SNL: S22E07... HOST: PHIL HARTMAN... DATE: NOVEMBER 23, 1996

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Alumni Host Number Four Of Seven

From This Season

So far, I’ve been a big fan of this season’s alumni host theme. I’m starting really wish that the entire year was devoted to return visits from former members of the cast but seven alumni-hosted shows out of twenty isn’t all that bad. I was especially excited about tonight since Phil Hartman’s first hosting duty since leaving the show turned out to be really good.

The thing that I like about alumni hosts like Phil Hartman is how he comes back and seamlessly fits in with the new cast as if he were a current Not Ready For Prime Time Player. I like this much better than the alumni who act like they have no former connection with the show as if they landed their hosting role strictly based on their newfound celebrity that came after SNL.

Though I had fun watching this episode, this season has been weird in general in that the stronger sketches seem to appear during the second half of the night, when it should be the other way around. With a stronger start, I’m more lenient toward the second half as I wind down at the same rate of the show which makes the most sense to me.

With this finishing strong approach makes the reviewing process confusing since I have “average” on my mind while brainstorming what I want to write only to have my insights fly out the window when the second half negates the thoughts that I’ve been developing as I watch. Tonight, the quality seemed to be all over the place to where I could never fully commit to where the show was just average or if I would actually consider it to be good.

I guess, now that the show is over and I still can’t commit to an answer, I’d have to go with this being a fun but average night since I never got bored yet at the same time never fell in love with any particular scene. With that, it’s now time to move on and share what I saw, as I give you…  

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with an O.J. TV Trial Reenactment which was parody coverage of the civil case that followed the O.J. murder trial where one again Tim Meadows played the Naked Gun star turned murderer as he pulled his usual shenanigans while being cross-examined while in the witness booth. Of course, with this being the opening sketch it eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York…”
  2. Phil Hartman then officially opened the show with a monolog where he started out with the usual expression of excitement to be back on the show before he went on to discuss his many endorsement deals while sneaking in plugs for products whenever he could fit them in.
  3. This was followed by a fake ad for the Lux 420SL which was an ad where Cliff Robertson endorsed a car designed for crazy people.
  4. House Of Congress was a parody of MTV News with Ana Gasteyer as VJ Kincaid who rambled on in her youth from the late ‘90s way while interviewing Darrell Hammond as Jesse Helms and Phil Hartman as Ted Kennedy.
  5. TV Funhouse the returned for another installment, this time with a cartoon where Michael Jackson goes ga-ga over a bunch of little boys.
  6. Texaco was a sketch where Tim Meadows played a new spokesman trying to squelch the recent claims of racism that had recently been made against the company.
  7. NEA Thanksgiving Songs was a sketch where members of the National Endowment For The Arts had to sit through several auditions for a Thanksgiving song that the organization was going to try to start to promote as a new holiday anthem.
  8. The Joe Pesci Show then returned for another installment of more of the same where this time Phil Hartman as Frank Sinatra joined Pesci in attacking his guest which this week included Michael Jackson and Debbie Rowe. This week ended with Pesci getting beaten by Frank’s henchmen after taking offense to Sinatra’s jokes and trying to attack old blue eye’s first.
  9. Once again, Norm MacDonald gave us the news. This week, the real Rodney Dangerfield dropped by to do a bit of a routine about what it’s like to be seventy-five-years-old.
  10. Bush then took to the stage to perform Swallowed.
  11. The Gossip Show was a parody talk show hosted by Cheri Oteri as a super hyper Julie Brown who not only shared private information about celebrities that went beyond the harmless hearsay but she also shared several government secrets including the launch code to the US nuclear arsenal.
  12. Phil Hartman then revised his acting instructor character to host another Acting Workshop where Hartman verbally abused his student while continually name-dropping the D-list celebrities that he’s worked with while working on his D-level roles that made up his career.
  13. Bush then returned to the stage to perform Insect Kin.
  14. Soldiers Not Coming Back was a sketch where Phil Hartman played a WWII general who singled out his soldiers to warn them which ones wouldn’t be coming back which turned out to be them all. Not only did he know that everyone would die, he had predictions of how they would meet their demise and chuckled as he matter-of-factly shared his insights while reassuring that he’s always been right in the past.
  15. We then got a fake ad for Froonga which was a Jenga-like game only it involved a stack of wine glasses from the Grelco line of dangerous games for kids.
  16. Finally, Phil Hartman closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

Though, as I said up above, I never really fell in love with a particular scene from tonight, it was still a fun episode thanks to these three of my favorite moments that I’m about to share. First, I loved Soldiers Not Coming Back because Phil Hartman’s matter-of-fact tone toward telling his troops that they’d die was as funny as their shoulder-shrug of a response to his dark predictions. Next, I really liked the fake ad for the Lux 420SL because it reminded me of the marketing style from the movie Crazy People by advertising a car specifically for the insane. Finally, I was a fan of Froonga fake ad because I like the idea of Jenga with glass because who doesn’t like the added incentive of danger.

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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.