QI Watchdown: D6 (Drinks)

This season has definitely hit its stride, thanks to a string of awesome episodes, and some nice appearances by Sean, Phill, and Andy Parsons. Tonight, we have a roster good enough to keep the momentum going, yet I fear the presence of John “I know everything” Sessions amongst two of my favorites, Jimmy Carr and Phill Jupitus. So it could go either way.

Tonight’s episode carries the ‘dressing up the set’ theme from last episode, as there are some alcohol-related props in the background tonight.

Stephen introduces the panelists with drink-related descriptions. John Sessions, who has FINALLY returned to not dying his hair brown, is “a small, dry white one.” Phill is simply “a large one”, which he shrugs, as he can deal with it. Jimmy is introduced as “is this your Carr, sir?”, which he gets. Alan, of course, gets “the usual.”

Probably the most notorious buzzer gag thus far. All four get bells, except for Alan, who has to press his a few times in order to reveal his as the music from the old Panama cigar ads pops up. Very, very clever.

Stephen: “What should you do if a bird knocks over your dominoes?”
Alan: “This actually happened.”
Stephen (expecting a story): “Oh, then do tell…”
Alan: “No, a bird came in and knocked over some dominoes…”

I find it very odd that Phill and John are getting along on this panel, and Jimmy’s not said a word yet. Very strange show so far.

Stephen: “What begins with ‘d’, and is something you always see the players doing in a darts match?”
John: ‘dangly-wrist’.
Again, he can be a bit pedantic, but occasionally he’s funny.

Jimmy responds to the ‘dangly wrist’ thing by going ‘what kind of pubs have you been playing darts in?’

The darts question leads to a clip from ‘Not the Nine O’Clock News’. Man, if only Rich Hall was in the building.

Stephen: “You’re not allowed to wear a hat in darts, unless you are…”
Jimmy: “A bishop.”

John: “But is a sikh a hat?” (Confusing a sikh for a turban)
Stephen: No…I can see you’ve been trying to wear sikhs, haven’t you?”
Phill: “Read more about this phenomenon in ‘The Man who turned an Eastern Religion into a Hat'”

Phill, after hearing the long list of famous people who have something in common, yells “DARTS FANS!”

Alan has a great way of saying something commonplace, and punctuating it with something wild and ridiculous. He talks of having absinthe, in a bar, made in a spoon. Lets a breath go buy. Then says ‘it was tranny night’. Stephen tries to go on, but has to look at Alan and try not to crack up.

Stephen: “Are you familiar with the phrase ‘The Great Binge’?”
Alan: “My fortieth birthday.”

Jimmy says that Heroin is a brand name.
Stephen: “D’you know who held it?”
Jimmy (taking a stab in the dark): “The, uh, heroin company.”

Stephen asks what a Vomit Comet is, and for the first time in quite awhile, I know exactly what the answer is. I feel really good about myself.

Alan: ‘When you’re in space, and you vomit out the window’
Stephen: ‘you started out so well…”

Another episode of ‘How on earth could the Elves know this was coming’
Phill, after the ‘Great Stink’, says “I’d love to be there in Parliament that day. “And I put it to the honorable members…that he who smelt it…dealt it…”
And then, as if on cue, the klaxon goes off, leaving Phill in awe.

Second episode in a row where they open it up to the audience. Don’t know if they’re gonna win this time, though.

Jimmy, who’s had a lot of stealth lines this episode, has probably the one of the episode: “The thing about banning invisible ink…very difficult to follow through with..”

Jimmy does own the distinction of carrying on the running gag, of the dangly-wrist, which Stephen thought was a gay slur (“Jimmy, it’s 2006!”), and he keeps bringing it back. Stephen says that campanology was banned, and Jimmy forgets what that was. Stephen reminds him, and Jimmy,dangly-wristed, goes “I thought it was this again.”

Stephen: “What’s the single largest man-made structure on the face of the planet.”
Jimmy: “Blue whale.”
That is a sign the show’s been on long enough. They know their own trademarks.

Interesting that Jimmy’s flat out dominated the second half of the show after being quiet for most of the first half. I didn’t see that coming.

Alan has a huge win this episode, which is inexplicable and well deserved.

Overall: Good episode, albeit uneven. Had some really nice jokes, but some quiet moments. Jimmy and Phill commanded different portions of the episode, and Alan had a good night as well. John didn’t do too much, but he was alright.

MVP: Jimmy
Best Guest: Phill
Show Winner: Alan
QI Fact: The Great Stink.

QI Watchdown: D5 (DEATH!)

Ooooooooh boy.

This is an episode I’ve been waiting for ever since I found out it existed. And we don’t get another one of those until Greg Proops shows up in about 7 seasons.

Tonight’s episode, which is one of the few Halloween episodes QI ever did, features two panelists who always manage to put in great performances, Clive and Sean, but also a SPECIAL GUEST STAR, who won’t appear in any other episodes, that I’m really excited to see play QI. Andy Fucking Parsons, who became one of the unabashed stars of Mock the Week once he became a regular, is on tonight. And I’m so excited.

The main titles are intermixed with Halloween noises (i.e.- screams, howling, lightning, etc.) Nice pace-setter for this one.

The set’s even dressed up, amidst fog and a coffin. This is one of the first times that they’ll actually dress up the set in honor of the theme. So, there’s smog and cobwebs and lots of little set pieces around. Don’t worry, it gets more elaborate as the series goes on.

Andy looks rather young compared to his current Mock the Week self, and this is rather refreshing. I think his delivery on MTW is really nice, and just how ridiculous the lengths of his jokes get to is quite amusing. This is the guy who spent an entire episode kidding Dara O’Briain about his boner for Konnie Huq. I’m just worried about how his delivery will adapt to QI’s formula.

The buzzers are all Halloween themed. Clive’s is the Twilight Zone theme. Sean’s is a door creaking open and a deep-throated laugh. Andy’s is dramatic music. And, of course, Alan’s is ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’ from Life of Brian, which cracked me up.

Stephen: “Given the right circumstances, the marmot is a very deadly animal, killing humans. How?”
Clive: “Lead piping in the billiard room.”

Andy has a nice answer, involving the crackers the marmots are chewing on. “Does it involve the Ritz Crackers? Do they spit on them and put them back into the packets?” Also, he still has the ‘IS IT’ inflection he’d use on MTW. (“IS IT…DARLING IS REALLY BADGER?”)

On the most cured disease:
Andy: “Is it a little niggle that you think is not too much, but will be enough to keep you off work for the rest of the week?”
His stuff is very Mock the Week-like, but still funny.

Alan: “Pregnancy?”
Clive: “Pregnancy isn’t a disease, Alan.”
Andy: “It would be if Alan got it…”

Stephen: “I’ll give you a hint. It begins with ‘D’.”
Alan (without any options): “DEATH!”

I’m laughing so hard at everybody’s inability to guess this disease. Alan yells “DO A ‘SOUNDS LIKE'” Stephen goes “it’s like ‘forgive me father for I’ve sinned…” Alan, again, reaching, goes “dinned?”

Stephen: ‘Swimming with dolphins, that’s apparently a great treatment for depression’
Sean: “Not if they reject you…”

Stephen says ‘if you promise not to hurl yourself off the set’, he’ll play some of ‘Gloomy Sunday’, saddest song in the world. Within 5 seconds of the song playing, Alan already goes ‘oh, Jesus’. Alan has no choice but to press his buzzer so the happy music can come back on.

Stephen: “I’ve just been looking at the scoreboard. Right now, the audience is winning!”

Sean has an early frontrunner for the darkest joke of the episode. When he hears how this songwriter killed himself, he says “Well, that’s a horrible mess, wouldn’t it? Seventy-year old hitting’ the pavement?” Stephen turns to him, horrified.

Ah, tonight’s runner is ‘Killer Mushroom Roulette’. The panelists have to guess which of four mushrooms is safe to eat, including one called ‘Trumpet of Death’.

Sean has the best response: “Can we try them all first?”

Andy guesses the ‘death cap’, because “It looks a bit, to me, like a penis.”
Stephen: “And you simply can’t eat a penis, can you?”
Andy: “Well, that wasn’t gonna be my logic, but yes…”

Clive jokes that the horrifying looking ‘trumpet of death’ looks like a penis.

Alan ends up getting it right by guessing Trumpet of Death, as that one isn’t lethal…which is kind of shocking.

Stephen: “What did the Nazis use the trumpets of Jericho for?”
Sean: “Was it lift music?”

Okay, I don’t know why I laughed so hard at Sean and Alan doing MC Hammer dancing, but dammit…it was worth it.

Alan: “The lowest place in England is in Norfolk”
Clive: “No, that’s not the dead sea, that’s just dead boring.”

Alan on Tutankhamen: “He looks like Tiger Woods eating a Cornetto.”

Clive brings up a great point about the marmite solution in this mostly listless GI portion. He says ‘well, wouldn’t that arise more conflict, with the pro-marmite and the anti-marmite people fighting each other in addition?”

Had it not been for the audience’s win, Andy Parsons would have won his only QI. instead, for the first time in the show’s history, the audience wins for getting 2 points and not getting a klaxon.

Overall: A very nice, very fun themed episode, with four guys in complete control, and top form. Sean probably had the best night of anybody, but Andy was wonderful as well, giving a lot of great answers and reminding everyone why he was so good on MTW. I felt like all four guys jelled well together, even if Andy, a newcomer to the group, was mixed in.

MVP: Sean
Best Guest: Andy
Show Winner: Andy (and the audience)
Best QI Fact: Marmite to the Middle East.

QI Watchdown: D4 (Dictionaries)

Don’t think I’ve ever been excited for an episode with two newcomers in a while. This one seems very promising, not just because it’s the first Phill episode of Series D (although that helps), but because a Whose Line/Mock the Week alum, and a Space Cadets alum are both joining the panel tonight. And both are pretty funny and trustworthy. So I’m very excited.

Stephen introduces the panel as ‘four people who look uncannily like someone else’. Rory is introduced as Tony Blair, and that works, as he’s known for that impression. Phill is introduced as Tommy Cooper, which means he has to race to throw a fez on his head. Ronni is introduced as Ruby Wax, and already goes into the impression. Alan is just introduced as himself. After a disappointed expression, Stephen caves and gives him Brian May.

Rory Bremner is somebody who I know very well, and enjoy. He was on a ton of Whose Line episodes back in the day, and became one of the few british semi-regulars to stay with the show in its last few seasons, before its complete Americanization. He was also a regular on the first two seasons of Mock the Week. He’s a pretty nice impressionist, and he’s a generally funny guy. This is his only episode, so I call it a guest spot.

Ronni Ancona I know from the short lived Scottish quiz/panel show (that I keep talking about), Space Cadets. She was on an episode. She was funny. I wasn’t expecting her to look like this after a span of nine years. I am impressed.

The buzzers are done in alphabetical order, in musical note form, except for Alan’s, which is a deep-voiced fellow going ‘DEEDEEDEEDEEDEEE…”

Stephen: “Name the subject of the three-volume book, whose first volume is entitled ‘the long years of obscurity'”
Phill: “The career of Phil Collins.”
And, it takes one answer to remind me why I adore Phill. Wonderful.

Ronni has this nice explanation, long, about the life of the word obscurity, being the only noun in a house of verbs, being beaten by his father adjective. So clever, and lets me know we’re in for a good one. And then she turns it into a Big Brother slam, which always works. Not as well as “DEEEA EEEEEAAAGHT”, but still.

Rory describes something as ‘the third worst eyesore in the country. D’you know what the first one is?’ Phill gives a second’s beat before chiming in with “PEOPLE! PUBLIC PEOPLE! WORKING CLASSES!”

Then Stephen describes something in Didcutt as the ‘second-oldest’. Phill goes “second-oldest, third-ugliest…always a bridesmaid, Didcutt’

Stephen: “What can’t the Boobay people Byoko do in the dark?”
Ronni: “See very well?”
Her stuff is very clever yet commonplace.

Alan, when he discovers the Boobay people can’t talk in the dark, says “well then, they can talk about each other behind their backs.” Stephen tries doing just this, doing sign language behind his back, which was rather amusing.

The way Rory describes how George W Bush talks with his hands, “like he’s carrying two sheep”, made me laugh hard. He’s good.

And then Rory and Stephen start making fun of his mispronunciations, how he calls himself a ‘merkin’, and does not approve of ‘tourism’.

On the ‘what does the queen say when knighting people’ question, Alan knows the ‘wrong’ answer, and halts himself. He goes “Arise…” and then stops, pondering if he should go on. However, the elves catch this, and give him the forfeit anyway on ‘Arise sir Alan’.

Ronni has the best comeback after this, the question being ‘what should the queen say in knighting Alan.” She says “no, she’d say ‘I’m sorry, but the line has to be drawn somewhere…”

Alan gets a klaxon for guessing a teardrop is pear shaped, and drawing it. After which, he shrugs, and goes “I’m gonna do another one.” He brings up the pad, revealing a square shape, which is also wrong. Earnestly, he asks “should I do a cock-and-balls?” Stephen puts his head in his hands, embarrassed.

Okay, this is a rather mean one. Stephen sets up the question, “Where might you find the world’s biggest drip?” And on the screens, a picture of Hugh Laurie is shown. Ouch. And to his own friend, no less.

A classic Stephen-Phill exchange:
Phill: “How big is it?”
Stephen: “Vast.”
Phill: “Well, that’s nice. ‘How big is it?’ “OH, VERY! I find that to quantify its bigness would be DOING IT A DISSERVICE! BIGLY BIG! VASTLY BIG! BIGNESS..OF THE BIG…DRIPPING THING” Anything! Feet, meters, centimeters! Throw me a fucking BONE here, Fry!”

And the fact that Phill keeps chiming in with things every five sentences. “FRY, PUT ON THE FIFTEEN DENEER AND SEE ME IN MY STUDY!” “FRY YOU OAF, THOSE ARE FISHNETS!”

Stephen: “Where is the largest floater under the sun?”
Rory: “In the office of the deputy prime minister?”
I didn’t think we’d be getting a John Prescott slam in this one, since it’s not a mock the week episode, but still, maybe he was warming up.

Alan remarks that “one day, the blue whale will be the answer to something.” It hasn’t.

Stephen: “How many different species of plant are there in the world? Are there more than you think? Fewer than you think? Or about the same as you thought?”
Ronni: “I can’t think. Does that count?”

Rory, Phill and Alan all tie for second. That is bizarre.

Overall: Fantastic episode. All four were giving great answers, and were in top form. Rory, in hindsight, may have been more suited towards Mock the Week than QI, but he was still pretty nice. This show happens to benefit Ronni’s style of humor, which is why she had a phenomenal evening. Phill gave some of his most inspired answers of his career.

MVP: Phill
Best Guest: Ronni
Show Winner: Ronni
Best QI Fact: Boobays can’t talk in the dark.

FYI: Next episode I’m very excited for, because we have the guy that ended up REPLACING Rory Bremner on Mock the Week appearing on his first and only episode. Plus, it’s a Halloween episode, so that’ll be fun.

QI Watchdown: D3 (Dogs)

Well, this is an…interesting one. I’ve said before that I’m not fond of Jeremy Clarkson, so making him the comedic focal point of the episode is an odd choice. At least give him a Bill, or a Sean or somebody to balance things out. But, we’ve got Jeremy and two newcomers. One I’ve heard of, one I haven’t. This could go either way.

Neil Mullarkey is a familiar name to me, because he appeared on one or two episodes of the UK Whose Line, and he also appeared in the 24 Hour Panel People relaunch of Whose Line, which he was an odd choice for, but I admired the selection. I also know he was in a couple of the Austin Powers movies (“we need…a urine sample.”) I don’t remember if he was too funny or not though.

Liza Tarbuck I’ve not heard of. She’s on a few QI’s, unlike Neil, who’s on just this one. I guess I’ll find out about how funny she is tonight.

Not too many buzzer highlights, except for Jeremy’s, which is a rather vicious dog, that keeps barking as the camera tries to cut away.

Alan is out and ready right out of the gates. Liza brings up the fact that dogs can cross breed with just about anybody, like a chihuahua with a great dane. Alan goes “that’s a nice image. You’d need a step-ladder…or a ditch.”

Jeremy tries to make a similar point against fish: “you can’t mate a shark with a guppy”. Alan, reprising the joke, goes “you’d need a stepladder or a ditch.”

All four are given dogs, and are asked to demonstrate how they mate. Neil takes the literal approach, and has one say to the other ‘nice party, isn’t it?’ Jeremy’s demonstration of his dog humping made me laugh.

Alan is given a small sized dog, and a gigantic dog that takes up most of the desk, and tries to get them both to screw, which is rather amusing.

The funniest part is while Jeremy is talking to Stephen, Alan still has his sheepdog, and keeps talking to it as if it’s real, putting on a show for everyone else, which is so Alan.

Liza: “What’s your stance on dogs having clothes on?”
Stephen: “Oh, fuck off…”

Jeremy uses the ‘what’s the most interesting thing a dog can smell’, to say ‘MY CROTCH!” And he just sits there for a moment, shrugging. Then, of course, the “BOLLOCKS” klaxon comes in. I like how they timed a pause, so Jeremy could feel good about himself for a moment.

By the time Jeremy mentions crotch-sniffing for the third time, somebody finally has a comeback. Jeremy responds to something by saying ‘you can smell my crotch’, to which Neil replies ‘we all can.’

Alan (in response to the ‘german bite’ question) “They never bark when they’re gonna attack you. It’s when they go quiet, that’s when you have to worry.”
Stephen: “Germans?”

Alan saying ‘and now…the chicken forecast’ made me laugh very, very hard. I don’t really know why.

Stephen plays the clips of the whistling Canary Islands language. Neil makes a note ‘the one thing I notice…although it’s in spanish, he does have a liverpool accent.”

When asked what ‘oriolus oriolus’ means in english, Jeremy says ‘the outside of a nipple.’

It was pretty diabolical for Stephen to have a bunch of obvious latin names, and then throw a false cognate in there as puffinous puffinous. Poor Jeremy.

The funniest part of Neil’s win is that he does it with a negative score.

Overall: Bit of a blah episode. Some funny moments, like Alan and the dog, and some great performances, like Neil (sad we won’t be seeing him again), but not a lot of cohesive laughter.

MVP: Alan
Best Guest: Neil
Show Winner: Neil
Best QI Fact: The lethal seeing-eye dog at the end.

QI Watchdown: D2 (Discoveries)

This is a bit of a bittersweet episode tonight, as it is our final of three Arthur Smith episodes, and it’ll be sad to see him go. However, this is the first of four Vic Reeves episodes, and he’s said to be a pretty nice presence in this stretch of QI. Plus, as an added bonus, Clive’s here, and he’ll definitely bring a nice outing.

Arthur’s dressed down a bit this episode, and looks a bit older than the last time, yet i’m still very happy to see him back.

Vic Reeves…I can’t say I’ve heard his humor, but I’m told he’s a similar specimen to Arthur in terms of cerebral humorists. I mean, apparently he’s funny, but he evidently knows a lot, as he wins all four shows he competes in. So, hopefully, he’s funny as well as interesting.

Alan is introduced, following everyone fitted with chip ranks, as ‘Alan, the ship’s cat.”

All four buzzers are nautical themed. Clive’s is an ‘all hands on deck’ PO message, which seems to crack him up. Arthur’s is a foghorn; he does the right thing and says ‘sorry’. Vic is immediately depressed, as he wanted Arthur’s, and his music doesn’t make him happy. He also refers to his rank, saying ‘And I wanted to be a cockson’. To which Stephen goes ‘don’t call me son’.

Alan’s is a mew of, well, the ship’s cat.

The runner this episode is a bit confusing. Each of the four is given a patent for an object, from America. Vic’s involves a hairpiece, Clive’s involves a bra, Arthur’s involves a toilet, and Alan’s involves a stocking. Not exactly sure what this means, but they need to figure out what the patent is for by the end of the show.

A taste of Vic’s humor: “I remember it raining, one Saturday…” Sort of absurdist. Very clever.

On the question involving saccharine and the rings around uranus, Arthur goes ‘sounds like a nice night out’

Of course Alan is the one to be juvenile and push the ‘rings around uranus’ bit. He asks ‘when were the rings around Uranus discovered? Quite recently, you’d think…”

I do applaude Stephen for pronouncing Uranus the right way, in an attempt to get away from the juvenile ‘your anus’ joke. But he still falls into it.

They begin to talk about the things that were discovered by accident. Vic suggests ‘trousers. When someone accidentally fell into two drain pipes. AND PRESTO!” Man, I’m really impressed by his stuff tonight.

Great Moments in Brilliant Klaxon Planning
Stephen: “Who suffered from Shagger’s disease”
Arthur (a la Eric Idle): “I DID, KNOW WHAT I MEAN?”
(Klaxon goes off)
The second he realizes he’s got a klaxon, he raises his arms and calls for a cab. Gotta love Arthur. Sucks he’s not gonna be on the show after this one.

When it’s revealed that Charles Darwin had Shagger’s Disease, Clive asks ‘did he get it off the beagle?’, meaning the boat, but the way he says it…oh…it sounds so wrong.

Clive has a mild yet still funny joke, after Arthur describes a meal involving the beating heart of a snake, and drinking its blood. Clive goes ‘actually, I ordered the lasagna…”

Vic has another nice gag, when, of the sentence that Stephen displays on the board, and asks ‘what’s quite interesting’, he says ‘they’re all in different colors!”

So, they’ve already got one of the books this explorer guy influenced, Robinson Crusoe, and they need the other one. Alan, being Alan, guesses ‘Peter Rabbit’. Stephen’s reaction is pretty nice.

Vic, at this point, gets 20 points for being quite interesting. Now, the difference between him and someone like, oh, Rory McGrath or John Sessions, is that Vic doesn’t go out of his way to spew information. Stephen will ask a question, and Vic will say ‘this reminds me of something fascinating I do know’. Also, Vic does make his excessive knowledge interesting, rather than Rory, who makes it…excessive.

More pros for Vic: He’s ridiculously funny. When talking about Leotard, and his three inventions, they mention the somersaults, and the leotard, and then Vic goes ‘he also intended hummus. He discovered it while taking off his leotard.”

Stephen: “Name something quite interesting that kangaroos can’t do.”
Alan: “They can’t drive.”

Clive has the line of the episode, in being asked how they found out that kangaroos can’t fart. He says, in an Australian accent, “WE’VE BEEN IN THERE FOR 200 YEARS, AND NOT ONE OF THOSE DAMN KANGAROOS HAS FAAHTED!”

On the musical bottom:
Vic: “And the tune that it played when she sat down, was, Arthur?”
Arthur (confused): “We Are Not Amused?”
Vic: ‘No, what I mean, Arthur, was press yours!”

Visual of the episode: Alan wiping his ass with a dog.

And now, a joke I saw coming for the whole episode. Arthur, saddled with the toupee patent, says ‘yes, I remember Clive Anderson in his thirties…”

Stephen says that Vic’s is a ‘toilet snorkel’, which can be used as a breathing device in the event of a fire. Clive’s line is the best: “So…your last moments…before the fire burns your backside off…are spent sucking in lavatory air?”

It’s not shocking that Vic gets first. It IS shocking that Alan gets 2nd. Like, who would have called that? Even Stephen’s shocked.

Overall: A very nice episode, especially after the bore that was Danger. Vic was a refreshing addition to the repertoire company, and Clive and Arthur gave great performances. I’d say this was an episode I’d watch again, even if it’s got some slow moments.

MVP: Vic
Best Guest: Arthur
Show Winner: Vic
Best QI Fact: Shagger’s disease.

QI Watchdown: D1 (Danger)

Yeah, not too long after finishing up C, I’m onto watching Series D, which, as I’ve been told, is where some of the momentum picks up. Tonight’s episode features three strong, trustworthy panelists in Jimmy Carr, Jo Brand and Sean Lock. Also, Series D is the one where Alan begins to grow his hair out a bit, if I recall correctly.

Jo, as it happens, has gone back to the habit of excessive hair dye.

Yes, Alan has gone the way of the longer hair for this (and I think next) series, and I think it works for him. Sort of suits his lack of sanity.

The alarms are all supposed to be danger-related. Sean’s is a growling lion.Jimmy’s is a high-pitched scream, which rather puts him off. Jo’s is a ‘vehicle reversing’ bulletin. Alan’s is simply a mosquito.

Stephen: “There is a 1 in 48-million¬†risk of being burned to death while you sleep.”
Jimmy: “Wouldn’t that wake you up? How heavy a sleeper would you have to be?”
Jo: “You could be quite pissed, couldn’t you…”

Stephen: ‘What is three times more dangerous than war?”
Jimmy (channeling Rich Hall): “Three wars.”

I love how once Stephen says the fact, that there’s more of a likelihood of dying at work than at war, Sean and Alan start trying to find loopholes, like ‘what if they work as a soldier?’ or ‘what if they work near a battlefield?’

Jimmy: “I heard that a third of all accidents at work go unreported….how do they know?”

Stephen then says the fact about lumberjacking being pretty dangerous, and both Jo and Jimmy reference the Lumberjack Song. I love how common Python references are.

Stephen: “What was the most lethal military stratagem ever devised?”
Jo: “Was it Hannibal’s first crack at the Alps using chihuahuas?”
Okay, with a line like that, how can you say that Jo’s not funny. She tries!

Jimmy’s reaction to the story about the guillotined officials who bit each other’s heads afterwards: “That’s holding a grudge, isn’t it? For all intents and purposes, YOU’RE DEAD! LET IT GO!”
Stephen just looks at him and goes, “they were French”, as if it’s supposed to make sense now.

Jimmy is having a career night tonight. Him trying to guess the most dangerous sport and country was fantastic. “Contemporary dancing in Scotland. No? Hopscotch in Afghanistan. No?”

Stephen: “The idea behind extreme kite-flying, is, you have to sever your competitors'”
Alan (confused): Head?

Stephen: “Name the world’s most dangerous manager.”
Jo: “It’s not Dave the Decapitator, who’s head of Psychos R Us in Catford, then?”

Stephen manages to misread the card. He reads one as ‘he died in a bed of diabetes’, when in reality, it was ‘he died in bed, of diabetes’. The first one gives a much funnier visual.

And then Stephen makes a SECOND screw-up, saying to a correct Sean, “I’m gonna give you the money- NO! POINTS! I’m gonna give you the points!” Sean now starts pleading, “NO, I WANT THE MONEY!”

Alan takes the cake for the darkest joke of the episode, in regard to bungee jumping. He says they can take the coffin with them, and mimes them going in and out of the grave. Oh my gosh.

There’s not a lot of hope for the rest of this one, but Sean damn near saves it with the corral of children pushing a loom downstairs, saying “we’re making Stephen’s pants!” Reminds me of the forthcoming Phill bit about the nubile slave boys.

Stephen: “And why do you think a lot of [the San Francisco] fires came about?”
Alan (taking him literally): “Flame.”

Holy Crap, Jo won! I did not expect this!

Overall: A fairly blah show. Not a lot happened, not a lot of consistency. Sean and Jimmy had some nice moments, but it wasn’t very cohesive.

MVP: Jimmy
Best Guest: Jimmy
Show Winner: Jo
Best QI Fact: The tightrope walker carrying his agent.

QI Watchdown: C12 (Combustion)

After some of the most tumultuous and riotous episodes in the show’s history, culminating in Carnival, which was definitely a triumph (OH NO IT ISN’T!!!), we’re down to the last episode of Series 3. I’ll say that for a season with one notorious low (Common Knowledge, or Cockneys, but still, a Rory McGrath episode), this season turned out to have one of the strongest finishes yet.

And now, we’re at the last rung, featuring Phill, notorious for always being in the series closer, Dara O’Briain, who we haven’t seen since last series, but we’re gonna see a hell of a lot more of, and Bill Bailey, who is always welcome.

Interestingly enough, this episode, while the last episode of the season and airing a week or so before Christmas, is NOT a Christmas episode, which is a first for the season closer for QI.

Phill’s buzzer is a banjo solo, which he nods approvingly to. Dara’s is an ascending harp, which he reacts accordingly to. Interesting fact- I think, of anybody on this show, Dara has the best reactions to his buzzers. The one in ‘Europe’ is the best example.Bill’s is a Hawaiian slide guitar, which he has a variety of reactions to, including disgust. Alan’s is just a chicken noise.

Phill asks that Alan’s and his be played together, and we get a banjo with chicken accompaniment, which actually works. Alan, smirkingly, goes “you can see the visual accompaniment on the website”.

OOOOH! Interesting twist to this one. Each of the players are given a doubt card, which can be played whenever one of them thinks that a fact Stephen’s told is completely false. This coming off the heels of the best runner in the show’s history, now the contestants are gonna try to out BS Stephen.

Dara gets the show off to a nice start, when asked about the twelve frenchmen and the twelve mosquitoes. He goes, without a hint of irony, “once upon a time…”, proceeds to give them all French Seven Dwarf names. Unfortunately, Phill starts counting them, and only counts six, so Dara has to do more. And then Phill asks ‘AND WHAT WERE THE MOSQUITOES CALLED??’, so Dara has to name them, too. It’s just Phill fucking with Dara, which is wonderful, the way they interact.

Alan thinking that the Germans and Irish, when they reminisce about the war without speaking the other language, they just mime shooting at each other, was hysterical.

Stephen: “When the Titanic sank, what was the first thing that happened to the crew?”
Phill: “Terrible luck for them, but they actually had their six-month review.”
Yeah, that made me laugh HARD.

(Observation 7 minutes in- not a hell of a lot of Bill Bailey. Poor guy.)

AAAAND a minute later, Bill has an amazing joke. Phill says that somebody on the Titanic dressed as a lady in order to get off with the women and children. Bill heard it as ‘somebody dressed as a baby’. The series of Bill facial expressions that follow this made me laugh.

Stephen did this deliberately, asking how you can tell ‘able from ordinary seamen’. Phill’s expression said it all.

I love how Bill and Alan guess that pistachios become volatile and explosive, by just pussy-footing around and trying to make a joke. Like, who, with a straight face, would guess that the pistachios explode?

Great moment with Alan. He puts up his doubt card, says it’s complete rubbish. Stephen clarifies if he’s playing his doubt card, and Alan puts the card down, scared shitless, going ‘no, never…’

Stephen asks for another dangerous nut. I was hoping that Phill or Alan or somebody would have a joke answer, and perhaps get a klaxon, but Bill, semi-jokingly, guesses walnut and is right. This is a bonkers episode.

Bill then gets his THIRD in a row by guessing the Rolls Royce tests the engines with chickens. He looks as shocked as anyone does.

Quite possibly the best transition of the episode. Stephen mentions there are chicken cannons, which cracks up Phill. Alan then does an impression of a chicken being shot out of a cannon, flapping. And then, some guy in the tech booth gets the golden idea to put a shot of Rocky the Flying Rooster from Chicken Run on the screen behind them, and the entire place erupts in laughter.

Stephen talks about the Zacchini family, being fired out of cannons, and the two daughters hit each other head-on in mid-air. Alan, in his best Hugh Dennis voice, goes “HAVE *YOU* had an accident at work?” And then Phill doing the Zacchini impression, completely neckless, which I got a kick out of.

The second that Stephen asks who invented the theory of relativity, Phill and Alan start pointing and going ‘wait a minute…’. Bill even says “IT WAS ALBERT…AGGGG…MONT.”

The funniest part is Stephen actually tricks Alan into saying Einstein. He guesses Newton, and Stephen says it’s a bigger hitter than that, which forces him to say Einstein.

I love how Stephen refers to the book ‘and I use the term loosely’, The DaVinci code, ‘ass-gravy of the worst kind’. This would be a year before the movie came out.

Stephen also calls it ‘loose stool water’, to which Alan says ‘it sounds like a blues singer. Please welcome, Loose Stool Water’, to which Bill plays his buzzer like a blues singer.

Stephen talked of Peter Cushing kissing women’s hands, and Alan said ‘while Christopher Lee would bite their finger off.’

I did squeal with glee over Stephen’s anecdote about Cushing and Lee talking to each other, as old friends.

Dara made the geek reference of the episode, by saying ‘well if he says he’s gonna call him up, why doesn’t he do’ and then does a perfect ‘Dracula summoning’ chant.

Alan’s run in GI is fascinating. This is an episode where Bill gets consecutive questions right, and Alan gets consecutive questions wrong. Fantastic.

I love how Phill prefaces his guess of ‘a pencil’ by saying, which should be a catchphrase, ‘Here comes the big noise’.

Okay, it’s actually pretty great, but the story that Stephen tells about Neil Armstrong overhearing his neighbors having sex and dedicating the moonwalk to them–yeah, I knew it was bollocks. Alan’s expression was great- he was confused, and pulled up the ‘bollocks’ sign.

Great footnote to this one- Stephen takes points away from Dara for an answer he gave LAST TIME HE WAS ON! Because it’s been corrected since. This is classic QI right here.

I love how Bill won this one, and I love even more how not even that last ‘bollocks’ question could catapult Alan into the lead.

Overall: Great episode, great way to finish the series, and a great use of all four players. I don’t think it was a BEST for anybody, as Phill and Bill have had better games, and Dara, despite a phenomenal night, will probably have his best ones in the future, but Alan was astounding tonight.

MVP: Alan
Best Guest: Phill
Show Winner: Bill
Best QI Fact: chicken cannons.

Best Episode: C11: Carnival
2nd Best Episode: C8: Corby
Worst Episode: C3: Common Knowledge
Episode worth a second look: C7: Constellations
Best Runner: SQUIRREL!, or, OH NO IT ISN’T! from C11, Carnival.
Best Guest of the Season: Phill Jupitus.
Guest we’d rather not see again: Rory McGrath
Rookie of the Year: David Mitchell (C8: Corby) (runner up would probably be Andy Hamilton)

QI Watchdown: C11 (Carnival), or, OH NO IT ISN’T!!

OOOOH BOY we’re in for a good one!

This episode is the second of two Clive episodes, and the first of two Phill episodes. It’s also the last Jo episode of the season, but people apparently don’t seem to like Jo. Still, it’s not often that you get consecutive Phill episodes, so I’m embracing it.

Okay, you can tell this is a good episode, because as Stephen’s doing his opening standup, you can hear a ‘party horn’ noise from Stephen’s right, which has to be Alan. He looks over to Alan, and starts cracking up, as he’s doing his standup. So you can tell, by the fact that he’s already losing it, and the show’s not even started yet, that we’re in for a good one.

All four panelists are wearing either little plastic hats or holding plastic horns in their mouths, or both. And they seem pretty enthused about it.

As for the buzzers, they’re carnival themed. Phill’s is the little carnival theme, which he dances around to. Clive’s is a drumroll that leads to someone landing in the water, followed by horns; this amuses Clive. Jo’s is a serious of horns. Alan’s is a parade of mad laughter (I think)

Stephen says that each of the four has been equipped with a ‘swozzle-stick’. Clive and Phill demonstrate this with flying colors. Alan tries it and fails. Phill, however, uses his noise to make it sound like over-the-top hysterical laughter, which Clive tries to beat out of him. The energy at Second Zero is already making me laugh.

And our episode-long runner involves a joker card with a squirrel on it. It entails that whenever a question seems to have ‘squirrel’ as an answer, which will be one point in the show, a contestant must buzz in, play the card, and yell ‘squirrels’! This reminds me of ‘CUTTLEFISH!’ from a few episodes ago.

Phill asks if said ‘squirrel’ should be done with or without swozzles. Stephen says ‘without, because you might swallow it’. Right as he says that, Alan keeps yelling “SQUIRREL” with the swozzle in his mouth, which is equally amusing.

And then, an early candidate for quote of the episode: “If you don’t take your swozzles out very soon, I will kill you.”

So, as Stephen explains, the right answer will get 50, and the wrong will get -10, and as he says that, a slide of Stephen in clown makeup with a smile and frown are shown for each one. As to the frown, Phill goes “Stephen Fry sings Simply Red is not available in the shops.” He pauses, for emphasis, and then gives out a Melchett-esque “Baaah”, as he loves to do. The even more priceless part of this is immediately after Phill does this, Stephen lets out a genuine Melchett noise, a “neeehh”.

I’ve written a book, and the game’s not even started yet. YES!

I do love that Stephen quotes a ‘deep thought from Jack Handey’ to start, about clowns. That’s actually brilliant.

The funniest part of the whole runner is Alan gets a forfeit literally the first opportunity he gets. Stephen asks what the panel’s afraid of. Alan yells, with card in hand, “SQUIRRELS”. Of course, the Stephen clown frown shows up, and then Alan goes ‘that was a joke…’

Stephen: “Does anyone have a cuckoo in their pants?”
Jo: “Can I apologize in advance for this one? No, because I had a big cock in my pants last night…”
And already, she starts cracking up. And, of course, she gets a klaxon, but only for going ‘no.’

Stephen (trying to explain): “But the greek for cuckoo is…”
Alan: “…bumhole.”
Stephen’s reaction to this is priceless.

Stephen: “What goes around in a Greek frock?”
Jo: “Demis Roussos.”
NOT ONLY is this a ridiculously funny answer, but it also gets Klaxoned. My gosh, they’re not letting Jo have a joke, aren’t they?

Jo then gets ANOTHER KLAXON, when she guesses Squirrels. I do, now, understand that the sound-bite that plays over the Clown Stephen screen is “OH, NO IT ISN’T!!” My gosh, this episode is bonkers.

And now, Phill Screws with Stephen:
Stephen: What’s coconut milk?
Phill: TASTY!
Stephen: Nono, where does it come from?

Stephen gives a hint that he’s looking for an animal, and he looks at all four panelists as they grapple with whether or not they want to guess if this one’s the squirrel question. Phill is close to grasping his card. Clive eventually has no choice but to guess squirrel, only to be proven wrong.

Clive offhandedly mentions that he’s the president of the Woodland Trust, to which Stephen dramatically announces, “LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THE PRESIDENT OF THE WOODLAND TRUST!” The audience applauds, and Phill even holds his squirrel card next to Clive. Phill then asks “how do you get voted that position. Did the squirrels vote you in?”

Clive mentions a wasp fudge. Phill brings up a good point “leave it out for an hour, and all fudge has wasps in it…” My God, Phill is on an absolute ROLL tonight. This may be his best episode ever.

For the first question of GI, Stephen asks what goes around gathering nuts in May. Alan literally commands everyone to raise their cards on the count of three, and Clive and Phill indeed do. However…it’s wrong.

Jo summarizes this entire episode by saying ‘is it ‘we’? Here we go gathering nuts in May?’ I think she’s referring to when this was taped, because QI usually tapes in May and June, and that’s exactly what QI does…they gather nuts and ask them questions.

Phill answers the ‘custard’ question with a very smart and thought-provoking answer, which is deemed very wrong by Stephen. So, on a whim, Phill yells out ‘IS IT SQUIRREL?’ Stephen face palms as the wrong answer screen comes up.

Stephen, on cocking, reads a comment as “a good cocker would think nothing of cleaning his cock’s wounded head by sticking it in his mouth and sucking it clean.” There’s a nice amount of silence, and then Phill gives the line of the episode, “You’re watching QI for the Straight Guy.”

The next question, which Stephen says is an animal, Phill doesn’t even need to say it, just holding up his card, and waiting for Stephen’s head to pop up behind him.

The funny part is before he made a zillion guesses for squirrels, Phill was probably winning. I guess that means Clive’s going to win??

Phill correctly guesses that the tortoise was dropped by an eagle. Alan marvels that the guess was ‘quite a far shot’. Phill then, jokingly, guesses ‘thrown, by a rival philosopher.’

Clive eventually ruins the chance for the squirrel question by saying the shoes were made of fur, answering the question without actually saying ‘squirrel’. Phill was even raising his card as the question was asked. The upside is at least there’s the visual of a slipper made of squirrel fur.

As predicted, Clive wins with zero.

Final Thoughts: Far and away the best episode of this series. Not only did this episode have the best runner, but it had some of the best jokes and the best chemistry between the contestants. Clive had his Woodland Trust gag, which Phill and Jo would add to, and all four would add to the main gag. Phill was on top of the world, giving some of his best material. Clive and Jo should not be counted out, having spectacular games themselves. Alan, even in his score-wise ineptitude, was still funny in those rounds.

MVP: Phill
Best Guest: Phill
Show Winner: Clive
Best QI Fact: tortoise dropped by an eagle.

QI Watchdown: C10 (Cleve Crudgington)

Ah, yes, up to Cleve Crudgington, AKA ‘A Gentleman’s Guide to QI’. In which three of the least loud or crass recurring guests appear alongside each other, in an attempt to calm everyone down from the previous episode’s Cuttlefish-o-rama. Tonight features Clive Anderson and Mark Steel, two guys that I’m certain will bring great moments tonight, and also John Sessions. After withstanding two episodes of Rory McGrath, I’m feeling a lot better about watching a John one.

Off we go:

The buzzers tonight seem to be spy-themed. John’s is the James Bond theme. Clive’s is the Mission Impossible theme. Mark’s is the Hawaii Five-O theme. Alan’s is apparently the theme to Z-Cars. As an American, I don’t see why this is a punchline.

Stephen is, very early on, trying to stop the panel from going for the innuendo when he says the C in question is Cumming. He already sees Clive trying to make the joke, so he’s already going ‘stoppit…’ Clive does indeed go ‘how did he get the job, then?’

I love that Stephen admits that Alan’s pumping him for information, as he’s scurrying back to his info card on the C of MI5 question.

Stephen: “He was born with two legs, you see-”
Clive: “There was nothing particularly remarkable about that! If that’s what you count as Quite Interesting on this programme-”
Stephen: “No, no, it builds…”

Stephen (on Clives): “There’s a generation of Clives on television. Clive James, Clive Anderson-”
Clive: “They’re all the same, actually. No eyes, no neck, no hair…”
I LOVE THAT because Clive hits the two most frequent jabbing points of his on Whose Line.

Alan asks about the corks and Crudgington, “did he insert them into his person.” Stephen, a bit unfazed, says “you will never know how thin the ice you skate on…We have a little forfeit all ready for you.” And A SECOND LATER, the words ‘RAMS IT UP HIS ARSE’ appear on the screen. Man, those Elves are that good.

Well, I for one never thought I’d see someone other than John get a Luvvie Alarm. BUT…Stephen begins a conversation, preceding it by saying ‘at the risk of a terrible name dropping’, and talks of a party at the Duke and Duchess of Westminster’s mansion, and the Luvvie Alarm goes off.

John riles off a long phrase, which is used as the Pigeon English word for piano. To this, Clive goes, ‘maybe you’d be better off saying piano.’

Sad to say, but other than a bunch of Clive lines, there’s not a lot going on in this episode. It’s sad, too.

They’ve just found out that the word cat comes from the latin word for dog.
Clive: “interesting thing about the word rabbit-”
Mark: “It comes from the latin word for giraffe!”

Stephen: “Do you know what a cataglotism is?
Alan: “It’s when you’ve got a cat stuck in your throat.”

Alan: “Why is pussy another word for front bottom?”
Stephen (deadpan): “I don’t know, it’s not my area of expertise, NOW…”

It’s not until GI that the buzzers real start going off, and one after the other in succession, they do sound quite funny.

BLUE WHALE UPDATE! This utterance of the gag is early on, and not enough that it’s a punchline yet. But, Alan indeed gets it wrong.

This is classic. Stephen asks Alan to name a berry. Alan says, obviously, ‘blackberry, strawberry, raspberry, loganberry-“, and is stopped by the Klaxon, which plays more like a slideshow of everything he just said. Stephen is so amazed that he has to go back and explain why every one of them is wrong.

Now Stephen names, and lists, a dozen or so fruits that are indeed berries. Alan, being Alan, interrupts him and says ‘SQUIRREL SHIT!’, which does manage to crack up Stephen.

The James Bond question is pretty funny, because Clive thinks he can outsmart Stephen. First he guesses Sean Connery as the second person to play James Bond, which is wrong. He knows that ‘the fellow who went onto host Blockbusters’ was the first, so then he guesses somebody from Casino Royale, ‘perhaps, uh, David Niven’. THAT is also Klaxoned. Now Clive is slamming his head on the desk.

Alan manages to cement the ‘blue whale’ status as a running gag later on in the episode, when Stephen, as part of the Buddha question, says it’s about an animal. Alan, not taking any chances, guesses “BLUE WHALE!” Thankfully, no klaxon.

Funny how Mark wins with 2. That’s fantastic. Even he’s going ‘how did that happen?’

Alan’s score of -84 is deemed by Stephen as a personal record. It’s damn close, I think.

Final Thoughts: Bit of a nondescript episode, not much happens until QI. Only Clive and Alan’s ineptitude save this one from being a complete clunker. It’s not any fault of the people involved. Mark and John are good on this show, but stayed very quiet. Clive had a tremendous show, showing the extroverted attitude that I wish we saw more of on Whose Line.

MVP: Clive
Best Guest: Clive
Loser of the Week: Alan with -84.
Show Winner: Mark
QI Fact of the Week: berries and droop sacks.