Another lineup that could have been RIGHT out of Series B, this episode is our last Bill Bailey episode of the season, but also a welcome return for Jeremy Clarkson, last seen in Series E, and Danny Baker, last seen all the way back in Series A.
Instead of buzzers, because this is an electronically-conscious theme, all the panelists have whistles or bird calls as their “buzzers”. Bill’s is a slide whistle. Danny’s is a two-toned whistle/flute thing. Jeremy’s just emits a single, annoying tone. Kind of fits him, too. Alan’s is a measly duck call.
Danny, by the way, has the distinction of getting the very first klaxon in the history of QI. So it doesn’t especially shock me that he gets the very first one of the episode, by guessing that Frankenstein’s monster was green.
Stephen clarifies that they’re talking about the monster now, not the Baron. So he asks what color the monster was.
Bill: “Uhhh…GREEN- WAIT NO, PURPLE!”
I like Danny Baker, because, yes, he does the John Sessions kind of thing in going “I don’t know this, but here’s what I do know”, but he makes it relevant, fun, and all-around, well, INTERESTING. Danny makes it a point to try to join into the actual game of QI, in keeping with the questions, while still making it a discussion of interesting topics. He gets the spirit of the show, unlike John Sessions or Rory McGrath.
Stephen: “Where is the best place to mine gold, in the UK?”
Okay, I have to admit I laughed at that.
Alan: “Probably the dentist.”
Bill: “JIMMY SAVILE’S TOILET!”
Alan: “That’s where he keeps it, stuffed up under the rim.”
Stephen has to stop to compose himself, glaring at Alan, who’s still going “NOW THEN NOW THEN WHERE’S MY RINGS?”
Stephen says there’s 25 million antes worth of gold in the oceans.
Alan: “Sounds like something a bond villain should be getting onto. “I AM STEALING ZE OCEANS, MISTUH BOND, AND ZERE’S NUSSING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT!”
Danny reveals he doesn’t have a mobile phone, that “I can’t think of anything worse than being contactable all the time.”
Jeremy: “The easiest way is to have a mobile phone and no friends. That’s what I do…”
Stephen: “Oh, no…I find that very easy to believe…”
Danny, who guesses correctly that the father-daughter duo sold time: “THEY INVENTED TIME?”
Stephen: “Nono, they sold it…”
Danny: “I was gonna say, I think I remember what William Hartnell looked like, and it wasn’t like that!”
An excellent geek reference out of Danny. Again, he can still have fun and play the game.
On the woman who made money giving people the time from here watch in Greenwich.
Alan: “It sounds very, very much like a scam. Some sort of euphemism. “WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?” “He’s just looking at my watch, officer…” “IN THIS DARK ALLEY?”
Danny: “They’d stop her to look at her watch?”
Alan, air-quotes: “HER “WATCH””
Bill comes up with a system of “metric time-keeping”, which would round off at tens rather than twelves, and spends about five minutes explaining it. And he’s quite adamant about it, too, going into great detail. This is classic Bill stuff, too.
Stephen: “It was originally 12 hours because the Babylonians were among the first to-”
Bill: “Yeah, but what do THEY know?”
Stephen also explains that France actually tried a decimal time system, and it didn’t work, which just proves Bill’s point further.
Bill: “Is it not like Betamax and VHS? They all went with twenty-four, but the French should have gone with 20?”
Jeremy: “When have the French ever worried about what the rest of the world thought?”
Stephen and Bill wrap up their discussion on the “Bill Bailey QI Metric Clock”.
Alan: “Anyway, we’ve just done an hour on that topic…”
On the “what time is it in the South Pole question”, the behind-screen has a shot of a bunch of penguins wearing watches, one wearing a giant clock around his neck.
Bill: “It’s the Penguin Public Enemy Tribute Band!!”
Bill: “And why do we have to have North, South, East and West?”
Stephen: “OH, HELLO….DRUNK WITH POWER!!”
Stephen: “Why are people who don’t eat meat called vegetarians?”
Jeremy: “So we can identify them as fools and madmen? I don’t know!”
Stephen: “What does the word come from?”
Jeremy: “Well, presumably, the word ‘vegetable’.”
Jeremy, semi-outraged: “WHAT? THEY DO!!”
Bill: “Of course, I don’t call them vegetables, I have a completely different system-”
Stephen: “OH, STOP IT…”
Bill: “We had a tortoise once, and it had very, very, very bad arthritis in its leg. And they said ‘we can actually operate and replace it with a wheel.’ We talked about pulling all his legs off, and just putting wheels on all of them…”
Alan: “And then a little engine on the top. Send it down to the shops…”
Jeremy: “I bet you couldn’t do that. I bet that someone would object if you motorized a tortoise.”
Stephen: ‘REALLY?? POLITICAL CORRECTNESS GONE *MAD*, THEN! You just can’t mutilate a tortoise anymore…”
Bill: “You know who would object? VEGETARIANS would object!!”
Jeremy, not understanding the wheat question: “But how do you get wheat to mate?”
Bill: “Well, you turn down the lights, and….”
Alan: “You ask the barley to leave the room…”
On the little green men question, Stephen: “Have you heard of SETI?”
Bill: “Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence”
Alan: “How’dyou think we found him?”
Bill glares at Alan, who’s been rather harsh on Bill today.
For GI, Jeremy scolds Stephen for wasting electricity by having 2 screens, so he suggests Alan and Bill come over to his side of the panel, and the other screen goes off. It’s a nice change of pace, theme related too.
Danny: ‘We can take this further as well. You people at home! TURN OFF YOUR SETS!”
Overall: A very strong, very satisfying show on all accounts, save for a weaker last half. Bill was in championship form, Jeremy and Danny were having a ton of fun, Alan was silly as usual, and there were a ton of really good running gags, especially coming from Bill.
Best Guest: Bill
Show Winner: Bill
Best QI Fact: Time salesmen.
Best Runner: Bill’s alternative measurements.