SNL: S13E02... HOST: SEAN PENN... DATE: OCTOBER 24, 1987

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or...

Serious Without Slipping Into A Slump

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I wasn't sure what to think about this episode when I first saw that Sean Penn was the host. I like Sean Penn but he's not even the hundredth name that comes to mind when I think comedy. Then again, I also read somewhere that he used to hang out with the Jackass crew so I knew that he had a sense of humor but this was also the time where he had that cool guy persona so I wasn't sure how high he's let his funny flag fly.

As the episode aired, it all came back to me and I was able to remember several sketches enough to where I could write the summaries without watching them. I wouldn't say that this was the funniest of shows but I was entertained all of the way through the episode. Now when I say this, I don't mean it was just kind of funny, no, this was episode was actually good and I feel it would have been a good reference for the writers from around this time to write for the more serious actors that they have on.

Who knows, this may be a sign of things to come but up until this episode, the show seemed to try and take these serious actors and put them into silly scenarios that are way outside of their wheelhouse rather than stick to the strengths and commit to a calmer program that highlights these actors strength.

It could also be that Sean Penn is just that good of an actor that he was able to pull off these, more subtle, comedic scene without taking them to the point where they feel over the top and cheesy in an over done effort to be funny. Either way, he pulled it off leaving us an episode that was well worth the watch when all is said and done.

Now that I've got me impressions of this episode out of the way, it's time to move on and share what I saw as I give you...

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with a parody of Fatal Attraction II where Sean Penn is in his dressing room going over his lines when he gets a call from someone named Alex that turns out to be Alex Forrest played by L.L. Cool J. who is a fictional character that Penn met in prison and is now a psychotic stalker. By the end of the sketch, Sean seems to start to give into Alex when he agrees to meet with him after the show before announcing, "Live from New York..." 
  2. Don Pardo then officially opened the show a reminder/announcement that there will be no photography during the show referring to an incident with the paparazzi that landed Sean Penn in jail which also inspired the opening sketch. Sean Peen then goes on to do a monolog reassuring that the gay prison relationship referenced in the opening sketch was just a joke before reminding the audience that he's married to Madonna then goes on to tell the tale of his childhood involvement with evil photographers which is why he refuses to reveal his face whenever a photographer is near.
  3. Wall Street Week was a PBS panel show style sketch with the topic being a recent deep drop in the market and where a group of nervous talking head investors talked to Future Man who is from the year 2013 who isn't nervous at all because he knows exactly when the market will bottom out so that he can start to invest in order to maximize his profits but is unable/unwilling to share his investment plan making his visit a bit pointless.
  4. Church Chat returned for another installment where once again the Church Lady badgers her guest about their relationship with "SATAN." This installment's guests are some stereotypical Arab Ambassador who gets mocked for thinking his country has a right to do what they want with their own oil and rather than seeing this as a negative thing this was a time when America's greed was happily cheered on and not seen as hypocritical like the take seems to be these days. Sean Penn also stopped by where they continued to play off of Penn's run in with the paparazzi ending with the Church Lady getting punched out for talking about his wife. This turns into an all-out brawl as Penn then turns and attacks the Arab while the Church Lady gets back to her feet to fight back and knocks Penn out by bashing a planter over his head.
  5. Pitman & Bullock was a fake ad for an investment firm that has a Pit Bull as a mascot and uses its violent side as a metaphor for how aggressive the firm will be with your money, locking on to your investments and never letting go.
  6. We then returned to The Teeny Cafe the hipster lounge that is so small that there is only enough room for four of the hippest patrons in town who all eat tiny food while listening to tunes played on a grand piano that takes up more than half of the space available. In this installment, Penn plays De Niro who pesters his agent about an upcoming role before Nora Dunn plays her Babette character who sings a weird version of the song Memories with Jon Lovitz after the two had translated it from English to French then back to French again. 
  7. Once again, Dennis Miller gave us the news. This week, Kevin Nealon dropped in to discuss the stock market crash but then as always, he ended up rambling on about a wide range of topics that are funny but have nothing to do with the topic at hand.
  8. We then went to a family living room where Victoria Jackson and Sean Penn are making out when Victoria's parents came down for a Late Night Talk, not minding the make-out session at all. Instead, these two parents just want to talk as if it were a day time casual conversation and not the sort of thing you'd expect in the middle of the night.
  9. L.L. Cool J. then took to the stage to perform Go Cut Creator Go.
  10. Discover then returned for another installment where this time the idiot of a host visit a reptile specialist where he misses the point of every shared detail and even ends up getting Sean Penn killed by interfering with the off limit venomous snake experiment that he was working on. 
  11. We then got a news reel style introduction from the black and white days about the men coming back from WWII. This then turned into a sketch where Jon Lovitz plays a rich man with a driver who's picking up his brother that's one of the soldiers that was mentioned in the intro who wants to run one of the family clubs now that he's home. Lovitz wants to keep his brother from the mob so he tries to talk him out of the family business while doing a bad job at subtly trying to hide the truth behind the family income but eventually gives in and brings him on as a partner.
  12. Michael Penn & The Pull then took to the stage to perform This & That.
  13. Dr. Daniel Rudolph, Cat Dentist was a fun short film where the title is enough to explain it all, only the titular dentist treats the cat like a human patient and not like a vet treating a cat. 
  14. Finally, Sean Penn closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

Though I was only slightly surprised that this turned out to be such an entertaining episode, I am happy that it made it much easier to find these three favorite moments from the night. First, I loved this week's Church Lady sketch because Sean Penn punching out the Church Lady was a shot that still feels fresh in my memory from when I was a little child. Next, I really like the Discover sketch and I'm surprised that I don't remember this as a reoccurring bit because I love the real version of these shows and always have and also, I like the sketch version more and more every week that they air. Finally, I was a fan ofthe opening sketch because it was fun to see L.L. Cool J. get involved as a gay character that must've been controversial for the roughneck rapper to portray at that time in history.

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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.