My Birthday Episode: Year 19


This isn’t going to be a standard review due to a strange set of circumstances that went down literally moments before the viewing. What I am about to share has actually happened several times since I started this challenge but this time is the first for it to happen within moments instead of days, weeks or even months like every other time in the past. Because of this, I have to admit; I was a bit distracted for this one.

Do you ever experience weird cases of synchronicity? I’m not talking the modern day brand of synchronicity where you’re talking with friends about some product then next thing you know you’re aggressively getting marketed said product throughout social media because your phone of TV is spying on you. No, I’m talking this strange kind of synchronicity you haven’t thought about a person for years, then their name comes up in conversation then the very next day they randomly call you on the phone without being prompted by anything.

This happens to me all of the time with my two primary examples being how I wrote a feature-length script called Nothing Happened on Flight 487 which was a comedy about a guy who is over prepared for terrorists on his flight home to visit his family for the holidays. Meanwhile, his girlfriend thinks he’s being ridiculous since it’s been years since terrorist hijacked a plane and that he’s too obsessed with action movies. Nothing note-worthy ended up happening other than the passengers being weird. Literally, a week after I finished the first draft the Twin Towers were brought down by the airplane attacks of 9/11.

Next, I wrote a short script call 487, which were the numbers on the back of a runner in the race of life. During the weekend that we originally planned to shoot it, the Boston Marathon Bombing went down. Other than that, I experience synchronicity all of the time but more of the standard variety like talking about a movie that I haven’t seen in a while only to randomly find it playing on cable the very next day.

Yesterday’s example falls somewhere in between. You see, I’ve been excited about this episode since this season started, not because of George Clooney but because The Cranberries where the musical guest and I’ve always been a huge fan. That’s why, when I went to double check the spelling of Manute Bol in order to wrap up yesterday’s Deion Sander’s post, I was shocked to find when I opened Yahoo that their lead singer Delores O’Riordan had died.

As I said, this has happened several times throughout this challenge, usually, it’s the other way around where I’ve just watched the episode only to learn the news later that either the host or the musical guest have joined the list of celebrities who’ve died before their time. I know that it happened with Tom Petty and Harry Dean Stanton, but I’m certain that it’s happened even more.

This style of synchronicity has also happened several times when it comes to old stories that are making new news, like how there started to be Tonya Harding sketches right around the time I began to see promotional videos for I, Tonya. This also happens all of the time with political scandals from the ‘70s and ‘80s that are still affecting stories right now.

This Cranberries case was particularly sad because I planned to watch the episode right after publishing yesterday’s review in order to get ahead of the game. As I keep pointing out this was literally minutes before I went from being excited to watch one of my favorite ‘90s bands to being stricken with a case of mourning. This isn’t one of those situations where an old interest was brought to the forefront of my mind thanks to the tragic event alone because I wouldn’t say The Cranberries were an old interest as I was just listening to their discography when I was rewriting my novel Chuck Norris Would Never Write This Book.

Then to add to the sadness even more, during their second song, Ode To My Family, the band dedicated the performance to the person who discovered them who had recently died at the time. For some reason, this was the point where I went from just feeling blue and broke down to shed a few tears.

Other than that, this was a pretty fun episode that was on the above side of average compared to the rest of the season. Sorry for this strange “review” but, then again, none of my reviews are all that traditional in general. Review or not, I thought this was an interesting story to share, and now that I put it out there, it’s time to shift gears and share what I saw, as I give you…

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with a special Black History Month segment where Ellen Cleghorne and Tim Meadows share some of the achievement of African American from that year. Unfortunately, they struggled to find a black person who made the news for anything positive. In between these negative jokes, they made some serious points about African American’s contributions to society as they built to the announcement of, “Live from New York…”

  2. George Clooney then officially opened the show with a monolog about the benefits of working on the TV show ER in that, even though the show is fictional, he still managed to learn a lot about working in the medical field. It didn’t take long for Clooney to be interrupted by a “member of the audience” who shared that he was in town for an emergency liver operation. Without hesitating, Clooney offered to see if he could help then went on to perform a liver transplant with the help of Molly Shannon during her debut to the show.

  3. This was followed by a repeat of the Lexon Paradox commercial from earlier in the season which as a fake ad for a car that was designed with both luxury and affordability in mind only to end up with a mess of a vehicle that was neither when all was said and done.

  4. We then went to SeaWorld where George Clooney and Chris Farley had a flirt off with Janeane Garofalo while sitting in the Splash Zone of a Shamu-style show. Though the three are sitting in a row, Farley is the only one to get soaked after each and every trick while Clooney and Janeane got to know more about one another.

  5. Next, we got a parody of Taxicab Confessions with a revolving cast of cab drivers who got hear a bunch of crazy confessions from several characters and then had to ask them to sign the release to air the ride as a segment. Even though these characters said the craziest things, not a single person thought twice when asked to sign the form.

  6. The Cranberries then took to the stage to perform Zombie.

  7. Once again, Norm MacDonald gave us the news. This week, Ellen Cleghorne checked in via satellite as an O.J. Juror to admit that she hasn’t been playing all that much attention to the trial because the process is completely boring. George Clooney also got a quick segment to comment on the fact that the show Chicago Hope, which was ER’s competition, had the nerve to use leeches in one of their storylines by merely saying it was wrong. To round out the news, Kevin Nealon dropped in to deliver a commentary on Medicare which was aimed at viewers with zero attention span and mainly used images of Pamela Anderson to hold these viewers’ attention.

  8. WR was a parody of ER with WR standing for Waiting Room, and the central drama was from the entire staff telling everyone to keep calm while they wait their turn to be seen.

  9. Tales Of Railroad Malfeasance was a sketch where Mark McKinney played a hick who was applying to be a train conductor and was asked a barrage of crazy questions during his interview. These questions started out as train specific queries but then grew crazier and crazier as the sketch went on until we discovered the George Clooney was just impersonating the boss.

  10. The Mack Reardon Story was a parody of a CMT version of VH1’s Behind The Music that followed George Clooney as a country star who was influenced by Boy George and opted to perform in drag. This didn’t go over well with the country folks, and the drag queens didn’t like it either since they thought they were the butt of his joke. His controversy grew with his next album which was entitled, “I’m Black,” when he wanted to distance himself from the drag controversy.

  11. The Cranberries then returned to the stage to perform Ode To My Family. This was a sad one because the performance started with Delores O’Riordan paying tribute to the man who signed the band to the label since he had recently died. Meanwhile, I learned, literally, moments before this viewing the Delores had died herself.

  12. Zagat's was a sketch where Chris Farley and Adam Sandler played an old couple with Chris Farley as the wife who was overly cheerful and obsessed with using the Zagat’s Guide To Food to choose where they go to dinner while Sandler just wants to die.

  13. Emory, Illinois was a fake political ad from the town’s mayor who was making a call to visitors to stay in this town if they were heading to the area to protest abortions in the bigger cities that are nearby.

  14. Snowbird was another short film from Bruce McCulloch where he played a karaoke king at a local dive bar; only his singing was super flat. This doesn’t stop him from joining a karaoke contest where he turns to the song Snowbird as his secret weapon but still sings it super bad.

  15. Finally, George Clooney closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

As I said, other than the sad Cranberries news, this was a pretty fun show thanks to these three of my favorite moments of the night. First, I loved the SeaWorld sketch because Chris Farey’s reaction to being the only person getting wet in the Splash Zone was a classic sight to see. Next, I really liked the debut of the Zagat’s couple because I completely forgot about them and was instantly reminded that I used to be a big fan. Finally, I was a fan of the WR (Waiting Room) parody of ER because the overall concept was funny.


Watch More From George Clooney:

Hear More From The Cranberries:

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.