Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S05E02, or Use The Bat-Tering Ram!

Couple reasons why I’m interested in getting to this one

  1. Kathy Griffin is our fourth seater, and she’s a very interesting case to talk about in 2020, because when she did the show in 2001, she was a very normal character actress, having been on Seinfeld and whatnot, and then after this she became a staple of the E network, became an overmakeupped patron saint of gays, held up a fake severed head of the president and now everyone has to pick a side with her. I always thought she was a bit too provocative for me, but this was a little before she really mastered that comedic persona.
  2. This is a guest star episode, but instead of someone kinda big like Hugh Hefner or David Hasselhoff, they got…Miss America, Katie Harman. Like Hef, very indicative of early-2000s culture. But yeah, Miss America’s here.
  3. This entire taping has several instances of the SINGLE MOST NOTABLE AUDIENCE MEMBER IN WHOSE LINE HISTORY. This lady has a very deliberate, memorable laugh, and we will hear this laugh NUMEROUS TIMES thoughout this episode and its sisters. So, everytime I hear this laugh, I will denote it by throwing a ‘HAAAEEEEHH’ into the writeup. Because that’s what it sounds like. It’s like a cat being thrown against a window.

Right. Got all that? Onto the episode

Hollywood Director: Hunky golf pro Ryan is giving a private lesson to flirtatious Beverly Hills wife Kathy, Wayne is Kathy’s elderly millionaire husband who rides in on his motorized cart to confront them because he suspects they are planning to steal his fortune

Drew: “Wayne is Kathy’s….elderly millionaire husband!”

Ryan suggests Kathy keep her eye on the ball
Kathy, in a very fun European accent: “…I can’t keep my eye anywhere…except on that little ball you call a head…”

I love the detail that Ryan’s blender makes the exact same sound effect as Wayne’s motorized cart

Wayne’s very funny, going along the back of the stage, then accidentally passing onto Colin’s step because he can’t get the thing to stop

Wayne comes to a stop, then lifts up his little goggles

I’m not sure how I feel about Kathy really being taken aback by Colin’s ‘crap’ intro line

Colin, to Wayne: “By the way, nice Moms Mabley.”
Screen Shot 2020-02-13 at 11.59.10 AM.png

Ryan does a ‘THAT’S WHAT I WAS THINKING’ at one of Colin’s comments. Unlike usual, Colin limits himself to a mumbled little ‘…muheeyyy’, which cracks me up

Ryan and Kathy as stand-ups have some really great back-and-forth, both doing bits with each other

Kathy, to Ryan: “Hey, nice shirt, WHO SHOT THE COUCH?”

Wayne comes on, and Ryan and Kathy start booing his jokes and heckling
Wayne: “Well, you have fun at her 18th hole.”

Wayne, after Colin enters:
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Colin, to Wayne: “…you know, we ARE owned by Disney…”

Ryan and Kathy muttering German to each other is also pretty funny. Was not expecting those two to work so well together
Ryan even throws in a ‘HOGAAAAAAN’

Instead of coming in on the cart, Wayne goose-steps in.

All of the fake German being played straight is cracking me up, even when Ryan starts yelling ‘NEIN’

Ryan and Kathy are even great in the Obnoxious Drunks scene. My gosh.

Kathy has a great move in vomiting, then grabbing Ryan and kissing him. Which, to his credit, Ryan doesn’t seem too caught-off-guard by.

Wayne enters, loses control of the cart and falls downstage. So Kathy and Ryan start putting golf balls at him. That is funny

Drew buzzes, and you can hear Ryan go “oh, it’s so nice to kiss a girl instead…”

A very goofy, and entertaining scene. I was surprised how well Ryan and Kathy worked together, and how Colin kept screwing with Wayne.

Drew gives Kathy 2000 points for kissing Ryan
Colin: “I never get 2000 points for kissing him…”
Drew: “Because you LIKE to kiss him”
Ryan, of course: “It’s gotta be on the SHOW…”

Song Styles: Wayne sings to Katie, Miss America, as a boy band.

Drew asks Wayne how the wife is before he brings out Miss America. Oh, 2001…

Katie, who hails from Oregon, gets Northwesterner Ryan to give a ‘GO DUCKS’ from the seats.
Ryan, also in the back:
Screen Shot 2020-02-13 at 12.13.18 PM.png

Wayne has some surface level stuff, going ‘God Bless Old Glory’
Wayne, rapping: “Oh my goodness, you got class
It would not be right, no no
Because we’re on a FAMILY SHOW”
As good as that joke is, if we’re on a family show, why bring on Hefner??

A pretty okay SS from Wayne. Again, only so many targets you can hit here. Katie seemed to enjoy it though

Scenes from a Hat:

Drew: “Unusual Things for a Neighbor to Ask to Borrow”
Colin: “Hi, I need some monkey testicles AND A COLA…”
Everyone takes a few moments to recover

“If you used stripper moves to do mundane activities”
Ryan, crawling around: “WHERE IS MY CONTACT?”

World’s Worst Thing to Say the First Time you See Someone Naked:
Colin, shaking his head as he comes down: “aw, that reminds me, my tire needs new treads.”

Strange Television Shows for Mister Rogers to Make an Appearance on is the first of many similar categories, but I believe that Fred had died by the time this aired
Fred, as Rogers: “…well yes, I have to say that is mah final answer…”
Ryan, up to the camera: “…well…I’m gonna have ta vote out Billy..”

Disturbing Times to make Animal Noises:
Wayne, proposing to Kathy: [SQUEEEEEEEEAL]
Colin, peeing: [ROOSTER CAW]

A pretty good SFAH, and they let it go for a bit.

Living Scenery: Batman, who is Ryan, and Robin, who’s Colin, are in the Batcave when they get a call from Commissioner Gordon saying that Batgirl is being held in an abandoned mineshaft
Wayne and Katie are all the props

Colin is good enough to establish the stakes early, getting the call from the commissioner with Katie as the phone. He then remembers who he’s supposed to be, and tries for something: “HOLY….KIDNAPPING.”

There’s a confusion as to where the batpoles are, which gives Ryan the opportunity to slide down Katie.
Colin wisely comes back up and goes down the Katie pole himself

Ryan first suggests they take the Batmobile, then realizes who he can work with, and reneges: “NONO, LET’S TAKE THE BAT-SCOOTERS”
Katie laughs at this, and struggles to keep it together as Ryan rides her as a scooter
Ryan: “I’m gonna drive around the block a couple times-”
Colin: “NO!”

I love the detail of Katie bending her leg outward when Colin notices Ryan has a flat

Colin, remembering again who he is: “HOLY….CLUE!”

Then, Colin picks up Katie and uses her as his utility belt, which is a very inspired choice. Katie, again, is laughing her ass off

Colin: “Use the bat…terring ram.”
Colin shrugs as this gets a middling response: “I’m just Robin, what do I know?”

Ryan, still holding Katie, decides to play Batgirl “a little song on the guitar”

Colin starts playing Wayne as a bass, which is a very silly visual that nearly breaks him

There’s a moment where Ryan and Colin have to remember where they were, when Wayne does an out-of-shot ‘HELP ME’
Colin: “It’s Batgirl!”
Ryan, briefly turning this into Sound Effects: “She’s turned into a fly!”

Another fun moment, of Ryan setting up that he needs a bat-grenade, thinking he’s gonna get Katie…then Colin grabs Katie to use as a gasmask, and Ryan just:
Screen Shot 2020-02-13 at 2.59.24 PM.png

A pretty good Living Scenery, though not as good as last show’s. Katie was having a hell of a time, but Ryan and Colin had a few clumsy moments, especially late

Drew: “So what was that like sliding down Miss America, huh? Was it fun?”
Colin: “It was better than playing Wayne as a fiddle…”
Wayne: “So says YOU…’dear diary, today I became a man’..”

Props: Drew and Wayne vs. Ryan and Kathy

Another rare pairing, as Drew, who usually does Props with Ryan, is paired with Wayne, as Ryan’s paired with Kathy. Interesting.

Screen Shot 2020-02-13 at 3.05.25 PM.pngDrew, feebly: “Give me your tired, your poor…your huddled masses…”
The prop falls off his head halfway through

Screen Shot 2020-02-13 at 3.06.06 PM.pngRyan: “No, I’m known for my SHOES on the show…”

Screen Shot 2020-02-13 at 3.06.42 PM.pngKathy: “I cannot believe you came to this party dressed as Bjork too…”

There’s a nice back-to-back of Ryan and Kathy holding theirs up, going “WE’RE NUMBER FIVE”, and then Drew catching on with his, going “…WE’RE NUMBER EIGHT.”

A pretty strong Props round. I’m kinda surprised how well Kathy fit into this one as well. And again, there’s that Ryan-Kathy combo from HD.

Overall: A solid show without many real highlights. Honestly, some of the best moves of the show were just well-improvised moments, like most of Hollywood Director and the bits in Living Scenery where Ryan and Colin fought over who got Katie. Other than that, it was all pretty good, if unspectacular. Kathy Griffin, as we’ll see in the subsequent shows from this taping, brought a lot of fun energy to the proceedings, and was great at some improv fundamentals, especially in HD and Props. I’m also of the opinion that if WL did a Summer 2003 taping session, they would have asked her back, as she was a great fit for the show, and arguably one of the funnier women Dan & Mark asked on the program since landing in the US (is she the funniest? A sandy blonde-haired California-based improviser might have something to say about that)

The guest star material here was merely okay. Yes, Katie was into it, but I do feel like she could have brought more to the proceedings than just ‘being Miss America’. Then again, Miss America isn’t exactly a personality contest, is it?

Show Winner: Colin
Best Performer: Ryan, by a very slim margin.
Worst Performer: I really don’t wanna put anyone here. Everyone was so in step this episode. And as much as Wayne had a really good Director and Song Styles, he was shut out of the other games.
Best Game: Hollywood Director has the best picture of these four’s improv dynamic.
Worst Game: Song Styles was by no means bad, but was the most okay.
Final HAAAEEEEHH Count: SEVEN. Which is arguably restraint.
Guest Star Rating: 7/10 for Katie. Was happy to be here, laughed through Living Scenery, but you could have replaced her with anybody.

COMING UP NEXT: A renegade Season 4 taping, one we haven’t seen anything yet, but they’re putting their best foot forward. For instance, here’s an episode where Wayne wears a thong.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S04E24, or Hey, it’s Theater!

And now, we move into S5 one last time to introduce the next phase of Whose Line’s identity…the guest star episode

It’s one thing to have a big SUPERSTAR GUEST take the fourth seat and do improv to get ratings. It’s another thing entirely to use a BIG SUPERSTAR GUEST as a ratings hook by centering games around them, having them be props in Living Scenery or sung to in Song Styles, without them ever having to the ‘hard part’ of improv.

Essentially, Guest Star episodes take the anonymity of asking a member of the audience to help out and replace that with having someone you vaguely know or is good at things to help out just to get different viewerships. If you can see a few problems with that, CONGRATULATIONS, you’re smarter than a television producer.

Pretty much every taping in S5 had at least one guest star hanging around that played one or two games and would still allow for unaccompanied material to make its own show. This one, from a Brad Sherwood taping that had another guest star as well, featured Playboy icon Hugh Hefner and two of his playmates, Ava Fabian and Victoria Fuller. The other one from this taping is a little more useful to improv but…the producers didn’t care in the least.

Again, you can tell this is a S5 taping because of Drew’s brown corduroy suit jacket and gelled, combed-over hair.

Drew: “the points are just like…J.Lo’s husband’s name”
Ben Affleck, Marc Anthony and Alex Rodriguez would like a word with you…

Award Show: Brad and Wayne present the Obnoxious Drunks award to Ryan and Colin

Brad: “You know, every type of party needs its own…boisterous, lampshade-wearing fool…”
Ryan, from the audience: “WE CAN’T HEEEEAR YOOOOU!”

Wayne and Brad are great at doing some easy prompter-reading jokes

I still love the audience members that get roped into being nominees.

I also love Wayne dubbing this the “HAAAAAEEEENNGH Award”

I love the over-excited audience member wanting a high five from Ryan, which he gladly does

Ryan also hugs two of the losing nominees, which is a fun gesture. Colin goes towards the stage, and Ryan, caught in a hug with one of them, begs him to go on without him

Colin and Ryan’s drunk camaraderie is pretty nice, as they’re just hanging off each other

Colin: “we would like to thank the makers of alcohol…”

Ryan: “…when we started drinking…we never thought something like this would happen…”
[the way he says this and gets serious makes this even funnier]

Ryan: “I don’t feel so good”
Ryan: [cracks]

A pretty amusing Award Show, but not much more than a surface playing of this.

Drew: “1000 points to Colin and Ryan for doing such great Colin and Ryan impressions…”

Duet: Brad and Wayne sing a swing number to Hugh Hefner, Ava Fabian and Victoria Fuller

Drew, before he intros this, says “I can’t wait, this is gonna be great”
Brad and Wayne, knowing the game but not knowing why he’s excited, go “oh” nervously

Once Hugh comes out, COLIN OF ALL PEOPLE GIVES HIM A STANDING O. That’s right, Colin Mochrie, champion of queer people everywhere, is the first to applaud noted polygamist Hugh Hefner.

Of course, Colin and Ryan do their bit of coming upstage to say hello to the pretty ladies

Brad even comes down and does a bowing motion towards Hugh
Hugh, cleverly: “thank you, my son…”

Drew just seems very surprised that Hef accepted the booking, and I can kind of see why. During this GUEST STAR season, there are a few bookings where I can say ‘I see how they got them’, and I’m thinking of Florence Henderson, Chyna, Jerry Springer, and then unknowns like Jane the Bodybuilder and Neena & Veena. But Hef is definitely a huge get, as he’s a very big media and pop culture figure. I’d say he even dwarfs an even more famous WL get coming next season

I love Drew pointing out the cleverness of them doing ‘swing music’ to the world’s most famous swinger.

Brad: “I’m grinning ear to ear, I didn’t even notice Hef was here”

Wayne’s “I’m gonna call you later to see how you can keep it up” line doesn’t get a very kind reaction from Hugh.

Brad adding that his diet “consists of bunny tails” is the kind of renegade dirty joke that I am surprised the censors allowed. Even Hugh’s impressed with that one

The censor DOES HOWEVER censor Wayne line of “give me two wolf ears because I love to eat bunnies.”
SO. Insinuating that Hugh Hefner eats a lot of ass- GOOD. Insisting WAYNE BRADY eats a lot of pussy- BAD.

A very bawdy number that Brad and Wayne tried their best with, but I couldn’t shake a bit of awkwardness both from the talent just sitting there AND from Wayne and Brad trying to gauge what will and won’t get them killed. Amusing enough, though

As the three of them leave, Brad and Wayne start to follow them…then Brad reneges the joke. Wayne looks at the camera…and follows them off anyway

Scenes from a Hat:

Ryan: “What d’you got there, Drew?”
Brad cracks, as Ryan walked right into it
Ryan: “I say, my brotha, that’s a fine lookin’ hat…”

“Superman’s Secret Inner Thoughts”
Colin: “…wonder if Batman’s shorts ride up..”

The shot of Wayne squeezing a lump of coal in his ass is pretty funny

Drew: “Things you did as a child that aren’t as cute when you’re an adult”
Brad, with a great read: “…I went poopy in my pants…”
Colin: [mimes sucking on a tit]

Drew: “If celebrities had been the first people to walk on the moon”
Brad: “…ONE SMALL STEP FOR MAN…and one giant step for ME, BRAD SHERWOOD!”
Drew: “…I’m sorry, I said ‘celebrities'”
OOOOOH. The audience makes him regret this one
Brad, mockingly: “THAT WAS MEEEAN!”

Ryan, as Carol Channing: “…WELL THIS IS DRY AND BARREN AS *I* AM!”
Screen Shot 2020-01-31 at 4.54.52 PM.png

A pretty okay SFAH. Not a ton stood out from this one, save for the moon one.

Drew calls this show one for the whole family
Ryan: “…playboy bunnies…”
Screen Shot 2020-01-31 at 7.56.25 PM.png
Screen Shot 2020-01-31 at 7.56.32 PM.png

Living Scenery: Ryan and Colin are two treasure hunters canoeing down the Amazon decide to pitch their tents by the river, when they come under attack from the natives
Ava and Victoria are the props

Now here comes the other game that most Guest Star shows are gonna take advantage of

Drew intros Ryan and Colin as ‘the luckiest guys in the world’. Ryan apologizes to Wayne and Brad as he goes up with Ava and Victoria

Although, like last game, Wayne and Brad come up and try to drag Ryan and Colin away

Drew, to the Bunnies: “You guys are both looking great.”
Ryan: “Thank you.”

Drew, as he explains the game, to Ava and Victoria: “I know, it’s kinda creepy, huh?”

Drew reads the scene description, and around ‘decide to pitch their tents’, he completely cracks up. Ryan’s gone too

Even funnier- the shared sigh between Ryan and Colin right before they start the scene. An implied ‘ohhh boy’.

Ryan and Colin first use the girls as backpacks

Colin, with a beautiful woman wrapping his arms over him, cracks in suggesting they set up camp here
Ryan: “Having a tough time speaking, aren’t ya?”

Both girls have a different idea about how they’re gonna canoe. Ryan picks up his and uses her as an oar. Colin’s just moves him as part of the canoe, just wiggling his arms up and down
Ryan, seeing this: “What are you doing?”
Colin: “DON’T EVEN ASK.”

Once Colin suggests they pitch a tent:
Screen Shot 2020-01-31 at 8.03.52 PM.png
Colin: “…I love those self-doing…tents…”

Once Colin and Ryan get in the tent, Colin asks if Ryan heard anything…then comes back with nothing. Translation- we are staying here as long as possible. This reminds me of a future playing of this involving a sleeping bag.

I love Ryan repeating ‘MONKEYS ATTACKING US’ to Ava and Victoria when they don’t immediately do anything

This leads to both girls jumping on Ryan and Colin. While Ryan fells his easily, Colin exclaims “ANOTHER HOUR AND I’LL HAVE THIS ONE-” before Ryan pulls him away. Very Castle Anthrax logic here.

There’s a point where Ryan nearly runs out of things for them to do, and he’s in sort of mid-cracking mode for the rest of the scene, just spitballing to have them do more stuff. His shaky delivery of “wanna roast some marshmallows” is pretty great

Colin and Ryan pick up the girls to use as guns, which is amusing enough.
Screen Shot 2020-01-31 at 8.09.13 PM.png

Colin: “Hey, I’m gonna load mine..”
Victoria cracks up at this
Colin: “Okay, both barrels are full”

Ryan, AGAIN running out of ideas, suggests jetpacks
Colin, fumbling around his: “where are the controls”

Drew buzzes, Colin and Ryan congratulate Victoria and Ava for doing a good job, which they did, and Ryan just shakes his head back to the seats. That was a pretty funny  Living Scenery, but you can tell exactly when it ran out of steam and when it became Ryan thinking of more pervy things for them to do

Colin, pointing out Ryan’s hanging mic: “you’re droopin'”

Brad: “d’you think Wayne and I can  try that game?”
Drew: “nope”
Ryan, taking this the other way: “I don’t think I can lift you..”

Props: Ryan and Drew vs. Brad and Wayne

Wayne, doing podiums: “I’ll take famous bald people for 500, Alex”
Colin: [buzzes]

Screen Shot 2020-01-31 at 8.14.32 PM.pngRyan: “YA, BEAVER, YAAAAHH!”
Oh yeah, that gag doesn’t show up til next season..

Screen Shot 2020-01-31 at 8.15.15 PM.pngBrad: “I’d say your elephant has a hernia.”
The audience groans. Brad groans at them.

Screen Shot 2020-01-31 at 8.16.22 PM.pngBrad: “Hey Wayne, would you take Ryan’s shoes to his dressing room?”

Screen Shot 2020-01-31 at 8.16.57 PM.pngRyan: “…Hi, we’re unicorns for Rogaine.”

As Drew signs off, Ryan’s still riding the beaver.

A very good Props round. Lots of new, original answers.

Overall: A very weird show. Nothing was truly bad here, but maybe the presence of Hugh Hefner brought a very odd, bro-y mood to the show that hasn’t aged very well. I mean, say  what you will about Hef’s presence in popular culture, but his entire thing was sleeping with lots of women. And you bring that to Whose Line, which was trying to appeal to a wide audience, but also to kids. That’s not gonna go well. Living Scenery was a good enough game, but there were several moments where I felt ‘should I be enjoying this?’ Ryan clearly goes more for the ‘toxic male’ angle than Colin in games like these where they just have two pretty women to move around, but even if it is all a guise, the fact that Ryan turned Living Scenery into an excuse to do bawdy things with two Playmates doesn’t sit well with me. The rest of the show, by design, paled in comparison to the bits with guest stars. SFAH was light, Award Show was very basic, and only Props really impressed me. Also, even if the games split the rep company in usage, I still can’t say Brad Sherwood did a great deal, and I can barely say that Wayne did much more.

Show Winner: Colin
Best Performer: Ryan did the heavy lifting all night. Even if he did so in Living Scenery, he knew where the jokes would come from, and he was a driving force.
Worst Performer: Brad was damn near shut out of the show. At least he had good stuff in Props.
Best Game: Props. That’s right, Props. Because it was the only game that didn’t disappoint me tonight.
Worst Game: Award Show. Almost went with Duet, but that got a laugh or two from me.
Guest Star Rating: Hugh seemed chuffed to be there, but it was hard to tell if he was enjoying the song. Ava and Victoria were happy to help out in Living Scenery, but you could tell that it made them a little uncomfortable. They didn’t bring much to the table at all. I’m giving them all a 5 out of 10.

COMING UP NEXT: Last show, a lot was said about Ryan’s shoes. Next show, a lot is going to be said about a shirt, a hat, and some crotches