A Night Of Many Debuts!!!
This was another case where when I first saw that Jimmy Smits was hosting, my expectations were rather low. Again, this has nothing to do with my views as to whether or not I find Smits to be talented, I just know him more for his serious roles and up to this point, I haven't been all that impressed with hosts who are mainly known for dramatic acting.
For the most part, when the show has had these serious hosts in the past the parodies that they put them in seem to match the tone of the original work to where the humor is subtle to the point where it barely funny at all. This has yet to be the case this season being that so far, there hasn't been any host who has been known for their comedy yet this is the most fun season that I've seen in a while.
This night was particularly fun as there were many debuts of both new cast members and super fun characters that I love. When the season started, Chris Farley and Chris Rock took the places of Nora Dunn and Jon Lovitz but they barely got any airtime at all. From time to time we'd also see sneak peeks of future Not Ready For Prime Time Players who were strictly credited as writers and played background characters that at most said one or two words but you could still feel their added energy in the writing.
Not only has this seemed to be limiting the new cast up to this point, they also seem to be actively limiting the development of reoccurring characters both new and old to where I believe everything has been original up until last night's visit from Hans and Franz. I think this break from repetition was a good idea especially with last season being such a so-so year.
Tonight ended up being super fun because not only did they add Julia Sweeney as an official Not Ready For Prime Time Player along with Rob Schneider, and David Spade as official featured players but they also introduced several reoccurring characters that all triggered an audible nostalgic, "Awe."
Not only was it fun to see all of these debuts, the rest of the night, minus one or two sketches, was super solid as well to the point where I am having a really hard time narrowing down my three favorite moments from the night. I'm torn between including these reoccurring characters who I know for sure will end up on the list thanks to appearances at a later date or highlighting stand-alone sketches that didn't get any bonus points for nostalgia but where actually just as good.
Oh well, I'll get to the top three moments soon enough, until then it's time to move on and share what I saw, as I give you...
The Wicker Breakdown:
This week's show started with another Message From The President Of The United States where once again Dana Carvey played George Bush Sr. to try and boast about his half-assed accomplishments in an effort to boost his dropping number in the polls. This is still before the first Gulf War set off so his threats to Saddam is his tool of choice to solidify the nation through fear. As always, this being the opening sketch, it ended with the announcement of, "Live from New York..."
Jimmy Smits then officially opened the show with a monolog about how he's excited to be back in his hometown hosting the show and is even more excited to represent the Hispanic portion of the crowd and to celebrate he goes on to share a story while Don Pardo translates it into Spanish.
This was followed the classic fake ad for the Chia Head where Chia scientist have created a way to grow chia seeds on balding men's heads to help and boost their confidence.
Game Challengers was a game show sketch with Phil Hartman as the host of a game where Mike Myers plays white corporate type who plays against Jimmy Smits as a Native American for the chance to win ancient Native American artifacts with each question being heavily weighted in the favor of Myers who wins everything in sight. The sketch ended with Smits taking Hartman as a hostage so that the people of his tribe can forcefully take what is rightfully theirs in a way that was sloppy in delivering the sketches message.
NBC News Employees was a sketch that made fun of how white people go overboard in their use of Spanish accents when it comes to delivering the news. Meanwhile, Smits enters the scene as a new addition to the crew and is super annoyed as he witnesses his new coworkers take this over-pronunciation of his people's words way too far.
Mike Myers' Simon character then made his debut to the show and we got to witness the neglected son of a British businessman as he optimistically shares his drawings that show his view from the tub during their travels around the world. As always, the sketch ends when Simon gets done with tub time because he's been in so long that he's started to develop "prune hands."
World Party then took to the stage to perform Way Down Now.
Once again, Dennis Miller gave us the news. This week, Jan Hooks checked in from the New York Marathon to catch the runner who came in last place. This runner turned out to be Chris Farley who crossed the finish line with a beer in hand six days after the race started only to find out Mike Myers was actually behind him.
Date With A Ditz was Julia Sweeney's live debut to the show following a quick video clip of her in the NBC News Employees sketch from earlier in the night. In this sketch, Julia plays Smits' ditz of a first date who rambles through random stories on what is supposed to be a romantic encounter, at least in the mind of Smits.
The Dark Side With Nat X then made its debut to the show where Chris Rock plays a Black Panther talk show host who's in charge of the only fifteen-minute talk show on TV, "WHY," because the white man couldn't handle any more. In this installment, he interviews Jimmy Smits about racial relations on LA Law and can't believe the cast and crew actually work together in harmony. Being that racial harmony is the last thing Nat X wants to hear, he kicks Smits off the air and brings in the white boxer Gerry Cooney, mainly to show him getting beat up by his black opponent before ending the show for the night.
Two-Faced Doormen was Rob Schneider's official debut as a cast member even though he's already made a couple cameo appearance when he was just technically a writer. In the sketch, Rob and Kevin Nealon play two doormen who are nice to the residents' faces only to talk trash about themselves when no one else is around, kind of the same way Tom Hanks and Jon Lovitz would dis themselves in the Girl Watchers: A Go-Go sketches from the past.
We then got a bizarre sketch where it took me a moment to register what was going on because it took place in a Manhattan Mobile Home Park where the houses are stood on their side to cram more units into the expensive New York real estate. To add to the confusion, there was a technical error where the title image wasn't displayed until a couple minutes into the sketch which would have prepared me for the crazy perspective/main source of comedy in the sketch.
World Party then returned to the stage to perform Ship of Fools.
Verbal Reversals was a sketch where Jimmy Smits and Dana Carvey play detectives who are partners and Jimmy contradicts every single thing that Dana says not to be argumentative but to come across as sounding deep.
Finally, Jimmy Smits closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.
As I said above, this show was so solid that I'm struggling to narrow down my three favorite moments from the night because there were so many debuts of reoccurring characters that I love that deserve to be on the list (IE: Simon, Nat X, and the Doormen) that I know for sure will get their dues with time so I decided instead to stick with the three stand-alone sketches that stood out as my top three.
First, I loved the NBC News Reports sketch where the news crew goes overboard with their Spanish accents because this was the first time I personally remember any show making fun of this annoying overblown quirk. Next, I really liked the fake ad for Chia Head because this sketch is really stuck in my head, especially Chris Rock's Kid 'N Play Chia Hair. Finally, I was a fan of the Manhattan Mobile Home Park because of how jarringly interesting it was thanks to the technical mistake that failed to set up the surreal situation making it fun to figure out what the hell was going on.