Whose Line Is It Anyway (British) - Seasons 1 & 2
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Now on DVD by riotous demand, WHOSE LINE IS IT ANYWAY?: THE COMPLETE SEASONS 1 & 2 features all 30 hilarious episodes from the shows 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
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- MPAA rating : s_medNotRated NR (Not Rated)
- Product Dimensions : 7 x 5.5 x 1.25 inches; 13.6 Ounces
- Director : Chris Bould, Paul O'Dell
- Media Format : Box set, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
- Run time : 12 hours and 42 minutes
- Release date : March 27, 2007
- Actors : Clive Anderson, Rory McGrath, Tony Slattery, Sandi Toksvig, Ron West
- Producers : Dan Patterson, Denise O'Donoghue
- Language : English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), Unqualified
- Studio : A&E Home Video
- ASIN : B000KJU1FK
- Writers : Dan Patterson, Mark Leveson
- Number of discs : 4
- Best Sellers Rank: #144,391 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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If all you've ever seen is the American version, you don't know what you're missing. Believe me when I say you don't have to be British to appreciate the British Whose Line series - I was born and bred in New York City (although admittedly I am an Anglophile, so I may be a bit biased in my opinion.)
Overall though, the British series of WLiiA was just *better* than the US version. It was quirkier, rowdier, more risque. The cast was well-rounded, not the same people every week like the American version. And the castmembers habitually picking on each other and on Clive (the host) is always the funniest part of the show.
Great chemistry between the contestants in this series - it's not just Ryan & Colin anymore! - I especially love the banter between Josie & Paul, Josie & Tony, Josie & anyone, really - the #1 thing wrong with the US version is that it doesn't have nearly enough Josie Lawrence in it!
I can see how the earlier seasons of this show might put off some American viewers - it's positively bursting with obscure British actors no one on this side of the pond has ever heard of, couple that with about a million references to short-lived British '80s TV shows and it could potentially be a recipe for disaster to any hardcore US WLiiA fan - but trust me this DVD set is not lacking any talent, and it definitely brings the funny. Plus it's amusing to see some of the more prominent American contestants like Ryan Stiles & Greg Proops looking so young and spunky!
And yes, this set does come packed to the brim with John Sessions - he was a regular contestant then, appearing in all of the 1st and most of the 2nd season episodes - but don't let the "boring" stigma associated with his name put you off. The guy is actually witty as hell [once you get past his incessantly pretentious picks for "Authors", that is]. His chemistry with Gryff Rhys Jones is especially awesome, and the man really knows how to play a good round of "Opera".
Overall, this is just a great buy. Buy it if you were a fan of the US series, buy it if you like British comedy, I would even recommend it to fans of Frasier or Seinfeld or any of the wittier American sitcoms that have been floating around these past 15 years or so.
In closing, Paul Merton rules! :)
The DVD bonus features are limited to outtakes but watching some of those are even funnier that the show itself! (Ryan Stiles making fun of the producer behind his back is absolutely hysterical!) If you even remotely liked the show this collection is well-worth a look. I do a lot of acting and have taken improv classes and will sometimes watch a few episodes to help reinforce my basic improv fundamentals because they are all there!
Remember: Always say "YES and..."
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!
Top reviews from other countries
Presenter Clive Anderson’s contribution is often overlooked, but he is often as funny and imaginative as the improvisers themselves. This collection is for fans of the show, but I would recommend it to anyone who appreciates talent and enjoys a laugh.
Nice to see it back and it is blast from the past which some will love and some will just stare at blankly and go 'huh??', with so many seasons under their belt it is interesting and refreshing to see its birth and continuation and allowed mock the week, QI, buzzcocks et all the freedom they have now. It can be daft, inventive and surprising and you find yourself guessing what will come next...
Yes it is region 1 so you need a multi-region player, games console or PC but why give it one star for that?? the dvd itself and shows were great - that is like calling an album rubbish as it is only on vinyl or all food rubbish if it isnt green and available in one place...check out the hack sites to alter your dvd player or wait for the inevitable region 2 version (or there is always u-tu be...)
Great nostalgia, great host with his sarcastic yet encouraging demeanour and certainly better than the american version - but if you didnt enjoy it back then you wont now so stay away... I would have given it 4 stars but the harsh judgment on region made me bump it up one!