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.
Ross: “Nono, he went ‘I’VE GOT JEREMY CLARKSON ON THE PHONE..’, then ‘…YEAH, SHOVE IT UP YOUR ASS, GO ON!”
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…”
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…”
Alan: “BUT EVIDENTLY NOT!”
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.
Best Guest: Ross
Show Winner: Alan
Best QI Fact: knob cheese
SERIES I SUPERLATIVES:
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)