What A Difference A Season Makes
So far I have a roller coaster of a relationship when it comes to Eric Idle hosting Saturday Night Live. I loved his first appearance because it really felt like he brought the Monty Python energy to the show. I liked his second appearance, but it felt like it was missing the Monty Python influence to where it felt 100% SNL. His third visit was a nice blend of the two shows, but it was part of season four, so I had my issues with the episode for a combination of reasons.
This episode was another visit from Eric Idle minus the Monty Python aesthetics, but that's fine because Eric Idle is still his own man and this show was perfectly fine without it. The main thing I noticed during this viewing was validating evidence that there has been an improvement of the overall energy of the show.
I think part of this comes from the fact that there has yet to be a sketch this season that felt melodramatic like an after-school special which was how every sketch started in season four. That said, it's not just the tone of the sketches. The cast seems to have a much more cheerful energy about them. I'm not sure if this is because they know this is their last season and they are excited to end with a bang or if there have been personnel changes that have lightened the mood.
Either way, I like what I'm seeing this season, and with that, it's now time to share what I saw as I give you...
The Wicker Breakdown:
The show starts with a guy playing a doctor who exits Eric Idle's dressing room. He was in a sketch or two in the first episode of the season, and I totally know who he is but can't place it because he looks so young. Anyways, this doctor interrupts Buck Henry and Lorne to inform Lorne, that Eric is way too sick to host the show. Buck keeps desperately insisting that he could step in if needed but Lorne acts like he doesn't even hear this, thinking it would be honorable for Idle to put out his last efforts to die while hosting the show. Buck keeps insisting he take over going as far as to announce, "Live from New York..." Only this doesn't instantly initiate the opening credits because the doctor fits in one more line... Oh, I figured it out, that Harry Shearer from the Christopher Guest movies again, he looks so young, and I kept thinking he was Marv Albert, but he didn't have the voice.
Eric Idle then opens the show being brought out to the stage on a stretcher. Once again his very first joke is how bad this show is going to be. Where last time I hated that joke because his prediction actually came true but this time he went right into a hilarious routine doing impersonations including the stretcher.
This was followed by the Hotel Motel Art Fair, where Harry Shearer hosts a show where he sells low-end art that is sold in bulks to all the hotels and motels.
Bill Murray then enters a handmade shoe shop that is run by Eric Idle who offers free kisses from his Spanish daughters to get customers into the store. Bill asks if he has a specific style shoe and Idle runs through all the options in order to impress Bill with the pure volume and options available even if they are not even close to a match. In between random kisses from Charo like characters Bill eventually finds a pair that he likes. The only problem is that Idle does seem to grasp the idea of selling two shoes which sends Bill Murray over the edge.
Bob Dylan then hits the stage to perform Gotta Serve Somebody.
Prince Charles then promotes his book on advice for how to hook up with attractive but ordinary women. All of his pick-up lines include letting it slip out that you are royalty.
Once again Jane and Bill host the news. It looks like we are at the very start of the campaign season for the 1980 presidential election as there is a segment where Harry Shearer goes to Britain to discuss their reaction to the pre-election build up. Bill Murray also has a segment where he responds to Princess Margret who recently called the Irish pig when she was in the states visiting Chicago. Roseanne Roseannadanna also has a segment where she talks about the current mortgage crisis, only to end up rambling on about a vacation she took which led to advice about fitness.
Then we go to a club for drag queens, though, after watching a lot of RuPaul I hesitate to call this drag as they are in no way trying to hide their man-ness they're just men in dancing around in women's clothes. Larraine and Gilda then enter the club looking for someone when Larraine spots her father putting on a show while dancing on the stage. The sketch then becomes a bit of a movie trailer for an adult film called Hardcore II. About a daughter whose father's a drag queen while claiming not to be gay.
Bob Dylan then returns to the stage to perform I Believe In You.
Andy Kaufman then returns to the show to perform his famous routine where he offers women $500 if they can beat him at wrestling. He is so good at getting people to hate him and walking a fine line where there is no heads or tails as to where the person and character of a person begins or ends.
Heavy Sarcasm is an interview show where Jane asks very sarcastic questions to two very sarcastic guests.
Ask Elvis is a call in psychic show where Larraine takes letters from her audience to ask the late rock singer. They then cut to a statue of Elvis while the question is being answered in voiceover using an Elvis Impersonator's voice.
Once again, Bob Dylan returns to the stage to sing When You Gonna Wake Up.
Finally, Eric Idle closes the show by thanking the crowd and saying his goodnights.
So, that was a fun episode that makes me feel ten times better about this season. The main difference is that everything seems more fun and here are my favorite of those fun moments. First, I loved the Andy Kaufman women's wrestling routine because I was a fan of wrestling as a kid but mainly because I love these people who live a performance and I was thoroughly captivated even though I already knew the outcome. Next, I liked Eric Idles opening routine with the impersonations done with the stretcher. Finally, I was a fan of Harry Shearer's first solo sketch as he tried to sell crappy hotel paintings.