SNL: S24E12... HOST: GWYNETH PALTROW... DATE: FEBRUARY 6, 1999

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A Night Filled With Basic Cable Parodies

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First off, I’ve always been a fan of Gwyneth Paltrow no matter how quirky she can be in her personal world with all of the weird cosmetic and/or holistic products that I hear wind of whenever she discusses her personal life. I don’t really care about these wacky views, I’ve always just liked her as an actress.

Granted, I’ll admit that novelty had some part to play since I always picture her as a serious actress from her role Shakespeare In Love. Keep in mind, I never saw Shakespeare In Love because High School taught me that I’m not a fan of the Shakespearean brand of acting, even though I do appreciate the actual meat of his stories. Because of this, I always pictured Gwyneth as one of these period piece actresses who only does serious films.

The funny thing is, I already knew that her career wasn’t period piece specific since I was already a fan of her work from Seven and Sliding Doors. That said, I still saw her as a serious actress especially after falling in love with her character from The Royal Tenenbaums where she was quirky but I still didn’t see her as a person who was known for her comedy.

This is where novelty comes into play as to why I am such a Paltrow fan. In the year 2000, the movie Duets was released and I watched a pre-opening night employee screening with all of my movie theater employee friends. On midnights the night before new movies were released, we were allowed to drink in the theater while the projectionist ran the film to “test whether or not they assembled the film reels correctly.”

This led to some of the most fun drunken nights from my history of hanging out with my friend and the Duets screening was one that just always stood out to me. I’m not fully sure why but I’m pretty sure that part of it has to do with the fact that this is a karaoke movie that’s hard to tell whether or not it takes itself seriously. At times, the movie can feel like the movie Crash trying to artistically tie together the separate tales of the ensemble cast but then the backdrop of the karaoke drama made it hard to take the movie serious it also didn’t help that Huey Lewis was the featured star.

This bizarre blend of a movie-going experience led me to buy the Duet DVD the day that it came out and I have since watched the movie every Thanksgiving while getting blackout drunk going back seventeen years. That’s a whole nother story though. The reason I bring it up was that this movie opened me up to see the comedy in Gwyneth’s career, especially since she followed this up with Shallow Hal and View From The Top which are two movies that crack me up.

Thanks to this history with tonight’s host, I was kind of excited about this episode and am happy that I wasn’t let down. Once again, the show itself went back to its host-centric style as opposed to the cast heavy episodes that started the season so that was pretty fun, but I also like that they put in eighteen segments so even if there was a dud the show never felt like it was slow.

I also liked how there seemed to be a basic cable theme to this episode with a series of sketches that parodied VH1 Behind The Music, as well as several E! Channel references sprinkled throughout the rest of the night and finally an A&E parody. If you’ve read my past reviews, you might already know that there is nothing I like more than jokes that are weaved in and out throughout the entire night, so this was an added bonus.

This episode adds to my enthusiastic hopes that the rest of the season will be at least as strong as tonight. We’ll still have to wait and see how things turn out but until then, it’s now time for me to shift gears from focusing on my views of the host in order to share what I actually viewed, as I give you…   

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with A Message From The President Of The United States where Darrell Hammond as Bill Clinton as well as several members of his staff gave empty promises to the nation that wouldn’t gloat over the fact that Clinton survived the Lewinski scandal completely unscathed to the point where the Democrats actually ended up thriving when there should have been more shame considering the fact that Clinton was technically impeached by the House Of Representative. Of course, with this being the opening sketch, it eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York…”
  2. Gwyneth Paltrow then officially opened the show with a monolog where she started out sharing the usual host pleasantries while speaking with a British accent before getting confronted by “members of the audience” who were all pretty sure that our host was actually from America. Eventually, Ben Affleck, who had just become her ex-boyfriend at the time, stepped in to remind Gwyneth that she’s not actually British no matter what she did with her voice.
  3. E! Impeachment Coverage was a parody of an E! red carpet style show that took place outside of the site where the Bill Clinton Impeachment Hearing was being held and once again, the cast and the host impersonated politicians and random celebrities who all chimed in with their two cents about the event while being asked questions about their fashion decisions by Jimmy Fallon and Cheri Oteri as hosts, Todd Newton and Melissa Rivers.
  4. Behind The Music: Joan Jett was a parody of the VH1 show that used to focus on the downfall of music careers. As the title suggests, this installment focused on Gwyneth Paltrow as Joan Jett who recalled the horrifying inspirations for her songs and music videos.
  5. Mary Katharine Gallagher then returned to the show in order to attempt to join the Black Angels which was a gang made up of the tough girls from her Catholic school. Though the girls from the gang thought that they had a very tough initiation process Mary Katherine accepted each challenge as if it were absolutely nothing at all, only to still end up getting rejected which caused her to spaz out and scare away the gang.
  6. Behind The Music: John Oates brought us another VH1 parody only this installment did go all that dark but instead focused on John Oates claimed that he was the innovator of people using clapping in their music.
  7. Mindy And Skye was a sketch where Jimmy Fallon played Mindy and Gwyneth Paltrow played Skye who were a singing duo at an open mic night event where Mindy was a hippy type who was so nice/desperate/into his hippy ways that he cut Skye a ton of slack for her horrible song introduction and inability to stick to the set list as he tried to perform song about saving the world but she had her own pot-fueled agenda. At one point Mindy tried to break up mid-performance only to give in right away after realizing he’s dating a woman that is way out of his league.
  8. TV Funhouse then brought us another installment of The X-Presidents where this week the presidential superheroes stepped in to fight The Constitution which came to life and started to eat politicians because of their partisan bickering that took place during the Clinton Impeachment trial.
  9. Staten Island Nurses was a fake promote for an upcoming NBC show where Cheri Oteri and Gwyneth Paltrow played two trashy nurses from Staten Island who treated their job like they were back home hanging out on the porch with most of the humor coming from clichés and Staten Island accents.
  10. E! was a sketch that carried on the E! theme of the night with this quick commercial spot that had Darrell Hammond as Trent Lott who simply announced, “You’re watching E!,” which was the channels logline at the time.
  11. Once again, Colin Quinn gave us the news. This week, Tim Meadows dropped in as Vernon Jordan in order to talk more about his role in the Clinton impeachment process only to end up singing a Broadway-style tune in an effort to share his qualification and history in politics.
  12. Barenaked Ladies then took to the stage to perform It's All Been Done.
  13. Doing Voices was a sketch where Will Ferrell played Molly Shannon’s boyfriend who got introduced to her family. The moment that Molly and Will entered the family house they were greeted by Gwyneth Paltrow who was speaking in a silly voice. Shannon then responded with a sill voice of her own when Ana Gasteyer as the mother of the bunch joined in and spoke with a funny voice as well. At first, this seemed really fun but quickly got annoying when Will realized that this is just how the family communicates, never speaking in the real voices at all. At one point, the girls all left the room which allowed Will to meet Horatio Sanz who played the day and warned Will to get out while he can.
  14. Behind The Music: Colin Hay brought us another VH1 parody segment where this time Colin Hay from Men At Work pretty much sang the song Who Can It Be Now while attempt to explain what inspired the tune.
  15. A&E Biography then returned for another installment where this time the original A&E show host was fired and returned to the studio to say his farewells and then took the opportunity to smear his replacement by slandering him with his own special A&E Biography profile.
  16. Senate Voting had Will Ferrell as Judge William Rehnquist who was desperate to break the deadlock between the Democrats and the Republicans over the impeachment hearings which then led to nothing but party-line voting in general.
  17. Hardcore Rock was a fake ad that started out with Gwyneth Paltrow as herself as she openly admitted to her love of porn. At first, it felt like this was going to be a parody PSA but then it turned out to be a fake ad for an album featuring rock songs from your favorite adult movies.
  18. Finally, Gwyneth Paltrow closed the show by thanking the audience and saying her goodnights.

I’m pretty sure that this was my favorite episode from this season so far thanks to sketches like these that contained my three favorite moments of the night. First, I loved the Black Angels sketch because I loved how Mary Katherine Gallagher out badassed the badasses while acting like her actions took no effort at all. Next, I really liked the fake ad for Hardcore Rock because I liked how Gwyneth Paltrow as herself openly admitted to her love of porn before going on to pitch the porn theme album. Finally, I was a fan of  Mindy & Skye because I liked Gwyneth Paltrow as the singing hippy who misses the point and Jimmy Fallon as the struggling musician who’s too afraid to confront her since he doesn’t want to get dumped.

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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.