Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S04E07, or Bad Call, Homeslice…

Onto the American tapings we go, for the last time until Series 10. On this route, the producers had reevaulated their priorities after some admittedly unspectacular episodes in New York the previous year. Now, the producers would emphasize Ryan Stiles, Greg Proops and Chip Esten, as they’d worked so well in the UK tapings, as well as bringing back Colin Mochrie, Ryan’s comedy partner, as he’d done well enough supporting Ryan in S03E12.

This episode featured three of those touchstones- Greg, Ryan and Colin would share the stage together for the first of several times. Also, for the first of MANY, MANY times, Colin would share the stage with newcomer Brad Sherwood, brought in as an incredibly young option from LA, to do singing games if Jim Meskimen or Chip Esten was not in house. Brad and Colin would later go on to become a double act just as powerful as Colin and Ryan.

Emotion Option: Ryan and Brad (in adjoining shower cuticles)

The New York audience, being, well, a New York audience, is raucous and loud, perhaps moreso than S3, when giving suggestions for emotions.

The first section has no dialogue, but the visual of Ryan just coming into Brad’s shower, with a look on his face, has enough to get me laughing early on.

This is a very motion-based scene, with not a ton of dialogue or character, focusing more on movement, like Ryan vomiting over the divider in the showers during ‘nauseously’.
Ryan: “…sorry, it’s just so clean over here, I didn’t wanna…”

Then, of course, the scene ends on a soap-dropping joke. And as Brad heads back to the seat, he does a huge ‘YES’ motion that he was actually able to do that.

This was very broad, very Americanized, and I didn’t love it, possibly because I’m used to UK playings of this game being more dialogue-based.

Clive, as he usually does: “I don’t know what sort of points to give there….69, NOW-”
One guy in the audience does a full YAHOO!

Old Job New Job: Greg does Colin’s hair- Ryan, a former fireman, takes over for him

First of all, let me get the obvious joke out of the way- HAHA, COLIN’S GOING TO A BARBER’S.

Sure enough
Greg: “Same as usual?”
Colin: “Yeah, if you could just comb it up over the top…”

Ryan comes in and shoots a water hose at Colin, exposing his unbuttoned top half of his shirt. And I thought we wouldn’t get that kind of material on this show until Tony ripped his trousers.

The scene ends with Ryan picking Colin up, throwing him over his shoulder, and moving to another chair. As Ryan and Colin head back to the seats, Ryan remarks “I picked a bad spot…”, referring to where he picked Colin up. Colin replies “i KNOW!”

This was a quick one, but Ryan made the best of it, possibly giving less character than Stephen’s playings.

Props: Ryan and Brad vs. Greg and Colin

Screen Shot 2018-01-13 at 2.17.52 PM.pngRyan: “You hold Dumbo, and I’ll clean out his ears.”

Screen Shot 2018-01-13 at 2.18.32 PM.pngBrad: “So, this is all that’s left of Fred Flintstone’s car…”
I thought of that one too…

Screen Shot 2018-01-13 at 2.19.25 PM.pngColin: “DAMN THESE IMPLANTS!”
Clive, background: “Hey…”

Screen Shot 2018-01-13 at 2.20.10 PM.png
Ryan: “….DAMN THESE IMPLANTS!”

Screen Shot 2018-01-13 at 2.20.58 PM.pngGreg, with little choice: “….DAMN these implants!”

Also, note that Brad does the first of many Lost in Space references in Props. This will carry to the Aisha version.

This was an incredibly strong game of props, which is a breath of fresh air after E6. You can definitely see that Americans were much better at Props than most Brits.

Whose Line: Colin gets a bank loan from Ryan

I don’t think this game has been played on UK WL yet, and I can’t imagine anyone except for Sweeney & Steen playing it (it could be a foresight though), but if this is the debut, with Colin and Ryan, then it’s welcome.

As Clive explains the game, Ryan stuffs the lines in his pocket…then keeps his hands there…then closes his eyes. The audience does the math and laughs at this.

As Ryan closes a safe
Colin: “So how long are you gonna keep my wife in there? Until I, what, totally pay back?”
Ryan: “Well, don’t think of her as your wife anymore, think of her as collateral.”

Colin: “Her mother always said to her…[reads] ‘May 10,000 ants invade your underwear drawer…”
Ryan, with the wordplay: “My god, she comes from a large family!”
Colin: ‘She does! And damn fine workers, too…”

Colin is prompted to listen into the safe and see if his wife is saying anything. Unfortunately, he has to switch hands in order to wring the slip of paper out of his pocket and read it. Eventually he does figure out what his wife is saying: “…It’s time for the Royal Spanking!’ My god, she knows my weakness.”
Colin holds out his bum to Ryan
Ryan: “Well, I’d like to, but…I’m not in deposits, NOW..”

Ryan sticks up Colin and hands him a note.
Colin: “…You must dance for me while I name some vegetables.”
Unfortunately, this means it comes from Colin, and Ryan has to dance with the gun in his hand, while Colin yells “LETTUCE! RUTABEGA! CELERY!”

The scene ends with Colin joining him, and they both yell out vegetables as Clive buzzes in.

You can see why they still play that game to this day. There were so many great lines, the Colin-Ryan duo truly shone, the lines were silly enough, and it was just a ridiculously funny scene.

Party Quirks: Brad hosts
Greg: cheerleader
Colin: Synchronized swimmer
Ryan: cattle brander

Greg, as a cheerleader, does his patented ‘leap and touch his toes’ move that’d carry him to the early US era.

The second Colin comes in, I’m laughing hysterically. The frozen smile he has on his face, the little movements, diving into a bowl of dip. I’m gone.

And then Ryan comes in, ties up Colin and brands him. I’m literally dying here. This is very close to US WL in its physicality, and in how Brad’s running the party. This literally could have been in S1 of the US version.

Scenes from a Hat

Clive: “The good, the bad, and the ugly”
Screen Shot 2018-01-13 at 3.27.11 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-01-13 at 3.27.26 PM.png
Ryan: “…we still waiting for ugly?”
Screen Shot 2018-01-13 at 3.27.36 PM.png
Ryan: “OH, HERE HE IS!”
Colin’s face always kills me here

Clive: “Fortune cookies that tell the truth”
Greg: “…’You’re a cheap bastard and you won’t keep a tip’- HEY!”

Clive: “Mailman at a dog show.:”
Ryan comes on, sprays away Brad, tries spraying away Colin, but Colin just starts humping his leg, which cracks up the audience and amuses Ryan.
Clive: “…I mean, they only bite the person in England…speed the mail, I guess..”

Clive: “Bad ice cream flavors.”
Ryan: “mmmm, have you tried the pork?”
Clive: “…any game can end on the line ‘have you tried the pork’….any game I like, anyway…”

Solid round, but dull in a few areas

Sound Effects: Colin changes a baby’s diaper, Ryan provides Sound Effects

The first non-Archie playing of this game, and the first with this immortal duo in their respective roles.

This time, Colin has dialogue as well, even going ‘WHO PUT THE PET SNAIL THERE!’ as he hears a fart noise.

Also, the first sign of Colin’s Sound Effects brutality- a dog comes running in, and he chucks him out the window.

So many little things work here, like Colin putting the wrong end in front of the sink, Ryan’s ‘AIIIGH’ noise, the ‘pfff’ once he opens the diaper.

Even better, Colin does a sweeping motion with the diaper…and then goes to pick the baby off of the floor. It’s a hysterical touch that wins over the audience.

And then, right as Colin ties up the diaper, there’s a second beat, and then a loud ‘PFFFFFF’. There’s someone in the audience who screams at this.

Helping Hands: Greg helps Ryan (with Colin’s hands) prepare for a date

As a bonus, Greg rolls out his french accent for this game. Lots of future WL touchstones appear in this one.

And then, the classic moment where Colin throws a ton of toothpaste on a toothbrush, and brushes Ryan’s teeth as he winces.

And then, Ryan rinses…then spits into his hands, just to get back at Colin. Then, when he asks for a towel, Greg waves it in front of him and runs away.

Very funny game, though I’d put it below the more recent ones, like Jim shoving every food in his mouth, or Ryan dumping cereal in his mouth.

Superheroes: Greg, as Junk Man, has to save the world from English Television, with Ryan as Hyperactive Man, Brad as Cliche Boy, and Colin as Captain Poultry

And this staple of the American run debuts here as well.

I have to say that Greg’s reaction to the crisis suggestion is one of the happiest moments of his entire WL career.  The second someone says ‘ENGLISH TELEVISION’, half the audience goes ‘OHHHHHHH’, Clive chuckles and rears back, and Greg just starts laughing hysterically at Clive’s expense, kinda like Mandark from Dexter’s Laboratory.

Clive, eerily prophetic: “So…JUNK-MAN has got to solve English Television’s problem…though it’s perfectly obvious that he’d just turn it into American television, but…”
The audience boos this one.
Clive: “Oh, now that’ll get the crowd on my side…”
Greg: “Bad call, homeslice.”

I love Ryan’s reaction to english television, writhing back and forth
Greg: “It’s just Benny Hill all day long”
“Ryan: “I KNOW, IT’S TERRIBLE!”

[Fun fact. After its original run, Whose Line reruns would land on BBC America, and its lead-in program would always be…yep, you guessed it, Benny Hill. Kinda odd he predicted that too]

Brad, as Cliche Boy: “Sorry I’m late, but better late than never.”

Colin enters as Captain Poultry and cracks up the entire room, as he hands out eggs and gets down the motions.
Brad: “And remember, don’t count your chickens before they hatch!”

Colin: “I’m gonna go over there and peck all their cameras into submission…it’s all I could think of…”
Ryan, as Colin leaves: “LOOK AT THAT! IT’S POULTRY IN MOTION!”

This is a pretty nice debut for the game, again, seeming just like the US version, especially in how the denouement seems so last-minute.

You can tell this is an especially receptive crowd when not only do they AWWWW when Clive announces that was the last game, but they go nuts when Colin’s crowned the winner. Colin bashfully swats them away.
Clive: “A popular winner on this night, with all the Mochrie family in the audience…”

Overall: I’d feared that, like S3, we’d see a huge decrease in quality with the move to New York. HERE? NO. There was something electric in the room tonight that we hadn’t really seen yet. There was something in how each of the games went, and how the performers got friendlier and looser as the night went on. There was something in how Brad looked like he’d been doing this for years, even if this was his first show. All four were incredible, and every game was a delight. This may have been the tipping point for the producers to goad them into giving Colin and Ryan and co more of a presence on UK WL.

Show Winner: Colin
Best Performer: Ryan Stiles, for absolutely owning the first stretch of the show, and being a better supportive team player in the latter half. Colin did come close, as he came into his own on the show for the first time.
Worst Performer: Brad Sherwood, but I owe this to the strength of the other three.
Best Game: Whose Line. Absolutely classic in every way. Superheroes and Props were right behind.
Worst Game: Emotion Option, for having the least to it.

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Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S04E06, or Well, That’s Never Stopped Me Having a Good Time…

Well, a lot has happened in the first 5 episodes of Series 4, without an especially dull moment. Before the move to New York, there was a compilation, which could only help, as these five shows are among the strongest in the show’s history.

Authors: Pant and Ethel, Where are You?
Jim: Arthur Conan Doyle
Paul: AA Handbook
Steve Steen: Jacques Cousteau
Tony: Dr. Alex Comfort
From: E3

Tony adds that Comfort has authored “the new, REVISED…joy of sex.”

Paul, after Jim supplies plot: “…there are no services on this motorway for the next fifty miles. [looks to Clive for a buzzer]”

Steve: “I turned to look at Pant and Ethel. Suddenly, it took ze form of my hideous enemy, ze shark.”
[there was a bit of Henning Wehn in that impression]

As Steve talks of ‘shifting ballast’
Tony: “…and if you DO shift a large amount of ballast…make sure it’s away from your partner’s face…”
AND THAT’S THE GAME

Short, sweet, and still an outrageously effective round of Authors. I’ll note that this game is way better when played sporadically, rather than in every goddamned show.

Old Job New Job: Jim, Stephen and Tony are plumbers. Steve used to be an advertising exec.
From: E4

This one was filmed at a taping where we’ve already seen this game. Maybe this one went better…or worse than the ‘spaghetti-yanked offstage’ ending.

Tony shows the audience that a pair of underwear’s been stuck in a pipe. Perhaps trying to call back to the underwear he stuck in his mouth during F&TS that taping.

Stephen: “We washed THIS screwdriver in Daz, and this screwdriver in Omo, and they BOTH BROKE THE WASHING MACHINE!”
I love Tony’s absolutely annoyed look as he grabs the screwdrivers here.

I prefer the one that made the taping, as this one was extremely concise, but it was still funny.

World’s Worst: Person to be Prime Minister
Jim, Steve, Stephen and Tony
From: E1

Steve and Tony step down at the same time, possibly with the same joke, but Steve lets Tony go for it
Tony, John Major voice: “I’M HEVING A VERY CONSIDERABLE AMOUNT OF…”

Then, immediately after that, nobody has any. The obvious joke cleared out everyone else’s material.

Steve, with the other obvious joke, as H.W. Bush, “…ah’m gonna be your next prime minister…”

Tony: “…hello, my name’s Jimmy Savile…”
BUZZ BUZZ BUZZ

Narrate: Jim and Steve (in a betting shop)
From: E3

Ah yes, the first ever playing of what would become a Ryan-Colin staple…but was introduced as a Sweeney and Steen vehicle.

Steve, blowing an easy line: “Yeah, I’d been whistling the speme to thports night- [runs the line backwards] Sure, I’d been drinking that day.”

This game was meant as a primary example of ‘Jim and Steve trying to screw with each other’, using every narration to direct the other person into doing something ridiculous, rather than going about a mystery scene. This works, but not as well as the game would later.

Scene with a Prop: Tony and Paul
From: E4

The most simple game ever played on Whose Line. Tony and Paul with a sign that says ‘Stop! Children!”

Tony, holding the sign: “STOP! Can’t you read?”
Paul: “I can, yeah.”
Tony: “What’s it say?”
Paul: “It says ‘Stop Children’.
Tony: “Yeah, that’s right.”
Paul: “I’m 34.”

Now, there is an edit after here, which makes me think the scene went on longer, and there was possibly more, but A.) the scene’s perfectly fine as a sub-10-second clip, and B.) Tony probably made it unbroadcastable after that. Something about children might have made this go blue very quickly.

Psychiatrist: Chip
Greg: Afraid of Water
Tony: In love with himself
Ryan: thinks he smells like horses
From: E5

Ladies and gentlemen, the first full-fledged singing game proctored by Chip Esten. The first of many.

The first number is very quaint, with Greg giving nice stuff, but Chip throwing it over the moon with a very nice rhyme of ‘that nasty H2O’, proving his impeccable rhyming abilities right off the bat.

Tony is caught off guard by the very bouncy tone of his music, so he takes a second’s glance at Richard, and then just starts bouncing around with it.

Chip has a great takedown of Tony, calling him an egomaniac.
Tony, trying the last rhyme: “…have ya got any CRACK?”

Ryan’s verse and comeback is a nice way to end it, even though Ryan can smell the ‘unstable’ pun a mile away.

This game, if anything, allowed for Chip’s longevity on this season, as he’d be an incredible asset in the singing games of this year, especially as Josie wouldn’t make the NY flight.

Props: Greg and Josie vs. Ryan and Paul
From: E2

A very short round without a ton of highlights.

Alphabet: Jim and Tony (changing room)- starting with F
From: E4

Two things you’ll immediately notice. Firstly, Jim’s excellent at this game. Secondly, Tony will not miss an opportunity to let out an ‘oOOOoOooooooOOOOOooohhh!”

Tony: “Let’s talk tactics”
Jim: “TACTICS TACTICS TACTICS. SCORE A GOAL! That’s the tactic.
Tony, forgetting what game he’s playing: “…score a goal? That’s not much of a tactic!”
Clive: “hang on…you’ve got it backwards.”
Jim: Unusual Grasp of the Alphabet you have…”

Tony takes 5 seconds before thinking of an X. Then: “….XYLOPHONE, WHAT THE BLOODY HELL’S THAT DOING IN HERE???”

Song Styles: Josie sings a Hendrix song with the opening line ‘on the M25’, and with the closing line ‘who stole my sausages’
From: E2

I prefer the tactic of giving Josie an object to sing about, but let’s see if this works.

It’s great- when Clive asks for an ending line, Paul keeps shouting out suggestions, and Clive bats him away.
Paul: “WOULD YOU LIKE AN ORANGE?”
Clive: “…I would, Paul,  but not for you to do that…”

Josie jumps right into the style, complete with some impressive stuff from Richard Vranch on electric guitar. I’ll say that at times she didn’t always comply with the beat Richard was going for, and the song was a bit clumsy, but the energy was there.

Expert: Greg interviews Ryan, an expert on taxidermy and paperclips
From E5

As good as Ryan is at Expert, this may have been his crowning achievement in the game.

Screen Shot 2018-01-12 at 10.01.06 PM.png

This is the position that Ryan holds FOR THE ENTIRE SCENE. He does not blink. He does not move. Even as Greg conducts his interview, he is absolutely immobile.

This is one of the few games in Whose Line history where the audience laughter is constant throughout. Even as Greg is talking, attempting to shake Ryan’s hand, and trying to ask questions, the audience just keeps laughing at Ryan.

The best part is when Greg finishes a question, and Ryan responds with 5 seconds of silence before Greg resumes. The audience dies at that.

Greg, trying to tie the game together: “Now, once the animal is stuffed, what do you use for the eyes? Paperclips, maybe?”
Greg, growing impatient, nods Ryan’s head for him.

As they head back to the seats, Ryan immediately goes “I’m sorry” to Greg, which he immediately brushes off.

Every Other Line: Paul’s an old man looking for false teeth. Tony reads.
From: E3

Paul: “I’ve lost me false teeth!”
Tony, cracking a bit: “Everything’s fine…”

Tony is great at reading in this game, making sure every line of dialogue, even if it has no context, feels like it has the exact same context.

Paul: “I was wondering if you could send a scuba diver down there to get ’em for me.”
Tony, in disbelief: “…SHE’S THROUGH THERE! She’s through there, laid out on the bed!”
Paul: “Well…then…I’ll go in then, shall I?”
Tony: “She’s been through a hell of a lot in the past hour.”
Paul: “Well, a lot’s been through her, from what I’ve heard.”
Tony, cracking: “SHE’S DEAD!”
Paul, with only one option: “…Well, that’s never stopped me from having a good time!”

Hoedown: Frying Pan (Ryan, Greg, Tony and Chip)
From: E5

Like last Hoedown, this doesn’t get funny until Tony’s verse, where he ends by saying “I use all my fried food to burn Jeremy Beadle!”

Chip’s isn’t much, but it’s cute, which is what you could say about this hoedown.

Best Performer: Tony, over Paul and Jim. Surprisingly the brits ruled this one, and Tony had more highlights than his companions.
Worst Performer: Steve Steen, for not having a great deal of standout moments himself.
Best Game: Expert. Easy pick, I know, but this should have been in the show. Psychiatrist and Authors came close.
Worst Game: Props. Nothing there.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S04E05 or It’s More of a Guideline than a Commandment, Really…

Now…here’s where things get interesting.

We’ve had a case where we’ve intermixed US performers with Tony Slattery- he’s worked with Greg and with Ryan. But now, for the first time, we see Tony outnumbered by them- not only Colin and Greg, both on loan from America, but…we introduce a new American talent that Patterson and co really banked on in Series 4, and that’s Chip Esten. Nowadays he goes by Charles, and he’s made a really nice career for himself as an actor on Nashville. But here, he was a young, fresh-faced improviser, surrounded by three of the greats.

After Tony is introduced by Clive as ‘everybody’s favorite homeboy’, he flashes a little gang sign, confusedly, which cracks the hell out of Chip.

Film and Theatre Styles v1: Chip and Tony (bank robber and teller)

Clive gets a ‘Russ Meyer’ suggestion. Tony asks ‘who’s that’, and Chip, of all people, has to explain. Tony, once he realizes, holds his hands out in a semi-disgusted way.

In the first few seconds of the scene, Chip is very passive, and Tony has to do a lot of the vocal heavy lifting. Tony had asked for Chip’s loafers, which Chip ends up holding up…and which end up bringing down Tony due to the smell.

Clive: “Biblical Epic”
Chip: “Bow before the shoes before you. You will have fifteen sons, and you will name them all Seth.”
[Greg loses it in the background]
Tony: “But this new commandment, the fifteenth: “thou shall wear odor eaters”
Chip: “…it’s more of a guideline than a commandment, really…”

Chip’s over-the-top Shakespearean is not foreign to those familiar with Improv-A-Ganza
Chip: “THOU SPEAKEST TO ME IN A LANGUAGE DOST NOT UNDERSSSTAAND.”
Tony, out-of character: “…what was that last word?”

Western
Chip, pulling out a Clint Eastwood impression: “…pretty fancin’ shootin’…”
Tony, calling him out: “Pretty FANCIN’ shootin? What kind of a bank are you?”
Chip, as they’ve switched places since top of the scene: “…I dunno, you’re the one behind the counter.”
BUZZ

I’m very happy that Chip was able to hold his own line that in a scene with Tony Slattery. This was very well-balanced, and Tony was thrown for a loop on a few occasions.

Film and Theatre Styles v2: Ryan and Greg (stuck in a lift)

Clive: “Now, let’s go onto a game called Ryan- No, not CALLED RYAN…”

This one doesn’t get going until disaster movie, where Ryan and Greg start frantically running to both sides of the ‘lift’, but in a synchronized was that mimics a Towering Inferno type film. It’s really perfect.

Of course, that style ends with this visual:
Screen Shot 2018-01-11 at 9.56.19 PM.png

So naturally, Clive goes onto ‘Batman and Robin’.
Greg: “…Batman, I’d like to tell you something…”

then, Ryan and Greg go right into ‘climbing a building on the floor’ position, which gets a nice reaction from the audience.

Clive: Science Fiction
Ryan:
Screen Shot 2018-01-11 at 9.58.22 PM.png
Ryan: “…it’s incredible. My penis has grown to EXTREME HEIGHTS!”

Ryan: “QUICK! PRY THE ELEVATOR DOOR OPEN WITH MY PENIS!”
Meanwhile, Tony is dying in the background.

Then, right when Ryan gets back to the seats, he does the first of many ‘throws penis over shoulder’ jokes we’d be getting this run of the show.

Not as top-to-bottom funny as the first one, but definitely more broad, and with more, well, Americanized humor.

News Report: Snow White
Greg and Tony in the studio, Chip and Ryan in the field

As usual, they do the ‘silent motioning before the scene starts’ as the music plays in, and this one might be the funniest one yet:
Screen Shot 2018-01-11 at 10.03.47 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-01-11 at 10.04.01 PM.png

Greg, unknowingly starting a trend: “…good evening, I’m Packed Nicely.”
Tony, after a few seconds, breaks.

Greg, after introducing Tony’s character in saying ‘a lot of things have gone down’
Tony: “Well, it’s very interesting that you should use the word ‘go down’ because she’s with seven very small men…”

Chip, himself starting a trend: “Packed, I can almost hear you…but I’ve got my fingers in my ear…”

Ryan, on how he handled the ‘seven men’: “Yes, I tried the slipper on all of them, and it didn’t fit anyone…”
Chip has to bite his lip hard here. For several seconds. Eventually he settles on “and she’s still sleeping…”

Greg: “What about the evil, evil witch, who’s been trying to get snow white? Briefly.”
Tony: “Bitch.”
Greg: “Right, thank you…”

Greg, as a precursor to a later pun: “I can hear something in my ear, I think it’s Chip Stunkley”

Chip then introduces Ryan as the eighth dwarf, looks him over, and says his name: “Gangly.”

Ryan’s comment about what the dwarves did to Snow White…wouldn’t go over very well if this was broadcast in 2018, but him recounting the details as Chip tries to sign off did make me laugh a bit.

Tony: “Well, it appears there are new dwarves showing up all the time. There’s Bonky, there’s Smelly…and there’s Colin Moynihan…”

Then, as the scene ends, Tony and Greg go back to arguing.

Maybe it’s the fact that I recounted nearly every line, but I adored that scene. Everyone had funny lines, everyone had something to do, it kept moving quickly but it didn’t feel like it was over too soon, and it was just…plain…funny.

Film Dub: Greg meets Ryan, who’s in a hurry

This is a very simple one- Greg plays the kid who rides a moped, and Ryan…slowly turns into Peter Graves from Airplane. There’s not much else to it than that, and it’s still pretty amusing.

Ryan: “I’m saying have you ever seen a grown man naked.”
Greg: “Well…not really, he was your brother, I think…”

Ryan, as Greg takes off: “Boy, I bet you love the feeling of throbbing metal between your legs, doncha?”

The scene ends with Ryan’s character speeding into a cafe, and lingering on this shot.
Screen Shot 2018-01-11 at 10.22.12 PM.png
Nobody knows what to do, or who gets her, so after 2 seconds of silence…
Greg, in an outraged high-pitched voice: “…Good MORNING!”

Ryan’s amused as hell at that ending, even repeating the line as they head back to the seats.

Scenes from a Hat:

Clive: “Two flies on a date”
Ryan, to Tony: “Care for some more turds?”
and then, immediately
Clive: “Breaking bad news to the emperor”
Chip, to Greg: “My lord…the flies have eaten all of your turd…”

I’ve never noticed this, but, during ‘locked in the freezer’, Greg’s initial comment, to Ryan, of ‘…four hours’ is a DIRECT CALLBACK to Film and Theatre Styles. Before Ryan can do a fart joke, Chip comes in with the defacto ending.

Clive: “Practical joking grave-diggers”
Ryan, grabbing a bone from a corpse: “HERE BOY!”
Tony:
Screen Shot 2018-01-11 at 10.27.49 PM.png

Clive notes that one of the scenes is barely legible, as he can only read, “two lovers in a hot tub…realizing….and then the handwriting goes wobbly. So ‘two lovers in a hot tub…realizing something!”
Ryan, to Chip: “…I just noticed….we’re both men, aren’t we?”

Props: Ryan and Chip vs. Tony and Greg

Ryan, with his puffy V: “We’ve been on this island too long, Fred, so we’re going to spell out ‘VERY MUCH HELP IS NEEDED.”

Very similar in tone to US WL, but not with a ton of great suggestions.

Party Quirks: Tony hosts
Chip: thinks he’s underwater
Greg: obsessed with gadgets
Ryan: made of springs

After Greg does a ton of explaining (even throwing a proto-Mind-Your-Klingon noise in there)
Tony: “…I’m going down to the pub, you’re too dull…”

This may be the first of Ryan’s more inspired Party Quirks choices, as he embodies the proper physicality, as well as confuses the living shit out of Tony.

This is one of the first times, at least in a while, where Tony ends a scene by nervously muttering ‘…I don’t KNOW!’, this time at Greg’s. There’s even a moment where, after Greg’s demonstrated something else, you cut back to Tony and he’s speechless and confused. It’s a fantastic cutaway.

A tad light, but still funny enough.

Helping Hands: Tony has breakfast with Ryan (ft. Greg’s hands)

First of all, the spout gets dangerously close to Greg’s finger as he tries to pour tea. We could have had a precursor to Colin spilling coffee on himself.

This, as with the theme, is very similar to a modern US round of this game, mostly because Tony isn’t much more than a bystander in the first part, and Ryan is doing a great deal of heavy lifting.

There’s also the first of many inspired moments, where Ryan prompts Greg to grab the box of cereal and pour it directly into Ryan’s mouth, which works pretty well.

Eventually Tony figures out he should prompt Ryan too, telling him to pick up the newspaper on the far, far end of the table. Greg has to be challenged.

Greg has to sort of dance around the table to pick up the paper…which Tony just grabs and hands to him seconds later. Ryan finally picks it up, and greg responds by slapping Tony with it.

This is a pretty damn funny game, the first of…well, what would turn into a series of Helping Handses where the goal would end up being to torture Ryan Stiles.

Hoedown: Feeding the Cat

Already, Ryan knows exactly what he’s in for, reluctantly slumping towards the step, not at all liking what he’s about to do. And this is where we’ll be from here on out.

Greg, after his verse doesn’t get any laughs, mouths something to the audience right before Ryan’s, which leads to a sustained laugh.

Tony does manage to have a really funny voice, about feeding the kitty while blind, “so sometimes I try to stuff the food in the wrong hole…”

Chip’s though, is the first of many incredibly thoughtful song verses on the show, talking about accidentally killing his cat, “and now my kitty’s lost his life, he’s got another eight…”

Dare I say it, not an especially bad Hoedown.

Overall: As S4E1 was a turning point for structure, this episode was a turning point for content. Now you can really tell that some of the humor, and some of the performers as well, were being Americanized, and even if Tony was there with UK ideologies, it didn’t especially matter, as this show sort of foretold the way the show would eventually head. This is also the episode right before Ryan, Chip and Greg would make the flight out to New York for the US tapings, and those would have humor quite a lot like this one, in that most of the performers were American (except for that one Canadian guy), and they weren’t especially sticking to more sophisticated British humor.

As for this show? Despite what it stood for, it was pretty funny, though not to the heights of the three 10/10 shows so far. It would have been a surefire 10 if it hadn’t been for games like Party Quirks, Hoedown and Props bringing up the rear in terms of content. There were so many games like News Report, Helping Hands, both F&TS and Scenes from a Hat, that were so balls to the wall funny, so when the games with quicker, quainter middles showed up, it dragged them down. All four performers were hysterical, but you get the sense that Tony felt a bit jettisoned, having to perform with three Americans that didn’t especially share his style of humor. He did have some great moments, but most of the show he was being one-upped by his contemporaries, especially in Party Quirks, and that one SFAH suggestion from Ryan. The other three were solid, with an edge to Ryan Stiles, for giving the squad-leading performance the production team needed to essentially give him the reins for the New York run, as he’d appear in every single NY episode.

Show Winner: Chip
Best Performer: Ryan
Worst Performer: Tony, for being overshadowed by the three American talents.
Best Game: News Report. Absolutely hysterical from top to bottom.
Worst Game: Props. Not enough solid material.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S04E04 or You’ve Had Two Warnings, Tony…

After a long week or so of work, I can finally watch another one of these. Even better, the lineup is a great one- Steve Frost, Josie Lawrence, Jim Sweeney, Tony Slattery. This is as strong as they get.

Film and Theatre Styles: Jim asks Steve for his daughter’s hand in marriage

Clive, getting a response: “…Theatre of Cruelty? Well, that’s what we’re doing here.”

Steve, starting the scene: “SO, YA WANT TO MARRY MY DAUGHTER.”
Jim, taking the style literally: “No, I want to marry your daughter’s hand…”

Steve: “You marry the hand, you go ahead and marry the rest of the body.”
BUZZ
Clive: “Pantomime…”
Jim: “…THE REST OF HER BODY? It’s not HERE, is it? I TELL YOU WHAT, BOYS AND GIRLS, IF YOU SEE THE BODY COME UP BEHIND ME…”

Steve even gets the audience to do a ‘OH YES HE WILL’
Jim, breaking toward the audience: “OOHH….well done…”

Clive: “Hang on, let’s up the intellectual level a bit…with the Flowerpot Men…”

Steve: [flowerpot men noises]
Jim: “…does she talk like you as well?”
Steve: [makes drinking hand motion]

Steve, as he does in these styles like Shakespeare, keeps talking until he’s out of breath, nailing the patter and rhythm. Jim, once he finishes, gives him a bizarrely confused expression. Steve shrugs.
Clive: “…I’ve got a phone call from the RSC for you two…they’re saying ‘stop doing it like that’…”

A very funny scene, one that kept the plot going, and with two people who could definitely work with each other. I’ll gripe that there wasn’t a whole lot of movement, but when one of the performers has MS, that’s not especially a fair gripe, is it?

Emotion Option: Tony and Josie (in a launderette)

Josie, inspecting Tony’s underpants: “…that’s a funny tan color…”
Tony:
Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 8.45.34 PM.png

Josie: “…OH, EXCUSE ME…”

Depressed-ly
Tony: “….that’s not the color of the underpants…i just had a bit of an AC-cident…”
Josie: “I KNOWWW, I can smell you from ‘ere…”

In the Greedily style, Tony engulfs some of the underpants
Clive: “…pity”
Tony:
Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 8.48.34 PM.png

Josie: “…you’re pathetic, aren’t you…”
Tony, preposterously: “…that’s not pity, that’s INSULT…”

Lust
Josie: “I don’t want to pity you, I want to lick you. I don’t want those clothes to go into that washing machine, I want to lick them clean, I want to lick YOU clean…”
Tony:
Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 8.51.22 PM.png

Tony: “….alright…”
BUZZ

Fantastic game, made even better by the Tony-Josie dynamic, which was about to become even stronger after the Paul-Josie dynamic would cease.

Helping Hands: Steve helps Jim (ft. Tony’s hands) set up a party

Jim, frantic as hell this game: “ORIGAMI NAPKINS! FOLD THEM INTO SOME INTERESTING THING! LOOK, A DACHSUND!”

After Steve suggests they make the place look nice, Tony…throws a little hat on a glass. This gets a nice reaction.

Jim just starts cracking up, as Tony isn’t even trying to make anything out of the props onstage, as he instead just throws them about.

It’s a quick game, but the frantic nature of it, as well as Jim corresponding his character to how batshit insane Tony was being, makes it still really funny. Hell, even STEVE cracked up mid-game, and…he’d yet to do that so far on WL.

Props: Tony and Jim vs. Steve and Josie

Tony, reaching into prop: “Okay, bingo time! Contemporary Israeli Architecture: 42!”
Jim gives Tony the most confused look after this. Tony’s even confused as to what he’s just said.

and, AS PER USUAL
Jim: “Hello, my name’s Esther Rantzen
Tony: [VOMITS INTO PROP]

Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 9.00.35 PM.pngSteve: “….NOW THEN NOW THEN NOW THEN…”
[Yeah, that’s certainly not dated at all…]

Clive, postmortem: “I think I’ll give some extra points there…for the mentioning of Jimmy Savile…”
Boy, that may have been the last time you ever heard that phrase.

Old Job New Job
Jim and Tony: Pizzeria Employees
Steve: Used to be a Mountain Climber

Steve: “Is that a bottle of cheese there? Claim it, for Norway…”

Steve takes a moment to let the wind flow through his hair (?!?)
Jim: “OH, SHUT THE WINDOW!”

Steve: “YOU MAD FOOL! TIE THE SPAGHETTI TO EACH OTHER! If one goes, we all go!”
Jim: “BUT THAT WOMAN’S EATING IT!”
Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 9.05.28 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-01-10 at 9.05.45 PM.png

Great ending to a fairly decent scene. Not as good as the first go-round, but Steve was working very hard there, and it showed. Tony couldn’t find much to do other than make a bad pun.

Prison Visitor: Josie
Jim: burgled buckingham palace
Steve: Killed a bald dachshund
Tony: ran off with a sumo wrestler

Jim takes a few moments to bob along to the music. I owe this to his knowing Richard, and the fact that sometimes Richard’s aptness, especially in terms of contrasting feelings for comedic purposes, catches him off guard.

Jim’s number and response is very quaint, very cute, and Josie has a nice comeback verse. It was one of those that just came together, and the rhymes sort of fell into place.

Clive: “But what has [Stephen] killed?”
audience member: “Jeremy Beadle!”
Clive: “…a happy-ish thought, but uh…”

Clive: “a bald dachshund…I take that as an unkind reference to somebody here, a BALD DACHSHUND…”

I’ll say that, for a guy who’d openly struggle with finding the right rhyme in his later hoedowns, Steve does admirably here, especially carrying on a German accent. Even better, the morbid nature of the act grosses Josie out…which he polishes off with an ‘OH JA!’
This makes Josie crack a bit.

Tony, to start off the scene, yells, through the bars, “LOOK OUT BEA, HERE COMES VINEGAR TITS!”
Now…lets just assume this WASN’T one of the more obscure references to come through the programme…it’s still a funny line. Sans context, it works. But Tony gets his laughs from people who do know the…again, incredibly obscure reference. Hell, it even gets Josie.

I’ll say that Tony’s is actually the least memorable of the three, as Tony stumbles on his last line, and Josie spends time calling him out on it. Other than the vinegar tits line, no uncovered territory.

[Also, I am gonna get a lot of unneeded traffic from very specific horny people over that ‘vinegar tits’ line, I think. I hope I don’t have to make it the post title.]

Film Dub: Steve and Josie (husband and wife)

Steve: “HELP, I CAN’T TURN THE LIQUIDIZER OFF!”

I do love Steve adding the little touch that has character is pregnant, especially with the line ‘it’s not going to do the baby any good’.

Josie: “When you said you were going to get me a vibrator, I didn’t know you had that in mind…”

Josie: “What you wearing this night dress for?”
Steve: “I GOT IT FROM LAURA ASHLEY…”

Quaint enough game. Proof that Steve and Josie can work together, because they certainly will in the future.

Party Quirks: Tony hosts
Josie: thinks she’s in a washing powder advert
Jim: blackmailer
Steve: heavyweight boxer

Clive: “Is the party underway?”
Tony: “Oh yes, I’ve just put my extra heavy-duty sunglasses on…in case Clive arrives without a hat.”
Hell, a few ‘OHHH’s from the audience.

Jim, as usual in this game, completely owns his characterization, channeling Eric Idle a smidge, and nefariously mixing…soup.

Jim: “Got any photographs, Tony? I’ve got some photographs, Tony…know what I mean? [slurp]”
Tony, walking away: “I haven’t got a BLOODY CLUE…”

After Steve enters to his own theme music
Tony: “this is the WILDEST party I’ve ever been to…”

Even better, Tony lets them all in, and has everyone interact with each other, which is a nice move, even if he knows who half the guests are already.

Of course, Tony nabs out Josie AND Jim in one fell swoop, earning the audience’s respect, as well as capping off a pretty fun game of Party Quirks.

Clive: “Brilliant, Tony…just a shame you’re not getting any points since you were rude about me in the beginning.”

Scenes from a Hat:

Clive: “A bald man going into a hairdresser’s demanding a haircut.”
Tony, despite the warning from Party Quirks: “…you must be joking, Mr. Anderson, I couldn’t possibly….”
Clive: “Oh, dear…you’ve had 2 warnings, Tony…”

Clive: “They think they can hear a ghost in their house.”
Steve: “Eh, George?”
Jim: “Yarr?”
Steve: “Did you hear that?”
Josie and Tony: “oooooOOOOOOOooooohh…”
Jim: “Yeah, I heard that, sounds like a ghost.”
Steve: “No, it’s the Bee-Gees, rehearsing next door!”
Jim, clutching his ears: “OH, CHRIST!”

Clive: “Behind the bikesheds”
Josie and Steve come to smoke
Steve: “…how’s it going, headmistress?”

Clive: “Ballet in a chip-shop”
Tony: “….non-brewed condiment, please.”
Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 9.36.49 PM.png

Clive: “dropping a contact lens in a bubble bath.”
Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 9.37.38 PM.png
Jim: “Hello Josie- OH, BLIMEY!”
Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 9.38.11 PM.png
BUZZ BUZZ BUZZ

Probably the best top-to-bottom SFAH we’ve had so far, as the performers knew the scene’s strength was in brevity.

Hell, I’m even gonna include the credit reading, because it’s one of my all-time favorites. Tony has to read in the style of a drunk australian soap star

Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 9.39.27 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-01-10 at 9.39.46 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-01-10 at 9.39.52 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-01-10 at 9.40.07 PM.png

I die laughing every time. THIS IS WHAT HE DOES FOR 95% OF THE CREDIT READING. Towards the end, he decides he should at least do something else, so:
Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 9.42.01 PM.png
Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 9.42.45 PM.png
Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 9.43.15 PM.png

Overall: This one started slightly weaker than the last few…but when it got good, it was incredible, and gave us some of the best games of the season, especially that killer last half of the show. Everyone was one fire throughout the night, so much so that it was very hard to pick who was best and worst. Still, from that credit reading, as well as the last two games, I might have to give it to Tony Slattery. Even if he’d slip once or twice, he was still strong as hell tonight, and giving funny material and Clive slams. But it literally says nothing, because everyone else was also giving A material, though I’ll note that Jim took a step backward from his last few, and Steve also took a step backward, though he did make Josie laugh, which is rare.

Show Winner: Tony
Best Performer: Tony, for giving hysterical stuff all night, including that credit reading
Worst Performer: Josie, as she only seemed to set up jokes, instead of tell them, tonight, save for Prison Visitor.
Best Game: Party Quirks. Out of everything, it seemed like it utilized everyone to the best of their ability, and managed to get some laughs out of everyone, including Clive. SFAH, Emotion Option and Prison Visitor came close.
Worst Game: Props, by default.