QI Watchdown: F1 (Families) – Children in Need Special

And now, ladies and gentlemen, things get really good.

Series F marks the turning point in QI history, where the show goes from rather funny to ridiculously funny on a consistent basis. Here’s the point where that string of ‘okay’ episodes in Series E becomes a thing of the past. Now we’re onto the good stuff.

Tonight’s premiere is the Children in Need special, which is nice, because they’re just getting it out of the way, it seems. The panel features a semi-regular, David Mitchell, and we’ve gotten to the point on QI where we can trust him with a panel, a recurring guest, Ronni Ancona, who was terrific in her debut, and a guest star, in this case being Terry Wogan, a radio and television mogul whose name is synonymous with Children in Need. A pretty nice panel, so let’s get on with the season.

Opening shot tonight, Puddsey Bear is sitting in Terry Wogan’s seat, rather than Alan’s which is a nice change of pace.

Terry eventually enters the studio in a rush, as he’s “got a lot of important things to do”, and he’s basically had Puddsey fill his seat for the intros. Seems very charismatic, but I’m not sure how he’ll do as a panelist.

The buzzers are all family themed. Alan’s is ‘My Old man’s a Dustman’, which the audience starts suddenly clapping along to, which seems to confuse the hell out of David. “People want knees-ups. They don’t want an information-based panel show. They just want a knees-up.” Terry even goes “this crowd, to me, looks like they can do a Mexican Wave in a minute.” Apparently the audience tries said Mexican wave, because within a second Terry’s shielding his eyes.

Because this episode was shown at an earlier hour than most other QI’s, there appears to be an odd amount of censorship, moreso than usual. David, quoting an old wives’ tale, says that wanking makes you blind, however, ‘wanking’ is covered up with a weird, low-pitched quack noise. It’s a bit off-putting, but I’ll roll with it.

David: “They used to say wanting makes you blind. But, you know, I have contact lenses, so I can see fine. So, essentially, contact lenses are the wanker’s charm.”
Terry (almost innocently): “Is there much to see?”

They waste a few minutes talking about the importance of CIN, and blah blah blah, it’s kind of important, but kills the laughter.

David has a great response to Terry’s wickerwork chair anecdote. “Not only would I eat a baby’s arse, I’d do it under awkward circumstances.”

Terry: “it’s an extraordinary mentality, isn’t it, that you actually inquire into which part of the JellyBaby ya bite off first…”
David: “Well, a lot of universities are short of funding, so they have to investigate stupid things.

Terry, inspecting the JellyBaby: “What’s the powdery substance?”
Stephen, without missing a beat: “Cocaine.”
And then Terry pretends to snort the JellyBaby through both nostrils. Remember, this was broadcast at an earlier hour than usual.

Alan brings up his nephew, “when he soiled himself, would put both his hands on the high-chair”, and he gives this determined, focused expression, which cracks me up.

Terry guesses that the series of frequency patterns are “the Arctic Monkeys.”

David: “Morse code for ‘I am stuck in the jungle, please save me.”
Tell ya what, David is doing a hell of a job carrying this panel. He’s really improved on this show.

David had a great quote, when they discover that ‘Me Tarzan, You Jane’ never happened in the Tarzan series. David goes “Why do these films always forget to put their most famous line in?”

On how Eurovision Song Contest has united the continent:
Terry: “It has brought together the nations of Europe-”
Stephen: “Has it? Arse! It’s divided East from West!”

Observation: The dynamic between Terry and Stephen is greater than the dynamic between other members of the panel. Ronni is keeping to herself, and the David-Alan passes aren’t too great. It’s really just Terry sharing in-jokes with Stephen, which isn’t bad, it’s just not as inclusive as I’d like.

Stephen: “What do you call a boomerang that won’t come back?”
Alan: “A STICK!”
(Klaxon)

Terry has this whole story about how they got the name Kangaroo from the Aborigine word ‘I don’t know’, because none of the aborigines knew what the hell kind of animal that was. And the second he finishes, the klaxon goes off. I can’t help but feel bad for the guy.

Stephen reveals that the big logic equation just proves that 1+1=2. David, perfect delivery, says “it’s a bit late…for 20th century…to prove that. We’ve got quite a lot riding, by the 20th century, on one plus one being two. If you find out that it…DOESN’T…equal two, what do we do? Just…BURN EVERYTHING! Because God knows, everything could fall on our heads, money, you might as well eat it. Forget Civilization!”

And then later, David “I met this bloke at a party. He stank. I asked him what he did for a living, and he said he proved one and one equals two…”

Ronni wins, which is pretty nice. Isn’t it hysterical that Terry lost with -9? Did not see that coming.

Overall: Very nice way to start this season. I’ll say that this episode is held up by the strong performances from David Mitchell, and the fathomable knowledge of Terry Wogan. Ronni was alright, though not as strong as her debut. Alan didn’t show up as much tonight, which is odd. Very nice, especially in comparison to past CIN specials.

MVP: David
Best Guest: David
Show Winner: Ronni
Best QI Fact: 1+1=2.

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