SNL: S23E05... HOST: JON LOVITZ... DATE: NOVEMBER 8, 1997

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Not To Be Critical Of The Critic But…

Though I wouldn’t say that I’ve seen any major improvements since the last episode, I would say that I’m growing more used to this season’s slower seeming tone to where I now feel that my expectations and what I actually get are to a point where I feel like the two are synced up. Again, my biggest issue has not been that I feel this season has been bad but that the cast seems to have found their comfort zone the show seems to has lost a bit of its edge while the performances are still spot-on.

Chris Farley was a good test of this theory since he was the first host to have a history with the show but the connection with it being the last show before Farley’s death made it hard for me to gauge how much my emotions affected my review. This is why Jon Lovitz turned out to be a better test case because I’m a big fan of the little annoying man and though he did a great job as host the show still felt kind of flat.

It almost feels like this season is playing things so safe there is no real point to them going live. This leads to that comfort zone feeling that I keep talking about where the episodes from this season remind me more of a rehearsal. Everyone just seems to casually deliver their lines for sketches that otherwise had potential if the energy level was at one-hundred percent. The worst part is how this ninety-percent energy level is consistent throughout the night.

The biggest problem with this episode, in particular, is how much this night had a lot of sketches about recent scandals that are no longer relevant at all. Yes, this flaw can still be the case during even the best of years but the problem is during these struggling years they turn to these scandals more making future viewing seem even worse. After all, many of these scandals lost their relevance since they weren’t all that interesting in the first place.

As I often say during these slower seasons, if I were just watching them, I wouldn’t have a complaint at all but since I need to come up with something to write about, the fact that I’m left feeling uninspired leads me to question, “Why not.” Unfortunately, this usually sends me down more negative roads when I wish I was better at focusing on what these, slightly better than average, shows get right.

Oh well, maybe I’ll figure that out someday as this challenge continues but, until then, it’s now time for me to shift gears in order to share what I saw, as I give you…

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with a sketch called Controlling The Airwaves where during an address by Darrell Hammond as President Bill Clinton, several media moguls kept interrupting the president in order to push their agendas following some deregulation of broadcasting rules that allowed such moguls to have enough power to do so. As always, with this being the opening sketch, it eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York…”
  2. Jon Lovitz then officially opened the show with a monolog where he took the opportunity to boost his ego by sharing a piece from his new one-man show that ended with a song and dance about how much he loved himself to the tune of The Way You Look Tonight.
  3. This was followed by a sketch that took place behind the scenes of a fake ad for Dunkin Donuts that shared the last days of the “Time to make the donuts” proclaiming donut spokesman before his retirement. As much as he tried to make more out of his career and finish the series of ads with some closure, the director wants nothing more than for the donut man to just get the commercial over with. By the end of the sketch, we got to see the final product where the donut man said his goodbyes before hooking up with a bikini model and having a run in with the grim reaper to satisfy all of his closure-inducing ideas.
  4. Larry King's Wedding Reception was an event-style sketch that allowed the cast to use some of their more random impersonations, this time, to roast the aging talk show host on his wedding day.
  5. A Year With Jewel was a sketch where Jon Lovitz won an MTV prize where he got to live in the Alaskan wilderness with Ana Gasteyer as Jewel. It doesn’t take long for Lovitz to find Jewel to be no fun yet he was stuck with her for an entire year in a single room cabin where she did nothing but sing her own songs and share tales of her struggles as a child. Keep in mind, this was years before there was a reality show that focused on Jewel’s Alaskan family.  
  6. TV Funhouse then returned with another installment of Fun With Real Audio where once again, Robert Smigel added some animated fun while highlighting Bill Clinton’s liabilities while giving a speech to America.
  7. The Ladies Man also returned for another installment where this time Leon Phelps simply answered more questions from callers by giving sleazy sexual advice.
  8. Once again, Norm MacDonald gave us the news. This week, Jon Lovitz brought back his Pathological Liar character to lie about what he’s been up to since leaving the show.
  9. Jane's Addiction then took to the stage to perform Jane Says.
  10. We then got a parody of The Late Show With David Letterman where Norm MacDonald as Dave had on Jon Lovitz as Marv Albert who shared a few clips from a raunchy home video that made light of a recent sex scandal with the sports announcer who was fired for biting a woman’s back in the middle of a sexual assault.
  11. The Lost Deep Thoughts then returned for another installment where Jack Handey shared his thoughts on the biggest secret held by a mountain which he thinks to be that it’s fake.
  12. Colin Quinn Explains The New York Times was as the title suggests, a segment where Colin Quinn used his stand-up skills to explain what was going on in the news in terms that might make more sense to the common reader.
  13. This was followed by a parody of The Robin Byrd Show which was apparently a real New York City cable access show that focused on the world of porn. Cheri Oteri played the titular host and this week had on Jon Lovitz as Ron Jeremy to talk about his career which was followed by an interview with “Mark Wahlberg” and “Burt Reynolds” promoted the movie Boogie Nights.
  14. Set Our Nanny Free was another Feed The World-type parody where this time the cast impersonated a bunch of musical artists joined together to sing a charitable song about an au pair from the time who some thought was wrongfully accused of manslaughter after a child under her care died from a mysterious head injury that may have been there months before the actual death.
  15. Finally, Jon Lovitz closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

Again, I liked this episode more than the above review may have led on thanks to the help of these three of my favorite moments of the night. First, I loved the Dunkin Donuts sketch because thanks to a RiffTrax joke, I’ve been quoting the “time to make the donuts,” guy for years. Next, I really liked Colin Quinn’s segment where he explained the New York Times because as much as I love Norm, I’m excited that this is a sign that Colin will soon be taking over the news, more in that I want to see more of Quinn since he barely gets any airtime. Finally, I was a fan of A Year With Jewel because I like how it may have predicted a recent Jewel themed reality show that I still sort of think that I may have made up in my head.

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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.