SNL: S23E13... HOST: ROMA DOWNEY... DATE: FEBRUARY 14, 1998

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That’s Me In The Corner...

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Looking over Roma Downey’s IMDB page, I think she is officially the first host where I haven’t seen a single project from her resume. In fact, Touched By An Angel is the only item on her C.V. to have a title that was familiar to me but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a single episode, even when at someone else’s house. This makes sense considering most of her work seems to have a religious theme and I’ve been an atheist for most of my life except for one year when I got baptized out of fear.

I was at a young age where I was easily influenced and constantly feared the end of the world thanks to a Nostradamus documentary that I watched where Orson Welles played the famous soothsayer during a free HBO weekend when I was a child. Around this time my uncle married a Mormon and after several years my, up until then, non-religious family started to convert.

I wasn’t all that interested in the lessons at first until my oldest cousin started to take them because he was interested in a girl. He was my hero at the time so I started to sit in on his lessons as well. All of their talk about unbaptized sinner merged well with my Nostradamus fears to where I thought the end was coming and since I was not baptized, this would be my way to escape hell.

It really helped that everyone was pretty nice but as soon as I made it official I felt a bit of a bait and switch as everyone started to ignore me once I was in. My cousin was too busy chasing the girl and all the other family was off in age-segregated rooms learning their Sunday lessons, which since I was raised with no religion, these lessons felt more like fairy tales than any form of truth, so I just stopped going and went back to being a non-believer all within a window of fewer than six months.

I discovered this documentary years before my baptism which was probably close to a decade before this episode originally aired close to two decades before I started to write these words and has nothing to do with this show at all. I’m just sharing why I may have never come across Roma Downey due to her religious content. Hell, to pull the curtain back, I haven’t even watched the episode yet so the next paragraph will be written in a couple hours after I actually watch the show.

Alright, I’m back from watching this pretty good episode. At first, I was a bit worried that I spent all of this time writing my religious connection to the host up above only to have the show never touch on the topic at all, but luckily that wasn’t the case and I was correct in assuming that this episode would be a religious one based on the host’s resume alone. In fact, I think there were only two sketches that included our host that had nothing to do with religion at all.

Fortunately, most of these sketches were only religious in that they took place in a church or involved a religious figure. This episode never got preachy, which isn’t that big of a surprise since I’ve never got that feel from the show, but sometimes it seems like a host can lame up a show with their input on the writing. This episode also never went the blasphemy route like how I bet they would have in the old days in order to show that the host has a sense of humor about her beliefs.

No, this show was balanced rather well which made it another fun one. I wouldn’t say that it was up there as a favorite but that’s probably due to the fact that I still have zero memories of Roma Downey even after watching the show. Even with hosts who I barely remember from their work, I usually remember celebrities from this time from their appearances on my favorite late night talk show, especially from around this time when I still watched them.

Well, there you have a brief history of my religion along with my thoughts on this episode. With that, it’s now time to shift gears in order to share what I saw, as I give you…

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with parody coverage of the Monica Lewinsky Congressional Address where they blended real footage of the actual event to create funny reactions to Molly Shannon as Lewinsky as she addressed Congress about her affair with Bill Clinton where she spoke as if she were talking to one of her peers. Darrell Hammond as Ted Koppel eventually had to cut her off to come back to the studio as she started to share stories that were too dirty to air. We eventually went back to Lewinsky again to hear her wrap things up, only to come back to the studio for the announcement of, “Live from New York…”
  2. Roma Downey then officially opened the show with a monolog about the difference between being in New York versus being on the set of Touched By An Angel which was filmed in Utah. She then went on to say that she missed Della Reese most of all. Before she could continue on comparing the big city with her small Utah town experience Tracy Morgan magically appeared as Della Reese and the two ventured around the studio and attempted to save the souls of the heathen who make up the SNL cast.  
  3. This was followed by a repeat of the fake ad for Chess For Girls from earlier in the season which was a chess game marketed to girls where all of the chess pieces were replaced with dolls and girly things which even included a tea time play set for taking breaks from this non-chess version of the game.
  4. The Culps the returned for another installment where the singing instructing couple sang pop songs with their Culps twist this time with a Unitarian Church as the backdrop. Though they were supposed to be in a church, the middle-aged couple was extra feisty tonight to the point where they even made out with tongues.
  5. This was followed by a sketch about Catherine The Great where Roma Downey played the Russian leader to answer questions from the citizens who wouldn’t stop harping on the rumors that she once had sex with a horse in a way that paralleled the Clinton/Lewinsky affair.
  6. We then got another parody of Martha Stewart Living where this time Ana Gasteyer as Martha share a few tips for the lonely and depressed on how to make Valentines more tolerable with crafty decorations for your lonely home.
  7. Road To Nagano then returned for another installment of the parody Winter Olympics coverage where this week Will Ferrell played and new anchor who interviewed the very first person to win a gold medal in the sport of snowboarding since it was a new event that year. Said snowboarder had his medal taken away after testing positive for marijuana only to get the medal back after the ruling that pot is not an enhancing drug. As for the interview, Jim Breuer just acted like a snowboarding stoner while Will Ferrell frustratingly attempted to make it a real interview.
  8. I'm Riding My Donkey Political Talk Show was a crazy sketch where Will Ferrell first performed a super fun theme song that led to a political talk show with a panel of guest who all sat upon real-life donkeys during the show. If that wasn’t crazy enough, at one point, one of the donkeys fell to the ground bringing Tim Meadows down with it. Though he didn’t seem hurt, Meadows seemed pretty nervous throughout the rest of the sketch. Not only was there a donkey failure but at one point, Darrell Hammond had to deal with a technical issue where a trick arrow didn’t properly activate during a stunt, making this an even more hilarious sketch for unintended reasons.
  9. Monica Lewinsky's Answering Machine was the first installment of a series of sketches where we got to hear a message from Bill Clinton as he attempted to ask her out by joining him at an upcoming Blues Traveler concert.
  10. Once again, Colin Quinn gave us the news. This week there were no special guests and was just Colin giving us the news. The thing that I like about Colin as an anchor is how his segments as a whole have the structure of a routine as opposed to just a collection of individual stories/jokes that said in any order and it wouldn’t change a thing, which also works but each style achieves different things.  
  11. Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliot then took to the stage to perform the song Sock It 2 Me and the song Beep Me 911 back to back.
  12. We were then introduced to Fran who was played by Cheri Oteri who met with her cousin and her cousin’s bridesmaids as a church to prepare for the special day. Fran is a girl from Delaware who has no manners and is only involved because she’s family because, other than the fact that she doesn’t fit in with the other, more uppity, women at all. Eventual, we got to see Fran’s wedding reading where she did do her job with a cigarette dangling out of her mouth.
  13. Monica Lewinsky's Answering Machine the returned for round two where this time Bill Clinton left a message because he was afraid that Monica stood him up at the local TGI Fridays.
  14. The Ladies Man also got another segment where this time Leone Phelps took calls from his viewers to answer questions about Valentine’s Day.
  15. TV Funhouse then gave us a parody of an anime that satired the Olympics’ issues with performance-enhancing drugs.
  16. Lou's Lovely Daughters was a sketch that took place in a high school dance where the titular lovely daughters weren’t all that lovely at all, in fact, Cheri Oteri played a daughter who looked like a sideshow freak. Since looks aren’t everything, their personalities were also bizarre.
  17. Monica Lewinsky's Answering Machine returned to complete the rule of three where the outgoing message was from both Bill and Monica as if they were now an official couple. This time Bill was calling to say hi, share that he listened to the Counting Crows CD that she bought for him, and make sure that she was erasing the messages.
  18. Finally, Roma Downey closed the show by thanking the audience and saying her goodnights.

As I said up above, this episode wasn’t a favorite because I’m just not familiar with the host but it was still rather fun thanks to these three of my favorite moments of the night. First, I loved the I'm Riding My Donkey Political Talk Show sketch and am surprised this one hasn’t been on my mind since this episode aired decades ago because it had live donkeys and a couple of stunt fails which only added to the surrealness of the general concept of the sketch. Next, I really liked the Catherine The Great sketch because it was great how the used the rumors of the Russian ruler’s affair with a horse to lampoon the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky affair. Finally, I was a fan of the monolog sketch because Tracy Morgan as Della Reese really cracked me up.

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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.