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Fukui San

Taskmaster (UK)

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I've heard this mentioned more than a few times on Extra Hot Great, but I don't see a dedicated thread for it. It's Taskmaster, a panel show in which they make a panel of five comedians do odd tasks and then dryly rate how they did. Rules lawyering, moments of boneheadedness, genius, and desperation abound. Alex, the series creator, plays the proper facilitator of the tasks who presents the tasks while another comedian plays the titular Taskmaster who delivers final judgements. It's a rabbit hole worth falling down.

I've only just discovered this, and so I don't know which moments are iconic and well known. But every task video I've seen ranges from amusing to gasp-inducing hilarity. Don't spoil yourself before viewing. The surprises are everything.

Taskmaster YouTube Channel

Apparently there's a US version coming on CW soon? See the  original first.

Edited by Fukui San
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So the version coming to the CW is just reairing the UK episodes beginning August 3, so set your DVRs. CW site. I'm starting in on Series 3.

A US version was tried in 2018 on Comedy Central with comedian Reggie Watts as the Taskmaster, and original assistant and series creator Alex Horne doing the same there. it was said to not be very good. Mostly, they reduced each episode down to a half hour.

I kind of think they could do a good US version. If I had to cast a version with only Americans, I'd have John Hodgman as the Taskmaster, with Adam Savage as the assistant. Getting contestants who are the right mix of good sports but also taking it seriously and wanting to win would be key, as well as being funny. I don't want to root against contestants to successfully toss a potato into a golf hole without touching the red green, for instance.

I'm surprised, though, that this whole series hasn't gone to a streaming service of some sort. Like, it's now a coproduction of Netflix and whichever UK channel spawned it.

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This show has been fabulous for our family right now - guaranteed to make all of us laugh so damn hard.  We’re on Season 7 and, honestly, I’ve loved every group.  There was one I thought wasn’t quite as magical of a combination, but it was still entertaining and the next season was right back to a great blend again.  And, honestly, it could have been me - things are crazy right now and that can color my perception, you know?

 

But anyway, this show is great.

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Speaking as someone who has watched this from the beginning when it was broadcast in the UK (humble flex), I would insist that this is the greatest show currently on air and that this is not a perception brought on by pandemic delirium.

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I got hooked by on-line comments and can't stop now. Thank God it's officially on YT (so it doesn't really matter that the CW lost its nerve after one episode).

 

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Quick Reminder that Flying to England or unofficial methods of watching the show are not allowed on the forums. We know you do it, but please don't discuss it here. Thanks! 

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I'm so enjoying the series on the CW. Love the contestants even though I don't know them. I can't imagine doing the clever things they do. I read that the CW didn't pick up any other "years."

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I just finished S8 on the CW app (which is shitty, btw), and I wish 

Spoiler

Iain Sterling had won instead of Lou Sanders. 

 

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On 8/10/2020 at 1:08 PM, Athena said:

Quick Reminder that Flying to England or unofficial methods of watching the show are not allowed on the forums. We know you do it, but please don't discuss it here. Thanks! 

Thankfully it sounds like nobody would have to do that.  YT legitimately having non-region blocked access to all of Series 1 through Series 6, posting new parts of Series 7 each week, and it's really great to hear CW will at least continue Series 8 online.

I'm watching the seasons out of order for some reason.  I'd seen a good part of Series 1 in the past, and when I saw the weekly releases of Series 7 being posted, started watching them. But since those are being released in installments, I just went back and watched all of Series 6.  I also broke it bits of Series 2 while watching those, and am continuing with that, as I wait for the rest of 7. I guess 3, 4, 5 and then going back and watching Series 1 as a complete thing will follow.

The CW thing is SO bizarre. The show was already paid for wasn't it?  Are endless Supernatural reruns really getting better ratings?  Ugh. I suppose they are.  I hate Supernatural though. Always have.  Actually I may watch Series 8 via their online access right after I finish Series 2 on YouTube.

But man... I just saw their promo for Series 10 coming soon.  So 9 is out there too.  But I have enough other episodes to watch.  

Any opinions on the relative merits of different casts?  The Series 6 and 7 casts were okay, but I REALLY love the Series 2 cast.  Other than that rapper Series 2 is a cast where I know, fairly well, every single contestant.  I have to say, Joe Wilkinson is such a pleasure to watch on this. He's worn out his welcome a bit for me on 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, even only being occasional there, but he's nothing but a deliberate cartoon there.  This version of him still has a lot of the pathos, but is a bit more realistic.  And Jon Richardson?  Is freaking brilliant viewing on this series. Again, he's a slightly more real version of the Cats Does Countdown cartoon, but he's still ENOUGH of a persnickety little sht that you can see the connection.

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I don't know many of the comedians outside this show, so I can only judge from their appearances on the show. I think my favorite casts are Series 2 and Series 7. If I were to create an All-Star cast, I'd go with:

Katherine Ryan (S2), who's sneaky competitive and snarkily perceptive.
Sally Phillips (S5), who's an unassuming looking lunatic
James Acaster (S7). Exasperated guy taking this way too seriously.
Richard Osman (S2), as the older gent type they always cast. Jovial good naturedness
Roisin Conaty (S1), as the token minority. HIs angry bloke persona sets off the wackiness surrounding him

I haven't seen Series 8 onward.

If YouTube comments are to be believed, Series 6 seems to be thought of as a lesser season. But I enjoyed them all. I know Alice Levine from My Dad Wrote A Porno, so her presence particularly delighted me.

Not sure if you know, but there was a two episode "Champion of Champions" miniseries done after Series 5 which included all the winners up to that point. It's not on YouTube, though some of its tasks are on their YouTube channels.

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On 9/14/2020 at 2:17 AM, Fukui San said:

I don't know many of the comedians outside this show, so I can only judge from their appearances on the show. I think my favorite casts are Series 2 and Series 7.

The interesting thing about the Series 2 cast is that most of them are interrelated through Jimmy Carr. Richardson is a permanent team captain on Carr's shows, 8 Out of 10 Cats and 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown.  Wilkinson is one of the most frequent guests on those shows.  Katherine Ryan is Carr's co- host on another show called Your Face or Mine, and a team captain on the one American panel show he did, Netflix's The Fix. And I believe Richard Osman is actually a producer on 8 Out of 10 Cats.  And virtually all of these people appeared at one time or another on Carr's The Big Fat Quiz of The Year show. So even ABSENT Jimmy Carr, these people all knew each other really well.  Doc Brown, the rapper, was the only odd man out. 

On 9/14/2020 at 2:17 AM, Fukui San said:

I know Alice Levine from My Dad Wrote A Porno, so her presence particularly delighted me.

Yeah me too. I thought she did great.  Her day job is apparently Radio Host/DJ and the Porno Podcast a side gig. 

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On 9/14/2020 at 2:17 AM, Fukui San said:

Roisin Conaty (S1), as the token minority. HIs angry bloke persona sets off the wackiness surrounding him

Roisin Conaty is a blond Irish white woman. I think you mean Romesh Ranganathan, who's very funny. 

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On 9/14/2020 at 2:17 AM, Fukui San said:

I think my favorite casts are Series 2 and Series 7.

Series 7 is still being released in weekly segments on YouTube as I post this, but as weeks and episodes go by, it's really grown on me. It's kind of the opposite of Series 2 to me.  With Series 2 I knew all of the contestants but one.  With Series 7 I ONLY knew one of them (James) and only barely him. But the chemistry of the group is great, as is almost everything else about Series 7.  Mind you. I still haven't seen Series 5, 8 or 9, but otherwise yes... 2 and 7 are the standouts. 

 

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There's also apparently a 2 episode special "Champion of Champions" aired after Series 5 starring the winners of the first five series.  I definitely want to track that down. 

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Saw Series 10 Episode 1.  It's a bit early to draw conclusions on the cast, but Johnny Vegas is reliable Comedy Gold whenever and wherever, and was decent here. The others I didn't know previously, but Daisy May Cooper lost her shit at one point and was amusing.  

The realities of COVID were odd here. On stage, they're all distanced from each other. In tasks, they're separate, and there's no sign yet if we will see group tasks. But they're ALL in close contact with Alex during their respective tasks, up to and including touching him (and maskless).  So it seems this all hinges on Alex never being contagious, either on his own, or as a medium step between each other. 

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Is Season 10 only available for viewing in the UK at the moment?

BTW, The 2-part Champion of Champion series debuted on the Taskmaster's Official YouTube channel in the past few weeks.

We're going to look back on things filmed during the pandemic in bewilderment at the random measures and half-measures taken and not taken. I actually wasn't aware that this season was filmed during the pandemic. The set up of the show does lend itself to pandemic filming since much of it is one person doing a task at a time. I wonder if we'll still have team tasks this series?

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22 minutes ago, Fukui San said:

Is Season 10 only available for viewing in the UK at the moment?

S10E01 is up on the Youtube channel and it does seem like it's region locked as US viewers can't see it. I'm in Canada and it loaded fine for me so it depends on which country.

I heard Alex on a UK radio station promoting it. He said that they filmed most if not all of S10 tasks before the pandemic lockdown in March. There's also word that they finished S11 filming already.

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I only knew Johnny Vegas before this season, but my initial thought is that it's a pretty good cast. I don't think it's going to be one of the best, but all of them feel like they could shine if given the right kind of tasks (maybe Mawaan a little bit more, and Daisy quite a bit less in the "Phil Wang attention mugger" way, but generally promising so far).

I do like the western motif this year. Visually interesting without being distracting like the manga art a couple of seasons back.

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12 hours ago, Athena said:

There's also word that they finished S11 filming already.

Yes, apparently the tasks for S11 were filmed pretty much the same time as those for S10. But the studio recordings for S11 are only happening now.

Jonny Vegas can often really take over and derail a program that he's on, so I was cautious. But his existential despair when his balloons floated away was gold.

In general, I thought the opening ep of S10 was...ok. It's of course amazing to have the show back, but I really felt the lack of audience energy -- especially during the study task --  even if there was one next door, or whatever. But usually the interactions between the comedians take a while to warm up anyway, so first episodes can often be a bit cautious and tentative. 

This first ep did seem to suggest that this may be a...challenged bunch of contestants. Which can be fun; every few months you'll see a post on another board suggesting a Season of Returning Losers (as if they're the first to think of it), which to me (and to Alex, who has commented on the suggestion) always seems like a bad idea. It's fun to have a David Baddiel or Nish Kumar on every season, but an entire cast of them would weary me. We need a few people who actually do tasks well! Hopefully this cast will prove to be diverse in terms of their...shall we say levels of competence?

 

Edited by Corgi-ears

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I've come to the (maybe odd?) conclusion that I mostly watch and love this show for Greg and Alex. When the contestants are super clever or wind up developing a particular character or relationship as they go on, it's total gravy, but my favorite parts are Greg's reactions, and Alex's handling of the tasks themselves. I can already tell they're both going to get a lot mileage out of Mawaan and Daisy May.

I didn't know the CW had backed out of airing the show. That's too bad. There's such a universal humor about it; I really wish it would take off here. The US version was so pathetic though. At the time, I thought it might've been better with Funches as the host, but it was probably never going to be good in half an hour.

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4 hours ago, Lois Sandborne said:

At the time, I thought it might've been better with Funches as the host, but it was probably never going to be good in half an hour.

Ron Funches is a brilliant comedian, but he wouldn't have been much better than Reggie Watts as host.  With this show it needs a naughty little boy, a cheeky personality who doesn't mind torturing the contestants, but does so without malice.  It's a balancing act.  Funches is too nice.  Watts didn't understand that obligation at all.  A few of the edgy comedians I can think of would have been TOO mean (think for example, if contestant Lisa Lampanelli had been tried as host... ugh).  You need someone acerbic, but essentially nice, at the same time.

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Pretty much the only thing they got right by picking Reggie was the sense of gravitas the Taskmaster needs to have, and even then he has that performative "look at me acting pompous" gravitas instead of Greg's natural dominance.

I've been trying to think who would have been the best choice for the US version (or at least the best plausible choice; the obvious answer is Bergeron but there was no way Comedy Central were ever going to be able to get him), and... maybe John Henson?

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If I were to cast an American actor to play Taskmaster, I would pick John Hodgman. It plays right into his persona as a longtime fake expert on The Daily Show and his Judge John Hodgman podcast where he rules over petty disagreements. He's good with quips and wielding pretend power and having strong opinions on unimportant issues. Anyone who can keep the "Is a Hot Dog a Sandwich?" argument alive for so long would do well as Taskmaster.

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Speaking of podcasts, there's now an official Taskmaster Podcast hosted by Series 9's Ed Gamble with a different guest every week. It appears they'll recap and comment upon the newest episode every episode.

One nugget about process. In the cases in which a contestant needs to obtain something to complete a task, they'll stop the clock on that task and they'll do another task while someone on staff will get the thing.

Edited by Fukui San

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20 hours ago, SnideAsides said:

Pretty much the only thing they got right by picking Reggie was the sense of gravitas the Taskmaster needs to have, and even then he has that performative "look at me acting pompous" gravitas instead of Greg's natural dominance.

I've been trying to think who would have been the best choice for the US version (or at least the best plausible choice; the obvious answer is Bergeron but there was no way Comedy Central were ever going to be able to get him), and... maybe John Henson?

I don't see much gravitas in Reggie Watts, because he's usually silly in his comedy rather than deep.  Unless he was much different on Taskmaster. I admit to only seeing clips, probably 10 or 15 minutes in total, and not entire episodes. 

I'd been thinking of a different John than you: John Hodgeman. He's got that quality I was mentioning before... he can be very acerbic, but it's always clear it's good natured. Also, like Greg, he can do the faux-egotistical thing, where it's clear he's actually not actually arrogant, but creating a situation where he himself is the butt of the joke. 

Edit - I 100% attest I hadn't seen Fuki San's post, also recommending Hodgeman, when I posted the above. I just edited to add this.  I wouldn't call Hodgeman an OBVIOUS choice, but I guess those tendencies we both mentioned are clear enough that we both noticed them. 

I also think another comedian/Podcaster might have worked: Doug Benson.  For very different reasons. He doesn't have the faux-authority/faux-arrogance of Greg Davies and John Hodgeman, but he does have a sort of perpetually exasperated aura that might have worked. He'd be able to do the mean parts of the job, but keep it from seeming TOO mean, because he does also do the bit where he's the biggest target of his own humor. 

 

 

Edited by Kromm
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On 10/18/2020 at 2:57 PM, Kromm said:

Ron Funches is a brilliant comedian

Exactly, so at least in that he would've been better as host than Reggie Watts. If the question is who would be the best host, I'd have loved to see John Hodgman or John Henson as suggested. As far as people not named John, I think Paula Pell would be awesome.

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Sometimes...just sometimes...I'm saying that this is only sometimes, mind you...Greg Davis has similar energy and even mannerisms to Joel McHale.

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13 hours ago, Corgi-ears said:

Sometimes...just sometimes...I'm saying that this is only sometimes, mind you...Greg Davis has similar energy and even mannerisms to Joel McHale.

McHale has grown on me from originally disliking him long ago. He's certainly different from Davies, but if a key aspect is being acerbic but stopping short of mean?  Yeah.  He's got that. 

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Speaking of other versions of Taskmaster not getting the casting right, Taskmaster NZ just started yesterday. After one episode I feel like they got the Greg pretty right (he's a DILFy journalist) but they really really screwed up with the Alex, and not just because his brother is one of the contestants.

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On 10/21/2020 at 8:43 PM, SnideAsides said:

Speaking of other versions of Taskmaster not getting the casting right, Taskmaster NZ just started yesterday. After one episode I feel like they got the Greg pretty right (he's a DILFy journalist) but they really really screwed up with the Alex, and not just because his brother is one of the contestants.

If the Greg figure is acerbic but not mean, the Alex figure needs to be passive/aggressive, the occasional hit-man for meanness, but also consistently goofy and harmless seeming the rest of the time.  Kind of a seeming pushover, who's hiding a shiv and might stab you when you aren't expecting it. 

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(never mind.  The video I had here, an official Taskmaster channel posting of S10Ep2, got US region blocked AFTER I posted it--there seems to be some grace period before they do that though--I was able to view it fine initially)

 

Edited by Kromm

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For those who don't really know Johnny Vegas, this is a little sample of his genius.  It's also a top shelf bit of improv by Alex as well.
 

 

Edited by Kromm

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Okay, this is so weird. I've noticed over the past few weeks that the Series 10 episodes being posted on the official channel are region ENABLED for the US on the first day, but at some point on successive days that gets changed. So go look on the YouTube channel.  It MIGHT appear and it might not. I just watched Episode 3 no problem, but today's the first day it's been up. 

They've all been great this series, but Ep3 is especially enjoyable. There's a fight over cheating where Greg takes a surprising position, a final Team Task that's legitimately one of the most amusing they've ever done, and the other tasks are all great too. Alex is definitely the comedy MVP in this one, although as usual, Johnny Vegas is totally unhinged, and that's great too. Daisy May has also grown on me. She's whiny on many occasions, but I do think now she's doing most of it intentionally, for comedy. 

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I think they release the episode for the US on Thursdays and leave them up for a day at most and then region block them.

The catapult task was pure physical comedy.

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2 hours ago, Fukui San said:

I think they release the episode for the US on Thursdays and leave them up for a day at most and then region block them.

The catapult task was pure physical comedy.

It was a banner episode for physical comedy. In addition to the catapult, we got the ridiculous dancing, and at the end the drawing pad whizzing by the contestants. 

Although last week had the inflatable boat. That was solid gold physical comedy too. 

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For me this was the first episode of this admittedly-young season that had me cry-laughing, so welcome back, show. I genuinely think that the comedians must be suffering from COVID brain, given how hilariously dumb some of their approaches to the tasks were -- which of course was comedy gold.

I was expecting there to be even more to the pasta task, though, when it came to the blackout and the stipulation that their feet had to remain on the circle. I thought maybe the circle was itself made of light, and would start darting around, thereby pulling the contestants further away from the task table.

And the scoring was a bit bothersome. Mawaan was a sneaky pasta snake, but gets four points; and as hysterical as her approach was, Katherine by the end wasn't operating the catapult with her feet, but got a point?

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Every single (to this point) "Little Alex Horne".  It's a lot longer than you'd think, so get snacks. 

Edit - Ah. I see they lie a bit with the video title.  It's not every use of "Little Alex Horne", it's every show intro of the person eventually called Little Alex Horne. The phrase wasn't used at all initially, then was sporadically used, but eventually became his consistent intro. 

Note, as always, that Alex Horne is actually 6 foot 2. He's only "Little" because he's sitting next to a giant. 

 

Edited by Kromm

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I'd like to congratulate Taskmaster on inventing a new genre of porn, the couples watermelon force feed video. Good God.

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“Say as many words of four letters as you can”

I really don’t think they thought that through properly!  And well done to

Daisy

for using plurals as well!

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On 11/13/2020 at 1:27 PM, Ceindreadh said:

“Say as many words of four letters as you can”

I really don’t think they thought that through properly!  And well done to

  Reveal spoiler

Daisy

for using plurals as well!

It's British TV. Those words are allowed.  Nudity is marginally allowed. Violence is the only real no-no.  It's the opposite of US, where we beep out harmless words but encourage on screen murder. 

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30 minutes ago, Kromm said:

It's British TV. Those words are allowed.  Nudity is marginally allowed. Violence is the only real no-no.  It's the opposite of US, where we beep out harmless words but encourage on screen murder. 

Yes, I have legit access to UK tv so I do know all about it and what they’re allowed broadcast after the watershed.  I still think that Alex wasn’t expecting so many of those words to be used. The family friendly version broadcast on Sunday is going to be just one long continuous beep. 

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Between Phil Wang’s jumpsuit and Rhod Gilbert’s depravity series 7 must have been one long continuous beep.  

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