SNL: S22E03... HOST: BILL PULLMAN... DATE: OCTOBER 19, 1996

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A Fun Night With President Pullman

Between the fact that this season has already started out so strong and the fact that Bill Pullman is such a good actor who can pull off a comedic role, I was fully expecting for this episode to be a fun one. I know, most of the time when my expectations are high, more often than not I’m let down which was only kind of the case tonight.

Though it was a pretty good episode it felt a bit like the focus was letting the cast try out new characters with Pullman always playing more minuscule roles to the point where in some sketches he felt like an afterthought. This was my main issue with the night, especially since Bill Pullman has the skills needed to pull off the role of a host who can add to the comedy since he has the right energy and is a funny guy.

It was a good thing that he got to revise his role as the President Of The United States that he played in Independence Day during the opening sketch because is monolog was super quick, he wasn’t a part of the following fake ad, and was barely in the first official sketch of the night. For the rest of the night, he mainly played guests on talk show sketches where the “talk show hosts” got all of the funny lines.

Again, I still thought this was a pretty fun night, I just felt that the show under-utilized their talented funny host. I wish I could say more but that’s all that I’ve got, so with that, it’s now time for me to shift gears and share what I saw, as I give you…

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with Dole's Dream Debate where we got to see Norm MacDonald as Bob Dole debate Bill Pullman as Thomas J. Whitmore who was the fictional president Pullman played in the movie Independence Day. In the dream this was post-alien attack making Bob Dole think that he should have an easy win considering the attack happened on President Whitmore’s watch, only the voters still seem more impressed with the fictional sitting president. During questions from the audience, an alien burst from Tim Meadows chest and went on to announce, “Live from New York…”
  2. Bill Pullman then officially opened the show with a monolog about how proud he was to get to play the President Of The United States in Independence Day and how he was even more proud to now be considered a sex symbol by his fans.
  3. This was followed by a fake ad for Home Security Decoys which were pretty much scarecrows dressed like burglars designed to scare real criminals away from your house.
  4. AT&T Operators was a sketch where we got to see Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan as female operators who chatted about work and other nonsense in between their calls. This sketch seemed more about the quirkiness of men overacting as women than any specific joke or storyline.
  5. Tic Tac Toe was a game show version of the classic three in a row game with Bill Pullman as the host and Norm MacDonald as a grumpy carpenter of a Vanna White who had to nail the game pieces to the wall as the players made their choice. Being that there was no additional aspect of the game like questions to earn your Xs and Os, there was a lot of waiting for Norm to nail the game pieces to the wall which led to a lot of frustration on both ends. At one point one of the game pieces fell on Norm which was clearly not part of the sketch since it went unreferenced with a follow-up joke.
  6. The Rules Show was an advice talk show hosted by Ana Gasteyer and Molly Shannon who recently wrote a book about how to win over a man in order to “get the ring.” This week they had on Bill Pullman as their guest as an average guy to validate how well the rules work and since a bulk of the advice was to tend to men’s needs, he was a happy camper.
  7. TV Funhouse returned for another installment of Fun With Real Audio where this week they animated President Clinton and Bob Dole while using the audio from their latest debate.
  8. Once again, Norm MacDonald gave us the news. This week, Will Ferrell dropped in as Harry Caray to discuss The World Series from that year only to end up obsessing over his love of hot dogs.
  9. New Edition then took to the stage to perform Hit Me Off.
  10. Hollywood Party was a talk show sketch where Molly Shannon and Chris Kattan dished out some celebrity gossip as if they were from the black and white days of Hollywood only it was clear that they were from modern times because they had on Bill Pullman as himself in an effort to get behind the scenes gossip about the parties that must have gone on during the making of Independence Day.
  11. The Quiet Storm was a sketch where Tim Meadows played the radio DeeJay who was announcing sexy R&B songs during the late night shift for listeners who are trying to hook up. During his broadcast Bill Pullman entered the studio as the boss to fire Tim Meadows live on the air, only Meadows kept his calm composure to finish off his shift. He then spilled some hot coffee on his hand yet still managed to keep his composure just like he did when his girlfriend called to let him know she was having an affair. It was like a blend of the host from Perspectives and The Lady’s Man.
  12. New Edition then returned to the stage to perform I'm Still In Love With You.
  13. The Heyward Foundation was a sketch where Bill Pullman played an eccentric millionaire who paid for a lab to research how they can fit a camel through a needle’s eye in his desperate attempt to work around the biblical adage about how hard it would be for a wealthy man to get into heaven.
  14. Hidden Camera was a parody of a prank show only the pranks were just Fred Wolf hitting people with a wooden board while being distracted by Adam McKay.
  15. Women's Kick Boxing was a sketch where Bill Pullman played a fight promoter who oversold the promise that he could train any woman to kick another woman really hard.
  16. Finally, Bill Pullman closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

Though the night was fun, I have to admit that it was kind of hard to find these three favorite moments since the night seemed to be so focused on trying out new characters which didn’t end up surviving the test of time, but here’s what I managed to come up with. First, I loved the The Heyward Foundation sketch because I liked the idea of a millionaire putting the bible to test by spending all of his money trying to get a camel through a needles eye in an effort to get into heaven rather than spend his wealth on helping the needy to validly earn his entrance, since this feels like the thought process of most religious leaders. Next, I really like Will Ferrell as Harry Caray on the news because that is my favorite of Will Ferrell’s impressions, especially when he rambles on about hot dogs. Finally, I was a fan of the prerecorded Hidden Camera sketch because I’m a fan of Fred Wolf and always find it funny when “pranks” are just people being mean.

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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.