SNL: S20E07... HOST: ROSEANNE... DATE: DECEMBER 3, 1994

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History’s To Blame For

This Good But Not Great Year

With this being Roseanne’s third visit to the show, I’ve already made it clear that I’m a fan of her work and that I was a fan of her stand-up even before her performance on Johnny Carson that launched her career. I loved her first visit as Roseanne Arnold but wasn’t a huge fan when she hosted with Tom, but that was more because I’m anti-new couple host episodes. This visit, as just Roseanne, falls into the category of good but not great episodes that seems to be this season’s growing trend.

Sorry to sound like a broken record but once again, I’ve been struggling to put my finger on why I don’t like this season more. As I keep pointing out, I love this batch of Not Ready For Prime Time Players and don’t feel any individual plays into why I feel this season is a bit of a letdown. That said, there’s still something going on where these episodes are entertaining to watch but not fun at all when it comes to writing these reviews since it’s boring to talk about average.

As usual, I started out blaming the writers for the average content because they are responsible for the blueprints who can’t always count on the hosts to bring life to their otherwise average sketch. This year, I’ve found something else to blame which that fact that history seemed to be boring this year, at least the bits being referenced, especially with the passage of time.

Take the opening sketch for example with Jesse Helms making threats toward Bill Clinton back when he was president. Yes, this may have been in reference to a quote that was making the news at the time, but it never built to a major scandal, like other political sketches from other years that highlighted issues we’re still dealing with today like Whitewatergate and the Iran-Contra Scandal that make these sketches still relevant.

I feel that this being a mid-term election year, the first to introduce the modern day political attack ad, the political issues are based on such obscure issues from the time, even when I research the jokes, barely any of the stories have interesting legs worth laughing at. Not only does this year in history seem politically dull, the events making the news seem rather bland as well even if the stories were incredibly relevant at the time.

The weirdest part is, at this point in history is that I had just graduated high school and was out on my own having the time of my life. This might add to why I had such high expectations for this season since I wanted it to take me back to a time where I was the most active in my efforts to actually live a life.

Oh well, even though these episodes are hard to write about, I’d still take a good but not great episode over a bad but not horrible show any night of the week. With that, it’s now time to shift gears and move on to share what I saw as I give you…

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with parody coverage of a Jesse Helms Press Conference where Mike Myers played Jesse Helms complains to the press about the Clinton White House while making several vague threats toward the president as well as his staff and family. I’m guessing this was in response to a recent incident that was making the news. Either way, it eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York…”
  2. Roseanne then officially opened the show with a monolog about a recent round of negative press that she was getting from the media. She then went into a routine where she ripped into the news outlet for their coverage from everything from high profile crimes to all of the corruption going on in politics. Finally, she finished her routine by giving a prophetic warning about letting the media play any part in determining who you vote for since their intentions are never good.
  3. We then got a repeat of the fake ad for the H.H.T. Home Headache Test from earlier this season which was a device that looked like a home pregnancy test to tell users whether or not they have a headache even if they don’t feel it.
  4. This was followed by an announcement from Kevin Nealon who played the CEO of USAir where he promised that his airline was going to put more effort into keeping their planes in the air. We then heard from several flight crew members about their plans to help achieve this goal.
  5. A Woman Exploited: The Madonna And Tom Arnold Story was a parody miniseries about a fictional timeline where Tom Arnold met and married Madonna and took her for all of her money. In the parody, Tom is a lead singer instead of a stand-up comedian making it seem like an autobiographical sketch about Roseanne.
  6. This was followed by a parody of the show Rescue 911 where Roseanne played the 911 operator for the scenes being reenacted for the show. Even though each story is severe to end in someone’s death, Roseanne’s character was so bored and rude that she never provided any help at all.
  7. Green Day then took to the stage to perform When I Come Around. 
  8. Once again, Norm MacDonald gave us the news. This week, David Spade dropped in to talk about the multiple strikes going on in sports at the time, as always blaming the athletes for wanting more of a cut of the profits that are going to the owners who don’t even play the sport yet everyone respects their need for higher pay. Janeane Garofalo then stopped by as someone from the ACLU to defend Jeffery Dahmer’s rights to feel safe in prison following his death at the hands of one of his fellow inmates, while acting like he didn’t deserve this brand of karma. Finally, Adam Sandler also got a segment to sing his Chanukah Song.
  9. Low-Fat Yogurt was a sketch that took place in a frozen yogurt place that sells a new fad-diet yogurt. Not only is this yogurt too good to be true but it’s also hazardous to eat, even when it comes to the location of the restaurant but that still doesn’t stop Roseanne and her friends from wanting to give it a try.
  10. Civil War Memories was a brilliant sketch that had people of average intelligence and a public education try to explain the Civil War. This led to a tale made up of a blending of events throughout history mixed with facts that were misinterpreted or completely made up. This sketch reminded me of Drunk History, but the history lesson involved was even more extreme in how far off from the facts it was.
  11. We then went to a therapy session between Roseanne and Norm MacDonald to address her Multiple Personalities. The first personality that Norm met was overly obsessed with sex which seemed to turn Norm on. Roseanne then jumped to another personality, this time she was an innocent child, which got Norm to ask if he could go back to talking to the “whore.” Norm then spent the rest of the session sorting through the endless stream of Roseanne’s personalities in an effort find this “whore” because he’s bored by the rest of her fragmented mind.
  12. Green Day then returned to the stage to perform Geek Stink Breath. 
  13. We then went to a store called Funny Strange where the customers kept assuming it was a novelty/prank shop only to have the shop owner, played by Chris Elliot explain that this place is more of a place that sells curiosities that are funny and strange like two-headed taxidermy. We also learned that there was another store just down the street called Funny Haha, which did sell novelties and was owned by Chris Elliott’s twin, who got killed during a jealous brother fight.
  14. Lock-Up was a talk show sketch that took place in a woman’s prison with Laura Kightlinger as the host who puts on a late night-style talk show for all of the other women in jail with Roseanne as her cellmate/guest.
  15. Finally, Roseanne closed the show by thanking the audience and saying her goodnights.

Even though I found this to be a good but not great episode, I was a real fan about the fact that it was good enough to make it easy to find these three of my favorite moments of the night. First, I loved the Civil War Memories sketch because I love the idea of average people with public education trying to give a history lesson after they are years out of school. Next, I really liked the Multiple Personalities because Norm MacDonald’s performance was hilarious and it cracked me up whenever he would refer to a specific personality as “the whore.” Finally, I was a fan of the Funny Strange sketch because it featured Chris Elliot, Taxidermy, and a surreal split-screen scene which are a few of my favorite things.

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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.