As The Season Begins, So Does It End
It feels like it’s been a while since I’ve noticed Saturday Night Live’s old pattern of starting and ending the seasons rather week with a solid center of the year. After the first decade to decade and a half, it started to feel more like, what you see is what you get with the first few episodes setting the tone for the entire year. Sure there would be ups and downs as far as individual shows go but as a whole, the show’s seemed to have worked past having a very specific quality pattern.
However, this season seems to have fallen back on the old quality model since it started rather weak, from the writers and cast feeling relaxed in their comfort zone. The season then got rather good from what seemed to be a combination of vacation rust rubbing off mixed with a fire being lit by bad reviews that led to at least a sense of more effort. Now that the season is winding down the quality is dropping once again but just back down to being just average without ever getting too bad.
I’m actually not all that surprised that this was the case with Matthew Broderick. Don’t get me wrong, I feel he’s a great actor and liked him in every movie that I’ve seen him in and think he can be really funny if that’s what the role requires but I just don’t see him edgy enough to be a top sketch comedy performer. He just seems too grounded and calm when being himself to really get in and work those comedy buttons.
That said, he’s a good enough actor and it’s hard not to root for the guy so I was inarguably entertained but it’s just another episode that won’t top my list of favorites. Episodes like this remind me of when I was a kid how the FOX channel had The Simpson’s on at 8:00 in the PM and Married With Children on at 9:00 in the PM and would cycle random shows into the 8:30 in the PM time slot. These shows were often good but couldn’t compare to my two favorite childhood shows that had their time slot surrounded.
Though I was bummed that this hammock of a time slot often killed some funny shows that needed to be more developed by crushing them between the network’s highest-rated shows, I didn’t like how this created more of a rotation of content by moving the hits to another night. I feel the same way with these just-okay hosts, where at their worst they do average but at their best, they not only create a great night laughs but they also tend to be asked to return as the host.
Matthew Broderick falls somewhere in between where even though I can see him hosting again, I doubt the invite will specifically come from this appearance. Hell, that might be why there was a decade delay between this visit and his last one. Either way, I won’t be disappointed at all if I see his name pop up as the host of a future episode since he is on the better side of average.
Oh well, that’s what I’ve got to say about tonight’s show and with that, it’s now time to shift gears from my rambling and move on to share what I saw as I give you…
The Wicker Breakdown:
This week's show started with The Ladies Man where this week host, Leone Phelps, experienced the side effects of Viagra after expressed his excitement over the new drug while explaining the “scientific” benefits and decided to give it a shot for recreational purposes. To get the full effect he then tried to turn himself on with a picture of Delta Burke and then us a picture of Sally Jessy Raphael to calm himself down only to find his plan to calm down didn’t work. Of course, with this being the opening sketch, it also led to the announcement of, “Live from New York…”
Matthew Broderick then officially opened the show with a monolog about it’s been ten years since he last hosted the show and then gave us a quick update on his life, including the fact that he just wrapped up working on the latest Godzilla. This Godzilla mention led Tracy Morgan and Jim Breuer to interrupt in order to ask questions about their favorite film franchise while also annoying our host with their impersonations of the radiated lizard monster.
We then got a fake ad for Flex Speed Stick which was a deodorant that not only killed odor but was also filled users with steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs that turned them into Incredible Hulk-style monsters due to the mood swings that were part of the products side effects.
The was followed by another parody of The View where once again, the cast impersonated the gaggle of daytime talk show hosts who talked over one another while they discussed the topics of the day. Viagra was the main topic of the intro and then they brought in Matthew Broderick as George Stephanopolous who was there to promote his book but it seemed all of the Viagra talk at the top of the show had all of the women turned on so they mainly focused on sex. As usual, the only part that I really liked was how Tracy Morgan, as Starr Jones, ended every bickering outburst with a crazy proclamation that usually worked as the opposite of a humble brag even though she blurted her boasts out so casually.
The Zimmermans then returned for another installment of Chris Kattan and Cheri Oteri as an oversexed couple who go way too far with the public displays of affection, this time with Matthew Broderick and Molly Shannon as their disturbed dinner guests.
This was followed by another installment of Pretty Living where Ana Gasteyer as the host interviewed Molly Shannon’s crazy “joyologist” character name Helen Madden, whose catchphrase is, “I love it, I love it, I love it.” I like the character but whenever she’s on it’s the character that gets the laughs over the content, making it kind of hard to describe without it sounding like a bore. During this visit, we met her new boyfriend played by Matthew Broderick but as I just said, other than the funny character choices there wasn’t much more to the sketch.
This was followed by a fake ad for Viagra where they interviewed men on the street about the new drug and man interviewed seemed annoyed that anyone would have the nerve to even ask if they needed the boner pill.
Once again, Colin Quinn gave us the news. This week was an all Colin week with no guest and just him reading the news. Once again, I think he is the best anchor so far when it comes to delivering the news alone and he’s only been the head anchor for half of the season.
Natalie Merchant then took to the stage to perform Kind And Generous.
The Celine Dion Show then returned for another installment where once again Cheri Oteri played the Canadian diva who took delight in upstaging the divas she had on as her guests which this week was a panel made up of Molly Shannon as Shania Twain, Cheri Oteri as Mariah Carey and Matthew Broderick as Gloria Estefan.
We then got parody C-SPAN coverage of the British Parliament where Prime Minister Tony Blair, as played by Matthew Broderick, answered questions from Parliament about recent U.K. issues. Other than Will Ferrell’s obsession with the Teletubbies, it was hard to tell if some of the jokes were based on real British news or if they were just making fun of Parliament in general since it’s hard enough to keep up with American issues after so much passage of time.
Prom Limo was a sketch where Matthew Broderick and Cheri Oteri rented a limo with Will Ferrell and Molly Shannon for their double date to the prom. Of course, they all end up standing through the sunroof where they waved at passers-by and celebrated while singing a song about the prom. After a while a low overpass appeared, knocking off Ferrell’s head.
Tenacious D then took to the stage to perform both The History of Tenacious D and the song Double Team back to back.
Comic Minds was a comedy profile show where Matthew Broderick played the host who profiled Orbit and Larry played by Will Ferrell and Tracy Morgan who were supposed to be the Cheech and Chong of PCP-based comedy. We also got to hear a couple of clips from their album which was just the two of them acting freaked out while on the high powered drug.
Finally, Matthew Broderick closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.
As I said up above, this was a slightly better than average episode and it was fun to watch thanks to sketches like these that contained my three favorite moments of the night. First, I loved the Fake Viagra Ad because it was funny how since this was a time when the drug was still new, people got offended by even implying that they would need such help as opposed to now when people will openly brag about their recreational use of the boner drug. I also loved how they tied the fake ad into the opening The Ladies Man Sketch. Next, I really liked Prom Limo sketch because I was zoned out a little when it started and thought it was failed attempt at an adorable end of the night sketch only to end up laughing my ass off when the low hanging overpass ripped off Will Ferrell’s head. Finally, I was a fan of the Comic Minds sketch at the end of the night because I liked the idea of a PCP version of Cheech and Chong.