Another Dropped Ball Due To Dry Drama
I'm at just the right age that Family Ties was a big show to me. I was young enough to where I wasn't annoyed by all of the blatant life lessons being pushed while still being old enough to have a childhood crush on Justine Bateman even though Tina Yothers was a bit closer to my age. I'm also a fan of her brother Jason and have seen the two both together and separate in situations that made me laugh.
So, going into this viewing I had no reason to think that this wouldn't be a funny episode, figuring it would at least be on par with the rest of this impressively strong season, but then again, the last few episodes haven't been the best. Maybe it's just because we're reaching the end of the season and the writers were running out of energy but this was the third episode in a row to really let me down and as always, I don't blame the host even a bit.
This episode seemed to suffer from the same issues that came up when Valerie Bertinelli was host in that they don't seem to know how to write for an attractive young female host. It leads me to wonder if it's the youthfulness that's the issues because I've seen episodes with female hosts who are just as attractive where their characters are actually fun.
With both Valerie and Justine, who I feel are comparable in both the looks and career depart, they seemed to put them in situations that seem to be written for the Lifetime Network and they never get to tell a joke. Rather than being the driving force of the comedy, these younger actresses seem to get stuck as the stuffy character while everyone else gets to shine.
Hell, in tonight's episode there were times where I felt sorry for not only Justine's character but having seen her funny side, I also felt sorry for her as a person because there weren't many chances for her to have fun and just play because she was constantly driving the drama on what's supposed to be a funny show.
Oh well, it is what it is and now that I've shared my views on the situation, 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 coverage of the Republican Debate '88, where following last week's Democratic Debate '88, we see that neither side really had anyone worth voting for as both sides were parodied to be a complete mess. It seems this election was extra chaotic because Reagan already served his two terms and couldn't run again, leading the idiots to come from out of the wood works, both right and left, thinking that they were the best man for the job, focusing on their wants over the people's need. Of course, all of the party bickering eventually led to the announcement of, "Live from New York..."
Justine Bateman then officially opened the show with a monolog about how happy she is to host on Valentines, then goes on to do a bit of a routine about how it's easy to shop for women on this special day but she always struggled to figure out what to buy for her man. This leads to a childhood story/example before sharing the true history of the holiday.
Justine Bateman then introduced a Family Ties sketch, explaining how she used to love shooting the flashback episode, describing how this meant only five minutes of work being that the rest of the episode was told with flashbacks that were already shot. We then went into the actual sketch that shows what this five minutes of work would look like. Since I was a fan of Family Ties as a kid, seeing the SNL cast play the Keaton family was enough to get a laugh but the overall concept of the of this flashback sketch was pretty funny as well.
Learning To Feel then returned for another installment where once again, Nora Dunn plays the host who takes questions from the audience and solves every problem by simply telling her guests to look at themselves which is enough to trigger an epiphany every single time that she says it.
Terrance Trent D'Arby then took to the stage to perform Wishing Well.
Once again, Dennis Miller gave us the news. This week, Al Franken returned as his one man mobile news gathering unit character where again, he starts out the bit by pointing out all of his equipment that ends up failing him during his report on the Republican Convention after he rambles on about the candidate's views on the weather just fine.
Derek Stevens In Love was a sketch where Dana Carvey's Choppin' Broccoli character is finally inspired to write new songs now that he's inspired by his new love. We then meet Justine Bateman and quickly learn that the feelings aren't actually mutual as she wants him out of her life.
In And Out, Nobody Gets Hurt was a sketch that took place in 1929 where a group of criminals plan to rob a bank and being that this was a time where security was so simple, the plan is simply the title of the sketch In And Out, Nobody Gets Hurt but the group still has trouble understanding the concept.
Terrance Trent D'Arby then returned to the stage to perform Under My Thumb.
Laughing At Linda was a sketch where Justine Bateman was Jon Lovitz's date to a party and she is nervous that she won't fit in being that she is just an art student and everyone else is already established in their careers. It turns out her paranoia is justified because all of these people at the gathering are straight up jerks who spend more time talking about her behind her back while forcing a smile when face to face and that's pretty much all there is to this sketch, that left me feeling sorry for Linda/Justine and people in this situation, minus any laughs.
This was followed by a parody of Friday Night Videos with special guests Justine Bateman and some journalist who must have been big at the time. The joke of the sketch is that this journalist has no idea to talk to women and Justine doesn't know how to talk to someone with such a serious job, leading to a very awkward interaction during what was supposed to be a fun bit of banter for a music video show.
Finally, Justine Bateman closed the show by thanking the audience and saying her goodnights.
This episode ended up being so serious in its overall tone that it made it hard to find these three favorite moments of the night, but here's what I managed to come up with. First, I did actually love the Family Ties sketch because the way they parodied a flashback episode was hilarious and I like how almost all of the cast was involved. Next, I really liked the In And Out, Nobody Gets Hurt sketch because I like how it took place in the '20s where it was much easier to plan a bank heist because there wasn't as much technology involved. Finally, I was a fan of the Friday Night Video sketch because it almost highlighted my issue of this episode with the stuffy journalist not knowing how to work with this good looking young lady only this was a scripted awkward mess.