Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S08E09, or Isn’t My Face the Picture of Innocence?

I’ll give the producers credit- they did try and make more unusual pairings this season to combat Ryan and Colin. We’ve already had stuff like Caroline & Steve, Greg and Ardal O’Hanlon, and Greg and Rory. Tonight, we see Steve Frost and Niall Ashdown, two Brits that sort of complement each other in humor. This is Niall’s last appearance, which is a shame, as, like Caroline, they should have taken a chance on him in S9.

Clive introduces Niall as “someone who was such a big hit after his first time out, and so we’ve rushed him back, only a year later”, which leads me to believe that this one was filmed before E5. Chronologically, this would explain why this ep’s 3-person Mission Impossible came before the first 2-person one.

An interesting note- Niall and Steve are wearing green and pink shirts respectively, while Colin and Ryan wear yellow and red shirts, albeit under jackets. We’d have to wait until S9 to get a fully colorful show in terms of outfits.

Questions Only: In a Scout Camp

Niall and Ryan’s round is great, because Niall is coming at Ryan being all serious, and Ryan is deflecting everything by being stupid and/or overly nice (“ARE YOU JOHNNY MILLER?”) Niall, not even coming close to winning this one, leaves.

Ryan: “Is it apparent that this is my first trip?”
Colin: “What d’you mean?”
[Colin is so quick on this that by the time the camera cuts to  him he’s done saying this]
Ryan: [leaves]

Steve: “D’you know how to put up a tent?”
Colin, his old standby: “Is the Pope Catholic?”
Steve, trying to one-up him: “…does a bear shit in the woods?”
Colin: “Can you get a badge for that?”

Steve: “How old are you?”
Colin: “…is 4 the right answer?”

Colin, poking a fire-pit: “Would you like to hear a scary story?”
Ryan: “d’you know you’re on fire?”
Colin: [jumps back]

Ryan: “Don’t you look guilty?”
Colin: “Isn’t my face the picture of innocence?”
Screen Shot 2018-05-31 at 5.44.43 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-05-31 at 5.45.08 PM.png

A quick, and pretty fun Questions Only round. Nice amount of momentum to start the show with.

Film and Theatre Styles: Ryan and Colin (missing goldfish owner and suspected thief)

Clive has fun this week with audience suggestions, ridiculing the section behind him, or ‘The Silent Ones’, for not shouting anything, and getting scared half to death by someone loud from afar.

Ryan, of course, begins the scene by miming something in his mouth. So reliable.

Colin: “OPEN UP!”
Ryan gives him the goldfish back
Colin: “…I see the cat in there too”
Ryan hands him the cat
Colin: “…that’s not mine!”

Colin’s little Muttley laughing makes the American sitcom bit, substituting canned laughter for just looking at the audience and grinning like an idiot.

The Addams Family:
Ryan: [Lurch noise]
Colin: “…see what happens when you eat goldfish?”

Ryan, in trying to talk to Colin, snakes his hand out of his jacket, like Thing
Colin, knowingly: “What’s that Thing?”
Ryan: [smirk]

X-Files style features a great David Duchovny impression from Ryan, inspecting the hand.
Ryan: “Look at this side: ‘made in Uranus’

Runaway Train
Colin: “Oh my god, we’re heading for a mountain!”
Ryan: “Oh my GOD, can anything save us from this?”
Colin: “…well, there’s a tunnel, that should help…”
That is a perfect ending line, but Clive doesn’t take it, as once the audience dies down, Ryan and Colin are still rocking back and forth in a scene that should have ended at that line. So, Ryan does the next best thing and does the buzzer noise himself. Clive has no choice but to end the game.

A pretty fun, if strange, F&TS game. It did feel more broad than some of the ones from last show.

Song Styles: Niall sings a love song to Catherine the secretary 

Catherine is initially very shy and bashful about the whole thing, but once Niall starts the scene with a little point toward her, I imagine she’s fine

Niall has some pretty basic lyrics here, but the passion and musicality he puts into this one is impressive, and is another great song of his.

Eventually he does get to the raunchier stuff
“I wanna do it to you, again and again
Come on and squeeze all the ink out of my fountain pen!”
Catherine, immediately:
Screen Shot 2018-05-31 at 6.06.28 PM.png

A very nicely done song by Niall, possibly his last one that made air.

Number of Words: surgery
Ryan: the surgeon: 1 word
Niall: his assistant, 3 words
Steve: a nurse, 5 words
Colin: the patient, 2 words

Ryan: “scalpel”
Niall: “there you go”
Ryan: “…TURN…”
Nobody caught this, but Niall removes the scalpel from Ryan’s hand. It’s a nice joke. The distraction is Colin arriving late for the surgery, which gets a nice reaction.

Immediately, you can see Steve’s difficulty with this game, as he’s forced to count on his fingers behind his back (“YES, I BROUGHT IT….MYSELF.”)

Niall: “Are you ill?”
Steve: “NO…I’m just a little…”
And then, without a word, Steve just bobs his head back and forth in a silly way.
Ryan: “Inebriated?”
Steve: “Yes! You’ve seen through it.”

Steve, with the anesthetic: “I’m just going…to do…”
Ryan: “HURRY!”
Niall: “Just count to ten!”
Colin: “One, two-” [slumps over]

Steve: “Are you sure you’re…doing…?”
Niall: “….it properly? Yes!”
Ryan: “YES!”

This scene does get very silly quickly as Ryan grabs Colin’s heart, then keeps grabbing more hearts out of him as Colin watches. “TWO!” “THREE!” Like a bizarre episode of Sesame Street

Colin gets up, healed
Colin, fainting again: ‘oh shit…’

As the four head back to their seats, they’re all counting on their fingers to see if Steve’s line made sense. Ryan, with his fingers, shows Steve how far off he was, at the seats- “THAT. WILL. BE. FIVE. HUNDRED. POUNDS. PLEASE.” Steve cracks at this.

An incredibly silly, yet effectively funny game. Steve’s ineptitude at this didn’t hinder the game; if anything, it made it funnier.

Props: Ryan and Colin vs. Steve and Niall

Colin sarcastically races up to retrieve the prop, perhaps in response to someone telling him to be happier in a pickup.

Colin doesn’t seem to be loving this round. After a few seconds with Ryan on the ‘see-saw’, he’s already glancing at Clive, in a ‘BUZZ ALREADY’ type of way.

Steve and Niall’s are fairly normal suggestions, but it’s the zeal and energy that they put into them that makes them stand out.

Screen Shot 2018-05-31 at 6.22.26 PM.pngNiall: “See, I told you I was a real redhead…”
Steve has a similar reaction here to Caroline’s ‘doing me own drippings’ line.

A low-key props, but not without that huge Niall joke

Sound Effects: Colin is a cowboy. Ryan does sound effects.

Colin starts out walking, without many sounds. He looks at Ryan confused. Ryan eventually comes in with the ‘KUH-CHINCK’. Colin nods.

Lots of amusing Colin moves here. Colin walks into a saloon, whose doors make noise…he then greases them until they don’t. He goes in, where there’s a piano player…which he shoots, immediately.

Lots of ‘KUH-CHINCK’ in this game, but eventually Colin gets into duel stance and grabs his guns…before frantically pulling his belt back up. Classic.

A characteristically goofy SFX, starting the trend that Colin will just start killing people, or being violent, for no reason in these games.

Film Dub: Ryan is the police chief dressing down the other members of his force, played by Steve.

Ryan: “Well, DUE TO BUDGET CUTBACKS, we’re going to have to remove ALL THE POINTS FROM OUR HELMETS!”

I do absolutely adore the voice Steve uses for his characters here, as it’s so ridiculous and YET IT FITS, especially with the short, squat guy sitting down.

Screen Shot 2018-05-31 at 6.31.49 PM.pngRyan: “Now, who wants a cigarette, I’ve got ’em all attached to my jacket here…”

Ryan: “We’re ALL gonna start smokin’ now! We’re not allowed to have guns anymore, so we’re gonna have to SMOKE out the enemy. […] You, why are you sitting when I told you to stand?”
Steve: “I’m admiring your wallpaper, it looks like a map! Where’d ye get it, Lord or Astley?”

A nicely silly and well-done, if quick, Film Dub. I like it more than I should, mostly for Steve’s voice.

Mission Impossible: Colin instructs Steve, Niall and Ryan to wash up

Colin is one of the few to bring it back to the original series as the informant, saying “Good morning Mr. Phelps”, meaning that Steve Frost gets to be Peter Graves, or Jon Voight, here.

Colin: “Your mission, and remember this is a tape so don’t answer,”
Steve: “Sorry!”
Screen Shot 2018-05-31 at 6.38.01 PM.png

Colin: “Your mission, should you choose to accept it, and remember, if you refuse to accept it, a fat man with a saw will kill you…”

Colin mentions breaking into the German embassy
Ryan, rewinding: “Did he say GERMAN Embassy?”
Colin: “…break into the Lithuanian Embassy”
Ryan smirks, knowing Colin would do something like that. Niall breaks.
Colin: “Using your incredible powers of disguise, electronics, and…that thing you do, Jim.”
Steve, messing up the continuity slightly but nailing the joke:
Screen Shot 2018-05-31 at 7.15.24 PM.png
Screen Shot 2018-05-31 at 7.15.47 PM.png

Niall, watching Ryan break, breaks again
Colin: “Good luck! Please throw this tape out the window because we can’t get the stuff that explodes.”
I’ve always had a soft spot for Colin as the informant for that line, even though he was better at confusing Ryan in-game. Must have been a consolation prize for feeling lost in E8

Ryan does throw the tape out the window, at which point Colin adds a distant “aaaahhhh” noise. Nice touch.

Steve: “They’re crazy. Lithuanian Agency?”
Niall, smirking: “Embassy.”
Steve: “Embassy. Oh, that’s not so bad, then.”

Ryan does manage to play with Steve’s overdramaticness in this one, in reference to E8’s playing. Steve runs through an exhaustive list of gadgets and supplies. Ryan cuts him off with “LOOK, IT’S JUST ACROSS THE STREET, IT’S NO BIG…”

Steve, at one point, starts yelling something indecipherable at Ryan, which no one gets, especially Ryan. Steve even goes, cracking, “Oh, DON’T USE SURNAMES!”
Ryan, still on edge: “THE SOAP’S RIGHT HERE FOR GOD’S SAKE.”

There’s an obvious edit here that leads us to a quieter moment, where we’ve gotten to the usual red-blue wire conundrum.

The climax of this scene is Steve cutting a wire on the automatic squeezy bottle…at which point, Niall is hit in the face with it, and reacts in horror. Clive ends the scene out of that.

Funnier than the last playing, and more frenzied, but the 3-person format still fails this game, especially Niall, who had nothing to do but correct Steve and die. Steve was also confusing people in this game, taking it way too seriously, and allowing everyone to operate on their own…which is not the right thing to do in an improv scene. Yes, it’s still funny, especially Colin on the tape, but not an especially strong scene improv-wise.

Party Quirks: Steve hosts
Niall: On the dambusters raid
Colin: has 15 seconds to live
Ryan: having an orgasm

Steve gets Niall within 5 seconds. Alright then.

Colin runs through ‘Mississippis’, then says ‘NICE PARTY’ and collapses. Leaving Steve to crack up.

The audience goes WILD when they see what Ryan is. I MEAN WILD.

Ryan does, of course, nail the sex noises, as Steve keeps guessing all of the wrong things in the background, all the wrong sex-related things. Which…gives Ryan all the more reason to keep going.

Even better, Ryan gets louder and louder the closer Steve gets, culminating in Steve yelling “YOU’RE COMING!” and Ryan nodding, under copious amounts of audience applause.

Clive knows Steve won’t get Colin’s, so he does it himself: “HE’S GOT 15 SECONDS TO LIVE, WELL DONE!”
Clive cracks as he heads back to the seats.

A quick PQ, solely due to Steve’s more guess-heavy hosting style, but Ryan’s quirk made it.

Clive: “Well, it’s funny that you immediately recognized Ryan’s orgasm…”
Steve: “We had a late night last night…”

Hoedown: Women

Steve has a surprisingly competent Hoedown verse tonight:
“I’m scared of spiders and animals too
So I really freak out, when I’m at the zoo
But the things that scare me most of all, and occasionally now and then,
Are those great big tall long leggy things they call WOMEENNN!”
Nicely done, Mr. Frost!

Niall’s is forgettable. Colin’s is great, because he confuses women with vampire bats, which is a nice gag.

Not a bad Hoedown, but not wholly amazing either

Overall: This one’s a favorite of mine from the BBC America rerun days, so imagine my surprise that this doesn’t hold up as well as I’d like. There are some nice games, and Questions Only, Sound Effects and Film Dub are as good as I remember, but a lot of the games are the products of rushed decisions by improvisers and producers. Mission Impossible failed because of the 3-person format. Party Quirks didn’t work with Steve as host. Many games were just really weird. Steve had another down night, even if Niall’s stuff was more compatible than truly great tonight. Colin is still owning this season, though, as he saved even some dire games (like Mission Impossible). And yes, this show is still kind of funny, which is why it’s not a complete failure, but a lot of the improv wasn’t great, and from four guys that are essentially professionals on this show, that’s kinda inexcusable.

Show Winners: Ryan, Colin and Niall
Best Performer: Colin, for another night of just being too damned funny
Worst Performer: Steve, down again tonight
Best Game: Questions Only, by default. I would have gone with Number of Words, but the Steve bit took away from the overall punch of that scene.
Worst Game: Props, I guess


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