Whose Line Is It Anyway? Season 9, Episode 1 (Guest Laura Cohan) & 2 (Guest Kevin McHale)

Rating: 8.0

“Goooood evening everybody and welcome to Whose Line Is It Anyway!!!!” Those immortal words remained in the show’s introduction, as well as the ceremonious introduction of each of the show’s performers (with poor Ryan Stiles getting the shaft). New host Aisha Tyler also sticks to the catchphrase “Where everything is made up and the points don’t matter.” The only real differences between her and old host Drew Carey are two things: their attitude and their voices. I think I will grow to appreciate Aisha’s getting-down-to-business approach as well as her witty comebacks, but her voice was a little grating. Just watch the episode and maybe you’ll see what I mean.

Of course, the performers were the highlight of the show. Everyone’s energy was brighter than I had hoped. It was like the show had never stopped airing, and everyone was just picking up where they left off. The show moves just a tad faster than I recall (possibly due to a tighter editorial hand), but the editing is still rather minimal, and it is indeed the improvisors’ skill that keeps the laughs coming. Ryan Stiles was especially fun to see back at work, as he has now totally embraced his sass, slyly slipping people the bird and picking on his co-stars now without the hesitation of seasons one and two.

I very much enjoy the slightly more diverse casting on the show. Having Aisha as a host means there will consistently be a woman of color on the show, which translates to jokes being on the show Drew Carey couldn’t have made. More women abound, and in the first episode the celebrity guest was Lauren Cohan of The Walking Dead. She played for two games. In the second episode we had Emmy-nominated writer and comedian Heather Anne Campbell sitting in the second performer chair. I’m looking forward to seeing how this celebrity guest format plays out, and while I hope it doesn’t detract from the classic performers getting to do what they do, I am happy to see a fresh face on the show more often.

All in all, I thought this was a successful comeback, but I hope that the writing (as in the suggestions the producers put on the cards) remains strong and even gets a little crazy like it did in later seasons during the first run. I also hope that the audience suggestions for “Scenes From a Hat” become less stock, as the suggestions these first few playings were not that funny. Intriguing me was also the Twitter hashtags on the bottom of the screen, marking certain moments in the show. Perhaps I’ll have to take them up on that if that’s going to be a consistent element. It does make the show seem planned (though it is NOT), even if they do have someone making them up on the spot.

I can tell that Whose Line is trying to appeal to today’s audience, but I hope that it doesn’t get in the way of the plain magic that is improvisation. Whose Line doesn’t need the bells and whistles, just free reign. I’m excited to see more and I’m hoping for some golden moments!

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1 comment

  1. Good review, mirrors my thoughts.

    The Twitter hastag thing would be added in the edit with the production team trying to suggest what people should be talking about online while making it look like it’s instantaneous. This is done to make people think they’re missing out on something (i.e. the live conversation) to encourage people to watch the show live, and therefore with the adverts. It’s a common method, and perhaps a good one if you’re the sort of person who watches TV and follows only on Twitter at the same time. Personally I can’t stand it, but it’s only a word on the corner of the screen every now and then so it’s not as if it’s intrusive or ruining anything.

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