Nevermind Watchdown: S23E01, or I TOLD ONE JOURNALIST!

Ding dong, Simon’s gone. Now maybe we can get back to enjoying the quiz show.

Tonight’s show marks the first of five series of Guest Hosts. In Series 18, Buzzcocks employed some friends of the show (Jonathan Ross, Lauren Laverne, Huey Morgan), some hip and now personalities (Simon Amstell, Ricky Wilson and Dale Winton), and…for some reason, Jeremy Clarkson. And this round’s gonna be similar. There are some familiar faces, many of whom, like tonight’s Guest Host, also Guest Billed last series, and others who are just here for a cash grab (a la Clarkson).

Tonight’s show is hosted by James Corden. He did a fine job of Guest Panelist-ing last series, and he’s still a big presence in America, so having him host the first of the new and improved Guest Host era was…a wise idea, I guess.

Ah, yes, and I almost forgot. Tonight’s episode is the first of the NOEL FIELDING ERA. Noel’s gonna be team captain for the rest of the run, and, judging from what I’ve seen of him, he’s a great choice, even if he won’t necessarily be Bill Bailey.

The very first thing that James promises, which is definitely a major statement for Buzzcocks, is that it’s gonna be a nicer show, that’s not gonna start attacking people. Immediately they’re straying away from Simon’s ideologies, which is great.

As for the actual panelists, we’ve got the return of Ben “Rearview” Miller, plus we have American comedian, Saturday Night Live alum and Larry Sanders show scene stealer Janeane Garofalo, incredibly wacky singer Paloma Faith, and singer for the Enemy, Tom Clarke.

James asks Janeane in what order would she snog the members of Blue. She says Simon first, which isn’t shocking.
Janeane: “Guy in the sweater last.”
James: “COSTA! Again, the choice WE’D ALLLL MAKE!”

Ben: “I mean, what kind of personalities are there in Blue? I don’t know my way around-”
Phill: “PERSONALITIES? Thick, thicker, thickest, GAAY!”

James reads that Paloma once put two Kylie tickets in the middle of a stack of her records in a shop, in the hopes that they’d find a good home.
James: “They were used tickets, old tickets.”
Ben: “She told everyone, too-”
Paloma: “I DIDN’T. I TOLD ONE JOOOURNALIST!”
Phill loses it, but JAMES DIES LAUGHING. Probably the best laugh I’ve heard on this program since Biggins was on.

James is taking after Simon by having some notes and prepared material from contestants. He’s reading some quotes from Tom about people, one of which says “I won’t be surprised if this bloke’s unheard-of in a year.”
Tom: “…James Corden?”

Ben loves Phill and Paloma’s first intro, but has no idea what it is.
Ben: “Do you do clues? Can I have a clue?”
James: “The only clue I can give you is…BOW BOW BOW BOW [whistles]”

Paloma, decked out in this elaborate, foam-ball-covered outfit, keeps leaning into Ben to give him a hint.
Phill: “She keeps leaning into me, and all I can feel is her balls…”

The difference, I’m thinking, between Sean and Bill…and Noel, is that Sean and Bill knew music. Noel, the second he picks up the card, goes “okay, no chance.”

Though, somehow, with a very, very simple first intro (Africa, by Toto), Janeane gets it within seconds. So, maybe Noel won’t be that bad.

James is a little shaky in terms of hosting, but he’s having so much fun nonetheless. When he plays in the ‘how it should have sounded’ for Kings of Leon’s Use Somebody, he ends up lip-syncing along, and he dances through one or two of the intros. He’s definitely showing signs of the future, here.

Noel: “Yeah, cause if we had gotten to the vocal part it would have been easy…”
James, channeling Mark: “Yeah, that’s why it’s called Guess the Intro, Noel…”

Also, James has indeed gotten the hang of the ID Parade Names:
#1, Bonnyface
#2, Funny face
#3, Not-so-funny face.
#4, Shit-faced (she breaks here)
or #5, …face it, love…

Phill: “I like #2…for being in 411. What about you, Ben?”
Ben: “As far as I’m concerned, this whole thing could be a practical joke on me and there never was such a band!”

Ben: ‘I’ve narrowed it down to 1, 2 or 4.”
Paloma: “So have I”
Phill: “…not quite so narrow, then.”

Noel: “I think I saw #2 earlier. I think I did the thing where I went into #2’s dressing room by accident, so….bit of a giveaway, I think…”
#2 starts cracking up.
Noel, to James: “If you want, I’ll string it out for a bit longer.”
James: “You know, you’re not helping, #2, by going “YEEAHHH….”

James: “Just to throw a curveball in, I went into #3’s dressing room…..you don’t wanna know what he was doing.”

Again, James’ demeanor towards #2, even telling him DIRECTLY to step forward, is very similar to Mark Lamarr’s. This is exactly what Mark would do in this exact same situation.

Next Lines: “I’m so 3008”
Noel, channeling Bill Bailey: “…come in and shut the garden gate…”

This is a FANTASTIC Callback: So, early in the episode, Noel’s talking about Toto, and the fact that they had this fantastic line in Africa about the serengeti that he couldn’t remember. Well, during next lines, James GIVES HIM THAT LINE. It’s fantastic, and reminiscent of an early-era NMTB gag.

And another thing: James’ supervision during Next Lines gets a ton more actual guesses down, in this quick fire round, as opposed to Simon just stopping the round to screw with people.

James: “Noel’s team has 8, Phill’s team, you have 3…”
Phill: “…right…”
James: “You’ve also got Paloma.”
Paloma’s just giving a ‘bring it on’ pose.

Overall: Very refreshing show, and the series may in fact be back on track. Funny thing is from a panelists standpoint there wasn’t anything out of the ordinary- Ben and Paloma had some good moments and Janeane was a funny enough presence. What helped was the presence of James Corden as a more disciplined host than Simon, and Noel Fielding as the kind of anchor I’d feel trustworthy in.

Guest Host Rating: 8.5/10. Much better than last time.
Best Regular: Noel
Best Guest: Paloma
Best Runner: Toto, Africa.

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