Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S03E14, or It’s Improvisation, Not Forward Thinking

This is one of two…very, very odd episodes in a row. For instance, this lineup, of Archie Hahn, John Sessions, Ryan Stiles and Mike McShane, could have been one from Series 2, but now that the power has shifted, Sessions, here for his last Whose Line, is in the FIRST seat, while MIKE is in the fourth.

Film and Theatre Styles v1: Archie and John (Robin Hood and future Merry Man)

Ah, you can tell the tide has turned, because John’s here and we’re not playing authors.

The game starts with some references that neither I nor the audience gets. Nice that we’re beginning to lower John’s WL tenure into the ground.

Both John AND Archie are good at keeping up with the Shakespeare style, even with Archie throwing in some wordplay that nearly rivals Colin and Ryan’s from last show.

Now…in the slapstick style…Archie pulls out a whistle and uses it for some falling noises. There’s a general rule in improv not to supply your own props. Archie, like another American performer this season, has a hand that the show plays into perfectly, rather than just adapting to suggestions.

Clive: “Alright, I’m not gonna wait here for a dog to come…”
John sees the wordplay and is impressed.

Amusing, but, like usual with John’s scenes, they completely lost the plot.

Film and Theatre Styles v2: Mike and Ryan (passerby helps someone whose car has broken down)

At the suggestion of ‘ballet’, Mike and Ryan look at each other and sigh.
Clive: “Yes, horror…I think ballet is a bit of a horror with these two…”

Clive: “horror”
Ryan: [horrifiedly shakes the locked door handle]

After a relatively amusing horror style
Clive: “…I can postpone it no longer. Ballet.”

Ryan prances over, and motions for Mike to leap into Ryan’s arms. this…does not go well…
Screen Shot 2017-12-05 at 7.12.43 PM.pngScreen Shot 2017-12-05 at 7.12.32 PM.pngScreen Shot 2017-12-05 at 7.12.53 PM.pngScreen Shot 2017-12-05 at 7.13.01 PM.png

And THAT is how you end a scene. This had its moments, wasn’t perfect, but BY GOD THAT ENDING.

Song Styles: Mike sings a torch song about a suitcase

Mike: “Can I have a stool for this?”
Clive: “i dunno, depends on what you’re going to do with it…”

Very passionate, powerful song from Mike, giving some of his most vibrant vocal tones in a while, and not going on too long. It even ends with Mike running over and giving Richard Vranch a high-five.

Sound Effects: Ryan’s on the subway. Archie supplies the sound effects.

Ah, yes, one of the last few times Ryan wouldn’t do sound effects. Not that Archie’s have been bad (it was one of the few things he was truly great at on the show), but…Ryan’s are classic.

Ryan’s great at reacting, though. The first ten seconds are just the sounds of the subway system, which…sort of frustrates Ryan, as the train should probably get there, as the scene should probably have something happen in it.

Ryan does have a nice move. He motions to a dog, pets it…then throws it onto the tracks. Archie does have a great ‘AIIIIGH’ noise from the dog.

The whole game leads to Ryan jumping one, squeezing the doors open and getting on…only for Archie’s announcer to go “your attention please…the subway is now out of service…”

An odd game, as nothing happened, but it was a very funny nothing.

World’s Worst- Person to share an apartment with

John and Mike have 5 seconds of a ‘you go, no you go’, before:
Mike: “….what’s ‘rent’?”
John: “I believe that washing causes the body not to be as real and happy as it ought to be…”
Mike, going right up to the camera: “Yeah, I ate all the food. So what? YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT??”

Props: Ryan and John vs. Mike and Archie

Screen Shot 2017-12-05 at 7.25.50 PM.pngRyan: “I’m sick of bloody froot loops, alright, YOU EAT EM.”

John, in doing an unfunny joke that nobody’s getting, snaps the prop in half. LOWERING HIS WL TENURE FURTHER INTO THE GROUND.

Mike, not taking a single moment for granted: “Man, d’you see those guys in concert when they broke that scythe on stage?”

Audition: Ryan runs auditions for ‘The Dead Greasy Godfathers Society’- John, Archie and Mike audition.

This was a game they only tried in the US this series, and it actually had a few good playings, though this one was…a wee bit problematic…

Ryan, to John, a method actor: “Now, Tony I gather you’ve read the script?”
John: “No, I, uh…I looked at it, and then I imagined what it’d be like to feel it…”

John’s basically sums up his tenure on Whose Line: He gives a really bad acting performance, and Ryan Stiles tells him to go away.

Archie goes up as…well, an Archie Hahn character. Flamboyantly gay, dancer type.
Ryan: “Heinie, what are you doing right now?”
Archie: “I’m doing an off-off-off-off-off broadway production of Rear Window…”

Archie, ONCE AGAIN, skews the improv his way, putting the idea in Ryan’s head that his number has to include dancing, and doing a full dance number with castanets doubling for tap shoes. THAT’S…NOT…HOW…IMPROV…WORKS!

Mike awkwardly comes towards the stage
Ryan: “Uh, name please? Your name?”
Mike: “Uh…Bob Zoom?”
Ryan: “Hi Bob. Now, have you had a chance to read the script?”
Mike: “…..there’s a script???”

Of course, Mike absolutely kills it, doing a short, passionate, character-heavy song, culminating in a HUGELY ENERGETIC NOTE, and Ryan running on, going “you’ve got the job, Bob!”

This is a well-structured game, one well-proctored  by Ryan and well-ended by Mike, but John and Archie meddled with the momentum, by overdoing it, and, well, cheating.

Clive even deducts 500 points for Archie’s prop incident- “It’s improvisation, not forward thinking, that we want here…”

Helping Hands: Ryan (with Archie’s hands) complains to waiter Mike

Ryan: “Taste this soup, it’s freezing cold.”
Mike: “…it’s gazpacho, idiot…”

Mike does know that this game requires physicality, so he gets Ryan to do the secret handshake they did in high school, and it becomes this crazy, complete miss of an arm thing that I’m happy I saw.

Of course, Archie grabs Ryan’s crotch, which Ryan quickly responds to (“it’s just…my underwear’s riding behind me…”), but…if this went on the air in 2017 it’d get some headlines, I think, and some op-eds in the Times.

Really great game, crotch grab notwithstanding, as it was more physical than most other games of this.

Film Dub: Ryan and Archie are somewhere strange

This one’s a pretty awkward one, though it has a nice line or two (“that’s my coat!” “yes, I’m going to go take a dump in it, d’you mind”)- Archie does a big ‘no, but’ in the middle, which gets a laugh but doesn’t progress the scene.

Gospel: Milkmen

John and Archie’s…are not remotely good.

Ryan’s, though…
“Milk is a dairy product…just like butter.
It doesn’t just show up in a store, you’ve got to squeeze an udder…”

Overall: I didn’t think Series 3 would have a truly bad show, but here we are. John and Archie kept any scene from progressing, there were a lot of bad improv moves, and even if Mike and Ryan were having nice nights, there wasn’t truly a top-to-bottom perfect game on the entire night. It was just flawed as hell.

Show Winner: John
Best Performer: Ryan, for sticking with it and elevating even some bad scenes
Worst Performer: Archie Hahn, who did more improv no-nos throughout the night. It’s a wonder he ever did another show.
Best Game: Audition. Not pristine, but structurally cool, and with a great ending.
Worst Game: Film Dub. Just not good.


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