SNL: S37E01... HOST: ALEC BALDWIN... DATE: SEPTEMBER 24, 2011

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or...

Oh Boy...

Here Come The Next Presidential Elections

 

First off, welcome to the Sixteen-Timers Club Mr. Baldwin, and congratulations on finally officially taking the lead from former front-runner, Steve Martin. Of these sixteen appearances, I’d say that I was only disappointed by four or five, with only one, possibly two that I would go as far as to say that I outright didn’t like. Based on the pre-viewing legwork, tonight seems like it has the potential to be another rare case where it may add to the “disappointed” stats.

For this being such a big night where Alec finally stole the hosting title, I would think that there would be much more of a celebratory tone to the episode, but from what I see, this looks like it’s going to be just another average night. The fact that there are only thirteen segments to make up this first episode of the new season leads me to feel like it’s going to be weak as the writers work through their typical summer vacation bugs. The content in general, also feels a little uninspired, but more in the way that I’ve grown to expect from a season opener, and not in a way that I think the night will be downright terrible.

Speaking of uninspired, this has turned out to be an extremely busy week, and with this being my sixteenth introduction of an Alec Baldwin episode, I’ve run out of things to say. With that, I’m just going to hit play and start to share my real-time viewing experience. As usual, I wasn’t a fan of the political aspects of the opening joke, but I do tend to enjoy seeing the Republicans being bashed more because it feels like the show is actually being critical of our leadership, as opposed to the bashing of Democrats that seems to be delivered with a wink and a smile. I miss the days when the show seemed more open to being unapologetically critical of ANY person in a position of power. Holy Crap, though, this opening sketch went on for over eleven minutes which feels like a lifetime when the sketches premise is outdated and no longer relevant at all.

Alec Baldwin looked like he just woke from a crazy night of drinking, with his tired eyes, and hair a little wild from just having the wig ripped off his head from the opening sketch. Though the build-up to Steve Martin and Seth Rogen joining the scene did feel a tad bit slow, the routine was pretty was pretty funny when it finally played out, but again, this was a seven-minute monolog that could have accomplished the same joke in five.

The Red Flag Perfume ad started out sort of fun, but then evolved into something that I wasn’t a huge fan of, especially since, I actually prefer a woman with some of the flaws that this fake ad pitched as signs to stay away. Base on the pre-viewing legwork, I thought this ad would take place in a bar showing women who wanted to put out a sign that they might not be worth the pursuit and they wear it can keep the scumbags away. Instead, this was a sketch where the product was meant as a warning sign for men to stay away from flaky women with creative pursuits, which I didn’t find all that funny at all.

I’ve never seen an episode of All Of My Children, and always hated the soap stars whenever they hosted the show, to the sketch that attempted to send-up the soap star’s celebration of their final episode didn’t do all that much for me. It just felt like they were using the same exact soap opera tropes to be the butt of their jokes that they have for the past thirty-seven years. Sure, that may have been part of the joke, but considering the fact that we’re only four sketches in and I’m already almost over the episode, I wasn’t a fan either way.

Five sketches in and I laughed for the first time at the sketch that parodied a news blooper, which is a genre of viral entertainment that I love. Though the sketch didn’t parody a specific online viral video, the way I thought, based on the pre-viewing legwork, I could still see this happening for real, which only added to the fun. When the show attempts to reenact an online sensation, it more often than not lets me down because the original is typically funnier than the spoof when it comes to meme videos, so I was happy they went this route.

I was also happy to see Radiohead. I was a fan of their first few albums because they hit the scene when my music interest was transitioning from rap music to punk, and I got into the alternative scene for a minute. Alt-rock kind of reminded me of the new wave music that I liked from my sister’s musical taste back before I developed a taste of my own. Though Radiohead was off my radar by this point, it was nice to get caught up, even though this first performance was not of a song that I’d seek out.

The news was the news as usual, but like with yesterday’s season finale from last year, I was surprised how uneventful the segment was, with just Alec Baldwin on as a guest, because I felt it was a weird way to start out the year. This just led to more current event stories that are no longer relevant with the passing of time. Yes, it was interesting to see a joke about how Facebook had just added timelines to the site, but that wasn’t enough to keep my attention throughout the entire segment, in fact, I had to go back and watch the one guest, because I was almost entirely zoned out by the time Alec Baldwin joined Seth as Tony Bennett. Hell, I probably could have/should have gone back to watch it a third time because I still can barely retain what I observed.

As I pointed out a couple of times yesterday, I’m rarely let down by a game show parody because of how game shows take me back to when I used to stay home sick from school, and game shows were my primary source of entertainment after cartoon time. This one, where the contestants were tasked to guest which celebrity would be on top in hypothetical gay relationships was pretty funny to me. The way it played out felt more like a legitimate playful game of weighing out the hypothetical situations being thrown the contestant's way and not an excuse to be homophobic while trying to out someone who may or may not even be gay.

I also almost always love sketches that show fake DVD bonus content because, like with the news parodies, there’s nothing I love more than seeing the real unexpected auditions for famous roles. This fake ad for the Top Gun special anniversary DVD followed suit and was another great addition to the genre. With that, I’ve never been a huge fan of even joking about child neglect so the sketch where Alec played a children’s shrink who neglected his own kid while on a date, wasn’t that funny to me. Granted, I’m not a parent so I can’t relate the same way that the audience must have because they burst into laughter every time Nasim’s cries for help. Yes, her character continually grew to be more over-the-top in her screams for attention, but I do partially feel that being ignored has led me to be a confused individual who doesn’t know how to handle attention whether it’s good or bad.

Speaking of uncertain, just like how I was unsure of Radiohead’s first performance, I wasn’t fully on board with the second performance as well. I think it’s because I was a bigger fan of Radiohead when there were less synthesizer and much more sound coming from the guitars. Though I was disappointed by this musical group that I do really like, from time to time, the final sketch that followed came at just the right time. It had me laugh harder than anything I’ve seen in a while, to the point where I feel like it boosted this episode from being just average to be a pretty good episode.

In fact, the more I think of it, my biggest problem of the night that it was weak for a season-opening episode. I’m willing to bet if tonight’s show aired as is mid-season, I’d be singing a completely different tune because I was actually entertained enough even though I was bored through most of the first half of the show. I just expected more considering how star-studded last season opener was.

Either way, I’m kind of excited about this season because I ended up liking last year so much and there doesn’t seem to be many changes to the cast. I’m hoping, this will allow them to pick up where they left off from last year. We’ll see how it goes, but until then, it’s now time for me to shift gears and dig deeper into the details of each sketch in my effort to wrap this one up, as I give you...

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with parody coverage of Either The 7th Or 8th GOP Debate where Bill Hader portrayed Shepard Smith to moderate a debate between several of the most hopeless Republican Presidential hopefuls that they didn’t even bother to keep track of how many debates this has been. Of course, with this being the opening sketch, all of the political babbling built to the announcement of, “Live from New York...”

  2. Alec Baldwin then officially opened the show with a monolog about how Ben & Jerry’s just added Schweddy Balls to their line of flavors of ice cream. He then when on to boast about his triumph in taking the hosting record from Steve Martin with this being his sixteenth time hosting the show with Steve Martin still at fifteen. Martin then joined Baldwin on the stage to make sure that our host is doing so without the aid of steroids. Martin then employed the help of special guest, Seth Rogen, who was in charge of analyzing Alec’s urine test.

  3. We then got a fake ad for Red Flag Parfume which was an enchanting fragrance that warns would-be suitors that the attractive woman.

  4. We then went to the All My Children Wrap Party where Vanessa Bayer played Susan Lucci who toasted her glass to a room full of actors and actresses whose real-life quirks are just as, if not more over-dramatic than their soap opera characters.

  5. WDHX News was a parody of a news show that sounded like it was based out of Fargo where Kristen Wiig played a field reporter down in Costa Rica to report of a jungle-based story. Being that she was so far away that there was an awkward delay were Wiig couldn’t hear any of the in-studio warnings that dangerous animals kept crawling on her throughout the entire report. It turned out, due to Botox and plastic surgery, she couldn’t feel a single thing.

  6. Radiohead then took to the stage to perform Lotus Flower.

  7. Once again, Seth Meyers gave us the news. This week, was a quick one for the first show of the year and just had Alec Baldwin as Tony Bennett to talk about summer movies, only to end up discussing women’s hygiene products instead, as the only Weekend Update guest. (Clip 2)

  8. Who's On Top? was a game show sketch hosted by Bill Hader where Alec Baldwin and Vanessa Bayer played two contestants who had to guess which of two male celebrities would be on top if they were in a hypothetical gay relationship with one another.

  9. Top Gun 25th Anniversary DVD was a segment where we got to see parody bonus material from the 25th Anniversary DVD edition of Top Gun.

  10. Child Psychologist had Alec Baldwin as the titular child psychologist while at home trying to enjoy a nice dinner date with Vanessa Bayer while neglecting his whiny daughter, as played by Nasim Pedrad throughout the entire meal.

  11. Radiohead then took to the stage to perform Staircase.

  12. We then got another Turner Classic Movies presentation of Angels In The Trenches. This time it was a parody of an old war movie where Alec Baldwin played a captain who gave Private Taran Killam the unusual final request to tell his family all of the bizarre bits of information that he was too big of a coward to tell him himself, after being shot by one of the enemy fighters. Some of these pieces of information included telling his son that there’s no Santa Clause, after telling his wife he was actually in love with her sister. After a while, more and more soldiers were shot and had bizarre requests of their own.

  13. Finally, Alec Baldwin closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

Though nowhere near the best season opener, nor even a fitting celebration of Alec Baldwin’s record-breaking sixteenth visit, thanks to sketches like these that contained my three favorite moments of the night, the viewing itself was still pretty fun, especially for the second half. First, I loved Angels In The Trenches because I loved how at first I thought it was going to be a bit of a rip off of Christopher Walken’s Pulp fiction scene with Baldwin making a bizarre request while dying during a war. Then when the other fallen soldiers just wanted to Taran Killam to go back and share mother jokes to their enemies, I lost it and laughed the rest of the show away. Next, I really liked Who's On Top? because it was a funny sketch that I feel walked a fine line of referencing homosexuality without being homophobic or offensive. Finally, I was a fan of the WDHX News because I’m a big fan of news bloopers like the one that provided the premise for the 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.