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Whose Line Is It Anyway (British) - Seasons 1 & 2

44 customer reviews

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(Mar 27, 2007)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Now on DVD by riotous demand, WHOSE LINE IS IT ANYWAY?: THE COMPLETE SEASONS 1 & 2 features all 30 hilarious episodes from the show’s initial seasons. Host Clive Anderson directs the action--assigning points at random and enduring quips about his disappearing hairline--as players like Jonathon Pryce (Pirates of the Caribbean) and Steven Fry (Gosford Park) perform preposterous, slapstick antics in games of "Authors" and "Wrong Theme Tune." Laugh out loud as Josie Lawrence samples her vast array of silly singing styles and Greg Proops entertains a bevy of bizarre guests in "Party Quirks."

Few things are more of-the-moment that improvisational comedy, yet the first two seasons of the original British Whose Line Is It Anyway? are startlingly fresh and funny, despite debuting in 1988. Hosted by blithe and zippy Clive Anderson, the format is the same as the American version: Four improvisers are put through a variety of games, ranging from one where each player tells part of a story in the style of a different writer, to one in which two teams have to find different ways to use a common object, to one in which players act out an ordinary situation as it would appear in different film genres or theatrical styles. Pretty much every episode features some moment so flabbergastingly precise and funny you'll have trouble believing it was made up on the spot. Regular Josie Lawrence tosses off uncanny versions of a Stephen Sondheim or an Edith Piaf song about telephones and garden hoses; John Sessions, who anchored the first season, does a spot-on impression of Humphrey Bogart; Archie Hahn creates sounds for Paul Merton's mime that are amazingly synchronized. The first season, before American guest improvisers Greg Proops and Ryan Stiles began to appear regularly, is particularly distinctive--not because Proops and Stiles are poor improvisers, but because the Brits just aim at more surprising targets. (Let's face it, the American version didn't feature many stories told in the style of Samuel Beckett or Gabriel Garcia Marquez, let alone in the style of poets like Coleridge and Philip Larkin.) These episodes are like potato chips; you'll just keep gobbling them down. Early guests include such unexpected pleasures as Stephen Fry (Wilde), Jonathan Pryce (Brazil), and Peter Cook (Bedazzled). --Bret Fetzer

Special Features

  • 30 episodes from 1988-1990 on four discs
  • Exclusive behind-the-scenes interview with creators Dan Patterson and Mark Leveson

Product Details

  • Actors: Clive Anderson, Ryan Stiles, Colin Mochrie, Rory McGrath, Tony Slattery
  • Directors: Chris Bould, Geraldine Dowd, John F.D. Northover, Paul O'Dell
  • Writers: Dan Patterson, Mark Leveson
  • Producers: Dan Patterson, Denise O'Donoghue
  • Format: Box set, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: A&E Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: March 27, 2007
  • Run Time: 762 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000KJU1FK
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,135 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Whose Line Is It Anyway (British) - Seasons 1 & 2" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Gene R. Obrien on April 14, 2007
Format: DVD
As others have said, I didn't mind the American version but I was let down that it wasn't as funny as the British version that had shown on Comedy Central here in the U.S. The British version is much edgier and more cerebral...while being funnier. I lamented that I wasn't able to get this on DVD until now. While Drew Carey is funny on his show, he wasn't quite the host that Clive Anderson was. Clive Anderson's strength is that he did NOT get involved with the players other than to move the show along. And he certainly did not try to be funnier than his comedic guests.

This is the set to get!!
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Howie on November 26, 2006
Format: DVD
This is the one I've been waiting for. The REAL, British, version of Whose Line is it Anyway? While the American version is OK, it's just not quite as good as the real thing. This set should include all 30 episodes from the first 2 seasons which includes 4 compilation episodes and the original Pilot.

The first season introduces regular host Clive Anderson with early regular Whose Liners' Josie Lawrence, Michael McShane, John Sessions, and Tony Slattery with Richard Vranch on music support. You'll also find 4 2nd season episodes with Greg Proops, who appeared in 50 episodes in total, and one with Ryan Stiles who began with this season and went on to be in 75 others across the series 136 total episodes. Colin Mochrie would not appear until season 3. And, thankfully, there is NO Hoedown with Drew Carey to be found in any of the British episodes!

A real treat for fans of British humor and off-the-wall improv type comedy.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Boyler on July 5, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Almost all great shows take a few seasons to really get rolling, and Whose Line is no exception. The British Version of the show is by far superior to the American Version, but you really can't tell from the first two seasons. I'm not sure how the sales for this set have been, but I hope that A&E will release the later seasons of the British Version, which leave the first two seasons in the dust.

Some good moments, but the show clearly isn't in its prime with this set.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By FloridaCoast on March 26, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I am so glad to see these gems released, and on NTSC as well! So many people have never seen the British version which is far funnier IMO. The skits and such varied, I don't think Film and Theater Styles was on the US version. We see some very talented people on the Brit show, Josie Lawrence is funnier than any women on the US version, as is Sandy Toksvig. All the Brits are quick witted with songs and skits. Ryan and Colin are always funny, but I prefer the Brits' humor. Tony Slattery is my personal fave, and I am so glad more Americans like me will see him, and note how cheekily clever he is as well as being a good singer. The overly hammy John Sessions is here in all his in-your-face glory. How I missed Paul's 'What's going on?" looks, and they are here! ( I still like him teamed up with a Tub of Lard, but that's a different show, which hopefully will be released someday). Watch him sweat trying to make up a song. Clive as the host is good, with the constant bald, no-neck jokes the guys throw at him. Sometimes Clive has to cover his face when he's about to lose it when things get out of control. Clive, Sandy, Tony, Josie, Paul, Steven, etc, all about to be rediscovered by a new continent! If you have only seen the US version, please buy this! The humor can be more cerebral (and at times much more naughty) than the US shows, but it's funnier that way. You'll discover a bunch of new friends on this show.
Buy this if you have not seen the British version, you'll probably be join the majority who like it better. And I'm a Yank!
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By B. Lammey on November 27, 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
You wouldn't believe the vast hordes of people out there who have scurried away old off-air recordings of these first two seasons. They are impossible to see on Comedy Central or BBC America, and even then probably have significant cuts.

There are very dry patches in these first episodes. John Sessions isn't so much "funny ha ha" as he is "WTF!? Who let this guy in?" There are long passages of games that never quite get to the point, and celebrity guests that aren't really cut out for improv (but it's sometimes funny to watch the others mock them as they fail.) These may sound like bad things, but in my opinion it is essential to have a "warts and all" first season to let the show grow and improve.

Once it does find its footing, however, you will again be dazzled by the wit and talent of the guests, mostly taken from the "Comedy Store Players" -- a very diverse group of bizarrely gifted people.

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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Nearly Nubile on April 9, 2007
Format: DVD
Some things you should know about the British (and original) version of this amazing show that brought improv into the mainstream: it is slower, takes more risks with the themes that are often engaging for their sheer impromptu acting talent than out-and-out humor, and is generally a bit more of a British style humor (witty, rather than ha-ha) with liberal references to tidbits from the esoteric fields such as historical writers and such.

The first DVD starts somewhat slow and sweaty; you can actually see the beads in the first pilot. My advice: flounder through these first 2-3 episodes. There are gems of genius strewn even in those episodes, especially with Jacie and Tony Slattery. Very soon it becomes evident that the actors are warming up to the innovative format. Season 2 is fabulous and you can see that unlike Drew Carry, Clive Anderson does not get involved with his participants, which actually lends more credibility to the whole affair.

Oh, and the starting credits for each episode are fun, a caper that was dropped in the US version. This is a prized possession. Stop ruminating and get it; you know you'll be watching it more than once.
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