This series has been flying by, thanks to some really nice episodes and work from the new regulars. Tonight’s a Dermot O’Leary episode, which is nice, with assistance from David O’Doherty, Buzzcocks mainstay, as well as accomplished singer Michael Ball.
Also on the bill is Aston Merrygold, member of X-Factor winner JLS, as well as Russell Tovey, who’s been in both versions of the History Boys, one version of Being Human, and one version of Sherlock.
This is great- right after Dermot introduces the teams, he invokes a panel-wide group hug, set to Mariah Carey’s ‘Hero’. Even funnier, when Dermot tries to turn off the track, he ends up restarting it, causing a very quick, panicked ‘OHNO!’ from him.
Dermot mentions David’s Panda Book, containing hundreds of made-up facts about pandas.
David: “If a panda gets struck by lightning, its black hair turns white and its white hair turns black. They’re known as negative pandas. But if it gets struck by lightning a second time, it reverts back to its original colours, and is known as a double-negative panda, or just a panda.”
Noel, playing the lovable idiot: “THAT’S TRUE!”
Dermot: “Aston fans, check this out. Aston, when he came on X-Factor least year with JLS-”
Phill, across the studio: “-WAS A PANDA!”
Aston, describing a party: “Look, it was me and Marvin…”
Dermot: “No, you and Marvin AND LOTS AND LOTS OF GIRLS.”
Noel: “And a panda. I saw you get driven home by a panda.”
Noel: “Look at Slash. Absolutely no face.”
David: “Slash was recently given that hat because he’s incredible at Monopoly.”
(even Michael goes ‘VERY GOOD’ at that one.)
Dermot: “Who’s the guy next to him? Do we have an ID on him?”
Noel: “That’s Splash. He’s holding a piece of paper, and it’s instructions on how to put a top hat on.”
It’s actually really nice that they got Michael and Phill on the same panel- at this taping, Phill was playing Edna Turnblad in Hairspray after it’d gotten Michael an Olivier. So, the fact that two Ednas could get along like that is pretty nice.
Dermot so far is doing a pretty nice job of proctoring, possibly a much better job than he did as a panelist- hosting is his thing, after all. It helps that he’s charming, and he has a lot of familiar people to work off of.
Noel and Aston’s Intro for Young Americans is a pretty nice one, aided by the fact that Aston vocally NAILS the opening sax solo. Even Dermot is pretty impressed.
Dermot: “Aston, you do it, because-”
Aston: “What, on my own??”
Noel, channeling Tina Belcher: “…shall I go to the toilet?”
He even adds, which was a topical reference at the time, “I feel like Jon and Edward here…”
David: “I can still caterpillar…I did the caterpillar three nights ago and I hadn’t done it in years. I can still…”
Then Dermot makes Aston do a backflip, so he jumps over the desk into the main area.
Dermot: “NO, DON’T JUMP OVER THE FURNITURE!”
Aston: “…that’s what Jon and Edward would do…”
Dermot: “Yeah, well you’re talented!”
Aston says he’s kind of skeptical about it.
Dermot: “Yeah, buddy, but if you die…my career’s over.”
Phill: “OH, IN SOCKS! THAT’S A *GREAT* IDEA…”
Aston: “Can I go now, Dermot?”
Dermot: “Yeah, but don’t die.”
Noel: “If you die, can I be in JLS?”
Like the ‘Phill leaving’ part of the Freeman show, this part has a very behind-the-scenes-y, ‘watch this as it happens’ esque quality to it, with a lot of real reactions and dynamic moments. Sure enough, Aston pulls off the backflip like a pro.
Before Phill and Michael starts intros, Dermot poses them up against each other, and tells them to smolder into camera 2 on his go. He even gets the X-Factor announcer to go “PHILL JUPITUS AND MICHAEL BALL.”
Noel: “You two are what I imagine Jon and Edward look like in 30 years…”
And then…Michael and Phill start doing pitch-perfect impressions of Jedward doing Ghostbusters.
Phill: “WHICH ONE AM I?”
Michael, still in character: “…the other one…”
David: “For viewers watching in Ireland…I was nothing to do with that Irish impersonation.”
Again, he’s channeled Sean Hughes for that split second.
Russell: “Before we go, have I got one of those X-Factor voices?”
Announcer: “…RUSSELL TOVEY!”
Russell’s absolutely elated. It just sums up how fun this show feels so far.
Dermot: “ARE YOU SERIOUS? That was brilliant!”
Russell: “Yeah, if you know it…”
And now…possibly the most chill-enducing musical moment in the series’ history.
Michael, for the 2nd intro, asks what note they’re starting with, and briefly harmonizes with Phill.
Then…Michael and Phill do an ABSOLUTELY PITCH PERFECT and melodic rendition of the opener from Jesus Christ Superstar. I’m not exaggerating- the harmony and melody is brilliant. Even little touches from Phill, literally sucking in air and breathing to start again, while still doing the tympani part, are absolutely KILLING.
AND THE SECOND THEY FINISH…
Russell: “…West Side Story.”
Michael: “OH, YOU…”
#3 in the ID Parade, this big bald guy, keeps scaring David- he even says “I’m just scared of making a mistake with #3”. Eventually he has to shield himself, saying aloud “I AM NOW HIDING BEHIND NOEL FIELDING…”
Dermot: “If I were sent to prison, I’d want #3 to be my friend.”
Phill: “…ohhh, you’d be his friend, alright…”
David: “I think it’s 1 or 5.”
Noel: “I think it’s either 1 or 5, too, but let’s be mavericks and choose #3 and go hide in the green room.”
As Phill’s ID Parade guest walks off, Dermot says she saw Aston eyeing her, and making a ‘call me’ signal.
Dermot: “Is there history between you two?”
Aston: “There’s no history? Ah, there’s gonna be a story tomorrow, bloody hell…”
Phill: “Oh, there’s no history, but is there some…biology?”
Another fantastic moment: Dermot gives Phill’s side a next line from Hairspray, and Michael and Phill go, in unison, not only the next line but the whole next part of the chorus, animated and everything…and they get up and go until the ‘end of round’ noise, which…is absolutely amazing.
Dermot: “I’m here to win your heart and your soul.”
David, now channeling Bill Bailey: “…if you shave a panda….and weave the fur into a fabric- that fabric is bulletproof.”
AND NOW, NOEL SUMS UP THE SHOW TONIGHT IN ONE WORD:
Dermot: “What have you got in store for us tonight?”
Even after the last second of the game, Noel and David are giggling to themselves, and Phill’s whole panel are just in absolute delight. Way to go Dermot, for bringing up the mood.
Overall: True story- first time I started writing this post, I tried saving half of it and had to start over, so I had to watch the first half over again. This watch had a TON more material than my first watch, and gave me a ton more of an appreciation than the first time around. And then as the rest of the show went on, you could tell that the mood was just this comforting, fun mood that hadn’t really existed since probably the Bob Mortimer show last year.
Something wonderful all around, thanks to some expert hosting from Dermot, who FINALLY redeemed himself after some quieter episodes. Accolades to David for being himself, Michael for having amazing chemistry with fellow Turnblad Phill, Aston for having fun and putting up with Dermot, and the regulars for still keeping this whole thing fresh. Just a solid, all-around awesome episode, added to the MANY so far this series.
I will say…that it’s kind of nice that this episode set up a fun, warm-hearted mood. Because next episode my absolute favorite comedian of all time is going to come in and absolutely obliterate it. Get ready, folks.
Guest Host Rating: 10/10. Absolutely wonderful, Dermot.
Best Regular: Phill
Best Guest: David
Best Runner: Pandas.