Taskmaster series 8, episode 2: ‘A novel about Russian gulags.’

Taskmaster

Taskmaster is the most beautifully insane series on television, and though it’s no longer airing on The CW, the full eighth series is now streaming on CW Seed – and the first seven series are available on YouTube for absolutely free. So why should the mayhem stop just because it’s moved two inches to the left?

In the spirit of continuing to celebrate Taskmaster‘s brilliance, every Friday we’ll be looking at each series 8 episode and offering commentary on the tasks, the quips and the complete failures. Obviously that means spoilers, so if you haven’t seen this series or this episode yet, head on over to CW Seed to watch along.

Without further ado, here’s the scorecard for “A novel about Russian gulags.”

Prize Task: The best pair of things.

It’s double trouble for the panelists. Joe Thomas thinks his pair of earrings is worth a couple thousand quid, and of course they’re not at all. Lou Sanders shows up with a pair of breast-shaped slippers, and as if that’s not funny enough, she’s attached radios to them.

But you have to hand it to Paul Sinha, who’s co-operated a housewarming gift from his parents…which also happens to be a painting of two pandas having sex. Paul gets four points, and will have to explain to his parents what’s really going on in that picture eventually.

Task No. 1: Put something on your face that looks like a mustache, but when you get up close, it’s something completely different. The most unexpected mustache wins.

First off, Alex loses five points for the “Tache-master” joke. Just no.

But Greg gets annoyed by Iain Sterling plastering a map of Liphook on his face (which also isn’t as funny as Iain thinks it is), and we learn that he wasn’t a fan of Doctor Who‘s K-9 either. Joe has better luck by making a mustache out of pictures of celebrity mustaches (the delightful meta-ness of it all). And there are no words to describe what Sian Gibson has done.

That brings us to Paul, who stumps Greg by gluing caviar to his face. He also ate some of it, which means he spent days in gastrointestinal distress. Don’t eat things with glue on them, kids. Even if it means you win the task.

Task No. 2: Get this rice into the bottle in the living room. You may use the shopping basket and its contents; most grains in the bottle wins.

IT’S RICE TIME. 21,000 grains of rice, to be exact.

Sian looks like she’s snorting cocaine while she’s trying to get the rice inside a balloon. Joe spots a loophole; the task doesn’t say you can’t also utilize objects from elsewhere in the Taskmaster house. He’s easily able to transport the rice once he hollows out a proper vessel. Hey, Joe Thomas has absolutely nailed something finally!

But when Alex feels the need to reiterate the rules, that means there’s somebody who broke the rules.

That would be Paul, who not only starts picking up the rice with his hands, but brings the bottle into the lab. He’s doubly disqualified and it’s surprising that Greg doesn’t give him more of a bollocking (though the joke about Paul losing his job on The Chase is a good one). In fact, he gets a bonus point for at least taking his DQ without complaining. Greg must be feeling charitable today.

Task No. 3: Tell your teammates what is in this chest – using only facial expressions, noises, and adjectives. Fastest time wins.

Joe and Sian square off against Lou, Iain and Paul in this terrible version of Charades that starts out with an incredibly awkward meeting between Sian and Joe. It’s more awkward than a bad blind date.

But first, it’s the group of three in which Lou just starts yelling random words like “hormones.” As if hormones would fit in a chest. Or “sunrise” or “sunset” or “the view.” But to be fair, Paul is an absolutely terrible communicator. The other group has to be better than this.

Except they’re not quite, because one of the first things Joe says is “forehead.” Did anyone actually listen to the specifics of the task or just focus on the acting part? He does get around to “compass,” however, and their team wins with three points.

Task No. 4: Travel the further distance while making a constant noise with your mouth.

Paul’s screwed on this one, since we saw in the hide-and-seek task during the previous episode how he’s terrible at running. But at least he’s not Iain, who gets disqualified for the gaps in his beatboxing. Two disqualifications in one episode – oh, the horror.

Meanwhile, everyone else sounds like they’re in various stages of being murdered. “It’s honestly dehumanizing,” Joe admits when he’s done, which confounds Greg, who says that statement belongs in “a novel about Russian gulags,” hence the title of this episode. Despite his poor choice of words, Joe ends up with five points.

Also, let’s just appreciate that the marker flag has Greg’s displeased face on it. And Greg beatboxing is the best moment of this entire sequence. If he and Alex formed a rap duo, something akin to The Lonely Island, we’d all be here for that.

Final Task: Say a species of bird, eat a grape, then shout a competitor’s name within five seconds. Last remaining player wins.

If all that wasn’t confusing enough, Greg has a giant flashlight that he gets to blind everyone with. They’re given sunglasses, but you know those probably don’t work that well.

Iain is the first to go when “chicken” doesn’t count, then Sian is the first person to get flustered and run out of time. Joe and Paul start messing with each other, which gets Joe kicked out. That means it’s down to Paul and Lou…for about ten seconds because Lou repeats a previously given answer. Well, that was anti-climactic.

The final scores are tallied up and unsurprisingly, the guy whose other job is on a trivia game show wins the task. Paul’s five points, though, can’t stop Lou from being named the winner of this episode with 21 points.

So what have we learned today? Paul’s only good for about eight seconds and can’t read directions, Joe knows a surprising number of bird species, and don’t give Greg Davies anything that can be used as a weapon.

Full episodes of Taskmaster are available for free on YouTube. All 10 episodes of Taskmaster series 8 are now streaming on CW Seed.

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