SNL: S02E17... HOST: JACK BURNS... DATE: MARCH 26, 1977

or...

Surprised by a Stranger

In my last couple reviews, I've been talking about the second half slump but keep in mind, I never claimed it as a tipping point to where every episode after is a stinker. That said, once the season hits that mark there definitely seem to be a string of subpar episodes. Between the fact that there's been two slump shows in a row and I had no idea who this guest was, I was fully expecting a full on three-peat. 

Then the show started with Belushi, hijacking the intro and swears he will not say more, "Live from New York" until they meet his demands. The idea being that it's impossible to start the show without the full phrase being uttered. Though I was very entertained by this sketch it did feel like it was going long which was actually the point of the sketch so I was feeling fifty-fifty about the upcoming show.

The host came out to open the show and not only was his name unfamiliar, I just could not place his face. During his monolog, he pointed out that he was part of a comedy team which started to raise my expectation. Then again his monolog was interesting but it end ended on a filthy dad joke about masturbation. 

Once again, I was torn, the actual joke was pretty funny but the day joke angle made me nervous that this would be the humor this episode would be filled with. Then after the first full sketch, I was fully settled in for a fun one.

It turns out, I was right to settle in because this episode ended up being one of my favorites from the season. Not only was the host pretty good at what he did but the rest of the cast did great without him. Even the more convoluted sketches that seemed to run long kept my attention to the very end, which isn't a common thing to happen.

This episode rekindled my energy to watch more than one episode in a day, which is good because I was beginning to burn through my backlog. I guess now that I've given it all this praise it time to share what I saw as I give you...

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. As I mentioned in the intro above the show starts with Belushi hijacking the show after being given the duty to say, "Live from New York..." only he won't complete the phrase, locking the show in this opening segment. He fakes that he's about to say it a couple times before giving a list of demands required to start the show to then get tricked into reading the phrase in the written response to his demands.
  2. Jack Burns opened the show, and I have no idea who this guy is. He goes into a monolog about not getting religion as a child because of their stance on touching yourself. The story gets a little long winded before he announces he is going to do something on live TV that's never been done before. He announces he's going to touch himself on TV and starts tickling his chest with his fingers to what I'm assuming was a pretty stunned audience. I really appreciated the concept of this bit but there was such a dad joke vibe to the punch line that I couldn't help but cringe a little. As with everyone else in the world (except dads) I have mixed feelings about dad jokes.
  3. The Coneheads then return to visit their brand new neighbors in a sketch called The Farbers meet the Coneheads.
  4. Santana then performs Black Magic Woman.
  5. The Marines must have just let women in because this was a sketch about a duel Marine wedding, where the priest was also the drill sergeant and the ceremony switch back and forth between a standard affair, mixed with a little bootcamp screaming.
  6. Gandhi's daughter was apparently a real piece of work because this sketch was about her transition out of power after losing the local election. She's bummed that she can't get away with the bad things she loves and refused to leave the office until the last second of her service. Apparently, the group that came into power was part of the Untouchable party. This is when the sketch seemed like it was going to fall off the rails because The Untouchables from the TV show arrive and turn the sketch into a bit of a disaster. Good thing this didn't last long because as soon as Gandhi's daughter asked for a sign to leave the sketch ending cow fell from the ceiling, getting a laugh out of me and ending the sketch at just the right time.
  7. Once again, Jane Curtin does the news which as always was good even though there is not all that much to report on.
  8. The news commercial was for a product called Leech Tab 100 by Arthax Mentho which are over the counter bottles of leeches to cure whatever ails you.
  9.  The news returns with no special guest this week but with more of its regular content.
  10. Next was a sketch for a show called The Squatters which sounds like it's a show about people from the western days that squatted to take over land. Though that is the case these are also literal squatters that even squat when they walk as they develop their own little town.
  11. Next was a sketch that also went long but I loved everything about it. It starts with a ditsy receptionist who comes into an office to take a note from the boss. He dictates a suicide note and quickly goes to jump out the window. She doesn't catch on to this cry for help and asks him if he wants it read back to him. This gets him to climb off the ledge to change some of the wording. She still doesn't get how serious this is and wanders off to get coffee. While she's gone, he tries to drown himself in his aquarium and once again she stops him when she asks if she can leave early to get ready for a big night that she has planned with her boyfriend. This talking gets him thinking about the window again and he turns and jumps out the window. Only he does nothing to give the illusion that he feel he's now just standing outside the window screaming. This gets Laraine to drop the ditsy act and yell and Jack Burns for his failure to pull off the stunt. Then cast member after cast member enter the room, in character, only to find out that it is pointless. First, it's a coworker that saw the fall, then the ambulance drivers, then his family and so on and so on until it's a room filled with the cast disappointed by the host for ruining this perfect sketch.
  12. The Short Film this week was Jack Burns reenacting Rocky, mainly drinking eggs before shadow boxing down the street by this out of shape old guy. It ended by going back to the studio where Jack Burns drank a glass of eggs, live in front of the crowd.
  13. Next was a parody of a parody from a few weeks ago called Ask Big Daddy which was playing off the Jimmy Carter State of the Union radio interview sketch but this time it was Idi Amin answering the questions.
  14. This week's home video was called Mirage. It started with a guy in the desert who spots a soda machine in the distance. He stumbles over and finally gets to the machine, putting in his last quarter and pressing the button to order a drink only it's an old school soda machine that dumps the soda out first and the cup comes following after.
  15. Aykroyd as Ricardo Montalban then pitches a thing called Panty Gram which is a messenger service that prints its messages on pairs of women's panties. This is followed by sample after sample of where this would work including an old lady Gilda character getting a message that just reads "It's Benign," along with a "Happy Birthday" message to Bill Murray.
  16. Santana returns to perform Europa.
  17. Jack Burns then plays an old drunk that tries to talk to Gilda and Jane. He keeps on insisting that he knows them from Laugh In even though they were playing themselves from SNL. He went into a tale of being an old comedic writer and tries to get a gig on the show. He either knows this guy are is this guy because after they leave him he has the perfect Tear From a Clown moment.
  18. Finally, Jack Burns returns to the main stage to say his good nights.

Where I had to reach to find my favorite sketches in the last few episodes because of their average at best content, with this episode there was a bit of a struggle because there were too many favorites to choose from. That said, I narrowed it down and it's time to share my findings.

First, I loved the sketch where Jack jumps out the window but doesn't lay down ruining the stunt and the rest of the sketch in the process. Next, The Squatters sketch cracked me up, especially when everyone would walk or run in the squatted position. Finally, I was a fan of The Coneheads sketch because so far they can still do no wrong.

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.