SNL: S02E10... HOST: CANDICE BERGEN... DATE: DECEMBER 11, 1976

or...

The End is Always Near

I can't remember exactly how long ago it was but I remember finding it odd when studies started to find that more American's were getting their news through satirical channels like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report over the mainstream outlets that people used to turn to. I didn't find it odd that people were doing this. I found it, I found it odd that it took the media so long to figure out this was going on. If it wasn't for comedy, I don't think I would pay attention to the news at all. 

Then again, I wouldn't really say that I got my news from watching comedy shows but I followed the news so that I could get the references made about the subjects being satired. I don't think I ever saw these shows as being informative but I would say that I stayed informed in order to not seem as stupid being the youngest kid in the room.

Since I was seeking knowledge to understand the jokes over keeping on top of current events, there was something lost in the reality of the news that I was filling my head with. I think having the news as a parallel interest to my comedic taste allowed subliminal facts to sink in. This is why I can have a strong stance on a political point of view without have the right tools to express my opinion and why I continue to keep my opinions to myself except for those rare moments that I can no longer contain myself.

The sense of satire being legitimate news is part of the reason I started this challenge. Following the election, I found myself watching a lot of Survivor, fascinated by the microcosm of manipulation involved in picking the sole survivor. Seeing these constant connections no matter how old the episode led me to feel this was the perfect time to explore how the television reflects reality but this time I was interested in the satirical take and what better way than watching a show as old as I am.

Even though this study of satire and the cyclical nature of history is not the focus of my reviews it's has come up quite often. Whether it's the killer bees that seem to come and go every other decade, or the Swine Flu that pops up every twenty or so years, or the endless cycle between the stupid, the corrupt or the false savior who holds the wheel of this country.

This episode had a brief news segment playfully joking about the nuclear fallout from all the bombs being tested at the time. It reminded me of the grave dangers of Fukushima that seemed to just magically disappear with time.  

The weirdest thing is that it's not only storylines that are being recycled throughout time, the cast of characters seem to be the same as well. Sure Carter and Ford get the spotlight during this time but whenever the darker side of the political is being satired, the names are far too familiar (i.e. Bush, Kissinger... well, mainly those two but there are others as well.)

I think it's the extra level of insight that makes this entire experiment appealing to me even though I expect some seasons to let me down tremendously. Luckily that hasn't come close to happening but this challenge is still very young.

Oh well, that is what I took away from this episode and now it time to share what else I saw as I give you...

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. The show starts with a sketch about Patty Hearst being reunited with her family and being unable to avoid references to her kidnapping whether they are playing Scrabble or watching TV. They flip through the channels to finally land on themselves on SNL which leads Gilda as Patty to announce, "Live from New York..."
  2. They go to start the show but there is no Candice Bergen to be found. Jane Curtin helps the director track her down and it turns out that she's too upset due to a falling out between her and John Belushi. This leads into a Casablanca sketch as Belushi shows up dressed as Bogart.  This goes on for far too long but it eventually leads to Candice Bergen opening the show.
  3. Aykroyd then played Carter as he explains how he just doesn't have the power to fulfill all the campaign promises that he made, even though he is the president.
  4. This was followed by a mall Santa sketch that turned out to be a fake commercial for Santi Wrap, the Santa sanitary lap cover.
  5. Frank Zappa then performs I'm the Slime featuring the singing styles of Don Pardo.
  6. Next, was the famous Consumer Probe sketch where Candice Bergen interviews a sleazy Aykroyd who is pushing dangerous Christmas gifts for children.
  7. This was followed by yet another repeat of the Pricing Gun ad that at one point I marked as a favorite.
  8. Next was the best break by far when Candice Bergen was playing the "Smart Friend" in a fake PSA defending the extremely dumb. Gilda plays the dummy until Candice mixes up the names and can't stop laughing when Gilda runs with the ironic flub with some really funny improv.
  9. Once again, Jane Curtin does the news featuring the fallout sketch that inspired the above intro.
  10. The news commercial was a fake ad for a Polaroid style cheese slicer. This made me laugh because I was annoyed at first thinking it was another legitimate Polaroid ad like the ones that would pop up in the first season.
  11. The news returns with Emily Litella ranting about why anyone would collect money for unisex causes.
  12. Frank Zappa then performs Lagoon with Samurai Belushi on sax.
  13. Garrett Morris then sings Oh Tannenbaum which I thought was just another excuse to get him to sing but evolved into a parody of a horror film called The Killer Trees. Where the trees are on a mission to kill the carolers.
  14. The short film of the week was of a woman who swam around Manhattan Island. Normally these mini-docs interview quirky people which led me to wonder if the fact that she was a woman made this quirky at the time because even though this was an interesting video it felt too normal through modern eyes to see how it ended up on a comedy show.
  15. This was followed by the announcement of the Adopt Belushi for the Holidays Contest.
  16. Candice Bergen then shares the horrific back story of a convicted murder who had a controversial death sentence that was looking like it was going to be the first televised execution, this led to the song Let's Kill Gary Gilmore for Christmas. 
  17. Frank Zappa then sang Peaches and Regalia.
  18. Finally, Candice and the cast were out on the ice rink in Rockefeller Center where they skated as she said her good nights.

I'd say that this episode was slightly above average when compared to my new bar and these are my three favorite sketches from the night. First, the accidental irony of Candice Bergen's mistake couldn't have been scripted any better. Next, I was a fan of Let's Kill Gary Gilmore for Christmas because it was interesting to see how dark they could go at the time. I don't think you can openly sing for anyone's death no matter how big of a monster they may be. Finally, I was a fan of the Polaroid style cheese slicer because it was the first time I was wrong in thinking it was a real ad like they used to have and my mistake really made me laugh. 

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.