast and Loose], they’d lost ABC’s trust after how they treated them, and they were down to only one profitable improv-esque production, Mock the Week, which was about to lose Chris Addison to HBO, and plunge into the sort of dormant era it’s been in ever since. They needed another way of staying on television, and they still had nice ties with Wayne, Jonathan and Colin, as well as Brad and Greg.

Meanwhile, all these improv traveling shows are still happening. Colin and Brad’s two-man show is still a hit. Whose Live is still running, though due to filming for Nashville, Chip Esten has to leave the troupe, to be replaced by fan-favorite Joel Murray [and, for a short period, former vampire slayer and current right-winger Kristy Swanson]. Wayne and Jonathan’s audience interplay bits on Let’s Make a Deal are keeping the improv spirit alive on TV. So then it begins to dawn on Dan and Mark…all of these people separately still draw crowds, based mainly on the now-cult success of Whose Line, which is still rerunning on ABC Family and now has a huge online presence courtesy of the next generation of Whosers.

So…why not bring back Whose Line?

Well, there is an answer to that: who would buy it and broadcast it? It’s a low-risk show, it’s cheap to film, but it also caters to a specific demographic that makes it hard to market to, as the WB and GSN, and even ABC, found out recently. It’s also not the kind of show that would fit in a fall primetime lineup, as most networks order programs and fill their schedule up with big, entertaining shows that go for the sort of intensity and emotion that, admittedly, Whose Line can only provide in short form.

Keep in mind, the question was never ‘can we get everybody back?’. Wayne, Colin, Jonathan, Brad and Greg were already close to the rolodex, and it wouldn’t be hard to get Ryan or Jeff, or even Laura Hall and Linda Taylor, back on the show at all. The real question would be ‘if we got everybody back, would people show up?’

On March 1, 2013, we got our answer. At 9 in the morning, meaning it was so well-timed that production had asked for it specifically, Colin Mochrie tweeted this:
Screen Shot 2020-06-26 at 8.35.13 PM.png

It was the tweet heard round the internet. Hundreds, THOUSANDS of fans came out of the woodwork to share their memories of the show, and how exciting it would be to see another season of the show. The ploy had worked. Fans wanted more Whose Line. Whichever network was skeptical about airing Whose Line, the audience would be there.

However, the network that budged…genuinely had more of a concern than an audience showing up. The CW, the WB-based company that had formed after the merger of former Whose Line punching bag UPN and formerly impatient boss of Drew Carey The WB, had developed a teen-centric clientele with their roster of teen soaps like Supernatural, 90210, The Vampire Diaries, and eventually Arrow, The Flash and Riverdale. The CW was a standard network channel that operated like a basic cable channel- shows for teens, made with teens, made by struggling 40-year-olds. Adding Whose Line to the mix might either dissuade the young demographic by throwing in older age groups for one hourlong block per week…or, more interestingly, introduce a new, younger demographic to the classic improv comedy show. And, honestly, both happened, but positively.

The CW, to their credit, gave Dan and Mark carte-blanche to recreate the improv environment of yore, letting them bring back the original performers, original games, and whatever worked before. Because this show was still an unscripted risk, similar to the network’s Penn and Teller Fool Us [or, as then-host Jonathan Ross said it, Pin Un Tewwah Foo Us], there would need to be guest stars at each taping to boost viewership, and potentially tie in viewers of other CW programs. Which is fine, as instead of going for the rolodex they used for TUWYL, Dan and Mark would give the CW the reins of booking guest stars, leading to booking decisions both inspired and questionable over the CW run.

Dan and Mark also let CW pick a host, which is…surprising after the Fred Willard debacle, but seeing as the CW seemed to respect the show and its format more than ABC did, I can see why. I’m not sure how many people the CW screened or thought of before they got to Aisha Tyler, but when they did, it was a move that was the opposite of Willard on TUWYL- it didn’t seem to fit in concept.

Aisha Tyler was, at this point in her career, an unfocused Jack-of-all-Trades type to Hollywood. She’d broken in as a host of Talk Soup in the late 90s, she’d pop up in small recurring roles in Friends, 24, the Santa Clause franchise and CSI, and while she’d found solid work as a cast member on FX’s landmark animated series Archer, as well as finding a talk-show gig as a member of the ladies’ roundtable The Talk, she was still figuring out what laurels to lie on.

Whose Line would change that. I remember upon the announcement that Tyler had taken the gig, there was a lot of confusion and unsureness from whosers, maybe because, like me, they couldn’t visualize Aisha in Drew’s chair. Drew had Price is Right commitments, he couldn’t be a part of it, so really anyone who sat in that chair would look odd at first, but Aisha didn’t seem like a slam dunk at the time. I also owe this, and the reason why a lot of fans of the Drew version didn’t make the jump to the Aisha version, to the closet sexism that a lot of comedy fans have always seemed to have. For the record, the convention that women aren’t funny is an absolute lie, as on this watchdown we’ve seen Josie Lawrence, Caroline Quentin, Debra Wilson, Denny Siegel, Karen Maruyama, Kathy Greenwood, Kathy Griffin, Florence Henderson, Kathy Kinney, Heather Anne Campbell and Nicole Parker debunk that. Women are funny, y’all are just sexist.

Anyway, Aisha as host wouldn’t make sense until we got to see it for ourselves. And once we did…we’d be sorry we ever doubted her.

In July 2013, Whose Line would land on the CW. While the first two shows would be shown in an hourlong block, the rest of Season 9 would be done one per week, as the lord intended it. Season 9, all filmed in April 2013, would be the only season to date to utilize S9-era tapings- every subsequent season would see material shown in later seasons.

Right from the first show, it became clear that while the regulars, Wayne, Colin and Ryan, would be the same, the rep company of fourth seaters would be slightly different. The six S9 tapings would feature only one of the original fourth seaters, Jeff Davis, which was a big move at the time, especially considering how Greg and Brad were just in TUWYL. Thankfully two members of the WL family would be included in this taping season, Jonathan Mangum and Heather Anne Campbell, both of whom would be welcomed by the fans.

For the other three rep-company spots, the CW, like ABC before them, turned to local circles of improv. Gary Anthony Williams, known in 2013 for his notable size, was an Atlanta improv mainstay, a voice-acting legend for his work on The Boondocks, a recurring favorite on 2000s-era family favorites like Malcolm in the Middle and the Amanda Show, and was a member of Jordan Black’s Groundlings team The Black Version, also featuring Karen Maruyama, Debra Wilson, Phil LaMarr and Nyima Funk. As further proof that Dan and Mark had a mission to gut The Black Version of all its talent save for Jordan Black himself, Nyima Funk also filmed a S9 taping. Funk was a bit player around improv circles, even appearing a few times on MTV’s improv-rap-battle program Wild’N’Out. Funk was already known to me by this point for her work as an ensemble player in 2007’s short-lived American version of the Australian instinct-based improv showcase ‘Thank God You’re Here’. Remind me when I’m done with Whose Line to do the US, UK, and possibly AU versions of TGYH. It’d be fun!

For the last fourth-seater spot, CW called an audible. In 2013, one of the biggest and most important sketch shows on television was a Comedy Central-based MadTV spinoff called Key and Peele. Throughout their 5 seasons, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele produced some of the finest sketch comedy imaginable, and propelled themselves to larger film careers, Key as a supporting player in big-screen comedies, and Peele as an Oscar-winning screenwriter and master of satirical horror.

In the midst of Key and Peele’s come-up, Key was asked to film a guest spot on Whose Line, as he did have some improv experience. He not only agreed, but became a trusted semi-regular fourth seater over the next few seasons, a rare occurrence of a guest star booking that extends beyond a sole taping.

Important to note- of the fourth seaters, all three newbies were people of color. This is the kind of trend that speaks volumes. Although Gary’s the only one who  stays with  the group until this day, the emphasis on people of color is welcomed, even in 2013.

With a small rep company that would only grow over time to include more members of the Whose Line family, a game host, and a collection of CW/WB trunk guest stars, the show was set, and it was only a matter of whether the new Whose Line would compare favorably to the original. It would. In so many ways.

A note that before E1 aired, the CW used the finale of one of their mainstays, 90210, to preview Whose Line with a special Greatest Hits of 90210 clip that was exclusive to online, really, after it aired in a commercial block during 90210. Not sure if this needs to be covered, but I remember it being decent.

So let’s get into Season 9. I know you’ve all been waiting for it, and I certainly have, so let’s dive right into episode one, featuring Gary Anthony Williams, who I can admit to not knowing much about at the time, but being excited to see what he’d add.

Tonight’s Guest Star is Lauren Cohan. Have I heard of her? Yes, she’s a long-running cast-member on AMC’s the Walking Dead, and a low-key character actress in genre films. Her cousin went to high school with me and is now a cosmetologist and makeup artist. In comparison to some of the other bookings this season, she’s one of the bigger gets, so I see why we lead with her.

FINAL NOTE I SWEAR: I will be using the international versions for this watchdown. They differ from the CW version by being A.) uncensored, B.) fitted for only a central commercial break rather than three intermittent ones, and C.) more open to between-games banter. My sincerest thanks to Spence 12Medbe for supplying me with these versions. 

Initial notes: we have a newer set, newer theme music, Wayne is bald, Colin and Ryan are greyer, and Aisha, as she will be for most of this season, is very new to this setup.

Like early Drew shows, Aisha emphasizes that everything in the show is completely made up, other than what’s on her cards. 

Let’s Make a Date: Gary must choose from:
Wayne – Shock jock radio DJ on air with his posse
Colin – Love robot who is recharged by kissing people
Ryan – Colin’s bickering parents who are trying to teach him the facts of life

Gary: “#1, on the streets I am known for my love of gravy.”
If you were skeptical about Gary entering the fold, that line should have won you over, as it won me over.

Wayne’s is his usual high-energy multiple characters kind of stuff. I’ve said before that the CW version is where Wayne really comes into his own, but it takes a bit.

Colin’s initial slow movements as his quick comes up onscreen is already pretty great [also, they use a different font for the quirks this series!]

Colin’s is technically an offshoot of a Wayne Party Quirks one from the Drew shows, but Colin nails it. Also, note that the first kiss on the show came 3 episodes into the Drew version. It doesn’t even take one game for the CW version:


The reactions are great. Wayne is very much caught-off-guard. Ryan, as this is how the show’s clearly gonna be, pulls out a tube of chapstick from his pocket and does his lips. IT’S THIS EARLY, FOLKS.

Gary: #3, the word ‘taco’ is known in every language.”
As much as I love modern-era, thinner Gary, there is definitely more of a characterization to a lot of his characters in this early era, as he’s tailoring things to this sort of size. 

I love Ryan going back and forth between the mom and dad voices: “LEAVE THE BOY ALONE’ ‘SHUT UP, HE’S NOT EVEN REALLY YOURS!”

Ryan, to Colin: “It’s not right to kiss other men, that’s what WOMEN are for…”
This is the kind of joke that, not only works here, but works in conjunction with the entire Drew run. So yes, people sitting down to watch WL for the first time will laugh at this because it’s a funny response to what just happened, but longtime whosers will laugh because it’s Ryan owing back to all the times during the ABC run where Colin planted one.

Ryan, leaning into Colin: “when a woman loves a man…”
Screen Shot 2020-09-16 at 12.17.56 PMRyan: “….what is wrong with you?”
PFFFF. I think that’s like barely in character for Ryan.

Ryan, again back to the father: “LEAVE THE BOY ALONE’ ‘Shut up, if it weren’t for you, he’d have HAIR.”
ANNNNND one game in and we already have our first Colin’s bald joke.

NOW. Here there is an obvious cut between rounds, as a lot of the LMAD rounds in the CW version are spliced from two into one for time, and we go right into Colin in round two. 
Colin, powering down, turns to Wayne, then slowly pivots back to Ryan, smirking, knowing his number’s up.
Screen Shot 2020-09-16 at 12.23.57 PM

Colin, after this, breaks down, hanging in mid-air.
Wayne: “…looks like somebody won the 8:20 giveaway!”

Gary’s guess for Colin is funnier than the actual quirk: “some kind of sexual robot…that when he started winding down liked to kiss men.”

Gary only needs help for Ryan’s, and gets the rest spot-on.

A pretty strong LMAD round to start us off. Wayne’s was the only quirk that didn’t impress me, as it was a very basic quirk, but the Ryan-Colin stuff was fantastic, and a good way to ease us into the CW version.

Aisha: “1000 points to Ryan for secretly lubing up his mouth right before he got kissed…he was like ‘i know it’s comin'”

Dubbing: Ryan and Lauren, Colin’s voice are young lovers who have survived the zombie apocalypse and are taking refuge in their local abandoned nightclub and then Wayne enters, he is Lauren’s former boyfriend and he’s a bartender who is slowly turning into a zombie

Thank god they’ve gone back to the old name, rather than the like 4-sentence long name Fred Willard gave it

Aisha’s intro for Lauren also involves the phrase ‘star guest’, which also gives me unwelcome memories of TUWYL. Did Dan&Mark not change the verbage over? Did they think that was a good element to carry over?

I love Ryan politely asking for a handshake from Lauren right as Aisha explains. Implying that she and Wayne already know each other.

Aisha: “Ryan and Lauren are young lovers who have survived the zombie apocalypse-“
Wayne: “heheh, YOUNG…”
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Ah, god bless uncensored international versions…
Aisha, with a very Clive-esque line: “well, one of you is young…and the other one is furious.”

Ryan: “I’m not sure how much longer I wanna live like this, Alexandra.”
Colin: “I’m not sure how much longer you’re gonna LIVE, YOU’RE SO OLD!”
Screen Shot 2020-09-16 at 2.20.00 PMPayback for the bald joke, I reckon.
Lauren, to her credit:
Screen Shot 2020-09-16 at 2.20.08 PM

Ryan: “I’m like a fine wine…all my sediment is going to the bottom.”

Ryan: “Quick, get your gun, I’ll get my bow and arrow.”
Colin: “Okay. Why do you have a bow and arrow, why don’t you have a gun?”
Ryan: “…it’s quieter, I guessed.”
[Like no time has passed]

Colin: “It’s my worst nightmare…nothing left in the world but The Walking Dead and my two boyfriends.”
Lauren does a great job at screaming her head off here

Ryan, as Wayne turns: “Quick, shoot him in the head”
Lauren puts a little finger gun directly to Wayne’s head, then sort of pulls away
Colin: “OH, I MISSED.”
Colin: “How is that even possible?”

Lauren, in a very game move, literally kicks Wayne in the chest, and out of the way, in a move definitely reminiscent of her TWD character. 
Lauren’s first reaction is to run to Wayne and make sure he’s okay:

Screen Shot 2020-09-16 at 2.31.54 PMRyan’s first reaction is to look to Aisha, and stifle a laugh:
Screen Shot 2020-09-16 at 2.32.02 PMHe’s absolutely FLOORED. No one saw that coming. Even Gary’s amazed.

Wayne, frightened as hell now, just sprints out of shot. 
Screen Shot 2020-09-16 at 2.35.24 PM

And we end on this shot:
Screen Shot 2020-09-16 at 2.36.27 PM
Such a varied, layered shot with so many good reactions. Poor Lauren.

Aisha has no choice but to buzz. The game’s been broken. No time for Colin to make a quip.

By the time Wayne returns to his seat, Aisha’s laughing her ass off. 
Wayne, still not over it: “…she does know that was TV SHOW, right?”

Gary: “They probably kill REAL zombies on that show…”
Aisha: “She was NOT messing around…”
Wayne: “Yeah, her training kicked in…”
Colin: “I think that was karma for the ‘old’ crack…”
Ryan, after a brief karmic laugh, goes to Colin: “*I* didn’t get kicked, did I?”

So…good game. Pretty basic stuff until the kick, which made it ten times funnier. Wayne’s stuff was going more for likeness than for humor, and Colin and Ryan had to work around him a few points. Lauren was very game, perhaps too game, but she made the scene work. As games of this go, it’s a simple one, but it does have a big exclamation point attached to it.

What’s in the Bag: Wayne is a crime victim who’s been knocked out and he’s regaining consciousness now, and Ryan and Colin are the police detectives who have come in to check him over and investigate the crime scene
Bags donated by Katrina and Sherry

A NEW GAME. And some casual audience participation, which would be a theme in some of the CW-exclusive games we’ll see over the next few seasons.

Aisha: “Wayne, you’re a crime victim who’s been kicked out…sorry, KNOCKED OUT….well, maybe you got kicked and then you got knocked out.”
Colin: “You’re thinking of the previous scene.”
How did I forget about this runner?

Ryan enters, asking Wayne if he’s alright.
Wayne, looking right at Aisha: “yeah, I got KICKED OUT.”
Ryan: “No, sir, you got KNOCKED OUT.”
Wayne: “she thought I was a zombie and kicked me right in my chest…”
[It’s actually a brilliant move by Wayne to connect this one immediately to the last game, like it’s a continuation, sort of a Monty Python transition]

Ryan hands Wayne a cooler to drink from. “I don’t know what that is, but enjoy.”
A second later, Ryan hands Wayne ANOTHER cup in that purse, going ‘you still look dehydrated..’

Ryan: “You WERE kicked out, there’s a SHOE stuck in the back of your head.”
Ryan’s penchant for prop humor is coming off well here, though Colin hasn’t done much yet

Colin, who’s put on sunglasses: “I’m sorry, there’s just a bit of a shine.”
It must feel amazing for Colin to pull bald jokes on Wayne after years of taking them from him. This is another joke that feels like a culmination of the Drew years.

Ryan, throwing on a pair himself, realizes they’re not sunglasses and actual prescription glasses, then quickly takes them off, going ‘WOOOOOWW’ at the strength of the lenses

Ryan pulls a license out of the bag: “…sir, this looks nothing like you.”
Wayne: “I’m a…uh…part-time woman.”

Wayne, looking at what Ryan was chucking on the ground: ‘these are PILLS.”
Ryan looks mortified as Wayne just starts picking them up and putting them back

Wayne jokingly takes one, then acts like it’s a potent hallucinogenic. 

Ryan: “Wait a minute, who keeps pills in a plastic baggie….OHHHHHH…”

This game peters off, and was less of a coherent scene and more of a montage of uses from the bags, but it was pretty fun. The beginning had a nice run from Ryan. It just felt like Colin got a little lost, and Wayne did his best to bring everything back in.

Scenes from a Hat:

As SFAH rounds have lengthened to roughly 30 minutes per taping, there will be a lot of SFAH in the CW version

The hat is pink this series. No more USA hat.

The very first one is a ‘not your girlfriend’ one, “things you can say about your lunch, but not your girlfriend”. Starting in a bit, they’d change it to ‘not your partner’, as it’s 2013. 
Wayne: “…mm, nice start, horrible aftertaste.”
Colin, miming peanut butter: “…this doesn’t spread like it used to”
Colin: “…the same thing DAY AFTER DAY AFTER DAY…”

“Things you don’t want to hear before a kiss”
Ryan: “let me just take out my teeth first.”
I guess we have this runner as well.
Gary, cleaning his teeth: “I hope you like bacon and corn.”
Gary admittedly hasn’t done much this show, but he’s been impressing me a lot thus far.
Colin, shaking his head as he comes up: “…just think of them as love-ridges, not canker sores.”
Gary: “I might smell suspiciously like your mother.”
Then, without giving more of a beat, he immediately drops character and just goes “I’M SORRY, GUYS.” Yeah…I kinda love Gary, and he’s only gonna get better as we go forward.
Ryan, from the step: “was that for the lunch one, or was that for this one?”
HAHAHAHAHA. That’s perfect. 

And now, the moment that cemented the CW version for me
Aisha: “Unlikely lines from hair commercials.”
Screen Shot 2020-09-16 at 3.06.39 PMThis made me laugh like hell then, and it still does.

A very short SFAH round, and very self-contained, but pretty funny, and, like these rounds would become, a very fun picture of this taping and this dynamic. 

Living  Scenery: Ryan and Colin are two thrill-seekers in a luxury Aspen retreat about to try out a variety of extreme sports; Lauren and Wayne are props

With the CW version comes the absence of a ‘Drew game’, so every show just ends with an unconnected third game, and then a cut back to the credit reading after the commercial break. Let’s face it, the ABC version spoiled us.

Also, I still don’t get the contractual bit where Aisha needs to re-introduce Lauren every time she comes on. If we’ve been watching from the start, all you need to do is say ‘let’s bring Lauren Cohan back out here again’

I love the detail of Wayne timidly moving back once Lauren jumps onstage, owing back to Dubbing.

Lauren takes an extra moment to figure out how the ski lift is going to work, eventually getting around Ryan
Colin: “BE CAREFUL!”
Ryan: “Shut up and let me enjoy this.”

Wayne and Lauren come by as ‘a crow and a pigeon’
Colin: “Be careful, that one looks like it could kick.”
I…suddenly love this runner

Screen Shot 2020-09-16 at 4.20.57 PM
Colin deciding which one he’s gonna take is hysterical. Ryan, knowing he’s not gonna win, passes him and goes over to Wayne

Colin, after tobogganing on Lauren and cracking her up: “ONLY 5 MORE MILES”

Ryan has a nice bit where his hands are frozen to Wayne’s butt. First show of the run, first Wayne’s butt gag. Picking up completely after DLIIA left off

Colin brings up hang-gliding. “Let me just adjust the tension on this one.”
Screen Shot 2020-09-16 at 4.25.59 PMPFFFFFFF

Aisha:Screen Shot 2020-09-16 at 4.26.07 PM

Ryan, knowing his place: “MINE’S GOOD.”

Ryan deploys his parachute, and Lauren slowly just hovers behind him
Ryan: “…mine’s too small for me!”

An alright Living Scenery. It hit the usual beats, but Lauren could have been a bit more helpful, and there were no real ‘oh my god’ moments. Good little gags throughout, though.

Overall: We start the CW run with a generally okay show. No games didn’t work, but only LMAD and the kick in Dubbing really impressed me. A lot of these games were just serviceable, did their thing, and didn’t go above in beyond in terms of improv or expectations. Wasn’t anybody’s fault, it’s mostly early taping syndrome. And again, all the elements are in line- Gary was a fantastic fourth seater, and had great lines whenever he was used [which was…in two scenes]. Aisha was a nice host and had great rapport with everyone. Ryan and Wayne were in good form, even if Colin mostly supported tonight. Lauren was a fine guest star, if a bit minimal. It surprised me that there were no singing games, and no appearance from Laura Hall or Linda Taylor. 

Still, thanks to some moments throughout, and runners, this is still a show that’s funnier than its basic game structure allows, and is still an alright pick to start things off. Granted, things will get a lot better for the CW version, but…this isn’t the worst debut.

Show Winners: All Four
Best Performer: Ryan Stiles, for dominating almost every game tonight and coming off like no time had past.
Worst Performer: Sadly, Colin made the most mistakes imo tonight, and mostly took a backseat in terms of improv to Ryan and Wayne.
Best Game: Let’s Make a Date felt the most like classic WL to me, and had the best laughs. 
Worst Game: What’s in the Bag didn’t completely come together for me.
Guest Star Rating: 8/10. Lauren was serviceable, did what she could, but was also limited in Living Scenery.


Top 50 Drew Carey Whose Line Episodes (#5 to 1)

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So. This is my Top 5.

I don’t think this should be thought of as the city-upon-a-hill, end-all-beat-all Top 5 Whose Line episodes ranking. These are five episodes I think are perfect and should be celebrated as such. Other people may have different combinations, or they may have the Simmons show or the Melissa show in this. But…this is my opinion, and after watching this show for like 17 years, it’s a pretty good opinion.

Also, i’m writing these rankings in September 2020, and I could do another rewatch in the future and this list could look completely different. Maybe someday I’ll mellow up on You’ve Got Sole, or I’ll turn on Africa or something. Who knows?

Still…even if I do a rewatch and my opinions change, I don’t know if these five picks will. Cause I love them all dearly, I did before I started the watchdown, and I still do. I may not have predicted the order, and I bet you all thought my #1 was gonna be something that it’s not, but…I imagined these 5 would be here at the end. And they were. And I hope you agree with me in some way.

Right. #5. Time to break things:

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#5: S03E38
Fourth Seater: Kathy Greenwood

Taping: 308, S3 Sessions

Whenever I approach an episode known for one central game, I have to evaluate said episode as a whole rather than just pertaining to the big game itself. The Melissa show worked because the games around the highlight were well-stocked, and the studio vibe carried through it.

3×38 is an interesting case, because this show would have probably been on this list had Party Quirks not been in it.

First of all, this is the first of two shows to finish Season 3 that involve the first game being extended from the norm. 3×39’s LMAD was a lengthened, fleshed-out game, and so is this Weird Newscasters, arguably a top-tier playing. I gave Wayne a lot of shit in this period for ALWAYS going over to Drew during his WN quirks, but of the ones that stand out in my mind when he does that, I think of 2×05, the obsessive fan, I think of 3×07, the Jamaican love god, and I think of this one, the ugly hillbilly. Just because Wayne’s character here is so good, has so many funny comedy details [“And we can even share my tooth”], and contrasts perfectly with Drew’s reluctance to be part of this bit. Plus, Wayne keeps this character going throughout the taping, and we do get a bit more of him in the postgame shot. Heck, even Ryan’s subsequent screwing with Drew [taking a long sip from his mug] is funny here.

The rest of this show is just built like a really solid, Wayne centric S3 show. Wayne lifts WN, Song Styles half of Action Replay and Hoedown, and has one of his best shows of this version of the show. Kathy does great support work all night, and the opening scene of Action Replay works because of both Wayne and Kathy supporting each other. Action Replay itself is also one of the best playings of the game, and probably my favorite one, just for Ryan and Colin’s bizarre rationalizations, Colin’s snake impression, and his eventual “oh god, I’ve got callouses on my testicles!”

But…Party Quirks is the next level this show can reach, after we’d already sort of assumed it’d go along as a solid show. The first half of PQ is really good, but self-contained, and with great bits from Wayne, and, of course, Ryan. But the second Ryan’s head hits the neon light, this game becomes bigger than the rest of this show, and it comes right down to the actions of every performer onstage. Drew is horrified and does everything he can to help, Kathy’s being a good scene partner and proceeding with caution to make sure Ryan’s okay, Colin’s laughing his ass off in the back [“it would have been better if your head burst into flames”], and Ryan is staying perfectly in character, as Carol Channing, trying to get Kathy to guess the quirk as he dodges discomfort from the broken glass. So much is going on at once, and yet the integrity of the improv, and the game, stays intact.

Yes, once the game ends, they can all laugh about it and run it through Hoedown, but as loose as the Drew Carey version feels, it never compromises the confines of the game. And that’s why this show works for me. At any point, Party Quirks could break wide open and pale in comparison to the previous games, but it doesn’t, and the show remains uniform all the way through.

And yes, Party Quirks is absolutely hysterical. It’s one of the few times where Ryan getting hurt is funny [along with him ramming his head on a camera crane during a Weird Newscasters], and he has the absolute best reactions to it [his flipping-off of Drew is also one of the reasons I’m glad we got the uncensored version].

Phenomenal episode all around. So much to analyze in there.

Highlight: Ryan, as Carol Channing whose head keeps getting stuck to things, knocks right into Drew’s desk, breaking the neon light.

Screen Shot 2019-12-31 at 4.17.57 PM.png

#4: S04E01
Fourth Seater: Jeff Davis

Taping: 401, S4 Sessions

I don’t think a season of Whose Line has ever started as strong as S4. You can make the case that S16’s premiere, the ‘IT’S STILL A SHOW’ episode, might be a similarly huge premiere, but once I get into CW I’ll get to whether or not that’s just recency bias. Season 4’s first 10 episodes had FIVE absolute classics, three of which I’ve already gone over, and two solid episodes in their own right, one of which, 4×03, I covered in one of the first posts.

And the decision to start with this episode, a Jeff Davis one from the infamous ‘hundred dollar bill’ taping, is one of the wisest ones the producers got in this era. We’d seen two S4 shows in season 3, and ironically both made the countdown, but this was our first caught-up, focused taste of S4’s taping season, coming from the first taping of S4, the first back from hiatus, and the first taping of the year 2001.

I credit the tighter taping schedule, as S3 had only wrapped a few months earlier, to how easy the cobwebs seemed to dissolve in this episode. Cause right from the first game, all four are dominating. Colin’s doing the easiest chicken game show puns [“Cluck Gobble, Gone with the Wind”], Wayne and Ryan are doing wild character stuff, and Jeff’s doing some smart faith-healing material. And then Drew gives out a hundred dollar bill, which Ryan attempts to steal, and that is this show’s only moments at stasis.

Cause then LMAD happens. LMAD is a classic for like 20 reasons. The Best Of DVD credits this episode as ‘Wayne as a singing bass fish’, but this game is more well known for Colin planting kisses on Ryan and Wayne [and eventually Jeff] without warning, and getting laughs every time. Wayne’s bass fish quirk is, rightfully, a classic, and it’s a testament to Wayne’s abilities as a physical performer and as a musical likeness emphasis type. So that’s a phenomenal game

Then comes Sound Effects. I do not exaggerate when I say that SFX here is one of the funniest games in the show’s history. It’s like a game from my #3 pick, where the runner and BIG GAME get a lot of the pub, but the real source of humor comes from a standalone game in the 2nd act. Colin’s move of shoving the baby back up is one of the ballsiest, most bizarre moves he’s ever done, and Ryan and Drew are warranted in laughing at that. It’s also one of those where both SFX ladies are hysterical both when they’re trying to be and when they’re not. Colin’s SFX lady’s crying noise is funny enough by itself, as Colin tries to pass it off as its own, but Ryan nails it by yelling “IT’S THE COPS”. Ryan’s yelling ‘BAM’ is hysterical, but Ryan adding a gunshot wound pulls it over the line. It’s probably one of the best SFX games they ever did, and I wish more people would recognize it as such.

The rest of the show is just solid supplementary material. Doo-Wop is pretty much the standard for every playing that came after, and a preview of how well Jeff would do in future games of this on the CW. Props is also one of the best rounds, and had all four contributing great ideas all throughout. [also, I just realized that the entirety of the Top 4 has Props in it. All four have Props]. They’re smaller games, but the show doesn’t lose steam because Drew’s still handing out dollars and the mood is still silly as hell.

Everytime I watch this episode, it feels monolithic. It’s like back-to-back-to-back of ‘shit, THIS is in this one too?’ Like every game is classic, and like every joke hits. Not many shows feel like that. Even the Top 3 have one or two jokes that don’t work, or a game or so that pales, but this one doesn’t, and it plows like a bulldozer through the preconceived notions post-s3.

It’s genuinely one of my favorites, and if the Top 3 weren’t so good, it’d be higher.

Highlight: Pregnant Colin seeing a ladder, shoving his baby back up into his body, and climbing down as Ryan just glares at him.

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#3: S02E36
Fourth Seater: Chip Esten

Taping: 219, S2 Sessions

The phrase ‘one for the pantheon’ was brought into my vocabulary thanks to LKK’s episode reviews. She used the phrase during her review of this episode, 2×36, to describe not only Whose Line, but the episode in general. To this point, the fans hadn’t had a classic in the US yet to the caliber of this episode. The Melissa show, the Africa show, the Ryan’s Not Gay show, they were all great, but…nothing felt wall-to-wall classic yet.

2×36 changes that. I still don’t know why the producers chose to wait so long to air this one, as a lot of the last quarter of S2 feels like lower-energy supplements. The best theory is that this one taped far into S2, along with the other Chip taping and the Brad taping that make up the majority of the last quarter. Which…is fine. But still inexcusable.

I also buy the theory that you needed to wait for enough of S2 to go by to make sure the dynamics were established, because you can’t exactly START S2 with Captain Hair. You have to watch like 35 episodes, get the sense that ‘oh, we make bald jokes here’, and ‘oh, Colin and Ryan have random sexual tension sometimes’, before this one makes sense fully.

That’s probably why this works so well from the start. Drew asks for an unlikely superhero name for Colin, gets ‘Captain Hair’, and we’re off. The backbone of this episode is Colin’s thick skin on the matter, and how he’s probably fine with all the bald jokes, but is excellent at acting offended whenever one comes up. There are so many shots in this episode of Colin looking dismayed, glaring at Drew, glaring at the audience, but still going ahead with the show. The best of these is during Props, where EVEN WAYNE does a bald joke, and Colin looks more betrayed than he has all show. It’s an ‘et tu Brute’ moment, which Wayne thankfully responds to with a hug.

This may be the single strongest and most merciless running gag in the show’s history. Superheroes itself is a great round, Ryan steals scenes as Totally Insane Old Man, and Colin includes enough meta details about how he hates this quirk, but right after that this thing sprouts the kind of wings most running gags dream of.

Like, immediately after Superheroes is a masterful LMAD that could have easily led another show, especially with Colin and Wayne’s quirks just being highlights on their own. The second Ryan links this with ‘Captain Hair’, and Chip guesses Colin as ‘Captain Hair is melting’, this thing becomes more than just a game thing. This is a full, fleshed-out theme that’s gonna drape itself over the episode.

I always forget about Duet, but Duet is a really strong ‘household product’ one that really stresses the Chip-Wayne duo, and gives them both time to shine in between all the Colin-bashing. But it’s a really good Duet, and keeps the quality high throughout this thing, kind of like the ending Props. Even SFAH is a good momentum keeper, and has a lot of good unrelated gags in addition to ‘slightly balding superhero’.

Honestly, even though this is THE Captain Hair show…Whose Line is the reason this one’s at #3. This playing of Whose Line is the single most impressive improv scene the show ever put out. It should be taught. Every line works, every move is funny, every slip-up adds something, and it’s just a slow-burn of well-orchestrated humor, gags and lines, and Colin and Ryan are with each other the entire way. It’s a scene where you can diagram a lot of their moves, see what they’re thinking, what they’re trying to get out of each other, and it’s still enjoyable as hell.

Every game works, goes into itself, and keeps either ‘captain hair’, ‘herr hair’ or ‘captain fur hair’ going. Even the credit reading is legendary. It’s a Colin-Ryan centric show where even Chip and Wayne get a ton of laughs. Drew is howling through the whole show. It’s season 2, and it feels like an absolute height for this show, and it still feels like one to me.

Highlight: Colin: “Remember our motto…why are you dressed like a french maid?”
Ryan: “IT’S TO CONFUSE THE ENEMY! They’re expecting us to be wearing buckskins and carrying guns but WHO’S EXPECTING THIS.”

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#2: S03E09
Fourth Seater: Theodore Roosevelt

Taping: 313, S3 Sessions

Okay, so. A lot of you probably thought this one would be my #1. And here it is in the #2 spot.

Let me explain.

This is still one of the funniest shows they ever did. I remember seeing this show as a kid, a fan of Robin Williams and a fan of improv, and laughing my ass off. I still love Hollywood Director, Scenes from a Hat and Props in this. I still love everything Robin contributed to this show, and I especially love the entire vibe around the studio that Robin sort of brought. Everything felt so goofy and hysterical, and had the kind of energy that most episodes wish they have.

But it’s not my #1. And it’s honestly because of Robin occasionally permeating the ‘all for one and one for all’ mantra that WL is based on. He did this a lot more in the unaired games, but Robin made a lot of very self-based moves throughout the night, especially in Duet and Party Quirks, sort of making the show his own. Even in SFAH, he has a little ‘go away motion’ as he goes up for a ‘celebrity anecdotes’ one.

But it’s a small nitpick, and it still propels this show into the #2 spot. Because…my god.

Robin otherwise fit really well into this group. His scenes with Ryan and Wayne are all classics because he melded to their improv sensibilities, and found the collaborative points for both of them. Ryan already takes a lot of inspiration from Robin in unflappability and just energy, so their scenes, especially Director, were solid, as well as their dueling Carol Channings in SFAH. Wayne shares Robin’s performance enhancement ability, and both of them can work a room just with physicality and voices and everything.

The real intrigue in this show comes from Robin and Colin’s work together, because these are two very incongruent performers, and multiple times during the show [especially in Director], Robin is thrown by Colin’s comedy logic [especially the ‘hillbillies and Italians are too close together’ line], and has to rebound a bit to catch up, which also makes him very similar to Ryan. This is a fantastic Colin show even when he doesn’t have a ton to do, and while Robin is doing the showier, wilder bits, Colin is still doing really good lines in SFAH and Director.

Also…just the fun of Robin Williams on Whose Line gets to me sometimes. Like Robin’s joy once Drew brings out the SFAH hat, or him going up to the cameras after Drew’s opener joke, or even scaring Drew and trying to figure out where the buzzer is. Robin Williams augments the creative energy of this show, he mostly plays by the rules, and everyone has an outstanding time with him around.

And yes, Hollywood Director, Duet, Scenes from a Hat, Party Quirks and Props all feel like classic games. Even Props, which also focuses on the Wayne-Robin combo, has some great Drew-Ryan ones. And even PQ has some great moments from Colin as Party Quirks, especially when Robin just BEGS Drew to give the point to Colin.

The strength of Robin Williams makes every game great, focuses on so many new dynamics, and has so many added elements of improv that makes this show feel extra special and extra funny. Upon Robin’s death, this show became even more special, and tons of fans came back to it as a symbol of Robin in one of his happiest moments [he took the gig while he was filming a psychological horror film, One Hour Photo].

Highlight: Famous Film Roles as Played by Carol Channing
Ryan: ‘….*I’M* SPARTACUS!”

This is still a mega-important, and absolutely hysterical, Whose Line, one that speaks for itself on humor alone, and would be a perfectly solid pick for #1. I respect anyone who puts it at #1. I almost did.

But then I thought about it. I thought about everything I’d been measuring this show by. I thought about the criteria, of having solid games, great improv abilities, good dynamics, numerous funny moments, a potential for a running gag, and a large degree of x-factor to make it stand out. And the Robin show had that….

But there was one show that had a bit more of that.


So here’s what I put for #1:

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#1: S04E08
Fourth Seater: Kathy

Taping: 409, S4 Sessions

Okay. So somewhere in this countdown, I said that the best Whose Line episodes are the one that tell the story of a taping. 4×01 does this, and it’s the story of the 100 dollar bills. 2×36 does this, it’s the story of the evolution of the Captain Hair gag.

4×08 is my #1 because it has a full story WITH AN EMOTIONAL ARC…and meanwhile there are really good improv games happening. There was more plotting, pacing, structure and timing in this episode of Whose Line is it Anyway than there has been in many Chuck Lorre sitcoms, even the ones Ryan Stiles guest-starred in.

Let’s just break down the actual improv in this show, because it’s incredible, and the fact that a lot of this show is longer, extended games proves that. First is Director, and that one is arguably a Top-5 playing because of how long it goes, and because of the Wayne ‘Why’d’I gotta be the thief’ interplay with Drew and Colin. So many great moments from Ryan, Kathy, Wayne and Colin, and so many great ways of building off of the initial scene, even with Tarzan characters.

Then it’s one of the best Living Scenery games, because Ryan and Colin turn it into Sound Effects by questioning Wayne and Kathy’s logic occasionally, and Colin makes a very funny joke with Wayne involving a toaster. And it’s the beginning of trying to make tactile motions non-sexual in this game, like ‘shower’ and ‘moped’. And after that is one of the best Three Headed Broadway Star games, just from all the weird adjectives Colin and Wayne throw in towards the end, and for Ryan throwing in ‘moist’.

Then it’s arguably the best US Helping Hands, and one of the first real indications of Kathy’s underrated improv abilities. A lot of this Helping Hands works like a Colin-Ryan scene, but honestly the improv dynamic between Ryan and Kathy is…different, and honestly more interesting, because they’re trying to throw each other and not have to do something disgusting, but they both  COULD THEORETICALLY buckle if need be. So it’s a tug of war a lot of the time, and Kathy is excellent at keeping the game going and playing off of Ryan as he mixes whipped cream into spaghetti.

The ‘puppy film’ reenactment that ends the scene feels like an amazing, disgusting, ending that really makes Helping Hands work for one of the first times since S1, and gave the producers confidence to keep doing the game in S5 and onward. Not only that, but Colin’s ‘doctor hands’ is a great post-game gag, as he doesn’t have time to wash his hands immediately so he still just…has messy hands.

And Props is a funny-as-hell one because Drew nearly breaks his spine bending backwards onto the step, the show nearly stops, and they keep working with it. That bit nearly made me pee as a kid, in addition to the other stuff. There have been snafus in Props before, but not as instantly funny as this one.

So that’s the improv portion of this show, and with all of that, this is probably still a Top 10 show, and a memorable one for a number of reasons.

But then, you put the entire wraparound plot of this show into perspective and it’s just even better. Because Drew and his tape recorder is almost a greek tragedy. The first act of this show, he presents his ‘1000 points’ recorder as an extension of himself, an act of power and privilege over the performers, and a joke about how simple his job is. Again, like Captain Hair, it only could have been done after this show had really been established. And as the act goes on, Ryan and Wayne keep screwing with him over the tape recorder [even carrying into 7×22], and Drew’s bravado lessens as he hits the end of the tape [“gotta rewind, do ya?”]

Then, once Wayne records over it [“MY ASS, MY ASS, MY ASS, MY ASS”, another bit of this that I laughed hard at when I was younger], this turns into not only a tragic hero story waiting for a downfall, but a suspense mystery. We know Drew’s gonna hit play on the tape recorder eventually, we just don’t know when. Every second of Helping Hands is like a ticking time bomb, waiting for Drew notice…while a really funny improv scene is going on. It’s a distraction tactic, but it also helps the plot move along so that when the trick is revealed, and Wayne stands victorious, it’s even more successful as a payoff. Heck, Drew’s fall in Props could even work as an ender for his rise and fall during the episode. I didn’t even think of that until just now.

This show is an emotional rollercoaster, a perfectly timed running gag, a great ‘oh to be a fly on the wall’ episode, a great show for Wayne Brady, a great Kathy-Ryan combo show, an incredible showcase for Living Scenery and Helping Hands, and, for my money, the single best Whose Line episode of the Drew era, and possibly of all time.

You may disagree, you may say I’ve got it wrong, but 4×08 has always been the funniest to me, and took on a deeper, more complex meaning once I watched it for the blog. There is so much more to this show than ‘1000 points’, or than this Director or Helping Hands. Everything great about Whose Line is on display in this show, and everything this show could be at one time is illuminated throughout.

4×08 is much more than an episode of an improv comedy show. It is one of the most expertly crafted and arranged episodes of a comedy show in recent history. And that’s why it’s my #1.


Those have been my Top 50. I hope you’ve enjoyed the list, as well as my coverage of the Drew Carey era of Whose Line is it Anyway. It’s been a blast for me, and I hope it’s been a blast for you all as well.

After a bit more of a moment to breathe, I’m gonna start watching the Aisha version. I’m very, very interested in seeing what I think of the CW version, especially after how I analyzed the Drew version.