SNL: S03E12... HOST: O.J. SIMPSON... DATE: FEBRUARY 25, 1978

or...

My Birthday Episode: Year 2

This episode originally aired February 25th, 1978. As I pointed out in my last birthday episode review, I'm a leap year baby and on non-leap year years I would celebrate my on the last weekend of February, feeling more connected with being born in that month over technically being born on March 1rst which is the day after the 28th, so I fully understand any disagreeing opinion.

Last season an oasis episode landed on my birthday weekend. This is when a decent episode falls in between a pack of second-half slump appearances. So for example, my last birthday episode what hosted by Steve Martin which was following the Fran Tarkenton episode (which is one of my least favorite to date) and then followed by the Mardi Gras special (which was fun but far from a favorite.

This year, I got O.J. in an episode that seems to be the start of the second-half slump for this season. That said, I wouldn't say it was a horrible episode, it was just a little less entertaining than average. The show even starts out with a sketch where they answer questions from the audience and Gilda admits that it's because the writers couldn't come up with anything better.

The rest of the show had a few laughs but it still suffered from slump show attributes. First, we have a retired sports star host that's trying to reinvent himself as an actor. I actually wouldn't say that O.J. did a horrible job as far as the acting when but he could work on his comedic timing.

I also don't fully blame the host for the slump shows, because during these episodes the writers seem to either slack off or experiment with "second chance" material. Many of the sketches felt convoluted and long to where you're burnt out before they get to the punchline. It almost feels like they expect their ratings to be low so they blow through their backlog of material.

One last thing that I'm a bit ashamed to admit, I was also a tad disappointed that there wasn't more out of context incidents that were funny to look back at knowing O.J.'s future. This slight complaint is fully on me unless the writers had access to some sort of Minority Report technology that I wasn't aware of.

Oh yeah, one final thing, I'll be posting this on the day I consider my 41rst birthday!!!

Alright, enough with the birthday talk, so now it's time to share what I saw, and with that, I give you...

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. Tonight's special episode is "interrupting" James at 16 Marries Roman Polanski.
  2. Gilda appears in the opening sketch answers questions that were written on cards by the audience. The first question is about what happens if they don't come up with a good opening sketch and the answer is to answer questions from the audience. The next couple questions are along those same lines with more answers that admit the writers were just winging it this week, which didn't boost my confidence in this episode. She then reveals in one of her answers that the writers actually wrote these questions. Sure this means it's actually a scripted piece, but I still saw this as a lack of effort. The opening sketch ends with a question about the opening phrase which gets Gilda to announce, "Live from New York..."
  3. O.J. Simpson then runs out to the stage and he's dressed like he's a Conehead. He on to do a long monolog about his football career and how he achieved everything he set his mind on. This leads to a story of his acting career and how he ended up on the show. He speaks so fast during his performance that it's hard to take in all he's saying, especially when most of his talk has to do with sports which I couldn't care less about. There were a couple moments where the band would randomly interrupt which would cause O.J. to build in anger. This was the only time in the entire episode where I envisioned a joke based on what he is now famous for.
  4. The next sketch started a little confusing, with an Italian family bickering about being broke as they eat their spaghetti dinner. I had no idea where this was going until we cut to the bedroom where it's revealed that we're watching the parody Samurai Night Fever where the Samurai plays the Travolta character. We go from the room back to the meal where they reenact the, "Watch the hair," scene from Saturday Night Fever. This would have been fine if it ended right there but we then go back to the room where the Samurai meets O.J. who doesn't want to be black anymore so they have him dressed like a white guy. After this, we go to the club where there is a convoluted build up to get Belushi on the stage to disco dance his ass off.
  5. Great Moments in Sports starts with O.J. introducing the famous story of Babe Ruth promising a dying child that he would hit a homerun which then leads into a reenactment. In this version of the story, the child is played by Garrett Morris and the setup is the same as always only the outcome to the story is much different. First, there is a radio in Garrett's hospital room that is broadcasting the game and it's the announcers tell of this promise to a dying boy and this is how Garrett finds out that he's actually dying. After that, every at bat is filled with close calls but no actual homers. Every time it gets closer and closer to the point where the anxiety alone is enough to almost kill Garrett Morris. Then it gets to the final chance and Babe hits a ball that comes super close but is caught by the center fielder. This disappointment is enough to kill Garrett and O.J. points out this is another case of a white guy taking back a promise to a black man.    
  6. Ashford and Simpson then perform So, So Satisfied. 
  7. Dan Aykroyd then pitches the Mohawk Master which is a Mohawk cutting clipper contraption that cuts the perfect Mohawk in one fluid motion.
  8. The Big Event must had been a docudrama series from the time. Tonight's installment was called The Raid on Nicosia which must have been a very recent event at that time because part of the joke was how quick it was coming to TV the rest of the joke was mainly stunt casting of which celebrity from the time would play the people involved.
  9. Once again, Jane and Dan give us the news. Also again, they open the news with another joke sponsor that wasn't funny enough to remember. Billy Murray made an appearance where he talked about that year's Academy Awards. Laraine also had a segment where she played the first woman to do a review from an NFL locker room which mainly leads to entendres about dick size. Roseanne Roseannadanna finishes off the segment by reading a serious question about dental work only to end up rambling about items she uses to pick her teeth.
  10. Next, a group of guys watch a football game with O.J. on a night that Walter Payton is on the cusp of breaking O.J.'s touchdown record. O.J. acts like it doesn't bother him but he uses a Voodoo doll to thwart his efforts. Again, O.J. tries to pull off that he doesn't care and that he'd moved on but celebrates with champagne when the game ends without Payton breaking the record.
  11. Franken and Davis do a routine where Franken has just gotten out of brain surgery. I was half expecting Franken to come out drooling and stupid like the surgery wrecked his brain but he treats the condition a little more realistic, walking and talking just a little slower with a freshly bandaged head. He warns Davis that if he starts to lock up it's because he needs to be sponged off with cool water. Franken then goes into doing a stand-up routine filled with kid jokes that still get laughter which pleases Franken so much that he begins to speak with more energy. He gets through one full joke then locks up just before giving the second punchline. Davis steps in and sponges Franken off which snaps him back so that he can finish his joke which he does but it's the punchline from the first one. This pattern repeats a second time where I feel the expectation is that when he comes to this time he'd finish the third joke with the second punchline as if he one joke off, but no he once again repeats the first punchline. (Note: My description may suck but this is pretty funny when it plays out on the screen.)
  12. O.J. then plays Mandingo who is making out with Laraine in the parody ad for Mandingo II. Then we cut to Garrett Morris dressed as a woman making out with Bill Murray as the ad progresses through this sequel story. Next, Laraine refuses to make out with Murray, but lady Garrett and and O.J. make out before we cut to Laraine making out with the female Garrett Morris and then we cut to O.J. making out with Murray and the ad ends with Murray giving goo-goo eyes to a cow. All of this happens in such a short sketch that it seems like a chaotic make out fest that's hilarious.
  13. E. Buzz Miller returns with his cable access show with Laraine his stripper sidekick. The two do nothing but comment over videos of animals having sex as an excuse to get anything sexual on television. 
  14. This is followed by a parody of O.J.'s Hertz commercial only this time he doesn't get the special treatment as the Hertz representative informs O.J. that they gave his car to Walter Payton stating, "We also have to go with the winner."
  15. Ashford and Simpson return to perform Don't Cost You Nothing.
  16. Celebrity of the Sexes and Races put O.J. and Leon Spinks against Sandy Duncan and Marie Osmond who lose hands down at every step of the competition.
  17. Finally, O.J. closes the show by thanking the crowd and saying his goodnights.

 As I was writing the above recap, I realized this show was more fun than just below average. It still did struggle a bit but here are the moments that got me laughing. First, the Mandingo II sketch had me laughing out loud the hardest I have in a while. Next, I found the Great Moments in Sports sketch to be pretty funny because I don't remember this take on the famous Babe Ruth home run for a dying kid story. Finally, I was a fan of the opening monolog, mainly because there is absolutely no reason for O.J. to wear the Conehead mold because the Coneheads are never even mentioned for the rest of the night while I assumed they had him set up to be able to quickly jump into a Conehead sketch directly following the monolog.  

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.