The most successful shows on the rerun circuit are usually those that have self-contained episodes. Law & Order works well in reruns because it doesn’t require its audience to have any prior knowledge of the show to understand what’s going on. This is a bit harder for comedies, especially in the current age where the focus is shifting toward serialized comedies. But Whose Line Is It Anyway hasn’t lost much of its appeal even though its been off the air for years.
For those of you unfamiliar with Whose Line Is It Anyway, the premise is pretty simple. Drew Carey hosts the improv comedy show where four panelists act out scenarios or play improv games for points that aren’t actually important (why the points even exist is a mystery since Carey reminds the audience of their irrelevance at the start of every show). The show features three regular panelists, Ryan Stiles, Colin Mochrie, and Wayne Brady. The fourth seat is usually occupied by one of the shows recurring panelists, but it also sometimes guest to celebrities such as Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg, and Stephen Colbert.
Whose Line remains a classic for late night rerun viewing for a few reasons. The show does not require the audience to have any knowledge of the show whatsoever. It helps to know the cast, but it is not necessary by any means. It’s also great because unlike newer shows, the majority of Whose Line’s jokes are fairly basic. This is ideal for viewers whose brains may be a bit fried by midnight, when Whose Line usually airs. It’s also only twenty minutes long and if you want to stop watching halfway through, it doesn’t really matter. The show’s funny bits are usually over by the second commercial break, when Drew Carey insists on inserting himself into a segment even though he isn’t very funny.
For those of you who don’t get Whose Line on TV, there’s a website called whoselineonline.org that has every episode of the U.S. and U.K. versions. The quality isn’t that great and the videos are embedded from YouTube, but Whose Line was never meant to air in HD. Online viewing is great for watching the show in the middle of the day during a study break or whenever you just need a laugh.
Whose Line represents an era of television that has passed by in recent years. Sitcoms have substantially changed and shows like Whose Line don’t make it to network TV these days. Drew Carey has tried twice to replicate Whose Line on cable television but both have failed. Whose Line’s magic isn’t likely going to be replicated so it’s a good thing that it stands the test of time so well.