SNL: S14E15... HOST: MARY TYLER MOORE... DATE: MARCH 25, 1989

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Attitude Alone Can Upgrade

An Episode From Average To Good

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I've said this a few times before in the past but when it comes to hosts their attitude is as, if not more, important than the content of the show which this episode being an example of how Mary Tyler Moore's ever-present smile and playful attitude was enough to turn this otherwise average episode into something that was fun to watch.

I was a fan of Mary Tyler Moore as a kid because I was born at a time where people my age still watched TV shows that were made for our parents and grandparents because there wasn't enough new content to fill all the broadcasting hours on the TV. The Dick Van Dyke Show is held in a special place in my heart because it was a staple to my TV viewing when I would stay home sick from school.

This is why I was interested to see how she would work out as host because SNL can be a bit hit or miss when writing for people this late in their careers where they can treat them like props when it turns out that they're not the actors/actresses that they used to be. It didn't take long into the opening monolog that I knew this wouldn't be the case.

Mary Tyler Moore's attitude alone was enough to make me look forward to the rest of the show because it seemed like she was having fun no matter what the end result was destined to be. For the most part, this was the most positive episode I've seen from any season so far, being that I don't think they ever resorted to dark humor for a joke and Mary's permanent smile never felt distracting or out of place.

This light-hearted was a nice change of pace because in general, I'm more attracted to the darker aspects of life. That said, I'm always up for some wholesome humor as long as it's done right which in this case it actually was.

So, now that I've shared my views on this episode, 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 parody of The 61st Annual Academy Awards with Phil Hartman playing Michael Kane as the Best Documentary presenter who throws to a highlight of the Technical Awards before announcing his nominees. Kevin Nealon played the presenter of the Technical Awards show but he throws to an even more obscure portion of the award show being shot in a field with Jon Lovitz announce the winners of the Best Extras portion of the show. After announcing the category and winner he finished the sketch by also announcing, "Live from New York..."  
  2. Mary Tyler Moore then officially opened the show with a monolog about the fact that she just learned SNL was being boycotted because of an earlier episode where the word penis was used twenty-eight time. She then goes on to explain how this goes against her family-friendly image that she's been developing over the years while also chiming in with a couple crude jokes of her own, ending with a joke about Elvis Costello's penis.
  3. The Dan Quayle Show was a parody of The Dick Van Dyke Show with our idiot of a Vice President playing the role of Dick and Mary playing herself from the show. In the sketch, Dan Quayle is afraid that he's not cut out for the job while Mary tries her hardest to help out by contacting 60 Minutes to schedule interviews in an effort to build her husband's confidence. Of course, Quayle is against this out of fear and Mary's efforts backfire in a very sit-com way.
  4. Mary Tyler Moore then played a Customs Officer at the airport who politely gets all of the incoming passengers to admit to the crimes that are attempting to pull off without having to open a single piece of luggage for proof. At one point, Ben Stiller makes his show debut as a new featured player by admitting that he cut in line. Right after that, the sketch ended with Jon Lovitz admitting he has a bunch of diamonds that he's keistering in his ass.
  5. Elvis Costello then took to the stage to perform Veronica.
  6. Once again, Dennis Miller gave us the news. This week, was all news with no guests which I don't mind but I'm not going to summarize every single story that was reported on, though I do wish I had the time and ability to create an entire history book based on this segment of SNL.
  7. Sweeney Sisters then returned for a segment of more of the same. I know it's not an impressive link to connect but I just realized this is pretty much Bill Murray's lounge singer characters with two female performers instead of one guy. Actually, in this segment, there are three ladies as Mary Tyler Moore joins the two sisters after a while.
  8. Robot Repair was an educational sketch that doesn't teach you how to fix broken robots but instead, a robot teaches you how to repair things around the house. This title confusion turns out to be the entire premise of the sketch as they try new titles every week with each new title being more confusing than the last ending on This Old Robot as an attempted fix all that sends the robot into a killing spree. 
  9. Lady Rhemington was a sketch for a new lady's razor. Other than the fact that when they cut to the close-up of Mary Tyler Moore's legs as she shaves to reveal that she has a man's hairy legs, this could past as a legitimate commercial for this product.
  10. Elvis Costello then returned to the stage to perform Let Him Dangle.
  11. Broadway Story was a black and white short film that profiles several old-timey actors from back in the day who play out the story of a typical Broadway opening night in the style of a movie shot around the time that they started to ad sound because the audio is terrible as is the quality of film.
  12. Mary Tyler Moore then took to the stage to introduce the next prerecorded sketch where she explained that her favorite part of hosting the show is that it allowed her to play roles outside of what she's been pigeonholed to play. She then throws to the short film/sketch entitled Requiem For Death featuring "The New Guy" AKA Ben Stiller in a Raging Bull type role with Mary playing a mob boss who tried to fix the fight. Everyone else looks the part but Mary looks ridiculous in her padded oversized mafia style suit. She spends most of the sketch trying to be a bad as in an effort to force Ben Stiller to throw the fight but when that doesn't work she begs and pouts which leads her to get her way.  
  13. Wayne's World then returned for another installment. This week, the two basement dwelling talk show hosts interview Garth's dad again with Jan Hooks as almost a second sidekick that the dad thinks is Garth's new girlfriend. As promised they act nicer they let Garth's dad plug his convenient start, only to make fun of him behind his back. The dad leaves after the plug leading the boys to introduce Mary Tyler Moore as their math teacher/second guest of the night, but not much is developed from there.
  14. Finally, Mary Tyler Moore closed the show by thanking the audience and saying her goodnights.

I wish there were more episodes like this that are more charming and fun with sketches like these three of my favorite moments from the night. First, I loved the Robot Repair sketch because I'm a fan of robots and loved the Eats, Shoots And Leaves aspect to this robot's routine. Next, I really liked Mary Tyler Moore as the Customs Agent because I was expecting the sketch to play out the same as several other customs related sketches from the past where the agents are inept and so found the twist that Mary's pleasant attitude got passengers to admit to even the most innocent of crimes to be a new take that I really enjoyed. Finally, I was a fan of the opening 61st Annual Academy Awards sketch because I loved how deep they went into the lower rungs of the unaired rewards that get presented.

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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.