Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Whose Line Is It Anyway: Season 10, Episodes 3, 4, & 5

I have been relatively delayed on my weekly reviews for Whose Line Is It Anyway, but I have to say that after what could be considered a lacking two-episode premiere, the tenth season of the show (the second with CW) is really beginning to gel. My chief concern regarding the overuse of the lacking celebrity guests to starting to heal, while the use of different games is bringing back the essence of what made Whose Line a success in the first place. While there are some criticism that can come out of these last three episodes, I would say it's a major improvement from the "shling dong" of the first glimpse.

The third episode brought Nyima Funk back as the fourth performer and had Verne Troyer (who was notable for playing "Mini-Me" in the Austin Powers series) on as the offstage guest. Since I see Troyer as being a guest one step ahead of the rest of what they have had to offer, I could see him participating in more than one episode. The key issue with these guests has been while they have catered around what they are known for, it does not reflect on the episode (as it did for guests such as Jerry Springer). It did, however, turn out working very well. Wayne Brady did a good job creating a hip hop song for him and his role in Living Scenery was absolutely hilarious and how Ryan used him as a cart in the mines was one of their best. I was telling myself, "if they have Verne Troyer on the show, they HAVE to have him on Living Scenery!" My expectations were met. This was an episode in which they brought back Sound Effects as well, providing the variety that they needed.

The fourth episode saw Ryan Stiles falling ill and being unable to participate for the first time during the United States series, but Greg Proops sat in for him, so it did not affect the flow of the show. Jeff Davis was the other guest and he was indeed the star of the episode. I would have deemed him the winner of this episode, but I am almost positive that the winners are determined by the sketch Aisha Tyler has in store when it comes down to who she wants to read the credits. Anyhow, the Hollywood Director set on a plane (including Wayne the evangelical) was one to see, while Greatest Hits and the duet with Wayne Brady and Jeff as Kanye West and Neil Diamond, respectively, was perhaps the scene of the night, maybe even the scene of the season. In this episode, four out of the five sketches featured all of the performers and the guest (Darren Criss) was only on one sketch and he did an efficient job. The only issue I had is that this is the third time this season that Props was performed. My feelings for this are mixed, because this is a sketch that is driven by the variety of ideas, but sketches like these need to be spread out evenly throughout the season. It also seems to me that Props is simply an additional way for the performers to make genital jokes or engage in bathroom humor. Scenes from a Hat has also been played several times this season, but at least this game is driven by the endless ideas and is not limited to a strong portion of jokes that have to do with genitals or bathroom humor.

Greg Proops returned for the fifth episode as the fourth performer (along with Wayne, Colin Mochrie, and Ryan). While Hollywood Director was performed once again, it was a hilarious sketch. Seeing John Wayne (Ryan), Woody Allen (Greg), and Eric Cartman (Wayne) go shooting in one of the sketches made it quite memorable. Animals during their mating season made Newsflash quite memorable, while bringing back the Irish Drinking Song (with a song about the birth of a child and how it grows up) was an excellent decision. Michael Weatherly from NCIS was the offstage guest for a game of Helping Hands that involved a sketchy suitcase at the airport. This proved to be an intriguing game to the point that Helping Hands is finally something to look forward to, for it's not being overdone as it was last season.

While the ratings are dropping from last season with ratings in the two million range dropping to the one million range, I would say that Whose Line Is It Anyway is slowly but surely making its way upward to returning to the series that it once was under Drew Carey. The Friday slot could also be an explanation, as it's generally slower than the Tuesday slot it occupied last season. My only criticism pertaining to the use of the same games on too many consecutive occasions remains, but I am sure that the addition of games that are being brought in to the mix will allow the show to make its way upward back into the eyes of viewership.

If there are five games that I would like to see played at least once during the next few weeks, they would be...

1. Hoedown
2. Three-Headed Song
3. World's Worst
4. Freeze Tag
5. Mousetraps

#1 is the one I most fondly remember from the original series and I find it odd that it has not been played once since its resurrection. #2 was played last season, but it's always a delight to see what they have to offer. #3 was played in the form of "Dating Profile," but it could be fulfilled in so many different creative ways. #4 was performed on the British version and on the short-run Improv-a-ganza, but now I feel it's time to bring it to Whose Line. #5 was also performed on Improv-a-ganza and Colin and Brad Sherwood include this in their improv tour, but as a Whose Line game, this would be epic! While #5 is my outlandish ideal request, the first four I could see providing the show with the necessary drive.

The next three weeks will feature Gary Anthony Williams, not a favorite guest performer of mine, for two episode, while Jeff and Greg will be on one of them. I saw as a fourth performer on at one point, but it has since been corrected (according to Wikipedia, which with this is quite accurate). I hope to see Brad on the show once or twice as well.

Verdict: 9/10

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Literary Gladiators: Episode 3- "We Are Seven" by William Wordsworth

Through British Literature II, I sought appreciation for the Transcendental poetry of William Wordsworth and how he believed that the simple things in life, such as nature and children, were the closest elements of purity. "We Are Seven" specifically deals with the simplicity of childhood and how one girl, with two deceased siblings, continuously objects to an adult's belief that there are just five living, for she treats those who have deceased in the same fashion.

Here is the third of the six episodes I will be releasing within this upcoming stretch. With the summer sessions up and coming, our complete second season will premiere (tentatively) on Tuesday, September 15th and we plan to release a new episode (sometimes two) every Tuesday.

Enjoy this episode!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Literary Gladiators: Episode 2- "Araby" by James Joyce

After almost two months of figuring out the editing and uploading situation with getting the Literary Gladiators video onto YouTube, we are back to releasing the batch of episodes we taped on a Thursday morning during winter break. Originally, Jim, Charlie, and I were going to sit on the panel during each of the five episodes, while Christine (from Talk Nerdy to Me) and Nicole would do three and two episodes each, respectively. Since Jim was unable to make it, Nicole and Christine sat on for the entire stretch.

Here is "Araby" by James Joyce. While Jim and I were discussing episode ideas, he suggested Ulysses, which is a mammoth sized work. Since we wanted to be familiar with the work, I had on the original list: "A work by James Joyce (which Jim will decide to exchange for the length of Ulysses)." So we agreed to something from Dubliners and I put "Araby" on the list, for it was familiar to me and anyone else who has read it during their literary endeavors.

With high hope, by May 31st, I plan to have the rest of this taping released. This includes: "We Are Seven" by William Wordsworth, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, "Howl" by Allen Ginsberg, and the Poetry of Emily Dickinson.

For those of you who love to watch Jim just as much as I love to discuss and debate literature with 'em (an absolute genius), we are arranging some sessions during the summer and hope to have forty episodes taped. Jim, Charlie, and I plan to be on all of them.

I shall now allow you to enjoy the second episode of Literary Gladiators, the show where we discuss and debate literature in all of its forms. If it's written work, it's game!