All The Presidents Then


I've always had a special place in my heart for Lily Tomlin that I think started with her role in All Of Me which was a movie I remember watching a lot as a kid. Then again, she stood out to me in the film because I already knew her from Saturday Night Live. By 1984 the SNL Alumni where the Rat Pack to me and I was fully ready to support anyone involved with the show. So, I was excited to see that she was hosting when I woke up and looked at the queue.

So far, this has been the episode that is the most familiar to me. My notes are very short because I needed very few reminds since a majority of the sketches were already in my head. I just have words like, Bees, Belushi Beethoven!!!, LAND SHARK, this already aired on episode 1, Beethoven again!!!, and Muppets!!! The only sketches that escaped my mind were the sketches the sketches that straddled the line between a musical performance and a sketch.

The show started with Chevy Chase playing for once again. I don't know why but this impersonation just rubs me the wrong way. Part of my issue is the fact that the jokes are one dimensional calling the president clumsy and dumb, but I think the more significant part is just not knowing enough about Gerald Ford to feel the attacks are justified.

Maybe it's not a matter of justification, I'm sure anyone who was alive and old enough to remember a country run by Ford could chime in and confirm that he was a real clod. Hell, I could even go to the internet and do my own, which I actually did for a moment. The thing is, I was living in my mom's stomach at the time this episode aired, so it was impossible to experience the real deal. 

The Ford ribbing kind of reminds me how the country did nothing but openly call the second Bush a dip shit up until 9/11. There was even a show called That's My Bush that was nothing but a character assassination by the makers of South Park. This led me to wonder if 30 years from now, someone one born at the very end of the Bush era were to go back and watch a show like this would find the Bush-bashing entertaining or not even noticeable after being ruled by Trump.

When it comes to presidents, they're stuck in a timeline, and unless you live along with them, it's almost impossible to truly understand what it's like living under their reign. Sure you can go back and read the history books, but you're only going to get the highlights, and the lowlights and these books will never be able to capture the feeling of the day to day annoyances and small news that's not worth archiving. It's these little things that can fuel the fire for hate that can't really be passed on.

Take the person I mentioned up above, the one living 30 years in the future watching That's My Bush. Again he was born with three months of Bush in office. He'll have no memory of Obama's first term and barely remember the second term. Trump will be the president during their high school years and where he drains the swamp or adds more mud his election alone will be distracting enough to soften both Bush's and Obama's flaw, keeping in mind we are now 20 years out if Trump manages to win two terms.

By this time history will probably have nailed down whether Bush is a Nixon of a Ford. Meaning, either the conspiracies of him stealing the election and possible involvement or knowledge of 9/11 will keep him in the Nixon camp, or he will be cleared by time and end up the idiot that landed in a bad situation making him a one-note joke like Ford. Either way, he'll eventually be nothing more than an answer to a quiz after a certain amount of time. 

I'm not entirely sure if I fit the point that I set out to make, but I think I did end up somewhere. I just find it interesting that the cast at the time of these airings were about 20 years younger than me and are now about 20 years older than me. Meanwhile, the new cast of SNL is about twenty years younger than me, and the generation of the old cast is now running the world so I can't help but try to work through in my head why things don't just seem to change.

Speaking of change, it's time to change the subject and jump into...

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. The show started with the Ford is clumsy and dumb sketch that triggered the ramblings above.

  2. Lily Tomlin then came out and did a monolog where she read from her notebook. She mentioned the ozone layer which was weird to me, being that, I didn't think they started talking about the ozone issues until the mid to late 80s which is almost what I was talking about in yesterday's rant. Her mention also left me wondering why you never hear anyone mention the ozone anymore. She then finished off her monolog with a little cheer.

  3. Belushi Beethoven!!! Playing Tie a Yellow Ribbon on the piano. This made me very happy as this was another favorite sketch of mine as a child. I don't know if it's the character unknowingly waiting for everyone to leave the room to shine makes me love this so much or if it's the fact that the character seems to stumble into perfection. Either way, I love it still.

  4. Howard Shore and His All Nurse Band play a song for Lily Tomlin to sing to and I spot Paul Shaffer's first appearance on the show.

  5. Oh my god, this is the third time out of six episodes that they've played the same exact fake commercial for arthritis pills called Triopenin, which wasn't even funny the first time.

  6. LAND SHARK!!! It was interesting at the end of this sketch because Belushi jokes that he "turned down working on Cuckoo's Nest for this" which is one of my favorite movies, making it interesting to hear a contemporary actor praise the film in that way at the time it came out.

  7. Garrett Morris and Jane Curtin play a biracial couple at a hotel, and the bellhop can barely handle the situation. It is nice to see progress in sketches like this where the mere act of this couple making out was shocking at the time but now seems so tame that the sketch barely makes sense.

  8. Lily Tomlin plays a five-year-old named Edith Ann in an adorable sketch about this kid trying to ice skate while her dog watches.

  9. Belushi Beethoven returns and plays My Girl when no one else is around.

  10. Gilda Radner announces a two-week break.

  11. This is followed by the news which I found topical again with jokes about actual events from the week and not just generic jabs at people.

  12. The news was interrupted by a fake commercial for Spud Beer which is a potato beer for electroshock therapy patients that are too crazy to care about taste.

  13. The news returned to quickly end on the Garrett Morris speech impairment bit which is growing old again but in a way that if they keep it up, it will make it over the hump to become funny once again.

  14. Lily Tomlin plays a sorority girl who is writing a letter to Patty Hearst which turns into a song with advice for the kidnap victim.

  15. The Muppets return to reveal that Scred has a crush on Lily Tomlin and the two sang I've Got You Babe. I think I also developed a crush on the young Lily Tomlin during this sketch even though I've always been a fan.

  16. Lily Tomlin then introduces the replay of Albert Brook's short film from the first episode.

  17. The Belushi Beethoven sketch concludes with Beethoven getting caught singing Baby It's All Right by Ray Charles.

  18. This was followed by an interesting and powerful sketch with Lily Tomlin as a construction trainer training women construction workers how to harass men. Dan Aykroyd is the man acting as the model, and the girls harassed him nonstop. Aykroyd's character starts to take it personally even though it's supposed to be a simulation. At the end of the sketch all the girls leave but Gilda Radner who stays back to check in on Aykroyd who is on the verge of tears. She puts her arm around him and reminds him, "Don't worry, this is just school." That final line really hit me even though I've never cat called and have never been catcalled.

  19. This jumped into a commercial for speed.

  20. Lily Tomlin then plays a teenager in a poodle skirt at a high school dance.

  21. Then the show wraps up with Howard Shore and His All Nurse Band playing music for Lily Tomlin and the Bees to sing along to.

I loved this episode because of how many sketches were familiar to me. The Belushi Beethoven was my favorite SNL sketch, the women construction workers sketch was my favorite with a message, and Edith Ann learning to skate while her dog watched was both adorable and funny which is why it made my top three.


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Matt Bunker

I started out with a goal of becoming a paid screenwriter. I had no interest in any other aspect of filmmaking. I received and scholarship to The Vancouver Film School's Writing for Film and Television program where I graduated in 2005. I fell in love with being on set during my first non-school produced short, . I loved being around all the creative people, seeing people having fun while working. The whole liking your job was a new world to me, so I decided to give it a shot. I volunteered for any project I could, doing what ever was needed. The set was my Film School this time. While working as a PA on a feature I was informed that the DP wanted the three tallest PAs to help out in the grip and electric department. That is when I found the department that felt like the best fit for me while I continued to write.