Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S09E07, or You Made me a Wooden Hooker??

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:
Screen Shot 2018-09-21 at 5.25.04 PM.png

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!”
BUZZ
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…”
BUZZZZ

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?”
Clive:
Screen Shot 2018-09-21 at 5.57.26 PM.png

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…”

Greg:
Screen Shot 2018-09-21 at 6.00.20 PM.png
“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.

Screen Shot 2018-09-21 at 6.02.15 PM.pngRyan: “WE’RE HIGH OVER WEMBLEY STADIUM…”

Screen Shot 2018-09-21 at 6.02.58 PM.pngRyan: “…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.

Screen Shot 2018-09-21 at 6.14.08 PM.png[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.

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Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S09E06, or Shouldn’t You Read Him His Rights or Something?

Our second straight Steve Frost episode, this time paired with this series’ new rising star Brad Sherwood. The Brad-Steve-Colin-Ryan teaming would appear in two tapings and five episodes, tied with the Steve-Colin-Ryan-Tony matchup for most of this show.

In introducing Ryan, Clive says “and for his nine-hundredth consecutive appearance on this show…comedian, actor, and the producer’s brother, RYAN STILES!”

Superheroes: Acid rain!
Colin: Captain Buttocks Promiscuous Man
Ryan: Can’t Move Without Hurting Himself Boy
Brad: Hilarious Punchlines Boy
Steve: Professor Hugs-Too-Hard

Clive gets Colin’s superhero name from combining the two best suggestions. Colin, from his initial reaction, LOVES THIS:
Screen Shot 2018-09-03 at 4.08.27 PM.png
Clive: “It’s interesting that two separate sections of the audience have met you before…”

Clive asks for the global problem:
Audience member: “Lots of hairpieces!”
Colin then begins to walk angrily towards the audience, and Ryan has to hold him back. This is very Captain Hair-esque

Clive: “ACID RAIN! Now that’s a real, sensible suggestion. Not funny, mind, but a real…”

Colin does some great physicality with huge buttocks, but finally gets the crisis of acid rain: “I hope it hits that woman who suggested ‘missing hairpieces'”

Ryan, stoner voice: “I’m sorry I’m late, captain Buttocks, I got caught in an acid showerrrr…”

I will say…’Professor Hugs-Too-Hard’ is the single most Brad Sherwood suggestion out there. Of course, Steve delivers, picking up Brad and twirling him around. And then he hugs Ryan and Ryan screams in pain.

There’s a great moment of applause, when Ryan’s screaming out in pain, Steve’s got done with hugging Colin and Colin is smiling. It’s a wonderful group moment.

Steve comes up with a brilliant, complicated suggestion, hugs Brad one more time, and then leaves.
Brad: “Huh, you should have seen the other guy…”

Ryan, as he exits, makes another loud, wincing noise every time he takes a step. And he even makes one once he’s offstage.

A perfectly fine Superheroes, with some great moments of teamwork, and Colin just owning his quirk.

Song Styles: Brad sings a love song to Anna, a nurse.

Brad, as usual, brings a lot of vocal panache to this one, and some great lyrical work:
“Anna, I will be your man
If you just do my prostate exam”

Beautiful song, too, as Brad can hold long notes, and make it heartfelt, while immediately going back to a joke:
“I’m dying…of this disease
Called love.
Grab your rubber glove.
Give your thumb a shove.”

One of the best Song Styles rounds we’ve had in a long time. The audience is absolutely wild about this one, too.

Secret: Ryan and Colin are two frisky geriatrics in an old people’s home; the secret is hidden in the commode.

Colin: “I got a date tonight!”
Ryan: “A date….you goin’ out for puddin?”
[I love how he says that line]

Ryan: “How’d you get a date with her?”
Colin: “Just…took out my teeth and did an impression of the chunnel…”

Ryan gets to name the Secret this time, and he at least picks a good, if pedestrian compared to Colin’s, reveal: “…Elvis trading cards?”
And this time, COLIN is the one to take a few beats to recover. He cracks for a brief second, too…
Colin, stalling: “…I guess you wanna know what they were doing there…”
Ryan: “I SURE DO…”

Colin eventually figures it out: “…can you keep a secret?”
Colin: “…there’s only two of us in here…”:
Colin: “….I’m Elvis.”

Ryan: “Waaait a minute [checking trading card] what’s your favorite food?”
Colin: “…hamburgers deep fried in batter.”
Ryan: “LONG LIVE THE KING!”
And then, Colin does a fantastic physical Elvis impression, before wincing, hurting a hip. Wincing easily seems to be a theme of this show.

Colin proclaims he lost his voice. “I can’t sing anymore.”
Ryan, with another great read: “ohhhhhhh I bet ya could…LOOK BACK TO THOSE DAYS, ELVIS…”
Colin, knowing what Ryan’s setting him up for, cracks a bit.
Colin: “I CAN’T, I CAN’T, DON’T MAKE ME DO IT…”
Ryan: “Priscilla still looks good! I bet she’d come back to ya if she could hear ya sing again.”

And then, Ryan pulls a fast one: “BUT NOT ANY OF YOUR OLD HITS.”
Colin: “NO, THAT’D BE TOO SIMPLE.”
[internally, he just goes ‘dammit Ryan…’]

As Ryan coaxes Colin into singing one of his lost songs, he goes “here…I’ll play the maracas for ya.” And takes out his teeth. This is genius.

Then, Colin gets the ground back by proclaiming he’s gonna do a song entirely in German, an old Hoedown trick for when he had no idea what to sing. Clive knows what’s coming.
Ryan: “IT’S OKAY ELVIS! I’LL TRANSLATE!”
Colin, getting into this song: “….Och-”
Ryan: “OH!”
Colin: “Och-”
Ryan: “OH!”
Colin, perfect Elvis voice: “….LIEBERLIEBERLIEBERLIEBER…”

SUCH A GOOD SECRET SCENE. That scene grew legs on its own, and just became a wonderful long-form-y Colin-Ryan scene. One of my favorite Secrets thus far.

Addicts Anonymous: Brad runs a self-help group for the other three, who are all addicted to game shows.

Brad, entering: “Sorry, I’m late, I-”
Ryan: [buzzes]
Brad, sighing, takes away his podium. Already a great start.

Steve, who I was worried would be a bit behind Ryan and Colin in terms of exposure to game shows, nails this, shaking hands, and being very giggly throughout.

Brad does a great job as the straight-man proctor here: “There are only three of ya, and we’re not narrowing it down to one! Remember that!”

Brad, to Colin: “How’ve you felt this week-”
Colin: “I’ve felt fine [turns to camera] My name is Jim Peters, I’m an accountant.”
Brad: “TAKE OFF THIS NAMETAG!”

Colin: I’m up to step three but it’s just not working!”
Brad: “Ooh, that’s the bonus round! Keep going!”

Brad: “HOW DOES IT MAKE YOU FEEL?”
Ryan: “small.”
Colin: “What does he win for that?”
Ryan: “NOTHING! There’s nothing to win for the real world, remember that!”
Steve: “There isn’t, but I think these chairs are worth 3000 pounds for the three!”

Colin sets up Brad to have him remember the group’s motto. Brad spins it back and says they should all do it together.

A very fun, if light at some points, game.

Sports Commentators – Brad and Steve commentate on Ryan and Colin, two hunks setting up on the beach.

This one, as usual, takes a bit to get going, but once Colin sticks an umbrella pole up Ryan’s ass, things really get going.

The ‘slow motion replay’ of the wet towel slap is great, because you see so much more emotion on Colin’s face.

Again, I don’t love this game, and I think it’s fairly straightforward, but this one had some nice moments.

Film Dub: Steve and Ryan are on an expedition.

Steve, as he heads down the World’s Worst step, stumbles a little, and facepalms as he regains his footing, and realizes they’re gonna use that take.

This is a silly enough scene- Ryan and Steve calling someone and asking where the map is, when it’s literally on the wall behind them.

Steve has a great moment where he takes the pauses as his character does, and makes it sound really odd: “It’s up….to me……and you…..to decide…..whether we……..SHOULD GO!”

And the scene ends with them finding the map, and Steve exclaiming “WHAT’S THIS???”

A fairly straightforward and silly scene, but not without its moments.

Animals – Ryan and Colin are two gazelles who are hiding illegal substances, Brad is the lion cop who catches them.

This is a great excuse for Ryan to bring back his gazelle impression, but Colin’s just as good, as both are looking around, turning their heads at the same time. Then finally:
Ryan: “….ya got the grass?”

Colin and Ryan have a great conversation about Ryan eating the grass instead of smoking it, but Brad eventually bounds in and improves the scene.

And yes, Brad slowly pursuing Ryan and Colin as they do the gazelle run is fantastic to watch.

Brad as the lion cop is fantastic, with a very different growly voice. He also kills Colin out of nowhere.
Ryan, as caught off-guard as I was: “Whooooa, shouldn’t you read him his rights or something?”

Pretty great scene, and honestly it could have gone on a bit longer.

Weird Newscaster – Brad is the anchor,
Colin (is having a breakdown because he used to be the sole newscaster) is the co-anchor,
the weatherman is Ryan (is being distracted by a couple making love in front of him),
and the sportscaster is Steve (a rowdy football fan).

Just the opening visual alone is hysterical:
Screen Shot 2018-09-03 at 4.56.12 PM.png

Colin’s demeanor as Brad cheerily speeds along is wonderful (“…I wish I had a GUN!”), and Steve, chiming in every now and then, is fantastic.

Steve: “…today, in the preseason warmup-CHELLESEEEAAA…”

After a bit of that, Steve picks up his stool and starts flailing it around, slamming it on the ground. By far his best performance of the show.

If you’ve ever seen the Eyewitness News portion of Kentucky Fried Movie, you know what to expect from at least the first part of Ryan’s quirk.

Yes, the more Ryan sees, the more aroused Ryan gets.
Steve, as a chant: “YOU’RE GOIN’ HOME WITH A GREAT BIG STIFFY!”

Overall: A very middle of the road show. There were highlights (Superheroes, Secret, Animals), and some very okay games (Sports Commentators, Film Dub), and just a generally alright feel. There were a ton of great improv decisions, and not all of them led to funny moments. Everyone had good and bad moments, and surprisingly Steve had a few more standout moments than I expect, although Brad did run away with the show, thanks to great performances in Song Styles and Animals.

Show Winners: Ryan and Colin
Best Performer: Brad, for having another dominant show.
Worst Performer: Ryan, solely for not having as many standout performances as the other three, but he was still alright.
Best Game: Secret. Just phenomenal.
Worst Game: Sports Commentators. Just another weak round of this.

QI Watchdown: I15 (Immortal Bard), or OH! FRENCHWOMAN!

It’s been a while since I’ve truly devoted time to QI, and watching through it, to the point where I’ve basically taken 2 years to finish Series I. And it’s a shame, too, as this is a very funny season, with 3 10/10 shows, 2 extremely fun shows with Ross Noble screwing with a special guest, and just lots of great material.

Here, we see one of the last few instances of QI doing a ‘these 3 panelists are here a lot, let’s put them all together’ show; Bill Bailey, David Mitchell and Sue Perkins are all on a ton, and they’re all here tonight, on a special Shakespeare-themed QI, which should definitely make Stephen proud. It’s sad they couldn’t get an actual Shakespearean actor, like John Sessions, Brian Blessed or Emma Thompson, for this one, but with these three, including a guy who’d appear on a Shakespeare send-up years later (Upstart Crow), I think we’ll be fine.

Everyone is dressed for the occasion, as shown in the Intros:
Screen Shot 2018-08-16 at 7.36.28 PM.png

Early on, Stephen asks about the David Tennant production of Hamlet, and asks who Tchaikovsky played. And it’s already amusing enough, seeing these four try to work out what that means. Eventually, Stephen reveals that he played the skull, which is a nice touch.

Stephen of course, quotes the line where Hamlet holds the skull, “alas, poor Yorick, I knew him, Horatio-”
Bill: “Alas, poor Yo-…wait a minute, THIS IS TCHAIKOVSKY!”

Screen Shot 2018-08-16 at 7.44.57 PM.pngDavid: “You’d hope that they had to dirty it up again…like that’s not just a bit of the guy that’s still clinging…”

David has another line, about someone who wastes their life, and donates their skull to theatre, “and then all the reviewers say “…I dunno, Yorick felt a bit stilted…”

Stephen: “Name the Scottish Play, that Shakespeare wrote.”
Sue: “Ah, Taggart!”

Bill has a great moment here, where he ridicules Stephen for always tricking him, and naming fake Shakespeare plays that are clearly the wrong answer…and then he guesses Macbeth, which Stephen, rather matter-of-factly, goes “…yes.”

Stephen brings up that even saying Macbeth is bad luck
Sue: “Yeah, you have to sleep with all your costars immediately.”

Stephen talks of the John Gielgud production of Macbeth, saying four people died during the production.
Sue: “Was that the one where they used machine guns in it?”

The panel goes off on the idea that turning off mobile phones in a theatre should just be made a superstition, so more people will follow it. And they just keep building on it, saying it was an ancient curse from the time of King Tut.

Stephen: “I was in a theatre not long ago, where someone’s phone went off, and the actor just went “OH, FOR FUCK’S SAKE!”

Bill tells the story of a production of Diary of Anne Frank with Pia Zadora, and she was so bad that “by the time the Nazis started knocking on the door, someone shouted out ‘SHE’S IN THE ATTIC!”

Again, just the casual dynamic of these guys talking about Shakespeare and theatregoing is just fantastic. After a bit, they all just start telling stories of onstage interruptions, and it’s all great.

And then Bill tells the story of doing 12 Angry Men onstage, and one of the jurors fainted onstage, and they all had to help him off. “and you see the audience going ‘…I don’t remember a bit in 12 Angry Men where one of the jurors…died..”

The West Side Story question, which Bill guesses that the original title of West Side Story was…West Side Story (and is Klaxoned) is one I knew: Originally it was set in the east side. Sue knows this immediately.

Screen Shot 2018-08-16 at 9.35.11 PM.pngBill: “…all their pipes have been airbrushed out of this photograph…”
[But don’t take it from me, take it from Sweary Bob. “YEAH, THEY’RE FUCKIN’ GREAT!”]

Stephen gets the audience to answer that the Lion King is based on Hamlet, which Sue, like me, doesn’t entirely agree with: ‘AT WHAT POINT DOES HAMLET SING ‘HAKUNA MATATA??”

Stephen: “What about the Tempest, what movie was made of that?”
Bill, on the Lion King thread: “Wicked!”
David: “THE PERFECT STORM!”
HA!
Bill: “SPEED! SPEED 2!”
Sue: “Harold and Kumar Get the Munchies”

The way Stephen pronounces ‘Syracuse’, as ‘Syyyy-racuse’, angers me, as a New Yorker.

Stephen asks for the other main candidates for the ‘who really wrote shakespeare’s plays’ theory
Bill: “Oh, hang on-”
Bill presses his buzzer, then turns to Alan and goes “…what was it?”
Alan, through his fingers: “…MARLOWE!”
Bill: “CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE!”

Bill: “Could he have theoretically dictated these plays, to someone else?”
Stephen: “I suppose it’s possible. Barbara Cartland used to lie on her sofa and dictate her marvelous novels…”
Sue: [cringes at that description]

Stephen: “I don’t suppose Shakespeare used every word he knew in his plays, as he left a lot out…[quieter]…I don’t remember the word ‘clitoris’ in any of them…”

Bill goes on a tangent about printing, about copying a vole, and printing a vole…and then it turns into a discussion of marzipan voles, which…again, this is classic Bill here, just going off about random things.

Stephen instructs the panel to figure out what all these seldom-used Shakespearean words mean
Screen Shot 2018-08-16 at 10.26.55 PM.png
Alan: “…I’ve got a Swoltery Quatch at the moment…”
And he just looks over at Stephen, bashfully
Alan: “…it happened when I put me kicky-wickies on…”

Sue: “What is a kickie-wickie? Is that Russell Brand’s version of a football?”
Stephen: “It’s an affectionate term for a wife.”
Sue: “…A KICKIE-WICKIE IS NOT AN AFFECTIONATE TERM FOR A WIFE.”
David: “Domestic violence was a lot more acceptable, then…”
Sue: “Ah, the old Smashy-Washy…the ol’ Battery-Watter…”

On the list of words that DID catch on:
Alan: “FRENCHWOMAN? A bit of a stretch. “Yes, I invented it…”
David: “He invented ‘taking the space out’…”
Bill, french accent: “Zis is my wife, she is a…zuhdkfjg…uh, thingymagig, I dunno…what can I call her? OH! FRENCHWOMAN!”

Sue, on the list of phrases: “…How did he say ‘What the Dickens’? Dickens didn’t come along for another 200 years!!”

There’s a running gag where Stephen’s chain necklace keeps getting caught on his sleeve. It happens twice, and it gets laughter from the audience each time.
Stephen: “…this bit of ruff is not behaving, I’ve said that before…”

Sue, on the Dangerous Dan question: “Oooh, I sense I’m falling into a pit, but I’ll do it anyway…dunno why I’m talking like that…”

Stephen: “Of course, the trap you fell into, the rewriting of Shakespeare, was actually done by a famous couple, whose names were…”
Bill: “…Richard and Judy!”

On the Bottom actor who Morris Danced from London to Norwich
Stephen: “There’s a phrase that came of this-”
Sue: “Cocking about? Making a right tit of yourself?”

Stephen: “What d’you call a group of Morris Dancers?”
Sue: “…an ass.”
Bill: “A SWARM!”
Sue: “AN EMBARRASSMENT!”
Sue’s doing great with little jokes tonight
Bill: “Uhh, a plague?”
Alan: “A BELLEND!”
[and I’m gone]

Stephen mentions that American Morris-Dancing is taking off “in a big way”
Alan, American accent: “I’VE JOINED A BELLEND!”

The klaxons in this episode are kind of expected: Sue, in answering the Marlowe question, prefaces it by saying “…let me say it so you can mock me.”

This episode is great for collaboration as well, which is what the last show was missing: there’s a gag about a bill for a brothel, and all four are collaborating, juxtaposing restaurant bill jokes onto the brothel setting. It’s fantastic.

Stephen: “What made Lord Byron limp?”
[childish laughter]
Sue: “Now that’s a loaded question…”
Bill: “Item 4 on the brothel bill?…uh, eight hours of Morris dancing?’

Stephen: “There was a scandal, in which he’d possibly had sex with…”
Sue: “…a young…”
Bill, confidently: “Goat.”
And he just sits there, nodding

Stephen: “Now, what can the Queen do that an idiot can’t?”
Screen Shot 2018-08-16 at 11.01.54 PM.png
Bill: “…by the looks of things, kill people with their own eyes…”

Overall: Along the same vein as Films & Fame- a very entertaining episode with great facts, that may not have been the funniest. I still enjoyed watching, as the panel was very coherent, and all four were capable of working with each other. Sue had the easier jokes, and not all of hers hit; David was the quietest of the four, but still had a great night whenever he spoke up; Bill Bailey, of course, had the funniest moments, and, like usual this series, is a delight at all points. A very fun show, and one, as a Shakespeare guy, that I got a lot out of.

MVP: Bill
Best Guest: Bill
Show Winner: David
Best QI Fact: Tchaikovsky’s head
Best Runner: Brothel bill

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S09E05, or THE EMOTIONAL HOLES!

Captain, the Stephen Fry episode might be too British for American audiences!
GET ME 2 EPISODES OF STEPHEN FROST, STAT!

And so, we’re up to two straight appearances of Frost and his Hawaiian shirts, paired with a different American each time. Tonight, he’s paired with Greg Proops. That will be fun.

Clive’s intros are classic:
“As described by Dr. Spooner, the Shining wit of Greg Proops
then, as described by the Good Sex Guide, the extremely quick Stephen Frost
then as described by an Alien’s Guide to the Universe, one of us, it’s Colin Mochrie”
Colin:
Screen Shot 2018-08-05 at 11.48.36 AM.png
“and as described by someone who’s never seen him, the fantastically talented Ryan Stiles!”

Superheroes: Pants are Getting Too Small
Greg: Captain Caterpillar
Ryan: Cat Cleaning Himself Man
Colin: Nude and Proud of it Boy
Steve: Nipple Tweak Boy

The second of two unbelievable instances of Greg-Clive banter this series.

Greg, as Clive explains the game, is goofing around, doing a Superman pose and trying to fly
Clive, seeing this out the corner of his eye: “…okay, you’re AUDITIONING for this role now…”

Someone shouts out ‘USELESS MAN’, but Clive goes with Caterpillar man: “Caterpillar man gives him more to play with, because Useless Man is…kinda what he is.”
Greg, IMMEDIATELY:
Screen Shot 2018-08-05 at 11.54.17 AM.png

Audience member: “Pants are too small!”
Clive, to Greg: “Funny thing- have we done that already?”
Greg, still hurt: “If we have, I’m sure it was fraught with hilarity…”

Greg, immediately pre-scene: “Which one am I?”
Clive: “You’re Captain Caterpillar. But you can bring elements of Captain Useless as well, if you want.”
Greg, gearing up: “Listen, I’ll be Captain Caterpillar, and you can just sit there and be Captain Useless like usual.”
Clive, after that doesn’t get a ton of response: “…oh, YOU’RE winning tonight, as I can see..”

Greg, as Clive’s still going on, realizing what hasn’t happened yet: “Isn’t it about time you make some sort of inappropriate American reference or something?”
Clive: “…Not yet, you do the show.”
Greg: “Thanks.”
Clive: “…ya yank…”
Greg, STILL WANTING TO GO: “I can take a few hits if you want-”
Clive, realizing how far this has gone on, and completely done: “GET ON WITH IT GREG!!!”

All this, and the game hasn’t even started yet. Whoa. Greg, immediately before he starts improvising, realizes what just happened, and emits a little Muttley laugh.

Ryan, as Cat Cleaning Himself Man, coughs up a hairball
Greg: “Oh, good, I can live in that later…”

Colin, as nude and proud of it boy, is fantastic. He just starts pelvic thrusting stonefaced, like it’s nothing.
Greg: “Well, I wouldn’t be THAT proud of it if I was you.”
Clive chuckles at this.
Greg, reexplaining the crisis: “Everyone’s underpants are too tight, except for YOURS of course.”

And Steve as Nipple Tweak Boy…hysterical. Poor Colin, though; I bet he expected Steve would tweak someone else first, but he is Nude and Proud of It Boy.

Then, Steve goes to Ryan’s, and smirkingly goes “OOH, LOOK, I’M TWEAKING A PUSSY!”
The audience, rightfully, dies at this.
Greg, as he re-explains the crisis, cracks completely. Steve is completely gone, though, whispering to Greg something like ‘that’s not getting on’
Greg, knowing how the censors work: “You can say ‘pussy’ if you’d like…”

Steve leaves before he can do a solution, but Colin thankfully comes up with one, a rather extensive one. Greg breathes a sigh of relief.

A pretty good round: its banter and teamwork elevates it, but Steve forgot to do a solution, and Greg was mostly just moving the scene forward.

Film and Theatre Styles: Steve and Greg (mechanic and Top Gun pilot)

Again, I’m glad we’re seeing this game with more than the usual Ryan-Colin combo.

Clive: “…there’s ALWAYS SOMEBODY who says ‘Swedish porn movie’.

This game starts like a round of Old Job New Job, where Steve acts like a regular, London car mechanic, giving him a three day estimate with a lot of terminology. The contrast definitely works.

Greg, saying why he needs the plane now: “There’s things I’ve gotta shoot down! There’s bad turns I’ve got to make! There’s chicks I’ve got to sleep with after!”

Hospital Drama style, Greg hands Steve the spanner, then Steve reprimands him, and tells him to give more force angrily….drops it, and then says, tenderly, ‘like you did last night’. It’s, again, a fantastic contrast
Greg: “You know, when I’m holding you like this, I don’t want to let go. I want to heal you. I want to take all the holes in you and seal them over.”
Steve: [breaks]
BUZZ
Greg, as the audience gets the wrong idea, TURNS TO CAMERA: “…THE EMOTIONAL HOLES.”
And I’m gone. Steve’s looking to Ryan and Colin for help.
Clive: ‘…it conjured up such a picture.”
Greg: “THIS IS A HOSPITAL DRAMA, NOT A SWEDISH PORN FILM. Get your minds out of the gutter.”
BUZZ
Clive: “SWE-”
Greg: “WHO LET THESE PEOPLE INTO THE OPERATING THEATER?”
Clive, quite obviously: “Swedish Porn Movie.”

Greg, immediately: “Oh, I’ve dropped de Span-ner…”

Greg ends this portion by looking around at Steve’s butt.
BUZZ
Steve, cracking: “I’ve got a lovely undercarriage, haven’t I?”
BUZZ
Greg: “You’re right, the light DOES stay on when you bend over.”
BUZZ
Steve: [bends over laughing]

Clive: “Beavis and Butthead”
Greg: [chuckling, pointing at Steve’s butt]

Clive: “Hammer Horror”
Greg: “Yes. I saw your crack.”

Greg’s posh English accent is fantastic, telling Steve he’s going to leave: “You can try to frighten me all you’d like, with your bizarre accent and tufty eyebrows.”
BUZZ

Pride and Prejudice
Greg: “Can’t you see I’m in love with you? I haven’t said anything for 35 years because I’m English and can’t express my emotions.”

The scene ends with Greg embracing Steve, asking him to ‘shoot me with your oil gun’, and Steve giving a gruff ‘GOOD GOD.’ As do we all.

A delightfully out of bounds scene. I don’t envy Steve in that scene, as I would have been cracking up throughout as well, but he did do a nice job of returning the favor in terms of improv, though Greg did a lot of the heavy lifting. It did feel like a fleshed-out, semi-plot-reliant F&TS, like the older series’.

Weird Newscasters – Greg is the anchor, Ryan (thinks he’s back in ‘Nam) is the coanchor, Colin (recently broke up with Greg) is the weatherman, and Steve (a compulsive gambler) is the ‘financial correspondant’.

Ah yes, the old setup, where Colin did weather and Ryan was co-anchor. They’d figure this out by S10.

Ryan: “There’s a big…pile-up on the freeway. Did you see it, Greg?”
Greg: “…well…no…”
Ryan: “You didn’t see it because YOU WEREN’T THEEEERE, MAAANNN…”

Ryan’s embittered Nam vet is fantastic, because…to be honest, that’s one of the better characters he plays. Either embittered Nam vet or embittered ex-husband.

Greg, handing off to Colin: “Sheila, looks like a fabulous weekend brewing.”
Colin: “…OH, NOW WE’RE TALKING TO ME?”

This wasn’t the greatest WN, but the game really took off when all four were acting on each other, or, rather, all three were acting on Greg. Towards the end, Colin was clinging to Greg, Steve won a bet, and Ryan was trying to carry Greg out. It was a fantastic combination of moments, which is a shame, as their alone bits weren’t as good.

Moving People – Ryan and Colin are two high-tech thieves stealing a famous painting from a gallery.

Lorna, the second audience member, gets behind Colin, but the other one is already there, so Clive directs her over to Ryan…who, noticing her looks, proceeds to take her offset by the arm.
Clive: “It’s not a social event, it’s just…”

Ryan already seems befuddled by the speed at which Lorna moves him, chuckling through a few line reads, like “…tell me…d’you like my new outfit?”

Colin: “We’re gonna have to crawl under the laser beams!”
Ryan, who’s been bent completely over: “…I’ve already started, Gary…”

There’s a surprising amount of character that Ryan and Colin add here, about Ryan’s past as a professional limbo-er.
Colin: “You’re right, I guess I’m going to hang my head in shame.”
The audience member doesn’t get this prompt, and moves his legs
Colin: “…but first i’ll move over here…”

Ryan realizes that what Lorna’s about to do is going to end badly, and cracks up, as his knees give out and he crashes to the floor.

Colin: “YOU’VE GOT THE PAINTING!”
Then…Lorna does this:
Screen Shot 2018-08-05 at 1.30.52 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-08-05 at 1.31.04 PM.png
IMMEDIATELY Lorna backs away and cracks up, and Ryan does his ‘losing it while staying still’ face from Dead Bodies
Colin: “WE DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THAT, WE’RE IN THE MIDDLE OF A ROBBERY!”
Ryan: “I’M FORCING MYSELF TO DO IT!”
Colin: “NO!”
Ryan: “…GOD you’ve got a tight little ass!”

Ryan, as he’s still there: “…WAIT…we can hide the painting in the cheeks of your ass!”

The audience member FINALLY moves Ryan, and raises him up to Colin’s chest.
Ryan: ‘…but first, let me feed for a while.”
BUZZ. Both audience members lose it. As does the audience.

DEAR GOD. Another insanely funny game, made even funnier by the ineptitude of Lorna as a mover, and just how Ryan reacted to being moved. Too damn funny.

Props: Ryan and Colin vs. Greg and Steve

Ah yes, the infamous Chicken Toss props round.

Screen Shot 2018-08-05 at 1.35.03 PM.pngColin: “…if only the doves had seen that steamroller…”

Greg: “EX-TER-MINATE”
Steve: “THAT’S WHAT I WAS GONNA DO!”

Greg has an extended bit as ‘King of the Bin People’, looking out to the audience and commanding recognition, as Clive buzzes repeatedly

Then, Greg grabs Colin’s prop, and sets up the ‘Chicken Toss’, throwing Colin’s prop at Steve’s bin prop, and missing.
Clive: “Hang on, you’ve broken into their props!”
Then, Ryan, catching on, uses HIS prop suggestion to keep Greg’s going, and makes it in. Everyone cheers. Hooray for unity!

Again, a pretty fun Props round, as Ryan and Colin’s suggestions were the weirder, and funnier, of the bunch.

Party Quirks: Greg hosts
Steve: prisoner on a rooftop protest
Colin: has a stomach full of fireworks
Ryan: someone’s holiday photos

Steve, immediately: “I’m not coming down til we get better food than that” [pointing to Greg’s table]

Colin’s physicality is great here, even launching a firework out of his butt
Greg: “Colin, please, I just had the place decorated!”

Clive essentially gives Greg Ryan’s, and it’s a smaller, weaker PQ playing, but it’s definitely got charm to it.

Sports Commentators: Steve and Greg comment on Ryan and Colin, rival businessmen on a plane next to each other

This one’s, like most playings of this game, hit or miss, but it has some moments: Ryan farting in the oxygen mask, and shoving it in Colin’s face; Colin responding by inflating the life-vest inside Ryan, with Ryan doing great physicality there; The super-slow-mo recap of the last bit, with Ryan’s look of absolute terror.

Again, amusing enough, but this game never completely works for me.

Hoedown: Weddings

Clive: “…Weddings? Weddings make you sick? How many have you had?”

Clive: “And we start with you, Steve, as we can tell by the panic-stricken look on your face…”

Steve: “My brother got married…his name is, er, Gromit
And when he walked down the aisle, I began to vomit!”
Unfortunately, he screws up the punchline, and shrugs to Clive. He motions to Greg, still standing still, who then breaks.
Greg: “Is that it, then?”

Greg talks of loving marriages, but then growing tired of it after a few years: “it made me really sick, because my name is Lady Di.”
Of course, the topical reference…what, a month before the tragedy?

Colin, before he starts, looks over shrewdly at Greg, before starting, in his usual yell-singing:
“I HATE WEDDINGS. THEY MAKE ME REALLY SICK.
JUST LOOKING AT THEM…MAKES ME GO ‘ICK ICK’.
I REALLY JUST HATE THEM, I HATE THEM ALL THE TIME
YOU KNOW WHAT I HATE MOST OF ALL? GREG JUST TOOK MY RHYME!”
Fantastic. Greg dances jovially at this.

The credit reading is great, as it features Ryan in his usual french babbling, which is always welcome.

Overall: I was surprised by this one. I mean, quality wise it was all over the place, with some great games and some empty ones, but…I wasn’t expecting this one to be THIS GOOD. Everybody knows Superheroes for the banter, and Props for the Chicken Toss, Film and Theatre Styles was electric, Moving People was pants-wettingly funny, and they even got a nice Hoedown out of the proceedings. Yes, Steve still brings up the rear of this group, but he’s still very funny, and had great moments throughout, but this was still the Americans’ show: Greg was great at keeping games going, and had a few over-exposure-y moments tonight (as is apparently custom this series), Colin was great throughout, and Ryan had the most standout moments, especially after Moving People.

Show Winners: Ryan and Colin
Best Performer: Ryan. He barely edges out the other two North Americans, but he still was solid throughout
Worst Performer: Steve. Just had the most faux-pas on the night
Best Game: Moving People. As much as I love Film and Theatre Styles, Moving People made me laugh HARD. And there was so much effort put in.
Worst Game: Sports Commentators. Not a lot to this one.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S09E04, or Bernstein, there could be a musical in this…

At this point in Series 9, directed solely towards American audiences, we come across something…Quite Interesting indeed.

As I said before, every episode of Series 9 only features one or less UK performer, and usually someone like Steve Frost, Rory Bremner or Josie Lawrence, pre-established repertory players who can let the Americans do the heavy lifting. Except for this one. Episode 4. Josie Lawrence is here, but…so is someone who hasn’t appeared since Series 1 of the show, and knows a vastly different Whose Line than the one he’s about to guest on. And that is Stephen Fry.

Yeah. Dan and Mark thought that an episode featuring the SINGLE MOST BRITISH PERSON on the planet would help the appeal on Comedy Central. Now, granted…in 1997, Stephen Fry was semi-relevant in America, having appeared in the 1994 Meg Ryan rom-com IQ (with an American accent, no less), as well as starring in that year’s stateside Oscar-bait-y film…about a guy named Oscar (’97’s ‘Wilde’). I can only imagine people in the US knew who Stephen Fry was in 1997, but…were these people watching Comedy Central? Were these people watching Whose Line?

So, this episode is one of the last two legitimately mix UK dynamic and US dynamic; Stephen and Josie did scenes together back in the day, and are STILL very friendly; Ryan and Colin are the strongest duo the show’s ever seen. And they’re about to, essentially, do battle.

People in the audience are cheering loudly after intros, and Clive remarks: “Well, we’ve got a very lively audience tonight…for a very dull set of improvisers-”
CALL STEPHEN FRY DULL ONE MORE TIME, ANDERSON. I DARE YOU. I DOUBLE DARE YOU.

Questions Only: All four are in Rome

Because, with Stephen Fry on the bill, of course they are.

Stephen flocks to the step for the top of the game, only for Clive to inform him that he’s starting.
Josie: “Come on, darling-”
Stephen: “Oh, I’m terribly sorry-”
Clive: “You’ve been away too long, I see..”

Stephen, of course, starts his scene speaking in Latin.
Josie, eventually: “Are you talking Latin or just taking the piss?”

Stephen also rolls out an unbleeped ‘FUCK’ on his first buzz-out of the day. It’s hidden under the buzz, but…at this specific taping, there’d be a less-hidden expletive, courtesy of Stephen, which we’ll get to. Two, even.

Ryan: “Did you order a pizza?”
Colin: “DON’T YOU HAVE THE FOOD OF THE GODS?”
Ryan, with an underrated line: “What did you order?”
Colin: “Don’t you have some grapes?”
Ryan: “…can you handle pepperoni?”
Colin: “What’s a pepperoni?”
Ryan: “……I DON’T KN-”
BUZZ

Josie: “Would you like a statue erected to you?” [eyebrow raise]
Ryan: “…what do you mean by erected?”

This scene is very silly, and not taken seriously by the performers, so when Colin comes down and asks Ryan “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH MY FAMILY”, it’s the kind of jarring turn that gets Clive laughing immediately.
Ryan: “That was YOUR family?”
Colin: “WHOSE FAMILY WOULD IT BE?”

After Clive buzzes both our, Josie asks Stephen: “Are you going to the Parthenon tonight?”
Stephen then has a conundrum. He KNOWS the Parthenon is not in Rome. The Parthenon is in Athens. Because THEY SAY OF THE ACROPOLIS WHERE THE PARTHENON IS…you know the rest. But he’s conflicted, because he can either ‘yes-and’ Josie’s question, or he can say, with reality, that the Parthenon is actually in Athens. And that’s what he goes with, after a second, as Clive has already buzzed out Stephen for taking too long.
Stephen: “Couldn’t you explain that the Parthenon’s in Athens?”
And Stephen leaves, as Josie cringes onstage.

Josie, to Ryan now: “IS the Parthenon in Athens?”
Ryan, deadpan: “Would you like to buy a map?”
BUZZZZ

A really energetic QO round, even if Stephen took a bit of a learning curve, Josie forgot where the Parthenon was (and who she was talking to), and the scenes only really went back-and-forth when Colin and Ryan were up together.

Film and Theatre Styles: Josie and Stephen (hijacker and pilot)

Thank god, we see Stephen and Josie play this. No offense to Ryan and Colin, but they’ve gotten enough duo showcases lately.

Clive, fielding suggestions: “BILL AND BEN? CAN WE JUST UP THE ANTE A BIT HERE?”
Audience member: “Prisoner in Cell Block 8”
Clive: “Yes, an intellectual, thank goodness for that…”

I have a feeling that Stephen knew about the ‘twist’ from the getgo, as he has this confused expression as Josie enters, wanting to have a look at the ‘cock pit’, before finally going “…well, alright.” He had to have known what he was doing.

Stephen, “please, sit down on the, uhm-”
Josie: “On the-”
Stephen: “Yes, on the co-pilot there…”
HA

Josie finally pulls up a gun, and threatens to shoot Stephen if he doesn’t take her to Cuba.
Stephen: “…..you know this is a simulator, don’t you?”
AND THAT’S PERFECT. The audience even applauds this.

Prisoner in Cell Block 8
Stephen: “That’s alright, everybody’s gotta have a first time, and usually I’m the bitch that gives it to ’em…”

Stephen’s Aussie accent in this is pretty damn great, especially his calculated pauses in his sentences, ending in “and THEN come to me and allow me to insert STRANGE things inSIDE ya.”

Clive: “Bill and Ben”
Stephen: [breaks]
Josie: [says a bit in Flobidob]
Stephen: “Oh, I was thinking of Bill Clinton and Tony Benn, I’m sorry”
HA

At the start of World War II movie, he forgets who he is in the scene, and that he’s not the hijacker, so he continues flying the plane, now a war-style plane. It’s funny that he started this show as the competent scene partner, and now HE’S the Peter Cook.

Josie does a very nice proper accent while Stephen has goggle-hands and is doing the plane noise.
Josie, after a bit too much of this: “…will you PLEASE stop going off?”
BUZZ
Stephen: “I’m sorry, it’s the damn Gestapo, they fixed my fingers to my eyes”
BUZZ

Clive: “American soap opera, DIN-asty, Dynasty sort of thing”
Stephen: ‘Which?”
[the audience laughs at this]
Stephen: “I do a ‘DINasty, and I do a Dynasty!”
Clive: “Do both, and we’ll try to tell, Stephen…”
Stephen: “Alright, you have to say which one, whether Dynasty or DINasty-”
Clive: “DINasty”
Stephen: “…right.”
beat]
Stephen: “…that’s the one I can’t do…”

Stephen and Josie’s American accents are surprisingly great. Josie’s taking several breaths between words, and doing a GREAT soap opera performance.

Stephen, in order to properly throttle Josie, takes the stuffing out of her shoulders (or bra, I dunno), and yells “YOU’RE A COLBY, GODDAMMIT!”, the big cut-to-commercial line. And, fittingly, Clive buzzes.

A very funny round, even if, like late-era Tony and Paul rounds, it didn’t always stay in the realm of improv. Josie was fantastic, though.

Sound Effects: Colin looks for thrills at the fairground, Ryan does the SFX

Ryan starts by doing a tired, trumpety circus theme from afar. Already off to a nice start.

Colin has a great character trait here: he gets to the shooting range, fires, there’s a slight pop, and Colin looks around, disappointed. He’s an adrenaline junkie, he wanted a louder bang. He tries another one, same pop. He gets to a third. LOUD BANG. He smiles.

After the third bang, he looks over in fear. That is ALL it takes to show what happened. It’s masterful.

This one also has the visual of Colin grabbing an elephant by the trunk and throwing it off into the distance….only for it to land on someone else.

Then, of course, Colin going on a roller coaster. He absolutely NAILS the physicality, and the panicked expression the further and further up he goes.

A weaker ending, but still a very fun SFX round. Stephen was getting a kick out of it in the back.

Number of Words: Romeo and Juliet
Ryan: Romeo (3 words)
Josie: Juliet (4 words)
Colin: Juliet’s mother (2 words)
Stephen: Juliet’s father (6 words)

Again, note the classy scene description for Stephen

The scene is great from the getgo, and surprisingly dramatic. Stephen, though, is counting on his fingers, as he reprimands Josie: “ONCE! A! CAPULET! ALWAYS! A! CAPULET!”
Josie, as the applause for that dies down: “Ow, my right boob!”
Ryan: “My favorite one!”

Colin, entering: “WHAT THE.”
That’s literally all you need in this game.

Ryan, bringing back his Agatha Christie voice from S7: “I…..love…….Juliet”

As Stephen has more trouble counting
Josie: “I WILL KILL MYSELF!”
Stephen, finding an easy out: “…Kill yourself? Kill yourself? KILL YOURSELF?”

As Ryan and Josie ready the poison
Stephen: “I’M GOING TO COUNT TO SIX.”
Absolutely genius.
Stephen: “:ONE….TWO….THREE…”
Josie drinks the poison
Stephen: “….Oh my god.”

Josie, at a quiet moment: “….I feel like shit.”

Then, as Josie’s dying, Stephen, forgetting what game he’s in, calls out to someone offscreen “BERNSTEIN, there could be a musical in this!”

An extraordinarily silly scene: Ryan, Juliet and Colin had a firm grasp of the source material, and translated it well to the game. Stephen was just having fun. And I don’t blame him. As a true Shakespeare scholar, he must know that deep down, Romeo and Juliet isn’t a great play, so maybe he’s more familiar with the histories. I dunno, that’s my next QI to watch.

Props: Colin and Ryan vs. Josie and Stephen

Stephen, holding the prop, really a big pool noodle: “Uh, Miss Street-Porter, your floss has arrived!”
And they thought THAT would go over with the American audiences? If people barely knew who Stephen was over here, they most certainly didn’t know who Janet Street-Porter was.

Ryan uses the prop as a pterodactyl wings, as Colin just does his dinosaur impression, which certainly cracks up Clive.

Screen Shot 2018-08-04 at 9.47.07 PM.pngColin: “….Santa, we’re going on strike.”
Ryan, kinda amazed: “WHAT??”

Let’s Make a Date: Josie guesses
Stephen: a trendy vicar
Colin: Hates everything English
Ryan: eating a tremendously hot curry

A classic.

Josie: “Number One?”
Stephen, immediately: ‘Dick, call me Dick.”

Stephen, on what he’d invent: “I’d, uh invent…a kind of sharing…a sort of…outreach, if you like…MOST PEOPLE DON’T….a kind of sharing outreach…I think is what we really need, don’t you?”
Absolutely perfect. Stephen’s real-world detesting of religion certainly aides this.

Colin: “GOD. EVERYTHING IS SO *OLD* HERE.”

Ryan nails this. Just by how agape his mouth is. And then his stomach starts rumbling, and he has this look of absolute panic.

Josie, already knowing exactly who Stephen is: “Could you explain to me a bit about the current book you’re reading, and why you like it?”
Stephen: “…The book I’m reading is a book I always read…at the moment, uh…I’ve got quite far into it, I don’t want to give much away…but it’s about a friend of mine, and I think someone who could become a friend of yours…he’s a sharing kinda guy. IN A LOT OF WAYS HE’S A BIT LIKE A GANGSTA RAPPER IN A STRANGE WAY…he’s out there ON THE STREETS…WITH THE KIDS……SHOOTING UP…but he shoots up with love!”
Josie: “Aww, that’s nice.”
Stephen, ascending in pitch: ‘Yep…YEP…*YEP*”

Colin: “Everyone drinks tea in those books. WHAT IS IT WITH TEA? I’VE PASSED STRONGER URINE SAMPLES THAN THAT!”

Josie, guessing: “I think Colin’s just bein’ himself…”

Josie: “And, uh, Ryan’s just eaten something very hot and pooed himself?”
Ryan: [grimaces]
Clive: “That’s it!”
Ryan, heading back to the seats: “I POOED MYSELF?”

A very strong game; obviously I loved Stephen’s quirk, but everyone had really nice moments.

Newsflash: Josie and Ryan in the studio, Stephen in the field, in front of a King Kong movie

Stephen as the centerpiece of this game does make me a bit nervous, knowing how Rory did.

Stephen’s surprisingly a natural at this game, but the audience is mostly just laughing at the ridiculousness of the King Kong film behind him.

Ryan: “Stephen, we’re worried about your safety, do you think you’re too close?”
Stephen:
Screen Shot 2018-08-04 at 10.00.28 PM.png
“…I don’t feel too close…”
Screen Shot 2018-08-04 at 10.00.35 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-08-04 at 10.01.05 PM.png
Perfect. Absolutely perfect.

Josie: “Is the man in the hand frightened?”
Stephen: “….is the MAN…IN the HAND…FRIGHTENED?”
Of course, at that point, the footage has him directly in the footpath of Kong, so Ryan and Josie start panicking again.

Ryan: “Stephen, do you have any form of protection with you?”
Stephen: “I’m afraid I don’t…I just have a BBC press pass…do you think that’ll help?”

Stephen guesses correctly, but after Clive kids him for ‘monkeying around’. Perfectly fine playing, and with a ton of really convenient moments of Stephen being in the right frame of shot at the right time.

Hoedown: Marital Problems

THE SECOND CLIVE ANNOUNCES THIS GAME:
Screen Shot 2018-08-04 at 10.05.33 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-08-04 at 10.05.45 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-08-04 at 10.06.08 PM.pngPoor Stephen.

Josie’s is kinda forgettable, and then we get to Stephen. If you’ve seen his Raps, you know how much he’s dreading this. He even looks at Richard, and applauds him for keeping on as Stephen stalls.

Stephen, finally, not in time: “Music and sex are very similar to me….I just can’t…make them.
Whatever I do, or whenever I try to, I always find that the best way is to fake them.
I’ve been to that, uh, Anne Somers shop, I’ve been in every branch…
But the only way I can REALLY get it off is, with, uh, Richard Vranch.”
HA. AND RICHARD GETS A KICK OUT OF THIS. Fantastic moment from Stephen.

Colin sings as a whale who keeps talking about old boyfriends, finishing with “well, how the hell can I compare to a guy named Moby Dick?” Very clever.

And Ryan’s is clever, but forgettable.

OVERALL: This show had no right to be this good. And yet…all four were on, every game was funny,  and despite contrasting GREATLY with the Comedy Central audience expectation, it may have been the last breath of old Whose Line coming to save the show one last time. Stephen Fry, despite his moments of befuddlement, was wonderful here; sure, he wasn’t at ‘womp some skull on that, bitch’ levels, but he was enjoying himself, and worked well with all three. Josie was her jovial self, and brought out the best in everyone. Ryan and Colin stuck mostly to the background, but were great in scenes; Ryan mastered games early on, and Colin had some late victories. There were several classic games here, and just a surreal-but-fantastic mood throughout. An unlikely pick for ‘best of the series’, but still a valid one.

Show Winner: Stephen
Best Performer: ….yeah, I’m going with Stephen Fry. He was a LAWFUL improviser, and he was a FUNNY improviser, and he meshed so well with the other three. This is how a master returns to his craft.
Worst Performer: I’m only going with Josie because she didn’t have as many standout moments.
Best Game: Let’s Make a Date. Just had the best moments from all four.
Worst Game: Hoedown was the most uneven, but Stephen and Colin save it.

Nevermind Watchdown: I14 (ICE), or ‘SEAAAAN’S ALIIIIIIVEEE!”

I know. It’s been a while. But I feel like now’s a good enough time to do another QI. Why not?

Besides, we have three more episodes left in what’s been described as the ‘Golden Age’ of QI, and I fear that things are going to go downhill once this series ends.

But…to quote one of tonight’s guests: “Oh, well…WHO WANTS TO LIVE FOREVER? AHAHAHAHAHA!”

That’s right, BRIAN BLESSED, one of the most beloved, yet one of the least subtle, actors in history, gets to be a guest on QI, the CHRIIIIISTMAAAAAAAAS Special no less, alongside Ross Noble and Sean Lock. One sad piece of business is that this is Sean’s last QI, as after this he’d swear off all other panel shows in order to focus on 8 out of 10 cats. The man will be missed, but hopefully he’ll finish strong.

Even the opening makes me laugh- Stephen, in introing Ross, uses his accent to say ‘Russ NuOBLE’. Ross gets a kick out of that. Stephen even intros Brian as ‘FATHER CHRISTMAS HIMSELF!’ And even from the getgo, Brian seems so happy to be here.

The buzzers even know what’s up. Sean’s and Ross’s are quaint little bells. Brian’s is A LOUD SET OF ORGAN CHIMES.

Ross, in bringing up the Nobody Knows cards, to Sean: “Could you, uh, could you just put that card there?”
Screen Shot 2017-10-05 at 2.42.54 PM.png
Ross: “It really IS the Riddler!”

On the first question, about where there’s the most rest days and most expensive Big Macs, Brian, offers a place in Canada where the “BIG MACS ARE BLOOOODY HUGE…and there’s lots of sex.”
Ross: “That would be the greatest voiceover ever. AND THEY’RE BLOODY BIG BIG MACS…”

Stephen: ‘Iceland has more Nobel Prize winners per capita than anywhere else on earth. D’you know how many that is?”
Alan: ‘FOURTEEN?”
Stephen: “No…”
Sean: “One.”
Stephen: “IS THE RIGHT ANSWER!”

Alan, on Iceland: “Doesn’t everybody live on the edge?”
Ross, taking this the wrong way: “What d’you mean?? ‘LET’S TAKE LOADS OF DRUGS! LET’S DRIVE AS FAST AS POSSIBLE!'”
Sean: “Living on the edge in Iceland is just going out in just your pants…”

Also, already Ross is having an amazing time, judging by his ridiculous Icelandic accent which he keeps bringing back.

Early observation- Ross, Sean and Alan are zooming at 500 miles per hour, collaborating…and Brian’s just taking his sweet time. He obviously can’t keep up with them, but he’s at least enjoying himself.

Ross tries to explain a ‘prawn ring’, which is just a circle of prawns, that nobody else seems to understand.
Ross: “You wanna get yourself a tiny sheepdog…and a tank.”
Sean: “You’d need a prawn dog. Not a sheepdog.”
Ross, not getting it: “…of COURSE, uh, what was I thinking-”
Alan, under them: “What is the icelandic equivalent of a sheepdog?”
Sean: “What are you TALKING ABOUT, ROSS? YOU’RE TALKING ABSOLUTE NONSENSE! A SHEEPDOG? FOR PRAWNS? YOU DON’T GET A SHEEPDOG, YOU GET A *PRAWNDOG* FOR PRAAAAAWNS!”
Ross: “That explains why, 1, I’ve lost that competition, and 2, I’ve been banned from Crofts!”

Brian’s not really collaborating with everyone, but right at the start of every question he’ll have an insanely inspired, and really funny, answer. I’ll give him that.

Alan, after Stephen explains the Genghis Khan- icelandic volcano connection: “So what do we have to pronounce?”
Stephen: “Now, THAT’S WHAT- how did you know I was going to ask that as a supplementary question?”
Alan: “…I thought you already did.”
Stephen: “Oh, did I already say it-”
Alan, realizing: “Well, that or I read it off the autocue…”

The whole panel takes turns trying to pronounce the Icelandic volcano. Alan comes closest. Ross’s is too silly. Brian BELTS IT OUT, MAKES IT SOUND NEARLY KLINGON.
Stephen: “…you may have set it off again, by doing that…”

Sean: “I think the umlaut changes things a bit, and I think they way you’re supposed to pronounce it is ‘….ETCH!..”

After Stephen gives the actual pronunciation.
Ross: “And is that translated as ‘Big Smokey Bastard?’
Alan: “Or ‘You Will Go By Ferry’?”

Screen Shot 2017-10-05 at 3.11.18 PM.pngStephen: “These are icelandic. What’dyou reckon they are?”
Alan: “….LEGS.”
Stephen: “Yeah. If I were to tell you that those are empty, does that help?”
Alan: “….HOLLOW LEGS.”
Ross: “Oh, are they Icelandic Cock Pants?”

This week’s Prop Interlude involves trying to pull two interled phonebooks apart. It works so well on Sean and Brian’s side that Sean falls out of his chair and onto Brian’s lap.
And then, Sean, as he emerges from under the desk, bellows, in honor of Brian, “SEAAANN’S ALLIIIIIIVEEEE!”

Stephen, to Sean: “How come your water hasn’t spilled?”
Sean: “It’s an old trick- yeah, me and Brian have been doing this trick for years…”

After 30 seconds of hysterical struggling, and throwing the phone books round with fury, Alan finally separates them.

Stephen, as another prop, hands the teams a sticky ‘lubed rod.’
Alan: “He’s been trying to get me to do this for YEARS…”
Sean: “Sorry, Stephen, but this contravenes my superinjunction…”
[Yeah, but Ian told me…]

And then, they do this Alaskan olympic sport…and Sean falls out of the chair YET AGAIN…

Alan, once again, gets the Nobody Knows bonus because he’s one of the few that remembers it exists.

Stephen explains the members of the expedition bringing all of these random things with them while under heavy lead poisioning
Sean: “I can imagine they went to open a really disappointing shop”

Stephen talks of Scott bringing a player-piano to the arctic, mostly because on his first expedition he’d brought a real one “only to discover that nobody on board could play”

Brian Blessed is capable of adding his own arctic knowledge to Stephen’s stories, in a doubly interesting way. As Stephen tells the story of Scott who raced to the South Pole, and Amundson of Norway who beat him to it, Blessed tells the addendum of how Amundson’s wife informed him of Scott’s death while Amundson was in the bathtub, to which he replied “he’s beaten me to it!”, and that in death he’d conquered the territory Amundsen had physically claimed. It’s a very interesting element.
Ross: “What he should have said was ‘can I have his piano?”

Stephen: “What happens when a penguin steps on a landmine?”
Alan: …I dare say nothing at all-”
Sean, being Sean: “IT FLIES!”
AHAHAHAHA

Stephen talks of whalers burning penguins for the oil, which frightens the audience but cracks up Ross
Ross: “‘CHUCK ANOTHER PENGUIN ON THE FIRE, WOULD YA?”
Sean: “That’s brilliant! ‘WHAT ARE YOU DOING?’ ‘I’ve just finished BURNING UP THESE PENGUINS SO I CAN BOIL THIS WHALE!’ THAT’S a job!”

Stephen, as with the rest of this series, let’s a special guest go on about his specialist subject; here, Brian is allowed to discuss Yetis, and the place of the abominable snowman, which, in being an arctic explorer, he knows quite a bit about.

Brian, in discussing with Stephen, brings up a ton of intriguing dialogue about yetis, and belief of such, and while it’s not funny and doesn’t involve the other players, it’s still very eye-opening, and I’m glad he’s on the program.

Stephen: “Why did the Spanish Duke of Alba invest in 7,000 pairs of ice skates?”
Sean: “Because he was a millipede.”
Oh, gosh, I’m gonna miss him on this show

Sean goes on a tangent about show-jumping. Dare I say it, but is Ross Noble really the voice of reason on this panel?

Stephen talks of the Spanish buying all the ice-skates for an ice war, just to be safe.
Ross: “THERE IS a Saturday Night program I would watch. It’s Celebrity WAR ON ICE.”
Alan: “Here come the Spanish, they’ve never skated before! WHOOPS! Look out, Manuel, it’s cold!”

Stephen has everyone a cup of ice cream, and asks them to give tasting notes.

Stephen reveals that it’s fox testicle ice cream. Alan sickly scoops one more bite. Ross feverishly shovels more in.
Ross: “Oh, I KNEW IT! I’m a SLAVE to a fox’s bollock, me…”
Stephen: “Well I’m playing with words here, because it’s not ACTUALLY from the testicles of a fox-”
Ross: “PFFFF- AWWWW, WHAT??”

Brian gets a klaxon (?????) for saying igloos are made from blue ice.
Alan: “GLUE!”
Stephen: “Nice thought”
Alan: “Is it actually an apple glue, and it actually is…”
Stephen, getting it: “…iGlue…”

Stephen: “Now, what d’you say to a husky to make it go?”
Panel: “…..”

Brian talks about being in Mongolia and having just a giant wolf in his tent. “It adored me, and I gave it mars bars and such…”

He talks about getting back to his tent with the dog after a hike, and goes “…you have to understand, ladies and gentlemen, even at my age, in my 70s, I’M A RANDY BASTARD. AND I WAS MISSING MY WIFE, HORRIBLY. SO I TOOK THIS GREAT BIG BLOODY WOLF…”
Eventually, this story has a happy ending; Brian just sings a love song to him, and gives a wholesome kiss to the wolf. No penetration, thankfully.
Sean: “You know how earlier you said you don’t suffer from altitude sickness? I THINK YA DO…”
Ross: “I think we’ve worked out- I think we know why Brian’s huskies were goin’ so fast. ‘HEY, HEY! QUICK, HE’S GAINING ON US!”

Another question, on a Loch Ness Monster fake, appeals to Ross, as he’s read up on the legend, and he’s right there with Stephen’s questions on a reporter out to get revenge
Ross: “Ah, yes, he was su- shut up, I know something!”

As he tells this story, Stephen squints a bit, as he’s gotten some details wrong. As Stephen’s about to chime in, Ross goes “If you say no, I’ll punch you in the face!”

For the finale, Stephen gives everyone specific bells, and expects them all to do a bell rendition of ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’, without disaster.
Stephen is essentially stringing the four of them along, but it sort of works.

Sean loses his last show, which is sad but characteristic. ALAN WINS! THAT’S ODD!

Overall: A delightfully fun and well-balanced Christmas show. Obviously Brian wasn’t up to the speed of the other three, but he gave a great deal of information himself, and it was good enough just to have Brian Blessed on QI; the others were also great at responding to his stories, especially the wolf one. Sean was nice here, but this was essentially a passing of the torch to Ross Noble, who was doing his weird, panel-carrying schtick better than he was. Ross is great not only at connecting, but at weird jokes; Sean, also good at both, could battle no longer.

MVP: Ross
Best Guest: Ross
Show Winner: Alan
Best QI Fact: ice skates for the war
Best Runner: Icelandic accent

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S09E03, or Clive, What Are You Doing in My Closet?

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:

Screen Shot 2018-07-06 at 6.56.35 PM.pngThis…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.
BUZZZZ
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: “NOTICE?”
BUZZ
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?”
BUZZ
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!”
Mike: “GA-RY?”
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.”
BUZZ

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.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S09E02, or Not Done With That Banana?

So, we covered Episode 1, and while a bit different, it was still normal for WL, especially considering we’d just gotten off of Series 8. Now…we move to Episode 2, and now things begin to get a little weirder.

This is another Greg-Colin-Ryan, as most of the weirder ones this series are, but the fourth seater is Karen Maruyama, one of the first attempts to breed new blood from North American improv theaters. Karen came from the Groundlings in Los Angeles, and this would NOT be the last time the show would draw from that well (roughly half of ‘The Black Version” has appeared on Whose Line at least once). Karen is also famous for keeping many of her Groundlings connections to this day–she’s still a friend of Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy, who cast her in a small role in this year’s Life of the Party. Her best known mainstream role is playing a housekeeper in The Campaign, and she steals every scene she’s in.

Karen would end up being one of the flagship female performers of the early US run, and she often is forgotten about in terms of her contribution to the show. Let’s see how she stacks up to the other three titans of improvisation.

Superheroes: Perishing Elastic (and Painful Nipple Erections)
Greg: Muscle Zimmer Man
Ryan: Seductive Eating Man
Colin: Incoherent Boy
Karen: Shampoo Commercial Woman

In the annals of Greg-Clive banter, one instance reigns supreme. And it might be this very one.

Clive: “Mr. Muscle! That’s not bad. Can we combine that with a little sort of humor as well?”

Clive: “And what is the problem he’s solving?”
Audience member, matter-of-factly: “..Painful nipple erections.”
Clive, shaking his head, turns right to the guy that said it. AS DOES THE ENTIRE PANEL. GREG LITERALLY WALKS OVER AND LOOKS AT HIM.
Greg: “That can’t be right!”
Clive: “Painful nipple erections may be YOUR problem, but it’s scarcely…a worldwide problem. I’ll see you afterwards…hell, I can see you from here. I wondered what was nudging me in the back while I was, ANYWAY-”

Greg is confused by ‘perishing elastic’
Clive, taking the wrong part of that: “Elastic is a substance we have over here, it stretches…and things fall down, and stop.”
Greg, having just about enough of this over the last 7 years: “…when’s it gonna stop, huh? The aggression?”
Clive, without even batting an eye: “When are you gonna give us our colonies back?”
As the audience applauds this, Greg nods.

Clive, trying to get on with it: “So you’re Mr. Muscle, Mr. Zimmer Man-”
Greg, still not done: “YOUR colonies…”
Clive: “And there’s perishing elastic-”
Greg, to the camera: “CLIVE’S colonies.”

Greg: “We call zimmer frames walkers. Just for our American friends.”
Clive: “Oh, okay. They’re crisps over here. And you’re just one letter away from what we call you…”
ANOTHER POINT TO CLIVE.

Greg: “My god, my strength is so enormous that I always crush this zimmer frame. Here, I’ll throw it at the prat with the bald head.”

Ryan: “Sorry I’m late, I was bungee jumpin’ and got stuck.”

Greg takes about 5 extra seconds to come up with ‘Seductive Eating Man’.
Ryan, without batting an eye: “Banana?”

Colin, entering: “Sorry I’m late, but I wasn’t on time.”
Ryan, still deepthroating the banana: “Thank god you’re here Incoherent Boy”
Colin: “……MONKEY LUKE.”
[Gee, I wonder where THAT came from. She goes by Monkey Kinley now, for the record, but I digress]

Karen, entering and ALREADY CEMENTING HER STATUS ON THE SHOW: “Sorry I’m late, I had a PAINFUL nipple erection.”
AND THE PLACE GOES WILD

Karen not only nails her quirk, and has enough asides to the camera, but, and this is a rarity for the UK version, she actually finds a solution to the crisis, instead of just leaving. She makes a proactive choice, and solves the problem. This is proof that the Groundlings actually new a thing or two about objective-based improv.

Colin stands confusedly about
Greg: “It’s time for you to go now! Or as you say, BLING BLANG, POBOLOLOBLA!”
Colin nods and leaves

Ryan remains, still deepthroating the SAME EXACT BANANA
Greg, seeing this: “….not done with that banana?”
Ryan: “Yeah.”

Then, as Ryan exits, “to go by some kiwifruit”, he literally moonwalks to the step while still deepthroating the banana. It’s fantastic

A pretty masterful Superheroes playing, as it’s one of the few that satisfies the complete specifications of the game, as well as having 4 really funny Superheroes, some banter, and an actual good solution.

Let’s Make a Date: Greg chooses
Karen: a call girl
Colin: first-time nudist
Ryan: thinks Greg’s the ugliest woman in the world

Clive, explaining the game: “And this could be really fun, or it could just provide Greg with a social life at last.”

Karen goes one step further with her quirk and becomes a Thai call girl, the sleaziest, ending her first round with a ‘i love you hard and long’
Greg: “…well, that answers my first question.”

Greg: “Do you believe in sleeping together on the first date?”
Ryan: “…not without a bag over your head?”
Ryan slowly brings up a ‘sign of the cross’ with his finger

Greg: “You sound very nice and accommodating”
Karen: “Mmmhm, for 5 dollar I treat you real nice”
Greg: “………..I LIKE SHOPPING. If we were gonna go shopping where would you take me?”
Karen: “I would take you to Sporting Good store, where we would buy some ping pong balls and I could keep you up ALLLLL NIIIIIGHT.”
Dear god, why don’t people remember her more? She’s doing great so far

Greg: “CONTESTANT NUMBER TWOOOOOOO”
Colin: “Are these seats vinyl???”
Colin’s physicality in adjusting himself is hysterical, as he’s trying not to show anything. Clive’s loving that

Greg: “Number 3, I love boxing, do you?”
Ryan: “…uhh, it’s obvious YOU do…”

Clive: “And number 3 is?”
Greg: “…A BIG JERK is what he is-”
Clive: “Yes, but who is he pretending to be?”
[FOR SHAME?? Ryan’s one of the nice ones!]

Greg only gets Karen, but it’s still a nice enough version of the game. All three quirks worked really well, and I loved Colin’s shuffling around and nervousness.

World’s Worst- Chat-up Line

Karen: “These implants are biodegradable…”

Colin takes a few seconds before going: “…you know I have wooden legs, and I know how to get rid of splinters.”
As the audience gets it, he has this confused expression, as if he has no idea how he came up with that one.

Ryan: “Sure I like to have sex, but it’s hard to find four or five hours during the day.”
Clive: “…That’s a GOOD line!”

Colin: “….Wanna hear a Hoedown?”
HAHAHAHAHAHA
Greg loves that one

Karen: “You look just like my dad…”
Greg: “So, you’re the Duchess of York. D’you wanna go to an all-you-can-eat place?”

Dead Bodies: Ryan and Karen are a boyfriend and girlfriend at the beach; Greg is a muscular rival. Colin moves them all.

Oh lord, this game returns…

This one starts innocently enough. However, eventually Colin realizes that in order for Ryan to successfully apply suntan lotion to Karen, he needs to move her closer, so he tips her chair over so she’s right on Ryan. Thankfully, this is the playing where Karen’s chair stays on the ground.

Of course, Colin slumps Karen over Ryan’s lap, which leads to an easy visual.

Colin, as Ryan: “How’s that?”
Colin, as Karen on Ryan’s lap: “MPHHMSPPHHMMM”
Ryan: [breaks]

Colin’s next trick is standing Greg up, and then going back over to Ryan and Karen without letting Greg fall. So, as Colin operates Karen, Greg just leans on Colin’s back

Colin, as Karen: “Oh, no, it’s the bully! It’s the beach bully! Stand up for me.”
Colin, as Ryan, with Greg on his back: “…actually I think I’ll sit for a while.”

Colin realizes there should be some sort of conclusion, so Colin, not even moving Ryan’s mouth as much as his bottom lip, goes “…ALRIGHT…I AM GOING TO JUMP UP…TO A HEIGHT OF SIX FEET…GO COMPLETELY HORIZONTAL…AND THEN KICK YOU INTO YESTERDAY, MISTER.”
Colin, realizing the better way of ending this scene, as Greg: “….oh, I’m scared.”
He then shuffles Greg offstage
BUZZ

A quainter, simpler, and slightly less funny Dead Bodies, made great though by Colin’s force of will

Mission Impossible – Greg gives Ryan and Colin a mission to catch hairy caterpillars.

Ah yes. And now we follow the unmistakably hilarious 9×01 playing

Greg, in the intro, is stumbling over a few words, and making some gaffes. He ends with “this…mission will self destruct before this tape makes sense.”
[Audience laughter]
Greg: “BOOM!”

Ryan: “Look, I just want you to know- if I don’t make it back, I want you to have my thong.”

Colin, with some plot convenience: “MY GOD, LOOK! THE HAIRY CATERPILLAR FARM!”
Ryan shakes his head
Colin: “D’YA THINK??”
Ryan: “I hope there’s not admission, I’m broke”
Clive’s cackling at this

Colin and Ryan brainstorm ways to keep the caterpillars
Colin: “I have a better idea. We put one on my head, make it look like hair.”
Screen Shot 2018-07-05 at 5.03.07 PM.png

Colin: “You better go get it?”
Ryan: “Why me??”
Colin: “It’s your last mission! If you die…who cares?”

Ryan grabs the huge caterpillar, and puts it on Colin’s head, when he just starts moving his head around aimlessly, carrying the weight. Then, Ryan holds a mirror up in front of his head and starts combing it.

Ryan, taking after Colin, tries to pull the whole ‘the caterpillar’s ticking’ gag, and throws it off to the side.
[….]
Ryan: “…it didn’t explode, he must have just had a watch on.”
HAAA

Colin ends the scene by doing the ‘Hairy Caterpillar Mating Dance’, which lures them all out of the tree. It’s a fantastic visual, one that Clive can’t help but end on.

Like Dead Bodies, this game paled in comparison to the last playing, but was still a lot of fun, and had some nice moments.

Party Quirks – Greg is the host. His guests are Karen (infomercial for exercise equipment), Colin (keeps waking up during an operation), and Ryan (a dog in a car).

Clive: “I presume the party’s in full swing?”
Greg: “Yes it is, it’s a ‘come as Colin doing a dinosaur’ party.”
[Greg proceeds to do his best impression of Colin’s dinosaur impression. Colin even nods in approval.”]
Clive: “Well, let’s hope he doesn’t. Colin’s very good at doing a dinosaur, unlike, say, you.”
Greg, once again not taking this shit: “…You know I could sit in the chair and smart off, and you could get your butt up here and work!”
Clive, as he rings the doorbell: “You oughta get a better agent”
Greg goes and opens the door, and then closes it, looking right at Clive, going “Oh, I can hold this door closed as long as you have quips.”
The audience applauds this. Greg’s about to open it, and go ‘but I won’t!’
Clive: “What are you hoping to do?? Wear my finger out???? I’ve got loads of practice with this finger!”

Karen’s imitable energy is worthy of attention, as she’s using a strained voice and challenging Greg to hit her

Colin’s quirk cracks me up, especially as he keeps passing out at the exact right time.
Greg, seeing a golden opportunity: “Hey, Karen, look, your date’s here!”

Ryan, immediately:
Screen Shot 2018-07-05 at 5.15.03 PM.png

Greg makes the mistake of leaving all 3 onstage together, so the energetic Ryan and Karen and the screaming Colin all blur together

Greg does manage to get everyone, though Colin takes the longest, as his yelling of “I SHOULDN’T BE SEEING THIS” gives it away.

Hoedown: Giving Birth

Greg bobs his head to the opener verse, with an annoyed smirk, as if he’s heard a million of these fucking Hoedowns by now.

Greg: “But when I go into the room and have those little drugs,
I…FUCK MY ASS!”
The audience applauds, and Clive, chalking up another tally for himself, grins.
Greg: “You know…failing is one of the major parts of television…”
Clive: “yeeeeah, yeah…”

Greg does eventually get a workable one out, inverting his original verse to end with “so she doesn’t cry I hope she takes a lot of drugs.” Karen, Colin, and the audience cheer him on.

Karen: “Having a baby should be given to men
Cause, when I had mine I killed my OBGYN…”

Colin: “Just seeing this filled me with ecstasy
The thing I liked best was THANK GOD IT WASN’T ME!”

Ryan talks of being so excited about childbirth that he parks right at the woman’s feet
“They called the police on me, so I’m heading out the door
Apparently because she’s never seen me before!”
BRILLIANT! Great way to end the hoedown, and the show!

Once Clive calls that Greg, Ryan and Karen have won, Colin applauds, only to realize he’s the only one that didn’t win, and slumps back down.

Overall: Not quite as good as E1, but still fantastic, with coherency between all four, and a newcomer that showed only a few signs of immaturity. You can tell Karen was not only well versed in improv, but also studied up on the show after she got the audition, and made sure she was good at the short form rounds as well as the long form rounds she was more famous for in LA. She fit in well with the 3 regulars, especially Greg. Speaking of Greg, he, along with Colin, was one of the two MVPs of the show. Greg’s strength was less involving improv and more involving fucking with Clive, which he did THE ENTIRE SHOW. It was kinda amusing. Colin, though, made the best improv moves, the wackiest moments, and continued his recent streak. Ryan was kind of quiet this show, if we’re being honest.

Show Winners: Ryan, Karen and Greg
Best Performer: Colin Mochrie yet again, for using the best improv moves, especially in games where he wasn’t always the spotlight
Worst Performer: Ryan Stiles. He just had the least to do, imo, aside from the banana deepthroating
Best Game: Superheroes, for being the most well-balanced, and for having some incredible banter at the beginning.
Worst Game: Nothing really stood out as bad, so I’m going with World’s Worst because it had the least amount of funny stuff.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S09E01, or You’re Gonna Have To Go In There

Forgive the soonness of this one, but we’re about to enter an era of Whose Line that I’ve always wanted to go in depth about.

In my opinion, Whose Line in the UK had three turning points.

  1. Series 5, when Ryan Stiles becomes a regular and the last all-Brit show happens
  2. Series 7 Episode 6, Tony and Mike’s last show, when the reins are practically handed to Ryan and Colin for the rest of the run
  3. Series 9. When Whose Line UK becomes an American product

Around this time, Dan and co. were very aware of their show’s appeal on their American market. Their decision to expel Tony and Mike had to do just as much with Tony’s mental health than it did with appealing to American audience who were now seeing this show on Comedy Central, on an accessible time slot. This was Americans’ first venture into improv comedy, and Dan and Mark have the power to alter this viewpoint. So, in order to capitalize on this, they decided to not have bawdy humorists like Tony or overweight humorists like Mike on the show anymore. [I, as an American, would argue that obesity would still appeal to Americans, but I digress]

By the end of S8, Dan and Mark would realize that in order to appeal FURTHER to Comedy Central audiences, they would need to make their show even more American. So, the new British semi-regulars they started piping in in S7? Gone. Bye, Caroline and Niall. The remaining UK semi-regulars? This would be their last full season of appearances. The UK performers would be limited to one per show, with the exception of one…strange case…which I’m also excited to talk about.

In making the show more American, Dan and Mark would begin to open the floodgates in North America for the first time since Series 4, and start looking for talent at improv theatres like Second City and the Groundlings, as well as asking established stars and friends of performers if they’d like to come on (two iterations of which…did not work whatsoever). Hell, they even searched America for former US-hailing Whose Line performers who’d stopped attending tapings due to high plane ticket costs, or…being asked not to return due to a weight problem, and being especially bitter about it (and yes, we will get to that one as well.)

This series would feature a then-record of nineteen total episodes, with compilations in the middle of the series rather than the end. The majority of the tapings would be used for multiple episodes, rather than just stagnating the initial episodes first and then going to cobbling. This expanded series would be engineered solely towards being broadcast in America, in hopes of creating more of a market for the show, and for improv. Would it work? Well…sort of. There would be a market for improv, and there would be more American influence to this show, but it would be only partially thanks to Series 9 of Whose Line. As a matter of fact, the American influence of Dan and Mark’s Whose Line is it Anyway would be multiplied by a very famous friend and costar of Ryan’s, who would eventually get wind of the show. But we’ll get to him in Series 10.

That’s a lot of build-up for a Rory Bremner episode, I know. But it’s some stuff I’ve wanted to write about for a while. For better or for worse, Whose Line is it Anyway would feel a lot different during Series 9. And you’ll see the differences immediately when we get to Episode 1, featuring a familiar pairing of Greg-Rory-Colin-Ryan. Fun Fact: This is the only episode of Whose Line not easily accessible on YouTube, thanks to a game that we’ll get to later.

Clive mentions the ‘unchanging’ face of Greg Proops, though Greg looks a bit older and less hip than he’s ever been on the show, looking more like his US-era self.

Let’s Make a Date: Greg chooses
Rory – Princess Diana
Colin – 1940s gangster squealer,
Ryan – Hollywood star doing photo shoot.

For the first time in a while, the show would have a clear opener, in LMAD, which would carry into the US version.

Clive, explaining the game: “And if he gets it right, he goes out with them; and if he gets it wrong, he goes out with ME…”

[This episode aired a month and a half before Princess Diana’s death. Thank god they went with this episode first…]

Greg asks Colin what type of sauces he likes
Colin: “I like all sauces…all types of sauces…look for a sauce that holds Big Eddie DeLuca…”

Ryan’s is great. He just keeps doing more and more poses for the camera, looking more and more vain, as Greg tries to start asking questions.

Greg: “Where would you take me to eat?”
Rory: “…well, you’d have to buy a dress because I haven’t got any left…”

Colin: “Lemme tell ya something, don’t pick #3. That’s all. YA DIDN’T HEAR IT FROM ME. THAT’S ALL.”
Ryan: [poses]

Greg, in an echo of one of the last few LMADs, guesses Rory was the Duchess of York, which is a callback to when he thought Caroline as the Duchess of York was Princess Diana.

Not a bad one to start the series with, though we’re gonna see a lot of this game.

Animals: Colin a sheep being comforted by his mother (Greg) after a bad first date with the local stud ram (Ryan).

Colin and Greg are amused by the fact that the “local stud ram” is played, as Clive says, “for comedic purposes, by Ryan”

Colin, top of the scene, sheep voice: “Ohhh, I feel so dirty.”

Greg: “Why, I oughta Bo Peep you this instant-”
Ryan: “HEEEEYYY. She lied to me. Virgin wool my ass.”
Greg: “You said you wanted a sweater, and instead you got a screamer.”
DEAR GOD THAT LINE. Even RYAN stops and acknowledges that one

The second half of this scene is just hard to get through, though. And it goes on for a few beats too many, at which point Clive has to mercy-kill it.

Weird Newscasters:
Greg – anchor
Colin (co-anchor) – listening to a horse race on his walkman while the show’s on and his horse is actually winning,
Rory (sports presenter) – Bill Clinton,
Ryan (weatherman) – turning into a werewolf.

A debut of a game that’d eventually become a show opener itself

I will say, it is fairly nice to hear the old-school Weird Newscasters theme again, as it’d be carried over to the US version.

Greg: “We have got a hot and heavy weekend of sports ahead of us, don’t we, Bill?”
Rory: “Well, ah’ve got a hot and heavy weekend ahead, but that’s nuthin’ to do with sports.”

What’s interesting about this game here is how dynamic-based it is. Later, it’d become more about individual performance, but here the performances kind of depend on each other.

Ryan, of course, has the physicality to take this quirk, especially as a gradual transformation. Then, for the first time in Whose Line history, someone, Ryan, knocks over a background chair and cavorts about the back of the stage–this would be a staple of the US version.

The scene does end with Colin’s horse winning, and him yelling “SCREW YOU” at everyone in sight. Suddenly, as Colin, celebrates, FROM THE FAR CORNER OF THE STUDIO, OUT OF SIGHT, WE HEAR RYAN HOWLING. It’s the silliest goddamned detail, and I love it.

A pretty nice start to the game, as there’s more emphasis on weird dynamics then there is the general performance. I did like this very much, especially Ryan taking on the studio.

World’s Worst: Person to Present a Joy of Sex video

An all time classic

Greg: “I can think of so many that aren’t gonna get on the air.”
Greg steps down, then immediately gets back to where he was, going ‘no, no…”
Clive: “You don’t have to stick to members of your own family, Greg.”

Ryan: “There’s nothing better than sex with the loving words, and the soft touching, and the hard, driving power…..even better with a partner.”
Greg: “When a woman is approaching orgasm, at that time, it is appropriate to order a pizza, now-
BUZZ
Greg: “Now, you’re going to want to watch television after…”
BUZZ

Ryan, sing-songy: “IT…GOES…..IN. IT COMES OUT. IT GOES IN. IT COMES OUT.”
[I love that one]

Ryan: “Here’s a new move that a lot of people haven’t seen, it’s called…rotisserie.”
[Ryan jerks around in a circle]
BUZZ
Colin gives Ryan a very confused and disturbed look when he gets back. Ryan is already completely regretting that

Rory, as Loyd Grossman: “Okay, we’re gonna give you two minutes, to deliberate, coordinate and masturbate…”

Ryan: “Hi. I’m Suzie the Vagina.”
BUZZZZZ
Ryan, holding up a finger: “AND I LIKE TO BE TOUCHED-”
BUZZZZZZZZZ

A wonderful, wall-to-wall hysterical World’s Worst, just with Greg rebelling against Clive, Ryan just being his usual self, and…just so many good moments.

Props: Greg and Rory vs. Ryan and Colin

Screen Shot 2018-07-04 at 1.27.17 AM.png
Greg: “My god, they’ve buried President Lincoln.”

Screen Shot 2018-07-04 at 1.28.04 AM.png Ryan: “Now, this is your fourth try on it. We’re gonna need that #8 by Tuesday…”
A CLASSIC

Greg struggles to carry both props at once, and tries to do binoculars, which cracks up Rory

Screen Shot 2018-07-04 at 1.29.27 AM.pngRyan: “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who-”
Colin: “SHUT UP, YOU’RE UGLY!”

Greg, putting the props on the ground: “…I think we’ve arrived too late, the Titanic’s  going under…”

Screen Shot 2018-07-04 at 1.30.30 AM.pngColin: “Look, I’ll give you one more chance, but we need that Olympics sign by Tuesday”

Wall-to-wall fantastic round of props, possibly one of the more creative ones in years. Hell, even Rory had some original ones.

Newsflash: Ryan and Greg throw it to Rory, reporting in front of a nudist colony

So…this one doesn’t hold back. There are actual breasts in this clip Rory goes in front of. This explains why this game usually got plucked out of US broadcasts, and why this game’s never in the cut posted on YouTube. Hulu, though, is fine with nudity.

Rory, being Rory gets right into this one, not really giving Ryan and Greg an opportunity to lead in to him.

Ryan, obviously loving what he’s seeing: “Rory, if you wouldn’t mind just moving a bit to the right…”

Ryan: “Rory, are you going to become one of them, to slip into their ranks?”
Rory: “Well, all of that of course is very much up for grabs at the moment…and indeed, so am I.”

As Rory’s going on, Greg ALSO starts liking what he’s seeing
Greg: “COULD YOU MOVE TO YOUR LEFT, JUST BRIEFLY?”

Rory: “Well, I don’t know how you’re feeling, but I’m feeling an awful lot better standing over here.”
Greg: “Yes, so do we.”

Ryan: “Keep us abreast of the details as time goes on”
Greg, hammering it home: “YES, DON’T BE A BUM, GET BACK TO US…”

Rory does guess it, and while…I can see why that didn’t air, it’s still a very fun, very loose Newsflash, one very similar in Ryan and Colin’s questions to a US game of this.

Mission Impossible: Greg instructs Colin and Ryan to put on a pair of tights and wax a bikini line

THIS is where this game truly takes off, though

Clive amusingly gets both suggestions from the same woman–one LITERALLY AS THE GAME’S ABOUT TO START.

Greg: “…There’s a woman in Cheswick with no life whatsoever…she can’t get her tights on. Oh, and one more thing. There’s extra hair down there.”

Greg: “Remember to be careful. AND…..spit.”
Colin shuts off the tape.
Greg: “BOOM.”
Colin and Ryan look over, annoyed.
Greg: “Sorry, I didn’t tell you I was gonna destruct.”

Ryan: “One of us may not come back.”
Colin, recycling a great joke from last series: “I hope it’s you.”

For the first silly move of the game, Ryan realizes they’ll have to get into the chimney, so they both disguise as Santa and a reindeer, which is an INCREDIBLY goofy idea.

Ryan then begins to scale the chimney, and has Colin follow him, so they start going down together. Then:
Ryan: “UP. UP. UP. FIRE. FIRE. FIRE.”

Ryan gives Colin an insanely intricate action to do, involving not using his hands to get the tights, then says “good luck, I’ll read a book.”

Ryan, looking at the woman: “My God….HOW CAN SOMEONE LET SOMETHING LIKE THAT GET SO OUT OF CONTROL?”

Colin hands Ryan the machete, and he gives him an impressed but strained-laughter look. He then proceeds to cut through the hair like it’s the forest. It’s SO GENIUS. Greg even adds some jungle animal noises in the background.

Ryan: “Alright, I’m putting the wax on.”
Colin: “Got it.”
Ryan: “…..it’s gonna take a while with this candle…”

Ryan and Colin do a count of three and wax everything….and then realize they’ve taken her leg off as well, so they shoddily reattach it.

They get the tights on, and Colin realizes the scene has to end with some sort of conflict, so…he does this:
Colin: “Wait….d’you hear that ticking?”
Ryan: “Yeah?”
Colin: “MY GOD…SHE’S GONNA GO OFF!”
Ryan gives him…to date the most confused look he’s ever given Colin. He was NOT prepared for this concept. He even goes “…WHAT?”
Colin: “You’re gonna have to go in there.”
Ryan stifles an even bigger laugh, looking away from Colin. He cannot believe what’s happened.

Ryan: “Wait…I’ll use the two hunks of wax we’ve got as skis.”
Colin, subverting, with a chuckle: “I’m not following you.”
Ryan: “I don’t blame ya, I wouldn’t follow me either..”

Then, on the image of Ryan Stiles skiing into a hairy vagina, Clive ends the scene. At which point, Ryan looks directly at Colin, finally free to break, and goes “AW, GOD” as they head back to the seats.

Before “THE CAT”, this is the most insane this game would get, and the funniest. This game works best when Ryan and Colin throw each other for the weirdest loops, and here, when Colin made Ryan climb into a vagina to defuse a bomb, it was the weirdest loop in their history on the program. My god, that was so funny. Crude, yes, but funny.

Hoedown: World Leaders

Possibly due to the last game, Clive makes his own suggestion rather than going from the audience. This possibly makes it easier for Rory, who does a bunch of impressions in his.

Colin takes an extra verse to think about this, but he gets a funny verse out of it, ending on the line “the best thing about being a dictator is I look good in black.”

Ryan ends his on a very strained Golda Meir pun, but at least he looked ashamed of it.

Overall: It’s not everyday that we start a series with a 10 show, and yet here we are. Everyone was phenomenal, even the usually-tardier Rory Bremner, who carried a game or two tonight. Greg worked well WITH Ryan and Colin, rather than against his ideologies and on his own. The Ryan-Colin dynamic was insanely strong tonight, culminating in Mission Impossible, which made me laugh so hard. On top of that…SO MANY great games. Props and Worlds Worst were hits tonight, along with LMAD and Weird Newscasters, and obviously Mission Impossible. The most important part of this show was that it proved that even with OBVIOUS format changes, the show could still sail smoothly and make people laugh just the same as before. Would the format changes continue to let the show be itself? Only time will tell.

Show Winner: Rory
Best Performer: Colin Mochrie, for having the most original ideas, and owning the most games
Worst Performer: Rory Bremner, for bringing up the rear on a night where Colin, Ryan and Greg were all untouchable
Best Game: Mission Impossible. It was already classic even before Colin made Ryan ‘go in there’.
Worst Game: Hoedown. Just had the least to it.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S08E14, or The Teeth Right Off Her Gums

The final compilation from Series 8, an overall pretty great series if we’re being contemplative. Tonight’s show features everyone who has appeared on an episode this series, except for Caroline Quentin. That means Ardal O’Hanlon and Rory Bremner are on the bill tonight…for some reason.

Questions Only – Greg, Colin, Ryan, and Ardal are at a police station.
From: E7

Oh boy. Ardal O’Hanlon plays Questions. This will be fun.

I had a theory that this series’ Questions playings don’t really start until Ryan and Colin are onstage together, and that’s proved by Ryan, relieving a listless Greg, coming down and asking Colin “is there a reason you’re not wearing clothes?”

Ardal, once he relieves Colin, proves he’s alright at asking questions, but does have a bit more hesitation than necessary. Also, it feels less like he’s asking questions and more like he’s just spitting questions back in blank character.

Ardal, barely staying on task: “Would…the german shepherd have more than one leg?”
Ryan, confused both in AND out of character: “…don’t they all?”
Ardal: “…WHERE IN THE HELL D’YOU COME FROM?”

Colin: [reenters]
Ryan: “Back again?”
Colin: “Weren’t you here last time?”
Ryan: “…aren’t I the same guy?”

Clive ends this before Greg can redeem himself…further illustrating my theory.

Solid enough game, and Ardal did well enough for himself, but comes down to its Colin-Ryan interactions

Film and Theatre Styles: Ryan and Colin (roller coaster operators)
From: E7

The audience suggestions are bypassed, perhaps to hide something vulgar, as is the game intro. We’re just thrown into this one.

Colin, tugging on something: “…seems fine to me.”
Ryan: “But the lever’s stuck. What if people are going down the hill and you can’t stop ’em because the lever’s stuck like that, Jim?”
Colin: “IT MAKES IT MORE EXCITING!”

The Elvis Presley movie style is an excuse for Ryan to show the audience that his Elvis is actually pretty incredible. It gets some great audience response.

Pink Panther:
Colin, running around on a roller coaster cart, doing his best Peter Sellers impression: “How d’yeauoou stop dis?”
Ryan, as the cartoon panther, comes in and stops it completely. Mixing the Sellers and the cartoon opening. Ryan, who’s clearly seen more of the cartoons than the movies, shrugs, and starts licking himself.
BUZZ
Clive: “YOU’VE NEVER SEEN A PINK PANTHER MOVIE, HAVE YOU?”
Ryan: “No…”
Clive: “You thought it was an actual panther!”
Ryan: “YES!”

Quentin Tarantino:
Colin: “…you know what they call this ride in France?”
Ryan: “No, what do they call this ride in France?”
Colin: “…la puk-ee royale.”

We end before Ryan can prove HE’S seen Pulp Fiction, but all in all it’s a fun enough scene.

Let’s Make a Date – Greg is the bachelorette. The bachelors are Niall (a show jumping commentator), Colin (a hypochondriac), and Ryan (obsessed by erotica).
From: E5

Like the last game, this one gets RIGHT TO THE ACTION

Something about Niall’s show jumping voice makes me laugh. I don’t know what, though.

Ryan is great here, just riling off sexy details about bananas, and just keeping this stare locked in the same place.

This isn’t a very funny scene in terms of interplay, but all three are just really good at these quirks. It’s very simple in that regard, but I am definitely amused, especially by Niall and Ryan

Clive asks Greg if he has any ideas
Greg: “…I dunno, I’m still kinda dwelling on #3…”
Ryan: “Well think harder. HARDER.”
Then, right after that, we get a rare wide shot of the stage, and Ryan’s purring in relation to Greg at the other end of the stage. I dunno why, but it’s a really interesting cut.

Greg guesses the first two, then gets to Ryan
Greg: “…#3 is a Tory cabinet minister…”
Clive: “YES, CLOSE ENOUGH!”

Psychiatrist -Josie is the psychiatrist. Her patient is Ryan (in love with sheep in Jamaica).
From: E10

Clive: “There are no sheep in Jamaica, but I don’t care.”

As the reggae music kicks in, Ryan comes in with a vocal hook…one that he still uses in similar numbers to this day…matter of fact, he used it in an episode of the US Whose Line that aired just last night.

Ryan does come in with his usual “making love to a sheep is not baaaaaaad” pun, which…is at least welcome here.

Not much to it, but amusing enough

Secret – Ryan and Colin are priests. The secret is hidden in the confessional.
From: E1

Ryan: “Good morning”
Colin: “…Ah. Father Mother.”
HAAA
Ryan: “Father KnowsBest, how are you?”
The laughs are sustained on this one, but Clive gets a kick out of it

Colin, in finding the secret, thinks of the most ridiculous secret yet: “…these are secret plans to make you God!”
Ryan surprisingly handles this one well.
Colin: “YOU’RE GONNA START A NEW RELIGION!”
Ryan: “I’ve…lost the faith, brother. I’m not sure there is a God anymore, but when people see me, they’ll know there’s a god. They may not LIKE ME, but there I am!”

Ryan: “Don’t tell me you wouldn’t want to be God yourself. I’ve seen you…in your room…up against the wall…”
They both realize that Ryan’s sort of lost his indication there.
Ryan: “…whatever that means…”

Colin: “DOES NOT THE GOOD BOOK SAY, LET THERE BE ONE LORD, AND MAY HE BE THE ONE WHO IS NOT YOU?”
HA. This ties into his ‘own interpretation of the bible’ from Here he is now.

Ryan: “I have powers much like him, but a little different. Look, simple water- POOF. POTATO SALAD!”
Colin:
Screen Shot 2018-07-03 at 11.27.19 PM.png

Colin: “I’M BEGINNING TO DOUBT MY VERY SELF AND BELIEFS!”
Ryan: “Then doubt away! I shall part your hair!”

An absolutely phenomenal Secret, going the most ridiculous route they could have gone, and piping in some silly lines along the way. Yes, this one even tops the ‘ventriloquist dummy in the oven’ one.

Hats – Steve, Josie, Colin, and Ryan act out the world’s worst dating service video.
From: E10

Oh god, this one…

Screen Shot 2018-07-03 at 11.31.00 PM.pngRyan: “YOU’RE A PIECE OF METAL! I’M A PIECE OF METAL! When things get real hot [flips down helmet] we KINDA FUSE TOGETHER. YA SEE, OUR LEGS-”
BUZZ
Immediately as Clive buzzes, Ryan lifts the helmet back up and looks at Clive, betrayed

Then, after a few more suggestions, like Colin coming out in a space helmet and no words coming out, Ryan returns in that helmet
Ryan: “Okay, maybe ya didn’t understand what I was saying…YOU’RE A PIECE OF-”
BUZZ

Josie, with a police hat on: “OKAY, BOYS. SPREAD ‘EM.”
And she gives the most devilish look right after. She knows what she’s done.

Screen Shot 2018-07-03 at 11.34.17 PM.pngSteve: “…NOW THEN NOW THEN, I’D LIKE TO-”
BUZZ

Then, Ryan returns, just staring at the camera with the same helmet on
Ryan: “……alright, this is the last time I’m gonna explain this to you-”
BUZZZZZ

Narrate – Colin is a door-to-door salesman visiting housewife Ryan
From: E4

Ryan, because he can’t simply play a woman, feeds in the ‘3 days since the operation’ line. Then finally goes to the door.
Colin, upstage: “…something answered the door.”
The audience goes wild. Ryan grins and bears it.

Ryan, perhaps not too in-character, says “I couldn’t think of a thing to say to him.”
Ryan:
Screen Shot 2018-07-03 at 11.39.32 PM.png

Colin, upstage: “She gave me the kind of look that would give a lovesick yak second thoughts.”

Ryan: “He looked nervous. I thought, maybe at this point, that I should put some clothes on.”
Then, Ryan, as he dresses, realizing along the way what he’s set himself up for: “Pour yourself something tall…and long.”
Colin: “…I looked for a sledgehammer.” [shrug]
THAT made me laugh

A very nice Narrate scene, made great by some very silly choices across the board, made possible by some desperation- Ryan spent a lot of the scene trying not to let the scene die, and he made it pretty great.

Press Conference – Greg, Rory, and Ryan interview Colin, who spent six months living inside a whale.
From: E2

Finally they get the bright idea to let Colin be the base of one of these, and it’d work well enough to get him into Newsflash as well.

Greg: “What did you do to while away the time?”
Colin: “…well, of course, I decided to paint the house…”
That’s why Colin works in guessing games like these. He’ll legitimize the ridiculous, because it might fit with what the answer really is.

Rory even pipes in with a Loyd Grossman impression…I guess, because he can. Not the only time he’d do that impression on this show (it’s coming immediately next episode, no pun intended).

Greg asks Colin if Geppetto was worried about him, which Rory, getting a few seconds later, just laughs at.

Ryan: “Is sperm your favorite.”
Of course. The audience loves this one.

Definitely a better playing of this than usual, not to knock Caroline. They’d use Colin more often in these, including a very important playing coming very soon.

News Report: Pinocchio- Colin and Greg in the studio, Ardal and Ryan in the field
From: E7

AND WE FOLLOW THE WHALE ONE WITH PINOCCHIO? PERFECT!

Greg: “Good evening, I’m Long…Lovingly.”
Colin: “And I’m Randy as a Mink…but of course, my name is Jim.”
Greg: “Come to think of it, so am I.”

Ardal, who’s mostly been passive, sets Ryan up as a wooden girl who fucked Pinocchio. A bit too much there, Ardal.
Ryan, reacting like a pro: “He was okay, but the splinters are killing me.”

Colin: “What kind of lie d’you have to tell to satisfy that woman.”
And as the audience stews on that hell of a joke, we cut away

Helping Hands: Colin and Ryan (hands provided by Greg) are Arctic explorers.
From: E6

A lone game from E6 lands on the compilations? Proves how good that show was.

A slow start, but eventually Colin convinces Ryan to have a drink, and Greg plays with getting the flask to Ryan’s face, which is fun.

Colin does weave a bit of the story: Ryan has gone mad after this time in the arctic, and is making up rules about self-preservation. When Colin tries to call for help, he takes out a snowshoe and bats around a stuffed dog.
Ryan: “I thought we might have a little game of arctic tennis!”
Colin: “MY GOD! YOU’VE KILLED OUR ONLY MODE OF TRANSPORTATION!”

Greg finds two flags, a union jack and an american flag, and starts waving them around as Ryan talks about sharing warmth
Ryan, realizing: “AND GOD BLESS BRITAIN! GOD BLESS BRITAIN….AND THAT OTHER COUNTRY OVER THERE!”

This one has some funny moments, but it’s ultimately pretty frenzied, and slightly incoherent. Which is sad, as this is the lone HH round from S8. Which is kind of a good thing, seeing as the game was played to death back in Series 4 and 5.

Hoedown: Steve, Josie, Colin and Ryan sing about Grandmothers
From: E10

Josie is particularly excited for this playing of Hoedown.

Not a lot going on in this hoedown- Steve and Josie’s are kind of hit-miss, Colin’s takes the secondary suggestion and ends on ‘I’M INSANE’….AND THEN WE GET TO RYAN

Ryan: “I love my grandmother, and when the day ends
I discover that we are a bit more than friends”
The audience starts losing it here, and Ryan realizes he doesn’t really need to go on, so he just sits on that, looking kind of ashamed. Then…as he needs to finish the verse, he just ads, as the end “….the teeth right off her gums”. Which gives an even darker connotation as to what he may have skipped over. But the rest have no choice but to repeat it for the last stanza.

As the show goes to credits, Ryan can be heard turning to an amused Colin and going “…I couldn’t go through with that one.”

Overall:
Best Performer: Ryan Stiles. This show was essentially his finest hours.
Worst Performer: Ardal O’Hanlon. He just wasn’t good at all even in his games here.
Best Game: Secret. Absolutely masterful.
Worst Game: Psychiatrist, for being kind of limp

SERIES 8 SUPERLATIVES!

Best Episode: E5, featuring Niall Ashdown buttressing Greg, Ryan and Colin, and doing a nice job of it, Colin carrying games like Changing Emotions and Director like a pro, Greg quibbling with Clive throughout the second half, culminating in a classic Bartender, and an overall series-defining feel.
2nd Best Episode: E2, featuring Rory Bremner snogging Colin, an unbelievably funny Dead Bodies, Rory doing Clive in Party Quirks while Ryan premieres his gazelle impression, an insanely-fast Home Shopping round, and some unmistakable banter.
3rd Best Episode: E6, featuring Caroline mastering Greg for a round of Film and Theatre Styles, Greg quarreling with Clive throughout the show, a classic round of Here he is Now, some pretty cool dynamic stuff aside from just Ryan and Colin, and just a fun Questions Only round.
Worst Episode: E7. Ardal O’Hanlon was a dynamic destroyer, and it was hard for games to stand out in a good way with him on the panel.
Best Regular: Colin Mochrie, for OWNING games this season, and just getting ‘Best Performer’ a ton of times this series.
Best Recurring Guest: TIE between Caroline Quentin and Greg Proops. The former broke down boundaries all across the season, getting some incredible laughs and somethings being more comfortable than the regulars. The latter had some strong shows this season, and cemented his status as the voice of snide against Clive.
Worst Guest: Ardal O’Hanlan. You let Dougal do a Funeral????
Most Improved: Niall Ashdown, who came back from his fine but forgettable S7 episode, and started doing REALLY FUNNY stuff here, especially throughout E5, going up with the best of them, and doing well in singing games.
Most Unlikely Successful Combo: Steve and Caroline, successful in a few games during E4, and combining powers to deliver the classic Butcher’s Scene to Music.
Guest We Wish Wasn’t Done After This Season: Caroline Quentin. She was so good here that it’s very sad to hear that other commitments would keep her away from the show from here on out.

I’ve heard from a few people that the ‘Golden Age’ of Whose Line ends with Series 8, and while I don’t completely agree…I also don’t completely disagree either. And we’ll find out exactly why with 9×01, which…SHOCKINGLY isn’t entirely on youtube. If you know the episode, you know EXACTLY why. If it weren’t for Hulu, we’d all be screwed, no pun intended.