Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S04E11 or …And we’re back to you and the wife

The US run has been lined with unsuccessful guest bits by people the producers were absent-mindedly trying to push. We’ve had bad runs from Archie Hahn, Sam Johnson and Jane Brucker, and a less-than-positive run from Ron West.

Tonight, the duo of Chip Esten and Ryan Stiles are thrown back into the field to face off against the duo Patterson and co were pushing LAST US run…Jim Meskimen and Chris Smith, in their last appearance on the show (so you can guess how well this one went)

Clive’s opening remark, introducing the show as ‘the show that does for comedy what Warren Beatty does for chastity’ gets a nice response from the audience, even if he mispronounces his name.

Film and Theatre Styles- Ryan and Chip (in a pet shop)

Clive, puzzled by a suggestion: “NOGGIN THE NOG? WE COME ALL THE WAY TO AMERICA TO GET NOGGIN THE NOG?”
[Who the hell would know that in America? Besides some audience plant]

Clive announces the scene (“you’re going to Chip’s pet shop”), and both Ryan and Chip make fun of how he pronounces that one.
Clive: “Or Pet’s Chip Shop, if you’re from England.”

Ryan: “I’m interested in a big birdseed ball thing.”
Chip: “Aren’t we all?”

For the Moliere style, Chip just repeats what he just said in a thick, over-the-top French accent. I think that just about nails that one.

After Ryan and Chip just switch back to english
Clive: “Well there you are, Moliere’s famous rhyming couplets…as rendered so accurately…”

They win it back during the 50s B-Movie style, Ryan prancing around campily towards both sides of the screen, trying some sort of West Side Story thing I think.

Ryan: “You’re from the wrong side of the track, and I’m from on top of the building! YOU’RE FROM SPAGHETTI AND I’M FROM *MEAT!* DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND WE’RE BOTH TWO TOTALLY DIFFERENT THINGS?”

In Laurel and Hardy style, Ryan goes into a perfect wimpy Laurel voice. Chip attempts to get him to stop crying by poking him in the eye…which is so effective that he actually sticks a finger into Ryan’s eye-socket, drawing him back.
Chip realizes what he’s done, tries to stay together, and, realizing he’s done a three stooges move instead of a Laurel and Hardy move, goes “WRONG SHOW…”

Clive: “Let’s go for some science fiction.”
Chip: “YOUR EYEBALL’S POPPED UNDER THE SINK!”
Ryan: “Give it to me now! I will cover it with seed!”

Old Job New Job: Chris and Jim are nuclear scientists- Ryan comes in, but he used to be a pro-baseball player

For suggestions of Ryan’s job, somebody in the audience shouts out ‘MTA!’. I can’t imagine this going on BBC or whatever, and anybody in the UK getting that. That is a specific reference to the New York subway system that I get as a New Yorker, but probably went right over Clive’s head.

Jim cracks up as he’s justifying the scene (two guys putting radioactivity into smoke alarms), and covers by saying ‘I’m just laughing at that thing you told me earlier…’

For the first bit, Ryan is doing umpire stuff, but I think he’s gotten the point once he grabs crotch while Jim’s trying to explain something.

And then, as Ryan compliments Jim and Chris, he gives them both butt-slaps. I’ll say that it’s really nice seeing Jim as the straight man for once.

For once, there’s an ending that’s constructed by the straight men. Chris, realizing he should play by Ryan’s lingo, says he needs to pick up some containment stuff ‘in left field’, prompting Ryan to be in base-stealing position. Then, Jim and Chris get him in a rundown between bases, throwing radioactive material between each other, to prompt Ryan to go ‘OH, YOU BASTARDS!’ I never expected a natural ending would ever form in a game of this.

Nice enough game. Even as he heads back, Ryan realizes he was doing an umpire instead of a player for a while.

Props: Ryan and Chris vs. Jim and Chip

There’s some intrigue and applause in this NY audience, because Ryan and Chris’ prop looks like a bong. Very highbrow stuff here.

I’ll say that the Chip-Jim combo is a bit more compatible than Ryan and Chris, as they can very quickly get ideas across, and they kind of have the same humor. Ryan sort of has to be the dominant performer here, as when Chris is left to his own devices he lets loose a 1940s slur.

It’s an alright game, but it’s curtailed when Ryan, without any ideas, repeats his Bingo prop idea again.

Bartender: Chip
Chris: angry about his divorce
Jim: trying to forget the stock market
Ryan: is impotent

Chris’ verse is unspectacular, but Chip’s comeback:
“I think you could be rich
if you just ditch the bitch
And get yourself some alimony”
Really nice.

Clive, dodging a suggestion for what Jim’s trying to forget: “Baldness is disallowed, for a reason…a reason that may be quite obvious…”

Damn, Jim’s singing technique in this game is different, fitting into the verses with excess and still pulling it off vocally. It’s a tad showoffish, but it really works.

Chip even throws in the callback line of “I thought you’d be upset because you’re going bald…”

The Chip-Jim one is great because Jim even backs up Chip, and makes it a pretty nice overall musical moment.

Clive: “You were doing so well, Chip…til you threw it all away with that unkind remark. We stick together, us baldies…”

Ryan, almost immediately: “Why aren’t there any women in this bar?”

Richard comes in with this upbeat, march-time type song, which cracks up Ryan, and he eventually just starts bopping along with it. It’s actually a really nicely done backing song.

The Ryan-Chip number is also really nice, with some pretty smooth boner puns from both sides, and the strength of the backing track.

Expert: Chip interviews Ryan, an expert on algae farming

Ryan, introducing himself: “John…Pukalakalay…don’t bother, it’s Canadian…”

Ryan, indirectly screwing with the guy who made the suggestion: “Well, it’s very difficult, algae farming, as algae floats on water, and farming involves soil.”

Chip: “I understand you’ve lost 10 or 12 tractors-”
Ryan: “Yes I have! Good tractors!”

Chip tells Ryan he’d like to see some of the slides he’d brought, so Ryan plugs in his microscope and starts cueing them up, only to realize Chip meant the other kind.

Ryan, explaining a slide: “This is me trying to run across water. It was a brief second, and then I was back underwater with the tractor again…”

Ryan, stopping Chip from flipping slides: “Oh-oh, that’s the wife and I…”

Ryan’s rationalization, which this game thrives upon, involves saying that he planted fish underneath the soil so the algae could grow on top, and then putting his hands up and going ‘DON’T ASK ME HOW!’

Chip: “…and we’re back to you and the wife.”
Ryan: “As you can see, I’ve laid the algae out on the wife here. Makes her nice and slippery and supple.”
Chip, ending the game on an incredible pun: “I guess you’re a real fun guy.”
BUZZZZZZZ

Characters: In a laundromat, with Captain Kirk (Jim) and Mr. Spock (Chris)

This is an unrelated anecdote, after 5 years of impressionist Jay Pharoah being on Saturday Night Live, his sketches became less involved with setups, and more just ‘let’s just have Jay do impressions for 3 minutes’. And that’s what we’ve gotten to with Jim and Chris. Just two impressions and a location. Alrighty then.

Clive asks for a place for them to meet. Some smartass in the audience shouts out ‘IN BED!’

This game works because of Jim’s excellent Shatner impression, which the audience recognizes as such almost immediately.

Chris tries using his tricorder, which leads to some weird popping sound effects.
Jim, smirking: “Sounds like you’ve still got gnats in there, Spock…”

This does have a very nice payoff: they find the sock, and Jim explains “This is the thing that is HOLDING everybody in a STATE of PERPETUAL WARRR…”
Chris: “…I was wrong, captain- this is the sock-”
Jim, throwing the other one away: ‘OF COURE…THIS is the thing that’s HOLDING EVERYBODY in a STATE OF PERPETUAL WAR…”
Chris, holding up something else: “Um-”
Jim: “Don’t tell me.”

Surprisingly funny, even if it was a very simple impression showcase. Again, as ineffective as these guys were, they could still be funny when they were given opportunities. They just didn’t ace them all.

Party Quirks: Chris hosts
Chip: a prisoner on a chain gang
Jim: boxing trainer ringside
Ryan: rodeo rider

Ryan, upon reading his quirk, nods accordingly, holding a chuckle.

Chris works at this game, but his very relaxed delivery does detract from it, as he does take a very passive approach with working with each participant.

Jim does crack me up doing what is essentially an impression of Burgess Meredith from Rocky, just keeping this craggy sort of character, and yelling at Chris when he goes to let in Ryan, “when ya open the doorbell, LEAD WITH YOUR LEFT!”

Ryan, from the moment he enters, is just this ball of incredible, hilarious physicality, rambling around the room on this bronco. Chris does get it in about 10 seconds, but the visual of Ryan doing that, Jim shouting at him, and Chris looking helpless and trying not to crack up is a truly great one.

Pretty nice game, but it’s a short one, and I don’t really like Chris’ demeanor and passive stance on the whole thing.

Helping Hands: Chris is at a casino gambling with Ryan (ft. Jim’s hands)

Jim struggles to get the visor onto Ryan’s head for a few seconds, before getting it on crooked, so he looks like Geordi from Star Trek.

Chris, again, is taking a very passive approach to the game, so Ryan’s exuberance has to carry this one completely.

Ryan, as he tries to spin: “RRRROUND AND ROUND SHE GOES…..I CANNOT SEE A THING, THE VISOR IS COVERING MY EYES.”
Chris, actually having a nice improv move: “Actually, in that case, I won!”

Ryan: “Pick any card, I won’t look….ACTUALLY…to prove I won’t look…LET ME PUT THAT VISOR BACK DOWN OVER MY EYES AGAIN!”

Very nice game, lifted solely by Ryan, which you could also say for this whole show.

Scenes from a Hat:

Clive: “Naming a baby.”
Chris, grabbing Ryan: “…well, he LOOKS like a Clive.”
Clive, ever the cheeky one: “yes, well, there’s a reason for that.”

Clive: “A Jimmy Stewart convention”
Chip, Chris, Ryan and Jim, all simultaneously” “WA-WA-UH-WA-WA-WA-WA-”
BUZZ
I will never not laugh at that.

A convention of cheese makers
Jim and Chris keep going for a bit without a joke. Ryan enters finally, thinking of the punchline.
Ryan: “WA-WA-WA-WA…Oh, I’m at the wrong convention, I’m sorry…”

Clive: “Two men comparing each other at the urinal- OH, PLEASE…”
Ryan, to Chip: “Hey, not bad-”
Screen Shot 2018-01-20 at 12.27.58 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-01-20 at 12.28.08 PM.png

And that’s an outstanding visual to end the show on.

Overall: Like E10, another odd case. There weren’t any truly bad games, but you could see the dissonance between Meskimen & Smith and Ryan and Chip’s more WL friendly improv ideology. Again, while Meskimen and Smith were very funny, with an emphasis on Jim tonight, their brand of humor didn’t really fit the show, as much as Patterson wanted them to. Meanwhile, for the second show in a row, Ryan carried the entire show on his back, appearing in all but one game, and having some truly terrific moments. This isn’t to discredit Chip, who had a much better episode than E10, and had some great moments in Bartender and F&TS. It was just an uneven and lopsided show, despite being really funny in parts.

Show Winner: Jim
Best Performer: Ryan, for continuing to cement his status as the face of the series.
Worst Performer: Chris Smith, for not taking any risks or being active in anything.
Best Game: Again, I go with Expert, not out of habit, but because it was truly funny again tonight, with Ryan’s dynamic with Chip augmenting it a bit. F&TS and Old Job New Job were considered.
Worst Game: Props. Not a lot to it.

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Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S03E17, or Is That ‘Get Away From Those Hamsters’?

One more compilation and we wrap up S3. The UK shows were way better than the US ones, but if it weren’t for the US ones, we wouldn’t have gotten Ryan and Colin’s duo solidified.

Note- John Sessions, Archie Hahn and Mark Cohen don’t make appearances in this comp. I am thankful for this.

Authors: Three Men and a Duck
Greg: Zane Grey
George: The Bible
Ryan: National Geographic
Mike: American Greeting card
From: S03E15

This is a nicely-threaded authors through-and-through, even George playing along.

Mike, after some story’s gone by: “….to a very special waterfowl…”

Mike does evoke an early buzz from Clive because Clive thinks he’s gonna go with the obvious rhyme for ‘duck’, but he edges it, and goes with “cause there’s a lot to pluck” right as the buzzer sounds.

Song Styles: Josie sings a country song about a refrigerator
From: E16

This literally begins with Clive being accosted with styles by the audience, getting ;country’ after a few seconds of cacophony.

Very quick number, without anything too standy-outy, but not especially bad either. I sort of see why it was cut.

News Report: Greg and Mike in the Studio, Ryan and George in the field
From: E15

Oh, so they DID do more of this one during the US tapings. Good.

More hand-motions from Greg and Mike, with Mike sticking something in his mouth as a demonstration. I always adored those. And then they whip around once the camera zooms all the way in.

Greg: “Kids; water; it’s tragic and it happens…”

Unlike the earlier UK playings of this game, this one’s oddly blocked, with a random cut back to Mike and Greg as Ryan’s still going on a rant. Perhaps they should have flown some cameramen out?

Greg, to Mike: “Broken crowns and girls: is it a problem?”
Mike: “Vell, once the crown has broken, ze woman will come tumbling after…”

Mike ends this with a fun-but-bad pail pun, but overall this is a pretty nice one.

Helping Hands: Mike goes to Fortune Teller Ryan (with Colin’s hands)
From: E12

Ah, I’,m glad we get another one from this taping, because the one that made the show was very weak, and didn’t allow for a lot of hand-using.

This one definitely has more hand action, with Colin already getting a taste of how far he’d go in this game in the future, and with Ryan doing a very goofy, Jim Carrey-esque character.

Ryan is describing the woman that left Mike, and Colin makes a…thrusting motion with his hand.
Ryan: “…she likes to box!”

This scene does end up going somewhere nice, as Mike gets Ryan to channel his grandmother.
Mike: “WHERE DID YOU HIDE THE MONEY YOU OLD TROUT?”
Ryan: “…I put the money in a place where you’ll never find it.”
Mike: “Yeah, great help, that’s why I killed you in the first place.”
BUZZ

That’s a really nice, well-formed scene, that worked a ton better than the one we got in the episode.

World’s Worst: Person to sit next to at the cinema (Josie, Chris, Jim and Ryan)
From: E10

Ryan: “You know, we saw the same movie for years when I was in jail…”
Ryan, chuckling: “help yourself to some more popcorn…”

Not a great round, but Ryan had some good ones

Psychiatrist v1: Mike counsels Ryan, who’s obsessed with men
From: E15

I love Ryan’s crestfallen expression when he hears the suggestion Clive’s going with. Greg, from the seats, fans himself and adjusts his trousers.

Ryan, singing about why he hates women: “it’s their fault…having no penises are their losses…
I like guys…big strong men…sometimes I go to bed with eight or nine or ten…”

Mike caps off a decent rebuttal verse with “if you feel that you’re overwhelmed, then date Jesse Helms…”

Expert: Greg interviews Ryan, an expert on aerobics
From: E15

So…half of this compilation was material from E15, one of the worst episodes of the year. So then…why didn’t any of these really good games from it get in???

Greg: “Hello, I’m Dirk Anderson, Clive’s younger, cuter brother.”
Sadly, this gets no audience response

Greg: “Now, I was reading your book earlier, and you have a thing where you jump over hurdles, and then small animals come running at you…”
Ryan raises an eyebrow, and rebounds by talking about the fact that it used to be larger animals, but it cost a lot of trainers. I forget how good he is at this game sometimes.

Once again, Ryan ends up getting Greg in on the physical exercise at the end, saying ‘it’d be much easier if I had someone to play the hamster for me’. Ryan just succeeds at slapping back whenever someone screws him over.

Really nice game, and it works well as a Ryan-Greg scene as well.

Party Quirks: Ryan hosts (!?!?!?)
George: sleepwalker
Mike: cannibal
Greg: newspaper vendor
From: E15

Not only is Ryan hosting again, but this is the other Party Quirks from E15, which they probably got for coverage.

The best part of this is that it comes directly after Expert, and it starts with Ryan flipping onto a channel…and doing the exact same aerobic exercise from Expert. Folks, we may have discovered one of the show’s first running gags.

This one is slightly better than the first one because Ryan at least gives the players time before he guesses, and also he’s wrong on George, as he has to reroute and figure things out when he thought it’d be easier.

Mike, noticing the TV: “I’ve seen that. Is that ‘Get Away From Those Hamsters’?”
Ryan agrees, and they both do the running motion from the last scene.

It progresses more because Mike slowly lets things go, and he and Ryan have a final moment where he’s being very cordial to Ryan…while salt-ing and pepper-ing his fingers. Ryan of course nabs the final guess.

I would have very much preferred this one, AND EXPERT, in the final cut of the episode. Hell, if we would have swapped out most of the George-favoring stuff, we’d have had a better show…

Psychiatrist v2: Josie consoles Jim, who’s obsessed with James Brown
From: E10

Jim takes it a bit too over the top here, which…given the subject, is welcome, but given the comic, isn’t.

Josie’s rebuttal is cool enough, and puts a nice bow on the scene, but Jim was a bit much for me.

Film Dub: Ryan and George argue about the best song of all time
From: E15

There’s the expected bit of ‘who’s talking now’ for about 10 seconds, but once it gets going, it’s hysterical.

George: “Uhhh…HELLO DOLLY! HELLO DOLLY!”
Ryan, forgetting the song even exists: “Hello Dolly, that’s not…[remembering]…OH, HELLO DOLLY, EH?”

The scene eventually ends in a denouement involving a Madonna song.
George: “…Uhh…PAPA DON’T PREACH! PAPA DON’T PREACH!”
Ryan: “IT’S LIKE A VIRGIN. IT’S LIKE A VIRGIN, YOU KNOW IT AS WELL AS I DO!”

Not a perfect scene, but I always had a soft spot for it.

Props: Josie and Chris vs. Ryan and Jim
From: E10

Shower curtain rings and a rubber glove. Man, isn’t America great?

Screen Shot 2017-12-12 at 10.48.52 PM.pngRyan: “And this is a cow from chernobyl…”

Screen Shot 2017-12-12 at 10.49.48 PM.pngJosie: “….oh dear, I’ve lost the baby…”
Ryan even takes a moment to laugh at this once we cut back to him

Surprisingly fun Props round

Rap: George, Mike,Ryan and Greg rap about stamp collecting
From: E15

This comp should have just been called ‘the best of Episodes 10 and 15′..

Also, rap is back, in the event that Hoedown didn’t work. It didn’t, and it still made the show.

Mike, as Clive wraps up the setup, motions for an audience member to toss him his hat, and by the start of the game, is wearing it.

Also, the drumbeat has improved vastly, with more of a backbeat than just the one we’d got for the first 2 seasons. Maybe they figured the American audiences would know the difference.

Mike, Ryan and Greg made this a surprisingly nice finale for this…much-maligned game.

Best Performer: Ryan, for proving his mastery in S3 by edging out anybody else in the compilation.
Worst Performer: Chris Smith, narrowly edging out George McGrath
Best Game: Party Quirks, for being WAY better than the one we got in the show, and continuing a great runner from Expert
Worst Game: Psychiatrist v2. A bit too over the top for me.

SERIES 3 SUPERLATIVES:

Best Episode: Episode 3, for not having a single bad game, emphasizing the strength of Jim Sweeney, solidifying Mike and Sandi’s places in the season, and even letting a struggling Paul shine in Expert Translation. One for the pantheon.
2nd Best Episode: Episode 1, another Jim Sweeney episode, for re-structuring the show, introducing a ton of new games, and bringing a fresh take that really paid off, with all four performers in nice form.
3rd Best Episode: Episode 12, the first appearance of the Ryan and Colin team-up, and the home of some really nice dynamics all-around, with even Josie and Mike doing great work with either of the two.
Worst Episode: Episode 14. Just atrocious, with Archie and John bombing their scenes, and Ryan and Mike doing their best to save it but ultimately failing.
Best Recurring Performer: Mike McShane, for proving why he was essentially a regular this season, stepping up big time and being the glue of every great scene, as well as establishing a great dynamic with everyone. Ryan Stiles’ late-season kick brought him very close, though.
Worst Recurring Performer- Chris Smith, for being a straight man…and an unsuccessful one at that.
Best Guest Star- Julian Clary, E4, for coming in for one episode only and bringing out the best in not only Paul but the whole show.
Worst Guest Star- George McGrath, E15.
Best Newcomer: Jim Sweeney, for owning his first two episodes and bringing a new energetic presence to a show that was just getting better.
Performer We Wish Had More Episodes Later On: Sandi Toksvig, whose tenure on the show came to a close with her well-attended S3. Thankfully, she moved onto bigger and better things (such as QI).

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S03E13, or I don’t understand it, I don’t know how THEY do…

Battle of the Duos: Meskimen and Smith vs. Toksvig and McShane. I’m thinking the latter one might win.

Clive describes Jim as ‘arguably the best impressionist since Claude Monet’, which is a nice one.

Authors: Maidens in the Mist
Chris: sporting memoir
Sandi: Agatha Christie
Jim: Tom Clancy
Mike: Edgar Rice Burroughs

Sandi, responding to Chris’ general one: “Another famous sports person, Agatha Christie.”

Mike explains what Burroughs has written, stuff like Tarzan
Clive: “Yes, and Jimmy C-…No-”
Mike, proud that Clive went there: “YES, JIMMY CARTER OF MARS!”

The speed of this game has definitely improved now that John Sessions isn’t a regular. Sandi and Chris give it a nice start.
Jim: “Miles away, the Soviets were observing everything…”

Very funny game overall, with all four working together, and the second round just being a quickfire humor bath.

Explanations: Facuets
Jim: Chico Marx
Chris: Groucho Marx

Getting established comedy duos to do this game work, because Jim and Chris already work well off each other when playing themselves, but playing two of the Marx brothers makes it even faster.

Chris: “Well, actually I already have a drip, it’s a problem.”
Jim: “That’s-a some joke…”
Chris, looking out to the unresponsive audience: “Well, I’m glad YOU thought so…”

Jim: “Yes, I’m the fella that makes the water-go-downa.”
Chris: “…and you’re a plumber?”
Jim: “No, I’m a watta-go-downer.”
Chris, seeing the joke and going for it: “You know, I used to have a wife who was a wattagodowna.”
After the audience goes wild for this one, Chris, to the camera, goes “…I don’t understand it, I don’t know how THEY do…”

Jim: “You shouldn’t hang around a man who’s working, it makes ya tired.”
Chris, looking around: “I didn’t realize I was hanging.”

Really fun scene, with good impressions and good, heh, interplay.

Film Dub: Mike comes home from the Supermarket to Sandi

Very haphazard scene, with a lot of muddied accented back and forth, and reacting to the scene, but the ending’s great- Mike’s waiting for someone to come onto the now-revealed screen, and it’s a guy with white hair.
Mike: “IT’S….IT’S…..IT’S PHIL DONOHUE!”

Song Styles: Microwave
Jim: Frank Sinatra
Chris: Opera

…did Mike not want to do Song Styles???

Jim flirts with his Frank Sinatra impression- some parts are spot-on, some parts sound like Jim. The song is pretty nice, very sweet, and the rhythm is very Sinatra. I just wish the impression was a wee-bit more centered.

Chris’ song is nice, very well done and with some good rhyme scheme, which is surprising considering he’s not usually left to his own devices. He even fakes out the audience, rearing up for a huge final note and instead giving a very quiet one.

Party Quirks: Sandi hosts
Chris: politician
Jim: old-timer
Mike: zookeeper

Jim: ‘And the house! Oh, I remember when this was just a barn…”

Jim: “and here, where that bean-bag chair is…”
Sandi: “That’s my husband actually…”

Jim describes his desire for an egg cream, like from the olden days.
Sandi: “An egg cream…that’s fantastic, I didn’t know eggs could cream themselves.”

Sandi’s doing a much better job of letting people interact, mainly with her but also with each other.

As Jim is guessed, when Clive can’t exactly remember the quirk, Jim exits to the podium, going “AND OLD CLIVE, I REMEMBER YOUR MOTHER…”

Fairly nice game, with a lot of great work all around, and Jim having a great time.

Film and Theatre Styles v1: Chris and Jim (boss letting employee go)

Man, they are doing these late in the show!

Chris: “You’re gonna have to go, Mitch. This is your swan song.”
Jim: “my swan song? We don’t even make swans at this factory…”

The Martial Arts style leads to some near-Stooges battering around with Jim and Chris.

Having two very white guys do a Blaxploitation style was not a good idea at all- Jim sends this into a very, VERY cringey place.

Clive: “How about we do a bit of Bergman?”
Jim: “He hit me….and now I still feel such strong feelings towards him.”

The style actually works, and culminates in both men making emotional Swedish Bergman noises.

The scene actually has a nice, and final, ending, with the Western style wrapping things up diplomatically. It wasn’t the greatest scene, but it wasn’t as horrible as it was during the Blaxploitation bit.

Film and Theatre Styles v2: Mike and Sandi (visiting someone in prison)

Mike: “I haven’t been able to see you here because…I’ve been seeing someone else, BUT I LOVE YOU!”
Sandi: “I KILLED YOUR MOTHER FOR YOU!”
Mike: “…and THAT’S WHY I LOVE YOU!”

Sandi, realizing a different meaning halfway through: “Yes, with that simple blow I killed your mother, for I have power in my fingertips you clearly don’t know about…”

Sandi, at the dramatic culmination of the Horror style, announces that “IT’S ONLY TWO DAYS TIL MY PERIOD…”
Mike’s expression grows to one of, well, horror. So yeah, that worked.

In the 10 seconds in which Sandi and Mike hold their positions, Sandi, out of the corner of her mouth, goes “……I can’t believe I said that…” And then both of them, in their positions, crack up.

It ends semi-clumsily, but it’s a good enough scene, with that one hysterical moment.

Gospel: Bus Driver

Sandi notes verbally that it’s a very difficult game for her (“because I’m british”)
“But Lord, I love you through the teeth…which is much more uncomfortable than being loved form underneath.”
This, once again, cracks up Mike.

Jim’s gospel verse is actually pretty great, and even gets Richard to go into a different chord in the third bar, which gives it a very cool feeling overall, once which the audience eats up.

Mike ends this one on a great note, as usual.

Overall: Very, very, very okay. The problem was pitting two very different duos against each other, and that it was very difficult to intermix them, so getting a dynamic together wasn’t very successful. Jim and Chris had great games by themselves. Sandi and Mike had great games by themselves. The audience really seemed to like this episode. But it was very off, to me, and a lot of games were oddly structured or handled, perhaps by the dual emphasis on both duos.

Show Winner: Jim
Best Performer: This was very close, but I’m going with Sandi because she had the funnier night and everyone else was…okay.
Worst Performer: Chris. He was much better than last time, with many more jokes, but he still brings up the rear because Jim and Mike did more throughout the show than he did.
Best Game: Explanations. Nothing was really top-to-bottom fantastic except this and Party Quirks, and I laughed at Explanations more.
Worst Game: Film Dub. Not a very coherent one, save for the ending joke.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S03E10, or They’re Always Expecting Something More..

To quote Neil Diamond, WE’RE COMIN’ TO AMERICA.

…Appropriately enough, that’s a joke Ryan Stiles would kill me for, and he’s on the program tonight, along with Josie Lawrence, who, along with Sandi Toksvig, Greg Proops Richard Vranch and Mike McShane, made the flight to New York for the rest of the Series.

Debuting tonight are two performers trying to establish a comedy duo that would be the American equivalent of Sweeney and Steen- Jim Meskimen, son of Happy Days’ Marion Ross, [insert unneeded joke about a certain detail of his personal life here] and, to be perfectly honest, one of the single best impressionists ever to be scouted by Whose Line, and his then-comedy partner Chris Smith, whose blandness and straight-man-esque qualities complimented Meskimen perfectly.

Film and Theatre Styles v1: Ryan and Josie (customer and gas station attendant)

LITERALLY THE FIRST AUDIENCE SUGGESTION FOR A FILM STYLE CLIVE GETS is some guy going “ORGASM!”

Also, interesting to note that Clive does an impression of the Southern fella who suggests “MELLOW-DRAMMER…”

The first joke Ryan goes with is a fart joke. Nice to see he’s appealing to American audiences.

Ryan and Josie work off each other pretty well, especially in the Silent Film section, where both have the sort of mute physicality to keep things really funny.

Clive finally goes with ‘Orgasm’, or a porn film.
Josie: “…I’d like to check your gear stick…”
Ryan: “Let me get the oil for ya…”
And, for the first of many times on Whose line, Ryan does the ‘throws cock over shoulder’ motion.

Josie: “I like the way the gas just…drips from the end.
Clive: [holds buzzer for what seems like 10 minutes]
Clive: “…that was a mistake, obviously…”

Josie ends the scene in a ‘WHAT AM I TO DO’ pose, and Ryan…takes this the exact wrong way
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Josie realizes what she’s done, flips the suit jacket over and lays her head back. Ryan’s just…amused.
BUZZ. Clive already seems to have had enough of America.

Very fun scene, which improved as it got more blue.

Film and Theatre Styles v2: Jim and Chris (hiring a private detective)

Clive gets insanely aggravated with all the audience members shouting at once, and has to section it off. Man, those Americans are starting strong.

Jim stumbles over his words, but rebounds: “It’s my wife- I think she’s been cheating on anoth…CHEATING ON ANOTHER GUY…ME!”

The Abbott and Costello sequence just proves how well Jim and Chris work off of each other, and how Jim just supplies the jokes while Chris acts as the backboard.

With the Bond style, Jim throws in his really nice Connery, which is basically a glorified Scottish accent but it’s very 60s Connery.

Chris, taking out a Bond gadget: “D’you see this pen?”
Jim: “Looks like nothing more than an ordinary fountain pen to me…”
Chris: “It is!” [spills ink on Jim] “They’re always expecting something more.”
YES! CHRIS MAKES A JOKE! Savor it now, as it happens very rarely.

Clive combines some styles, possibly knowing of the punchline, with ‘Bugs Bunny meets Jimmy Stewart’
Chris: “Eh, what’s up, doc?”
Jim: “…This is the largest rabbit I’ve ever seen in my life…”

Jim does manage to bring it back to the plot, but it ends kind of weakly, even if it wasn’t the worst F&TS.

Expert: Josie interviews Ryan, a watermelon expert

Yay, this game’s back! Ryan nailed it the last time, chasing Tony.

Ryan nails this with the characterization, adding some crazy-eyes and slightly manic affectations to what could be a simple character. Also, and this is a very long-shot reference, but the voice he gives his character sounds like a cross between Sweetnums from the Muppets and Mike Pipper from the Final Sacrifice episode of Mystery Science Theater.

Ryan: “And when ya cut ’em open, you can see things! One time I saw a….a VISION OF CHRIST INSIDE A WATERMELON! Just…the seeds were the eyes…”

Josie: “Now, pips.”
Ryan: “PIPS???”
Josie: “You always have to spit out the stones, don’t you?”
Ryan: “SEEDS is what we call ’em, SEEDS!”
Josie cracks briefly, as if she forgot where she was.

Josie, losing it: “Now, when was the first time you saw your first melon?”
Ryan: “Well….I was a young boy in private school! The nuns used ta bring ’em in to tease us with ’em, you know? ‘FINISH YOUR WORK OR YOU’LL HAVE THIS UP YOUR-‘ You-know-what”
BUZZ. Josie completely bursts out laughing.

Just like last time, that was a fantastic Expert, with Ryan giving a great performance. I’ll say that Josie was a bit less competitive than Tony was, but her cracking up definitely helped the game.

Book Writer: Chris interviews Jim, who’s written a book on rodents

So…why not make this another game of Expert??

Jim does nail this, with some very slight physicality that gets the audience laughing early, plus the idea of the ‘Rodent Olympics’, which is bizarre enough to work. Again, Chris is mainly here to set up jokes.

Jim, on the events in this olympiad: “Uhh, ‘Jump over a straw’…’run around the inside of a garbage can lid’…”

Chris, wrapping up: “And, uh, when will the games actually take place?”
Jim: “They will take place after the harvest…when all the nuts are buried, you know…”

Quaint enough game, proof that there was more to Jim than just impressions.

Song Styles: Spatula
Josie: Jazz
Jim: Sting

Josie’s number is really lively, very cool, and very understanding of the style. Her best lines is saying “I am just a spat with an ula at the end.” She has a ton of fun with this.

Jim’s number is the first time they give an actual musician instead of a general style. Of course, they do this because of Jim’s award-winning Sting impression (i mean, I imagine it won some).

Even when he looks over to Richard, going “whenever you’re ready maestro”, he’s already doing a perfect Sting impression. He’s going for early-Police-era Sting (which, FYI, is the best Sting).

Jim’s number is quicker, but it’s funnier, and that impression is…SPOT-ON.

Explanations: Toaster
Jim: James Tiberius Kirk
Chris: Mr. Spock

A lot of this episode has been playing to Jim’s strengths- throwing Jimmy Stewart in, having Sting in Song Styles, and now rolling out a game that hasn’t been played in a season to showcase Jim’s insanely good William Shatner impression. I don’t think the show has played so much into a performer’s hand since the John Sessions days.

And yes, from the first line “Why…Spock, I’m…surprised you eat bread”, you can tell how good Jim’s Shatner impression is.

Chris: “I don’t understand, the holes are the size of a normal piece of bread, only slightly larger.”
Jim: “…yes, yes…” [slightly quieter] “…of course they are…”

Jim does send a message to Scotty [thanks to a tricorder noise from Chris that Jim knows is better than his], about sending down dilithium crystals. After a beat, realizing nobody can play Scotty, Chris just throws an intercom Scotty impression in there, under his hand.
Jim: “…Sounds like you’re in the Lincoln Tunnel, Scotty…”

A good game, though it relied mainly on Jim’s impression as a source of humor, only finding jokes in slightly dissonance in improv.

Party Quirks: Chris hosts
Jim: Wall Street businessman
Josie: Searching for buried treasure
Ryan: astronaut on the moon

Jim absolutely nails his, with the kind of manic energy that one would need for this specific quirk. Josie’s isn’t as good as, say, Jonathan Pryce doing the same quirk, but she’s having a good time.

And then…Ryan has his first ‘Oh My God’ quirk, coming in with zero-gravity, in near-slow-mo, backwards.

Ryan does have to give it to Chris basically, and Chris doesn’t do great as a host, but it’s still a funny round.

Helping Hands: Chris is a dental patient, Ryan, with Jim’s hands, is the dentist

Ryan immediately shines at this game, reacting well to Jim’s motions and still keeping the energy that the scene requires, while still working off Ryan. Jim even does a nice job keeping Ryan in check, giving him more things to do while still listening to him.

Ryan misses a golden opportunity after a moment of sexual tension, and Chris asks “Are you gonna pull my teeth or what?” I mean, if Tony was there, he would have gone “Yes, but first I’d like to pull something else…”

‘Western Hoedown’: Stone-Carving

Historians from years in the future will look to this episode as the first ever appearance of the dreaded, much-maligned Hoedown. Here, it goes by the name ‘Western Hoedown’, has a different key, and is slightly similar to March in that the last participant, Josie, gets a longer verse. Modern Hoedown would chuckle at this.

You can tell that Jim doesn’t love this game, as he sort of stumbles through his verse. Chris has firmer footing, but his verse isn’t memorable either.

Ryan does end up with a nice ending: “I find I’m often carvin’ when I’m alone; but I find it’s much easier when I’M stoned…”
He smirks afterwards, as if he doesn’t realize how many more times he’s going to play this fucking game.

Josie ends strongly, but…like March, early Hoedowns are very hit-miss.

Also, note Ryan’s spit-take once he finds out he’s won. It takes him a bit to build up his self-esteem on the show.

Overall: Not perfect, but a refreshing start to the American run. You can tell Josie’s a wee-bit out of her element, but also, thanks to the emphasis on US performers, the spotlight isn’t really on her as much, and she spends a lot of the episode sitting out, which isn’t a great sign. The emphasis tonight was on Jim and Chris, and while Chris…made, like, 2 jokes, Jim, for the most part, was worth it, succeeding in a ton of places, and winning over the audience. The asterisk on Jim’s night was that the producers were very much playing to his strengths, asking for his Sting, Jimmy Stewart and William Shatner impressions as they were his strong points in his NY house team (I think that’s what that was).

Ryan easily had the best night, as he was able to work off of everyone, and the US scenery allowed him to be a ton more comfortable, and go into more of his most trusted material. Tonight’s show is probably the first step to his eventual regular-ship in both series’.

Show Winner: Ryan
Best Performer: Ryan, for owning his screentime and coming into his own.
Worst Performer: Chris Smith, for not breaking out of his role as a straight man.
Best Game: Expert, for letting Ryan shine, and for bringing the giggles out in Josie.
Worst Game: Helping Hands, just by comparison.