SNL: S04E03... HOST: FRANK ZAPPA... DATE: OCTOBER 21, 1978

or...

Almost The Zappa In The Ass

This Season Really Needs

Once again, we have another episode where the host and the music guest are one and the same but unlike The Rolling Stones episode, I don't mind the double duty in this case because Frank Zappa really stepped up his game as the host. Where Mick Jagger played himself in one simple sketch, Zappa was actively involved with more than half of the show.

This episode started out very strong which is something that this season really needs. Frank Zappa is by no means the best actor but it was at least fun to see him trying his hardest to keep up while playing along. If it wasn't for the fact that almost every sketch ran just a little too long this might be a top ten episode.

The overall segment count was only twelve and that is counting the goodnights. This is a sign of how scenes were drawn out because the usual count is somewhere between fifteen and seventeen. This is too bad because each sketch was also real funny until hitting a point where they could have just stopped and then they could have come up with one or two more segments.

Oh well, it was still a pretty good show and now it time to share what I saw, so, with that, I give you...

The Wicker Breakdown: 

  1. Fred Silverman (Belushi/Owner of NBC at the time) addresses the audience about the new direction of the channel after deep research that found people wanted to see more Frank Zappa. He goes on to explain that NBC is going to change to be nothing but Zappa-centric programming starting with... "Live from New York..."
  2. Frank Zappa then opens the show with a very quick monolog before breaking into the song Dancing Fool.
  3. This is followed by a Coneheads sketch where Zappa as Zappa is dating the daughter and taking her to one of his shows. Zappa is almost much of an alien as the Coneheads are, especially since he is so bad at reading the cue cards but the saving Grace is that he's bad in an entertaining way.
  4. Belushi then plays a prisoner under the stairs, with Garrett locked up in the closet as the family that lives in the house goes about their business as usual, kind of like this is the Uber for prison, where people can earn extra income by putting up prisoners. After a while, a third prisoner who is kept upstairs starts a riot in an attempt to get moved from the linen closest to the bathroom. The family tries to stop the rioting but then end up kicking out all the prisoners who are startled by their early escape/release and are skeptical as they leave through the front door.
  5. Once again we have the news, hosted by Jane and Murray. This is a season that will see the start of another presidential election cycle, so I'm interested in seeing just how early they start their election coverage. Other than that, in this installment, Bill interviews Sid Vicious and his mom because this was around the time that he killed Nancy. We also get a Father Guido Sarducci segment where he discusses the picking process of the new pope. We also have a fun Point Counter-Point where Aykroyd returns to debate Jane over the ethic of test tube babies.
  6. Frank Zappa then performs The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing.
  7. This is kind of where this episode falls off the tracks as this sketch starts out backstage at a Zappa show a year earlier in San Francisco where Zappa meets Schaffer as Don Kirshner who tried to get him to sell out in order to become accepted by a mainstream audience. All this happens while everyone keeps offering our straight edge host drugs that he keeps having to turn down. This alone feels like it could have been a lame bit at the right length but instead, they add some convoluted story where Kirshner wants to talk to Zappa on their way down to L.A. by car. Zappa then says he wants to drive alone and it's obvious he can't stand their energy. We then end up in sketch within a sketch and this one is called A Night On Freak Mountain. This is where Zappa's car breaks down in the middle of nowhere that's home to a hippie castle. The sketch then goes on and on mainly repeating the joke that Zappa is a sober man despite his wacky appearance. This portion of the sketch feels extra-long, especially following the unneeded intro that there is a quick call back to as Kirshner steps in to save the day.   
  8. Woman to Woman was an interview sketch where Gilda plays an overly proud successful single woman who discusses marriage with Jane who is perfectly happy to have someone to care for. Gilda then because jealous and defensive as if there's no real way that a woman can truly find happiness while being successful yet single in America.
  9. Franken and Davis then call for a violent overthrow of the government because of how corruption in a Democratic society is almost unavoidable. They then going into samples from a campaign where two candidates go back and forth each ramping up their crazy accusations. It's to the point where this isn't even parody anymore and these two are great at the way they approach satire to where they come across as the dumb ones while making their hidden statement instead of the smug, better than you approach you find in the current state of satire.
  10. Frank Zappa then performs Rollo featuring Samurai Belushi on lead vocals.
  11. This is followed by another Mr. Bill installment and this time it's a follow up from last week when Mr. Bill came to New York City, and this time he's settling into an apartment.
  12. Finally, Frank Zappa thanks the crowd and says his good nights.

I guess this is a better episode than I give it credit for in the intro, it's just disappointing that it started out so strong, then fell completely flat for the Freak Mountain and Woman To Woman sketch. Other than that I have plenty of favorite moments to choose from unlike the first two episodes from this season.

And now, here are my favorite moments. First, I loved the Uber for jail sketch because it actually feels like it could be the next step in our privatized prison system set up for personal gains. Next, I really liked the Conehead sketch because Zappa is such a terrible actor in an extremely entertaining way. Finally, I was a fan of seeing Father Guido Sarducci again so quickly because he is one of my favorite comedic characters of all time because of how great he is at staying in character no matter what is happening around him.  

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.