The thing about Simon Amstell’s tenure on Never Mind the Buzzcocks is that he tried to treat it like Popworld, and he tried to be his nasty self towards popstars and celebrities…but he lost control of what Buzzcocks was all about, as a quiz show, and as a comedy show. Phill, Bill and the guests did what they could to steer it back, but it was mostly about Simon. When Mark Lamarr hosted, yes, he’d be kind of selfish sometimes, but he’d keep the game going, as well as at least keeping things funny and relating it to the game. It wasn’t often that he’d bring things from outside of the game environment against people…which was essentially what Simon’s entire schtick was.
So yeah. Mark > Simon. This is my last Simon episode. It’s been nice, and it’s led to some nice episodes, but Mark was better.
Tonight, the guest Bill, the LAST GUEST BILL, the last person to sit in that chair other than Noel Fielding (and eventually Professor Green), is Omid Djalili. I vaguely know of him. The rest of his panel is people I HAVE heard of, like piano sensation Josh Groban and Actual Badass Martin Freeman. Also, Phill has Grant Nicholas from Feeder and famed celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal.
Simon: “Josh, you’re American-”
Omid: “DON’T ATTACK MY AMERICAN GUEST! He’s mine!”
Josh: “APPLE PIE!”
First of all…I love Josh Groban on this program, mainly because he’s a legitimately funny person, and he’s a wonderful personality, outside of singing very sappy operatic songs. In the first 5 minutes of showtime, he talks with his hand, gives it a Spanish accent, and dodges a masturbation joke. He really is the best.
Omid, afterwards: “That’s the most sophisticated knob joke I’ve ever seen…”
Simon, explaining Josh to the UK audience: “That’s kind of what Josh does, he sings American pop songs in a sort of operatic voice. You’re like an American Paul Potts, right?”
Omid: “I never knew Pol Pot was a singer…”
Simon brings up ‘You Raise me Up’, and plays it just randomly
“When I hear that, it’s like I’ve just got out of boot camp.”
I foresee this cue coming back sometime soon, sort of like the Lee from Blue cue that Simon had so much fun with.
Simon: “How are you Heston?”
Heston: “…great, thanks.”
Simon: “What about all that cooking you do?”
Heston: “…I dunno, what about it?”
Phill: ‘I love that you get a world-class chef on the program, and your very first question to him is “WHAT ABOUT ALL OF THAT COOKING THAT YOU DO?”
Simon: “That’s how Parkinson got started.”
Phill: “That’s why Parkinson QUIT…because there was GOOOLD like this in the wings…”
Heston: “My goal is that [my restaurants] are places where people can come in and sit down and have fun.”
Simon: “Right. And is there also a place afterwards where they can eat?”
Heston: (threatens to walk off)
Josh and Omid’s first intro is really good, because Josh does an amazing impression of a slide guitar.
Martin: “First of all, I just want to say that was a brilliant rendition, almost perfect-”
Josh: “Thank you.”
Simon: “Say thank you, Omid.”
Martin: “He did, but with his eyes.”
Josh: “Would you like it done in a different way?”
Martin: “Please. Reggae.”
Sure enough, they do a reggae version, complete with Josh throwing in a ‘MON!’ right at the end of the slide guitar.
Simon tells Josh he looks like the son that people buy Josh Groban CDs WISH they had, and urges him to talk “right into camera 5”, and record a message for kids everywhere to NOT buy the new Josh Groban CD for their moms for Christmas. And sure enough…he does it, earnestly, and he absolutely owns it. I absolutely adore him on this show, because you can tell he loves every second of it, similar to Moby, except sans the Charles-Grodin-ness of the performance.
Phill, to Heston pre-Intros: “Do you listen to much contemporary pop music?”
Simon: “Or do you EAT IT!”
Heston can’t get Phill’s first intro.
Phill: “Do you want it again in a different genre?”
Heston: “Yeah. Mexican.”
Phill, looking at Grant: “Okay, doable…”
Simon: “Oh, Heston, we haven’t discussed your anger issues. Do you have anger issues?”
Heston: “NOT ANYMORE!!!”
Simon: “…you get that? Eh? Acting?”
Simon gets Josh to do another ‘Into Camera 5’ bit, this time begging for a single woman from England to date.
Josh: “…daughters of England…”
Simon: “Come on, go for your target- Mothers!”
Ah, another Garlicking, which, by NMTB Definition, refers to a former panelist who appears again on the show in the ID Parade. The reverse of this, a former ID Parade showing up on the panel, is known as an Otwaying. Here, SuElise Nash, former Mys-Teeq member that isn’t Alesha Dixon, is on Phill’s ID Parade.
Simon: “If Alesha was on in the panel, and SuElise is here in the lineup, we have to assume that somewhere, Sabrina is living in a bin.”
Simon: “Well, are we FANS of Mys-teeq? Heston Blumenthal, what would you do with Mysteeq if you had a frying pan?”
This is fantastic. Omid’s intros round ends with Josh doing his own ‘You Raise Me Up’ lyrics (in true Josh Groban fashion), and then Simon, carried by Phill, singing the rest of the song, as tributes to all the Guest Bills of the season flash by on the screen. It’s a great sendoff to the series, as well as for Simon.
So, the Simon Amstell era ends with Simon waving to the crowd, carried by an adoring Phill Jupitus. I’ll give him this, he had a better prepared exit than just Mark Lamarr shooting himself.
Overall: A very nice episode to end on, with great material all the way through, and some great performances all around. Omid wasn’t the greatest Guest Bill- as a matter of fact, Josh Groban would have been a better choice, as he gave a fantastic performance. Omid was very funny, but didn’t do enough to carry the panel. Martin did some quieter stuff, Heston put up with Simon, and Grant had one or two good lines. It was a good enough sendoff for Simon, who had some good lines, and had a bit more of a spike than the last few episodes.
Guest Bill Rating: 8.5/10. Not perfect, but still pretty nice for Omid.
Best Regular: Simon
Best Guest: Josh
Best Runner: Josh’s message for Camera 5.
SERIES 22 SUPERLATIVES!!
Guest Panelists Ranked, Best to Worst
Frank Skinner, Episode 7
Mark Watson, Episode 9
Russell Brand, Episode 4.5
Stephen Fry, Episode 2
James Corden, Episode 5
Jack Dee, Episode 6
Omid Djalili, Episode 11
Mark Ronson, Episode 1
Dermot O’Leary, Episode 10
Bob Mortimer, Episode 3
Davina McCall, Episode 8
Johnny Vegas, Episode 4
Best Episode: Episode 4.5, the episode most of the world waited years to see. This was a very middle-of-the-road season, with a lot of ‘good’ episodes, and not a ton of great ones. Only this one, with some boosts from Russell Brand snogging Greg Davies and generally ruling the show, as well as the 2nd best, elevates above a ton of ‘okay’ ones.
2nd Best Episode: Episode 2, aka the Stephen Fry episode, featuring a wonderfully game Fry, Matt Schulz being high, Josie Long fangirling, and Frankie thinking Dominic Cooper played Meryl Streep in Mamma Mia.
3rd Best Episode because I’m generous: Episode 7, the Frank Skinner episode, boosted by Frank being wonderful, as well as Mel C checking out Lil Chris’ underpants, and Simon absolutely schooling James Rushent.
Worst Episode: Episode 8. Dynamic just wasn’t there, though Davina tried.
Best Regular: Phill, for keeping a stable ship and elevating some episodes from Simon’s…Simoning.
Best Comedian Panelist: David O’Doherty, Episode 3, for ruling his episode to the point where I thought he should have been guest Bill over Bob Mortimer. Greg Davies, Rhys Darby, Richard Herring, Katy Brand and Alexei Sayle were considered.
Best Musician Guest: Josh Groban, Episode 11, for being himself and still being one of the best characters on the show. Just funny, self-effacing and all-around awesome. Adele, Mel C, Lee Ryan, Matt Schulz and Jack Osbourne (yeah, he counts) also were considered.
Best Sport: Lee Ryan, Episode 9, for putting up with all the Blue jokes.
Most Annoying: Dappy, Episode 10. But that’s just Dappy. Heck, he was a lot better this series.
Right…next is the first of the Guest Host series…this will be fun.