Even More Debuts

From This Season Filled With Changes


I don't think that there has been an episode this season where I haven't been struck by either an "Oh yeah" moment from a reoccurring character that managed to slip my mind, or an "Oh yes" moment from being excited by new cast addition or reoccurring characters that I couldn't wait to watch on the show.

Part of me is surprised that this is the season of so many introductions because, for the most part, the cast is mostly made up of the Not Ready For Prime Time Players from last year who I was starting to grow bored of. The only changes for the first few shows were the addition of Chris Rock and Chris Farley who replaced Nora Dunn and Jon Lovitz after they both left the show.

I'm not sure if the addition of these two cast members was the kick in the pants that the rest of the cast needed or if there were more changes behind the scene that instantly led this to feel like a stronger season. That said, even though these first few shows were super good, they seemed to be actively avoiding either established reoccurring characters or new ones that I knew would stick around.

This led to a cleansing feeling with shows filled with one-off sketches. At the same time, each episode seemed to sneak in a new member of the cast with Rob Schneider following the two Chrises, then David Spade and later, Julia Sweeney. As time went on, they not only brought back successful characters from the past but these new cast member also got to introduce reoccurring characters of their own.

All these debuts have been happening so frequently that I'm surprised to find I'm now ten episodes in and there are still multiple introductions on any given night. Tonight, not only did we get to hear a couple of words from Adam Sandler who made a couple silent appearances so far, but we also got introduced to Rock and Farley as their I'm Chillin' character, the Bears fans, and Officer Miller who almost slipped my mind.

I think this is what is making this season seem extra special to me because even on the slower nights there is still plenty of excitement from the potential that there will be a nostalgic surprise following any commercial break.

I can't wait to see what's introduce during tomorrow's viewing but until then, it's now time to move on from my rambling and share what I actually saw, as I give you...

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with a parody of Godfather with "George Bush Sr." playing the role of Michael Corleone. The sketch makes fun of the restaurant scene where Michael retrieves a hidden gun from the bathroom to kill his competition playing off the fact that Bush was no longer seen as a wimp since he started to bully Iraq over Kuwait as we continued to build up to the lopsided Persian Gulf War. Only, in this case, the gun was hidden in the actual toilet and not the dry part of the tank, so when Bush went to shot Saddam the gun would not fire due to the water damage. This then led Bush to give up and rush out of the room while blaming Quayle for making this idiotic mistake. As always, this being the opening sketch, as soon as Bush leaves Saddam continues his meal while Joe Mantegna announced of, "Live from New York..."

  2. Joe Mantegna then officially opened the show with a more of a joke/sketch than a monolog about how people often mistake him for Joe Montana when only seeing or hearing his name. Before our host got too deep into what was set up to be a monolog he witnessed a father and son as they attempted to leave because they were expecting the football star. This leads Mantegna to take the kid backstage to sort things out where he slips into one of his mobster characters to convince the kid to stay and act happy by threatening to send out his men to take out Montana or even his dad if he doesn't cheer up and play along which works and leads to the show's beginning.

  3. Kevin Nealon then played New York Talk Radio host where the topic of the day is how dangerous New York has become. He then introduces Joe Mantegna as his guest who blames each victim as they call in to share the horrifying stories as if these violent actions are to be expected.

  4. This was followed by a parody of Nightline where Victoria Jackson played a wife who got a chance to talk to her husband, Joe Mantegna, via satellite being that he is stationed in Saudi Arabia getting ready for the war. This satellite call is treated like a long distance family call during the holidays where the phone gets passed around so often and so quickly that it's impossible to have anything close to a real conversation.

  5. Officer Miller then made his debut appearance where Phil Hartman plays a neighborhood cop/host of a kid's show where he attempts to dish out advice to the youth. While walking his beat he notices Chris Farley, who I think is supposed to be high school aged, as he sits on a stoop and smokes a cigarette which led him to share photos of smoke-damaged lungs. Though this first piece of advice is appropriate thing get a little twisted when the two get to talking about the birds and bees.

  6. Vanilla Ice then took to the stage to perform Ice Ice Baby.

  7. Once again, Dennis Miller gave us the news. This week, A. Whitney Brown dropped in for another Big Picture segment where he discusses the fact the Constitutionally, the president wasn't allowed to declare war and the ways in which this fact is slowly slipping away with the current Gulf Crisis expediting the change in the delegation of military power.

  8. I'm Chillin' was another reoccurring sketch to make its show debut with Chris Rock and Chris Farley teaming up to do a talk show sketch which is almost an urban version of Wayne's World with Rock as the host and Farley as the sidekick. In this opening installment, the two cable access hosts talk music before Rock shares The Mother Joke Of The Day.

  9. We then witnessed Joe Mantegna dictate a Complaint Letter to Jan Hooks who plays an old secretary type where Mantegna is so caught up in using fancy wording it takes dozens of drafts just to get through a paragraph that simply explained that a shipment he received had a damaged item and that he would like a refund.

  10. Bill Swerski's Super Fans also made its show debut with a bunch of Chicago sports fan sitting around in a bar bragging about their favorite football team which is, "Da Bearssss," while making crazy predictions for the game they're about to watch.

  11. Vanilla Ice then returned to the stage to perform Play That Funky Music.

  12. Insane Inventors was a PBS style sketch with Phil Hartman as the host who profiles Insane Inventors throughout history, focusing this week on Thomas Edison and the Wolfman who turned out to be more similar than you might think. In the world of the sketch, it turned out that the two ended up working together and though things started out tough the two eventually turned out to be quite the pair.

  13. We then went to Eddie "The Clot" O'Hanlon's Funeral where we celebrated the life of the late, greatest cut man from the world of boxing which led to many interesting tales from the boxer who were there to share their final goodbyes.

  14. Finally, Joe Mantegna closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

I can't believe that this season has been ten for ten so far with this episode making the cut thanks to these three moments from the night. First, I loved the debut of Bill Swerski's Super Fans because I've always been a fan of these Bear's loving characters and where I feel the other debuts needed work, I feel this reoccurring segment started out pretty strong. Next, I really liked the Nightline parody where the satellite phone gets passed around because up until recently I lived far from my hometown so this reminded me of every holiday phone call. Finally, I was a fan of Joe Mantegna dictating his Complaint Letter because it reminded me of how I think about wordplay with this site in an effort to keep myself from sounding dumb only to end up creating nothing but wordy ramblings.


Watch More From Joe Mantegna:

Hear More From Vanilla Ice:


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.