Nevermind Watchdown: S22E08

This one is alarming, because aside from Alesha Dixon, I don’t know a ton of people on this panel. The Guest Bill is Davina McCall, who presented Big Brother for a while, and…yeah, TV presenter stuff, woo-hoo. Everyone else on the panel is new to me.

Mitch Hewer was on Brittania High. Kelly Jones is the lead singer of the Stereophonics, which I imagine is a pretty big deal. Barunka O’Shaughnessy, the requisite comedian, was on Beehive, a sketch comedy show.

Simon asks Kelly about his promotional tour.
Kelly: “GMTV was alright. 3 bacon rolls. Cup of coffee. Cameraman fell over.”
Simon: “And you did a performance?”
Kelly: “Naw, we just mimed.”

Alesha, on the 50 Cent video: “It’s got to be something expensive, like diamonds…”
Davina: “What’s that, who’s Curtis?”
Alesha: “…that’s his real name.”
Davina: “….oh…”

After Simon says that Alesha ‘played her reality show card’ in winning Strictly:
Alesha: “IT’S NOT A *CARD!*”
Davina: “Wouldn’t you like to come on Celebrity Big Brother?”
Alesha: “…ohhh no, I wouldn’t do that…”

I don’t have a lot to write about yet, because Simon’s just giving Kelly a lot of crap about his plugging, and in turn doing a TON of plugging for his new Best of, but Davina is absolutely loving the show, and is very high-energy, getting both of the passed-over Intros. She’s not great at keeping the panel together, but she’s having a lot of fun.

Simon asks a burning question about SCD to Alesha: “When you backstage after you’re done dancing, and there’s Tess Daly there and she asks you how you feel about the scores….does it MATTER to you that she’s dead behind the eyes, or not really?”
The whole panel cracks up, though Alesha’s kind of betrayed, trying to get the audience to stop clapping.

Alesha: “And don’t you DARE say anything about Bruce…”
Simon: “Bruce is more alive than Tess, that’s the weird thing..”

Simon starts asking them about their favorite board games. Mitch says Monopoly.
Simon: “What’s your favorite game piece, then?”
Mitch: “Uhhh…vroom. the car.”
Simon: “And not Woof-Woof the Dog?”

After this, Davina says she’s had enough, and says she’s going to give Simon a taste of his own medicine…so she commands the producers to play a clip of young Simon performing on Good Morning with Anne and Nick (cue the annoyed Tony Slattery). It’s actually pretty amusing.

Overall: Not a great episode. Davina and Alesha had a great time, and Simon did well bashing Kelly (and Craig David), but not a lot of material, and too much Simon infringing on the format.

Guest Bill Rating: 8/10. Solid enough.
Best Regular: Simon
Best Guest: Alesha
Best Runner: Craig David and the rabbits.


Well, we’ve got Frank Skinner as our Guest Bill, and we also have a genuine Spice Girl, Mel C, in the building, as well as a bunch of people I don’t know. So…good stuff.

James Rushent sang lead for Does it Offend You, Yeah, a rock group. Lil Chris is a TV personality, like Simon for the 2008 age, I guess. Richard Herring’s a comedian and comedy partner of Stewart Lee.

James: “Can we just give the answer right away and spare us the jokes?”
Simon: “D’you like jokes?”
James: “I like FUNNY jokes.”
Simon: “Go on…I like *famous* bands…”
Simon’s gotten a ton of shit from me on this blog, but he still had some powers of bringing heat that could not be denied.

Frank: “…don’t rile him too early…”

Frank: “I was actually watching An Audience with Rod Stewart-”
Mel: “Was that the one where Emma sang with him?”
Frank: “Yeah. Gorgeous, what a voice *she’s* got…”
Mel peers over at him, semi-insulted.

James: “I’ve actually, uh, kind of got a man crush on him…”
Frank: “…On ROD?”
James: “Yeah”
Frank: “…what kind of a band IS THIS, that you’re in?”

After James says his two man-crushes are Stewart and Sean Connery
Simon: “I mean, both your male crushes are…old men!”
In an instant, Frank raises a hand, wanting to know more. He’s been fantastic tonight, like usual when he’s on this show.

Frank: “D’you know Mike Skinner?”
James: “I met him once, and I did a thing for him…recently…”
The audience gets the exact wrong idea, makes the connection, and laughs.
Simon: “…but he’s so YOUNG!”

Simon: “So, Mel C…Spice Girls…when can we expect the reunion?”
Mel: “Spice Girls jokes…you’re wearing thin, aren’t you?”
Simon: “Well, this is a new one, about the reunion…”

Mel C, who’s clearly used to Spice Girls jokes on this program, is actually doing really well with Simon and holding her own, as well as still looking like she’s having fun.

Frank: “Can I just say something? Usually on this show, people interrupt each other, but Lil Chris RAISED HIS HAND…that’s so sweet…”

After Chris says he always liked Geri
James: “No, me, I always fancied Sporty…”
Mel: “…me, Sean Connery, Rod Stewart…”
Yeah, this show’s elevating from the usual tension Simon creates, because Mel and Frank look like they’re having so much fun.

Simon: “Chris, you’ve had so many celebrities on your show, who’s your favorite”
Chris: “…Ulp.”
Simon: “Did, uh, did a little poop come out just now? Or would it be Lil Poop? Maybe that’s your sidekick, then…”

I do like how Simon talks to Chris, because Chris is essentially doing what Simon used to, like, top of the decade, and I imagine Simon sees a lot of himself in Chris, so his questions and jokes at Chris’ expense probably aren’t that hostile- even the Lil Poop one is in good nature.

Richard: “I think the mistake on that one was not having Melanie do the singing. You’re a great singer!”
Mel: “Oh, thanks. Nobody’s ever said that to me on this show.”
Richard: “Well, compared to Frank Skinner…”
Frank just has this look of bitter dejection.

Chris, reading his first intro: “Oh, I love this one!”
Richard: “Oh, so I’m guessing it’s more modern-”
As it turns out, Chris and Phill do a  really nice version of the Ghostbusters theme.
Richard: “…wait, it could be a trick, it could be Ghostbusters 2…”

Great moment- Chris talks about how his mum hadn’t washed any of his clothes after holiday and the only underpants he had left were bright blue. So, Mel wants to see them, as they can’t be that embarrassing, but Chris won’t budge.
Chris eventually goes over there, and shows them to Mel.
Simon: “…what has this show become???”
Phill: “Oh, I saw James leaning over for a look…”

Once the ‘how it should have sounded’ clip from I Fought the Law comes on, Phill starts lip synching it with enthusiasm. He realizes they can see him, and goes “oh, I’m old…”
(To be fair, this is a guy that screamed in agony when he realized he’d be hearing Bank Robber in the very first episode- he’s gotta be very passionate about his punk rock.

Chris, after Simon asks Mel if she’s only here for dinner at Geri’s afterwards: “Was there ever a point where you and Geri, you know…”
Mel: “oh, we’ve all snogged each other…”
Chris: ‘YES!!”
Simon: “What happened to your obsession with old men?”
Frank: “When you snogged Victoria, did you find her face a bit sharp?”

Overall: Fell off slightly towards the end, but still a great episode with a panel of people that were really into it- plus, Simon didn’t seem to faze anybody. Richard had the least to do, but his requisite comedian status at least gave him some good jokes. James and Chris were pretty great with their own running gags, but Mel C had a ton of fun on the show, and she was herself, which was fantastic. Plus, Frank was a really, really nice guest host, not only doing well with the format, but still being his own self and giving some of the best lines of the show.

Guest Host Rating: 9/10. Frank’s one of the better ones we’ve had so far.
Best Regular: Phill
Best Guest: Mel
Best Runner: James’ old man fetish.

Nevermind Watchdown: S22E06, or It’s Not YOUR job that’s at stake!

The story so far: In 2008, Russell Brand taped an episode of Nevermind the Buzzcocks. Then immediately after that he was caught in a phone scandal with Jonathan Ross (involving making fun of disabled people) which cost them some serious image work, but also managed to give Angus Deayton a hosting gig.

So, this episode taped while the Brand controversy was still high, and while Brand’s episode was shelved indefinitely (not to be seen until 2011, after Russell Brand was busy trying to save his career by remaking (and nearly ruining) one of the greatest comedies of all time), and while everyone else at the BBC was desperately trying to save face.

So…tonight’s show was, for the sake of Simon trying to keep his job, jokingly repackaged as a ‘kid-friendly’ program, complete with Simon wearing an over-the-top bunny suit.

Tonight’s guest Bill is Jack Dee, which is wonderful, and Phill has Lisa Maffia (!) and the adorably game Alexei Sayle (!!!!!) on his panel, so we’ve got some returnees at least.  Stine Bramsen was a singer with Alphabeat. Anna Richardson was a TV presenter and personality (yaaaaay)

Phill: “Now, you were telling me that So-Solid Crew were banned from this very building.”
Lisa: “YEEEEAH. Top of the pops days. They got banned for smoking the good stuff.”
Simon, still very much in character: “Or as we call it here at the BBC…the illegal stuff.”

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Simon holds this look for ten seconds.

Alexei: “I mean…thanks to your pusillanimous lack of courage, this is a really shit show, isn’t it?”
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Simon, after Alexei’s speech about wanting to still offend ‘the powers that be’: “We’ve all just got to have a nice pop quiz tonight, alright? [Emotional] There’s a question…what’s the answer!?!?”
Phill’s entire panel breaks.

Simon: “But you’re not really a communist anymore, right?”
Alexei: “…naahhh.”
Simon: “Why not?”
Alexei: “…didn’t work out, really?”
Phill loses it here.

After Simon struggles with holding the cards in his bunny hands
Alexei: “That’s the thing about these elaborate costumes- it works AT FIRST. Rik Mayall did a similar thing, back in ’80, he came on in this bunny suit, and…yeah, it’s been done before…”
Simon: “OH NO!”

Simon asks Anna why her sex education show NEEDS to be shown.
Anna: “What’s the #1 most contracted STI?”
Simon: “…Um…”
Anna: “Have you been checked?”
Simon: “WELL…As an employee of the BBC, I….there’s no need for me to ever be checked because I’ve never…had sex.”
Anna: “…to be honest, in that outfit I can see why.”
Simon: “If this doesn’t get me laid, I don’t know what will…”

Jack’s actually great on this show, as he’s still his stoic, semi-grumpy self. Right after his team’s answer is deemed wrong, he makes it clear that they weren’t happy with that answer, and tries to say, with class, that they’d like to change their answer to A, after A’s already been announced as the right answer.

The second Jack tries to change his answer, Alexei pipes in, playing up his rage: “THIS IS A TRAVESTY! WHAT WE NEED TO DO IS…TURN THE CAMERAS *ROUND*…SO THAT *YOOOU* ARE ANSWERING THE QUESTIONS…”

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Alexei starts singing a full-on revolt song

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Simon, in character, is horrified.

Simon has to go over there, calmly tap Alexei on the shoulder and say ‘not tonight’, BUT ALEXEI’S STILL GOING.

Phill, getting up for Intros: “So, the way you handled that incident with Mr. Dee’s team…that’s how the quiz now?”
Jack: “Would you just let it go? Come on…”
Simon: “Come on, let’s just have a good time tonight, Phill…”
Phill: “Right…we’ll just do the introduction to Freedom by Wham, and that’ll be the end of it…”

Simon keeps screwing with Lisa about being on CelebAir
Simon: “Alexei, if you win tonight…you could be on CelebAir!”
Lisa: “Would you stop taking the piss out of that show? I think that show was really good and I enjoyed it.”
Simon: “Yeah, we all ENJOYED it…”
Lisa: “Well, I done really well, I won over ELEVEN CELEBRITIES.”
Simon: “…Let’s say eleven PEOPLE, shall we?”

Simon, still going: “Do you feel closer now to So-Solid Crew, or the cabin crew?”

Simon: “In a Youtube video, Ringo Starr said that he wouldn’t respond to any more fan mail, as he’s got too much to do.Ironically, he’s now much busier…throwing away parcels full of dog shit.”
The whole panel, especially Phill’s loves that one.

Stine: “I honestly have no clue how to do that one…”
Jack: “I know, it’s great having you on the team.”

Phill, on his Hello Round: “This looks like Tarantino’s new film just arrived.”
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Simon: “Would you do Celeb ARMY?”
Lisa: “Only if I could kick ass…”
Simon: “It’d be nice, you’d go to Afghanistan with Chico…’What time is it?’ ‘it’s WAR time’…”

Lisa: “I got paid really well for that job, so I don’t really give a shit…”
Simon: “…the old Danny Dyer excuse.”

Okay, so there’s a definite difference with Alexei this time, compared to the last time he was on. Yes, he’s had a great time, but last time, when Mark has him do his own lyrics, they both have a good time reciting them, as it’s clear Mark’s a fan. Simon, when he gives him his lyrics, just asks him to do some. And he does, but he adds “i’m a has-been from the 80’s…” and more self-depreciating stuff. He obviously preferred Mark, because Mark was a bit more fair in his hosting, instead of just using it for selfish means like Simon.

Overall: A very nice AU-of-sorts episode, with a change of tone that kept sliding off as the episode went on. Phill’s team had the best time, with Alexei and Lisa having great moments despite not especially meshing well with Simon. Stine and Anna had some nice moments, but didn’t do anything too amazing. Jack Dee was a solid guest Bill that didn’t really break down the walls but still did a nice job.

Jack’s rating: 8/10. Not too bad.
Best Regular: Phill
Best Guest: Alexei
Best Runner: CelebAir

Nevermind Watchdown: S22E05, or Lower Your Expectations.

Right, onto actual continuity, and someone who is actually still relevant in pop culture- like, uh, like current Late Night Host, Tony Awards slayer and legitimate funny person JAMES CORDEN!

I know the UK’s sick of the guy by now, but over here his schtick is still pretty fresh. He’s a pretty nice choice to guest-Bill, and it’s nice, because I literally don’t know anybody else on this panel.

Simon peps up this show as being halfway through, and “slightly worse than last series”, so he concocts a strategy on how to enjoy the rest of the series…
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This could also work as a suggestion on how to survive the Simon Amstell era, too.

James Allan is the lead singer of Glasvegas, Germaine Greer’s a TV personality and presenter. Gabriella Cilmi is an Australian singer-songwriter. “Her name is pronounced ‘Chilmi, rather than ‘kill me’, which she learned the hard way when she was recently murdered”- by the way, that’s a Mark Lamarr joke if I’ve ever heard one. Annnd Glenn Wool is the requisite comedian, and I say that because it’s the first time in a few series that I haven’t heard of the requisite comedian here.

James thinks he’s in the j.Lo video, so he has them go back, and…

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To be fair, this is something that Phill would do as well…

Phill: “I for one find it quite reassuring to know that, if push came to shove, I could buy tights…”

Simon: “Germaine’s fee tonight is going towards the rainforest. James, I imagine you’re doing a similar thing.”
James: “Yes, mine’s going to the Rainforest Cafe.”

Germaine: “And, of course I fancied Mark Lamarr, in the old days…”
Simon, shitting on the show’s grave: “…who?”

Germaine: “He kissed me once…on his talk show-”
Phill: “ON HIS WHAT????”

Simon then tries to have a sexual interaction with Germaine, but the cardigan stops her.
Phill: “Wouldn’t be great if you finally swap over to, let’s face it, the SEXY SIDE of the tracks…it was by GERMAINE GREER! She rode you around the town like a little donkey.”
Germaine: “You know, donkeys are incredibly well endowed. Is this true about yourself? You have a big nose, which is promising…”
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Simon: “What about Avril Lavigne?”
Germaine: “I’ve never even heard of Avril Lavigne!”
Glenn: “How could you know that thing about donkey dicks and not know who Avril Lavigne was?”
Germaine: “…because donkeys have been around a bit longer than Avril Lavigne!”

James Corden, by the way, is absolutely the best, from chatting up Germaine, to embracing the others in a group hug (where James Allan briefly pecks his cheek). He’s just a great, fun, energetic presence to the show.

Germaine talks about Vivian Westwood on Room 101 with a see-throw dress, “which was quite startling, to see this 50-year old lady’s minge through her frock…”
Phill: “If I could stop you there, Professor Greer, so I can ask that all the people at home who have their ‘What Will Germaine Greer Say Tonight’ cards, please tick off the word ‘minge!”

Simon: “When INXS chose their new lead singer, they said that Michael Hutchence approved the decision from beyond the grave. At least they think he did, as he had a bit of a sore throat.”
Ooooooh. Mark Lamarr would be proud.

Glenn: “What genre would that one be?”
Phill: “MUSIC!”

I’ll give them credit- Phill and Gabriella’s ‘Keep the Car Running’ intro was pretty good, especially after i heard what it actually was.

Simon: “Gabriella, you’re albums called Lessons to Learn. What lessons have you learned?”
Gabriella: “Probably to not come back on this show…”
Audience: “AAWWWW…”
Simon: “SEE, THEY LOVE THIS SHOW! And hate people they haven’t really heard of…”

Simon: “I’ve got another Gabriella Cilmi fact…SHE HATES…ME…!”

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James: “…#2 looks like he’s gonna kill me. I haven’t even said anything!”
Simon: “It’s because you dissed public transport!”

They go back and forth and 2 just keeps staring at James, which begins to really freak him out. It’s nowhere near Athelston levels, but it’s still amusing.

Germaine: “I think he and his mates have had a bet that he’d be laughing and he’s trying to win the bet.”
James: “I think if his face could talk, it’d be saying ‘yoooou fat bastard…”

James Allan hasn’t done a lot this episode, but he’s still being very dry and amusing (of course, as a Glaswegian). So, while James knows the member of BBMak is #5, James Allan is going that it’s #2.

After Gabriella makes an incoherent answer to a Simon question.
Simon: “…why did you leave Australia, Germaine?”

Simon: “Tragedy.”
End-of-round buzzer.
Phill: “That wasn’t a lyric, was it?”
Simon: “No, that was me commenting on the round, there…”

Overall: Strong start, thin middle. James was obviously up to the task, and his whole panel of Allan and Germaine were all really good, but there were a lot of demeanor issues- Simon was basically calling the whole episode, and the whole series, a failure as it was going on, and Gabriella and James Allan both had slight issues with Simon poking his head in. So, even with James Corden being wonderful, this is still a flawed show.

Guest Host rating: 9/10. Superb job by Mr. Corden.
Best Regular: Phill
Best Guest: Germaine
Best Runner: Lower Your Expectations.

Nevermind Watchdown: S22E4.5/13 or, Russell…is your anarchic wit trying to destroy this panel show?

Bit of an unusual one here, as this one was aired years later than the rest of the series, however, since it was filmed before the James Corden show and scheduled to air after the Johnny Vegas show…I’m putting it here, because it’s where it belongs. Its absence sends ripples through the series, and this will be evident in the Jack Dee episode.

But yeah, onto the main event, featuring RUSSELL BRAND, the biggest star…of 2008. Yeah, he was juuuust breaking out in the US here, and still pretty damn big in the UK. I’m surprised they nabbed him. He, Greg Davies (a Mock the Week favorite), and famed big-hatted rapper Sway are on the panel tonight.

Also on the panel are former S Club “star” Rachel Stevens and TV personality Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

Simon: “Is it A, all her mirrors must be slightly convex?”

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Phill is already confused. Off to a huge start.

Simon already starts needling about Hugh eating placenta, asking “but what did you do with the baby?”
And then, “Have you ever gotten halfway through the placenta and realized that you forgot to take the baby out?”

Simon: “What do you do when you get home, rub yourself down with raw gammon?”
Hugh: “I’ve never…I’ve never felt myself up with my own meat, BUT THANKS FOR THE SUGGESTION!”
The whole panel just explodes here. Simon’s gone. Sway’s gone.

On all of Streisand’s mirrors being slightly convex.
Phill: “No, that doesn’t work…”
Hugh: “If she always wanted it to be convex, it would be like looking into the back of a spoon and it would make her look even more like Barbra Streisand. She might have wanted them to be conCAVE, so then she’d look normal.”
Simon: “These words, normal, I’m sensing a sort of anti-Semitic theme coming from this. Have you ever cooked a Jew?”
man oh man…Frankie Boyle would be proud.

Rachel: “I’ve often asked for Jamie Theakston to come to my dressing room, but it’s never quite happened…”
Russell: “That is a given for me. I won’t go to any dressing room that AIN’T got Jamie Theakston in it.”
Rachel: “…I think it’s wrong.”
Russell: “Well, what’s the point? How can you relax?”

Russell is having a hell of a time, and is just bouncing off everyone. His dynamic with Greg is fantastic, as he’s basically just flirting with him, and Greg’s just taking it all in stride.

Greg: “I think [Prince] uses Theakston as a distraction.”

Russell decides he’s going to demonstrate how Prince fields women by having Theakston distract them by having Rachel play a woman, him play Theakston, and Greg play Prince (“BECAUSE OF YOUR ENORMITY YOU’VE BEEN HORRIBLY MISCAST!”) And the skit goes for five seconds before Greg literally pounces onto Rachel, literally on top of her. It’s quite a sight. It takes Simon AND RUSSELL to get Greg off of Rachel, and for Rachel to adjust her top.

Russell: “I think we’ve learned an awful lot then- never trust Greg in a sketch.”

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He looks like a stretched-out Rik Mayall

Russell: “What’s a matter, Greg?”
Greg: “It’s just…I don’t think my life’s gonna get any better than 10 seconds ago.”
Simon: “What, when you fell on Rachel Stevens?”
Greg: “I didn’t fall on her, I made love to her!”

Simon does a GMTV joke, and Russell protests.
Russell: ‘GMTV is a fine institution!”
Simon: “Only because you’ve got books to sell and you’ll go fucking anywhere to do it!”
As catty as Simon and Russell are getting, this episode is entertaining as all hell, and we’re not even at Intros.

Russell’s a great personality, and he’s very commanding and energetic, but he’s not letting Greg or Rachel have a word in edgewise when it comes time to pick an answer. I do feel bad for Greg, because he’s essentially the sensible one here, and he’s just trying to tell jokes.

Annnnd we’re gonna add Phill and Sway’s version of Pink Floyd’s Money to the list of essentially perfect intros we’ve had on the program. Sway, though kind of low key, is actually great at Intros and is really into the show.

Simon: “It feels a bit boring doing jokes from an auto cue with you sat there.”
Russell: “Don’t worry, admit to it! You’ll be great! Show your vulnerability and your beauty, the auto cue will love you!”
So…Simon gets up and essentially does a Russell Brand impression. “SO….THAT WAS MONEYYY…BYYY *PINK* FLOYD!”

I will say that Russell absolutely loves Simon’s impression of him, and applauds him. I think the drama from earlier was a bit…put on, maybe they don’t really hate each other.

Simon: “Have any idea what it is Greg?”
Greg: “Yes, for 2 reasons. 1, because I thought it was very good, and 2, I read it.”

By the way, so far this show is the Simon and Russell show. We’re not getting much from Phill. Like with the Jonathan Ross episode of QI, I think he’s been drowned out, and he sticking to a utility role.

Oh, thank god, ID Parade is back. They’ve been doing too many random replacements. Hope there’s a good one (featuring Crazy Eyes perhaps??)

Sway: “I think it could be the first one. She keeps staring at us.”
Phill: “If this was the Spot the Hypnotist round, I’d be right there with ya.”

Russell, as Phill’s ID Parade leaves: “What happens to them now?”
Russell: “AND THE BODIES?”
Simon: [Points right at Hugh]

Greg: “#2…I just want to cuddle you…”
[Brief AWWWWW ensues. Even #2 gets a kick out of it.]

After a joke earlier when Rachel can’t decide her favorite nut, Simon makes Rachel decide which one of the ID Parade. He scoots over and makes it dramatic.
Rachel: “….”
Simon: “…NO!”

Simon: “Do you still see the other S Club people?”
Rachel: “I don’t…”
Simon: “…ah, fuck ’em…”

Rachel: “…shit, now I think it’s one.”
Russell: ‘OOOOOHHH FOR!”

After Russell interrupts Next Lines with a joke.
Simon: “Russell…is your anarchic wit trying to destroy this panel show?”

Simon: “Wanna see Bradley swing?”
Rachel: “Wanna see Rachel do her thing?”
Simon: “Correct, S Club. What was Rachel’s thing exactly.”
Russell: “Nut selection, we’ve all seen that.”

Simon, announcing the scores: “It was very close.”
Sway: “We got less time…you been cheating for them all night…”
Simon: “I don’t know what to say to you…”
Sway: “…sorry would be a start…”

Overall: Put back into context and this is a series high already. The panel is on, the Guest Host is up to the challenge and elevates the norm, Simon’s game, and the running gags keep flying. I’ll say that Sway had the least to do, and Hugh, other than being game with some meat jokes, didn’t have much either, but Russell’s whole panel was wonderful, from Greg Davies being Greg Davies to Rachel Stevens not being able to decide to Russell Brand OWNING this game. Yes, sometimes it interfered with format, and sometimes it ticked off Simon, but you have to admit that Russell was a joy and a thrill on the program, and I feel bad that people had to wait 3 years to see this one. It’s a real classic, IMO.

Guest Host Rating: 9/10. Barring some ‘anarchic destruction’, he’d be a ten. Brilliant job, Russell.
Best Regular: Simon
Best Guest: Greg
Best Runner: Rachel cannot make a decision.

Nevermind Watchdown: S22E04

Right, right, where were we? Ah. Buzzcocks. Guest Bill era. Good, good. And tonight’s features….aw, shit.

Well, tonight’s guest Bill is Johnny Vegas. While he can be funny, and just plain weird, I haven’t always adored him on Buzzcocks, and I’m hoping he’ll give a nice enough performance.

Aside from him, the only other panelist I’ve heard of is Rhys Darby, the famed Australian goofball who you’ve probably seen in Yes Man, Pirate Radio or What We do in the Shadows.

It’s weird…Johnny looks a ton slimmer and a ton more low-key than his previous, and most of his QI, appearances. Maybe this is a more mature turn? Though…probably not because it is Johnny Vegas.

Danny Dyer’s an actor and walking punchline. Kate Jackson sang with the Long Blondes, and Harry Judd is another member of McFly.

Kate, discussing the question: “I’d be made physically sick if I were forced to watch the Killers.”
Audience: “OOOOOHHHH”
Simon: “…controversial, there.”

Johnny: “Didn’t one of the Charlatans go missing for days on end and when he turned up started pissing blood?”
Simon: “…was it them or McFly?”

Simon gets to embarrass Danny a bit by showing clips of his new show where he interviews dangerous people, which…Danny doesn’t want to show because he’s not proud of it. Simon rolls a clip, featuring Danny saying, to the camera, that “me bum is flapping a little bit…”

Then after Danny says that psychopaths are the best kinds of people, he points at Harry and says “why don’t you go bother him about McFly?”

Simon: “But which of them reportedly head-butted their own brother at a Christening?”
Phill: “Was Danny there? Making one of his shows?”

Phill: “I believe that the audition to get into McFly was you had to headbutt…”
Harry: “…headbutt what?”
Phill: “…a baby. At a christening.”

Rhys, on Buble: “He’s actually the son of fishermen.”
Harry: “…son of A fisherman.”
Rhys: “No, two.”

Johnny doing intros is actually pretty amusing, as he’s cracking up throughout, because he KNOWS he’s terrible at this, and just doubles over laughing at one point.

Kate: ‘I feel like I’ve done more than enough here!”
Johnny: “…just like sex, innit?”

Also, what gives Danny the ‘Movin’ on Up’ intro was Johnny getting his hair pulled back to look like Shovell, or ‘that drummer that looked like he escaped from the circus…’

Simon: “In one of their hits, M-People suggest to ‘search for the hero inside yourself’. I searched for the hero inside myself, and found Batman in my bellybutton!”
Phill: “And Johnny found the Hulk up his ass…”
Johnny: “Somehow I wasn’t constipated- he was chucking out the boulders IN A RAGE!”
Phill’s gone. Absolutely gone.

Okay, maybe it’s because I’m a U2 fan, but Phill and Harry’s intro for ‘Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me’ is one of the best ones so far this series in terms of accuracy.

This season’s doing a ton of ID-Parade-less episodes, which…I appreciate the change in format, but some things are just inseparable with the show.

For Danny’s team’s Next Lines, Simon just keeps giving Danny Cockney songs, which he still gives, but…ashamedly.

Overall: I didn’t write down a lot, but this one was lighter. Johnny was a pretty nice spare-part-ish guest captain, and had some nice lines here and there. Simon sort of controlled the episode with his Danny and Harry bashing. Kate didn’t have a ton to do. Rhys was pretty damned funny, giving great lines and even involving himself in bits with Phill.

Best Regular: Simon
Best Guest: Rhys
Guest Bill Rating: 8/10. Nothing too special, but still pretty fun.
Best Runner: Phill’s near-death experiences.

Mole Australia Watchdown: S01E09: The Finale

Might as well watch the reunion show, just in case there was anything I didn’t pick up.

This is done a bit differently- they film the entire cast reuniting a week before the finale, and the final three having to swear to secrecy, not to tell anybody.

Grant asks around, to the group, who everyone (who hasn’t seen episode 8) thinks is the winner and the mole.

Patrick: “I’d say, loser would be Abby…”
Abby: “Is that because I said you were annoying?”

Patrick: Abby loses, Alan wins, Jan’s the mole. 1 out of 3.
Bev thinks the exact same as Patrick.
Ben also thinks that exact same thing. Nobody thought it was Alan. Wow.
Rocky, THE MOST UNLIKELY VOICE OF REASON, says that Alan’s the mole and Jan’s the winner. More evidence that Rocky is absolutely amazing.
Jo thinks Abby’s the mole and Jan won, which…brings the circle of Jo’s buffoonery to its end.

We do eventually get the shot of the whole room watching the finale, which is nice. Although, instead of going absolutely apeshit like a US room, they give her a polite round of applause. Ah, good old Australia.

After the Alan reveal:
Grant: “Rocky…”
Rocky: “….Rocky what?”
Grant: “What do you think about Alan?”
Rocky: “Well, I’ve got some children at home, and I wouldn’t want them to hear me swear on television…”

They go in depth about the contestants, and the intrigue. Yes, the replay the clip of James saying the mole might be Alan, “but I like him, which is probably a bad move.”

Grant VO: “Josephine was the most sensitive of all the contestants.”

There’s a lot of the usual finale clip packages, like how Jan won, or how Alan was the mole, but it’s kind of boring because it’s not a finale in front of everybody, like they’d do in the US version.

Alan does admit that Bev “was a godsend for a mole”, and tried to team up with her as often as possible, knowing of just how pathetic she was at the game. That’s genius.

Not a ton to write about, but still a nice little bow on the season.

Mole Australia Watchdown: S01E08, or 10,000 Dollars for Vic

Onto the Final 3 episode, since I’m making so much headway. The suspense is killing me.

The first challenge of the day? Bike to the top of a mountain, between the three of them, in 3 hours. Oh, fun.

Jan goes first, and the other two follow them, with help from a police escort, which is a nice touch, as back in Episode 1 they were the enemy.

Eventually Jan has some problems with hills, and doesn’t think to switch gears in order to make it easier. The editors punish her by turning this episode into a clip show, putting in a package of Jan reminiscing about the game in order to fill time.

Abby eventually takes over. The plan is to change every couple of kilometers, but that’s not going to help the stamina, according to the worried VO from Grant.

Alan has his go on the bike, and I can’t help thinking that blonde, tired Alan looks a bit like Boris Johnson. I’m sorry, but it’s there. It won’t leave.

Now, as the recaps have taken out some runtime, they have an hour left to do 8 kilometers. Exhilerating stuff in this episode so far.

And then, after the umpteenth change-off, Alan’s continuing to bike when it begins to snow.
Alan: “…this is genuine bloody snow. I don’t believe it.”
Abby: “HOLY CRAP…”

This is a very boring challenge, but at least everybody’s into it, and at least the last bit plays like a Rocky-esque training montage (no, sadly not OUR Rocky).

Yes, eventually they do make it to the summit and win the challenge. I just wish it was a bit more interesting of a use of 10 minutes of screen time.

For the second challenge, each player is given a car to drive, instructions in the glove box, and the warning to not talk to, or have any contact with, one another until they meet Grant in two hours.

This challenge is a good old fashioned treasure/scavenger hunt, which reminds me of the one that finished off Mole US 5 (LIBERTAD? PLAZA LIBERTAD?)

This is great. Alan and Jan get their lists easily, but Abby drives straight past hers, which is wedged between the gates. We don’t see it, but Abby talks of being stopped by security by the time she grabs her envelope.

This is actually a pretty nice challenge, as you get to see all three interacting with people and taking their own pictures, while still determined as all hell.

Alan takes the bold direction of looking for Grant’s phone, by going 20 kilos off road and grabbing it on a tree stump. He still looks like Boris Johnson.

Jan’s going for #1, a 16th century newsreader. Try Bruce Forsyth.
(I know, I know, that was a low blow, but I’ve been on a Mock the Week spree lately)

There’s a great moment. Jan finds this newsreader, an old-timer town crier who’s got to be in his 90’s, and over the course of the scene with him, ends up kissing him 5 times (I counted). Great moments in randomness.

Jan comes in and manages to nab three- the newsreader, dinosaur and tasmanian devil (all ways of describing Brucey. I know, I know.) Although Grant doesn’t count the picture of the newsreader…he wanted the real thing. So…two, then.

Eventually, Abby finds the town crier.
Abby: “I’ve got to….kidnap this man and take him somewhere..”
Town Crier: “Oh, well then…”

Yes, Abby manages to get Vic the Town Crier to the Botannical Gardens, scoring a third point. But, her other three are either dupes or the incorrect rope on a yacht.

Alan comes in with the phone and it looks like another victory…but Grant reveals that Alan broke the law in illegally crossing a median, and he can’t count any of the money. So…once again, Australian law wins.

Vic: “May I make a suggestion? I’ll have the money m’self?”
Grant, somber: “…looks like Vic goes home with the 10,000 dollars.”

For the last challenge, they’ve got to take this ancient replica boat across the sea to the next place. Seems quiet, but something might pop up.

The challenge will be to set the sail at the tallest mast, and they’d do this by watching the crew. Not exactly an ‘escape from the hotel room’ kind of final challenge, but still interesting enough.

Alan, as he’s climbing the incredibly high mast: “hoooooooooly shit, Batman!”

This is another very boring challenge. This saddens me, because last episode was so damned entertaining.

Yeah, to save you a lot of time- Alan does some bungling but they end up winning anyway. Yaaaaaay.

Afterwards, there’s celebration, wine, the final video confessionals, and a ton of reflection. On the series, not the episode.

In these confessionals, you can see how it’s gonna go. Jan says that Alan’s the mole, and it’s really just a 50/50 between her and Abby. Abby says Jan’s the mole. I think we may have our winner.

This finale, I believe, is taking a hint from the US finale, and having the result be revealed in a massive formation, in some sort of cathedral. I hope.

PREQUIZ- How do I think this series is going to end?
Abby is eliminated, Jan wins, Alan is the mole. Simple as that. I’m not saying I predicted it episode 1, but from the looks of what this episode has been telling me…that’s what’s about to happen.

The result, which is surprisingly being revealed in this episode and not the finale, is done through placing keys in the cell. The winner gets their key, the mole gets theirs, yadda yadda.


No, no, our winner is Jan, and she cannot believe it. Grant’s very happy, and Jan’s still in absolute shock.

Jan’s very emotional, crying even, and Grant has to give her the key to the mole’s cell.

The mole enters, and, just as I suspected, it’s Boris Johnson.


Yeah, Alan’s the mole. He may not have made it horribly subtle, but he was still pretty great, and definitely had the right idea in his sabotage.

The episode ends on a shot of Abby and Jan hugging it out, perfectly content. Very nice.

Overall: While very boring, the center challenge, as well as the big finish, elevate this one for me. A very emotional ending to a rather good series.

I’ll knock out the reunion next.

Mole Australia Watchdown S01E07, or You All Owe Me 5 Grand, Big Time!

(Grant Bowler voice) Three episodes remain in the show. Two of them feature challenges, and will do their best to make me like this season. But ONE OF THEM…IS THE FINALE. (DUN-DUN-DUN)

In all seriousness, while this hasn’t been a bad season, like US1, it focuses a lot on the mystery and not a lot on its characters. While people like Jan and Rocky have been fun, we don’t get a lot of time to see them out of character.

Still, Jan, Abby, Alan and Linda remain. I’ve got my suspicious and I’m torn between Abby and Alan over who is the mole. Jan could blow it this episode, but it’d be interesting to see Linda, who’s been on point from episode 1, lose her footing here.


Grant: “Who among you is most comfortable in the glamour world of photography?”
Jan: “Do you mean…taking…or BEING TAKEN…”

Abby decides she’s gonna do it, and she…well, she gets on a plane to Melbourne. PLOT TWIST, ABBY WINS…no, I wish.

Abby’s actual task is to find a celebrity and photograph them, with their permission. Now, will this be a celebrity I’ve HEARD OF…or someone that only Australian audiences will have known?

In order to win, this celebrity will have to be recognized and named by the other 3. Thank god Bev’s gone, or else they’d be calling him “this fellow…oh, you know, he was in that film with the chimpanzee…you know the one…”

Alan, Jan and Linda all choose sports, between archery, go-karting and lawn balls (?), and have to choose between three opponents, all three being experts in one of those fields. And they have to go against them and win, although just one win will garner a win for the team.

Of course, the three are following them, and they don’t know which is which.
Alan, to the competitors, bluntly: “What are you good at?”
Jan: “Saying nothing, apparently.”

There’s a nice bundle of clips involving Abby trying, and failing, to look for celebrities in Melbourne, eventually ending up at a tennis tournament, and nearly seducing a security guard. Thankfully, this guard laughs it off and winds up getting her to center court.

Alan’s first up, and he’s already really nice at go-karting. Lin, his opponent, is a little shakier on her practice round.

Jan has to go up against Cory in Archery. Cory’s practice shots are promising and close to the target. Jan’s go on the blue, and towards the dirt.

After Roger gives his bowles effort:
Linda: “I reckon you’ve done this before, eh, Roger?”
Trainer: “I tell you what, you both had steak for breakfast…”

Meanwhile, Abby does get a very nice shot of a celebrity…but she realizes she didn’t have her permission when she took it, so she has to get another one.

Alan’s initially doing pretty well on the go-karts, but Lynn overtakes him in an instant and he ends up spinning out, or getting himself stuck on the course.

Lynn eventually reveals that she is the go-karting champion, which actually relieves Alan a bit, because it would have been worse if he were beat by someone who was an amateur.

AS IF BY SHEER LUCK, Abby runs into James Herd, Jim Wilson and a slew of others sitting at a table in South Melbourne, and snaps their photos willingly.

Jan ends up losing hers as well, by 10 points thanks to some nice 8 pointers.

Linda, however, wins via pure luck, as a ricochet takes most of Roger’s out of the equation and sets hers closest, SOMEHOW reeling in a win.

Linda: “So you’ve gotta tell me what you do…”
Roger: “Well…I’m the archer.”

Linda eventually arrives at the bar with Alan and Jan, and initially plays it as cold, saying “I’d like to say [my day was] sensational…throwing balls was just a hoot…”

Alan reveals he’s lost his.
Linda, mocking: “GO KART RACING’S FUUUNN!”
Alan: “I’m gonna slap you in a second…”

Linda’s enthusiasm upon telling the others that she’s won is wonderful, and gives a ton of character stuff. “You guys owe me 5 grant, big time!”

Abby shows her photo, and within 2 seconds Linda tells them, point blank, that it’s James Herd from Essendon.

Grant, setting up the infamous roulette challenge: “Welcome to Roulette.”
Jan: “…Russian?”

This one’s a carry-over from US. They each grab an envelope and play a roulette wheel for tasks. Black is more attractive than red, according to Grant. They’re all sort of unsavory (acupuncture or piercing, hair dye or head shave, paint someone nude or be painted nude, ALL THREE). It’s a 3/4 challenge though, so 3 have to be completed.

Obviously they’re all horrified, and Jan sort of reluctantly has to go first. Jan gets the dye or shave envelope, and is already looking pretty uncomfortable. She thankfully lands on black, hair-dyed, and heaves this HUGE sigh of relief.

Abby gets the acupuncture or piercing card, which…to be honest is the easiest of the bunch. She also lands on black. Everybody’s coming out easy.

Linda takes one look at hers and just laughs out loud, nervously.
Grant: “May I see-”
Linda: “Grant…we leave now…”
Linda’s is the paint a nude/be painted nude one. Always a classic. Sad part is that means Alan gets the ‘all three’ one.

The moment it lands on red, Linda just has this deep heave and laughs even harder, leaving poor Grant to have to comfort her.

Grant: “It’s…in Salamanca square”
Linda: (still laughing)

Linda: “Okay…Salamanca markets, it’s not like that many people are there.”
Grant: “…Hobart.”
Linda: “What, is that the biggest market in…”
Linda doubles over laughing again. You can tell this is killing her.

Jan’s new look is revealed, and it’s a very red, platinum red sort of thing, that she’s still having trouble believing.

For Alan’s mega-ultra-horrible-rolls, he has to paint a nude, have his hair dyed, and have an acupuncture session- all three easier rolls. So…Alan has a very easy go of it, which isn’t bad. I don’t think they’re gonna have any trouble with this task, as only Linda rolled a red.

Linda: “I feel…absolutely SICK!”

Grant: “Do you like the look?”
Jan: “It washes out, so I’m told…”
Grant: “Oh, is that what they told you…”

As Linda arrives.
Grant: “Would you like a drink, Linda?”
Linda: “…I’d love a bottle of scotch now…”

The three women rejoice, having won the challenge, and the episode.
Jan: “All we need now is Alan to come in…”

QUIZ TIME! At the same time, I’m figuring out who know the least AND who’d make a great finale. i’m pretty sure that Alan’s the mole, so it’ll probably be him. Linda had a fantastic episode, but I’m not sure if she’s gonna make it to the finale or not. Abby’s probably going on.

Who do I think is going home? Linda, sadly. Or Jan. I’m hoping for a Jan-Abby-Alan Final 3. That’d just be fun.

The Exemption Results:
JAN: GREEN. Even Jan is shocked. She’s made it to the finale. The kook bag has made it to the finale. Which means…now I want her to win.
ALAN: GREEN. Firstly, his new hair still cracks me up. Secondly, yeah, I didn’t think he was going home anyway.

This one saddens me, because Linda was a smart player who also became a very fun player over the course of the game, and it flat-out blows that she’s leaving before the end. It makes sense, as it’d be too obvious if she went all the way, but still sad.

Overall: Fantastic episode, which was not only high-tension but also a ton of fun, and gave us equal distribution on all of our really nice characters, and a fitting sendoff for Linda.

Best Gameplayer: Abby, for nailing her challenges and playing pretty damn well.
Best Character: Jan, especially on her reaction to the hair dye.
Who do I think is the mole? Alan. Definitely.


Mole Australia Watchdown: S1E06, or James Bond Eat Your Heart Out!

Onto the homestretch, as only five remain, and only one of them is a guy. At least two of the remaining women, Jan and Bev, are wackos.

Grant breaks into the cozy lodge the final five are staying at, and asks for one player who exemplifies endurance and tenacity- all five chuckle nervously- already, the game’s broken them.

After some confusing deliberation from Alan, Linda’s eventually chosen, and sequestered.

The other four arrive at this…huge, over-the-top gorge, which looks like the one Pierce Brosnan jumped down at the beginning of Goldeneye. And the nervous chuckling continues- they all think they’ll have to jump that.

And yes, the challenge is swooping down the gorge and grabbing flags.
Jan: “…shit, I’m scared, mate…”

Alan says it’ll be easier to get the closer flags than the one at the bottom of the gorge, even if Grant’s VO has just said the opposite. Yeah…might be him.

Jan goes first, and she gets level with the first flag, but is definitely struggling to actually swing across to grab it. Grant eventually intervenes and says if she’s too tired, she can drop, and eventually she does. The others are at least supportive of her.

Alan goes next, and he’s not especially confident as he hasn’t done this type of lappeling before.

Grant, VO: “Getting to the target isn’t a problem, but in his haste, Alan misjudges the height.”

A lot of Alan’s reaches come within inches of actually nabbing the flag, but he does eventually grab it successfully.

Grant: “Alright, who’s next?”
Bev: “Abby’s next.”
Abby: “…..Apparently I’m next…”

Abby’s a pro at this, and she nails the height and the swinging, but it’s actually getting the flag when in reach. Eventually, she comes down too far right when she’s in the exact right range. Annnnd…the mole suspicion from Abby returns…

Bev is nervous as all hell scaling in preparation, but by the time she’s ready to scale the dam, she smiles and goes “…James Bond, eat your heart out!”

It does look like they’re setting this up for a huge, redemption arc, but Bev gets extremely tired and has to come down. It’s sad, but it’s characteristic.

For Linda’s challenge, she’s being briefed by an interrogator in order to shake down the other four about events in the game. The other four don’t know it, and if she gets proper information, she gets an exemption. If she fails, the group wins 10,000.

AT THE SAME TIME, HOWEVER…The other four have a challenge to predict LINDA’s behavior, in three separate situations, which is worth 5,000 dollars. So…they’re working against each other.

The first one involves a car-driver throwing a bottle at Linda’s feet. The group predicts she’ll pick it up. She doesn’t, and as it rolls toward the street, Bev and Jan start screaming, through the TV, for her to pick it up.

Next, they’re at a famous solitary confinement wing of a prison, and have to predict whether or not Linda will step into a cell when prompted to. They predict she’ll go in. And…after some well-edited suspense, she goes in.

The last one- she goes into a bar with the interrogation expert, and they have to predict whether or not she’ll have an alcoholic beverage. This one’s pretty well contested, but they agree that she won’t be drinking alcohol. But, sadly, she grabs a Strongbow (Patrick Stewart would be proud.) Still, Abby’s going “SHE DOESN’T *DRINK* STRONGBOW!!!”

Grant, as he explains they’ve lost: “Bad luck…let’s hope Linda doesn’t have any more surprises in store for you.”

Grant, after he wakes up the four in the middle of the night: “…we have a challenge for you.”

Grant places the four in solitary confinement after explaining Linda’s challenge to interrogate them about the day’s events. He says anytime they want, they can give her the information she needs, and go back to sleep.

The four are pretty good at staying silent- Bev even is whispering, coughing, and just playing completely sick so she won’t have to reveal anything.

This is actually a fantastic challenge, because it hinges on none of them wanting to be there, Linda determined to get information, and the others determined to stay put- it’s just fascinating to watch.

Abby does eventually squeal about some of the ‘predicting Linda’s decisions’ challenge. And…essentially everything else. The challenge is blown, and Linda gets the exemption, on a night where she probably would have gone home.

Yeah, pre-quiz, this was…an insanely brain-breaking episode. Now nobody trusts anybody and it’s all just a clusterfuck. Linda’s exempt, so it could be any of the other ones.

Who do I think is going home? Bev. Definitely Bev. Either Bev or Jan. Everyone else is either exempt, or my two mole suspects.

Execution Results:

Not that Bev was a bad player, because she was pretty triumphant at times, but like Josephine, there was no way that she was the mole, and she took…FOREVER to leave. She wasn’t one of my favorite characters, save for some indirectly funny lines, and she was kind of pathetic in most aspects of gameplay, in a way where she COULDN’T be the mole. Also, that leaves us with a final 4 of four likable characters who I could all see winning.

Overall, that wasn’t a…fun episode, but it was really good, with a lot of stuff designed to mentally assault the competitors. Linda probably had her best episode since the initial trials, while Abby…kind of broke this show. Bev’s demise was sad, but necessary.

Best Gameplayer: Linda, absolutely dominating her challenge.
Best Character: Probably Jan, even though she was breaking this episode.
Who do I think is the mole? Alan. Still could be Abby, but Alan’s giving me a lot.