SNL: S35E10... HOST: JAMES FRANCO... DATE: DECEMBER 19, 2009

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Finally, Another Host I Actually Know!!!

 

Though I’m excited to have a host that I know again for the first time in a couple of days, I am a little disappointed by the fact that James Franco hosted just a little while ago, leaving me stuck with little to say. It doesn’t help that I have writer’s block since I’m a little stuck in my head about just losing my day job. Then again, these reviews were initially meant to provide the proof that I watched each episode as part of this challenge, as opposed to when I watch every episode of The Muppets and would watch an entire season in a day to them sum up in one page.

I’m okay with having an off day from time to time, especially since I’m now approaching the point where I’ve been doing this without a single break for two whole years. I’m also a little uninspired after doing the pre-viewing where it seems that over half the night is devoted to this time period’s most repetitive sketches. Thankfully, most are repetitive sketches that I don’t mind, but at the same time, I hate when they cram more than a couple reoccurring characters into one night and can see the viewing growing old.

Finally, I really need to get back ahead of the game because I feel much more rushed when I have to watch, review, and publish an SNL post within the same day, but my desperate need for a break keeps leading me to burn through my safety net supply of content. Aside from all these worries and complaints, I’m actually looking forward to this show because I am a fan of James Franco and his eclectic taste for his character roles. We’ll see how it turned out as I switch gears to share my real-time viewing experience.

First off, I loved that this episode started with a non-political sketch because I plan to at least watch tomorrow’s show as soon as this viewing is done. This will be much less of a chore minus the politic burnout from both the show and the fact that the midterms are near. The one saving grace that I noticed from the pre-viewing legwork is that tonight doesn’t seem like it’s going to be political at all. This first sketch was another installment of Kristen Wiig singing as her big-foreheaded, tiny-handed character, who super repetitive, to the point where they don’t even write new songs, but she always manages to crack me up, the way that she did tonight.

The monolog gag fell pretty flat but thankfully it was followed but What Up With That, which is a sketch that, in my eyes, will never fail because it's so filled with fun nonsense. Tonight’s installment was extra fun because the real Mike Tyson dropped in as one of the special guests to play along. The page guy from 30 Rock also added a few laughs to the scene even though he literally didn’t say a word.

I wasn’t as excited about the return of the repetitive Vogelcheck Family because this is just a series of sketches where the only real humor comes from the shock value of kissing guys. This approach to humor used to crack me up when I was extra crass and felt that this humor showed that I wasn’t a homophobe, which I never felt that I was, despite my tendency to make crude jokes around that time. However, I will argue, I do feel breaking these taboos in this way helped to change the direction of the uptight tide of many people’s views on homosexuality.

Aside from the monolog, the SNL Digital short at segment number five was the first non-reoccurring sketch of the night, and of course, the fact that it was prerecorded meant the quality was good, and the content was funny enough to pass the time, even though it wasn’t as brilliant as most SNL Digital Shorts tend to be. Right after this, we went right back to another ultra-repetitive reoccurring sketch that was all accent and culture clichés that left me feeling bored, even though a couple cast members’ dance moves did get a laugh out of me.

The name Muse sounds like a band that I should be more familiar with, and I did recognize their first song by the time that they got to the chorus, but they’re just another band from this time who are okay but nothing I’d actively seek out. The news had an interesting story about twenty-two-million missing emails from the Bush administration that I’ll have to look up after the episode is done. Other than that, I’ve never seen Jersey Shores, so the Snooki segment didn’t mean much to me, but I did really enjoy the debut of Kristen Wiig’s and Fred Armisen’s singing characters who always make up songs on the spot while guessing each other’s next words.

The sketch at the frat house turned into a pleasant surprise because based on the previewing legwork, I was expecting a different route for them to portray the meatheads as dumb guy’s. Though, still not the best sketch of the night, the revelation of the frat’s dumbness may land it in spot three of my favorite’s list depending on how the rest of the night plays out. The next sketch got us back into the realm of the repetitive reoccurring character theme with another one of Vincent Price’s Holiday Special that I always love for the randomness but never find it quite good enough to make any list.

By this point, I was starting to get burnt out from the all the repetition throughout the night, so I was pleased as punch to see the silly sketch with James Franco talking to Christmas tree to be brand new content that I needed, but it turned out to be just so-so. Muse then returned, but the last sketch had me feeling a bit zoned out, but the opening riff reminded me of an ‘80s song that’s on the tip of my tongue and distracted me throughout the entire song. In fact, I knew it would ruin the rest of the viewing so I had to stop the show to figure it out and it turns out I was thinking Be Near Me by ABC.

It took about ten minutes to figure out the above song, but the victory of finding the answer brought back some energy that I was starting to lack. That energy was lost right away when I realize the next sketch was another repetitive reoccurring sketch, which had me feeling more annoyed since the last sketch of the night was pretty much a repeat of Andy Samberg as Mark Wahlberg talking to animals. Once again, this led me to be happy to see our host give his goodnights.

As I feared from the start, I didn’t mind most of the sketches throughout the night based on each piece on their own but the fact that this was the last show of the zeros decade, it felt like a night filled with filler.  Almost every single sketch was made up of not just a reoccurring character, but the most repetitive reoccurring characters of the bunch, and half were repetitive in the same ways. This is also coming from me watching the show sober in the middle of the day, as opposed to late night a drunk like how I would have probably enjoyed this episode if I was watching it live at the time.

Oh well, maybe the next episode will break the three episode trend from the season where they seem stuck on putting out so-so shows and get back to the solid content they displayed that they have at the start of the year. With that, it’s now time to dig deeper into the details, as I give you…

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with another parody of The Lawrence Welk Show. This installment played out the same as the rest of the sketches from this series with Fred Armisen as Lawrence Welk who introduced our host as his musical guest. James Franco played a singer named Ric Garlando who performed a song and dance with several female members of the cast as his background singers, including Kristen Wiig as her high-foreheaded/small-handed youngest sister. As always, 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 his first visit took place right before he took a break from acting to go back to college. He then shared a few minor roles that he landed post-college that led to his gig on General Hospital which many at the time were saying was a step backward in his career. This led him to pull out a raffle spinning box filled with suggestions from fans that he joked was how he picked each new step in his career.

  3. What Up With That then returned for another installment of my favorite series of sketches from this period, that, like the opening sketch, is repetitive as all get out but I still love it. This time Kenan kept singing the titular theme song with the real Mike Tyson and Jack McBrayer as the guest who he continually interrupts.

  4. The Vogelcheck’s Family is another repetitive sketch to return for another installment of the overly affectionate Vogelcheck family that greet one another and any visitor with open arms and sloppy kisses. This time James Franco played the son who brought his girlfriend Abbey Elliot home to be shocked by the families closeness, only to be won over and join in by the end of the sketch after much man-on-man making out.

  5. We then got another SNL Digital Short that had to cast as a bunch of kids who start on a kids show called The Tizzle Wizzle Show where they took lots of pills and played with knives with James Franco as their confused guest star for the night.

  6. The Manuel Ortiz Show was another sketch to return for another parody of this Spanish talk show where the guest can’t fit in a word edgewise without the entire set breaking into a celebratory Spanish dance.

  7. Muse then took to the stage to perform Uprising.

  8. Once again, Seth Meyers gave us the news. This week, Bobby Moynihan dropped in as Snooki to comment on the shenanigans from her new show Jersey Shores after the incident where she got punched in the face at a bar. Fred Armisen and Kristen Wiig also introduced their characters who are a couple who came in as if they were prepared to sing their new Christmas song and then struggle to guess one another’s lyrics as they make up the tune on the spot. (Clip 2) (Bonus Clip)

  9. Sigma Lambda Omega took place in a frat house where new pledge, Andy Samberg realized that his potential frat brothers, as played by our host and a handful of male members of the cast, are all illiterate and lacked any basic educational skills when their hazing techniques were revealed how they get their pledges to read their mail and perform the most rudimentary brain-requiring chores.

  10. Variety Vault then returned for yet another repetitive sketch from a series where we flashed back to an old Vincent Price Christmas Special filled with the cast doing impersonation from that time.

  11. Christmas Trees had James Franco as a Christmas tree salesman who struggled to sever his emotional ties with his merchandise whenever he made a sale.

  12. Muse then returned to the stage to perform Starlight.

  13. Christmas Gift Meeting had James Franco, Will Forte, and Bill Hader as three business executives who all strained their brains to figure out what gift to give their employees other than dildos for their annual holiday gift. The turned out to be a follow up to the first sketch from this series where Hader and Forte were with another host trying to work out their convoluted schedule.

  14. Mark Wahlberg Talks to Christmas Animals was the follow up to Mark Wahlberg talking to animals from last year, in another sketch that was more of the same only with a Christmas theme.

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

Though I hated the repetitive nature of tonight’s episode as a whole, the sketches on their own were all at least a little fun, with these three sketches containing my favorite moments of the night. First, I loved What Up With That Featuring Mike Tyson because it’s a series that may be the most repetitive of the bunch, but can do no wrong to me. Next, I really liked this week’s SNL Digital Short: The Tizzle Wizzle Show, not only because it was a rare original piece from tonight, but I also enjoyed the creepy/quirky tone. Finally, I was a fan of Sigma Lambda Omega because I got a laugh out of the way they revealed that the frat boys were illiterate idiots through their hazing process.

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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.