Oh Boy, That's A Lot To Introduce


The last thing that I want to be during this challenge is a shitty "fan" that seems to have so many problems with their favorite show that it becomes unclear whether or not they like the show at all. As I said yesterday, I've been at this for around 40 days now, and I have yet to feel like watching an episode was a chore.

Even though this episode falls into what I'm calling the second half slump, it was still good enough to get a few laughs. In yesterday's review of Sissy Spacek's hosted show, I pointed out a couple tell-tale signs of slump shows, mainly focused on overwritten sketches that go on for way too long and will often slip into feeling more like the real genre being parodied.

This episode highlighted a few couple other signs that I'd like to share right now. First off, when I see an old-time performer that I've never even heard their names. I'm sure these people were the Betty Whites of their time with more of novelty value to the widespread appeal, but their classic work didn't really stand the test of time. I've never even heard the name Broderick Crawford and definitely don't remember his face.

Another sign that the show is in the slump is the number of musical performances and special guests. On most average and above episodes, Don Pardo will announce the host, the band and then get right into introducing the Not Ready For Prime Time Player before getting on with the show. In this episode there was the host, then about five other names then finally the rest of the cast.

This time there were so many names because the band was a supergroup, so each individual bandmate had to have their names announced as if they weren't an actual group. There were two bands and three performances though, so my initial reaction is still valid.

My final sign for this installment is when the host does the monolog then isn't seen for several sketches. In this case, they set up the stage to look like a living room, and Broderick Crawford came out and had a seat. I thought this might be in reference to a show he was famous for, but later it seems he's just too unhealthy to stand for more than a moment.

After the seated monolog there was one sketch where the host was in no way involved. They then come back to him still on the chair so that he could introduce a short film where he walks around Hell's Kitchen, where he was born. We then don't see the host again until after we are given the news.

I would think that the episodes with the inactive hosts would give the regular cast a chance to shine, kind of like how when the podcasts that I listen to have a guest back out where it often becomes a better show without them. Not that you'd want it to be that way every week, but many times, I prefer the sketches that only feature the main cast.

Again, this wasn't a horrible episode, it's just nowhere near the top of any lists. Now that I pointed out the flaws of the show it's time to point out what I saw as I give you...

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. The show starts with Gilda Radner plays Rhonda Weiss and the Rhondettes singing a song called Goodbye Saccharine, a song singing farewell to the controversial sweetener. It was a pretty funny song, but the best part was when they pointed out the Linda Ronstadt was one of the background singers, without getting any spotlight at all during the actual sketch.

  2. Broderick Crawford opened the show coming out to a living room set that I'm assuming is associated with a classic show from his career, but he walks out and sits so fast that it might be due to a health issue. He goes on to tell tales about being an old time entertainer, complete with a funny story about his horrible introduction to radio.

  3. Next was a cluster fuck of a sketch that started out in the White House War Room with Carter mapping out his plan to take over the underground cartels and comes up with a plan to assassinate Don Cornelius and Don Kirshner. Probably jokes that were more relevant at the time but I didn't really get the humor. The sketch seems to be getting to the point where it is long enough to either end or get to the real joke when it shifts tone altogether and becomes a Samurai sketch where said Samurai is a hit man. This goes on for another sketch worth of time but I was so disinterested by this point, I couldn't even really follow the story.

  4. We then come back to the main stage where Broderick is still sitting in the seat as if he never moved. He announces this week's short film which was mainly just Broderick revisiting his hometown of Hell's Kitchen. I'd say this was more interesting than entertaining as it really seems like it's just home video vacation footage.

  5. Aykroyd returns as his pitchman character who pitches Mel's Hide Heaven which is pretty much a follow-up to Mel's restaurant where you kill and cook your own cow, only at this location you kill and hide the cows to make your very own jacket.

  6. The RCO All-Star band featuring 50% of the people Pardo announced in the intro then come out to perform Sing Sing Sing.

  7. Bill Murray then pleads to the audience to laugh at his jokes because he's not feeling very welcome as the new guy. He points out that he hasn't been that funny in the show even though he's super funny in real life. Both looking back and watching the show as if I didn't know the future of these performers, I have to say he was pretty spot on with his conclusion since he hasn't been that funny up to this point. That said, he’s still the new guy trying to find his fit, but I think even at the time I'd be willing to wait for him to get there.

  8. Next was a parody of I Love Lucy's famous Bon-Bons on the conveyer routine only instead of candies she's fighting to keep up with putting whipped cream and a cherry on the top of a bunch of nuclear warheads. She struggles a little but manages to keep up in a way that seems very anticlimactic until the boss returns and startles her causing her to drop the current bomb she was working on.

  9. Once again Jane Curtin does the news. Where last time she started by showing her bra, this time she starts with a sexy conversation as if to win over the horny male viewers in order to keep the role because she jumps right into her regular tone once she seems to get past the point of obligation. There was also an interesting segment where they throw to Garrett Morris to report on the Black Governors Convention, only no one is there because there were zero black governors at the time.

  10. The news’s commercial was a repeat of the Puppy Uppers and Doggy Downers commercial.

  11. The news returns with Belushi checking in as the reporter whose anger grows as he talks about a topic that annoys him. Tonight's topic was another moment that I could quote word for word as he rants and raves about the phase, "The luck of the Irish."

  12. This was followed by an epic sketch that was a parody of a show called Highway Patrol that most had been a show Broderick Crawford was known for. This was the first sketch that the host acted in and it seemed like they were making up for missed air time. It starts in the police station where Jack Kerouac gets busted for some driving violation but is held in jail for his reputation from his book On the Road. The joke felt crowbarred in and fell flat, but the sketch just kept on going. Next, there was a call about a hostage situation that might have been funny if it was its own developed sketch. It turns out that the hostage situation is a set of "Siamese Twins" where the one sister with the gun only wants a non-circus job and not to be charged for two seats when traveling. A set of conjoined-priests then come in to do the negotiation. This could have been funny, but it ends too quick as we find ourselves back at the station for one last joke that goes nowhere when they get a call about the James Dean car accident. Then it ends... That's it...

  13. Once again Gilda plays Barbara Wawa At Large, and this week she's interviewing Godzilla.

  14. The supergroup The RCO All-Stars return to perform Ain't That a Lot of Love.

  15. Next, we get the backstory in text that shared a real attempt by Nixon to create a Secret Police Force known as the Huston Plan which sounded an awful lot like the NSA. We then see a sketch of the night this plan failed as Nixon tried to strong arm J. Edgar Hoover into playing along but both sides have too much spy intel on one another for the blackmailing attempt to go anywhere.

  16. The Meters then perform I Got to Get My Name Up In Lights.

  17. Finally, Broderick Crawford, still sitting in his chair, chimes in to say his good nights.

Now this episode. I feel no guilt in saying it was below average but it did have potential and some funny sketches with these three being the most entertaining. First, I loved the I Love Lucy sketch and how they played with my expectations. Next, I'll watch anyone interview a guy in a Godzilla suit since it's been my dream to own one since I hit high school. Finally, I will always be a fan of a raging Belushi getting all fired up over a minor annoyance.


Watch More From Broderick Crawford:

Hear More From Levon Helm, Or Dr. John, Or The Meters:


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.