QI Watchdown: J8 (Jumble), or What Have You Done with Stephen Fry?

This QI marks the final appearances for two QI mainstays who helped bridge the way for the show’s success: Dara O’Briain, who’s had numerous funny shows over the years, and John Sessions, the famous git, who’s provided numerous amounts of intelligent material, but in the years since his previous appearance has become more of a relic to the show’s previous emphasis on fact rather than funny. Jo Brand is also onhand, to make this feel…oddly enough like a Series B show. For a show that seemed to be zooming ahead and enlisting modern comedy figures, this seemed an odd move (and if you’d like an odder move by QI, check back in two shows).

The buzzers all seem to be J-related songs: Jo’s is ‘Jenny from the Block’ by J. Lo, which she responds to with a shrug.
John’s amusingly, is ’99 Problems’ by Jay-Z, which he bobs along to in one of the most ill-fitting things I’ve seen in a while.
Stephen: “I’ll give you 10 points if you know who that was!”
John, horrified: “Uhhh…Usher!”
Stephen, facepalming: “I think ‘J’ would have helped you”
John: “Jay-Z?”
Stephen: “Well, it’s too late NOW…”
Dara gets a Jessie J tune, which he guesses obviously, because Dara is generally savvy with music [see his Pliers reference from Mock the Week…or his Colonel Abrams reference from Mock the Week]

Alan’s is the Alphabet song by Perry Como
Alan: “Not a J name, is it?”
Jo: “I think it might have been his brother, Jerry Como”

From the very first question, John’s pedantic, answer-knowing nature is immediately relevant. A lot of people seem to think that John was the one that Stephen alluded to always asking for the answers in advance. While I still believe that person was Rory McGrath, I’m certainly not ruling out John.

John talks about a jockey who’d put the whip up his own arse. “It’s a variation on the photocopier thing.”
Dara, not completely following: “…whereas you put the photocopier up your own arse?”
Stephen: “Oh, surely we’ve all been there.”

Stephen, reading from his cards, says that “these don’t have the effect of horsing a speed up- speeding a horse up, sorry.”
They cut to Jo, who looks very confused.
Stephen inspects his glasses.
Dara: “I don’t mean to get all street on you, but when you horse your speed up…it’s when you get your meth and mix heroin in with it…THAT will make you run.”
Alan: “What have you done with Stephen Fry???”

Jo, on the camel-racing question: “Please, may I tell you the only camel joke that I know? Kay, there’s two guys in the army, out on the desert. And there’s a new recruit, and there are no women around at all, and the new recruit says “what d’we do for sex?”, and the guy says “I’m afraid it’s the camels.” And later on, they’re all let out towards the camels, and the old bloke’s running really fast, and the young guy says “what’re you doing, it’s only a camel?” And the guy goes “yeah, but you don’t wanna get an ugly one, do you?”
As Stephen moves on Dara holds up a hand: “I’m sorry, but…there IS another camel joke…”
Dara takes it from the exact same starting point, “I’m afraid it’s the camels, and late at night, the guy goes ‘I can’t take it anymore, I’m as horny as hell’, and he takes off and he rides the camel. And he comes back, and goes “well, that’s the best we can do”. And the older guy says, well, actually, when I said ‘we got the camels’, we normally, eh, ride them into town…”
Okay, THAT is perfect.

Stephen asks for another sport that involves camels. Jo guesses smoking.
Alan: “Chess!”
Stephen: “…I look at you, Alan, and I wonder…where these things grow. Where they come from…”
Alan: “…it’d just be nice to see, wouldn’t it?”

John talks of the 30s vaudeville act that named himself Nosmo King after the double doors that spelled out No Smoking.
Dara: “But he wasn’t tempted to call himself…’Fi Reexit’ or something like that?”
Stephen: “Emerge….Encyexit!”
Alan, as Stephen’s going on: “Toi Let!”
Stephen: “Roy…Alcircle!”

Stephen: “Complete the phrase…’pregnant mothers should eat…’
Jo: “…loads….uh, burgers…”

Stephen asks Jo if she had any weird cravings or behaviors during pregnancy
Jo: “I gnawed my husband’s leg occasionally.”
Stephen: “…and that was unusual?”
Jo: “…not as far as our marriage was concerned…”

John mentions that his mother smoked his father’s pipe while she was pregnant, which Dara mentions is such a lovely image. “Tapping it out on the table.”
Alan: “…i thought you were gonna say ‘tapping it out on the belly’
And Dara mimes getting the ash all over the belly. It’s an amusing bit.

Stephen, voicing the concerns of the audience: “…Johnny, you’ve got to stop answering every question…”

Jo completely guesses a definition of an obscure Stephen word…gets it right, and gets the question right, which shocks the hell out of her.

As John gets something wrong
Stephen: “Nice that you’re trying, and don’t be put off…”

Stephen: “If you really want NOT to pee, keep as still as possible-”
Alan: “Clench the end of your cock INCREDIBLY HARD…”
Stephen, post-facepalm: “I’d find it better if you’d get someone else to do that..”

Stephen: “Who gets the most use from Jacobsen’s organ?”
Dara: “Wouldn’t that be MRS. Jacobsen?”

Not a lot is happening in this one. Everyone’s playing really separate games, and John’s excessive knowledge keeps bringing everything to a halt. At least Jo’s disgusting stories lift the mood. She tells one about someone someone pranked with a severed hand, which Alan is repulsed by even before the punchline.
Alan: “Did she ball it into a fist? And then couldn’t get it out?”
Jo: “No, they went in, and she was sitting on the bed eating it.”
That gives an even BIGGER response.

Stephen: “What does a cockroach find absolutely disgusting?”
Alan: “Jeremy Kyle.”
Stephen: “YES! IS THE RIGHT ANSWER! Because, well almost, Jeremy Kyle IS…a human being.”

Stephen’s final note is that any shuffling of cards is a completely new combination of all 52 possibilities, making it a unique shuffle. There are so many different positions of 52 that each card can be that its probability of being repeated is this very, very long positive integer. Not really a math guy, but I’m fascinated by that fact.

Also, this show produced all four scores higher than zero, which is fantastic. It’d be more fantastic if this was a better show.

John technically wins, but Stephen awards the show to himself for that impressive card display, which…if it takes a win away from John Sessions, I’m fine with.

Overall: A very, very weak show. There were funny moments here and there, but the majority of the show consisted of facts that couldn’t get off the ground, John Sessions rattling on, or just lulls in humor. Jo and Dara had funny moments and stories, and that ending card fact is a great one, but I really couldn’t get into this one.

MVP: Dara
Best Guest: Jo
Show Winner: John
Best QI Fact: card combinations
Best Runner: horsing up speed

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S03E14, or It’s Improvisation, Not Forward Thinking

This is one of two…very, very odd episodes in a row. For instance, this lineup, of Archie Hahn, John Sessions, Ryan Stiles and Mike McShane, could have been one from Series 2, but now that the power has shifted, Sessions, here for his last Whose Line, is in the FIRST seat, while MIKE is in the fourth.

Film and Theatre Styles v1: Archie and John (Robin Hood and future Merry Man)

Ah, you can tell the tide has turned, because John’s here and we’re not playing authors.

The game starts with some references that neither I nor the audience gets. Nice that we’re beginning to lower John’s WL tenure into the ground.

Both John AND Archie are good at keeping up with the Shakespeare style, even with Archie throwing in some wordplay that nearly rivals Colin and Ryan’s from last show.

Now…in the slapstick style…Archie pulls out a whistle and uses it for some falling noises. There’s a general rule in improv not to supply your own props. Archie, like another American performer this season, has a hand that the show plays into perfectly, rather than just adapting to suggestions.

Clive: “Alright, I’m not gonna wait here for a dog to come…”
John sees the wordplay and is impressed.

Amusing, but, like usual with John’s scenes, they completely lost the plot.

Film and Theatre Styles v2: Mike and Ryan (passerby helps someone whose car has broken down)

At the suggestion of ‘ballet’, Mike and Ryan look at each other and sigh.
Clive: “Yes, horror…I think ballet is a bit of a horror with these two…”

Clive: “horror”
Ryan: [horrifiedly shakes the locked door handle]

After a relatively amusing horror style
Clive: “…I can postpone it no longer. Ballet.”

Ryan prances over, and motions for Mike to leap into Ryan’s arms. this…does not go well…
Screen Shot 2017-12-05 at 7.12.43 PM.pngScreen Shot 2017-12-05 at 7.12.32 PM.pngScreen Shot 2017-12-05 at 7.12.53 PM.pngScreen Shot 2017-12-05 at 7.13.01 PM.png

And THAT is how you end a scene. This had its moments, wasn’t perfect, but BY GOD THAT ENDING.

Song Styles: Mike sings a torch song about a suitcase

Mike: “Can I have a stool for this?”
Clive: “i dunno, depends on what you’re going to do with it…”

Very passionate, powerful song from Mike, giving some of his most vibrant vocal tones in a while, and not going on too long. It even ends with Mike running over and giving Richard Vranch a high-five.

Sound Effects: Ryan’s on the subway. Archie supplies the sound effects.

Ah, yes, one of the last few times Ryan wouldn’t do sound effects. Not that Archie’s have been bad (it was one of the few things he was truly great at on the show), but…Ryan’s are classic.

Ryan’s great at reacting, though. The first ten seconds are just the sounds of the subway system, which…sort of frustrates Ryan, as the train should probably get there, as the scene should probably have something happen in it.

Ryan does have a nice move. He motions to a dog, pets it…then throws it onto the tracks. Archie does have a great ‘AIIIIGH’ noise from the dog.

The whole game leads to Ryan jumping one, squeezing the doors open and getting on…only for Archie’s announcer to go “your attention please…the subway is now out of service…”

An odd game, as nothing happened, but it was a very funny nothing.

World’s Worst- Person to share an apartment with

John and Mike have 5 seconds of a ‘you go, no you go’, before:
Mike: “….what’s ‘rent’?”
John: “I believe that washing causes the body not to be as real and happy as it ought to be…”
Mike, going right up to the camera: “Yeah, I ate all the food. So what? YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT??”

Props: Ryan and John vs. Mike and Archie

Screen Shot 2017-12-05 at 7.25.50 PM.pngRyan: “I’m sick of bloody froot loops, alright, YOU EAT EM.”

John, in doing an unfunny joke that nobody’s getting, snaps the prop in half. LOWERING HIS WL TENURE FURTHER INTO THE GROUND.

Mike, not taking a single moment for granted: “Man, d’you see those guys in concert when they broke that scythe on stage?”

Audition: Ryan runs auditions for ‘The Dead Greasy Godfathers Society’- John, Archie and Mike audition.

This was a game they only tried in the US this series, and it actually had a few good playings, though this one was…a wee bit problematic…

Ryan, to John, a method actor: “Now, Tony I gather you’ve read the script?”
John: “No, I, uh…I looked at it, and then I imagined what it’d be like to feel it…”

John’s basically sums up his tenure on Whose Line: He gives a really bad acting performance, and Ryan Stiles tells him to go away.

Archie goes up as…well, an Archie Hahn character. Flamboyantly gay, dancer type.
Ryan: “Heinie, what are you doing right now?”
Archie: “I’m doing an off-off-off-off-off broadway production of Rear Window…”

Archie, ONCE AGAIN, skews the improv his way, putting the idea in Ryan’s head that his number has to include dancing, and doing a full dance number with castanets doubling for tap shoes. THAT’S…NOT…HOW…IMPROV…WORKS!

Mike awkwardly comes towards the stage
Ryan: “Uh, name please? Your name?”
Mike: “Uh…Bob Zoom?”
Ryan: “Hi Bob. Now, have you had a chance to read the script?”
Mike: “…..there’s a script???”

Of course, Mike absolutely kills it, doing a short, passionate, character-heavy song, culminating in a HUGELY ENERGETIC NOTE, and Ryan running on, going “you’ve got the job, Bob!”

This is a well-structured game, one well-proctored  by Ryan and well-ended by Mike, but John and Archie meddled with the momentum, by overdoing it, and, well, cheating.

Clive even deducts 500 points for Archie’s prop incident- “It’s improvisation, not forward thinking, that we want here…”

Helping Hands: Ryan (with Archie’s hands) complains to waiter Mike

Ryan: “Taste this soup, it’s freezing cold.”
Mike: “…it’s gazpacho, idiot…”

Mike does know that this game requires physicality, so he gets Ryan to do the secret handshake they did in high school, and it becomes this crazy, complete miss of an arm thing that I’m happy I saw.

Of course, Archie grabs Ryan’s crotch, which Ryan quickly responds to (“it’s just…my underwear’s riding behind me…”), but…if this went on the air in 2017 it’d get some headlines, I think, and some op-eds in the Times.

Really great game, crotch grab notwithstanding, as it was more physical than most other games of this.

Film Dub: Ryan and Archie are somewhere strange

This one’s a pretty awkward one, though it has a nice line or two (“that’s my coat!” “yes, I’m going to go take a dump in it, d’you mind”)- Archie does a big ‘no, but’ in the middle, which gets a laugh but doesn’t progress the scene.

Gospel: Milkmen

John and Archie’s…are not remotely good.

Ryan’s, though…
“Milk is a dairy product…just like butter.
It doesn’t just show up in a store, you’ve got to squeeze an udder…”

Overall: I didn’t think Series 3 would have a truly bad show, but here we are. John and Archie kept any scene from progressing, there were a lot of bad improv moves, and even if Mike and Ryan were having nice nights, there wasn’t truly a top-to-bottom perfect game on the entire night. It was just flawed as hell.

Show Winner: John
Best Performer: Ryan, for sticking with it and elevating even some bad scenes
Worst Performer: Archie Hahn, who did more improv no-nos throughout the night. It’s a wonder he ever did another show.
Best Game: Audition. Not pristine, but structurally cool, and with a great ending.
Worst Game: Film Dub. Just not good.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S03E11, or And Now…My Accent has Gone!

Well, this is an odd one. I mean, not the Greg and Mike part- it’s Series 3, they’re supposed to be here.

No, the odd part is the other two- Mark Cohen, who had a nice enough debut in E2 but was slightly bawdy, and John Sessions, in the first of his final two Whose Line episodes. It’s the equivalent of pairing Andy Samberg up with Derek Jacobi.

Also, a note that Mike McShane….Mike McShaved…as Prince of Thieves wrapped before Mike flew out to the US. So, R.I.P. Mike Beard…for now.

Authors: She’s Gotta Have More Macaroni and Cheese
Mike: Lewis and Clark
Mark: Mario Puzo
Greg: Millie, the White House Dog
John: Ernest Hemingway

Clive, on Greg’s style: “Is that an actual author?”
Greg: “Yes, it’s Barbara Bush’s dog…and she’s a damn fine writer.”
Clive: “…I thought it was called Dan Quayle, but nevermind…”
The audience groans/boos at this.
Greg, chuckling: “Welcome to America, Clive…”

Also, ONCE AGAIN, John picks the obvious author just to be pretentious. Good to see that, even if it looks like times are tougher, he can still be the same old git.

I’d like to point out that Mark is doing a DeNiro impression for Puzo. Puzo didn’t exactly write Godfather Part II…

Greg: [dog noises] “He had a horse’s head, and he had a horse’s ass…IT WAS DAN QUAYLE!”


This is a pretty good round, though, as the plot stays intact, Mark cracks up, Mike’s going high energy, and…
Mark, mid-crack-up: “They continued to make love…”
The audience loves this one. So does John, as it takes him a second to recover from this.

Film and Theatre Styles v1: Mark and John (borrowing something from a neighbor)


Someone shouts out ‘PORNOGRAPHIC!’. Mark, in response, goes back to his seat. It is only the force of Greg grabbing Mark’s ass that gets him back onto the stage.

Mark and John do a really nice scene-setup, of the relationship and the setting…and then John goes “Can I borrow your wife.”

The surrealist style brings out the best in this, as, for the second time in his short WL tenure, Mark pops out from under someone’s legs. Then, John rides him around the stage, for the second time in HIS WL tenure.

Mark and John both do really well in the Commedia style, and it surprises me that Mark has such a grasp on it (obviously John would).

A relatively nice scene, especially considering the reputation of these two as performers.

Film and Theatre Styles v2: Mike and Greg (son telling a father he’s smashed the car)

In two lines, Mike and Greg establish everything you need to know in just their vocal tones.

Thank God both Mike and Greg have seen their fair amount of David Lynch films (especially Blue Velvet, as both seem to be channeling Frank Booth), as this style is fantastic, and manic.

The Ibsen style goes well, with dueling Norwegian accents, though it ends with Greg stumbling, going “and now…my accent has gone.”
Mike: “Let us take a tour of Denmark with your accent.”

Clive: “Hitchcock”
Mike, taking him literally: “Good evening.”

Greg pulls out a really nice Peter Lorre, which is great, despite…the fact that i don’t think Peter Lorre ever appeared in a Hitchcock film.
Mike: “It’s not that I hate you…get into the shower…”

Greg then turns into Norman Bates (finally figuring out someone who WAS in a Hitchcock movie), and moves around Mike, doubling as Norman and his mother.
Mike: ‘….I love it when you use me as a split-screen montage…”
Both of them stand there, trying not to crack up. Once Clive ends it, they crack.

That was a masterful F&TS, culminating in a fantastic Mike quote, and some really funny stuff throughout.

World’s Worst- Idea for a TV program:

Mark: “This is ‘Bob Dylan’s Speech Class’!”
Greg: “Hello, and welcome to the Disney Channel’s ‘Snuggles, the Lovable Python!’

I do enjoy Mark’s bemused expression whenever Clive buzzes him right after the concept. Like, he’s almost betrayed. Every time.

Very nice round, with a lot of silly stuff from Mike.

Props: John and Greg vs. Mike and Mark

Screen Shot 2017-12-03 at 12.03.46 PM.png
John: “Daddy, when you give me a hula hoop, do you really have to put me in the microwave?”

Screen Shot 2017-12-03 at 12.04.54 PM.pngJohn: “…this snake likes itself so much…”

Pretty fun round, with Mike and SURPRISINGLY JOHN giving good stuff.

Song Styles: Mike sings a disco song about underwear

This is a very, very funny song about incredibly tight underpants, making up for its brevity with Mike’s effort.

Party Quirks: Mark hosts
Greg: auctioneer
Mike: US Football Coach
John: bad mime artist

Greg, obviously, nails the auctioneer voice immediately when he enters, not even shutting up for a decibel and going around trying to sell things.

Mike’s entry is the second time tonight a hand has come near Mark Cohen’s ass.

I do find it funny that Mark forgets the word ‘auctioneer’ exists. Like…we have those here, y’know…


Gospel: Lawyers

Well, believe it or not, JOHN SESSIONS ACTUALLY SINGS IN A SINGING GAME. I mean, it’s not his best, and he makes it about how bland LA Law is (all that time in the US really doing ya in, eh John?), but still.

Greg has a rousing start to his:
“My name is Perry Mason…I never lose a case…
Everybody’s always waiting…for Della to sit on my…”

Mark’s, of course, is pretty high energy, complete with a nice-sized pelvic thrust towards the end.

The energy that these four reach on that last beat…that’s something pretty special.

Overall: I was honestly not expecting much from this one, but lo and behold it gave some of the strongest dynamics of the season so far, by, ironically enough, returning to basics for a spell. This show, structurally, felt very Series 2, right down to the inclusion of John Sessions, and yet it worked out in more contemporary ways. Mike and Greg soared over this episode, the former having some great jokes, and the latter giving a performance more indicative of his later years. John was better than he’s been in a while, and a ton happier, too. Mark, despite bringing up the rear, tried, and had some nice moments, but honestly he wasn’t really right for the show when it comes down to it.

Show Winner: John
Best Performer: Mike by a hair. He just dominated the middle half of the show, and had the best lines in F&TS
Worst Performer: Mark, but not without effort
Best Game: Film and Theatre Styles v2, for being an all-time classic, and bringing the best out in Mike and Greg
Worst Game: Party Quirks, for being, essentially, the weak link in the show.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S02E17, or That’ll Make Good Television, Won’t It?

Onto the final compilation for Series 2, and a cap on a pretty okay series of Whose Line. I think the consistency would grow the more John Sessions stayed at home.

Film and Theatre Styles: Ryan and Sandi (couple meeting on a blind date)
From: E5

Well, already the audience gets a nice laugh at the height difference between Ryan and Sandi. Sandi rams her head into the side of Ryan’s torso. It’s pretty great.

Sandi, on her and Ryan: “Yes, I think this will be very compatible.”
Clive: “Mel Brooks.”
Ryan: “Yeah, at least I’ve got a place to set my beer…”

Andy Warhol
Ryan: “Shall I take off my clothes and lie on the bed and start talking about nothing at all?”
Sandi: “You can if you’d like, but we’re still in Waterloo Station…”

Clive: “…I don’t know what this is, but a Dog Film.”
Ryan: [starts sniffing Sandi’s arse]
A lot like ‘Bearded Collie’

Sandi: “Lord preserve us, our tongue has gone wild.”
Clive: ‘Woody Allen’
Sandi: “…I’m sorry, I don’t know why I said that…”

Really nice round, great for both performers. The sad part of this is that, thanks to whatever went down during John and Tony’s playing, the game winds up here.

Duet: Mike and Josie sing an Andrew Lloyd Webber song about a lemon squeezer
From: E11

On getting the style, Clive, to Mike: “Have you heard of Andrew Lloyd Webber?”
Mike, disgusted: “OH YES…we’ve heard a LOOOOT OF HIM…”

This is a pretty extraordinary one, with both doing an insane job, hitting melodic heights that hadn’t really been hit in this game. Also, thanks to Mike, the lyrics are pretty hysterical. It doesn’t even drag on for too long, either.

Clive, postmortem: “…and if you’re interested, LEMON is opening at the Prince of Wales theatre next week….”

That’ll be Charlie Now: Josie, Tony and Paul are waiting for a train, and for Charlie (Mike)
From: E15

Tony, already looking to screw someone over: “….does he still have that awful habit of grinding up against people whose names begin with J?”
Josie sees this coming, and still cracks when it happens.
Paul, with the parry: “I don’t know, but anytime he has to speak to someone called Tony, he throws up into a galvanized bucket…”

Mike, of course, owns the scene the second he enters, nailing all of the prescriptions, and eventually, yes, grinding up against Josie, as she completely cracks up.

Even better, Mike starts talking about how the train’s arrival makes him ‘fill with sperm’, and Josie slowly walks to the other side of the stage, away from Mike.

Even better, Tony gives one last ‘train’ (which means Mike has to run an aerobics class). Mike takes 5 seconds, realizes the cue, yells ‘TRAIN’, and goes back into it. And then the game ends.

Far more successful than last Charlie, with more emphasis on letting the round run its course, and less on keeping it trim for time.

Interview: Tony, from a children’s program, interviews Greg, Noah.
From: E1

Tony nods as he gets the style, then goes right into it. “…….hello……..today we’ve got Noah.” [weak grin] “……it’s a long word, isn’t it?”

This is a very quick game, but only because Greg mentions that all the animals ‘make a mess all over the ark’, and Tony, motioning to the camera, goes “…are you going to make a mess with us?” So, with the scene heading into ‘everyone at home is pooping’, Clive has no choice but to end the scene.

Rap: Arthur, Sandi, Mike and Josie sing of Dustmen
From: E11

Arthur doesn’t follow the tempo, and thinks he’s got to follow Josie’s story, but he does well enough, and ends with a nice slam at the captain of the English rugby team.

Sandi’s is actually pretty good (“actually, I’m a sanitary engineer”), even if it looked as if it’d end in disaster.

Mike’s, as usual, is the strongest of the group, and he ends what’s honestly one of the better raps they’ve done.

Extra Bits:
-A Rap blooper from E4 where Mike gets tongue-tied, and goes “ah, fuck that!”
-JOHN fucks up a rap in E5, trying it for 2 seconds, going “nah, can’t do it. Fuck it.” Unlike Mike’s, THIS f-bomb makes it past the censor.
-Clive fucks up the opening of the show, and lands in disgust with his head on the desk.
-Paul ruins an Authors take from E3
-The most famous one, cut from E15, where Josie can’t get through a rap about fishing, and Clive…does a really damned good one for her…at which point, Paul stops and says “WHY DON’T YOU GET UP AND DO THIS?” In the background, you can also hear Mike egging him on.

Song Styles: Josie sings a jazz song about an ironing board
From: E2

….Because her reggae one that got into the show wasn’t good enough??

I put this around the same kind of level as the one that made it- good, cute, but not memorable enough to stand out this series.

Film Dub: Paul is taking his driving test from Tony
From: E15

Very haphazard, and very shouty, and relying on a few too many lowbrow jokes.

Party Quirks: Paul hosts
Archie: lounge singer
Jonathan: mad highland dancer
John: from The Great Escape


Archie, while killing it, is sent back to the seats by CLIVE, as apparently Paul’s guess of ‘Frank Sinatra’ was enough to get it? I don’t agree, and the audience doesn’t either, booing as Archie heads back.
Paul: “….that’ll make good television, won’t it?”
Yeah, that’s probably why this one didn’t make air


The game ends clumsily, as Clive forces JOHN out for a near-guess, and Paul’s even complaining as he heads back. Maybe they did the second one so that Clive would relax, and thank god he did.

Musical Producers: Paul and Tony describe a musical about hairdressers, sung by Josie and Mike
From: E15

The first segment is great, almost exactly what a musical would be…until Josie, rhyming with bitch, goes “and you’re just a…smitch!”
Paul: “Yes, I’m not sure about ‘just a smitch’ as a rhyme…I DON’T THINK THEY’RE GONNA UNDERSTAND US IN LA!”
Tony: “Yes, or indeed ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD…”

Tony: “How about we set it in Barcelona, and instead of the rivalry they just really, really want to get it off with each other!”
Screen Shot 2017-11-20 at 12.18.55 AM.png

The second segment is actually a really sensual spanish sort of song, and both Mike and Josie truly nail it.

Paul: “…..I don’t know, I missed the ‘smitch’ that time around…”

The final segment, again, is something with the kind of harmony you would see on broadway, and with a really impressive final note, at that.

Dare I say it….that was better than Rock Opera. It would have been cooler if they’d put that in. Also, I love how most of these compilations are just showing us how much better E15 would have been.

Best Performer: Mike McShane, for nailing some of the bigger moments in this comp.
Worst Performer: Jonathan Pryce, simply because the little we saw of him wasn’t great.
Best Game: Musical Producers, narrowly edging out Charlie.
Worst Game: Film Dub. Way too frenzied.

Best Episode: E7, the Christmas special that brought together 6 of the best performers of this era, and had them take part in some truly great games, including a great 6-person Musical Producers, a crazy Props, and a ton of really good moments along the way.
2nd Best Episode: E5, Ryan and Sandi’s first show, with star turns from both right off the bat, along with a great Remote Control, a fun round of tag, and Expert, one of the best games of the season, which turned into a round of ‘who can screw over each other more’ between Ryan and Tony
Worst Episode: E10. This season didn’t have any truly terrible shows, but this one, with Lee Simpson struggling, Jan Ravens being destructive, Mike and Tony doing their best, and only a fun Tony cock-up in Rap saving it from being forgettable, comes very close.
Best Recurring Performer: Tony Slattery, for OWNING the stage in nearly all of his appearances this season, and making a case for consistent legitimacy on the show.
Worst Recurring Performer: John Sessions. Nearly went with Ron West, but at least Ron showed signs of improvement along the way. John…did not.
Best Guest Star: Paul Rider, a graduate from the school of ‘WHY THE HELL DIDN’T HE COME BACK MORE OFTEN??’ Nearly went with Griff Rhys-Jones here, but the feeling was nayyyy, as was the answer (holy shit, I’m going into Shooting Stars references. What’s wrong with me?)
Worst Guest Star: Chris Langham. I imagine they tried to hype him up as a ‘star’, after a career with Not the 9 O’Clock News, the Muppets, and so on, but…once he tried improv, it didn’t seem as such, at least not completely.
Best Newcomer: Ryan Stiles, for bursting onto the scene and making great improv right off the bat. Sandi and Greg came close.
Performer We Wish Had More Episodes Later On: Griff-Rhys Jones. Because he seemed like he was still having fun.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S02E16, or Bet You Never Expected to find me in your Urine

Onto the compilations. You know the drill- I’ll be judging these games in the context of their specific tapings, and how they would have done had they made it into the episode.

Film and Theatre Styles: Sandi and Mike (two people in a car crash)
From: E11

So…this one was filmed probably after Sandi and Mike’s first F&TS, maybe due to the sadomasochism sequence (“I’ll get the plunger”) being too racy for TV? Ah well, it’s a great pairing either way.

Of the many really good suggestions people offer up, somebody goes “SCOOBY-DOO”, which cracks Mike up, leading to an okay Scooby impression (“THAT’S RIGHT!”). Adam Hills’ is still better (“…RAAGGGY?”)

Sandi, starting with great physicality: “It is NOT MY FAULT that the crash propelled you out of your car, and stuck me in mine! I don’t think you need to shout at me…especially since I’ve got my head through the sunroof, and it’s quite painful…”

War film
Sandi: “Something at nine o’clock…[realizing she’s in the wrong direction]….which is over that way, I think…”

Clive: “Agatha Christie”
Sandi: “I think I’ve discovered something that could be of great importance in the crash.”
Mike: “Yes?”
Sandi: “…..I’ve got no engine and no brakes.”

Mike, in making a point, flubs a line and tongues the rest of his sentence…breaks, and goes with it- ‘STARRING JERRY LEWIS!’
Sandi, answering the question of when she first discovered it was him: “…it was when I first met you at those speech therapy classes…”

The scene ends with a rather compassionate moment between Sandi, now a car-alien being thanks to the Sci-Fi style, embracing Mike, then going “….this could be fun, you know?”

I’d dare say that this scene was more top-to-bottom entertaining than the one we got in the taping, which had the ‘plunger’ moment and that was basically it. Either way, the Mike-Sandi F&TS would have been the highlight of the show.

Duet: Josie and Mike sing a love duet about a food processor
From: E4

This was after Mike’s Chuck Berry number and Josie’s flamenco number. Maybe this one got cut for time, because so much was being spent on Song Styles.

This number is, what else, incredibly sweet, incredibly powerful from both ends, and shows that these two were even better when they worked together. I might have even thrown this one in instead of the Song Styles, as this one was friggin’ phenomenal all-around.

Tag: Neil and Josie start, Mike and Ryan enter later
From: E8

Screen Shot 2017-11-18 at 3.20.00 PM.pngMike: “DON’T LET GO OF THAT, OR THE ELEPHANT WILL GET REALLY MAD!”

Screen Shot 2017-11-18 at 3.20.55 PM.pngNeil: “Excuse me, uh, which way is the olympic games?”
Ryan, teeth gritted: “I HAVE NO IDEA.”

Screen Shot 2017-11-18 at 3.22.15 PM.pngRyan: “Bet you never expected to find ME in your urine!”

Not as good as Ryan’s first round of tag, and had some lulls and references I didn’t get, but still pretty funny.

Interview: John, from the NME, interviews Paul, Peter Pan
From: E3

We see Griff and Ron heading back to their seats, so I’m guessing their Interview wasn’t even good enough for the compilations.

Paul sets this on a good path with a first answer: “It doesn’t matter how many hotel rooms I trash, or how much cocaine I shove up me nose, cause I can always fly out the window before the cops arrive.”

John: “Well, you can’t really play a stratocaster going through the sky in your nightie with an arrow in your ass, can you?”
Paul: “…No, Keith Richards did it in 1965, so…”

Perfectly alright interview, as John was able to at least TRY to collaborate, but Paul was kind of muted…possibly going back to his intense dislike for John.

Rap: Ryan, Josie, Neil and Mike rap about Veterinarians
From: E8

Ah yes, the intensely unmusical Neil Mullarkey having to do rap. Lovely.

Ryan’s was a little quick and didn’t go 100% to the beat, but was funny.

Josie: “Being a vet is lots of fun [begins to crack] sticking my hand up an animal’s bum….”

Not a particularly bad rap, as people were definitely into it, but…still not the greatest singing game for all four. They’d do better once ideas like March, Gospel and…er…Hoedown were introduced.

Props: Paul and Mike vs. Josie and Tony
From: E15

Screen Shot 2017-11-18 at 3.50.00 PM.pngTony: “…hello, do you have an unwanted incontinent elder relative?”

Screen Shot 2017-11-18 at 3.51.28 PM.pngTony: “………HELLO, I’M A MAN WITH A SHOPPING BASKET ON MY HEAD…”
He and Josie break halfway through that one

And, as usual
Josie: “Hello, I’m Esther Rantzen”
Tony: [vomits into prop]

Really nice round, as both pairings were in great moods. Could have used this with the leftover time from Authors.

Song Styles: Josie sings a hymn about a fish slice
From: E13

I think they did this one just to have an extra if the love ballad was too long for air.

This song was still really good, and on the same par as the Love Ballad, which must have made the editors torn when one had to make air. Great rhymes here, too.

Party Quirks: Sandi hosts
Tony: is slowly inflating
Ryan: does everything twiceJohn: a Roman emperor
from: E5

Another playing from this taping? I do agree that the one that made air was a bit too truncated thanks to Clive, but…why didn’t this one make it, then?

Ryan immediately is a champ at this game, by going right into his quirk, pausing as Sandi takes a guess (“there must be an echo in here”), and then continuing as if nothing’s been said.

Again, Sandi is great at guessing. It’d still take her a while to figure out how to interact with everyone.

John, ONCE AGAIN, is a bit too talky in his quirk, but it’s a nice enough game, arguably more of a standard playing than the other one.

Film Dub: Arthur asks Sandi on a date
From: E11

Again, there was a Film Dub in this taping, and it wasn’t good, so…why didn’t THIS one make it in?

(Also, a note that this movie, featuring the hairy gentleman, has been used in a few US WL film dubs)

This one is funnier than the other one, because Sandi sets up a ‘here’s what I want you to do’…and then her character doesn’t talk for a little while, and the guy rests his head on her hand. It’s the kind of film-scene dissonance that’s actually really funny, because of how the performers are reacting to it.

Sandi: “The way your hands are carpeted are just how I want the front one done.”

Again, better than the other one, funnier than the other one, even if Arthur’s still not great at this game.

American Musical- Mike, Josie, Tony and Greg- driving a car, getting up in the morning, and skiing
From: E1

Once again, this is another game that was played in the episode, so…let’s see why this one didn’t make it in.

The opening segment, with Mike and Josie, is actually fantastic, and flows seamlessly throughout, almost as if it was written.

And then, of course, Tony enters and does a variant of his usual dancing character, i.e. “Hi, I’m Ralph, the dancing ski instructor!”

Greg enters and powers the scene to its second segment, which proves he was able to carry a scene early on. It’s a bit odd that they progress to part 2 with all four people there, but it works well because they all have an idea of what they’re doing.

This scene actually has a great ending, with Mike, Josie and Tony skiing wonderfully…and then Greg runs back into the scene and crashes over them. Cherry on top of a scene that would have done great in the taping, possibly in place of the musical we got in that taping.

Best Performer: Mike McShane, barely edging out Sandi Toksvig for having a ton of great games over the course of the night.
Worst Performer: John Sessions, for slowing down the momentum of his games.
Best Game: Film and Theatre Styles, for rivaling the already awesome one we got in that episode, and barely edging out Musical.
Worst Game: Rap, by default, as no games in this were truly bad.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S02E13, or BEARDED COLLIE!

The showdown of S2: New Hero Greg Proops vs. Old Difficult John Sessions. While Josie Lawrence and Tony Slattery wait around in the background.

It’s great- during contestant intros, one person claps after Greg’s name, and Greg immediately smiles wider.

Thank the lords: John Sessions is in the room, and we start with something other than Authors:

Film and Theatre Styles v1- Josie and Greg (couple arguing about the state of the bathroom)

Greg, inspecting something in his mouth: “This hair…was on my toothbrush. It’s one of yours!”
Josie, finding a golden opportunity and running with it: “….Yes, but a little more curly, NOW…”

Robin Hood style
Greg, looking down: “You never called me Little John before…”

A bit truncated, but Greg and Josie worked really well together, and had some nice moments.

Film and Theatre Styles v2- Tony and John (visiting the pawnbroker)

Audience member: “BEARDED COLLIE!”
Audience, Tony, John: “….???”
Clive: “D’you mean ‘one man and his dog’? I’m gonna keep that in, there…”

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Tony manages to outdo actual shakespearean actor John Sessions in a Shakespeare scene. John just starts going on, like he usually does, in the style.
Tony: “Oh, nonny my liege, what a dull git of a clown…”

The 60s Michael Caine style actually does well for them, as they both have some great acting moments, and work off each other with trepidation.

Of course, that scene ends with Tony grabbing John in an embrace. Which is a great visual.

Clive: “…..bearded collie.”
Tony: [gets down and pisses on John]

It ends a bit clumsily, but it’s still been a fantastic scene, as Tony was able to needle John into actually trying for once.

Song Styles: Josie sings a love ballad about a fish slice

Very cute number, with a ton of really great rhyme moments. Proof that Josie could literally make a fantastic song about anything in this era.

World’s Worst: Person to be Arriving at a Party

John, throwing back to 2×03: “Rocky Mountain HIIIIIGHHHH…”
Greg, holding up something: “Hey, I think I ran over your german shepherd outside…”

John has a joke get complete silence here. Just thought you ought to know.

Tony had the best lines in this scene, and they were mostly physical.

Rap: Dental Hygiene 

Tony: “PAUL DANIELS MAGIC SHOW, TERRY AND JUNE. SKY TELEVISION-….oh no, I thought it was ‘Crap’- it’s rap, sorry…”

Like usual, a bit haphazard, but Greg and Josie have some really good ones to finish it up.

Party Quirks: Tony hosts
Greg: a robot
Josie: Peter Pan
John: 60’s rocker

Greg: “I brought you some 3-in-1 oil, I hope you enjoy it.”
Tony: “….well, let’s go upstairs to the bedroom, then…”

Josie as Peter Pan is wonderful, especially when her chipper attitude contrasts with Tony’s cluelessness.
Josie: “All you need is happy thoughts and you can be up there?”
Tony, chuckling: “UP WHERE???”
Josie: “…Up anything you like!”
Greg, finding an excuse to break slightly: “HA HA HA HA HA HA.”

Tony, responding to John: “Yes, I bought it especially for lou- FOR LOO? FOR THE LOO!”

Very nice round, with Tony able to guess everyone, and John basically giving his away.

Advertisement- John selling odor eaters with heavenly music

(This is the same music that they use for the Scene to Music with Tony, Steve and the washing powder. Just FYI)

This…isn’t very good. John turns it into a movie trailer. It doesn’t work.

Musical: Tony, Josie and Greg- going to a film, getting into a car crash, riding horses

So…John didn’t want to do Musical, so they had him do Advertisement while the rest go and do Musical. I’m just laughing at how much of a git John was.

Right off the bat, this is an inspired, unified wonderful one, with Josie and Greg working well together, Tony doing a routine as a tap-dancing horse, and…John Sessions doing his part and not having anything to do with this scene.

Tony: “Do you know why I’m the horse of your dreams? Because of THIS!”
Moves back, motioning to his gigantic horse cock

The scene even ends pretty well, with Tony crashing the car into a tree. It may not be a happy ending, but this was a cute scene, and everything worked pretty damn well.

(FYI- This credit reading is the only time in Whose Line history that someone was able to get through the entire credits, every name, without missing a single one. Go Josie!)

Overall: Like the rest of this stretch of the series, very middle-of-the-road, with some good moments and some blah, Sessions-related moments detracting from them. The other three were all great, with emphasis going to Josie and Tony, for completely owning their scenes, though Greg had some quieter highlights throughout.

Show Winner: Josie
Best Performer: Tony, for really funny stuff all night
Worst Performer: John Sessions, for being really difficult, as usual
Best Game: Party Quirks, barely edging out Musical for feeling fully-formed and having more laughs.
Worst Game: Advertisement. Here, John, have your own game.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S02E12, or We’ll be on the Moon…….SOON!

And back to another John Sessions episode. Yes, Mike and Sandi are here, which will definitely help, but backing up John is something of a ‘guest star’, ex-Muppet Show writer and future slime aficionado Chris Langham, who…well *looks* the part of someone who’ll be blacklisted from showbiz in 20 years.

Authors: Flash Gordon goes to Shangri-La
Mike: Dr. Seuss
Chris: Jack London
Sandi: Joy Francis
John: Alan Bennett

Clive: “Now what we need from the audience is a title for the story, something nice and exotic and interesting.”
Audience: “…..”
Clive: “….more interesting than complete silence, for example…”

Sandi does bring a nice line of “well, no wonder they call him Flash Gordon” to the until-then-listless game.

John, as usual, doesn’t connect his bit to the story, goes on for 20 seconds more than everyone else, AND DOESN’T GET THE CONCEPT OF IMPROV.

The second round is a little better, as Mike does have a great rhyme ending with “they were buggering the mighty Grinch.”

Chris has a nice recovery: “Black Jake strapped the heffalump to his shed- SLED….AND HIS SHED!”
He does a cheeky eyebrow move to the camera after here.

This wasn’t a bad one, as Sandi, Chris and Mike all did well (with an emphasis on Sandi), but the momentum stopped every time John started speaking. You think he’d have learned by now.

Film and Theatre Styles v1: Chris and John (Headmaster and Pupil)

Already both Chris AND John do a number of faux pas- Chris doesn’t listen to John and instead makes jokes on his own, then spends 5 seconds not being able to think of how long he’s been there, then turns the scene slightly sexual early on, then ALONG WITH JOHN, goes over the buzzer for 10 seconds.

And then, in the Berkoff style, they ONCE AGAIN, keep talking well after the buzzer, still going on with puns and jokes and things. Clive has to intervene and go “CHRIS! SHUT UP!” while pressing down even harder on the buzzer.

Clive: “Is my buzzer on strike, or are you playing in the style of two deaf actors??”

I would like to note here that when Chris does an American accent, in a gruff manner….it sounds a weeeeee bit like Jim Henson’s voice, as Kermit or just in general. It’s a very…muppety American accent. This makes sense.

The Thunderbirds style SORT OF saves it…John does try to bail the scene for no reason, but the physicality is there, especially when Chris tries tying his shoe and falls over.

This was a very shoddy scene, not helped by how inconsiderate Chris and John seemed to be toward the fact that this was supposed to be a lawful improv scene.

Film and Theatre Styles v2- Sandi and Mike (boss falling in love with secretary)

Almost immediately you can tell how amazing Mike’s chemistry with Sandi was, owing to last episode as well.

Clive: “Let’s go with a fly-on-the-wall documentary”
Sandi: “…Oh?”
Mike, slowly turning to Clive: “Ohh…what is a ‘fly on the wall documentary’?”

The Tarzan style brings this back on track, as it ends with Mike wanting to ‘make banana love’ to Sandi, and getting in a very suggestive position behind her…the second the buzzer goes. Sandi does an ‘aw maaan’ gesture.

The Film Noir style does bring this one home nicely, with great acting from both, and a good ending line
Sandi: “Cigarette?”
Mike: “Yeah, right in my eye. AAAHHH!”

Not as good as their last scene together, but still pretty nice.

World’s Worst- person to go into space

John, as Bowie I assume: “Planet Earth is blue…and there’s nothing WE can do…”
Mike: “Cindy left me. I don’t care if I DIE…”
Sandi: “While we’re up here, I thought we should talk about the liberal party and whether or not we should rename ourselves…”
Chris: “….but I suppose, in a sense, we’re ALL latent homosexuals, aren’t we?”
John: “You know I’m a poet, they’ve sent up here…I’ve written a Moon Poem…”WE’LL BE ON THE MOON……SOON!”

Pretty nice one, with equal amounts of good stuff from everybody, though John and Chris’s were still a bit too talky at times.

Props: Sandi and John vs. Mike and Chris

Screen Shot 2017-11-16 at 1.58.39 PM.pngSandi: “Darling, I SAID you should have had a circumcision, this is ridiculous…”

Screen Shot 2017-11-16 at 2.00.17 PM.pngMike: “YOU WANTED A *LARGER* DOG, YOU WANTED A *LARGER* DOG…”

Relatively fun round. You can definitely see some Muppets influence in Chris’ energetic offerings here.

Film Dub: Chris and Sandi argue over what to have for dinner

This was a nice scene, and there were some great moments with Sandi and Chris’ back-and-forth, but I can’t completely love it with some of Chris’ more aggressive choices, including a racist joke and a few ‘bitch’ drops toward Sandi’s character.

Tag: Chris and John start

John, on the floor: “Antony…do you know that the people downstairs…have been making love to a Cornish morris dance?”

Screen Shot 2017-11-16 at 2.30.00 PM.pngMike: “….oh, COME ON, I’M NOT RACING AGAINST A DEAD PERSON!!”

Chris taps out Sandi to get near John’s back, saying “no, I WANT TO BE HERE…”
John, taking this as a scene: “I haven’t gotten my scout badge yet, sir…”

Screen Shot 2017-11-16 at 2.31.49 PM.png
Sandi: “But, doctor, I’m SURE the baby doesn’t come out this way…”

After a really nice scene here, Mike taps out Sandi, and Chris has a second to shake his head as Mike gets under his legs.
Then Sandi taps out Chris, gets in that position, and goes “…i had nothing to say, I just had to do that…”

Once again, not only is this a really nice round, but John doesn’t contribute at all after he’s tapped out.

Party Quirks: Sandi hosts
Chris: finds everything baffling
Mike: an eskimo
John: a society wit

Chris is actually great here, as Sandi explains the fun party game, and he’s just completely dumbfounded, going “WHY???”

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Chris is carrying this game, by pointing out all the flaws in it, such as “I tell you what, there was a big bloke in here earlier, and now he’s gone! How’d that happen?”

As John’s doing his one of his many heady phrases, Sandi motions to Chris that John may be a bit of a wanker.
Chris, repeating the motion: “Sorry, but what does THAT mean???”
Sandi: [facepalm]

Solid scene, though, as usual, Clive had to rush to a climax. Sandi is beginning to get better at letting the participants interact, though she’s still not great at interacting with them.

Overall: A step up from the last show, but not by much. This show was, as usual this season, hampered by John Sessions’ inability to be a team player, and a lot of the worst moments were thanks in part to him. Also as usual this series, Sandi and Mike were the heroes, with emphasis going to Sandi Toksvig for some really great choices throughout the show, and for proctoring a really nice Party Quirks.

I’m gonna dedicate a whole paragraph to Chris, because his case is an interesting one. In some early games tonight, like Film and Theatre Styles and Film Dub, he was downright disrespectful, self-effacing and didn’t get the concept of good improv. However, in later games, like Props, Tag and Party Quirks, he worked really well with others as well as off of them. So it’s very hard to make a statement about whether he was good or bad, as he was both throughout the show. I’ll make it quite clear, though, that he had more positive moments than John.

Show Winner: Mike
Best Performer: Sandi, for having a fantastic all-around show
Worst Performer: John Sessions, as usual
Best Game: Tag, for bringing out the best in everyone
Worst Game: Film and Theatre Styles v1, for just being really messy all-around.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S02E09, or I’M STARTING THIS TIME, SESSIONS!

Ah yes, now we come to the ‘Series 2 trying desperately to be Series 1’ portion of the show. Paul Merton and John Sessions, featuring another Archie Hall appearance, and a return from a balder, more clean-shaven Jonathan Pryce. After a few episodes of progress, this may lead us back a bit.

Authors: Death of a Dog at the British Grand Prix
Archie: Alice Walker
Jonathan: Diaries of Noel Coward
Paul: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
John: J.R.R. Tolkien 

Authors is back, because so is John.

‘British Grand Prix’ is suggested
Paul: “….features quite heavily in Sherlock Holmes…”

There’s already an effort to keep the story going, mainly driven by Paul who brings the dead dog into the picture, spoiled slightly by John.

Jonathan, building off his first go-around: “Tuesday……Binky was there……..carrying a dead dog under his arm…”

Paul: “If I’m not mistaken, said Holmes, we had this dog last week, didn’t we?”

Very concise game, without many missteps. Also, John finally gets as much time as everyone else, which is refreshing, and FAIR.

Film and Theatre Styles v1- John and Jonathan (interrogation prisoner)

[this could be a scene from Brazil!]

There’s a glut of audience suggestions here, so Clive doesn’t get them all. Jonathan hears someone yell out Chekov, and tries subliminally getting it in: “*COUGH*CHEKOV!*”

Jonathan, as usual, is having a grand old time- given the scene suggestion, he ties his hands behind his back and goes, to the audience, ‘guess which one I am!’

Already, you can see, as usual, how great John and Jonathan work together, and how much tension they can build between each other.

Open University
John, to the audience: “If you’re going to talk to a prisoner, the…essential thing that you must first of all do is wear 1973 clothing, and talk to him in a very bad camera position.”

Jonathan, doing aggressively compassionate Chekov, grabbing John: “What happened?”
John: “I don’t know!”
Jonathan, realizing: “…that was your mic…”

Jonathan, after John’s gone on for a while: “…gosh, if I’d have known this part was going to be so small, I’d never have taken it…”
Clive: “you’ve, uh…clearly not worked with John before.”

Clive: “Let’s go into a science fiction b-movie.

That was a very, very loose scene, which cracked Jonathan up a few times, and lost the plot a bit (Jonathan was out of his shackles out of nowhere), but you can tell that Jonathan and John still work well together, and Jonathan knew how to work with him.

Film and Theatre Styles v2: Paul and Archie (person seeing an undertaker)

As Clive writes down Thunderbirds, Paul explains to Archie what that is, complete with marionette movements.

Paul, as an undertaker, on coffins: “We have chip-board, hard-board or solid oak. If you go for chip-board, their ass will be out of it inside a fortnight.”

Archie, on the Batman style, goes for a Jack Nicholson impression
Paul: “I know that face, with that weird smile and white makeup…it’s Barbara Cartland! The coffin’s for yourself, then, right?”
Archie: “No, it’s not, it’s-”
Paul: “Should be!”

On the Thunderbirds style, Archie does the puppet movements just as Paul told him…and then Paul does it ten times better than Archie did.

Very fun scene, with back-and-forth work from both, though Paul, as the better improviser, did a bit more than Archie, despite his efforts.

Props: John and Paul vs. Archie and Jonathan

Screen Shot 2017-11-09 at 4.39.09 PM.pngArchie: ‘Ah yes, we had to remove your stomach, you had a rather bad ulcer…”
Screen Shot 2017-11-09 at 4.39.49 PM.png

Good enough game, though rather short.

Sound Effects: Archie supplies sound effects while Paul starts his car.

This is a really funny one. Archie’s constant not-starting noise of ‘NO-NO-NO-NO-NO-NO’ is frigging great, especially when Paul turns on the radio, Archie does 3 seconds of ‘I Started a Joke’ by the Bee-Gees, then goes right back to ‘NO-NO-NO-NO-NO’ when Paul tries the ignition again.

Even better, Archie does an impression of a radio being switched to different channels, then lands on…a Thatcher speech (“I…think the internal problem can be solllved…”)

Paul eventually has to let the other cars go around him, which is a really nice twist (he’s on the road???). After the third honking card, Paul throws in a ‘fuck off’ and lets them go around.

There’s a nice ending with Paul getting into a helicopter, but it ends up a bit clumsier than the rest of the scene. Still nice enough, though, as Sound Effects was one of the few games Archie truly excelled at.

Interview: Archie, from a hard-hitting documentary, interviews John, as Moses.

Archie: “And so, as I understand it, you claim to be the leader of your people…”
John: “….I didn’t CLAIM, they just came up to me, you know…”

Archie: “Alright, now we have to go back in time, back to the mount. YOU WERE HANDED *TWENTY-FIVE* COMMANDMENTS, NOW WHAT HAPPENED TO THE OTHER FIFTEEN?”
John: “Well, it was all the BASIC things, like ‘never wear green and grey’…”

There was a very defined ending, as there was a moment where John took a great opportunity from Archie and said no. Archie then looked to Clive, going ‘please end this thing.’

Film Dub: Paul and Jonathan are in a Supermarket

This wasn’t a GREAT film-dub, but Jonathan and Paul did well at reacting to the scene’s goings-on, and were great in working off each other. Paul’s best moment was threatening to do something, Jonathan calling out to his men to watch, and Paul going “I HAVEN’T STARTED IT YET!”

Party Quirks: Paul hosts
Archie: A jealous lover
Jonathan: A pirate
John: A Sumo Wrestler

First of all: Haha, Weatherby Swann has to play a pirate. There. We got that over with.

Archie: “Shall I come in, or shall I just FORCE ENTRY?”
Paul, after Archie has already walked in: “…..I think you better come in…”

Paul: “Well, [Archie], it’s been a long time since we’ve seen each other, and I don’t know what you’ve been up to….but I can guess….”

The second Jonathan bounds in, full pirate stuff, Paul goes: “I’ve got a friend for you, he’s over there!” [Pointing to Archie]

Archie, on Jonathan: “WHO IS *HE?*”
Paul: “That’s, uh, that’s an old friend from school! That’s Alan!”
Archie: “HAS HE HAD YOU???”
Jonathan, who can’t resist: “OHHH ARRR, I’VE HAD HIM, ARRRGH!”
Paul: “He seems to think so, I can’t remember…”

Really nice Party Quirks, even if John was a bit too wordy with his.

Overall: Surprisingly good, and surprisingly full of laughs, despite some improv faux pas here and there. Jonathan was a bit less put-together than last time, and broke a bit too much for me. John was, as usual, not great at getting laughs, or respecting other’s improv. Paul Merton was good, but…dare I say it…Archie Hahn was even better tonight, excelling in a number of games, working well with people, and culminating in a really nice role in Party Quirks. Paul’s definitely not far behind though, even if this is the part where his role in the show begins to slide downhill.

Show Winner: Archie
Best Performer: Archie Hahn, for coming in when no one expected it and taking charge.
Worst Performer: Jonathan, who, despite having fun, couldn’t keep things together.
Best Game: Party Quirks, narrowly edging out Sound Effects on account of making me laugh slightly more.
Worst Game: Film Dub, for being a bit too haphazard for my tastes.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S02E06

Onto another dreary lineup, this one featuring a sole strong improviser in Paul Merton, working with hit-or-miss Ron West, FORMER series regular John Sessions, and producer and git Jimmy Mulville. Oh, what fun. Good news is this is Jimmy’s last show, so we’ll throw him out the door promptly after this.

Authors: Goat Herding in Leamington Spa
Ron: DC Comics
Jimmy: Sigmund Freud
Paul: Edgar Allen Poe
John: Andy Warhol’s diaries

I’m giving credit to two WLIIA punchlines- Ron, for starting the story really well as a Superman story, and Jimmy, for leading into the line “…so you think you’re a goat? It vas quite obvious to me that this man…thought he was a penis.”

The game, which was going rather well actually, ended shoddily because John made NO EFFORT to keep the story going, rather instead just replicating Warhol to try and make a cheap joke. Thankfully this is only one round.

Film and Theatre Styles v1: Paul and Ron (asking for daughter’s hand in marriage)

Paul: “…..you’re probably wondering why I’ve asked to see you, Mr. Hargreaves.”
Ron: “You’re asking for my daughter’s hand in marriage.”
Paul: [snaps, angrily] “….did the bridegroom suit give it away, then?”

Paul does really well at circumventing Ron’s more aggressive choices. In the Peckinpah style, when Paul is repeatedly shot at in slow-mo by Ron, he punctuates this by, comically, going “MISSED!”

Clive: “Slapstick, and/or Keystone Kops”
Ron: “….YOU GIT!” [kicks Paul in the nuts]

The Slapstick portion is phenomenal, as Paul has fantastic physicality, and Ron is great at returning the barbs.

Ron, who has to re-arrange his physicality: ‘WHAT, THE ARMCHAIR? AAAAIIIIGHH…”

Paul, who’s having such a good time with this style, keeps it going for a good 10 seconds after Clive starts buzzing.

They end on Coming Soon trailer:
Ron: “Yes, and then you’ll get into bed with her!”
Paul: “ROMANCE!”
Ron: “….OF A SORT!”

That was a really nice playing, even if Ron’s aggressive choices had to be dialed down a bit throughout the show.

Film and Theatre Styles v2: John and Jimmy (planning a bank robbery)

So…John and Jimmy do work well together, but they both subscribe to the school of talking really quickly and not doing terribly great improv, so this scene’s a bit of a slog.

I’ll say that they’re better at keeping the plot, especially in the Come Dancing sequence, but…I just don’t like how obnoxious they are in terms of their improv, and the scene doesn’t exactly work.

Interview v1: John is Neptune, Ron is from a literary magazine

Ron sells this scene by being overly-obnoxious, yet in a way that’s reminiscent of the style and not, like, in a bad improv way. John is doing alright here, with a nice enough characterization. Like last Interview, not necessarily funny, but good improv at least.

Ron: “I have to ask you about the sea, and the pressure- would not your job be easier with a submarine?”

Ron has trouble with the last question, and holds a panicked expression for about 5 seconds.
John: ‘Yeah, I do. I’m a God, so I can read your mind.”
Ron, blushing, thanks John for saving him as they head back to the seats.

Clive: “…and 14 points to John, and a point deducted there for taking the stools away, which we need for the next game-”
John, blushing himself, runs back and grabs the stools.

Interview v2: Jimmy is Claudius, Paul’s from a DIY magazine

Paul: “Now, Claudius, you’ve been emperor for a number of years now, how would YOU put together the mahogany bookshelf from the…”

Jimmy takes a maddening approach, first speaking in a sort of tonguing language, then point blank saying “I don’t know”. Well…the whole POINT of the improv here is to make something up, because of fucking course you don’t know! Jimmy, as usual, missing the point of the very program he’s supposed to be producing.

Short enough game, but Jimmy’s non-performance ruins what was a nice enough idea from Paul.

World’s Worst: Chat-Up Line

Paul: “Can I lie on top of you for 20 minutes?”
Ron: “Uh, I need sex, here’s 400 pounds.”
John: “Hullo, my name’s Cliff Richard.”
Jimmy: “Have you got herpes? ……Do you want it?”

A bit too many juvenile ones, but quaint enough.

Props: Jimmy and Ron vs. Paul and John

Screen Shot 2017-11-06 at 3.17.57 PM.pngPaul: “Doctor, I want you to have a look at my tongue…”

This isn’t a great round, but the funniest moment is when John whacks Paul with the prop, and he’s sent flying off the step. The round has to be stopped for a moment, even.

Film Dub: Paul and Ron in a sort of Western Scene

Paul: “Yes, I am death, and I have come to see you, because-”
Ron: “HO-HOOOO, THAT’S GREAT! I’m ready to die!”

Paul: “In this bag, I have something that’s gonna give you the fright of your life…”
Ron: “…it’s a fruitcake, is that what it is?”
Paul: “This is no ORDINARY fruitcake, this is the fruitcake of DOOM…”

After Ron’s character removes something from his mouth and hands it to Paul’s
Paul: “…wait a minute, that’s my car keys, how’d they end up in there?”

Really nice Film Dub, good stuff all around.

Party Quirks:
Ron: 9-year old genius
Jimmy: S.A.S. Commando
John: australian soap actor

Ron, trying to set up an experiment: “All I need is soda-water and some plutonium 235”
Paul, as the doorbell rings: “…the plutonium 235’s next to the twiglets…”

One of the reasons I prefer Paul as host is he lets the guests interact, and he allows those dynamics to play out- a lot of people in the early era go to guess as quick as possible, and while that’s the most Clive-friendly way to play, it’s not great if you want to develop a truly great improv scene.

The game ends nicely, with Paul having guessed everyone, even if Jimmy and John were a bit too on the nose.

Overall: Okay. Very, very okay. Paul was the only true standout, though Ron was definitely trying, and had some nice, if overly-aggressive, moments. Jimmy was not cut out for this show, and John still isn’t getting laughs, as he’s not playing by the rules very often.

Show Winner: Ron
Best Performer: Paul,  by far
Worst Performer: Jimmy. Insultingly bad
Best Game: Film and Theatre Styles v1- insanely energetic, well-formed, and fun
Worst Game: Interview v2. Jimmy refused to play along, and tanked the game for both of them.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S02E05, or HEY, WHO BROUGHT THE TURDS???

Two heroes have arrived on Whose Line, as we get set up for a great Tony Slattery episode, and another poor John Sessions performance. First, Sandi Toksvig, fast-talker and future host of QI, as well as future comedy partner to Noel Fielding, is here tonight, but more importantly, RYAN STILES, the guy who’d stick with the show for the next thirty-odd years, is in the building for the first of MANY times. This will be a nice one.

Screen Shot 2017-11-04 at 4.19.09 PM.pngAh yes, look how innocent he looks. I don’t think he thought he’d be doing this for the rest of his life.

Authors: A Shopping Trip to buy Moby Dick
Ryan: Cosmopolitan
Sandi: Ed McBain
Tony: Sunday color supplement gadget catalogue
John: Virginia Woolf

Here we get the ‘a shopping trip’ suggestion that prompts Clive, in 2×04, to say ‘that’d be original on any other show, but we just had that yesterday’, which is proof that this taping happened the day before E4 taped.

Clive, being Clive: “My grandfather caught Moby Dick…….they’ve cured that now..”

I’ll note that Ryan has a great deal of time to start the story, doing well there, and that Sandi’s American accent, yes, thanks to her upbringing, is pretty damn strong and basically natural to her.

John’s bit, AS PER USUAL, is more about boosting his knowledge of the author and less about actually keeping the story going, but Ryan brings it back on track: “Mrs. Galloway was given a survey to list the three things she most looked for in a man. #1, a good sense of humor, #2 was a money….account…and #3 of course was a large penis-”
BUZZ. And already, we’ve gotten our first Ryan penis joke on WL. It’s been, what, 4 minutes exactly.

Sandi, continuing from ‘penis’: “…..was one of the largest that’d ever been seen in the precinct, to be exact…”

She then has a pretty insane pun: “He carried on, ruthlessly- “what the hell happened to ruth?”, he thought-”

Tony, who can’t resist: “…and of course, a penis that not only mows the lawn and changes the baby…”

That was a really funny and successful Authors, one that actually improved by the 2nd round, just as the talk of penises came about, even if they’d lost the Moby Dick plot (and John, of all people, tried getting it back-”


Ah yes, an improv warm-up standard that only got a few playings here, and thrived a bit more on shows like Green Screen Show and Improv-A-Ganza, which are more audience based and less structured-improv based.

Ryan starts with one of his standards of “I am sorry, John, I ruined the whole party…”

Sandi: “Please, God, when I wake up, could there be a very tall, nice man there- [looks to Ryan] OH HELLO!”

Sandi: “Would you like to see some of my nice toyyys-”
Ryan: “No, I’m supposed to have sex with you, from what I’ve heard….might as well get to it…”
Sandi: “Okay, I’ll lower the sides of the cot.”

Tony sees a golden opportunity:
Screen Shot 2017-11-04 at 4.40.59 PM.png

Sandi pulls a fast one by tapping out Ryan, and going “…..I was savin’ you from yerself, my son…”

This ends with a surprisingly powerful, dramatic scene with Ryan and Tony, with Tony getting really nervous about free-falling and Ryan getting very anxious about the drop-zone, and it ends…beautifully.
Screen Shot 2017-11-04 at 4.43.43 PM.png

Note- after starting off the game, John never went in again- the whole game was dominated by Tony, Ryan and Sandi. Fitting.

Expert: Tony interviews Ryan about frogs

Another new game, one that got playings in these few early series.

Reasons why Ryan is the greatest: Within five seconds of Tony starting the scene, Ryan starts waggling his tongue like a frog. There is no learning curve with this man.

Also, proving that Ryan is great at firing back at someone, after he mentions a Vegas Showgirl stage of frog metamorphosis
Tony:  “And, uh, in connection with that there is a dance called the Mexican tadpole dance. Would you like to do it?”
Ryan, rebounding instantly: “Yes…please join me, as you know it takes two.”
Tony, somehow not expecting that: “…alright…”

Also, Ryan flings back at Tony after Tony asks how his relationship with Henry Kissinger went, by punctuating his sentence with “and I hear YOU’RE now dating him…”

Tony does end victorious, by making Ryan do an impression of a frog giving birth to spawn, which makes him crack a bit, before actually doing it, with Tony’s help, to end the game. Hysterical playing, simply because you had two performers who were up for it.

Interview: Sandi, from Desert Island Disks, interviews John, who is Zeus

Like Expert, but with more prescribed traits.

Note that the second John and Sandi get up for this game, Ryan and Tony just start losing it laughing back at the seats, either still from the last game or at something Tony or John said right before. Either way, it’s very amusing.

The initial reveal of Zeus being Scottish (owing to Sessions’ own upbringing), is pretty nice, gets a good reaction.

Dare I say it, but John’s portrayal as Zeus on a music-based radio programme is actually really good, as he’s allowed to do great character work and have emotion, without coming off too strong or leaving Sandi out.

Sandi: “And what final thing would you take with you? What luxury?”
John: “…I think I’d take a picture of you, Sue, that I can kick…”

A pretty quaint, character-driven scene that’s brought out John’s best work on the show. Not bad for a show that everyone attributes to Ryan Stiles.

World’s Worst: Person to Lead an Army Into Battle

Tony: “Okay, men, just watch out for mines, I know this ar-BOOOM!”
Ryan: “…..who did I give the bullets to??”
Sandi: “It is NOT as bad as I say. There ARE more of them, but we’ve got the GUN!”
Tony, hopping on one leg: “Now, rumor has it that I can’t lead my men into battle, well that’s not true!”
Ryan: “Remember, just the germans…no frogs! [does his frog tongue thing from Expert]”

Really nice round, though not a single laugh from John.

Props: Ryan and Tony vs. John and Sandi

Screen Shot 2017-11-04 at 5.27.41 PMTony: “…it is a cheap episode of Doctor Who, and I’m one of the flipper people…”

More trading barbs with Ryan and Tony: Ryan takes 4 seconds while the camera’s on him to think, then shoves the prop at Tony, completely blank. Later, Tony does a suggestion that involves just whacking Ryan with the prop a few times.

Not a great round, but at least had good teamwork.

Party Quirks:
Tony: Character from The Great Escape
Ryan: Thinks he’s an insect.
John: pretentious student poet (so…himself)

SANDI HOSTS? I mean, you’ve got Tony on hand, but…I mean, whatever works.

Ryan: ‘So happy to be here- HEY, WHO BROUGHT THE TURDS??”

Clive chews out Sandi for not making her guesses clear enough
Clive, as Sandi lets John in: “…I think you’ve been guessed, Tony”
Tony: “Oh, GOOD!”

Good enough game, though John killed the humor, and Clive was a bit too intrusive in making Sandi guess when she was just making offhanded comments.

Remote Control: Sheep Shearing
Ryan: Jacques Cousteau
Sandi: Body Matters
Tony: Jim’ll Fix It
John: The Sky at Night

Sandi: “Hello…does your body matter? Mine doesn’t, as you can see…”

Tony, in a great Jimmy Savile impression: ‘Well, eh, as it happens, this sheep, wrote in and said that he’s, uh, like to switch places with the Duchess of York…and we did it, and no one noticed any difference…”

Sandi: “We’ve got Joan Collins here, it’s a bit of an example of mutton dressed up as lamb…”

Tony, who must have known something: “The other thing that Mavis, the little sheep, wanted to do, was to make love with a clapped out DJ, so we’re gonna do that…”

Nice game- Ryan was underused, John, as usual, was overused.

Overall: Had it not been for an awkwardly-led Party Quirks, the unfunniness of John Sessions, and a kind of blah Props round, this would have been the first 10/10 show of the series, but for now the Bruno Tonioli impression will have to wait. John, as usual, wasn’t remotely funny, despite a nice round of Interview. Sandi had a great debut, and had some really nice lines throughout the show. Ryan had an incredible debut, already displaying the mood and charisma we’d come to expect from him on the show…but again, I have to give this to Tony Slattery for, again, mastering every scene he’s in, and having a truly great second half of the show, especially with his Jimmy Savile impression. A really nice one, one that’s watchable other than just being ‘Ryan’s first show’.

Show Winner: Tony
Best Performer: Tony, just narrowly defeating Ryan
Worst Performer: John. Especially when three truly great improvisers are on, he just stood out in a bad way tonight.
Best Game: Expert. Nearly gave this to Tag, but Ryan and Tony’s dynamic was electric, and they were working off each other at every second.
Worst Game: Party Quirks. It seemed unfairly tampered with, and nothing had any time to really develop.