SNL: S02E15... HOST: SISSY SPACEK... DATE: MARCH 12, 1977

or...

Second Half Slump: Season Two

Once again, when I use the word average I am not slamming the show. On average, I've been entertained by every episode so far and after doing this for forty days straight this challenge has yet to feel like a chore. However, I did notice during season one that the quality of the episodes seemed to lessen during the second half. Unfortunately, this episode had a lot of the signs that the season is starting to wind down.

I wouldn't say that I blame the hosts, in this case, Sissy Spacek did a perfectly fine job but the show was coming off their Marti Gras special with must have taken up a lot of the writer's time. You can tell when it's getting closer to the close of the season because the sketches seem to drag on and they seem to get extra long.

The episode had a few sketches that just seemed to be filling time. Most of the time the long sketches will start out pretty funny but then the joke will wear out and the sketch will seem to go on and on. Sometimes these sketches will save themselves with a laugh at the end, but often times they seem to transition to genuinely become the genre in which they set out to slam.

Even though I'm putting this episode in the second half slump, I'd still say it was only slightly less than average. I laughed out loud a couple times which is all I need to feel pleased. Now enough with my defense of using the word average because it's now time to tell you what I saw as I give you...

The Wicker Breakdown: 

  1. The show started with a fake delay with a message about there being a technical difficulty due to the fake that the director just died. We cut from the message to the director's booth where Aykroyd is there to fill in the audience as to what is going on. The director is still dead in his seat as cast member after cast member enters the booth to see what is going on. Apparently, there was supposed to be an epic sketch in process at the time of the director's death. No one knows how the show runs technically so the cast members start to share their mundane stories of barely knowing the guy after working with him for too long. They keep promising to cut to an obituary about the director but again no one knows how to get the technology to work. At first, this ongoing promise of a seemed like it was part of the sketch but after a couple false starts. I think there was actually a couple genuine technical difficulties from having the cast operate the gear. Finally, they get the obituary of Dave Wilson to play with a director's reel filmed with black and white home video footage claiming that it is his work. We come back from the video and by this time the sketch has been going on so long that I just want it to end already. I missed the set up to the joke but Aykroyd finally gets tricked into saying, "Live from New York..." which brings the director back to life so that he can start the show.
  2. After that epic opening, Sissy Spacek officially opens the show with a monolog about her quick rise to the top after getting nominated for an Oscar for her part in Carrie which had just come out around that time. She also reenacts a deleted scene from said nominated performance where it's the day after prom and she ends up doing some baton twirling for some reason.
  3. Next is a sketch that makes fun of the old "Hold the pickle, hold the lettuce, special orders don't upset us..." Burger King ad only this is Burger Master and their customers have some pretty wacky requests.
  4. Ask President Carter was a sketch where Aykroyd as Carter is interviewed for a radio talk show about the state of the union. They get several of your typical talk radio callers that either treat the show like a customer support line, make prank calls or ask legitimately dumb questions. On caller admits that he's on acid and Carter knows exactly how to talk him down. It was at this point that the sketch seemed to drag on as we transition from talk radio to life in the White House as Amy Carter approaches with what turns out to be their ex-convict maid. The President leaves the two to settle in for the night. The maid then tells a bedtime story that is obviously her admission of guilt. There must have been some truth to this convict maid story because that was the end of the joke. 
  5. How Your Children Grow was an interview show where Jane Curtin interviews Bill Murray about Children with "Learning Difficulties." It turns out that Murray's "Learning Difficulty" is that he can't say more than five words which are, "That's true, you're absolutely right." He is able to carry out the entire interview only knowing those words and making Jane look like a true expert.
  6. Belushi announces that he is retiring from entertainment to chase his dream to become a decathlete for the 1980 Olympics. He's now selling a commemorative coin to finance the Olympic adventure.
  7. Once again, Jane Curtin does the news. It's kind of interesting just how much they gripe about airport security from that time, mainly annoyed by the new metal detectors. Emily Litella eventually joins the news to rant and rave about "Endangered feces." At one point I'm not sure if Gilda breaks and starts to laugh or if it was part of the Emily character but her recovery was good enough and Jane played along so I guess that will remain a mystery.
  8. Richard Baskin then hits the stage to sing One I Love You and Sissy Spacek eventually joins him.
  9. Franken and Davis come out to do an Improv seen only to give up on the audience suggestions and opting instead to "Improvise" a radio show treating World War Three like a regular event complete with weather and traffic.
  10. Sissy Spacek, Gilda and Laraine then play children talking about their bed-wetting doll which led me to think this was going to be yet another sketch where they get these girls to act like kids as an excuse to talk about sex but it turned out to be a warning about Gidget Disease where Jane Curtin explains that these are adults who can't stop being cute without getting the obnoxiousness knocked out of them using a technique called the Dental Theater of Cruelty.
  11. Belushi then plays an abusive newlywed man who apparently can't get it up for his wife, played by Sissy Spacek. The two then go back and forth, him coming up with weird excuses as to why she's to blame while she comes up with weird ways that she tries either cope with or solve the problem. This is another sketch that goes on for way too long and at a certain point, it stopped being funny as the genre got confusing. It felt like this was some weird theatrical sketch inspired by a real codependent relationship.
  12. This was followed by a short film with Sissy Spacek twirling a baton for no particular reason.
  13. Bad Playhouse was a sketch hosted by Aykroyd where he hosted a show that shares bad plays. Tonight's bad play was called The Milky One and it was just Belushi pushing a gear in a windmill as his sister watched on. Then death enters carrying his other sisters and after the curtain call, the sketch was already over.
  14. Richard Baskin then returned to perform City of One Night Stands.
  15. The home video of the week was submitted by Robert Altman and I'm pretty sure it was just outtakes from a movie he directed featuring Sissy Spacek more like an unofficial trailer than a home video or sketch which added to my disinterest in this episode.
  16. Finally, Sissy says her good nights.

I just notice in the info for this episode that this airing won them their first Emmy. I guess I can see that because the acting was on point, I just wanted to see a little more comedy. I even struggled to find my top ten but here is what I managed to come up with.

First, I loved the "Learning Difficulty" sketch where Bill Murry pulls off an entire interview while only changing the tone he uses to deliver the line, "That's true, you're absolutely right. Next, I'm a fan of Franken and Davis and even though it's dark, I also enjoy WWIII humor. Finally, I was a fan of Belushi's retirement announcement because it's a sign that his Decathlon Doughnut sketch is just around the corner.

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.