Taskmaster: Series 8
May 1, 2021 11:07 AM - Season 8 (Full Season) - Subscribe

"It's a very rare treat on a television program, to see someone lose their job on a different television program." Available on YouTube or on Channel 4.

Episode 1: Hello.
Episode 2: A novel about Russian Gulags
Episode 3: Stuck in a mammal groove
Episode 4: The barrel dad
Episode 5: Stay humble
Episode 6: Rock 'n' roll umlaut
Episode 7: This is Trevor
Episode 8: Aquatic sewing machine
Episode 9: I've been a bit ill
Episode 10: Clumpy swayey clumsy man
(Note: episodes 6 and 7 are out of order on the YouTube playlist.)

Iain Stirling: Narrator of Love Island, and apparently a children's TV presenter. He thinks he's going to do great on this show, and reacts poorly to failure. And he fails a lot, and usually hilariously. Has my favorite disqualification ever.
Joe Thomas: Just sort of seems befuddled the whole time. Does OK, and is a good foil to the other competitors.
Lou Sanders: Wears a "Champion of Champions" shirt. Good combination of offbeat humor, raw talent, and willingness to absolutely go for it. "Hit the ducky on the head."
Paul Sinha: I'd seen a LL message board post about the Chase, but never knew what it was until I looked up what they were talking about with Paul. Watched the Netflix show, which got me to watch the ABC show and look up some English Chase episodes on YouTube. Still haven't seen any of Paul's episodes. He has a shoulder injury, which you can tell and which he mentions a few episodes in. He's since been diagnosed with Parkinson's, though he's said that's not why he does so badly.
Sian Gibson: I don't have a good read on Sian; she does pretty well, and has a good personality. Doesn't succeed or fail as dramatically as the others, but is a good contestant and fun to watch.

Notable tasks:
So many great tasks this season.
Sneak up on Alex! Transferring rice! Transferring sand! Volcanoes! What's Alex wearing?! Do the worst thing and apologize! Romesh returns, in beach ball throwing! Scoring a goal! Pink Ladies! Buggy driving!

Wiki page for series 8 (includes a spoiler for the overall winner up at the top, and includes results for each episode).
posted by Huffy Puffy (9 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Episode 6 link.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 4:03 PM on May 1

From one of my favourite seasons to one of my least favourites. The cast just didn't gel with me this time, except for Lou. I really didn't like Iain and his temper; it's rare that I'm actually disappointed when a player does well but I really didn't want Ian to win.

Joe and Sian were bland, and I wanted to like Paul (being a fan of trivia) but his struggles became more difficult to watch than funny. (Though I was pretty impressed with how he performed on some of the tasks that took advantage of his obviously considerable intellect, like ordering the cards.)
posted by synecdoche at 5:10 AM on May 2 [1 favorite]

This whole season felt incredibly off to me, especially compared to how great Season 7 was. I actually stopped watching this season after episode 3 because I absolutely could not stand Iain or Lou. Iain's arrogance and anger really turned me off and I never once laughed at Lou. Her humor is really one note (basically only sex jokes) and it really wore thin. I did a rewatch (where I got past the first few episodes) and Iain somewhat grew on me. After he apologized to Lou (which he definitely needed to do), I think he had some sort of come to Jesus moment, and the arrogance and anger subsided a bit. I actually laughed at a few of his attempts. Lou didn't have this moment and her smugness really irritated me (as well as her eyeliner) throughout the season. I'm wondering how she will perform if there is another Champion of Champions season.

At the beginning I felt for Paul, but even he became weirdly aggressive towards everyone, especially Iain, about half way through, often it seemed unwarranted. I enjoyed a lot of his attempts at tasks and chuckled a few times. I enjoyed Joe's whatever, chill attitude and when he did well in tasks, he did incredibly well. My favorite task of this season (and definitely in my top 5 favorites) was hiding from Alex in the trainyard. I did a similar game at summer camp, so I found watching it to be thrilling and his performance was fantastic. I enjoyed Sian's mom humor throughout but then she cheated. Sigh. I hate cheaters, but at least cheated because she felt bad for underperforming in a team task.

Greg and Alex also had a weird energy this season. They seemed to over exaggerate every laugh, which made me feel uncomfortable as I never seen that before. Maybe they felt they had to over compensate because I saw that this was a train wreck of a season.

I will say some of my favorite tasks were completed this season like the trainyard hide and seek task, the volcano, find the pink lady, etc. because those are tasks I can see myself wanting to do and have fun doing it.
posted by wasabifooting at 6:31 AM on May 2 [1 favorite]

I liked Sian! The cheating was fun, mostly because I never caught it but the show did. Finding out whether or not Sian cheated was like an extra little treat at the end of the task. I also enjoyed Lou; she and Iain were both being hyper-competitive, but Lou remembered it was a televised game show while Iain seemed to feel it in his bones. The only thing that I can say in his favor -- other than the genuine apology he gave in the studio -- is that his deranged competitiveness was hilarious in the ping pong ball pen challenge and the goal-scoring challenge.

Lou and Iain both did a lot of something I hate, which is to not just to complain about their low scores in a given task but to specifically say other contestants should've scored lower. Isn't that the same thing? Well, yes, kind of, but when a contestant nudges their argument from "my performance in the task should've given me a higher score" to "other people's performance in the task should've given me a higher score," it just feels ruder to me. Also, I wonder if that fed into all the ties that were awarded this season. There were way too many ties. I prefer it when Greg is unfair and forces everyone into a 5/4/3/2/1 point allocation.
posted by grandiloquiet at 2:30 PM on May 2

Glad I'm not the only one who felt such dislike for this series. It was even more of a disappointment for coming on the heels of S7 which was so delightful. I could extemporise at length about all the things which irritated me in this series but fortunately most have been covered already.

This feels like the perfect example of unfortunate casting. Iain and Lou were awful, and none of the other personalities were strong enough to push back effectively. If they'd got better people in those two slots it may have had more of a S6 vibe, where Russell/Alice/Asim were rather meh but Liza and Tim brought some interesting energy to make for an okay series overall. Iain and Lou steered things into trainwreck territory, and as a result the group dynamics made the whole series awkward and cringey most of the time.

I honestly wish there could be a total do-over for this series. Same tasks, better group of people. I wouldn't mind seeing Sian again, in a different lineup.

Someone on the podcast -- Katy Wix, I think -- commented that being the actual winner of Taskmaster is a bit naff, which feels spot-on. The point of the show isn't to be the champion, it's to be fun and entertaining whilst doing stupid shit and having some banter about it afterward. The energy Lou and Iain brought made it feel like S2 of the American remake (which I've not seen but is by all reports execrable).

Lou didn't have this moment and her smugness really irritated me (as well as her eyeliner) throughout the season. I'm wondering how she will perform if there is another Champion of Champions season.

And her outfit. Though I suppose that could be classified as a subset of the smugness.
There is going to be another CoC, and despite really liking some of the people who will be in it my enthusiasm has been significantly dampened thanks to her inclusion. She's the second-to-last person I want to see again on Taskmaster ... but the last is Iain, so small comforts.
posted by myotahapea at 1:26 AM on May 3

The actual last person I want to see on taskmaster is the host, and he's in every season so far. His schtick here is just so grating! But I enjoy almost everything else about the show...

I would love to see this series hosted by Mike Wozniak, or... I almost said James acaster, but I feel like if he were given 'power', he might abuse it, too.

Iain gives voice to the self justified rage that we all feel sometimes when things just aren't fair. I have been there, and I have regretted my words and actions. Lou is... I don't know. She didn't stick out to me? She's no more smug than Rhod or Noel were, though not as funny. She was fine.
posted by Acari at 6:18 PM on May 3

I’m glad to find others felt the same discomfort with this season. Iain seeing video evidence of how hostile and difficult he can be made him feel terrible, so that I then both wanted him the leave and I felt sorry for him — not a fun combination. I never actually believed nor quite understood Joe Thomas’s shtick. And so on. Just bad chemistry.

A sad fact of this season is that Paul Sinha was apparently diagnosed with Parkinson’s around the time of filming the studio segments. He’s clearly struggling physically throughout the filmed tasks.

Also, if I understand right, in this panel only Lou Sanders was a working comedian, as opposed to a show host or actor. That makes a big difference. Comedians tend to know why they’re funny and how to play that role, which means they can be “on” within their parameters without having to try too hard. Hence the off-target behaviors.
posted by argybarg at 8:30 PM on May 3 [1 favorite]

Oh, and this is as good a place as any to say that a proper U.S. Taskmaster would have had Marc Evan Jackson as the Taskmaster.
posted by argybarg at 8:34 PM on May 3 [4 favorites]

All in all not the best season, in my view, for many of the reasons already outlined. The least chemistry of any cast, and (save for Sian) none of them seemed to be quite in the spirit of the game.

That said, sneaking up on Alex on the bridge in a railway yard is one of my favourite tasks ever.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:05 AM on May 4

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