Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S01E06, or ‘You’ve Got Hair and You’re on Television!’

And after a great height…the show sails downward…to an episode with Jan Ravens and George McGrath. The former, plucked from Spitting Image, is…annoying, and the latter, better known for his work writing for Pee Wee’s Playhouse, is just plain weird.

At least we have comedy legend Graeme Garden and…sigh…SERIES REGULAR John Sessions [I’ll keep doing this until either HE realizes it, or production does].

Already, George just looks kind of off-putting, as Clive says he’s ‘one of the funniest performers in America…at least according to people who haven’t seen Dan Quayle in action yet.’
(Even he smiles weird. I’m…unnerved.)

Authors: Sleeping Beauty
Graeme: J.B. Priestley
Jan: Pam Ayres
George: Roget’s Thesaurus
John: D.H. Lawrence

(I love the irony that an unsuccessful QI panelist chooses to emulate the style of ANOTHER unsuccessful QI panelist.)

George already gets the audience going with his choice of ‘Dr. Roget, the thesaurus guy…’
Clive: “…you’re making it easy for yourself, aren’t you?”

Already I can see why Graeme was such a legend at that point- he goes right in, smoothly and impressively, as Priestley.

As annoying as Jan is, she does nail the pastiche of Pam’s poetry, though whether the emulation or Jan herself is unbearable is up for debate.

Already, George isn’t very impressive…basically begging Clive to buzz toward the end.

Also, once again, John’s addition really doesn’t have anything to do with the rest, and his goes on for 20 seconds more than everyone else’s.

As boilerplate as George is, he does have a great line of ‘she was…making her eyes wide, and her legs as well’.

Again, it seemed like the objective to CONNECT the story to each other was an afterthought.

Story: A Day in the Life of a Rubber Duck
Moral: A rolling stone gathers no moss.

This game, in its…what, 4 playings, was used as a way of showcasing George, who narrated 50% of them. It’s an interesting game, even though it gives George most of the power (though I’d prefer Stephen Fry’s iteration of it).

I don’t enjoy judging people, but…have a look at the person next to the woman Clive gets the suggestion from:
Screen Shot 2017-10-10 at 4.10.03 PM.png
I’m led to assume that Steven Tyler, Wayne Coyne and Robert Smith had a baby.

This fellow eventually has to give the moral, which he pronounces as “a Rolling Stone…gathers no…meuss…”
He says it like Inspector Clouseau would, which…gets a reaction out of Clive.

The reason George works in this game is because he’s able to react to what happens in the game, sort of as if the performers are betraying him. This is definitely a form of dissonance, and it’s not full-on yes-anding, but…it works here.

George: “But soon, there was a jingle at the door.”
Graeme: [shakes his keys]

George: “He was covered in moss. She hadn’t seen him for years, which he’d spent in the forest, and he’d become absolutely covered in moss.”
Jan: “Grandpa, you’re covered in moss!”
George, rolling his eyes: “She said, repeating what the narrator had said over and over already..”

Graeme, being surrounded by less-than-savory scene partners doing all the work for him, does work in good line, after Jan gives another direction: “…you’ll have to speak up, I’m covered in moss.”
George: “…said the grandfather, repeating it JUST ONE MORE TIME…”

And then Jan, ripping the fucking fourth wall wide open: “I made a cup of tea really quickly for the purpose of the improvisation.”

George: “Soon, there was another jingle at the door. It was Keith Richards.”
The audience, now knowing EXACTLY WHERE THE SCENE IS ABOUT TO GO, groans.
And then John, his character chosen for him, has to, in a second’s notice, go into a Keith Richards impression.

Keith: “Hello, I’ve just decided to roll in.”
George, who’s growing on me in this game: “He said, making a PUN.”

Also, this game has a TON of dissonance, with Jan not yes-anding, John making an obscure reference, and …just, losing the scene for 30 seconds.

George has to PILEDRIVE the scene towards gathering the moss off of Graeme, leading to John going “no, Rolling Stones doing gather moss.”
George: “He said, giving the moral away a BIT early…”

That game…was kind of a mess. Again, nobody was really working together, George’s game-keeping was a bit distracting, and only Graeme, in his two lines of dialogue, had an idea of what the scene was supposed to be.

Props: John and Jan vs. George and Graeme

Screen Shot 2017-10-10 at 4.28.41 PM.pngGraeme: “Put the apple on your head, I’m your father…”

Screen Shot 2017-10-10 at 4.29.47 PM.pngJan: “What d’you think of the crazy colour then?”
John: “…I think you look like a git.”

Great bit when George does a gag…it get no response…and then Graeme does the exact same gag, and from RECOGNITION, the audience finally applauds.

Screen Shot 2017-10-10 at 4.31.16 PM.pngGraeme: “George…you’re an angel!”
The delivery makes this one work so well.

Not a terrific round (especially on John and Jan’s end), but Graeme had some great ideas.

Party Quirks:
George: an alien
Jan: Thinks it’s her house
John: a leprechaun

George as an alien demonstrates exactly how weird he is as a performer. At least Graeme, as he has all night, responds with panache.

Jan, immediately after walking in, goes “Hi, I’ll just have a shower, okay?”
So, halfway through and she’s FINALLY done something funny.

Graeme, getting the doorbell for John, and immediately he sticks his ears out.
Graeme: ‘Come in, somebody nor-…oh, no…”

The problem with having TWO People that won’t shut up, Jan in ADDITION to John, is that when Graeme is trying to guess one of them with only a few seconds left, he can’t get a word in edgewise, but he tries.

Graeme guesses Jan as someone who complains about everything. Beat.
Ding-Dong
Clive: “Oh, I meant to go- [buzz]”
Graeme, smirking, opens the door: “AH, IT’S THE INVISIBLE MAN!”

Every Other Line:
John and Graeme- pilot at mission control. John reads, Graeme reacts

End line- Don’t accept gifts from strangers.

John: “You’ve never been even civil to any of my friends, man or woman, have you?”
Graeme: “…I AM a civil pilot, damn you…”

This was an alright game, though you can tell Graeme was trying to swerve the game back to the plot as much as he could.

Film Dub- Jan and George
Morning after a heavy night before.

I actually do love George’s out of character exclamation once the guy in the clip takes his shirt off. He’s trying desperately to stay in character, though.

Jan: “Darling, I have got something to say to you-”
George: “I know, you’re from India-”
Jan: “No…”

That scene didn’t really have an ending, but Jan and George tried well enough with it.

American Musical:
Making a cup of tea, puberty, and going to a television recording.

You can tell this isn’t going to go well when both George and Jan call for ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ at the same time.

John, as the Dad: “You’ve got the whole world waiting for you, the sky’s as solid as a rock! Well…well, not the sky, but the MOUNTAINS…are solid as a rock…”

This is a bit of a wonky scene, as it takes a bit to actually progress, but Graeme shows up to get us to the television recording, and the scene comes alive a bit.

Jan, trying to make a point out of all this: “You see, son, you’re not strange!”
John: “You’ve got hair, and you’re on television!”

That game wasn’t as bad as I feared, but it was very hard for them to connect everything, and make a point. Also, John refused to sing. In a game called Musical.

Overall: Not great, but, as I used to refer to this one as the WORST ONE EVER, not…necessarily befitting of that title. There’s a few good moments, and Graeme’s giving it his absolute all. Still, Jan was pretty lifeless, and didn’t have very many good moments, John continues to disagree with all the people he’s supposed to be yes-anding with, and George…is, well, a strange case. On one hand, he made good decisions in games like Musical and Story, but on the other hand he took a sort of ‘everyone else is against me’ approach to a few games, and that may have hurt him. He’d have one more appearance, as would Jan, and it would fare….slightly better, when surrounded by better improvisers like Ryan Stiles, Mike McShane and Greg Proops.

Show Winner: Jan
Best Performer: Graeme Garden, providing a pretty great guest appearance.
Worst Performer: Jan Ravens, for…trying a bit too hard.
Best Game: Party Quirks, for having the least amount wrong with it, and for Graeme’s performance.
Worst Game: Story, for just having so many improv no-nos in it.

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5 thoughts on “Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S01E06, or ‘You’ve Got Hair and You’re on Television!’

  1. I don’t know whether or not you noticed, but Clive seemed to be laughing more than the audience in this episode. You can especially hear it in Party Quirks. Sounds as if it were forced too.

    • I can tell you that I was thinking this would be worse than it was, as I remember it being pretty bad. Still, Graeme saves the show. Everybody else displayed some truly maddening improv faux pas, which may bring this one down lower in hindsight.

      To be honest, I laughed at 1×06 more than I laughed at 1×02. That was a tough one to get through.

      • Never mind, eh? We’ve got a few more episodes to go before we hit upon a lineup that works.

      • I agree Graeme saved the show from total unwatchability, just every other episode worked way better, especially when they got rid of that enormous ham John Sessions.

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