Not A Bad Start To A Shortened Strike Season


Once again, my biggest surprise about this challenge was finding out that I wasn't a huge fan of the Steve Martin appearance back with the original cast. The main problem was in these early days this comedic legend was still on his flailing guy phase where the high energy was half funny with the other half detracting from the joke.

I loved this type of stuff when I was young but the high energy spaz failed to carry over as I aged. Luckily, it didn't seem to carry over with Steve Martin as well because every visit since those original years has improved exponentially as his career evolved to be more sophisticated itself. 

Thinking about it now, this makes sense to me because I was eleven at this time so at the time I saw the more wild side in his classic works but was introduced to him as a performer when he had already tapped into his calmer side. That eleven-year gap seemed like a life time to a young me but now almost triple the amount of time has passed and both Martin and I have continued to calm, making the difference in style seem almost one hundred times more noticeable.

In this episode, Steve Martin promoted his movie, Roxanne. I personally feel that this was the point in his career where the drama to comedy balance started to level out which might explain why he seemed more confident and calm than his earlier visits. That's not to say that he's wasn't funny it's just a matter of tone because I can't think of a sketch that I didn't like even though they weren't slap-stick silly.

Another thing that was impressive about this episode is how it turned out pretty good despite the fact that this is a shortened strike season. When I first saw that there were only thirteen episodes to this year, I was nervous because, for the most part, this usually means writer's strike and strike seasons often flop.

Fortunately, as Steve Martin pointed out in his monolog, this was more of a technical strike, and by "technical" I mean the camera crew and technical staff stopped working and not a question as to whether or not it was an actual strike at all. Even if you don't get this joke, the point is, being that the writers weren't the ones striking the quality of the content didn't seem to be all that effective even though it wasn't all that well shot.

Hopefully, this stays true for the rest of the season because I don't know if I can fully trust just any host to pull off the same quality with the limited crew.

Alright, now that I've got my thoughts of Steven Martin and this season's strike out of my system, it's not time to move on and share what I saw, as I give you... 

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started at the White House with a parody of The Untouchables re-enacting the scene where Al Capone hosts a dinner and attacks one of his own men with a bat after being let down. In this parody, Ronald Reagan plays the notorious mob boss who is angry with his staff over letting him down with the Iran-Contra Scandal a beats Lovitz to death for being the person who was sloppy enough to get caught. Though the beating is pretty violent ending with blood pouring from Lovitz's head, it's not enough to keep him down as he lifts his noggin to announce, "Live from New York..."

  2. Steve Martin then officially opened the show with a monolog about being excited to come back to TV after spending so much time working on movies then makes a quick joke about the difference before plugging his upcoming films and letting us know that the entire cast is returning for this season and absolutely nobody was let go. Finally, he finished the monolog by informing the audience of the Technical Union's strike going on at the time that ended up making this a short season.

  3. We then got a fake ad for Gary Hart playing on his recent affair and shot like a foreign romance film with the angry ex-lover trashing their love den only to be swept off her feet once again as soon as "Gary Hart" steps into the scene while the announcer proclaims, "Gary Hart, You can't get him out of your mind."

  4. Common Knowledge was a game show sketch where like the title implies contestants are quizzed on what's supposed to be common knowledge only the show has all the answers wrong but one contestant still ends up getting a large chunk of the answers correct. It turns out that the show didn't get its answers from the history books but instead polled the average seventeen-year-old highlighting how dumb the young generation is who the focus should have been a statement on the quality of schools from government underfunding.

  5. The NFL Today was a parody of the real show of the same name where Kevin Nealon plays the host who interviews Phil Hartman as Jimmy The Greek before introducing a, "You make the call" segment where the home audience is given a chance to predict a referee call. This leads into one more interview but all of this seems too real to be funny especially with so many sports reference from so far back in the past which is just not anything I was all that interested in the first place.

  6. We then went to a dinner between Victoria Jackson and Steve Martine where throughout their conversation a Slide Whistle Sound Effect is added to everyone's inner-thoughts.

  7. Sting then took to the stage to perform We'll Be Together.

  8. Once again, Dennis Miller gave us the news. This week, Al Franken then dropped in for an update on The Decade Of Al Franken from back when this was more of a reoccurring routine. Rather than focusing on the decade of him, he used the segment to call out presidential candidate in this year full of political scandal. Victoria Jackson also returned for a segment to complain about the way the media treats women and when Dennis Miller calls her out for being a bit ditsy herself she replies in song with the tune I Am Not A Bimbo pointing out that her light personality doesn't mean that she doesn't have a brain.

  9. We then met 007's accountant who is extremely upset by how much James Bond frivolously spends on his missions leading to a classic James Bond opening scene for a fictional film called Bullets Aren't Cheap where we see how the secret agent switches from frivolous to frugal when it's actually his money that's involved as opposed to his treatment of his countries dime.

  10. This was followed by a sketch that took place on a Navy boat with John Lovitz and Steve Martin enjoy the sunset at the end of the day. Lovitz asks Martin a question to which the underling asked for Permission To Speak Freely and when granted permission he tells his superior to go ahead and screw off. This raise in argumentative voices then gets the captain involved by asking about what was going on. This gets John Lovitz to ask if he too has Permission To Speak Freely before he also ends up going off.

  11. Sting then returned to the stage to perform Little Wing.

  12. Adventures In The Lost Realm was a fictional show of a sketch similar to Land Of The Lost where a group of modern scientists and explorers stumble into an area of the world where dinosaurs still exist. Right out the gate, a T-Rex snatches up John Lovitz and then takes forever to eat him while the survivors wait it out to sneak by to at least attempt to save the body. This goes on for so long that the survivors never end up getting their chance.

  13. Pumping Up with Hans and Franz then made their debut where they introduced themselves and share the fact that they are Arnold Schwarzenegger's cousins before first showing us how to work out before going on to show us how to pump.

  14. Finally, Steve Martin closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

As I keep saying this was a great start to the season and these were my three favorite bits. First, I loved the Common Knowledge sketch even though I feel the sketch missed the mark by making fun of how dumb the young generation is when they couldn't have focused on the government's failure when it comes to schools. Next, I really liked Victoria Jackson's I'm Not A Bimbo segment of the news because I believe that a bubbly personality doesn't make a person dumb. Finally, I was a fan of Bullets Aren't Cheap sketch because I love the jab at government spending where 007 throws around money when the government provides it for a mission but won't spend a dime when it comes to using his own bank account.


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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.