SNL: S30E09... HOST: TOPHER GRACE... DATE: JANUARY 15, 2005

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Ringing In The New Year With

A Bit Of  A Bore

 

Well, this turned out to be an interesting twist. Just last night, I was watching the last episode of 2004 that was hosted by Robert De Niro, who I think is a great actor but can be a bit of a bore while being himself during live performances. The fact that De Niro ended up doing so well (my second favorite show so far this season) I thought for sure that that the show would come back from the winter break with the bugs worked out and ready to knock my socks off.

To add to this increased interest, I’m a fan of Topher Grace so I was extra confident that the episode wouldn’t let me down. If you can’t guess by the subtitle and first paragraph’s build up, my high expectations were not met at all. Part of this could be due to the fact that Topher was a last minute replacement of Jennifer Garner who had to back out because of an injury while making the move Elektra.

The other issue I had stemmed from the fact that Topher’s signature Eeyore-ish behavior. Though his temperament is perfect for roles in projects where he keeps getting beat down by the world only to find true love, or whatever, by the time the closing credits come to an end, it turns out that being a sad sack doesn’t really work all that well in the world of sketch.

At times it felt like his mopiness was infectious to the point where the show started to feel like the show was running in slow-mo which was extra rough considering this was a night with only thirteen segments that all felt like they ran on too long. About halfway through the episode I actually remember being just as surprised by my disappointment back when I watched this show when it originally aired.

There was one saving grace (no pun intended) in that there were a couple of moments that were frustratingly fun to watch with modern eyes. The first instance of this was the opening sketch where they made fun of Bush, who’s beginning to remind me of Trump only minus the unjustified overconfidence that at least make Trump appear like he’s a puppet who’s fighting back, as opposed to Bush who seemed more like an idiot who fell into the situation.

The second interesting moment to watch with modern eyes where the sketch about Dan Rather and how he got busted for reporting a bunch of lies. This was just sort of interesting to me because, lately, Rather has been very critical of the media and all of its lies. Though I agree with Dan on many of his criticisms, I disagree with the notion that the lack of integrity is either new or specific to only one of the two sides. Personally, I feel that the general concept of having only two option means that we don’t really have a choice at all.

Once again, I’m sorry for slipping into political talk, but that was the most interesting aspect of the night. Hopefully, this isn’t a sign that this season is sliding back to the low quality of the first handful of shows because the last couple viewings have actually been pretty fun.

Oh well, it is what it is, and even though I had issues with his hosting, I’d still consider myself a Topher fan. With that, it’s now time to shift gears in order to share what I saw, so, without any further ado, I give you…

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with parody coverage of a White House Press Conference where Will Forte and George W. Bush in order to field questions from the press with Darrell Hammond as Bill Clinton and Fred Armisen as his father George Bush Sr. by his side. These press questions mainly focused on how George W. was slow to respond to the enormous tsunami that hit South East Asia that year. Papa Bush and Bill were there to help turn W.’s buffoonish response into something that sounded more presidential. Of course, with this being the opening sketch, it eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York…”
  2. Topher Grace then officially opened the show with a monolog about he was excited to host the show since he as such a big fan but could help but feel like he was being Punk’d  by former That ‘70s Show castmate, Ashton Kutcher because it felt like a dream come true. This led random members of the audience to ask questions that were so dumb that it failed to ease our host’s suspicions that this visit was just an elaborate prank.
  3. Trucker Talk had us on the road where we got to watch and overhear a bunch of grubby truckers discuss the Brad Pitt/Jennifer Aniston break up over their CB radios which got all of these manly men to get more emotional than one would expect.
  4. Martin Luther King Day had Kenan Thompson and Finesse Mitchell as two paramedics who refused to work on this special day, even though they were on the clock because they wanted to take advantage of the time and a half pay and not because they actually cared about the holiday.
  5. CBS Evening Fraudulent Document Update had Darrell Hammond as Dan Rather in order to apologize for a series of fraudulent documents that he had been errantly reporting as fact. This sketch was actually more interesting to watch through modern eyes, especially considering how Dan Rather has been reacting to our current issues with fake news.
  6. Beaver Ranch made fun of the Bunny Ranch brothel that had a reality show around this time. In this sketch, Topher Grace played a young man who just lost his virginity to an elderly prostitute who was played by Rachel Dratch. Topher learned a crucial life lesson in the process when he almost backed out because he wanted his first time to be special and not with an old bag, only to be informed by the ancient Dratch that the first time always sucks so he may as well just get it over with. And so he did.
  7. The Killers then took to the stage to perform Somebody Told Me.
  8. Once again, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler gave us the news. This week, Kenan Thompson and Maya Rudolph dropped in as Cliff, and Clair Huxtable from The Cosby Show to be were being honored for being positive role models in the African American community as an effort to celebrate the fact that it was Martin Luther King Day.
  9. We then went to an Artsy Apartment to be introduced to Fred Armisen and Maya Rudolph as two quirky artists from some foreign land where the language allows them to both be named Nuni that when said sounds precisely the same even though they claim there is an unsubtle difference that just isn’t there. This week, the two weirdos showed off their even weirder furniture to their neighbors, Topher Grace and Rachel Dratch and struggle to pronounce their extremely typical American names.
  10.  This was followed by a parody of Hardball where once again, Darrell Hammond played Chris Matthews so that he could criticize his guest, Will Forte as he yelled about the tsunami that struck Sri Lanka from around that time as well as his other guests for various other reason.
  11. The Not So Incredible Adventures Of The Down And Out Dollar was a sketch that had Amy Poehler as U.S. Dollar Bill who, thanks to a drop in value, took a lot of flak from the foreign currencies that she once dominated, back when America was still strong.
  12. The Killers then returned to the stage to perform Mr. Brightside.
  13. Finally, Topher Grace closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

As usual, even though this show was far from a favorite, it was still good enough to watch without feeling like it was a chore thanks to sketches like these that contained my three favorite moments of the night. First, I loved The Not So Incredible Adventures Of The Down And Out Dollar because it was sort of fun to see our host and the cast dressed as currency from around the world. Next, I really liked the debut of Artsy Apartment because Fred Armisen and Maya Rudolph as the duel Nunis used to always crack me up. Finally, I was a fan of CBS Evening Fraudulent Document Update because it’s more evidence of how nothing has changed at all, things have only grown to be more extreme.

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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.