SNL: S32E19... HOST: MOLLY SHANNON... DATE: MAY 12, 2007

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A Superstar For You To See

What An Alumni Host Can Truly Be

 

I’ve always been a huge fan of Molly Shannon because she was one of the first female cast members who not only kept up with the men when it came to acting and delivering humorous lines, because that’s been happening since the start of the show, but she also held her own in the world of physical comedy as well. I also see her as a bit of a prototypical for the females who starts out on the normal side, only to let her freak flag fly the longer they stick with the show.

Being such a fan, I was excited to see Molly Shannon return especially since the show she was there to promote wasn’t that big of a hit. Well, that’s actually unfortunate as far as Shannon’s career goes, but as far as tonight’s episode goes, I was confident I wouldn’t be seeing an alumni return with a big head who then walked through the nights performance. No, Molly Shannon hit the ground running as if she had never left the show.

I loved how when they brought back her old characters it was treated like a brand new sketch and not just a nod and a wink to the past with Shannon only focusing on the more notable catchphrase to get a cheap laugh. This also meant that they didn’t merely gloss over these nostalgic/classic characters but gave them the proper amount of time to let them breathe and live.

On top of all this, Molly Shannon also melded well with the new cast member’s already established characters like when it was revealed the Molly played Amy Poehler’s character Kaitlin’s mom, it was the only choice that would have made any sense, so it didn’t feel like a forced collaboration. Hell, even when I first thought back after seeing the first MacGruber, I was almost convinced that Shannon was part of the debut because I was thinking of tonight’s episode.

Don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed many alumni hosts from the past, but if you’ve been following these reviews, you may already know that I’ve surprisingly had mixed feeling about homecoming shows from the original cast since most played up their historical role with the show while treating the new cast like worthless. Some other fun alumni hosts like Damon Wayans and even Julia Louis-Dreyfus have put on good shows, but their lack of established character from when they were on the show can cause you to forget that they were actually once members of the cast.

The closest hosts who have come to tonight’s visits have been Phil Hartman and Dana Carvey, but with those two, they were so focused on revisiting their old characters that it felt like more of a best of compilation than a collaborative night. Not that this is a terrible issue to have because I’d rather watch a show with a best of feel that one that just isn’t any good. Tonight’s episode was just the perfect blend of old school and new school playing together to put out some pretty funny content.

In fact, I feel this show should have been the season closer, but instead, we’ll have to wait and see how Zack Braff handles the year’s end. Until then, it’s now time for me to wrap this one up by sharing what I saw, as I give you…

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with a parody of American Idol where Molly Shannon’s Mary Katherine Gallagher character tried out for the singing reality show. Of course with this being the opening sketch, Gallagher’s performance built to the announcement of, “Live from New York…”

  2. Molly Shannon then officially opened the show with a monolog about how great it was to be back on the show and particularly how unbelievable it was to be back as the host. The nostalgic filled greeting then took us to a flashback to the ‘90s after revealing her schoolgirl crush on Lorne Michaels so that we could see one of their awkward encounters play out.

  3. We then got a repeat of the Urigro commercial from earlier in the season which was the new pill that promoted its ability to facilitate an impressive urine stream in men who just want a stronger flow.

  4. Penelope then returned for another installment of Kristen Wiig playing Penelope, who ruined every attempt at conversation with her brand up-upsmanship during a meeting for residents of an apartment complex that had monthly meetings in an effort to build a sense of community. In fact, it got so bad that everyone left to hold a separate meeting minus our one-upper which led her to fade away with nobody there to hear her constant drone.

  5. Decision '08: The Fringe Candidates Debate had Darrell Hammond as Dan Rather to moderate the debates of the unlikely Democratic hopefuls from that year.

  6. We then got a parody of The Sopranos where Molly Shannon’s fifty-year-old and proud Sally O’Malley character auditioned to be a new stripper at the Bada Bing! club.

  7. Linkin Park then took to the stage to perform What I've Done.

  8. Once again, Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers gave us the news. This week, Molly Shannon dropped in as here female comedian character Jeannie Darcy to tell a few painfully generic jokes for the Weekend Update’s new Comedy Cul-De-Sac segment of the news. Fred Armisen also stopped by as a blind chef who attempted to give a barbecue demonstration only to almost burn down the set. Amy and Seth then wrapped things up by debating the usage of the word “panties” for another new news segment called What’s In A Word? (Clip 2)

  9. Amy Poehler then revised her hyperactive Kaitlin character where this time we finally met her mom during a visit to a nursing home where it was revealed that the adorable twerp’s mother was actually Molly Shannon.

  10. MacGruber then returned for more fun and gamed were this time our TV hero gave up on making crazy bombs opting instead to make Bloody Marries with bizarre ingredients. Even though he swapped bombs for drinks, the results were still the same as the scene ended with an explosion anyways.

  11. TV Funhouse then gave us a cartoon called Tales From The Greatest Generation that showcased the rough life of Big-Boobed Einstein.

  12. The Oak Room had Maya Rudolph and Molly Shannon as two lounge singers who performed a set of songs at the Oak Room where the two put on a pretty boozy show as they drank whiskey whenever they had the chance.

  13. MacGruber then returned for round two of this new series where this time instead of building a bomb, our TV hero attempted to play an acoustic version of his theme song, only to once again end with him randomly blowing up.

  14. Linkin Park then returned to the stage to perform Bleed It Out.

  15. Trump Steaks had Darrell Hammond as Trump once again to hawk his new line of “The World’s Greatest Steaks.”

  16. MacGruber had our TV hero give up on everything only to end up exploding while rambling to himself.

  17. Finally, Molly Shannon closed the show by thanking the audience and saying her goodnights.

I wouldn’t say that this was my favorite show from the season, but I would say that thanks to sketches like these that contained my three favorite moments of the night, this was my favorite alumni hosted show that I’ve seen in quite some time. First, I loved Mary Katherine Gallagher’s American Idol Audition because I love the Superstar character and her auditioning for Idol only made sense. Next, I really liked Sally O’Malley auditioning to be a stripper at the Bada Bing! club from The Sopranos even though I’ve never seen the actual show but enjoyed it because the “I’m 50!!!” proclaiming character is another SNL reference that I will still randomly quote to this day. Finally, I was a fan of Molly Shannon as Kaitlin’s mom because when I saw this in the sketch list, my first response was that of “aw” which was quickly followed by the thought of “of course!”

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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.