Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Television Review: Whose Line Is It Anyway (2013 Revival)

Whose Line Is It Anyway has made its way around. In the late eighties and early nineties, it made its debut in Britain. In the late nineties and into the turn of the twenty-first century, it appeared in America with Drew Carey as the host and comedians Wayne Brady, Colin Mochrie, Ryan Stiles, and other rotating guests as the improv (improvisational) comedians. The show where "everything is made up and where the points don't matter" finally returned to its original form in 2013, after going through short lasting improv shows hosted by Drew Carey such as Drew Carey's Green Screen Show and his more recent Drew Carey's Improv-a-ganza. It's excellent to see that the show is back to its regular form, despite the need for some tweaks.

The new series is hosted by Aisha Tyler. Why they didn't bring Drew Carey back is a mystery that may only be due to contract negotiations. He does host The Price Is Right, which is a large plate, but one of the regulars is Wayne Brady, who hosts the new and updated Let's Make A Deal, which appears right before TPiR each morning on CBS. Nevertheless, Tyler is doing a decent job in the host chair, though she really doesn't have to repeat that "everything is made up and the points don't matter". She does her duty by setting up a good scene and laughing at the different jokes, so that's a good thing. In addition, she makes it about the comedians, which is what the show is really about. Aside from Wayne Brady, the other returning regulars include Colin Mochrie and Ryan Stiles, who were highlighting members of the original run with Drew Carey. The fourth seat (in this lineup, the second) is occupied by a rotating guest. For the first two episodes, Gary Anthony Williams and Heather Anne Campbell were the guest comedians. In addition, there was also a special guest that came on to perform in single sketches. For the first two episodes, these guests were Lauren Cohan from The Walking Dead and Kevin McHale from Glee.

My biggest gripe with the first two episodes, if there was one, is how the special guests got much more of a highlight than the sitting guests. Gary Anthony Williams and Heather Anne Campbell were there to make us laugh and they should most definitely be put to use. Whose Line Is It Anyway is known for successfully executing how they use the fourth comedian. It was always a delight to see what Greg Proops, Brad Sherwood, Chip Esten, and others could do. When Whoopi Goldberg made two appearances in the open seat, she was hilarious. Williams and Campbell (especially Williams) had a lot that they could do, but they were often seated in place of a sketch that involved Lauren Cohan and Kevin McHale, Cohan who really didn't do much besides play a stand in, and McHale was told to go with the notion, but wasn't very funny (provided that I do not like Glee to begin with). The special guest has seen a lot of airtime even on the Drew Carey version, so they might as well keep them on the stage unless they are only going to participate in one sketch.

The most successfully executed sketches were the Scenes From A Hat, where audience members write down things they want the comedians to act out. Examples could include "things you would say about your lunch, but not your lady" or "a hair commercial for someone without hair." I thought Let's Make A Date was quite funny in the first episode, which allowed Williams some airtime, which he deserved more of. As always, Brady, Mochrie, and Stiles were a delight as the highlight comedians and it seems like they just got back to the same note they left off on, so the nature of the sketches were always exciting.

Whose Line Is It Anyway can hopefully return to the status it held during its prime, whether it was in Great Britain or in the United States. If they are able to come up with a way in which they provide more time for the fourth comedian to take part in the sketches and less time concentrating on the special guest that only needs one segment, this should be an excellent show. It's a delight to see Wayne Brady, Colin Mochrie, and Ryan Stiles back doing what they do best, and a relief to have a show back in almost its original form. I'll be excited to see what the show has to offer.

I would surely recommend checking out Whose Line Is It Anyway and I'm sure the show will get better. New episodes appear on Tuesday nights at 8:00 PM eastern time on CW. Reruns pop up and will continue to pop up often, so check your local listings for specifics.

Verdict: 8/10

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