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Craig Ferguson Plays on His Home Field, Presenting a Surprise-Filled ‘Late Late Show’ Week from Scotland
May 14, 2012  | By David Bianculli  | 7 comments

Two years in a row is the minimum length required to call something an “annual” event – and the second international theme week in as many years from CBS’s The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson should cement it as a TV tradition. Last year, Paris. This week, Ferguson’s home country of Scotland – and it’s wildly, wonderfully unpredictable…

Monday through Friday, May 14-18, Ferguson and his costars, cohorts and invited guests romp through Scotland, in search of… almost anything. Later in the week, there will be at least one serious, politically significant interview. But there’s always room for a goofy sight gag, a romp on location from the show’s ersatz Secretariat, and almost anything else.

If you want to go back to another hour of TV that presents content so eclectic and unexpected, you may have to go back all the way to Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. Or, before that, to the work of Ernie Kovacs. Craig Ferguson is your tour guide, but you have to trust him, because he’s likely to go anywhere, say anything — and, to his guests, ask anything, which is his biggest strength as a talk-show host.

For this week, he’s brought along an appropriately eclectic group of guests, including author David Sedaris, actresses Mila Kunis and Rashida Jones, actor Michael Clarke Duncan and Flying Wild Alaska reality-TV star Ariel Tweto. Also along for the ride: robot sidekick Geoff Peterson, dancing mascot Secretariat, and recurring alter-ego characters Prince Charles and Michael Caine.

How does all of this fit together? In the kickoff show, like a holiday sampler of tasty but markedly different treats. The best way to watch is just to go with the flow, expect the unexpected, and enjoy. You’ll laugh, you’ll learn — and, as with last year’s trip to Paris, you’ll realize you’re watching something as enjoyable as it is rare.

But rather than deal in generalities, here’s a fast photo-tour of specifics, just to give you a taste. And this is all from the Monday show, which gives you an idea of its pace as well as its depth and breadth.

The show begins with Craig and company doing one of their high-energy opening song pantomimes – no puppets this time, but lots of kilts, a set of bagpipes and a dancing Secretariat. At the end of the song, Craig hustles the two sexy dancers, and Secretariat, into his Doctor Who Tardis, which disappears…

…And reappears in front of Glamis Castle in Scotland, where Ferguson provides some instant history. It was the setting for Hamlet, though not with historical accuracy. It also, as Ferguson shows, is the castle on the back of the Scottish 10-pound note. A tour inside follows as well, including tales of a card-playing ghost.

At Arbroath Harbour, Ferguson and sidekick Geoff (voiced and manipulated by Josh Robert Thompson) fish, while discussing… onanism. Not what you’d expect — but expect that a lot.
A visit to the Glasgow graveyard of Necropolis, which Ferguson tours with Mila Kunis, ends with the two of them standing beneath the giant monument honoring John Knox, the founder of the Church of Scotland. In this unlikely setting, Ferguson asks some equally unlikely, very personal questions, such as: Does Mila Kunis believe in God?

How could Ferguson visit Scotland without trotting out his dentistry-impaired caricature of Prince Charles? This time, he’s at a fittingly royal piano, performing a little ditty for the occasion.

Proving Thomas Wolfe wrong, Ferguson does go home again… to the Spur Hotel, a place he hasn’t visited since being beaten up there 30 years ago. But this time, he has Michael Clarke Duncan around for protection, as he presents a “recreation” of his youthful adventures and indiscretions.

Back at Glamis Castle, Ferguson invites Jones, Tweto, and David Sedaris for “Evening Crumpets,” a sort of My Dinner with Andre where the conversation can lead anywhere — and does. To say more — and to describe more of this show in detail — would be to ruin the surprise.

Except, that is, for the Imagineers. They’re a local Glasgow rock band adopted by The Late Late Show for this trip — and tonight, they not only sing their signature song “The Imagineer,” but open the Scottish part of the show by doing an on-location version of the TV show’s theme.

Bottom line: This week’s Late Late Show from Scotland has as many unexpected ingredients as haggis – but is infinitely tastier.

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Who were the dancers for the Scottish Rite Temple Stomp
Mar 24, 2016   |  Reply
Must know the lady piper's name? Is she really playing the pipes?
May 24, 2012   |  Reply
Rock on , fellow Scotsman .!!!!

Keep the ladies , Ariel Tweto , is cute , and funny ....have her open a real world school for girls ...


how about a tec moment with G ?
keep us informed , on how soon we will have android beings .

G your the best side guy ever ....B A L L S!!!!!

E-D from deadville Va .
May 18, 2012   |  Reply
David Bianculli
Dear E-D: I happily posted your email because of its enthusiasm, but please humor us, from now on, and take the extra seconds to spell out words and avoid acronyms. Otherwise, SOUHNFIWYTA. Respectfully, DB. (That's David Bianculli.)
May 19, 2012
Carl Sanders
Who were the people in the Band on the Opening?
May 16, 2012   |  Reply
David Bianculli
Talk about full service: The show's producer, Michael Naidus, posted a comment to answer your question himself. So now you TVWW readers aren't just talking to each other, but to the show-biz people themselves. And once again, we're off on the sidelines. (But happily so.)
May 19, 2012
Michael N
The Scottish band whose music is featured throughout is called The Imagineers, and they are amazing. The "band" that recorded the terrific punk song "Scottish Rite Temple Stomp" consists of the great Steve Jones (of the Sex Pistols) on guitar, Craig Ferguson doing, vocals, Tim Mosher on bass guitar, and Andrew Growcott aka "Stokes" on drums.
May 16, 2012
christine welsh
"disapointed Hamlet was not about a small ham" "Macbeth(the Scottish Play) was set it Glamis...by Shakespeare.. although Macbeth never actually lived there." not direct quotes but paraphrasing the gist of what was actually said on the show
May 15, 2012   |  Reply
I cannot wait to see these shows. I have my DVR set for the week!
May 14, 2012   |  Reply
Being that Craig Ferguson is on my top 5 Scottsmen list I look forward to seeing him in his home element
May 14, 2012   |  Reply
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