Thursday, 1 August 2013

Verdict: Whose Line Is It Anyway? Season 9

There are few TV shows that never fail to bring to smile to my face; Whose Line Is It Anyway? has been one of those shows for a long, long time. Something of a cherished gem by fans of the show, Whose Line has been sadly absent from our screens for nearly a decade; the show was cut from American network the ABC in 2004. 

Fast forward to 2013 however and The  CW has given the show a second chance at life. Yep, Whose Line Is It Anyway? is back on television screens. The question is, is it better than ever?

The essential ingredients for Whose Line to succeeded once more are all here; Colin Mochrie, Ryan Stiles and Wayne Brady are all back (and all sitting in the appropriate chairs), the familiar set is there (the desk, the buzzers) and the running jokes are flowing - Ryan's shoes, Colin's bald, it's all here! Also, the points still don't matter! What more could you want?

Wayne and Colin play Props
There are some changes to the format; Aisha Tyler replaces Drew Carey (who is off hosting The Price is Right) as host and so far fan favourites like Brad Sherwood and Greg Proops haven't filled the fourth chair but other than that, you'd think you're watching a repeat from 2002. And that's a good thing; They haven't messed around too much with what worked originally.

In my opinion, the magic was there right from the off. Only two and a half minutes into the first episode and Colin has his hands clasping Wayne's cheeks and is planting a big 'ol kiss on his lips. Cue hysterics from the studio audience, Aisha Tyler and myself. Another two minutes pass and Colin has now moved on to snogging Ryan following a classic bald joke. It's hard to not get involved with the sense of fun emanating from the four cast members - they all just seem to enjoy doing what they do and it is infectious.

Something I did pick up on from the first three episodes was the tone of the content they aired; I thought that some of the jokes were a lot more risqué than they were in the show's previous run. This isn't a criticism, more of a observation; personally, I thought the naughtier jokes were great.

Colin, Ryan and Wayne are in fine form from the get-go and haven't lost any of that magic that fans of the show will remember. They rarely miss a beat in games like 'Living Scenery'. Colin and Ryan riff off one another and Wayne is still fantastic at the musical numbers - just like 'ol times right?

Whilst Drew Carey does have big shoes to fill (pun intended), I found that Aisha Tyler did a great job of fitting right in as host. She gets to banter with the contestants between games ("1000 points to everyone!") and is genuinely quite funny. She'll take time to grow on some people but I didn't feel as though Drew was missed too much; maybe he'll crop up as a guest or even a contestant?

Familiar games like 'Let's Make a Date', 'Scenes from a Hat' and 'Dubbing' are all included (yaay!) but so far (I've seen the first three episodes), there is a severe lack of Ryan's favourite game, 'Hoedown'. New games like 'Sideways Scene' are an inventive addition so it will be interesting to see if they become regular.

Something that did bug me were the #hashtags that crop up in the bottom left hand corner of screen in order to encourage people to tweet about the show and get it trending or whatever. Just, stop. Don't do that.

Lauren Cohan from The Walking Dead cropped up in the season
Guest stars like Lauren Cohan (The Walking Dead) and Kevin McHale (Glee) also crop up and get involved with the hands-on games - I hope featuring well-known faces on the show becomes a regular feature because both Cohan and McHale did a great job of rolling with it and getting the audience laughing.

It seems as though the executives behind the show at The CW have understood what fans loved about the original show and ensured that they stay true to the formula. The changes that have been made are good (even though Drew Carey is missed, Aisha Tyler is a great host) and the cast have lost none of their wit. Fingers crossed it is renewed beyond the current 12-episode ninth season because new Whose Line is fantastic.

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