SNL: S27E05... HOST: GWYNETH PALTROW... DATE: NOVEMBER 10, 2001

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Normalization Finally Starts To Set In

I can’t fully put my finger on why I feel this way but even though tonight’s episode used the fewer but longer sketch format, that I can’t stand, there was a special vibe in the air where it finally felt like everyone involved had finally found their legs. I'm sure a big part of it has to do with the fact that this may be the first episode of the year without any last-minute issues with the host.

In doing what little research I do, I found that there were many host changes due to the confusion that followed 9/11. It seems up to this point every host either backed out, had their schedule switched to fill in said backed out guest, or weren’t fully committed until the last minute, making it understandable why the writers have been putting out more generic content that hasn’t been host specific.

With America starting to normalize in their efforts to cope with the situation, the schedule seems to be normalizing as well which would allow the writers to work without all of the last minute chaos caused by changes. Not only that, the newbies seem to have settled in as well. The resolutions to these issues coming together at the same time may explain that special vibe in the air that I was talking about.

As for the actual episode, I was already optimistic going into the viewing because I’m a Gwyneth Paltrow fan. Since this is her second visit, I already covered my fan history during her last visit, but here is a quick recap. I discovered here in Se7en, which might be the movie where the difference between suspense and horror really set in for me. For novelty reasons, I then became a fan of her role in the movie Duets. I then fell in love with her role in The Royal Tenenbaums and then View From The Top locked in the love I have as a novelty fan, because of this quirky connection, I will look forward to Gwyneth whenever she’s on anything.

I think the biggest reason that I like her is the fact that she’s part of a joke/challenge that I’ve been a part of for close to eighteen years where I’ve watched the movie Duets while drinking until I blackout every single Thanksgiving ever since the movie came out on DVD. It’s a long story that I explain annually in my The Daily Breaker Thanksgiving post, so I’ll save going more into it here. That said, I do bring it up because it does play into my enjoyment of this episode.

Other than enjoying the vibe in the air and the energy of the host, as far as the actual content goes, tonight was just okay. Again, my main issue was the fewer but longer sketch format that made many of the sketches that could have been fun is done quickly, feel like they were dragging on.

On a positive note, at least these long sketches didn’t suffer the same issue that last season suffered from where their long-winded sketches felt more like horrible, failed sit-com pilots with story structure that’s just not needed in the world of sketch which leads me to feel more positive about the shows moving forward as opposed to last year where each viewing only brought doubt and fear.

As always, we’ll have to wait and see how things turn out and for now, it’s time for me to switch 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 President Of The United States where Will Ferrell as George W. Bush tried to clear up any Islamic myths about America that he claimed Al-Jazeera was spreading. These myths were so over-the-top that there would be no way that anyone would ever believe they were true. 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 about how she was happy to host for a second time now that her real-life childhood friend Maya Rudolph had joined the show. Maya then joined our host on the stage and the two sang the theme song to Flashdance that they used to sing all of the time as kids.
  3. The Boston Teens then returned where this time, the always recorder couple portrayed by Jimmy Fallon and Rachel Dratch attended their school’s Fall Formal where they shared several techniques on how to sneak booze into a school dance before they were interrupted by Gwyneth Paltrow who was stood up by her boyfriend because he was taken to jail. From that put on Dratch attempted to comfort Gwyneth while Fallon continued to make jokes.
  4. Gwyneth Paltrow then joined Gemini's Twin as the rotating third member, for a quick return visit to TRL with Dean Edward as MTV’s Sway who had taken over for Carson Daly. This time, they debuted their new patriotic album by sharing their latest video.
  5. Mrs. Attebury had Ana Gasteyer as the as the titular snob who snubbed Chris Kattan at a social gather because he was an immigrant. Other than that, the rest of the sketch made fun of how rich people view issues that are out of their price range as if they shouldn’t be a big deal to all.
  6. TV Funhouse brought us a new animation where Michael Jackson swore to the public that he was no longer attracted to little boys.
  7. Ryan Adams then took to the stage to perform New York, New York. 
  8. Once again, Jimmy Fallon and Tina Fey gave us the news. This week, Darrell Hammond dropped by as Rudolph Giuliani in order to throw out the idea that he become Mayor for life for doing so well during the aftermath of 9/11. Horatio Sanz also stopped by to revise his cartoonist character to draw more images that start out looking obscene only to end up pretty innocent by the time that he completes the piece of work. 
  9. Family Dinner Arguments Round II was a sequel to a sketch from Gwyneth’s last visit three years about where the fighting family is still at it with random outbursts during dinner the ultimately ended with Will Ferrell once again yelling the fact that he owns a Dodge Stratus, only this time it was a Mitsubishi Galant.
  10. Mango then returned as a guest at a huge celebrity event where we learned through flashback how he once dated our host back when they were all in high school. The history lesson continued as modern-day Mango and Gwyneth sang a parody of Summer Love from the movie Grease as they shared with their friends why the relationship didn’t work. The sketch then ended with Mango going on a date with the real Matt Damon who claimed to miss Gwyneth and she claimed to miss him back until she realized that Damon wasn’t the one that she dates, in reference to Ben and Matt.
  11. Fiesta Politica was a parody of a Mexican political talk show with a Charo-type host who had Darrell Hammond as Donald Rumsfeld who just couldn’t figure out how and why he was booked to appear.
  12. Jack Handey then gave us another installment of My Big Thick Novel where we learned that the Author died after what seemed to be an endless chase ended with him getting mauled by a lion.
  13. Finally, Gwyneth Paltrow closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

Again, I liked this show as a whole better than I like any of its individual pieced but it was still pretty good that’s to sketches like these that contained my three favorite moments of the night. First, I loved Mango And Gwyneth because I’m a fan of the new Mango trend where they share his history through flashbacks instead of the one-note joke where a male host would simply fall in love with him as a homoerotic joke. Next, I really liked Fiesta Politica because I grew up in San Diego where we could pick up on Mexican TV station and this reminded me of some of the Spanish shows that I used to randomly watch. Finally, I was a fan of Family Dinner Arguments Round II because I like how they brought back this classic sketch and barely made any changes at all.

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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.