Nevermind Watchdown: S22E03, or I’M A *JEW*!

This is nice. I know everyone on this panel. This doesn’t happen often, folks. Additionally, I’m pretty damn excited for the Guest Bill, because he hasn’t been on in years, and…to be honest, I’m anxious to see without Mark Lamarr breathing down his neck- Bob Mortimer’s the Guest Captain this week, and it’s about bluddy time he’s back.

Phill’s got young, hip DJ Nick Grimshaw, and former Destiny’s Child star Kelly Rowland. Bob’s got the return of David O’Doherty and Jack Osbourne, one of the few sane members of that family.

Simon intros Bob as ‘Comedy Hero Bob Mortimer’…could not have put it better, though he has definitely aged since his last time on.

On what’s pixelated on Mariah Carey’s chest.
Nick: “I’m hoping it’s horrific burns.”
Phill bursts out laughing. The delivery was something more like a Frankie Boyle type thing.
Kelly: “I think…y’all are…uh, this is mean…”

Kelly: “You are famous. I mean, the ratings are very high, so you’re famous…”
Simon: “Oh, that’s what they told you to get you here?”
Kelly: “No, they said ‘he’s very funny…he may…’ is it ‘take the piss at you’?”
Simon: “Oh, no, I’ve never done that…”

Bob talks about wrestling a crocodile one time.
David: “Wasn’t it dangerous with the jaws and everything?”
Bob: “No, I was the one who had my mouth out, I’m a fuckin’ madman!”

After Kelly and Phill’s 1st intro
Simon: “Kelly, I feel you’re not doing enough. If you do well enough on this intros round, you could launch your own solo career…”

Simon, after getting bored during Kelly’s 2nd intro.
Kelly: ‘IT IS A SONG NO ONE KNOWS. HE DOESN’T KNOW IT. Phill, you know it?”
Phill: “NO…I…DI’INT!”
And he starts waving his finger around. Kelly’s absolutely done.

The whole panel’s losing it.

After Simon does a string of Bee jokes, all corny (“What’s a Bee’s favorite pop group? The Bee-Gees!!”), Bob wants to do one.
Bob: “What kind of bee makes milk? Boo-bees!”

Bob and Jack’s first intro is, simply “…1…2..3…AAAUUUGHHHHH!”
Thankfully, David’s able to correctly guess that it’s James Brown.

Kelly’s actually having a really nice time, even if Simon’s taking a lot of jokes at her expense. At one point, she just throws some water on Simon (after a Kelly Osbourne joke(, and says “THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS YOU.”
Simon: “…I’M A JEW!”

The new post-Intros round is ‘which person goes with which thing’, which is like Biggie to Smalls, only matching them with objects they’re associated with.

Simon: “Phill, your stars are…MEAT LOAF…”
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Simon: “…whose, uh, whose wig didn’t come today…”

Phill: “Okay, fake leg…do any of them have a fake leg, that you know of? Does Meat Loaf got the gout??”

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He’s been losing it all day

Kelly, after she finds out the link is collections: “…You kidding? BEARS?”
Simon: “People collect bears. Why are you saying bears rather than ‘…LEGS?’

Jack: “I, uh, I feel like Kurt Cobain is somehow connected to a shovel…”
Simon: “…but why…”
Jack: “Well, one might have buried him.”
David: “So, by that it means Shaggy will be buried…with some haddock.”

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(I absolutely lost it at David’s line)

As Simon’s about to go on, Bob gets his attention and says “HEY…DAVID’S HERE!”. And, yeah, as the requisite comedian, David’s got the least amount of stuff for Simon to tease him on, so Simon gives him grounds to be funny for 10 seconds.
David: “I’ve made up one proper joke in the last four years, and this could be the forum to put it forward….’Who are the most decent people at the hospital? The ultra-SOUND people…”
Yeah, that one got a good reaction.

Jack figures out that Shaggy was in the military, so he gets him to move over…but Kurt will not move, so they have to all yell at him to move over.

And then eventually Kurt’s positioned in front of the mop and bucket.
Phill: “And there is Kurt with Courtney Love and a bucket!”

After Jack misses a Girls Aloud Next Line
Simon: ‘Not a fan of Girls Aloud? Which one do you hate the most?”
Bob: “The third one from the left…”

Simon: “Hey there, here I am…”
Phill’s entire panel: “……”
Phill: “Well, it’s going to be a long round….”

Overall: What sums up this episode is the moment Next Lines ended and Simon went ‘what fun we’ve had this evening!’, and Bob, himself, went ‘What ABOUT that fun?’ This may not have been wall-to-wall amazing, but still a fun, breezy episode with 5 panelists who were incredibly game. Nick and Jack had some great funny lines, and Kelly was having so much fun, even with Simon’s jokes.

I will say that if I were producer, I would have swapped David and Bob. Bob’s fantastic, but I think David would have been a better guest panelist than Bob, as Bob is sort of all-for-one, and with some exceptions, didn’t work well with collaborating with the other 2. Still, both were wonderful, and David improved greatly on his last appearance.

Guest Bill Rating: 8/10. Not too bad, but would have preferred David to do it.
Best Regular: Simon
Best Guest: David

Nevermind Watchdown: S22E02, or COME ON, DUMBLEDORE, SING IT!

So, we’re already one show into the Guest Bill era, and we’ve already had a nice turn from Mark Ronson. Okay, who’s next?


The lineup for this episode is pretty extraordinary. On…ON GUEST PANELIST STEPHEN FRY’S PANEL (And this has been a few years in the making), are two people I’ve heard of- Matt Shultz from Cage the Elephant and comedian Josie Long. Also, Phill’s got Dominic Cooper, aka Howard Stark from the Marvel movies and GODDAMNED PREACHER. Frankie Sandford’s also here, former S-Club-7 personality, then singing with The Saturdays.

As Stephen’s announced as Guest Host, they cut over to Phill nodding in appreciation, which is a nice little callback to their time on QI. And, of course…

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The final QI touch, which Stephen adores.

Of course, Simon even has Stephen press a buzzer, in QI fashion, which goes “…I’M A NATIONAL FUCKING TREASURE!”

Simon also invokes some of the random existential conversations by just going on a whole over-arching rant about a pretzel, to the camera and to Stephen.

Simon: “But do you know anything at all about Akon?”
Stephen: “I’m afraid I do not. He seems to have come standard with the uniform of the, uh…Hippity Hoppity Brigade…”

Stephen, going on about the pretzel: “But there is, in music, a sort of history of the, uh, recto-vaginal insertion…”

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Simon’s immediate, absolutely puzzled reaction

Simon: “You know, I thought you were gonna bring this show up to a standard…”

After Matt talks about being raised on a Christian hippie commune and sort of abandoning religion.
Simon: “Are you afraid you’ll go to hell?”
Matt, in an over-the-top Southern accent: “Well, I’ve accepted Christ into mah heart, and once he’s in your heart he won’t ever leave…”
Simon: “…Stephen, is there a God?”
Stephen: “Oh, NOOOOO, Darling.”
Simon shrugs.

After Phill gives Simon a rare fact about the red squirrel and he just answers with “…okay…”
Phill: “Oh, when I hit YOU with the facts, you’re nonplussed, but when your BOYFRIEND OVER THERE…”
Simon: “Don’t mock our intellectual Greek love.”

After Simon just starts throwing more useless facts at Stephen (to sort of lampoon QI)
Phill: “I feel like…I’m being beaten up by a fucking encyclopedia salesman!!!”

Simon: “And it’s great to have Dominic Cooper here, eh? Sexy, hunk actor Dominic Cooper?”
(A small portion of the audience screams.)
Simon: “Eh, ya hear that? You hear those three people there?”

Simon: “I think your problem is…you’re too sexual.”
Dominic: “How can somebody be too sexual?”
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(So far, Phill is absolutely killing this episode. I think it’s the presence of Stephen Fry.)

Simon’s joke ends with a reference to Tufty…which confuses 19-year-old Frankie. Stephen explains it’s a squirrel mascot for road safety.
Phill: “Isn’t that ironic? What do you see over the roads sometimes?? If there’s one person you’re not gonna listen to about road safety, it’s a bloody squirrel…”

Stephen, standing up for Intros: “If you get any of these…to be honest, you should be burned as a witch, because there is no…possible way. I’m really sorry, I apologize in advance.”
Josie’s just wincing the whole time.

After the….admittedly overlong rendition of Coldplay’s Viva la Vida
Josie: “I just wanted to say that…hearing Stephen Fry doing something like that is how I’d get myself to sleep at night. Could I hear it again?”
Stephen: “Oh, DAMN YOU…”
Josie: “Can I just hear Stephen’s bit-”
Stephen: ‘AAAGGGHHH!”

After Stephen does his bit.
Josie: “Can I just ask if there’s any chance of you considering to adopt any or all of us?”
Stephen: “…Oh, how sweet. Of course I’d consider it.”

After Simon reveals that Matt’s brother got caught with a bag of weed at a gig.
Simon: “…*YOU* TOLD THE NME!”

Matt: ‘I’d just like to say that we’ve now changed our ways…and…”
Stephen: “…gone onto HARD drugs.”
God bless. I wouldn’t expect him to be this quick on a show like this.

As Stephen works with Matt to figure out what the 2nd intro sounds like.

Matt and Stephen’s 2nd one is so bad that they even ask Simon to do it…and Josie asks for his part alone, at which point he gets up on the desk and…does a sillier version of what Matt was doing.

Phill, standing up with Frankie: “…I feel like I’m going to Parents’ Evening…”

Stephen, as Phill’s first intro is passed back to him: “Oh, no no not mee…uh…do you know the answer, darling?”
Matt…taken aback, but: “Well, baby…”

They all start talking about Mamma Mia, which Simon hasn’t seen but Frankie has.
Frankie: “Yeah, you should go see it! (stops…to Dominic) Were you the boyfriend?”
Simon: “That is the power of Dominic’s acting.”

Frankie, after another Simon joke about CSS: “I haven’t got most of these jokes all night…”
Simon: “It’s alright. It’s not your fault.”

Stephen, bluntly, on the ID Parade: “Well, whenever I watch this round, it’s very terrible that so many guests are so unpleasant about these lovely people who volunteer to be laughed at, and it’s very rude of them…having said that, however…”
He gives the audience some time to recover….and then he goes for the jugular.
Stephen: “When I was growing up, that operation wasn’t really much of a success, but now it seems to be working very well indeed…”
The whole audience is in shock. EVEN SIMON’S SHOCKED. This is the kind of thing that the PC Police would throw him off Twitter for today, so I’m glad he came out unscathed, but…WOW.

Josie: “I will put everything I have on #3….I mean that in several ways.”
Even Stephen looks over, impressed.

Dominic: “How are we supposed to do this? We don’t know what the person looked like!”

Simon: “How were the love scenes with Keira Knightley in The Duchess?”
Dominic: “They were…uhh…after a while-”
Frankie: “THAT’S WHAT I SAW YOU IN!!!”

After Frankie misses her own lyrics.
Frankie: ‘What part of the song is that?”
Phill: “The one with the WWWOOOOOORDS IN IT!”

After Matt gets his own lyrics.
Simon: “You see, when he WRITES HIS OWN…”

Overall: Another really nice show, boosted by a surprisingly game Stephen Fry performance that I wasn’t expecting to be as good as it was. In terms of panelists, everybody had something to do- Josie probably did the least but was still one of the funnier people there, and had a lot of great moments during the wall-to-wall stellar Intros round. Matt was probably high, and had a funny, great show. Frankie and Dom were great putting up with Simon, and both had a pretty nice time.

Guest Bill Rating: 8.5/10- Pretty nice job, Stephen.
Best Regular: Phill
Best Guest: Matt
Best Runner: Recto-vaginal insertion.

Nevermind Watchdown: S22E1, or You’ve Turned Into My Aunt Sybil!

Well, on we trudge, past the Bill Bailey era, onto the season-long ‘Guest Bill’ era, where dozens of comedians, TV personalities and musicians, mostly friends of the show, would try an episode in Bill Bailey’s chair before the seat would be eventually filled (for good, not counting an appearance by Cluedo character Professor Green (tm Frankie Boyle)) by Noel Fielding.

Tonight’s a pretty nice lineup by 2016 standards. Tonight’s GUEST BILL IS…Mark Ronson, Uptown Funk artist, producer, and ‘Winehouse ruiner’ according to Simon.  Ralf Little, a stowaway from the Lamarr era is back, as is Tim Minchin, off his wonderful gig from last year. Jamie Reynolds from the Klaxons is also here, but…I dunno, I was hoping for a smidge more star power for a series opener.

…what’s this. WORLDWIDE MEGASTAR AND OSCAR WINNER ADELE IS IN THE BUILDING? Oh my gosh, this is fantastic! Let’s go!

The show opens with Simon debuting a shorter, but still curly, haircut.

Simon: “This is the kind of show that likes to focus on the positive rather than the negative, so welcome to the show that PHILL JUPITUS HASN’T ABANDONED, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!”

On why Kid Rock pulled out of a concert.
Ralf: “Is it because he realized that no one in this country knows any of his songs, any of his back-catalog, thinks he’s a total helmet, and even this song’s a complete ripoff of Sweet Home Alabama and a pile of SHIT.”
Loads of audience applause.
Ralf: “…just a thought.”
Simon: “GO RALF.”
Ralf: “He didn’t even have the decency to put trumpets over it like Mark does.”

Absolutely brilliant moment- Phill asks Simon if he misses Bill, and they have a small melancholy moment…followed by both Simon and Phill mussing around the studio lip-synching ‘No Air’ by Jordyn Sparks, giving some of the most passionate performances of their Buzzcocks careers.

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Tim’s getting a kick out of the whole thing, though

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And, of course, a full-on interpretive dance number.

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A tearful finale. The whole place applauds.

Mark, for the first round, puts on a pair of wide-rimmed glasses to think, which Simon calls him out on, saying he looks like a ‘swinging 60’s popstar.’
CUE SAUL BOSSA NOVA….which Simon bops around to.

Mark: “…actually, I think we should get back to this video because there’s something I wanna say-”

Tim, on the Kylie question: “Well, has anyone actually met her? Mark, you’re a rock star….sort of?”
Simon even laughs at this one. AND ADELE.

Tim does a joke that hinges on how Kylie Minogue’s actually a down-to-earth person, and it ends on the line “man, I wish I had a baby”, which is met with boos, and a cry of ‘HOW COULD YOU, TIM MINCHIN??” from Simon.
Simon: “I think the only way you can apologize for that joke is to give Kylie a baby.”
Tim: “Well, I have one, and it’s a pain in the ass…”

Simon: “Adele, are you currently working with Mark Ronson?”
Adele: “No, I’m not, actually…”
Mark: “You say that quite proudly, though…”

After Phill and Jamie’s first intro:
Mark, from the other side: “I think it would help if we took out Phill’s part entirely and just had Jamie do his…”
Simon: “This is fantastic, are you producing the Intros round?”
Phill: “Nono, let’s do the Ronson remix…”
So, Phill, Jamie and even Ralf do the same intro, only with a lot more random drum beats and ALL THREE GOING INTO TRUMPET NOISES AT THE SAME TIME. Fantastic stuff.

Finally, Phill pulls it over to Simon and goes “HIT IT!”

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I do really enjoy how Adele and Mark get along during the Intros round. At one point, they’re going over how the song goes, and Mark, jokingly, goes “hey, you’re the singer…apparently…”

Phill’s ID Parade is trying to decipher who is the drummer for the KINKS…a sure sign that this show has come a very, very long way.

I kind of saw this coming, but Phill goes “well, because this is Mick Avery of the Kinks, I know who it is”, but he lets the other guys guess. Phill knows everybody, so this doesn’t shock me.

Jamie: “I think it’s our man #3 over there.”
Ralf: “I agree with him.”
Phill: “It IS #3….BUT LET’S LOOK AT #5.”

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Simon grills Ralf about the headline that concerned a woman he went out with who ‘assumed that, being his name was Little, his genitals would follow suit.”
Phill: “Whereas, Simon, your surname is Amstell, and your penis tastes of lager…”

Simon brings up that Mark’s been fantastic on the show…and then his sister Sam just starts going out with Lindsay Lohan and becomes way more famous than he’ll ever be.
Mark: “Look, I think Lindsay’s a very talented actress.”
Adele, not believing a word of that BS: “…WHAT?”

After Adele says Lindsay’s great, but not really an actress.
Mark, facepalming: “You’re gonna be in a lot of trouble when this comes out…”
Adele: “I like Lindsay, and I think her and Sam are great!”
Mark: “If you found out Duffy was bisexual, would you hate her even more?”
Simon: “…I’m really enjoying you now, Adele. You’ve turned into my Aunt Sybil.”

Next Lines:
Simon: “He pulled me down on top of him and begged me to talk dirty. I happily did.”
Ralf: “…Simon Amstell diaries.”

Simon reveals the correct answer
Ralf: “My one was funnier.”
Simon: “Yeah, and a bit more homophobic.”

Simon: “Tune in next week, where our Guest Captain will either be Stephen Fry or Dappy from N-Dubz…depending on Dappy’s availability.”

Overall: Solid start to the series. I was originally skeptical about Mark Ronson holding up a panel, but he did a pretty nice job, and worked well with Adele, though Tim was sort of on his own for jokes. Ralf surprised me by giving some nice material, and Jamie was also pretty fun. Lots of good Simon stuff here, and, of course, the No Air bit was classic.

Mark’s Rating as a Guest Bill: 7.5/10- not too shabby, but not spectacular.
Best Regular: Simon
Best Guest: Tim
Best Runner: Saul Bossa Nova

The Mole Australia Watchdown: S01E05, or Can You Correctly Identify That as the Lens Cap?

Halfway through, and somehow Beverly is still in the game. Miracles never cease. Nevertheless, onto another one.

The team makes it to their challenge in their car, as they can all fit in there now. Linda’s already going “okay, who’s bungee jumping and who’s not?” They’ve already gotten into a routine, which is great.

Okay, this is a really fun challenge, I believe taken from US S1- the team has to make it to a red flag on top of a hall, through a grassy plane with snakes and everything, and everyone will be equipped with paintball-guns in order to stop a series of snipers. Yeah, very similar to the US challenge, only this takes place out in the open, rather than in the middle of a city.

There’s a nice sequence of the team putting on excessive padding before they head out. Ben just takes off his shirt. Jan ends up putting on a padded bra, as someone (Alan, I presume), hums Shania Twain’s ‘Man! I Feel like a Woman’ in the background. Abby deadpans “gives you boobs you never knew ya had, eh Jan?”

Ben, to the camera: “…split up, get down on your knees, crawl, go bezerk? That’s the game plan.”

Grant, of course, throws a snag into the challenge: Firstly, the last person standing at the top of the hill, only if there aren’t any people left, will get an exemption. Annd….you can shoot each other. So, the malicious sides of some of the players can act out.

Bev, kind of obviously, is the first person eliminated, by the barrage of sniper fire coming from the overhead helicopter.

Also, some irony in the only person left with army experience getting shot while using actual army tactics. Poor Jan.

Ben, Abby and Alan make it towards the trees, at which point Ben is caught from behind during some big-time firepower. This challenge is a lot less fun without the walkie-talkie back-and-forths

Eventually it’s down to Alan, Abby and Linda, and Linda eventually gets ambushed by a sniper from behind, leaving Abby to gun down one herself. I’ll give Abby some credit- she’s gone from a serious mole suspect to one of the more refreshing characters in the game.

Abby’s literally about to grab the flag, and Alan literally stands up, ready to fire at her- and Abby sees this. I mean, a second later, the sniper gets her, but…still suspicious from Alan.

Of course, then Alan nabs both snipers and waltzes his way to the flag…and the exemption. I’m a little hesitant to call this a victory, because Abby was almost there and Alan almost sabotaged it himself, but…still.

For Challenge #2, which is preceded by some footage of the gang in the car pondering existential questions about the game, they have to divide into 2 groups of 3- Alan, Bev and Jan, and Ben, Linda and Abby.

Challenge #2 is fairly simple- both groups have to answer three brainteasers in an allotted amount of time- wrong answers equal deductions.

It’s weird- Alan, Jan and Bev are a bit more unfocused and take more time, and Ben, Linda and Abby are more into it…but Ben’s team gets the first wrong answer, and Alan’s team advances.

Bev, Alan and Jan end up completing all three of theirs, but they have to wait for Ben’s team, who are still on the ‘how many triangles’ question, and a bit unfocused (Ben’s cracking up a bit). They only get the correct answer to that one by…random guessing.

Ben’s team ends up running out the clock, and losing it for everybody, bringing my suspicions back up on him (because it can’t possibly be Linda the way she’s been ruling this game.)

The second Abby and Linda realize that the answer to question #2 was that the tide wasn’t change, because it’s a boat…they both start cracking up completely.

The third challenge of the day involves photographing wildlife- I mean, with the exception of the first one of the episode, not a lot of huge, thrilling stuff so far this episode.

Ben and Jan have to take theirs via boat.
Alan and Bev have the green LandRover.
Abby and Linda have the Orange LandRover

The second that Alan realizes he doesn’t have to take a boat, he cheers…and Ben groans.

This is actually an interesting idea- they have to photograph wildlife, and submit four photos to experts on Australian wildlife- if they get six out of everybody’s, they win money.

This is great- Abby and Linda will travel on quad bikes through the beaches- the instructor emphasizes that fifth gear is a traveling gear, not to be used often….and cut to both of them on fifth gear, scaring away all the wildlife they’re supposed to shoot. Classy stuff.

Even better- Abby and Linda walk over to the dunes, and all of the sudden, Abby trips on a lizard and shrieks. Both women just double over laughing as Abby tries taking the photo.
Linda: “…if it crawls up my leg, I swear to God…”

And when Linda and Abby go to look at the lizard photo…Abby forgot to take the lens cap off. At least this show isn’t short on genuine characters.

Not a lot of other stuff in this challenge other than Abby and Linda’s patheticness.

Eventually they do get it back to the expert, and Abby and Linda’s group is first.
Grant: “Those first two are the lens cap. Leslie, can you correctly identify that as the lens cap-”
Abby: ‘Oh, we don’t need to dwell on this…”

Grant: “Now, this is the only one with an image….that’s YOU, Abby.”
Abby’s completely cracking up. I doubt she’s the mole, because that’s some human stuff and I believe her over it.

Grant: “Moving onto four…”
Leslie: “Very good shot of alto-cumulus clouds, I’d say…”
Grant: “Annnnd five?”
Leslie: “Ah. Very good shot of Ocean Beach with a blob in it.”
Linda and Abby are laughing it off, but that was a pretty pathetic challenge display.

None of Alan and Bev’s show any animals, and Alan’s disagreeing with Bev over which ones were actually the choices.

Ben and Jan’s photos do get a few much-needed points, but they don’t get the full 6 due to some repeats. So…a failure, but at least the Linda and Abby stuff was hysterical to watch.

Pre-quiz, it’s a bit more divided- there are people, like Alan, Ben and Abby who I don’t think are going home for a while, and then there’s the rest…which is hard to tell. Look, this episode may have been Linda’s first slip-ups since she’s been here, and Bev in her confessionals was acting like this may be the end. Jan also might slip out.

Still, I think Bev finally goes home tonight- Linda and Jan following.

ABBY: GREEN. Yeah, this was the one where her gameplay SERIOUSLY amped it up, even more than the last few. She’ll be fine.
BEVERLY: GREEN. wow…I honestly thought she’d be going home. Maybe she’s a lot more focused on the quizzes than I give her credit for.
LINDA: GREEN. And Linda hangs in by the skin of her teeth.
BEN: RED. Whoa.

Honestly was not expecting him to go, even if he had a lower-key episode. This guy grew on me more than anybody else, and became a pretty suave, fun player to watch. A shame he’s fled the coop now, as have most of the good characters on the show.

Overall: A strong episode that took its time to find footing. A lot more emotional moments, the game’s first exemption, and a nice shift for one or two big characters going ahead.

Best Gameplayer: Abby, second week in a row, for proving herself and her intuition, while…still shooting with the lens cap on.
Best Character: This week, probably Alan, for a few nice lines throughout the episode.
Who do I think is the mole? It’s getting tough because there are people who could in no way be the mole, like Beverly and Linda, and people who I don’t think are the mole anymore, like Abby. And then there’s someone like Alan who sprung onto my radar this episode. It might be him.

The Mole Australia Watchdown: S01E04, or Whoever Invented This One was a Sadistic Fuck

Well, Rocky’s gone, so there went my will to live. Still, further down the stretch we go, toward another episode. Hopefully there’ll be more than one man left by the end of it.

The beginning of this episode is just Grant restating the extent of the sabotage/suspicion on each cast member’s head.

Grant, for Alan, says “he lingers in the background, and is rarely noticed.” I blame the editors for that.

Grant: “Jan…army trained and completely determined to succeed.”
(Cut to Jan completely fouling up the tire in E2)

After this…sort of unnecessary bit, Grant asks for two female guides, who are…almost unanimously chosen as Linda and Jan.

Also, the phrase “could you two please go see Snowy at the timber yard’ was supposed to be taken seriously…but I can’t stop laughing.

The task for the other two, which is odd, is to catch 8 kilograms of fish on the water. The whole ‘eight kilograms’ bit confuses the hell out of Ben.

Bev and Jo just go and use fishing rods, while the other three legitimately have to fill out a fishing license. You don’t see this much stationery law work on the US version.

Jan and Linda, meanwhile, have to construct a raft capable of holding up to five people, only using rope and wood.
Colby Donaldson, from three continents over: ‘So not only does it have to carry Bev, and Alan, and Ben, and any NORMAL PERSON….but it’s gotta carry 260 pounds of MOLE!”

Even worse, Jo is having difficulties fishing, as she’s a strict vegetarian. I’m sorry, but Josephine has had more moral quandaries in four episodes than most people do in a lifetime. She can’t skydive, she can’t golf, and now she can’t even catch a fish? This is reaching Crystal Cox levels of ineptitude (and yes, this is the 2nd Survivor reference I’ve made this post.)

Bev, explaining to the driver: “We’re gonna catch fish, but keep them alive!”
The incredibly amused driver: “…catch fish ‘n keep ’em alive, eh?’

MORE WITH CONTINENTAL LAWS! The players have to ask Mario, the driver, if they’re actually allowed to catch fish in this trout farm, and we get camera footage of the guy making a phone call. They wouldn’t show this on the US version, making it pretty amusing here.

Eventually, Mario reveals that they’re allowed to go in, but they’re not allowed to use rods. Sort of like this series now that Rocky’s been eliminated.

Mario, explaining how they can do this: “and you CAN use…”, and he pulls out a big net.
Josephine: “…..that thing.”
Bev: “….aw, shit, can we REALLY?”
Bev, as inept as she can be, is a great loose-cannon, natural quote provider.

Jan, as she’s building the raft: “What’s this got to do with girl guiding, that’s what I’d like to know…”
Linda: “I’m not used to being a girl guide…”
Jan: “Me either.”
Linda: “…I was kissing the boys at the back of the shed.”
Jan’s great at just pointing out how ridiculous this show can get. She has this very Moby-on-NMTB-esque way of just adding levity and logic to this…highly illogical situation.

Alan, after he’s forced to throw horribly-smelling fish guts onto a bait thing in massive heat: “This sucks…who ever invented this one was a sadistic fuck…”
Alan’s probably gonna replace Rocky as the makeshift quote provider now.

The image of Josephine trying to net fish inside a trout farm is…true to form, absolutely ridiculous, and Jo is just absolutely struggling. She’s screaming and bobbing around as the fish are all around her, while Grant explains that just 4 of the fish would give them the eight kilos, but they’ve been out their for 30 minutes. Gotta love Josephine.

Linda, seeing Jan’s test run of the raft: “…holy shit, how are we gonna fit five people on that?”

They cut back to Jan and Bev, and they’re already out of bait. Just then do fish actually start swimming into the net, which Grant points out, suspiciously. The cutback to the other three features Alan just exhaustedly falling off of the boat. Great moments in patheticness so far.

This isn’t the greatest challenge, as a lot of it just footage of people fishing, but it’s nice to see Abby, Alan and Ben absolutely failing at this challenge.

I love the shot where Mario is praising the girls for catching two large fish, and we zoom in on Josephine’s horrified expression. Man, she’s not having the best game, is she?

Alan ends up taking a huge hit by getting incredibly seasick in his multiple boat trips back and forth, and he ends up not being able to grab the craypot in the end.

Even worse, right as Alan, Ben and Abby are about to get back to the harbor with their (minuscule) fish, the boat’s engine stops entirely. Jesus, these guys have had horrible luck this round. Luckily, Jo and Bev show up to just take their cargo to the harbor.

The cumulative grab is 8.5, so they win the challenge, but I think the real winner of that one was that adorable little beagle who kept trying to eat all the fish.

After this challenge, Jan and Linda put their raft on the side and all 7 go on a sailing trip, which is a pretty nice touch. Also, because of the raft subplot, Jan and Linda don’t have to take part in the next challenge.

The challenge, which Grant says is ‘very simple’, is for the five to swim out to Sara Island and stay there, on the beaches, until 6 AM. If at any point someone wants out, they can use a phone and get the game’s FIRST EXEMPTION, as well as a nice stay at a nearby hotel, but they rid the group of the 10,000.

Grant: “And dinner tonight will be the fish you caught today.”
Cut to Josephine wanting to die.

Jan: “So, if the mole calls in, that the way of the mole going straight through…”
Abby: “…the mole’s already gonna go straight through…”

They do come up with a nice plan- Alan will keep the phone, and Ben will keep the battery, so if somebody calls, they’ll ALL know.

Great little moment. Alan, Jo and Bev are by the beach, and Bev takes off her sweater for warmth. At that exact moment, Josephine follows Alan down the beach. There is no way this wasn’t strategic of Jo.

Grant: “They’re allowed a stove, but no open fires.”
Cut to Alan accidentally starting a huge, blazing fire.

This isn’t the greatest challenge, and there’s a lot of squabbling and suffering, so it sort of drags the pace of what was already a pretty nice episode.

I’m guessing that this is Bev’s last stand, as she’s coughing and wheezing during her on-island confessional.

There’s eventually a quandary over whether Bev should get the exemption or not, as Bev immediately wants to stay when she hears it’s risking money, but there’s still some question over it.

Ben’s questioning whether Bev is actually sick. Dude…Beverly was the only one who had the fish, and is now suffering from extreme food poisoning. Screw the fact that she was ‘fit as a fiddle before’. Food poisoning happens.

6:00 eventually comes around, and even though they’re all miserable, they all make it through and 10,000 goes into the kitty. Then…they have to use that aforementioned raft to make it back.

Jan and Linda get to watch from the raft. Linda, with binoculars, looks at the other 5 from the island. After a few beats, she looks back toward Jan. “Bev’s in her undies!”

Linda: “It’s floating…”
Jan, apathetically: “…yay team.”
Linda: “…so far.”

The object is to make sure that none of the players get wet above the chest. So…when Josephine pushes Bev into the water as they head into deeper waters…maybe that’s a TIIIIINY BIT SUSPICIOUS. Josephine’s been piling up a LOT lately, to be honest.

As the gang is shuttled back to shore.
Grant: “Little trouble with the raft there, eh?”
Alan: “…LITTLE BIT?”

Pre-quiz. This one was slightly more even, as we got a lot of Alan stuff, a lot of Abby and Josephine, but people like Jan and Linda were given the shaft thanks to their role in the day. Still, I’ll say that people like Ben, Abby and Linda deserve to stick around.

Who do I think is going home? Once again, I think Beverly’s going home. She’s completely exhausted. If not her, Jan?

Josephine: RED. WHOA.

I…honestly thought she was either sticking around, or, the Mole. This episode gave her a lot more balanced material, and I didn’t see her boot coming. Still, this was a long time coming, and she was one of the clumsier, harder to deal with players here, but part of me will miss her a bit.

Overall: Strong start, but a whopper of a final challenge brings this one down a few pegs. A lot of good character stuff, and this one actually made me sad for Josephine when she left, because there were so many silly character moments of hers.

Best Gameplayer: Abby. She’s actually beginning to impress me.
Best Character: This episode, Jan. She was cracking a lot of jokes back with Linda.
Who do I think is the mole? This is tough. My main suspect for this ep. just went home. Abby I don’t think is the mole anymore. Bev it can’t be. I’m beginning to think it could be Ben.

The Mole Australia Watchdown: S01E03, or This Was Almost Like a Practice Run

Onto another one. Hopefully this one will have more time for character than the last one did.

Right on the heels of the last episode, where the entire cast is exhausted and needs rest…Grant presents another challenge right then and there. The Mole is one relentless SOB.

Josephine and a clearly exhausted Lina are chosen by the other 6 to have a ‘nice time’, so they exit to a nearby car.

The rest of the gang are taken to another location where they’ll take part in a giant maze…a challenge we may have seen on the original Mole once or twice. They’ll have to get out via radio and communication.

They have to divide themselves into pairs- one leads the other through the maze via a TV screen. Yeah, this is the old standard from the US series. And each player needs to get through the maze without being captured by one of two hunters. Fun stuff.

Rocky and Jan, Abby and Ben, Alan and Bev are the teams. This should be fun. Alan’ll probably start throwing things at the TV rather quickly.

Actually, I take that back- Alan’s gonna be the runner, Bev’s gonna be the person tracking him. And seeing as Bev is WONDERFUL with directions (see, last episode), this is gonna go swimmingly.

So, Bev’s wonderful directions, which include telling Alan to go straight until he rams into a wall, and sending him to go right just when a hunter’s rounding the corner, go absolutely without a hitch.

Bev defends herself by saying “you know, this was almost like a practice run” to a room of disinterested, tired, disappointed teammates. Poor, poor Bev.

I’ll give Rocky credit- while they’re waiting for Ben to go on, Rocky begins strategizing with the team a way to make the exit quicker, and to avoid the trackers. The guy’s finally playing the game well, aside from just cracking jokes.

Unfortunately, Abby kind of ruins it by leading Ben down the wrong paths, and her over-strategizing by having Ben turn around and go back leads to Ben being caught in a rundown.

Now, the success of the group is in the hands of Rocky and Jan. Which…is kinda scary.

Now I’m laughing at the ridiculousness of the editing, how they’re making this so serious. “IT’S ALL UP TO ROCKY AND JAN”. Jeez, I’m expecting the Fugitive Alien theme song to kick in at any minute (“HE TRIIIIIIED TO KILL ME WITH A FORKLIFT! OLE!”).

Jan’s tactics are a lot better, in leading him towards the middle, thereby away from the hunters. However, her echoes of ‘RIGHT RIGHT RIGHT RIGHT RIGHT’ or ‘LIFT LIFT LIFT LIFT LIFT’ had to have been pretty grating.

Eventually, this tactic of keeping Rocky weaving in and out along the far side of the maze get the team the win, and gives Jan some much needed leverage to stick around.Rocky does eventually admit that he didn’t have any sound, though.

The next day takes place among a series of wineries. Alan, Jan and Rocky get to spend the day tasting wines, and Linda and Josephine get to taste various cheeses. Ben, Abby and Bev get to sample beers. This is probably going to be a challenge.

Best part of this is they all know a challenge is coming, and they’re all sort of waiting around the corner for something to happen.

The highlight is having everyone show up at a fancy dinner, and seeing Rocky have to wear a tux. That’s…kind of odd to me.

They’re all eating dinner, and just…waiting for something to happen.
Jan: “Don’t tell me we’re all gonna be bungee jumping after this…”
Rocky: “I knew a bloke who was so paranoid, he thought the fella in front of him was following him…”

This challenge is pretty nice, actually- the teams have to pick out which of the items they became experts on are from Tasmania (the cheeses, beer or wine), and which is an impostor from the mainland.

Linda has the one cheese that the cheese maker said ‘lifts the roof off of the mouth’ back in the tasting portion, and she cracks up, saying ‘…that one’s bringing back memories…’

Josephine is so torn up that she can’t choose the right one, leaving a confused Linda down to the last few seconds to pick A as the impostor.

It is actually pretty amusing to see Rocky and Jan gritting their teeth and trying to get everyone to finish, while Bev, Ben and Abby are going for the beers. It’s the most passive aggressive support.

Grant, VO: “Abby and Beverly are not beer drinkers.”
What, you’re joking. Abby’s a college student, she’s got to have had at least one or two beers.

Another great moment- the second Grant tells the wine team they can start, Rocky just all-out grabs the wine and goes for it. Doesn’t hold a damned thing back. Also, a lot of the shots of Rocky just sifting the wine around the glass are great, to which a lot of the others think the problem is the glass.

All three groups end up getting them all correct, even with the wine glass fiasco in Rocky’s group (that…I have a feeling Rocky started).

Ah, but as this was already looking like a short episode, there’s one more challenge. Grant asks for two people who enjoy the sound of their own voices. After my initial thought of Donald Trump and Phillip Sheppard, Rocky and Ben are elected. I’ll say the choice does crack Grant up a bit- perhaps this makes more sense than he would have thought.

This is actually a very different sort of challenge- Ben and Rocky have 8 hours to raise 1,000 dollars to a charity, by holding a karaoke bar. They couldn’t have picked two better guys to do it.

The first people Rocky and Ben tell about this, because they can do that, is a guy with long hair, which is not, as I previously suspected, James trying to fight his way back into the competition.

There’s a nice montage of Ben and Rocky devising the plan, and it’s great, because there are two incredibly different personalities- Rocky’s very Type A and ambitious, and Ben is very lackadaisical and movable. And having these two interact is pretty great, especially when they start getting along.

As they’re walking to hawk people, Rocky says, offhandedly to Ben, “let’s go do what we do best, mate…bullshit!”

Eventually Rocky and Ben get into arguments about how the door prize is going to work, and this challenge is turning into an episode of the Apprentice before our eyes.

Eventually they go back to the hotel (to shower), and Rocky has to inform Beverly that they’ve been touting her as the star of the show (The Amazing Bev), and she’s just cracking up the whole way.
Rocky: “We’ve told them…how easy you are on the eye.”

This is a pretty great challenge, because they’re able to tell everyone else so they can all help out/hawk/get people to join in. We’re also treated to a 3 second clip of Josephine absolutely butchering Olivia Newton-John’s Physical, which…I’ll say I may have laughed at for longer than 3 seconds.

Although Alan, Jan and Abby do a trio of Billy Idol’s White Wedding, which is actually pretty great, and Alan’s having a hell of a time. Ben and Linda also duet on The Righteous Brothers’ ‘You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’, which is also pretty good. I wish they could have done a challenge like this in the US version, because everybody’s so loose and out of their serious characters.

Ben’s giving a confessional about how much time they’ve got left when he’s distracted by someone leaving the bar with a prize, and starts congratulating him- very similar to something Rod Blagojavich would do on Celebrity Apprentice.

The end of the challenge is pretty bittersweet- they win $934 for the charity, but fall short of the overall $1000…still, they had some of the most fun in a while and it at least is worth something for people, so it’s not a complete loss.

Josephine has a confessional about not being able to sleep (thinking about the mole) while sitting on a rather crappy hotel bed…I wonder if these two are connected.

Pre-quiz, this was another show where all the characters were fully formed and I saw a lot from people, and I’d rather not see any of them go. Ben’s pretty likable now, and people like Bev and Josephine, while clumsy, are still fun to watch.

Who do I think’s going home? Actually, I think that it’s Beverly tonight, but it honestly could be Alan- they’re editing him a certain way lately.

Execution Results:
Linda: Green. Yeah, she’s one of the best players in the game- she’s far from finished.
Jan: Green. Again, some suspense there, as she’s become one of the better characters recently, but I don’t think she’s all finished yet either.
Rocky: RED. Dammit…

Heck of a way to go out- Rocky was one of the best characters on the program, and gave every single episode a lot more to go with. he even had a pretty nice episode here, improving his game as well as getting some mole suspicion, but apparently this was the end for him. Damn.

What I’m hoping is that this doesn’t destroy the game dynamic, and that now the edit will be a little bit more balanced, and more people will step up and give fun confessionals. But it’s just kinda sad, is all.

Overall: Much better episode, though still a notch below 1- three great challenges, a lot of great character moments, and a lot more wrinkles to the Mole plot.

Best Game Player- This week it was Jan, guiding Rocky through the maze like a pro.
Best Character- In the absence of Rocky, I have to say Ben. He’s growing on me rather quickly, though Josephine had a nice character week.
Who do I think is the mole? This week had a few more wrinkles, but I still think it’s Abby- the detail about her not being a beer drinker tells me she may not be who she says she is. Still, Josephine would be just behind her on my list.

The Mole Australia Watchdown: S01E02, or …what’s a hole?

Onto Episode 2, fresh off the departure of Long Hair James. More shenanigans should be afoot thanks to the soothing, yet still mysterious, voice of Grant Bowler.

The first challenge, which the show takes NO DELAY IN GETTING TO, is a race around this new town, where the roads have been closed off specifically for them. Maybe this was in response to the police not especially getting the show last week.

The group needs to divide themselves into 3, with a driver and two mechanics in each, like it’s the Grand Prix, only with two 60’s racers and a 3-year old buggy built from scratch.

Linda, Patrick and Bev will be the navigators. Linda and Patrick, yes, I can see that, from their last episode performance. Bev??? Alright then.

The other six will be pit crews to the three cars, and will swap out rear wheels. The first three I mentioned will be telling the drivers what to do. Already, though, Josephine is questioned for not knowing a thing about putting wheels in, and should be navigating. Two for two on troubling starts for Jo.

This is a pretty technical challenge, as the course needs to be run exactly one way, and the tires need to be replaced exactly one way, so it’s very technical and relies on everyone doing their jobs properly. As this is The Mole, everyone won’t.

Of course, watching Jan and Josephine try to be the pit crew is pretty amusing, as they’re both kind of pathetic, even while Rocky’s trying to stay optimistic.

The whole time, Patrick and the driver are just sitting there, waiting patiently. After a beat, Patrick goes to the driver ‘what else do you do on a Tuesday?’

Patrick’s direction giving is very straightforward, very concrete, i.e. ‘left in about a kilometer, fork up ahead’, etc. Bev is very flowery and she meanders before the actual direction. Not good when you’re low on time.

Grant, VO: “Above all, the navigator must ensure that they don’t get lost.”
CUT TO: Bev: “Turn left…right…where are we?”

Bev slows the team down a lot, but a really nice drive by Linda is helping them pick up the pace and stay within 35.

Of course, Ben and Abby struggle with the tires, to add another on the pile of ‘Abby is the mole evidence’.

Great moment. As Ben and Abby pull out with an astronomical miracle left to go, Linda sits in the passenger seat, and goes “…no pressure’. She smirks, knowing it’s impossible.

Of course, Linda takes the driver past the course’s all time record, to the money. She even says to the driver “if you have to, run over the cameraman.”

Grant actually gives some eerie foreshadowing, that the group’s luck would change after winning 3/4 challenges (and…having the fourth taken out of their hands by the law.)

What convinces me that it’s not Beverly is, in her confessional, she says that she’s going to have a horrible time over the next week, and of course they’re all going to think it’s her, and she says it so remorsefully that you can’t help but feel bad for her. True, this could be strategic by the editors to throw us off, but she seems like a very genuine person with some bad luck so far.

Great moment at the top of the second challenge. Grant asks if anyone in the group hasn’t played golf before. Josephine raises her hand…and Grant tells her to go back to the hotel. She shrugs and leaves.

The rest of the group have to capture, on camera, footage of people in town laughing and being happy, which is going to be important later in a way we, or they, aren’t told how.

I’ll say that people like Rocky and Jan excel at this one. Even Rocky says that “I can make people laugh just by having them look at me.”

Josephine’s challenge will be to play the 18th hole at the Launceston Golf Club, and she’ll have to do it in 15 strokes.

Teacher: “The object here is for me to teach you enough about golf for you to play a hole.”
Josephine: “….what’s a hole?”

It is pretty fun to see Bill the Instructor’s frustration towards Josephine, especially when she tries putting the club in the caddy with the wrong end facing inwards.

Now, the big group has to do the entire first part again, only the people they’re filming cannot know they’re being filmed- it has to be completely candid. That’s a nice little wrinkle there.

This is actually really nice stuff- Rocky, Ben and Abby stage a huge argument in the middle of an open area, with Bev secretly filming, complete with an angry shirtless Ben. Alan, Jan and Linda start making monkey noises in the middle of the Launceston Zoo.

Linda does have to give Alan a talking to because the camera’s not getting anything while the mice are, as the laughter has to be seen AND heard to count fully.

This part eventually does get harder as the entire team gets tired. Patrick eventually stoops to the level of just telling people about the camera, which Alan gets on camera…which is ironic, because Alan barely got any laughter. Rocky ends up trying the same thing himself, but it’s caught by the camera crew.

Now, back to Josephine, whose fifteen strokes will be earned by the others answering a series of questions about very thin topics. Josephine decides who answers what question, and how much each question is worth.

Josephine’s first question is a tennis question for Ben, which, thankfully he answers easily…only the stroke doesn’t even touch the ball.

Alan’s question about the Environment is one he gets wrong, one he’s absolutely flabbergasted by- I mean, it’s technically more about weather patterns than the actual environment.

Abby’s Psychology question is one about the inventor of the Id, Ego and Superego, which she has no idea about, and just guesses Freud at the last second…thankfully that’s right, and every 18 year old who’s taken Psych should know that.

Josephine weighs a question about sex at 5 points…to Rocky, which he certainly gets a kick out of.
Jan: “Josie, you know your stuff!”

Of course, Rocky’s question is about which gender is able to bear children, which warrants a QI-esque pause from him, wondering if it’s a trick question.

Jan gets the hardest question, a fitness question about naming the largest back muscle…in Latin, which she thankfully squeaks past.

Josephine’s down to her final shot, on the green…and she drives it way too far off the green, costing the team the 10,000, and cementing her status as either the mole, or one of the clumsiest people to ever be on reality TV.

Grant also reveals that the laughter challenge was a failure as well, as two people tried to cheat and the two camera people were atrocious.

So, pre-quiz, and it’s a lot tougher to tell who was on their way out, as the editing was a bit more even this episode. I’ll say that Ben was a lot more likable here, and Josephine eventually got the whole team behind her, but people like Patrick, Alan, Abby and Josephine still had pretty poor displays today.

Who do I think goes home tonight? Josephine. Followed by either Patrick or Bev.

Execution Results:
Ben: Green. Yeah, judging by the edit he’s far from finished.
Abby: Green. I still think she’s the mole, so I doubt she’s leaving either.
Patrick: RED. Wow. Even though I listed him, I didn’t actually think he’d be headed home so soon.

Yeah, if it wasn’t already evident from last week, Patrick was a great character and game player, but this week his game took a gut punch, especially in the laughter challenge- he was just getting tired and out of it, and this week’s execution makes sense in that context. Sad, but warranted.

Overall: A much quieter episode, with a pair of challenges that didn’t exactly give the players a lot of room to talk, though a lot was done to bolster the characters of Josephine, Linda, Rocky and Alan. Not as good as E1, but still important, and with a rather sad boot at that.

Best Game Player- Linda again, as her drive saved the asses of everyone on the one task that they won.
Best Character- Josephine, whose patheticness was both alarming and at the same time charming- if anything, the episode was hers.
Who do I think is the mole? Abby still.

The Mole Australia Watchdown: S1E01, or “….WHAT BLUE ENVELOPE?”

So I figured I’d take up another binge-watching challenge. I’ve always been a fan of the reality series The Mole, as it aired stateside as I was growing up. I always knew there was an Australian version, that sort of outdid the original in quality and in quantity.

So, today I’m cracking into season one of the Australian version, featuring Grant Bowler, future star of Defiance and future Lost recurring mate, as the host. I know absolutely nothing about this series going in. I have no idea who the mole is, and I have no idea who any of the characters are. I’m just ready to have a nice time. Also, no pictures for this one- it’s not like a panel show where it’s occasionally visual friendly.

The opening is true to the form of the original US season- mysterious, well-lit clip of Grant Bowler explaining the game in his ultra-suave manner. He really has the chops for this, though time will tell if he’s better than Anderson Cooper.

They cut right to all our contestants on a bus. Grant mentions that all but the Mole answered a newspaper article asking for people to go on an adventure, probably mentioning the whole ‘reality show’ part. So…they’re all going in blind. That’ll be fun.

Rocky, 39, Marketing. A balding, larger set guy.
Linda, 28, Merchant. Younger, with a red bob.
Beverly, 55, Homestay Interviewer, the requisite little old lady.
Jan, 40, school services- bubbly blonde bob, not exactly showing her age.
James, 37, computer programmer- longer brown hair, reminding me a ton of Jim from US1.
Patrick, 48, winery manager- older with brown hair and a brown mustache.
Alan, 37, environmental officer- larger with brown hair, very smiley.
Abby, 18, student- our requisite blonde and beautiful kid.
Josephine, 35, aromatherapy consultant- dyed sandy blonde hair and lipstick.
Ben, 27, Hotel Manager- spiked brown hair.

Grant Bowler appears on an incredibly old TV screen in their van, explaining the game to everybody, and they’re all relaxed, going ‘OOOH’, ‘AAAHH’, you know, because they’re polite Australians that don’t know true terror (yet).

Funny moment- the second the taped bit ends, Rocky stands up and just flat out goes “WHO’S THE MOLE???” That’s…one way to get it out there.

First task takes place at the airport, worth 10,000 dollars, and I have a sneaking suspicion it’s just the ‘Jump out of a Moving Airplane’ challenge that headed off US1.

Sure enough: “You are to fly to Tasmania, and you are to land before the plane does.” Solid way to start the adventure, by throwing everyone out of their comfort zones.

As Grant explains via VO, all ten contestants have to jump in order for the full money to be earned- It’s a bit weird that we haven’t seen any confessionals yet, but maybe they didn’t get to them until they landed in Tasmania.

Plane One: Abby, Linda, Patrick.
Plane Two: James, Alan, Beverly.
Plane Three: Josephine, who’s incredibly nervous and needs her own plane (DUN DUN DUNNNNN)
Plane Four: Jan, Ben, Rocky.

There’s a lot of emphasis on how scared these guys are, and as Grant explains, almost none of them have ever jumped out of a plane before. I think it’s gotta be less accessible to do that in Australia.

Everyone from Plane 1 is on the ground and they all notice that James is looking kind of nervous, a bit queasy, even though Bev and Alan are at the ready.

Patrick’s already making small talk and asking Abby who she thinks jumped first- she thinks it’s Beverly, and sure enough, Bev’s the first out of the plane. James and Alan do eventually make it.

Alan, as he parachutes towards the group, is acting like it’s nothing- just gives a ‘howdy folks’ as he reaches the ground. Patrick’s already screwing with Beverly, asking her how the adrenaline rush is. Bev’s cracking up. This is a very loose group so far (then again, they’re Australians.)

Josephine basically goes through a nervous breakdown up in the plane, but asks if the instructor is sure they’re attached, and musters the strength to go through with it. Josephine is already going on my radar, but if she’s not, this is a great character moment for her.

Although…it is pretty funny to see the guy getting Josephine to take her hands off the bar and go already. He even goes “you SAID yes…”, as she’s struggling.

Eventually the rest of the group lands and the money is earned- the shots of the folks down below watching them down is good bonding stuff, and they’re all pretty affable.

Like with the US version, they’d split up the group and have some take part in a secret challenge. However, probably the best shit is Jan just ranting to the camera.
Jan: “How do you explain to people when they ask you ‘where are you going?’ ‘I don’t know where I’m going.’ ‘What are you gonna do when you get there?’ ‘I dunno what I’m gonna be doing when I get there?’ ‘What do you mean you don’t know WHERE YOU’RE GOING or What you’re doing?”
Abby, absolutely deadpan: “I just want a coffee…”

The other five- Bev, James, Alan, Linda and Josephine, have to do a 5,000 dollar challenge, involving taking apart their luggage in favor of backpacks, and then taking apart the other five’s luggage. Back at the hotel, Ben starts grilling Jan about if she’s really telling the truth about where she works.

The challenge is that the home front crew, which would be Ben, Jan, Patrick, Rocky and Abby, have to guess which personal items of theirs the other five took out of their luggage.

Ben: “When you say bags, I have two of them, I have a main bag and a little day bag-”
Grant, ever the smartass: “No, you have one bag. It’s black, this size…”

Jan: ‘So what are they gonna rip off us next?”
Rocky: “…they’ve taken our dignity…”
Rocky, so far, has been the biggest source of levity on the show, with one-liners back and forth. He’s easily the most relaxed guy out there.

Linda’s taking, like, 10 or 12 food bars out of a blue backpack, saying “this guy’s like a food junkie.” Of course, they cut right back to Ben, as if they’re setting him up to fail.

Ben: “How, uh, how bad could it be?”
Jan: “…How bad could it be?? LOTS BAD?”
Ben: “How?”
Ben’s obviously being set up as an oblivious buffoon, and Jan’s just a bit too extroverted.

Rocky: “All my undies were in the back compartment.”

Patrick, who guessed a black backpack was taken out, is deemed correct. Patrick seems to be one of the more serious, stern people in the cast so far, especially during tasks.
Ben’s guess of ‘tan boat shoes’ is also correct, though Ben’s edit so far is giving me some signs that he’s not the mole and he’s not long for this game.
Rocky guessed the EAS protein shakes, and those were correct as well, as we even saw Linda counting them out to Alan as she took them out.
Abby’s guess of black, slip-on platforms are also correct.
Jan’s is also right, but Grant has a nice way of screwing with her to make her think it’s wrong. He’s actually pretty damn charming here.

As the other five filter in, you can hear Rocky going “I bet we know each other a bit more closely now, don’t we?” Obviously referring to the thongs.

Oh, that makes sense- traditional reality show confessionals are ditched in favor of a video-diary, which acts as a block of confessionals, here pasted mid-episode.

Abby’s early guesses include Jan, James, Beverly and Patrick.
Bev actually guesses Abby. I’ll say that both tropes, the college student and the little old lady, would be prime for an actual mole revelation.

At dinner, it’s revealed that Bev didn’t pack Patrick any other shirts other than the one he’s wearing, a white shirt, which according to Patrick, ‘might change to a dull gray after a while.’

Before going to bed, all ten are supposed to choose who gets to be woken up incredibly early the following morning. What surprises me is that a lot of people, including James and Patrick, choose themselves. Abby gets a few votes. However, Patrick gets the most, for some reason.

I was expecting a loud alarm clock, but actually Grant comes over to Patrick’s room and wakes him the hell up at 3 AM. I guess more is less, so I’m happy it went the way it did.

Patrick, actually, is being taken hostage, and if I had money on this i’d guess that this is the infamous Hostage challenge from S1E2 of the US version, where poor Steven ended up stuck in an iron mask for the entire episode.

Best part of this is after being dropped off in the new place, fitted with a bedroom and everything, Patrick just goes right back to sleep.

Immediately, at the next breakfast:
Ben: “Has anyone noticed that Patrick isn’t here?”
Rocky: “Patrick who?…Oh OUR Patrick…”

Of course, it’s the Hostage challenge. They’ve got to split up and find where Patrick’s being held before noon, or else no dough. Always a favorite.

Car Group: Ben, Josephine, James.
Helicopter Group: Alan, Jan, Linda
Speedboat Group: Abby, Rocky, Beverly

Patrick’s actually pretty good at this, as he’s giving the helicopter group clues about which roads he came in on, and he’s got a nice attitude about the whole thing.

Patrick: “I’m in a….one, two three story house, I think-”
Linda: “…and you want us to SAVE you?”
Patrick: “…get off your ass, girl!”

More proof that Patrick’s the right sort for this task.
Grant, via phone: “Have you found the blue envelope yet?”
Patrick, stone faced: “…WHAT BLUE ENVELOPE?”

Rocky, Abby and Bev are stranded on the boat without a signal. After a beat, Bev goes “…anyone want any sunscreen for their arms?” Perfect little moment.

Patrick’s just cracking up whenever he finds something that dramatizes the situation- for instance, according to the “BLUE ENVELOPE”, only one of the keys the groups have opens the place.

Eventually everyone figures out that Patrick’s being held in Georgetown, though the shot of Josephine shifting through a gigantic map is great, especially by 2016 standards.

Good bit of suspense- Rocky, Abby and Bev’s phone has no way of working through most of the task, though Rocky eventually finds an extra battery sticking out of Abby’s back pocket. The suspicion continues. Still, eventually the speedboat catches up to the helicopter, somehow.

Great moment. Linda gets an idea to drop the speedboat group a bottle which contains everything they know…only when they drop the bottle the boat just speeds right past it, and doesn’t realize it until later- they have to go back in a few and grab it.

Another great moment-Ben’s car is tailed by the police, but he doesn’t stop- the cop car ends up pulling over the camera car following them, and the cameraman has to explain himself to the cop, who’s stern. It’s like something out of an Edgar Wright movie.

Eventually the car group makes it and everyone starts looking for their keys.

Note- the boat crew’s key is the one that ends up working. On the radar Abby goes.

Patrick is saved, and the money is raised. Grant stops the crew by saying “the good news is, you’ve won.” And the group goes wild, but the camera footage fades out before he could get to the bad news. I imagine it was “the bad news is one of our camera guys will be spending the night in a Tasmanian prison.”

Linda thinks Bev isn’t as dumb as they all think- this is superimposed on a clip of Bev saying that one person says they hated her because she’s too cheerful in the mornings. Wonder if these two are connected in any way.
Also, Patrick is beginning to suspect Bev as well. I honestly don’t think it’s her, but more power to ’em all.

James says that Alan might be a prime suspect at this stage, “but I like him…which is probably a bad move.”

Ah yes, in the end the police eventually come and take Ben to the station, which is a funny little ending to that storyline- that sort of thing couldn’t have happened in the US version.

Even worse, Grant can’t award the 10,000 dollars for the task while the crime is still open, so Ben has to explain himself to the team. For a second I thought they were gonna expel him from the game…which I’d still not mind happening, as he’s not the most likable character out there, but still.

I will say that Ben’s explanation goes well, and the group doesn’t hate him too much for it, though he does go “please feel free to throw something at me” as the commercial break begins.

Onto the quiz. To be honest, I don’t wanna see any of these guys go quite yet. Everyone’s been edited pretty well- other than confessionals we haven’t seen a ton out of James, and Alan has been laying low so far, but Ben, Jan, Abby, Patrick and Rocky had some pretty well edited shows.

As to who I think is toast…probably Ben, but it could potentially be Beverly or Josephine.

Note that Jan, James and Josephine get pre-execution confessionals. Not sure if these are noteworthy in any way.

Execution results:
Alan: Green
Rocky: Green. There was a second’s hesitation there and I got very worried, but he’s still here.
Josephine: Green. They were editing it so that it could have been her, so her survival’s a bit surprising.
Patrick: Green. He responds with a quiet “…well…”
Jan: Green. More long suspense. Like the editors knew we’d sort of be rooting for her.
James: Red. Wow. Wasn’t exactly expecting that.

James was pretty under-edited, did a solid job on the task and wasn’t very vocal- however, maybe if he was more vocal the boot would have come as more of a shock. Still, the Tommy Wiseau lookalike is toast after one week, leaving him pretty shocked.

Overall, that’s a pretty solid group, and a pretty nice way to start the season. The challenges are borrowed from US1, but they’re integrated well with this group, and Ben’s speeding ticket was a nice little wrinkle to it all. There are some great characters, and it’s kind of a relief that the one I wasn’t especially tied to got the boot first.

Best Gameplayer: Linda, for engineering the helicopter crew, and most of the other groups as well.
Best Character: Rocky, by far. He’s having a hell of a time.
Who do I think is the mole? Abby. She did the most sabotage this week.

Nevermind Watchdown: S21E12, or READY THE TROLLEY, DALE!

Well…we’ve made it to the end of the Bill Bailey era of Never Mind the Buzzcocks…and like with the end of the Mark Lamarr era, I’m not ready.

You see, Sean Hughes was funny, and the show worked with him on it, but Bill Bailey added a whole different level of absurdity to the show, and had a better rapport with Mark, as well as bringing some experienced panel show humor to refresh the Simon era. And now he’s leaving, and we’ll be bringing in Noel Fielding, who’s good, but…obviously not the same.

So, tonight, they brought in some nice, familiar faces to send him off, like Jamelia, of ‘Javine’s a slag’ fame, Dale Winton, the gayest guest host we’ve had on (so far), and Moby, the EDM pioneer who released ‘Natural Blues’, ‘Southside’, and ‘We are All Made of Stars’, becoming the foremost electronic star of…1999-2002. Also, this is our first David O’Doherty episode, and I’m told that he’s a ton of fun.

Moby, after the first ‘What have we pixelated?’: “Is this pixelation that you guys have done, or is this actually in the video?”
Simon: “We have done this pixelation.”
Moby: “Oh, so you know the answer.”
Simon: “I do, yes.”
Bill: “We haven’t set up the whole quiz to actually find out what it is…’WHAT IS IT? WE NEED TO KNOW! LET’S BUILD UP A QUIZ!”

Simon mentions Bjork being against the paparazzi, but also that Dale has a different take on being photographed:
Screen Shot 2016-08-20 at 10.12.17 PM.pngSimon: “HELLO! D’YOU WANT TO TAKE A PHOTO OF ME???”
Dale: “You have doctored that photograph!”
Phill: “It’s like if Jesus had taken a different path, isn’t it?  ‘MOTHER…I’VE GOT *NEEEWSSS!*”

Dale: “What you can’t see is the guy behind me…”
Simon: “Dale, that’s a bin…”
Jamelia: “It’s a clothes bank, you should have put those trousers in it.”

Jamelia, in the midst of a political statement: “I mean, me and Leona Lewis are two completely different entities.”
Simon: “Of course. You’re almost as good, as well.”
Jamelia tells him to fuck off, though playfully.

After Simon asks Jamelia about her shampoo: “I hate when you ask me questions because I know you’re gonna come up with some horrible bitchy punchline at the end of it…”
Simon, smirking: “Shit…I’ve been found out.”
This could probably sum up the entire Amstell era.

David has a little stand-up aside about how he’s had the same hair since he was 12.
Moby: “Can I just say something? So, imagine we were doing this show, and say one of us had no legs, and you were complaining about, say, your trousers. The person with no legs would be sitting over here thinking, like, “well, I’m sorry you have bad trousers…'”
The audience gives him a nice round of applause for this.
Moby, to cap it off: “So you’re complaining about your hair? God hates me and stole my hair. There ya go.”

Simon tells the panel that they might not have enough material for next week’s Best of show, so he tells Moby to put on a sombrero (still leftover from last year’s ‘The Hat’ episode), and dance around. He does so…right in front of Simon, on top of the desk.

After Bill’s team gets the question wrong.
David: “Bill’s looking a little down, might need something to cheer him up, like…say…something from South America?”
Simon, pulling out a top hat: “How about Victorian London?”

Phill: “The bloke sitting next to Mr. Nelly, this would be his lap.”
Dale: “So it’s his lap? Is the answer Dannii Minogue?”

Moby: “I understand that in this we’re supposed to poke gentle fun at the artist being featured here? I have poked fun at hip-hop artists in the past, and had nothing but trouble. All I’m gonna say about this is whatever’s pixelated is probably fantastic and valuable.”
Moby on this show is a tiny bit out of place, but in the right way, similar to Charles Grodin’s self-effacing appearance on SNL back in the day. Moby’s a very white, nerdy dude that’s sort of deconstructing the show as it goes along in the most intelligent of ways, and it’s giving the show a nice boost so far.

Of course, the ‘probably fantastic and valuable’ joke is immediately followed by:
Dale: “And if I were judge, quite large.”
Simon: “For viewers just tuning in, Dale Winton is a homosexual.
Right back to the lowest common denominator.

Simon: “Moby, I looked on the internet-”
Moby: “Oh, I don’t like where this is going…”
Simon: “Why not?”
Moby: “This is gonna end wrong…”
Yeah. Charles Grodin + Rich Hall.

Simon: “I think it’s that people hate you, and don’t know why, whereas people love Dale Winton, and it’s a MYSTERY…”
Moby even gets a kick out of that one.

Simon pulls out a Dale game-show bit, which I was just going to skip, however, Moby took his lamp shading powers to a good use by pointing out something on the prop and showing it to the audience.
Screen Shot 2016-08-20 at 10.34.52 PM.png

Simon: “Dale, what can Moby do about his personality?”
Dale: “What star sign are you?”
Moby: “Virgo.”
Dale: “…Oh, well…”

For the Best of, Jamelia smashes a breakaway bottle over Bill’s head. In the background, you can hear Moby going “d’you have more?”
Bill, fake-woozy from under the table: “YOU’RE CRAZY, LADY!”

Another great intros moment- Moby decides to beatbox the intro to ‘I Can’t Dance’ right up to his mic, which leaves a confused and uninterested Phill to do the melody himself. Right when he finishes, Moby’s mic pops off. Intros is supplying some nice little moments, like Bill getting bashed with bottles.

I will say Moby’s fantastic at Intros, and the rendition he and Phill do of ‘Kashmir’ is pretty nice, even though I do get the feeling at times that Moby’s OCD-ness can overwhelm Phill at times.

Moby, trying to give Dale a hint: “Imagine long, beautiful hair, a Hammer of the Gods-”
Moby: “…riding a steed on the footsteps of dawn.”
Dale, purposely missing the point: “Is it Girls Aloud?”

For another ‘Best of’ moment, Simon releases a live chicken onto the set, scaring the shit out of Jamelia. Fortunately the chicken makes its way over to Moby, who’s a animal rights activist, and suffice to say Moby and the chicken get along famously, to the point where Moby waves at the “well-behaved” chicken as the trainer takes him away.

Phill’s ID Parade involves the Blazing Squad, so there are ten of them. One of them’s an older woman. At least they had fun with this one.

Simon: “Phill, you need six points to win.”

After Simon gives Moby a line from Natural Blues
Moby: “Actually I stole it from someone, but it’s okay.”
Simon: “Who’d you steal it from?”
Moby: “Some dead person, I dunno…”

Simon: “Next time you’re at the register and you hear a beep.”
Simon just completely cringes in response. He’s clearly disappointed in the audience for following along.

Unlike the Sean show, this has no real mention of Bill leaving- he’s make his decision in the offseason- but it is nice that Bill’s team gets the V this ep.

Overall: Series 21 finishes with an absolute classic, with all four panelists on, both regulars on, and Simon in a great mood. I’ll say that David contributed the least, but David’s a low-key humorist by trade and will get better as he goes on. Dale and Jamelia had a ton of fun playing off of Simon. However, the MVP BY FAR…would have to be Moby, for having a great time while still deconstructing the entire show and pointing out how out-of-place he is. He was a very fun character and incredibly likable, in my opinion. Still, as a send-off for Bill, and the series, this was a pretty solid one, without too many dull moments, and some of the highlights of the series as well as the Amstell era.

Best Regular: Simon
Best Guest: MOBY.
Best Runner: Best of Moments.

Best Episode: It’d have to be this one Episode 12, for just being wall-to-wall perfect and not letting up for a single damned second.
2nd Best Episode: Episode 9, featuring the all-important Biggins laugh, the entire panel screwing with Robyn about her cage-fighter boyfriend, and Mark and Bill and the Stalin round.
3rd Best Episode: Episode 8, featuring the most concise panel in years (Lauren Laverne, Phill and KT Tunstall), Jeremy Edwards not knowing what Emmerdale sounds like, a random staffer being thrown into the ID Parade, and Jon McClure accepting tea and cake.
Honorable Mention: Episode 2. Even though it was overshadowed by the rocket-fueled latter half of the series, this one was still pretty great, featuring the world famous Kurt Cobain joke, Jermaine Jackson putting up with Simon’s barbs, Noel fielding making a serious case for his regular status, David Cross reading British jokes off a cheat card and Katy Brand asking Phill to take her to musical heaven.
Worst Episode: Episode 1. Nothing got off the ground this time, and Simon was intervening WAAAY too much.
Best Regular: Incredibly close race, but Simon gets it for mastering his host persona and not getting too mean this season- a lot of the better episodes were when Simon was acting out of admiration.
Best Comedian Panelist: Tim Minchin Episode 10, for being one of the brighter spots of his still-crowded-and-good episode. David Cross, Katy Brand, Martin Freeman and Mark Watson were in the running.
Best Musician Panelist: Moby, Episode 12. Read this over and tell me why I shouldn’t. Robyn, KT Tunstall, Jon McClure and Ryan Jarman came close.
Best Dartboard for Simon: I almost put Dappy, Episode 3…but then I remembered the Antony Costa episode, Episode 7…and oh my gosh, those ones were so good. This also leads to…
Best Sport: Antony Costa, Episode 7. For all that he went through, he still came out smiling. He’s a pro, and I’m happy about it.
Most Confused Panelist: Ryan Jarman, episode 2. But he’s just being himself.
Best Runner: “IT’S….JAMES LANCE!” (Episode 10).

Nevermind Watchdown: S21E11

Two Bill episodes left to go. Two episodes with comical Irishmen. I’m ready.

Other than Chris O’Dowd’s appearance, I don’t know a ton about the panelists, other than the fact that there are a few Simon-aided gimmicks here, so I’ll try to put up with them.

Joe Goddard from Hot Chip is here, and…he actually looks like Chris O’Dowd with more facial hair. James Nesbitt’s from Murphy’s Law and a bunch of other shows. Dev Hynes is the singer also known as Lightspeed Champion.

In introing Chris O’Dowd, Simon mentions that Stephen Fry pulled out at the last minute. As much as I adore Stephen…I think Chris O’Dowd fits on Buzzcocks a bit more, and plus, his status as the star of the IT Crowd made him a little bit more than a last-minute backup.

Dev is brought in to replaces ‘Adam from Flipchart Hiatus’, who was just deemed ‘uncool’, and isn’t allowed to be on the show.
James, in his very scottish accent: “I just saw Jimmy Krankie there, so I supposed I’m out now…”

Chris talks about working with Sienna Miller on a film called ‘The Hippie Hippie Shake’…which would never see an official release, sadly. Thankfully, another movie he must have been filming around that time, Pirate Radio, DID get an official release.

Chris: “Have you MET my girlfriend? You would remember her.”
Simon: “Is she quite a looker?”

Phill, on 50 Cent’s white room: “When you see a room like that, don’t you wish a really massive, muddy labrador would RUN IN? And jump up onto the bed. And Fiddy going “NOOOOO PRINCESS DON’T DO THAT! GET OFF MA BED!”
Chris mimes guns going off.
Phill: “Awww, popping a cap in a labrador…is there anything sadder than rappers killing labradors?”
He breaks halfway through that. He can’t even take it.

Simon: “50 Cent later told the press that Williams was a SUCKER….not like that,though.”
Phill, stifling laughter: “DID 50 CENT GO ON TO SAY…THAT HE PITIED THE FOOL?”

Bill: ‘Isn’t Billy Bragg doing some charity for people in jail?”
Simon: “Musical instruments, yeah.”
Phill: “‘Banjos for Paedos’.”
Bill: “…’Bongos for Psychos.'”
Phill breaks. Adv- Bailey.
Bill: “He did a homeless one as well. Amps for Tramps.”

I’m sorry, but 1/3rd of the way in and Phill is the jolliest he’s been in ages, just belly-laughing at everything- even more than in the Biggins episode. I’m happy to see it, because it took us a while to get back to a Phill-dominant era of Buzzcocks.

The gimmick in this one is that Andy Scott Lee, from 3SL, can be invoked if anyone needs him for the Intros round, and Chris does in fact use him for help. Yes, it’s a plug, but being as it’s Simon, it’s a self-referential plug.

A lot of this episode is Simon screwing with James for his yellow pages and other product placements, and he’s a good sport, but it’s more gratuitous than amusing after a while.

Simon does say that there’s something about James that makes people want to have a pint with him, so by the time he has to use the card for the 2nd intro, Radiohead’s Just, EVERYONE ON THE SHOW HAS A PINT AND CROWDS BEHIND HIM.
Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 11.58.22 PM.png

Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 11.57.58 PM.png

Bill’s is the funniest though

James: “Would you be a big pint-drinker, Simon?”
Simon: “Not if I wasn’t with you…”
Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 11.59.35 PM.png

Phill: “You sure you wouldn’t like an UMBRELLA in that Simon? The way you’re going at that. I’ve never see anyone more MIMSILY GO AT A GUINNESS!”
Bill: “That’s actually the heaviest drink he’s ever drank…”

Okay, I laughed at this- #3 in the Anne Lee lineup: “Is it #3, Andy Scott-Lee?” And it’s actually him there, in the lineup. The audience even gives him a celebratory ‘EY!’ in response.

And also, when the real Anne Lee is supposed to step forward, Andy Scott Lee takes a step forward just to throw Bill’s team off. He’s actually being a good sport for a shoehorned addition to the show.

Overall: Lighter show, but still kept the late-season momentum going. I’ll say that having Stephen Fry would have drastically changed the dynamic, and Chris was fantastic and fun on the show. Dev did the least out of everyone, and Joe had some nice moments, but the show belongs to James Nesbitt, especially in putting up with Simon’s jokes, and still being a lot of fun all the while. Special note also goes to Andy Scott Lee for being much more than an obligatory cameo, and Phill for laughing harder than he’s laughed in years.

Best Regular: Phill
Best Guest: James
Best Runner: Yellow pages.