Same As It Ever Was


Sorry for the reoccurring theme of the past couple reviews but I can't help but feel deja vu while watching each of these episodes. I think that part of the reason is that time seems extra cyclical because they are around the time of inauguration following yet another lesser of two evil elections pitting an idiot (Ford) against a shady candidate that was promising the moon (Carter.)

Again, I was just a baby at the time this episode originally aired and the political stakes from that time never really stood out as an era to focus on. This is leading me to learn that having blinders on during the dreary days is how you get the slow boil to cook the frog without anyone even noticing. 

Seeing Ralph Nader hosting the hippest show of the day really highlights just how little is changing... unless you're counting for the worst. Hearing the things that he was griping about through his satirical sketches really made him seem like the Bernie Sanders of the time. With his focus on consumer rights and the environment, I'm surprised it's taken so long for more push back against corporate greed. 

Once again, I'm left annoyed at the people who like to point out that history repeats itself as if that were all there was to the phrase. The phrase isn't just about not knowing history will lead to a repeat of it not that we're stuck doing the same thing. Of course, it's going to repeat itself if you are just going to follow the same steps.  

If anything, this episode may have given me the argument that Nader didn't take the election from Gore, but that Gore to the election from him. Maybe that would have created a different loop, and we wouldn't be in the boat that we're in.

Once again, sorry for getting political, but this episode was hosted by a politician and these are the thoughts that came to me based on what I saw. Now it's time to show you what else I saw as I give you...

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. Gilda and Aykroyd wait in the lobby for Ralph Nader who is "running late." They express their concerns of having a stuffy politician hosting the show until Nader arrives dressed as a Disco Cowboy and acting the total reverse of his character. They take him up to make-up where he tries to keep up the facade but gets uptight about every product they try to put on him because they are all either harmful to the consumer or to the environment. This continues as he makes his way to the stage when he ruins Garrett Morris's enjoyment of hot dogs.

  2. Ralph Nader then opened the show with a monolog bashing RCA, who owned NBC at the time. He kept reassuring that the TV station was respectable and that his issue was with other areas of the company, but the cameras would pan away whenever he’d start to mention the parent company.

  3. Next was a fake commercial for a long distance service that gave great deals after 11:00 in the PM. This was Bill Murray's first sketch on the show, and he plays a poor grandfather playing a long distance game of chess with his grandson. The later it gets, the grumpier grandpa gets until he started griping about his grandson to the point where he wishes that he would die. The grandson finally calls revealing that it is a child who calls his move which is the full extent of the phone call.

  4. Jane Curtin then explains the backstory of another murder who was in line for a potentially televised execution. This then when into a sketch for what rehearsal would look like if the event were to be approved to go live. This makes me wonder if all these pro-death penalty sketches contributed to my early stance on the issue.

  5. Barbara Wawa then promotes an upcoming special where she will be interviewing herself as the most interesting person.

  6. George Benson then sings Masquerade.

  7. Nader then plays himself getting ready for a meeting with the recently elected Carter. He then falls into a daydream where he meets with Carter to help him with his cabinet selection. Though this event happened first, it strongly reminded me of Sanders dealing with Clinton, Nader being Sanders trying to confirm that Carter will stick to at least some of the progressive platform he agreed to during the campaign. Of course, he wakes to the reality that we're all now dealing with.

  8. Once again, Jane Curtin does the news that starts with Belushi calling in his absence. This must be a way for the cast to make a few bucks when they do not make the show because this isn't the first time this has happened. Bill Murray drops in for his first news appearance, and there is an entire segment about oil companies getting in the way of solar energy. The news ends with the Emily Litella segment that stands out the most to me as a memorable moment when she rants about Ford wanting to make Puerto Rico a steak before leaving office.

  9. Andy Kaufman returns to the show with a segment where he plays his foreign character doing impersonations leading up to his famous Elvis impersonation.

  10. Next was a sketch where Nader was in a room filled with sex dolls ala Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet. Again fully aware that this sketch came first so what reminds me of what should be reversed, where Nader meets with an interviewer and gets very defensive about the dolls saying that it's part of a consumer study, even though he talks to the dolls as if they were real people.

  11. The short film this week was a repeat of the garbage man short from season one.

  12. This was followed by the introduction of the Coneheads, and I forgot just how much I liked them.

  13. George Benson then returns to sing Gonna Love You More.

  14. Next was a sketch called Youth Ask the Questions where they made fun of the youngest voting generation from the time about how stupid and naive their questions are which is another ongoing cycle that annoys me.

  15. This was followed by a repeat of the Ambassador Training Academy that has played multiple times throughout the two seasons.

  16. Finally, Nader came out to say his good night.

This was a solid episode, especially for having a politician as the host. I don't know if the cast and writers had extra energy with the addition of Bill Murray, but it almost feels like a whole new show and these were the top three sketches of this exciting night. First, I forgot just how much I love the Coneheads as someone who feels disconnected I relate to any storyline where aliens are trying to blend in despite their obvious differences. Next, I found the Nader daydream sketch very interesting as it inspired the introductory statement. Finally, Emily Litella thinking that the president wanted to make Puerto Rico a steak is a sketch that always comes to mind when thinking of these older episodes.


Watch More From Ralph Nader:

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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.