Welcome To The Twelve-Timers Club,
It was just a couple of days ago when I share my excitement over Jason Lee bringing an edge back to the show. The shows that followed may have been fun, but there was barely any edginess at all, making the Lee visit stand out as almost a special episode instead of the point where the show changed its tone. This makes sense because if I’m being honest, that show might have been a little too edgy to set as an achievable benchmark to maintain.
Tonight’s episode turned out to be very close to the same situation, where several of the sketches were so over-the-top that I’m willing to bet at least one or two sketches walked the line of being unairable. Where it felt like Jason Lee’s visit was a fun act of rebellion from the former pro-skater, as if he was saying his shows so important to the network that he could do whatever he wanted, Alec Baldwin’s edginess felt like it came from an area of comfort from hosting twelve shows. That might be why this episode felt edgy at a level that could actually be maintainable.
I have to say that, at least up to this point, I still agree with Alec Baldwin’s opening insights about how he was the best of the reoccurring hosts. Most of the other reoccurring hosts seem to have many ups and downs. Some visits from said hosts feel like they were phoning it in while promoting a project or returning a favor to Lorne peppered into their, mostly, impressive other appearances. I can only think of one or two visits from Alec where I felt that he missed the mark, and can only think of one specifically which I just outright didn’t like.
This visit from Alec Baldwin is up there as a favorite, especially since there has been enough time since his last visit that I was extra happy to see him and he seemed extra happy to host creating an enthusiasm loop that kept feeding itself. It felt like such a festive homecoming I couldn’t imagine how anyone could not get caught up in the fun.
Sometimes… most of the time… every time it seems like Alec is more excited to be back than any alumni who have ever come back to host. I guess this makes sense considering the show is a former full-time job to the alumni meaning there may be more mixed feelings about having to return as opposed to Baldwin, who gets the kings treatment, without ever having to worry whether or not he’d make it into another sketch. I’m fine with this though, if it weren’t for giving the host special treatment, we wouldn’t get shows like tonight.
Well, that’s all of the praise that I have for this episode, so now it’s time for me to shift gears and wrap this thing up by sharing what I saw, as I give you…
The Wicker Breakdown:
This week's show started with parody coverage form Saddam's Prison Cell where Alec Baldwin played the imprisoned Saddam who sought mercy from Fred Armisen who played the prison guard. This pleading included threats to Armisen's family that he quickly claimed were jokes but no matter how playful the captured dictator tried to appear, Armisen just wouldn't give in. With no other options, Saddam gave up on his effort in order to announce, “Live from New York...”
Alec Baldwin then officially opened the show with a monolog about this being his twelfth time hosting the show. After making the big announcement, he went on to summarize his hosting statistics in order to compare himself with other reoccurring hosts. He started with Steve Martin who, at this time, was the only person who hosted one more show that him but then pointed out that Martin had begun collecting stats in the '70s when he's only been at it since sometime in the '80s. He then broke down a few of his old clips and brought out Tim Meadows to wrap up the rest of what he's learned from his dozen visits.
This was followed by a fake ad for Tylenol BM which was a pain-relieving sleeping pill that worked so well that its users could get such good sleep that they wouldn't even wake to go to the bathroom. Alec Baldwin played our example man to show us how this works.
Face Transplant had Alec Baldwin as the husband of the woman who received the world's first face transplant after being attacked by a wolf. The operation left Baldwin's once-hot wife looking like Seth Meyers, but thankfully, due to another mishap, the face didn't take, so they had to do the operation again. This time, Alec's wife came out looking like a buck-toothed hick version of Rachel Dratch which led Baldwin to force another mishap. This nest face transplant left Alec's wife looking like Kenan Thompson. Baldwin was instantly concerned to where it first seemed like it was a racial issue but then we learned that Kenan played a person who Baldwin know back when they were both in the military and had raped our host and left him for dead which made the doctor agree to try yet another transplant. For the fifth and final reveal, we saw Amy Poehler all dolled up which made Alec a happy husband as he started to feel her up. This was when the doctor re-entered the room to inform Baldwin that his wife was dead and he was, in fact, feeling up a stranger. This didn't stop the groping, if anything it seemed like he treated his action like a consolation prize.
The was followed by another parody of The O'Reilly Factor where once again Darrell Hammond played the titular host to argue with Chris Parnell and Alec Baldwin as John McCain and Barney Frank. Of course, with this being the O'Reilly show, the blow-hard of a host both disagreed with both sides of a two-sided argument depending on which person was speaking.
TV Funhouse then introduced a segment called Celebrity Mugshot Poker where cardboard mugshot replicas of celebrities with any form of criminal past showed of their quirks during a high-stakes game of poker.
This was followed by a fake trailer for Brokeback Goldmine which, of course, was a parody of Brokeback Mountain only with Alec Baldwin and Will Forte in the lead roles while playing prospectors searching for gold when they found one another instead.
Shakira took to the stage to perform Don't Bother.
Once again, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler gave us the news. This week, we got to see a series of fake audition to fill the latest vacancy at ABC News after Peter Jennings passed away. Kenan Thompson also stopped by as a ventriloquist/activist who tried to make a commentary on racism through his dummy that turned out to be extremely racist against white people. The news ended with the announcement of Richard Prior's death followed by a clip of the sketch where he and Chevy Chase had a racist off during a job interview.
We then got another installment of The Tony Bennett Show where Alec Baldwin revised his role as Tony Bennett in order to act like his quirky self while interviewing Darrell Hammond as Vice President, Dick Cheney.
This was followed by round two with Horatio Sanz's, overconfident, overweight, self-proclaimed skank, Carol! This time we went to a bowling alley where Jason Sudeikis and Amy Poehler tried to set up Alec Baldwin with our titular character and once again the two happily hit it off. We also got introduced to the brand new Carol! theme song.
The Man Who Married A Hot Dog had Alec Baldwin as a grown man who was told as a kid, “If you like hot dogs so much, why don't you marry them?” and so he did. This sketch showed how he was raising his two teenage half-human/half-hot dog kids as played by Amy Poehler and Andy Samberg.
This was followed by a fake ad for Medicare where Jason Sudeikis played a spokesman who sang a cheesy parody of Love Train that mainly used computer jargon that old people would never understand in an effort to get them on board with the new Medicare online services.
Shakira then took to the stage with Alejandro Sanz to perform La Tortura.
Santa's Workshop was a parody of Glengarry Glen Ross with Alec Baldwin revising his role only as an elf efficiency expert who rode all of the other elves over the fact that their productivity was very low that year, and used his verbal threats to get their asses into gear. Throughout the sketch, Alec kept mixing the parody line with the actual lines from the movie, like when he kept saying “Always Be Closing,” instead of, “Always Be Cobbling,” which was written on the chalkboard making the mistake even more clear to spot.
Finally, Alec Baldwin closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.
Many people are surprised by the fact that Alec Baldwin is allowed to host so often but thanks to sketch like these that contained my three favorite moments of the night, I wholeheartedly welcome his next visit. First, I loved the Santa's Workshop sketch because I’m a big fan of Glengarry Glen Ross, so the spot-on elf-based parody really worked to crack me up. Next, I really liked The Man Who Married A Hot Dog because it was so quirky and surreal while still being funny for reasons other than the bizarre setup. Finally, I was a fan of this week’s Carol! because I don’t think that I like the introduction of this character, but I now love her since the character is more defined thanks to the new sit-com vibe that they’ve added to make this a reoccurring character and not just a one-off joke about a fat girl.