QI Watchdown: I16 (Idleness) or Oh SHIT, IT’S CLARKSON!

When I began watching QI, back…shit, it was 2015. Back 3 years ago, I did so at the request of a friend I met at college, or university if you’re the target demographic, who’d seen everything of QI to that point. And he said that there was a golden period of the show, from Series F to Series I, where things were just really good. And after that, said my friend Mick, things began to trail off.

If Mick is to be believed, this episode is the last of the golden age. The last show of Series I, a series that has taken me far too long to cover, this particular episode featuring Jeremy Clarkson, making his only appearance of the series, Dara O Briain, making his penultimate appearance of the show’s run, and Ross Noble, who’s thankfully just getting started.

All of the first three buzzers have the same ‘buzz’ noise. Alan’s makes no noise…until he lets go, and it makes the same noise as the other three.

Stephen starts off by revealing that the nuclear code for the US President for 2 decades was just eight zeroes.
Ross: “Was that just because it’s the end of the world, and you’re gonna go “Oh oh oh OH OH OH OH OHHHHHHHH! BOOM!”

Stephen talks about always being annoyed at school by the boys who’d cover their answers with their jackets.
Ross, gritted teeth: ‘THAT’S BECAUSE YOU’RE NOT AN IDIOT.”
Jeremy: “I published mine in the Sun once.”

7 minutes in, not a lot going on. There’s a conversation going about passwords, and that’s fine, but it’s not terribly interesting, and Jeremy’s taking most of the floor.

Jeremy talks about the trick for, if a card isn’t working, hitting it with your teeth.
Jeremy: “You know that petrol you love so much? Pour it on your head…now, have a cigarette. Go on.”

Ross, on airport security: “Best one to do in an airport, and it helps if you’ve got hair like mine, is- you know when you go through the first security gate, and they take your photograph? What I do, is I do a different hairstyle…”
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Ross: “and then I change it for the next time…”
Stephen: “and whom d’you think that’s inconveniencing more?”

Dara tells an anecdote about someone who got stopped in security for trying to smuggle a water jug filled with a fish through, and the joyous expressions on Dara and Stephen’s faces say it all.

Alan: “They’d just need to drink some of the water, to prove it’s not a…”
Dara: “Presumably the fish is ALREADY proving that it’s not a bomb…”
Stephen: “You know that fish don’t swim in nitro- glycerine..”

The show briefly turns into Have I Got News for You (which…I think all of them have been on), in this mostly serious discussion on choosing MPs.
Ross, on the MP lottery system: “If it’s a lottery, d’you really wanna find out who the MPs are gonna be by Dale Winton pressing a button?”
Alan, doing his best Winton: “IT COULD BE YOU! AAAAAHHH!”
Ross, doing a better Winton: “I LOVE EVERYBODDAAAAYYY”

Stephen and Jeremy talk about getting out of jury service due to being too famous. Jeremy says that doesn’t really work. Stephen says he only does it because he doesn’t want some blood-dripping murderer to recognize him in the jury box.
Ross: “The defendant comes out…sits down…’…oh SHIT IT’S CLARKSON!”

and then Ross, as Jeremy: “You’re CLEARLY GUILTY because ya DRIVE a PRIUS!”

Stephen brings up a point about using ‘knob cheese’ in order to fool doctors into thinking you have tuberculosis. Of course, Ross runs with this.
Alan: “[the doctor] just…wouldn’t do the analysis”
Ross: “He’s not gonna send you to some psychiatrist going ‘…you’re eatin’ knob cheese!'”

This isn’t a particularly funny show,  but there are a ton of good points- Stephen mentions his Scrabble house rule is to not use a word you don’t know the meaning of. My uncle’s a Scrabble world champion. I bet he doesn’t follow that one.

On a shot of a sleeping dormouse:
Alan: “awww, look at the sleeping-”
Ross: “HE’S DEAD!”
Thank god for Ross, or else this would be one boring show..

Stephen wants the panel to demonstrate, with a little action figure, the best way to sit. Jeremy’s is pull-string, and has Jeremy Clarkson quotes on it, because of course.

Alan, before he has to put his action figure away, gets it to wave goodbye to the audience. Alan will always be the most wholesome QI cast member.
Ross: “Hang on, I’ve got bloody Jim Henson next to me…”

Ross, in using the Ingenious Interludes object, unscrews part of the buzzer in order to faux-electrocute himself, which is amusing. Then, he drops part of it down the buzzer hole, and reacts in agony.

Like with a lot of other shows this season, Stephen does tailor some of this episode to Jeremy, in including some b-roll from Top Gear. They hadn’t done this before, though. Maybe it was a Series I thing.

Jeremy has a good gag about veterinarians eventually just roaming the country shooting animals, which Dara contributes to as well, questioning if it’s just Jeremy’s need for violence.
Ross has a joke that I was actually waiting for someone to say: “When you did that sound effect there…that’s the end of Eastenders!”

Jeremy: “And now…All Creatures Great and Small…[gunshot noises]”

Alan wins in a landslide, which does tend to happen on down episodes like this one.

Overall: Definitely a down show, with only a few lines from Ross Noble of any note. Jeremy talked a bit too much, and was more loathsome than funny. Dara was quieter than he’d been in a while, which is sad, as was Alan, to be honest. And a lot of the show was less funny and more analytical, but not even interesting analytical. A sad way to end what was such a strong, consistent series.

MVP: Ross
Best Guest: Ross
Show Winner: Alan
Best QI Fact: knob cheese


Best Episode: Episode 2, International, featuring an insanely strong panel, a running gag about the Bursa that cracks me up sometimes, a funny picture of Herman Goerring, and, of course, David Mitchell’s epic argument with the QI Elves.
2nd Best Episode: Episode 4, Indecision, featuring Phill, Rich and Jimmy collaborating like never before, so many odd, hilarious moments, some Jupitus giggling, a rare NMTB ID Parade, and a great conversation about making decisions when you need to go to the bathroom.
3rd Best Episode: Episode 1, I-Spy, another Jimmy Carr show, and proof that Lee Mack could be a collaborator rather than hogging the jokes himself. with so many great stories and facts from the elves that were turned into nice moments, like the unkillable Mike Malloy, and the lobsters that are smaller than a submarine.
Worst Episode: This very one, E16, Idleness. The panel couldn’t get going, and only some Ross Noble lines stood out.
Episode Most Worthy of Another Watch: I7, Incomprehensible, a show that’s just too fun to ignore, even with the prospect of Brian Cox goofing off with Ross and Sue. So much is even more fun on a second watch. 15, Invertebrates, comes close.
Best In-Episode Runner: Brian Blessed and the dogs, I14, Ice. An anecdote from the big man himself about sleeping with wolves turns into an even sillier gag when Ross and Sean just keep it going throughout the back end of the show.
Best Recurring Guest: TIE between Bill Bailey and Ross Noble. Both had three show wins, and both were the centerpieces of nice panels throughout the seasons. Both also made me laugh throughout, even if Ross was a bit more flagrant; Bill is still the heavy-hitter this show deserves, and I’ll let those two split it. They both deserve it.
Most Underused Recurring Guest: Once again, Rich Hall. Even if he was in better shows, his out-there energy of his early appearances seemed to be gone here.
Most Improved: Lee Mack, for going from a guy who’d tire me out in one episode to a more balanced, mature panelist who could collaborate with anyone, even Sandi Toksvig (though an argument nearly broke out).
Best Guest Appearance: A tough one, this, but I’m giving it to Brian Cox (Incomprehensible), as he completely got the tone, humor, and analysis of the show, and seemed less like an informational panelist and more like a humorist. The Josh Groban of science, if you will. I came very close to handing this to Frank Skinner or Al Murray, though.
Guest We Wish Wasn’t Done After this Series: Sean Lock, who left to focus on 8 out of 10 Cats…and eventually Catsdown. He was a highlight whenever he was on, and he made me laugh without even trying too hard, though his appearances this series were a bit more subdued.
Rookie of the Year: Sarah Millican, I5 (Invertebrates), for nailing the tone immediately, and making me very excited for her later appearances.
Best Innovation: Giving a tactile demonstration for the panelists to futz with, which will go on for the rest of Stephen’s run.
Best Single Moments: David vs. the Elves (I2: International), Money Robber ID Parade (I4: Indecision), The panel eats ants (I5: Invertebrates), Smashing Ewoks on a Lake of Farts (I7: Incomprehensible), Stephen returns Dara’s points (I10: Inland Revenue), ASIMO and Jo dance (I13: Intelligence)

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S09E09, or Actually, Never Mind About Your Son…

I know. I took my sweet time there. But work is work. Nevertheless, here’s the last two episodes pre-compilations. Both feature Steve Frost and Brad Sherwood, but they’re both from different tapings. Either way, as Brad’s been unstoppable thus far, it should be interesting.

Clive’s intros are funny tonight, including describing Steve as ‘a man of a thousand voices, all of them the same.’ He repeats the joke with faces, all of them not human (Colin), dollars, all of them travel expenses (Brad), and appearances on this program (Ryan).

Questions Only: On Noah’s Ark

Brad, after going on the ropes with Steve: “Why did you bring ME as your pair?”
Steve: [cracks]

Ryan, proving he can get a laugh with three words: “…you smell something?”

Steve: “So WHERE are the giraffes gonna put their heads?”
Ryan: “Is that important?”
Steve: “Have you never worked with giraffes before?”
Ryan: “Is that apparent?”
Steve: [leaves]
A general note: none of these scenes last longer than 3 or 4 lines. Everybody’s divebombing tonight.

Ryan: “Didn’t I tell you to stay away from there?”
Colin: “WHYYYY?”
[Ryan takes a moment]
Ryan: “Didn’t you notice something unusual up there?”
Colin: “Didn’t you see the leak?”

Took way too long to get going, and felt very haphazard, but the ending was nice.

Film and Theatre Styles – Colin is a policeman coming to investigate strange going-ons at Ryan’s chicken farm.

Again, obvious pairing here, perhaps after the George-Ryan pairing didn’t really work out, but I’m kinda sad we never got a Colin-Brad pairing, especially considering their current status as a touring double act.

Clive: “Hang on, somebody just said ‘swedish porn’ there, because somebody always does! Is it the SAME PERSON WHO COMES EVERY WEEK…so to speak?”
HA! Clive is still fantastic at double-entendres.

FROM MOMENT ONE OF THIS SCENE, WE’RE OFF. Ryan has his back turned, and we hear a clucking noise. Then, as Ryan sees Colin coming, he chucks something (the chicken) offscreen, and turns to Colin. It’s so seamless that you’d wonder if Ryan’s done a scene like this before.

Ryan, taking the obvious joke: “Oh, you suspect fowl play?”

Ryan: “Look, I won’t lie to you…I’ve known these chickens for many a year, and we’ve…shared things between chicken and man [smirk] that chicken and man should not share.”
[Pause for audience reaction]
Colin: “…go on.”

The Star Trek style is an excuse for Colin to roll out his impressive Shatner impression. He even has a confused double-take with no dialogue, which the audience loves. Brad loses it at that, even.

Colin makes a noise, probably just doing a phasing motion
Ryan, taking the opposite approach: “Ah, a portable fan.”

Ryan and Colin riverdancing over to the chickens is worth it in every sense. I don’t know if it matches Robin Williams’ riverdancing on the show later on, but it’s pretty hysterical.

As Clive cuts them off, Colin is panting up a storm. Jokingly, Clive tells them to do more Riverdance, just to see their panicked expressions.

This scene does have a silly ending, with Colin’s dinosaur impression and a complete loss of plot, but this was still an amusing enough scene, with some really nice improv moments.

Old Job, New Job – Brad introduces his fiancee, Ryan, to his father, Steve, who used to be a dog show judge.

There’s a fun moment where Steve tells Ryan to sit, but Ryan has to figure out how to sit down onstage. He ends up crouching on the World’s Worst step [which, in itself, is foreshadowing as to how much of Ryan’s butt will be on the World’s Worst step during World’s Worst in Episode 19]

Brad, as Steve chases Ryan around the room: “I told you she was a good bitch.”

Brad: “She’s just nervous…”
Steve: “Come and put your head in my lap.”
Ryan: “I’M SORRY???”
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This does have a funny ending: As Ryan puts his head in Steve’s lap for a good beat or so, he gets up, and says “…actually nevermind about your SON…”

Another fairly goofy scene, even if it was kind of one note, which is what a lot of OJNJ games end up being.

Home Shopping – Ryan and Colin try to sell waders with holes in them, already-chewed chewing gum, and a solar powered torch.

Clive hands Ryan the waders.
Ryan, smirkingly: “WAITER!”

Colin: “SHOP SHOP SHOP. SHOP SHOP SHOP. SHOP SHOP SHOP…..Nothing subliminal about this!”

Man, even with the goofy rationalizations, this game just isn’t working. The audience just isn’t laughing here.

They do, admittedly, have a fun moment finally, in describing the Solar Powered Torch, which even Clive admits is an original idea. Colin sets it up, and goes “now, HOW WOULD THAT WORK? Ryan will explain.”
Ah yes, the old ‘Ryan and Colin screwing with each other’ gag.
Ryan: “As you know, when it’s dark here, it’s light somewhere else. That’s why the Solar-Powered Torch is FIVE-THOUSAND MILES LONG. So you can get the sun on the OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD.”
Colin: “And if you’ll buy that, YOU’LL BUY ANYTHING!”

This game did eventually get good, but, like with Questions, it took a while.

Quick Change – Colin tells general Brad that they’re under attack. Steve calls change.

This game later became a staple of Whose Line live shows, and the eventual Improv a Ganza show on GSN, but I’d forgotten they gave it a try here.


Colin: “…General.”
Brad: “Yes?”
Colin: “We’re under attack.”
Keeping it simple..

Colin: “Sir, we’re surrounded by a hundred German officers.”
Steve: “Change”
Colin: “31 Lithuanian midgets.”
Steve: “Change.”
Colin: “A circus troupe with a really bad elephant.”
Brad: “This is more serious than I thought!”
Colin: “Yes, the elephant looks very angry.”

Brad lands on, when asking about the elephant, “does it have any…stealth equipment? Because I hate those stealth elephants! They sneak RIGHT UP ON YOU! AND THEN YOU’VE GOT A BUTT FULL OF PEANUTS!”
Man, I missed Brad.

Colin: “I do know…that some of the acrobats have bazookas.”
Steve: “Change.”
Colin: “Some of the acrobats have large guns.”
Steve: “Change.”
[the audience goes wild here]

When Brad asks Colin to repeat the hand-signals they used, Colin does one…and Steve keeps calling change on every hand-signal Colin uses, so Colin has to keep going through all of the ones he knows. The more Steve yells change, the harder it is for him to keep composure, but he mostly pulls it off.

A very funny game, solely because of how refreshing it felt, and how well the Colin-Brad duo worked.

Party Quirks – Brad is the host.
Steve (a strict German nanny)
Colin (physically in love with food)
Ryan (a film extra in a bar room brawl).

Colin is hysterical from the moment he walks in, going over to the turkey and putting his hands all over it…and then putting his head inside of it. Hell, Steve’s ridiculous as well, using the accent to its perfection.

The sight of Colin passionately eating corn is enough to get the ladies in the front row into hysterics.

This is a pretty standard PQ, with nothing else truly standing out.

Mission Impossible: Ryan and Colin are instructed by Steve to mow the lawn.

There’s a nice touch of this tape being used on a Russian tape player, so Colin spends the whole time winding it, so Steve even slows down if Colin’s not churning fast enough.

Ryan suggests they put on outfits so they can mow the lawn stealthily. Ryan gets on a rooster costume, which Colin immediately shoots down. I don’t know why I laughed so hard at that moment.

Ryan and Colin manage to get on top of the shed.
Ryan: “It’s a long distance down there, it must be four feet.”
Colin: “…wait a minute! You’re what?”
Ryan: “….6’5…”

Colin throws in a funny detail that the shed is locked on the outside AND the inside, which cracks up Ryan AND Clive.

Colin: “We’re gonna have to blow it.”
Colin: “…no, blow it up.”

Then, Ryan figures out how to get the door open: “You had mexican food for lunch, didn’t you?”
Colin stifles a grin: “I THINK I SEE WHERE YOU’RE GOING…”
As Ryan pulls out the matches, Colin shakes his head, not believing they’re actually doing this gag.

Ryan: “We can’t let ’em see us mowing.”
Colin: “…..I’ll get a sheet.”
[He goes off, not knowing how that’s gonna help
Ryan: “What would a sheep help us at this point?”
Colin: “SHEET!”

There’s a nice development, where they reveal they’ve been doing sheep experiments in the other part of the shed the whole time. Colin, to get the sheep to mow the lawn, says to Ryan: “You better put on your enticing sheep costume.”
Ryan: “Why is it always me?”

Another fantastic Mission Impossible round, proof that these two have been on fire with this game lately, with so many fun comedy details in there.

Greatest Hits – Ryan and Colin advertise Songs of the Farmyard, sung by Brad.

Why do I feel like this entire show had a barnyard theme to it? From QO, to Film and Theatre Styles, to Steve in OJNJ, to the sheep, and now this? So many animals in this show!

Ryan: “It’s 5 o clock, and you want to have a party, but you just haven’t got the right music, have they, Teddy?”
Colin, with delivery that made me cry: “NO!”
And then Ryan pauses for a second, then looks back at camera with a look that reminds me of Fred Willard.

Ryan names his German Drinking Song ‘You’re Just a Chicken, but What the Cluck’, which is pretty genius.

Colin: “Oh, that song always fails to bring a tear to my eye.”
They cut to Brad, who cracks at that.

Colin ends up one-upping Ryan, by calling the punk song ‘is that an ear of corn, or are you just happy to see me?’. Ryan can only hold his stern expression for so long before losing it.

Brad starts his song with an ‘OY!’ Didn’t know Blur counted as Punk. No, but this does actually end up being a pretty cool London punk number, thanks to Brad’s full embrace of the genre.

Ryan does win the song-naming day by calling the French song ‘you may be just a horse, but you’ve got a hell of an ass.’ They hold on them for a moment, which is hysterical, reminiscent of the ESPN Classic sketches on SNL, and then somebody does a wolf-whistle from the audience.

Brad’s song is great, but in the middle of a higher note, he completely cracks up, looking over at Richard for help, even.

A pretty satisfying Greatest Hits, even though it’s a bit lower than some of the recent playings.

The credit reading is alright, if only for Steve yelling out “OY! VRANCH! NICE ASS!”

Overall: One of the weaker outings of this series, despite great games like Quick Change and Mission Impossible. A lot of rounds seemed very ho-hum, and without much of a point. I don’t think it was anyone’s fault in particular, as all four were fine, though Brad had a few more faux-pas’ than usual, and Steve didn’t get much chance to prove himself, but…I’ve seen the other show that came from this taping, and it’s a lot better. This was definitely a Ryan-Colin show, which isn’t really a problem, as they elevated the games that were here, but…not a lot was terribly great.

Show Winners: Ryan and Steve
Best Performer: Colin Mochrie, edging out Ryan solely on that ‘NO!’ in Greatest Hits.
Worst Performer: Steve Frost, who kind of got shafted tonight
Best Game: Mission Impossible, by far
Worst Game: Party Quirks. Just a very weak one.