As I said before, when Dan Patterson and Mark Leveson scoured their rolodexes for American talent, they look to new places, but they also looked for old contacts, anybody who wanted to come back and re-Americanize the show. Tonight, we see two people that haven’t appeared on the show in a while. For one, his improv career would be invigorated. For the other…it’d be less than that.
Brad Sherwood’s last appearance was the US run of Series 4, working predominantly with Ryan and Greg, and…surprisingly only briefly working with his future comedy partner Colin Mochrie (yes, in case you didn’t know, Colin and Brad tour together as a double improv act. I’ve seen them live. They’re wonderful, and super nice.) Bringing him back was an inspired, but understandable choice; Brad’s two episodes weren’t exactly fraught with bad improv choices, and his return was only delayed by a desire to return to predominantly british performers. Brad would be back for SEVERAL shows this season, typically being paired with Steve Frost.
If Brad’s return was gracious and welcome, Mike McShane’s return was seriously unlikely, as he still felt scorn and betrayal after being told by the producers that the American audiences wouldn’t enjoy seeing a man of Mike’s stature doing improv. He also hated how they threw Tony under the rug. So, his return, a short-lived, single-appearance gig, would be under less than favorable circumstances. The jovial, high-energy Mike wouldn’t always appear during this episode.
Okay, that’s enough setup. Brad, Mike, Colin, Ryan. Together, at last. On with the show:
This…is not the Mike we’re used to. Less hair, greyer hairs, and a very determined death stare…and this is top, or, well, bottom, of the show.
Clive describes Brad as somebody who’s becoming a new favorite on the show, so maybe this one didn’t tape before some of his other shows.
Questions Only: A Passionate French Love Story
Mike: “Do you remember the first time we met?”
Brad, immediately himself: “Wasn’t that before you were a Spice Girl?”
Mike’s improv hasn’t changed- he embraces Brad in his arms immediately.
Ryan and Mike’s scene is pretty great, as you can tell their earlier chemistry still works after 2 years. Mike stumps Ryan by saying something in French, to which Ryan responds “…I wish I knew what that meant.”
Mike and Brad’s chemistry, again, gets very close
Brad: “Are you going to kiss me now?”
Mike: “Am I going to give you a tongue-slathing? YES!”
Annnd Mike grabs Brad and kisses him. It takes him ONE GAME to return to his old habit. Fantastic.
Clive: “…I’m buzzing you out, Brad, to spare you further punishment.”
Brad, as he heads back to the step, slips Mike an imaginary card and mouths “call me”
Ryan slowly approaches
Mike: “ARE YOU NEXT??”
Ryan: [shrugs and heads back to the step]
Mike: [gives a DAMMIT motion]
Brad, reentering: “Did you have garlic for dinner?”
Mike, cracking up: “Did you notice the flex?”
Brad, cracking, returns to the step.
Mike, in between giggles: “But that’s a question!”
I imagine Colin’s gotta be relaxing
Ryan, entering: “…have you seen my accent?”
Mike: “…this small, imperfect thing over here, you mean?”
Mike, internally: “THERE we go.”
Colin, fluent in French, says a whole line in french, asking for a cigarette
Ryan: “…who the hell are you?”
Clive sadly ends it there. I would have preferred that Colin got a few more lines, but…it was a long enough game either way, and it was basically the Mike show, which is nice.
Sound Effects – Colin is arriving at the honeymoon suite with his wife on their wedding night. Ryan provides sound effects.
The scene begins with Colin carrying his, albeit heavy, wife through the doorway, and plopping her onto the bed. Ryan adds a loud crashing sound as she lands.
Ryan’s goofy, faux-suave noises make Colin’s character especially goofy. He shakes a drink, and opens the top, only for it to spurt everywhere like a garden hose. In order to stop the flow, he puts it to his mouth and swallows a bunch. Then, realizing there’s none left for his wife, he adds a cute little shrug.
Colin, in the bathroom, puts deodorant on both armpits, then…turns around…and puts it somewhere else. Then…there’s an audible ‘BOING!’ Colin has to tie it to his leg with a towel. It’s amusing as hell
And then, of course, the second he picks her up again, she’s asleep. Clive takes a few seconds too many to end the game, but it’s still a pretty nice one.
Number of Words – Ryan (3 words) is Dr. Frankenstein, Colin (2 words) is his monster, Mike (1 word) is Igor, and Brad (5 words) is the chief of police.
Ah yes, around this point Number of Words playings would become a bit more high concept. This will be especially evident this and next episode
Brad is already chuckling when he hears Clive’s given him 5 words. Upon entering, he bounds in, going “Dr. Frankenstein, you’ve done bad.”
Brad: “Your monster is an” […yeah, that works] “ABOMINATION!”
Ryan, as if it’ll change anything: “HIS NAME’S GARY!”
Colin: “…..GARY GARY.”
Ryan: “He’ll be PRESIDENT!”
Brad: “No he won’t. He’s…freaky!”
Colin, after seeing himself in the mirror: “ME DISAPPOINTED!”
Ryan: “No, Gary, No!”
Colin: “EXPECT HAIR.”
There’s a frenzied end of this, where Colin lunges at Brad. Mike, finally figuring something to do, lunges around the other side of Brad, going “SANDWICH!”
Funny enough, but the looseness of concept prevented the game from fully taking off; at times Mike didn’t know what to do
Hoedown: Tight Trousers (and Pasta)
Ryan IMMEDIATELY BOUNDS TOWARDS THE STEP IN THE MOST SARCASTIC WAY IN A WHILE. Perhaps too many renditions of “a bit more up, Ryan” from Dan
Mike’s is…not much
Brad goes for the opposite suggestion: “I think pasta is religious, in fact I think it’s holy
I cover myself in marinara, and pans of ravioli
I sometimes clean al dente, by using it like floss
And then I stir it my pants to make the special sauce”
MY GOD. Not since ‘LOTS OF WARM RUNNY BRIE’ has Brad gone for the dirty joke like that in a hoedown. He looks a bit ashamed by it, too
Colin: “Sure, sometimes it cuts off my circulation, but I-”
He then realizes the only rhyme for ‘circulation’ is gonna make him have to do another one of these hoedowns, and faints.
Mike, as it’s been years since he’s seen Colin pull a Colin, applauds
A nice enough hoedown. It’s kind of odd that it’s not last in the show, though.
Weird Newscasters – Brad is the anchor, Colin (a bad stand-up comedian) is the co-anchor, Ryan (Elvis Presley) is the weatherman, and Mike (has been sacked and it’s his last day) is the sports presenter.
Colin would do a similar version of this quirk during Season 1 of the US version, with some of the same jokes.
Brad: “Why don’t you tell them about the genocide-”
Colin: “Oh yes, a horrible accident at the popcorn factory. Fifteen colonels were killed.”
[Kernels. Colin doubles over again]
Mike’s quirk is SO INDICATIVE of his conundrum in coming back. Mike’s first line is “yeah…everybody wins…I lose.”
Ryan’s Elvis is, again, a fantastic impression. And he handles it pretty well.
The game wraps up, and, again, Mike had only 1 line, and not enough to do. Perhaps he didn’t understand the game, and thought Brad would interact more with him, but he just had his one line. And it wasn’t enough to drive home the quirk.
Party Quirks – Brad is the host. His guests are Mike (tyrannical European conductor), Colin (can’t stop doing Riverdance), and Ryan (various things caught in a tornado).
More Brad proctoring! Fun!
Brad, premiering a joke he’s use with Drew, establishes the stage space, and opens a door, saying “…Clive, what are you doing in my closet?”
Mike, entering: “You have Shostakovich on. Shostakovich should have been killed by Stalin. PTUI!”
Colin’s is…diabolical, but he smiles throughout it, as you can see how painful this is.
Ryan manages to throw a ton of things into his tornado, like a cow, a taxi, and…Clive. He goes into “all that remains is to thank our contestants” before going back into cacophonous nonsense. Clive enjoys the nod, though
All in all, it takes Brad a minute to guess everyone, but it doesn’t feel truncated. Everyone has a chance to be funny, and Brad has a chance to interact with them all, making this a better Party Quirks playing.
Moving People – Ryan is on a very early emergency call at Colin’s farm to deliver a calf.
Clive talks to someone in a GWAR shirt, saying “you’ve got the scumbags of the universe on your shirt there…oh, it’s named after this show, isn’t it?”
Colin, starting the scene with his arms wide open: “I can’t hold her legs open much longer!”
Ryan’s bending over shaking Colin’s hand, and Orly goes to move his nearest foot to Colin
Ryan, semi-out-of-character: “…I can’t put the weight off of that foot, or I’ll fall!”
Orly, Ryan’s mover, keeps moving the SHIT out of him, which is nice, but with someone like Ryan it’s tough.
This game works because it’s a cross between Ryan playing an eccentric and Colin having to deal with him…and Ryan playing someone credible and the audience member making him look weird. And there’s a lot of effectiveness in just how Ryan won’t look at the right thing.
Orly puts Ryan’s hand on Colin’s face in a very plot-heavy moment.
Ryan, without a choice: “What I’m saying is after this is over…how about we get a drink somewhere.”
Not a bad one, as Ryan had a lot to handle, and Colin was a great straight man.
Greatest Hits – Ryan and Colin advertise “Songs of the DIY Centre,” sung by Mike and Brad.
Brad and Mike’s disco song is pretty good, but they cut away before Mike’s about to sing. Again, there’s an alarming trend of the editors butchering Mike McShane’s material, perhaps in an effort to boost the other three’s US-audience potential. So…they’re doing Mike dirty, even if he agreed to come back on the condition that they wouldn’t. That…is thirteen flavors of wrong.
Colin: “Yeah, I feel like hammering something right now…”
Ryan: “Not me I hope!”
Colin, chuckling: “No…”
Colin: “Remember that great protest song….”WHAT THE HELL IS IT WITH THESE INSTRUCTIONS?”
Mike does take the lead on this Simon-and-Garfunkel-esque number, leading with “Part X goes to Part Y, then you die.” Brad gives some fantastic harmony with him, as well
Brad, giving the most on the nose line: “This thing needs fixin, and we hate Richard Nixon”
Mike gives his exuberance and energy to the 70’s Reggae number, channeling Jimmy Cliff in starting with a megaphone proclamation of sorts
Brad, on the other hand, gives a sillier, more goofy reggae voice, with the vocal hooks, more of the stereotypical reggae thing, in comparison to Mike’s emotional yelling.
Still, on the reggae number, Brad and Mike are eventually able to work together, do some unison vocal hooks and work off of each other’s lines and work towards the same outcome. It’s a pretty good number overall.
At the end of the game, Brad and Mike give a very polite handshake as they head back to the seats, as their duo effort made the game pretty great, despite Mike’s issues.
Overall: A step down from the first two shows of the season, but not without its charm. When all four players were in tune, like in Questions Only and Greatest Hits, the games were electric. Still, some games were a bit foreign to Mike, and from the way he was edited and his general demeanor in some of the games, you can tell this was a down night for him. True, his energy and vigor was seen in several games on the night, but for the most part you could tell it wasn’t all genuine. He was doing this for the money, not for the appreciation of it. The producers needed an American, and Mike McShane took the easy paycheck, and didn’t come back.
Still, this show meant a lot toward the future of the series, as you saw how well Brad could connect to not only Mike, but Ryan and Colin. It felt natural seeing him up there, even 5 years later. He’d only get more comfortable as the series went on. And Ryan and Colin, of course, continued to excel.
Show Winner: Mike
Best Performer: TIE between Ryan and Brad. Statistically this was hella close, as both dominated the same number of games, so I’m not breaking this up. They both won the show- Brad for showing his versatility and openness, and Ryan for carrying games and not cracking under pressure (even in Moving People)
Worst Performer: Sadly, Mike McShane. At times it felt like he wasn’t on the same page as the other three, and that’s a shame.
Best Game: Questions Only, where all four performers, save for maybe Colin, are able to shine with one another
Worst Game: Weird Newscasters. Just had the least to it.