Onto an episode I remember BBC America rerunning quite a bit back when I was younger, the much-heralded grouping of Greg, Ryan, Mike and Tony, four guys who, together, did the infamous Neon Love Chicken episode, and have had many a many laugh together. Unfortunately, this would be the start of the end of Tony’s run on the show, as his drug use and anxiety would come to a head as the series went on.
Clive: “Featuring this week, the Buddy Holly of mirth, Greg Proops.”
Greg: [gives a ‘fuck off’ sign]
Tony, after some more comparisons, is waiting for his- he’s the ‘Hugh Grant of slapstick’, which in 1995 was an insult. He chuckles and winces at that one.
Film and Theatre Styles: Ryan and Greg (two high-tech thieves breaking into a gallery)
Clive, getting suggestions: “‘Valerie Singleton? Are you pointing out that she’s over there, or are you…OH, SHE’S OVER THERE? Well, welcome Valerie!”
The entire first part of the scene is Ryan and Greg testing out their gadgets and trying to go about a very dangerous motion.
Greg, rationalizing: “…my god, the door’s already open, Bill…”
Greg, Baywatch style: “I’m gonna start running, and the faster I run, the SLOWER I GO…”
Ryan: “How much would you pay for that 69 pounds?”
Greg: “Oh, way more than that.”
Ryan: “89 pounds?”
Greg: “Oh, much much more than that.”
Ryan: “How about your first born male child?”
Greg: “Why, I’d kill him!”
Then, for an obligatory reference, Ryan, in the second ‘much more than that’ gag, offers up ‘ALL MY AUTOGRAPHED PICTURES OF CILLA BLACK!’
I feel like he does this simply because he’s not sure who Cilla Black is…or maybe he does know, and he hates her.
A quick but silly enough F&TS, with great teamwork between Greg and Ryan
Remote Control: Earthquakes
“…one of these things is not like the other…one of these things isn’t on American TV…”
Ryan’s initial reaction to having to do ER is ‘oh, no…no no no.” Perhaps he’s in the UK filming this show so much that he hasn’t seen it yet…or maybe he just doesn’t want to.
Tony’s reaction to getting Brookside is a BIG eye roll. There’s a limited opportunity to see this, but we will get some moments of seeing Tony’s absolute hatred for Brookside on this show.
Ryan: “He needed a-”
Mike: “HE NEEDED A SOLID FIST IN THE HEAD. AND I, CAPTAIN CASUALTY, WAS THE MAN TO GIVE IT TO HIM. BRING HIM IN HERE. HE WON’T NEED A STRETCHER, HE’LL NEED TO BE UNSTRETCHED.”
Greg, working in the PMS suggestion: “Today on the program, PMS, the bastards that inflict it on women, earthquakes and stuff that falls down.”
Then, when Clive buzzes to give it to Tony, Greg, still as Oprah, goes “DON’T BUZZ ME, I AIN’T DONE TALKING YET…GET YOUR BALD, ENGLISH CANDY ASS, BACK IN THE HOUSE.”
Tony: ‘ARTIE, ARTIE, NOO NOO, THERE’S AN EARTHQUAKE AND BROOKSIDE’S FALLING DOWN, EY, EY…”
[i don’t think he even breathes through any of this]
Then, right after Tony finishes, he cracks up, realizes he was doing a bit of Cilla Black instead. Making this the SECOND Cilla Black reference on the night.
[Under the applause, you can vaguely hear somebody, probably Ryan though possibly Tony, go ‘what does Cilla Black do?’ So maybe this came before F&TS, which is why he brings her up in the first place? Or not?]
Clive lets Ryan go on for so long that, after he’s done what he imagines ER might be like, he, near-panic, looks over at Clive to buzz him out.
A pretty fun round, even though Tony was a bit short-shifted, and Ryan’s wasn’t nearly as fun to do as the others.
Film Dub: Ryan and Greg are compulsive gamblers
Greg: “Hey, where can a guy get some fun around here…and what is this enormous tit you have your hand on?”
Ryan: “IT’S NO TIT, NO…”
Greg, responding to random cigarette smoke: “my god…my chest, I think it’s on fire!”
Then, heading back to the tit, Ryan: “…heyyyy, that looks a lot like the nipple of my ex-wife…”
Greg, with some amazing timing: “…HEY, WHO INVITED THE CHICKS?”
Not as good as last Film Dub, but still pretty funny, and worth it for that last line.
Song Styles: Mike sings a German drinking song about a little red triangle
You can tell that Mike’s semi dreading this, but Mike powers through this, with this diaphragm-aided side-of-the-mouth German singing. It’s a quick song, but the audience applauds all the way through it, and it’s definitely a fine effort from Mike.
Clive: “Suddenly we’d been transported to a cabaret in East Berlin.”
Mike, pulling out a grade-A reference: “Yes, you’ll see me in the Gert Frobe men’s dance troupe later on tonight…”
Clive: “…I always do. In my dreams.”
World’s Worst: Person to be a cub scout leader
Mike: “Now what you do is take these plants here and you let these plants dry. Now give me the skins.”
[The WHOLE audience applauds this one. Greg even nods, triumphantly. He’s definitely had some of those plants]
Tony: “Now, the first rule of cub scouting is that you must, MUST, learn to accept pain…”
Ryan, in a similar vein to Mike: “Okay, we’ve put a little something special in ALLLL the cookies we’re gonna sell this year…”
Greg: “I spent a lot of time making those frilly pink uniforms, and I expect you boys to wear them.”
Ryan, squatting: “And now we, uh, look for some leaves.”
A pretty great WW round from everyone except, as per the theme tonight, a quieter Tony.
Props: Ryan and Tony vs. Greg and Mike
Ryan: “Today, we say goodbye to Orson Welles.”
Tony flat out cackles at this one
Greg, with an inspired amalgamation: “I said this Kabuki play ain’t big enough for the both of us.”
Mike: “ALRIGHT, PARTNER-SAN…”
Greg: “I just thought the flashlights were a tacky way to bring the planes in…”
Really fun round of props on both sides. Even Tony was throwing in some fun ideas.
Scene to Music: Mike’s about to get married, so he asks his flatmate Greg to move out.
Clive, after the scene description: “I’m sure we’ve all been through this life experience…trying to get rid of Greg.”
There’s a few ‘AWWWs’ at that from the audience.
Greg, to the camera: “SEE? SEE HOW THEY SIDE WITH *ME??* If we held an election right now, WHEEW. LOSER!”
Clive: “Yeah, we’d get someone as good as Clinton, wouldn’t we?”
The audience OOOOOOOhs at this, while Mike and Greg are just amused.
Greg: “Why the bitterness, you HAVE a job?”
The music is sinister-sounding, so Greg, as the roommate, crosses toward the camera.
Greg: “I’ll be really happy when she…moves in with us Mike. Heheheheheh…”
Mike, matching the tone completely: “You can’t…stay here anymore. You’re scaring the dogs.”
Greg starts making these shocked, off-kilter facial expressions. It’s pretty perfect.
Greg eventually regains control of Mike’s head, gets him to cluck like a chicken and tells him to leave while laughing. It’s hysterical, but the scene is just…GOOD. Like, it almost doesn’t succeed at being funny, it’s just really good suspense and acting.
News Report: Three Little Pigs. Greg and Mike in the studio, Tony and Ryan in the field.
A switchup, as usually Mike’s the field guy and Tony’s the expert, but I’m fine with this change-up.
Greg: “Good evening, I’m unusually thick.”
GREG is actually the one to nearly crack at this.
Mike: “Well, the pig and the wolf problem goes as far back as early pig and early wolf.”
Ryan, playing a rather camp Big Bad Wolf: “That’s right, I’m gonna huff, I’m gonna puff, and i’m gonna blow them…DOWN! DOWN!”
Tony: “…well, I just need a couple of minutes alone with the big bad wolf…”
Greg: “…I’m afraid I’m going to have to cut you off even though you weren’t talking…”
Tony gets another remote, and says to Ryan, without an idea, “we haven’t been properly introduced, who are you?”
Ryan, finger in ear: “Oh, I’m sorry, I’m covering the Little Red Riding Hood story…”
THAT is perfect.
Mike, with a final thought: “It’s better to have a pig in a poke than a wolf in a convertible.”
A very swift, fun News Report, even though it was down slightly from recent GREAT ones.
Helping Hands: Mike helps surgeon Ryan (ft. Greg’s hands) during an operation
This is a very frenzied one right off the bat, with Ryan having gloves barely on and a mask falling off, while spurting the anesthetic in the air.
Mike: “Doctor, you’re gonna want to use some gas.”
Ryan: [puts gas mask on self.]
Mike: “No, I mean…”
Ryan, grabbing a prop heart from the body: “Ahhh, looks like I’ve taken out the spleen!”
Mike: “I think that’s the heart, but-”
Ryan: “HEY, WHO’S THE DOCTOR HERE?”
Ryan completely uncovers the fake body and pulls out a little shark toy. “WELLLLLL THERE’S THE PROBLEM!” he says, showing the toy to the audience.
Mike: “He’s been to a Japanese restaurant!”
Ryan: “Too much sushi for this man! It’s known as the flipper complex!”
Ryan then pulls a rubber duck out of the body.
Mike: “Awww, isn’t it cute?”
Ryan: “CUTE? LET ME TELL YA SOMETHING. If you’ve got a duck blowing on one of your bladders, you’ve got troubles, my friend! TROUBLES!”
He bops Mike on the head with the duck. Mike, in a rare moment, is coming DAMN close to breaking mid-scene.
Ryan, losing it as well: “Let me tell ya something else. You’re the most unattractive nurse I’ve ever seen in my life.”
To cap off the scene, Ryan literally STICKS HIS HEAD IN the open hole in the body, then lifting it up and flinging the body up with him. It’s a very amusing ending.
Just really, REALLY funny. The Mike-Ryan interplay was just on fire, and there were a ton of funny lines and moments.
Hoedown: Excessive Drinking
Clive: “Can we have a human vice this hoedown can be about?”
Audience member: “frogs.”
Clive: “FROGS??? WHAT??? That is a SURREAL suggestion…”
Greg, however, sings about licking frogs for trips, which is a nice ‘F U’ to the suggestion guy.
Tony’s verse is…something else. He’s singing while slowly pulling his handkerchief out of his mouth. He does this for 7/8ths of the song, growing even more Tony as he goes along, finishing finally with “AND THEN I CUT IT OFF!”
It succeeds, but…it’s an odd choice from a noticeably down Tony.
A clumsy Hoedown all-around, without nothing truly standing out, but things still ending up funny.
Overall: Definitely a step up from E1, with some really fun games all around tonight, and some great performances, mostly from the Americans. This marked the umpteenth fantastic show in a row from Greg Proops, a return to domination from Ryan Stiles, some fantastic work from Mike McShane (even if he looked several times like he was getting very tired of putting up with Clive), and…well, Tony tried. But it just didn’t seem like he was in a good mood at all tonight, and it didn’t look like any of the proceedings could salvage that. His lack of presence didn’t destroy the show or anything, as his fun moments were still there in Remote Control and News Report, but it was definitely not the usual Tony Slattery.
Show Winners: All Four
Best Performer: Greg Proops, for giving inspired choices and funny stuff all throughout
Worst Performer: Tony Slattery, for looking very glum and uninspired.
Best Game: Scene to Music, just edging out Helping Hands, for being a really, REALLY good scene, and for emulating the style perfectly well with some great acting. I would have gone with something like Helping Hands or Remote Control any other night.
Worst Game: Hoedown. Not as good as the rest of the show.