All Signs Point To Slump Show 


This is the first time in a while where I watched the episode to then write and post the review all in the same afternoon. For the past months, I've been far enough ahead that I would be posting reviews that were written the day before. So, of course, now that I have the extra touch of pressure, Murphey's Law peeks its ugly head by giving me the most slumpiest of slump shows, the first one to lower my level of enthusiasm.

Don't get me wrong, I've disliked other episodes in the past, but this was the first time that I spent more than half the episode not being able to wait for the episode to be over. Usually, the cast can redeem any show, but this episode doesn't seem like there is any way to save it.

Every sign along the way pointed to a slump-show element. To start off, I never heard the name Michael Sarrazin and seeing his face brought up zero memories as well. Up until this point, there has only been one host to fit this description who pulled off a non-slump episode. Then, to top things off, he starts his monolog with warnings of his apprehensions toward hosting, which is a ubiquitous line for hosts who end up on slump shows.

Rather than point out all of the examples right here, I'll slips samples into my summary as I give you...

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. The show dropped the bit they were doing for a while where they would announce that this "Special Episode" of SNL was "interrupting" some sort of parody programming. Instead, the show opens on The President's Message on Inflation where Carter gives a "Plant Side Chat" where he discusses his plan to defeat inflation by having everyone literally burn 8% of their earned income to balance things out and ends with Amy Carter getting to say, "Live from New York..."

  2. Michael Sarrazin opens the show opening admitting to his hesitation to host and goes on to perform a justifyingly dull monolog as to why he would be apprehensive about doing live comedy. He does set up the potential for a through line joke, so I let the rest slide to see how this will play out.

  3. This is followed by a replay of the Stepford Wife Tranquilizer Soap commercial that might be a sign to tap into the sedated mindset to get through the rest of the episode.

  4. Next, the entire cast plays high school students in a classroom for Josh Ramsey V.D. Caseworker, a show about this caseworker that teaches the children about V.D. This is one of those sketches that goes on forever, filled with unnecessary scene change and very few jokes. It becomes a true drama at points where the humorous moment fit into the structure of drama to give us relief rather than any of the comedic elements being the highlight to this piece which I feel should bet the goal of sketch comedy. I get that even the most comedic of sketches can be delivered in any tone, but this was a boring acting piece with a couple cheap laughs sprinkled in.

  5. Four sketches down and we are already at the musical guest this is a sign of just how long that first sketch ran because the band doesn't usually perform until slot seven or eight and none of the other sketches ran long. Anyways, Keith Jarrett comes out and plays a song on the piano that I can't find the title to no matter where I go. This is the first time that the title to the song wasn't listed in the show summary but it is also the first instrumental only music guest, and the timing couldn't have been more awful. I might not have minded this performance in an episode that I otherwise enjoyed but having this happen here feels like they're pranking their core audience.

  6. Gilda then plays her A.D.D. riddled child who works out her overactive imagination as she spastically plays all over the room. I don't mind this off the top of the head improv character of Gilda at the end of a good episode which is where she usually lives. Having this be a pre-news sketch in an already dry episode actually made me like this character a little less.

  7. Once again, Jane and Dan host the news, it's just as average as usual lately, but with the boring build up to this point in the show, I found even the segments that I usually like to be rather annoying. Murray did an interview with Laraine after a review of her fake breakthrough movie. Jane and Dan have a Point-Counterpoint argument about the Neutron Bomb that was actually my favorite moment so far and then ended on an uninspired Roseanne Roseannadanna bit which once again, lessened my interest in a Gilda Radner Character (which makes me even more frustrated with this particular episode.) (Clip 2)

  8. Then we go to a penalty box at a hockey game which leads to a sketch that pretty much just jokes about how ready to rumble hockey players are while making fun of the French Canadian accent because this was a time when an accent alone could get laughter. That's not to say this still isn't true, but the successful modern accent jokes usually revolve around character.

  9. E. Buzz Miller returns with an exercise cable access show with his stripper co-host/sidekick the two do a workout show to create content for those in a pre-porn is everywhere society who seek the airwaves for anything sexual to fantasize to.

  10. Keith Jarrett returns to play another piano song. It's sad, but the way he dances as he plays might be the funniest part of the episode especially since he looks a tad bit like Eric Andre and I still sort of feel like I am being pranked.

  11. The short film of this week was called Le Dolce Gilda which was a movie that I've been meaning to see for years but now feel like I missed the point in my life where I would have a better appreciation for work from this time and genre than now when I am jaded toward other generation's nostalgias. That said, I didn't get any of the references in the short film, so I didn't find it all that entertaining, which again, I wouldn't even point out if I wasn't so annoyed with the rest of the episode.

  12. Archaeologicus is by far the best sketch of the night. It takes place in the future and only features Laraine, so the host gets zero points toward redeeming his appearance. Anyways, the sketch takes place in the future and the archeologist from the time have just discovered someone from the '70s tomb (AKA apartment) and try to break down the era with misinterpretations of marketing symbols and how we interacted with the latest technology.

  13. So, if one instrumental performer wasn't enough, we are now treated to Gravity which is an entire instrumental band that performs a medley of songs with no note-worthy names that are in my current frame of mind, made it feel just slightly better than mediocre.

  14. FINALLY, Michael Sarrazin thanks the crowd and says his goodnights and again, this was the first time of three months of straight watching and three seasons in that I just couldn't wait for a show to be over.

As you might guess, I didn't like this episode and spent the entire episode desperately trying to justify my top three moments, and this is what I struggled to come up with. First, I actually loved the Archaeologicus sketch because I genuinely believe that some of our significant archeological findings may be way off for the very reason that this sketch highlights. Next, I liked this week's Point-Counterpoint segment in the news because it brought back the terror of learning of the neutron bomb and how it could kill everyone without destroying a single building. I know this is a dark, nostalgic memory, but it's nostalgia nonetheless. Finally, I was a fan of Keith Jarrett play piano, though it's not supposed to even be funny, as I said he kind of reminded me of Eric Andre which sort of saved this episode by getting me to look at the entire appearance as a prank.  


Watch More From Michael Sarrazin:

Hear More From Keith Jarrett:

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.