QI Watchdown: H16 (History)

Well, it’s taken us about a year, but we’ve FINALLY made it to the end of Series H. While this has had some pretty nice moments, the bulk of the series was pretty ‘meh’. There weren’t a ton of bad episodes, and there were some great ones here and there, but in the midst of what’s considered by many as a golden era of QI, this is a tad disappointing.

Tonight, we have three of the more civilized, intelligent people in Qi on the same panel: Rob Brydon, Sandi Toksvig and David Mitchell. Only David has been on an above-par episode this season, the Health and Safety show, and while Rob and Sandi have had some great showings, they haven’t themselves been a part of a great show. Hopefully this changes tonight.

Stephen, top of the show: “Let’s start out with something nice and easy: name a henge…”
Panel: “….”
Alan: “Now, come on…”

David gets the first klaxon of the night (which is rather quick for a bunch of really smart people) by guessing Seahenge, which Stephen says just has ‘henge’ in it, and isn’t a henge.
Alan: “So, the word henge in it…that, uh, that’s wrong?”

Talking of the Druids at Stonehenge:
Rob: “Presumably…I mean, they can’t all have parked miles away, they must have stickers in their windows with a little druid sign on it…which also gets them into KKK meetings…”
Stephen: “They just have to straighten up their headdresses…”
Rob: “They can park near the burning cross.”

Stephen asks what carhenge is, and Rob’s initially quite confident, but the picture changes and he’s like “maybe it’s not that.”
Eventually he says “it was featured on the liner notes for Bruce Springsteen’s The River, part of the song Cadillac Ranch…it’s all these Cadillacs, and- oh, that’s not it, is it?”
[The shot is panned all the way out, as if the klaxon’s about to sound]
Stephen: “It is!”
Rob: “IT IS! IT IS!”

Stephen: “It was a memorial to his father.”
Sandi: “Was he killed in a car accident?”

Stephen talks about lay lines, including an example, of how every Woolworth’s lines up to an exact picture.
Sandi: “It does look like if you folded it one more time, you’d get a frog.”
David: “Surely there are more…”
Stephen: “Oh, there are hundreds more-”
David: “So it’s been very selective.”
Stephen: “What, and people who believe in lay lines AREN’T?”

Stephen passes around ancient golden bowls. Alan says that his has a hole in the bottom.
Stephen: “You’ve all got holes in the bottom?”
Stephen realizes the flaw here, and responds with a “HEY!”
Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 11.38.16 PM.png

Rob: “You know what I’d use this for? If I were eating pistachios at home, while watching the Emmerdale omnibus…I would use this to-”
Stephen and Alan: “KILL YOURSELF!”

Stephen says that an older way of measuring time was setting candles so that a cannon would go off at twelve noon.
Sandi: “That must be a fantastic way to wake the children.”
Alan: “Yeah, in a hail of bullets. ‘GET READY FOR SCHOOL!’ ‘BUHBUHBUHBUHBUHBUH!”
Stephen: “DANCE!”

Additionally, China had a type of joss stick that would burn for increments of time, and would change scents in intervals.
Sandi: “Oooh, it’s cinnamon, I must collect the children!”

Stephen tells the panel that sponges can reform their initial shape after liquidation.
David: “So, they’re essentially like terminators?”
Stephen: “YES! EXACTLY! But Terminator 2.”
David: “So it’s definitely evil? Like, it could destroy all sponges?”
Rob: “That’s only natural sponge, not the one you get at Halford’s…”

Stephen: “Time speeds up as you get older. I had an aunt in her 90s who said “GOSH, IT CAN’T BE BREAKFAST *AGAIN!*”

David: “What, to the queen mother, everything ever 1964 has just been a big BLUR! She must have thought ‘my horses are DEFINITELY getting quicker!”

Then, this comes up on the behind-screen:
Screen Shot 2017-02-10 at 5.59.36 PM.pngAlan, to David: “You look hilarious on the end…”
Stephen: “THAT…is a CHARACTER. Somebody has got to write a sitcom around David Mitchell’s character…”
David: “I feel like, in this war film, I die about 2/3rd of the way through…”

Sandi, proving again that she’s a welcome presence on the show, tells a story about reboarding a plane after a plane in front of them had crashed, and the pilot saying, on the intercom, “I know many of you are seasoned travelers and don’t normally watch the safety instructions, but PERHAPS TODAY…”

Stephen reports that plane patrons are at ease with a pilot with an Edinburgh accent, immediately followed by, in a Billy Connolly accent, “I DUUN’T THINK THA’D BE VERY GOOD…”

Sandi brings up that the chairman of the pork pie association is a vegetarian, and David is completely baffled.
Screen Shot 2017-02-12 at 2.45.42 PM.png
David: “Yes, but how…what-”
Stephen: “HE’S ANGRY, NOW!”
David: “No, I’m absolutely…god, what’s this man DONE with his life? You can’t, on one hand, say that it’s wrong to eat animals, and then dedicate your life to marketing a ground-up pig!”
Stephen: “…you’ve got a point!”
David: “It’s just like a pacifist…nuclear weapons manufacturer!”
Alan: “Maybe he thought it was a job being chairman of Porkpie HATS…”

On what this object is:
Screen Shot 2017-02-12 at 2.50.24 PM.png
Sandi: “Is it an over-large hearing aid?”
Stephen: “Yes.”
Sandi: “…WHAT?” [bursts out laughing]

Stephen: “Who succeeded Harold as King of England in 1066?”
Sandi: “…Is there a trick to this?”
Stephen: “…No, you just need to name the person that succeeded Harold as King in 1066…”

Overall: True to form for this season, a ‘good enough’ ending. Nobody had a truly bad day, but the episode only occasionally got out of a ‘middling’ rut. Sandi probably had the best night, followed by David, not to close a quieter Rob out. Just a quieter, ho-hum show, not bad but just middling.

MVP: Sandi
Best Guest: David
Best QI Fact: Bowlingtons

SERIES H SUPERLATIVES (FINALLY!)
Best Episode: H1, Hodge Podge, featuring an insanely on-panel, a great debut from Ross Noble, and a toblerone-rolo combo.
2nd Best Episode: H14, Hocus Pocus, featuring a surprisingly game Daniel Radcliffe, Lee Mack arguing about the I-before-E joke, Graham Norton answering a question about sailors, and the show ending with a dead panelist.
Worst Episode: H3, Hoaxes. Mostly thanks to an emphasis on information, and Danny Baker, this one never really got off the ground, despite Sean Lock’s best efforts.
Episode Most Worthy of Another Watch: H10, Health and Safety. Just a nice episode I undervalued a bit in the initial watchdown that still has enough great moments…mostly thanks to Ross Noble.
Best In-Episode Runner: Gyles Brandreth’s insistence on touching Sue Perkins, H2: H-Anatomy. Just the way this got funnier as it went along, especially with Sue’s horror.
Best Recurring Guest: Ross Noble, for being a newcomer to the series and ABSOLUTELY DOMINATING three episodes. Impressive stuff, especially considering he’s a fixture for the rest of the run.
Most Underused Recurring Guest: Rich Hall. A quieter, less present showing on two occasions.
Most Improved: Jack Dee, for being a nice presence on two pretty nice episodes.
Worst Guest: Ruby Wax, H5, H-Animals, for not adding anything and for just being confused by the proceedings.
Best Guest Appearance: Eddie Izzard, H9, House and Home, for…being Eddie Izzard and having a grand old time.
Guest We Wish Wasn’t Done After this Series: Graham Norton, H14, Hocus Pocus. Because he’s always a nice presence in episodes, and…I wish he was on more.
Most Welcome Return: Gyles Brandreth, H2, H-Anatomy, for coming back and knowing everything, yet still contributing fairly to a pretty nice episode, and playing well with the rest of the panel.
Rookie of the Year: Ross Noble. See above.
Best Single Moments: Toblerone-Rolo Combo (H1: Hodge-Podge), Pushing hippopotami into the swimming pool (H5: H-Animals), The Quickfire Hypothetical Round that Took Ages, (H8: Hypothetical), Blowing Smoke up Someone’s Ass (H10: Health and Safety), CEILING! (H14: Hocus Pocus), IT’S NOT THERE! MIRAGE! (H15: Hypnosis).

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