QI Watchdown: E12 (Empire) – Christmas Special

Ah, another season goes by so quickly. This one was one of the breeziest yet, due to the consistency of a lot of the episodes, albeit without too many standouts. However, we’ve hit the end of series E, which means we’ve gotten to our Christmas episode, usually a season highlight. Thankfully we have three entrusted regulars, as is the theme of E, with Bill Bailey, Jo Brand and Sean Lock filling out the panel.

Tonight all the contestants are all dressed up, like very fancy 1800’s characters. Jo’s in a fancy dress, Sean’s in a general’s outfit and hat, Bill’s in a white plain suit and hat, and Alan’s in a turban.

All the buzzers are carols. Bill’s is ‘Deck the Halls’. Jo’s is ‘the Holly and the Ivy’. Sean’s is ‘Ding Dong Merrily on High’. And Alan’s is just ‘Oh, Carol.’

Stephen: “What did Queen Victoria think of Mr. Bean?”
Jo: “We Are Not Amused…”
And somehow, that gets a klaxon. It was that obvious, eh?

Stephen: “[John Bean] tried to do something to Queen Victoria when she was in her fourth year…”
Jo: “Take her roughly behind the bike sheds.”
Stephen: “No, or indeed invent the bicycle, then invent the shed…”

Bill: “Kiss her on the mouth.”
Stephen: “Quite the other.”
Sean: “Kiss her on the arse!”
I laughed too hard at that one.
Also, Bill: “Well, if you’re a queen, you can get anything done, can’t you? ‘YOU THERE! KISS ME ON THE-‘ ‘OH, ALL RIGHT!'”

Stephen says that Bean filled his gun with tobacco, in order to assassinate the queen, which, according to Stephen “wouldn’t have done her much harm.” Sean goes “was he trying to give her cancer?”

Bill tries to demonstrate exactly how Rasputin died, clawing and collapsing onto the desk in a very dramatic fashion. Sean, with his restrictive collar, goes “what’s Bill Bailey doing over there? I can’t move my neck!” So Bill moves his entire performance over to Sean’s side of the desk.

Stephen: ‘What behavior was deemed forbidden in the Museum of Pornography?”
Jo: “Was it fisting?”

Stephen rolls out a great David Frost impression, after Alan indicates the museum of pornography might just be through a tiny little keyhole. Stephen, as Frost goes ‘we go throooughhh…the keyhole.” Alan even says “he doesn’t do many, but…”

Sean guesses, as to what’s forbidden, “no school trips! ‘Sorry, you can’t have your packed lunch near the dildos, kids.'”

Stephen mentions the formula for determining the best buttocks. Bill, in a classy voice, goes “I’ve just been noticing your bottom, and I’ve done some sums…” He then puts a giant pipe to his mouth, and the full picture is complete.

Sean: “She’s the officer, of shoe heritage. Does she get to carry a gun?”

This episode has some very nice, laugh out loud moments, but also a lot of lulls.

Stephen mentions the Penis museum in Iceland.
Jo: “I wonder if Bjork’s got anything to do with it.”
Bill: ‘She does the audio commentary.’
And at that exact moment, large bearded comedian Bill Bailey did an almost perfect impression of petite Icelandic singer Bjork. And it was glorious.

Sean: “And then you see a penis, and she goes RRAAAAUUGGHHH RAAAAAUUGHHH RAAUUUUUGHHH RAUUUGHGHH!”
That one made me laugh WAY too hard.

Jo has a great callback joke. Sean asks if the elephant shoes were easy to put on. Jo, not missing a beat, goes “they were easier to put on between 1400 and 1600…”

This is great. As Stephen is reading a question about discriminating against male homosexuality, a still of Stephen from the movie Wilde is shown onscreen. Halfway through the question, he sees the picture (of himself), stops reading and slowly face palms.

Two straight GI questions that Jo guesses right on the money, and the Klaxon screen literally prints her answer, almost word for word. Stephen goes “YOU REALLY GO RIGHT FOR THEM, DON’T YOU!” Jo, somehow delighted, goes “HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ME!”

And then, on the next question, ‘political correctness gone mad’, Jo gets her third straight word-for-word klaxon. This takes actual skill.

There’s a background of a wintery background. As Stephen is explaining an answer, something runs across in the background, and only Alan notices, and yells ‘DID ANYBODY ELSE SEE THAT?” Bill goes “I think it was a velociraptor.’

Then, after another 30 seconds, it runs across again, frightening Alan. He even says ‘it’s running all the way around the building…” And then Alan literally halts the game so everyone can wait for the thing to pass again.

After it does indeed show up again, Sean says, the line of the episode, “there’ll be people watching this, going ‘Man, Christmas ain’t what it used to be…”

Stephen: ‘What’s the best way to stop your children from peeking at their presents before Christmas Day?”
Jo: “Don’t get ’em any…”
Sean: “Do what I do…buy all your presents on Christmas eve….from a petrol station.”

Jo loses with -33 for her string of word-for-word answers. Alan wins with 10, somehow.

Overall: A nice episode, one that gained momentum in the latter half, but still had some very funny moments. The lulls were fewer than I gave credit for. Plus, all four contestants were giving A material.

MVP: Sean
Best Guest: Bill
Show Winner: Alan
Loser of the Week: Jo, for getting a string of questions word-for-word wrong.
Best QI Fact: The bottom formula.

And, because it’s the last episode of Series E, our Series E Superlatives:

Best Episode: E1: Engineering. An absolutely perfect panel.
2nd Best Episode: E8: Eyes and Ears
Worst Episode: E5: Europe (though still not a bad one)
Episode Most Worthy of Another Watch: either Eating or Exploration
Best In-Episode Runner: Giving the contestants sweets (E1-Engineering)
Best Recurring Guest: Bill Bailey
Most Underused Recurring Guest: Rob Brydon
Most Improved: David Mitchell, for becoming the panel-dominating rant-field we all know and love this season.
Biggest Decline in Material: Phill Jupitus. The big man, sad to say, was very off this season. Most of his A material was shelved to the compilation. Hopefully things will get better next year.
Worst Guest: By default, Doon Mackichan (E11: Endings), having contributed the least in her lone episode of the season.
Guest we wish wasn’t done after this season: Vic Reeves. The gonzo-comic will indeed be missed.
Rookie of the Year: Johnny Vegas (E3: Eating). I was getting ready to hate him, too.
Best Compilation Moment That Should Have Been on the Show: THEEEEEEYYYYY SAY OF THE ACROPOLIS WHERE THE PARTHENON IS… (E1: Engineering)
(Runners Up: The panel eats spaghetti (E3: Eating), Phill as Stephen on a Spacehopper (E8: Eyes & Ears))


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