SNL: S04E16... HOST: RICHARD BENJAMIN... DATE: APRIL 7, 1979

or...

My Notepad Runneth Over...

...and yet I still have nothing to say. 

First off, Richard Benjamin is a name that I've always known, and I had no problem recognizing his face yet I still had to struggle to place how I knew this name and face. It took a while before a few of his cameo roles from TV shows came to mind, but these shows definitely didn't explain why I would have known him at a very young age. Then it hit me. He was in Saturday The 14th, a movie that, for some reason, really stood out to me as a kid, even though I couldn't tell you a think that happened now that I'm an adult.

With that said, I started out really hopeful that this episode would at least be a little better than the past few snoozers that I've had to suffer through. The opening sketch was a so-so excuse as to why Belushi wouldn't be making an appearance by claiming he's "out sick" but after the Chevy negotiation, that just seems like it's code for the fact that he's out for the night because he's actually being a diva.

This could explain why the episode went so wrong because the host was only in three sketches and they each ran extra-long especially for a season that is already known for extra-long bits. It's as if Belushi bailed out at the last minute and rather than recast the sketches their solution seemed to be to cram.

This is too bad because the first non-opening/non-monolog sketch had the potential to be pretty funny if they were to just break it up into chunks to spread throughout the entire episode instead of having one convoluted series of scenes that seemed to drag on and on and on.

In the sketch, they parody the Three Mile Island meltdown scare only this time it's the Two Mile Island and the accident is caused by a power plant operator's soda shorting out the control panel and then Bill Murray goes on to explain The Pepsi Syndrome. Where they could have introduced this problem then move on to the next sketch, to then come back to the press conference and then keep jumping back and forth between sketches and the growing problems of this potential meltdown.

But no, instead they go straight to the press conference where Richard Benjamin tries to play down the severity of the incident and then we get Franken and Davis acting as talking mimes as a distraction before President Carter arrives. He is already aware of The Pepsi Syndrome and announces he's going to check out the scene.

Then we go back to the nuclear reactor where Carter wants to check out the damage to the core and just walks right into the reactor and comes out glowing from the wastewater that's been leaking since the incident began. He then gets taken to the hospital and then they call in Garrett Morris who is playing a female maid and have him/her go mop up this waste water.

Then we go to the hospital where were learn that Carter is now growing like Godzilla now that he's a radioactive man. For some reason, this triggers Rodney Dangerfield to enter the scene and make Rodney jokes about how big the president is growing. Now see, if this was chopped up in consumable bits, I would have loved this surprise appearance but as it is, I felt angry that this sketch was still going with way more setups than jokes.

It's not done yet because now we go to outside of the press conference where Barbara Wawa rambles on for a bit, sharing what we already know, which is then followed by the actual press conference where they share the fact that the president is growing and this is when Carter makes an appearance, his head now fills up the entire window. He reassures the US that he is still interested in nuclear power. Then he goes on to introduce the world to his new wife, the also now-large Garrett Morris.   

Again, where I would have loved this is they would have broken it up and spread it out throughout the night as it got more and more convoluted and strange, this just felt like they were throwing crap at the wall to see what sticks and is why I feel like I have pages and pages of summaries with nothing exciting to say.

So with that, it's time to move on and share what I saw as I give you...

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. The show starts in the SNL locker room where Aykroyd punches in a little late and Jane informs him that Belushi is out "sick" this week. We then get introduced to some random dude from NBC's talent pool who is there to replace Belushi for the day, kind of like a substitute teacher. Aykroyd this is weird at first but then goes on to give the guy advice on how to act like Belushi. It would have been awesome if they carried out this idea and had this stranger play the King Bee or Samurai but no, he just throws out a sloppy set up to get Aykroyd to announce, "Live from New York..."
  2. Richard Benjamin then opens the show with a monolog about how he thought this week in New York would be boring because his wife, a famous actress from the time, is off working on another project. He then goes on to say what a great time he's had and how he's now cheating on said wife after spending the week out and about with the cast. He then reveals that it was Gilda he was cheating with and she acts shocked that he's sharing such a scandal. Though this was a total joke, I just don't find careless cheating to be funny, and starting out this way also shifted my mood to where I was already disappointed.
  3. This is followed by the Two Mile Island sketch that you can read about up in the intro.
  4. Then Bill Murray's nerdy character arrives at his brother's apartment. Richard plays said brother and he is also a nerd. Murray's plan is to borrow the apartment to sleep with Gilda's nerdy character. Gilda then shows up has a couple nerdy interactions with Richard and then is left alone with Murray who gets very date rapey as he fills her with drinks to "make this easier." Once again, this rubbed me the wrong way especially when it works and Gilda's body goes limp as they make out. It doesn't help that the audience is cheering this on without the slightest sense of shock. Luckily, Gilda is saved by her mom, who dropped by early to pick Gilda up. For some reason, Richard then returns to flirt with the mom and everything ends hunky-dory.
  5. Once again, Jane and Bill give us the news. This week Bill Murray heads down to the Mets training camp to interview Chico Esquella in the interview that made this character a classic even though he's been around for a while. Bill also gives his Oscar picks for the year and Roseanne Roseannadanna does a segment on the rising cost of meat and ends up rambling on how disgusting fish are.
  6. Rickie Lee Jones hits the stage to perform Chuck Es In Love.
  7. A Bird For All Seasons is a short film where Bill Murray plays a network executive introducing this season's lineup of programming where birds replace actors in famous roles from movies and television.  
  8. Richard and Larraine then visit a Scottish restaurant run by Aykroyd who is all decked out in Scottish garb. The sketch then goes on to make fun of how cheap Scottish people are which is a stereotype that I was unaware of. They also manage to make fun of Scottish food and complete the cliches by ending the sketch with a quick jab at bagpipers. 
  9. This is followed by a repeat of the Donuts of Champions ad.
  10. Then Rickie Lee Jones returns to the stage to perform a song called Coolsville.
  11. Finally, Richard Benjamin closes the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

This season is making it harder and harder to come up with my favorite moments but here's what I've managed to find. First, I like finally seeing the Chico Esquella sketch that I remembered as a kid because his intro sketch was quite a bit of a letdown. Next, A Bird For All Season was a fun short film with bird playing the part of the humans. Finally, there were aspects of the Two Mile Island sketch that I really wanted to like.  

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.