After a string of really nice episodes, we’re onto another one that looks a bit…suspect. True, there’s one recurring panelist that I can always rely on, but there’s one that I don’t know very well, and another that’s this episode’s special guest. Hmmm. Well, it’s worth a watch.
Andy Hamilton has earned the nickname ‘The Gnome’. At least with me. He’s small, has a misshapen head and eyes, and talks in a higher-pitched voice than I’d expect. In his last episode he didn’t do a hell of a lot.
Helen Atkinson-Wood, as I looked up, is another one of Stephen’s Blackadder friends, appearing as the sort of Carol Cleveland of that group, and also on a bunch of other british comedy shows. I imagine she’s at least funny enough to be on this show, so I won’t question it.
All the buzzers are animal themed. Bill’s does make him wince. Andy’s is a loud hog-esque belch. He does, however, break character, as in break persona, and says, meekly “I’m terribly sorry…”Alan’s is the sound of a housefly or mosquito, a high-pitched squeakish sound. Alan shrugs, and goes “i do actually sound like that.”
So, tonight, Stephen is setting up a runner that anyone who gets a specific difficult question will receive 200 points. Being that Rory McGrath is not on this show, I’m not necessarily tilting at this idea.
Stephen also introduces a ‘Spot the Cuttlefish’ competition. Alan, jokingly, points to the cuttlefish the second it comes onscreen behind Stephen, going “THERE IT IS! THERE IT IS!” Stephen teases that a cuttlefish, or ‘a part’ of a cuttlefish, will appear later on in the show. Alan, on ‘a part’, says “I bet it’s the penis.”
Wow. 3 minutes in and Andy already gets the first klaxon.
I already like Helen thanks to her answer, guessing it’s a chicken due to the eggs it lays. Stephen mentions that the mosquito also lays a ton of eggs, and Helen goes from a yes to a ‘wait a minute’. It sounds like ‘yeeeewwwhhhaaa…”
Stephen on chromosomes: “The world record is 320.”
Alan: “Is that you, SIR?”
Bill, contradicting Stephen’s point: “Well, then, what was a potato before it was a potato? What did it evolve from? A chickpea?”
Observation: Andy only has nine fingers. How did I miss this last show? That’s pretty out-of-the-ordinary.
There’s a nice conversation about swimming through treacle, but other than Alan asking “is there a cuttlefish hidden in that treacle?”, nothing really stood out to me.
The second Stephen sticks out a stick of chalk, and asks Alan, referring to him as ‘boy’, what it is, I know we’re in for a klaxon. Alan, of course, refuses to believe it’s not chalk, and even writes on his desk, and flips so Stephen can read it, “CHALK”.
Bill has a nice line when he guesses the chalk is “a very, very old worm.”
Also, as Stephen is explaining where chalk really comes from, Bill starts drawing something. As he finishes, he exclaims that he’s drawing a “CUTTLEFISH!!”
Stephen: “Why’s it called Plaster of Paris?”
Andy: “Marketing? Fancier name?”
I really like Andy now. I think he’s doing a lot of nice stuff this episode.
Stephen unveils a huge chemical formula, and asks the panel to guess what it is. Alan, of course, guesses it’s a cuttlefish.
Andy drives it further; “That’s a text message from someone who’s VERY PISSED.”
Helen does in fact guess that it’s custard, because she took a type of chemistry that gave her the knowledge of what an explosion looks like in a chemical formula, and then put it together to make it look like foodstuffs. It’s very intricate, but I’m glad somebody got it, especially Helen.
Stephen: “What do the french call custard?”
I love the reactions when Stephen says that the French don’t have a word for custard, as “they don’t believe it exists.” Bill is confused, then face palms. Helen just laughs.
They play the audio clip of the singing dog. Andy even says ‘it sounds like Gracie Fields falling off a cliff.” Reminds me off the castrati they played the audio clip of, and Rich said ‘is that from during the surgery?’
Right after Alan gets two or three questions in a row correct, a fish appears on the screen, and he immediately points and yells “CUTTLEFISH!”…which gets him a Klaxon. Classic Alan.
Stephen: “After a lifetime of working with radiation, what did Marie Curie have two of?”
My favorite part of this is Stephen’s reaction. He forces him to repeat himself.
Stephen announces that the cuttlefish clue has passed. Andy says “it was in Marie Curie’s hair.” Stephen, amazed, says he’s right. Andy, even more amazed, goes, “it’s a shame I was joking.”
Thankfully, Alan does get the cuttlefish, and it’s hidden somewhere in the Florence Nightingale picture. I personally couldn’t find it.
Andy, in the tiger question, gives the comedian answer, ‘zoos’, and STILL gets a klaxon. Incredible.
I do love this: there’s a bunch of ‘-y’ adjectives thrown on the board. Nobody knows, so Alan suggests they throw it to the audience. One guy in the audience guesses ‘dwarves’, and that one is a klaxon. So, for the first time ever, the AUDIENCE loses points.
And the award for best story of the episode goes to Bill with: “I went to a town in France called BITCH! Spelled BITCHE. BEEETCHE. WE AH LEAVING BEETCHE.”
Helen obviously wins, but Alan and Andy come very close with 15 and 22. Very nice, high-scoring episode.
Final Thoughts: A solid episode, with a ton of really funny moments, and TWO runners, both of which supplement the show perfectly, and give the contestants a goal. Alan is at his best here. Sad to say Bill was a little lower key than usual, but still funny. Helen was a nice addition to the cast, had some good answers, was interesting and funny, and didn’t remind me of Meera Syal. All I could ask for. And Andy, of all people, wins for most improved, for taking this episode by storm.
Best Guest: Andy
Show Winner: Helen
QI Fact: No French word for Custard.