By: Dru Johnston
“What an exciting score, one of you is sure to win, I’m positive of that.”
The experts that recap television shows for a living all agree: We are living in a golden age of television. But the HBO and AMC shows we love today were influenced and shaped by the classic shows of yesterday. We look at those shows. This week: Whose Line Is It Anyway, Season 1, Episode 6. The Fat.
In the final moments of this week’s Whose Line Drew Carey stumbles. He and Ryan are playing a game of “90-Second Alphabet,” with one rule and one rule only: every line must begin with the subsequent letter of the alphabet. Drew Carey gets to the letter M, freezes, then under his breath almost inaudibly mumbles, “I love you thank you so much for that,” a phrase that does not begin with an M and in fact only contains the letter once. Ryan looks at his host and picks up the slack, continuing the alphabet at M as if Drew’s line was never spoken. This was a mistake that for some reason the editors left in. But it’s also, unintentionally, a metaphor for the entire episode. Episode six of Whose Line offers us nothing new, furthers no storylines and explores nothing we care about. It is, for all intents and purposes, a filler episode. They dropped the ball.
It makes me furious when a show feels they can get away with this. Any show really, but especially when it’s one as deep and nuanced as Whose Line is it, Anyway? Did they really think we wouldn’t notice? To ignore everything meaningful and instead play short form improv games for 22 minutes? This is not the Whose Line I’ve watched the past five weeks. They rarely reference Drew Carey’s slow descent into totalitarian evil, which has been ever present throughout the show. Last week we saw Brad Sherwood join Drew in the dark side after admitting to murder, this week they act as if this never happened. And, most offensively, we get no closer to finding out whose line it is, anyway. Nothing. Not even a hint. It’s almost as if they recorded this episode before the rest, and figured the audience would be dumb enough to not notice if they just plopped it in the middle.
I’m sorry, Drew. But you vastly underestimated your audience. You treated us as if we were your silly, zany props in a game of props. Merely a tool to further your own agenda. And we’re not impressed. This episode is fat. Trim it.
The show begins with The Dating Game again. Well surprise, surprise, Drew. This is the exact same game that you began three of your five episodes leading up to this point.
Nothing new here. And when new cast member Kathy Kinney (a.k.a. Mimi from the Drew Carey show ‘ we’ll cover this later) incorrectly guesses Brad is an abusive hair dresser, rather than a stressed out one, Drew declares: “They’re all abusive really.” Yes, Drew. We know. You don’t need to lay it out so blatantly. We’ve watched five weeks of you abusing the cast members, you don’t need to spell it out now as if we’re idiots. Show, don’t tell, Drew.
We then watch a slew of short form improv games that we’ve already seen before. This is my major problem with this episode of Whose Line in particular: if you’re going to stop the drama of the show to play short form improv games that’s fine, but you need to have an underlying purpose to them. Show the character’s motivations through the short form improv games. Show the drama through the party quirks. I’m sorry to say it, but people aren’t watching Whose Line for the short form improv games. They’re watching it for the story. Episode six offers us nothing new in the games, merely the same old games rehashing the same old plot points.
Drew mentions the points don’t matter again and again. We know. We covered this in the first episode. It feels like David Chase wrote an episode of The Soprano’s in which Tony constantly says: “You know we’re in the mafia, right?” Yeah. We get it. Tony Soprano is in the mafia, Drew Carey awards meaningless points like a dictator. This is filler.
Actually, no. It’s worse than filler. Because throughout the entire episode Drew keeps plugging his other show on ABC: The Drew Carey Show. Normally I’d see this as a sign that Drew was hijacking Whose Line for his own selfish purposes. But this week it just doesn’t read that way. It almost feels like Drew is doing it because he finds it funny or charming, which does not fit in with the world that Whose Line has established. One of the improvers is Kathy Kinney. We’ve never seen her in this show, but we all might recognize her as Mimi from Drew’s other show. Keep plugging away. Then, in the ultimate insult, Drew declares: “Tonight’s winner, Louis from the Drew Carey show. That’s the Drew Carey Show, 9 on ABC.” The winner is Ryan Stiles. The winner is not Louis from the Drew Carey show. You already have a devoted audience Drew ‘ don’t muddle the epic drama and swooping catharsis of Whose Line by mentioning your comedy sitcom.
At the end of the day I had to give this episode an F. I feel angry, and a little betrayed, and I can only hope that Whose Line takes a hint from Ryan Stiles in the final game. Don’t drop the ball next episode. Pick it up and run with it. Begin at the letter M.
LAST THOUGHTS OF A RANDOM NATURE
- Wayne Brady is still absent. Normally I’d read into it, but I feel like this episode didn’t count since they were just rehashing the same old plot lines. I fully expect we see him back soon. I hope Drew has not killed him off.
- There was only one moment that made me think Whose Line remembered the show it could be. During Hoedown brad said: “I was so darn angry that I shot the pizza guy.” It’s cold and chilling ‘ but last week Brad already admitted to murder, so this didn’t seem to be as big of a deal. Still felt like rehashing.
- “I’m the big bad wolf’s brother. The medium slightly ticked off wolf.” Wolf is a family name.
- “That’ll be a hundreds point to Brad for ‘ you know why. I’ll see you after the show Brad.” Sexual harassment. Again.
- I really feel betrayed by this episode. Not since Battlestar Galactica‘s episode “Scar” have I felt this angry at an episode of TV. That show rebounded. I hope Whose Line does the same.
- In 90-second Alphabet, Drew is saddled with the letter A. “And Guard.” Incorrect.
- The game Helping Hands made me giggle and laugh because Ryan couldn’t use his own hands and Colin had to help him out and they were supposed to make pizza and Ryan had a funny moustache on and he ate a whole lot of pepperoni. I watched that part again because it was funny and silly.