SNL: S26E14... HOST: CONAN O'BRIEN... DATE: MARCH 10, 2001

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A Technical Alumni Comeback

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If I’m going to consider Jennifer Lopez a technical member of In Living Color since she was a Fly Girl dancer, I’m going to go ahead and consider Conan to be an alum considering he was a writer for a few years. I mean he was one of the writers who would end up in sketches from time to time after all. Aside from that, I’ve always been an O’Brien fan since his show’s debut happened right at the peak of my interest in late-night talk shows.

Though I was sad over the treatment of David Letterman after Johnny Carson retired, I blamed the network and Leno more than the guy who just took over the spot after it was vacant. It wasn’t like Conan did any plotting against Letterman, plus he was still completely unknown as an on-screen performer, he wouldn’t have had the power to pull such a power move even if he did want to.

Either way, I found him to be a fitting replacement for one of my childhood heroes and went into this viewing with high expectations for the night since I assumed he’d do like Tom Green and pretty much take over the show. Some people take issue with this brand of host who takes over, but I’ve always liked it because, hit or miss, these episodes always seem special, as long as they limit this power to specific guests. Even the total control hosts who miss have to miss in a magnificent way.

It turned out this was the case and, oh, what a relief it was because Conan’s brand of surreal quirkiness made for a nice break from this season that’s otherwise been bland and safe, even during shows that I thought were really good. Not only was it fun to see Conan shine by using his own style, this show also had Will Ferrell and Horatio Sanz acting in a style where they excelled as well. That’s not to say that the others didn’t do well, but it was a super fun night with these three.

My only issue with this episode was that I wished it had implemented Tracy Morgan even more because he would have fit in great with the above mentioned quirky trio. In fact, I feel like the underuse of Morgan, might be another reason why I just haven’t been liking this year, but that’s a whole other issue I have.

Hopefully, the writers took some notes on how to add a bit of edge to their sketches because looking at the lineup of host to wind down the year, they may be good actors and actresses but I fear if changes aren’t made, we’re going to end up with a repeat of the first half of the year.

Well, we’ll have to wait and see how things turn out but until then, it’s now time for me to wrap this up by shifting my gears and share what I saw, as I give you…

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with A Message From The President Of The United States where Will Ferrell as George W. Bush announced his new worry-free attitude now that he’s won the race but more importantly is free to do what he wants with Dick Cheney having to take things slow after a recent heart attack. He also highlighted how his care-free approach has him healthier than Cheney, who worked too hard at his job. Of course, with this being the opening sketch, it eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York…”
  2. Conan O'Brien then officially opened the show with a monolog about how he started out as write for SNL and then went on to share a few clips from when he ended up in the background of random sketches. After sharing the clips he then took Tracy Morgan, some Japanese tourist and a random pair of paramedics downstairs to give them a tour of his talk show’s studio to show off how much he’s grown from those humble early beginnings.
  3. This was followed by a fake ad for Subshack which offered a solution for those who lost too much weight using the Jared Fogel, Subway Diet where you could eat as many Subshack sandwiches as you want in order to put the weight back on since these SubShack subs were humongous plus there was no walking involved.
  4. Cumberland Farms was a sketch where Conan O’Brien played the buddy of Jimmy Fallon’s and Rachel Dratch’s Boston teen couple characters who helped them score some beer with the help of a fake mustache. The mustache plan worked like a charm and the moment they got the beer, the real Ben Affleck appeared from out of nowhere to join in on the party.
  5. This was followed by Moleculo: The Molecular Man which I still quote to this day, with Conan O’Brien as a superhero who kept giving his mild-mannered disguise away by constantly repeating his catchphrase, “The Molecular Man,” in a super-heroic tone. At one point he even burst through a wall in order to yell his catchphrase after some simply said Moleculo. After getting caught he moved down to Mexico but fails to hide his identity after making the same mistakes.
  6. Napster Hearings had Conan O’Brien in court as the singer of Right Said Fred who not only sought copyright protection laws but he also sought something to eat. We also got to see a couple other cast members impersonate one-hit-wonders about how Napster had killed their careers, they even fit in a Rico Suave joke with Horatio Sanz as Rico, who let his weight get out of hand.
  7. Don Henley then took to the stage to perform Everything Is Different Now.
  8. Once again, Jimmy Fallon and Tina Fey gave us the news. This week, was all Jimmy and Tina with no special guests at all.
  9. Taint-less Ted had Conan O’Brien as a doctor who had to inform Horatio Sanz as the titular Ted that he had to remove his taint after Horatio got into a horrible car accident while trying to get to the McDonalds on the other side of town and then back home in time to catch Bruce Jenner’s Inside The Actors Studio interview.
  10. TV Funhouse then used footage from an NBA game in order to invite the viewers to play, Find The Black People At The Knicks Game, which turned out to be a lot harder than one would think, especially as we got closer and closer to the court, but then all that changed when we saw the players and audience members in the cheap seats, which included Tracy Morgan.
  11. VH-1 Diva-thon brought back Ana Gasteyer as her Diva character who constantly fights with her backup band. Which was pretty much what happened again only the barbs and jabs were both new and improved, as was the fictional venue.
  12. Democratic National Committee had Chris Kattan as Marc Rich spoke on behalf of the DNC to share his financial woes while complaining about Bush’s planned tax breaks for the rich, highlighting how this tax cut doesn’t even affect him since he’s never paid his taxes anyway.
  13. Don Henley then returned to the show to perform The Heart Of The Matter.
  14. Sports Century took us back to the old-timey days back when the Irish dominated boxing with their fighting Irish style. Conan O’Brien played a boxer named James “The Gentlemen Masher” Corcoran who was at the top of his game until he spared with his first black competitor and it was all downhill from then.
  15. Finally, Conan O'Brien closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

I think this may be one of two or three shows from this year that was not only fun for this season but could compete with episodes from any other year thanks to sketches like these that contained my three favorite moments of the night. First, I loved Taint-less Ted not only because of the whole taint removing aspect but the entire sketch was so convoluted in such a hilarious way I found myself continually laughing even when I thought that the jokes were over. Next, I really liked Moleculo: The Molecular Man because even to this day I will still randomly say “The Molecular Man,” to myself from time to time. Finally, I was a fan of the Sports Century sketch because I love jokes about old-timey white boxers and how horrible these techniques are when compared to the modern advances that have been developed by black athletes.

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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.