QI Watchdown: E8 (Eyes & Ears)

Tonight’s episode features one of the many ‘perfect panels’ featured this season. Three people that are funny enough on their own, but together, might lead to a truly classic QI. Phill Jupitus, obviously, and Jimmy Carr are two definite standouts, and the funny thing is they haven’t done a hell of a lot when they’re on the same panel. David Mitchell I think can help gell them together.

Tonight’s buzzers are all ‘eyes’. Phill’s is ‘Aye, aye, sir.”, which gives him a smile. David’s is ‘eyes to the right.’ Jimmy’s is a louder ‘Aye, Sir’, I think. Alan’s is the ‘I-I-I-I-I-I LIKE YOU VEEEEWY MUCH’ theme they like to lampoon Alan with. I don’t know where it’s from.

Stephen: “What would you use one of these for?”
Jimmy: “What would I use it for, or what is it meant for?”

David: “If you ever try to get the eye out of a fish, and it blinks, it may be a lion.”
David is very good at supplementing his own jokes, but this is the perfect panel for him to work with other people.

Phill, holding up the gizmo in question: “Is this the Albanian Army Knife?”

Great moment from Stephen. They’re still talking about the earwax scooper, and Phill is saying ‘the only difficult part is where to put the earwax.’ Stephen, keeping a charming facial expression, goes “yes, cause unlike snot, it doesn’t taste nice!” And immediately covers his mouth as the panelists respond to that joke.

Stephen has a hereditary ear question and the picture that appears is one that pastes the heads of Jimmy, Alan and Phill onto a mother, son and father, respectively. Jimmy is first to say “well, that is horrifying.’ Phill sees ‘himself’ and goes “so, the Atkins is working, then.’ And then Jimmy, again, goes “I’ll tell you what, I’ve got a cracking pair of tits!”

David eventually goes “I feel really left out. Can’t I be, like, the dog or something?”

On the ‘date a cod’ question, the behind-screen shows a fish dressed up with earrings and makeup. Phill, amused, goes “where…did you find a slutty fish like that? “ALL THESE WHORES OF THE SEA CAN BE YOURS!!”

The conversation all four of them have about walking on cod all the way from France to America is hysterical. David says ‘i mean, they’re slippy, even if they do lie nicely on the surface. I mean, back to boats, you know.’ Phill says ‘it’d be great, you can run…and then slide on them for a bit, and then run…”

The ‘who has the biggest ears in the world’ question is great, because as Jimmy is giving his joke answer ‘grandmas, and all the better to hear you with’, Alan is slowly bringing up his elephant stick on the other side. He even presses his buzzer with the stick, and the funny part is he’s right.

And now, the oddest question that has ever been asked on QI… “Would a bit of rough music stop you beating your wife?” David has the best reaction: “Sounds like a sort of leading question in a police interview, doesn’t it? ‘Would, uh, some music stop you beating your wife?’ ‘it might, actually.’ ‘GOT YOU!’

Jimmy has a great line after this: “Beating your wife is so stupid. I mean, it’s YOUR wife. It’s like keying your own car…”
David: “Society just got a tiny bit worse.”
Jimmy: “I like to think I can help.”

I love how heated David Mitchell gets at the ‘camel through the eye of a needle’ question. I believe this is the first of the now-famous Mitchell Rants, where he’s adamant about the correctness of a question that Stephen proclaims is quite wrong.

This devolves into a conversation about shoving a cat through the eye of a needle. Phill goes ‘you’ve already got the claw through, and you’re going ‘I don’t think this is gonna work.’ David even says ‘you end up with lovely bottled cat. I couldn’t decide red or white, so I brought cat.’ Still funny is Alan impersonating a cat shoved into a bottle.

And then the whole thing about the whistles in the floatation devices, or as David describes, ‘a bunch of people bobbing in the water, going ‘peep-peep-peep.’ Alan has the ingenious idea ‘give everyone a different note, and give them all songbooks.’
Jimmy: ‘Wouldn’t it be kind of tragic if you were playing a song, and one of the notes didn’t go off, and you went…’he didn’t make it…”

Jimmy says that, in the event of a crash, people are told to put their head between their legs ‘to preserve the dental record.’ David takes it even further going, “In the unlikely event of your death, I’m sure you’d all like to be identified. Bite down hard on your own armrest…”

After revealing that the Treasure Island character in question was the parrot, the behind-screen shows a still from Treasure Island, circling the parrot. Phill, with a great line, says “yes, because you needed to circle the parrot there, I think…”the parrot is here!”‘

Phill’s expression when he realizes Alan won is great, he has this huge smile, and turns to Alan, going “AGAIN!”. I love moments like these when Phill can break character and be in a really good mood, especially with his friend Alan.

Overall: GREAT EPISODE! The dynamic between the panel was the best it’s been all season, and all four panelists were giving grade-A material. I’d have to say Phill was the weakest, but he wasn’t without his great moments. David had a breakthrough performance, finally coming into his own, and Jimmy had a pretty great game too.

MVP: David
Best Guest: Jimmy
Show Winner: Alan
Best QI Fact: rough music

QI Watchdown: E7 (Espionage)

Tonight’s episode is sadly Vic Reeves’ last one, but thankfully has two panelists that can supplement any amount of talent, Clive Anderson and Jo Brand. Plus, this is another ‘dress-up’ theme, as all the panelists are in trench coats and mustaches.

Plus, when Stephen announces the panelists, all four are represented by disguised decoys in the audience. So, so far, pretty cool way to get into the theme.

The buzzers are all spy-related themes. Jo’s is ‘Mission Impossible.’ Clive’s is ‘Peter Gunn.’ Vic’s, much to his amusement, is ‘Inspector Gadget’. And Alan’s is just a kid going ‘I spy with my little eye…”

Stephen: “Do you know how to beat a lie-detector?”
Jo: “A spot of gentle masturbation?”

The whole conversation about clenching the anal sphincter to avoid the lie detector was hysterical, because it was just Clive fooling around with it, even saying ‘because I’m in that position just when i do this show, waiting for the next answer.’ Alan even raises his toy periscope and goes ‘HAS HE RAISED HIS SPHINCTER??’

When Stephen says that you can expose a female spy by waiting for her to give birth, Jo says “it’s not terribly efficient, time-wise.’ And then Clive goes “WE NEED TO KNOW WHERE THE BOMB HAS BEEN PLANTED!’ ‘Just a minute sir, I’ll get it out of her…uhh…maybe not…”

Stephen: [Muller] walked out of a bunker, and was never seen or heard from again.”

Stephen, describing dead bodies: “The hair, which never goes away-”
Clive: “ha, that’s what you think!”

Stephen describing the irony that the man who discovered the invisible ink qualities of semen was Mansfield Smith-Cumming.
Alan: “My name is Cumming. Manfield Smith-Cumming.”

Stephen: “What would happen to your fingerprints if you worked in a Pineapple factory?”
Clive: “The pineapple is the only fruit to have fingerprints.”
The look Stephen gives Clive is priceless.

Stephen: “There was a period of time where all the cables on a lift in the Empire State Building had been sheared off. D’you know why that is?”
Clive: “There was a huge ape…on the outside!”

(On which country has the most tornadoes)
Alan: “You’ve got to give us a hint!”
Stephen: “Fine. We’re in it.”
Alan: “EUROPE!”
Stephen: “NO!!”

Vic has got to be one of the few contestants to play a bunch of times and win every single one of them.

Overall: An okay episode. Good theme, a few good moments, but very thin on greatness.

MVP: Clive
Best Guest: Jo
Show Winners: Clive and Vic
Best QI Fact: Semen Invisible Ink

QI Watchdown: E6 (Everything, Etc.) or ‘SMASHED BADGERS??’

This episode is the first of two Clive episodes, and the first of the final two Vic Reeves episodes. Vic, as I’ve come to recognize, is a very funny panelist, but gains a lot when he’s backed up by a great panel. Clive specializes in backing people up. Meanwhile, Jeremy Clarkson specializes in being a laughingstock of the panel. I’m sure this will all work out well enough.

All of the buzzers are songs pertaining to the word ‘everything’. Vic’s is Barry White’s ‘You’re the First, the Last, My Everything’, which he bobs along to. Clive’s is Bryan Adams’ ‘Everything I do (I do it for you)’, which he ends with a soulful, bending into a mic stand pose, which never ceases to crack me up. Stephen, after the song ends, looks at the camera and goes, ‘Sometimes there just isn’t enough vomit in the world.’

Jeremy presses his carefully, hoping he doesn’t get something horrible like Bryan Adams. Instead, he gets ‘Every Little Thing She Does is Magic’ by the Police, which Jeremy shrugs off, going ‘that’s the best one…’

Alan’s is a very over-the-top performance of ‘Everything’s Coming Up Roses’ by Ethel Merman, which goes on for a long time, and has Alan going ‘that’s my best-ever buzzer.’

The first time Alan hits his buzzer, he energetically moves around to the Merman music.

The first couple questions have, just like last episode, a lot of information and not a lot of jokes. Vic I can compromise for, because he does have a great delivery, and he makes his endless supply of info interesting enough, better than a Rory McGrath tidbit.

Jeremy tells a story about watching for foxes with Russian Night Vision goggles, saying he passed the time with a Merlot. Alan, deadpan, goes “that’s how the whole British Empire got started…”

Clive thinks of the best uses for the fainting goats: “if you were to dramatize some nineteenth century novels…but using animals…”

Vic adds on “do they faint with fear, do they” and he brings his arm up to his forehead “when they go down?”

Stephen: “Apparently the older and more experienced fainting goats often lean against things to stop themselves from falling…”
Clive: “Somebody help me up. Actually, it must be hard to become an older fainting goat, because…the wolves are generally biting your throat out.”

Clive on the jumping lumberjacks: “If you say ‘timber’, they jump. Or ‘TAMBRE!”

Stephen says the other symptom of the lumberjacks is ‘a compulsive need to repeat foreign phrases.”

I love how the audience helps Clive out with the ‘multiple choice’ question, and they’re right on it.

Stephen reveals that men are generally better at multiple choice questions than woman. Jeremy goes “alright, so we can’t multitask, drive, have sex, talk properly or anything else, BUT WE CAN CHOOSE!”

Stephen: “The most dangerous cars are green, and driven by the Chinese.”
Alan: “And called Tanks.”

I don’t know if a lot of people caught this, but on the first question of GI, Jeremy, instead of buzzing in, just goes ‘Eeeevery little thing she does is magic.’ He just sings his buzzer. How very Jeremy of him.

Stephen: ‘What is most house-dust composed of?”
Vic: “Rust.”
Stephen: “I don’t think the MAJORITY of it is rust-”
Vic: “If you live in an iron house, like me…”

As Jeremy is riling off a list of random things that might be composing dust, Clive, quietly, goes “dust mites”. Jeremy then says, still listing, ‘Smashed Badgers.’ Then the klaxon goes off, and Jeremy thinks he set it off, so he repeats, exasperated, ‘SMASHED BADGERS!?!?” And then Jeremy tries to comprehend why the klaxon went off on Dust Mites when he said smashed badgers. Eventually when he figures out it was Clive, Clive goes “NO, THE CAMERA WAS ON HIM! I SAID NOTHING!”

And then, after Stephen riles off a list of all the things that ARE in dust, varying from house to house, Jeremy goes “so no smashed badgers?”

Stephen: ‘What would you find in the middle of a pearl?”
Alan: ‘AN OYSTER!’
Stephen: “No. (comprehending) YOU’D FIND AN OYSTER IN THE MIDDLE OF A PEARL????”

Alan: “I’ve seen a giant clam.”
Jeremy: “D’you ever put your foot in one?”
Alan: No.”
Jeremy: “I did. It was the stupidest thing I’ve ever done.”

Stephen: “How could a glass bottom keep you out of the army?”
Vic: “Is it Fragile Ass Syndrome?”
Dear God, I laughed WAY too hard at that, like Johnny’s “A SECOND ASS!” from last episode.

I love how Alan gets 2nd, even with -24. And Vic wins, because…he’s Vic.

Overall: An episode that started slow and definitely picked up as it went along. It helped that the panel was chatty, loose, and having a ton of fun. Clive definitely had a great day on this program, which again reminded me why he’s even better in front of the desk than behind it. Vic and Jeremy also had nice games, but Clive was way ahead.

MVP: Clive
Best Guest: Vic
Show Winner: Vic
Best QI Fact: Fainting Goats.

QI Watchdown: E5 (Europe)

Two episodes in a row of fantastic-looking panels. This one in particular features two people we’ve seen quite a bit of, Phill Jupitus and Dara O’Briain, and one person we’re gonna be seeing a lot more of, David Mitchell. Hoping this is a nice one.

Keeping with the theme, Stephen introduces the four from different countries. David from England, Dara from Ireland, Phill from Lithuania, Alan from ‘the little bit of Wales that is always North London’.

David’s buzzer is a fairly British theme that I’ve heard everywhere. Phill’s is Ode to Joy, which he rocks out to. Dara’s reaction to his buzzer being a choral rendition of ‘It’s a Long Way to Tipperary’ is one of my favorites in the show’s history. He hears what it is, and is visibly confused as he bobs along to it, eventually rolling his eyes.

Stephen mentions that the Belgians, with the boundary line against the Netherlands, opened a sex shop on their side that doesn’t apply to the Dutch. Phill even goes “Hey, dutch guys! Look at our cock-rings and inflatable ladies!’

Slow start, because the complexity of the questions and the facts are overpowering the jokes so far.

Stephen: ‘But why do they let in hens [at this Greek embassy]
David: ‘Because they prefer eggs to the jizz of the male hens.”

Stephen: “No, it’s not actually to eat the eggs.”
David: ‘To…mock them?”

After Stephen reveals that all the icons in the monastery are made with egg yolks.
Dara: “Is this like the wallpaper in Willy Wonka, where the different colors taste of different things? ‘Oh, the snozzberries taste like snozzberries!”
David: “And all the Jesuses taste of breakfast!”

David so far is powering a lot of the jokes here, which is a HUGE step up from his last two appearances. Phill, meanwhile, isn’t doing a lot of lifting, and is instead helping other people’s jokes, and Dara, to a lesser extent, is doing this too.

The next round is a Call my Bluff parody, Call My Euro-Bluff, during which Stephen does a great impression of that presenter.

Like the rest of the episode, that round was very interesting, with a lot of great facts, but not a lot of great jokes. That could some up most of this episode. It’s a good episode, but it’s not a terribly funny one, save for some of the stuff that David has been pitching.

Dara’s impression of someone climbing Mt. Everest being distracted by a LandRover driving up the mountain cracked me up.

Classic Moment. Stephen asks the audience what the first lines of the German National Anthem is. Most of them go ‘Deutchland Deutchland, Uber Alles’, and this is the first time where the AUDIENCE gets a klaxon. Alan even goes “YOU IDIOTS!” Phill has the best line: ‘Welcome to OUR PAIN!”

Stephen reveals that the notebooks tonight were made of recycled elephant dung (“What’s been under your noses all along and sounds like a bell? DUNG!”) Dara has the best reaction: “This is like the ending to the Usual Suspects, when they find out it was here all along…”

Phill has a very surprising win tonight, especially considering David’s in the room.

Stephen gave the audience -100 for getting the words wrong to the German National Anthem, which is pretty great.

Final Thoughts: A good show, but not a funny show. Has some nice moments, and David is more vocal than he’s ever been, but feels more like a footnote to a season than a forerunner. Good to see Phill and Dara at their best, and Alan had some funny moments, but nothing, other than a few funny moments, worth remembering at the end of the season.

MVP: David
Best Guest: Dara
Show Winner: Phill
Best QI Fact: Egg Yolk in Icons.

QI Watchdown: E4 (Exploration)

Ah, from a horrifying panel to one I can definitely see eye-to-eye with. Three semi-regulars who I adore wholeheartedly, Bill Bailey, Sean Lock and Rich Hall, appearing in his final episode of this series, which is a departure from his old standby of appearing in three or five per series. Still, I think this kind of panel will work really well, and the dynamic will flow.

Tonight’s episode is the first of many this season to dress the set, and panelists, to fit the theme. For instance, as tonight’s involves Exploration, all four are dressed as explorers or paleontologists, in those beige caps and shirts.

After Stephen describes the ‘Elephant in the Room’ runner, Bill, holding up his elephant panel, asks ‘Is this what people use when meeting an elephant in an airport?”

Rich, curiously, asks what the furry stick under his desk is. Stephen tells him it’s a fly whisk, used for keeping away flies. Rich, still confused, says ‘looks like Phil Spector.’ Bill, holding up his whisk, which is long, blonde, and hairier, says ‘well, I’ve got Kate Moss over here.’ He then mimes the stick snorting cocaine, which is a great topical joke.

All the buzzers are different TV or movie themes dealing with exploration. Sean’s is the Star Trek theme. Rich’s is the Indiana Jones theme, which goes a verse or two too long, at which point he starts looking at Stephen, confused. Bill’s is, I think, the Dick Tracy theme. Alan’s is the theme to Steptoe and Son.

The first question has Bill and Alan playing the Pilgrims, and Sean and Rich playing the Native Americans, trying to communicate. Alan tries reading from a book of Satanism. Rich, taking the simple route, goes “HI. HOW ARE YA?’ Bill draws a glass of a foaming pint of beer. Sean, with the best response, fakes Native American language, pointing to Bill, and ends with ‘Never Mind the Buzzcocks’, a fantastic way of working Bill into the scenario. And then, pointing to Alan, Sean says ‘JONATHAN CREEK!’ Meanwhile, bill is going, out of character, ‘NOT JUST NEVER MIND THE BUZZCOCKS! OTHER THINGS! Stand Up Comedy! Playing Piano…in hotels!”

Rich, still in character: “You think you’re the first explorers here, don’t ya? Where do you think [Sean’s] eyeglasses came from?’

With the ‘Eiffel Tower to the Lourvre without seeing any french people’, Alan keeps trying to get around it. First he goes ‘keep your eyes shut.’ Then he goes ‘go blindfolded, and ask ‘SOMEONE TAKE ME TO THE LOUVRE!’

On the Sewer Tours:
Stephen: ‘How do you think they clean them?”
Alan: “What, the people?”
Stephen: “No…the sewers.”
Alan: “Have everyone flush their toilet at once without any poo in it.”

Bill’s ‘Rural Buddha’ runner, which starts with him guessing the ladder into space should be perched ‘on a wall of silence’, is a very amusing one, one that culminates in Sean, in an inspired moment, calling him ‘The Dalai Farmer.’

Everybody is having some very nice moments, not just with quick jokes, but with more drawn-out material, like Sean’s diatribe about taking a giant bubble into space, or Rich’s thing about being stuck in the elevator to space. A lot of well-formed jokes, which is a sign of a good flow, or, to quote Hugh Dennis, ‘cool vibes.’

Stephen asks ‘What happens in space when one of the members of your crew goes mad’, and on the screen behind the panelists, is Alan in a spacesuit.

Stephen mentions that the male member can be slightly smaller during sex, to which Rich replies ‘In space, no one can hear you apologize…”

Alan and Bill trying to reenact a space-porno is gold. Bill saying ‘I’ve come to fix the…turbo thrusters…” Alan going ‘and the poor actress, waving around by his knob…throwing him across to another woman, who catches him.’ The motions that Bill and Alan have make it even funnier. Even Rich has a good line, saying “yeah, Houston, we’ve got a problem. We have, uh…spunk in the bay…”

Stephen: “What were the first words spoken on the surface of the moon?”
Sean: “Uh…hello…can you hear me?”
Rich: “It’d great to be here in Philadelph-I mean, the moon.”
Bill: “This is the moon, this is the end of the line, please make sure you have all your bags and personal possessions…”

Alan, when asked something interesting about Buzz Aldrin, says ‘he had the hand of a monkey’, referring to the photo behind them, which shows Aldrin wearing a very monkey-like glove.

Rich: “I have a dormitory at University of Colorado named after me.”
Stephen: “What, Rich Hall-oh.”

I love the clip of the moonwalking bird, because the panel tries to move on, but they keep getting distracted, and amazed, by that footage of the bird moonwalking.

Rich seems pretty astounded that he’s won.

Final Thoughts: Another very good episode, although not a classic. There wasn’t really a standout performer, though Bill came very close, with help from his Dalai Farmer runner, and Sean had a lot of nice jokes at the end. Rich has settled into a role of supplementing jokes rather than making them, a far cry from where he was in Series A. I’d definitely give this one another watch someday soon.

MVP: Bill
Best Guest: Sean
Show Winner: Rich
Best QI Fact: Moonwalking Bird.

QI Watchdown: E3 (Eating)

Well…I’ve not been looking forward to this episode.

You see…it’s bad enough when you hit an episode of QI where you have to sit through 30 minutes of a panelist you rather dislike, and then never have to see them on the show again, except for one or two more times. But…with Johnny Vegas, who debuts tonight…he’s STILL appearing on the show. He recurs for the next nine or so series’. And he keeps this same, loud, obnoxious demeanor through all of those appearances. So I’m bracing myself, because this is just the tip of the Vegas iceberg. IT COULD GET WORSE.

Thankfully, tonight’s episode also features Phill Jupitus and Jimmy Carr, two fantastic panelists who, unless i’m mistaken, haven’t appeared together, at least not in a while. So it can’t be the worst of the worst. But it’s probably gonna be pretty bad.

One of the first episodes in a while where Phill has no beard. This is a new look for him.

The buzzers are all food-related songs. Jimmy’s is ‘Food, Glorious Food’ from Oliver, which he gives a come-on sort of look at the end of. Phill’s is ‘TV Dinners’ by ZZ Top, which he bobs along to, until he gets to the line ‘nothing else to eat’, which he looks pained at Stephen for. Johnny’s is ‘Spam’ from Monty Python, which he follows with ‘TODDAAAAY…I TRAMPLED NINE WOMEN…TO GET TO THE BAR…” Alan’s is just ‘Rabbit’.

Stephen (trying to introduce the Elephant in the Room): “Ah, but what’s that smell?”
Alan: “Sorry.”

Stephen, in a Vincent Price impression: ‘What happens in the Rhubarb Triangle?”
Jimmy: ‘I don’t think I’m even supposed to call it the Rhubarb Triangle anymore. Apparently that wasn’t custard, that was some sort of yeast infection.’
Stephen, nodding off the joke: “You bad man…”
Jimmy, trying his best at a Stephen impression: “The Rhubarb Triangle…milady…”

Johnny’s stuff, when coherent, is pretty silly. On the rhubarb triangle, he asks: “Did Marzipan fighter planes go missing? Did they not pick anything up on the licorice radar? They fought in the pudding wars.” Again, not really a fan of his, but he can have some inspired moments.

Stephen: “Then you bring it into the dark-”

Stephen: “What were cornflakes originally used for?”
Jimmy: “Originally, they were the world’s most difficult jigsaw.”

Johnny guesses they put cornflakes in beds as ‘an anti-masturbation sound device’, which is odd but I can’t help but laugh at him. That’s the thing…he can be funny. He does have some moments. I just don’t love his personality, his ‘dumbass’ stage persona. That can get on my nerves.

Stephen says he’s giving Johnny points for that answer, and Johnny yells back “I WAS JOKING!”

So far, Jimmy and Johnny have been doing most of the work answering questions, and Phill and Alan have been buffering the jokes.

Stephen: “The more they ate, the sooner they died…”
Jimmy: “Were the rabbits cursed?”

Stephen: “Ninety percent of baby rabbits are eaten by predators.”
Phill: “Who presumably…die!”
Stephen: “…yes…”

I love how many times Stephen has to explain the ‘eating rabbit’ thing, first to Jimmy and then to Phill, and how exasperated he gets over time.

Stephen: ‘When did rabbits arrive in Britain?”
Alan: “Tuesday.”

On the Rabbits arriving in Britain question, Johnny curiously buzzes in, holding up the elephant, and goes, confidently, ‘there’s an elephant in this question!’ Stephen barely composes himself.

After Johnny’s long, Ronni-esque story about the rabbit riding the elephant, Stephen gives an early candidate for quote of the episode: “The short answer to that is no. The long answer is FUCK NO!”

Johnny: ‘Were the rabbits a bit standoffish towards the Saxons?”
Jimmy (french accent): “I say, if we eat all the rabbits then we’ll die!”
Stephen: “You’re still not getting the rabbit question…WE CAN EAT ALLLLL THE RABBITS WE’D LIKE!”

On the macadamia:
Phill: ‘Are they found in monkey poo?”
Stephen: “No, they’re not found in monkey poo.”
phill: “but they are found in something’s business?”
And the second Stephen confirms this, everyone races to hold up the elephant sign. Phill ultimately wins, triumphantly waving his elephant signal in the air.

The second the ‘CHICKEN’ klaxon goes off, Phill turns around and goes ‘ohhh…I’VE DONE IT AGAIN…”

On the first animal to be herded:

Stephen: ‘They have an optional sexual organ, that they can use for sex but they don’t because it’s too dangerous.”
Johnny (quietly): “A second ass.”
Stephen has a good five seconds before he fully comprehends Johnny’s answer, turns around, repeats it, and breaks.

Wow, Alan wins it with -2, which is pretty nice.

The even more strange part is Johnny’s right behind him. The two guys famous for playing dumb on this show both come high up on the scoreboards.

I love how Phill even loses with the elephant advantage. As his score is announced, he’s using his elephant paddle as an oar, paddling down this sea of QI.

Final Thoughts: Good, not spectacular, episode. All four were on, though Phill and Alan were noticeably more subdued. Jimmy gave a great performance, and Johnny…at times he was pretty nice. But sometimes he would command the panel and take up too much time on his own ramblings, which takes time away from, I imagine, Phill and Alan. Still, I can stomach 8 more appearances from him, as he’s not as bad as, say, John Sessions or Rory McGrath.

MVP: Jimmy
Best Guest: Phill
Show Winner: Alan
Best QI Fact: macadamias from elephant dung.

QI Watchdown: E2 (Electricity)

For some reason, in Series E, QI didn’t especially add in a ton of new blood, with two exceptions (one of which is up next, and it’s one I am not looking forward to). Most of the episodes this series are just different combinations of the regulars/semi-regulars we’ve seen already. Last episode was a Jimmy-Bill-Rob one. Tonight’s is a Jo-Sean-Rich one. These players will be the ones that will keep showing up, with the emphasis on Jimmy, Bill, Sean and Jo (and Phill Jupitus, who shows up next episode). And it’s just them and other people who’ve appeared before, different combinations, which i think i like.

Nevertheless, tonight features Sean and Rich, who I adore, and Jo, who has grown on me in recent episodes.

The buzzers are electricity themed. Highlights- Rich’s is a Frankenstein-esque cackling mad voice going “HE’S ALIVE!!”. He looks at Stephen, confused. And Alan’s just turns off all the power in the studio.

Stephen Fucks with Alan: Round One:
Stephen: “Anyway, the atmosphere is already, um…um…”
Alan: “Electric.”

Stephen: “Question #1- I’m naked…”
(Alan looks under the table.)

Stephen: “I’m naked, it’s raining. Can you give me a good reason to crouch down with my bottom in the air?”
Jo: “Stephen, I wouldn’t have thought you’d need a good reason…”

Stephen: ‘And what happens when a tree gets struck by lighting.”
Alan: ‘There’s a big flash, a lot of flame-”
Sean: “All the squirrels fall on your head, knock you out…’

Stephen: “The best thing to do would be to get into you car.”
Alan: “And drive…away from the rain?”

Stephen: ‘Do you have wire in bras?”
(Jo looks confusedly towards the audience, as if to say ‘did he really just ask me that?’

(After a conversation about wire in bras)
Stephen: “You’re doing a good job of it. Very, uh, fulsome pair of fun bags there, don’t you-”
Jo: “D’you know what? That was almost heterosexual.”

And then Sean brings the gag full circle- “I’d like to hear you whisper that when you’re bent over naked in the rain.”

Alan tells a story about a friend of his who was hit by a manhole cover that was struck by lightning. Stephen, who is filterless tonight, goes ‘instead of being hit my a manhole, he should have been *showing* his manhole…”

Stephen: “How often, on average, does lightning strike the earth?”
Jo: “Four.”
Stephen: “Okay, we’ve got four. I can tell you that it’s more than four times.”
Jo, shrugging: “five.”

Stephen: ‘it’s between three and six, actually. it’s not very many.”
Alan, in full smartass mode, “FOUR OR FIVE.”

Stephen, on the man who was struck 7 times by lighting: “His name was Roy Sullivan.”
Rich: “That’s not what they called him, though.”
Stephen: “No?”
Rich: “They called him Bernie.”

All four are having a field day. Which is astounding, as last episode had a totally-on panel, and so does this one.

I love how Stephen starts a ‘don’t try this at home disclaimer’, and ends up ending it with ‘LIVE YOUR OWN LIVES!’ Alan even chimes in with “SHAG HORSES!”

Stephen: “What’s the difference between a ship and a boat?”
Jo: “Has a ship got curtains?”

Rich has a callback to Series B, when, out of nowhere, he goes “I’ll tell ya something else, there’s not two moons.” Just to diffuse the situation.

Great moment with Stephen, he goes ‘D’you know what they call a mobile phone in German? MEIN HANDY! WHERE IST MEIN HANDY!”
Alan even goes “Are you hosting the BAFTAs this year? Because I think you should do it in that voice.”

For whatever reason, the latter half of this show was very disappointing, other than Stephen and Jo doing the ‘MEIN HANDY’ running gag. I don’t know what happened. I do think that Rich pulling the lasagna out from the desk to say ‘this was MY lunch with a producer’ was funny, as well as his answers to the 911 on Christmas one. But on the whole, it couldn’t get off the ground like the first half could.

Jo actually wins one. What a surprise.

Overall: Great start, horrible ending. A lot of good runners, including the sexy horse and MEIN HANDY, but the consistency was definitely off. Great panel, though. Jo had the show of her career. Sean and Rich were pretty nice too.

Best Guest: Sean
Show Winner: Jo
Best QI Fact: Standing with ass-up in the rain.

QI Watchdown: E1 (Engineering)

Onto another great series of QI. So I’m told, this is the season right before QI hits its stride and doesn’t relent until Series I ends. So, we’re in for some really good episodes coming up, and as this is before the big boom, there must be a lot of good ones in here.

This episode has a panel fit for a great episode, featuring Jimmy Carr, who was far underutilized last season, Bill Bailey, who surprisingly took a season off, possibly to film Hot Fuzz, Rob Brydon, who also didn’t appear at all last year, and Alan of course. All four have the kind of chemistry to make a really, really good episode. Let’s see if they deliver.

Alan did get a haircut, as it’s not as shaggy as it was throughout Series D, but it’s still long enough that it dwarfs his original look.

Buzzers are all sounds of machines, save for Alan, which is a wrench dropping.

Tonight’s runner involves, like the infamous ‘SQUIRREL’ card, an ELEPHANT stick, which can be held when the answer may be an elephant or multiple elephants. Stephen did not explain what the forfeit amount is, but I imagine it’s regular. Also, this is a runner that’s gonna pop up in every episode.

The first joke of the episode is a picture-based one. As Stephen’s asking a question, the background changes to a train passing, which looks like it’s heading for the contestants. Bill goes as far as yelling ‘LOOK OUT!”, and Alan tries to duck out of the way.

Another runner is Stephen will be delivering candies via toy train to any particularly good answers throughout the night. Reminds me of the episode of the American Whose Line when, instead of points, Drew handed out candy.

One question in and I’m already overjoyed that Bill’s back. Answering who built Britain’s railways, he answers, excitedly, ‘THE RAILWAY MOUSE!’
Stephen even goes ‘well, you’re right actually’, which Bill is surprised by. Alan even starts yelling for Bill to get a sweet, even before Stephen can clarify how he got it right.

Bill tells a story about how the guy who demanded some railways demanded them to be in straight lines, and as he drew one with a ruler, his fingers got in the way and the builders had to have curves. As he finishes, and Rob begins to talk, Bill yells “SWEET!”, to which Stephen finally relents and sends the train over.
HOWEVER…once Bill actually gets the train, it breaks at the first car. Rob even goes “ooh, let’s get someone on the scene and go straight out there to see what’s happening…”

Great moment when Stephen sends a sweet Rob’s way, and Jimmy tries to steel it. Rob has to swat his hands away as the train comes by. Jimmy exclaims ‘CURSES!’ That’s when you know this panel dynamic is really good.

Wow, there have been two really simple correct answers so far, and Alan’s gotten both of them. Really weird show so far.

Great Rob line, when Alan asks why, in the train photo, are the men standing far apart, as if they all got on separately and don’t know each other. “Or,” Rob goes, “the womenfolk perhaps are with them…” And the audience gets it from there.

Stephen talks about the train being built near Eaton for the college students
Alan: “…to go and by drugs.”
Stephen: “…or buy prostitutes…”
Rob: ‘Is that the first thing they do? ‘There’s a train! PROSTITUTES!”

Stephen: “What did Isembard, King of Brunel, get for eighteen birthdays in a row?”
Jimmy: “(holding up elephant) How annoyed would you be. ‘YOU GOT ME ONE OF THESE LAST YEAR! DID I GET- LOOOOOK! HOW COULD YOU MISS THAT!?!”
Alan: “absolutely plastered.”
Bill: ‘A, uh, a socket set.’
Jimmy: “Did he get a copy of ‘Bridge over Troubled Water’?
Alan: “Did he get a book by Jeremy Clarkson?”

Stephen: “Where is the best place to be during a nuclear explosion?”
Jimmy: “I would say downtown Nagasaki. I mean, what are the chances of that happening again?”

Bill, to that question, slowly holds up his elephant card, and goes “…BEHIND AN ELEPHANT…”

Stephen: “Emperor Hirohito delivered a radio address after the Hiroshima attack, and it contains one of the greatest understatements ever uttered in mankind. He says “the war has developed…not necessarily to our advantage…”
Rob: “Traffic and travel next.”
Alan: ‘Not that much to travel…’

I’m surprised how Rob’s having a really nice show, coming up with some wild ideas and completely powering this episode. However, the other three so far are pretty fantastic as well.

Stephen: “How does the love bomb work?”
Rob: “I turn up, and I get on with it…”

Rob: “Isn’t a love bomb…a bottom noise that can be made, whilst you’re (motions having sex)…”
Stephen: “Rob, can I remind you of something? Your father is in the audience.”

Rob ends up getting the ‘Elephant in the Room’ points, for guessing the materials used to make an elephant pregnant.

Stephen: “Where are you most likely to get bitten by a vampire?”
Jimmy: A nineteenth-century novel.”

Stephen asks where on the body, and everybody knows not to say neck. Jimmy ends up going “it would have to be some sort of protrusion where blood gathers and is easily accessible…probably the elbow.”

Once the actual picture of the bat appears onscreen, Jimmy goes “man, that Gary Oldman is a hell of an actor…”

Stephen, in describing the lapping the vampire bats make, does this tongue thing. Rob is immediately unsettled. Jimmy, calling back perfectly, goes “I don’t want to alarm you, but I believe a love bomb may have gone off.”

Stephen: ‘What’s the biggest load of rubbish in the world.”
Someone in the audience: ‘FRANCE!”
Stephen, with joy: “WE’VE GOT FRANCE!”

Jimmy brings up something he read about in the QI Book of General Ignorance, about the largest manmade structure, which was a garbage dump. Bill riles off the name of it, ‘FRESH KILLS’, and the Klaxon goes off. Jimmy, surprised, goes ‘well, thanks for taking that bullet, Bill!’

Rob, once he hears of the win, is confused by whether or not he’s in fourth or first place. Jimmy has to reinforce, ‘no, you won!’

Alan, somehow, gets second. Maybe for the string of right answers early on.

Overall: WOW. THAT is how you start of a series. Not only was that a really funny episode, but all four of those guys really loved working with each other. Plus, even more stuff was left OFF the episode. One of the most famous bloopers in QI history, “THEY SAY OF THE ACROPOLIS WHERE THE PARTHENON IIIIISSS…”, happened as an outtake on this episode. If it would have made the cut, the episode would have been even funner.

Rob and Jimmy had some landmark episodes. Bill, to a lesser extent, had some good jokes, but didn’t carry the episode like Rob and Jimmy did. And Alan…was Alan.

MVP: Rob
Best Guest: Jimmy
Show Winner: Rob
Loser of the Week: Bill Bailey, for somehow ending up with -18.
Best QI Fact: The big toe and vampire bats.

QI Watchdown: D13 (December)- Christmas Special

We’ve gone through 13 very tumultuous, though for the most part more high than low, episodes, through people we loved to see (Andy! Ronni! Arthur! Vic! David!), and people we’d love to never see again (mainly Jonathan Ross and Roger McGough). We’re down to the last one, featuring four people I’ve enjoyed on a ton of episodes: Rich Hall, Jo Brand, Dara O’Briain and, of course, Alan.

As it’s the Christmas special (also, another one with no Phill Jupitus appearance), the set’s decorated with white and wreaths and all of that.

The introductions are supposed to be like an office Christmas party. So when Stephen introduces Rich as ‘the skinny geezer from Accounts’, he turns to him with this incredibly confused expression, like ‘the fuck, Stephen?’ Jo is ‘the scary woman from Human Resources’, and even she goes “I like the sound of that.” Dara is ‘the big guy from Marketing with the giant goatee’. Alan’s, I think, is the least funny.

Dara, with his buzzer of ‘Sleigh Ride’, gets into the habit of sarcastically bobbing his head along with the music. Dara will do this very often. Dara, like clive, has some of the funnier buzzer reactions around (just wait for ‘Europe’ and ‘Fingers and Fumbs’.)

Rich’s is just a children’s choir singing Jingle Bells, which makes him give a shrug, as if to say, ‘you could have done better.’

Alan’s is the funniest, as it’s an overly long and obnoxious ‘ring-a-ding’ song.

Jo, after the Mythras story, gives the first amazing line of the episode: “There are a couple flaws in that story. I’ve never heard a man go ‘Oh, Mythras’ when he’s cumming’.

Stephen says that the Christian Nativity story took a lot from other religions, and ‘certainly wasn’t original.’ Dara, with a great line, goes “Interesting direction to start your Christmas Special with…”

Stephen vs. Dara’s accent:
Dara: “Does that mean they stuck All Saint’s day and All Souls day after the-”
Stephen: “I don’t think there’s an arsehole’s day.”

Stephen: “Memorial day, memorializes what?”
Rich: “Uh…dead..guys.”

Stephen: ‘And, according to Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jesus’ birth was on the 1st of October.”
Dara: “Well, they saw it, so…”

Stephen: “What does the Queen do after Christmas lunch?”
Alan: “has a fuck.”

The dynamic here is very nice, because all four, even Rich at times, are kind of collaborative, especially Dara and Jo. Dara is doing a good job of embodying the Phill role of fucking with Dara whenever he can, especially about the Christmas Special theme.

Stephen: “This is Christmas Eve, remember. Why do they open presents on Christmas Eve?”
Stephen: “No…because they’re all fucking *GERMAN!*

Jo, for whatever reason, has had a renaissance in the last two episodes, returning to the funny persona she had in Series A. I’m all for this, too.

Stephen: “What suffers the most at the Holiday Christmas Party?”
Jo: “It’s the photocopier, for having so many arses on it!”
The funniest part of this is that it’s the right answer.

Dara, confused: “Well then who put the cat IN the photocopier?”
Rich, matter-of-factly: “A copy-cat.”

Dara talks of not being able to have Guinness at a pub for sometime, and Stephen does a fake Irish accent, an unintelligible one. Dara’s like “no, the pub I went to was not something out of a 1950’s movie.”

The Catalunian phrase, ‘eat well, shit hard’, was so random and out there that it made me laugh. It leads to the line, by Alan, “SHIT HARD, FRY! SHIT HARD!”

Stephen: “Who got little leather boots for Christmas in Norfolk?”
Rich: ‘The Norfolk Gimp.”
Rich is doing a lot less this episode, but he’s still very funny.

Rich, on where Saints are actually from, says ‘St. Bernard is actually from a shelter.’ His wordplay is actually really good.

Stephen displays a zoomed in photo of what looks like the famous Michaelangelo painting on top of the sistine chapel, and asks who painted it. Alan already goes “you’re not gonna get me this time.” Jo, always being the one to stab in the dark, goes “is it Jackson Pollack?”

Stephen: “When did Father Christmas die?”
Alan: “Oh, come on. He’s not dead, he’s still al-”
“HE’S NOT DEAD” Klaxon shows up.
Alan: “Well…I hope all the children are in bed. There’s gonna be some tears, now!”

Rich: “It’d be great if his wife was named Mary.”
Stephen: “Mary Christma- (gets the joke)”

Dara wins, despite bagging on Stephen the whole episode.

My favorite Rich reaction of the episode happens when Stephen announces he had -9 this episode. As the audience applauds, he has this confused, bewildered expression, and as the camera cuts back to Stephen, you still hear Rich going “WHY ARE YOU CLAPPING? I HAVE *MINUS NINE*, AND THEY’RE APPLAUDING!”

Overall: A nice episode, and a nice way to end the series. There were, however, a few lulls, and Rich was noticeably quiet tonight, but Dara, Jo and Alan were all excellent, and the banter between Dara and Stephen was delightful.

MVP: Dara
Best Guest: Jo
Show Winner: Dara
Best QI Fact: The Catalunian Shitter

Best Episode: D5: Death
2nd Best Episode: D4: Dictionaries
Worst Episode: D11: Denial & Deprivation (Not Even Vic could save this one)
Episode Worth a Second Look: D2: Discoveries, or D7: Differences. Both flawed but very funny episodes.
Best Runner: Giving the Contestants Stuffed Dogs to Play With, from D3: Dogs (especially Jeremy)
Best Recurring Guest: Phill Jupitus
Most Underused Recurring Guest: Rich Hall
Most Improved: Dara O’Briain, for being able to completely take control in two packed panels.
Worst Guest: Roger McGough.
Guest We Wish Wasn’t Done After This Season: Arthur Smith (runners up: Andy Parsons and Neil Mullarkey)
Guest Who Thankfully Never Showed Up Again: Jonathan Ross. Funny, but not a great fit.
Rookie of the Year: Vic Reeves (Runner Up: Ronni Ancona)

QI Watchdown: D12 (Domesticity)

After a string of bad episodes permeated by a clever Phill one, we’ve reached our last Phill episode of the series. This one also features the first of two Jo appearances, and an appearance from someone I didn’t think I’d see on QI.

Jessica Stevenson, best known for being on Spaced, and being BFFs with Simon Pegg, is a panelist here. I relate this to Mark Gattiss showing up, as I really don’t know why they’re here, but it’s nice to have them. This counts as a special guest spot, like Gattiss.

All four buzzers are sounds of household appliances, except for Alan’s, which is just the Match of the Day theme song.

Jo’s first great line of the episode gets me back on her side:
Stephen: “What use did Ray Davies have for 100,000 gallons of dry cleaning fluid?”
Jo: “Had the Kinks run out of crack?”

Phill has a great moment when they show the picture of the other, non-Kink Ray Davies, and he goes “OOOOHHHHH…RAY *DAVIES*”, as if he had the wrong one all along.

Stephen: “But, he has one thing, for which he’s in the Guinness Book of Records..”
Phill: “Biggest Penis in Physics!”
Stephen (nearly keeling over): “oh, dear..”

The thing about Jessica, is that she’s not exactly contributing jokes, but she’s still playing the game. Like, she gets a bit confused by the Ray Davies question, and has to get Stephen to repeat some parts, and she does get some points. She does have personality, but doesn’t go out of her way to tell jokes.

Stephen: “They had the world’s first Ferris Wheel, designed by George…”
Jo: “Clooney.”

Stephen asks what the 2nd-largest cause of death for women was from
Jo: “Is it dehydration from having to lick the carpets clean because the Hoover hadn’t been invented yet?”
Love her or hate her, Jo is having a very nice episode so far.

Phill: “Were these deaths at night? Because I could go with owls.”
Stephen: ‘It’s not a bird of prey.”
Phill: “Not even swans? Swans, flying at women, really…hard, with stiff necks, until they went through their bodies like a javelin.”

Stephen: “What’s a good way to create the impression that you’ve cleaned the house when you actually haven’t?”
Jo: “Lock the door and kill everyone.”
“Drink some lavender water and have a piss?”

I’ll say that while Phill is doing the usual amount of board control, Jo is having a great night in terms of jokes hitting. She’s going for darker material, and commanding a lot of the narrative, while Phill’s doing more ‘adding’ jokes. This is a new kind of tactic.

Alan’s gag of testing the spaghetti by throwing it against random walls in the house, especially going ‘CAN I COME IN’ miming throwing spaghetti, and saying ‘your dinner’s ready.” Too funny.

Stephen: “What would you clean with A.) A stick of rhubarb-”
Phill: “A dog’s arse. Next!”

This episode is a great ‘Phill loses it because Stephen is too posh’ one. The whole thing with the tea kettle, where Phill goes “WHO OWNS A TEA KETTLE LIKE THAT? BESIDES YOU!” And it leads to Phill, as Stephen, doing an advert for HP cleaning the silver, going “BAAAAHHH!”

Alan: “All doors are 78 inches long.”
Jo: “How d’you know that?”
Alan: “…bought a door recently…”

Phill manages to pull of a really, really good Hugh Laurie impression, after Stephen tells of Higson and Whitehouse working on their hinges, he goes, as Laurie, ‘STEPHEN, THE FELLAS IN THA KITCHEN ARE AWF’LEY FUNNEY!”, nailing the inflections perfectly. “What’d you say we, uh…listen in on ’em, n….make a few jokes?” And, of course, he throws in a “BAAAAHHH!”

After Stephen talks of the juice at the bottom of the baked beans can, Phill, rolling his eyes, goes “SO…BRAINIAC, WHAT CAN WE CLEAN WITH THAT?”

The whole diatribe Phill and Alan have about the fellow who was caught with baked beans on his crotch was priceless. Phill going “What kind of culinary accident do you have to have…to discover the pleasure of the beans…”, and then Alan going “He spilled it in his lap, he went ‘AWWWW…oooh…”

Jessica wins, but she had a rather quiet show.

Overall: A fairly decent show. Had its moments, but there was a giant gap in the studio where Jessica should have been. Not a great QI presence…sort of like Mark Gattiss. At least Jo, Phill and Alan were all on point, especially Phill, in his most argumentative mood in a while.

MVP: Phill
Best Guest: Jo
Show Winner: Jessica
Best QI Fact: Throwing spaghetti at the wall.