SNL: S29E10... HOST: JESSICA SIMPSON & NICK LACHEY... DATE: JANUARY 17, 2004

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A Great Episode, Against All Odds

First off, I'd like to apologize for yesterday's review that I felt was way too rushed even as I was writing the words. That's because it was due to poor planning and I was actually in a hurry. The problem is, I'm still trying to figure out how to work from bed as I try to recover from my sciatica that's been acting up over the past couple of weeks. While lying on my stomach, it takes me close to twice as long to type up anything so when the clock hit two o'clock in the PM and I still had a lot to do, my main priority became to simply just get things done.

I also regret going into way too much detail about the challenge itself and not the show, kind of like I'm doing right now, only this time my ramblings not rushed, and I'm actually trying to make a point. Though I don't mind getting autobiographic and/or going off topic about the host, I feel like some of the behind-the-scenes writing about the actual task should be saved for The Daily Breaker, where I currently have another challenge going but for the most part, it's a journaling page. Then again, I probably won't mind at all and wouldn't be writing these word if there was at least a little more focus on the actual episode instead of creating what I now feel was a filler post, just to be done.

I'm going to try something new until my back heals enough to where I can get back to the point where I am writing from my chair. The new plan is to blog on a graveyard shift schedule in order to never come close again to missing a deadline. Now, unlike yesterday where I crowbarred in just one or two on-topic paragraph, it's time for the real review to begin.

Part of me wishes that I could go back to the days where I didn't do pre-viewing legwork because in doing so, I get a lot of spoilers for the show that I'm about to watch, but at the same time, I've already seen most of these shows before and taking notes during the viewing takes almost twice as long than having a pre-written sketch list with a brief summary to work off of, so that I don't have to stop, start, and/or rewind in order to pick up some minuscule detail that I might have missed. The way I do it now, I can just watch and adjust The Wicker Breakdown as needed which is quite a bit because the originals that I work from are usually pretty vague.

Anyways, when I lied down to type up tonight's sketch-list, I thought for sure that tonight would be a total bore. For one, there were a lot of notes that read Nick and Jessica sing, or Nick and Jessica as themselves, or Jessica Simpson as one of her competing pop stars. Since I've never gotten into the celebreality genre, all that I knew about Nick and Jessica where appearances like this, but mostly late-night jokes and from what I saw, the last thing that I wanted these two people to be was themselves.

Even as the viewing started, I was ready to hate because the very first sketch was a reminder that this was another Presidential Election year, for one of the most boring election cycles ever. I mean, I just watched the show and I already forgot who the Democratic candidate turned out to be because the person who was chosen left the left-leaning voters just that inspired.

Then when Nick and Jessica hit the stage that started a Jessica is dumb routine where she could figure out whose line was whose on the cue card. Though it was funny, the other reoccurring theme on the sketch list was that Jessica mostly played a dumb blonde and I have mixed feelings about people who play up their idiocy to act even dumber than they actually are. This might just hit too close to home because I used to play up my dumb guy personal to where I think many people actually believe that I'm not smart, which is hard to defend against when you get stuck in a character.

That said, it was kind of funny and I mainly hated it because it was exactly what I expected. Then the two burst into an old school '70s style to opening the show and sang a high energy song while the rest of the cast joined in as '70s variety show style characters. This was pretty fun but there was part of me that still didn't want to like this one.

I didn't mind the fake ad that followed but when it comes to fake ads, they are almost by default a favorable segment. It was during the first, non-opening/non-monolog/non-fake-ad sketch with Nick and Jessica on a morning zoo FM talk show where I let down my guard and started looking for the fun instead of the flaws. Though Jessica Simpson played herself as a complete idiot once again, the joke was really funny and they both did a really good job.

Even though there were all of the flaws that I feared during the pre-viewing legwork, not a single one of the issues that I was concerned about turned out to be an actual flaw. I kind of liked the sketches and Jessica and Nick as themselves even more than their efforts to act as other characters. I also felt that when they impersonated others, it felt like they were being fair and for the show and not passive-aggressively fueling the fire to some feud, like how some other host can get when impersonating their competition.

In fact, I think that was the key to making this such a good episode, both Nick and Jessica seemed to be having fun as a couple and not just there to promote. I think of all of the couples that I've seen host, these two may just be the best, even when it comes to couples I loved, like Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman, they seemed to have a bit of a battle for airtime which made sense because they were both actors working within their genre and not to singing reality stars without a real care in the world.

Keep in mind, this is also my second review writing graveyard, with the first being Al Sharpton's show which was another episode that I loved. Even if I turn out to be wrong, it's actually too late because I already built up both of these episodes so much in my head. With that, it's time for me to wrap this thing up and share what I saw, as I give you... 

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started at Howard Dean Headquarters where Jeff Richards as Howard Dean called the Iowa county chairman looking for support because he was desperate to drum up as much support as he could while cursing out everyone who turned him down. This sketch is credited for a reason Richards was fired for not taking directions which led to a technical gaffe but Richards claimed to leave the show on his own terms. Either way, with this being the opening sketch, it eventually led to the announcement of, "Live from New York..."
  2. Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey then officially opened the show by paying tribute to the old school variety shows from the 70's after giving up on the traditional two-person opening because Jessica couldn't figure out whose lines were whose on the cue card. I think it was a good choice because this '70s variety tribute was very high energy and fun.
  3. This was followed by a fake ad for Tylenol Extreme that was pitched to extreme sports athletes to help ease extreme crotch pains caused by extreme stunts that feature the groin.
  4. Jimmy Fallon then revised his morning zoo radio D.J. character for another installment of Z-105 Morning Crew where Jessica and Nick played themselves and Jessica was too dumb to realize that Jimmy all of Jimmy's many voices and sound were actually coming from him. This included Jimmy's impersonation of Nick in order to answer all kinds of crazy questions the other fake voices in the room.
  5. El Cantador Mexican Restaurant had Nick and Jessica as the wait staff who tried to sing for a troubled couple, played by Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers, in an effort to cheer them up after they started a fight over an affair between Seth and Amy's sister. Though Seth really got into each song as they offered a distraction, Amy was more and more disturbed with each bit of new information that was always followed by a new song.
  6. American Idol had Chris Parnell as Simon Cowell in order to judge and criticize our host and the cast who all impersonated already established singers who weren't ready for such abuse.
  7. M-TV Future took us to the year 2054 where Nick and Jessica played themselves as MTV celebrated the couple's show Newlyweds' Golden Aniversary with a quick season preview where geriatric Nick and Jessica were still up to the same old fun and game, only older.
  8. This was followed by a fake PSA for the American Beef Council where Jessica Simpson as Paris Hilton and Rachel Dratch as Nicole Richie babble like idiots while speaking out for Mad Cow Disease and how it was no big deal since it only affected cows.
  9. G-Unit then took to the class to perform Stunt 101.
  10. Once again, Jimmy Fallon and Tina Fey gave us the news. This week, Amy Poehler dropped by as Michael Jackson and was way too happy to check in with an update considering that the real Michael was in the middle of his child molestation trial at the time. Darrell Hammond as Trump also stopped by to talk up his new show The Apprentice, the way that only Donald Trump can. Jimmy Fallon kept failing to catch guitars that were thrown at him by some when off stage whenever he attempted to add emphasis to joke by playing the air guitar, Tina Fey shared a bunch of wacky celebrity political endorsements, and Fred Armisen and Will Forte returned as their two accountant singer characters to sing a song about the appeals in a court case involving presidential appointees that was going on at this time. 
  11. The Sharon Osborne Show once again had Amy Poehler and Horatio Sanz as Sharon and Ozzy Osborne so that this time they could interview Ratchel Dratch as that crazy old Canadian sex expert, who was that era's Dr. Ruth, as well as Nick and Jessica as Dave Navarro and Carmen Electra who were still a couple at this time.
  12. Victoria's Secrets had Maya Rudolph as a crotchety old woman who was out shopping for a new pair of panties with Kenan Thompson as her grandson. This put Kenan in a very weird place where he didn't mind hearing Jessica Simpson talk about underwear but was absolutely embarrassed by grandma Maya who absolutely had zero shame. Because he was there, Nick also played the store manager who kept sexually harassing his wife's character.  
  13. We then went to a marketing meeting for the Northern California Nutgrowers Association that had Horatio Sanz as Bubba Sparxxx in order to rap some dirty ditties about nuts and nut growers in order to help out the struggling market.
  14. G-Unit then returned to the stage with Joe to perform Wanna Get To Know You.
  15. DynaCorp was a sketch that had Jessica Simpson as herself, who are baffled one more by polar-opposite canned food items, this time she couldn't grasp Tuna Of The Dirt Brand Chicken, Or Turkey Of The Jungle Bananas, or the laundry list of other confusing products.
  16. Finally, Jessica and Nick closed the show by thanking the audience and saying their goodnights.

As I kept saying up above, I was totally surprised that this episode turned out to be so fun, but how could it not be, especially with sketches like these that contained my three favorite moments of the night. First, I loved Z-105 Morning Crew With Nick Lachey And Jessica Simpson because, as I said when this segment debuted, I love morning talk radio and even more, I love jokes about morning zoos, plus Jessica was great at playing herself. Next, I really liked the fake DynaCorp ad because even though Jessica Simpson was once again playing herself as an idiot, I really liked how convoluted the ad got with the naming of their crazy canned meats. Finally, I was a fan of the fake PSA For Mad Cow Disease because I thought it was funny how "Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie" were actually for the mad cows and were portrayed in a way that didn't seem like an attack.

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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.