SNL: S36E14... HOST: DANA CARVEY... DATE: FEBRUARY 5, 2011

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It Turns Out The Best Hangover Cure

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Initially, my goal was to work all that way up until Thanksgiving Day banking back up SNL reviews with the hopes to build up enough of a backlog to afford me the chance to take a break all the way up until today. Unfortunately, the timing was too good with Gwyneth Paltrow showing up to host right after my Thanksgiving recovery day for me to put off watching her episode and writing the review right away, considering the fact that she stars in the movie Duets which I’ve literally watched every turkey day for the past seventeen years.

To add to the unfortunate turn of events, when Saturday came I had too much to say about my Thanksgiving festivities that I ended up rambling on throughout my entire review, still too hung over to focus enough to make sure I covered all of the bullet points that I had been building up in my head. I don’t think that I covered all that I wanted. At the same time, I was reporting on a failed plan to turn the day’s experience into an epic tale, and there just didn’t turn out be anything all that compelling to share.

Things got worse on the day that followed, since the night before, I polished off any of my leftover booze. I think I was in worse shape for my review of Jesse Eisenberg, which was too bad because as I pointed out in the review, the episode was way better than my abilities to articulate my thoughts could manage. As hard as I kept trying, I just could not focus enough to make it through the episode, let alone have the brainpower to share my thoughts on what I just saw.

Tonight might be a bit of a hybrid of a situation, where I do feel well rested and refreshed. At the same time, I kind of want at least one more day of rest because my thoughts are still a tad bit scrambled, making me fear a repeat of my review from yesterday where I pretty much just phoned in the first paragraph only to ramble through my real-time viewing breakdown. I know that not every review can be perfect, but I think yesterday was extra terrible because it was just a so-so review of a show that was actually good.

I don’t think that I should have to worry about that tonight with Dana Carvey at the wheel. Between our host’s history with the show, and the fact that I actually know of him and his work, this should be another solid night, at least as far as the viewing portion goes. At the same time, we’re five paragraphs into this introduction, and I am just now mentioning tonight’s host and don’t really have all that much to say about him that I haven’t already covered during one of his homecoming hosting visits, or from when he was still on the show.

With all of that said, I’m just going to jump right into sharing my real-time viewing experience since technically, in order to meet the bare minimum requirements, all that I really need to do is watch each episode and write a quick blurb about the viewing experience. Though I’m delighted with what this challenge has evolved to become, sometimes, I just need to remind myself that, like with the show, it’s impossible for every single one to be perfect.

Without further ado, it’s now time to hit play to start tonight’s episode. First off, I loved that the show began with a classic Wayne’s World segment with both Wayne and Garth returning to the show to make their traditional Academy Award predictions. Not only was it a fun sketch in general, but it also reminded me that there was a time when not every show opener was made up of political content. Sometimes I forget because I think back to the original cast when every night started with Chevy Chase making fun of Gerald Ford.

Dana Carvey’s monolog was pretty fun. Even though he sang a song about how his collection of Not Ready For Prime Time Players was the best cast in the history of the show, he did it in a fun way, and not with the arrogance of a lot of the returning cast members from his time. In fact, I think his first visit back as the host may have been the very first alumni visit that didn’t feel like it was filled with hazing from the older kids, and so far, I’m expecting the same attitude throughout my viewing tonight.

So far, so good, but I will always hate repeats of fake commercials, especially this late in the game where all every fake ad started to become readily available on the internet. Though I have mixed feeling about alumni host who revisits their classic characters on their first visit back, while still acting against the same cast, I love nights like tonight where Dana Carvey brought back the Church Lady to interact with the new cast and their celebrity characters. This approach made it feel like the mixing of the two worlds and not just one sketch crowbarred into another.

I found the Celebrity Teen Crisis Center sketch to be brilliant because it was nice to see a sketch that included celebrity impersonation that wasn’t making fun of an award show or for some fake interview. I would be open for way more impersonations if they’d mix things up this way. I also liked the Single White Female parody that followed, but I’m finding it weird how there have been a couple recent sketches that have been parodied that I don’t feel properly credit the resource material. Like this one, for example, the fake movie in the trailer was called The Roommate, with not a single reference to Single White Female as part of the title, even though it was clearly the movie being referenced.

I don’t mind Linkin Park, they’re close to a genre of music I liked for novelty reasons when I started to get too bummed out by the brand of punk that I love, but I never liked them enough to buy any of their albums. That’s why I was a little disappointed when the first song they performed was one that I never heard of. The news was the news, where once again, I zoned out a bit during the Linkin Park performance, and the news stories and/or guests weren’t enough to win my attention back.

I also wasn’t a huge fan of the Regis And Kelly segment. Though I felt that Dana Carvey’s impersonation was spot on, sometimes, I find that too much accuracy when it comes to impersonations makes me wonder why they didn’t just get the real deal, especially when it comes to Regis, who seems like he’d appear on anything at the drop of a hat. I was hoping that the children’s beauty pageant sketch that followed was going to be a parody of Little Miss Sunshine, based on the title alone. Unfortunately, however, it too ended up quirky in a way that almost felt too much like a real pageant event since they never ramped up the jokes, opting instead to keep the comedy at a pretty even balanced pace.

I loved Abby Elliott as the downsizing girl, but mainly because it was hilarious and fun to try to place where she pitched up her Valley Girl accent from. At times, it sounded legit, but there were other times where it sounded more like she was from Newfoundland, or some crazy blend of Canadians and/or people who live near the northern borders between the two worlds. Speaking of foreign, I was even less familiar with the second Linkin Park performance and can tell which song I liked more.

I also really loved the final sketch because like with the fake music group Crisis Of Conformity, this was another fictional band filled with cast members that I legitimately liked. Speaking of things that I liked, I also liked when Dana Carvey took to the stage to say his goodnights because I can’t wait to attempt to fit in a nap to be nice and rested for tomorrow.

With that, I’m now going to dig deeper into the details of each sketch to wrap this one up, as I give you…

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with a bit of a Wayne's World reunion where Mike Myers and Dana Carvey reprised their roles as Wayne and Garth to make their opening show Oscar picks like they used to back in the day. One of the highlights of the two goofballs joking moments was when they both got hung up on the movie title Winter’s Bone. Of course, with this being the opening sketch, it eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York…”

  2. Dana Carvey then officially opened the show with a monolog about his history with the show which led into him singing a song, with a little help from Jon Lovitz about how the 1986-93 cast that he was a part of was the best cast in SNL’s history of putting on shows.

  3. This was followed by a repeat of the I-Sleep Pro commercial from earlier in the season which was a hi-tech device for black travelers who struggle to sleep minus the ambiance of “black noise” they’re used to while in their urban abode.

  4. Church Chat was another sketch to return for a bit of a show reunion with Dana Carvey as the Church Lady to mock Nasim Pedrad, Vanessa Bayer, and Abby Elliott as the Kardashians before arranging an ill-fated exorcism for Snooki, and fawning over special guest Justin Bieber the entire time.

  5. Celebrity Teen Crisis Center was a parody of a “new” VH1 show that featured several cast members impersonating oblivious celebrities who operated the phones at a teen crisis center.

  6. We then got a fake movie trailer for a movie called The Roommate where Justin Bieber played a college kid who discovered his new roommate, Andy Samberg harbored an insane obsession for him in somewhat of a parody of Single White Female.

  7. Linkin Park then took to the stage to perform Waiting For The End.

  8. Once again, Seth Meyers gave us the news. This week, Seth broke down the Winners/Loser from the week the Arab Spring in Egypt. Paul Brittain also dropped in as James Franco to share that he has many jobs. Kristen Wiig also introduced a character who was a meteorologist/former disco queen who attempted to deliver her winter weather update only to end up breaking into a weather themed songs instead. (Clip 2) (Clip 3)

  9. We then got a parody of Live With Regis And Kelly where Dana Carvey as Regis announced he was retiring from the show. This caused Nasim Padrad as Kelly to reassure Regis that he’ll be missed while Kristen Wiig as Kathy Lee to upstage her former co-host’s announcements by performing one of her songs.

  10. Little Miss Little Girl Pageant had Dana Carvey and Kenan Thompson as to foppish pageant host who presided over a pageant for preschool aged little girls.

  11. Deidra Wurtz: Downsizing Expert had Abby Elliott as a downsizing expert who sold her services to deliver the bad news to employees affected by downsizing with ease and the vernacular of a vapid Valley girl.

  12. Linkin Park then returned to the stage to perform When They Come For Me.

  13. Fingerlings had Taran Killam as a bar owner who pulled no stops for this year's Super Bowl party which included performances by his wife’s brother’s titular band who performed a bizarre new wave song to celebrate the big game, which didn’t go over all that well with the patrons in the bar.

  14. Finally, Dana Carvey closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

I don’t know why I’m so surprised that tonight’s episode ended up as good as it did, considering the fact that Dana Carvey is one of the few cast members from his era who didn’t annoy me with his arrogance during any alumni hosting appearances, but tonight ended up hitting the comedic target with sketches like these three that contained my three favorite moments of the night. First, I loved Wayne’s World 2011 Reunion not only because I loved seeing these two characters after such a long time off, but I also loved the fact that tonight’s show started with a non-political sketch. Next, I really liked the Fingerlings that ended the show because it was another case where I might go as far as to say that I liked this fictional bands performance more than I liked either song from the musical guest for the night. Finally, I was a fan of Celebrity Teen Crisis Center because it was fun to see the cast do their celebrity impersonation outside of an award show scenario, which seems to be the only sketch genre that still has impersonations any more.

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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.