SNL: S26E10... HOST: MENA SUVARI... DATE: JANUARY 20, 2001

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Surprised By Suvari

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If this were any other season, I probably wouldn’t be as surprised by the fact that I found this episode to be good. After all, Mena Suvari has always held her own in her comedic films (like Slums Of Beverly Hills) and is a perfectly fine actress in her serious work (like American Beauty), but I’m still a little gun shy about this season. Again, this year made a boring show with Dana Carvey as the host. Don’t even get me start on how the year’s been for the other hosts who have similar comedic resumes.

It didn’t help that when I sat down to do the pre-viewing prep-work, where I write a rough summary of the sketches of the night by referencing my favorite SNL site that I personalize as I watch, I was not impressed at all by the sketch line-up. Once again, most of the night was made up of reoccurring characters, which is a sketch genre that I don’t really mind as long as they limit how many they cram into a night. To add to my fears the reference site’s summaries had me dreading the show as I mouse hovered over the play button as I hesitated to start.

Maybe these lowered expectations actually helped this episode because with every new sketch I found myself liking the show more and more and more. Though I still think that the actual content was a bit bland, I found myself with very few complaints. I think part of this had to do with our host’s energy, where Mena Suvari seemed to be genuinely having fun but as opposed to some of the past host who may have been focused more on the acting itself.

I hate this sound like a backhanded compliment as I sit here wondering why I feel I liked this episode more than I should have, but really I’m trying to figure out why I didn’t like the others more. To add to the backhanded compliment, whether I lowered my guard or lowered my standards, I hope either I or the show keep it up throughout the rest of the year. Keep in mind the standard in question is in reference to the content quality and not the quality of the host since it’s rare for a host to have much experience with the world of sketch.

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 A Message From The Former President Of The United States where Darrell Hammond as Bill Clinton delivered his final address after sneaking back into the White House while everyone else in D.C. was attending the inauguration party. First, he pointed out that he was a bit drunk before going on to share some gossip on Bush and then went on to admit to the promises that he never planned to keep during both of his presidential campaigns. Will Ferrell as Bush then joined the scene because he was excited to hang out in his new fancy off. The two Presidents then had a quick exchange before Clinton made his final presidential announcement of, “Live from New York…”
  2. Mena Suvari then officially opened the show with a monolog about how her career has been a dream come true and how it all started when she was cast in American Beauty. She then went on to share how much she loved working with the SNL cast which only added to this dreamlike feel. This led her to take us backstage for a quick American Beauty-style parody by recreating the rose petal fantasy sequence from the movie with various members of the cast acting as their most popular characters. This ended with Lorne Michaels having a fantasy of his own, that at first look like he was thinking about our host only to find out he was dreaming of a rose petal covered Tracy Morgan. 
  3. This was followed by a fake ad for the Gatorade Love Bucket which suggested that you can show appreciation for the ones that you love by dumping this Love Bucket of Gatorade over their head as if you just won the big game.
  4. Jackie Gives Attitude had Maya Rudolph as the titular airport security agent who along with Mena Suvari as her coworker/sidekick gave attitude to the frequent fliers as they tried to make it through the security line. This sketch was surprisingly modern considering it was before 9/11 before we grew to expect this type of treatment from the TSA.
  5. Janet Reno's Dance Party then returned for a final installment with Will Ferrell as Janet Reno hosting another one of her dance parties. Darrell Hammond as Bill Clinton stopped by for a quick goodbye and then, in order to make this send-off extra special, the real Janet Reno burst through the wall in order to confront Ferrell about his impersonation only to end up joining him in the final dance.
  6. Rap Street also returned for another installment, this time Jerry Minor and Horatio Sanz played Rap Street hosts, Grand Master Rap and Kid Shazaam in order to interview Mena Suvari as Aaron Carter who displayed his innocent rhymes that these old-school rap legends really loved since it still had that old-school rap sound that white people turn to when impersonating hip-hop music.
  7. TV Funhouse then gave us another X-Presidents cartoons where the X-Men-style X-Presidents reluctantly endured adding Bill Clinton to their team and were disturbed by the sex robot that the new X-President offered to bring with him to the team.
  8. This was followed by a fake ad for a movie called Wake Up Little Suzie where Mena Suvari as Suzie was in a coma and Tracy Morgan played an orderly who tried to woo her even though she was out cold. Will Ferrell played Suzie’s dad who didn’t approve of the relationship, for obvious reason, but Tracy blamed Will’s issues on race. Eventually, Mena woke up and was surprised to find herself in this new relationship but decided to play along.
  9. Once again, Jimmy Fallon and Tina Fey gave us the news. This week, Will Ferrell returned as the guy who can’t control the volume of his voice to talk about Bush’s cabinet appointees only to once again mainly focus on Voice Immodulation humiliation and called Tina Fey a bigot after she asked him to quiet down. Jerry Minor and Darrell Hammond also dropped by as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton to discuss a recent claim that Jesse Jackson had a love child out there who he failed to recognize after Jesse made several attempts to change the subject but Sharpton kept him on track.
  10. Lenny Kravitz then took to the stage to perform Again. 
  11. Veronica & Co. was another sketch to return with Molly Shannon as a runway model/talk show host who vapidly interviews her guests who were just as vapid and weird.
  12. DeMarco Brothers also returned with the two Chrises, Kattan and Parnell auditioned to be background dancers for Lenny Kravitz with their quirky interpretive style.
  13. Lenny Kravitz then returned to the stage to perform Mr. Cab Driver.
  14. Finally, Mena Suvari closed the show by thanking the audience and saying her goodnights.

Once again, this was kind of a surprisingly fun episode thanks to sketches like these which contained my three favorite moments of the night. First, I loved the opening monolog where Lorne Michaels fantasized about Tracy Morgan, American Beauty-style because it always makes me laugh when Lorne and Morgan are portrayed as best friends, plus the visual of Tracy with all those rose petals cracked me up. Next, I really liked this week’s Rap Street sketch because Mena Suvari as Aaron Carter was such a weird but amazing fit. Finally, I was a fan of this week’s Janet Reno's Dance Party because it was fun to see the real Janet Reno play along with the joke.

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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.