SNL: S04E02... HOST: FRED WILLARD... DATE: OCTOBER 14, 1978

or...

Leave It To Devo To Save The Day!!!

I don't know, this season is starting to scare me. After watching last night's opening show, I was hoping it was just a case of the cast and writers getting reacclimated after their summer vacation. After all, that's what happened last season, episode one was just barely average but then they hit the ground running until the hit the second-half slump which came very late in the season.

I thought for sure this season would see the same start especially with Fred Willard hosting the redemptive second episode but this show fell flat but I by no means think Willard's the reason. It just feels like the show, in general, has gotten to the point where they hit their first plateau where everyone is starting to coast following a long period of successful programming and it doesn't help that everyone from the show is getting too distracted by all of their side project to give 100% to the show.

Once again, this felt like a show that you would see later in the season with a lot of long-winded sketches with a lot of repetitive jokes. It may be one of those cases where the writers are trying to please the crowd by giving them what they know they already like, not realizing what the people really like is the new stuff they haven't seen yet.

The thing that sucks is that I was really excited at the start of this episode because I love Fred Willard's extremely silly attitude during his opening monolog but then, I didn't even really get the humor of the first two or three sketches and luckily the show was saved by Devo!!!    

Alright, now it's time for me to struggle to share what I saw as I give you...

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. The show starts with Billy Murray dresses as a grubby drunk sports guy as he makes his way to the last available seat in the middle of the studio audience. He plays a pretty accurate drunk sports fan as he rambles on to the people in the crowd facts that he knows about the Yankee's then he notices that he not at the game but in the studio instead as he announces, "Live from New York..."
  2. Fred Willard opens the show dressed as Elvis and sings One Night With You before doing a monolog where he lets the audience know that he's not as dumb as the character that made him famous, then goes into a quick tale about his love for comedy.
  3. This is followed by a fake ad that starts with a family in neck braces eating breakfast. It takes them a while to even reference the neck braces as they build up to the pitchman's interruption. After a while, the pitchmen do cut in and it's Aykroyd and Willard who are selling the service Two Guys Who Are Lawyers. I don't really get this sketch though because there's never a joke like two for the price of one, to even jokingly explain why this is a benefit especially since this service seemed to be aimed at the poor who can't afford one lawyer. Not only does it not make that much sense it goes on too long for what was supposed to be a quick commercial break. 
  4. Next, we have a behind the scenes movie sketch where Murray plays a Mobster who is shot by the cops and falls over the side of a building. They set up a couple jokes that don't really pay off because Belushi steps in as the stunt man and the focus of the sketch completely switches away from Murray. The sketch from that point on gets pretty funny as Belushi keep ruining the stunt by screaming like a baby due to the tiniest of injuries. The sketch then ends with Belushi missing the stunt pad and dies from taking the tiny stunt fall. The sketch then ends with a quick joke that they are now going to use Belushi's body as the stunt dummy to throw off the top of a real building in order to make it more realistic.
  5. Devo then performs (Can't Get No) Satisfaction.
  6. Once again we have the new, hosted by Jane and Murray. Murray's delivery is still pretty weird but he toned it down from the last episode which is allowing it to grow on me even more. I also love that Jane continues to fight to deliver the news in a very proper manner. Dan Aykroyd rejoins the news and he is much better as a guest spot anchor.
  7. Larraine is then asleep in bed and gets woken by a wrong number call in the middle of the night from someone who is looking for her ex-boyfriend. She gives the caller her ex's new number then turns to her just woken one-night stand. He tries to leave but she tells him to stay and they are interrupted by another phone call. This time it's the ex and the two start out fighting but then the conversation evolves to talk of making up, which gets her guest to double down on trying to get out of there. She makes plans to meet her ex in a half hour then changes her tone toward her guest. Then as he leaves it's revealed to us that he was the pizza delivery guy from last night and he was still looking for his payment.
  8. On The Spot is an interview show where Jane interviews Aykroyd's sleazy sales guy character that sold Bag O' Glass for Christmas. This time he's defending the things he sells to schools to be served in the cafeteria which really felt like they were trying to crowbar a joke into an already successful character.
  9. Mr. Bill the goes to NYC!!!
  10. The Gilda plays a lady cooking chicken who rambles on the phone about wanting to change her kids' names even though they are five and seven. I wasn't even sure if that was the main joke because I was so bored by the fake phone conversation. I kept waiting for some big payoff but it just ended when she hung up the phone.
  11. Crossroads was a sketch with a depressed preacher which starts out kind of funny as he goes on to jokingly explain the gods from the past. He then goes on to tell the Moab story where God challenges a questioning Belushi as Moab to kill his son to show that he has faith in the lord. Belushi goes along with the test but with atheistic doubts as to why an all knowing God would need so much justification from the humans that he also created. Belushi keeps hesitating to kill his son, expecting God to step in to save him, but this never ends up happening so Belushi stabs his son in the gut, killing him, just as God chimes in and apologizes for being late.
  12. The Scotch Boutique is a store in the mall that only sells Scotch Tape. The rest of the sketch pretty much writes itself as everyone who visits thinks this has to be some kind of joke and the wife is annoyed by her husband's delusional investment. 
  13. A short film then starts where we see the convict clown thing running around a rundown warehouse district, he gets to the room with some Nazi-type guy who talks about devolution which is when it's revealed that this is actually an intro to Devo.
  14. Devo performs Jocko Homo which is the most cinematic musical performance to date and was definitely the best part of the show.
  15. Finally, Fred Willard thanks the crowd and says his goodnights.

Right now, this season is 0 for 2 but I fully expect a comeback. This was another time where I had trouble justifying all three slots but here are my favorite moments. First, I loved the second introduction to Devo along with their performance of Jocko Homo because it reminded me how much I'm a fan of this band. Next, I love seeing Mr. Bill go to NYC so he can fill this spot by default. I guess I like the stuntman sketch because it's the best of what I have left to choose from.   

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.