QI Watchdown: H15 (Hypnosis, Hallucinations and Hysteria) or ‘NOT THERE. MIRAAAAAGE.’

A few future trends that started with this episode- titling an episode with three long concepts instead of just a single word, stacking Phill Jupitus as the only semi-regular on a panel of two occasionals, and having Ronni Ancona on the panel only to shortcharge her in the edit. Tonight’s episode also has a…special-ish guest- Robert Webb is here, in his only appearance.

Stephen talks about a disease that causes hydrosceles of the scrotum.
Alan: “makes your scrotum go into a triangle?”
Stephen: “…no that would be ISOSCELES…this is Hydrosceles…”
Phill: “AND HE NEVER ATE DAIRY AGAIN…”

Stephen continues, that this man’s scrotum grew to 40 kilos, and he ended up using it as a writing desk, which gets a response from the audience.
Ronni: “That’s a good attitude to have!”
Phill: “Yeah, I’d get a sharpie and paint the face on the front of a spacehopper onto mine…”
Alan: “I’d make mine look like a hedgehog..”

Stephen says that this Scottish doctor used hypnosis to a success with this patient.
Phill: “Your eyyyes arre heavy. “NOT AS HEAVY AS ME TESTICLES!”

Stephen says that pain comes from the brain, and is basically information.
Rob: “I can imagine someone banging on my thumb, and going “IT’S JUST INFORMATION! IT’S JUST INFORMATION!”

Screen Shot 2017-01-26 at 11.04.03 PM.pngStephen: “There is a very small hammerhead shark…”
Alan: “That is a toy shark.”
Phill: “Or a REALLY big diver?”
Stephen: “a frighteningly big diver…”
Phill: “I think we’d have heard of HIM…”

Stephen says that chickens can be hypnotized by holding a stick with fake eyeballs on them to them, and they’ll stare.
Ronni: “You just made that up!”
Stephen: “It’s in all the books, all the-”
Rob: “What, in all the books?  All the chicken-hypnotizing books?”
Phill: “Which is why you must NEVER let your chickens watch The Muppets.”
Screen Shot 2017-01-26 at 11.08.20 PM.png

Stephen: “D’you know how you wake them up, rabbits and guinea pigs, if they’re in that state?”
Alan: “…you let the dog in.”

Stephen talks about how he hypnotized a lobster in Maine, and attempts it in the studio, saying “it won’t move a muscle.”
Phill cracks up. Stephen realizes the pun: “Oh, MUSSEL!”

Then Stephen brings up a dog that could hypnotize humans, “Oscar the Hypno-Dog.”

Screen Shot 2017-01-26 at 11.12.41 PM.png

Just looking at the dog cracks me (and Phill) up

Alan: “I’m feeling it now…I’ll go and get the biscuits.”
Stephen: “The thing is…he could keep up that stare with a human for hours on end-”
[Jupitus giggling]
Rob: “Depending on what human would WANT to be stared at for that long…”

Stephen says that life flashing before your eyes is a way of your brain trying to find a past memory that will help you survive.
Ronni: “It’s pretty risky, though, isn’t it? You’re on the brink of death, and you’re rerunning, and you’re going “NO, NOT MY FATHER’S 70TH BIRTHDAY!”
Stephen: “Or…if you lose your keys, just put your head facedown in the basin, and start drowning yourself, until you get to the point where you last had them.”

Ronni brings up a great point: “D’you think that…with rising crime, that death’s door has become more security conscious?”
She’s actually good in small doses, and has good comedic points, but sometimes she’ll flag for the spotlight, or something Stephen will cut her off before she gets going.

Stephen reveals that there’s a cat with a degree in psychotherapy.
Phill: “I think Oscar’s sitting opposite her!”

Screen Shot 2017-01-26 at 11.29.27 PM.png

(Phill does a quick Oscar impression)

Screen Shot 2017-01-26 at 11.31.44 PM.pngAlan: “Are those hats falling from the sky? Oh, there are hands beneath them.”
Stephen: “Yes, there are.”
Alan: “Is that how you get your hat? They’re dropped out of a plane, and you have to catch them?”
Phill: “I’d like to think that underneath that photo, there are about 60 cats…”

The next question involves Stephen being elected Pope, and…
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(Phill’s reaction is mine)

Stephen mentions that the Subliminal Messaging thing was even used in the Young Ones.
Rob: “Goes back to my childhood…”
Ronni: “Your childhood???”
Rob: “Yes, Ronni. Deal with it.”

Phill actually talks about a Judas Priest song that, in backmasking, allegedly encouraged people to commit suicide.
Stephen: “Halford even said ‘I don’t wish to paint myself as greedy, but if we were gonna put a message in, it would have been ‘buy more of our records…’ I mean, he also said ‘DO IT’ doesn’t mean ‘kill yourself.”
Phill, chuckling: “Stephen, the song WAS called ‘suicide solution’…”
(As Youtube Commenters have revealed…it wasn’t, but still)
Phill, crossing over to Buzzcocks: “FINALLY, BEING IN A POP QUIZ PAYS OFF!”

Stephen, summing up the round: “So, subliminal advertising DOESN’T Stephenfryforpope WORK…”

Stephen: “In the Catholic church, it is a sin to be superstitious…”
Ronni: “You’ll change that when you’re pope, won’t you?”
Phill: “AND AS POPE STEPHEN WALKS OUT ONTO THE BALCONY…UNDERNEATH A LADDER…WITH SEVERAL BLACK CATS…”

On the sight question:
Stephen: “So, what about Hitler?”
Phill: “What ABOUT Hitler?”
Rob: “LEAVE HITLER ALONE! WEEK AFTER WEEK!”

And now, the most famous part of this episode:
Stephen asks the panel to pinpoint the exact point where the sun goes below the horizon. Everyone buzzes way too late.
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Stephen explains that after a certain point it’s just a mirage, and it’s much earlier…which infuriates the panel, including Phill.

Phill: “IIIIII….HATE THIS SHOW. BECAUSE…the sun…IS THERE. And you’re going [Stephen impression] “NOOO.” “It’s the SUN!” “NOT THERE…..MIRAAAAAAGGGGE.”

Alan explains that in New Zealand, the hot sun bouncing off the road in low-elevation can cause blindness.”
Phill: “I dare say that the drivers in New Zealand, as they see the sun setting, are REASSURED TO KNOWWW….THAT IT’S *NOT THERE*.”

Screen Shot 2017-01-27 at 12.07.41 AM.pngPhill just holds this expression as Stephen sums up the round. He’s absolutely heartbroken.

First Question of GI:
Stephen: “What shape is this staircase?”
Phill: “IT’S *NOT THEEEERE!*”
Stephen: “NOW PHILL…”

Rob buzzes in just to guess ‘spiral’, and waves his hands in the air as the klaxon sounds. It’s almost like a Jo Brand reaction.

Stephen talks about ducks and their spiral genitalia.
Alan: “When they procreate, does it kinda spin in like a screw?”
Phill: “And, if push comes to shove, and you’re in Argentina with a bottle of Merlot…”

Stephen: “Not only that, but it has the longest penis, relative to its body size, of any vertebrae.”
Phill: “Do you know that, or did the duck tell you?”

Stephen goes further, that the duck has a brush on the end.
Phill: “WOW, You can clean up after!”
Alan: “Like a Dyson!”

Stephen: “What do you think the brush is for?”
Phill, giddy: “GETTIN’ BEHIND THE CURTAINS!”

Rob gets another Klaxon by guessing the Molotov fellow created the Molotov cocktail…and again, he’s ecstatic about. Rob didn’t do a ton in this episode, but his enthusiasm, and his ability to collaborate, was pretty damn amusing.
Alan: “He invented the…slow, comfortable screw against the wall?”

Rob actually gets last this episode, which is…odd, but unsurprising.

Even as Stephen announces that Phill has won (with -2), he’s still pissed about the sun. He’s shaking his head, going “I’m not happy…I’m not happy…”

Overall: Not as good as last week, but still a pretty enjoyable show, especially for a series with a ton of middle of the road episodes. Phill gave this one a major boost, with some Grade A stuff from him, the likes of which we’ve not seen in a little while, but Rob had a few nice moments, and while Ronni was shortchanged by Stephen and the edit, she did have some good lines here and there. Also, Alan was in a great mood, because he and Phill work insanely well together. Some great moments, definitely rewatchable.

MVP: Phill
Best Guest: Phill
Show Winner: Phill
Best QI Fact: Oscar the Hypno-Dog
Best Runner: IT’S NOT THERE.

QI Watchdown: H14 (Hocus Pocus), or CEILING!

The last episode proved that a panel with three QI legends can still yield negative results. Tonight, there are no regulars on the panel. Two people appearing tonight have their second appearance, and are better known on other shows, as well as having fantastic first episodes- that would be Lee Mack (“BRING ME ANOTHER WIFE!”) and Graham Norton. The third guest panelist is one of those SPECIAL GUESTS…and it’s a very special one indeed, as it’s DANIEL BLOODY RADCLIFFE! Harry Potter himself! This was a tremendous get in 2011, and to have him with Lee and Graham is a nice, concise, if untested, panel. Plus, it’s semi-Christmas themed, and semi-magic themed, so all is well.

Plus, true to the theme, they’re all wearing cloaks and costumes- Graham tries to snap his hood back upon his introduction, but it sticks, and he has to fight to get it down.

The buzzers are all ‘magic words’, like Presto and Abracadabra. Daniel’s is a big ol’ ‘EXPELLIARMUS!’, which made me geek out a bit. Alan’s is just “PLEEEEEEASE?”

Stephen’s first question is, simply, what is the oldest trick in the book?
Lee: “…Debbie McGee.”
The audience is nearly appalled.
Lee: “oh, and it’s Christmas as well…”
Stephen: “Was that charitable?”

Daniel actually knows this, and rolls off the fact that an Ancient Egyptian’s trick was to remove the head of a goose for the king. That’s an astonishing fact, and I imagine he must have known from HP research. He’s very jittery and nervous as he says this, though.
Graham, after he answers that easily: “This is gonna be a VERY short show…”

Alan: “I love this idea that when they cast you as Harry Potter, they just gave you a crash course on everything wizarding…and then you just top it off with a bit of acting in the end…”

Lee: “Can I just ask- what part of pulling a goose’s head off is a magic trick?”
Daniel: “I forgot- AND RESTORED IT!”
Graham: “Ah, yes, the old ‘two geese in my bag’ trick…”

They actually get a magician to do this trick, who appears after they all go ‘Accio Scott’. Once he does, after what I can only assume was an edit, Lee loudly screams “OH MY GOD! HE WASN’T THERE AND THEN HE WAS THERE! WHAT HAPPENED?”

Lee, after the head-removing magician leaves: “I can do the first half of that trick…second half needs a bit of practice. And then, there’s blood everywhere, my wife’s screaming, the children are going ‘where’s the budgie’…”
Graham: “I mean, if that was the first trick EVER….surely people did ‘pull my finger’ before that…”

Stephen talks of a performer named Chung Ling Soo, whose real name was actually Robinson and spoke only Chinese onstage, “UNTIL…he did the bullet trick, and the bullet got caught and killed him, and he went, in English, ‘oh god…something’s gone wrong…close the curtain…”
Lee: “D’you reckon there’s a real magician in China named Chung Ling Soo who goes by the name of Bob Robinson? And he’d only speak cod english. ‘PICK A CYAAD! ANY CYAAD YA LIKE!”

Stephen describes another magician whose stage caught fire, and the audience thought it was part of the trick, and 11 died, “including, and this is not funny…a midget in a bear suit.”
The audience, of course, laughs.
Stephen: “I’d thought I prefaced that by saying it’s not funny.”
Screen Shot 2017-01-23 at 6.13.15 PM.png
Alan: “you people are sick…”

There’s a great moment where Stephen tries explaining to Lee about the ‘i before e’ rule, that there are words where ‘cie’ works in a sentence. And Lee cannot seem to grasp this, and they keep going on for minutes. Lee keeps coming back with ‘ceiling’, even if it has nothing to do with what Stephen is asking for.
Stephen: “…I may explode at any minute now…”

Stephen shows a bunch more examples of ‘ie’ words, even without c.
Lee, still not understanding: “Oh, so now you don’t even need a c, do you?”
Stephen: “No, you…ARE YOU INCAPABLE OF RATIONAL THOUGHT??? I- YOU CANNOT BE THAT STUPID. YOU *CANNOT* BE…”

Stephen: “There are 21 times as many words that break the rule than don’t.”
Alan: “However…if you want to spell ceiling..”

Stephen: “So, something like veil, or weird…”
Graham and Alan: “…yeah, but there’s no C in them…”
Stephen: “It’s I before E, every time…but in weird-”
Graham: “OH, I SEE!”
Screen Shot 2017-01-23 at 6.27.50 PM.png
Screen Shot 2017-01-23 at 6.27.36 PM.png
Stephen: “YOU CANNOT BE THAT STUPID!”
Lee: “WHAT? HE SAID IT! YOU’RE LOOKING AT ME!”

Alan, summing up the last few minutes: “Daniel, you’re the only person on this show who isn’t a complete idiot…”

Stephen says the rule is no longer taught in schools.
Alan: “So they’re all nouns, so it’s ‘I before E, or SOMETIMES E BEFORE I…”
Stephen: “Mostly after C, it’s IE.”
Alan: “If in doubt, look it up you lazy gits…”
Lee: “I before E, except for the following 923…and then you reel them all off…”
Graham: “I before E…thank God for spellcheck…”
Lee: “NUMBER ONE. CEILING. NUMBER TWO. RED CEILING. NUMBER THREE, BLUE CEILING. Help me, lads, I’m running out of colors…”

Stephen, on a game very similar to quidditch: “Like, in quidditch, what do you travel on?”
Daniel: “Well, a broomstick…”
Alan: “Yes, but that is special effects, though.”
Daniel: “Yeah, and it’s very, very painful.”

They show footage of this horse-polo-quidditch sport, played in an empty arena.
Alan: “Look at how popular it is, I mean, look at the crowd!”

Daniel does mention that several american universities have adopted quidditch as an inter mural sport, just on land instead of, like in the air.
Daniel, deadpan, very Mitchell-esque: “It’s a lot less exciting then, you know, in the films…”

Stephen reveals that ‘muggle’ was a 1920’s term for people who smoked marijuana, which Daniel is amused as hell by.

Screen Shot 2017-01-23 at 7.23.40 PM.pngGraham: “Is that a drunk person not finding the toilet?”
Stephen stops his current fact just to laugh at that one.
Graham: “They’ll feel terrible waking up…”
Lee: “That’s a relationship that’s not gonna survive…”

Lee: “What’s the horse doing?”
Graham: “He’s operating the video.”

In order to figure out the definition of Dumbledore, Stephen asks them to think about the first part, something that rhymes with it.
Alan: “Jumble…mumble, crumble-”
Lee: “CEILING!”
Stephen: “Don’t try me too hard, Lee Mack.”

Stephen: “How did Hogwarts tackle drinking problems?”
Lee: “Is that a character? Drinking Problems?”
Daniel: “Must have been one of the ghosts…”
Lee: “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Special Brew…”

Graham gets a question correct by guessing ‘SAILORS!’
Stephen: “Went straight to your mind, didn’t it?”
Graham: “I just thought ‘who drinks?’ SAILORS!”
Lee: “This isn’t fair! [Daniel’s] getting questions about Quidditch, and [Graham’s] getting questions about sailors!”

Stephen says these sailors would be working with an ethyl alcohol called ‘pink lady’, which reportedly would make you literally go blind if you drank it.
Graham: “We’ve all been told things like that, and it didn’t stop us…”

Also, Stephen said that they added hogwarts juice, which would make the sailors vomit and relieve themselves if they drank it.
Graham: “And also…REGULAR alcohol makes you vomit and go…that’s a night out, isn’t it?”

Daniel riles off a fact about the Harrying of the land, which neither Lee nor Alan can contribute to, so Alan just starts staring off into space, picking at the folder. Lee joins in, and he and Alan just start goofing off, like kids in the back of the class.
Alan: “Sorry, what was this about magic?”
Stephen: “People of the north were ruthlessly killed.”
Alan looks at Lee, whose expression drops.

Stephen: “What animal was the subject of Beatrix Potter’s first novel?”
Alan: “I bet it’s NOT Peter Rabbit.”
Stephen: “That is the right answer!”
Lee: “Thank god you stopped me…”

Stephen: “Actually, her first work wasn’t a children’s book.”
Alan: “Was it the book they based the film Boogie Nights on?”
Stephen: “…it’d be so wonderful if I went ‘YES! 100 POINTS!”
Alan: “And Rollergirl was based on Beatrix Potter’s mother…”

Stephen gives the panel Christmas crackers, with jokes inside.
Graham: “Did you write these? Because they sound like you might have… ‘knock knock’
Stephen: “Who’s there?”
Graham: “To.”
Stephen: “To who?”
Graham: “To WHOM.” *winces*

Lee has a much better one (What kind of cheese can you give a bear to coax it out of his cage? C’MONBEAR!)
Lee: “I had no idea bears LIKED cheese!”
Graham: “They love it…”
Stephen, seeing exactly where this is about to go: “NO. I’M NOT GOING TO…”

Alan’s joke: “What disease can you get from decorating a Christmas tree?”
Lee: “SYPHILIS!”

The episode ends with a few tricks, Alan going first.
Alan: “If I could ask Lee to be my Debbie McGee…”
Lee: “I am not falling for that one again…”

Alan’s going to saw Lee in half, which is great, because Lee is still being Lee the whole way through. Halfway through the demonstration, he goes “HANG ON! SAWING? I DIDN’T SEE THAT!”

As Lee’s closed in: “OOH, HELLO! I can see why Phill Jupitus wasn’t invited on this week!”

Graham’s got a different approach- he’s going to guillotine Daniel. Even he’s saying “this feels very wrong, doesn’t it?”

Best part about this show is that they end it with Lee sawn in half, and Daniel’s head lopped off. They don’t have a silly resolution, they just have Stephen sign off, even thanking “the late Daniel Radcliffe.”

Overall: An amazing episode that’s electrified a middling Series H, thanks to a panel that was completely on, some amazing jokes and round-to-round continuity, and a few timely additions that didn’t take away from the realness of it all. Lee was, again, at an all time high, having fun and fitting right in. Graham also had a really nice show, and it’s a shame that this was his last appearance on QI. Daniel was quiet, but still added enough that it wasn’t a loss- besides, this was Daniel Radcliffe on QI, and that alone is a milestone. It was just a fun episode, one worth rewatching, not even at the holidays.

MVP: Lee
Best Guest: Lee
Show Winner: Daniel
Best QI Fact: Beatrix Potter’s mushrooms.
Best Runner: CEILING!

QI Watchdown: H13 (Holidays)

After a siesta from QI to finish up Series 25 of Buzzcocks, I figured we’d dip back into a series that has taken over a year to finish, with an enjoyable looking episode, featuring a matchup that last hung together on QI back in Series C, in Campanology- Bill Bailey, Rich Hall and Rob Brydon. Rich has been quiet so far this series, but Rob and Bill have had some standout episodes, and putting them all together for a semi-Christmas episode is an inspired idea.

The episode begins with an odd digression, where Stephen gives all four panelists a country, and they have to come up with a quite interesting fact about them. Bit of a gamble.

Rob talks about going to Hungary, and on a picture of some spandex-decked Hungarians, Stephen asks him if they all dressed like that.
Rob: “Well I did, which was a bit odd…with the long sock-”
Stephen: “WE KNOW ABOUT YOUR LONG SOCKS!”

Rob’s fact involves hands, so everyone starts guessing
Alan: “They don’t wipe their bums!”
Rob: “I don’t think there’s a need for that, Alan…”

Alan: “They DO wipe their bums…but they don’t use their hands to do it…”
Rob, very confused: “How else would- UNLESS YOU HAD ANOTHER APPENDAGE BACK THERE…”

Bill gets distracted by Rob’s ‘welsh harp’ buzzer
Bill: “It’s like whenever you press the buzzer we go back in time. Like, TELL US ABOUT IT…TELL US…”
(Harp noise)
Rob: “It’s 1974, and goulash…”

Rob attempts a bad joke on Alan’s stamp-collecting story.
Rob: “I collected stamps myself, when I was about that age, and eventually I gave it up, because I thought to myself ‘philately will get you nowhere…'”
The audience groans.
Screen Shot 2017-01-19 at 11.06.47 PM.png
Bill: “ROB! QUICKLY! PRESS THE THING! GO BACK IN TIME!”
(Harp noise)
Rob: “I collected stamps when I was an early teenager, and, uh, I loved it.”
Stephen: “YES! GOOD!”

Bill, on Bhutan: “It’s written into the constitution that the forest area of Bhutan shall never dip below 60%.”
Alan: “And the cows are not allowed to fart.”

Even though that the Holiday Report bit is imperfect, and just involves pre-show googling, Rich Hall being Rich Hall makes it all worthwhile, in describing Hawaii
“This wood is called willy-willy…which means ‘Willy’ twice.”

Rich says that Hawaii has twelve letters in the language.
Rob: “Five of those are ‘o’…”
Audience: “….”
Rob: “…Hawaii 5-0?”
Audience: *groans*
Bill: “Some of his jokes come with a pamphlet…”

Stephen: “Where in the world are you most likely to see fish falling from the skies?”
Rich: “Oooh. Sardinia.”
To the audience’s credit, they do applaud this one. Adv- Rich.

Alan: “How much, in comparison, does a human excrete in a year?…I’m looking at you, and I’m like ‘How would you know that?’
Stephen: “I mean…”
Alan: “YOUR CLASSICAL EDUCATION HAS FAILED YOU!”

Stephen talks of the Unluckiest Man in the World, and says, as his name is Yamaguchi, that he’s from somewhere beginning with H.
Bill: “…Holland?”
Alan: “HARWICH!”

This question’s about the fellow who lived through both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, whom Stephen says “was a very cheerful fellow” after the fact.
Screen Shot 2017-01-19 at 11.29.25 PM.png
Bill: “Doesn’t look so cheerful there.”
Stephen: “Yes, well..wedged between two mushroom clouds…”
Bill: “He’s going ‘AW, NO…IT’S HAPPENING AGAIN!”

Rob: “I mean, is the glass half full, is the glass half empty? Well, either way, it’s radioactive, so don’t drink from it…”

30 minutes into the episode, Rich gets the first Klaxon of the show by saying that the tree in question requires moss.

This is a pretty light episode, but Rich does revert back to his old tactic of giving out information for points ‘you can float a pine needle on the water…you know, just to kill time…”

Stephen reveals a fact that if we’re blindfolded and told to walk in a straight line, within 66 feet we’ll have ended up back where we’ve started, and asks why this is.
Alan: “Homing pigeons. We’re descended from homing pigeons.”
Bill: “What, we’re asymmetrical?”
Stephen: “What, one foot shorter than the other?”
Rob: “We have a lot of loose change in one pocket.”

Once the first GI question, which is which country contains the most of the river Nile, Bill is giddily quick to get the Klaxon for ‘Egypt’. Alan just keeps spitballing: “CHAD! UGANDA! BELGIUM!”

There’s a great moment where Stephen asks if land in between belongs to Sudan or Egypt. Bill guesses Sudan on a whim, and gets the Klaxon.
Bill: “Could have been the other one, then…”
Alan: “Yeah, the one above…”

Alan does ask what a similar striped territory is, next to the one in question.
Bill: “Oh, wait a minute, isn’t that the loose coalition area between Egypt and Sudan? The lib dems- THE LIB DEMS OWN IT!”

Stephen says that, because of the oil wealth of the second territory, neither territory wants to claim ownership of the first, which is smaller and arid.
Alan, to Bill: “it’s available, let’s snap it up!”
Rob: “So this is ongoing?”
Alan: “Yeah, meanwhile Saudi Arabia have tunneled beneath the red sea…and STOLEN THE TRIANGLE!”

Stephen, as a last-question stinger, reveals that the age of consent in Vatican City is TWELVE!
Stephen: “There are odd reasonings behind it-”
Rob: “I think we know what the reason is, Stephen…”

Stephen: “What would you say is the population of Vatican City?”
Alan: “Five.”
Bill: “Eight…..hundred…’

Stephen also says that Vatican City has the highest crime rate in Europe.
Rich, deadpan: “Lot of eleven year olds getting married…”

Overall: The only momentum this show had was gained in the last fifteen minutes- before then it was quiet, with only a few tremors. When the dynamic here was on, it was alright, but this is a very ho-hum episode from a great panel. Nobody did a particularly bad job, though Rich was, like usual this series, quiet, and Bill and Rob were funny, but there weren’t a ton of funny moments until GI. Also, the Holiday Report that opened the show did a bit to slow the dynamic. An imperfect show, but not horrible.

MVP: Bill
Best Guest: Rob
Show Winner: Rob
Best QI Fact: Vatican City
Best Runner: Rob’s jokes.

Nevermind Watchdown: Never Rewind the Buzzcocks, or Have You Ever Seen Fish & Chips Like These?

We’re three seasons away from ending the NMTB Watchdown, and there are still two episodes I’ve yet to see or review. One of them is S06E09, which is bloody elusive, and the other is the direct-to-video special Never Rewind the Buzzcocks, put out in 1998, and featuring four of the most trusted NMTB regulars: Sarah Cracknell from St. Etienne, Jonathan Ross, Noddy “IIIIIT’S CHRIIIISTMAAAS” Holder, and Savior of the First Four Seasons Math Priest. It was an hourlong special, harkening back to the good old days of the series. So tonight, before S26, I’m watching it down.

Plus, it’s an excuse to go back to a time when Phill, Sean Hughes and Mark Lamarr were all tight as hell as regulars, and the show could be breezy, fun, and not try too hard.

In the middle of Panelist Intros:
Mark: “Phill, I hate to bring this up, but I noticed you’re sitting down very gingerly tonight.”
Phill: “…it’s always nice, when you’re recording a video, to have your ass explode 20 minutes before….the recording, and yes, the hemorrhoids have struck, but-”
Mark: “Was that a Led Zeppelin album, The Hemorrhoids Have Struck?”
Phill: “…it was a concept album…”

Mark plays in an ad Noddy did for a fish-and-chips frozen dish, which featured the lyric ‘I’ve never seen fish and chips quite like these…”
Mark: “It’s funny, because nearly every fish and chips I’ve seen have looked like that…”

Noddy, on the Blur video: “Nowadays, when you wear a hat in pop, you’ve got to have mirrors all round…”
Mark: “Yeah, or you’d look stupid…”

Math thinks one of the Indescipherable Lyrics is “The sand of magic mushrooms up his ass.”
Mark: “WHAT SOUND IS THAT?”
Math: “No, the SAND!”
Mark: “Oh….WHAT *SAND* IS THAT?”

Noddy: “Phill’s got mushrooms up his ass tonight…”
Math: “YEAH, LOOK AT PHILL!”

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“…uhm…”

Noddy: “SHOW US YOUR MUSHROOMS!”

Mark: “Is that your final answer, because between you, you have actually got all the lyrics there…but SEPARATELY, you’re fucked!”
OH YEAH, THAT REMINDS ME. This special’s completely uncensored. We get to hear Mark say the f-word in real time. Fantastic.

Also, thanks to Math’s expert arranging, Mark even exclaims that their finished guess of the lyrics is “the first time we’ve ever had it 100% right.”

Mark also gets to do jokes he couldn’t do in a primetime airing, like:
“In the summer of 1992, Damon Albarn opened a blur gig by saying to the audience “It’s gonna be fucking shit tonight, so fuck off!”…and everyone left, thinking Peter Andre was coming on…”

Even better- Phill’s bit for Indecipherable Lyrics is Slade’s ‘Bring the House Down’…so they’ll be doing it FOR NODDY. Already, this show is diabolical.

And, of course, Jonathan and Phill help tie the lyrics guess into the Fish and Chips ad from the top of the show, making it all fish themed.

Jonathan, closing up a long, drawn out rant about fish: “Pickled egg counteracts the saliva.”
Mark: “It’s an excuse I’ve given to many women…”

Again, Jonathan’s great, and Mark obviously loves having him on, but without buffering, he can take over any show, and he nearly does in the first round. Mark does have some moments of trying to get it back on track, but at this stage it’s worrysome.

Jonathan does start needling Noddy for stories, going: “i bet there was more than one occasion where you shared with Dave…”
Phill: “SHARED WHAT?”
Noddy: “You’re getting nothing out of me…”
Jonathan: “IIIIIIT’S CHRIIIIIISTMAAAAAASSS!”
(I did not think we’d be getting one of those out of this episode…)
Mark: “I DO NOT WANT TO KNOW.”
Phill, as Noddy: “DAVE, DAVE, GIMME BACK MY COPY OF MAYFAIR!”
Mark, as Noddy: “DAVE, DAVE! HAVE YOU EVER SEEN FISH AND CHIPS LIKE THESE?”

After performing the new lyrics, Jonathan goes to Noddy: “Anybody could do that! You weren’t the fucking singer, were you? Just a performing chimp in a hat! Even as a CHILD, I knew that…”
Mark: “Yeah. And it’s VERY HARD to say ‘Welcome to the Big, Big Talent Show…”
Jonathan: [walks off]
Mark: “He does this three-times a show, we always cut it out…maybe we’ll leave it in tonight…”
Jonathan, lying down: “YOU TIRE ME, LAMARR…”

After Noddy and Sean’s first intro
Mark: “Math, if you’re confused, Noddy’s doing the actual song, and Sean’s doing the same thing he does to every song week after week…”

Mark: “Johnny Kidd may not have set the chars aline, but he’ll be forever remembered for singing the King of Spain’s beard.”
The whole panel loses it here.

Mark: “Sadly, in 1981, Adam decided to get rid of the Ants. He avoided various legal procedures by just throwing boiling water on them…BUT HE’LL BE FOREVER REMEMBERED IN HISTORY…for singing the King of Spain’s beard!”

Mark: “In the early days, while on tour, Boomtown Rats guitarist Gary Roberts used to produce a fish from his flies…then, of course, they invented viagra…”
Screen Shot 2017-01-12 at 5.22.25 PM.png

Mark: “In 1982, Bob Geldof played the starring role in the film The Wall, where he had to be stripped naked, covered in cold flour and water, and dragged down the staircase and into a swimming pool filled with blood….which coincidentally is what happened when he went ’round to Mr. and Mrs. Hutchence’s house to ask for his belt back.”
Even greater audience reaction here.
Mark: “Maybe you’re all going ‘oooh, too much’, but at least some of you are going “WELL CRAFTED.”

Mark, to Jonathan: “Look at that smug look out of you, you’re not gonna have a better joke tonight!”
Jonathan: “…I wasn’t even listening.”
Mark: “You can’t even SAY Boomtown Rats.”

As Phill gets up for intros
Jonathan: “Phill, if there’s a problem, don’t do the movements…”
Phill: “There’s only ONE kind of movement I won’t be doing tonight…”

Jonathan, like usual, doesn’t know any of the intros, but sells it. The first one, he goes “no such song.” The second one, which is OBVIOUSLY Maggie May, he still goes “No such song”, mainly because it’s a Rod Stewart number.
Jonathan: “NO! WAIT! WAKE UP MAGGIE I…YOU DID…SOMETHING!”

Jonathan: “The beginning bit scared the life out of me! I thought something was gonna pop out of his pants!”
Phill: “SOMETHING MAY VERY WELL!”

Mark: “At a gig in August 1992, the Stranglers grabbed an audience member, yanked his trousers down and used his bare buttocks as tom-toms during Golden Brown. But when this happened 3 nights running, they decided to ban Graham Norton from all future gigs…”

There’s an amusing bit where Jonathan and Noddy have to tidy up a hotel room in 90 seconds, both playing Chris DeBurgh whose spouse is on the way. It’s an odd segment, probably just added to fill time. While Noddy does a nice job in cleaning things up, Jonathan trashes the room further, flipping the bed, throwing a suitcase about and hiding in the closet.

The real shocker in this segment is the addition of MANDY SMITH, Bill Wyman’s preteen ex-wife, to judge the rooms. Mandy does commit a sin by pulling a blow-up doll out of the closet.
Mark: “I don’t think you could go looking for the things he’d put away…not really the point of the competition…”

This actually leads to some really nice moments with Mark and Mandy, trying to lead a segue into a joke about Bill Wyman as they go from Noddy’s set to Jonathan’s. Once they eventually reach Jonathan’s set, Mark goes “OH, JONATHAN’S DONE A FINE JOB!”
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Mandy: “Well, where’s he?”
Jonathan, from inside the closet: “THERE’S NO ONE HERE. MR. DEBURGH, HE GO HOME!”

Mark: “I think the fact, Jonathan…that you’re hiding in the cupboard…”

Jonathan’s is great, because it leads to a very Thank God You’re Here-esque improv scene, where they’re all riffing on the vegetables that ‘Jupitus laid out’. It’s also great seeing Mark and Jonathan bounce off each other.

On Ray Davies and Thin Lizzy’s Lead Singer:
Math: “I was gonna say that they’ve both slept with Chrissie Hynde, but that doesn’t really narrow it down much, does it?”
Noddy: “Phil Linnet claimed to have plenty of kinks in his knob, and Ray Davies claimed to have plenty of knobs in his Kinks.”

Math: “Was it like…obviously Phil Linnet uses his fists there, and Ray Davies used his fists when he was in Bronski Beat…”
[OOOOOOHHHHH]
Mark: “Can’t believe they turned on that one!”
Math: “AFTER [MARK’S JOKE], AND NOW…”
Sean: “Do theyyy both take it up the arse?”
Mark: “WHEN HE WENT ‘ROUND TO MR. AND MRS. HUTCHENCE’S HOUSE TO ASK FOR HIS BELT BACK!’ ‘ahhhh…’ ‘Did he use his fist when he was in Bronski Beat?’ “OH, GET OFF! WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO US? OUR EARS CAN’T TAKE IN THIS KIND OF INFORMATION!”

Sean: “Phil Linnet did have some bloke in Ireland pretending to be him-”
Noddy: “Wasn’t you, was it?”
Sean: “Could have been…”
Mark: “…didn’t work out, did it?”

After the Mark Morrison introclip:
Mark: “You’ll notice there that we couldn’t actually use music in the Mark Morrison clip there, because the record company said if we used it, we’d take the piss….obviously we’re gonna take the piss now, anyway…”

Jonathan: “Would I be right if I suggested that they both attempted to singe the King of Spain’s beard?”
Mark: “IT’S THE ANSWER ON THE CARD, JONATHAN!”
Jonathan: “Wow, I’m bangin’, now…”
Mark: “BUT, when they went ’round to Mr. and Mrs. Hutchence’s house for their belt back, they stuck their hand up Bronski Beat’s ass! Highlights of the video, ladies and gentlemen!”

On Morrison’s hair:
Phill: “That’s kind of like the Mark Morrison tribute to Mark Lamarr.”
Mark: “Can I just warn you…there’s a very good opportunity later on to REALLY RIP THE SHIT out of my hair, so don’t blow it now.”
Phill: “Oh, I’ll hold back, but-”
Jonathan: “There’s nothing wrong with your hair that a good shampoo wouldn’t cure.

There’s another Rock Motel bit, where the other two from each team have to dress a naked roadie lying in the room before the timer goes off.
Sean: “HE’S DEAD!”
Phill: “HAT!”

Several insane moments from this bit, involving Phill nearly losing sight trying to get the roadie’s pants back on, then nearly LUNGING AT THE GUY, SUGGESTIVELY, leading to the audience being insanely appalled.

Screen Shot 2017-01-12 at 6.26.16 PM.pngPhill’s finished product.

Screen Shot 2017-01-12 at 6.27.13 PM.pngSean’s finished product. Math looks happy with it.

Mark: “I can’t possibly give you any points for that. All you’ve done is fooled around near a nearly naked man!”
Math: “I DON’T OFTEN GET THE CHANCE!”
Mark: “Who, for some reason, couldn’t even stand up when you’d finished!”

The group for Sean’s ID Parade had some pretty similar coifs to Mark. I wonder if this is the coif joke he was referring to earlier.

Math: “Were they called Matchbox because each of them only worked once?”
Mark: “Yeah, because Dodgy are still PUSHING OUT THE HITS!”

Noddy: “You wouldn’t think that anyone would have that retro rock’n’roll look these days, would you?”
Screen Shot 2017-01-12 at 6.34.43 PM.pngMark: “Yeah…it looks so foolish, doesn’t it? I wish I was dressed in LIME..”

Phill: “I must say, looking at the Matchbox boys over there…I can’t help but wonder who’s running the Dodgems tonight…”

It’s nice that Phill’s ID Parade is on the bassist from Sweet, as Sweet is pretty relevant now thanks to that very song appearing in the trailer for ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’.

Screen Shot 2017-01-12 at 7.27.14 PM.pngPhill: “I just want to say to #3, that I hope that everything at the offices of the Rick Wakeman fan club is going alright…”

Jonathan tries to see if it’s the real Andy Scott by recounting a story about how Connolly once got sperm on the ceiling of a motel. This is after a good two minutes of purely Jonathan running.
Jonathan: “I’ve been down the country, something called the ‘sweet spot’ on the ceiling, no one really knows…”

Jonathan: “Love is like…COCKsegen…you get too much-”
Mark: “JONATHAN THE POINT OF THIS ROUND…you have to guess…It’s not ‘you have to sing a medley of their hits!”
Jonathan: “I am cleverly putting them at ease.”
Mark: “What, ’til one of them goes “I CONFESS, IT WAS ME!’?”

After all of this Ross babbling, Phill admits that he’s known who it was all along, and Mark even says they both did a radio show together with Andy Scott, so they BOTH know it.
Phill: “It’s #2.”
Jonathan: “Gotta be two.”
Mark: “…it’s gotta be two, cause Phill’s met him!”

Jonathan, after he’s stepped forward: “Was it true, about the old…”
Scott, over applause: “NO!”
Jonathan: “I bet it was true…”
Mark, trying to continue the show: “So, now per-”
Jonathan, OVER MARK: “You know what? He just never told you, did he?”
Mark: “SHUT UP!”
Jonathan: “Did you feel left out-”
Mark, exploding: “SHUT THE FUCK UP, ROSS!”
Jonathan, continuing: “Everyone else went-”
Mark: “ROSS, SHUT THE FUCK UP! I IMPLORE YOU! I THANK YOU! SHUT…THE FUCK…*UP*! ON BEHALF OF THE BBC AND THE VIEWING PUBLIC, WHO SPENT GOOD MONEY ON A VIDEO, SHUT YOUR *FUCKING* MOUTH!”
THE WHOLE ROOM APPLAUDS. Even Andy Scott. All the while, Jonathan’s going “who, me?”, and smirking it off.

Mark: “Jonathan, it wasn’t you knowing that story that got it, it was Phill’s met him!”
Jonathan, harkening back: “I did the groundwork!”
Mark: “If anyone did, I introduced the two!”
Jonathan: “I’ve got another good story about Paul Young if you’d like…apparently all of them at the back of the bus were having a wanking competiton-”
Mark: “ALL RIGHT…”

Man, there’s so much room in this episode that they even have time for a Legs and Co segment. It’s the episode that keeps on giving.

On the weird alien dance thing
Noddy: “People who like to sit in pods and smell their own farts?”
Sean: “Is it…’Too Drunk to Fuck’ by the Dead Kennedys?”

Math: “Is it Tragedy by the Bee-Gees?”
Mark: “…no.”
Math: “It was the last time I was here…”

Mark, cracking open a bottle of water: “As you can tell, after shouting at Jonathan for so long, much as I enjoyed it, I’m losing me voice…”
He then, confusedly, looks at the bottle of water.
Mark: “…what the fuck is this?”
Jonathan: “That’s- the bloke from the Sweet left that in his dressing room…”

One more round to the motel, where they have to loot the motel room with as much stuff as possible. Even better, the room is Richard Fairbrass’s, “so don’t touch the Toblerone in the minibar.”

Again, Jonathan goes for the less subtle approach, literally chucking the television out the window, flipping the bed over and ripping apart the furniture, including kicking in the closet door, while Math and Noddy try stuffing the TV into a burlap bag.

Next Lines:
Mark: “Am I really all that bad?”
Math: “yeah.”

Mark: “Phill’s team, you need 13 to win. It’s not gonna happen, but let’s have a go.”

Mark: “Relax, don’t do it.”
Jonathan: “When you wanna have fun.”
Mark: “No, it’s when you want to come…not necessarily on the ceiling.”

Overall: Judging by all that I just wrote…that was quite possibly the crowning achievement of Buzzcocks in that early era. Every segment had something worth laughing about. Every panelist, save for maybe a miscast Sarah Cracknell, had something to offer. Several laugh out loud moments, an amazing dynamic, and Mark Lamarr was on tonight like he’d never been to that point, possibly due to the lack of censorship. Heck, props go to Phill, for carrying on despite a hemorrhoid attack before the show, and to Jonathan Ross for being hysterical and not overstaying his welcome (too much)

Best Regular: Mark
Best Guest: Jonathan
Best Runner: Mr. and Mrs. Hutchence

Nevermind Watchdown: S25E12 or I DON’T WANNA SEE THE FORCE!

Well, we’ve made it to the end of Series 25. There have been ups (Lorraine Kelly, Greg Davies, Paul Foot), downs (Jack Dee’s episode, Cilla Black, the producers trying too hard), and definite standout moments. Now that I’ve made it this far, I think this deserves a reward.

…Okay, how about a CHRIIIIIISTMAAAAAAAAS show hosted by John Barrowman? That’ll do, right?

Also on the panel tonight are dour Joe Wilkinson, Jupitus collaborator Jason Manford, Shit-pop-hit churner-outter and SINGER OF HIS OWN NAME Jason Derulo, and Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton.

Cold open is pretty standard, with a gay joke and a Christmas joke. Only highlight is Phill yelling “OY! TORCHWOOD!”

For the first time since the early series, Barrowman mentions the series scores, that Phill’s won 6 and Noel’s won five. Again, I like that they’re looking backwards.

And, of course, John Barrowman’s autocue reading skills, as well as hosting skills, are pretty fantastic, and he’s definitely captivating the audience. Again, I see him as a cross between Tom Cruise and Chip Esten, but he’s just all personality and he’s wonderful.

Noel’s done up like a member of Kiss tonight, for the holiday…I think.

John’s intro for Joe says he has “the most impressive showbiz beard since Sinitta.” Again, maybe it’s the writers, but bravo Barrowman.

On the morphed photo
Jason: “It looks a bit like Peter Stringfellow, pre-makeup.”
Phill: “It looks more like if Peter Stringfellow leant toward a microwave for five minutes…”

Barrowman: “But which one of them pooped themselves onstage?”
Jason: “Wow…this is a Christmas special?”
Phill: “…it’s the yule log!”

Barrowman: “Rod Stewart looks like he’s pooping in that picture.”
Phill: “iiiiiiF you want my body, aaaaaaaAND you think I’m sexy…”
Jason: “WAKE UP, MAGGIE, I THINK I’VE GOT SOMETHING TO SAY TO YOU…I’ve shit the bed, love.”

Jason talks about getting sick onstage
Jason: “I went backstage, threw up, wiped me mouth with a curtain…you know what that’s like, John…”
Barrowman: [winks]
Phill, wincing: “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD…We’ve only been on for a minute!”

John says he’s even got a Blue Peter badge
Helen: ‘When did you get it?”
Barrowman: “LONG BEFORE you were born…”
Jason: “Was John Leslie the presenter?”

Helen: “[Brown] is more likely to do it, then dine out on it!”
Jason: “WHOA, WE NEVER SAID THAT!”
Barrowman: “HOLD ON!”
Helen: “I don’t mean that…”
Jason: “We know you reuse stuff, but that’s too far…”

John talks about shitting himself onstage, owning it and continuing to do kicks, causing several appalled members of the front row to wipe it off.
Jason, disgusted: “MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERY ONE!”

For the Guess Who round, a hint involves John’s lips Clutch-Cargoed onto the merged faces, singing something.
Jason: “Your mouth is actually terrifying close-up. I’ve never actually been that close to it.”
Barrowman: “Would you like to be that close to it? I can arrange it?”
Jason: “…for Christmas?”
Barrowman, WALKING OVER: “No, right now…”
And…yeah, Barrowman and Jason share a brief smooch. It’s fantastic.

On the thrown-over Phill+Helen intro
Noel: “Have you got an idea?”
Derulo: “Well…”
Noel: “I mean, I’ve got an idea, but it has nothing to do with this game…”

Derulo: “I mean, it’s got nothing to do with Christmas…”
Barrowman: “Choose your first instinct.”
Noel: “Wow, you’re like a Jedi…”
Barrowman: “I will show you the ways of the force..”
Derulo: “I DON’T WANNA SEE THE FORCE!”

Fantastic: Phill and Helen’s first intro is Mr. Blobby, which infuriates Phill so much that he can only stand still in agony. When they actually play in the clip, Helen and John dance around to it while Phill, angrily, repeatedly yells “TURN IT OFF!” AND THEY KEEP PLAYING IT, JUST TO PISS HIM OFF. John keeps dancing. Phill keeps screaming. I’ve never seen him so passionate about music, not since his backlash against Bank Robber by the Clash.

Each team gets a CHRISTMAS BONUS. So, Phill uses his for the 2nd intro, and a quartet of carolers join them onstage, and give one of the most beautiful intros that’s ever been on the show.

Noel:”Do you know this one?”
Derulo: “I guess I’m an idiot, too, because I-”
Barrowman: “Honey, you could NEVER be an idiot.”

Barrowman, on Derulo standing up for intros: “I…have the view of a lifetime…”
Derulo: “…I’m gonna face that way-”
Barrowman: “You can face that way if you want to…”

Noel: “You’re nearly there, aren’t you?”
Joe, nowhere near nearly there: “….yeah…”

Derulo takes over the second intro, and he’s just so smooth and charismatic.
Derulo: “You know your part, right?”
Noel, weakly: “….yeahhh…”

There’s a great bit where, for the Earth Song intro, Jason just does a really good MJ impression, and Noel goes ‘i’ll be the fan that keeps blowing back your hair’, and he’s just bobbing back and forth. It’s a pretty great visual.

An interesting twist on the ID Parade, one that hasn’t been done since Gonzalez (“SMITHERS! WAS I IN GONZALEZ?”). The panelists have to decide which person was NOT in these groups…maybe they were lacking funds for actors that week?

For ‘Goldie Looking Chain’, #3, who is introduced as ‘Goldie Looking Past His Prime’, just looks betrayedly towards John at that one.

Barrowman: “#2, have you got a chicken on your head?”
Jason: “I can’t believe you didn’t say cock, to be honest…”

Barrowman, on the Wombles lineup: “Guys…Wimbledon common looks pretty cleaned up, you might want to head to Clapham, there’s some nasty stuff in the bushes over there…”
Phill: “Not tonight there isn’t!”

Noel: “When they move around, it’s fine. But when they keep really still, they look real sinister.”
Barrowman: “Everyone just look at Noel.”
Screen Shot 2017-01-11 at 11.29.48 PM.png
Screen Shot 2017-01-11 at 11.29.19 PM.png

Jason: “I KNOW HOW TO FIND OUT, NOEL!”
[Jason throws an empty soda can in front of the Wombles]

Derulo: “I have…no idea what the hell this is.”
Joe: “D’you not know who the Wombles are?”
Derulo: “Not a clue.”
Noel: “This is our royal family!”

As the Wombles leave
Noel: “I REALLY hope they’re getting a tube back to Wimbledon…”

Noel, before the do-or-die Next Lines: “I’m feeling pretty confident. [Joe] just went to me ‘I never get these…'”

At the end of the episode, John gets up and launches the Buzzcocks Christmas Appeal, pleading towards the audience to donate for a worthy cause.
Barrowman: “Just 2 pounds a month can pay for someone else to say Jason Derulo’s name on his songs. 3 pounds can buy Joe Wilkinson shoes. While 5 pounds can feed a whole ID Parade for a month. ”
The show ends with everyone that’s been involved with the show, including the Wombles, Goldie Looking Chain, the Intros choir, and the entire panel, standing at center stage, singing Silent Night. It’s a truly amazing moment. Of course, the last second of the episode is Phill and John sharing a kiss, followed by John, as a stinger, going “WHAT DID YOU EAT???’

Overall: Well…that was a nice way to end the series. It was just a feel-good episode all around, with the Christmas theme not infringing too much on the jokes, a panel that wasn’t THAT overexposed, and a host that gave a Grade-A performance like it was his goddamned business. Barrowman KILLED. He gave a hell of a show, and I have a ton more respect for him. In terms of the panel, while it was quieter, Jason Manford gave an impressive, hysterical performance, Helen and Joe had some nice lines, and while Jason Derulo stuck to a quieter, Cee-Lo Green-esque performance, he still had his moments, especially his general confusion. A beautiful way to end a turbulent series.

Guest Host Rating: 10/10.
Best Regular: Phill
Best Guest: Jason Manford
Best Runner: Barrowman hitting on Derulo

SERIES 25 SUPERLATIVES:

Guest Hosts Ranked Best to Worst:
Greg Davies, Episode 6
John Barrowman, Episode 12
Rhod Gilbert, Episode 11
Lorraine Kelly, Episode 3
James Blunt, Episode 8
Alice Cooper, Episode 7
Tinie Tempah, Episode 9
Adam Buxton, Episode 4
Will Young, Episode 5
Jack Dee, Episode 2
David Hasselhoff, Episode 1
Cilla Black, Episode 10

Best Episode: Episode 6, a new standard of excellence, featuring a stellar guest-hosting gig by Greg Davies, an amazing performance as a guest captain by the one-and-only Frankie Boyle, conversations on vajazzling, and a great runner involving how much of a height difference there is between Tinchy Stryder and Greg.
2nd Best Episode: Episode 4, featuring a surprisingly obscene Lorraine Kelly, Phill getting waxed, Stacey Solomon being dim, Tony Law being weird, and Jarred Christmas ripping his shirt off after finally getting an intro. Just a weird show with an insane dynamic.
3rd Best Episode: Episode 12, this very one. Barrowman brought some insane energy to this show, as well as Jason Manford being a great guest panelist, some heartfelt moments with a choir, and Jason Derulo getting eyed.
Worst Episode: Not too many truly bad shows, but Episode 10 had the least amount of stuff going for it, thanks to a slow performance by Cilla Black, and a ton of disconnect between panelist, though at least Angelos Epithemiou had some nice lines. Episode 2 almost went here, but Seann Walsh barely kept it out of this spot.
Best Regular: Noel Fielding, for continuing to keep the dynamic high, and becoming an even better panel connector than Phill. Plus, he’s a good worker that can have a ton of great moments himself- I don’t think he’s better than Bill Bailey, but he’s still an amazing panel presence.
Best Comedian Panelist: Jason Manford, Episode 12, for just diving right in, never being afraid to cut in, and just giving grade A material. I almost have this to Rufus Hound, and Paul Foot, Mark Watson, Tony Law, Peter Serafinowicz, Angelos Epithemiou and Sarah Millican were all considered.
Best Musician Panelist: Tinchy Stryder, Episode 6, for taking his third appearance and making something amazing of it. He put up with Greg Davies’ jokes, as well as making some great ones of his own. Honorable mentions include Example, Alex James, Wretch 32, Jason Derulo, Sean Paul, Jimmy Osmond and Professor Green.
Best Sport: James Blunt, Episode 8, taking James Blunt jokes from the panel…and the writers. Honorable mention goes to H from Steps.
Most Annoying Panelist: There wasn’t really one this season, so I’m just gonna put Angelos Epithemiou here, because sometimes he’ll go a little over the top.
Most Confused Panelist: Stacey Solomon, Episode 3, but to be fair that is her most of the time.
Best Runner: Holly Willoughby’s Pool Cleaner, Episode 10. Runner up goes to ‘20% of the Pussycat Dolls’, Episode 8.

Nevermind Watchdown: S25E11, or FLASH! OOH-AARRR

Down to our last two episodes of a rocky-but-still-enjoyable Series 25. This one thankfully features an old friend, someone who can DEFINITELY host an episode, and that’s Rhod Gilbert. In terms of the panel…not a ton of people I know, aside from Charlie Baker, Austin Powers’ brother, Jimmy “Long-Haired Lover from Liverpool” Osmond, and Tom Parker, who sang lead for 2010’s One-Hit-Wonder The Wanted. Caroline Flack’s a TV presenter, doing a ton of aftershows and now the X-Factor.

The cold-open doesn’t even utilize Noel and Phill, but features Rhod only agreeing to host the show if he can do it commando…giving us an unneeded shot of Rhod’s bare bum. Hey, it’s his humor.

The first round gives the team’s props, including a live, adorable dog, which Noel holds. After the audience gives a nice ‘AAAAWWW’, Noel, knowing fake sympathy when he sees it, goes “oh, shut up…”

Jimmy, on working with Michael Jackson: “He was always very kind to those animals…”
Charlie: “He had to be, they knew all the secrets…”
[Jimmy, here, gives the most insincere laugh I have ever heard from a human being. Just ‘ahahahahaha’ in this monotone. It’s truly horrifying]

Charlie: “D’you ever see the Tales of the Unexpected beekeeper one? Where he was giving his son the beekeeper honey…and his son turned into a bee?”
Rhod: “…certainly unexpected…”

Rhod, to Caroline: “Did you go out with Prince Harry?”
Caroline: “…erm…”
The whole audience: “OHHHH”
Charlie: “THAT’S A YES! THAT’S A YES!”
Rhod: “DID YOU REALLY?”
Caroline: “We went out together, but we didn’t…GO OUT.”
Rhod: “Come on. Have you seen the crown jewels?”

Rhod: “Madonna recently turned down a reported 1 billion dollar deal for a Vegas residency. It’s probably for the best- the last time I played roulette with her, the croupier shouted ‘BLACK, SIX!’, and Madonna went ‘I’LL TAKE HIM!'”

Rhod asks Tom for an anecdote about upsetting a fellow performer, and he tells a story about texting something horrible to Nicole Scherzinger.
Rhod: “Tom…that wasn’t the incident I was talking about. I was just talking about your falling-out with Blue…”
Tom: “…oh shit…”
Rhod: “It’s like me saying ‘oh, tell me about that incident!’ ‘I KILLED A MAN’ ‘No, not that one…”
Noel: “You KNOW this is going on telly, do you?”

Phill, to Tom: “Have you ever played pranks on someone when you’ve been on tour with the boys?”
Rhod: “Remember that time you killed Britney Spears?”

Rhod, to Jimmy: “You must have got up to some great times in the Mormons!”
Jimmy, not understanding Rhod’s accent: “Can one of you translate for me?”
Rhod: “YOU KNOW, THE MOOMINS?”
Jimmy: “Oh, the MORMONS. Oh. Yeah, you’re Welsh, aren’t you?”

After Noel and Jimmy’s ‘Californication’ intro
Rhod: “I have to say, in your defense, that that was absolutely appalling…the percussion was alright from Jimmy, but Noel you were-”
Noel: “OHHH HERE WE GO…”
Rhod: “Be honest, did you completely forget the track before you stood up…”
Noel: “D’you know what’s happening now? D’you know when someone’s mean to someone because they slightly fancy them?”
Jimmy: “…I’m gonna get out of the middle of you two, okay?”

Again, just like the rest of Series 25, when they try too hard, it suffers. Jimmy and Noel’s 2nd intro is ‘Crazy Horses’ by the Osmonds, which is accompanied by everyone on the panel wearing Osmond bowl-cuts and teeth. Yeah…a bit too much, there, and the intro is pretty annoying.

I will say that the benefit about having Jimmy Osmond on the show is that it gives a new perspective on a generally hated band- he talks about how Crazy Horses was a metaphor for pollution, and how they stood up for real issues when nobody else in the business were doing that. It gives you a ton of respect for a group once referred to by Arthur Smith as “a bunch of grinning nutters.”

I may be slightly biased because it’s one of my favorites, but Phill and Tom’s intro for ‘One Vision’ was pretty damn good. Even better is Charlie getting it immediately and singing along to it, something we really haven’t had since the early days of the show.
Phill: “CHARLIE BAKER SINGS FREDDIE MERCURY IS NOT AVAILABLE IN THE SHOPS! Do another one.”
Charlie: “DA-DA-DAAAOOOO!…..nothing!”
Phill, going on the Devonshire theme: “FLASH….OOOH-ARRR!”
(Bill Bailey must have been summoned somewhere)

Rhod gives Charlie noise-cancelling headphones to make the 2nd intro trickier, as Charlie has been described as ‘Devon’s Answer to Frank Sinatra’
Rhod: “Tom’s a musician, but he’s also in the Wanted, so he’s got a slight disadvantage…”
Tom: “bastard…”

This leads to another nice moment- Rhod says that Heatwave’s Boogie Nights was the 2nd single he ever bought, so they start talking about their firsts. Noel reveals his was Prince Charming by Adam Ant, which is so true to character.

Even better- Noel rules out #2 because he thinks he’s Athelston, saying ‘#2’s been on the series a billion times before…”…and it ends up being him.

Rhod: “Tom, I heard that you once bedded five ladies in one night…”
Phill: “Nono, he was coaching a small football team.”
Rhod: “Was it the Saturdays”
[Hindsight: No, it was not the Saturdays. Just ask Ruby Rose.]
Noel: “Was it the Osmonds?”

Charlie: “By the fifth one, were you like ‘uuuughh…I don’t think I’ve got it in me, to be honest…d’you mind just…folding it up and putting it in?”
[The whole room reacts]
Phill: “….DEVON’S ANSWER TO FRANK SINATRA???”

Next Lines: “My universe will never be the same”
Tom: “…”
Audience member: “I’M GLAD YOU CAME!”
Tom: “I’m glad you came. She got it!”
Rhod: “Well, actually, no, it was ‘I’M GLAD YOU CAME I’M GLAD YOU CAME’
Charlie: “Was she one of the five?”
Rhod: “She came twice, don’t put yourself down…”

Rhod: “I know that it’s a little bit frightening”
Phill: “But I need a chlamydia test after this show…”

Rhod: “Things are getting strange, I’m starting to worry”
Noel: “Is this a song, or is it just you writing diaries?”

Overall: Good enough show, though it’ll likely be placed near the middle, despite Rhod’s best efforts. The panel didn’t do a ton of working together, save for Charlie, though he’s a comedian so it’s understandable. Caroline and Tom took some good barbs from Rhod, and Jimmy had some good moments, though he was a bit out-of-place. Rhod, obviously, was a fantastic host, in the same take-no-shit vein as Mark Lamarr, and of COURSE he did well here.

Guest Host Rating: 9/10
Best Regular: Noel
Best Guest: Charlie
Best Runner: Devon’s Answer to Frank Sinatra

Nevermind Watchdown: S25E10, or Surely That’s what Come Together’s About…

Onto what’s probably gonna be a strange entry into Series 25- Cilla Black, famed performer and TV Presenter, is guest-hosting, and panelists include Mock the Week’s Tiff Stevenson, future Huey Morgan upsetters Rizzle Kicks, Holly Willoughby, who hasn’t been on since Series 17, and…and Angelos Epithemiou. So this is gonna be interesting, I think.

The cold open tradition returns with Phill and Noel recovering after a long night of partying with Cilla Black. The concerning part is that now these cold opens have laugh tracks. Ooooch.

For some reason, instead of Cilla reading the panelist intros, they have a cheesy announcer do it like it’s Blind Date.

On the Dexy’s Clip:
Tiff: “I know what year it is, but I think that’s Noel in the background playing a stick…”
Screen Shot 2017-01-09 at 3.44.18 PM.png

Jordan: “I think I saw my auntie dancing in the background.”
Phill: “What year did she dance with Culture Club?”
Jordan: “…I think I just made that up for comedic value…”
Phill: “OKAY…”

Phill: “From what I’ve heard, I think Snoop would need a queue for exposing himself…”
Jordan: “What d’you mean?”
Phill: “….HIS ENORMOUS COCK!”
Cilla, as if she wasn’t expecting this ‘student behavior’: “…OH MY GOD!”

Phill: “The young man asked, I had to tell him-”
Jordan: “I DIDN’T…oh, yeah, I did.”

Cilla, after making a dick joke inspired by one of her songs: “…The things I have to do for money…”

Holly: “I will hold my hands up and say that back in the day I was a bit of a Peter Andre fan…”
Angelos: “Oh yeah? Me too…”

Noel asks Holly how exactly a vacation would evoke Peter Andre memories
Phill: “You have to understand, Holly, that anytime Noel goes on holiday, he has to have a volcano there so he can frolic with the orcs…”
Angelos, true to character: “Is that true? That seems EXTRAORDINARY…”

Holly: “I did actually kiss a local boy. His name was Evan Daniel Gonzalez Santana.”
Cilla: “That’s a mouthful.”
Phill, spanish accent: “I AM EVAN DANIEL GONZALEZ SANTANA….AND I HAVE COME TO AVENGE MY FATHER, HOLLY WILLOUGHBY.”

Holly: “He was actually the pool cleaner at the resort…”
Phill, spanish accent: “I ASSURE YOU…THE BAG ON THE END OF THIS LONG STICK IS FOR REMOVING LEAVES.”
Noel, somehow doing a Bela Lugosi impression: “Look, Holly, I pulled a moth from the pool!”

Holly: “I’m lucky I remember his name, to be honest…”
Angelos: “No, you’re not gonna forget a name like that.”
Phill: “You sure it wasn’t four blokes?”
Holly: “I’m very sure.”
Phill: “He’s probably watching this now going “AH, HOLLY WILLOUGHBY…”
Noel: “YOU KILLED MY FATHER!”
Phill: “I COULD HAVE BEEN YOURS, AND NOW I HAVE *TWO* POOLS!”
Noel: “Oh look, that moth just woke up…”

Holly: “Everybody knows that if you put anything, even hair, in the freezer, the chewing gum comes right off…”
Noel: “You’re not gonna put your head in the freezer…”
Phill: “WALT DISNEY DID!”

Pre-intros
Noel: “Have you ever seen this show on telly?”
Angelos: “NO. Why would you?”

Angelos can’t get the title of ‘Come Together’.An
Cilla: “Pass it over to the-”
Angelos: “No, don’t pass it to them. I’ll be here all night guessing, I’d rather do that!”

Noel: “Can you read?”
Angelos: “Yes.”
Noel shows him the card
Angelos: “…dunno what that says.”

Holly, trying to give a clue: “Lots of people in the same area, how did they get there?”
Angelos: “…THE BUS!”
Holly, still reaching: “When you’re…making love…”
PHILL’S ENTIRE PANEL LOSES IT

Cilla: “Did you know I was great friends with the Beatles?”
Holly: “Who was your favorite?”
[Angelos, in the background: “DUNG!”]
Cilla: “Well, I went through the lot of them actually…”
Phill, taking this the wrong way: “CILLA BLACK!”
Cilla: “NO. NO NO NO. LET ME CLARIFY-”
Noel: “Surely that’s what Come Together’s about…”

Angelos pulls a blind man’s stick out of his bag, just as a prop.
Noel: “I used to play that in Dexy’s Midnight Runners!”

Holly, trying to give Angelos a hint on the Take That one
Holly: “Picture the boys…”
Angelos: “I’m picturing them…”
Holly: “Who else is there?”
Angelos: “Uhhh…their manager?”

Cilla: “Phill and Rizzle Sticks- NO”
Phill is already gone. Thanks to a lot of the unintentional humor, this is a very high Jupitus giggling episode. Very similar to the Terry Wogan show, though Terry was a better host.

Tiff: “I think this was the song that was playing when Holly was having her pool boy romance…”
Holly: “WERE YOU THERE???”
Phill: “PLEASE, NOT NOW HOLLY, I CCHAVE TO CLEAR OUT THE DEEP END! A *CHILD* HAS LEFT SOMETHING IN DE POOL THAT NOBODY WANTS TO SEE!”

For the ID Parade, Noel’s team has to guess which one was the first ever Blind Date contestant to actually marry the guy she met on the show- it’s a nice Cilla-inspired twist.

Instead of Next Lines, there’s trivia questions about love and music…bending to the guest host again, which needs to stop being a thing.

One of the questions is which of Tommy Lee, Christopher Biggins and Frank Sinatra hasn’t released a sex tape.
Phill: “Sinatra.”
Tiff: “Ohh no, that means there’s a sex-tape of Biggins out there…”
Phill: “AUUUUUUGHHH, MY EYES!!!”

Overall: Flawed show, but had some nice moments. Not a great panel presence, and not a great guest host, but Phill and Noel kept giving really nice moments, Angelos and Tiff had a few good lines, and at least Cilla had some nice moments, even if she was a bit slow and wrong for the role.

Guest Host Rating: 6.5/10
Best Regular: Phill
Best Guest: Holly
Best Runner: Holly and the Pool Cleaner