SNL: S02E22... HOST: BUCK HENRY... DATE: MAY 21, 1977

or...

A Slightly Sloppy Second Season Sendoff

I think I might have had too high of an expectation coming into this viewing. First off, it was the season finale which I've grown used to being more of a special episode filled with special guest and homecoming cameos from the cast. Of course, this being the second season they don't have the stockpile connections to incorporate into the show but they did have Buck Henry hosting which is the second reason that my expectations were so high.

As I said before, I think of Buck Henry as more of an honorary cast member of SNL over what made him famous enough to be on the show. When I see that he's hosting, I expect to see a little bit of a looser show where it feels more like it's play time for the cast instead of a promotional tool for the host.

Though this was a fun episode it had a sloppy tendency to slip into the slump category. For instance, the sketch after the monolog started out with a very convoluted plot that left me waiting for the payoff to figure out how to write my notes but then that branch went nowhere as the sketch randomly switch tone to start another Samurai sketch.

On top of what I mentioned above, there were also multiple music acts that feel more like time fillers than added value to the show as well as sketches that seem to go on for way too long even though they started out strong.

Maybe it will be easier to understand if I explain some more of what I saw, so here is the part where I give you...

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. The show opens with a Fireside Chat where Carter is riding a bike to power the cameras as part of his promise to work on getting away from big oil. First, his wife takes his place and the image starts to fade during the brief downtime during their switch off. Carter continues to explain his plan until it's his mother's turn to hop on the bike because she's too old to keep going. She eventual collapses causing the screen to go all snow. The image comes back and she back on the bike to say, "Live from New York..."
  2. Buck Henry opens the show with a monolog about how Lorne has given him the freedom to do whatever he wants since he's done so much for the show. He then announces that he's going to shot the first ever live porno scene expecting Lorne to call his bluff, but the FCC keep clearing everything until Buck Henry almost ends up in a gay porn scene after an accident mix-up when Henry was attempting to pick a hot female partner from the crowd.
  3. This scene starts with Garrett Morris dressed as a militant black student waiting to talk to the Dean. Gilda then enters and improvs a line about why the Dean was late due to the action in the opening monolog. Buck Henry then enters and the scene finally starts with Morris wanting to start up an All Black Student Union. It gets a little convoluted right here but it turns out they've actually built the building in the demands but let the All Black Student Union keep the admin building they took over in protest. This triggers Morris to run out of the building for some reason and sketch randomly switches to be another Samurai sketch. This one is called Samurai B.M.O.C. (Big Man on Campus) which was pretty much the Samurai as a Van Wilder type character.  
  4. Jennifer Warnes sings Right Time of the Night.
  5. Bill Murray enters the shower with a microphone soap on a rope and he's singing and acting like some kind of high energy radio host and introduces his wife to join the show. Gilda then joins the shower and Murray tries to interview her. She just wants to shower but then things get strange and Murray brings that man she's been cheating with to join them in the shower. Buck Henry joins the crowd and Murray continues the interview. We then find out Murray is being dumped but continues his shower show all alone after the other two leave to be with one another.
  6. Next was a Coneheads sketch that went on forever and ended on a bit of a flat note. It starts in the house where Buck Henry plays a man from the military who found a strange space pyramid that fell from the sky and had the Coneheads address on it. Henry thinks the Coneheads are actually in the Klan despite all of their alien talk. They reveal the truth and that this pyramid thing is a note telling them it's time to come home. Henry then says their secret was safe because he always wanted to know what it was like to fly through space so Aykroyd grabs him by the collar and belt and throws him out the front door. Next, we are on film and outside as the Coneheads hope in the driving school car to drive to their rendezvous point. This is pretty much just coverage of people reacting to the Coneheads in the real world. They then get to the Empire State Building that turns out to be a rocket ship that takes them home. Then we cut back to the stage where the Coneheads are on their home planet talking to the leader, who tells them the missions been canceled because of funding and that the leader wants to marry the daughter. That is until he finds out that the daughter is not a virgin which gets Aykroyd and the leader to fight and the sketch randomly ends when they fall out the window.
  7. Once again, Jane Curtin does the news. There is an interview segment where Emily Litella interviews a congresswoman who gets so frustrated in dealing with the mistakes that she cancels her major reaction. Then there's another creepy bit where Buck Henry comes out to present Jane with an award that turns out to be a fake attempt to get her to hook up with him. Then he takes it back when she rightfully turns him down. 
  8. Next was a bachelorette/wedding shower making fun of the reactions girls give to the mundane and weird gifts you get in this sort of situation and how other girls will join in to exaggerate how thoughtful any gift is.
  9.  How Your Children Grow was a very interesting sketch where Jane Curtin interviews Buck Henry who plays a speech therapist. As he speaks Gilda sits beside him verbally saying the punctuation as he says every sentence. When the sentence is said, Laraine rings a bell and points to Gilda who gives Jane a chocolate chip cookie. Jane finally asks what's with the assistants, when Henry explains, Gilda is someone who he ran into on the street and this is just something she does. Laraine was just some "ditz" he met at a party that likes to ring a bell and point to her right and it's finally revealed that he's into Pavlovian response research while Jane is now drooling expecting a cookie.
  10. The short films haven't been from Gary Weis for a while, this week's short was just a dog sleeping in bed with an alarm clock next to it and the dog slowly wakes as the alarm goes off and that's it.
  11. Kenny Vance sings The Performer.
  12. Buck Henry then played Charles Lindbergh in a parody documentary about his transatlantic flight. It starts simple and silly as if there's not much to show with a man in a small cockpit. The further and further into the flight we get the more we see sleep deprivation setting in up to the point where he ends up trying to buy amphetamines from Chevy Chase making a special appearance as the land shark. 
  13. The Saturday Night Band performs a song called Departure Lounge.
  14. Then Michael O'Donoghue does another one of his impressions of people with steel knitting needles jammed in their eyes. This time it's the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the entire cast joins in to do the screaming and rolling around on the floor.
  15. Finally, Buck Henry hit the main stage to say his goodnights.

Again, this was a slightly above average show but it was a bit of a letdown as the finale. That said, I still have my favorites and here they are. First, I loved the How Your Children Grow sketch because I've always been a huge fan of Pavlovian humor. Next, I liked the Lindbergh sketch because I love how it was able to be so entertaining with just one man sitting in a tiny cockpit. Finally, I found the Coneheads to funny as always even though I'm not sure how I feel about the sketch's ending.

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.