SNL: S12E16... HOST: JOHN LITHGOW... DATE: APRIL 11, 1987

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or...

My Favorite Man Of La Mancha Of All Time

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I've already broken down my history with this week's host back when John Lithgow first hosted the show, noting the fact that he kind of reminds me of one of my uncles, I will always remember him from The World According To Garp because I saw that movie when I was way too young but was fascinated by it anyway, and that he played my favorite version of Don Quixote in a made for TV version of Man Of La Mancha with Bob Hoskins as his Sancho Panza that I think of watching again every time I hear Lithgow's name. 

I think I really took a liking to the deranged windmill fighter at a very young age because I had an early sense that I would grow up to be crazy so I could relate to his crazy cause from very early on. John Lithgow also carries himself as an unstable type which might also be why I'm such a fan.

Where I loved seeing Lithgow as host, I have mixed feeling about this episode, mainly due to the fact that there are fewer sketches that ran extra-long with pretty much a 50/50 hit to miss ratio. This would be a great average for an episode with fifteen to seventeen segments but with a baker's dozen minus the non-sketch material, there were only three or four sketches that I actually liked and unfortunately, these were the shorter sketches of the show.

I hate having to repeat that I find this format to be so flawed but even in my descriptions it's easy to see when a sketch runs long by how much I have to write to explain the convoluted storylines that feel more like the writers are trying to fill time instead of just adding a whole other segment to keep the audience from getting bored.

There have been one or two seasons that have managed to pull off this longer sketch/fewer segment format, so I've seen evidence that it can be done but for the most part, episodes like this are average at best which is too bad because the shorter sketches of the night were actually pretty good.  

Alright, enough rambling on again about my hatred of the fewer but longer format as it's now to for me to ramble on in my effort to summarize the convoluted aspects of the night, as I give you...

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow where two Stupid Marines bring their Russian dates into the Ambassador's Office in an attempt to impress them. First, they allow them to see some top secret documents then give them the master key to the entire building when they ask to use the bathroom. The girls take the key and wander off, coming back with a couple of male Russian friends. This bums the two soldiers out, more because they feel like they are being cock blocked than because they've caught on to what was really going on. These two Russian men also claim to have to use the restroom and while they are out Lithgow enters the room and the Marine Captain and also misinterprets this espionage that is going on as two soldiers just trying to have fun, so he sends the two idiot Marines off to find the girls being for finding a secret microphone from the place being tapped which leads him to announce, "Live from New York..." 
  2. John Lithgow officially opened the show with a monolog about his excitement to return to the show then went on to explain how he just found out that this episode will be submitted to The University of Maryland for some college award for humor in American Broadcasting, only to have his hopes blow when the boom mic is seen in the shot which leads to a total meltdown.
  3. Laramie Vice was, of course, a parody of Miami Vice only this "show" takes place in Laramie, Wisconsin where instead of the Miami Night Life and drugs, this version of Tubbs and Crocket have to deal with a cattle rustling scene.
  4. Dwight Henderson, World's Meanest Methodist Minister was a parody of a dramatic show where Lithgow plays the jerk of a religious leader who has absolutely no patience when dealing with the member of his church who came to him for advice and then is surprised when the collection plates are bare.
  5. The Pat Stevens Show then returned for another installment of my least favorite sketch that I didn't even like as a kid because I have no idea what the real Pat Stevens Show actually is and the fake interviews come across as too real to be all that funny. This time, she starts with her magazine (AKA book) reviews before moving on to interview Phil Hartman as a designer from the fashion industry and just like the segment in general, I don't get the reference but the audience seems to love it.
  6. Anita Baker then took to the stage to perform Sweet Love. 
  7. Once again, Dennis Miller gave us the news. This week, Kevin Nealon stops in for a visit to discuss our growing abilities to have a la carte options when it comes to birth but then as always ends up going off topic to ramble on about whatever comes to his mind. A. Whitney Brown also dropped in for another Big Picture segment where he discusses the first custody case involving a child who was created through sperm donation.
  8. The Master Thespian then returned to the show where he and his mentor played by Lithgow reunite for another lesson in ACTING!!! 
  9. We then got another segment of the Discover show, that again, I think eventually led to the Discovery Channel due to the similar logo, either way, in this installment, Phil Hartman returns as the idiot of a host to talk to Victoria Jackson about microbiology even though he is too dumb to grasp a single concept that she tries to share.
  10. Transatlantic Cab Ride was a sketch where Jon Lovitz needs to get from New York to San Francisco in just nine minutes after his flight was fogged in. Lithgow plays the crazy cabbie who decides to give it a shot which leads us to witness the two travel cross country at over 900 miles per hour, which isn't the correct math to pull of this trip but they still manage to get there with time to spare only to discover that Lovitz forgot the wedding ring back in New York leading the two to speed off to get it.
  11. Anita Baker then returned to the stage to perform Same Ole Love. 
  12. The Golden Days of Television was a sketch that revisits old black and white shows in this installment we got to see the "real end" to an old boxing show called The Fighter where Lithgow plays an aging boxer who tries to make his loss seem more interesting than it actually was. Rather than try to reassure him, his coach and girlfriend clearly share how bad the beating actually was. The sketch then got super convoluted when Phil Hartman shows up as a mafia guy to hire Lithgow to beat his kids in an effort to avoid the dirty work.
  13. Finally, John Lithgow closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

Again, I don't see average as a bad thing and even though I felt there were missed opportunities in this episode, it was still easy to pick out these three of my favorite moments from the night. First, I loved The Master Thespian's Return Visit From His Mentor because I'm a fan of watching Lithgow and Lovitz act together as these crazy characters. Next, I really liked this week's Discover sketch because as I said last time, I'm a fan of the science show genre so I had fun seeing it lampooned. Finally, I was a fan of the Nine Minute Cab Ride Across America sketch because I loved the driving effect of a car sitting in front of a movie screen that is projecting high-speed travel.

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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.