Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S08E07 or Thanks for clearing That One up for me, David Attenborough

INT. Dan Patterson’s Office – NIGHT

Dan sulks alone in his office, throwing scraps of paper into a garbage can. Mark Leveson enters, knocking quietly.

MARK: Is now a bad time?
DAN: …What d’you want, Mark?
MARK: It’s just…today’s Whose Line taping needed a fourth seater-
DAN, rising: A FOURTH SEATER! I’d forgotten about that. We’d have gotten Mike McShane, but…he sent us a lovely letter saying ‘fuck off’. I’d completely forgotten about plugging someone else in. We couldn’t have Caroline do it?
MARK: Naw, she was in yesterday.
DAN: Aw, gosh…I should have penciled someone in.
MARK: Calm down, it’s ALL RIGHT….Ardal O’Hanlon said he’d do it.
[Dan nods, and calms himself….then realizes exactly what this means. He then stands and throttles Mark]
DAN: …ARDAL’S DOING WHOSE LINE??? YOU LET ARDAL O’HANLON DO WHOSE LINE?

CUT TO:

Screen Shot 2018-05-24 at 5.29.19 PM.png

Ardal O’Hanlan, standing by: “…sorry about that…”


That, essentially, is what happened when Father Ted actor and Irish comedian Ardal O’Hanlan was asked to do Whose Line in Series 8. He was an odd fit, and he didn’t seem like an improv pro compared to Greg Proops, Colin Mochrie and Ryan Stiles…and yet in he went. Would we have had this problem if Dan and Mark hadn’t barred Tony and Mike from participating after Series 7? No. No we would not have.

I’ll save my judgment for the actual proceedings, but…Ardal definitely stands out in some way here.

Film and Theatre Styles: Greg and Ardal (fireman and owner of a burning skyscraper)

Clive, not understanding: “ER? Are you just spelling out ‘Errhhh?’

Clive: “…and St. Trinian’s. That should sort out Greg.”

Ardal, starting the scene at level ‘I-don’t-give-a-shit’: “…listen, eh, my skyscraper’s on fire…”
He does get laughs here, but no-selling doesn’t always work.

Greg, using his angry muttering towards the end: “I’m going to take this time to tell you that you shouldn’t have used CHEAP BUILDING MATERIAL…it’s the CHEAP BUILDING MATERIAL and SUB-CODE WIRING that are CAUSING THIS CONFOGRATION to…light my buttocks on fire.”
Yeah, as Ardal’s no-selling it, Greg has to do all the work. Lovely.

Clive: “ER.”
Ardal: “…what?”
Clive: “Emergency Room. Or, Casualty or whatever.”
Ardal, still no-selling: “Well, let’s cure them then…”

Ardal, as it’s ER, makes love to Greg first…and then bypasses the buzzer. SO ALREADY, HE’S MADE 3 OR 4 IMPROV FAUX-PAS, and this is EARLY.
Greg, covering: “He can’t hear the buzzer, it’s the passion.”

Science fiction, where the scene finally takes off
Ardal: “This fire began…in such a strange way, mister…”
Greg, alien voice: “YES. IT DID.”
He then begins to walk right up to the camera, full character.
Greg: “ON MY PLANET, WE DO NOT CALL IT FIRE. WE CALL IT…NYEEHHHBUHHHLLIAAHHH…”

Greg: “YOU HAVE PUT AN AXE IN MY HEAD. IS IT AN ACT OF AGGRESSION?”
Ardal: “Uh, no, it’s our way of greeting-:
Greg: “THEN, HELLO-” [stabs Ardal]
BUZZ

Not a GREAT F&TS, thanks to Ardal’s no-selling, but entertaining enough, and with a great end-cap.

Whose Line: Colin is ten minutes from his debut as a ballet dancer; Ryan is his teacher.

Ryan: “Look…I’m a little worried about you. You’ve put on a lot of weight in the last year.”
Colin: “I’ve been depressed. But I remember the first thing you told me when I first came to ballet class: “I was brought up by monkeys.”

Ryan: “Now I remember what my ballet teacher first told me when I started out in the theater. He said “Now you know my plan…now I’ll have to kill you.” I GOT HIM FIRST. SLIT HIS THROAT. And then…made it into dance.”
Colin: “And then [dance move] he diedd…”

Colin thinks of a way of combatting taunting, which is to “look them straight in their piggy-little eyes, and say “HEY! SMELL THIS!”
Ryan: “NO!”
Colin: [hops around with his ass to the camera]
Ryan: “No…you save the cheeks for the dance of LOVE.”

After a whole scene of Ryan’s wandering accent, Colin finally goes “Where are you from, exactly?”
Ryan, dropping it: “…Canada.”

Ryan: “You will know you’ve made it when you wake up in the morning and read the reviews in the paper: “Has this been inserted correctly?”
BUZZZZ

A fairly great WL scene, with some character and non-line jokes coming from both especially in neither one’s gracefulness contrasting with the scene description, and Ryan’s wandering accent.

Let’s Make a Date: Greg chooses
Ardal: Human Thesaurus
Colin: desperate for attention
Ryan: giving birth

Greg: “#2-”
Colin: “What took you so long? I’ VE BEEN WAITING HERE!”

The entire audience laughs when Ryan’s quirk is revealed, as does Greg when he sees what Ryan’s doing.
Greg: “What kind of romance language would you use?”
Ryan: “I’d say….THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT YOU BASTARD!!!”

In the interim between Ryan’s first one and Ardal’s second question, Greg stops and chuckles a bit. Mostly at Ryan’s quirk.
Colin, taking full advantage of this: “I’M WAITING!”

Ardal…completely brainfarts on his second round, mentioning a playground…and nothing else. You can tell that the quirk absolutely fried him.

Colin’s energy during the second round is great, nearly not letting Greg to go Ryan, moving around and blocking him.

Greg: “#3-”
Ryan: ‘WHAAAAAT?”
Greg: “Where would you drive me to?”
Ryan: “I’d drive you to somewhere we can get lots of drugs. GET ME SOME DRUGS!”

Then, as Clive tries to wrap up the game, Ryan is still angrily wailing over him.

Greg guesses everyone but Ardal’s, which…makes sense. It’s a good enough round, but it’s carried by Ryan and Colin’s exceptional work.

World’s Worst: Outtake from a Medical Program

Screen Shot 2018-05-25 at 4.31.14 PM.pngGreg: “HELLO. AND WELCOME TO OUR FRIEND THE THYROID.”

Ryan: “He’s dead…but…there’s no reason the rest of us can’t be sad-”
Ryan then sticks his hand up the body and does a ventriloquism routine

Colin: [makes an incision, then vomits into it]

Greg: “Mrs. Johnson, it’s a bouncing baby boy!” [bounces]

Colin: “….oh, no, I’m just the janitor”

A bit longer and more fully-formed than most WW rounds, but definitely not pristine. Ardal only went up as part of a Greg suggestion.

Mission Impossible: Greg instructs Ryan and Colin to buy a loaf of bread

The first broadcast rendition of this game. I surmise that the one in episode 9 was filmed first, but this one went out first. This will be one of the premiere games of the next 3 series.

Greg: “Good morning, gentlemen.”
Colin: “Good morning.”
Greg: “Good morning.”
Colin: “Good morning.”
Greg: “I said that!”

Colin, hearing the task: “D’you think we should do it?”
Ryan: “…let’s see what he has to say.”
Greg: “Yes, of course you should do it! This tape will self destruct very very BOOM.”

The first great bit of this is Ryan and Colin sneaking around a corner…and then calling a taxi. Then, while in the taxi, they still bounce along to the theme music in the background.

Colin starts his jetpack right as Ryan rigs him up, resulting in Ryan’s hair catching fire.
Colin: “SORRY! SORRY!”
And, of course, Ryan tries opening the locked door and it’s actually open.

Ryan, overdramatically: “…something smells like bread! Something smells like…pumpernickel…”

Ryan: “You’re gonna have to go in there.”
Colin: “But I don’t have my protective GLOVES!”
Ryan: “Your skin’s made of asbestos. You’ll be fine.”
Colin, recovering: “…oh yeah, I forgot.”

Ryan gives Colin the ‘green wire/blue wire’ conundrum
Colin: “I’m just gonna rip ’em both!”
Ryan: “DON’T DO THAT…..oh, it’s alright!”

Colin disguises the bread as a baby.
Ryan, relying on his knowledge from last series: “Look, a pram!”

There’s an abrupt ending, but it’s still a great debut round of this game. The intricate, ridiculous gadgets are far away, but the teamwork is definitely there.

Number of Words: A casino
Greg: the croupier, 4 words
Ryan: a gambler, 1 word
Ardal: a loser gambler, 2 words
Colin: a floozy, 3 words

Greg, after 2 straight episodes of abuse:
Clive: “Greg, you’re the croupier-”
Greg: “Yes, we have that in America, before you ask.”
Clive, however, biting back: “…it’s your main industry, isn’t it?”
Greg:
Screen Shot 2018-05-25 at 4.49.35 PM.png
Screen Shot 2018-05-25 at 4.49.58 PM.png

There’s a moment when Ryan and Greg are onstage when it looks like Ardal’s about to come on, but he instead hangs back. It’s 2/3rds of the way through the show and he’s still nervous as all hell.

Ardal, finally entering: “Any luck?”
Ryan, hiding his winnings: “NO!”
Greg: “How would you like…”

Colin: “Hello, big boys!”
Ryan: “Sylvia!”
Colin: “Look, they’re real!”
Ryan: “BOING!”
Greg: “Don’t distract the players.”
Ardal, with the first funny line he’s had all night: “Distract me!”

Greg ends the game by giving Ardal the money even after he says he’s lost…perhaps just throwing the poor guy a bone.

A bit clumsy, this one, but not necessarily bad.

Superheroes: Moose are Invading the World
Greg: Captain Tact
Ryan: Karate Lizard Boy
Colin: See Through Your Ass, Hear Through Your Elbow Guy
Ardal: Agitated Duck Boy

Clive, having gotten the crisis: “A moose invasion, which would be a serious problem in Canada, not so serious in Scotland, might be a different animal.”
Greg gives him a confused expression, then goes: “Thanks for clearing THAT ONE up for me, David Attenborough…”
Clive: “You’re being Captain Tact, remember, so keep up any rude remarks about me…”

Greg, immediately: “…my, that Clive Anderson program is certainly a witty and intelligent program…well I better switch that over to see if there’s any crisis on the world crisis monitor, it’s of course a fine, british made television, using some of the finest technology available…”
Man, I don’t know what it is about this stretch of episodes, but he’s just been GOOD…

Ryan takes a moment to laugh at his quirk, then goes right into his famous lizard face. He does the full Bruce Lee ‘rip out a man’s still beating heart’ trick on Greg before putting it back in.

Colin’s entrance causes the whole stage to go into hysteria, with his butt in full view of the camera. Greg, though, has to make it clear when Ardal can enter. I’m glad Greg’s looking out for Ardal in all his patheticness.

Greg, still trying to help Ardal: “I’m sure you can find some way to help, in your own, agitated poultry style!”

Ryan, thankfully, saves Ardal: “WAIT! YOUR DUCK CALL SCARED OFF THE MOOSES! [beat] I don’t know what the correlation is here…”

A pretty fun Superheroes game, despite Ardal’s complete cluelessness. The main three were very strong, and even helped Ardal out in his moment of confusedness.

Party Quirks: Greg hosts
Ardal: TV Weatherman
Colin: rapidly getting younger
Ryan: dog going in and out of water

Tonight features FOUR GAMES proctored or set up by Greg Proops. Five if you count Number of Words, where he was essentially providing structure.

Ardal, once he comes in, isn’t really being direct with his quirk, which you kind of need to be in this version of the show. Come in, essentially give it away with some choice dialogue, get guessed.

Ryan, OF COURSE, completely nails the physicality, not only being accurate but also being really funny, and relentlessly silly with his dog face.

Greg does manage to nab Ryan’s first, then goes right to the camera and says, in disbelief, ‘A SWIMMING DOG???’

Colin is astonished when Greg guesses his, shaking his hand. Greg goes “I don’t know why…”

Overall: A step down from the last few, and I think you can guess why. There were some great Ryan-Colin scenes throughout the night, and Greg did a great job proctoring most of the games, but…a lot of the games were hindered by Ardal O’Hanlon’s abject nervousness and passiveness. To be fair, he tried, and got some laughs, but…his no-selling and one-character setting didn’t allow for great improv abilities, which I imagine he knew when he was cornered into the gig. It was a no-win situation for him, and while he tried, he still gave a piss-poor outing, especially compared to the other three.

Show Winners: Ryan and Colin
Best Performer: Greg Proops, for commanding the games, quarreling with Clive, and helping Ardal out when he could.
Worst Performer: Ardal O’Hanlon, for not at all looking like he was prepared for an improv show.
Best Game: Mission Impossible, for debuting the game’s silliness and working as a improv game right off the bat.
Worst Game: Number of Words. Again, this one just had the least amount to it.

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One thought on “Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S08E07 or Thanks for clearing That One up for me, David Attenborough

  1. Nice reference to Father Ted at the top. Ardal was way out of his depth in his only WL outing. Improv is certainly not his bag. He’s better working from a script, whether his own stand up comedy routine or a television script, though he did give out an excellent ad-lib in an episode of Father Ted (“instead of a mouth it’s got four arses”)

    By the way, it’s Mark Leveson, not Keith.

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