Failure to Pass the Test of Time
As you may be able to gather from past reviews, my parents were not all that strict when it came to what I could and could not watch while growing up. This is how I came to be a fan of Saturday Night Live in the first place as well as being aware of the host's resumes even though their episodes aired before I was even born.
I was a fan of Young Frankenstein at a very young age so I was excited to see that Peter Boyle would be hosting the episode I was about to watch for this review. Though I really like his work, I couldn't recall whether or not I viewed the installment of SNL in the past but since I know Boyle as a comedic actor I felt it had the potential to be a fun one, especially following the past few episodes that felt very middle of the road.
It started sort of strong with a sketch about the Samurai and his wife but there was a sketch very early on that rubbed me the wrong way and left me feeling bummed out about the rest of the show.
So far there have been several sketches that don't really stand the test of time. Some sketches get into areas that would be considered sexist or racist through modern eyes but often times I can sense the satirical practice of amplifying issues that are very real. Some of the top offenders come across as more cliché, dated and lame over feeling hurtful and wrong.
To me personally, this is a sign of progress as a lot of these jokes wouldn't even be attempted in this day and age. Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of offensive but I'd like to think that I live at the top border of what is acceptable at any given time. Early in this episode, there was one moment that left me feeling sad that it was ever accepted at all.
This moment took place about five segments into the show when Peter Boyle step out onto the stage to introduce the next segment. I wasn't sure if it was going to be the band, a comedian or anything else as sometimes the host would just come out a do a quick routine that ended up leading into nothing at all.
He started out with a few jokes that left me wondering where he was going. He said something about hanging out in his car in front of schools to scout for "talent." It didn't feel like he wrote this joke or even felt comfortable with the content to commit to the bit which made it feel even creepier than it already was because he was out there to announce The Shapiro Sisters who were a group of eight-year-old girls that had a lip-syncing routine to the song This Will Be (an Ever Lasting Love.)
That little segment bugged me so much that I was more sensitive to jokes that I would normally write off as being "from a different time." I don't really blame Boyle for this because as I said, his awkward/uncomfortable delivery made the joke even worse. No, I'd be willing to bet this was Michael O'Donoghue's doing. Of the cast members, he's the one that seems like he'd go dark enough to write that.
Oh well, as they say, "the show must go on," and with that I give you...
The Wicker Breakdown:
- This was the Valentines episode which started with a sketch about the Valentine’s Day Massacre where a couple is out to dinner and asks the maître d' if there was someone that could move their car because of the rain. Chevy Chase plays a valet who runs out to move the car just as the sounds of shooting from the massacre takes place as the restaurant patron seem unphased until Chase falls down the stairs.
- Peter Boyle then comes out to open the show with a song that he dedicates to his Valentine who is sitting in the audience and starts making out with the stranger next to her in the middle of Boyle's rendition of My Funny Valentine. I this point I was a little annoyed by how often comedy from that time was about how untrustworthy women were around men. I didn't even have the creepy child molester bit to rub me the wrong way by this time.
- Dan Aykroyd then plays a stereotypical Latino guy in a fake a for a lowrider style car.
- This was followed by Samurai Divorce Court where there wasn't only a Belushi Samurai but a Jane Curtin Samurai as well which is good to see her in sketches other than the ones where she is a host of a talk show.
- This is when Boyle makes the child molester reference that triggered the intro above as he introduced the Shapiro Sisters who I just read are the director's children which made the whole situation even worse. They dance and lip sync to This Will Be (An Everlasting Love.)
- Dan Aykroyd and Lorraine Newman then played two hippy burnouts whose neighbor brings over a misdelivered package that is obviously drugs. This had a funny bit where they worked the lines from MacArthur's Park into their conversation which is a song that cracks me up.
- Boyle then introduces Al Jarreau who sings
- This was followed by the news where there as a quick story about Bush Sr. as CIA director using an earthquake as a weapon to attack Cuba, which leads me to wonder if he was referencing a legitimate conspiracy theory from the time or if he was just being silly because I've definitely seen modern YouTube videos that claim this technology is being worked on to this day.
- The news commercial was a repeat (of course) of the price tag gun sketch that feels like is on at least 50% of the episodes I've seen so far.
- The news returns with Emily Litella ranting about canker research only to apologize when she's corrected in that the story was about cancer research. The news ended without the repeat of the top story of the night which really felt disappointed now that I've grown to except that I like the repetitiveness because of the building expectation as to how they will pull it off this week.
- This was followed by the All Pro Wrestling sketch where the Bees had a tag team match against the WASPS as in the rich white type. I was excited because I liked wrestling as a kid and couldn't remember this bit. It ended up being okay but I loved that it ended by with a cow dropping from the ceiling which I think I recall become a staple to the series as a way to end bad bits. I really hope this is the case.
- Jane Curtain then hosts Remembrances of History where she interviews a historical person that wanted to remain anonymous and wears a monkey mask only it's obviously Nixon because of his voice and mannerisms.
- This was followed by a short film where there was an all black class doing the pledge of allegiance which ended on an adult saying the final lines. He must have been someone to make the imagery of this bit even more significant but it still made a statement that I could see even though I can't really explain it all that well.
- Belushi and Boyle then compete as Dueling Brandos.
- This was followed by yet another, my wife is cheating on me, sketch where Boyle comes home early to find a nervous wife and men hidden all over the house. She's obviously cheating with these people but claims they are new products like Janitor in the Fridge, doorman in the closest, mailman and the maid, milk men in the bedroom... She had funny stories about how they work as a product and end up running off into the room with all of them leaving her husband alone to then cheat with the neighbor's wife. I'm not a big fan of cheating humor as most of the time it's a male author working through his insecurities by passing the blame for his own jealous actions.
- Next was a short home video that was just a still video of a home. The audience caught on right away but I almost missed the joke it was so lame.
- Garrett Morris then gives Gilda Radner a Valentines card as Gilda blatantly explains why she intentionally didn't give him a card this year due to him claiming to want to be friends to then always turn it into something more. Of course, he aggressively hits on her seconds after they seem to land on common ground.
- They then introduced Al Jarreau who sings Pretty as a Picture.
- This is followed by a repeat of the short film filled with people reuniting at the airport when anyone could meet you at the gate when you arrived which led to sentimental homecomings that you just don't see anymore.
- Finally, the show ended with a quick joke about Patty Hurst as Boyle's other special person in the audience.
As I said, I'm not a huge fan of child molesting jokes or the cheating wife trope so it was hard to find my favorites but I did like the memory whether valid or false of the cow falling from the ceiling to kill a lame bit. I was also entertained by seeing Nixon in a monkey mask and I'm willing to bet ever Samurai Sketch will land in these top threes.