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.”
Alan: ‘GET THE GOLF CLUBS!’
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.

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