Right. Now to pretend like I haven’t seen this one a million times.
A couple reasons why this episode is so great- there’s a panel of Mike McShane, Greg Proops, Ryan Stiles and Tony Slattery, and all four are gonna be rearing to go tonight. Secondly, there are some series-high games, and an energy that couldn’t be stopped. Thirdly…
Look at it. LOOK AT IT. This is the single most jarring fashion choice in Whose Line history, so soak it in.
Superheroes: An asteroid full of jam is headed for Earth
Greg: Soap Opera Man
Ryan: Itchy Man
Tony: Bad Impressions Man
Mike: Nose Lick Boy
Clive, as usual, immediately asks for a crisis that’s gonna be solved.
A lady in the back: “RICHARD NIXON’S COME BACK FROM THE DEAD!”
Some guy in the back: “AN ASTEROID’S ABOUT TO CRASH INTO THE EARTH!”
Someone DIRECTLY BEHIND CLIVE: “a jam shortage.”
Clive: “A jam shortage.”
Clive: “I didn’t hear that one…”
Greg: “WHO ARE YOU LISTENING TO???”
Clive, genuine: “I’VE GOT SOMEBODY GETTING JAM SHORTAGE IN MY EAR!”
Mike, crossing forward, at which point his mic volume gets turned up: “How are you receiving suggestions, from BRITISH TELECOM?”
Clive, trying to move on: “What was that one, then?”
Greg, still stuck: “THERE’S *GOLD* COMING FROM OVER HERE.”
Clive: “WHAT IT IS, THEN? TELL ME WHAT IT IS!”
Greg: “And you’re getting [british accent] THEH’S A JAAAAHM SHOORHTIGE!”
[For some reason, that British accent killed me more this time than it ever had]
Clive, trying to bring it back: “Okay, could all the jam shortage people-”
Greg, easing out of it: “No, no, it’s fine-”
Clive: “And could GREG PROOPS’ FRIEND, WHO HE’S ARRANGED TO SAY SOMETHING…”
Greg: “No, I don’t know him…”
Audience member: “An asteroid’s about to crash into the planet earth.”
Clive, compromising: “There’s an asteroid full of jam about to crash into the planet earth…”
Greg does his Soap Opera man bit, having an intense, romantic conversation…with himself. Mike, who’s in the shot, cracks at this one.
Even better, when Greg goes for the world crisis monitor, Mike gives a whirling, ringing noise to finally give the WCM its fanfare.
Greg: “Oh my god, there’s an asteroid full of jam heading for earth….NIXON’S COME BACK FROM THE DEAD- no time for that now…”
Greg explains to Ryan, as Itchy Man, the crisis
Ryan: “OH MY GOD, let’s have a toast!”
Tony, entering: “I came as quickly as I could, I was waxing Richard Nixon’s bikini line…”
Tony, as Bad Impressions, brings back Shirley Bassey and Danny “I’ve been in the business FORTY YEARS” LaRue. Greg, of course, goes “WHO ARE YOU DOING???”
Tony, upon naming Mike ‘Nose Lick Boy’, should have known what was about to happen: Mike comes bounding in, and licks Tony’s nose first, then Ryan’s…then the camera’s?
Ryan, with his cue to depart, not knowing what joke to pull: “Okay, I’ve gotta go….do something….”
Clive: “Double points for Greg for being so sporting and enthusiastic about the suggestions.”
A landmark, hysterical game, bringing in running gags, and giving really funny stuff to every competitor. Greg was edged out for a few Soap Opera man lines, but was still a great proctor.
Song Titles: Mike, Greg and Ryan in an airport
Ryan, appearing: “D’you know the way to San Jose?”
Greg, getting some bonus points from me: “Shine on, you Crazy Diamond.”
Ryan: “Like a Virgin.”
The game culminates in Greg having to choose between Ryan and Mike, with Ryan winning by ending with “I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts…”
Solid game, though, as usual, kinda thin.
Film Dub: Ryan’s picking up the frozen remains of his wife, while Greg helps sort them.
Clive, after the audience is appalled as the scene description: “HEYYY, IT’S A HAPPY SHOW…”
Greg, as Soap Opera man again, to the camera: “Seems unlikely, and yet here we go.”
Greg reveals that a different part of the wife’s body is in each glass.
Greg: “I drank out of one of them, so I have to remember which one it was…”
Ryan’s character goes to grab a bottle
Greg: “Nono, don’t touch that one. That’s strawberry, that’s for later when we have pudding.”
Greg, grabbing a bottle: “Here, try some of these…it’s my uncle Louie.”
Ryan: “You have a fine place here. There’s a fine little door with a knob.”
Greg’s character drops the glass.
Ryan: “Hey, what was that?”
Greg: “You said the word…knob…”
Greg, in front of the spill: “I can’t tell if this is my uncle Louie or some other delicious concoction.”
Ryan, tasting some: “…mmmm, that’s Louie alright…”
A really fun game of Film Dub, with some great lines all around, but mostly from Greg, who had the right morbid sense of humor for it.
Alphabet: Tony tries to help Mike, a scientist slowly turning into a fly. Beginning with W.
Mike, starting off: “WAIT, WAIT WAIT…Don’t clean that dog bin, I wanna have some lunch.”
A surprisingly fun, fluid scene, that both actors give their all too, and has a ton of really funny moments. It barely feels like a game of Alphabet.
Clive: “500 points to Mike, and it would have been 500 to Tony if he hadn’t left out V at the very end…”
Song Styles: Mike sings a disco song about a train set
Mike’s song is simple, but really fun, and it definitely gets the audience on his side rather quickly, as they’re clapping along.
Also, note that when they cut to the audience and people singing along to the refrain, and they even sneak a shot of Clive singing along in there:
Film Trailer: He Invaded My Chip Shop. Greg narrates, Tony, Ryan and Mike act it out
A new game, one that would recur over the next 2 series, and lead to some very funny moments.
Almost immediately, Greg: “….FROM THE MAKERS OF ‘HE STOLE MY DONER KABAB, IT’S….”
Greg, revising his narration because he remembers that Mike and Ryan are already onstage and that only leaves one person to come in: “BUT THEN THE NIGHT CAME, WHEN A T…SMALL DARK STRANGER ENTERED THE CHIP SHOP AND CHANGED THEIR LIVES FOREVER.”
Tony, getting on his knees: “HELLO.”
Greg: “THRILLING ROMANCE!”
Mike, without options, cradles Tony
Greg: “TERRIFYING CHASE SCENES”
Ryan, Mike and Tony run around stage
Greg: “DISGUSTING BATTERED CHIPS!”
Mike, Ryan and Tony spit out their chips.
Pretty fun game, with Greg doing some more really nice proctoring, and Tony doing some really funny little things.
Clive: “And, into a shock lead goes Michael Jackson, who isn’t even here.”
Helping Hands: Tony is on a boy scout camping trip with Scoutmaster Ryan
Tony picks up a guitar, and asks if Ryan can show him some tunes. Greg grabs the guitar, and nearly smacks Ryan in the head with it. He cracks, keeping the character moving, though.
Ryan: “I’ll play a small little song for you.”
Greg starts patting the guitar, which he’s gotten backwards.
Ryan: “…The other way, of course.”
Ryan grabs a bottle of seltzer, which explodes even before he opens it.
Ryan: “IT’S OLD FAITHFUL!”
As Ryan puts together a beans/weiner concoction, Tony feeds Ryan some beans out of his hands.
A pretty fun Helping Hands, though not to the caliber of some of the other ones.
Party Quirks: Tony hosts
Ryan: on a rollercoaster
Mike: Columbian drug baron
Clive: “Now, is the party in full swing., Tony?”
Tony, motioning around: “Obviously…”
Clive: “No, I know, I’ve been to some of your parties…”
Tony, smirking: “…for the last bloody time, mate…”
Ryan, of course, nails his physicality, going all around, screaming, and doing loops.
Tony: “…are you Lionel Blair?”
There’s an insanely funny visual of Mike, doing a Tony Montana impression, talking to Tony while an inconsequential Ryan flies by the camera.
Pretty nice Party Quirks round, thankfully working in subtle ways after last episode’s…less-than-subtle turn of it.
Ryan: Trying to forget his wardrobe
Tony: in love with an inflatable pig
Clive: “Ryan’s drinking to forget something, what is it?”
Audience member: “TONY SLATTERY!”
Clive: “He’s drinking to forget Tony Slattery? AN UNLIKELY proposition…”
Of course, someone from behind Clive, like in Superheroes, comes in with the real suggestion, which Clive even says “that’s really cruel. Cruel but accurate, I feel. You’re drinking to forget your wardrobe.”
Ryan: [gets up and leaves]
Mike: “Aw, maaaan…”
Clive: “IT WASN’T ME! It wasn’t me, it was the beautiful girl behind me.”
Mike, to Clive, with the immortal line: “…Don’t mess with the neon love chicken, alright?”
The audience loses it at this.
Greg, from the audience:”WHO ORDERED PUMPKIN???”
Ryan: “SHUT UP, EVERYBODY SHUT UP!”
Clive, as the music kicks in: “…it’s the Stiles tartan…wish I hadn’t have said that.”
Ryan has a nice, nervous verse, saying “people make fun of me, because I wear fashions from Sunkist.”
Mike has some really clever lines, even Ryan’s impressed by, like “with a shirt like that, you must be getting your vitamin C”, or “dip your shirt in this vodka and have a screwdriver…”
Mike, as Tony comes up to the bar set, possibly remembering the last Bartender game he did with Tony: “…I’m sorry, WE’RE CLOSED.”
[There is an underrated shot of Tony taking the alcohol bottle from the bar table, opening it and smelling it…and getting a nice amount of blowback once he realizes it’s real alcohol. They cut before he truly reacts to it, though]
Clive, asking for something Tony’s in love with.
Half the audience: “HIMSELF!”
Clive, almost angry: “EVERYBODY ALWAYS SAYS HIMSELF! EVERY TIME! Surely he must love something else…”
Mike, to Tony: “I owe ya 5 bucks…”
As Clive gets the ‘inflatable pig’ suggestion, someone else shouts out ‘THE BARMAN’, which Tony thinks he’s gonna get again until Clive gives him the real suggestion, which he thinks is the most preposterous thing he’s ever heard.
Clive, as the suggestion came from behind him, mutters “THESE GIRLS ALL *KNOW* YOU GUYS!”
Tony’s still facepalming at what he has to sing about.
Clive, to the audience member: “Have you been out socially with Tony?”
Tony’s first line is: “I’ve got a problem I’d like to report, when I see Porky Pig, my pants distort.”
He has another one, which is ‘I see that pig, and I spill my seed.” Ryan and Greg absolutely lose it at this one.
Mike has a pretty nice response verse, ending in “doing too much pork raises cholesterol.”
Overall: At a glance, this episode comes down to its bookends- an uproarious round of Superheroes, and a series-classic round of Bartender. Yet in between, there are so many instances of four landmark improvisers doing some of their best work. Even games like Alphabet, Film Dub and Film Trailer work really well because everybody here is really good. Sadly, a lot of one-note games in the middle keep this from being a 10/10 show, but this is still a fantastic episode, one that proved the show didn’t always have to rely on Ryan Stiles, as he took a less showy approach to the show, letting the California duo of Greg and Mike to win the day.
Show Winner: Tony
Best Performer: Greg Proops, for taking several proctoring roles, as well as working well as an ensemble player and hitting back at Clive throughout the night.
Worst Performer: Ryan Stiles, with slightly less funny moments than Tony Slattery.
Best Game: Bartender. I almost went with Superheroes, but Bartender feels in every moment like it’s live, and Mike is not only doing good work in song, but interacting with the performers and Clive during the interims. It’s already a show-classic, but it’s also just a really well-done game.
Worst Game: Song Titles, by default.