Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S01E03, or ‘Nothing if not subtle…’

Okay, NOW onto the good stuff! Even if this is Series 1, and we’ve got some more awkwardness to wade through, we still have Episode 3 to save us.

Why? In addition to Josie Lawrence and, sigh, SERIES REGULAR John Sessions, we have TWO ‘guest appearances’- one from former WLIIA-Radio series regular and all-around icon STEPHEN FRY…and, another…from comedy icon and friend of Dudley Moore, PETER COOK.

Having, obviously, seen this one before, I can tell you, with certainty, that A.) this is a much better show, and B.) Peter Cook is drunk. Very drunk.

Top of the show, Peter’s got his feet up, slouching. He’s already gone, and he’s already won the show.

Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 3.03.28 PM.png

Stephen: John le Carre

Peter: Albert Goldman
Josie: “women’s magazines”
John: Ernest Hemingway
Title: A Day at the Races

Immediately, in doing his John le Carre, you can see why Stephen was a regular on the radio show- he gets the style, the patter, everything down completely.
Also, even drunk Peter is funny Peter, as he gets he author’s mannerisms down as well as keeping the story going, which…Josie doesn’t do as much.
John sort of carries on despite the story, and…yeah, that’s Hemingway alright.

Another one-rounder, though. Clive remarks: “Ten points to each of you, though a five point deduction for Peter…just to make things difficult for him at the beginning.”

Film and Theatre Styles v1
Peter and Stephen- one requiring the other’s parliamentary vote.

Audience member: ‘Chekov!’
Clive: “…pardon?”
Audience member: “Chekov.”
Clive: “…oh, I’m sorry, I thought you were being rude to me…”

Reason I love Stephen #4,029: starting his scene as a prospective member of parliament, he goes “…hello, sorry, I don’t want to tax you too early on, but…”

On ‘farce’, Peter slaps Stephen around a bit, and Stephen drops his pants. Yes, that would definitely be farce.
Peter, after the buzz: “…nothing if not subtle…”

Peter and Stephen, in their travelogue voices, talk of the orange beaver
Stephen: ‘It has one enemy, one enemy in nature,”
Peter: “Yeah. Me. I hate those things…”

Peter and Stephen worked well in that one, even though they began to lose the scene, and at the fourth style, Peter, exasperatedly went ‘good gracious, we’ve done three already!’

Film and Theatre Styles v2
Josie and John: a couple breaking up.

Audience member: “British satire!”
Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 3.20.13 PM.png
Clive: “British satire…what a shame we’ve not got Peter in this one…”

It’s always nice when John gets to do Shakespeare in these (remember, he’s buds with Kenneth Branagh), because he gets that one spot on.

Dare I say it…John and Josie work even better here than Stephen and Peter. They have great chemistry, they trust each other, and John doesn’t walk over Josie like he’s done everyone else. Plus, they nail the British War film, with John taking a moment to take a call: “Hello…yes…no, it can’t be done…I can’t give you a cigarette over the phone…”

The next suggestion is ‘blue movie’, which confuses Josie
Clive: “Surely you’ve seen some…well, you must have BEEN IN some, then…”
Josie, cracking: “SHUT UP, ME MUM AND DAD ARE IN!”
Clive: “…have they been in them as well? Oh, that’s extraordinary.”

Right as the very-well-done Blue Movie portion ends, Josie motions to her folks in the audience ‘I HAVEN’T SEEN ANY!’

Props: John and Peter vs. Stephen and Josie

Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 3.29.01 PM.pngStephen: “…look, Vince, either the BBC believes in Doctor Who or it does, but how am I supposed to make seventeen monsters out of this???”Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 3.31.13 PM.png
Stephen, science documentary voice: “…..THIS….IS SALIVA.”

Not a great round because, again, John’s suggestions are too drawn out for a quick fire game, and Peter didn’t exactly get that it was back and forth…or quick-fire.

Panel: On Smoking

This is the only time this game was broadcast, possibly because it took a bit to set up, but maybe because it wasn’t the right tone for the show? Not sure. Either way, it’s odd to see Clive play a part in a game that doesn’t involve buzzing.

Peter, to set up for the game on smoking, puts out a cigarette.
Clive: “Oh, I think you’re all ready to talk about that, aren’t you?”

Peter, heading into the game: “I’m terribly sorry I’m late…what happened was, I was smoking…and my boa caught fire…”
Clive: “That does illustrate one of the perils of smoking.”
Peter: “And one of the perils of BOAS…”

Clive: “And the fellow in the glasses and the tea cozy, what is your name?”
Stephen: ‘uh, Richard, but I prefer to be a Dick, really. Call me Dick. I answer to Dick.”
Clive, being Clive: “…well, I think we all answer to dick, but…”

John builds up a specific character with a voice, but it’s mainly an excuse to hog the spotlight for 40 seconds more than he should. He’s really not good about that sort of thing.

The game is alright, but it’s a bit disjointed, especially as clive’s trying to keep it going. Josie does have a nice runner of pulling out various wigs, and saying they’re made of certain types of hair on the body.

Stephen: “I mean, I could stop smoking tomorrow if I wanted to, but could [John] stop being a bigoted git? I don’t think so!”

Clive: “What is your opinion of taxation on cigarettes?”
Stephen: “How do you tax a cigarette? PEOPLE should be taxed, possibly smokers.”
As he says this, Peter’s also asking how you’re supposed to tax cigarettes. Damn if he’s trying this show.
Stephen: “You try taxing a cigarette, see how it goes- ‘excuse me, could you give me a quarter of your income?’ EXACTLY MY POINT!”

The game ends abruptly, and with barely any action from Peter or John, but damn if Stephen Fry didn’t carry that entire game. It was rather good, mainly because everyone said funny things, even if Clive was trying to keep it going a bit too quickly.

Rap: Childbirth

The Hoedown’s grandpa. Just seeing Stephen squirm in doing a Rap is good enough for this one (though, not as good as his sheep rap in a little bit).
Clive, as Stephen winces at the game’s mention: “…Stephen does this on his own, anyway…”

John’s rap voice is a BIT TOO SIMILAR to his reggae from Episode 1. Not much better, either.

Josie’s is…well, a usual Hoedown-esque performance for her. AND THEN WE GET TO PETER COOK’S RAP, which is, to be honest, the only time he truly shines the entire show. He just breaks out of his stupor and delivers a really nice, really game rap verse. Miracles never cease.

And then Stephen just…talks through it. He does try to rhyme, but…it’s not really a rap. I can’t not like it, though, because he’s Stephen Fry, and the pathetic no-selling of it still works.

Overall: Definitely a much better show, with more highlight games, even if there was an undercurrent of sleaze, brought on by Peter Cook’s drunkenness (and as much as I’d like to credit that to production…actually, for once, I *CAN* credit that to production, especially a certain producer whose name rhymes with Schmory SchmGrath). Still, there wasn’t anything terribly wrong with the show, save for a few missteps from a compromised Peter, and John Sessions still refusing to play with others. Stephen and Josie had great nights, and Peter could still come in the clutch for a few fun moments.

Show Winner: Peter
Best Performer: Stephen, for absolutely nailing the show, and having several great lines
Worst Performer: Peter Cook. As legendary as he is, he just wasn’t in peak condition tonight.
Best Game: Film and Theatre Styles v2, as Josie’s and John’s chemistry BARELY edges this ahead of Panel.
Worst Game: Props, as much as Josie and Stephen tried.


One thought on “Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S01E03, or ‘Nothing if not subtle…’

  1. Don’t you just love it when Josie breaks into her native Black Country accent 😁 (Black Country being a term used to describe the urban area between the cities of Birmingham and Wolverhampton, primarily the local boroughs of Dudley, Sandwell and Walsall. Frank Skinner is also originally from the Black Country)

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