July 23rd, 2013

Gary Anthony Williams and Keegan Michael Key have one obvious thing in common, other than being first-time performers in this season: they both have three-part names in which it's unclear whether the second part of the name is their middle name or part of their first name. Do I call him Gary Anthony or just Gary? Keegan or Keegan-Michael?
Where they seem to differ is that while the first impression GAW made was that of a newcomer doing a wonderful job at fitting in, KMK struck me as a guy trying too hard to be funny. I know Whose Line, especially nowadays, doesn't have the most subdued of tones, but Keegs, you gotta ease into the wackiness. Dial it down a notch. Find the spots where it works best.

In Hollywood Director, does Colin come up with his suggestions or are they given to him? I think they used to be provided but maybe weren't some point? I would hope he could come up with a better reference than The Jerry Springer Show. Back in the late UK seasons/first US season there was an entire game based on it called Daytime Talk Show. There have been other games using Jerry Springer as the entire topic (remember the mash-up of TV references that was The Jerry Springer Millionaire Show?). And then an entire episode guest starring and largely based around Jerry Springer. Then Trust Us With Your Life featured Jerry Springer! Is there anyone who hasn't had enough Jerry Springer in their Whose Life?

Another talent Colin has is saving a weird moment and turning it good. Joke about Canadian Emmy, groans from audience. Are you all Canadian? Lukewarm comeback. "Yes we are!" Saved.
So here's another question. Is Aisha writing any of her pre-written material? There was no way to be sure but I figured for a while that Drew wrote most of his at-desk jokes while some were written by creative consultants or whatever they'd be called. The reason I ask about Aisha is, either her style is very similar to Drew's, or she's trying quite hard to copy Drew's style, or the people writing for her cards are writing as if Drew was still in the chair. Too bad Aisha's AMA has already come and gone.

In Props, there sure were the following references: Madonna's bra (would young people nowadays even get that?), Coneheads (I'm just surprised the audience seemed to love that one that much), and the bullets scene from The Matrix. Those made Wayne's Harry Potter reference seem downright topical (correct me I'm wrong, but I'm 90% confident it was the first Harry Potter reference on the show. Yay!)
On the upside, I will now explain what I loved about another one of Colin's jokes. In Props, it's one thing to just use the prop as it would be used, like going "AWOOGA" as if they're cartoon eyeballs. It's another thing to create an imaginatively hilarious micro-vignette using the props and just one sentence. Instead of just using the prop as a beard and sayng something generic like "Ho ho ho, what do you want for Christmas, Timmy?" as if he might as well be saying "I am Santa and this is my beard," he uses that prop use to explain a secondary prop use which is the real heart of the gag. The idea of an old Mr. T with a white mohawk is funny in itself, but the idea of old Mr. T being visited by Santa Claus makes this one of my new favorite prop jokes. I mean, just imagine an actual aging Mr. T (even older than now) not only meeting Santa Claus - but address by Santa Claus as "old Mr. T." I challenge you not to even smirk at the very idea of it!

Soo are we not getting any audience-participating games at all for this run? Aside from the one with the purses? One of the reasons the audience-participation element existed was to help sell the idea that everything is made up on the spot. The pre-arranged very special guests, unfortunately, threaten to do the opposite. When someone picked from the audience decides to dance along with the singer(s) (remember Derrick?) it comes across as a spontaneous thing. When a guest waiting out behind the audience seating area does it, it comes across as something he/she was encouraged or just figured he/she should do. Ah well. I did like Wayne's line about her show not being in his target demo. (possibly answering my question from last week?)

In Dating Profiles the back-of-the-set screen is all like, "Hey, I can do more than just show the Sideways Scene feed! I can display floating hearts too!"And I'm going to gripe about the hashtag use again. This time, the hashtag "#creepydates" flashed up just before Colin said his line, "Want a creepy hug?" By doing so, it effectively ruined the line by giving the quicker reader a heads-up on the word he was going to use. It makes me think of one of a terrifically bad joke, "What kind of key does a skeleton use? A skeleton key." And, more reference tallying: Wayne references Honey Boo-Boo and Justin Bieber, which helps his not-outdated-references scoresheet. Ryan references Neil Patrick Harris, which is interesting in that NPH has since risen from relative obscurity since the last time Ryan had mentioned him on WL. So it's an old reference that is actually more relevant now! I wonder what Neil Patrick Harris himself thinks of Ryan's comparison? Also, I think Wayne finds his being-posessed-by-a-demon bit funnier than anyone else does?
The most outdated reference, however, may be the very idea of a video dating service. At least Wayne tried to keep things current by passing it as an internet thing.
Hey! Want to hear a thing about this playing that is interesting to me but may or may not be interesting to you? This game has something unique from other games in common with Make a Monster and Remember That Song, in that it requires no outside suggestions. But whereas MAM and RTS involve the four players playing off suggestions from each other, Dating Profiles does not at all. What this means is that there was nothing preventing anyone from coming up with anything they said on the spot. Not that I'm saying they did or didn't, just that in theory the format of this playing means every single line could have been prepared ahead of time (not unlikely the Weird Newscasters anchor's lead story).

Not much to say about Living Scenery, but that cannon bit was something special. Keegan's overenthusiasm paid off for that one!

The credits reading is the usual too-many-people-talking-over-each-other-talking-over-the-audience-clamoring-over-the-music, but I did really like Ryan's impersonation of a silent vampire.

The first episode of the night as just okay, but at least there's another one after it.
Ah! Another episode from the Gary tapinig. Hmm, they're re-using the same intros. Okay. And the first game is...Let's Make a Date, again? Did they do this game twice? I did think it was odd that there was only one round of questions the first time. And they're reusing Gary's first question, and the quirks are... the same and... oh I see. They're reairing the second episode. Just so I'm straight here. The first two episodes the previous week on Tuesday. Then the CW aired those same two episodes that same week on Friday. And for the following Tuesday they aired the second episode a third time, following the third episode. Why, I couldn't begin to explain. Well, at least I hear this won't be a regular thing, I hope, and that next week (well, this week, as I'm writing this on Sunday) we do indeed get two new episodes.

Whose Line is it Anyway? July 16th, 2013 episodes REVIEW

First off: First time seeing Whose Line in widescreen format! Whoooo!

To reference my previous post, it turns out the very first thing to be said would be references to Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, AND eBay. I'm gonna go ahead and assume this was an intentional "Hey, we're in the 2010s now!" shout-out.
If you have read my REBOOT post you'll know how I feel about quirks that force the performers to kiss the other performers. I sure did sigh two minutes in when reading Colin's LMAD quirk. Ryan's quirk is amusing enough, but it does raise that issue I have about quirks that don't make sense within the concept of its game. If Colin's character is a love robot, how the heck does he have parents? And even if Colin wasn't a robot, why would both of his parents be the third contestant on this dating show? Gary's guess for Ryan is actually better than the actual quirk, since "thinks he's bachelor number two's parents etc etc.." makes more sense!

Here's a complaint more about The CW than about the show itself, exactly. I was annoyed by the on-screen hashtags. I sort of understand the way most TV shows use them, something to do with establishing one definitive hashtag to use to discuss a show as it's airing on Twitter and Facebook and whatnot. So the #WhoseLineReturns on the screen I can live with. But what the heck was up with the game-by-game and moment-by-moment hashtags? What's wrong with just using #WhoseLineReturns throughout the hour? Do we really need a hashtag for each game? The show isn't THAT popularly discussed online! (There sure was a percentage of the people on my Friends Feeds who excitedly posted about Whose Line's revival but didn't even get around to watching it on the night it aired.) Surely the more hashtags you ask people to use, the less likely the overall subject is to start trending! And I can even maybe accept the game-tags, if the excuse for them is that they tell someone who's just come into the room what's being played, but the ones that really bugged me were the ones specific to moments in the show. Colin kisses Ryan and on the screen flashes "#bromance." First of all, I'm not not claiming to be an expert on the very subject but there's a difference "bromance" and "kissing another dude for the sake of a laugh/because you had to for the sake of the scene." Maybe Colin and Ryan could be said to be bromantically involved, but that moment itself was not what bromance is. Secondly, it's distracting! It's like some weird outside party has the power to make comments on the show by typing words that show up on the screen, and it does not at all jive (or do I mean jibe?) with the spirit of the production. Thirdly, if someone does use one of the hashtags like #bromance or #nicecatchkevin, it's not going to make sense to anyone who doesn't know you're talking about Whose Line, in which case you would/should be using the #whoselinereturns hashtag anyway, which means you don't need the redundant additional one anyway!
If you watch(ed) the show on the CW website then this doesn't matter at all because the web videos don't show these hashtags, which means in addition to fewer commercials and more freedom of time to view there's yet another reason to rather not watch the show on broadcast television.

And now, my bit about the guest stars.

I've never seen The Walking Dead but have heard good things about it (or maybe I'm thinking of the books). If she hadn't been introduced as a guest star I would've thought Lauren Cohan was just a regular audience member. I hope she's a better actress when she has a script on her actual show than she was when she didn't know what to do ahead of time! I talked previously about watching other show to see people from Whose Line - is The Walking Dead the type of show to have fans that would watch Whose Line to see Lauren Cohan on it? Are there any Glee fans - particularly Kevin McHale of Glee fans - who would go out of their way to see Whose Line because Kevin's on it? Are there many people who were on the fence about checking out the new Whose Line but persuaded when they found out Lauren and/or Kevin were on the premiere episodes?
These are all questions that make me wonder why the heck they were chosen as "guest stars." At least people like Richard Simmons, David Hasselhoff and Jerry Springer are universally known and associated with a very particular image. You know Simmons is going to be jubilant and energetic. You know Hasselhoff is going to play up being a parody of a hunk-type. Springer will be...I dunno, Springer-esque. And also, they're all the sort of people who've been mocked on the show before. The Multiple Personalities at the beginning of his episode is a perfect example of this. Whether or not their appearances made good episodes is another matter, but I can at least understand the reasoning behind choosing them to be special guests.
With Lauren Cohan and Kevin McHale...I can't. Their respective shows debuted after Whose Line was last on the air! Neither is more famous than their most well-known character! Even still, both of their most popular shows are on another network (Cohan is on Supernatural and Vampire Diaries, but neither is mentioned on her appearance)! Were they on just to plug their shows in a talk show guest sort of way? That would explain the scenes based on their shows, unless that was just a lack of imagination on the scene-writer's parts. Which by the way gives me strong "Trust Us With Your Life" vibes. At least Whose Line didn't do the thing where the guest explains what happens in a scene and the performers just repeat what the guest already said is going to happen, play-by-play. I worry that most of the season's episodes will be Trust Us-clones in this way, since I have heard there will be more special guests to come (the way the CW labels the episodes by the name of the special guest isn't encouraging either). But I also know there will be at least one other episode for each taping. Did any of the tapings have more than one special guest? We can hope not. Because it would be nice to see the fourth seater play more than two games in an episode.
And if we must have Special Guests From Other Currently Running Television Shows on Other Networks Who Aren't Very Famous, may I suggest one of the actors from ABC's Nashville, Charles Esten? He seems a mighty fine crooner. Maybe he could join in with Wayne for a singing game!
And now that I've mentioned fourth seaters. I'm surprised I haven't heard anyone comment on Gary Anthony Williams. He didn't get to do much, but he had more participation than Aisha Tyler, and she was criticized already, but more on her a little later. I was pleasantly surprised with how comfortably Gary seemed to fit with the flow of the show; he was raring and able to jump it in the few moments he could. His brand of humor didn't really mesh with my sensibilities, but I didn't find him unfunny or seeming as if he was trying too hard to be funny (can you guess which other fourth-seater I have in mind when I say that?) either. Heather didn't have any shine-worthy moments either, to the point where I would have been skeptical of her talents had I not already seen her in DCIAG already, but I do hope to see both of their other episodes from the same tapings.
That's how I felt about the new performers. How about the new host? I've read some people having negative reactions to her, but I've yet to read a convincing reason why they don't like her yet. The thing is, she didn't really do much in just those two episodes! I could understand if she participated in the Drew game and didn't do well in those, but as she didn't her main contributions were, let's say, 70% reading off of a card (do we not think she did that well enough) and 30% putting in her own two cents, which was, what? Five lines between the two episodes? Is that really enough to form an opinion? I don't know if you noticed it, but neither of the first two episodes featured any verbal audience-contribution games, so she never even had the job of picking out suggestions! How many would be enough to fairly judge her as a host? Oh, I don't know. But hey, there's only 10 (12?) episodes - how 'bout we call it after that?
There is one thing I'd like to bring up, but I'll save it for a future post.

New game thoughts: What's in The Bag?
I could describe this as a cross between Whose Line (the game) and Infomercial. In short, I liked it! I do feel like it's a limited-use type of game, if I'm correct in assuming there are only so many different things one can find in a random woman's handbag. Then again, maybe I'd be surprised! Also, pills in a baggie I can understand (you know, if you're sharing the same bottle of aspirin with another person? Right?) but ... is keeping shoes in one's purse something that women-who-are-not-my-wife do? Anyway, part of what I liked about this game was that the number of things the audience members had in their purses was comical itself, almost to the point of a cartoon bag of holding.
If there are any women, or even men who happen to carry handbags for that matter, reading this post, I would like to hear your thoughts on how much and how many different stuff you would carry with you to your average television show taping.

Scenes From a Hat thoughts (both episodes).
Yes yes, we all liked the "Things you can say about x but not your girlfriend" scenes, but dead horses and all. And yes, I thought Colin's "This doesn't spread like it used to" line, but also Colin can easily make me laugh with very many other non-things-you-can't-say-about-your-girlfriend lines. DID YOU NOTICE: In the first episode it's a "but not your girlfriend" scene but in the second it's "but not your partner?" Because Heather was in the second episode? Which is most likely, that it was an honest-to-goodness audience-contributed scene and was written that way in open-mindedness, or that it was written as "girlfriend" but Aisha "edited" it on-the-fly, or that it was written by a staff writer who knew Heather would be on the show? Also, what was up with that many relationship-based scenes? Isn't "World's Worst Thing to Say During Sex/to Your Lover" also a bit, you know...played out? I'm pretty sure Wayne used that same exact "it'll be better after the operation" joke before. To be fair though that was several years ago and only a nerd who obsessively rewatches would even notice.
Also, I'm sorry but "[laughter]" is pretty much the most obvious "joke" for the "things not to say while/after making love set-up. It is! Making that same joke twice in a row doesn't help. I will admit that I was surprised by Wayne's instantly inflating, inflatable.
Easily my favorite line of all... Colin's gag about canker sores. I will now explain why I find it brilliantly crafted. Ryan had a line about taking out his teeth, and the premise of that joke is, ew, it's funny because kissing someone without their teeth is gross." It would've been as mediocrely funny if Colin had just said, "Oh, I hope you don't mind my canker sores." But he stepped it up by not only doing that thing where someone tries to make a positive out of a negative and fails, but phrased it in such a way that you are essentially tricked into imagining what it would be like to not just touch another person's canker sore with your tongue, but what it would be like to feel ... not just a canker sore, but more than one! THEY'RE RIDGES. "Love bumps" would've been kinda funny, but "love ridges," by being a more specific description of the tactile sensation, is therefore much more hilarious. I've gotta wonder. Do you suppose this was a joke idea that Colin had come up with previously, and - knowing full well that a world's worst lover set-up would be sprung upon him again - stored it away for future use, or was it something he came up with truly on the spot? I'm inclined to assume most of Ryan's material comes from his vast and impressive database of Jokes to Use (not to knock him, most are great jokes). But with Colin it's harder to tell, since he seems more likely to just let his unfiltered stream of consciousness get the best of him. To wonderfully giddiness-inducing results! Whether it was prepared or not, the fact that Colin can come up with something like that at all is something just so special.

Living Scenery was your standard Living Scenery, what with the jokes about how using people as props leads to those people being touched or almost touched in ways that would otherwise be inappropriate.

Song Style(s)
Is it Song Style now? Not Song Styles? You know, I'm pretty sure the reason it was called Song Styles was because the style would be suggested by the studio audience. Maybe now it's Song Style because every time it's played from now on it'll always be Gospel! I hope not. That would be not cool. Nothing against Gospel itself, just the repetition. One of the things I was looking forward to with the new season was hearing new improvised styles I hadn't heard done before - one of the promo clips had Wayne doing a Japanese pop Greatest Hits song! So I was rather disappointed with the use of what is probably in the Top 5 of most-often-done Song Styles.
I'm not sure how I felt about this one exactly. The song itself wasn't the type that I can imagine wanting to listen to more than once, and I do like how Kevin was willing to participate when prompted to, but...that's about it. There wasn't anything particularly funny about it (though I was oddly amused that Wayne knew that Kevin used to be in a boy band), but there wasn't really anything bad about it either. Wait. I know what I can compare it to. It's like how the ending of too many computer-animated family films where there's a dance sequence and the idea is that watching others enjoying themselves and having a good time to music is supposed to make you feel good, but really you'd rather have something more substantial when it comes to entertainment. That's how I felt about it.
Hold the phone. I just realized something. Wayne's an executive producer of the show now, right? Could he have known or have had part in the selection of the guest stars? I always assumed the performers weren't privy ahead of time to the Special Guests - Greg certainly seemed surprised - but of course Drew would know ahead of time, and maybe Ryan could have too, being an executive producer? Would an executive producer have enough say in what goes on in the show without knowing which special guest might be on it? Do they maybe know that there will be a SG but not know who it is? I'm just hoping that Wayne wasn't asked to sing to Kevin McHale knowing ahead of time that he would be doing so. I can't help but wonder what would happen if he was asked to sing a song about a "celebrity" that he happened to know nothing about.
"All right Wayne, you're going to sing to Lucy Hale, star of ABC Family's Pretty Little Liars, in the style of disco."
"I-uh haven't actually gotten around to watching -"

Dubbing thoughts
Why does the camera sometimes cut to Colin speaking? Is it to make sure the home audience understands what's going on? Come to think of it that could be the same reason the camera would sometimes cut to Ryan during Sound Effects (I), though I also thought maybe it was to show that Ryan wasn't "cheating" with any props, and was really just using only my mouth. Or maybe the Colin cuts were just for editing purposes. Anyshoe!
I certainly prefered the Kevin scene to Lauren's, not that I'm biased toward Kevins or anything. Two of my favorite Ryan lines between both of the entire episodes were here: "You sound like an old Canadian!" and "Fifteen minutes later!" And Kevin seemed more kompetent than Lauren, though that could just be because his scene didn't require much action.

Sideways Scene
Again mentioning that I've covered something in a (or more than one) previous review, Sideways Scene does strike me as the type of game that is hilarious the first time you see it and...not as hilarious subsequent times. At least that's how I feel. What I did like about this one was Wayne's "I came from the attic!" and how it made the inclusion of an actual door (as opposed to the silouette bed and light) completely superfluous. I don't blame him for not wanting to roll his body over a jamb! It's a new take on the "it's funny to cheat" idea.
Call me dim, but when I first saw Ryan sitting on the SFAH step, I was wondering, "Wait, I must've missed something. Is Ryan participating in this in some special way? Is he going to do a voiceover or something?" until I realized, "Oh, he's just sitting there so he can see without blocking the screen." And if I was that easily confused, imagine how confusing this would be for someone who - not having seen this game before - walks into the room after the game already started, probably not even realizing the backdrop is a screen, and wondering what the hell is going on and what everyone is doing and what does the world even mean? If even for that person's reaction, I'm glad this game got the chance to see the Whose Light of day, and heck, it's worth it for those who did understand what going on but had never seen it on a Colin & Brad show or TrUsWiYoLi before. Can't say I hope to see it done again very often, though. Maybe if a new twist was introduced? I do like the idea of the performers trying to handle various props that they've never used in the game before - what if Sideways Scene was combined with What's in the Bag?
Also...really? More prepared styles that are obviously chosen for the format of this game? And do I even have to make the comment about switching styles without bothering to continue the scene? Well I just did anyway.
At least we got to see Heather in a game. Hey, I wonder if we'll get to see Gary Anthony Williams playing Sideways Scene! Imagine THAT!

Helping Hands
DIDJA NOTICE: Kevin is given a jacket to wear for this one? Why, I do not know. It was understandable when, say, Kathy was in that Helping Hand scene as Ryan's lover and she was given ladies' pajamas or whatever, that's fine. But if Kevin is playing the part of just a tourist visiting a carnival... then... is that sort of blue jacket associated in any way with carnival tourists? If anything I would've said that what Kevin was already wearing was more like something a carnival tourist would wear! Unless the prop guys were super-concerned about water from the tiny fishbowl splashing onto Kevin's own clothes and him suing them for that or something, or maybe the powdered sugar or something even messier and more likely to stain that we never saw used? Anywuzzle, Kevin doing a British accent is probably the closest thing we'll get to seeing a British performer on this series of 'uze Line, so I'll take it. It is funny to imagine a British tourist having never seen a goldfish before.
Kevin's popcorn catch was a highlight of the night, because, and not to belabor my point, it was unexpected! And it is something that has not happened before! Let's just hope that we don't see any future quirks that try to recreate this moment, like "Colin is the co-anchor, but he likes to spit food into other people's mouths." And in case you missed it on TV, yes, there was a hashtag that showed up on the screen immediately after it happened: "#nicecatchkevin." Which I would prefer to use to refer to my Superhero name.

After watching the first two episodes I only then found out that the two-hour premiere that I had heard about (didn't Colin tweet it? Where did I read that?) was only a one-hour premiere, which is okay with me, because, yes, let's spread it out a bit. My initial reaction at the end was just "It's a start." After letting it all sink in my reaction turned to, "Is this the return of Whose Line...or the return of Trust Us With Your Life under the Whose Line name?"
Judging these two episodes on their own, they were worth tuning it but I don't think I'm going to find myself wanting to look them up again to re-watch in the way I did with the older episodes. When I think back to my favorite bits, most of them were Colin-based, which helps confirm that if you put Colin in anything I will want to watch it and laugh at and be weirdly charmed (not to be confused with bromanced) by Colin. It's too bad my local library (or even any affiliated Ohio libraries!) doesn't have his new book, because I would be all up on that if it did.


So! Whose Line's coming back. YAAA--AAY?--AAAYeeeYYYY!?

[NOTE: This post was written in bits and chunks over period of almost three months, so...apologies for any formatting incomprehensibilities and/or repetitions.]

Let's go over what we know for sure so far. Wayne, Ryan and Colin are returning as regulars. A revival after this long would've been an acceptable excuse to go a different route, but then again there are a lot of people who want the familiar funnymen, and you can't really please anyone, so whatever. I like them and know they know what they're doing, so there is good in that still. Jeff Davis, Heather Campbell, and Jonathan Mangum have been confirmed, so we know the "fourth seater" for each episode. These choices also seem to reflect the producers "playing it safe" - though Jonathan and Heather haven't been on Whose Line is it Anyway?, Dan Patterson (it is safe to assume he's at least executive-ly producing the new new series, right?) was confident enough to include Jonathan in Trust Us With Your Life and I suspect Heather was cast as a direct result of her being in Drew Carey's Improv-a-Ganza (which Dan had nothing to do with, but I'd be surprised if he never saw it or even knew of Heather beforehand or through her working with the guys). On one hand it seems disappointed to not see anyone we've never seen improvise before (unless the host joins in Drew-style, but we don't know that yet?), but on the other it's really satisfying to know that Jonathan will finally actually be able to be on Whose Line proper for once (or thrice, if you're counting presumed episode appearances. Thrice and a third?), and not just as a face in the crowd of a screen shot I once took from a season two episode. I remember posting on his official website's message board (back when his official website had a message board) asking him if he'd ever auditioned for the show, and he talked about how he almost got on as the decision was between him and Jeff Davis, though Jeff ended up getting the spot. Mangum's deserved to be on the show for a long, long time so I'm glad he's finally made it. I know I shouldn't my hopes up or anything but if there's one thing I know I want from this reboot, it's to hear Jonathan Mangum do a hoedown (There WILL be Hoedowns, right? You can't not have hoedowns. Well, even if he sits behind the next that at least means the milestone of Aisha Tyler being the first black woman to sing an Official Hoedown that makes it to air). And I am looking forward to seeing Heather improvising WL-style. Hopefully she won't be Kathy Greenwooded in terms of allotted screen time. I do wonder if there even was an auditioning process this time, at least for the fourth seaters. This is just speculation, but I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess Greg and Brad and Chip weren't asked in the first place? Or did the chosen three actually do better in trials? I'd bet there wasn't at all an open call to the completely fresh faces in the improv comedy world. I guess it's a comprise that we get the standbys Wayne/Colin/Ryan but with the variety of Jonathan and Heather as well. Chip's doing his own thing over in Nashville. Greg's got a weekly lengthy podcast which I have mentioned before on this LiveJournal. Brad is still doing shows with Colin (just imagine the awkward conversations: "So, how's Whose Line? Must be fun to be doing that again. I wouldn't know."). I hear Drew's hosting some other audience-participation games show. As for my thoughts on Aisha Tyler as the new host, follow this shamelessly pluggy link to a comic which I am sorry is harder to read than it should be.


Okkay. I wrote the previous paragraph weeks ago and since then I've found out from Colin Mochrie's Twitter feed that there are actually (at least) two more tapings than I thought there were. It turns out Nyima Funk will also be one of the fourth-seaters, which I guess invalidates what I said about ignoring up-and-coming types. Also, Keegan Michael Key, who is someone who seems to have already made a name for himself in the comedy world even though I'm only passingly familiar with his work so I don't have any particular expectations of him. So that brings the count of tapings to...5, if I worked that out correctly? That makes more sense - two episodes for each taping.

The series premiere is July 16th on the CW, which will be easy for me to remember because that is my sister's birthday. There will be ten episodes made from three tapings, which means PRESUMABLY three episodes made from each taping ... and, um, one remainder. Do I smell...A COMPILATION EPISODE? Nah probably not). Also said premiere will be a two-hour special, which, again considering the ten-episode season length, is quite surprising. Unless that means two hour-long episodes, which seems unlikely since I don't see how three (.3333repeating) full-hour episodes can be made from one taping. So the first four episodes - forty percent of the entire summer season - will all air on the same night? Jiminy Christmas! I guess considering certain other improv shows were cancelled before their last episodes of the season could ever air, I could make the case that it would at least help get them through the gate as swiftly as possible? Unless they do the thing where they show episodes 1-4, then rerun 1 the next week and 2 the next week and 3 then 4 until they get to five? I'm not yet even sure whether the regular slot will be one half hour or two episodes in a row. Not only does it seem weird to get four episodes at once after such a long dry spell, but getting the four episodes one week and one each week after that would be ... also weird. But yeah, talk about eagerness.

And I think that's all we know about it so far, or at least all I've gathered from my kinda-passive observance of its news.

So. Am I looking forward to season 9/19? The short answer is...yes, but not quite at EXCITED level.

The long answer involves going on about my "history" with the show, how I started watching it back in 1998 when the first US episode aired for the first time, being enamored with this curious concept called "improv," and becoming slowly obsessed with it the more episodes I saw. Be warned that I'm going to take about some already-obsolete technology here, as the first thing I wanted to do when I got my own VCR in my home was tape every episode I saw as they aired. At that point I had already started recording the song games on audio cassettes by way of just resting the tape recorder near the TV's speakers (if you think watching YouTube videos of someone recording a video by pointing a camera at the TV was lo-fi...!). Discovering the British version not too long after would come by happy accident, when my dad called from another room to point out Whose Line was on TV, though it was in the middle of the day? But the set looks all different and Ryan and Colin look younger and... ah, I figured out quickly enough, this must be the British version I'd only read about in TV Guide. Yeah, finding out information about a television series before having internet access.... wow. Of course now Comedy Central was my second-favorite cable channel and I was hooked. Didn't matter much that I didn't know what a Twiglet was and I had to straighten out the whole jelly/Jell-o/jam difference and everything. That was part of the charm. Also, I would be trying to catch up on these years-old episodes while still getting to see the new ones! It was soon after this that I would get access to this thing called the Internet, and I have to say the first thing I wanted to use it for on that family desktop was to head straight to (back then my internet browsing consisted of thinking of a thing or company I knew had a website and typing the name of it and .com ... also there wasn't nearly as much else period ... YouTube, Wikipedia, and Google either didn't exist or weren't household names yet) to join the forums. My family wasn't much into it, and sure there were other kids in my school who liked the show, but I didn't know anyone in real life who would get into the nitty-gritty of talking about WL, beyond just "I like this and I like that and that was funny." In creating my forum account I went with "Huzlinefan," which seemed like a good idea at the time. I became just as hooked with discussing it as I was with watching the show. This sense of fanaticism would branch off to recording appearances on other shows of people who've been on Whose Line. I admit taking the time to turn on my TV to a certain time to catch a minute's worth of Chip Esten as some character on an hour-long show that I would never watch otherwise is about as trivial as the Star Wars fan who must have that Darth Vader action figure that's identical to the one he already has except that the right fist is slightly more open, but sometimes it would pay off. I've also participated in tape trades, another quaintly antiquated idea. It is really convenient to find most of anything you'd like to see on YouTube, but there's also something fun about "the hunt," that makes the thing you're watching seem that much more special because you had to jump through a couple of hoops to get to see it. But as I was saying, there were other shows that I got into as a result of this. I first started listening to Just a Minute because I knew various "Whose Line people" are often on it, and ended up enjoying it a lot even when no one on the panel was someone who'd been on the other off-the-cuff show. It happens to have the perfectly simple formula that means, even though it's been on for ages and there's been HUNDREDS of episodes it still works and has yet to get old (for me, anyway). But now I'm deviating. I could also name I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, Blackadder, Jonathan Creek, and there surely must be more not off the top of my head. I was a fan of Stephen Fry from seeing him on Whose Line, and I wonder how long it would've taken me to be aware of his brilliance if not for that. Basically what I'm saying is that this type of obsession over focusing on one thing (ironically?) can lead to focusing on other things. More importantly, it's also worked this way with getting to know real life non-fictional human beings. I've talked to and gotten to know very well a lot of great people, a bunch of which (/who? whom?) I'm still in contact with and - well I don't want to get oversappified on this point, but despite never having met most of them in person they have have as much impact on my life as an "off-screen" acquaintance/friend/superfriend could. And how could I not mention my wife and love of my life, whom I've known as an onscreen WhoseLine friend before and in addition to meeting "IRL?" To say that Whose Line is it Anyway? is responsible for the very existence of my marriage is oversimplifying the relationship, but it is weird to think that, in an alternate-dimension-butterfly-effect sort of way, if not for this show where everything's made up and the points don't matter, I very well may not have gotten to know her in the first place.

In its later seasons the show, as is the case with many shows, wasn't quite as fresh. I realize Props is a difficult game, and you can't expect every line to be a winner, but there's only so often you can see the "Whew, it's cold in here!" gag before you go from laughing to chuckling to rolling your eyes. It was hilarious when Ryan kissed Colin full-on on the lips because it was truly unexpected and surprising. The hilariousness starts to fall sharply when they and the other guys make a habit out of it. Same goes for spontaneously-bringing-an-audience-member-onstage bit that was highly entertaining when Ryan first did it but would later just be a thing the performers are doing just because it's a thing they do. The quirks writers would even start prompting the guys to do those sorts of things, which is really disappointing when you imagine someone thinking as they write it out, "Remember that time so-so [did that really funny thing off-the-cuff]? Let's have him do that same thing again!" This is not how improvised comedy is supposed to work! I fell in obsession with the show because it wasn't scripted like every other comedy show! I realize many non-televised improv groups surely repeat their own gags as a fallback measure, but most audiences will be none the wiser because the audience will be a largely different one each time (Is there a term that describes the moment where you laugh hard at something under the belief that someone said it completely on-the-spot but later found out it was one of their old reliables?), and heck, I'm not saying there should be a complete ban on recycled material either. But maybe that's just the inherent problem with a TV-based improv show, especially one that would feature as the majority of its case that same funnymen in every single episode.
Since I'm writing an exhaustive treatise on a tv programme, I pretty much have to nominate my "jump the shark" episode. It happens to be what a lot of people would say is their favorite: The Richard Simmons episode. I could say it is a "must-see" episode, and I did finy myself laughing a lot...but, only the first time. The only funny moments rely entirely on shock value; there's little else about it that's clever in any way. If you haven't seen this one, it happens to be on the "Best of Whose Line" DVD, as if there's any reason to watch the episode more than once.
These are some of the reasons that when the "new but not actually new" episodes started airing on ABC Family, I wasn't in a huge rush to see them. That and I didn't have cable. Okay, they could be seen on YouTube, but maybe that was an excuse for myself to not just say, "I can live without seeing them."
As tough as I'm being about them now, I do think Ryan, Colin and Wayne have still got what it takes to make me laugh - Drew Carey's Improv-a-Ganza and Trust Us With Your Life, despite certain flaws, had some really good moments, but because too much of it was similar (or, maybe confusingly, too different but in the wrong way) to what I'd already seen, neither would be the next show that would be an abnormally large part of my life as the one running after on ABC after The Drew carey Show or opposite NBC's friends or in the same block as Beat the Geeks and Win Ben Stein's Money. But I still watched those not-quite-the-same shows, and I do look forward to seeing what I think I shall try to call CWhose Line. Is it out of a sense of nostalgia, because it reminds me of "better times?" Maybe partly. Is it because I expect to laugh my booty off? Not really, but some part of my body is bound to be laughed off. Do I feel like I HAVE to watch it out of fanbligation? Yyeah, but only a little bit.
What I think interests me most about Cwhose Line is the very idea of the show existed in this "generation" of television, now in 2013. The British series started out as a radio show, before the internet was even "a thing," and it went on to last through the internet's infancy and toddler-acy. But the way people take in TV shows is so different now than even just ten to fifteen years ago. If you looked hard enough you could scrape up short clips of the show from, say, the Comedy Central website, and these would be one-minute very-low resolution tinny-sounding RealMedia (remember RealMedia?) clips and there would be maybe five of them available. You could find three different full-episode .avi files via file-sharing programs, if you had the bandwidth and/or time to download them and went through the trouble of downloading and installing the required codecs. I remember one fansite with various video downloads of parts of games that were made by said webmaster (does anyone use that term anymore?) pointing a video camera at a TV screen. And even that was like a goldmine! And nowadays, there's YouTube as I've mentioned, where you can type in virtually anything you want to see and hit enter and click twice and boom and you can see it within seconds. Will people still bother to tune in to the CW itself when so many fans are accustomed to just being able to find it on YouTube the next day anyway? Not only that, but nowadays many official sites have joined the instant watch-the-full-episode-after-the-next-day bandwagon anyway. Despite not having the Game Show Network, I was able to watch Drew Carey's Improv-a-Ganza on the GSN site, though their video player does not work nearly as well as Hulu's, the site on which I was able to catch Trust Us With Your Life when I missed the episodes the times I had to work those nights. Given CWL's social media presence on Facebook and Twitter, can we assume it'll be given the same treatment, maybe on Hulu I would hope? I also recall that TUWYL episodes are available for purchase through Google Play and maybe other places, and while I wouldn't buy those for two bucks an episode, it makes me wonder how tempted I would be if the same thing existed for WLiiA? back when I was super into it. Especially if taping wasn't an option at the time. But it does seem that so many different shows can be seen on popular services like Netflix and Vudu - will the new Whose be one of those? Even if none of the older episodes are on those services, for whatever strange reason? I used to figure that the entire serieses weren't out on DVD simply because there would be so many episodes to go through, but why not make them available as videos-on-demand, I haven't a clue.
And not just the internet of the world has changed since then. These will be the first episodes to exist since the election of Barack Obama (how retro-funny would it be if the guys just went on continuing doing Clinton/Lewinski jokes, for the hell of it?), and the rise of so many a pop culture phenomenon. Will Wayne sing a song in the style of Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber (fun fact: Ryan and Colin each got their start on Whose Line before J.B. was born)? Will a brave soul shout out "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic" as a Film and TV Style? Will there be any jokes about hipsters? Can the guys resort to kissing each other for laughs now that American society has moved further away from the very idea of the hint of homosexuality being a gag? Or will the summer's season be more "timeless" by having Wayne sing as Michael Jackson yet again or accepting the film style "porno?" Technically, these things already did or did not happen, since all of the episodes have already been taped, so it's just a matter of time until we see.

To sum up, I think I feel about Whose Line is it Anyway? the same way die-hard sports fans must feel about their teams. Even when they don't "win" (are not as hilarious as all that) they're still fun to watch just for the sake of seeing them do what they do best out on the field. Having lived in Cleveland just about my whole life, maybe there's something in my blood that still gives me faith in my team even if they let me down on numerous occasions. And really, isn't the best way to appreciate a team to meticulously study their past stats and compare each new game to the old ones, discussing what they should and shouldn't have done, as if we the fans know better than the professionals who've been doing it for years - even though most of the fans couldn't hold a candle to even the worst pros in a real-life scenario - and gripe about who should be on the team and who shouldn't and why did they have to get rid of that player and scrutinizing the coach and even though more often than not we're yelling at dumb calls it must be worth catching every game for the few times someone makes an awesome catch or an impressive grand slam or touchdown or what have you, and really you'll remember the awesome parts more vividly after the game is all said and done, so the foibles and fumbles are really just distractions leading up to them?

Something like that, anyway.
This post was started back in late April, and I do think I'm looking forward to the premiere more now that it's come nearer, rather than a vague distant future. As for my less-than-a-week-til thoughts, while my initial reaction to the news was more "Really? Huh" than other people's "OMG YES YES," now that it's sunk in I am glad that it's happened after all.

I think that's all I have to say for now, and I bet I won't be able to not post recaps for each episode right here on my LiveJournal sometime after they air when I get the chance.

Until then, I'll be ready with my little "WLiiA?" penant in one hand and Cracker Jacks in the other.