SNL: S28E01... HOST: MATT DAMON... DATE: OCTOBER 5, 2002

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And Just Like That,

We Have Another Changing Of The Guard

Though I kept complaining about tonal issues, I think the biggest issue was on my end and how the distance in time between now and 9/11 had me lose a little perspective on what was going on at the time. Especially considering how the cast and crew of this comedy show were trying to create laughs so shortly after the biggest tragic event in recent America history. Not only that, but they were making this attempt from within the city that was still trying to cope with the new world that the attacks had created.

That said, I also still feel that there was more to the inconsistent quality issues than just the chaos of the time because the show did seem to normalize comedy-wise about halfway through the season to where they no longer seemed to be tip-toeing around potentially offensive jokes. I feel the bigger issues was there was enough of a blend of new talent and old timers that the newbies would rein themselves in to show respect to the shows already established talent, creating an awkward blend of sensibilities.

This happens often when there is a changing of the guard where the show is still good but it starts to focus on one individual as the start. In fact, I think this is why I wasn’t as big of a fan of the very first season of SNL as I was expecting since that season was so Chevy Chase-centric that it felt more like his show than a collaborative effort. Though I felt this was due to Chase’s arrogance/ego in this instance, it seemed to me that the same sort of thing was starting to happen with Will Ferrell, only more out of justified respect.

I can already see from this season-opening show that the young blood is now fully in control as there seems to be a better blend of comedic styles. As I said in yesterday’s review where I focused more on Ferrell’s final show, I bet I was more upset with Will leaving at the time because not only was he the last of what I was used to, but I’m sure I wasn’t sure what to make of either Will Forte or Fred Armisen who both made their debut during tonight’s episode, after all, they were joining Jeff Richard and Dean Edwards who neither ever really won me over while on the show so I could have seen myself having some doubt about these two newbies as well.

Since I do know that Will and Fred with becoming cast members that I love, their brief appearances made the night even more exciting. Other than all of that, Matt Damon did a pretty good job and had the perfect host energy and I loved how there were eighteen segments to the night, meaning we were in and out of every sketch before they could drag on and get boring.

As per usual though, I’m still surprised that the show has yet to get to the point where the season premieres seem more special and not just like another episode. I mean, what’s a season premiere minus special guests in cameo roles and/or surprise visits from alumni? That said, this was the best season starter in quite a while which has me excited to see how the rest of the year plays out.

Well, there you have a few of my thoughts on this upcoming year. Now it’s time for me to share what I saw in order to move on to the next episode and with that, I give you…

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with a parody of an NBC Special Report with Chris Parnell as Tom Brokaw that had Darrell Hammond as Dick Cheney check in via satellite as he rode on the back of a missile that was headed toward Iraq, ala Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb. Of course, with this being the opening sketch it eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York…”
  2. Matt Damon then officially opened the show with a monolog about how he was supposed to host last season and really wanted to perform in a sketch about a huge summer news story that time, like the Martha Stewart scandal that landed her in prison, or some other story with a little meat, only to end up reenacting Justin Timberlake’s angry dance-off with recent ex-girlfriend Britney Spears which was providing filler news at the time.
  3. This was followed by a fake promo for The NRA where the AFLAC duck was shot by a couple of gun-toting members of the NRA after hinting that it was an AFLAC ad causing the NRA angle to be a Shyamalanian Twist.
  4. Tracy Morgan then brought us another Brian Fellow's Safari Planet segment where this time he reprimanded Horatio Sanz for his filthy sex talk after he tried to explain the mating habits of a porcupine. Matt Damon then played guest number two with his pot belly pig only Fellows was too preoccupied with thoughts of Horatio’s porcupine talking dirty to be able to focus on Damon’s words.
  5. We then got a second installment of the fake promo for The NRA where this time Seth Meyers as Carrot Top was also shot by the same two gun-toting members of the NRA after setting it up to be a fake ad for AT&T’s collect call services that Carrot Top was promoting around this time.
  6. Jimmy Fallon and Rachel Dratch’s always recorded Boston Teen Couple then went to a Springsteen Concert where they were up to their usual antics with Matt Damon throughout The Boss’s show. Mainly, this sketch was made up of Jimmy, Damon, and Dratch discussing how they snuck in their booze.
  7. This was followed by a fake ad for Nutri-Quick which was an anal-suppository diet plan for meals when you a literally on-the-go.
  8. Hannibal Goes To College had Matt Damon as Hannibal Lecter for a fake prequel trailer to both Silence Of The Lambs and Red Dragon that showed what happened when our anti-hero attended Michigan State University and was treated like a pathetic nerd.
  9. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band then took to the stage to perform Lonesome Day.
  10. Once again, Jimmy Fallon and Tina Fey gave us the news. This week, Seth Meyers and Matt Damon dropped in to share their advice to Yankees fans about how to cope with losing the World Series from that year, considering that Boston fans had a lot of experience with losing, especially around this time period. Fred Armisen then made his news debut as a Spanish comedian named Fericito who attempted to teach Jimmy Fallon how to tell a joke which mainly consisted of finishing every line with a rim shot along with the catchphrase, “Ay dios mio.”
  11. Dr. Matt Damon had Chris Parnell as a doctor named Matt Damon who really hated being overshadowed by our famous host since they share the exact same name. We also met several other doctors who shared their names with famous celebrities, like Tracy Morgan as Dr. Ben Affleck, and Dean Edwards as Dr. J.
  12. Versace Pockets had Maya Rudolph as Donatella Versace in order to introduce her new line of very expensive microwaveable Hot Pocket-style food.
  13. TV Funhouse then gave us a new segment called The Smurfette Show that mashed-up the antics from Anna Nicole Smith’s reality show with the character from The Smurfs.
  14. Bruce Springsteen then ditched The E Street Band and returned to the stage to perform You're Missing.
  15. Sex Robot had Matt Damon as a lazy scientist who was working a Sex Robot Project as an effort to fight the war on terror due to the whole 72 virgins being the terrorist heavenly reward. Only it turned out that Damon miss used the projects sixteen million dollar funding and dressed humans as robots instead, only the financiers still wanted to test the product.
  16. The Dr. Phil Show had Jeff Richards as Dr. Phil who kept confusing his guests with his crazy Texan expressions.
  17. This was followed by a fake ad for The War On Iraq which was NBC effort to make a new hilarious sit-com based on the real-time political events that were making news at the time.
  18. Finally, Matt Damon closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

As I said up above, this was one of the best season openers that I’ve seen in a while with the help of these three sketches that contained my favorite moments of the night. First, I loved this week’s Brian Fellow's Safari Planet: Sexy Porcupine Edition because, as I’ve said in the past, Fellows is one of my favorite characters and by this point Tracy Morgan had the character nailed down. Next, I really liked the Dr. Matt Damon sketch because I really liked the quirky concept that became even more surreal as more characters were brought into the scene. Finally, I was a fan of Hannibal Goes To College even though I found the concept to be more hilarious than the actual finished product.

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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.