Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S05E07, or Come Again?

Another turning point. This is the last Sweeney & Steen episode, and the penultimate Ryanless Whose Line. Sweeney and Steen were supposed to keep the uK reign of the show going, but now they’ll be bowing out as the show focuses more on Ryan and Tony. This one also features Tony Slattery and Mike McShane, a truly magical combination.

This is one of the last chances for the so-called old-guard of WL to take over, and seeing as the last time we had a show like that it was the best of the season, it’s a wise idea to do it again.

Scenes from a Hat:

Clive: “Now, the MORE WE DO…the more…we will have done, now..”

“Things the stewardesses should really tell you about safety features…”
Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 2.52.33 PM.png
Jim: “Now, if the plane goes down, kiss THIS goodbye…”

Clive: “The worst job in the world.”
Mike: “I’m here to buff Clive’s head.”

Clive: “Olympic sports we’d like to see.”
Tony: “AND NOW THE-
Steve:Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 2.54.41 PM.png
Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 2.54.12 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-02-07 at 2.54.50 PM.png

Mike: “IT’S THE HUNDRED-METER FREESTYLE CRUNCH!”

Clive: “I, uh…I think Humping the Tony is in it already.”
Mike: “Ya oughta see the SYNCHRONIZED HUMPING THE TONY…”

Clive: “A Kiss-o-gram with bad news.”
Mike, to Steve: “SHE’S LEFT YOU, SHE’S LEFT YOU, SHE’S NEVER COMING BACK AGAIN-”
Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 2.58.07 PM.png

Clive: “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”
Tony, without a better idea, to Jim: “…that’ll be two pounds fifty, please…”

Clive: “What you didn’t expect to find at the end of the rainbow.”
Jim: “JEREMY BEADLE!”

A fantastic round to start the show with, as the energy is already electric, and people are going for silliness right off the bat.

Film and Theatre Styles: Mike and Tony (desert island castaways)

Audience member: “EL DORADO!”
Clive: “…we’re doing amateur dramatics already.”
ELDORADO SLAMS: 1

Tony: “…I spy…”
Mike: [begins nibbling on Tony’s fingers]

Tony: “This is hopeless. We must build a fire!”
Mike: “WITH WHAT??? WE HAVE PLENTY OF THINGS TO PUT A FIRE *OUT* WITH! BUT WE HAVE NOTHING TO BUILD A FIRE WITH! I’M buck naked, YOU’RE buck naked, the TREE’S gone, the dog’s been eaten, we have SAND. A BIG…LUMP…OF SAND.”
Tony, knowing his place: “….oooOoOoOoOoOoOOOOHHH!”

Eldorado:
Tony: “There is lots of sand here, yes, that’s because it’s a crappy film set.
ELDORADO SLAMS: 2
Mike: “If we dig deep enough, we may find some talent, but I don’t know.”
ELDORADO SLAMS: 3. WE’RE ON A ROLL.

Science Fiction:
Mike: “In fact, I fear we may begin mutating.”
Tony stands up, and there’s a PFF sound.
Mike: “You’re mutating already, sir!”
Tony: “I’m sorry about that. Play some of that music and I’ll walk up to the camera, weirdly”
Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 3.10.13 PM.png

A pretty fun game, even if it lost the plot a bit in the middle. The Slattery-McShane combo is at a high already.

Authors: A Day in the Life of a Nursery School
Jim: Lewis Carroll
Steve: Jackie Collins
Tony: TV ads for the Sun
Mike: Dr. Seuss

THE LAST EVER AUTHORS. A game that was a staple of the show for 2 seasons, finally dying out with the Ryan/Colin era.

Jim: “It was a perfectly normal friday, but somehow she felt a bit stoned. “Don’t bogart that joint, bitch” said the big caterpillar in the corner…pass the dutchie on the left hand side.”

Steve, as Jackie Collins, describes the empowered, female caterpillar, “her proud breasts standing out like pink grapefruits…”
BUZZ
Tony: ‘AN’ YEW CAN SEE ‘EM ON PAAAGE THREE! THERE’S ALWAYS MORE NUUUDE CATERPILLARS…IN THE SUN!”

A really fantastic game of this. At least they ended on a good note, where everybody could actually continue the story without being selfish, or without being John Sessions.

Song Styles: Mike sings a Busby Berkley song about soap

Mike: “i’ve got that bar in my hand again.
I’ve got that bar, and I’m gonna lather up, my friend.”
And we have liftoff.

This is a really nice song by Mike, with some cute lyrics and really nice melodic work by both him and Richard. It’s incredibly silly and passionate, and you can tell that Mike’s enjoying the hell out of it.

World’s Worst: Person to be auditioning for Hamlet

Jim: “i mean, because basically he’s a man on the edge, isn’t he?….I KNOW HOW HE FEELS…”
Steve: ‘See, my contract with Eldorado is just fineeshed….”
[ELDORADO SLAMS: 4]
Tony: “…Tobe…or not tobe?”
Steve, doing an accurate John Major impression: “To be or not to be, that’s a good question, a FAIR QUESTION, AND ONE I INTEND TO DEAL WITH…”

Bad start, but it picked up as it went along.

Props: Jim and Tony vs. Mike and Steve

Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 3.22.55 PM.pngTony: “ALRIGHT…I’m not a natural brunette…”

Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 3.23.58 PM.pngSteve: “….YES…YES…I WILL FERTILIZE THE EGG!”

Tony: “Hello, and welcome to the not-terribly-convincing torture chamber. GET DOWN! [hits feebly with prop]”

Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 3.25.32 PM.png
Steve: “Hello, I’m an extra on Doctor Who.”

Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 3.25.37 PM.pngMike: “Hello, I’m an extra on Eldorado. THEY’RE DESPERATE.”
ELDORADO SLAMS: 5

Fantastic round of props, and you can tell, because Tony and Steve are still laughing as they head back to the seats.

Scene to Music: Steve waits for Jim, his secretary

This is the last Sweeney & Steen scene in regulation, and proof that the producers were phasing them out, as they did Meskimen and Smith, for not matching up to Colin and Ryan.

The music is, again, very film-noiry, so Steve turns it into another game of Narrate. Why not just do Narrate again?

Jim: “Is it me or is it hot in here? [aside] It wasn’t me, it was hot in here, the building was on fire.”
Steve: “Yeah, it was hot, she was a walking sauna, and I was ready to sit down on her bench…”

A very fun scene, better than their last Scene to Music.

Party Quirks: Tony hosts
Steve: Beethoven
Jim: In love with the carpet
Mike: Confederate soldier

Tony: “Yes, the party is ready, and the theme of this party is 60s dance crazes [flails wildly]”

Tony: “Hello, Steve, come on in.”
Steve: “PARDON??”
[HA HA HA HA.]

Jim, the second he enters, nails his:
Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 3.34.28 PM.png
For obvious reasons, they didn’t trust Jim with physicality too often, but he nails it here, going above and beyond.

Jim: “How could you just stand there?”
Tony: “…you’re not Eleanor Bron, are you?”

This is one of those party quirks where everyone comes in and Tony writhes around trying to guess everyone, and he’s beginning to get more unhinged with it. Obviously what he’d be dealing with in Series’ 6 and 7 was controllable here, but he’s growing more manic, especially in guessing everyone when they’re all just going at it.

Tony does nail everyone’s, especially an energetic Steve performance, which he jumps up and down when he finally gets. The audience even hits fever pitch when he guesses Steve.

Great game, just crazy enough to be controllable.

Clive: “The yelps of pleasure were worth waiting for…as they often are with Tony.”

Bartender: Mike
Steve: Angry about constipation
Jim: trying to forget his impotence
Tony: in love with the barman

A very Scottish voice shouts out ‘CUNSTIPEESHUN.”
Clive: “That was a good suggestion, or possibly a cry for help.”

Steve’s verse is good, but, possibly thanks to his character choice, it’s not sung as much as it is talked. Mike does save it, though, going “I don’t wanna see you get any meaner, so here, take this vacuum cleaner.”

The same scotsman, for Jim, yells out ‘IMPOTENCE!’
Jim:
Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 3.43.23 PM.png

Jim’s first line, above fun, funky guitar music, is “I’ve got a problem that’s making me sick.”
Everyone knows what’s coming, no pun intended, and cracks up prematurely.
Still, instead of subverting the expectation, like people usually do in singing games, he goes for it: “Frankly, I’ve got a useless dick.”

Mike starts with the obvious joke: “COME AGAIN? I’m sorry, let me rephrase that…”
Jim:
Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 3.45.42 PM.png

Mike: “I take those problems seriously.
Lack of orgasms can make you deliriously…..upset.”

Mike finishes off his verse with ‘here’s a stiff one, that’ll do.”

AND THEN WE GET TO TONY’S. Which may be one of the best musical moments of this entire series.

Tony, completely won over by Mike, starts with the immortal line of:
“I’m the bacon…and you’re my chips.
i’d like to shipwreck in those…standy-out nips.”
Note that he cracks up at that one, though he sells it.
And he ends with “If you weren’t a big butch man, I’d ask you to be my wife.”

If Tony’s wasn’t heartfelt enough, Mike has what’s basically an aria, going into great melodic notes and really selling the mutuality of the situation…and then…he takes everything off the bar counter, and goes “You see through me, then do me…RIGHT HERE!”
Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 3.50.09 PM.png
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What I love about this, in least in particular, is that this is one of the first times you can see the people at the seats absolutely losing it with laughter. Jim and Steve absolutely break down once Mike throws himself on the table, and start applauding and laughing as the scene ends. I don’t think a game had gotten a fellow-improviser reaction up to that point.

Still, the capper on a fantastic game of Bartender.

Overall: Not just the best of the series so far, but possibly one for the pantheon. I mean it when I say that almost every game was not only a success, but a hysterical highlight. Everyone was giving their all, even Steve Steen, usually the limp noodle of the panel, who was giving big character performances all night tonight. Mike McShane, like in E5, performed like no time had passed, and Jim Sweeney did his usual ensemble work, while Tony allowed himself, yet again, to the funnier moments of the night. The number of memorable moments from this show is a nice one- from the Humping the Tony, to all the Eldorado slams, to Steve as Beethoven, to Tony mounting Mike during Bartender. And oddly enough, those moments don’t define or overpower the show. It’s a very well-rounded, very even episode of four WL legends giving their best material. How could that not be a 10/10 show?

Show Winners: Steve and Tony
Best Performer: Mike McShane, for being a fantastic moral center for the show, and providing the most memorable moments
Worst Performer: Jim Sweeney, oddly enough, for being outdone by his comedy partner in the number of breakthrough moments in scenes.
Best Game: Bartender. How can I not?
Worst Game: World’s Worst, just for its slow start
Best Runner: Eldorado Slams (we had 5).

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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.

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: S04E01, or THIS PARTY’S CRAP!

Onto Series 4 of Whose Line, which…did things a little differently.

For some reason, Patterson and co wanted to emphasize the US invasion, so as the season was truncated to 13 episodes, he gave 6 to the US tapings and only 5 to the UK ones. This would be the last season with such a split, but this influence would eventually push all the burgeoning UK comics off the table. Also, after what I can only imagine was fatigue from appearing in nearly every show last series, Mike McShane took the year off.

We start S4 with a pretty nice lineup- Tony Slattery, Sweeney & Steen, plus a debut appearance from a guy who’s gonna be one of the heroes of the next 5 or 6 series’ of the show, former Laughing Man and frequent collaborator with Atkinson and Edmondson, Stephen Frost! In this tenure, he’s Stephen, but once Steve Steen leaves, we’ll be alright with calling him Steve again.

Emotion Option: Jim and Steve (soldiers in the trenches)

Once again, they’re doing a round of this, then a round of F&TS, which is fine.

Jim is already in a great mood, ‘mmm’-ing to Clive’s suggestion that he’s recieved all the emotions from the audience, and a cheeky ‘yeeees?’ to the scene description.

Jim starts the scene off strong, throwing in the twist that they’re opposing soldiers, and his character is German. Steve, however, makes his character German as well, which…isn’t the mood I would have gone with, but whatever you want, Steve.

Jim: “Then we shoot zhem.”
Steve, over-the-top: “SHOOT ZHEM VHEEERE?”
Jim: “Oooh, vandering accent, uh…vith the gun…”

Clive: “paranoia”
Jim: “Those soldiers! They’re all lookin’ at me!”
Steve: “VAIT A MINUTE…VHERE HAS YOUR ACCENT GONE?”
Jim:
Screen Shot 2017-12-13 at 1.43.18 PM.png

Steve: “YOU’RE NOT GERMAN, YOU ARE ENGLISH, AREN’T YOU?”
BUZZ
Clive: “Hate.”
Jim, dropping the accent: “….YOOOOOOOOOOU GIT!”

Jim: “One little slip in your throat-”
Steve: “Two little slips! The slip you had on last night, YOU BITCH!”
Jim:
Screen Shot 2017-12-13 at 1.45.36 PM.png

Clive: “End on horror.”
Steve: “….AAAAAAIIIIGGHHH-”
Jim: “YES, I’M NAKED….AND COVERED IN CLING FILM!”
BUZZ

Absolutely hysterical, with great teamwork, and a hysterical way to start S4. You could tell it was great because of how many times Steve threw Jim for a loop, and how many times Jim had to visibly recover.

Film and Theatre Styles: Tony and Stephen (customer and fortune teller)

Screen Shot 2017-12-13 at 1.48.43 PM.png
Tony: “I came to you last week, and you didn’t say anything about the revolving door…”
Stephen: “Well, you didn’t cross my palm with silver like you promised to do…”
Tony: “I’ll cross your mouth with my signet ring if you don’t shut up…”

Stephen, in the melodrama style, starts accentuating his mustache.
Tony: “MY MUSTACHE IS BIGGER THAN YOURS!!!”

Stephen, in ballet style, starts spinning Tony around by his ring finger.
Tony, to Clive: “…this is prison brutality…”

Then, literally, the last moment of the scene is Stephen LEAPING INTO TONY’S ARMS, as Tony has to regroup and realize what’s going on, then catch him. It’s a hysterical visual.

Not quite to the heights of Emotion Option, but still a great first scene for the inevitable Tony-Stephen duo.

Old Job New Job: Jim and Steve are surgeons- Stephen’s the head doctor who used to be a dustman

Ah, the debut of this game, a standard improv touchstone, and Stephen gets to be the showcase for it.

As great as Stephen is in this, Steve and Jim do a lot of the heavy lifting, bridging the dissonance between the two jobs (“THAT’S HIS SPLEEN! PUT HIS SPLEEN BACK!”)

After Stephen yells to someone offscreen
Steve: “That’s the anesthetist, and she can hear you perfectly well-”
Stephen: “She’s a what?”
Steve: “Anesthetist!”
Stephen: “…she shouldn’t drink so much…”

And then, within the applause for that joke, Stephen high-fives Jim and Steve, who both have entrails on their gloves. This scene is so silly that it’s working.

There’s a nice repetition of everyone scrubbing up in one motion. Steve, as he does, thinks of an incredibly good rationalization-
Steve: “D’you realize that the patient’s been lying in the sink this entire time???”

Courtroom Scene- Murderous Affair. Jim judges, Stephen prosecutes, Tony and Steve are witnesses

Another new scene, one that wouldn’t get played terribly often but had its moments.

Stephen: “Crime of passion, as you know, is the most common crime committed…involving…passion.” [breaks]
Jim: “WELL PUT, SIR, WELL PUT…”

Tony comes on as an airline pilot who claims he’s Princess Margaret. Stephen, in starting the questioning, bows. Tony takes this as an advance, and headbutts Stephen.

Stephen brings Steve on as the deceased’s son, and asks what they were arguing about
Steve: “It was all about you…it was about you…coming in between them, the way you did…”
Stephen, not at all ignoring a golden opportunity: “WELL, IT WAS ONE OF THOSE NIGHTS!”

Tony enters again as a panto actor, whose timing is so quick that he slaps Stephen without a moment’s notice. His energy doesn’t fit with the game, but he’s definitely making it funnier.
Jim, post-slap: ‘SPLENDID, WITNESS! Ask him to do the pussy joke, would you?”
Stephen, under laughter: “I think not, my lord.”
Tony: “NO, I WANT TO DO THE PUSSY JOKE!”
Stephen: “NO YOU CAN’T DO THE PUSSY JOKE!”
Tony: Alright.”

A really funny game, with everyone contributing something, and a ton of really nice, funny jokes.

World’s Worst: Person to operate on you

Jim, sticking his hand down the front of his trousers: “..where’s the patient, then…”
Tony: “I’m terribly sorry, I’m not the surgeon, I’m a xylophonist..”

Very funny, despite me not writing everything down

Props: Tony and Steve vs. Jim and Stephen

Screen Shot 2017-12-13 at 2.10.21 PM.pngSteve: “Well, this is the first photograph we HAVE of a black hole…”

Screen Shot 2017-12-13 at 2.11.26 PM.pngStephen: “So, have you ever been an air traffic controller before…”

There’s a ton of funny stuff here, including a bunch of topical references, and Jim and Stephen unwittingly doing the same prop suggestion twice.

Tony, holding out the prop: “NO…JEREMY BEADLE, JUMP!”
[Pulls it away, goes ‘hahaaaah!’]

Party Quirks: Tony hosts
Steve: James Bond
Jim: Thinks it’s a class reunion
Stephen: bus conductor

Tony starts off as a ‘Come as Michael Jackson’ party, writhing around grabbing his crotch. The buzzer doesn’t happen. He stops, and looks at Clive, going…’well come on’
Clive: “No, I was rather enjoying that…”

Tony gets Steve’s in approx. 5 seconds.  He then realizes he should have given more time, looks around, and goes “…THIS PARTY’S CRAP!”

Jim rolls off a long list of all of his classmates, then waits for Tony to say whether or not they’ve arrived
Tony, after a beat: “…I think you’d better go…”

Jim, not competing with Steve, suggests everyone competes for “who can pee highest up the wall!”
Tony: “THAT WAS A GENUINE CHAGALL, THAT WAS…AND IT’S MARGINALLY BETTER, NOW…”

Tony, once Clive gives him Jim’s, reacts, then confusedly wanders back to the seats.

Great round, with Tony interacting with everyone, and having great lines.

Film Dub: Tony is seeing Stephen, the bank manager

Tony’s character sits down
Stephen: “You just sat on my pet hamster!”

This one’s pretty funny, because the film keeps cutting to the horses, and Stephen and Tony have no choice but to react. Not quite as funny as casting Paul Merton as a dog, but still…

Tony’s character punches out Stephen’s, who falls.
Stephen: ‘AGH! YOU MISSED!’

Picked up as it went along, though it was just a really silly scene altogether.

Helping Hands: Jim (hands by Steve) talks to Tony about a robbery

They finally improved this game by giving it a prop table, so Steve has more to do than just wave his hands around and react.

Already, Jim sells this scene by giving his character a hilarious voice and stutter, which powers the first half of the scene just from sheer ridiculousness.

Tony demonstrates a fake beard, which is hysterical.
Jim, responding: “i’ll be wearing these, I’ll be wearing this, uh…THIS GUN!”
And then he wears it as a mustache

Tony, inspecting the table, cracking up: “What are we gonna do with…WITH THE BLUE KNICKERS!”
Jim, catching onto what Steve’s gonna do: “These I’ll be…wearing on my head…”

Tony, seeing a golden opportunity: “What about…the secret microchip which is in your pocket?”
Jim, knowing exactly where this is about to go, drops all the props Steve’s holding.
Jim: “OF COURSE…OF COURSE…WHAT A FOOL I’VE BEEN…”

The scene ends with Steve fiddling around in Jim’s pockets, and Jim awkwardly glaring over at Clive to end the game. A hysterical one, with a ton of innovations that’ll give this game legs for years to come.

March: Weddings

Jim nearly stumbles, but lands on his feet with a great ender (“as soon as I get rid of this bloody…hangover”). Richard, still knowing Jim from the Comedy Store, even waits a half second to nail the final note as Jim stalls.

Steve, as typical, doesn’t do especially well in a singing game, but like everyone else, comes out on top.

Also, Tony gets to do the key change verse, which is what happens when Mike McShane doesn’t do a series. He does a great last line: “I don’t like her, I like…the best man…”

Overall: SMASHING SUCCESS. Not a single bad game, a ton of hysterical moments, some of the strongest dynamics we’ve seen, and an insanely great way to start S4. Tony, Stephen and Jim were all equally amazing, even if Steve didn’t have as many standout moments. Incredibly rewatchable, with a ton of great games.

Show Winner: Jim
Best Performer: By a nose, Tony Slattery, for having some hysterical moments and proctoring some games in the absense of Mike McShane
Worst Performer: Steve Steen, for having less amazing moments than the rest
Best Game: Helping Hands. There was a massive four-way tie between that, Emotion Option, Courtroom Scene and Party Quirks, but Helping Hands was, to me, the most successful because there wasn’t a dry moment, and everything built on each other until that last moment.
Worst Game: Film Dub, by default.

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.