Grounded Before Gravity?


In yesterday's review, I referred to the Candice Bergen Christmas episode as a filler episode. I think I might have been a little off in my description as filler implies there was zero effort put into the show. I mention this miscategorization because this episode, hosted by Elliot Gould had a very similar tone to me.

It's not that the episode was terrible by any means it just felt like an average episode with a few chuckled and not the stand-out special that I expect from mainly watching Best Of episodes from this time where each and every sketch is a classic. The episode was fine but nothing to write home about, even if I'm writing about it here... if only someone from my family would read my work... 

Anyways, the episode was running along keeping mildly entertain. I was excited to see a couple classics that got me to smile, but then the Bee scene started. These weren't the adorable Bees that have been growing on me from the earlier episode, no, these were the Killer Bees, the Bees that I thought were a false memory from how they were portrayed up until now. 

The sketch continued to play out as another silly Bee sketch only now with a little more attitude. Then about halfway through, the Garrett Morris Bee breaks the scene, not due to the fact that he couldn't hold back the laughter but as an intentional breaking of the fourth wall. It was then that I fell in love with the sketch which got me wondering why.

I don't know if they referred to this ad Meta at the time because I've only started hearing that term thrown around when it comes to comedy in the past decade or so but it's definitely the description of what was happening on the screen.

I've always liked when comedy did this, but before I had a name for the style, I thought it was just silliness and didn't get the genius involved when this type of humor is done right which I feel in this case it was. It got Meta when the camera stopped following the action, causing the Bees to break character to get the sketch back on track. It's then revealed that the director is a drunk as the Bees share the backstory while Lorne Michaels steps into the production booth to take over the director's role in order to finish the sketch which leads to an equation of fiction plus half-fiction equals half-truth... if that makes any sense.

This sketch was followed by an Albert Brooks short film where it felt like he was sneaking in jabs at the producers for canceling his short film segment. This was another Meta sketch done well and pretty impressive that the show aired the subtle attack on the show's commitment to research and rating over creative content.

I was pretty impressed that both of these sketches happened almost back to back. This got me thinking about how I once read a theory that the natives of Central America's minds were so primitive when the Europeans arrived they couldn't even perceive the boats until they landed on the shores.

I in no way believe this is true but I am pretty fascinated with the idea of how you can witness something in a specific way for so long until a name and set of conventions is assigned to a style that you start to look at it a whole different way.

And now that that is out of my system... I give you...

The Wicker Breakdown: 

  1. The show started with the Dead String Quartet with four dead violinists in a row in absolute silence. Once again, I thought they might be moving away from the Chevy Chase fall but then as soon as the first violinist started to slump toward the side, I could see the domino style setup that was going on and got excited to see this play out and am back to being fully on board with this idea.

  2. Elliot Gould then opened the show with Paul Shaffer playing the piano while Gould sings an old-timey song.

  3. This is followed by a repeat of the fake ad for the Tri-Hard pacemaker battery, only this time I remember the original Die-Hard battery commercial that it was referencing making me realize there was more to their parodies than just a play on words.

  4. We return from the real commercials to a sketch about an interior demolitionist sketch where the cast got to destroy the set. Though the joke at the end was kind of funny, I was pretty entertained by the real deal destruction that was going on.

  5. Next, there was a sketch for the Godfather in group therapy which wasn't all that interesting to me since I don't have a history with the movie in reference and I could care less about the mob genre in general.

  6. Once again, I was stuck with a smile the moment I saw the set to the New Shimmer floor wax/dessert topping sketch that I loved as a child.

  7. This was followed by a short film that kind of blew my mind for the time. Someone took ten or so different piano players all singing the song Misty in different styles and cut them together to create one song like something you would see on YouTube today.

  8. Gould then comes out to announce Ann Murray only to be interrupted by Gilda who is hinting that the two are fooling around.

  9. Anne Murray then sings Long Distance Call.

  10. The news segment then started, and it feels like they've found their legs. I didn't really think about it, but with it being 1975 they are just entering the 1976 presidential election cycle.

  11. I'm glad that they no longer interrupt the news with a commercial as it's always a just a repeat commercial from a couple weeks ago. This one was the gay couple promoting a product called Jamitol.

  12. It was funny this week when they came from commercial though because Chevy was with the guy who is his guy partner in the commercial and the two were fighting as if they were in a real relationship. The news moved away from the hearing impaired joke with a lame replacement of Chevy Chase pretending to reread the main story in a foreign language only to make offensive foreign talking sounds.

  13. This was followed by the Bee clip that inspired the intro above review.

  14. Which was then followed by the Albert Brooks short also mention up above.

  15. Gould comes out to introduce the Muppets only to add to the rumors that he and Gilda are hooking up.

  16. The Muppet sketch was interesting as the sidekick Muppet was using The Joy of Sex while having an affair with the main Muppet's wife. It was sad and strange and ended with the God Muppet introducing masturbation to the guilt-stricken sidekick.

  17. Next, we go to a sketch called Birthrights where two doctors talk about their different delivery technique. The first is traditional, easing the baby into the world. The second doctor using a method he calls Pearl Harbor where he yanks the baby out of the womb to what could equate to a New Year's party.

  18. Anne Murray then sings song number two which was, Boogie With You.

  19. And the show ended on a Franken and Davis sketch which led me to feel that these two would have made the best podcast ever if only it were an outlet at the time.

As I said, this episode was fun without standing out as a classic with my favorite sketching being The Bees for reasons mentioned in the intro, New Shimmer Floor Wax/Dessert Topping which might have been my favorite nostalgia-wise but landed second through my modern eyes. The Interior Demolitionist sketch rounded off my top three as I enjoy watching comedians destroy a set because it takes me back to my stagecraft days when the crew would aggressively break down the set after the run of the show.


Watch More From Elliot Gould:

Hear More From Anne Murray:

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.