SNL: S33E12... HOST: STEVE CARELL... DATE: MAY 17, 2008

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Now That Was a Season Finale!!!

 

Last night, I might have made the mistake of counting my chickens before they hatch in predicting that Christopher Walken and Shia LaBeouf had solidified their spot at the top of my favorite’s list for this season. Part of the reason I made this prediction is that up to this point in the challenge, the season finales have, more often than not, let me down. Sure they can be fun, but they usually are more fit to be mid-season episodes since even the better season closers max out at just above average.

This show might not have had all of the bells and whistles that I expect to end out a year, but there were enough special guest and cameos to at least give the episode an air that it was at least a little special. On top of the overall vibe, during the viewing, I also realized that Steve Carell is a lot more of a character-of-himself type of actor that I love than I realized. I think I looked past this in the prior viewings because that character is often an ordinary man who just can’t control his urges at times, as opposed to more character-of-themselves style actors that usually go a tad over-the-top with every comedic note.

Christopher Walken’s approach is for wacky that it almost doesn’t seem like he knows where he is allowing him to put on the same performance whether or not he actually was into any given appearance. Then when it comes to Shai LaBeouf, I feel this last appearance was just before he really tapped into the character-of-the-self approach to life so I could see the actual him having fun playing each character in any given sketch. When it comes to Steve Carell, the blend is so natural that I buy him as each different character that he attempted to portray to where, I not only felt that he was having fun as the show’s host, but I felt he put in a bit effort into each mini-role. This approach gave him the edge to where, to me, he ended up winning the number one show from this year.

It also may have helped that the show held off on the politics until after the show already held my attention instead of starting with the political jokes that I did use to appreciate, but after this last elections, anyone’s political opinion is the last thing that I want to see. Hell, starting the show with less polarizing satire had me in a much better mood so that when the politics came in the middle of the night, I was open to listening instead of just rolling my eyes at the formulaic show introduction.

This might be why I felt entertained throughout the entire night instead of how I usually have to wait for segment five or six to get into the segments that I really like. Typically, I zoned out by the end of the opening sketch when it’s political. This creates a chain reaction where I’m still on the fence throughout the monolog since it’s impossible to gauge the quality of the show base on the host’s obligatory introduction pleasantries. The fake commercial that follows it usually fun but for some reason, the very first official sketch surprisingly often turns out to be a dud, which makes me have to hold off on developing an opinion until I’m at least an entire quarter into the night.

That might be the real factor that landed this episode in the top spot because there wasn’t a single point where I felt like the show was going slow. I was even into to political content that popped up a couple times throughout the night, which was unavoidable consider this was the start of a Presidential Election year.

As I said yesterday, I’m now really excited about what’s to come because I am utterly unfamiliar with the next three or four years of the show. Aside from maybe one or two shows hosted by The Rock, Charles Barkley, or Betty White this upcoming period of SNL is filled with a lot of blind spots to me that I can’t wait to bring to light, that is if they can at least stick to the quality of content that was created tonight.

With all that said, it’s now time to wrap this one up by sharing what I saw, as I give you…

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with The Pounder School Commencement Ceremony where Steve Carell played a high school principal who reads off the list of filthy prank-call-style-named students from this year’s graduating class. This was after giving a pretty genuine speech about diversity, that felt like it was building to more than this funny but juvenile name joke. Of course, since this was the opening sketch, it eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York…”

  2. Steve Carell then officially opened the show with a monolog about the hectic schedule that goes into the week building up to the live show. He claimed that the workload was exhausting but worth it, plus he didn’t mind because he just drank six Red Bulls to keep him going throughout tonight’s episode. He then became a rambling mess as the caffeine started to kick in which led our host to seek a way to escape. While running around looking for an exit, he ran into his real-life wife, Nancy Walls who talked him down and got him to admit that he wasn’t on Red Bull at all, but instead was just having a panic attack. She worked her magic to calm Carell so that he could then throw to the start of the show.

  3. The Democratic Primaries gave us a split-screen that featured Fred Armisen as Barack Obama on one side and Amy Poehler as Hillary Clinton on the other as the two delivered their messages, highlighting how Obama was pushing his policy and hope while Hillary was pushing how she was entitled to be handed the role of the party’s nominee.  

  4. The was followed by a parody of Deal Or No Deal where Steve Carell played an angst-ridden contestant who had to endure a battle of wits with Will Forte as his dad who kept taunting him from the audience while he attempted to win a million bucks. To add to the pressure, Carell has the case count down to four where there are only the three lowest payouts and the grand prize million-dollar payout, giving him pretty intense odds. Not only did the dad taunt our host but the briefcase models also added to the pressure with their tension-building briefcase-opening shenanigans. After all of this build up, Carell found himself the winner of one cent.

  5. A Couple Of A-Holes Do Karaoke brought back my two favorite Wiig and Sudeikis characters who’ve been gone for quite some time. For this visit, as the title suggests, the two A-Holes pester Shia LaBeouf as the karaoke host while he attempts to get them to just pick a song.

  6. We then got another SNL Digital Short called The Japanese Office where the real Ricky Gervais dropped by as a special guest to introduce the Japanese version of his popular show which he claimed was actually the original The Office that he stole to create the UK version of the show. This version had Steven Carell and the SNL cast, pretty much doing the American version of the show with Japanese themes and speaking the Japanese language. Once again, I’m impressed with how perfect the SNL cast pairs up with The Office team with barely any effort at all.

  7. McCain In One featured the real John McCain discussing what pork barrel means before going on to defend his age.

  8. Usher then took to the stage to perform Moving Mountains.

  9. Once again, Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers gave us the news. This week, John McCain returned to request that the in-fighting between Barack and Hillary continue on past the primary and even beyond the election because it would really help out his cause. Darrell Hammond and Kenan Thompson also returned as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton to offer some advice to Barack Obama that mainly consisted of warnings about not getting too comfortable because his race could come into play at any moment especially if he were to do anything that might be considered “too black.” (Clip 2)

  10. The Charlie Flitt Show had Steve Carell as a host who just recently lost two-hundred pounds, and now all he mainly does on this show is continually crash through life-size posters of his former-fat-self. He also had on Amy Poehler as a former-fat-guest who also burst through a poster of herself before answering questions about her life and her diet. This built up to the introduction Poehler's former skinny fiancé who was played by Bill Hader who was embarrassed to break through the skinny picture of himself. We also met Kristen Wiig as Hader’s mom who had to burst through a picture of her drunken self to join in on the conversation. Wiig was the final guest whose interaction with her son, and future stepdaughter inspired Carell to sing a sign off song to say farewell.  

  11. CPR Training was a sketch where Steve Carell played a CPR coach who was teaching a course using, former student, Andy Samberg for his example only to accidentally crush his chest and kill him while trying to teach the chess compression technique.

  12. Usher then took to the stage with Young Jeezy to perform Love In This Club, Part 1.

  13. Bless This Child had Steve Carell and Kristen Wiig as two wannabe parents who sing a lullaby while twirling a baby doll around their nursery in this end of the night, more sentimental than silly sketch, that I tend to love. That said there was a lot more humor to this one in the way they used the doll as they danced which would have been extremely inappropriate if the baby was actually real. It was also hilarious at the end when Wiig revealed she was pregnant and a quick cut followed where she was replaced with a dummy that our host haphazardly spun around.

  14. Finally, Steve Carell closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

As I said up above, this episode snuck in at the last minute to be my favorite episode of the year with the help of these sketches that contained my three favorite moments of the night. First, I loved CPR Training Gone Wrong because even though I knew the outcome going into the sketch, it still triggered a laugh from being jarred by the effect of Andy Samberg’s chest caving in during the chest compression portion of the training. Next, I really liked the Deal Or No Deal Sketch because, for some reason, I’ve always been a fan of parodies of this simple game show and how much unneeded stress they put the contestants through. Finally, I was a fan of the SNL Digital Short: The Japanese The Office because once again, I’m blown away by how little effort it takes to pair up the SNL cast with the cast from the real The Office.

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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.