A Pleasant But Obvious Surprise
As I often point out, this was around the time period where my awareness and retention of pop culture and the entertainment industry, in general, started to wear thin. That’s not to say that I was or am completely out of touch, I just no longer have the recollection abilities that I had back when I was an obsessed movie and television fan. Because of this, when I first saw Antonio Banderas’s name in the lineup, my thoughts went back to his earlier, more serious, work.
I feared that this was going to be another hot host episode with every single joke being focused on Banderas’s looks while he would do nothing but look sexy of just smile while blatantly reading the cue cards to deliver his lines. Even as I did the pre-viewing legwork, I was blind to any evidence the this would be any fun.
Then, the show started.
All that it took was seeing Antonio in the opening sketch, and I was automatically all in. I somehow forgot that Mr. Banderas also has an extremely silly side. I felt so dumb when I made this connection because it’s not like he’s a host who I’m unfamiliar with and to make things worse, I’ve mainly only seen his comedic work and am just aware of the fact that there’s a serious/sexy side to his career.
Once I let go of any doubt, about thirty seconds into the episode, I was thoroughly entertained by the entire rest of the show which then led to the opposite surprise that this turned out to be my favorite episode of the season, at least of what I’ve seen so far. I’m sure part of this is due to the reversal of expectations but Antonio’s enthusiasm, willingness to play, and act in the moment, play a much more significant part of this conclusion.
I can’t think of a single sketch that I took issue with. The closest thing that I can think of is how the women’s basketball award was a bit generic with cast member just trying random impersonations, mainly making fun of the same style of a lesbian coach with short hair. That said, this sketch was even saved by Banderas and his singing that made absolutely no sense, but it’s what made the segment fun to watch.
I hope that the rest of the year can hold up to this quality since I have mixed feelings about half of the remaining hosts. Oh well, we’ll have to wait and see. Until then, it’s now time for me to wrap this thing up by sharing what I saw, as I give you…
The Wicker Breakdown:
- This week's show started with another parody of Anderson Cooper 360 where once again, Seth Meyers played the titular host to discuss the immigration issue. His guests were Colorado Representative Tom Tancredo, who was played by Jason Sudeikis, and who fear that illegal immigrants were taking the jobs that “no American’s want,” while Antonio Banderas as the President of Mexico complained about Americans coming to his country during spring break. Meanwhile, Kenan Thompson played a Congresswoman named Cynthia McKinney who related to the plight of legal immigrants after she slapped a cop for not letting her into The House Of Representative because she forgot her Congressional ID. Of course, with this being the opening sketch, it eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York…”
- Antonio Banderas then officially opened the show with a monolog where he spewed out a laundry list of the people who the announcement that he was about to make was going out to. He then warned that what he was about to say might get him deported and it definitely wouldn’t be accepted in his hometown. The more he talked, the more it sounded like he was going to make a crazy political statement, only to strip out of his clothes while he announced that he was actually a woman as he stood on the stage dressed in drag.
- This was followed by a parody ad for Basic Instinct 2 where Amy Poehler played Sharon Stone who went way more extreme with the leg crossing scene in a desperate attempt to get her former big name back into the spotlight. At one point, the leg crossing and uncrossing got so blatant that Amy as Sharon as her Basic Instinct character was sitting spread eagle as she commented on her vagina while literally pointing it out.
- We then got a parody of Deal Or No Deal with Fred Armisen as Howie Mandel and Antonio Banderas as a contestant who struggled to understand the rules leading him to make nothing but crazy decisions, like trying to open his own briefcase the moment they put it in front of him. He the briefcase picking wasn’t enough Banderas could barely grasp the concept of the potential deal, so he jumped on the very first offer which got the girls to attempt to help Howie explain the game.
- Operator had Rachel Dratch revise her monotoned automated operator voice character this time to attempt to chat up Antonio Banderas while at a cocktail party. Of course, Antonio found this automated way of talking to be off-putting at first, but by the end of the sketch the two rushed off to have some sex.
- Besos Y Lagrimas was a parody of a Mexican daytime soap opera filled with melodramatic overacting, crazy plot twists, and wind that kept blowing through Antonio Banderas’s shirt and hair.
- 13th Annual Women's Basketball Coaches' Fashion Awards gave the cast another chance to perform obscure impersonations while parodying an award show.
- Mary J. Blige then took to the stage to perform Be Without You.
- Once again, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler gave us the news. This week, Darrell Hammond dropped by as Dan Rather to share his bitter sentiments over Katie Couric’s new gig as the host of CBS Evening News. Finesse Mitchell dropped by for a quick PSA by providing warning signs of when you may be dealing with an angry black woman in reference to the Cynthia McKinney incident that was joked about during the opening sketch. Will Forte also made a surprise visit as some actor from One Tree Hill and just randomly shared the numerous co-stars that he married because I guess marrying a couple co-stars was a thing that really happened on the set of that show. Special guest Chris Kattan dropped by for a “surprise visit” to perform his classic Antonio Banderas impersonation from that horrible sketch from back when he was a cast member on the show.
- This was followed by a parody of Zorro where due to his fear of bird flu, Antonio Banderas let his hefty stand-in played by Horatio Sanz step in for a stunt where he had to make out with Amy Poehler as Catherine Zeta-Jones because he was that scared of falling ill.
- We then went to a Karaoke Joint where a shy Rachel Dratch attempted to get past her nerves to sing a romantic song for her boyfriend, Antonio Banderas, only to keep getting interrupted by Amy Poehler who played an overly enthusiastic karaoke host.
- The Plan had Antonio Banderas, Fred Armisen, and Horatio Sanz give a special announcement that the Spanish-speaking population really is plotting a secret plan to take over America. This was after Amy Poehler and Chris Parnell were complaining that Antonio Banderas was so good that he was another Mexican trying to take an American’s job.
- Mary J. Blige then returned to the stage to perform Enough Crying.
- Wine Enthusiasts had Antonio Banderas, Amy Poehler, and Chris Parnell as a group of pretentious friends who each offered increasingly outlandish comments on the wines that they were tasting at a wine tasting event.
- Finally, Antonio Banderas closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.
As I said up above, this show was nice because it was full of surprised, first that I thought it would be bad, and then that it ended up being the best show so far this year, especially with the help of these three sketches that contained my three favorite moments of the night. First, I loved the Deal Or No Deal parody because it always cracks me up when people comedically power through situations even though they don’t know the rules like how Antonio’s character kept trying to guess the next step in this simple but convoluted TV game show. Next, I really liked the Wine Enthusiasts sketch because I’m an uneducated wine fan so the jokes about these wannabe experts got me to laugh out loud. Finally, I was a fan of the Zorro sketch because like with the Doppelganger sketch from yesterday, I love jokes about identity mix-ups when the two people involved don’t look similar at all like in this case with Horatio Sanz as Antonio Banderas’s body double.