QI Watchdown: F11 (Films & Fame)

Ooh, I’m very excited for this one, for a number of reasons. First of all, the topic of this episode, Films and Fame, is a really good one, especially within the confines of QI. Secondly, we have David Mitchell, who’s proved that he can carry a panel, as the sole anchor here, other than the returning-after-a-much-deserved-season-long-break John Sessions. And lastly, this episode features one of the most grand guest appearances since Hugh Laurie…which is funny, because tonight’s is Hugh Laurie’s wife, Emma Thompson, star of tons of Merchant/Ivory films and Harry Potter. So I think this should be a fun one, to say the least.

Thank Christ, John’s back to his old hair color.

The buzzers are all film-themed. Emma’s is Indiana Jones, which she seems to really enjoy. Alan’s is the Looney Tunes theme, which I think is one of the least flattering ones he’s had, and the most awesome.

Aaaaannnd one John Sessions answer in and I’m glad that he hasn’t been here for over a season. Good god, he’s such a pompous knowitall twit.

However, Emma Thompson, who obviously knows John, has the best reaction. As John riles off the death date of Man Ray, Emma turns to him and goes “Are you gonna be like this all night?”

The thought occurs to me that since Hugh Laurie was on the show the last time John started pedantically rolling off dates, and since Hugh and Emma live in the same house, maybe Hugh could have warned his wife about how awful John Sessions is on QI, and prepared her for his pedantic nature by saying “why, erm, don’t you just fuck with ’em a bit, hun?”

Stephen: ‘Almost all the Oscars were won by Walt Disney, who won…how many?”
David: “109.”
Stephen: “No, 26…”

Stephen, on his Oscar-making experience: “I did to a bit of buffing…”
Alan: “On the bum area, I presume…”
I had a big laugh at that one, and so did Stephen

Emma’s presence on this show is actually really cool. She’s won two Oscars, and she’s come off as a very genuine, wonderful person who tells great stories and can laugh at herself. John Sessions has won 0 Oscars and is a genuine tit.

Third straight correct answer from John. WHO GAVE THIS BLOKE ALL THE ANSWERS? This is becoming as bad as the Rory McGrath debacle from ‘Common Knowledge’.

Stephen asks the panel to close their eyes. David goes “you won’t do, like when I open my eyes, and you’ll all have gone, right?”

Stephen: “So what’s this time?”
Alan: “A guillotine!”
Stephen: “And how’s it made?”
Alan: “With a guillotine and a person…”

Stephen: “Where have you heard this [scream] before?”
Alan: “In the green room, ’bout a half an hour ago…”

Okay…I can give John Sessions crap for being a know-it-all…but I will give him some serious respect points for his amazing Alan Rickman impression. Like, as an impressionist myself, that is really close to his actual sound. I’d say a bit better than Ben Cumberbatch’s impression, but I might have to listen to his again.

Alright, even more brownie points to John for his Alan Rickman anecdote. Especially his change from the kid’s voice to Rickman’s: “A-A-LAN?” “yes?”
And then of course, the great line, “I don’t play villains…I play very…interesting…people.”
I think I might be coming close to actually liking a John Sessions performance.

And then, a terrific moment. Stephen asks what American movie Peter Cushing played the villain in. John buzzes in, turns, and goes “I don’t know…”, feeling almost beside himself. Stephen, deadpan, says “THEN DON’T BUZZ!”

Alan starts fantasizing about putting Mary Poppins in The Sound of Music, and “having a Maria-Mary face-off.”
David: “Like Alien vs. Predator?”

This is a good episode for facts, and for the interesting factor, but it’s not the best one in terms of jokes. This isn’t a bad thing, as all four are at least saying interesting things, and at least Alan and David are telling some jokes, but it’s more along the lines of Europe, where it’s more of an educational thing than an entertainment thing, though it’s not completely boring.

Great Emma anecdote. She talks about getting a genuine horrified reaction out of Stephen, “just from appearing nude at the top of his stairs.” The fact that a panelist has a good relationship with Stephen, especially one that goes back as far as Stephen and Emma’s has gone, does a lot for the show dynamic, because Emma can just embarrass Stephen over and over.

Stephen shows a Greek statue of a naked guy holding his cock in one hand and a baseball bat in the other. Alan, curiously, asks “is he about to bash himself on the cock?” And the impression that Alan does of the guy slamming his cock with a baseball bat made me nearly spit out food. His hair even moved.

On the subject of Brazillian waxes:
Stephen, to Emma: “Do you wax yourself down there?”
Emma, getting up: “Do you want to see it?”
Stephen: “NOOOOOOOO!!!!”

Stephen ends up disproving a fact that David said on The Unbelievable Truth.
David, in defense: “Yeah, yeah, people give you this shit and you read it out…”
Stephen, off the card: ‘I’VE NO IDEA WHAT YOU MEAN.”

And then, on the Shakespeare and cricket question, Stephen refers to an exact date on David’s radio show where he said that cricket did not appear in Shakespeare’s time, and he disproves it. David, now uncouth, goes “IS THIS WHOLE ROUND…”

And then Emma sets Stephen up for one of the greatest jokes on this program in a while. She asks his opinion of the word ‘luvvie’, and he says that he thinks it’s overused, and it’s a rubbish term for people, especially actors.
Emma: “Do you know what the first citation of it is, in the O.E.D.?”
Stephen: “No, what is it?”
Emma: “It’s you…”
And then Stephen has a shocked, horrified expression on his face, almost like the one Emma described when he saw her naked at the top of the stairs. Then the Luvvie Alarm, best seen in most John Sessions episodes, appears onscreen.

How funny is this: ALAN ACTUALLY WINS THE SHOW! I thought it was gonna be John or Emma, but Emma evidently klaxon’d her way out of the top spot in GI.

Overall: A show that started slow and charming, but picked up and became fast, funny and charming. This is mostly due to the presence of Emma Thompson, who made the most of her only appearance, and took advantage of her relationship with Stephen. David didn’t hold the panel as well as he did the last time, but still had some great moments. This was probably the best Alan episode in a while, as he had some really funny shit throughout. John…well, thankfully we don’t have to see him for a little while, although I did really enjoy his Alan Rickman impression.

MVP: Alan
Best Guest: David
The Gyles Brandreth award for Knowing Too Goddamned Much: John Sessions
Loser of the Week: David Mitchell, for defying the system and losing points.
Show Winner: Alan
Best QI Fact: by default, the Alan Rickman story, because I knew a lot of these movie facts already.

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