So there are really only a handful of things from my childhood that are sacred to me: Bugs Bunny, the original Nintendo Entertainment System, Claussen pickles (always refrigerated, never frozen), and Whose Line is it Anyway (there are others, but four examples is plenty for you to get the idea: I wasn’t a particularly “cool” kid). Of those, Bugs Bunny is still on the air if you know where to look, I regrettably parted ways with the Nintendo (mostly due to a lapse in judgment and the fact that my brother and I had never seen $50 at once before), Claussen’s remain one of only five things (along with milk, salad, cereal, and alcohol) I feel comfortable buying from the grocery store, and Whose Line it Anyway had a nice run and then got cancelled.
I never learned about capitalization for emphasis in writing school, I just kind of figured it out on my own…did somebody say savant?? I’m like the Bobby Fischer of capslock (google the reference, 90s kids).
Imagine how excited the kid in me got when he found out that Whose Line is it Anyway was coming back? More excited than when he found out ExoSquad was on Hulu Plus (…again, google it).
We live in an equally exciting and scary time where nostalgia and reboots/remakes can either resurrect a long, lost love from your past and remind you why you fell in love in the first place, or bring back that same long, lost love and then murder them right in front of your eyes like some sort of terrible mob hit or that scene from Moulin Rouge where Satine dies (oh btw spoiler alert if you haven’t seen Moulin Rouge. Satine dies).
So after the two re-premiere episodes of Whose Line, here are my thoughts, in no particular order:
• Colin Mochrie did not age well. I wikipedia’d how old he is and was STUNNED to learn he’s only 55 (see? again with the clutch use of capslock). Fifty-five doesn’t sound particularly young, I know, but let’s just say it’s a good thing comedy doesn’t need to be pretty.
• Wayne Brady on the other hand looks like he hasn’t aged a day, and fifteen years later, I’m still impressed with how he sings even better than he improvises.
• It was nice to have Aisha Tyler hosting. Drew Carey seems like a nice guy, but he didn’t seem to bring a ton to the table besides name recognition, in my opinion. Plus having a girl in charge makes it feel like less of a boys’ club sort of vibe, and brings down the median age of the cast as well. Plus maybe we’ll get an Archer tie-in at some point (she does the voice of Lana on FX’s incredibly well-written animated comedy). Also I’m glad they brought back Laura Hall and Linda Taylor for the musical accompaniment, it’s just fitting…and it doesn’t hurt that they’re really quite proficient musicians.
• I laughed a decent amount during the first two episodes, it was classic short form improv: not everything hits every time, but when things click, there’s nothing quite like it.
• The heavier use of guest stars was a smart move. This is something they sort of just started to explore in the original run, and it felt a little jump-the-shark-y at the time, but they’ve hammered out some of the kinks, and having guest stars from hip shows like The Walking Dead and Glee give Whose Line a little bit of much-needed street cred. They also smartly picked games for the guest stars that require little-to-no improv ability, which is a win/win for both the show and the guest star du jour. The show doesn’t have to rely on an untrained improviser for the bit to work, and the guest star doesn’t risk looking like an idiot if they can’t come up with things as quickly or as humorously as the seasoned professionals.]
• Good mix of new and old games. Enough tried-and-true bits for fans of the original run, but not so many that it feels like you’re just watching bad reruns of the old episodes.
The verdict? There probably isn’t a way to truly recapture the “lightning in a bottle” of the original series run, but in a TV world that’s increasingly inundated with lazier and lazier reality television concepts, dumbed down faux-news programming, and just a general lack of quality entertainment (particularly comedic entertainment), it’s nice to have something that breaks the mold a bit and gets your brain churning a little more actively than an episode of Honey Boo Boo. Whose Line is a smart choice on the network end as well, because like its reality TV and gameshow competition, it’s a relatively low-budget show, and putting it on in the summer was another savvy move since there’s a dearth of new programming during this season while most scripted shows are on hiatus. So hopefully those factors of low cost, low competition and potentially high returns will give this run of Whose Line a decent shot at staying on the air for more than a season or two, but ultimately, I’m just happy to have a show out there that has the same philosophy that I do: Let’s just get together, hang out and have fun for a bit and see what happens.
Maybe that’s an overly-simple, slightly-outdated concept for 2013…and maybe that’s exactly what we need right now.
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