I know what you’re thinking, this is another host who I’m aware of but haven’t seen many of the films on her resume. That would make sense considering most hosts of Scarlett Johansson caliber, especially from this era, fall into that category. Well, you’d be wrong. In fact, tonight is quite the opposite as it turns out, I’ve seen more of our host’s movies than I thought. I was even pleasantly surprised to be reminded of some of her smaller roles from her early career.
I first discover Scarlett but in 2001 when she was just a little girl playing the sidekick to Thora Birch that I rushed out and saw because it was made by the director of one of my favorite documentaries called Crumb. I also really liked the tone based on the trailer because the movie came out right around the peak of my interest in indie films. Right around this time, I was starting to transition from writing shock value comedy scripts to writing quirky films that were a bit more personal.
During this time period, I started my hatred of traditional structure as I became a huge fan of the slice-of-life genre. This is how I ended up falling in love with the meandering style of Lost In Translation. Though there was at least a subtle structure to that film, to me, it was one of the first movies that provided evidence to me that there was room for more experimental films that would be excepted by the mainstream which encouraged me to hone my own writing style.
Granted, choosing this style never really got me anywhere because you really need to be a confident salesman to make this sort of pitch, which I’m just not, but I still wouldn’t have it any other way… well… that’s a lie… I would love nothing more than to write a sell out of a script to finance my indie life, but that’s a subject for a whole different area of this site.
As for the actual show, because of my history with Scarlett Johansson and the fact that I know, she’ll eventually go on to join the Five-Timers Club, I was pretty confident about the night. Especially since it’s been such a solid season and the show going into the winter break was so strong. I thought for sure the show would pick up where it left off, but unfortunately, this episode turned out to be only slightly better than average.
As always, keep in mind that slightly better than average is still pretty good, and when I say disappointing, I only mean when compared to my expectations for the night. I don’t know if it’s because Scarlett Johansson was so young during this visit but the writing felt a little safe and generic like you might expect from a non-comedic actress who turns out to be a one-off host who never gets invited back. That said, the actual performance was good enough that it’s no surprise that they do eventually invite her back.
I can’t wait for the next visit because I’m getting Alec Baldwin vibes where they gave him a bit the hot host treatment during his first visit, only to then kill it every visit from that point on. I really feel that Scarlett Johansson will also go this route. I can’t wait to see if this is true but that’s going to take a little while.
Until then, it’s now time to wrap this one up by moving on to share what I saw, as I give you…
The Wicker Breakdown:
This week's show started with a TV Funhouse style cartoon from Robert Smigel called The 700 Gang that was an animated parody of The 700 Club. This parody showed, TV preacher, Pat Robertson as he espoused his hateful fanatical ideal about everything from recent events in Israel to his views on Dick Clark’s evil pranks onto a bunch of kids in an effort to lead them with fear. This appeared to be a last minute replacement because it didn’t really go anywhere and there was clearly an edit to the audio where they abruptly cut in the opening announcement of, “Live from New York…”
Scarlett Johansson then officially opened the show with a monolog about how she was a bit nervous about this live performance because she was so used to working in films where there is always a chance for a second take. Amy Poehler joined our host on stage and attempted to boost her confidence by talking up her work. This led the two ladies to sing a song about how great it is to be a big star. In the song, Scarlett highlighted her Oscar-nominated hits, like Lost In Translation and Match Point while Amy tried to keep up by treating her silly roles in movies like Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo as if they were just as critically acclaimed.
This was followed by yet another repeat of the Taco Town ad that has already played a couple of times since its original airing. This was a really funny add about a taco that gets wrapped in every type of food that you can think of, to then be deep fried and thrown in a tote full of salsa but the fact that they’ve been repeating it, almost literally, every other week, has me a bit annoyed.
This was followed by another installment of Deep House Dish where Kenan Plays a DJ named Dynasty Handbag who once again does nothing but make fun of his vapid sidekick, played by Rachel Dratch, for being so dull as the two introduced new hip-hop and house music to their MTV-4 fans who totally ate it up.
Smorgasb'rd was a parody of a Food Network, Swedish cooking show with Scarlett Johansson and Seth Meyers as the chefs/hosts who bantered back and forth with their Swedish accents as if they were two star-crossed lovers in a foreign indie film. To add to this tone, Bill Hader played Scarlett’s comatose husband who was lying in a bed off to the side of the set as we learned that the two cooking host had a pact to marry soon after Hader’s death.
TV Funhouse then gave us a parody of a Hanna-Barbera-style Intelligenvision Kidz cartoon called Darwin, where an animated Charles Darwin kept making evolutionary blunders while trying to share his research results to the kids. This segment also featured mini fake ads for Bryo The Gay Stem Cell which was a gay embryo that had a Roadrunner-esque relationship with Hilary Clinton who wanted to catch our hero to use for research and Celibots which were a bunch of celibate Transformers.
This was followed by a fake ad for Mike And Toni's Chandelier Galaxy where Fred Armisen and Rachel Dratch played the titular pitch people who tried to push their chandeliers as the solution to escape your mundane daily rituals.
Duluth Live was a parody of a small market morning talk show with Jason Sudeikis and Amy Poehler as the two peppy hosts who were ecstatic to welcome their new house band, only to quickly regret the new additions after it takes lead singers, Will Forte and Scarlett Johansson, damn near forever to get through the new/extended theme song. Not only does the song go on and on, but it devolves to be reminiscent of a Doors concert as Will Forte slammed a bottle of Jack and then started to carry on about the plight of the Native Americans.
Death Cab For Cutie then took to the stage to perform Soul Meets Body.
Once again, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler gave us the news. This week, Tina acted as a body language expert to break down Rachel Dratch’s facial expression while she played Martha-Ann Bomgardner who was watching her husband, Samuel Alito, as played by Chris Parnell who was getting sworn in as the latest member of the Supreme Court. Tina also played an impromptu host to play a game of “Who said the horrible quote?” where Amy had to determine if a horrible statement was said publicly by Pat Robertson or the mutterings of a homeless guy into a plastic bag. Andy Samberg also dropped by for a new segment called The Shaggy Hair Corner where he broke down the looks of fellow celebrities who shared his shaggy hairstyle.
We then got a parody of My Super Sweet 16 where Scarlett Johansson played the demanding teenager of honor who had an extreme list of demands for her parents to put on the most important sweet 16 birthday party that the MTV show and/or the world had ever seen. She then threw a fit when she found out that many of her plans were impossible.
We then went to a jewelry shop called Once In A Lifetime Jewelers where Jason Sudeikis made a complete ass out of himself while trying to shop for a low-priced engagement ring for his girlfriend as Scarlett Johansson played the jeweler who called him out over very area where he attempted to skimp away any unneeded costs. Throughout the haggling process, Sudeikis kept hinting that he might have to steal a ring if he had to so when Scarlett gave him the final price quote, and he tried to do a grab and run Finesse Michelle, as story security hit him with a taser before he could even turn away.
Oceanographers took us to the bottom of the Kuril-Kamchatka Trench where Scarlett Johansson, Seth Meyers, and Horatio Sanz were all stuck in a tiny three-person submarine as they explored the sea. Scarlett and Seth played a married couple while Horatio steered the boat. After a moment we learned something was a little off, and then it’s revealed that somehow, in this cramped space, Scarlett and Horatio manage to sneak off and fit in an affair that left Seth floor both literally and figuratively how this was able to happen.
Death Cab For Cutie then returned to the stage to perform Crooked Teeth.
We then got a parody trailer for an adaptation of a lost Jane Austin novel called Mr. Willoughby that had Scarlett Johansson, Tina Fey, and Rachel Dratch as three sisters who speak vibrantly in expectation of the soon-to-arrive titular Mr. Willoughby. Though they make him out to sound like a monster, at the same time they acted like he was the man of their dreams as if even at his worst, he was the best that this time period had to offer.
Finally, Scarlett Johansson closed the show by thanking the audience and saying her goodnights.
Once again, I sort of regret my use of the term slightly above average because I always feel like I’m saying the show was no good especially since I use the term most for episodes that don’t meet my high expectation for the night based on how much I like the host. Where I expected tonight to be a home run the show was still a solid triple that’s to sketches like these that contained my three favorite moments of the night. First, I loved the Oceanographers because it made me laugh how there were so many things going on behind Seth Meyer’s back even though they were in a tiny submarine that barely even fit the three people inside. Next, I really liked the fake ad for Mike And Toni's Chandelier Galaxy because I like the idea that all you need it a chandelier to liven up your life. Finally, I was a fan of the Duluth Live sketch because I’m a fan of sketches that start out somewhat normal, only to grow more convoluted as the continue on, so it made me laugh when Will Forte’s band started out fit for the TV show, only to have the performance devolve to be very reminiscent of a performance by The Doors.