SNL: S04E12... HOST: RICK NELSON... DATE: FEBRUARY 17, 1979

or...

The Start Of The Second Half Slump

In An Already Slumpy Season

Just when this season started to crawl out of its hole of mediocrity, we are given this show that is the slumpiest slump shows by far. This sucks because I was really looking forward to the second half of this season after watching the Cicely Tyson episode. The fact that her show had 17 segments to sit through meant that we were in and out of sketches before we can possibly get bored.

Up until now, I was blaming the writers because the cast is still putting in good performances, it's the content that seems to be lacking the quality from seasons past. Now I'm beginning to think that the network is more involved with the show, now that it's an official success.

Where the show used to take commercials whenever they needed to allowing sketches to vary in length, I bet you some network executive came up with the idea to divide the 90 minutes evenly so that they can have a consistent weekly schedule to make selling ad time more efficient even if it ends up ruining almost every single joke.

For example, my favorite sketch of this evening starts out as a Mexican game show called, Who Is More Macho, which would have gone perfectly well if they were to just bail out three minutes in when they started to wind down the first half of the sketch. Then all of the sudden, Elliot Ness comes in with his crew and starts busting all of the illegal immigrants that are hiding all throughout the set.

Considering the time, this sketch pulled off the game show portion without being all that racially insensitive. Sure, it was white people playing Mexican but they weren't really making race the point of the joke. It would have been perfectly fine on its own and I was really hoping they would just go to commercial on this win but no... they had two more minutes to kill and that's exactly what the second half of majority the sketches feel like this season.

Oh yeah, not only where the sketches not all that great this week, there were also six music performances, so they had even less long sketches to work with so it should have been better, no matter who the host.

Alright, that's all of my grumbling about this episode, now it's time to share what I saw as I give you...

The Wicker Breakdown:  

  1. The show starts with Bill Murray as a radio DJ taking calls from listeners. He treats them kind of like the internet asking for callers whenever he doesn't have an answer. He promotes some fundraiser thing where if they meet the goal he will get a lobster. Dan Aykroyd then sits in for the weather. This is followed by more calls but it's boring almost like real random AM radio. Then Belushi comes in with two lobster and why Murray asks for more details he says that they are, "Live from New York..."
  2. Rick Nelson then opens the show with a quick joke about how most of the audience is seeing him for the first time when he's not in black and white. He then goes on to sing three songs back to back; Hello Marry Lou, Travelin' Man, and Fools Rush In.
  3. This is followed by a Twilight Zone parody where Rick Nelson plays his character from Ozzie and Harriet only he keeps ending up in the wrong black and white shows. They mix up TV reality even more by also swapping out the person playing the Rod Serling role of narrating what is happening.
  4. We are then backstage at a Don Kirshner produced show. This allows pretty much everyone in the cast to impersonate some famous performer. We jump around from impersonation to impersonation while the sketch seems to be going nowhere until finally Gilda shows up as Candy Slice and once again performs a pretty good, legitimate punk song.
  5. Once again, Jane and Bill anchor the news. This week, Chico Esquella says his goodbyes as he is heading back to the big leagues of baseball. There's also a Point Counter-Point segment when Jane and Dan argue about cocaine.
  6. Who Is More Macho is a Mexican game show where contestants a given multiple leading Latino men and are asked Who Is More Macho? This was a great sketch up until Elliot Ness shows up and they burn through two minutes of a pointless immigration joke.
  7. Judy Collins then performs Hard Time For Lovers.
  8. This was followed by a PSA for helium and why you should use it when giving bad news to "lighten" the mood.
  9. Next was a Barbershop sketch that tells the tale of a dying old mall as the only clients that come in for haircuts are mall employees who are also struggling to make ends meet. I worked at one of these malls so it was sort of funny and interesting but there wasn't enough happening to justify it being so long.
  10. The short film this week was a mockumentary called Picasso: The New York Years. Where they interview the locals about the fictional time that Picasso considered New York his stomping grounds.
  11. Rick Nelson returns to the stage to sing Dream Lover.
  12. Finally, Rick Nelson remains on the stage to close the show by thanking the crowd before saying his goodnights.

Of the few sketches that I have to choose from, I don't think I liked one of them all the way through. That said, I still did have three favorite moments and here they are. First, I loved the first half of the Who Is More Macho game show sketch because we played that game a few times in my 20s and I was happy to see this was what started that. Next, I liked the idea of the Twilight Zone parody, but I'm not old enough to get all of the references so half the sketch fell flat but I'm also a huge fan of The Twilight Zoon. Finally, I was a fan of the barbershop sketch because as I said, it reminded me of the days that I worked at a mall. I also liked how they brought back the Scotch tape store employees because I like that they are hanging on to that joke.

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.