Back From The Winter Break

And Back On The Ball As Well!!!


Where I the last show going into the winter break was so terrible that it made me start to fear the upcoming start to this new year, this first show back was brilliant enough that I’m back to being excited about the rest of the season. Well, it also helped that other than a couple of show from the first half of the season, I’ve been pretty satisfied with the rest of the year.

Where this would usually be the part where I would typically say, “my only issues was _______,” after a bit of an intro where I share my history with the host or details about my life during the time of the original airing. I plan to stick to the latter of the two pieces the latest trend in my review style that I’ve switched several times since I started this challenge. Of course, I’ll continue to change things up depending on what the show inspires but I’m kind of liking the style of my past few reviews where after sharing my history with the host or the time period introduction, I’ve been sharing my thought on the night as I watch.

In the past, I wasn’t sure how I felt about sharing my thoughts on each and every sketch only to repeat any insights in The Wicker Breakdown. Then, I started to think, I rarely share how I actually feel about each segment of the night since this section was always supposed to be strictly to share a brief summary of the night. By now after trying it a few days in a row, I don’t think I mind this setup, so get ready to see it more.

With that, I wasn’t a fan of Doggie Howser when it was out because, at the time that it aired, I was only into crass sit-coms and late night television for non-movie viewing, and Doogie just didn’t seem fun. It wasn’t until Starship Troopers that Neil Patrick Harris one me over and then solidified my position as a fan when he showed up in Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle. Yeah, I liked his sure I liked Dr. Horrible, but I don’t think that was into it as much as others seemed to because I already saw him as that sort of silly guy and not the serious Doogie character who other were more familiar with making the change of pace a bit more of a surprise. Or at least that’s my interpretation of my interest in his online hit.

As for the episode, first, I found the opening sketch interesting because it’s clear that this was from back when Rachel Maddow was still new since they only nailed down a couple of her signature moves and focused more on her guest over how she runs her show. I’m willing to bet as the rest of the year plays out, we’ll be seeing a lot more Maddow specific bits where her guest will bare far less critical than her quirks.

The monolog was great because the way that Neil Patrick Harris brought up the time that his rival from youth, Fred Savage, won out over him to host the show over a decade ago still stuck out in his mind, made him seem like a true fan. There’s nothing I love more than a true fan as a host, especially when the fandom appears to be real. I also like the From Dusk ‘Til Draw genre shift where midway through our host’s intro, the monolog switched to be more traditional as he started to get harassed by the “audience.”

The Today sketch was blah but at least average, as was the following Broadway based sketch, but at least with the latter, it was fun to guess which Broadway play each character was trying to portray. Though I don’t usually like the Penelope segments because the very first one was a bit of a rip off of Debby downer, this appearance one me over with the help of Liza Minnelli drop in as a special guest that added a layer to the Penelope character where all of her braggings might actually be for real.

The Not Ready For Prime Time Players’ rendition of the Doogie Howser theme along with our host that followed was amazing, and I was kind of surprised that it wasn’t a bigger hit on the internet at the time since this was my very first time seeing it. I wouldn’t say that it was as good as the Muppet Bohemian Rhapsody, but I did feel it was along those same lines.

As I said in a Twitter post, of course, I’m aware of Taylor Swift, but I’m not all that familiar with her music, purely because she’s not in the genre I seek, so it wasn’t until today that I realized how much her writing style, at least at this time, reminded me of Bowling For Soup. The news was the news, and the three sketches that followed were average but fun and brought us to the return of Taylor Swift for her second song that I just sat back and enjoyed.

The Whopper sketch that ended the night reminded me of the scene from Everything Is Illuminated where the Eastern Europeans laughed at Elijah Wood when he shared that he was a vegetarian, only the roles were reversed with these Eastern European’s unsure how to handle American food. It’s going to be a hard battle between this and the Doogie Howser theme song segment as to which one will be my favorite sketch of the night.

Speaking of favorites, the next segment was the good nights, meaning it’s now time for me to wrap this one up, and in order to do so, I give you…

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with a parody of The Rachel Maddow Show where Abby Elliott interviewed disgraced former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, as portrayed by Jason Sudeikis and his Senate appointee, Roland Burris, as portrayed by Kenan Thompson about their fun little pay for the position scandal. In the world of the sketch, non-Senator Burris was in so much denial that he barreled ahead as if he held the position and the two were never caught and fired. Of course, with this being the opening sketch, it eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York…”

  2. Neil Patrick Harris then officially opened the show with a monolog where he made a point-for-point criticism of former child star rival, Fred Savage’s host appearance back in 1990 when the two were still little kids because he was still bitter that he wasn’t the kid to be picked to host. He then claimed to be over it and how no one could ruin this moment. This was when several members of the audience interrupted with poorly-constructed, “You wanna know how I met your mother,” jokes. Eventually, Andy Samberg as Mark Wahlberg came along as it turned out these joking audience members were supposed to be the inspiration of Entourage and helped our host by getting his boys to calm down.

  3. This was followed by a parody of Today that made fun of the fourth and final hour of the show which meant Kristen Wiig and Machaela Watkin as Kathie Lee, and Hoda were both wasted on wine and insufferable to listen to. Things then got worse when they welcomed Neil Patrick Harris as a fitness instructor who struggled to wrangle the morning duo to get them through a workout routine. Then again, this might have been before the two would openly get morning drunk while hosting the show. I just assumed their obnoxious attitudes were based on the boozy clips from the real show which is the only thing from the reference material that I’ve ever seen.

  4. Save Broadway featured a group of Broadway performers who struggled to find a way to keep the unstable economy from leading to the cancellation of their long-running stage shows, like Phantom Of The Opera, Cats, and Rent. Taylor Swift even joined the scene as she tried to chime in with a suggestion as Annie.

  5. Penelope then returned for another installment of Kristen Wiig as the titular character who continually tries to one-up anything that anyone says. This time her one up game took place during a group therapy session where she kept bragging about her close relationship with Liza Minnelli. Though everyone thinks she’s full of it, at the end of the sketch the real Liza dropped by for a special visit to prove that Penelope was for real, only Liza arrived the second that everyone left the room after getting fed up with what they thought were her lies.

  6. We then got another SNL Digital Short that gave us a parody/cover of the Doogie Howser, M.D. theme song that Neil Patrick Harris played keyboard on while the rest of the cast chimed in with various orchestra instruments.

  7. Taylor Swift then took to the stage to perform Love Story.

  8. This was the season that Amy Poehler left the show, leaving Seth Meyers alone to give us the news. This week, Kenan Thompson stopped by as Charles Barkley to make excuses for his latest traffic violation where he claimed that he was drinking and driving because he was in a rush to receive oral sex from one of his female friends. Will Forte also dropped in to sing a song about the BCS AKA Bowl Championship Series that he favored over a better-structured playoff system that would provide a clear-cut winner as opposed to having to use some sort of convoluted equation.

  9. Two First Names had Neil Patrick Harris hosting a show where he interviewed other famous celebrities with two first names like Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Clarke Duncan, and Tommy Lee Jones while shunning “wanna-bes” like Daniel-Day Lewis, who was played by Bill Hader. They also took issue with the concept of Harrison Ford because he actually had two last names.

  10. Fran & Freba had Neil Patrick Harris as a long-nailed air traffic controller named Fran and Kristen Wiig as a similar-styled coworker named Freba. The two acted like a couple of average secretaries while calmly talking planes through emergencies and talking trash, in their Southern belle accents, about Will Forte as a more traditional looking air traffic controller named Gil who was just trying to do his job.   

  11. Frost/Other People was a parody trailer of the hastefully assembled follow up to Frost/Nixon where Neil Patrick Harris played David Frost who ineptly interviewed a slew of other ‘70s celebrities who all had very little to hide.

  12. Taylor Swift then returned to the stage to perform Forever And Always.

  13. Whopper Virgins introduced us to Neil Patrick Harris and Kristen Wiig as two Burger King execs who come across Bobby Moynihan, Machaela Watkin and Fred Armisen as two Eastern European Farmers who’ve never seen a Whopper in their lives and are unable to comprehend its purpose due to its American giant size.

  14. Finally, Neil Patrick Harris closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

I hope you enjoyed this new approach to my opening review, but now it’s that time for me to share these three sketches that contained my three favorite moments of the night. First, I loved the SNL Digital Short: Doogie Howser Theme Song Cover because not only did I love it for being amazing, the nostalgia involved was enough to give it the edge over the Whopper sketch. Speaking of which, next, I really liked Whopper Virgins because as I said up above, it reminded me of Everything Is Illuminated, plus it always cracks me up to see how foreigners react to our food. Finally, I was a fan of the Frost/Other People parody because I like the idea of rushing to recapture the success of a serious biopic film as if you could recapture success the same way you can with fictional films.


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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.