Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S02E03 or I Sing, I Dance, and I Eat Socks

Another John Sessions episode, yes, but this one has some highlights: a return engagement for standout guest star Griff Rhys-Jones, and the first S2 appearance of Paul Merton. On the other hand, we have a debut appearance from a rather problematic and edgy-for-edgy’s-sake American, the wrongly dour Ron West, tonight representing Second City Chicago, though WL would have more luck picking from their Toronto branch. He’d be a bit more problematic when paired with the rest of the US crew (Colin, Ryan, Brad and Greg), but here, he’ll be…alright?

Authors: An Englishman and an Australian Batsman Meet Captain Pugwash
Ron: William Goldman
Griff: Edward Lear
Paul: Nostradomus
John: Philip Larkin

Ron’s doing William Goldman. Goldman wrote the Princess Bride. The Princess Bride has a supporting turn from Mel Smith. Mel Smith’s comedy partner is standing next to Ron right now. SMALL WORLD, RIGHT?

(Thankfully, Paul’s nice enough to explain to Ron who Captain Pugwash is)
Clive: “So, we’ve got cricket…a children’s programme you’ve never seen…it should be fairly easy for you…”

Griff has a bit of a hard time making his limerick, cracking up throughout, so Clive has to cut him off when he can’t rhyme with ‘Aussie’.

Not bad, but they lost the plot. Paul did make a conscious effort to bring it back to Pugwash, but John, as usual, went for style over substance.

Film and Theatre Styles v1: John and Griff (the last men on earth)

John starts off as John Denver, one of the last two men alive.
Griff: “Well, then, I suppose the germs didn’t get up there [to the Rockies]”
John: “Oh, no, I’m too bland to die..”
[If only…]

This scene works because John and Griff work off each other well, especially in the Noel Coward style, knowing when to talk. It also helps that John is a bit intimidated by Griff, so he’s not keen to talk over him like he does everyone else.

Also, nice to know we have people who know what a spaghetti western is- Griff goes into a gruff, thick Italian accent in this one.

And with silent movie, both men excel, doing the sort of jerky motion that befits the genre. John and Griff mime eating their shoes, like Chaplin, which is cute. Then, John hands Griff his sock…and Griff shoves it in his mouth.
BUZZ. END OF GAME.

It takes Griff about ten seconds to get the sock out of his mouth, as John cracks up.
John: “You’re regretting that now, aren’t you?”
And Griff has to walk to base with John Sessions’ foot germs all over the inside of his mouth. A truly classic moment.

Great game, too, even up to that pivotal moment. But of course, it’s best known by that end bit, which cracks up the whole room, as well.

Postmortem:
Clive: “…yes….well…”
John: “It’s all wet, now…”
Clive: “Yes, uh, eat your heart out, Mel Smith…”

Film and Theatre Styles v2: Ron and Paul (in a joke shop)

Clive: “Cronenberg? What, is that a type of lager?”
What, did Videodrome not get over to England? Good.

Ron describes the old ‘bloody soap’ prank kit
Paul: “Wouldn’t it be the same if you just hid a razor blade in the soap?”

Clive: “Tom and Jerry”
Paul, to Clive: “There’s no DIALOGUE in Tom and Jerry, is there???”
Ron, smirking: “in this one, there will be…”

Ron: “JERRY, YOU-”
Paul, not liking this one bit: “WHAT’S THAT, TOM?”

Paul: “No, it’s nice of us to have a chat, like this, because usually we’re enemies, aren’t we? I mean, I can’t stand the bulldog either, eh? Why does he talk like Jimmy Durante, that’s what I wanna know…”

Clive: “Let’s go onto Horror-”
Ron, still kneeling: “Oh my god, my legs have been cut off…”

That game was a bit out-of-sorts, as there wasn’t really a scene established other than them being in a joke shop, and Ron broke once or twice, but there was something very silly about it that it didn’t completely fall apart. Paul had some nice moments, and Ron at least kept things going like a champ.

World’s Worst: Entertainment Act

Clive: “No playing yourselves please, and away you go…”

Paul: “Ladies and Gentlemen….IT’S JIMMY TARBUCK!”
Griff, perfect deadpan: “…I sing, I dance, and I eat socks…”
Griff: “…Nancy and I have put together…”
Ron, sort of summing up his whole bit: “Laugh, or I’ll kill myself.”
Griff: “I am the singing surgeon. Uh, a song, a smile, and a hysterectomy!”

Really nice round. Again, John’s are too long, but everyone else did really well. This is also one of the rounds that Ron thrives in.

Props: John and Paul vs. George and Ringo Griff and Ron

You can tell the WL crew was strapped for cash in order to come up with props. This week: a spacehopper vs. a hula hoop. What possibilities can come of these???

Screen Shot 2017-10-31 at 12.34.23 AM.pngPaul: “Doctor, can I talk about this vasectomy you gave me…”

John, handing the prop to Paul: “it’s a baby…”
Paul: [bounces it]

Good enough round, but I didn’t write a ton of them down.

Remote Control: wildlife
Ron: The Twilight Zone
Griff: In at the Deep End
Paul: Points of View
John: Tutti Frutti

Paul: “…I’ve got a letter from a badger in Cheshire…”

Ron’s Rod Serling impression…is really friggin’ good. Even Clive rings the doorbell instead of the buzzer in anticipation.

Paul: “And I’ve got a letter here from an ostrich somewhere that says Paul Daniels is crap.”

Not a bad round, better than other playings so far, though John, AS USUAL, got way too much time for nothing.

Party Quirks: Ron Hosts (?????)
Paul: Must name a fish in every sentence
Griff: slowly turning into a dog
John: Bavarian folk dancer

WHY WOULD YOU LET RON HOST WHEN YOU HAVE PAUL MERTON IN THE BUILDING????

Actually…Ron’s not doing too bad of a job here, guessing Griff easily, and doing well faciliating, and…guessing John after literally one line of dialogue (a treatment usually reserved for Steve Frost).

What I will say is that Ron seemed to guess people too quickly without letting the characters form, but it was a good enough playing.

Overall: Another particularly solid show, with some great performances in unlikely places, some great pairings that I wasn’t expecting, and our first truly classic moment in Griff eating John’s socks. Paul had the best night, elevating some quieter games, and hitting the jugular whenever he could. I’ve come to expect that Paul’s usual mood is a more passive, anti-character one, but it works here, and it compliments somebody like John, who tries TOO hard to be a character, perfectly. Griff had some strong moments, though not wholly as strong as last time. Ron had a decent first outing, despite losing it a bit during his scene showcase. John had the worst night out of everybody, and his punishment would be another episode in Clive’s doghouse.

Show Winner: Griff
Best Performer: Paul, for having the best moments and lines
Worst Performer: John, for barely having any notable moments tonight
Best Game: Film and Theatre Styles v1. Good chemistry is had, socks are eaten.
Worst Game: Authors. Couldn’t get going.

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Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S02E02, or Could You Leave the Python Where it is, please?

Well, that was a nice diversion. We finally got to see what a Whose Line episode without John Sessions looked like, and it wasn’t bad. Well, now we get him back for two more episodes.

Tonight’s show features a return engagement for Josie and Tony after successful turns last show, more John Sessions, and an appearance from Archie Hahn, who was…alright in his two episodes from S1. Not great, but alright.

John’s clean-shaven again, which is a nice touch.

Authors: Sheep-Rearing in the Orkney Isles
Archie: Mickey Spillane
Josie Lawrence: Lewis Carroll
Tony: Mistranslated European Porn
John: Liverpool poets

After Archie cracks at the title suggestion
Clive: “Have you heard of the Orkney Isles, then?”
Archie: “…no…”
Clive, going to the next common denominator: “….do you HAVE sheep in America? I don’t mean you personally, but…”

Tony, just going right in: “…Alice was also being called Helga, yes I think….let’s naked be oh yes.”

Archie takes a long, calculated pause…which Clive uses to buzz. Archie, confused, breaks.

Tony: “Oh, the dodo, look, three more fireman have come-”
BUZZ
The Audience: “AWWWW…”

Solid playing, though Clive still won’t buzz John soon enough.

Film and Theatre Styles v1: Tony and Josie (seeing the doctor)

Already from the getgo, the chemistry is on high, Tony asking Josie to take her clothes off on an eye exam…and then offering to take his off.

Quaint enough playing, with not a ton of standout moments, but you can at least tell that they work well together.

Film and Theatre Styles v2: Archie and John (complaining to a waiter)

The thing that John Sessions…CONTINUES to misunderstand about this game…is that when the styles happen, the plot stays the same. So by the time the Disney Wildlife portion happens, John forgets that he’s supposed to be angry at Archie.

Good news is that Archie Hahn’s duck impression is pretty great. I mean, the guy’s a voice actor. If it wasn’t, I’d be worried.

I mean, they tried…but the scene really couldn’t go anywhere if John and Archie just dropped the plot of the scene.

World’s Worst- children’s party entertainer

Josie: “Alright, children, let’s all play ‘the touching game’, shall we?”
Tony: “Alright, Samantha- how old are you- 5 YEARS OLD, and you’ve won the prize- it’s a sweet, it’s in my pocket…”
Josie: “AND THIS IS THE CHOPPER TO TAKE OFF YOUR HEAD-” [starts up the chainsaw]
Tony: “Sorry, children, but the music system’s broken so I’ll just have to sing to you…..PURPLE HAAAZE, GOIN’ THROUGH MY BR-…”

I’ll say that while this was a pretty nice round, Archie failed to get a laugh, and John also failed to get a laugh, while, for the second time tonight, throwing in a curse word just to get a reaction out of the audience.

Sound Effects: Tony does the sweeping, Archie does the sound effects

I’ll say that this Sound Effects works better than the other ones, as Tony actually knows how to respond to, AND get a response from the sound effects guy, here by scraping a rubbery-sounding poo off his shoes…then shoving it in his mouth.

Though this scene worked more than it didn’t, I feel like I, and Tony, was confused by how the scene ended. Archie definitely has a grasp on animal noises and sound effects, and Tony was great in miming them. My one gripe is that Archie didn’t have a lot of his flying objects land at all.

Tony, trying to make sense of that ending: “I thought I was being crapped on by a helicopter..”
Clive: “We all felt like that, Tony…”

Song Styles: Ironing Board
Josie: Reggae
John: Leonard Cohen

Josie has a nice enough reggae song (better than John’s from last year), with a very nice ‘jamming’ pun to end it off.

But…I may have to give the edge to John here, because from the VERY FIRST MOMENT of his Leonard Cohen number, he nailed the impression. I don’t care if the bloke who shouted out that name was a plant or not (given John’s impression, you can make a case), but John makes this one a classic. And his ‘let’s face it…I’m from Montreal’ ending line is a brilliant improvisation on his part. Also…John Session does a singing game…AND HE ACTUALLY *SINGS!* What are the odds???

Party Quirks:
Josie: Thinks she’s a man
Archie: televangelist
John: astronaut

WITHIN 4 SECONDS OF ENTRY, Josie nails her quirk. Rowdy handshake, grabs crotch. This is why she was so beloved in the early era of WL.

Tony, perturbed: “Toilets are over there, then-”
Josie: “Oh yes, I’ll just go and…shake the python…”
Tony, as he goes to let in Archie: “…could you leave the python where it is, please?”
I don’t know why, but I just loved how he delivered that line.

Archie: “KNEEL DOWN, KNEEL DOWN!”
Tony, knelt: “OoOoOh, it’s a bit early for this, isn’t it?”

Archie: “Take of the SUPPER OF THE LAWD!”
Tony, channeling Paul Merton: “…alright, well there’s twiglets, will that do??”

Archie, trying to take hold of Josie: ‘daughter-”
Josie: “DAUGHTER???” [raises eyebrow towards audience]
Tony, getting the door, to Josie: “You better kneel down, that’s what he did to me…”

John, as an astronaut, makes a ‘moon is made of cheese’ pun…and gets the entire audience against him.

Archie: “simply…kneel before me-”
Tony: “Oh, not AGAIN…”

John, on the departing Archie, still making puns: “Is he one of the moonies?”
Tony: “He only showed me his willy, I don’t…”

For one of the only times, Tony gets all 3 quirks, which is a hell of an achievement, as he’d eventually end games by screaming “…….I DON’T KNOOOOOWWWW” or “OH, WELL FUCK OFF!”

Overall: Somehow better than E1, thanks to just better games, even if there wasn’t a strong panel like last time. This one, like last ep, comes down to Josie and Tony, as both put on strong performances and had great moments. Hell, even John Sessions had a better show, having a great Song Styles song. Archie, as usual, brings up the rear, but even he wasn’t without nice moments here and there. He’s just kind of inconsistent, and is usually the one take-it-or-leave-it member of an otherwise strong group, like tonight.

Show Winner: Tony
Best Performer: Tony, for winning his second show in a row (content-wise) and having some truly career-defining moments and lines tonight.
Worst Performer: Archie, for, again, bringing up the rear.
Best Game: Party Quirks. I could have gone with anything from the latter half, but Party Quirks had the best moments, even if John was picking some low-hanging fruit- Tony’s working off of Josie and Archie really sold this one for me.
Worst Game: Film and Theatre Styles. Both of them. Neither got off the ground.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway? S02E01, or QUICK! RUN AROUND POINTLESSLY!

And after a middling-to-bottom-barrel Series 1…lo, a savior appeared, and entered from the sunny shores of California, with his thick glasses and eternal smirk.

For the first time in Whose Line history, there would be no John Sessions in this episode, but a panel consisting of Josie Lawrence, the MVP of S1, Tony Slattery, one of the funnier recurring panelists of S1, Mike McShane, a guy who wowed so much in S1 that his episode was a treasure trove of fantastic material, and said newcomer from San Francisco…the great Greg Proops. This may be the first ‘OH MY GOD’ panel that Whose Line gives us…let’s buckle up and get ready.

First of all, there’s a new, more abstract opening sequence, with actors in mime uniforms going about scenes, which is stylish but very early-90s.

Screen Shot 2017-10-29 at 2.53.12 PM.png“Oversexed, Over-acting and over here, Greg Proops.” Gotta love him.

Authors: Rambo Had a Sore Toe and was Stopped for Drunk Driving
Greg: Earl Hamner Jr.
Josie: Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Tony: air hostess training manual
Mike: Rosetta Stone

Clive: “Can we have a title for our story here?”
Audience member: “RAMBO!”
Clive: “Yes….could we have a bit of plot in it so we know where we’re going?”

Greg: “Suddenly, Sylvester Stallone came up, bobbing and wheezing the whole way, ‘EEUUUGH…AAUUUGHHH…’, we couldn’t tell he was drunk.”

Tony: “…in the event of Rambo’s biceps exploding…his liver, and most of his other organs, will be situated THERE, THERE AND THERE…”

Quick round, but really good all-throughout, which…honestly, is the first time i can say that about this game, now that John’s off.

Film and Theatre Styles v1: Two Inventors Meeting (Greg & Tony)

Clive: “I might throw a Carry-On in there for you, Greg, just to confuse you. I assume the Carry-Ons haven’t been very big in America…”
Greg: “Oh no, they’re WILDLY popular.” [gives an ‘I DON’T KNOW’ look]
AND SO IT BEGINS…

Interesting that once the Macbeth style begins, Richard comes in with some fitting music, just as Greg comes in with his indecipherable Scottish.

After Greg, Macbeth style, goes on a Scottish tangent about the cheese invention.
Tony: “….you’re pissed AGAIN…”

Clive: ‘Disaster’
Tony, taking this a bit literally: ‘OH MY GOD, IT DOESN’T WORK AFTER ALL!”
Greg: “What’ll we do? QUICK- RUN AROUND POINTLESSLY!”

Tony, writhing around: “It’s either an earthquake or I’m developing a nervous muscular disease, I don’t know!”

Quaint enough scene, powered by Tony and Greg working really well together, and having an equal ownership of the scene’s best moments.

Film and Theatre Styles v2- Mike, an agent, discovers Josie

From the getgo, this scene is very well-acted, mostly from Mike playing the gruff agent, completely won over.

The bulk of this scene is pretty standard, nothing really standing out, until the ‘children’s television’ section, where it gets a bit dirty, but thankfully it ends there. Okay scene, not as good as Tony and Greg’s.

Song Styles: hose pipe
Mike: blues
Josie: Edith Piaf

Josie has to explain to Mike that it’s just a garden hose.
Clive: “Sorry, we’re having simultaneous translation from the audience…”
Mike: “The delegate from Bulgaria- “EET’S A HOSE PIPE, JA.”
Clive: “Can we, uh-”
Mike: “Clive, it’s not the size of the hose, it’s how much water you can pass through that baby…”

From Mike’s very first song styles, we can already see how masterful he is in singing games, as he NAILS this blues song, going a second verse and ending with the line “come on over and…bring your hose.”

Clive, upon hearing Josie’s style- “Do it in french, Josie, make it easy…”

JOSIE’S, however…absolutely masterful. One of the first Song Styles that could double as a real, heart-wrenching song. It’s a wonderful Edith Piaf, too, nailing the melancholy nature of her performances.

And then, she ends with “why did you go away….JOSE….”

World’s Worst: Person to be Marooned on a Desert Island with:

Greg: “Have ya ever thought about cannibalism?..”
Mike: “LOOK, LOOK, IT’S A BOAT……I LIED! HAHAHAHA!”

Good playing, but was a bit too short for me.

Also, right before commercial, Greg goes over and gives Mike a high-five. Already the Americans are congregating. Soon they’ll have taken over the whole program.

Rap: Cooking

I love the amount of weird dancing in this playing, especially from Mike, Greg and Tony.

Tony: “It’s where it’s at, it’s where it’s been, I’m a pissed chef [drops voice] I’d like a large gin…”

Greg’s is the simplest, possibly funniest, and closest to a much-maligned singing game that would premiere in a season or two.

Explanations: God
Tony and Josie: six-year olds
Mike and Greg: construction workers.

I don’t think they ever played this one again, but it’s a simple concept.

Josie, starting: “GOD!”
Tony: shu’up!”

Josie: “God is NOT a man, he’s a white cloud…”
Tony: “shush, stink-pants…”

Josie: “And the devil lives in HELLL…”
Tony: “…and sometimes in Basildon…”

Mike: “Kay, let’s explain the concept of the trinity, alright?”
Greg: “There’s the father…the son….and the other guy, the fruity one…”

Pleasant enough game, good for pairs, but I do understand why they stopped doing this one.

Musical:
Making chocolate cakes, flying to Paris, and washing up

After Josie and Mike do a really nice chocolate cake section
Tony: “Hi, I’m Brad, the tap-dancing air-steward!” [flails about]

Also, the whole sequence with Tony speaking french and Mike and Josie reacting to him “Is he Jacques Brielle?”

More than any other playing, this version has a cohesive story, fitting through each segment, instead of just landing one after the other. Greg has a great role as a grumpy French chef.

The game ends on an amusing note, even though the performers think it’s going to go on for one beat more than it does. Pretty nice game, despite some clumsiness here and there.

Also, as an added bonus, we get an appearance from Greg’s Elvis Costello impression over the credits, which is always a nice touch.

Overall: Generally solid show, with some unsteadiness in some parts and some brilliance in others. It’s very hard to pick standout performances, as everyone was on similar wavelengths, but Tony had some great lines, Josie had some great musical moments, Mike, though he came off a bit stronger than he did in S1, was masterful, and though Greg brings up the rear in not having as many standout moments as the rest, he still had a fantastic debut show. I feel like the performers were more masterful than some of the games, though, as many were simply quaint without being top-to-bottom wonderful.

Show Winner: Greg
Best Performer: Tony, for having some great lines and moments
Worst Performer: Greg, but only because the other three had more huge moments tonight.
Best Game: Film and Theatre Styles v1, with some great teamwork from Tony and Greg
Worst Game: Film and Theatre Styles v2, for having the least to it. Nearly went to World’s Worst for being too short.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S01E13, or Take Me to the Pilot

The last thing we have to do for Series 1 of Whose Line is watch through the pilot, and then we get to wrap this infantile series up in a bow and just discuss it in comparison to the awesome work that will be done in series’ future.

Unfortunately, tonight’s show features the pairing of SERIES REGULAR John Sessions and future-producer and improv vortex Jimmy Mulville, as well as Spitting Image cast-member and…genuine nobody Jon Glover. At least Josie’s here to save the day.

Clive, in a pre-taped intro, reassures the audience that he’s not, in fact, hosting the pilot, but rather “my identical twin brother, who’s looking very, very uncomfortable”. Premiere example of the future of the show looking back at the awkward early version.

Screen Shot 2017-10-28 at 5.19.05 PM.png

This is what the set looked like for episode 1. Mark Leveson referred to this as the ‘airport terminal’ set, so that, plus the ‘pilot’ feeling, just goes into the theme of a maiden voyage.

John’s finally wearing the suit-shirt combo that’s been featured in the opening titles for the last 12 episodes. At last we finally know where that came from.

The buzzer is more of a polite bell here, which is off-putting, even to Clive.

Authors: A Visit to the Dentist
Jon: Daniel Defoe
Jimmy: Solzhenitzyn
Josie: Jackie Collins
John: T.S. Eliot

Josie, announcing hers: “I’m gonna go for Jackie Collins.”
Jimmy: “somebody should…”

Jon, off to a great start: “June the 25th, 1717…..Christmas Day…”

Amusing enough playing, with…honestly, more laughs than usual playings of this game. Jimmy, again, doesn’t take this seriously enough. And, as usual, John gets 20 more seconds than everybody else.

Film and Theatre Styles v1:
Josie and Jimmy: starting a relationship

This early on, the game is called Genre Option, which is a bit odd, but…it’s F&TS, by far.

At least there’s a cute line to start off with
Josie: “Martini?”
Jimmy: “…no, Jimmy actually…”

Usually I bash Jimmy’s improv, but here it’s surprisingly good, especially melding style with the plot. He’s great in the western bit, but not as good as Josie, slinging the drink across the room.

And then, with Pinter, both of them nail the sort of belabored staccato his plays are usually laden with.

Jimmy in the Disney section is more worrisome though, as doing a cheeky Disney joke and just going ‘WOW’, making Josie do all the work.
Josie: “Why don’t we sing our favorite song?”
Jimmy: “Okay.”
Josie: “You start.”

Film and Theatre Styles v2
John and Jon: real estate agent showing a property

From the getgo, John and Jon seem to be playing two different games, not yes-anding or doing good collaborative improv.

This isn’t a very good scene, because they’re not working together, and they’ve lost the scene, though Jon is doing what he can with John talking over him every time.

Film Dub: John and Jimmy: …no scene prompt?

Yeah, without a scene prompt, this one sort of limps along, with Jimmy yelling over Jon (a theme tonight), and a lot of nonsensical shouting with no real sense of when the characters are moving their mouths. Just…a mess.

Song Styles: washing machine
Josie: country western song
John: music hall song

As usual, Josie has the standout song here, especially considering she’s got a nice grasp on the country style. After the first verse, Clive tries to end it, but…they’ve got another verse in ’em, and it’s a really cool, excellently done playing. Proof that Josie was unbeatable in singing games.

And John’s….actually isn’t bad this week. It’s a very 1920’s-esque thing, and he gets the twang down perfectly, as well as actually following the tempo and song structure (for ONCE). However, unlike Josie’s it stops about a verse before it should have, simply because John didn’t want to go on.

Props: Josie and Jimmy vs. the Johns

Once again, Jimmy uses this round to be too cheeky, after blowing a joke, he looks at the camera, and goes ‘cut that one out, right?”

Not a very good round here, either.

Opera:
Brushing teeth, missing a train, having a barbecue 

Josie enters and immediately sets this game at a high of 10.

John, after entering, does another no-but with a name, and does his own thing (again, WHY was he a REGULAR on an IMPROV SHOW???).

And again, once Jon and Jimmy enter, the scene becomes even worse when they’re all singing at the same time, so nothing’s really distinguishable, as well as entering with the barbecue motif as the train one hadn’t really progressed. It finishes, again, confusingly.

Overall: If this was the pilot, we’re very VERY lucky the series got picked up. Jon, Jimmy and John weren’t funny and didn’t do great improv, though Jimmy had some nice moments in F&TS, and John had a better song. If it weren’t for Josie Lawrence, this show never would have happened, but she carried every game, and saved this from being completely unwatchable.

Show Winner: John
Best Performer: Josie Lawrence, by far
Worst Performer: Jon Glover, simply because he wasn’t really allowed to do anything, and everyone talked over him.
Best Game: Song Styles. The only game that worked completely.
Worst Game: Film Dub. Never got off the ground. Props and Opera came close.

SERIES 1 SUPERLATIVES!
Best Episode: E9, featuring the arrival of Mike McShane, some cheeky, hysterical moments from Tony Slattery, one of the best World’s Worst playings so far, and a rousing Musical, topped only by the other playing from this taping.
2nd Best Episode: E5, featuring supreme teamwork from everyone, a fantastic Party Quirks, Jonathan Pryce working really well with John Sessions, and Josie excelling not only in a career high Song Styles, but in a wall-to-wall amazing Film and Theatre Styles with Paul Merton.
Worst Episode: E13, the Pilot. More bad games than good one, and three guys that weren’t great at improv.
2nd Worst Episode: E2. Again, many separate voices, none that wanted to work together, and no real standout moments, which explains why no content from this episode made it to any compilation. Rory Bremner made a great case for a return engagement 5 seasons later, though.
Best Recurring Performer: Josie Lawrence, for having a fantastic show in all six of her episodes, and giving some legitimately great work without breaking a sweat. Paul Merton, Stephen Fry and Tony Slattery came close.
Worst Recurring Performer: Jimmy Mulville. Disrespectful and pathetic.
Best Guest Star: Griff Rhys-Jones, for working well off of the bloke that kept doing an impression of him.
Worst Guest Star: Peter Cook, for letting Rory McGrath take him out for drinks before the taping.
Game that Most Belonged in an Episode (from the Comps): Every Other Line from the E3 taping, which would have elevated that episode to classic status.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S01E12

Another compilation, so I’ll be judging games based on how they stack up to the rest of their original taping, rather than judging the show as a whole.

Film and Theatre Styles: Josie and John (showing around a museum)
Original Episode: S01E10

First of all, we’re only seeing one version of this game, which makes me wonder what the Stephen and Enn playing from this taping must have looked like, or why it didn’t make air.

Audience member: “CARRY-ON FILM!”
Clive: “That’s the…13th successive week we’ve had that suggestion…”

Clive: “How about a Doctor in the House movie? They never suggest that, why don’t-”
Cheeky Scottish Audience Member: “DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE!”
Clive: “….well, that’s a great echo we’ve got in here..’

Josie, responding to John’s thick accent: “You’re not from these parts, are you?”
John: “No, I am from Shropshire…”

The Bill Forsyth round works really well, as both do middle-class Scottish accents, and towards the buzzer, John runs off yelling for Gregory. Bit of an obscure choice, but somehow they’d both heard of him.

And then, with Dirty Harry film, John goes into a really good Clint Eastwood and the tension between the two is really nice, as Josie brings the scene back to the museum setting they’d briefly gone away from.

Josie: “Is that a gun in your pocket?”
John: “No, it’s a very, very, very, VERY big sculpture.”
As the buzzer goes off, John grabs Josie and attempts to make out with her.

They lost me a bit with Doctor in the House, but the Astaire and Rogers scene brings it back, tonally and structurally. John even sings, which…he doesn’t even do during SINGING GAMES..

Relatively nice one, though I can only assume the Enn & Stephen playing left this game back from the taping, which is sad.

Story: Rory tells, Jonathan, John and Tony act
Title: I was a Russian Fighter Pilot
Moral: Never do it on the first date.
Original Taping: S01E07

Rory, even though he’s a bit shaky to start off, pulls a nice one on John, previewing a character named John Johnovitch Jonovitch Denisinov. John bounds onstage, smiling, pointing at the sky.
Rory: “…he was a miserable bastard…”
John’s expression sinks.

Rory, again, is a bit too cheeky for my tastes, bringing in a football reference that A.) I didn’t get, and B.) He should have just saved for They Think it’s All Over in a few years. He also breaks the fourth wall in pointing out the inaccuracy in an accent or something, which brings him closer to George McGrath in his ‘I can’t control how this is going, and it pisses me off’ mood.

Rory eventually introduces Tony as, well ‘TONY’, and he arrives, already selling the scene.
Rory: “Tony was a beautiful girl…”
Tony: Screen Shot 2017-10-27 at 3.21.05 PM.png

The scene limps along, with John having an indecipherable russian accent, and Tony trying to save things, but only doing so much.

I’ll give Jonathan credit for a really inspired joke, as Rory introduces him as Mikhail Gorbachev, and Jonathan makes fun of the one distinguishable feature Gorbachev was known for, while also fitting in the aviation theme.
Screen Shot 2017-10-27 at 3.23.57 PM.png

This scene, like the George McGrath one, didn’t work, because the storyteller was too cheeky to keep an integrity-laden story going, instead going out of his way to make corny jokes. Stephen at least had the jokes arrive naturally rather than stopping the action to make them. The scene was kind of a mess, despite Jonathan and Tony’s best efforts.

Rap: Josie, Mike, Tony and John- Handbags
From: S01E09

Like last rap, Clive credits a drummer for the electronic drumbeat Richard provides: “so, take it away Ringo…”

John’s rap was better than usual, though he lost tempo a bit. I’d say it was a bit similar to Russell Howard’s knowingly pathetic raps in Scenes We’d Like to See (“he’s just like me, except more beardy”)

Like most singing games, Tony cringes here, but he has a nice enough verse about shoving a handbag up his ass.

For some reason, this playing goes for another round. WHY? Aside from Tony’s hilariously violent 2nd verse, this was fine with just one round.

Song Styles: Josie sings about a TV set in a Eurovision-inspired number
From: S01E05

Josie does well here, doing a knowingly-cringy Eurovision entry (probably by some other European country), getting the mood AND enthusiasm down pat. There’s a TON of really nice Josie vocal moments, and it ends right with a final reference to a TV set. Very cool, maybe the John song stopped this one from getting in.

Party Quirks
Tony: Host
Rory: compulsive liar
Jonathan: undertaker looking for business
John: someone from Thunderbirds
From: S01E07

This feels like a later-series playing, because Tony starts out just riling off gags and interacting with people, and it feels like he’s been doing this for a while (even though it’s only been a few shows).

Jonathan is really great here, asking if Tony’s mother is doing any better, with this hangdog expression.
Tony: “Well, she has been dead for years.”
Jonathan, undeterred: ‘Ah, how’s your father then…”
[“how’s about a bit of how’s your faaather..?”]

Then John, as a malfunctioning marionette, just falls on the floor once he enters. This feels really contemporary in terms of the show.

It’s even funnier when John, Rory and Jonathan start interacting with each other, as Tony just tries to figure out who’s who. Clive, as usual, has to press him to choose.
Tony: “IF YOU THREE WANT TO HAVE SEX, YOU CAN GO UPSTAIRS!”

Still, Tony nabs Jonathan and Rory in succession, as John flops around on the floor. Hell, his mic even comes unattached, and he basically gives it to Tony, pathetically.

Great round, would have definitely improved the caliber of 1×07 greatly.

Every Other Line: Josie reads, John plays: booking an airline ticket
From: S01E03
End Line: It’s Not as Small as it Looks

Finally something from this taping appears in the compilation, as I was worried the producers were ashamed of letting any more drunk Peter Cook make air. Thankfully, this game, a near-classic, appears here.

On the end line, Clive: “Have you ever had to say that, Stephen?”
Stephen: “No, because, oddly enough, it is!”
Clive: “Well, let’s not go on about your nose.”
Stephen gives Clive a knowing look here.,

This game works so well because Stephen’s able to respond brilliantly to the lines Josie’s reeling off, without losing his cool, or the scene.

Josie: “Someone has punctured their back tires.”
Stephen: [goes for a closer look, curiously]

As Stephen once again asks for an airline ticket
Josie: “With treacle?”
Stephen: “I think we have, uh…rather severely crossed lines here. No, I wouldn’t like to EAT the ticket, nor with honey, treacle, marmalade, anything of the kind. Just a plain, ordinary, VANILLA, if you like, airline ticket.”

Josie: “With treacle, your boys have put treacle in one of the toolbags of my girls.”
Stephen: “….is this some kind of euphemism for something?”
Josie: “In their toolbags, that’s a new one to me…”
Stephen: “Well, I mean, it’s possible- they’re only sort of NINE…I doubt their toolbags are that advanced…I mean, Johnny there, worries me, because he has got a toolbag that, frankly, isn’t as small as it looks.”
BUZZ. BRAVO.

I think this scene wasn’t in the show because the game Peter and John played, probably Couples, wasn’t airable. What a loss, though, as this is Stephen’s finest moment in the game…at least for another 8 seasons…

American Musical: hang-gliding, getting lost in a maze, going to a party
Mike, Josie, Tony and John
From: S01E09

So…they did an ALTERNATE American musical from this taping? Because the one they aired was really good, so…why did they need to play another one? Just for the compilation?

Mike and Josie start off with a really good moment, falling while hang-gliding, featuring the immortal line, “if I had to go down…I’d go down with you.” Dewey Cox would be proud.

In terms of scene structure, this game really works, with Tony’s section leading them to the maze, and having a really nice moment, as well as John appearing to change the mood again. This is structurally close to a musical, even if, ONCE AGAIN, John is refusing to sing.

Josie, winding to a close: ‘Does it mean that no matter where we run, we’ll still come back to the same spot?”
John: “That’s right! You’ll keep looking like an asshole!”

That was…actually really nice. I ask, calmly, why that one didn’t make the finished episode? Yes, the ‘abused me with his truncheon’ line is great, but the clumsiness of the original Musical drags it down. This one has a great structure, everyone has a moment to shine, and even John does well in a scene.

Best Performer: Josie Lawrence, for standing out in all of her games tonight.
Worst Performer: Rory McGrath, for screwing up his one game of the night.
Best Game: Every Other Line. In a perfect world, that one goes into 1×03 and makes it a little better. Musical, Party Quirks and Film & Theater Styles chased it, though.
Worst Game: Story. Just…fell apart.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S01E11, or It’s All Here…

So here’s how the compilations are going to work.

Obviously I can’t judge a compilation of new material as a whole, because these games weren’t originally supposed to be in this order- they were supposed to be aired as part of the original taping. So with each piece tonight, I’ll be tracing back to the episode it came from, and pondering why it was cut, and whether it would have fit in the original episode. I’ll still do Best and Worsts, but I won’t really judge this show as a whole rather than in pieces.

The one thing I’ll say about Clive’s pretaped intro is that it’s a bit awkward without the studio audience. I couldn’t tell if there were jokes in there that I was supposed to laugh at (including a Channel 4 slam).

Film and Theatre Styles v1: Josie and Paul
From S01E01
Returning a faulty purchase

Josie’s confused by ‘German Expressionism’ when it’s called out. Paul takes a few moments to think of the best way to describe it. And then, as Clive gets more, you can faintly hear Paul giving a really educated, thorough explanation. It’s nice he can be really supportive out of character, as the second he snaps in he becomes his usual, brash self.

Paul’s explanation works, as Josie gets the bizarre mood of German Expressionism exactly, as Paul does his usual no-selling.

Josie, in her most expressive Hammer Horror: “I think you must be mistaken, I’m not mad- HAHAHAHAHAHA.”
Clive: “Whitehall farce.”
Paul: “Well, then why aren’t you wearing any trousers???”

Josie, Disney: “You can be my real big human dinky-doo. Would you like that?”
Paul: “….Erm….I’d rather a good career in the civil service, but i’ll…”

Paul, finally caving: “Alright, I’ll be your big dinky-doo. Shall we go walking through the woodlands together, holding hands, and saying hello to all the bears and the animals?”
Josie, without an idea: “….Well, yes, I’d like that very much.”
Paul: “…Or should we just go into the back of my Volkswagen?”
BUZZ

Solid game, though they lost the plot a bit, and Josie made a Warner Brothers reference in the Disney section, but the chemistry’s still very strong. That would have probably helped the mood of E1 a bit, but only a bit.

Film and Theatre Styles v2: Archie and John
Also from S01E01
Jealous Husband Confronting Lover

John is actually really loose in this scene (maybe hit close to home?), and Archie…bless his soul, is TRYING..

Clive: “Rambo film.”
Archie, getting the wrong Stallone franchise: “AAADRIAN!”

John and Archie in Greek Tragedy is actually really good, and they both nail the style…they’ve just, as usual, forgotten the plot of the scene.

Clive: “Kung Fu.”
John: “I’ve been dubbed badly, d’you mind?”

This one never really got going, and may have been the reason why both of these didn’t make E1. Archie, again, tries, but John never really gave him the floor enough.

Every Other Line: Jonathan and Paul
Jonathan reads, Paul improvises
Having a TV fixed.
Last Line: It’s only Cotton Wool.
From S01E05

Clive gets the last line as ‘it’s only cotton wool.’
Paul: “‘but I like it’. That’s a Rolling Stones song, isn’t it?”

This is an odd little scene- Every Other Line works best when the lines can be taken out of context. As this is a very specific play about Robin Hood, that can’t really be done when Jonathan is saying lines about Robin Hood characters. So while they both try, the scene’s failures lie with the producers for choosing such a specific play.

There’s a moment where Jonathan, who’s now trying not to crack up at how specific the material is to Robin Hood, just looks at Paul, shrugs, and goes, out of character, ‘it’s all here…’

Paul, now knowing how to end the scene: “But you know, those green tights, they ain’t really the sort of proper tight material…”
There’s a shot of the audience. They know exactly what’s coming.

Once Paul FINALLY gets the last word out, as Jonathan says another line and makes it difficult for him, the audience cheers. I’m reading this as they’re cheering for the game to finally be over.

Song Styles: Josie sings about a toothbrush as a gospel song
From S01E09

My only complaint about this one, which was a great one from Josie, was that it was too short, as were many Song Styles playings in S1. I’m also disappointed we didn’t get a Song Styles from Mike as well…

Props: Mike and John vs. Tony and Josie
From S01E09

Josie: “Hello, I’m Anne Diamond”
Tony: [beats self with prop]

Screen Shot 2017-10-17 at 4.22.35 PM.pngJosie: “What’d you mean the Olympics is bleedin’ over?”

Tony: “And now, John Hurt in ‘Alien’:
Screen Shot 2017-10-17 at 4.23.24 PM.png

Screen Shot 2017-10-17 at 4.24.35 PM.pngJohn: “I know you! You were in that Rembrandt painting there, were you?”

(How is one of the best rounds of Props of the season left for the Compilation?? We could have easily swapped Remote Control for this.)

Film Dub: Stephen and Josie
A couple discuss how to decorate a room
(From S01E10)

Josie: “You only brought me up here because you want me to paint your bannister”
Stephen, as his character begin to kiss Josie’s’ head: “No, because I want to taste your forehead.”

This is a very fun scene, brought forth by Josie’s character dressing in a suit, so Stephen got to make this into a rather gay scene. Plus, it ends with Josie going “Oh, it’s the headmaster! I think I’ll flash him!” Light enough, though I can see why it wasn’t originally included.

Party Quirks
Josie: Hears voices
Mike: kissogram
John: cub scout leader
From S01E09

The second Mike enters as a kissogram…now we know why he’d be a fixture on the show for the next 7 seasons.

There’s about 10 seconds where Tony has no idea who anyone is, and is just keeping silent. He’d get marginally better at this game over time, but…here he’s not even funny-clueless (See “OH WELL FUCK OFF!”). He does eventually manage to get John and Mike, but he lands on “…oh, well, you’re just bloody bonkers” for Josie.

Opera: Working as a Guard on the Northern Line, Making Mashed Potatoes, and Smoking
From S01E01

John FINALLY sings in one of these, but…I couldn’t understand half of what he said, even with an expert translation within the youtube comments. Paul gets more of a laugh just listing off stops on the Northern Line.

Josie: “Is this the way to Tottenham Green?”
John: “This is the way to Tottenham Green”
Paul: “THERE’S NO USE ASKING ME I DON’T…KNOW A THING.”

I can’t believe I’m writing this phrase, but…Archie Hahn saves this game, by building this into a melodic group number about potatoes, though he has a moment where the floor, and the camera shot, was his…and he buckled. He made up for it, though, by uniting the group and building to an end. Though…the ending note is a bit less than unified.

I feel like if Episode 1 of Whose Line ended like this, we’d not have gotten an Episode 2, so I’m glad this made the comp.

Best Performer: Paul Merton, for making several games successes. Tony nearly won this.
Worst Performer: By default, Jonathan Pryce, for being in one game, and a not-great one at that.
Best Game: Props. Would have been a great addition in E9.
Worst Game: Opera. Kind of a mess.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S01E10, or Suddenly, and Really Without Any Warning At All…….

After a thrilling E9, we end the regulation bit of this series with an episode featuring, well, Josie and the famous SERIES REGULAR git, plus voice-actor and impressionist Enn Reitel and…STEPHEN FRY, for his last appearance until Series 9. I’m certain this will be a good one (as I may have scene certain bits from this one several times).

Authors: The Day I Became a Merchant Banker
Stephen: 1001 Arabian Nights
Josie: Mary Shelley
Enn: Dashiell Hammett
John: Frank Richards

Stephen gets things going by not only nailing the style, but being very funny, so already we’re off to a rousing start.

It’s a one-round game, and it SORT OF gets off the ground. Again, John gets way too much time on his own.

Story: Tarzan and the Lager Louts
Moral: Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket
Storyteller: Stephen

You can vaguely hear Josie whispering something to some people, the other players I presume, as Clive gets the suggestions from the audience, referring to ‘last time’. Maybe she knew how badly things had gone last time, and was trying to change it herself.

As hectic as this game can be, and as frenzied and eye-roll-inducing as it was back when George McGrath helmed it in E6, this game is a success on so many levels, mostly because Stephen’s storytelling. He even starts with a variation on “are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.”

Normally I’d balk at John for presenting a flamboyantly gay Tarzan, but…here it works. Maybe it’s because he’s actually working with people.

Stephen: “Jane…swung casually in.”
Josie: [falls]

Already, there’s some great character stuff- they’re both hungover, bickering, and Josie wants John to be ‘more like the Tarzan in the novels, more BUTCH!’, but the scene really gets going when Enn, as the lager lout, strolls into the scene.

Stephen: “Suddenly, and really without any warning at all…”
[….]
Enn, realizing he probably should do something; “SCUSE ME!”
And he wanders off and pukes.
Stephen, cross: “the lager lout…vomited…”

Stephen: “Tarzan’s patience was beginning to wear thin. He began to kick the lager lout in the stomach.”
Enn, ever the smartass, begins to sit down: “I’ll sit down over here if you don’t mind…”
Just as John’s about to lose hope for that objective, Stephen WILLS him to do it nonetheless.

Stephen: “But the lager lout, CAUGHT…first one leg, of Tarzan’s, which he held firmly in his hand, and then the other leg. And the moral of the story is don’t put all your legs in one bastard.”
BUZZ. BRAVO. Josie and John are giggling as they head back to the chairs. Clive even applauds the move as ‘brilliant.’

I may have quoted half the scene, but this is one of my favorites, and proof that you can take something that seems set in stone and play around with it. Great scene.

World’s Worst: Thing to say when being introduced to the royal family

Stephen: “…..womp some skull on that, bitch!”
Screen Shot 2017-10-16 at 11.42.38 PM.png

Stephen, in the background: “I’m so sorry. I’m SO sorry. I didn’t say anything.”

Stephen: “…Hm, that reminds me, I really must buy a stamp…”

Alright round, but Stephen had the best lines.

Props: John and Stephen vs. Josie and Enn

Screen Shot 2017-10-16 at 11.46.01 PM.pngStephen: “Matron, I was playing frisbee, and…”

Screen Shot 2017-10-16 at 11.47.10 PM.pngJosie: “My problems all started the day my father told me he was to marry a ginormous grub.”

Josie ends up bending the prop, and releasing…right at the prop hits Enn in the crotch. We get literally the first seconds of impact before we cut to most wholesome programming:

Screen Shot 2017-10-16 at 11.49.06 PM.pngStephen: “Try and keep the stomach really firm…if you’ve got a partner who wants to do it with you…”

Couples: Fortune Teller and Customer

As the scene starts, John and Enn are doing a great physical gag in just walking in unison, which proves they can at least work together.

You can see the problem immediately- Enn’s doing a fantastic Dustin Hoffman, and John is….not even trying to do a Lawrence Olivier.

In the Fox & Sinden bit, Enn’s impression does resemble Benedict Cumberbatch doing some impression.

John, doing a very good Alec Guinness: “I want to know whether the words…on the blackboard of life…can be said…any slower…than the way…I SAY them…”

John, as Barney Rubble: “D’you know what I wanna know? How come when we bend over, our balls don’t pop out of those little shirt things we wear?”
Enn, as Fred Flintstone, over the buzzer: “BECAUSE WE’RE NOT SEAN CONNERY, THAT’S WHY…”

John and Enn’s last one, Reagan and Gorbachev, ends in a rather amusing Roger Miller duet, which proves that while the plot was sort of lost along the way, the scene was still funny enough.

Wrong Theme Tune: Josie & Stephen- contraception (w. Blue Peter music)

This was an early cousin of Scene to Music, and I never dug this one as much as the latter one, because they can’t really do a scene.

Josie: “As you can see, the frogs have been having a WILD time, haven’t they?”
Stephen: “Yes, those cello-taped condoms didn’t really work, did they?”

Good enough playing, but went on a bit too long for my tastes.

After Stephen stretches to a ‘handy tip’ pun to end the game.
Clive: “Well, we’ll just end it there, where we’re in at least hailing distance away from a taste barrier….69 points for each of you.”

Rap: Sheep

Oh dear. Just as Clive announces the game:
Screen Shot 2017-10-17 at 12.06.27 AM.pngScreen Shot 2017-10-17 at 12.06.16 AM.png
Clive: “…and they ALL LOVE IT…”

Enn, as he approaches the stage: “THE CONTRACTIONS HAVE STARTED!”

Clive, as Richard starts the keyboard drumbeat: “We’ve got Ginger Baker this week, take it away, Ging…”

John flies through his so quickly that it’s barely coherent. Enn’s is…very coherent, but cringeworthy, and you can tell how much he hates this game.

Josie has the best verse of everyone’s, because she’s the only one of the four who’s actually at home in a singing game.

Stephen: “MARY HAAAD A LITTLE LAMB- no, I’m sorry I can’t do that.

Stephen, 2nd try: “Oh, yes, I’m, uh, terribly fond of, uh…”

Stephen, like his Hoedown, talks through his, not really paying attention to rhyme scheme or common sense. It’s very amusing, and he’s sort of trying, but…the whole point is that it’s kind of pathetic.

Overall: A step or so down from last show, but still a nice enough note to end the regulation of the series on. None of the four had a particularly bad day, but Enn was awkward in some scenes, though he did do well in Couples. John had a better day, but still had his pitfalls. Josie had some nice moments, but not enough of them. Stephen dominated every game he was in, even the rap.

Show Winner: Stephen
Best Performer: Stephen. Not particularly close, and it’ll be sad watching 7 series without him.
Worst Performer: Enn by default, for not being as good as the other three.
Best Game: Story. One of my favorites.
Worst Game: Authors. Never really got going.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway? S01E09, or Size Doesn’t Matter

There was a moment of awe, like the hero had arrived, when Tony Slattery first appeared. I imagine there’s a similar moment of awe now that his comedy partner and soon-to-be S3 regular (sort of), Mike McShane, has arrived at Whose Line. Alongside Tony, Josie, and….you know, the git…he’ll try to bring some balance to this rocky season of Whose Line.

Already Mike looks jolly, optimistic, and surprisingly clean-shaven. The S3-era McShane beard will be upon us very soon. John, meanwhile, still has his hangover stubble, which will, I imagine, be a permanent fixture at this point.

Authors: Night of the Crumpet
Mike: Louis L’Amour
Josie: Brothers Grimm
Tony: Dr. Alex Comfort
John: William Faulkner

I love how the other three do more sophisticated choices, and Tony always does a more bawdy one, like this week, where he’ll be playing Authors as the guy who wrote The Joy of Sex.

Josie and Mike are doing a great job in connecting and storytelling, and then Tony…
“The elf was little, but, of course, size doesn’t matter.”
There’s a nice applause for this.
Just as Tony’s about to continue, Clive buzzes
Tony:
Screen Shot 2017-10-16 at 3.04.14 PM.png

I’ll mention that Mike’s the first person other than John Sessions to get more than 20 seconds of time before the buzzer. The narrative could be shifting.

Josie’s great in this, doing some very good-natured fairy tale stuff, but she goes on for about 10 seconds, setting the scene, then drops her plummy fairy tale voice and goes ‘when are you going to buzz the-‘
BUZZ

Tony’s second time, he doesn’t get more of a sentence out either.
Screen Shot 2017-10-16 at 3.09.01 PM.png

Film and Theatre Styles v1
Mike and Josie- a wife tries to murder her husband

Mike has to explain to Josie who Russ Meyer is right before the scene starts, so when Josie makes like having large bosoms, you can tell she’s got at least a piece of his appeal.

This scene works because Josie and Mike work quite well off each other. The film noir scene shows this the best, as Josie sets Mike on fire, and Mike keeps the style going, and walks into the next room for a drink, while still on fire.

And then, with Gilbert and Sullivan, the back in forth between them is even better, culminating in Mike’s sung ‘why is the doberman in my bed/he’s gonna kill me and bite my head’, and a final, melodic note held by the both of them.

Film and Theatre Styles v2
Tony and John- borrowing coffee from a neighbor

The scene actually starts on a really nice note, with John establishing he’s a very posh, wacky neighbor.
Tony: “You’re doing tai-chi, aren’t you?”
John: “…no, I’m just a wanker, that’s all…”

Clive: “Stock exchange information film”
Tony: “Of course, the price of coffee can rise and fall, and here to talk about that, is…John Sessions!”

This one also works, because John, despite no-butting a few times, is actually working really well here, switching accents and building character, while also building Tony’s by contrast, during the Escape Film segment, and playing off Tony really well in the Restoration Comedy section.

Tony, after John has spent all of the Restoration section talking: “RRRRather would I spite thy…blongy…[realizes how ridiculous this has gotten]…WHAT??”

Came close to going off the rails, but John, to his credit, owned that scene

World’s Worst- person to receive an Oscar.

Mike: “I don’t deserve this award…so I’m gonna club myself to death with it on live TV…”
Josie: “…I’d like to thank everybody I know, really, it begins in 1905…”
Tony, no teeth: “…I’ve waited tho long for thith award….and it maketh me want to THING! THEEEEER’ETH NOOOOOO BUTHINESS LIKE SHOOOOW BUTHINESS…”
Josie, pointing at the statue: ‘WHERE’S HIS WILLY???”
Tony: “…….GUESS WHERE I’VE HIDDEN MY AWARD?!?!?!?”

Really, REALLY good stuff all around. At this point, it feels like Tony, Josie and Mike just have a shared energy that sort of wilts whenever John comes on.

Remote Control: Hedgehogs
Mike: Miami Vice
Josie: Treasure Hunt
Tony: Game for a Laugh
John: Floyd on Fish

There’s good work all around here. John just keeps falling over after every buzzer, which…only works if you’re an australian soap opera actor (for a credit reading). Tony is already at his peak of black humor, which definitely helps.

American Musical: Waking Up, Playing Football, and Getting Stopped by the Police

This one starts out with Josie and Mike, so it’s starting at a musical high, which is nice. Mike misreads the suggestion a bit, and sings of his dream of passing and throwing a sewn pigskin.
Josie, of course: “Darling, d’you know what this means? You’ve just invented American Football!”
Mike, realizing what he’s done: “THANK GOD!”

Tony comes in, as the arrested son, and…he’s a really good singer, which I often forget. And then, he has that immortal line: “I was walking down to street, I was on my way to luncheon…when I was stopped by a policeman…and he abused me with his truncheon.”
Because what the hell else can you rhyme that with?

Mike: “Did he beat you?”
Tony: Yes”
Mike: “Did he whack you?”
Tony: “Yes”
Josie: “Did he make you drop your pants?”
Tony, horrified: “…NO!”

John does make the scene stumble a bit by bringing back the ‘waking up’ motif at the end, and not really listening to what’s happened, but…he does have one good line.
John: “I just remembered…I have tuberculosis.”
Tony: “That’s GREAT NEWS!”

This was actually a really good playing, miles better than the E6 one because everything fit together, and even if John definitely brought up the rear, he still contributed a nice line at the end.

(Also…Mike’s Jimmy Stewart impression at the end is pretty good. Not necessarily Ryan’s, but good.)

Overall: A phenomenal show, topping even E5 for the best of the series. Everyone was on the same level, and Mike came out of the gate with a performance that made it look like he’d been doing this for years. Tony had a great show, Josie had some great musical moments, and John…you could tell he knew that he wasn’t cutting it on the show, and tonight just didn’t work at ALL for him.

Show Winner: Mike
Best Performer: Mike McShane. First of many show wins for him.
Worst Performer: John
Best Game: American Musical, for having some fantastic moments and working all the way through. World’s Worst came close.
Worst Game: Remote Control. Just had the least amount to it.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S01E08, or WHERE’S MEL??

Two newcomers join Paul Merton and…sigh…SERIES REGULAR John Sessions. First is Richard Kaplan, an American comic that…to be honest, Wikipedia hasn’t heard of either, and Griff Rhys-Jones, who John so effortlessly did an impression of a few episodes back, comedy partner of Mel Smith and future eater of socks.

Already, Clive is 100% at ease in the host’s chair- none of the awkwardness of Episode 1 is present, and he’s ready to take on the world.

Tonight also marks the first appearance of John’s hungover stubble, as it’d be present for the rest of the series.

Authors: Kurt Waldheim’s War Diaries
Richard: Raymond Chandler
Griff: John Milton.
Paul: Sunday Sport
John: Friedrich Nietzsche

Griff, as he hears the title suggestion: “Is that what we’re gonna do?”
Clive: “Yeah…why, d’you have a problem with that?”
Griff: “No no, I…”
Clive: “Milton used to write a lot about that sort of thing…”

This is a pretty good playing of Authors, by the way. All four seem to be better at emulating AND connecting, especially Griff and Paul.

Griff, by the way, has the look of Rob Brydon and the sound of Jared Harris. Not the worst combination, by the by.

Film and Theatre Styles v1
Paul and Richard – businessman wanting to buy a sandwich shop.

Audience Member: “RUSSIAN CONSTRUCTIVIST SEMINAR IN THE 1920S!”
Paul, of course: “CAN YOU BE MORE SPECIFIC?”

Clive: Spaghetti Western
Paul, taking Clive literally: “D’you want that with bolognese?”

Richard: “If you cut my sandwich…i’ll have to cut you.”
Paul: “I’ve got a fistful of ham, here…”

Really good scene, if a bit quick. Richard and Paul were great at emulating the Monty Python style (Richard even went into a pepperpot voice), and the horror ending was great, if a bit frenzied.

Film and Theatre Styles v2
John and Griff- explaining how to use the nuclear button.

Immediately as Arthur Miller is suggested by the audience, Griff muddles over to John, worriedly. I don’t think he knew who that was.

John and Griff work really well off each other, as evidenced by the Laurel and Hardy style and the Arthur Miller style- John starts off doing the Crucible, and through Griff, works into more of a Death of a Salesman-style domestic drama.

As Clive interrupts John and Griff arguing about the button.
Griff, to Clive: “DON’T *YOU* PRESS THE BUTTON…”

Another nice scene. I have no idea how Griff is taming John (maybe it’s out of admiration?), but it’s definitely working.

World’s Worst: Person to be U.S. President

Griff, with the obvious answer right off the bat: “Hi, I’m George Bush.”
Richard, with the other obvious answer: “Hi, I’m Michael Dukakis.”
Paul: “I, LEE HARVEY OSWALD, DO SOLEMNLY SWEAR…”
Griff, a la Reagan: “I’m a bad actor too…”
John: “HELLO, I’M GRIFF. SO IF YOU’RE GONNA ASSASSINATE HIM, YOU’VE GOT TWO OF US!”

Lots of good stuff in this one, though a ton of dated references.

Props: John and Griff vs. Paul and Richard

Screen Shot 2017-10-12 at 4.18.36 PM.pngPaul: “I’m afraid this is all that’s left of your wife.”

Screen Shot 2017-10-12 at 4.19.40 PM.pngPaul: “D’you get bored at Christmas? Why not try a foam rubber bum?”

Solid enough, though John’s, again, went on for too long.

Remote Control- Traffic
Richard: American game show host
Griff: One man and his dog
Paul: American cop show
John: Noggin the nog

Griff didn’t even have to say a word to make his bit funny, doing a dog getting hit by a car. It just friggin’ worked.

Very light, but it sort of worked. Richard was playing it a bit too intense, I think. Griff’s worked. John’s…I did not get, though I think that may have been the point.

Party Quirks
Richard: from Mission Impossible
Griff: a bad ventriloquist
John: from the future

Richard, quick to disarm something: “…listening device.”
Paul: “Yes, it’s my telephone…”

Griff, as a bad ventriloquist, cracked me up…because he just started strangling Paul halfway through, and it worked.

People don’t like Richard, and I do understand that the way he sort of gives himself away in this game can definitely rub people the wrong way, as it rubbed me.

John, examining Paul’s table: “You mean to tell me you DON’T break these down now and use them as contraceptives?”
Paul: “…..not the twiglets, no…”

Clive, postmortem: “I was gonna give [Paul] points for not mentioning Twiglets this week, but as you managed-”
Paul: “When in doubt, go for the Twiglets laugh…”

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that the credit reading this week was John reading the credits as Griff…WITH Griff. The impression definitely stands out, and having Griff next to him as he does it leads to a classic one. What happens is that Griff starts doing it straight, and John’s going over the top…and Griff, in jest, starts going over the top, as it’s evidently how he sounds.

And then, as John finishes reading the credits: “…….WHERE’S MEL???”

Overall: Better than the last few, but still flawed. Having Griff brought out the best in John, Paul, and especially Griff. John had some nice moments, Paul had another traditionally nice show, and Richard…while he had some good moments, never really stood out in the right way. I was rooting for him, and he had a few good lines here and there, but, while he wasn’t THE WORST, he wasn’t anything special either.

Show Winners: John and Griff
Best Performer: Griff. He was just on tonight, and his humor worked with the show.
Worst Performer: Richard. Didn’t really work out too well for him.
Best Game: Both Film and Theatre Styles. Both worked really well and I can’t pick one specific one.
Worst Game: Remote Control, solely because it had the least to it out of every game.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S01E07, or SPACE…AND BOOBS.

What’s worse than having 1 famous git? TWO OF THEM! John Sessions AND Rory McGrath in the same show! This is gonna be a tough one to get through.

Oh well, at least TONY’S BACK, as well as Jonathan Pryce. So it should be evenly matched, at least.

Authors: Stanley the Stockbroker and the Day of the Big Bang
Tony: Dennis Wheatley
Jonathan: Egon Ronay
Rory: Jorge Luis Borges
John: Robert Louis Stevenson

Rory spends about 20 seconds doing his author intro, working in a Jeffrey Archer joke that doesn’t work as well as he thought.

Tony: She found herself suddenly sucked into a vortex of child sacrifice, depravity, and goat droppings.”
Buzz
Jonathan: “The goat droppings were served up on a rather tasteful…”

Rory’s consists of talking mostly in Spanish for his entire timeslot. Again, at least RORY can understand his humor…

Okay round, but far too much time for John vs. everyone else.

Film and Theatre Styles v1
Jonathan and Tony- conversation with a loan shark

Jonathan, giving his character a voice: “I, uh- I used this voice last time, I reckon-”
Tony, building on it: “Yeah, I recognize you from last time, you were in debt then as well…”

Clive: Japanese Noh Theatre
Jonathan: [speaks Japanese]
Tony: “NO!”
[And I’m gone for about an hour]

Tony and Jonathan compliment each other well throughout the scene, continuing the plot to an extent, doing well in each scene (especially bedroom farce). It was evident that Tony was carrying it a bit, but Jonathan did well, especially in the Gilbert and Sullivan ender.

Film and Theatre Styles v2
John and Rory- one has smashed the other’s car

Rory, after the last scene: “Come on, John, we’ll piss on ’em….well, not now, after the show.”

Already, Rory is just plain disrespectful, to John AND to Clive. He brings up a racial stereotype, then talks over Clive as he tries to add a style.

Now…THE PROBLEM WITH HAVING JOHN *AND* RORY IN A SCENE TOGETHER…Is they’re like children- once you get them going, like in the Punch and Judy style, they keep going until about 15 seconds after the first buzzer.

Good news is John and Rory NAIL Brechtian theatre.
John, mounting Rory: “Are you sad on the mountain, sad with a weakness, sad with the happiness of the people below you?”
Rory, channeling Paul Merton: “I will be if you stay there…”

During the black-and-white minstrel portion of the scene, which tries not to be racist but fails, I am reminded that John Sessions is, in fact, a UKIP supporter..

World’s Worst- Person to Meet on a Blind Date

Tony: “Hello Peter, I’m Tony, does it matter that you’re expecting a woman?”
Tony: “Hello, you must be Deb- BLOODY HELL, NOBODY TOLD ME YOU HAD A FACE LIKE A DOG’S BUM!”
Jonathan, after a very quiet round: “…I just wanted to say that I did lots, but they were all edited out.”

Amusing enough round, with Rory giving way too many unfunny ones, and Tony giving diamonds.

Props: Johns vs. Tony and Rory

Screen Shot 2017-10-10 at 5.38.57 PM.pngJonathan, a la the stock exchange: “No no, SELL…SELL…”

Screen Shot 2017-10-10 at 5.40.53 PM.pngJonathan: “I know I speak for John…and myself, and the rest of the crew….we just want to thank you all, so much…”

Kind of a weak round, but Jonathan and Tony seemed to be having fun.

Advertisement:
Tony: BMW
John: Toupee

Tony, as the dramatic, soap-opera music comes on: “…have you ever wanted to own something that is the extension of your penis?”

Tony’s is really nice, because he nails the sexual nature of the ad, and comes off as still suave and a a good salesman. Plus, he nails it in about 30 seconds, which is nice.

John’s was…interesting. He had an odd, Kremlin-infused interpretation of the sinister music, and turned it into a very…interesting add. I’m not sure whether or not it worked.

Film Dub:
Rory and Jonathan- complaining to a hotel manager

Rory groans as he realizes what game he’s about to play, sort of like how I groaned when I realized this was a Rory McGrath episode.

For some reason, Rory’s really good in this game, and Jonathan takes more of a passive approach, which was the opposite of how he played last time. This was actually really funny, though it petered out towards the end, due to some ‘i’m talking now’ lines.

Remote Control: Pornography
Tony: Star Trek
Jonathan: Call my Bluff
Rory: Breakfast Television
John: Sgt. Bilko

I really don’t see the point of playing this in the same episode as Authors, as they’re essentially the same game, but, whatever they want.

Rory: “I’m standing in for Anne this morning, who’s having her baby. Good luck from the team, we all hope it’s a human.”
[How did RORY MCGRATH beat Tony to an Anne Diamond joke?]

Tony: “SPACE……..AND BOOBS. Lots of them. These are the voyages of my hands.”
and then “Lt. Uhura, would you like to gasp at my veiny bang-stick?”

Somehow, that one was really good, even if there wasn’t a ton of teamwork abound. Everyone did really well, though John and Rory STILL couldn’t figure out when to shut up.

Overall: Okay show. Very, very okay. If somebody else would have been on in Rory’s place, we’d have been in good shape, but Rory and John, funny as they are, were too manic and cheeky to do good improv. Jonathan had a lower-key day after his excellent showing in Episode 5, and Tony…as good as he was in E4, he was even better here. As time went on, he’d have more opportunities to shine.

Show Winner: Rory
Best Performer: Tony, of course.
Worst Performer: Rory. Would have went with Jonathan, except he didn’t do a ton wrong when he was on, and Rory relied too much on being funny and obnoxious than on his improv skills.
Best Game: Remote Control.
Worst Game: Film and Theatre Styles v2. Very off-color, and not in a great way.