Sometimes Sketch And Improv Just Don't Mix
First off, as I said the last time Robin Williams hosted the show, over all, I love this man when you look at his career as a whole but I have mixed about some of the individual pieces. Sometimes he's calm and strong, other times he's funny and on point but then there are also those times where he is too high energy possibly due to drugs where he can be hard to watch.
I remember really liking his last appearance and was a bit surprised that he was calm enough to host without straying from the script and while playing various types of characters that didn't all tap into the manic side of his work. That appearance took place earlier in the '80s so I had high expectations that he's be coked up out of his mind which was more of the energy that he put out tonight that left me feeling disappointed.
Not only did all of the characters he play have the same hyper active tone it also felt like they went into this episode with improv in mind because the writing didn't feel all that strong especially for the cast member. To me, there was also a sense that the show might find Robin hard to work with because they had James Taylor sing three times, a repeat sketch and a few bit that Robin Williams wasn't even in.
All of that said, this was still a decent show but a letdown when compared to expectations, especially since the rest of this season has been so strong even with hosts who are not know to joke but still did a pretty good job.
So, now that I've gotten my disappointment over the late great's hosting spot, it's now time to move on and share what I saw as I give you...
The Wicker Breakdown:
- This week's show started with more of Pumping Up With Hans And Franz as they continue on with their funny but repetitive Arnold thing with an editorial response to a recent racist statement by Jimmy The Greek about genetic and black athletes. They aren't really offended by the racial aspect but believe they are as strong as any man whether or not genetics are involved and of course their misguided rants ended with the announcement of, "Live from New York..."
- Robin Williams then officially opened the show with more of a stand-up routine about the current presidential campaign and other current events over being the traditional monolog that we get from non-comedian hosts.
- This was followed by a repeat of the fake Compulsion cleaning product ad that makes fun of a Calvin Klein ad campaign at the time.
- We then met up with a pregnant couple having tea with a couple who just had a kid of their own. The conversation about what to expect starts out pretty tame until Robin Williams suggests filming the birth of their child. He then goes on to show the delivery video of his own kid where Victoria Jackson (his wife) is holding the camera with Robin the star of the show from the point where they got into the cab all the way until their kid was pulled from the womb.
- Learning To Feel was a talk show sketch where Nora Dunn talks to Victoria Jackson who has never felt pretty at all. All it takes is a second of Nora's TV Psychologist style babble to solve her problem. She then moves on to the next guest where both the problem and solution are just as simple where all that it takes is Nora's suggestion to "Take a look at yourself," to fix every single problem.
- James Taylor then took to the stage to perform Never Die Young.
- Once again, Dennis Miller gave us the news. This week, Al Franken introduced his one man self-contained reporter with a satellite dish on his head so that he can broadcast from anywhere, who this week, interviewed a woman about the Gary Hart scandal only to have the satellite feed cut out whenever he turned his head.
- Robin's 60th Birthday is a sketch that takes place in a 60-year-old Robin Williams' studio apartment where he gets a visit from his adult son who plays off Robin's obnoxious side and the two Robin Williams it up.
- James Taylor then returned to the stage to perform Sweet Potato Pie.
- This was followed by a parody of The 8th Annual ACE Awards which makes fun of the low budget award show and the content nominated for these cable awards being that the medium was still very young and counted on old reruns, music videos and weather updates as the main source of viewing entertainment. This sketch goes on for way too long and was filled with outdated references even at the time which was actually part of the joke but makes the aging of the sketch even worse. I did like that it ended on C.H.U.D. getting the award for the best movie on cable that year.
- James Taylor then returned to the stage yet again, this time he performed Lonesome Road.
- Discover returned for another segment where the idiot host of this science show attempt to explore the afterlife by interviewing a trans-channeler but is completely unable to follow the logic and during the trans to show evidence he continues to get everything wrong while keeping up his robot like enthusiasm.
- We then go to a nice restaurant where Robin Williams and Jan Hooks are having a farewell dinner as Jan landed a job on the opposite coast but is willing to give it up to keep the relationship alive but she requires those three magic words but no matter how much he tries, Robin Williams Just Can't Say "I Love You" without doing a funny voice. That is until he finally snaps and that becomes the only phrase that he can say but Jan Hooks is out of the room to call work to quit when we discover this is a new dysfunction and not actually coming from his heart.
- Finally, Robin Williams closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.
Even though I felt a little disappointed by this episode, I still found it somewhat easy to find these favorite moments from the night. First, I loved the Birth Home Video sketch because I love the idea of Robin Williams as the dad being the star of the video and neither the wife nor the child ever being seen all that clearly. Next, I really liked Robin Williams at 60 because now that he's gone it's become one of those touching sketches like John Belushi's Don't Look Back In Anger short film. Finally, I was a fan of the Discover parody but more because I like the segment over this installment being all that strong but it's the best that I have to work with.