SNL: S34E02... HOST: JAMES FRANCO... DATE: SEPTEMBER 20, 2008

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Attack Of The Failed First Sketch Of The Night

 

As a stoner, I’m a pretty big fan of James Franco and his crew, so I was excited about tonight’s episode. Though I did end up really liking the episode as a whole, I was very annoyed by the slow build up to finally get to the good sketches. I noticed that this started a couple of years ago when the opening sketch seemed to be political by default. Though I’ve accepted this trend for the opening sketch, I now hate how the first non-fake commercial sketch to follow seems to be the most mediocre of the bunch.

Like tonight, The Cougar Den is a reoccurring segment that I can only imagine how minimal the fan count for this series must be. Don’t get me wrong, even though I can’t stand this segment, I don’t feel that it should be completely cut from the show, but for the life of me, I don’t know why they use such weak content so close to the start of the show. This sketch seems far more fitting for just before the first musical performance when you are already ready for a break.

As is, I was half tuned out during the opening political sketch, the monolog is always, at best, just sort of fun, I then usually like the fake commercial that follows but I find that when the next sketch that follows is a mediocre routine, I then start to settle into thinking that this is how I feel about the rest of the night. This might be why, especially lately, I might be considering more shows to be average when all that it would take is a decent official fist sketch for me to upgrade my opinion of the viewing.

I know for a fact that all it would have taken was for The Cougar Den sketch to be moved to after the news since The Looker sketch already fulfilled the pre-musical-performance mediocre-sketch spot, I would have watched this episode in a much better mood. As is, I found this show to be just average as I continually bounced back and forth between enjoying the performance to being bored thanks to the expectations that were established with the initial setup.

Unfortunately, the mood-killing opening to this episode left me feeling uninspired to write about the aspect that I actually liked because as I said, I felt that the show as a whole was actually really solid and fun. With that said, it’s now time to move on and share what I saw, as I give you…

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started behind-the-scenes for a fake political ad called McCain Approves where Darrell Hammond as the Republican Presidential hopeful witnessed the producers insert his digital approval of various semi-truthed attack ad focused on Barack Obama that claimed he was anti-American with his Liberal beliefs. These half-truths included thing like Obama’s want for Universal Healthcare would also cover Osama bin Laden since he does live within the universe. Of course, with this being the opening sketch, it eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York…”

  2. James Franco then officially opened the show with a monolog about how he was taking a break from acting and was skipping his freshman orientation at Columbia University in order to host the show. This led Jason Sudeikis as Franco’s dorm Resident Assistant to interrupt so that he could demand a better explanation for our host’s no-show at the school.

  3. The Cougar Den then returned for another installment where the real Cameron Diaz revised her roles as a guest on the Amy Poehler, Kristen Wiig, and Casey Wilson as a trio of cougar hosts. This time James Franco played Cameron’s new youthful emo musician who she took on as her new young stud of a beau.

  4. Agent 420 had James Franco as a pot-smoking secret agent who had to fill in for a more competent member of the MI6 Operative and then attempted to thwart the efforts of Fred Armisen who played the notoriously-named Dr. Huang as he attempted to take over the world. The only problem was that James Franco couldn’t get over the fact that the top baddy’s name sounded like wang when said out loud. At first, this infuriated the evil Dr. Huang but then when activated the secret laser that he build to destroy the world, it caught Agent 420’s stash on fire leading our host and all of the bad guys to give up on all efforts toward anything in order to just enjoy the high.

  5. O.J. Simpson Jury Selection took us back to the courts for a new round of O.J.-based entertainment. This sketch was based on the case where O.J. had stolen some of his old memorabilia that he lost during his murder case and we got to witness the wackiness involved in the lawyers who attempted to find jurors who weren’t already aware of the case. The fact that his murder case was so highly publicized these jurors were made up of coma victims, aliens, and more people who were completely out of touch with what’s going on with this world.

  6. We then got another SNL Digital Short called Murray Hill that took place at a party on the titular street. James Franco played a character who attempted to tell all the ladies about his small “ding-dong” with the hopes to impress them because he thought they appreciated his honesty and the way that he tried to sound deep while explaining the situation. This approach didn’t work at first until Franco met a woman who suffered from the same issue which led the two tiny ding-dong owners to leave to go and hook up.

  7. The Looker was a parody of a new TNT cop drama that had Fred Armisen as Penny Marshall who played an interrogator who gets confessions out of her suspects by merely staring at them intently.

  8. Kings Of Leon then took to the stage to perform Sex On Fire.

  9. Once again, Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers gave us the news. This week, Jason Sudeikis dropped in as a financially-strapped CEO who complained about his financial situation while dressed in a barrel thanks to the Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy settlement from this time. Fred Armisen also played a CEO but for the clothing store American Apparel and was there to obliviously address the sexual harassment charges that were recently made about him.

  10. New York Times Reporters sent fifty New York Times reporters off to Alaska to dig up whatever dirt on Sarah Palin that they could find, only the uppity group struggle too much with the minor inconveniences like dealing with polar bears and lack of readily deliverable Thai food, to be able to focus on the real reason they were there. In the sketch, there was a fun moment when Kumail Nanjiani checked in as one of the uppity reporters.

  11. This was followed by a parody of Of Mice And Men that gave us an alternate ending where Bobby Moynihan as Lennie gets outraged when he discovers that James Franco as George has been sugarcoating their reality the entire time in order to protect him. Learning this truth then led Lennie to freak out on George for filling his head with lies creating his simpleton-esque outlook on life. The real book ended was that Lennie got George back in the end when he accused his friend of killing the girl after avoiding the fatal shot to the head that ended the actual book.  

  12. Yankee Stadium Stories reunited Fred Armisen as Martin Scorsese and Amy Poehler as Rosie Perez to recall silly memories of Yankee Stadium in another campaign to promote New York City as a place to visit and/or live.

  13. Kings Of Leon then returned to the stage to perform Use Somebody.

  14. James and Willam Dafoe then reunited James Franco with Bill Hader who portrayed Willam Defoe as his Spider-Man role so that the two could attempt to kill Andy Samberg after Defoe was miffed by the Not Ready For Prime Time Player’s goofy impersonation of him.

  15. Finally, James Franco closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

Though I got hung up on my views of The Cougar Den sketch that started the show, this was actually a pretty solid episode with the help of sketches like these that contained my three favorite moments of the night. First, I loved the Of Mice And Men: Lennie Isn’t Actually Dumb sketch because as a big guy who’s often treated like a Lennie, it was nice to see him get his comeuppance for the mistake that he made with the help of living an existence that was made up of lies. Next, I really liked the O.J. Simpson Jury Selection sketch because the idea of trying to find a juror who was unaware of O.J. Simpson was a hilarious topic to explore. Finally, I was a fan of Agent 420 because I’m a stoner, so I have to like the obligatory James Franco is a stoner sketch.

 
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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.