SNL: S23E09... HOST: HELEN HUNT... DATE: DECEMBER 13, 1997

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As Good As This Season Gets

It’s funny how often a host like Helen Hunt will get me to think that I was a huge fan of their career only to look at their IMDB profile to discover that I’ve only seen a handful of their movies. Part of this phenomena stems from the fact that I stopped obsessively following film and television about a decade ago when I went from being a fan to working in the industry.

Though I was writing movies as a hobby with dreams of getting them made ever since I became an adult, the moment that I started to work on film crews, the dream became work and the movies lost all of their magic. Because of the timing of my loss of interest, I often look back on these hosts that I was a fan of in my youth only to find that they now have dozens of movies under their belt instead of the handful from when I was following their careers in real time.

If you go back even further, like in tonight’s case with Helen Hunt, when I was a fan of her work, around the time this episode originally aired, there was no IMDB so I wasn’t aware of her already well-established career filled with indie flix and smaller roles in big movies. So yeah, I’ve seen about ten of her projects but that only accounts for ten percent of her resume when here I was thinking I’ve seen more.

The other thing that plays into the times when I think that I’m more familiar with a host’s career than I actually am is during this time, I was watching way more TV in general so not only did I see their finished products, their names stand out more from unintentionally following their promotional tours in order to hype their movies.

Finally, especially in this case with Helen Hunt, I will often also think that I’m more familiar with someone’s film career when really, they’re more familiar to me because of their time working on TV. Though I love both mediums when I think of stars I think of movies so it will often slip past my mind that the real reason the host stand out to me is that I’ve watched them for years on the television.

With Helen Hunt, I thought for sure I knew more films but forget that she was also on the air for seven years as part of the Mad About You cast which was a show that I liked but only casually watched. Either way, I’m a fan of Helen’s work which is why I’m not surprised that I was also a fan of this episode.

So, now that I’ve shared my views on Helen’s and other host’s resumes, it’s now time to move on to share what I actually viewed, as I give you…

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with Christmas Caroling With The Culps where Will Ferrell’s and Ana Gasteyer’s singing instructor couple went out Christmas caroling to neighbors who want nothing to do with their music. After struggling to keep the final neighbor on the caroling route to keep their door open, Tim Meadow as Senor Franklin and Helen Hunt as Connie Davenport join in to sing a medley of Christmas classic mashed-up with modern hits. Other than the sing of a medley of songs from these two couples, this sketch built up to the announcement of, “Live from New York…”
  2. Helen Hunt then officially opened the show with a monolog where after sharing a few of the standard opening pleasantries, the cast inundated our host with their horrible impersonations of Jack Nicholson since she was there to promote their movie As Good As It Gets. This went on for a while until the real Jack Nicholson took to the stage to share his reviews of the casts’ impersonation of him.
  3. This was followed by a repeat of the Cookie Dough Sport commercial from earlier in the season which was a sports drink made out of raw cookie dough.
  4. We then got another installment of Delicious Dish where this time the two monotoned NPR hosts put on an eggnog special with Helen Hunt as a gingerbread specialist/guest.
  5. TV Funhouse then returned with another installment of Fun With Real Audio where this time, Robert Smigel animated Jesus as he struggled to find an example of goodwill in modern times to the audio of popular religious content that was being aired at the time.
  6. Tim Meadows also returned for another installment of The Ladies Man where host, Leone Phelps, prepared to enjoy the holidays with his in-studio guest played by Helen Hunt. 
  7. Baseball Dreams was a classic sketch where Chris Kattan played a little kid who was being put to bed while being told that he could be anything when he grew up. Kattan was at an age where he wanted more than to be a baseball player until his parents left the room and a group of real-life baseball players filled his room as they exited the closet while providing evidence that they might not be the best role models when all is said and done.
  8. Hanson then took to the stage to perform MMMBop.
  9. Once again, Norm MacDonald gave us the news. This week, Colin Quinn returned as a drunken version of himself to fight with Norm while trying to comment on the International Monetary Fund that was recently in the news because it bailed out South Korea.
  10. The Roxbury Guys also got another segment where this time they ended up visiting Helen Hunt as a counselor following a night filled with failure at their favorite club.
  11. Joan Rivers' 1997 Fashion Wrap-Up was a sketch were Joan Rivers, as played by a literal skeleton, and a panel of guests rated the worst celebrity fashion choices of 1997.
  12. A Burt Reynolds Christmas was a Christmas special sketch with Norm MacDonald as Burt and Will Ferrell as Jerry Reed and the two do nothing but goof off while laughing at their own hijinks.
  13. A Message From Bill Gates was a sketch where Chris Kattan played a lonely Bill Gate who announced the merger of Microsoft and Christmas as a whole.
  14. Torturing Hanson was a sketch where Helen Hunt and Will Ferrell played a couple who were into torture so they trapped the Hanson boys in an elevator while they were out on tour and then forced them to listen to their own music which***
  15. Hanson then returned to the stage to perform Merry Christmas, Baby.
  16. Finally, Helen Hunt closed the show by thanking the audience and saying her goodnights.

Where I thought this season started rather slow, I’m extremely happy that it’s continuing to grow on me thanks to sketches like these that contained my three favorite moments of the night. First, I loved the Baseball Dream sketch because I love how it started out as a kid living out a dream of being a baseball player only to end on a nightmare by showing the reality that these sports heroes are not the people to be worshiped. Next, I really liked the Torturing Hanson sketch because it was awesome how the Hanson kids were super cool with playing along with the bashing of their music. Finally, I was a fan of the opening Christmas Caroling With The Culps sketch because I’m a fan of The Culps and it was also cool how they also got Tim Meadows and Helen Hunt to join in as carolers as well.

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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.