SNL: S20E06... HOST: JOHN TURTURRO... DATE: NOVEMBER 19, 1994

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A Night Of A Thousand Fake Ads

Even though I still have high hopes for the rest of this season, and have yet to be horribly disappointed by an episode, I’m starting to see why this may be seen as a weaker season of the show. I wouldn’t say that it has anything to do with the personalities or performances but the writing this year continues to feel rather flat. On the positive note, at least it’s a flat is on the average side of the scale that I’m willing to put up with since I still love the entire cast.

Take tonight’s episode, for example, this was a pretty fun show, but I just got finished watching it, and I’m already drawing a blank when as to what were the night’s highlights. This has been a common theme for this season. Up until last night’s show, hosted by Sarah Jessica Parker, I’ve been pretty positive in my reviews. The problem is, when it comes to picking my favorite moments of the night, I find that I’m surprised by the lack of enthusiasm I have toward most of the sketches from the night that may have been fun but are just not really list worthy.

Alright, enough rambling about my battle to stay positive while feeling disappointed, it’s now time for my actual review. John Turturro is one of these interesting hosts who I think is a great actor, who does excellent in comedic roles, but at the same time has a serious side to his acting that makes him feel like a perfectly fine one-off host of the show.

I often notice in reality shows where people compete at a specific task, like tattooing, or cooking, or making clothes, whenever any contestant claims to be an expert in a particular challenge almost always ends up doing the worst of the night. Though they may actually be experts in the area being tested, they’re experts under expected conditions so when they find themselves rushed and things not working like they do at home their work can come off a little clunky when compared to those with nothing to lose who are just winging it.

I feel this is what happens with these great actors who seem fall into the trap of overacting when you would think they should be in their comfort zone. This might’ve come into play with tonight’s episode because there were times where you could actually see that Turturro was acting his ass off while the rest of the cast seemed more casual and/or natural which actually added to the funny but the rewatch value is low.

Another thing that made this episode feel fun but rather flat was how almost every other sketch of the night was a fake commercial. Don’t get me wrong, I love the fake ads but not when they make up most of the night because even if every ad manages to be super funny the repetitive nature of the genre itself can get old rather rapidly which is the real reason I think this episode felt a little flat.

Once again, as much as this review makes it sound like I hated this episode, which might be true when it comes to writing about it, I actually had fun during the actual viewing. Speaking of which, now that I’ve shared my views, it’s now time to share what I actually viewed, as I give you…

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with the parody; It's A Wonderful Newt that starts out with Newt Gingrich ready to throw himself off a bridge after losing eight thousand dollars from The House Bank which caused his to wish that he was never The Speaker Of The House. We then got to see what the world would be if Newt wasn’t there to block all of the Democrats from passing their progressive legislation. Even though the world seems like a better place, Newt can’t stand seeing all of the changes. We then learned that without Newt, Hillary Clinton won the presidency which was enough to scare Newt back into his original timeline where he woke to announce, “Live from New York…” 
  2. John Turturro then officially opened the show with a monolog about by discussing his new movie Quiz Show which then led to a bit of a sketch where he claimed to be competing against another contestant where the winner gets to host. They then brought out an isolation chamber to reenact the famous quiz show scene where Turturro sweats his ass off while trying to pull off the lie that he’s actually cheating. We then learned that Joey Buttafuoco was his competition before they through to the official first sketch.
  3. This was followed by a repeat of the “Eych” commercial from last season which was the “Only hairball medicine cats ask for by name.”
  4. Christopher Walken's Celebrity Psychic Friends Network was a parody of the Dionne Warwick ads from the time that allowed the cast to try out their obscure celebrity impression in order to tell the future. Not that the celebrities being impersonated were obscure, but these gathering of celebrity sketches seem to be an excuse to try out impersonations they’re not known for, which is what makes them extra fun.
  5. Phone Hang-Ups was a sketch where Janeane Garofalo was talking on the phone with her friend while John Turturro was waiting to speak next by her side. As much as he tries to remind Janeane that he wants to talk next, she keeps hanging up before he got a chance to speak. This happens over and over again even when he blatantly tells her to wait, and she blatantly says that she will.
  6. Tom Petty then took to the stage to perform You Don't Know How It Feels. 
  7. Once again, Norm MacDonald gave us the news. This week, “Judge Lance Ito” dropped in to explain a recent TV interview that he had that was controversial since the O.J. Trail was still going strong at the time. His visit was serious at first, but then Ito admitted that he did the interview because he is an enormous star and has the power to do whatever he wanted and that there was nothing anyone could do about it. The real David Hasselhoff also dropped in to discuss his latest World Tour. Even though the Hoff wanted to focus on Asia, Norm kept trying to trick him into talking about Germany since he’s signed off every week of Weekend Update by stating his theory that the Germans love David Hasselhoff.
  8. This was followed by a parody of an E! Channel behind the scenes look at a new Broadway play called Taxi Driver: The Musical which as the title suggests was a musical version of the movie Taxi Driver.
  9. Stop That was a talk show sketch with John Turturro as the host who would annoy the hell out of his guests until he got them to storm off the stage.   
  10. Jamaica Tourism Ad was a fake ad for a Jamaican vacation where Ellen Cleghorne and Tim Meadows passive-aggressively welcome all of the white folks to come down to their home country and treat it like a frat house and party it up without even thinking about the locals who have to do the cleaning. 
  11. Dr. Ira Resnick was the start to a series of parody political attack ads only instead of politicians slinging dirt we saw the first shots being fired from John Turturro as a dentist who was calling out Chris Elliott while making dark claims about his practice.
  12. The Movie Club was a sketch where John Turturro and Adam Sandler play nerdy brothers who review movies for a public access type show. It turned out, instead of actual reviews, these two nerds just watched the movie and talked over it like one would do with their best friend kind of like a reaction video on YouTube.
  13. Dr. Josh Levine was a rebuttal attack ad from the first Dr. Ira Resnick series where this time Chris Elliott attacks John Turturro’s dental practice.
  14. Tom Petty then returned to the stage to perform Honey Bee. 
  15. Dr. Ira Resnick was the final ad in the dentist attack ad series where this time, the focus was on who had a better waiting room while sneaking in a few extra jabs and Elliot’s ethics.
  16. Finally, John Turturro closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

 As I said up above, it was a bit of a struggle to come up with my top three moments of the night but, here’s what I managed to come up with. First, I loved It's A Wonderful Newt because it’s another one of those political sketches from over twenty years ago that could be written today without having to change much at all, highlighting how stagnant our political system is with the same people continuing to make the same promises while only helping the rich. Next, I really liked the Quiz Show Parody during the opening monolog because it was pretty funny when compared to the movie and I liked how they got Joey Buttafuoco involved. Finally, I was a fan of the Phone Hang-Ups sketch because of how it took me back to the land-lines days of talking on the phone and having to wait in line, signaling like a mad person that you have something to say.

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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.