Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S05E03, or This is Just Lapsing into Personal Abuse..

[exhales deeply]

I can’t say that Whose Line is it Anyway would even be a relevant topic right now if it weren’t for Paul Merton. The man took the show by storm from the very start, and made even dire episodes seem amusing and fun, giving this sort of ‘don’t-care’ demeanor while doing really good improv, and working well with people like Josie Lawrence and Tony Slattery.

Tonight…is Paul’s last show. After appearing sporadically the last two series, Paul would decide to stop appearing on the show thanks to his numerous other commitments, one of which, Have I got News for You, would continue to this day. He’d still remain a popular member of the improv circuit, and would definitely remain friends with the Comedy Store Players gang, but this would be the end of his WL involvement, which is a shame, as it would have been great to see him intermix with more of the Colin-Ryan-Brad crowd like Tony and Josie would.

Not only is this Paul’s last appearance, but this is also the last episode of UK Whose Line where the panel would be made up entirely of, well, people from the UK. Paul, Jim Sweeney, Steve Steen and Tony Slattery would either cease to be on the show or appear only surrounded by Americans from here on out.

Authors: Death of a Stand-Up Comic
Jim: Agatha Christie
Steve: Andrew Morton
Paul: Hello! Magazine
Tony: Rhyming Couplets of Rupert Bear

Clive announces the title suggestion, Death of a Stand-Up Comic. Paul immediately clutches his chest.
…or perhaps he was doing his impression of Tony Blair having his third heart attack of the day.

Steve: “It could have been so much bad for him…”
BUZZ
Clive, shaking his head: “…so MUCH BAAAD for him…”
Steve: “That’s Andrew Morton for ya..”

Tony: “Rupert spied his trousers on.
Much nicer they were, than Paul Mert-on’s.”

Somehow, everyone starts talking about Barbara Cartland, until we get to Tony again:
Tony: “Barbara Cartland, witch and hag
Too much makeup, fascist bag.”
BUZZZZZZ

Nice enough game, quicker pace than the older ones, and a funny final quick round.

Film and Theatre Styles: Tony and Paul (prisoner and jailer)

Tony: “I DIDN’T DO IT, I DIDN’T DO IT, I DON’T DESERVE TO GO IN THERE…”
Paul [immediately turns to Clive]
Paul: “…I think you’re as guilty as hell after that last read…”

Clive: “Horror”
Tony, looking over Paul: “…What a horrible suit…”
Paul: [ONCE AGAIN TURNS TO CLIVE]
Tony: Screen Shot 2018-01-30 at 3.21.33 PM.png

Paul: “…That’s good, coming from someone who’s dressed up as DOC HOLLIDAY…”
BUZZZ
Clive: “…this is just lapsing into personal abuse..”
Paul: “YOU SHUT YOUR FACE!”

The children’s nativity style is great, because both sort of blither about and waddle around forgetting lines. Then, the second Clive buzzes in, Tony lets out a burp, which frightens Paul.
Tony: “i did that, actually, I did that in a nativity play, I burped, so-”
Paul, turning to Clive: “So it’s like personal insight…”

Film Noir
Paul: “Listen Norris…”
Tony [looks behind him]
Paul: “You’re never gonna get out of- YES, THAT’S YOUR NAME!”

Tony, smoking a cigarette: “Yes, it’s interesting the way the li-”
Paul: “HANG ON, WHERE’D THE CIGARETTE COME FROM??? WHAT’S ALL THIS? Oh, scuse me while I get on me MOPED…”
BUZZ
Clive: “…it’s a long time since you’ve been on this show, Paul…”

Clive: “Doctor Who”
Tony goes to the back of his cell, attempting to possibly do something zany. Paul opens the cell door, comes in, and goes ‘WHERE ARE YOU GOING?’

Tony: “Have you noticed that this cell is bigger inside than it is outside?”
Paul: “Yes, though you can say the same thing about my underpants!”
BUZZ

Tony ends the scene, in pirate style, by flying out of the bars and encouraging people to escape with him.
Paul, exiting the cell: “BUT I’M THE JAILER!”

With that, the scene ends, and might I say that was absolutely insane. Tony and Paul were so damned loose the whole time that it was damn near impressive. Yes, it wasn’t the greatest improv, but it was still quite funny.

Clive even gives ‘-9 points to Tony Slattery for taking it all too seriously…’

Foreign Film Dub: The Turkish Film ‘Going to Scotland’, acted by Steve and Jim, dubbed by Paul and Tony

Finally this game debuts. Though it was only a matter of time.

Jim goes into this sing-songy Turkish dialect, which Paul translates as “…did you see the Eurovision song contest last night?”

Paul, after Jim says something else the same way: “…I’ve just said exactly what I just said the first time…”

After Steve shoves an entire pack of cigarettes in his mouth and says a line
Tony: “…at my age, you’re starved of love…”

Steve then runs his finger along Jim’s arm, which manages to crack Jim up.
Tony: “Coochie-coochie-coo…”
Jim retorts something back but goes into Scottish a bit, and breaks.
Paul: “…it’ll cost you 50 quid…”

Pretty solid game, though we’d definitely get to higher heights with it once Ryan starts translating.

Clive: “My apologies to the Turkish community…and also to the Scottish community because they never got anywhere NEAR Scotland…”

Scenes from a Hat:

Clive: “Buying a doll with a pull-out string.”
Tony, using the power of an oxford comma: “I WANT A DOLL PLEASE” [pulls own string]
Jim: “Mother, get back in the car…”

Clive: “Deep-sea divers watching a football match…”
Jim, to Paul: “I still think the pitch is waterlogged…”
HA

Clive: “A pecking order for fruit.”
Tony, not at all understanding: “…ME FIRST??”

Clive: “Queen bee selecting a suitor.”
Jim, as said bee: “…fancy a shag?”
Tony: “…I don’t think you’ll want me, I’m Gyles Brandreth.”
BUZZZZ

Clive: “Odd things to celebrate.”
Screen Shot 2018-01-30 at 3.39.29 PM.png
They hold this for 10 seconds. Nobody can think of one. Then, finally:
Paul: “I had me first piss 35 years ago…”

Clive: “Things you wouldn’t expect to find in a kangaroo’s pouch.”
Tony, stifling laughter: “…LORD LUCAN!”

Clive: “Joyriding Elephants.”
Paul, not missing the golden opportunity: “COME ON, JOY, GET OFF THERE…”

Probably the best Scenes from a Hat we’re gonna get in this era of WL. Top to bottom hysterical.

Props: Tony and Steve vs. Jim and Paul

You can tell Tony has absolutely no idea to do with his- after Jim has a nice ‘LARGE FRIES, LARGE FRIES’ joke with his…Tony just repeats the joke with his prop. Poor guy.

Screen Shot 2018-01-30 at 3.43.51 PM.png
Jim: “YOU CAN’T BE, *I’M* CAPTAIN DICKHEAD!”

Still a pretty nice round, even if I didn’t write a lot down.

Alphabet: Paul and Jim (in a confessional) Starting with J

Once the starting letter is announced, Paul starts counting his fingers, figuring out which letters he’s got.
Clive: “It’s too late to start revising the alphabet, Paul…”

Once Paul gets to q, he realizes he’s shit out of luck, and that Jim’s way better than he is at this game, so he takes a minute…goes ‘um….Q?? Um…WHAT WORD BEGINS WITH Q?”
Clive: “The word Queue does..”
Paul: “Okay. QUEUE….GARDENS is where i buried him…”

This game limps along, as Paul’s not great, and, like in F&TS, points it out a lot, so he even goes ‘YEAH’…highlights it, and then tries thinking of a C.

A bit haphazard, and they completely lost the plot, but still amusing as all hell.

Scene to Music: Jim and Steve (at a greengrocers)

Hard to believe, our first true Sweeney and Steen game of the show.

Even better, the music is, well, the music typically used for ‘Film Noir’, so they essentially go into a game of Narrate, which is always welcome.

Jim: “This is good coleslaw, how much is it- [aside]- I knew how much it was, I’d seen the price already, but I wanted him to tell me…”
Steve: “…I found his request extraordinary, because the price was clearly written up on the board…”

Very fun scene, though I feel like it stopped right as it was about to get going. Interesting, as recently the scenes have been just the right duration, and Clive’s been more lenient with letting scenes go on than he was in S1.

Party Quirks: Paul hosts
Steve: racing commentator
Jim: thinks Paul is giving birth
Tony: a chippendale dancer

Clive tells the audience that Paul has to guess who these people are, “and so have I, as I’ve lost the list of what they’re doing…”

Clive: “Is the party underway, Paul?”
Paul, absolutely done with this shit: “YES.”

Paul does very well at guessing Steve and Jim….and THEN…IN COMES TONY…

Screen Shot 2018-01-30 at 4.01.43 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-01-30 at 4.01.58 PM.png

As Tony writhes around, he’s not saying a word, and neither is Paul. Paul is just taking everything in. As Tony straddles something, Paul peers behind him.

Tony, finally: “Have you got any twiglets?”
Paul: “YOU HAVE, by the look of it…”

Then Tony lowers his trousers a bit, and crouches down.
Paul: “…”
Tony then lowers his trousers even more and starts showing skin to the audience.”
Paul: “…”

Paul finally tries pulling Tony’s trousers back up, which Tony giggles at.

Then, finally, as Tony recovers, Paul thinks back to the Paul slam at the beginning of the night, and finally returns
Paul: “…YOU’VE COME AS TONY SLATTERY!”
BUZZ. TONY LOSES IT. THE HOUSE COMES DOWN.

Then, back at the seats, Tony finally tells Paul what he was, and Paul cracks up.

March: Vegetables

One of the last marches, or non-Hoedowns, to be performed on the show, though, to be honest, I can’t see Paul Merton doing a Hoedown.

Also, March is at a different key this time, at the key reserved for the last verse, or the Mike McShane verse.

Jim and Steve have nice, funny verses, but the second we get to Paul he’s confused, disgusted and not looking forward to his verse. So nothing’s changed.

Paul does have a nice enough verse, operating outside of the time that Richard’s setting, and being similar to a Stephen Fry verse in anything. Still gets it done though.

Tony ends admirably, giving what must be one of his first few Anne Diamond slams, saying his least favorite vegetables “are the two from Good Morning with Anne and Nick.”

Overall: A very outside-the-box hysterical show. Not a single bad game, and not even a single ‘okay’ game. Everything was pretty damn great, and everyone was really on tonight. It helped that Sweeney and Steen have become less ‘spotlight’ performers, and more auxiliary performers, helping out big time in group scenes, while still having great duo scenes. From here on out though, it won’t really be ABOUT them, as the Ryan-Colin duo’s about to take off, but they still are fantastic team players. Paul was less put-together than he’s been, improv-wise, but he was still hysterical tonight, proving how much we’re gonna miss him. Tony was the highlight here, elevating all his scenes, taking the games seriously even with Paul, and…for the entirety of his party quirks round. Just a phenomenal show, and proof that we’re gonna miss the heart-and-soul of these UK lineups.

Winners: All four
Best Performer: Tony Slattery, for still coming head-over-heels above a panel of three people just as good as he is.
Worst Performer: Steve Steen. Still doesn’t have much to do on his own.
Best Game: Scenes from a Hat. Funny all the way through.
Worst Game: Hard to choose, but by default I’ll go with Foreign Film Dub, just because it could have gone a bit farther.

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Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S04E06, or Well, That’s Never Stopped Me Having a Good Time…

Well, a lot has happened in the first 5 episodes of Series 4, without an especially dull moment. Before the move to New York, there was a compilation, which could only help, as these five shows are among the strongest in the show’s history.

Authors: Pant and Ethel, Where are You?
Jim: Arthur Conan Doyle
Paul: AA Handbook
Steve Steen: Jacques Cousteau
Tony: Dr. Alex Comfort
From: E3

Tony adds that Comfort has authored “the new, REVISED…joy of sex.”

Paul, after Jim supplies plot: “…there are no services on this motorway for the next fifty miles. [looks to Clive for a buzzer]”

Steve: “I turned to look at Pant and Ethel. Suddenly, it took ze form of my hideous enemy, ze shark.”
[there was a bit of Henning Wehn in that impression]

As Steve talks of ‘shifting ballast’
Tony: “…and if you DO shift a large amount of ballast…make sure it’s away from your partner’s face…”
AND THAT’S THE GAME

Short, sweet, and still an outrageously effective round of Authors. I’ll note that this game is way better when played sporadically, rather than in every goddamned show.

Old Job New Job: Jim, Stephen and Tony are plumbers. Steve used to be an advertising exec.
From: E4

This one was filmed at a taping where we’ve already seen this game. Maybe this one went better…or worse than the ‘spaghetti-yanked offstage’ ending.

Tony shows the audience that a pair of underwear’s been stuck in a pipe. Perhaps trying to call back to the underwear he stuck in his mouth during F&TS that taping.

Stephen: “We washed THIS screwdriver in Daz, and this screwdriver in Omo, and they BOTH BROKE THE WASHING MACHINE!”
I love Tony’s absolutely annoyed look as he grabs the screwdrivers here.

I prefer the one that made the taping, as this one was extremely concise, but it was still funny.

World’s Worst: Person to be Prime Minister
Jim, Steve, Stephen and Tony
From: E1

Steve and Tony step down at the same time, possibly with the same joke, but Steve lets Tony go for it
Tony, John Major voice: “I’M HEVING A VERY CONSIDERABLE AMOUNT OF…”

Then, immediately after that, nobody has any. The obvious joke cleared out everyone else’s material.

Steve, with the other obvious joke, as H.W. Bush, “…ah’m gonna be your next prime minister…”

Tony: “…hello, my name’s Jimmy Savile…”
BUZZ BUZZ BUZZ

Narrate: Jim and Steve (in a betting shop)
From: E3

Ah yes, the first ever playing of what would become a Ryan-Colin staple…but was introduced as a Sweeney and Steen vehicle.

Steve, blowing an easy line: “Yeah, I’d been whistling the speme to thports night- [runs the line backwards] Sure, I’d been drinking that day.”

This game was meant as a primary example of ‘Jim and Steve trying to screw with each other’, using every narration to direct the other person into doing something ridiculous, rather than going about a mystery scene. This works, but not as well as the game would later.

Scene with a Prop: Tony and Paul
From: E4

The most simple game ever played on Whose Line. Tony and Paul with a sign that says ‘Stop! Children!”

Tony, holding the sign: “STOP! Can’t you read?”
Paul: “I can, yeah.”
Tony: “What’s it say?”
Paul: “It says ‘Stop Children’.
Tony: “Yeah, that’s right.”
Paul: “I’m 34.”

Now, there is an edit after here, which makes me think the scene went on longer, and there was possibly more, but A.) the scene’s perfectly fine as a sub-10-second clip, and B.) Tony probably made it unbroadcastable after that. Something about children might have made this go blue very quickly.

Psychiatrist: Chip
Greg: Afraid of Water
Tony: In love with himself
Ryan: thinks he smells like horses
From: E5

Ladies and gentlemen, the first full-fledged singing game proctored by Chip Esten. The first of many.

The first number is very quaint, with Greg giving nice stuff, but Chip throwing it over the moon with a very nice rhyme of ‘that nasty H2O’, proving his impeccable rhyming abilities right off the bat.

Tony is caught off guard by the very bouncy tone of his music, so he takes a second’s glance at Richard, and then just starts bouncing around with it.

Chip has a great takedown of Tony, calling him an egomaniac.
Tony, trying the last rhyme: “…have ya got any CRACK?”

Ryan’s verse and comeback is a nice way to end it, even though Ryan can smell the ‘unstable’ pun a mile away.

This game, if anything, allowed for Chip’s longevity on this season, as he’d be an incredible asset in the singing games of this year, especially as Josie wouldn’t make the NY flight.

Props: Greg and Josie vs. Ryan and Paul
From: E2

A very short round without a ton of highlights.

Alphabet: Jim and Tony (changing room)- starting with F
From: E4

Two things you’ll immediately notice. Firstly, Jim’s excellent at this game. Secondly, Tony will not miss an opportunity to let out an ‘oOOOoOooooooOOOOOooohhh!”

Tony: “Let’s talk tactics”
Jim: “TACTICS TACTICS TACTICS. SCORE A GOAL! That’s the tactic.
Tony, forgetting what game he’s playing: “…score a goal? That’s not much of a tactic!”
Clive: “hang on…you’ve got it backwards.”
Jim: Unusual Grasp of the Alphabet you have…”

Tony takes 5 seconds before thinking of an X. Then: “….XYLOPHONE, WHAT THE BLOODY HELL’S THAT DOING IN HERE???”

Song Styles: Josie sings a Hendrix song with the opening line ‘on the M25’, and with the closing line ‘who stole my sausages’
From: E2

I prefer the tactic of giving Josie an object to sing about, but let’s see if this works.

It’s great- when Clive asks for an ending line, Paul keeps shouting out suggestions, and Clive bats him away.
Paul: “WOULD YOU LIKE AN ORANGE?”
Clive: “…I would, Paul,  but not for you to do that…”

Josie jumps right into the style, complete with some impressive stuff from Richard Vranch on electric guitar. I’ll say that at times she didn’t always comply with the beat Richard was going for, and the song was a bit clumsy, but the energy was there.

Expert: Greg interviews Ryan, an expert on taxidermy and paperclips
From E5

As good as Ryan is at Expert, this may have been his crowning achievement in the game.

Screen Shot 2018-01-12 at 10.01.06 PM.png

This is the position that Ryan holds FOR THE ENTIRE SCENE. He does not blink. He does not move. Even as Greg conducts his interview, he is absolutely immobile.

This is one of the few games in Whose Line history where the audience laughter is constant throughout. Even as Greg is talking, attempting to shake Ryan’s hand, and trying to ask questions, the audience just keeps laughing at Ryan.

The best part is when Greg finishes a question, and Ryan responds with 5 seconds of silence before Greg resumes. The audience dies at that.

Greg, trying to tie the game together: “Now, once the animal is stuffed, what do you use for the eyes? Paperclips, maybe?”
Greg, growing impatient, nods Ryan’s head for him.

As they head back to the seats, Ryan immediately goes “I’m sorry” to Greg, which he immediately brushes off.

Every Other Line: Paul’s an old man looking for false teeth. Tony reads.
From: E3

Paul: “I’ve lost me false teeth!”
Tony, cracking a bit: “Everything’s fine…”

Tony is great at reading in this game, making sure every line of dialogue, even if it has no context, feels like it has the exact same context.

Paul: “I was wondering if you could send a scuba diver down there to get ’em for me.”
Tony, in disbelief: “…SHE’S THROUGH THERE! She’s through there, laid out on the bed!”
Paul: “Well…then…I’ll go in then, shall I?”
Tony: “She’s been through a hell of a lot in the past hour.”
Paul: “Well, a lot’s been through her, from what I’ve heard.”
Tony, cracking: “SHE’S DEAD!”
Paul, with only one option: “…Well, that’s never stopped me from having a good time!”

Hoedown: Frying Pan (Ryan, Greg, Tony and Chip)
From: E5

Like last Hoedown, this doesn’t get funny until Tony’s verse, where he ends by saying “I use all my fried food to burn Jeremy Beadle!”

Chip’s isn’t much, but it’s cute, which is what you could say about this hoedown.

Best Performer: Tony, over Paul and Jim. Surprisingly the brits ruled this one, and Tony had more highlights than his companions.
Worst Performer: Steve Steen, for not having a great deal of standout moments himself.
Best Game: Expert. Easy pick, I know, but this should have been in the show. Psychiatrist and Authors came close.
Worst Game: Props. Nothing there.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S04E03, or The Word is ‘Style’ We’re Looking for Here..

After a week of…well, employment, we’ve returned with more unstoppable Series 4 episodes! This one features that imitable duo of Sweeney and Steen, plus Tony Slattery and Paul Merton. This is the kind of lineup you could kill for, and one we’d get again exactly one season later.

Emotion Option: Jim and Steve (policeman interrogating suspect)

Audience member: “CONSTIPATED!”
Clive: “…was that a suggestion or a cry for help?”

Jim starts out by making fun of Steve’s slight speech impediment on ‘chwime’, which definitely owes itself to how comfortable the two are barbing each other.

and then:
Clive: “Jealously”
Jim: “…I wish I could talk like you…I think it’s really BWILLIANT…”

The amount of insane faces made by both parties during ‘constipated’ cracks me up.

And we end on ecstacy
Steve: “Oh, let me just take off all my clooothes…”
Jim: “…OH, BWILLIANT!”
BUZZ

Very quick scene, but still quite funny.

Film and Theatre Styles: Tony and Paul (barman and anguished patron)

Clive, hearing the audience: “…John Sessions one-man-show-OH, THAT’S *EVERY* STYLE…”

After a suggestion of Noel Coward, someone else goes ‘NOEL EDMUNDS!’
Clive: “…the word is ‘style’ we’re looking for here…”

Tony starts this scene…well, as Tony. He does the motion of pulling down a beer handle, repeatedly…then stops, and goes “oh, I’ll just put the cat down…”
AND WE’RE OFF TO A ROUSING START!

To befit Tony’s insane choice, Paul puts down a cactus, and takes a bazooka out of his pocket, as if to try and out-weird Tony.

School play
Paul, sotto voce: “……i don’t want to dooo ittt…”

Dance Hall:
Tony: “You know a song about Baby Jeezuu, don’t you?”
Paul: “I do- do I? OH YES, I DO…”
Tony, backing up, giving Paul what he’s won: “OFF YOU GO, THEN…”

Clive: “One man show.”
Paul, to Tony: “GET OFF.”

As Paul’s trying to keep the scene going, Clive buzzes in with another style…
Paul: “I haven’t even gotten anything going…ya slaphead!”
The whole audience, AND JIM, applaud this.
Clive: “…I’m sad to announce the untimely death of Paul Merton…by my hands…”
Paul: “I lasted longer than your hair did, though…”

Farce:
Tony: “HERE COMES THE REAL BARMAN! I’M ONLY STANDIN’ IN!”
Paul: “oh, standin’ in what?”

Paul: “OH, LOOK IT’S A VICAR…WHAT’S HE DOING IN THAT HORSE?”
BUZZ

That was WILD. The improv wasn’t the focus, but this was absolutely hysterical, with Paul breaking the fourth wall once or twice, and working really well to outsmart Tony (though Tony had him on the ropes).

Letter Changes: Barbeque
Jim: B with F
Steve: S with T

They wouldn’t play this game regularly until the late US era, and here it’s a differently structured game.

Jim, realizing the possibilities of replacing b with f:
Screen Shot 2017-12-22 at 11.40.39 PM.png

Jim and Steve do master this scene though, perhaps Steve more than Jim, with Steve finding some nice possibilities like it comes naturally to him.

Jim: “Have a slice of fread and futter?”
Steve: “Futter, no. Makes me thit.”
Jim:
Screen Shot 2017-12-22 at 11.43.15 PM.pngScreen Shot 2017-12-22 at 11.43.29 PM.png

The scene stays funny throughout, ending with Jim going “…what a fastard!”

Very nice one, with enough good work to surpass the silly premise.

Film Dub: Tony and Paul: chat up

The back-and-forth here is to be beheld, with lines going back insanely fast, and really funny ones at that, mostly just Paul and Tony reacting to the set and scene.

Tony, after the characters kiss: “….have you been eating cabbage?”

Very fun, quaint game.

March: traffic jams

Clive describes this perfectly as “a game that’s very, very popular with everybody, apart from those who have to play it.”

Paul, from the getgo, loathes this game, and has to start again nearly through his verse.

There’s something so great about his revised verse, and how he puts on a fake grin as he does it:
“I drive along the motorway, I’m looking everywhere.
and I drive along WITH SUCH a HAP-py EA-sy GO-ing AIR!”

Plus, with a violent and funny last verse, Tony supplies the SECOND Noel Edmunds slam of the night.

Pretty cathartic march, with nothing truly bad, and some funny lines. They’re starting to get the hang of what can be done with these types of games.

Props: Jim and Paul vs. Tony and Steve

Screen Shot 2017-12-22 at 11.55.56 PM.pngSteve: “No, that’s great, doc…can you do another one like it?”

Screen Shot 2017-12-22 at 11.56.36 PM.pngSteve: “Yes, I’m here as part of the Clive Anderson appreciation society as well…”

Jim looks at the prop, srtetches it…realizes he can’t do a goddamned thing with it, and shrugs. Clive, at that, ends the round.

Very funny round of props, though.

Clive: “Don’t worry, Paul, because you still managed to win that game, by not making any jokes about me during your uses of props…”
Paul: “I didn’t make ANY jokes, though…”

Courtroom Scene: stolen lego bricks
Jim: judge
Paul: prosecutor
Steve and Tony: witnesses

Paul, after blankly stating the supposed crime, almost verbatim from Clive
Jim: “…whoopy-doopy, I can barely wait. Carry on.”

On Paul’s first witness, Boppo the Clown, Jim cracks up a bit when Paul announces it, and when Tony bounds onstage like this:
Screen Shot 2017-12-23 at 11.12.46 AM.png

Tony dances around, drops his hat, does some incredibly goofy movements, and goes back to this stance, sort of like a Bobby Moynihan character on SNL.
Paul, after a beat: “…..no further questions, my lord…”

After a compelling statement from Steve as I. Claudius
Jim: “OBJECTION!”
Paul: “..what is the objection?”
Jim: “No idea- CARRY ON.”

Tony enters as Sissy Fairbanks, crosses to Paul and goes “you left your underpants in the kitchen…”
Paul: “…I would like to take this witness home and roger him.”

Quicker than last playing, but still pretty funny.

Helping Hands: Paul buys things in a shop from cashier Jim (ft. Steve’s hands)

This is a short, spry game, with an ironed-on set-up and formula (paul hands Jim foods, Jim either weighs or eats them). This is the first time in Helping Hands where someone shoves food in their mouth (it will become a staple of the US version).

Steve shoves half a banana into Jim’s mouth…then Paul shoves the other half in…then, looking back at the cart, goes “these mushrooms look nice, don’t they?”

There’s a struggle between Jim and Paul as to whether or not Paul will shove the mushroom into Jim’s mouth- Jim protests, but Paul eventually goes ahead with it.

that’s essentially the rest of the scene- Paul seeing something on the cart, Jim saying no with his mouth full, and Paul throwing it in his mouth anyway. I’d be lying if I said this didn’t amuse the shit out of me.

Of course, the scene ends with Paul going: “…oh, this is a nice cash register”, and Jim throwing up his arms in protest.

This succeeded far more than I was expecting, once Paul took the reins and started throwing the entire cart into Jim’s mouth. It wasn’t a great Helping Hands scene, but it was truly funny.

Party Quirks: Paul hosts
Steve: Thinks he’s mucking out stables
Jim:railway station announcer
Tony: thinks he’s King Arthur

Steve: “Oooh, you’ve got a lot under ‘ere, haven’t ya? I’m surprised the neighbours couldn’t smell that…”

Jim immediately nails the inaudible nature of his quirk, which gives him early applause from the audience.

There’s a nice amount of time where Jim, Steve and Paul interact with each other as Paul’s trying to guess. There’s some great stuff in the dynamics, too.

Tony, upon entry: “…oblong table, can’t have that, I’ll knock the edges off…”

Tony, after some great physical work, gives what may be one of the worst puns in Whose Line history: “This is, uh…this is a very old, and defunct can of non-caliber beer…it’s…it’s EX-CALIBER.”
The audience: [GROANS]
Paul: “Oh, yes, uh, you’re King Arthur.”

Really nice game, with good performances all around.

Scenes from a Hat: all four

Clive: “Party in a goldfish bowl”
Steve, circling around Jim and Paul: “Haven’t I seen you two somewhere before?”
Paul: “I dunno, I can’t remember…”

Clive: “Message in a bottle.”
Tony, doing the more obvious joke, pulling the message out:”…STING’S CRAP!”

The Prison Nativity Play is great, because Jim’s just head-butting everyone onstage, even Steve, as he goes “DON’T YOU START, MARY!”

Clive: “A cartload of monkeys”
Tony, again taking the obvious joke: “DAYDREEEAM BELIEVER…”

Clive: “Blind Date”
Paul, walks into Tony: “Sorry…”
Tony:
Screen Shot 2017-12-23 at 11.52.47 AM.pngScreen Shot 2017-12-23 at 11.52.24 AM.png

Clive: “Why don’t we end on ‘beetles making love on a leaf’
Paul, going for the gold medal: “…I’ve always liked you, Ringo…”
BUZZ

A good playing, though the obvious reference was definitely in mind on many of the scenes.

Overall: Step back from the first two shows, but still a very funny show, with four guys in peak condition, and a lot of great games. I’m putting it lower than the first two shows because there were less standout moments, and a few more lull-games than them. There’s still stuff like Helping Hands, Party Quirks and Film and Theatre Styles that really worked, but a lot of games were either too short or not consistently memorable. This show also completed Paul Merton’s S4 renaissance, as he’d only appear in one more show after this one, and he was insanely strong here, just as strong as last show. There weren’t many weak links in the show, though- Steve did well in games like Change Letter and Props, Tony had some great slams throughout the night, and Jim was his usual, energetic self.

Show Winner: Steve
Best Performer: Paul, for his second strong show in a row.
Worst Performer: Steve, only for having less masterful moments throughout
Best Game: Film and Theatre Styles, just for being insanely funny all throughout.
Worst Game: Film Dub, for having the least to it.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S04E02, or What Are You Doing With That Squeezy Bottle???

This show is sort of like the turning point in this show’s history- Paul Merton and Josie Lawrence, two people from the very first episode of the show, perform with Ryan Stiles and Greg Proops, two people that are still performing on the program to this day.

Greg, by the way, is wearing a Nine Inch Nails shirt under his jacket. And this is pre-Downward Spirl NIN we’re talking about. Go Greg.

Clive describes Ryan as ‘failed entrant of the Danny DeVito lookalike contest’. He’s playfully shocked at this…and then he gets it, and rears back laughing.

Film and Theatre Styles v1: Ryan and Greg (painting a bridge)

Clive gives them the style. Ryan, being himself, nods “no.”

After some nice silent/sfx work, Ryan, to Greg: “…it’s gonna take all day with a brush…”

Clive: “Greek tragedy”
Greg, stomping upstage: “AND LO…THE BRIDGE DID FALL…AND MY MOTHER WAS KILLED UNDERNEATH IT.”
Ryan, borrowing from Shakespeare: “If I were like your mother, I would be a woman.”
Greg: “AIIIIGGHHH”

Clive: “Woody Allen”
Greg, going into his perfect Woody: “Perfect…I’ve been trapped on a bridge with a member of the SS…”

On ‘early talkies’, Ryan and Greg get the idea to try and throw their voices and performances toward an obviously hidden microphone above them, which is a nice way of going about a relatively thankless style.

The scene ends with a great visual, of Greg taking off his glasses and giving a truly deranged expression…and Ryan screaming in terror. Very nice scene, with some great work by both of them.

Film and Theatre Styles v2: Josie and Paul (at a seance)

Paul brings Clive’s attention to someone yelling ‘porno’, which Clive scolds him for.
Paul: “I mean, we’ve done Thunderbirds before…”
Clive: “Yes, but we’ve done PORNO before…”

Paul: “Is your husband dead?”
Josie: “…well I hope so…he hasn’t been home for 4 years…”

Josie, for Western, does an escalated motion of getting on a horse.
Paul, to Clive: “…it’s porno already…”

Paul and Josie nail the Thunderbirds style, with Paul falling over in the middle of a line of dialogue.

Terminator film style
Paul, Arnold voice: “I will not be destroyed…except by a linguist coach…”

After the Clangers style, which confused Clive in announcing it
Clive: “I STILL have no idea what that is…”
Paul: “It’s PORNO!”

They finally get what they want: Clive allows for ‘gangster porno’
Josie, feeling Paul’s arm: “Say…have you got any scars?”
Paul: “No, but I can take me trousers off…”
BUZZ.

A very funny scene, even if it didn’t always go within the rules.

Video Player: Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison
Greg watches: Josie, Ryan and Paul act out

Not only is this one of the greatest standalone games in Whose Line history, but it might be one of the single funniest games of this era of WL.

Greg, grasping the concept, starts with the ending, with Paul and Ryan laying out the resolution of the scene first, and setting up the wrap-up of the rest of the scene, with excessive thanking.

The scene gets hysterical when Greg cuts to the beginning, where Josie calls Paul and Ryan to stage:
Josie: “Oy, lads. C’mere. I don’t like the governor, I think we should have a riot and kill him.”
Paul, knowing where the scene’s going: “I AGREE, WITH SUCH A PLAN, HOW COULD WE POSSIBLY FAIL?”

Josie: “Listen, I’ve made these guns out of squeezy bottles…”
Paul: “Oh, no…I’d got it wrong, I’d been making squeezy bottles out of guns…”
Josie: “You fool!”
Paul: “I’ve been doing loads of washing up, though…”

Josie suggests they “jump on the wardens”, they do, and, after a 10-second beat…
Paul: “Well, that’s got soap in his eye…”

Greg replays that scene, which causes Josie struggle to remember the beginning of the scene, cracking. Greg, saving her ass, fast-forwards to the squeezy-bottle line, which plays to…diminishing audience response, but possibly more from the novelty of seeing it again.

Josie: “Right, let’s go and get the warden, he’s over there.”
Paul, pointing out a plot hole: “Should we jump on them?
Josie, internally going ‘oh shit’: ‘….YES!”
Paul:”…Seeing as we did the last time…”

Greg fast-forwards to the riot, which allows Ryan to do something funny in this scene.
Ryan: “WE WANT THIS WOMAN OUT OF HERE!”
Paul, with his first Josie slam of the night: “Yeah, we want a prettier one!”
Josie: [glares daggers at Paul]

After this, Josie: “I can’t stand anymore of this…”
[Does a shooting motion]
Paul, and Ryan, slowly realizing: “…WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH THAT SQUEEZY BOTTLE???”
BUZZ

My god. Maybe it’s the amount of times I’ve seen that one, but I absolutely love that scene. How absurd it gets, how it gets Josie to break, how everyone has something to do, how gosh darned FUNNY IT IS. It’s a shame we never saw this game again.

Scenes from a Hat

Ah yes, the first appearance of a game that’d be etched in Whose line’s history. This one, unlike the Drew version, jeopardized on basic scene descriptions, and were done sort of one-by-one, rather than the later ones that’d take most of the round.

“Something stirs in a scientist’s lab”
Paul: [stirring motion]Screen Shot 2017-12-14 at 5.09.28 PM.png

The other thing is these scenes can go on a bit long, but for ‘buying a sandcastle’, it works, as the longer the scene goes on, the more Ryan deducts from Greg’s sandcastle: “UP- WAVE. FIFTY POUNDS. TWENTY FIVE POUNDS. TEN POUNDS.”

Clive: “Elephants packing to go on holiday.”
Paul, with the pun ready, motions for Josie to come over
Clive: “…packing their trunks, I suppose?”
Paul: “aww…”
And they both disgustedly walk off.

“A weight watcher’s party”
Paul, to Josie, WITH HIS SECOND JOSIE SLAM OF THE NIGHT: “…No luck, then?”
Josie: Screen Shot 2017-12-14 at 5.12.35 PM.png
She then carries him over to his step, goes “I’m gonna fuckin’ kill you”, and then returns to hers. Man, you wonder why this was the last Paul & Josie episode…

Clive: “Inside a microwave”
Josie, with a nice rebuttal: “No, honestly, Paul, it does get you dry…”

Paul and Josie have a nice, funny little physical thing for “people who can’t stop moving”….and then repeat it for “a morris dancing convention”.

Very solid SFAH round, though the longer ones didn’t work as well.

Expert: Josie interviews Ryan, expert on pigs and karate

Ryan, hearing the combination, inwardly chuckles.
Clive: “…this is a bit of a fluke, as I happen to know that Ryan is, in fact, an expert on both karate and pigs…”

Josie, on the type of pig Ryan uses: “And they make good pets, do they?”
Ryan: “Oh, good pets, and a great side dish…”

After Ryan reveals he speaks to his pigs
Josie: “So, if I were to give you my pet budgie, would you be able to speak to it?”
Ryan: “…well, let’s not be foolish…”

Josie, getting Ryan to speak the pig’s language: “Imagine i’m a sow”
Ryan, going into the THIRD JOSIE SLAM OF THE NIGHT: “…I have been!”

Ryan, as Josie and he go back to the seats: “Let me have your stool, I deserve to put that up there…” At least he’s bashful about the obvious slam, unlike Paul.

Party Quirks: Paul hosts
Josie: masseusse
Greg: rap artist (oh no…)
Ryan: thinks he’s a reptile

Greg’s reaction to his quirk:
Screen Shot 2017-12-14 at 5.20.54 PM.png

Paul gets Josie’s in about 15 seconds, and even Josie’s going “that one was too easy.”

Ryan’s so good at this because he’s excellent at portraying animals. His reptile stuff is really good, especially in physicality. Not to the caliber of his gazelle, but still.

Ryan, looking at Paul’s feet: “THOSE SHOES…..DAD!!!!”

Paul gets them all easily, and while it’s a quick round it’s still funny enough.

Helping Hands: Paul goes over baby protocol with Ryan (hands by Greg)

They use Helping Hands in every episode of this series. I didn’t think we’d gotten to the Aisha Tyler era yet…

Clive gives Paul shit about not guessing the scenario head on, with a baby prop on the table, and it looking very obvious.

Paul, top of the scene: “I’ve come to see how you feed and change a baby” [turning to Clive] “…apparently…”

Greg’s more cheeky motions, like playing around with the baby, throw Ryan for a loop: “You wrap it around the baby…AS IT DANCES ON THE TABLE…”

Ryan and Paul are actually great at working off of each other here, as Greg moves the baby around. Both seem to be equally befuddled.

Paul, after mistaking the baby powder for cocaine: “…that’s worth 20 quid of anybody’s money…”

This is also a great round, because there are some early examples of Ryan’s hands not cooperating. We’re not at the point of ‘no, you idiot’ yet, but Greg definitely adds some dissonance, which is hysterical.

The ending is also great- Greg has to grab the baby bottle, but Paul keeps moving it before Greg can register where it is, and it ends in this lunge to get it as it rolls off the table.

Fantastic game, possibly better than last episode’s round of it.

March: Giving Birth

Greg: “A woman came in yesterday, she was oh so very fat
it turned out, she didn’t have a baby, she’d swallowed a cat.”

Paul, starting off: “My wife just had a baby yesterday
I was so happy…I decided to go away!”

One of the first one of these to actually have consistently good stuff across the board, even with Paul, usually afraid of these sort of games.

Overall: Better than Episode 1, which means a new all time high for S4…and possibly the series in general. Everyone was not only in great form, but giving their most hysterical material, and some of the games in this, like Helping Hands, Scenes from a Hat, Video Player and the Porno F&TS, are well-regarded in history. Paul Merton excelled tonight like he hadn’t in a while, and Ryan and Greg had great showings working with each other. I’d give the lowest standing to Josie, because I feel like the amount of barbs she took from everyone slowed her down, and she didn’t have as many moments where the joke was hers.

Show Winner: Paul
Best Performer: Paul, for being his S1 self and working well with the new breed
Worst Performer: Josie, for sticking to straight woman roles and not having as many hysterical moments as the rest of the group
Best Game: Video Player. Nearly gave it to Helping Hands, but Video Player is one of those games that makes me laugh whenever i watch it
Worst Game: Party Quirks, simply because it was the shortest.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S03E07, or We Do Get Quite a lot of Shirley Bassey

(Edit: this didn’t post??? That’s weird. Ah well, here it is, two episodes later)

I’m on a Whose Line roll- let’s go onto our first Sweeney & Steen episode.

Tonight features a well-crafted panel that would have a few rounds on the program- Paul Merton, Mike McShane, Jim Sweeney and his world-famous comedy partner Steve Steen. Not too many grounds for failure there.

Film and Theatre Styles v1: Jim and Steve (duh) (interviewing a suspect of a crime)

Clive, getting suggestions: “…and a hysterical one there, TV advert, because…well, you’re in most of them.”
Jim chuckles at this.

From the Game Show style, you can immediately see why Jim wanted Steve on the program- the two work so well of of each other, going back and forth like they’ve been at it for ages (and, well, they had).

Clive: “Let’s make it easy for you then, Gilbert and Sullivan.”
Jim: [chuckles]

Jim, fortunately, is able to craft a pretty great Gilbert and Sullivan number as Steve defiantly dances (he’s not singing crap today). Paul, from the background, gets a kick out of this.

Clive kept the scene a bit quick for me, but this was a very quick, crisp F&TS scene, and a nice little window into the Sweeney/Steen partnership, the likes of which we wouldn’t get until…well…episode 12 of this series?

Film and Theatre Styles v2: Mike and Paul (giving each other presents)

As Paul opens his present
BUZZ
Clive: “…..I may regret this….Porno.”
Paul: “…does it come with a pump?”

From 3D, Mike and Paul just start flailing towards the camera, throwing the blow up doll our way.
Paul: “They’re massive….I’m gonna have another look at that actually”
AND THEY DO IT AGAIN

Another quick scene, but very funny, and the fact that it skewed blue worked in the favor of the performers, as they were able to craft a nice one out of it.

News Report: Baa Baa Black Sheep: Jim and Mike in the studio, Paul and Steve in the field.

At last, a field reporter that isn’t Canadian. I was beginning to think it was a typecasting sort of thing…

Jim’s proctoring isn’t as breakneck as Sandi, and he at least gives people a chance, but is also capable of setups, and pulls a good one on Steve when he goes “Paul, I believe you have The Little Boy Who Lives Down the Lane with you…”

Steve, of course, nails this- at Paul’s question, he blankly asks “are you my daddy?”

I’d like to point out that it’s 7:10 into Steve’s first episode, and already he’s pulled out his Scottish accent. Expect this many more times in the next three series.

Very funny game, though it’s still a bit quick, and would probably slow down as the show would go on.

Expert Translation: Paul translates for Steve, an Albanian expert on television

This is the last-ever playing of this game on Whose Line, and it’s another one of my favorites. I’m sad that they didn’t play this one at all when they moved production to the States for the 2nd half, or when they got back for the first half of Series 4, as this game was a really fun one.

I’m just gonna reproduce Paul’s main discussion on this, because as great as Steve is in this game, it’s Paul who really knocks it out.
“How can I best describe the wonders of Albanian television? It’s rubbish. But when I say it’s rubbish, let me be a bit more specific than that. It’s more than just rubbish. It’s crap. Oh, I can hear you say, throwing your arms up in amazement, surely Albanian television isn’t as bad as that! Well let me tell you- we have Postman Pat on every night at half past six in the evening, but because of several cutbacks, Postman Pat ISN’T EVEN IN IT!!!”
It’s the kind of dissertation that would get laughs in literally any game in this show, but because it’s coming from Translation, and because Paul’s doing this in response to Steve’s inflections, it works so freaking well.

The game also has a great ending- Steve puts on a very huge, over-dramatic musical number for his last line.
Paul, taking a moment: “…we do get quite a lot of Shirley Bassey.”
BUZZ

I feel like writing about that one brings that above the Volvo one in my ranking. Not sure if it beats the Yaks going to the toilet, but it’s a really good one, and Paul actually makes an effort to, well, translate what Steve’s going for, as well as just doing jokes and steering the ship. Still freaking hysterical.

Musical Film Review: Paul reviews ‘The First Man Into Space’, while Jim, Steve and Mike act it out

A variant on a variant. Perhaps they wanted to do Musical Producers, but Steve wanted to sing as well? Or they wanted to do Musical, but Paul opted out, so they did a 1:3 formation?

Clive, as he’d do once or twice in similar games (especially one of my all-time favorite UK WL games), flips through his Halliwell’s film guide to find a film synopsis and title here, instead of getting it from the audience.

This is a strong game, because it’s more fluid than something like Producers- Paul provides structure, the other three provide visuals. It’s a very nice advanced, complex game that works well with three gung-ho performers doing the singing. Mike already knocks the first number out of the park, going less for comedy and more for legitimacy, which he’d do a ton during these types of games, and which rarely happens on US WL anymore.

The second number also works, A.) because it’s Sweeney and Steen, and B.) Steve really works well against Richard’s loose rock style.

Paul also proves his job isn’t thankless, as he sets it up for all three to die, in specific ways, and for the number to be really good, which is sort of screwing with them, in a sense.

The third number is campy in the absolute best way, evoking Rocky Horror, Little Shop of Horrors, and Weezer’s Songs from the Black Hole album (yeah, not expecting many people to get that one). The trick is that all three performers own up the the campiness, and absolutely go with it. Plus, as Mike does his final number, with felt fangs in his teeth, Jim and Steve both simultaneously start snapping to the music, while dead. It’s a hysterical touch that nearly distracts from the number.

That…may be one of the best musical games in the show’s history. I feel like I only recently used that hyperbole about something, maybe the one from 3×03, but every moment was terrific, and it had the sort of quality that it could exist outside of Whose Line.

Props: Mike and Paul vs. Jim and Steve

Screen Shot 2017-11-29 at 6.32.23 PM.pngPaul: ‘Hello…erm…did you see any Klu Klux Klan people go by?’

Very silly round, with a few too many obvious ones, but the dynamics made up for it.

Helping Hands: Paul meets customs officer Jim (with Steve’s hands)

This game is pretty seamless, as Jim and Steve work so well together that they seem like one fluid person on there.

The funniest part is when Jim grows very frantic towards Paul, and Steve just starts going mad with his hand movements, flailing every which way to fit Jim’s expression.

Quick, but still a very fun one.

Party Quirks: Paul hosts
Steve: Thinks he’s Paul Merton
Jim: compulsive gambler
Mike: US Sports Announcer

Paul: “Hello.”
Steve: “Hello.”
Paul: “Hello.”
Steve: “Hello.”
Paul: “Hello.”
Steve: “Hello.”

Steve nails this quirk by being simultaneously excited and disgusted with everything, as well as, well, NAILING THE IMPRESSION without Paul immediately getting it (unlike Rory Bremner trying a similar thing out on Tony a few seasons later).

Jim’s is great, as he keeps giving people tenners over wrong answers. He’d even bet that Paul was gonna bring Twiglets. Paul, catching on, says he’s run out.

Paul gets Mike’s in 5 seconds…mainly because Mike’s was really damned good.

Steve, as Jim leaves, goes for the jugular: “I’ve been listening to your records…none of those words rhyme.”
Paul, getting it: “DON’T THEY?”
The audience laughs here, and Paul very quickly realizes what they’re laughing at.
Paul: “Are you tone deaf or-”
Clive: “That’s close enough…”
Paul, realizing: “…he’s doing me…”

As Paul, absolutely betrayed, walks back to the seats, Steve’s incredibly apologetic. He’s got every right to be.

March: Typewriter Collecting

Jim gets SO CLOSE TO A GOOD RHYME (the best thing in the world), and cops out “Now I know that I am never going to find a rhyme”, when he could have easily gone done something about not getting any girls.

Paul brings back his ‘somebody please kill me’ look from the last time he played this game.

He does go for broke, talking right through it without the rhyme scheme, and eventually landing on a nice rhyme.

Mike actually has a great verse to finish it off, about having all this typewriter prowess just to type out the word ‘wank’. Very relatable.

Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out Steve’s really nice Jimmy Savile impression over the credits.

Overall: Inches away from perfection, but still an insanely funny show, and a return to form after two ‘okay’ episodes. Sweeney and Steen worked so well together, but you knew that. Mike rocked every musical and nonmusical game, but you knew that. Paul had a bit of a down show, but you knew that. This show had a ton of truly funny highlights and moments that i still rewatch to this day.

Show Winner: Steve
Best Performer: Mike McShane by a (heh) hair over Jim Sweeney, for having a ton of show highlights and having the gusto to power Musical Film Review
Worst Performer: Steve Steen, for not having many singularly great moments, and for being edged out by Paul for Expert Translation.
Best Game: Musical Film Review. How can I give this to anything else?
Worst Game: Props. Not enough good stuff here.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S03E09, or I’m Sorry, I Didn’t Quite Get That BALDY!

Right before Whose Line moved to New York for the rest of Series 3, Clive and the gang were able to slide in a compilation, ‘THE BEST OF THE LONDON SHOWS’ essentially. As the UK-set shows in S3 were among some of the best in the series’ history (Episodes 1, 3, 4 and 7 are pretty classic imo), this was much-needed, I’d say.

Props: Mike and Sandi vs. Colin and Tony
From: E5

It’s very odd starting the show with Props, typically reserved for the middle half, but it’s welcome here, as Colin finds his way into the compilation, which can’t even be said for Steve Steen, Mark Cohen or Julian Clary.

This was an EXTRA game of props, ft. EXTRA PROPS, that was filmed for the compilation. I don’t see the practicality of doing multiple games in one taping, knowing only one will get in, but…perhaps the producers did.

Also, the props here are a rug and a bike pump. Exhilarating stuff.

These were a ton tougher on the performers, too.
Tony: “Yes…you’re going to have the blue…rubbery thing…TORTURE!” [beats Colin with prop]

Colin, who stays silent for most of the round, does have a nice moment:
Screen Shot 2017-12-02 at 12.28.54 AM.png
Colin: “….doctor, it’s Dumbo, he’s lost a ton of weight…”

Duet: Mike and Josie sing a love song about a stapler
From: E6

This one probably got cut in favor of Mike’s powerful soul number.

This, too, is a truly beautiful song, with both performers getting time to shine, and Richard doing really well in making this a bittersweet tune.

Tag: Mike and Sandi start, Colin and Tony join
From: E5

Screen Shot 2017-12-02 at 12.33.36 AM.pngSandi: “Oh, come on, Derek, it’s our honeymoon! You can show me!”

Screen Shot 2017-12-02 at 12.34.23 AM.pngColin: “…is this your first vasectomy?”
Tony: “No, actually it’s my twentieth…”

There’s a very amusing moment where Tony tags out Mike…then stops, grabs Mike, then tags out Sandi. A very confused Clive goes “you can only tag out one of them, Tony…”

Song Styles: Josie sings a punk song about a rubber duck
From: E1

This was done alongside her Calypso number, for some reason.

Josie’s amused by the suggestion of Gregorian Chant, after the Punk style has been suggested. Clive mentions she can throw a bit of Gregorian Chant in there, if she wants.

As Richard sets up his guitar
Josie, Gregorian Chant voice: “I AM GOING TO SING A PUNK-ROCK SONG NOW, I HOPE I DO IT GOOOOOD…”

Josie really gets into it, jumping around the stage…then turning around and flipping off the other three performers.

This is a really nice song, with some fantastic rhymes, a great understanding of the style, and the type of energy Josie normally saves for the truly great ones. Would have taken this over the Calypso one anyday.

Film Dub: Sandi plays the woman, Mike plays the man, Paul plays the dog
From: E3

I feel like this Film Dub would have thrown this episode way over the limit in terms of amazing games. Plus, it would have given Paul another highlight along with Translation had it made it in.

I always do enjoy Paul’s confused, nearly betrayed expression, once he learns that he’ll be playing the dog.

So many amazing Paul lines, as they just keep cutting to the dog
“…oh, blimey it’s her again.”
“Don’t look at me, I didn’t buy the dress, now did I?”

And then, after Sandi and Mike’s characters have had an emotional moment and development, and the scene is progressing…THEY CUT BACK TO THE DOG. FOR NO REASON. EVEN PAUL’S OFF-GUARD.
Screen Shot 2017-12-02 at 12.45.33 AM.png
Paul, without any options: “……..Woof.”

Mike works this in, saying the dog “comes as a broach, with the dress. Let me just put it on.”
And then, finally, they cut back to the dog one last time.
Paul: “…Don’t listen to him, lady, he’s killed 14 women already this month…”

So random, yet absolutely hysterical. Paul saves this scene. This should have been in the show!

March: Surveying (Tony, Sandi, Colin and Mike)
From: E5

Tony cracks on the last line of his: “I’m not very trustworthy/ Why don’t you give me all your bloody money…”

Sandi makes a point about surveyors being men…then contradicts herself, cracks up, and asks to start again.

Sandi cracks, sighs, and goes “…I can’t believe we do this for nothing…”
Clive: “Not for much longer.”

Sandi does eventually rebound, pulling out a penis joke and cracking on it.

Mike’s is grandiose and wonderful, til he ends with “I’ve worked for 15 years, and I’ve never gotten better….and now I should be ending this song because I can’t THINK OF ANYTHING BETTER!”

This is a very silly March, maybe not as good as the Banking one, but still pretty good.

Extra Bits:
-The majority of this sequences is intercut with clips from an ill-fated game of Alphabet from E6 with Sandi and Josie. They try this several times, starting from Q, but Josie, poor Josie, isn’t especially good at this game. Sandi admits that Josie’s been practicing the game from A, so starting from Q is throwing her off-guard.
-Paul fucks up an Agatha Christie style of Authors, from E4. He just blows the take, going ‘sorry, I just got quite bored with that…’
-Back to Alphabet. Josie still doesn’t quite get the concept.
-A game of Tag from E3. A classic exchange:

Clive: “Alright, Sandi, although you bring out the worst in people, could you just be on your knees, though?”
Sandi: “What d’you mean I bring out the worst in people?”
Clive: “…Or have you been on your knees all evening?”
Sandi gets up, hears the audience booing, GETS THEM TO BOO LOUDER, and goes over to Clive’s desk, going “Sorry, I didn’t quite get that, BALDY!”
Clive, STILL GOING: “…it’s probably because your ears are closer to the ground…”
Paul, ever to get to Sandi’s side: “Are you bald, or is your neck blowing bubble-gum?”
Mike:
Screen Shot 2017-12-02 at 1.03.56 AM.png
Clive: “I’m not bald, I’m just taller than my hair.”

-More Alphabet. They try it again, only this time, Josie forgets the letter ‘T’, and goes “ohhhhhhhhh SHIT!”

-A clip from a game of Musical from E2
Josie, to Mike: “Have you given up all your bad habits, darling?”
Tony, struggling to regain composure: “No, he still picks his bottom…”
Mike, now himself losing it: “DAMN YOU. DAMN YOU. AND I HAVEN’T STOPPED KISSING MEN ON THE LIPS!”
And then…
Screen Shot 2017-12-02 at 1.06.19 AM.png

(Well, that completely trumps S2’s Extra Bits…)

Song Styles: Mike sings an American Folk song about bananas
From: E5

My god, there is a TON from Episode 5 on here tonight. I think it’s like S2E10, where they knew the finished episode was a tad underwhelming, so they threw in everything else on the compilation.

Also, this Song Styles comes after Mike’s initial one, the rock number that’s slightly underplayed by his standards.

This one’s also kinda underwhelming vocally, but this one is really funny, going into some absurd, funny places with the banana.

World’s Worst: Person to be the Last Person on Earth With:
From: E1

Greg: “The only thing I saved was all my home movies! Wanna watch?”
Tony: “D’you know, I have not been to the toilet for FOUR MONTHS…”
Josie: “…..and then I did a lager advert!”
OH! CLIVE ENDS THE GAME BEFORE TONY CAN RESPOND TO THAT ONE! HOW DARE YOU!

A really funny game, but WAY TOO SHORT. Maybe all the good ones were cut? Maybe those WERE the good ones?

Party Quirks: Sandi hosts
Jim: is magnetic
Paul: Can only use words with two syllables
Mike: a bodyguard
From: E3

BUT YOU HAVE PAU-nevermind.

Sandi’s very first pun gets her groans from the audience.

Sandi, after Paul has GREAT DIFFICULTY keeping his quirk together: “…just my luck, the only person who’s turned up is a git…”

There’s a great dynamic in this, as Sandi keeps losing all the interesting guests and keeps getting stuck with Paul, whose quirk is tough and one he can’t even do. Clive has to put the game out of its misery.

American Musical: Greg, Jim, Tony and Josie – getting a girlfriend pregnant, getting mugged, and becoming a TV presenter.
From: E1

Greg and Tony’s number is really funny, as neither knows where it’s going rhyme-wise until they get there, and Tony adds in a bit about all the ‘bits and pieces falling out of you’
Greg, adding: “…and her.”
Tony, as the song finishes, near-breaking: “And that’s what, uh, having babies is all about!”

Jim has a VERY SMALL MOMENT where, once he hears what musical motif Richard is going with, he smirks back to the piano. It’s very tiny, and nowhere near the caliber of in E3, but it still counts.

And then, Jim comes up with a genius rhyme: “Let me tell you about Sally….she was walking down an alley…”

Jim’s rhymes keep getting worse and worse in the song:
“She got mugged, Greg.
She hurt her leg, Greg.
SHE’S DEAD, GREG.”

Greg, noting the odd contrast: “Wow, uh…that news kind-of brings me down…”

The scene ends a bit clumsily, as Josie has a nice enough finish, but Greg brings it back…calls her by the wrong name, goes with it, and confuses the hell out of Richard as he’s trying to end it. He’s done a great performance, and it’s fantastic that he carried Musical for once, but his ending needed a bit of work.

I will say it’s very fitting that the last bit of the last UK episode of the season features an American going “Hollywood, here I are.” It’s almost like it foreshadowed where we’re going next episode.

Best Performer: Josie, for nailing her games tonight.
Worst Performer: Colin, but only by default. Everyone else had stellar moments, and Colin’s were, like in the show, very okay.
Best Game: Film Dub, which should have been in the episode.
Worst Game: Party Quirks. Why would they give something so cruel to Paul???

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S03E04, or Have You Ever Had Sex With a Horse?

I’ve done two today, and that’s all well and good, but I’d like to get to the Julian Clary episode. Like the first three, it’s a good one.

Paul, Josie and Mike are back, Paul coming off a down show, but he does happen to have some nice moments of resurgence tonight, with Julian Clary, an old colleague of his, in the room. Julian’s an odd choice for an improv program, however…the fact that I’ve seen this one a few times proves that he’s a fine ‘guest star’ type.

The intros, once again, bring out the best in the performers
Clive: “Paul Merton, with a face that expresses anything up to two emotions.”
Paul, expressing one of them mouths “FUCK YOU” to Clive. The audience starts laughing at this right as the camera lands on Julian.

Film and Theatre Styles v1: Julian and Paul (door to door salesman and customer)

Greek Tragedy
Julian: “WHYYYY HAVEN’T WE MET BEFORE?”
He then turns to the confused audience, and goes “…that’s the chorus.”

Julian: “I’ve come to sleep with your mother and then kill her. [strategic beat] …in that order.”
Paul: “I’m afraid I’ve done it already.”
BUZZ
Julian: “….how about your father, is he around?”
BUZZ
[Meanwhile, I’m laughing my ass off back here]

Julian, on the Disney style, goes campily patting Paul around with brushes.
Paul, momentarily breaking: “….WHAT DISNEY FILM’S THAT??? Hang on, there’s some chipmunks in me hallway, GET OUT!”

Clive: “Berkoff.”
Julian: “Oof….lots of swearing, right?”
Paul, getting into character: “….MUM DIDN’T UNDERSTAND ME.”
Julian: “I’m not surprised.”

Julian, purposely contrasting with the style, grabs Paul and goes “Well, how about you cheer yourself up with a few brushes?”
BUZZ
Paul,  to Clive: “BERKOFF??? ‘CHEER YOURSELF UP WITH A FEW BRUSHES???'”

Julian has a beat too many getting into the Pirate Movie style, eventually going: “Well, if you’re not interested in my brushes, young man-”
Paul, with the saving line: “Fancy a jolly roger?”
BUZZ

That was a pretty hysterical game top to bottom, even if Julian would peek out of character every so often. It brought out the best in Paul, and Julian was quite funny, especially in his earnest ways of keeping the plot going.

Film and Theatre Styles v2: Josie and Mike (suspecting someone of having an affair)

Mike: “I’ve just been out with the guys.”
Josie [sniffs Mike[]
Mike: “….some very fragrant, floral guys…”

This is a very well-acted scene by both parties, only going into comedy when the styles hit, with Josie having some great lines in Australian soap, and Mike…not even trying an Australian accent (must have learned that from working with Kevin Costner).

Okay…Josie’s rendition of Twin Peaks, wearing an eyepatch and opening and closing the drapes, made me laugh VERY HARD.

Josie does a nice job, in the old-time musical style, covering for a lack of Richard Vranch, by saying that someone’s shot the piano player and they’ll have to go on unaccompanied…which Mike does, in a very jolly number about shagging the next-door neighbor, which ends the scene.

Not as good as Paul and Julian’s, but still very well done.

Film Dub: Paul is a customer at Julian’s escort agency

There’s a brief moment of ‘who’s talking now’, but this has some great back-and-forth, with Julian wanting sex and Paul wanting champagne.

Julian: “What, don’t you want to do anything else?”
Paul, in a suit of armor: “Why, have you got a tin-opener?”

Fun scene, but a bit clumsy in parts.

Interview: Julian, from a Fanzine, interviews Mike, Julius Caesar

Mike, literally the first line of the scene: “Wow, uh, excuse me…my wounds are still a little sore…”

Mike makes this scene. Julian knowingly takes a passive approach, and Mike so sells his character, especially when he’s going over his favorite ways to kill people, going in graphic, and nostalgic, detail about them.

Julian: “And what about all this aggression you seem to exude? You don’t think that’s a bit too strong for this day and age, for all the young people that might be reading this?”
Mike: “Heeyyyyy, I’m CAESAR, GET IT WHILE YOU CAN, KIDS!”

This is a pretty nice one, better than most of the Interviews we’ve seen.

Song Styles: Electric Drill
Mike: Jamaican Reggae
Josie: Heavy Metal

Mike’s is a pretty nice one, as it has some really good lines, and it gets funnier as it becomes clear that he’s drilling chickens, ending with the line ‘CLUCK CLUCK, DRILL DRILL, Oh, what a thrill…”

As usual, Josie is able to COMPLETELY rock it out of the park with the Heavy Metal number, giving some amazing vocal range, and getting truly into the song. I’d give Mike’s song the edge here, but she’s giving it her all here.

Props: Mike and Julian vs. Paul and Josie

Julian, on the prop: “…it’s falling apart…”
Clive: “The whole program’s falling apart, don’t worry…”

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 10.10.20 PM.pngMike: “Very good, sir. Before we fit you for a new pair of buttocks, let me just get a reading…”

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 10.11.20 PM.pngPaul: “…right, before we fit you for a new bra…”
As they cut over, you can hear Paul going “can we have a smaller size, Jack?”

And then…
Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 10.12.25 PM.png
Josie: “Alright, before we fit you for a new, erm…”
and then, inevitably: “COULD WE HAVE A SMALLER SIZE PLEASE, JACK?”

Really nice playing, with both sides playing along with each other, even, and with running gags.

Alphabet: Julian arrests Paul, starting with A

Julian loses his place once or twice, but there’s some GREAT back-and-forth here between Julian and Paul.

There’s a terrific moment where Julian reminds Paul he’s up to Q, then Paul looks Julian over, getting the PERFECT Q WORD IN MIND. Without even saying anything, the entire audience knows what he’s about to do.
Julian has to nod no, and say ‘children are watching’ underneath the laughter, for Paul to eventually go “….Queen Mother’s good for her are, isn’t she?”

As usual, this game gets trickier when it gets down to the later letters, so it ends with
Paul: “….yes.”
Julian: “….Zoo.”

As haphazard as usual Alphabet games seem to be, but still pretty funny.

Expert Translation: Paul translates for Josie, from Sweden, talking about Volvos

My SECOND FAVORITE Translation, behind ‘how the yak goes to the toilet’. This proves how this game can be at the mercy of its translator, especially when it’s Paul Merton.

Josie: [makes a driving motion with her arms]
Paul: “Have you ever had sex with a horse?”
The audience laughs. Josie cracks a bit, shakes her head, LOOKS AT CLIVE, and then continues.
Josie: [outlines the shape of the car]
Paul: “I HAVE, I HAVE!”
Josie, trying to get the game back on track: “VOLVO, VOLVO!”
Paul, not having any of that: “….I often drive to the stables in my Volvo”

The rest of the game is Josie trying to veer the game back on track, and Paul refusing. Josie has a long sentence ending clearly in ‘PETROL’, and Paul goes “My favorite brand of aftershave on a horse is petrol.”

Josie, very pissed, ends a sentence with “PAUL.”
Paul: “Anyway, I should be talking about the car…”

Yes, Paul had to betray Josie to get there, but this was still a very funny scene, and was proof that Paul was in a really nice mood tonight.

Gospel: Needlepointing 

The  best thing about this game is that the entire panel gets into it, ‘WHOAH’-ing and clapping at each other.

So…Paul gives this game his ALL, going all out and being very ‘fire-and-brimstone-y’, which is odd, because I’ve never seen him try this hard in a singing game before. Rap used to scare him away.

Julian just talks through his, sort of like Stephen Fry with slightly more rhythm, makes a joke, and then nods that it’s Mike’s turn. At least his heart was in it.

Mike, as usual, ends this game in grand fashion, even with Julian still sort-of no-selling it.

Overall: I’d put this one a notch above E2, and a few notches below Episodes 1 and 3 on the series so far, so this was another FANTASTIC show, with all four performers doing a great job. Paul felt revitalized, giving his best material since Series 1. Josie wasn’t far behind, selling her scenes, and biting back at Paul, even has he pissed her off throughout the night. Mike wasn’t bad either, although he’s made this habit this season of settling into a standard rather than being outstanding in shows- so far I haven’t named him Best Performer yet this series, and he’s been on 3 episodes. Julian…as funny as he was, knew he wasn’t gonna stack up to the other three, and just decided to lay back and have fun. His personality sort of matches with the show, and he worked well with Paul, but compared to the other three, he wasn’t much.

Show Winner: Paul
Best Performer: Paul, with a comeback for the ages
Worst Performer: Julian, only because he was up against 3 legends who had amazing nights.
Best Game: Film and Theatre Styles v1, for being incredibly watchable and really funny, even as Julian broke once or twice. Expert Translation came close.
Worst Game: Film Dub, but only for not having as many great moments as the rest of the show.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S03E03, or How On Earth is it Gonna go to the Toilet?

For once this series, we have 3 established regulars, now that Jim Sweeney has appeared once- Mike McShane, Sandi Toksvig and Paul Merton are also here, the latter two giving their first appearances of the season. Paul, sadly, was beginning the downslope of his Whose Line career, as he’d appear less and less as he made more and more commitments to Have I Got News For You.

Film and Theatre Styles: Mike and Sandi (two strangers with adjoining hotel rooms)

Interesting note- this is the first time that WL gets away with one playing of F&TS. Usually Jim and Paul would have to do one, but perhaps theirs didn’t make it in.

Sandi: “Uhhh…HELLO…Are you the waiter, and if so, why have you got nothing on?”

Mike, awkwardly, tries hiding his privates
Sandi: “No, please don’t cover it up in any sort of way, your hand doesn’t seem to do it…”

Clive: “Medical”
Sandi: “What an interesting medical phenomena this is…a man who’s as big as he says he is, NOW…”
Oooooh, satirical AND funny. Way to go.

This scene actually, unlike most other F&TS scenes, has a nice, well-formed ending, that feels less like Clive saving time and more like a logical end to the scene.

Alphabet: Jim is rescuing Paul from quicksand, starting with P.

They must have learned from last playing, as they’re giving a starting letter instead of just going from A.

This is a slightly-clumsy one, because it’s tough for Paul to keep it going towards the trickier letters, but it does get a TON better once they’re into easier ones.

Jim: “Goodbye to the quicksand, then.”
Paul: “Hello to a new life.”
Jim: “…..I love you.”
Paul: “…just saying that.”
Jim: “kinky little devil…”

You can definitely tell that Jim’s way better at this game than Paul, and Paul stumbles, but it’s still a nice enough round, and ends well.

Song Styles: Mike sings a Calypso song about a Moldy Tomato.

There’s a nice amount of banter towards the beginning, as Clive can barely say the style, and then mistakes the tomato for a potato. Mike at least grins and bears it, unlike his fellow west-coast counterpart.

Mike gives a high-energy, high finesse song here, and he does it in only 12 or so bars. Clive and the audience are going wild when he finishes.

Expert Translation: Paul translates Sandi, from Outer Mongolia, speaking of how yaks go to the toilet

So…real talk. This is my favorite playing of this game. I feel like it came together like no other playing of this game has, and made me laugh harder than any other has (even the Volvo one). So…let’s examine this.

Sandi: [Ecstatic and loud, long enthusiastic intro line]
Paul: “Hello.”
[Audience, and me, laugh like hell]
Sandi: [smaller line]
Paul: “Now calm down.”

I’m just gonna transcribe most of Paul’s stuff here: “Imagine you are in Outer Mongolia and you see before you, walking, the most beautiful specimen of yak you’ve ever laid your eyes on.
[Sandi gives an impassioned, heart-felt plea]
Paul: “You think, how on earth is it gonna go to the toilet?”

The best part of this is that Sandi keeps trying to actually explain, in motion, how this process works, but Paul keeps negating her: “You can try leading them into your house, you can show them how the flush works, but most yaks don’t care for that sort of thing.”
Sandi: [gives a more detailed flushing motion]
Paul: “Most of them are happy with a cast-iron bucket.”

Sandi, at her wits end, starts cracking up, and Paul turns this into an opportunity for her to tell a joke: “There’s two yaks on an exercise bike. One yak says to the other yak “Oh, I’m really hot and tired, in fact I think I might go to the toilet.” And the other yak says “You’re too late, I already have!”

I know I basically wrote down everything, but I adore that game, as Paul could make it into a way of doing what he wanted, regardless of the scene description. Yes, it may not have been with good improv intentions, but Paul makes it work by still getting a hysterical scene out of it, and still talking about the bathroom habits of yaks (instead of negating a topic of, well, volvos, but that’ll be next show.)

March: Hang-Gliding

This is the other singing game they introduced this season, and i’d put it a peg below Gospel, simply because it does get a bit tedious, but it fulfills the Hoedown-esque song structure. Also, like the Hoedown, they already hate the game, causing Clive to remark “well, don’t all rush forward!”

Jim, already, gets a taste of the song motif, looks at Richard Vranch, and cracks a smile. I feel like Jim, who knew him from the comedy store, was like ‘this is what you’ve degraded yourself to’, and Richard must have knowingly nodded.

Jim actually has the first wall-to-wall fantastic proto-Hoedown verse on this show:
“March, march, march, march, that’s what we hang-gliders do.
March, march, march, march, YOU CERTAINLY WOULD TOO!
We glide all day, we have such fun, it’s great fun by the pound
Until we forget how to land, and hit the bloody ground.”
That just works really well.

Sandi, like Stephen, loses the scheme a bit, and is cracking and eye-rolling all the while, but manages to land on her feet. AND THEN WE GET TO PAUL…
Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 3.55.49 PM.png

You would literally see Paul lose himself every time he had to play March or Gospel, and this time is no outlier. He stumbles through, and THANKFULLY lands on his feet with the final one, but…he came close to having to start over, which he’d do many times in this game.

Mike has the longest one, as he’s the one singer in this lineup, but even HE stumbles slightly, though he has a great ending, and a great all-around verse.

This game is pretty shaky, but I got some laughs out of it, even if they all hate this one.

Props: Mike and Paul vs. Jim and Sandi

Clive, pulling a long prop out of under the desk, goes “…oh, sorry, thought that was part of me…”
Sandi: “Trust me, Clive, it isn’t…”

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 5.09.35 PM.pngJim: “I told you it’d work- look, a zebra mated with a python!”

Paul: “Could you have a look at this satellite dish? I think there’s something wrong with it, it’s been picking up crap all day…”
Mike: “YOU MUST HAVE *SKY!*”

Really nice round of props, albeit a bit short.

News Report: Humpty Dumpty- Sandi and Paul in the studio, Mike and Jim in the field.

First of all, Paul and Sandi master the ‘talking to each other quietly before the news report starts’ trope, with Paul even throwing in a ‘this is how big it is’ motion to punctuate it. Sandi and Greg would eventually go even further with this, in a way that’d end up on the cutting room floor (because god forbid somebody gives a WOMAN head on this program…)

The reason this game works, and would continue to work, is how the cameras can frame this like a real newscast- Sandi goes over to Jim, in the field ‘with one of the King’s horses’, and we zoom out to this.
Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 5.15.49 PM.pngScreen Shot 2017-11-27 at 5.15.53 PM.png

And it’s a seamless zoom, too- so that the ‘angry Mike as a horse’ visual isn’t spoiled from the getgo, also trying to emulate that style of news camerawork.

Mike actually has a great, slightly-camp performance as a miffed Humpty, going through the whole scenario, topped off by a smirking Jim going “I’m afraid the yolk is indeed on him, back to you.”
Clive has to end the scene as the audience groans at that.

Pretty good scene all around, though I wished they’d let things progress a bit more, especially in the studio.

Helping Hands: Paul is a patient going to Dr. Jim (Sandi is his hands)

Sandi has to stand on the World’s Worst step in order for this technique to fully work, but, on the plus side, she’s able to do this:
Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 5.22.12 PM.png

Sandi seems to get that the idea of this game is to screw over the person who can’t use their hands, so she reaches into Jim’s pocket and pulls out a handkerchief, stuffing it in his face mid-scene.

This is an incredibly silly, near-Pythonesque scene that works because of how broadly Jim is playing it, and how natural his arm movements seem to be to his character.

Also, it ends with Sandi’s hands undoing Jim’s buckle, the culmination of several silly moments of sexual tension. So by gosh, this scene worked, and it worked well, better than last time.

Musical Producers- Election of a Prime Minister- Paul and Sandi describe, Mike and Jim act it out.

So…Mike and Jim’s first segment is absolutely perfect, musically and narratively, and it sets this game off at the highest height, right out of the gate.

Also, I love that immediately after that ends, Sandi goes “It’s good, but I feel like both women are playing it too heavy…”

The second number, done as a rock opera love ballad, is even more powerful, even if Jim, knowingly, takes a more passive approach. It’s not often that Mike can find an equal in a singing game, and Jim is giving him a run for his money.

Sandi: “I think the Prime Minister should die…and in his last death throes…”
Paul, sort-of following: “…….he sings a really raunchy reggae number.”

Even better, as Jim is trying to act and go towards his character’s death, Richard Vranch starts in with the upbeat reggae music, which makes Jim, once again, turn to Richard and crack up.

They do get a really nice reggae tune out of this, and Mike even passes a blunt, which raises Jim’s vocal tone by a decibel.

At close, this may be one of the most impressive all-four musical games they’ve done in a little while, with no flaws, no awkwardness, and…it’s almost exactly like a musical I could see on the West End. Does it rival the Christmas show playing of this game? It very well might.

Overall: We’re three shows in, and not only was this one as good as Episode 1, but it’s even better, and keeps the insane momentum of S3 going. Every panelist was having a great night, every game was hysterical, there were moments of interplay between the performers, as well as between the performers and the show personnel, with Mike having a moment with Clive, and Jim having a few moments responding to Richard Vranch. Jim had his second insanely good show in a row, not having a dull moment in the whole show, and working off of people really well. Mike McShane was tight on his heels, having great musical moments throughout. I’d put Sandi and Paul a few notches below, as despite some nice moments, Paul especially felt like he was on his downswing.

Show Winner: Mike
Best Performer: Jim Sweeney, still a breath of fresh air
Worst Performer: Paul, for not keeping up with the other three
Best Game: …..BOY that’s tough. I could go with Expert Translation, News Report, March, Helping Hands or Musical Producers, and I’d still be satisfied with myself But…I’m going to have to go with Musical Producers, simply because as fantastic as this episode is, I don’t think anything got as strong as that game did. Not even my favorite Expert Translation.
Worst Game: Alphabet, merely because Paul’s confusion stopped it from truly getting going.

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.”
BUZZ
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’

Shakespeare
Sandi: “Lord preserve us, our tongue has gone wild.”
BUZZ
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

…..WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO DO ANOTHER ONE WHEN THE ONE THAT MADE THE SHOW WAS SO GOOD?

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

WHAT’S THIS???? JOHN ACTUALLY ELICITING *LAUGHS* OUT OF ME IN PARTY QUIRKS? He LEAPS into the game on a motorcycle, running offstage. WHY DIDN’T HE DO THIS ANY OTHER TIME THEY PLAYED THAT?

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!”
BUZZ
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!”
Paul: “YES, YES, LESBIANS IN SPAIN!”
BUZZ
Mike:
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.

SERIES 2 SUPERLATIVES
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!”
BUZZ

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.