SNL: S29E17... HOST: JANET JACKSON... DATE: APRIL 10, 2004

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A Night Filled With Cork Soaking Good Times

 

Between the facts that this episode is following so many good shows in a row during a season that started to weak, last night’s show staring Trump was so surprisingly good that I may have gone overboard in giving it praise, and mainly this being a thirteen segment episode, I thought for sure that Janet Jackson wouldn’t be the host to keep up the streak, but, boy howdy, I was mistaken.

I wouldn’t say that it was shockingly good like I did with both Trump and Al Sharpton but it was far from the chore that I was really expecting from the soft-spoken sister of the Jackson 5 and LaToya. Thankfully, the cast stepped in and did a lot of the heavy lifting because Janet’s timid ways don’t really work when it comes to comedy.

Though she did really well as Condoleezza Rice in the opening sketch, was one of the crucial parts in the classic Cork Soaking routine, and won me over by revising her character Penny from Good Times, she was like Trump in that she had the delivery of an out of touch alien who was trying to act like a human. Only with Janet, her out of touch sense wasn’t clumsy and fun to watch as she barreled along. No, she almost felt like a hostage being forced to deliver her lines as human-like as possible.

This horrible acting didn’t win me over to where I would ever really want to see Janet Jackson in the lineup of hosts again, hell even her musical guest performances were both so obviously lip-synced that even her singing left me unimpressed. Taking that into account, I was still happy to watch, even with the extra-long sketch format that I usually tend to hate. Speaking of which, with so few sketches, I don’t really have all that much to report on, so, I’m just going to wrap things up.

And with that, I give you…

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with parody coverage of a 9/11 Briefing where Darrell Hammond as Dick Cheney briefs Janet Jackson as Condoleezza Rice on her role in the upcoming 9/11 hearing and then tried to convince her to flash her boob, on the day, in order to take some of the heat off of the Bush administration. Of course, with this being the opening sketch, it eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York…”
  2. Janet Jackson then officially opened the show with a quick monolog about how despite how things may seem following her Super Bowl Halftime fiasco, deep down, she’s actually a very normal person. This then led her to share a few home movies of her as a kid in an effort to prove that she had a normal upbringing. These videos kind of looked like they could have been real videos with Jacket just trying to have fun while the Jackson 5 were behind her outdoing every one of her playful little moves.
  3. Tracy Morgan then returned as a special guest for another round of Brian Fellow's Safari Planet. This time the clueless animal expert wasn’t thinking of animals for the first time but instead was imagining having a tryst with Janet Jackson who was playing a zookeeper/guest that he wanted to fly down to Mexico with on her flying squirrel to go hat shopping.
  4. We then went to a Janet Jackson Concert Line where Finesse Mitchell’s Starkisha character stereotypically urbaned it up with her peeps, including Janet as one of said peep, while waiting in line for tickets to the big show.
  5. An Easter Treat From Saturday Night Live gave us a reunion of Horatio Sanz And His I Wish It Were Christmas Today to sing the song once again, even though, special guest, the real Simon Cowell felt that it was absurd to be singing a Christmas song in April. It didn’t take much to win Simon over as he grabbed a pair of maracas to join in on the fun.
  6. Janet Jackson then switched to musical guest mode to perform All Nite (Don't Stop).
  7. Once again, Jimmy Fallon and Tina Fey gave us the news. This week, Maya Rudolph then took over the role of Condoleezza Rice to share with the news and the SNL viewers her off-the-record truth about her knowledge of 9/11 which was that the Bush administration had gotten warnings in advance and opted to ignore them. She ended by going back on record to deny everything. Meanwhile, Finesse Mitchell was seen off at the side of the stage to act as Kevin Eubanks in order to laugh at every joke that came out of Tina Fey’s mouth just like the real Eubanks used to do with Jay Leno. Jimmy Fallon then wrapped things up by singing a knock-off of a James Bond song.  
  8. The Prince Show then returned for round two where this time Fred Armisen as Prince and Maya Rudolph as Beyonce where their quirky selves while interviewing Janet Jackson as an even quirkier Paula Abdul who ended up posing for a painting by Prince for some reason.
  9. This was followed by the classic Cork Soakers sketch which was just an excuse to use double entendres while in wine country. In it, several male members of the cast played a bunch cork soaker who worked for the vineyard while Janet kept asking them all about their gig, even though she kept getting tongue time and almost landed herself in another controversy by nearly saying the real thing on multiple occasion.
  10. Janet Jackson then switched back to musical guest mode to perform Strawberry Bounce.
  11. We then got a parody of Good Times where Janet Jackson revised her childhood role as Penny from the real show to showcase an amalgam of episodes that focused on the Evan’s family’s hopes for lottery dreams to finally pay off.
  12. This was followed by a sketch for a ‘70s drinking game called Boom Boomer with rules that were complete nonsense but it turned out that drug-induced paranoia involved made the game much more fun when Chris Parnell failed to figure it out until he was all hopped up on cocaine, which I heard is “one hell of a drug.”
  13. Finally, Janet Jackson closed the show by thanking the audience and saying her goodnights

Wow, nine episodes in a row that were all surprisingly good with these three sketches, containing my three favorite moments that made tonight be a fun one. First, I loved the Cork Sucker sketch not only because it cracked me up that all the Cork Soakers were guys but it kept cracking me up when Janet would get so confused that she would almost say the real words. Next, I really liked this week’s Brian Fellow's Safari Planet and will ever time that it comes on following Tracy Morgan’s departure from the show, but also I cracked up at the idea of Fellow and Janet Jackson on a flying squirrel to Mexico just to go shopping for hats. Finally, I was a fan of the Good Times sketch because I used to like that show as a kid and it was fun to see Janet revise her role as Penny from when she was on the real show.

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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.