SNL: S04E18... HOST: MICHAEL PALIN... DATE: MAY 12, 1979

or...

Better Than Blah But Ezra Still Has The Lead

Between the fact that Michael Palin's last visit was so good, and that last night's viewing featuring Milton Berle, was by far the best episode of the season, I had really high hopes for this go-round would really blow me away. Too bad this episode reverted back to the flaws that I've been complaining about throughout the season.

That said, this episode was fine with a few laughs but of the episodes so far, this had the least amount of content to judge. As I pointed out in past reviews, I don't count all of the segments in my judgment. Since this is the second time I'm mentioning this, I guess it's time to go into more detail about what I mean.

First off, I don't really count the opening sketch. This sketch's main purpose is to get to the announcement of, "Live from New York..." Though this segment will sometimes produce a favorite moment it's consistent and simple enough that I consider it a gimme for each episode. The same thing goes for opening monolog, news, musical guest, and closing goodnights. All these segments serve one purpose and are all consistent enough that I'm not super critical of them.

So, minus the above-mentioned sketches, I have two super long sketches featuring Palin, one commercial parody, which I pretty much include as a gimme sketch because they can be randomly fit in any episode, and finally a sketch between Aykroyd and Jane without even a reference to the host of his career. 

This leaves me two Palin sketches and a monolog to judge this episode on and the monolog was cut short for James Taylor. Luckily, the gimme sketches were strong enough that I consider this to be an average episode especially compared to the rest of this season.

Now it's time to share what actually is better than blah and I share what I saw as I give you...

The Wicker Breakdown: 

  1. Belushi opens the show as the current CEO of NBC and addresses the audience about the reports that he is doing a terrible job with his transition into the role of the creative leader. In doing so, he points out his one success and makes Gary Coleman his V.P. before announcing, "Live from New York..."
  2. Michael Palin opens the show with a Mother's Day themed monolog where he shares how miserable his childhood was due to the fact that he was too you to fully understand what was going on but had to deal with the effects of WWII. He has a real entertaining way of sharing this tale of neglect but then randomly seems to jump ship to introduce James Taylor just when I was getting into the story.
  3. James Taylor then performs Johnny Comes Back.
  4. Family Classics (Chapter II) continues the saga of the Miles Cowperthwaite from the fake Dickens novel that was introduced when Palin last hosted the show. When we last saw him he was a drool collecting orphan who was sent off with the gay navy and this time we follow his adventures on the gay boat. Though most of the jokes targeted the gay lifestyle, I wouldn't really say that it came across as homophobic.
  5. This is followed by a fake commercial for Magna-Gro where Aykroyd pitches plant steroids for those that live in the city but still want to garden.
  6. Once again, Jane and Bill anchor the news. Also once again, Bill does a segment on Chico Esquela's comeback in Florida, then he and Jane sing a charming tribute to Fred Astaire in honor of his latest birthday, and then the news wraps up with yet another guest visit from Father Guido Sarducci who is there to discuss the discovery of a strange planet just outside of the solar system.
  7. James Taylor then returns to the stage to sing Up On The Roof.
  8. The Boulevard Of Proud Chicano Cars is an epic sketch that takes on the topic of the gas shortage on the Chicano's of East L.A. First off, Gilda plays the lead male character and her accent sounds so French Canadian that it alone makes the sketch hard to get from but then the sketch takes turn for the worst after turn for the worst as it does every single one of my pet peeves. The sketch has a funny premise of treating gas like drugs as the Chicanos look for fuel so they can cruise the boulevard in their classic cars. The sketch nailed that joke, but then they change scenes and the tone of the sketch as it turns into a statement on interracial dating. We then change scenes about five more times as well as the tone and point as this becomes a boring after school special.
  9. Mr. Bill then tries to run away from home and New York only to be picked up hitchhiking by Mr. Hand.
  10. James Taylor returns to the stage one more time to sing Millworker.
  11. This is followed by a Mother's Day sketch between Tom Snyder and his mother where the point is that they are pretty much the same person.
  12. Finally, Michael Palin hits the stage again to close the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

Again, I was disappointed by this episode, mainly because I liked Palin's last visit so much. That said, I still had my favorite moments and here they are. First, there were a few funny moments scattered throughout the epic Miles Cowperthwaite sketch even though it went on way too long. Next, I liked Father Guido Sarducci's take on this newly discovered planet because I am very fascinated with the mysterious space entities that keep getting discovered throughout history only to have nothing develop from these stories. Finally, even though I'm not a huge fan of having one, let alone two, favorite moments come from the news I was a fan of Jane and Bill's tribute to Fred Astaire because it was just a charming moment.

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.