Waiting for the Fall
Though I did like the first episode that Candice Bergen hosted, I was pretty surprised that they brought her back so quickly. Then I realized it was the holiday/filler episode and it made more sense. It felt like a time where there were less expectations for an episode like this due to the fact that the cast and crew may be distracted by the holidays. Whether or not this is actually true, that's how it felt to me as I struggled to find my favorites because I had to shift my judgment to consider sentimentality over comedy.
The first sketch started and as always it was a bit that ended with Chevy Chase making his famous fall. Though I don't find this funny now, I remember finding it hilarious as a kid and I started to wonder why?
Of course, the easy answer was that it was a different time. Things were simpler back then and acts like this were still fresh and not played out through references and homage. There's also the feeling that for every ten years you go back the pacing of entertainment seems to be cut in half so going back 40 years can feel like the action is moving at a snail's pace.
The more complex answer is that it was a different me. Watch SNL was a family event which at my age at the time felt like a real event. Everyone was staying up late to laugh and were very excited to see something that was the same but different. I was also in a mindset where I watched shows like this to be entertained and not to analyze the effectiveness of a bit.
There was a brief moment during this opening sketch where I thought they were breaking away from the famous fall because the buildup took a turn that I felt might take too long to fit in the President addressing the nation as well as the stunt. In that flash, I was a bit bummed out then quickly surprised by my reaction.
After thinking for a second, I was brought back to a time when I would be bored waiting for the real nightly news to end to get to the main event. The show would start and there would be a brief moment where I would take in the set design, then I would get excited the moment I would see Chevy Chase as I search for the set piece that he would fall from. I'd then be so proud of myself whenever I was right.
I know we still play the same but different game but back then they seemed to be more blatant about showing their hand depending on the target audience. Sometimes, I'll be watching shows with my three-year-old nephew and watch him have the same reaction to his redundant cartoons but his reactions allow me to also enjoy the show even though I don't feel all that challenged which I kind of wish wasn't a requirement for me.
Oh well, as I said, this wasn't the most comedic episode but it was sentimental and sweet enough that I didn't really mind. And with that, I give you...
The Wicker Breakdown:
- The show started with the President Ford Falling sketch that triggered the intro above.
- Then we go to Candice Bergen opening the show. She doesn't say much, and just introduces Martha Reeves who sings Higher and Higher.
- This leads to the first airing of the Mel's Char Palace commercial where their selling point is you butcher your own meal.
- Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin then play a couple waiting up for their son to come home. Aykroyd gets a call from Chevy Chase who is playing the son and has been arrested for a terrible murder. Since Jane Curtin can't hear the conversation she keeps assuming that he is just in trouble for so youth shenanigans and is thankful in the end when Aykroyd only assures her that he wasn't busted for weed.
- Candice Bergen then calls to the audience to send in their home video tapes to potentially end up on the show. I'm excited to see what comes from this but this genuine call to action was pretty funny as Don Pardo reassures the viewers that they will lose their rights to their videos without any compensation. It was funny how blunt and honest he was about the rules which I'm sure didn't stop anyone from submitting content.
- There was then a sample of a home video where Jane Curtin was ice skate with the Bees at ockefeller Center which was pretty fun.e
- This was followed by another real ad for Polaroid which was sort of funny but a genuine ad.
- The Stylistics then came out and sang You Make Me Feel Brand New.
- Then they did the pricing gun ad once again :(
- This was followed by a sketch Chevy Chase plays a closeted Chrismas Elf (closeted that he was an elf not a gay elf in the closet) and gets caught by his sister who is shocked and in denial. The sketch goes on until the parents show up when it is revealed that the father is a closeted elf as well.
- Next, we have the news, which is getting more consistent and more cutting. They had a story where they credited a politician of saying, "What's wrong with another Vietnam? We should keep doing it until we get it right."
- The news was then interrupted for a commercial for a tarnish remover called Tarnoff. Again they love their play on words.
- When they came back from the news it was time for Gilda Radner's character Emily Litella's segment where she was outraged that company's wanted to fire the handicapped for the holidays only to find out they wanted to hire the handicapped. I love this character and I also love that they continued to beat the hearing impaired joke into the ground.
- This was followed by a cute silent sketch about Belushi and Radner at a laundromat sharing a machine because all the other ones were full. They then recreate an entire relationship based on the order in which they added their clothing.
- The Pong sketch then returned as Al Franken's voice played the Pinball Wizard who didn't move his Pong Paddle at all being deaf, dumb and blind.
- The Muppets returned with a sketch about a holiday party. No one showed up because everyone else was partying with the Bees. Candice Bergen eventually shows up to sing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.
- This sketch cut into a second commercial for Mel's Char Palace that was too similar to the first one to even tell the difference.
- Howard Shore and His All Angel Band played Winter Wonderland for Garrett Morris to sing to.
- This was followed by a quick spot for the Don Pardo Digital Gift Store which was just random things with a digital clock on it, which is a joke my friends and I thought we made up many years later.
- Next was a second installment of the high fashion crime scene photographer. It's kind of a soap opera sketch that I don't really enjoy all that much.
- Martha Reeves then returns to sing Silver Bells.
- Gilda Radner then gives advice on how to not eat so much during the holidays to then go on and list the mass amount of food that she ate on Thanksgiving.
- There was then a weird cooking show called The Fritzie Kringle Show which kind of reminded me of something that would show up on adult swim if it was now.
- This led to another ad for Mel's Char Palace which again was too close to the other two ads to even tell the difference but this time the repetitiveness felt more like a satire on how repetitive commercials are while watching a show.
- Candice Bergen then introduces some old lady that had serious stuff to say about age discrimination during the holidays which was a fine enough message but pretty boring and felt out of place.
- The show ended on a two-minute short film which just showed people arriving at the airport to their excited family. I really liked this short because I wrote a scene in an old script pre-9/11 where the main character took his date to the airport to the same type of reunions that used to take place when you didn't need a ticket to get to the gates. In the script, they sat at a restaurant by the gates and watch for the passenger that got the biggest reaction when stepping off the plane. I miss having and witnessing that sort of fanfare when getting off a plane.
As I said this wasn't the funniest episode but it was sentimental and charming enough to keep me tuned in. The three stand out sketches from this episode were Emily Litella thinking companies wanted to fire the handicapped instead of hiring them, the laundromat sketch was adorable as was the airport reunion film at the end, especially since Simon and Garfunkel's Homeward Bound playing as a soundtrack.