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)


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