Welcome to the Ten-Timers Club
First off, if you go back over my last nine reviews from John Goodman’s past visits as the host of the show, you’ll see that I’m a fan of the man and his work. I may come across sounding a little rough at points when I compare his visit to Alec Baldwin’s by pointing out that Goodman feels a bit more like a fanboy while Baldwin can feel more like an actual member of the cast, I never meant that as a criticism but more as an observation.
I actually like Goodman’s fanboy approach to hosting because it always feels like both he and the cast are having fun whenever he drops by. That said, it can also come across like he’s trying too hard to solidify his place in the show’s history, like how he had cameos in what seemed to be over half of the episodes this year. The fact that he didn’t have anything to promote is partially cool because it does show that his involvement comes from a place of love, but at the same time it can come across as obligatory instead of special.
I think this might be why tonight's visit felt just average instead of inspired to the point where it could have felt extra fun. As it is, this was another one of those episodes that is perfectly fine to watch but, with everyone working within their comfort zones it left me uninspired as far as what I want to write and since this is Goodman’s tenth visit, I can’t even ramble on about my history with the host since I think that I’ve already shared all of that info.
Again, to be clear, I never mean for my choice of the word average to equate the word bad but cause that would fall into the realm of below average and in defense of this episode, I’d probably consider this episode to be good if it didn’t come directly after five solid show that I felt were good enough to save what I was starting to write off as a slump of a season.
Hell, had it not been for this handful of good work, this episode would land right up near the top of my list of favorite, right under the first few shows since this season started as strongly as I’m hoping it will end. We’ll see how the year wraps up in a couple of days but until then, it’s now time for me to shift gears to share what I saw, as I give you…
The Wicker Breakdown:
This week's show started with A Message From The President Of The United States where, after getting in trouble for finally saying something truthful, Darrell Hammond as Clinton promised that, from this day going forth, he would go back to be the lie telling President that the people have grown to love. As always, with this being the opening sketch, it eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York…”
John Goodman then officially opened the show with a monolog where before he could even get out the usual host pleasantries an audience member interrupted to ask if the show was a rerun consider that not only was this Goodman’s tenth time as host, it was also the second time that he was paired Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers as his musical guest for the night. Completely confused by how someone in the live audience could question whether or not the show was live, Goodman quickly shut her down only to have more audience member back the questioning woman up as they claimed to have seen this episode before as well. Even Jimmy Fallon came out and admitted to loving this episode back when he watched it as a kid. A frustrated John Goodman then through to the first non-opening sketch to start the night.
Adult Literacy Program took us to a high school for an extended education where John Goodman played a fifty-year-old student who still had a class clown mentality and claimed to “rule the school,” while the other adult students simply wanted to learn. To add to the confusion to Goodman’s defiant attitude, the class was both free and voluntary meaning that he was purely there by his own choice but didn’t seem to understand that aspect either.
We then got a fake ad for Shaun Mondavi Vineyards where Will Ferrell played the son of a famous winemaker, who turned out to be a bit of a black sheep of the family. It also turned out that his father wouldn’t help out with an investment so the wine Will was pitching was actually cheap tequila, 5-Alive, and other random ingredients mixed in a two-liter Mountain Dew bottle which didn’t go over well with Goodman who played Will’s dad.
This was followed by parody CNN coverage of the conflict that was going on in Kosovo at the time. Apparently CNN recently started teaming up with magazines like People and Time to promote their stories at this time because this sketch was more of a parody of a promotional spot as it jumped back and forth between serious sounding coverage mixed with more frivolous fun news where CNN teamed up with publications like Cat Fancy, Highlights, and other less news-themed rags in order to earn an extra buck.
Wrap It Up took place in a gift wrapping shop in a mall with Chris Kattan working the front counter who turned out to be the worst gift wrapper in the world as he did nothing more than crumple a bunch of wrapping paper around the gifts and wrap it all up with a bunch of packing tape creating an eyesore of a gift. Though it seems like Kattan is horribly suited for the job we quickly learn that his father is John Goodman who owns the shop and felt that his kid could do no wrong.
Hello Dolly was a sketch that parodied a Home Shopping Network segment with Ana Gasteyer and John Goodman as the pitch-people/hosts who both went a bit overboard in their efforts to promote the cuteness of these creepy dolls that all had weird features like the ability to poop themselves.
Once again, Colin Quinn gave us the news. This week, Tracy Morgan dropped by to share his views on the FUBU line of clothing that was marketed to black folks and shared who used to design black people clothes before the For Us By Us movement. Cheri Oteri also returned as her pill-popping old lady character who once again wanted comment on some of the specific drugs that she uses, this time, focusing on her drug schedule for dealing with her allergies.
Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers then took to the stage to perform Swingin'.
Springtime Santa shared how Santa and Mrs. Clause spend their time off where Santa eats nuts as he watches TV while Mrs. Clause attempts to pay their bills. The noises that Santa makes while trying to enjoy his time off is super annoying to Mrs. Clause who wished that her husband had more than just a one day a year job which almost led to a bout of domestic violence that was broken up by Chris Parnell and Cheri Oteri who dropped by as a pair of elves/dinner guest. By this point, Santa was wasted and was stricken by a bout of self-pity that got everyone else to leave the room.
Happy Smile Patrol was a parody of a pre-recorded children’s show that was continually interrupted by breaking news of a crime spree being perpetrated live by the members of the kid’s show’s cast that all started when the supporting cast members killed the main star while they were all hopped up on drugs and that was just the start to the crazy night of chaos that ended in a group suicide.
This was followed by another parody of VH1: Behind the Music that profiled Horatio Sanz as Bun E. Carlos who shared how the Cheap Trick album, Live From Budokan turned him into a huge star, even though he was being interviewed while working his new job at the local bowling alley where he was responsible for collecting the rented shoes.
Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers then returned to the stage to perform Room At The Top.
Cathouse Computer System had John Goodman as a John who got completely embarrassed while trying to navigate the new payment system that the whorehouse set up to properly charge for all of the services that were used when all that Goodman wanted to do was pay for the night and leave. This sketch also introduced Cheri Oteri’s “Simmer down now,” character.
Finally, John Goodman closed the show with by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.
I know I called this episode average in my review up above but as I keep pointing out, average means good while not being the best while not being the worst either. Despite how my uninspired review may come across, this episode was actually pretty fun with the help of sketches like these that contained my three favorite moments of the night. First, I loved Happy Smile Patrol because I loved the idea that they would break into a kid’s show with such horrible news in the first place let alone have the people involved be all the stars of said kid’s show. Next, I really liked the fake ad for Shaun Mondavi Vineyards because it cracked me up how disgusted Will Ferrell was whenever he had to taste his crappy wine product and the fact that the wine being pitched came in a two-liter Mountain Dew bottle. Finally, I was a fan of the Adult Literacy Program sketch because it made me laugh the idea of John Goodman an old disruptive class clown whose antics made absolutely no sense considering that the course was both free and completely voluntary.