On we go with Series 9 of Whose Line, and Dan and Mark’s attempt to appeal to American audiences. Here, they managed to book one of the more prevalent sitcom stars of the 1990s, and a former Second City farmhand to boot, in George Wendt, or Norm from Cheers. Wendt was in a brief career lull in 1997, and may have been in London on leave from the set of Alice in Wonderland, which may have been filming around that time (I could be way off here). Nevertheless, he’s here, doing short form improv with Greg, Colin and Ryan, three supremely talented American regulars. This goes pretty much the way you’d think.
Intros, obviously done at the end of the show, feature George looking kinda worn out, and Ryan doing this:
Film and Theatre Styles – Scientist Ryan has called George to test out his time machine.
Here we get the Ryan-George playing of this. I’m kinda glad we didn’t just get ‘Ryan and Colin and then the other two’ pairings, because A.) it allows for more versatility between performers, and B.) It allowed for the F&TS in episode 16, which is a classic.
Oprah Winfrey style
Ryan, as Oprah: “…yes, you HAVE been repeating yourself.”
George: [collapses in anguish]
Ryan: “And if any of you see this type of thing at home…be sure to consult the proper authorities.”
Ryan: “Was your daddy bad to you?”
George, taking a moment to think of how dark he’s going to take this: “Yes…he repeated himself on me ALL THE TIME!”
Clive: “This is getting too disturbing.”
George shakes his head.
Clive: “Let’s do some Sesame Street to lighten the mood.”
Ryan, in a perfect Kermit the Frog voice: “…repeated himself?”
I’m getting that George is very broad in his improv, like in the martial arts style, where he just emits a 5-second long yell, in character, in an odd way. Perhaps he’s forgotten that improv shouldn’t need to be making funny faces and noises.
Clive: “Let’s go onto horror.”
Ryan: “…you’ve dropped your pants.”
This was an alright scene. It wasn’t particularly bad, and George didn’t really commit any improv sins, but his style was a bit too broad for me, especially compared to Ryan’s.
Superheroes: shortage of jelly babies
Greg: Super Ted
Ryan: Mr. Smooth
Colin: Disco Kid
George: Talks too Loud About his Personal Problems Man
Not a huge fan of Greg’s characterization, but Ryan’s is fantastic from the moment he arrives, as Mr. Smooth. Just the way he says his lines.
Colin is just as good as The Disco Kid, a character he’d definitely do again in Superheroes during the US version.
The plot-solving is a bit clumsy, as George, yelling about his hemorrhoids, somehow solves the crisis, according to Greg, without really trying. So Greg sort of solves it for him. It may have been a move because of George’s unawareness with the WL format, but it’s still a clumsy one.
Not a great Superheroes. I just didn’t love Greg in this one, maybe because he didn’t really know what else to do with his quirk.
Secret – Ryan and Colin are Geppetto and Pinocchio. The secret is hidden inside a left nostril
I will say the audience suggestion of the secret being in the left nostril is one of the more ingenious ideas we’ve had from there lately.
Ryan’s Geppetto voice is a great excuse for him to do just a goofy Italian accent, to the point where it’s very reminiscent to his accent as the chef from a few Secrets ago. He even starts making a pizza.
Again, even the way the secret is revealed, literally falling out of Colin’s nose, is original. And Ryan gets to name it this time again, being “…a javelin???” And he’s even a little stirred by it, which is a first.
Colin, dropping an accent to give the rationalization: “…whatever country we’re from has asked me to be on their olympic team.”
Ryan: “Italy, Pinocchio.”
Colin: “I wasn’t sure, with the accent and everythin-”
Ryan: “ITALY, PINOCCHIO!”
Ryan: “The olympics will make you a MAN, not a real boy.”
Colin: “Only if I’m on the Russian women’s swimming team, then I can be a man!”
That line would NOT fly today…
Ryan ends the scene by promising Colin that he’s gonna make him into a real boy.
Colin: “You made a wooden hooker?”
Ryan, regrouping, opens the closet and reveals it as Clive buzzes.
A very silly Secret scene, with just so many wonderful leaps in logic, and just Ryan and Colin trying to out-ridiculous each other.
Film Dub – Ryan, Colin, and Greg are on a dangerous mission.
Greg gives his character a very Steve Frost-esque throaty english accent, and lays out a map.
Ryan: “…my god, that’s a picture of my wife.”
Ryan: “Look at the ranges and the mountains and the valleys of her-”
Greg: “Yes, we’ve all had your wife, now let’s carry on…”
Ryan’s character, as he leaves to go, does a hand motion to the other person.
Ryan, without a choice: “…Heil Hitler…”
Yeah, Clive’s WL may have been more lenient with Hitler jokes than Drew’s, but at least he knew it was a good scene ender. This Film Dub was alright.
World’s Worst: Person to share a flat with
Greg, as John Major: “I used to be the leader of a small…”
Ryan, opening the shower curtain: “Let’s say we save some water…”
Ryan: “…I’ve gone to the bathroom somewhere in the house, why don’t you try to find it?”
Ryan, as people are still recovering from that one, goes up again, carrying something: “Happy Birthday to Hitler, Happy Birthday…”
Colin: “I just finished my book: Satanic Verses.”
The audience, and Greg, really like this one. Who knew Rushdie slams were still in?
Greg and George are noticeably having a hard time with this one.
Clive: “Just do it as yourself, Greg…”
Greg “Ohhhh, you’re gonna get it now…”
“WELL! I’M YOUR NEW ROOMMATE!”
A pretty solid World’s Worst, if I’m being honest, though George only had one suggestion, and not a great one at that.
Props: Ryan and Colin vs. Greg and George.
Ryan: “WE’RE HIGH OVER WEMBLEY STADIUM…”
Ryan: “…I would like to thank the Academy for this award…”
Here you can at least see that George and Greg got along well; George uses both props for a ‘we’re gonna need a bigger boat, eh Quint?’ line that the audience doesn’t really get, but Greg loves.
Three of a Kind – Ryan, Colin, and Greg are TV evangelists in a laundrette.
Greg, in a perfect accent: “CAN ANYONE…SPARE…A DONATION…SO THAT I CAN WASH MY CA-LOT-THES?”
Ryan: ‘YAY. AH HAVE SEEN THE CLOTHES, AND THE CLOTHES ARE…cleeeannn…”
You can tell that Greg and Ryan have a better grip on televangelism than Colin, who just sort of follows their motions after a while, but Greg and Ryan are KILLING IT, so far.
Ryan: “And yet the socks come out, and they are full of holes in the heel…HEEL…HEEL!”
Greg: “Your underwear has folded by itself. IT IS TRULY….A MIRACLE!”
Ryan and Clive start cracking here.
Ryan ends the program by having all 3 recite the Laundry Prayer together in an ‘all in one voice’ type of style, and it’s a fantastically energetic moment for all of them, and a capper on a pretty great show.
Party Quirks: Greg hosts
George: Gone With the Wind in 30 Seconds
Colin: Trying out rodeo horses of various sizes
Ryan: a fly caught between two windows.
[And I’m already gone]
Ryan and Colin are just doing great things with physicality and facial expressions, which is why it’s so painful to see George failing at a wordy prompt.
This is, however, one of those that just is fantastic when all three are just bouncing off each other. Greg looked slightly helpless, though not Tony Slattery helpless.
Greg, to Colin: “The Tory government’s not here anymore, you can stop that!”
Not a bad Party Quirks, though, like a lot of tonight’s games, it didn’t exactly take off, even with some great quirks from Ryan and Colin.
Hoedown: Space Travel
Greg’s is a fun one, about an alien set on conquering earth, with their leader, “he has no neck, he’s very bald, and his name is Clive…”
George’s…he gives up on. So he dances. Remember this. It will be important in Episode 16.
Ryan attempts one of his many tricky rhymes this series, trying to rhyme a star-trek-related line about the three-year tour with ‘sleeping with Uhur’.
Not a great Hoedown, but not without its moments.
Overall: Yeah…not a great show. Somehow, it wasn’t JUST George Wendt’s presence that kept things down a few pegs. A lot of games never really hit their stride, and even Greg sort of made some faux-pas throughout the night. And it’s not that George didn’t try, as he clearly did his best to fit in with the pact, but seeing as Ryan was KILLING IT tonight, and that these were some of the best traditional improvisers in the business at the time, a professional actor like George could only do so much. I don’t think he belongs in the list of ‘worst WL-ers ever’, like Ardal O’Hanlon, Jan Ravens, and…someone I’ll be covering next episode are, but he clearly wasn’t a great fit for the program. Maybe if he’d been on in an earlier run of the show, it wouldn’t have stuck out as much.
Show Winner: George
Best Performer: Ryan, for dominating, adding to the S4-esque quality of this show.
Worst Performer: George, for not really fitting well with the other 3.
Best Game: Secret, for using silliness as its best tool. World’s Worst is a close second.
Worst Game: Superheroes. Just really limp tonight.