The 60 Greatest Never Mind the Buzzcocks Episodes (#s 50 to 41)

Continuing the countdown, knocking out another post’s worth of the back half of the all time greats. I don’t know how it worked out that both my Rich Hall picks wound up back in the 50s, so I’ll tease that both picks of a NMTB legend wind up here. And that’s all I’ll tease, as we get right into it with #50:

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#50: S06E05
Host: Mark Lamarr
Captains: Phill and Sean Hughes
Panelists: Boy George, Jo Brand, Suggs, Lisa Scott-Lee

First of all…THAT is a panel right there. Literally all four proved on multiple occasions that they could work with Mark, and work with NMTB stuff. Plus, any team with Suggs and a comedian is kind of like having two comedians, because Suggs is hella funny (On Rod Stewart and The Damned: “Can they both be repelled with garlic?”), and putting him on a panel with Jo Brand is perfect for both of their senses of humor.

But…another thing about the panel stacking is that I feel like they stacked Phill’s team with two separate kinds of great Mark dartboards: a member of Steps (Lisa) and an actual Boy George (Suggs, lol). Yes, Sean’s team here is great because Jo and Suggs are cracking jokes with Sean all night, and that alone is hysterical, as well as their ability to also throw stuff at the dartboards.

But…it’s really about Phill’s team. And more specifically, it’s really about Boy George. This was his best panel performance of his three episodes, and the fact that he gets along so well with Mark (in a very bitchy sort of way) elevates this tremendously. Like, when I saw that Boy George made some appearances, I was thinking it’d be more like…2008-era Boy George. Like, drunk, burnout, dialing-up-escorts Boy George. Forgetting, of course, that popstars have burnout periods and don’t always have their shit together (and now he’s a Celebrity Apprentice finalist, which is nice).

Boy George, especially in this episode, was jovial, quick, and having loads of fun. I still love the visual of George bopping his head (very faintly) back and forth as Lisa and Phill do their first intro (with Lisa on top of the desk). And…obviously the amount of good-natured gay jokes is sky-high, starting from a Rod Stewart fisting slam early on (Mark: “Well, we have an expert on the subject in the studio, so…”), going right through the rest of the show, comparing George’s spotted hat to something Cruella De Vil would wear, to…Mark and George just ending up flirting more than halfway through the show.

The thing is, even if the show is very Mark-George centric, there’s still time for a great Jo story involving Old Dirty Bastard, a ton of Steps jokes from Phill and Mark, a really funny ID Parade including an early appearance by Al the Pirate, and some really funny stuff from Phill. It, like a lot of S6 episodes, is PACKED. But it doesn’t feel overwhelming, thanks to Boy George just being super laid-back.

Best Moment:
George: “Is it the ‘ion sleeps tonight?”
Mark: “THE IRON SLEEPS TONIGHT! You know, from ‘The Iron King.” While they all sat around drinking ginger beer…GEORGE…YA BIG POOF!”

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#49: S16E07
Host: Mark Lamarr
Captains: Phill & Bill Bailey
Panelists: Ricky Wilson, Ortis Deley, Jim Jeffries, Keisha White

Series 16 was around the time where Mark Lamarr would be a bit burned out by Buzzcocks, hence his departure. The thing is, of his last two series on the show, it was S16 where he really tried to keep things together and have a good time, whereas S17 was a bit less controlled and bit more lackadaisically-put-together. Plus, Mark was supposed to come back after Series 18, according to interviews, but Simon Amstell’s star was rising too quickly for anyone to contain. So he didn’t.

…If he had come back, I feel like it would have been a lot like this show. Because this show is very much rooted in the NOW, in the modern 2005-era scene, with Ricky Wilson and Keisha White, and 2005-era comedian Jim Jeffries. Like…there are no safety nets for Mark. No Mike Read or Barry Cryer or even Suggs. He had to make a show work with mostly new personalities that he didn’t have a huge connection to. And if he’d done Series 19, with new people like Lily Allen, John Barrowman and Vanessa Feltz (who he would have had a BALL making fun of), it’d be a lot like this one.

Because look at how much fun he was having with Ricky Wilson. Look at how hard he was laughing. And this is just the kid from the Kaiser Chiefs, the supposed heirs apparent of rock in 2005. He could have smacked him back to his own level, but Lamarr knew that Ricky had something. So he let him have a phenomenal night. And he definitely did, cracking Blue jokes like the best of them, and coming off as much a comedian as a musician.

That isn’t to say Mark’s hosting took a backseat. No, he was just as active as ever, making Ricky restart an intro for doing a ‘Bobby Darin count off’, and predicting how Bill’s team will immediately make a joke at Marilyn Manson’s expense. Plus, there’s Phill’s team’s entire ID Parade, where Phill, Ricky, Ortis Deley and Mark are all riffing on how they all look like lesbian cowboys (with Mark eventually adding “you know, I don’t mind lesbians. it’s COWBOYS i’m worried about). It’s a classic bit, one that kept building as the round, and the show, went on.

Still, even the littlest things worked. Even Bill screwing with HIS ID Parade worked. Even some solo lines from Jim Jeffries worked. Even Ricky Wilson insinuating the five male panelists could easily romance five lesbian cowboys. It all worked, in a way I don’t even think Mark expected it to.

So…I’d say that this was the last great Lamarr show, but…there’s one more from later than this coming up.

Best Moment:  Bill, with this ID Parade of younger guys, gets a sudden inspiration, and runs up to them saying “there’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”
He enters from the side, crosses in front of the lineup, and goes “looking to meet guys in your area?”

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#48: S05E06
Host: Mark Lamarr
Captains: Phill and Sean
Panelists: Toyah Wilcox, Adam Bloom, Kele Le Roc, Tom Gray 

What I’ll point out firstly about this episode’s success is that it didn’t even come from a particularly great panel. Tom and Kele didn’t do a great deal in this one, and Adam was only partially successful. Really, only Toyah Wilcox, the survivor of the punk scene, and of a few Derek Jarman films, had any bit of expertise and material…and thankfully she was able to stretch it out.

And before I even get to the Toyah bits with this one, note that this episode proved how on Phill and Sean, and Mark, were during this stretch. In the Bjork Freeze-Frame round, the jokes are flying from all cylinders (after Bjork’s teeth grow to huge heights, Mark: “The answer is she turns into Jack from ‘On the Buses’.”), Phill does the one effective impression he has all series with his loud, indecipherable Bjork, and they did manage a few really good Intros in this.

But…this is the Toyah show. Like the #50 pick, this was not Toyah’s first Buzzcocks, yet the main Toyah-bashing really began with this one, rather than her S3 appearance, which only had a few Teletubbies jokes. The Toyah-bashing was in the air from the very beginning, as nearly everything she said in the first round was essentially a set-up for a Mark joke.

Then, in Intros, Kele and Phill start going into ‘I Want to be Free’. While Toyah looks on. Now, they’d do this bit with other artists, like David Essex, but it arguably works the best here because the second Toyah hears her song, she immediately knows what they’re doing, and facepalms, giving herself away. Yes, Adam praises the song upon guessing it, and yes, she does get a fun moment as she sings along to the playback, but this worked so well for whoever set this up.

And then…in the newly-super-sized Band Names round, where there was already a running gag about a bunch of monkeys in a factory typing up ‘Chumbawumba’ (which, for the record, is one of many fake origins for the band’s name, as Danbert Nobacon kept like 50 of them in circulation), Toyah managed to completely bungle a train of thought about JFK, thinking an oddhanded Mark joke has to do with the answer. It’s one of those embarrassing blunders that would have to go right up there with Jessica Garlick asking which of the ID Parade looks foreign, or Josie D’Arby legitimately thinking that ducks go moo.

Mark, with the golden response: “…d’you know those chimps that typed up Chumbawumba? You wouldn’t even have gotten that far, would you?”

And so, the rest of the show, we embarked on the visual of An Infinite Number of Toyahs typing up Chumbawumba somewhere in a factory. And while a passerby could see this as ‘hey, they spent all show making fun of her’, I mean…they did, but she’s got enough self-awareness to be at peace with her joke status. I mean, why else did she keep coming on, LITERALLY UP UNTIL MARK’S LAST SHOW? She knew that she’d get insulted, but she enjoyed the fun environment of the show. And it was most evident here, I think.

Such a fun bunch of runners in this one. May not have had the ingredients for the best show, but it certainly turned out a charmer.

Best Moment: after some more ‘An Infinite Number of Toyahs’ jokes, Toyah, reaching her near-breaking point, goes, to Mark and Phill, “I’m gonna come over there and fist you both in a minute…”
Mark, taking this the exact wrong way: “ME FIRST!”

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#47: S26E04
Host: Nick Grimshaw
Captains: Phill and Noel Fielding
Panelists: Joe Lycett, Fred Macpherson, Nancy Dell’olio, Conor Maynard
Special Guests: Pat Sharp, Mike Read, Tony Blackburn

Sometimes, when Buzzcocks tries a show-long gimmick, it doesn’t exact work…especially in the Guest Host era. David O’Doherty tried to bridge a runner that Shakira was supposed to host instead, but it could only stretch so thin. Stephen Mangan tried to make his episode the World Music Special, but the episode wasn’t strong enough to keep it up. Tim Westwood tried to implement the Wheel of JLS, but it didn’t work because Tim Westwood sucks [insert hutt-esque Big Narstie laugh here]

This one, the ‘Hey Mr. DJ’ special…definitely worked.

It helped that Nick Grimshaw was a strong, sharp, if slightly pedestrian, guest host pick. But also, the gimmick was that at any time, the panelists could call upon the help of legendary DJs Mike Read (who was a hero of a Mark Lamarr show in S12), Pat Sharp (who had become a running gag of his own during Series 24), and Tony Blackburn (who’d made his name as a legendary, fun presence on Buzzcocks after 3 appearances). They could aid in an opening round, join in on Intros (like Blackburn did with Joe Lycett), help out in ID Parade, or just…be along for the ride. It’s an intriguing idea, and it helps that all three are insanely good people AND good Buzzcocks presences.

So all it needed was a good episode to be based around. And…this was definitely one of those.

First of all, the team of Joe, Phill and Fred was a very fun, very goofy little team. Fred’s really funny on his own as well, and was a great intros presence. Joe Lycett is…Joe Lycett. Like, of course he’s gonna do funny shit. What else is he gonna do? His interactions with Tony were also wonderful and wholesome.

But…honestly, the only reason a lot of people remember this one is because of Nancy Dell’olio on Noel’s side. Someone who wasn’t especially aware of a lot of the jokes at her expense, being a professional TV personality, and…most of the show was just Noel, Conor and Phill just lambasting her. Nancy, not very familiar with the show obviously, eventually just said “I’m, uh, learning”. Which really just summed it all up.

Eventually it just turned into Noel and Nancy plotting to kidnap Dalmatians, adopt Conor, then Nancy wanted to take Nick out for dinner (Phill, giving my favorite line of the show, replied: “I can see it now: “FOUR HUNDRED HAPPY MEAL.””). It just got funnier and funnier, and I can only imagine that eventually Nancy cooled down about being the butt of everyone’s jokes. The eventual joke that she’s actually dating Tony Blackburn now felt earned, and…fit with this episode’s insane yet cordial mood.

But…just so many funny things happened this show. So many good DJ interactions. So many good moments for Phill and Noel. Even if Nick could have been slightly stronger as host, it was just a successful, very funny show in a murky era of Buzzcocks.

Best Moment: After Joe correctly guesses the first intro, of What Makes You Beautiful by 1D, as ‘Bollocks’, his whole panel ends up turning the playback into ‘Summer Nights’ from Grease. It’s as funny as it is wholesome.

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#46: S14E07
Host: Mark Lamarr
Captains: Phill and Bill
Panelists: Dara O’Briain, Fatman Scoop, Gary Jules, Wes Butters

For those of you not from America, which has to be a great deal of you, I’m going to educate you on a type of reality show character called a ‘Rupert’.

A Rupert is a character that is big, brash, and has very simple principles, something like ‘do what’s right’ or ‘make eye-opening music’ or something like that. And…ultimately there’s nothing more to this character than just those simple principles. So when other characters bounce off of them, they really don’t have many cards to play with other than what we know of them. It’s also easy for anyone else to make fun of them, because they’re always really going to do the same thing.

There are contemporary examples, like Horst, the ‘I Killed a man with THIS thumb’ guy from Ratatouille, or Dr. Loomis in Halloween II, who gives the same speech seven times. But I call this a Rupert because of a character on Survivor, Rupert Boneham, who was a big, strong bearded guy from Indiana whose goals were to be big, loud and heroic the entire game. Ultimately, this did not amount to a win, but the audience sure loved him.

Fatman Scoop…is a Rupert. He’s probably a better Rupert than Rupert is. His schtick is that he’s a big, fat, black American rapper from Jersey. And that’s it. He’s like Pitbull if he didn’t have any self-awareness. He was placed on the show because he was making hits in the UK, and his agent thought it’d be a good idea. It…sort of was? I mean, he got exposure..?

But, Fatman Scoop did manage to take the game of Buzzcocks very seriously. Not unlike another American east-coaster, he was pointing out pragmatic flaws in the game, like angrily announcing that Bill and Gary’s intro sounded nothing like Dilemma by Nelly, or decreeing that the producers should just put Athelston back where he came from. Most flagrant of all, at the end of the show:
Mark: “So the final scores are, Phill, you got 9…”
Scoop: “What did they get?….WHAT DID DEY GET???
(Mark’s trying to hold it in)
Mark: “….We’ll find out after this break…”

Scoop’s thing is a lot of the times, he saw the show kind of literally, and didn’t see that some things didn’t need to be taken so seriously, especially in Intros and Next Lines. This…made it easier for people like Mark and Phill to screw with him. My favorite is Mark asking what to call him, Fatman or Scoop, and Scoop saying he doesn’t care.
Mark: “Alright, I’ll call you Jeremy.”
Scoop, as if he’s aping Mr. T: “NOOO!”
Phill, smirking: “Scoop. Kill him.”

And the rest of the show works just as well around him. Gary Jules is a very patient American guest, jokingly confused by Mark asking if they have anal sex in the states. Dara improved upon his too-forward first appearance, and balanced his team with Scoop very well. Bill and Gary’s intros round was great, as Mark kept trying to distract them with singing The Passenger. And…Athelston wound up in full Scottish garb, with a kilt and hat. Mark even admitted, “I’m gonna put you on my mantlepiece tonight”

But having Fatman Scoop and his slight naivety there…enhanced matters especially. It was a banner series for Buzzcocks, and this one was even stronger than anticipated.

Best Moment: Learning that ‘Combine Harvester’ by the Wurzels is actually Bill’s national anthem. As the playback comes in, he subconsciously stands and monotone-ly adds in the ‘ooh-arr ooh’arr’s. Then…literally the whole panel starts bobbing up and down to it.

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#45: S04E03
Host: Mark Lamarr
Captains: Bill and Sean
Panelists: Keith Chegwin, Tom Robinson, Neil Hannon, Emmy-Kate Montrose

I’ve talked a bit on here about banner series for Buzzcocks. Series 14 is a legendary one, Series’ 5 and 6 are both fantastic, and Series 20 has some definite pull as well. But..upon a recent rewatch, it SHOCKED me how good Series 4 was. Like, there’s only one weak show in the bunch, episode 5, and even that one has Jah Wobble’s drum noises (“BUMANUMANUMANUMA SLAG!”). But…pretty much every show in this series is either really good or a direct result of an episode that was really good. It’s just good shit.

And this one is no different. The show stacked two NMTB veterans (Tom Robinson and Neil Hannon), and brought in an Atomic Kitten member and…Keith Chegwin. Who was having the time of his life. Really, everything sprung naturally from all of that.

I’ll say as a brief criticism that Neil Hannon didn’t say as much as he did last time. Perhaps this was because he was on a panel with Keith, who was saying so much and getting so much air that maybe he didn’t have any breathing room. I’m a fan of Neil’s music, and I’ll say that he had a more fun show when he was paired with Lauren Laverne in S1, but…he’s great in Intros here with Sean.

Really, what we need to talk about this one is Tom Robinson’s pirate fixation, which starts in the opener and stretches through the rest of the show, and Keith Chegwin’s competitiveness, nearly getting in a fight with Tom and Phill after they tried to riff his intro-guessing. Those two moments make up the bulk of the great moments in this.

Not only that, but Cheggers’ looseness led to some fun moments, like his wanking input during the opening round, and everyone reacting to…Keith Chegwin, famed presenter, talking about wanking. That may be why this works so well, this episode: you’ve seen Chegwin in one light, but seeing him joke about wanking and shouting at Tom Robinson completely eclipses the legend. It’s like seeing Richard Madeley joke about Judy giving him oral sex under the desk.

Still, the regulars, especially Sean, had a ton of fun with this one. And seeing as it was S4, it was all really strong and very funny.

Best Moment: Phill, summing it all up: “LET’S LEAVE…AND COME BACK. We turned up in the studio, there was some load of old wank about pirates, and then Cheggers started talking about walloping…what a night!”
To which Sean responds with “d’you call it walloping?”
Then, later, pre-intros, Sean goes “Phill…we’re gonna WALLOP you in this round…”

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#44: S20E04
Host: Simon Amstell
Captains: Phill and Bill
Panelists: Midge Ure, Russell Howard, Nick Hoult, Romeo Stodart

There’s a specific type of Never Mind the Buzzcocks episode that I’ve often enjoyed covering called an ‘Aftermath Episode’. Where a lot of the action of said episode revolves around the events of a previous one. For instance: S04E02, which didn’t make the countdown, is a fun episode because it’s just Mark bashing Chris Moyles for not enjoying himself the week before. S10E06 is great because Mark keeps having PTSD flashbacks to Pete Burns being there the week before. S22E06 is great because Simon’s trying to keep his job after Russell Brand was on amid controversy.

This one takes the cake. Because it follows one of the most iconic shows in Buzzcocks history, the Preston show…and it’s entirely trying to make sure that nobody else walks off.

This show does go back to my theory that Mark Lamarr could have done well with these 2006-era bookings, as he’d have fun with Midge Ure like he did a ton of times. Here, Midge is sort of drilled by Simon a lot, and it’s not exactly as cozy as his time batting away Mark slams. Solely because Simon’s a more intrusive host who makes it a point to call people out; Mark would at least wait until they played into his hand.

But yeah, Midge did enjoy himself enough that he’d repeatedly threaten to walk off. Simon keeps bringing up the fact that Bob Geldof gets all the credit, and the knighthood, for Live Aid, and Midge eventually just does a little finger gesture meaning ‘I will walk off in a second’. But he definitely settled in, somewhere around the point where he couldn’t get his own daughter’s band’s lines right.

Even aside from that, the air of chaos was present. Phill’s ID Parade was great, as it was very obviously #1, as she kept making herself known. Romeo completely missed his own next line, to which Simon responded “this happens at every show, but never so bad…”. Russell Howard was giving off some fun lines all night, and Nick Hoult was getting the most attention from Simon for being on Skins…which Simon himself co-wrote a show for.

But really, the triumph of this show was taking a Mark-era legend like Midge and making his style work with the new show. And for taking an episode like E3 and not completely divebombing afterwards. This is a pretty strong follow-up to a show that’s clearly a Top 10 on anyone’s list.

Best Moment: As Midge contemplates walking off, Phill: “You see this is the seat that Preston left, this is the seat that Lemmy left the show on, admittedly during the retakes. We’re just gonna have to call [Midge’s] the Ejector seat!”
Simon: “We should get some sort of a seatbelt…”

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#43: S16E09
Host: Mark Lamarr
Captains: Phill and Bill
Panelists: Kenzie, Lucy Porter, Chinyere, DJ Spoony

i’d love to show that to someone without context, that above. Mark Lamarr just walking over and licking Lucy Porter’s face, then walking back like nothing’s happened.

Again, even near the end of his NMTB tenure, Mark could still give some good material. This licking, for instance, was in response to an anecdote from Lucy about a tramp licking her one time. So…naturally, Mark wouldn’t let that go at all over the next 30 minutes. Pretty much everyone else was harping on that, with even Bill singing to himself “that’s why the lady…smells of tramp…”

Now, repeatedly mentioning something embarrassing to Lucy Porter is easy. She’s a professional comedian, she takes it in stride and laughs it off all night. But what if you had something embarrassing onhand about someone a lot tougher. Say…someone from the Blazin’ Squad.

Yeah, then you’d have to hope it’s someone like Kenzie, who’ll literally buckle forward in laughter right when he knows something’s coming. And on this show, something was nearly always coming. From the running gags about the 9,000 members of the blazing squad, supplied by Mark (which, to be honest, he was cracking up right with Kenzie at), to the eventual realization that Kenzie’s dating Jodie Marsh. Which he’s very sensitive about. And which DJ Spoony was ABSOLUTELY AMAZED BY.

And…the joke eventually becomes about Jodie’s tendency to stick a thumb up her partner’s ass. Which…Kenzie doesn’t deny. And so, rest of the night, every Kenzie joke involved something being shoved up a rectum. Which…I mean, slightly better than his next time on (where he defended writing a song about, to quote Russell Howard, “doing anal in a truck”), but still hard to come back from.

Yet, to his credit, Kenzie was cracking up, at the risk of near pain, all night. At one point, you can hear him weakly mutter “please…leave me alone”. Which isn’t anything like Preston going ‘that’s out of order’. Like…he’s laughing so hard that if someone else gives him the mick, he might die. That is a new one.

Aside from that nonsense, this show was one of the last few appearances of Athelston, and for once he’s not the center of attention in this lineup, as one of the members appears to nod off in the middle of Mark’s intros. Plus, Mark agreed to give Kenzie a point every time he said it wasn’t Athelston.

This one’s so glorious because of the pile-up of running gags just hitting again and again, and for poor Kenzie being absolutely battered to the point of laughter exhaustion. I felt a little bad for the guy, but not from the brunt of the insults- no, I was worried he’d piss himself under the desk.

Just a really funny show, and possibly the last true knockout of the Mark era.

Best Moment: Phill and Chinyere are doing an intro for House of the Rising Sun for Kenzie. It’s…very clear that he doesn’t know it. So Mark just starts singing the lyrics along with it, passionately, further and further. At the point where he’s about to repeat the chorus, he just looks at the camera and goes “he doesn’t know…”. Such a great Mark moment.

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#42: S28E02
Host: Rhod Gilbert
Captains: Phill and Noel
Panelists: Seann Walsh, Stacey Solomon, Harry Koisser, Ella Eyre

Now, let’s get something absolutely straight here.

A lot of people…don’t like the Rhod Gilbert shows. They think the show was dying out, that there was no cohesion between Rhod and Noel, and production was trying too hard to make events happen rather than make a solid panel show. And I can see those criticisms, but like…there are a few episodes in this series that I laughed too damned hard at. Hell, I’ll mention that one that just missed the cut, Episode 7, featured the visual of Phill and Noel both doing Sarah Millican impressions while reading adult fiction. So much insanely funny stuff in these, even if Rhod’s method of game-running became tedious after a while.

Here…things were still new, fresh, and interesting. And you had onhand two people who’d definitely make things interesting: Seann Walsh, who’d yet to see a Buzzcocks show he didn’t make hysterical, and Stacey Solomon, who was projected to completely bungle the Intros round, as per usual. And also, you had loopy Harry Koisser from Peace playing a guitar from behind his back and doesn’t have a house. Shenanigans were bound to ensue.

Most importantly, this show would feature the first appearance of Rhod’s ball-bongos. Which would only get funnier as the series went on. Also, Seann Walsh’s school friend ended up as one of the options in ID Parade, which was wonderful. This one also introduced the innovation of giving the ID Parade guest a wireless lov mic so Rhod can talk to them afterwards, and in tonight’s case try to hire them both for contracting jobs. There was also a runner about the nonexistence of the concept of time, which is the most Seann Walsh thing ever, and there were just some great moments coming from all three regulars.

This show’s big moment may have been Stacey Solomon’s pathetic showing at Intros, realizing she’s bad at hearing songs, and then short-sighted…so literally Phill and Ella doing Waterloo Sunset to a bewildered Stacey was nearly excruciating, but also entertaining. Not since Tony Wright had someone been so consistently bad at Intros, and she was making a name for herself, not even getting a clue about the sunset and bringing up the movie IT, which at least played into Noel’s wardrobe.

Like with Tony, when she eventually did get an intro it was a momentous, hysterical occasion with much dancing. And also, Stacey’s generally a very fun panel presence despite being horrible at Intros. Phill doesn’t get too annoyed by it either.

A very solid, very eventful Rhod show, and…it’s not the last of those on this list. 

Screen Shot 2019-03-11 at 3.34.45 PMBest Moment: Noel running out in a dress with Pennywise on it. Rhod points out that the nose is in a very odd place, though:

Screen Shot 2019-03-12 at 6.02.50 PM.png#41: S02E08
Host: Mark Lamarr
Captains: Phill and Sean
Panelists: Noddy Holder, Boy George, Jonathan Ross, Louise Wener

Coming off of one of the most sadistically engineered shows in NMTB, Episode 8 of Series 2 gave us a standard for every subsequent Christmas Show, literally just by starting with Noddy Holder going “IIIIIIIIT’S CHRIIIISTMAAAAAAAS!”

This was the show’s first attempt at a Christmas show, and they pulled out all the stops, getting two high-profile panelists in 80s icon Boy George and Christmas Legend Noddy Holder from Slade. Additionally, they had on Jonathan Ross for his first of like 12 appearances in the first 4 series.

Here, Ross is at his lawful best, as he doesn’t have a panel that he can entirely drown out. He does have some goofy moments, especially in Intros, where he has one given to him so many times that after 4 he just starts doing it WITH Phill and Louise (‘OOMBA OOMBA OOMBA OOMBA’). Also, let it be known that it’s Ross who uses the phrase ‘I IMPLORE YOU, I BESEECH YOU’ before Mark uses it on him during Never Rewind, this time to scare off an ID Parade member.

Hell, even BOY GEORGE is at his lawful best. He’s not making many gay jokes, Mark isn’t taking the mick that much, and he’s honestly the quietest he’s been on this show. True, he does have a few cheeky moments, like saying his religious denomination is the Church of the Poisoned Mind (Mark: “HE’S PLUGGING OLD RECORDS!”), and insinuating that he’s the only one who would know what a drummer is like in ID Parade (Sean: “Could you all just take off your trousers for George?”)

But…really, this one’s about Noddy. Because not only is he game with all the CHRIIIISTMAAAS jokes, but he just seems chuffed to be on. He’s joking with Mark about their outdated hairstyles, doing fun intros with Sean, making great jokes throughout, and even indulging the panel and making fun of Dave Hill’s hairstyle, doing a little sign of the cross (prompting Phill to go “Normally Noddy used to go ‘Iiit’s Christmas!’ But he looks around at Dave and goes ‘IIIIIIT’S CHRISTMAAAASSS!”)

With eight extra minutes, enough breathing room to keep ID Parade live, an incredibly silly Next Lines, and tons of joshing from Mark and Jonathan, this was a generally jovial, insanely successful CHRISTMAAAAS special, one that’d be insanely hard to outdo (and yet…two have)

Best Moment: Sean and Noddy’s first intro sounds a bit too much like The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
Sean, to that tune: “AAAEHAAAEAAAA….IT’S CHRISTMAAAS…”

 

The next ten will be up soon. To preview this batch…expect two annoying teenagers, some hair wax, four from the Guest Host era, and two shows featuring Buzzcocks’ most prolific guest panelist.

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The 60 Greatest Never Mind the Buzzcocks Episodes Ever (#s 60 to 51)

So…it’s come to this.

I had teased for a year and a half that this list was on the way, but due to work, school, and Whose Line, I never got to writing it. I actually drafted this list in July 2017, and most of that list has gone unedited, though I swapped out a few in this section of the list for ones I’d grown to love in a recent re-watch.

So…this isn’t the end-all, beat-all of ranks. I’m already gonna sadden one or two people by saying that there’s not going to be a huge Jonathan Ross presence on this list, nor is there going to be a huge Paul Foot presence. Both aren’t really my cup of tea.

I’ll also add this preface for any members of the Simon Amstell fandom who’ll be arguing that there boy doesn’t have enough episodes on this list: Mark Lamarr ran the show for 17 seasons. Simon ran it for four, and only two of those were wholly great. There’s going to be a TON of Lamarr shows on this list, and while there definitely will be some Amstell presence, the point is that Lamarr cared more about his presence in the music world to only pretend to be an asshole to many panelists. He spent an entire show pissing off Gail Porter, then like a year later they allegedly went shopping a few times. He probably bought her a couple nice wigs as well. If Simon pissed someone off on the show, he wouldn’t really show mercy in real life.

But that’s a rant for another day.

Anyway, here are 10 of my Top 60 Buzzcocks Episodes Ever. Every show that aired on television is fair game, from series 1 to 28 (so no Never Rewind). Let’s begin with a National Fucking Treasure….

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#60: S22E02
Host: Simon Amstell
Captains: Phill, Stephen Fry
Panelists: Matt Shultz, Josie Long, Dominic Cooper and Frankie Sandford

I’m going to add slightly to my Simon rant from earlier. Simon Amstell wasn’t the type of person who’d preside over the show with an iron fist. He’d rely on Bill and Phill to keep order as well, especially after Series 21 where he’d get more tired of the show and focus on belittling specific people like Antony Costa and Lee Ryan.

To that end, Series 22 may be one of the weakest, because Simon is deferring even more to the captains so that the Guest Captain can do more heavy lifting. There’s not a ton of Simon interference in this show, even though he does tailor this one, rightfully so, to Stephen Fry by adding in many QI-esque elements, like a buzzer and many existential conversations.

But what makes this one work is how game Stephen Fry is to the proceedings. This is most evident in the Intros round, where he’s paired with a very crossfaded Matt Shultz from Cage the Elephant, and goes about a pair of particularly messy intros while still keeping the spirit of the show alive. And I say this was surprising because you’d think someone like Stephen Fry would see himself as bigger than NMTB, but he knows it’s just a laugh. He even throws in a few very outlandish comments that wouldn’t fly today, and a blissfully-out-of-place jab at the Hippity Hoppity Brigade.

Additionally, Stephen’s presence manages to bring out the best in Phill Jupitus, who’d been seeming to be tiring of the program himself the series before. Phill is even more giggly and joking around than usual, solely because he has his usual QI dartboard in the room, like shouting out an I’m Too Sexy reference (without Fairbrass even being in the room) and raising a pipe in the air.

There are occasional lulls, and the moments with Frankie forgetting which movie she saw Dominic Cooper in are amusing but slightly weak, but this is definitely the height of a noticeably weak series of Buzzcocks. And it couldn’t have been done without Stephen Fry.

Best Moment: Stephen using the phrase ‘recto-vaginal insertion’ during a conversation about a pretzel, to which Simon responds “I thought you were gonna bring this show up to a STANDARD…”

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#59: S13E02
Host: Mark Lamarr
Captains: Phill, Bill Bailey
Panelists: HarMar Superstar, Raul Malo, Liz McClarnon, Mark Richardson

An odd pick, probably, but this is one of those shows where the main three were just on their game all night. Series 13 was also the exact time where Bill Bailey really clicked as a team captain, after two series of just getting abuse from Mark over his usual ‘weasels’ type humor.

Literally from round one, everybody was just on. Phill making Mavericks jokes to Raul. Mark making Atomic Kitten jokes to Liz. Phill calling Ron Jeremy ‘HarMar’s dad’, and HarMar agreeing. And then once Bill was handed clips of David Cassidy, he absolutely took off, doing some of the single greatest riffing I’ve seen on the program. Mark even went to Raul’s seat, yelling “I WANT TO WATCH HIM FROM HERE!”

The panel woke up soon after that, with HarMar being insanely game in intros, Mark Richardson completely forgetting a song from a band he toured with for a prolonged period of time, and Mark pulling out a crystal ball and continuing to use it throughout the show. But around ID Parade, Phill pulled out an anecdote involving a gay man calling him ‘Queen of the Bears’, and for some reason the show kept hitting on that for the rest of its duration.

This was just a show that benefitted from everyone being on, and just had this goofy undercurrent for its entire runtime. There are so many shots of just Raul Malo trying not to laugh and/or dying laughing, even after he screws up his own lyrics (“the senoritas…I can pay-” “SO THAT’S WHAT IT’S ABOUT!”) This one’s just one of my sentimental favorites, and it’s a dynamic that the show would build on while heading towards its unstoppable Series 14.

Best Moment:
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Bill: “…there’s been a bit of a communication cock-up, he said ‘I’ll have a large black tea on the plane…”

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#58: S11E07
Host: Mark Lamarr
Captains: Phill & Bill
Panelists: Sebastian Bach, Dave Fulton, Neil Innes, Emma B.

Sometimes a show can be elevated by a single panel. And with no offense meant towards Emma B and Unofficial 7th Python Neil Innes hanging with Phill…the combo of Bill Bailey, Dave Fulton and Sebastian Bach was enough to crack me up this whole episode. These three need their own Three Stooges-esque movie, STAT!

It was the greatest combination: you had Bill trying to move the show along though still loving odd jokes, you had Dave as the most dry and reality based of the three, and you had wild and wacky Sebastian yelling and screaming on top of the desk and having the most fun of anyone.

Literally, this team’s stuff was gold all night: any image of the three head-banging with their hair flying everywhere (Mark: “people at home writing ‘oooh, conditioner…’), the moment where Bill puts some of Sebastian’s hair on his head to try and remember what hair feels like, most of their Intros round, a running gag about each of them as the Three Wise Men, Sebastian missing his own lyrics in Next Lines, and pretty much all of Bill and Sebastian’s Panama intro, where Sebastian tried to give it to Dave by using the clue ‘IMELDA MARCOS’

Even better, the panel’s insanity grated on Mark as the show went on, culminating in Mark promising Phill’s team to not end Next Lines until they’ve won.

I’ll say that the intensity of this panel will be matched by another one, on that exact side, later in the countdown, but these three elevated an already-great show.

Best Moment: Sebastian confusing the Philippines with Panama
Dave: “Once again the geography question has reared its ugly head and stumped the American.”

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#57: S12E07
Host: Mark Lamarr
Captains: Phill & Bill
Panelists: Rich Hall, Christian O’Connell, Nick Bracegirdle and Guy McKnight

I originally had another episode in this slot, ironically another Rich Hall show, this one featuring Dave Hill from Slade…but at the very last second, I swapped in this one. Because slowly it’s become one of my most underrated favorites of the series. It’s also just a piece of evidence that putting Rich Hall on your panel makes everything a little funnier (“You’re time starts…NOW!” “The end is near!” “NO!”)

Really, all the elements are here for a good show: a sharp panel, with Christian O’Connell and Rich Hall giving funny stuff; Rich giving one of my favorite ID Parade quotes ever with “#4 looks like an Elvis Impersonator…had Elvis lived”; pretty much the entire round on the Deep Purple video, cutting to a bored looking audience (Rich: “there’s a kid on the right. That’s their manager!”); and even a mid-Intros argument where Nick swears he gave an answer before Christian did (to which Mark replies “not in the finished show you didn’t!”)

But the centerpiece of this show is one of the most successful setups and payoffs in Buzzcocks history: having Mark needle Guy McKnight the entire show for not talking and only speaking when Phill nudges him…and then having Guy correct his Next Line of his own song, and revealing that the real lyric is “I want to fuck your mother”. Not even Anton Chekhov could have written a payoff quite like that. Even Rich used that phrase to try and get out of Next Line later on.

It’s not one that a lot of people remember, but it’s a solid, wholly hysterical show that has some really funny moments at its core.

Best Moment: Top of the show, Mark asks Guy to say hello to his mother at home, prompting a half-hearted “…Barbara…”. Then, post ‘I want to fuck your mother’-gate, Phill, stifling laughter, looks at the camera and goes “HELLO, BARBARA!”

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#56: S25E07
Host: James Blunt
Captains: Phill & Noel Fielding
Panelists: Sarah Millican, Matthew Crosby, Sean Paul, Harry Judd

A few times during the Guest Host era, the booking people managed to surprise me, by rolling out a personality I was ready to hate and making them insanely likable and thick-skinned, and pulling off a really good show. James Blunt is definitely one of two instances of this phenomena. I’m not a huge fan of his music, but he certainly ran a very tight show, and was capable of making jokes…and BEING the joke occasionally as well.

First of all…whoever decided to have Sean Paul and Sarah Millican on the same team deserves a gold star, as even Noel said “I’m gonna be translating for these two tonight”. Both led to some nice moments, as Sarah had her usual like 20 good lines, and Sean had a great runner in Next Lines where he kept parroting back the correct pronunciations and wordage of his own stuff (and Noel, again during this era, was owning it: “That’s like the football scores…’East Fife, 4, Dem Shoogy Shoogy, 3…”)

James had great autocue reads all night, even though he was still the butt of many jokes from the rest of his panel. Plus, after a while they got more specific, pertaining to his history of military service (“have you ever done it in a tank?”) to his history with sleeping with, allegedly, “20% of the Pussycat Dolls”. Noel and Phill did not let James let that one go for the rest of the night.

In a word, this show was chaotic, and a lot could go wildly wrong at any time, but it was still contained in a way that felt natural. And James Blunt kept a smile on the entire time, even while being lambasted by Noel, who was on fire all night. Really couldn’t have asked for more.

Best Moment: After James ushers an ID Parade of soldier’s wives offstage, saying they were for his dressing room later
Sarah: “Will you be sorting one of them out? Just 20% of that lot?”
Phill: “I looked in his eyes then, and d’you know what I saw? ‘TONIGHT…40%!”

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#55- S08E05
Host: Mark Lamarr
Captains: Phill & Sean Hughes
Panelists: Dane Bowers, Glenn Tilbrook, Darius Danesh, Vic Henley

…speaking of universally-despised singers with really thick skin…

The timing of this one was impeccable. This one aired right as the Popstars bubble was just beginning to pop, and a few shows after Mark had done a Darius impression in the middle of the show (and he’d do it again in this show). The Darius jokes were happening anyway, and I’m honestly surprised he agreed to come on, and be honest about leaving Popstars.

…And to be perfectly honest, I’m not sure who gave him more shit about hit throughout the night: Sean or Mark?

Just from that screencap alone…Sean wasn’t gonna do Intros with guy and NOT make fun of him. It’s kind of a law, you HAVE to. Here’s Darius trying to do the intro, and Sean’s doing the full on Darius snapping and wailing, to which Darius said “THAT’S IT!” (and Sean replied “I’M 35!”). And that was most of the show: yes, a quiz is trying to be played lawfully, but you can’t have Darius on and NOT take the mick. And again, he was really kind about the whole thing, and didn’t seem to take the insults too hard, even Sean’s very last one (see below).

Weirdest thing is…the rest of the panel was just really strong. Phill had Dane Bowers and Glenn Tilbrook to work with, and they’re pros at this show. Sean also had Vic Henley, who…always seems to end up on this show whenever there’s a pop icon that needs to be made fun of (see much later on in the countdown). And Darius was very lawful in playing the game, even as he was dodging insults from all corners.

I’ll note this pretty quickly: first time I watched this show I didn’t get it. I’m from New York, I didn’t really get the Popstars appeal. And then I understood what happened, saw the original clip, saw everything in context…and then all the slams were even funnier, and it was even funnier that he was game. And even if this isn’t as high as some other people would put it, I still do respect what this show did, and how Darius took it. A certain member of Blue would take inspiration from that later down the line.

Best Moment: Next lines: “I’m walking away from all the troubles in my life.”
Darius: “…I’m walking away…”
Sean, in the most mocking voice possible: “…from POPSTARS!”

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#54: S04E06
Host: Mark Lamarr
Captains: Phill & Sean
Panelists: Arthur Smith, Mel Giedroyc, Mark Chadwick, Jimmy Constable

Like Jonathan Ross, one of the great early panelists in NMTB’s history that only managed to make one appearance on the episodes list was Arthur Smith? Why? I dunno, both his episode with Martin Fry and his episode with Dave Mustaine were…good, but not list-worthy. This one, where he was just finding his footing as a panelist and getting the hang of the game, while also dealing with Jimmy Constable.

Ironically, in an entry right after a show where Sean Hughes mercilessly attacks someone, here Arthur spent most of the show mercilessly attacking Sean, and it made the show even more cohesive and funny. Literally everyone possible was ‘better looking than Sean’, even Sarah Brightman. And Sean was able to take it, because Arthur’s too funny to let go.

And then Intros happened. And it got even better. Firstly because Mel Giedroyc was actually really loose and fun as Phill’s intro partner, which you really wouldn’t think if you’ve seen her play off of Sue Perkins, but then…Jimmy and Sean insisted on using a comb to make the intro to Stand by Me authentic. And an entire argument erupted about whether that comb noise was actually in the song. Arthur got more jokes in, Jimmy got frustrated, Mel and Phill got to do another intro essentially, and everything just went into bedlam because of a damned comb from Mark’s pocket.

And the thing is, the looseness of the comb incident carried through the rest of the show, even after a quieter first half, ugly jokes notwithstanding. Mark ended up calling Arthur out over some noises in Next Lines, proving that even the best can be out done by Lamarr. And it all just ended in a really fun mood, which is nice.

I’m not saying that Arthur carried this show, but if it wasn’t for his grumpiness and looseness, we’d be in a lot of trouble.

Best Moment: Arthur, post-combgate: “The point is, Mark, they got it right…it’s just you being horrible because Sean’s upset that everyone now realizes he’s ugly.”

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#53: S19E05
Host: Simon Amstell
Captains: Phill & Bill
Panelists: John Barrowman, Robin Ince, Daniel Bedingfield, Kelli Young

The Simon Amstell era of Buzzcocks got off to a rocky start, with two ‘good but not great’ shows, a fun but wild show (sure to be documented later), and one of the most soul-crushing shows in Buzzcocks history, featuring Amy Winehouse’s drunken last stand. What the show needed was not only a pick-me-up, but a sign that the show could get back to the heights of series 14 and 16.

Well, with the help of one of the most charismatic guests in Buzzcocks history, they did just that.

Look, man…you put John Barrowman in anything and it just saves the morale instantly. Put him in Doctor Who, in The Flash, in…a fucking SyFy original shark movie. I don’t care. He saves anything, because he’s always giving 100%, and he’s always having a fantastic time. So…Buzzcocks must have been easy for him. He’s got Daniel Bedingfield to look at and Simon Amstell to flirt with. What more could he want??

Literally from moment one, when both Simon and John got into a discussion on the Sugababes’ privates, we knew exactly what we were in for (to quote Phill, “There’s nothing quite like the riveting TV stylings of two homosexuals discussing fannies, is there??”). Simon made it clear that Barrowman would be his primary target, even if on the other side of the stage you had Daniel Bedingfield bouncing off the wall after ingesting too many chocolates (at least according to Phill years later). Though, at the very least, a runner about Bedingfield recording an album while naked certainly helped.

The Simon-John stuff, including a full on gay-off (“I haven’t even told my mum yet…”), got to the point where even Robin Ince, having a banner night himself, got frustrated at the amount of gayness going on across from him, culminating in a rant that included the line  “I DON’T EVEN THINK YOU *ARE* GAY, BARROWMAN!”. Which, to his credit, Barrowman found amusing as all hell.

Chaos aside, it was a tight show, one of the tighter ones of Simon’s first year, though he did placate Phill by having the audience root for Bill’s team rather than his (“Fuck ’em. No.”) But with the panel strength, the amount of jokes being fired from all cylinders, and the strength of John Barrowman (again, culminating in Simon’s bitter stinger of “…Gays…they take our MEN…”), it finally felt like Buzzcocks would be alright with Simon at the helm.

Best Moment: Simon gives Barrowman a simple Sound of Music next line…which he responds with a vulgar version of the line (“High on a hill lived a great big dildo, [gargling noises]”), so…they have to end the show on THAT note.
Simon: “…Never again. Strictly straights and lesbians from now on…They’re no bother…”

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#52: S05E07
Host: Mark Lamarr
Captains: Phill & Sean
Panelists: Bill Bailey, Howard Jones, Tony Wright, Grant Nicholas

After the mild success of the Never Rewind video, the studio decided to…NOT give them another tape to do, but instead give the crew a 45-minute special during series 5, right when things were getting really good for the show. They seemed to treat it like it was going on tape as well, with two seasoned NMTB regulars (Tony Wright and Bill Bailey), and two people with varying levels of music credits (Howard Jones and Grant Nicholas).

It…quite obviously worked. With 15 extra minutes, there was enough breathing room to see a lot more of Mark throwing Klingon insults at Bill, Tony completely struggling in Intros, Howard Jones not knowing any of his songs, and a new, super sized Album Covers round, which was a fun failure that led to some very funny physical moments (and Mark going “I know you want the point, but it’d be fun to pass it to Tony, wouldn’t it?”)

However, arguably BECAUSE of the extra time, these moments were able to play bigger than before. Tony’s eventual triumph in Intros has more room to be a full on explosion of the panel, with a rousing ‘the final countdown’ heard all ’round. Bill and Mark’s sparring has enough to last the whole show. And the show’s big kicker, Mark being a contestant in an ID Parade for fellow 50s throwbacks The Jets, with literally everyone pissing him off by picking him.

It was, if anything, a supersized triumph of everything the show had done to that point. It was also essentially Bill’s audition to be Sean’s replacement down the line, as his Intros with Sean were pretty great (including a really good Bruce Springsteen/Sweetums impression). Why there weren’t more 45-minute shows I have no idea (though the S19 Christmas Show would get 5 or so extra minutes), but this was definitely the right time to have one.

Best Moment: Immediately following his ID Parade appearance, Mark announces “Phill’s team has 5 points, Sean’s team has 3. They would have had 5, but they were BEIN’ SILLY!”

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#51: S14E10
Host: Mark Lamarr
Captains: Phill & Bill
Panelists: Rich Hall, Amy Winehouse, Fearne Cotton, Mike Peters

Sadly, both entries featuring Rich Hall wound up down here, so this is his last appearance on the countdown…which is very sad. The guy is an undisputed comedic genius, and someone who never really got his due as a mainstream comedy writer. Thankfully, he’s been on basically every panel show in the UK and has made himself known as a bizarre, grumpy humorist. Which helps.

I don’t think they would have known in 2004, but pairing Rich with Amy Winehouse was…odd. True, Amy is very sober here, and very giggly, but…you don’t usually think of a team up between the girl who sang ‘Rehab’ and the guy who did the David Byrne’s Fashion Report bit on SNL. Having them on a team with Phill was a nice mood, as all three were making great comedy decisions all night, with no offense meant toward Fearne Cotton and Mike Peters.

Literally the first round, Phill’s team had a whole ‘fill in the blank’ round about a clip from David Bowie’s China Girl video where David does something to scare his love interest into spitting a straw out of her mouth. It just turned into the weirdest, wackiest quick-fire improv round I’ve seen (and I’ve covered Whose Line), with so many great answers, ranging from bizarre (Bill: ‘David, there’s no horse in horseradish!’ “WHAT?”) to probable (Phill: “David? Behind you, Iggy Pop!”) to…literal (Rich: “SPIT OUT THE STRAW!”)

Then, in Intros (with Phill and Amy making a nice pair), the unthinkable happens: Rich messes up an answer, saying ‘Blue Skies’ instead of ‘Mr. Blue Sky’…and gives Mark shit for not giving him the point. This goes on for…the REST OF THE SHOW. The funny part is, it’s half-played up, but I do legitimately think Rich was miffed about not getting credited for it. Literally, Rich is just adding ‘Mr’ to things just to spite Mark (“Yeah, it’s MISTER FREE BIRD!”)

Yes, this is a case where Rich carries the force of comedy on his back, but unlike the Guy McKnight show, here he’s got a panel who’s capable of supplanting him. Amy is capable of pushing back and making jokes herself, even at her own religious upbringing (to which he later adds “Amy, you’re jewish, haggle with him”). Plus, Fearne Cotton was a nice unsung hero for this era of the show, in that she was never the comedic focus of a panel, but she always had funny stuff here and there (and a bigger example of this is much later on).

Plus, so many nice runners. The ‘Bowie banged Iggy Pop’ joke goes on almost all night, there’s a nice recurring gag with Rich about heroin users, and Amy and Rich have gags go on until the end. It’s just a very concise show that doesn’t let up with callback gags. And again, it’s a Series 14 show, which means the fact that it’s on here without utilizing Athelston is…surprising but welcome.

Best Moment:  post-Mister-gate
Mark: “Rich…they HAVE quiz shows in America, right? This isn’t a new thing for you?”
Rich: “Yeah, but on those we get a fuckin’ car…”

 

Expect the next ten of these to go up…hopefully soon. If I can tease anything, I’ll say that a Buzzcocks hero appears twice, Athelston appears once, and that bloke I talked about at the top of the post gets his entry in.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S10E03, or The Lesbos Want the Curds and Whey

Continuing the trend of funneling talent from Los Angeles’ Groundlings theatre, this episode features the return of Karen Maruyama, who killed it in her first taping back in 9×02, and re-pairing her with Greg Proops, which went pretty well last time. I do think it would have been nice to switch things up and have her do one with Wayne or Brad, but Greg is a good scene partner for her.

Questions Only – All four are in the White House.

Colin, IMMEDIATELY: “You my new intern?”

Karen: “D’you know that I’ll do anything for this job?”
Colin: “D’you know that you just got a raise?”
Oh, 1998

Greg, not shying away from any of this: “Would you like to sit on the presidential staff?”
HUGE AUDIENCE RESPONSE for this. One guy even does a full on “YEEEEEEAHHHH.”

Ryan, after Karen leaves: “Why aren’t you wearing any pants, sir?”
Greg: “Is it friday already?”

Colin chastises Ryan for not saluting for a president, pointing out a picture of himself on the wall.
Ryan: “Is that you?”
Colin: “Are you blind?”
Ryan: “Where did your hair go???”
Colin basically rolls his eyes here. Not sure if it’s in character or not.

Pretty strong game of this, even if it went almost immediately to the lowest common denominator. No weak points, though.

Quiz Show – Greg hosts “What’s My Disease?”; the other three are contestants

I find it…interesting that the UK LA tapings would rest on this game strongly, while the US LA tapings in Season 1 really wouldn’t

For this unlikely quiz show, someone from the audience suggests “PUT IT HERE.”
This, of course, confuses the hell out of Clive: “PUT IT HERE???”

Clive, getting a good one: “What’s My Disease, that could catch on.”
The audience groans at this. I laughed.
Greg: “Ooooh, go easy on those!”

Colin: “I’m Captain Jack, owner of Captain Jack’s Fish Emporium”
Greg: “AHOY, MATEY!”

I love how when Ryan announces he’s from Victoria, BC, Colin gives him a look, as if to say ‘I thought I was the Canadian here!”

Greg: “It makes your legs stiff-”
Ryan, buzzing in: “What is Baywatch”

Greg institutes a very demented final round: he gives Colin an infectious disease, and gives him 30 seconds to guess what it is, and he’ll give him the antidote. The audience is impressed with this as well.

Greg, in the final round, gives the contestants a president, and asks them to name his favorite disease.
Greg: “Ronald Reagan”
Ryan, bypassing the obvious answer: “Jane Wyman?”
Greg, looking at his card, stifles a smile: “I’M GONNA GO TO OUR JUDGES!”
Clive, caught off-guard: “Um, that’s good enough for me.”
Greg: “YES!”
BUZZZZ

Greg announces that Ryan’s prize is a stay at the last known leper colony in the world, where the staff will “always be there to lend you a hand”
SURPRISINGLY, THIS PUN WORKS

Another really fun round of this, even better than What’s My Sin in that every round had some funny stuff going on.

Film Dub – Greg, Karen, and Ryan are a threesome on a date.

Ryan: “We’re gonna get a table easy with those pointy big breasts of yours…”

Ryan’s character ends up flipping a coin for Karen
Greg: “Heads!”
Ryan, as his character walks away with Karen’s: “…and I get the tails!”
HA

Ryan and Karen’s characters kiss, very awkwardly
Ryan: “…someone had spinach ravioli for dinner…”

A character enters in a suit of armor
Greg: “…CAN I COME IN, I HAVE PROTECTION!”

A very good round of this as well. Even if Greg’s character kinda got shafted, he still had some good lines, like that one at the end

Hats – All four act out the world’s worst dating agency video.

Greg, in a frog mask: “I…AM THE ARTIST FORMERLY KNOWN AS PRINCE.”

Greg, in a viper mask: “…I’m a young Republican…”

Colin:
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Colin, as the Statue of Liberty: “…It’s so hard for Tall Women to meet good men…”

Greg, as a Native American: “Hello…I am Hung Like Snake.”
Ryan:
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“…GUESS WHAT I’M HUNG LIKE.”

And Greg, with a big ear mask, gets a smidge more mileage out of his John Major impression.

A GREAT round of hats. Just so many fun suggestions.

Weird Newscasters – Greg is the anchor; Colin (has lost his notes and is desperately looking for them while making up the news) is the co-anchor; the sportscaster is Karen (doing seductive poses for a magazine); Ryan (strapped to a bomb which will explode 10 seconds after he moves) is the weatherman.

Immediately, Colin’s looking around, panicked
Greg: “Good evening, I’m Wide, But Not Painful”

Colin: “…The bones of Moses…found in the backyard…of a small woman…long said to have the properties of changing lead…into a thicker kind of lead…no comment…”
Greg, trying to save it: “…AND Friends comes back for another season, BUT LET’S THROW IT OVER…”

Karen’s doing a very good job with hers, and the audience is getting a kick out of the poses.

Colin, still panicking: “THIS JUST IN…THERE’S…NEWS…HAPPENING EVERYWHERE YA LOOK…”

Screen Shot 2019-02-16 at 3.58.18 PM.pngIMMEDIATELY the shot of Ryan is making me crack up. Just how horrified he looks. There’s even a gradual zoom which makes this even funnier

Ryan does the whole report like this, motioning to different parts of the board with his eyes, and barely moving his lips.

Then, as he signs off, Ryan moves an arm, then starts panicking. “GET OFF ME, I DON’T WANT THE KIDS TO SEE THIS.”

Colin: “This just in…all bombs that activate ten seconds after you move are defective.”
Ryan, relieved, spends the next few beats moving around, happily, as the audience applauds this move.

Then, as Greg is about to wrap up, we hear a distant, un-mic’d (which makes it even funnier), ‘BOOM”, and Ryan flies across behind Greg and Colin, and lands near Karen. It’s a ridiculous ending.
Colin: “…this just in, I was wrong.”

Greg, signing off: “I’m Wide But Not Painful”
Colin: “And I’m……oh shoot…”

One of the best Weird Newscasters we’ve seen so far. Even balanced, and with so many great moments between panelists. The whole ending Ryan bit was genius.

Party Quirks – Greg is the host. His guests are Karen (Greg’s teenage daughter throwing a tantrum), Colin (animals being pulled into a water hole by crocodiles), and Ryan (finds mundane activities as thrilling as a roller coaster).

Karen is incredible from the moment she walks in, displaying so much angry energy. As Colin rings the doorbell, she just repeats “I’m not gonna get that”

I feel like Colin’s quirk is one that would normally be given to Ryan, but Colin’s doing a good enough job with it.

And, of course, Ryan’s misplaced excitement is classic, just yelling with anticipation as he slowly walks in.

Greg, guessing Karen very wrong: “You’re my wife, no my EX-WIFE. No…you’re my underage bride!”
Karen has to stop from laughing at that one
Greg: “I WISH you were my underage bride, and then the show would be longer, and funnier…”

Clive: “And what’s happening to Colin?”
Greg: “I don’t care what’s happening, I’m loving watching it, Clive!”

It’s almost like a Tony moment for Greg. Clive has to keep throwing hints at him, and Colin is just trying so hard, like slowly emphasizing the jaws snapping.
Clive: “Does the word crocodile mean anything to you?”
Greg, finally getting it, just collapses onto the ground as Clive buzzes.

Greg, back at the seats: “Well I hope everyone at home feels superior…”

A truly great PQ round, made funnier by Greg’s guessing troubles, and the strength of all three quirks.

Daytime Talk Show – Greg hosts a show about Little Miss Muffet; Ryan and Karen are members of the public; Colin is in the audience.

As Clive fields suggestions, some juvenile audience member yells out “lesbians!”
Clive: “WHAT? HANG ON!! What nursery rhyme has lesbians in it???”

Greg, immediately: “Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet, but we’re NOT gonna make a value judgment on her sexual orientation…”

Karen: “Yeah, my name’s Lee, I’m her next door neighbor, I AM a lesbian, thank you.”

Greg: “ARE CURDS AND WHEY…A LESBIAN…THING?”
Karen: “…yes they are.”
Greg: “Because you don’t see curds and whey that often in the store, unless two gigantic women wearing flannel shirts are buying it, usually.”
This, rightfully, gets a mixed reaction from the audience. Greg, playing off that, goes right back to the audience and goes “AND WE’RE NOT MAKING VALUE JUDGMENTS, ladies and gentlemen…or characterizing people, because labels…often disable, NOW-”

Ryan is already stopping himself to dissuade the audience: “DON’T JUDGE ME, YOU DON’T DO MY JOB!”
He even bleeps himself in continuing his rant

Karen begins hitting Ryan, as he’s still going “THE LESBOS WANT THE CURDS AND WHEY, I SAY EAT ‘EM SOMEWHERE ELSE”

Greg, nearly breaking: “Heyyy, let’s not get into a, uh, a tuffet situation…”

Colin keeps the curds and whey runner going, by appearing as the founder of the curds-and-whey manufacturing giant, and starts criticizing spiders for defaming his product, which Ryan begins to yell at him for.
Ryan: “THEY…ATTRACT…SPIDERS, OKAY?”
Colin: “YOU attract spiders!”

Greg, with YET ANOTHER PUN: “I guess what he’s saying is talk to the many hands…”

Colin, as someone else: “Yes, I’m the head of Arachnids Anonymous.”
Greg: “…that would be AA?”

The scene ends with Colin charging the stage, and Ryan, but I would have loved Greg putting a button on the scene. Either way, this one REALLY WORKED. Something about both the lesbians runner AND the curds and whey runner really made this work.

Overall: Literally every game was a success, and the mood in the air seemed to just be ridiculous. This was a triumph of a show, even in S10. Greg was on FIRE all night, with great proctoring, and great small lines in scenes. Karen had another nice night, even if she didn’t particularly win any games. Colin and Ryan were strong, with an emphasis on Colin for some of his work in Weird Newscasters. So many games not only worked, but worked insanely well: Party Quirks was live for the first time since Tony was on, Daytime Talk Show and Quiz Show continued their good runs, and and Weird Newscasters just kept piling on the great moments. If anything, this show proved that Whose Line could still put out killer episodes, even in more homogenized zones.

Show Winners: Colin and Ryan
Best Performer: Greg, for nailing so many games
Worst Performer: Karen, but only by default- she was still fantastic this show
Best Game: I am torn between Weird Newscasters and Daytime Talk Show…and I’m gonna go with Weird Newscasters, solely for having the stronger ending, and for being slightly more collaborative.
Worst Game: No games were truly bad tonight, so I’m only going with Film Dub because it comparatively had the most lulls.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S10E02, or You’re a Geezer!

The LA tapings of UK Whose Line, in addition to resuming the emphasis on Ryan and Colin, also had a lot of Greg, which is nice, as Greg was still a solid improv presence at the time. Of the recurring performers, he appears the most in this series, with 5 episodes. A lot of the times, they’d just pair him with a new or burgeoning competitor in what had now become the ‘fourth seat’. And tonight, Dan and Company would enlist the first of many members of the prestigious Groundlings troupe ‘The Black Version’.

For those who are unaware, the Black Version has become a low-key monolith of black talent in Los Angeles over the last decade or so. The troupe was started by MADTV’s Jordan Black, one of the few members of the troupe not to appear on Whose Line, and has consistent of a varying combination of…Gary Anthony Williams, Nyima Funk, Phil LaMarr, Wayne Brady, Debra Wilson and Karen Maruyama.

…Notice anything…familiar about all of those names???

I’ll admit that Wayne and Karen are more recurring than the rest of the troupe, but they’re still very much Groundlings clientele. The Black Version’s gimmick is they spend an entire set doing the ‘black version’ of a given movie, suggested by the audience. It’s almost always hilarious.

I bring up the Black Version because…starting tonight, Dan and Mark are going to gut the shit out of it for the purpose of Whose Line. And they’re gonna start with Phil LaMarr. Why?? Because…he’s Phil LaMarr!!! The guy was Hermes in Futurama, he voiced the best animated Green Lantern, he’s Samurai Jack! And he’s also that guy that Travolta accidentally shot in the face in Pulp Fiction. Phil LaMarr is very ubiquitous in Hollywood, and I can confirm that he’s a very genuine dude in real life. Of course he’s their first choice. If you don’t know why yet, you’ll find out in this episode.

So yeah. Greg, Phil, Ryan and Colin. In LA. This’ll be a fun one.

Let’s Make a Date – Greg is the bachelorette. The bachelors are Phil (a boxer at a press conference), Colin (sitting on the geyser “Old Faithful”), and Ryan (a conceited nudist).

Phil, like Wayne, has the hang of the show almost immediately. His high-energy is even noticeable sitting down.

Greg, to Colin: “How are you?”
Colin, as his quirk is JUST getting to the audience: “I’m fine…for the moment.”

Colin does some great physical work here, getting past the obvious butt jokes, but also just the impact of the geyser shooting through his face.

Ryan feels like he’s been too prepared for this one, with some very open stances.

Once Clive asks Greg to guess, Ryan does his usual ‘swing over the shoulder’ gag.

Greg: “I am…so hesitant about Colin.
Colin nods. Ryan cracks a bit

Clive mistakenly pronounces it ‘geezer’, which Ryan ribs Colin about [“you’re a geezer!”]

Secret – Ryan and Colin are Batman and Robin; the secret is hidden in the Batmobile.

Colin and Ryan briefly argue over who’s gonna reveal the secret. Ryan goes “I thought you…might want to wear it for a change.”
Colin: “Batman, what am I going to do with a Wonder Woman costume?”
Ryan: “Look, people are talking! I hang out with you every day, “what’s with the tall guy who keeps a little boy in a cave…”

This is a great one, because Ryan portrays a Batman with very fragile masculinity, saying he needs to look heterosexual in order to be taken seriously.

This one kind of ends with a thud, though, which is sad, because this was a pretty nice Secret. In fact, I wish it were a little weirder.

Quiz Show – Greg hosts the show “What’s My Sin?”; the other three are the contestants.

Greg goes right from the name and turns this into a Televangelism quiz show. Which is perfect. Plus, he’s able to get the audience to shout the name of the show, which makes Ryan clap a bit.

Greg: “Napoleon!”
Ryan, buzzing in: “Tossing salad?”
Greg: “Correct! That is a venal sin in France on a Thursday.”

Greg: “J. Edgar Hoover.”
Colin, subverting expectations: “Too many vowels”

Greg, asking what the apostles were guilty of: “Mark”
Colin: “Graffiti?”

Greg: “Peter!”
Ryan: “Not signaling!”
Greg: “Yes! Peter made a left turn in Jerusalem and hit a donkey!”
Ryan has to give himself a moment not to crack at that

A very fun round of this, thanks to some killer proctoring from Greg, some very silly lines from Ryan and Colin, and Phil getting the ferocity of the style.

Press Conference – Greg, Phil, and Ryan interview Colin, who is having Clive Anderson’s love child.

HERE WE GO

Greg starts laughing immediately when he sees this. Ryan buckles inward a bit himself.

Greg, immediately: “Are you sore, at all?”

Ryan: “…Why?”
Colin: “This is something that I felt would benefit generations that came after me.”
Clive nods in approval

Greg: “Is it human?”
Colin: “What kind of a question is that? Of course it’s human! It’s..mostly…90% human!”
Greg, going for the jugular: “May I have a follow-up: Does it have a neck???”
I’m sad they didn’t cut to Clive there

Ryan: “When he was done, did he…buzz you out?”
Colin, after definitely getting it: “That rumor has been going around- I’m telling you, it’s a bald-faced lie!”

Greg: “Was it a natural childbirth, or was it in a manner of his own choosing?”
Perfect.
Colin: “It was very painful…and it was in the style of a Hoedown.”

Colin gets it spot-on, and shakes his head as he heads back to the seats. My god, this was a classic.

Props – Ryan and Colin vs. Greg and Phil

Phil, using the prop as a guitar: “This is the first time Art and I have seen each other in well over 25 years…”

A pretty basic props, though the Greg-Phil combo had some energetic moments

Multiple Personalities – Greg, Colin, and Ryan, who are broken down at night, exchange a torch (John Wayne), a petrol can (Elvis Presley), and a map (Captain Kirk).

Basically Changing Emotions, but with impressions. This game does benefit performers who are good at impressions, like Greg and Ryan. Poor Colin.

There’s the usual joke of once an identity is announced, everyone just hands that one to Ryan, this time being the John Wayne prop. He already seems enthused.

Right out of the gate, Greg’s Shatner gets a ton of applause. I mean, of course Greg has the upper hand with Shatner, he’s worked with the man.

Ryan does grab the map, but holds onto the flashlight. Greg, thinking he forgot, begins to grab the flashlight, but Ryan stops him. He then does a John Wayne impression with Captain Kirk pauses. THEN he hands the flashlight to Greg. He had to get that in.

For the first time this series, we get to hear Colin’s funny-but-bad John Wayne, which Clive laughs at almost immediately.

This one ended kind of clumsily, but it was still a fun enough scene, and a good enough impression showcase.

Weird Newscasters – Greg is the anchor; the co-anchor is Colin (a jockey in a race who, no matter how hard he tries, cannot beat Greg); the sportscaster is Phil (James Brown), and the weatherman is Ryan (keeps getting hit by a water cannon).

Ryan gets a confused, mortified expression once he gets his.

Greg starts, and Colin is already on his horse, doing fast-motion racing. It is that effortless for Colin

Of course Phil’s James Brown is great. I can imagine him doing it on Family Guy or something.

Ryan’s is just silly. Just repeated water-pistol abuse. Over and over. It’s basic, but it works

The ending is great- cutting back to slow-mo shots of Colin just missing the finish and Ryan wiping his eyes. Just overdramatic enough.

A pretty nice game of this. Could have been a bit bigger, but they’d get there

Hoedown – All four sing about Colin.

And the highlight of the entire show.

Ryan, immediately, has a physical reaction to this game, as usual.

Let it be known that they were gonna do this one about Cheese…and then someone behind Clive got the bright idea to make it about Colin. Which works even better than cheese, I think

In an audience shot right after the suggestion is confirmed, you can see somebody leaning to his wife and pointing. I bet his wife just asked who Colin is, and he’s pointing him out. Like…it’s the end of the taping, and you STILL haven’t figured out who Colin is???

Greg, starting in a Colin impression: “I LOVE TO SING LIKE COLIN. I REALLY REALLY DO.
I REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY DO.”
He ends this by getting frustrated midway through a verse and doing a dinosaur impression

Phil had a disadvantage, because he didn’t know Colin as well, but he does a very gracious verse, and ends by saying Colin is one ‘fine folically-challenged Canuck’.

Colin takes an extra intro verse. He has every right to.
Colin, eventually: “Everybody’s having fun, they’re singing all about me
LET’S ALL LAUGH ALONG WITH THEM, HA HA HA HEE HEE
It really is quite wonderful, can’t you all see?
Look at them. Look at them. Of me, they’re making a Mochrie.”
HA. HA. HA. HA. PERFECT

Ryan: “You’ve got to love Colin, gotta love him to the end.
I have to admit that he is my best friend
I would not lie to you, this is no jive
Anyway you look at it, he’s still got more hair than Clive!”
And as the others sing the refrain, Ryan and Colin hug it out.

The capper is Ryan going over to Colin, right before he sits down, and saying “I was torn between that and fainting.”

Fantastic Hoedown. Well-remembered for a reason.

Overall: A very strong, if a bit simple, LA taping. Phil LaMarr brought his A-game, even if he occasionally got drowned out by the other three. Greg was proctoring games like it was season 6 again. Ryan had another quiet night, but Colin, once again, was masterful, even in games built around his own existence. The new games worked, for the most part, and it was a generally even show, though Greg and Colin did come alive more than the other two. Remembered for Press Conference and Hoedown, but a bit more wholly significant than just those two games.

Show Winners: Ryan and Phil
Best Performer: Colin. Who else?
Worst Performer: Phil, for not having enough chances to prove himself
Best Game: Press Conference. Strong all the way through
Worst Game: Props was just the weakest.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S10E01, or Our Narcoleptic Hornblower

So. Here, as far as I can gather, is what happened.

Around Series 6 or 7, Ryan Stiles gets a sitcom job in America, playing the regular comic relief character Lewis Kinski on The Drew Carey Show, which is a modest hit on ABC. The Whose Line producers decide to switch their taping schedule to the late spring and early summer, to accommodate Ryan’s sitcom filming schedule.

Meanwhile, Whose Line’s influence grows in the US, with reruns of the 6th-9th seasons of Whose Line paying dividends on Comedy Central, and introducing people with a basic cable subscription to short-form improv. But Dan and Mark wanted more. Using their influence, they managed to get an American version of Whose Line on ABC, with Ryan’s now-friend Drew Carey as the host. The funds were collected, a set was built, and tapings were scheduled.

…And then Dan and Mark remembered they still had the UK version. That they suddenly had no clue what to do with.

The solution was astonishingly simple: using the new US set on the CBS/WB lot in Burbank, California, they would film the regular number of tapings using all-American talent, and a jetlagged Clive Anderson as host, and air it only on Comedy Central (and, unless I’m mistaken, much, much later in the UK). The way they’d work it is by the time US WL would be in full swing, the S10 episodes would hit Comedy Central and provide a modest foil, and eventual beckoner, to the US version.

The UK shows would tape first. I know that because at least one talent recruited for this show would also carry over to the US tapings, with the effect that these early episodes paid way for a semi-regular-ship in the Drew run.

This season would feel very much like a dry run for US WL- several games would be the same, the structure of the show would be slightly different, and Laura Hall would take the reins of the piano (where she remains to this very day).

Tonight’s show would give us three trusted UK Americans, Brad, Colin and Ryan. For the fourth chair, Dan and Mark would go back to the LA well that brought them Karen Maruyama, the Groundlings…or at least an offshoot of the Groundlings. Either way, the guy they got went through several auditions with his entire troupe before it was discussed that he’d gotten on. And seeing as this guy is Wayne Brady, I’m thinking he did pretty well.

That’s a lot of writeup for S10, but…backstory is backstory. Here we go.

The crowd is louder in LA, and the set is the same as US WL, only with different signage, and a big Hollywood sign draped over the back stage. Clive, on the uproarious response from the LA crowd of people with free comp tix, marks “they don’t do this in England”

The intros have to do with good looks, like Brad’s ‘movie star’ good looks. Colin evidently has ‘knitting catalogue’ good looks, which he shakes his head at.

Let’s Make a Date – Brad is the bachelorette. The bachelors are Wayne (a Southern Baptist preacher), Colin (a very nervous driving instructor), and Ryan (a desperate actor who’s only come on the show to be discovered).

Ryan, for the first of many times, completely turns to the desk when he reads what his quirk is.

[For the record…Wayne is a natural for this program at moment number one.]

Wayne, giving a poem: “Because the roses are BLUE…..they can be red!”
[Clive loves this one]

Colin: “I, uh, always do what’s right…RIGHT…RIGHT!”

Because this is 1998, Ryan throws in an ‘I’M THE KING OF THE WORLD’. The audience, as expected, eats this up.

Brad gets pretty much all of them, though he’s a bit too on the nose by guessing Ryan is Leo DiCaprio.

Solid enough LMAD game. Little things carried this, like Colin’s crazy eyes and Ryan’s stances.

Duet – Brad and Wayne sing a modern pop love ballad to Barbara the actress.

Clive: “Bar-Barbara? If your second name’s Ann, I think they’ve got a song worked out already…”

Noted almost immediately is the incredible teamwork between Brad and Wayne, and how professional Wayne is at these singing games.

Wayne does say “why don’t you accompany me to the casting couch”, which is both sweet and disgusting.

A pretty basic number. I feel like Barbara didn’t really know what to think about it all, and she spent most of it looking over Brad.

Quiz Show – Brad hosts the show “Name That Amphibian,” with the other three as the contestants.

A game that surprisingly took this long to debut, and was a staple of this run.

That suggestion is right out of the gate, and gets Ryan laughing. Clive is pretty impressed, too.

Quite obviously, Brad is a great proctor for this one, as his smarmy game-show voice has gotten him almost to announcing for The Price is Right.

Brad: “It’s the only game show that evolves, if you know what I’m talking about, NOW…”

Ryan, finally playing to the right crowds: “My name’s Bruce Perry, I’m a housewife from Fresno, California.”

Brad asks why various amphibians come onto land
Brad: “Mudskipper!”
Ryan, buzzing in: “Sharon Stone?”

Brad: “I’m going to name…a flipper.”
Colin, buzzing in: “A FLIPPER!”
Brad: “YES!”

A very silly start to this round. Still not fully formed, but goofy enough.

Scene to Rap – All four are in a mall.

Ah yes, this one debuts as well, much to the horror of Colin and Ryan.

Clive, finally having the tables turned on him, guesses a mall is ‘a big shop’, before remarking to camera, “I’m new here!”
Man, if Greg was here he’d go to town on this.
Clive continues: “I haven’t even met Divine Brown yet”, which is a reference the audience THANKFULLY still gets.

Right up front you can tell that Brad and Wayne are pretty good at this, though Brad has troubles staying in time,

Ryan comes in and gets the scene going, as an escalator repairman, saying “you probably haven’t noticed the damn’ thing ain’t moving.”

Colin, the whitest man in Canada, attempting to rap: “HEY WHAT’S GOING ON, WHY’S IT SO SLOW
TELL ME NOW, YOU BIG…MOFO.”

Wayne BARELY holds it together at Colin’s dancing. BARELY.

Another very silly scene, but this one did work more than Quiz Show did, I think. All four seemed to be on the same page, even if some, like Colin, came off goofier than others.

Whose Line – Colin is a general informing President Ryan that the Earth is about to be destroyed by a comet.

Aw, man, we haven’t seen this one in a while..

Moment one of the game, Ryan, as the president, is…playing an arcade game. Nice touch.
Colin, using this motion against him: “Mr. President, PLEASE…leave the intern alone.”
HAHAHAHAHA

Colin: “We just got a message in, from….the message area.”
Ryan: “Are you talking about our satellite?”
Colin: “THAT’S IT!”

There’s a moment where, after Ryan’s line of ‘help me John, I’m shrinking’, Ryan’s hand is just lingering around Colin’s nipple area, occasionally making an impact. After a moment of his, he yanks his hand away.

Colin: “Me and the boys came up with this plan: “I’m in the mood for a big one.”
The audience loves this one. It just fits!

Ryan: “I don’t want to get up the next morning and read the headline in the paper: “Cover me in oil and let the games begin!”

The game could have used one more beat before the buzz, but this one largely worked, as the Colin-Ryan dynamic was strong as ever.

Daytime Talk Show – Brad hosts a talk show about Little Boy Blue; Ryan is Little Boy Blue, Colin is his disgruntled neighbor, Wayne is in the audience.

This is basically News Report, but done as Jerry Springer, and proctored a bit more strongly.

Ryan and Colin IMMEDIATELY get the Springer dynamic they’re supposed to go far, and are already bickering at lightning speed.

Ryan: “If you don’t like the horn-blowing, you should leave the neighborhood!”
Colin: “HEY. THE HORNS ARE DAMN FINE PEOPLE. WHY DON’T YOU LEAVE THEM ALONE.”
HA. HAAA.

Hell, Colin’s already strangling Ryan even before Wayne is polled in the audience.

Ryan just goes on a long rant about sleeping in a haystack, and of course he nails the clientele. Hell, even throws in a basic-cable censor-noise, for good measure.

Brad: “Let’s see what the audience thinks of our…narcoleptic hornblower.”

Brad, to Wayne: “Yes, sir, you, with all the lights on you!”

As Wayne is going on about wanting to kick Colin, he goes to the guy in front of him, also a black dude, and goes “I spit on you, SORRY!”

Colin: “Hey, I know him, that’s Little Jack Horner, he’s always got his thumb up something!”

Wayne, for his second character, does his ‘echoey microphone’ bit, and it works with the audience.

As this one ends, it’s clear that this game is MADE for US audiences. They eat up the sort of chaos comedy that this game is rooted in, and it just worked here, right from the start.

Greatest Hits – Ryan and Colin advertise “Songs of Hypochondriacs,” sung by Wayne and Brad.

The first ever interruption pun:
Ryan: “We’ll be back to your regularly scheduled show, Touched by an Uncle, in just a moment…”

Wayne in the reggae style is already natural. Brad wisely just backs him up here.

Ryan names his German song, after a moment of composure: “I’ve got them, and they hang like grapes!”

Brad kills this one, just by doing a very goofy German voice for this one, and picking a very basic and funny rhyme scheme. Plus, as is custom for Brad in this era, there is a mention of monkeys and bananas.

A very solid Greatest Hits, proving that Wayne and Brad could make great stuff together, and could overpower the Ryan-Colin banter.

Overall: A promising start. This is one of the first shows where the singing competitors seemed to outdo Colin and Ryan, and Wayne and Brad had a ton of great stuff throughout the night, with an emphasis on Wayne, who was stellar right out of the gate. The new games either sort of worked, like Quiz Show and Scene to Rap, or REALLY WORKED, like Daytime Talk Show, while not overpowering the standards like LMAD and Whose Line. If anything, Ryan had the more pedestrian show, as the other three easily outdid him, but if anything that’s a good problem to have.

Show Winners: Wayne and Ryan
Best Performer: Wayne Brady. It’s his first show and he’s already feeling like a pro.
Worst Performer: Ryan, for having a very quiet night.
Best Game: Daytime Talk Show
Worst Game: Duet. Just had the least to it.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S09E19, or WEASELS WEASELS GO AWAY

At long last, we’ve hit the end of Series 9 of Whose Line, and subsequently the end of the show’s run in the UK (asterisk). This show is the final one for the great Steve Frost, who did what he could while working with more talented improvisers over the last few series. Still, we’ve got Brad, Ryan and Colin here, and this comes from the same taping that has given us Episodes 6 and 10, the former being alright and the latter being a pretty great one. And…for once this series, we’re squeezing three episodes, plus some compilation refuse, out of a taping. Thankfully this won’t happen again until the longer tapings during the US era.

Film and Theatre Styles – Ryan has flown all the way from another galaxy to tell Colin that he’s the only one who can save the Earth

Audience member: “SLAPHEAD. I mean, uh, stick.”
Clive: “That was a PREPARED GAG….AT COLIN MOCHRIE’S EXPENSE.”

Clive: “Playboy channel. And you look as though you enjoy that yourself, don’t you?”

Again, another very high-concept scene description.

Ryan: “CONGRATULATIONS. You have been elected the ONE TO SAVE THE PLANET.”
Colin: “Save it? How?”
Ryan: “…Ooooh, I didn’t find that out…”

Clive, immediately, has them do Playboy Channel
Colin: “Let me get into the shower.”
And it just turns into a steamy photo shoot.

Ryan even helps get Colin’s nipples erect. Once Clive buzzes, Colin just shakes his head. He looks at Ryan, still holding the camera. Ryan breaks.

Clive: “Religious epic.”
Ryan: “…and you shall TAKE your nipples…and go out amongst the people, and show them.”
Colin: “Yes, I will keep them abreast of me.”

Colin: “I shall lay down the laws of the lord. They shall come through me…as though I was a high-fi.”
Ryan:
Screen Shot 2019-02-09 at 11.37.36 AM.png
Screen Shot 2019-02-09 at 11.37.45 AM.png
BUZZZZ

Ryan, kung-fu, dubbing out a lot: “Then we…shall have to do battle…ME…..from my planet. YOU…………….from earth.”

There’s a great gag with Colin taking out Ryan’s still-beating heart, then using it for the Speed style. Colin has to say ‘here, you take it, my hand’s cramping.”
Screen Shot 2019-02-09 at 11.40.21 AM.png
BUZZ
Clive: “…Playboy channel again.”

Screen Shot 2019-02-09 at 11.40.52 AM.png

As they wrap that up…man, that was a funny one. One of the better ones in a while, and up to the surprisingly nice standard of F&TS from this series. Just so many silly moments, and so many moments where Colin or Ryan was about to break.

Interrogation – Steve and Brad interrogate Ryan, who mooned at the Queen.

This was a one-time game that was only done for this one, though Colin and Brad have adopted it for their stage show. It’s kind of odd Colin wasn’t in the guesser role, but Ryan seems to fit well.

Steve: “Yeah, you can blow it through your ass, matey.”

Ryan, though, has a genius move in mind. He looks towards the chairs, and says “AND DON’T THINK I DON’T SEE THE GUY BEHIND THE MIRROR!”
Colin, from the background, without a moment to think: “…I TOLD YA YOU SHOULD HAVE PUT THE GLASS IN THE OTHER WAY!”
The audience applauds at this. Brad and Steve hastily do up the curtains. Beautiful. Meanwhile, Colin mimes smoking a cigarette back there

This is a great game, because the guesses are gradual, and it’s more of a back-and-forth. Once Ryan gets that he mooned someone, the audience applauds, and the game keeps going.

Steve has a great monologue after Ryan says he doesn’t think the person is so special, and he goes “that’s just your problem. Because there’s a lot of people in this country who do. Who look up to her. Alright? I mean, you HAVE to look up to her, because she stands on that balcony all the time.”

Ryan gets ready to confess: “I pulled my pants down, and showed my pearly white butt to…”
And then he stops…he’s not sure. He needs more time. He turns to both Steve and Brad, nervously, and goes “…first to Cilla Black…”
That brings back a runner from like S7. Not bad.

As Ryan guesses the queen (“Look, she may be YOUR royalty…”), you can still see he’s very unsure, but once the audience applauds his command returns, and Clive buzzes. Plus, as he’s carried off, he yells at Colin “I STILL SEE YOU”, and Colin puts up his dukes.

A really nice game, one that should have been played more often on WL. Great showcase for Ryan, too.

Stand, Sit, Bend – Ryan, Colin, and Brad are 1940s gangsters blowing a safe while the cops close in on them.

Ooh, wow, we haven’t seen this one in a while!

The accents these three are using are all priceless.

This is a great group for this, because they’re constantly changing positions, and throwing each other for a loop.

I didn’t write a lot down, but this was a really fun one, and very fast paced.

World’s Worst – All four act out the world’s worst self-improvement/teach yourself video.

Ryan: “You don’t have to know how to sing to be the life of the party. Not if you know how to clench your butt right.”
Screen Shot 2019-02-09 at 11.59.04 AM.png
He keeps going for WELL after the buzzer with this.

Colin: “Now you wanna have confidence…lots and lots of confidence…[sniff] OKAAAYYY”

Colin: “You can improve your memory in only 15 minutes with this book. [..] You can improve your memory in only 15 minutes with this book.”
BUZZ
Brad: “So, you’re gay AND you wanna learn the accordion.”
BUZZ. Brad facepalms after doing this one

Ryan does another weird one, and after the buzzer he just goes into the butt clenching again, just to piss off Clive.

Colin, after waiting for Ryan to finish: “….YOU CAN IMPROVE YOUR MEMORY WITH THIS BOOK IN ONLY 15 MINUTES.”
BUZZ

Ryan: “Sex can be fun if you have fun with sex. Next time you climax, why not yell your own name?”
BUZZ

I think they all broke Clive in this one. These were all really good, but Ryan especially was just terrorizing Clive.

Props – Ryan and Brad vs. Steve and Colin

Aww, the last of the legendary Steve-Colin Props combo

So many silly ones in this.

Screen Shot 2019-02-09 at 12.05.31 PM.pngColin: “YOU DON’T HAVE MUCH TIME, MR. BOND.”

Colin, holding the props to his ears: “…Once I’m King…”
HAAAA…

Super funny Props round there. So many silly ideas.

Number of Words – Brad (5 words) is the madam of a brothel in the Deep South, Colin (2 words) is one of the girls, Steve (4 words) is a customer and the mayor of the town, and Ryan (3 words) is a policeman coming to raid the building.

The performers did a good job of setting up the milieu and characters.

Steve: “I got no money.”
Colin: “…Bye bye.”

Steve: “Would you like some…”
Ryan: “SEX? NO THANKS.”
Colin: “For free?”
Ryan: “Well…for free?”

Another really good scene. They really just fit into that scene description super well.

Foreign Film Dub – Colin and Brad act out the film “Return of the Bald Weasels” in Romanian, translated by Steve and Ryan.

Once Clive announces the scene, Colin and Brad exchange a puzzled look. Colin, for the umpteenth time tonight, just shakes his head and cracks up.

My first laugh of the scene was Ryan translating a line as ‘it’s very important that you get into your costume to scare them off’. Colin shakes his head at that as well.

Steve: “Can’t you see that I love you?”
Ryan: “But I am a man…and you are a man dressed up as a fish!”
Steve: “Put on the maggot uniform.”
Ryan: “Am I gonna have to de-bone you again?”
Clive completely loses it at that

Colin comes at the weasels in costume.
Steve, without options: “WEASELS WEASELS GO AWAY, COME BACK ANOTHER DAY.”
BUZZZ

Man, this show is just on a roll. This was another really funny scene. Steve and Ryan did some good work here.

Greatest Hits – Ryan and Colin advertise “Songs of the Locker Room,” sung by Brad.

This game features our last-ever appearance of Richard Vranch, which is a very sad milestone to reach.

Ryan: “That would be that lovely french ballad ‘if you drop the soap, leave it where it is…”

Brad: “Don’t ever mind/ if you pick it up, someone’ll come from behind.”
HA.

Colin’s next title, “You call it football, I call it soccer, what the hell?”, gets Ryan to crack up. Not quite at ‘Don’t Want Your Milk’ levels, but still enough.

Brad ends on a very good German bierhall number, and that’s how we wrap up 5 series’ in the BBC studios. With a playful little round of Greatest Hits whose only weakness is that it’s not quite as good as the rest of the show.

Overall: A surprise triumph. I didn’t think this taping had anything left, but we still had classics like Interrogation, F&TS and World’s Worst, as well as hidden gems like Stand Sit Bend and Number of Words. Even Steve’s issues didn’t stand out too much tonight, as he still did what he could. Everybody dominated at least one game, though Brad’s early-season dominance was limited only to Greatest Hits. Ryan, however, had another insane day, having career games in Interrogation and World’s Worst. Fantastic way to end a very uneven series.

Show Winners: Brad and Colin
Best Performer: Ryan. [clenches butt again]
Worst Performer: Steve, but only by default.
Best Game: Interrogation. F&TS came close but Interrogation was just an innovative game, with a great performance from Ryan, and Colin who’s not even in the game.
Worst Game: Greatest Hits had the least to it.

SERIES 9 SUPERLATIVES!

Best Episode: E4. In which Stephen Fry and Josie Lawrence class up Whose Line one more time, and add Shakespeare, a trendy vicar, and that great F&TS. This one also has a stellar Colin SFX, and just good work from everybody, even Stephen.
2nd Best Episode: E1, right from the beginning you can see the spark of inspiration coming from all four, even in simple games like Props and World’s Worst. Weird Newscasters works from here on out, LMAD feels fully-realized, and Mission Impossible is pants-wettingly insane.
Worst Episode: E7, with George Wendt just bringing everything down with him.
Best Regular: TIE between Ryan Stiles and Colin Mochrie, who had the exact same number of show wins this year, and were both at the top of their game.
Best Recurring Guest: Brad Sherwood over Greg Proops. Not only did he have more show wins, but his material felt so fresh and energetic since returning from the depths after 5 years.
Worst Guest: George Wendt
Most Improved: Brad Sherwood. Even from where he was in S4, he was a ton better.
Most Unlikely Successful Combo: Steve and Colin, in several rounds of props this series.
Best Newcomer: Even with lack of real competition, Karen Maruyama, E2, for coming in with a fresh attitude from LA and feeling like she belonged up there with the greats.
Best Guest Star: Stephen Fry, E4. Quite interesting indeed.
Guest we Wish Wasn’t Done After This Series: TIE- Josie Lawrence and Steve Frost. Gonna miss them both.

Now? We move to LA. And we get even more new blood from the LA improv scene.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S09E18, or My Fax is Ruined

This penultimate show of the series is the last one featuring the great Josie Lawrence, who went from a staple of the show to an eventual foil for the show’s American stars. Yes, she makes an appearance or two during the US run, and of course she’s still performing at the comedy store TO THIS DAY, but…this is the end of her contributions to the UK run of Whose Line. Which is kind of upsetting.

This show, featuring Josie, Greg, Ryan & Colin…comes from a taping that has yet to have its own episode, only briefly seen in compilations. So at least we get a fresh one before we go.

Let’s Make a Date – Josie is the bachelorette. The bachelors are Greg (characters from “A Streetcar Named Desire”), Colin (has an acute sense of smell), and Ryan (horny Frankenstein’s monster).

Greg goes right into some lines after cutting off Josie
Josie: “…Can I ask my question please, first?”

Greg going right into a Tennessee Williams monologue is pretty perfect.

Ryan is VERY bawdy with his, but is just silly enough. He even stands up, beginning to go towards Josie, but Colin has to put him back down,

Greg, meanwhile, is doing a pretty nice Brando.

Colin: “Check the bottom of your shoe. Right now.”
Josie: “…’ts covered in poo!”
Colin: “mmmmmhm.”

Ryan: “ME TOUCH BUMPY THINGS ON CHEST.”
Colin: [restrains Ryan again]

Josie manages to guess all of these pretty well…somehow, making this a successful slow burn of a round. The runner of Colin placating Ryan was a great one.

Sound Effects – Colin is a medieval knight preparing for a joust. Ryan provides sound effects.

My first big laugh is a cat somehow winding up in Colin’s armor, and him having to remove everything, take out the cat, and put everything back on

So many silly little things: the amount of animals flying out the window, accidentally stabbing himself with an axe, getting on a horse only for it to be a goat…and then throwing THAT out the window.

An insanely silly SFX round- not completely great, but I laughed a bunch.

Hoedown – All four sing about foreign travel.

Bit early for a Hoedown, isn’t it?

The verses vary, but there aren’t bad ones. Josie’s is cute, Greg’s is a bit too on the nose about the US.

Colin’s is great though:
“Come on over to Canada, we’ve got mountains galore!
We’ve got people who sleep soundly, you’ll never hear them snore!
We’ve got seas and planes and things and things and things and things and things.
And everyone, EVERYONE….can sing better than this.”

Fine Hoedown. Maybe not as good as the last few, but still fine.

Hats: TV Advertisements 

Ah, yes. This one.

It starts innocently enough:

Screen Shot 2019-02-08 at 5.30.20 PM.pngGreg: “Hello, you may remember me from the Secret Squirrel show many years ago. Now I’m selling my own line of cosmetics. They’re called…”
BUZZ
Greg: “Morocco’s Moles!”
He then decides to go on.
Greg: “You put them on your FACE”
BUZZZZZ
Greg: “AND THEN YOU BUZZ BEFORE IT’S FUNNY!”
BUZZZZ

Screen Shot 2019-02-08 at 5.32.56 PM.pngColin: “…Here at Wacko’s Funeral Parlor…”

The rest of this is just some moderately amusing jokes from Ryan, Colin and Josie, and Greg just going up and refusing to leave in different hats. He ends on this one:

Screen Shot 2019-02-08 at 5.34.13 PM.pngGreg: “You know, now that Hong Kong has been given back, there’s jobs in the communist army for all of us. Come on over.”
BUZZ
Greg: “Do you like a diet of rice and fish heads?”
BUZZ
Greg: “Do you like marching through the woods 24 hours a day?”
BUZZZZZ
Greg: “Would you like to share one rifle with everyone in your platoon?”
BUZZZ
Greg: “THEN JOIN”
BUZZZZZ
Greg: “TODAY”
BUZZZZ
Greg: “The buzzing sound you hear is the capitalists, trying to oppress us!”
BBUZZZZZZZZ

Dear lord, Greg’s defiance saved that game. I dunno what spurned him on, but he was just refusing to let Clive win. I respect him for it.

Mission Impossible – Greg gives Ryan and Colin to buy a pair of shoes.

Clive gets his task from the audience, but someone else keeps shouting something.
Greg: “Hey, no more callers, we have a winner, dude!”
Clive: “…and we may have a loser, Greg.”
Greg: [smiles, and mouths I HATE HIM to the camera]

Greg mentions the ‘Emiress of Groovesnackistan’, which must be a relative of ‘the Emir of Groovefunkistan’, who factors into the ‘The Cat’ scene.

Greg: “This tape will self destruct-”
Ryan, shutting off the tape: “It doesn’t matter. Look…”
Greg: “BOOM.”

Colin: “I’ve got the entire shoe readout in my pants.”
[A moment where Colin and Ryan try their best not to crack at this line]

Colin introduces the detail of having a fax machine in his ass, which is wonderful, and Ryan uses that to add a ‘help…let me out…’ joke, which Colin refuses to address.

Ryan: “Wait a minute, I’ve got a bellybutton that’s an outie.”
[Colin gives Ryan a very weird look]
Ryan: “Grab on and I’ll lower you down”
Colin: “You are a man of many talents.”

Colin does try to one-up Ryan: “It’s alright, my bellybutton’s an INNIE, i can try and catch you in it!”

Colin notes that one of the shoes is ticking.
Ryan: “You’re right. This one’s quiet, it must be a Hush-Puppy.”
HA

Ryan does return the favor again: “You can smother it in that innie bellybutton of yours!”
Colin briefly gives Ryan a look. My god this game.

Post-explosion
Colin: “Oh, my fax is ruined!”
Ryan has a frustrated look, but once the buzzer sounds he breaks. Like he was waiting to all game.

A very funny Mission Impossible. It got just weird enough.

Greatest Hits – Greg and Ryan advertise “Songs of the Hospital,” sung by Josie.

GREG doing Greatest Hits? Alright then

Ryan: “I had my first kiss to that very song.”
Greg: “That’s amazing. I had my appendix out while that song was playing.”

This is a pretty standard one, but Josie’s children’s song is pretty funny, and manages to crack up Colin in the background.

Overall: A perfectly fine show. I feel like I could have used a little more of Josie, but she still was fine whenever she was used. There were good games of Mission Impossible and LMAD, and a chaotic Hats, but everything else was very middling and forgettable. This show was a tour de force for Greg, who seemed to be back in his dominant form for the night, and a quieter, comparatively, night for Colin.

Show Winners: Greg and Colin
Best Performer: Greg Proops, for owning games like the old days.
Worst Performer: Josie Lawrence, whose best stuff wasn’t really present here
Best Game: Mission Impossible. So many bizarre choices
Worst Game: Greatest Hits by default. Not really a lot to say about it.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S09E17, or THE EYES OF THE WORLD WERE UPON ME.

Good news is we’ve gone from a second episode from bad tapings to a second episode from a really, really good taping. This show brings us back to Episode 1, which was a strong show all-around, and had that insanely funny Mission Impossible. Hopefully even the table-scraps of that show will work here.

This also means we’re gonna go through some lasts pretty quickly- this is Rory Bremner’s last ever-Whose Line. Not a HUGE loss, but still a loss.

Film and Theatre Styles – Ryan and Greg are scientists about to shrink themselves down to get into someone’s body, in the styles of Woody Allen, sex eduction video, kabuki, Riverdance, and horror movie.

Another high-concept F&TS

Ryan: “Step into the chamber”
Clive, buzzing: “Woody Allen”
Greg, to camera: “Perfect. Going to shrink myself to go inside with HIMMLER.”
That might be better than his Allen from last show

Clive: “sex education video!”
Ryan: “…Before we step into the chamber….it’s always important to get to know your partner.”
Ryan, to Greg: “Hi, I’m Ryan
Greg: “Hi, I’m Greg. This is my body, and THIS…is my penis.”

After a conversation on ‘heavy petting’, Ryan ends up doing this to Greg:
Screen Shot 2019-02-07 at 11.48.56 AM.png
After the buzz, Ryan and Greg crack up at this.
Clive: “…I guess that’s Ryan’s idea of heavy petting…”

For the kabuki style, Greg says something in Japanese and translates it with subtitles. Ryan then says something in Japanese…then translates it as the exact same thing he just said.

The image of Ryan and Greg riverdancing is a truly wonderful one.

There’s a very goofy ending to this one, but it’s a solid enough F&TS scene. No match for last show’s, but still good.

Press Conference – Greg, Rory, and Ryan interview Colin, who claims to have slept with every member of the Royal family.

Ryan, immediately: “I’m wondering who was first?”
Colin: “I think it was obvious, quite obvious, from the photo; it was me.”
AND WE’RE OFF TO THE RACES

Greg: “How long did it take?”
Colin: “It took about fifteen hours. ALTHOUGH…I did hear of one mexican who managed to do it in fourteen minutes.”

Rory: “Was anybody watching?”
Colin: “…THE EYES OF THE WORLD WERE UPON ME.”

Rory: “So, when is the book coming out?”
Colin: “The book will be coming out next week, as I was writing as I was doing this.”
Man, this is just too good this week

Greg: “Which one was your favorite, out of all of them?”
Ryan: “Yeah, I think we all wanna know that.”
Colin: “I would say…the one that was the gentlest.”
Greg, really pressing Colin: “And which one would that be?”

Colin, still not really knowing, guesses ‘Softie the Gentle Elf’
Ryan, taking this: “Oh, is that the one with the ears? Okay.”

Colin, given the short amount of time, doesn’t get this one, but it’s still a phenomenal round. Just from the quality of Colin’s responses.

Sound Effects – Colin is a New York cop in his patrol car who gets called to do a drug bust.

Great start to this one. Colin’s sleeping…then Ryan throws in a car horn. Colin shrugs, gets up, and continues driving. Fantastic subversion of expectations.

I also love the sound of Colin running over various dogs and people on the way to this bust.

A very okay SFX scene, but still relatively funny

Film Review – Rory reviews the film “Attack of the Giant Bananas,” acted out by Greg, Colin, and Ryan.

I forgot they did this game. Sort of a sequel to Musical Film Review, except without the singers.

This is a showcase for Rory’s Barry Norman impression, which is very quick and witty, but…plays right into his niche, like usual.

Ryan: “We’ve lost contact with the ship, sir. It seemed to just…slip away.”
HA

Greg gets to bring back his “CITIZENS OF EARTH, REMAIN IN YOUR HOMES” character from 7×05, this time without the cracking up.
Greg: “I am Chief Banana. This…is my bunch.”
HA

Rory: “…the wonderful Greg Proops literally acting out of his skin, there.”

Rory does make the mistake of ‘pimping out’ Colin, by making him do an Alec Guinness impression, and solve the entire conflict within one minute.

Luckily, Colin’s Guinness leads to a good line: “…Use the Sauce”

Ryan, pouring the chocolate sauce on Greg: “Look, the banana’s split!”
BUZZZZ

Amusing enough, but…nothing more that bad banana puns and haphazard proctoring by Rory.

Secret – Colin and Ryan are Esmeralda and the Hunchback of Notre Dame; the secret is hidden inside the bell.

Colin: “There’s beauty deep inside of you!”
Ryan: “Then kiss me!”
Colin: “…COME ON, NOW!”

Colin gets to reveal the secret this time, and it’s a good one: “…A TUBA!”
Ryan: “Yeah…I get tired of ringing the bell all the time.”

Colin: “Quasimodo, I could never love a man who plays a tuba. My mother was…killed in a tuba accident! She was walking under the tuba cathedral when…a juggling trick went horribly wrong.”

This is kind of a weak one, but it’s got a great ending. Colin rules out Ryan because of his ugliness, but he takes a pause, brushes his hair, then Colin disrobes for him. It’s hysterical. It’s just too bad the whole middle bit of the scene really didn’t fly.

Picture – All four act out a day in the jungle.

Screen Shot 2019-02-07 at 12.17.21 PM.pngGreg, before Clive can even throw in a scene description: “HOW D’YA LIKE THE SIZE OF MY VINE???”
Clive: “It’s ‘one day in the jungle’
Greg: “Okay, thanks, I’ll do the joke over to less laughter this time…”

Colin: “I HAVE A CRAMP.”
Rory: “Here, let me hold it for you?”

Ryan: “If you think a cramp is bad, my butt’s right above your head!”

Greg, as Ryan clenches: “I told you not to eat those green bananas, cheetah!”

Very short, but still a very silly scene.

Party Quirks – Greg is the host. His guests are Rory (John Motson on The Pull), Colin (trapped outside a submarine as it starts to submerge), and Ryan (trying to smuggle animals through customs in his underpants).

Greg: “Yes, it’s a move gradually to your right party.”
Clive: “…a bit like the labour party, then?”
Greg: “YOU SLY RACCOON!”

Ryan’s is fantastic, because it combines A.) great physicality, and B.) animal noises.

Again, very okay, but with a few fun moments for the road.

Hoedown – All four sing about winning the lottery.

When Clive announces this game, Ryan briefly does his gazelle face, and sarcastically paces right up to the step. The other three follow. Colin even lands in a very dynamic stance.

Greg’s is kind of uneventful. Rory kind of speeds through his, similar to Niall, but doesn’t do an impression, and ends with a great line: “I can’t wait to see the smile on their face when they see my bonus ball.”
…and I think he stole Ryan’s.

Colin’s…is legendary
Colin: “If I won the lottery, I’d be one happy clown.
Cause then I’d hire someone, to do this Hoedown
So if what I say isn’t funny, and you’re vexed.
Don’t worry, cause…Ryan’s coming up with funny, he’s next!”
Rory was cackling through most of this one, as was I.

Ryan, now with no choice but to be funny:
“I hope to win the lottery, with a lot of luck
Boy would I go crazy, I’d probably even [COUGH]”

A much better hoedown than the norm.

Overall: You can see why all the good games went with E1, because…barring Press Conference and Hoedown, there wasn’t a ton left here. A lot of games were very one-note, and it didn’t help that Rory is still out of the other three’s league. This one was another triumph for Colin, as his inspired moments are making the most of these second-episodes.

Show Winner: Rory
Best Performer: Colin. That Hoedown verse was just the cherry on top.
Worst Performer: Rory. Sad to say, he was never really a match for the other three.
Best Game: Press Conference.
Worst Game: Film Trailer. Very disjointed and lame.

Good news is we only have two episodes left in this…very long series, and one of them, which is up next…is one from a taping we haven’t even gotten a full episode from yet. It’s also a final show for a Whose Line legend, and I’m excited to talk about it.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S09E16, or OCH AYE.

We’re well within the ‘giving tapings a second episode’ portion of Series 9 of whose line, and the only cases where they’re better than the original episodes is when the original episode…is shit. [I wrote that like an Andy Parsons MTW joke] Last show, E15, was an improvement over its source episode, E9, so hopefully this show will be an improvement over it’s source show, E7.

…the, uh…George Wendt show.

Dear God, I hope it is possible to get good material out of this taping.

Film and Theatre Styles – Colin has forgotten to heed the warning to keep his pet gremlin Greg away from water, in the styles of Braveheart, Australian soap opera, and Woody Allen.

[Pretends he hasn’t watched this one a million times already]. Ah. I wonder if this’ll be better than the George-Ryan]

In fielding suggestions, Clive is confused by a woman yelling ‘Three Stooges’. He initially thinks she’s saying the Goodies, due to her very shrill, accent voice…which Greg proceeds to do a perfect impression of.
Clive: “…I’m sorry, madam, the improvisers are not supposed to make fun of the audience”
[Heh, wait until Wayne Brady pulls down an audience member’s pants]

Couple of things to note. 1. The unusual pairing of Greg and Colin, which is rarely used but definitely works. 2. The insanely high-concept scene suggestion, based off of the film Gremlins

The first bit is just standard, high-energy stuff from both, though it’s kind of odd to see Colin as the straight man.

Braveheart style:
Greg: [cracks at the juxtaposition, then]: “YE CAN DRY ME OUT…BUT YOU’LL NEVER TAKE AWAY ME FREEDOM!”

Greg: “I’m a Scottish Gremlin, so don’t expect me to buy the drinks.”
Colin, obviously knowing this accent well: “Dinnae gimme that rubbish, ye…wee ballarney…bochy-nochy-fochy….”
Greg, questioning if Colin just got away with something on national television: “DID YE JUST CALL ME A WEE BALLARNEY BOCHY NOCHY *FOCHY*??”

Once that style ends, with Colin oching all over Greg, Clive, cracking up, makes the mistake of saying “very good shirt for this, but I’m not sure if the accent’s very convincing.”

In the Australian soap style, Greg starts right in with “you gabbed all ovah me, mate”
Colin, STILL DOING SCOTTISH: “OCH AYE I DID, OOCH.”
Ryan, in the back:
Screen Shot 2019-02-06 at 4.23.33 PM.png

Greg: “Now you’re gabbin’ all over yourself.”
Colin: “Och, I hate bein’ doon under.”
Greg: [cracks in mid-sentence]
Colin: “OCH, WE’VE GOT TO STOP YE FROM BEIN’ A NASTY GREMLIN, OCH OCH AYE.”

Clive buzzes, and both Colin and Ryan crack. Colin just sort of shrugs it off.
Clive: “…Why have the Scots invaded Australia?”
Ryan is STILL cracking up in the back.

For the Woody Allen style, Colin wisely just lets Greg roll with his impression, a great one, until he tries to leave the scene, at which point Colin, STILL SCOTTISH, goes “OCH YOU’RE NO GOIN’ ANYWHERE.”
BUZZZZZZ

Dear lord, that was masterful. That was just Colin Mochrie doing something diabolical with a scene solely because he could. One of the best F&TS since…roughly the ‘You’re from Australia, aren’t you?’ one with Ryan and Josie.

Old Job, New Job – George takes his wife Greg to a restaurant; the waiter, Ryan, used to be a drugs squad officer.

Oddly enough, Clive sounds out the name of the game very slowly. Perhaps he made another ‘old knob new knob’ slip-up beforehand.

Ryan: “How ’bout a table-UP AGAINST THE WALL. UP AGAINST THE WALL.”

Ryan, as he pats down George: “Smoking or non-smoking?”
George: “I’m smoking right now, baby.”
[insert gritted teeth Clive from that Superheroes when Greg insulted him]

Ryan tried his best, but this was a weak one. No avoiding it. If anything, George looked bored.

Let’s Make a Date – Greg is the bachelorette. The bachelors are George (a builder on a construction site), Colin (trying to impress Greg with his seductive accents), and Ryan (suffers from tremendous mood swings).

Yeah, IMMEDIATELY you can tell that George isn’t especially into this.

Colin: “Bonjour”
Greg: “Ooh, Bonjour. En chante?” [Badly translated from French by an American]
Colin: “…yes.”
Ryan turns to crack at this. Clive starts laughing loudly at the seats.

Colin’s is great, because he keeps going through goofy accents…eventually landing on his Scottish again, giving a very sexy ‘Och Ayyyyyye”

This one is actually perfect for Ryan, because he’s fantastic at going from 0 to 10, then back to 0.

Greg manages to get most of these, though I love his guess of Colin as someone “whose accent is taking a train across Europe”

Fairly solid LMAD. Improvement on last show’s.

Foreign Film Dub – Colin and George act out the Turkish film “The Return of the Chicken;” translated by Ryan and Greg.

…George Wendt…doing Foreign Film Dub. Okay then.

Clive, fielding dialect suggestions: “…we’re not doing anymore Scottish tonight”

Clive, to the audience member that gives the title: “You’ve got a lot of suggestions in tonight. None of them have worked so far, but…”

A lot of George and Colin’s Turkish lines have some stereotypical ‘tongue-waggling’ things thrown in. Greg responds by adding a dryly-read one into one of his translations.

There’s a fantastic moment where Colin’s Turkish accent begins to get very Scottish…and then he wipes the spit from around his mouth.
Ryan: “…I miss the chicken as I miss the hair from my legs”
[this little exchange kills me:]
Screen Shot 2019-02-06 at 4.51.24 PM.png
Screen Shot 2019-02-06 at 4.51.34 PM.png

Ryan: “It smells like goat pee.”
Greg: “You’re close! It’s chicken juice!”
Dear lord!

Not a perfect game, as George kept going in on Colin as if to make the translations difficult, but a very funny one, with some good choice lines.

Press Conference – Greg, George, and Ryan interview Colin, who claims that President Clinton exposed himself to him.

…and this went out BEFORE the Lewinsky scandal?

Not one of the better Press Conferences out there. A bit too quick, the questions weren’t memorable, and…given the topic, it didn’t do a whole hell of a lot.

Weird Newscasters – Greg is the anchorman; Ryan (constantly moans about his personal problems) is the co-anchor; George (gets excessively turned on by sport) is the sportscaster; and Colin (always wanted to be a chorus line choreographer) is the weatherman.

Colin cracks up at his quirk description. I don’t blame him.

The back and forth between Greg and Ryan is pretty good here, especially considering that it’s a contrast between them, and Ryan keeps bringing every topic down.

George: “Giant basketball stars…uh…I think it’s time we listed penis size in the program…”
A FUNNY LINE FROM GEORGE. NOT BAD.

Unsurprisingly, Colin absolutely owns his, going all over the stage, dancing and flailing his arms.
Greg: “So does that mean we can expect rain tomorrow, Colin?”
Colin, arms outstretched: “…I don’t know.”

This one worked, solely because all four seemed to be in sync, and there was enough that carried over, especially with Ryan’s, that it all worked out. Still, we’d have to wait a few years to see this game’s full potential.

Mission Impossible – Greg gives Ryan and Colin a mission to take the car to the car wash.

Greg: “Remember, if you two are caught or killed, that’s tough shit.”

Ryan goes to click off the tape.
Greg: “I’m not done yet!”
Fantastic. Ryan even seems impressed by this.

Colin suggests jumping out the window: “Put on the big puffy shoes!”
Ryan, cracking already: “RIGHT!”

They finally get into the car.
Colin: “Wait a minute…we better pretend we’re in England.”
With that, he hands the steering wheel to Ryan, who’s sitting on the driver’s side in England.

Ryan takes a gadget out of the front compartment…Colin puts it on his head.
Ryan: “…baseball hats? That oughta keep terrorists away…”
Colin: “But you press these buttons, and a cricket match comes on the front part, it bores the terrorists, and then you can take their stuff away…”

Clive ends the game on the image of Colin and Ryan being anally probed by car wash brushes.

Not a bad Mission Impossible, but not up to this series’ standard [“You’re gonna have to go in there!”]

Overall: Like the last show, better than its previous episode, but only by…not being its previous episode. This one had one classic game, F&TS, and a few good games like Weird Newscasters and Foreign Film Dub, which has been getting better lately, but…overall, a lot of games tonight were marred by George’s unfamiliarity with the Whose Line structure. He, once again, didn’t really work in any games, and only had one or two lawful moments. Meanwhile, Colin had a career night, with both the Scottish runner and some all out fantastic performances in scenes.

Show Winners: All four
Best Performer: Colin. Och Aye.
Worst Performer: George. Oy Vey.
Best Game: Film and Theatre Styles. A classic.
Worst Game: Press Conference. Pretty forgettable.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S09E15, or BECAUSE…..NOW THEN NOW THEN NOW THEN

Onto another Whose Line, giving us another rendition of the Brad-Steve-Ryan-Colin taping that’s been used in Episode 9, which was kind of a letdown. Hopefully this one has better material.

This show even uses the same panelist intros as E9, which…I mean, they’re still funny…

Superheroes – Women and wives are causing trouble the world over, but here to save the day are Constipation Man (Colin), Embarrassed About Your Erection Boy (Ryan), Captain Menu (Brad), and Captain Crotch-Grabber (Steve).

Clive asks for suggestions for Colin, and the audience is raring to go
Clive: “Either Impotence Man or Constipation Man. Can we perhaps get a little more elevated than that?”
Audience member: “No Hair Man!”
Colin: [begins to angrily walk into the audience]
Clive: “…I don’t find that especially funny…”

For crisis, a teenager yells out “WIFE TROUBLE”
Clive: “…a bit young to realize that, are you?”
They even get a nice zoom shot on this kid, who looks like his folks dragged him to this taping.

Colin, of course, nails the physicality. I love his little grunted pause right before “IF…only my super friends…”

And then Ryan NAILS his as well. Of course Colin gives Ryan a penis joke, as he knows he’s great at them. The best one is when he puts his arms down, then mimes being hit in the face, before pushing it back down.

There’s an even better moment, as Brad is telling everyone about the specials, Ryan has the erection pop out again, and…well, it goes up Brad, as he moves around with Ryan. Very lowbrow, but still hysterical.

Brad has been working with Steve for so long that he knows he’d benefit from a superhero name like ‘Captain Crotch-Grabber’. So Steve gleefully starts grabbing everyone’s crotches. Brad even cracks up at the amount of force Steve uses.

Even funnier, when he goes to grab Ryan’s, Ryan has to specify ‘it’s up here’, and Steve just…grabs it up there. The audience gives him a long ovation for this.

The problem doesn’t get solved, but this scene was so ridiculous that it deserves some credit. The runners with Ryan’s erection and Steve grabbing crotches just made me laugh insanely hard.

Let’s Make a Date – Brad is the bachelorette. The bachelors are Steve (a leprechaun), Colin (becoming increasingly ill), and Ryan (hates people not finding him hilarious).

Colin’s increasing food poisoning reminds me of the old Carell-Colbert sketch ‘Waiters Who Are Nauseated by Food’. He’s just getting more and more nauseous as the scene goes on.

There’s not a ton to this one other than Colin’s nauseousness and Ryan’s annoyance at Colin not getting his jokes.

Brad guesses Ryan is a ‘part stand up comic/part gynecologist’, which sounds more like something that would be a quirk on modern whose line. Possibly one of the ones Ron West would write.

Secret – Colin and Ryan play the Lone Ranger and Tonto. The secret is hidden in the gun holster.

With this setup, I am reminded of the Secret scene from S10 of the US run. Especially from Ryan’s opening line:
Ryan: “Buffalo come.”
Colin: “…you didn’t really have to put your ear in it to know that…”

Ryan: “You…hear that from Silver, kimosabe?”
Colin: “He’s a horse, he doesn’t talk!”
Ryan: “He talked to me, kimosabe. He tell me all about you.”
Colin: “….HE LIES. HORSES LIE.”
Ryan: “He say you heavy, and butt sweaty.”

Another one where Ryan has to come up with the secret: “…cocktail olives, kimosabe…”

Ryan rationalizes that the two of them should have a drink sometime.
Ryan: “This side, small onion.”
Colin: “Anything to drink?”
Ryan: “No.”
Ryan, in a moment of genius, gestures to the buffalo…ejaculate from earlier: “Well… No.”

Then, in another moment of genius, Ryan drops his Tonto accent for a moment, then tries to cover for it.
Colin: “Waaait a minute. What’s this makeup?”
Ryan: “…Allo, gov…”
Colin, knowing how to screw with Ryan: “Tonto…I’m guessing you’re from England…”
Ryan, post-crack: “…Well, hopefully I can clear that up, yes.”

Colin: “Well, then what is your real name.”
Ryan, without a better idea: “…LORD PIGLY.”
BUZZZZZZ

A phenomenal, masterful Secret game, taking so many turns, and coining so many great lines. I’m surprised more people don’t talk about this one.

Clive: “Well, later on, we’ll be doing a survey to see which is least convincing: Ryan’s english accent or Ryan’s Tonto accent.”

Foreign Film Dub: Colin and Brad act out the film “The Return of the Killer Tomatoes” in Polish; Steve and Ryan translate.

Ryan: “You know, I can’t remember, how many of us does it take a to change a lightbulb?”
Colin responds in a semi klingon-esque Polish
Steve: “Never mind that, I’m pissed.”

Steve: “Where have all the cabbages gone?”
Ryan: “I gave them to Susan as an engagement present.”
Colin: [very dramatic read]
Steve: “…Susan, with the big tits?”

Ryan does his usual ‘go on a very long monologue after a very short line’ bit with Brad, which he’s amused by.
Steve, being Steve, responds with “Pardon?”
Ryan, at the verge of cracking: “It’s not important, we must stop the tomatoes!”

A much better FFD scene, mostly because all four seemed to be on the same page, and because Steve was doing some really funny translations.

Props – Ryan and Brad vs. Steve and Colin

Screen Shot 2019-02-06 at 12.01.11 PM.png
Colin: “Now…you just follow…the M15…”

A fairly standard round of props, with only a few ‘stranger than usual’ responses.

Song Styles – Brad sings a love song about Angela, who works at a video shop.

Brad: “…That’s a good rhyming name.”
[Hey, at least it’s not Neroshi…]

Brad: “I started singing this little song
And she said ‘why don’t we bring some porno videos along…”

A very one-note song from Brad, focusing more on the smut aspect than anything else.

Film Dub – Ryan, Colin, and Steve are at the barber’s.

Steve starts the scene by dubbing a traditional Japanese samurai type with long hair…as Jimmy Savile. Alright then.

Colin: “Hey, barber, my friend needs a haircut.”
Steve: “I…could fix it for you.”

This is just an insanely silly, nonsensical scene, with just the repetition of Steve’s ‘NOW THEN NOW THEN NOW THEN’ getting more and more laughs as it goes on.

Definitely an amusing one. I don’t see how enjoyable this is for you if you A.) haven’t heard of Jimmy Savile, or B.) have heard of what Jimmy Savile HAS DONE, but I definitely laughed.

Sports Commentators – Steve and Brad commentate on Ryan and Colin, competing barbers sharing the same equipment.

More with barbers. I wonder if Jimmy Savile will pop up in this one as well?

Ryan just…goes and cuts Colin with a razor
Steve: “Now, he has done that before, in last year’s semi-finals.”
Brad: “Well, he is the demon barber of Fleet Street.”
Points to Brad for a killer reference there.

Brad, beginning to lose it: “He’s actually…disemboweling him. I haven’t ever seen that!”

Not a great playing of this one, though it had some good moments.

Hoedown: Barristers 

Once Clive announces this one, both Ryan and Brad essentially faint at their seats. Steve sarcastically kicks his legs.

Steve: “I was doing my final speech, it was going really well.
When the judge fell asleep…BLOODY HELL!”
An actual good Hoedown verse from Steve! Miracles never cease.

Colin has a verse about being sued for impotence, with the punchline “luckily they couldn’t make it stand up in court.” This gets applause. Ryan, for an extra five seconds, shakes his head, wondering how he’s gonna top that.

Ryan’s has a very simple verse, saying he’s going to jail because “I’m being represented by Clive Anderson.” We’re beginning to get into the realm of Hoedowns where, when Ryan doesn’t know what to say, he’ll just slam the host.

Overall: Better than E9, but still generally an inoffensively good show, rather than a great one. There were a ton of good games, like Superheroes, Secret and Foreign Film Dub, but a lot of the show had an undercurrent of ‘this was too disjointed to air the first time out’. Several games, like Props, Sports Commentators, Let’s Make a Date and Song Styles, were just too uneventful for E9, and the aforementioned highlights were probably too raunchy [Need I refer you to Embarrassed About His Erection Boy]. Still, regardless of its stop-start nature, this was a fun show, and there’s a number of games here that I’ll come back to.

Show Winners: Steve and Ryan
Best Performer: Colin by a nosehair. Everyone had an even number of game wins, but Colin sneaks away with the win thanks to his Hoedown verse.
Worst Performer: I’m only going with Brad because the games he excelled in weren’t the strongest ones of this episode.
Best Game: Secret. I mean, come on.
Worst Game: Props. Very weak round.