SNL: S13E05... HOST: CANDICE BERGEN... DATE: NOVEMBER 21, 1987

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or...

A Cringe Worthy Thanksgiving Show

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This episode marks number four of Candice Bergen hosting Saturday Night Live, one more and she joins the Five Timer's Club. I'm pretty sure she ends up getting there and I hope that she does because I like her as an actress and there really needs to be a woman in this up until now, in the world of this challenge, No Ma'am's club that, in current time has a nice blend when it comes to the sexes but still isn't all that diverse.

Speaking of diversity, this might be the most diverse episode that I've seen in a while but not in a positive way, especially this being the Thanksgiving episode that supposed to be a day to bring people of all types together being that at least, as far as the story goes, this is the day that the Native American and the Pilgrims came together for a celebratory feast.

The biggest problem with this episode was that there were multiple cringe worthy sketches when watching with modern eyes and it feels like it hasn't been since the '70s shows that you would get more than one of these sketches in a night. 

First, there was the sketch that seemed to be the main moment of the night where we went back to the very first Thanksgiving after learning that the holiday was actually invented by hookers in an effort to bring in more "Indian" clients.

The fact that they referred to Native American's as "Indians" is one thing, as wrong as it is, I get it because that's what we were taught to call the indigenous people at that time. With that said, the use of "Indian," was one of the least offensive moments from the night as this sketch plays off the usual stereotypes and even throws in a random jab claiming that most "Indians" have bad breath.

If that sketch wasn't bad enough, we also got another installment of a Ching Chang sketch about a chicken loving Chinese man with Dana Carvey doing an over the top accents and Nora Dunn doing one as well. In tonight's sketch, it got even worse because Phil Hartman came in with a more subtle Chinese accent and took issue with Ching Chang for living up to Chinese stereotypes as if they were really trying to address the issue but with all three white people in black wigs and glasses causing squinty eyes, it really defeated the point.

The third sketch that I found to be a little rough made fun of people from the country and even though they are still an acceptable target because they are white, all of the child abusing, cousin loving, redneck talk in the song Country Through And Through is just as bad and I no longer find it to be funny.

Again, if anyone of these three would have appeared individually in an episode, I would probably just roll my eyes, make a note in the summary that it didn't age well with time and simply move on with my viewing but with all three happening in one place, I had to make it the main topic.

So, now that I've gotten this episode's poorly aged content out of my system, it's now time to move on and share what I saw as I give you...

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with A Message From the Vice-President of the United States, George Bush who wants to clear-up that he is not a wimp for not standing up to Ronald Reagan during the Iran-Contra Scandal. He then goes on to lay out a pretty evil game plan of stuff that he started as VP then unbeknownst to the show, solidified later on when he became the actual president, of course, ending his address with the announcement of, "Live from New York..."
  2. Candice Bergen then officially opened the show with a live turkey and monolog about Thanksgiving and a tale of her history of having turkeys as pets with the story of her first turkey named Larry, who is not the turkey in her arms as she introduced him as Dave. 
  3. Pumping Up With Hans And Franz then returned for another installment where the two muscle heads introduce Phil Hartman, who plays Helmet, who they plan to train in order to fix his flabby body but other than that, it's just the usual Hans and Franz routine which was the funniest thing in the world to me as a kid but is another case of a sketch that has lost nostalgia points due to being over played and all of the "funny guys" impressions of this sketch that still goes on today.
  4. Anne Boleyn was a period piece of a sketch where Candice Bergen plays one of King Henry VIII's wives who wants a divorce and when she finds out that the only way out is death by beheading. Rather than get her to change her desires to divorce this just gets her questioning what would be involved with her death as she has absolutely no interest in carrying on with the relationship and just wants to know how things will go down. Later, we actually do see the start to her execution as the narrator explains that it took three axes and just as many hours to finally put her down.
  5. Judge Anthony Kennedy Ad was the fake political commercial using fear tactic against Ronald Reagan's new Supreme Court Justice pick. 
  6. Ching Chang then returned for another installment of Dana Carvey's offensive chicken loving Chinaman character who gets a visit from Phil Hartman who plays another Chinese character who is supposed to be a sample of breaking stereotypes but this is still a sketch with three white people acting Chinese with horribly offensive accents. 
  7. Cher with Paul Shaffer & The World's Most Dangerous Band then took to the stage to perform We All Sleep Alone.
  8. Once again, Dennis Miller gave us the news. This week, something apparently went wrong because Dennis Miller went to introduce a "special guest," only to go silent as he looked off stage and said this was the first time a sketch blew up on him since working on the show. No one ever did come out and nothing was ever explained. 
  9. We then met the real "Mayflower Madam" Sydney Biddle Barrows who was a real madam and told the tale of Thanksgiving Prostitution from the first-holiday celebration that was actually a brothel marketing tool. We then went to an actual sketch to see how the first Thanksgiving played out to bring in more Native American clientele and not what the school books say. 
  10. Country Through And Through was a sketch/parody song where Dana Carvey plays a country star was isn't as proud of his redneck heritage but sings his complaints to a bit of an uplifting tune.
  11. Cher with Paul Shaffer & The World's Most Dangerous Band then returned to the stage to perform I Found Someone.
  12. Thought Balloons was a sketch that took place in a restaurant where we see thought balloons of what is actually going through a couple heads while both having a boring conversation. It reminded me a lot of a much later Dave Chappelle sketch that shows what is going through his mind when meeting with his fans.
  13. We then went to a motel room where Phil Hartman is about to spend the night with a hooker. They are on the first floor and the blinds won't close so they keep getting a visit from a Peeping Tom who keeps getting caught and then runs off only to return seconds later.
  14. Finally, Candice Bergen closed the show by thanking the audience and saying her goodnights.

Of course, I wasn't a fan of the three sketches mentioned above which left me very little to choose from for these three favorite moments of the night. First, I loved the Anne Boleyn sketch because it was funny to see Candice Bergen weigh her execution options instead of ever thinking of staying married to Henry VII. Next, I really liked the Thought Bubble sketch because as I said in the summary, it reminded me of a similar sketch from Dave Chappelle. Finally, I was a fan of the opening sketch with George Bush senior as the VP already claiming that he's not a wimp because it was an early warning about his aggressive actions when he actually became the president.

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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.