101 In My Books
I've always had an issue with "Specials" because they rarely seem aimed at rewarding the loyal fans. I mean, it makes sense. I do see why a show would like to promote a spectacle to draw in new viewers while producing perfectly average content for those who would have tuned in either way.
The problem with these special episodes is that they have to cast a wider net, so they tone down the content to be sure not to offend. That's not to say that I'm disappointed by the lack of blue material but anything that might scare off a mainstream audience which always makes the shows feel a little bland.
This 100th Episode Special for SNL was precisely what I expected based on my prejudices mentioned above. It was a perfectly fine episode that was average in every way. Other than the fact that Paul Shaffer uttered the "F" word for the first time in show history, there was nothing with any edge.
This episode also had too much music and too many sketches explicitly written to crowbar in a celebrity guest. Again, this was a perfectly fine episode where I probably wouldn't criticize all that much if it weren't marketed as a celebration.
Besides, this is actually episode 101 if you include the Mardi Gras Special so the fact that my numbers are now off this early on, is another point against it.
Alright, enough with my neurotic issues with this episode and numbers, it's time to move on to share what I saw, and with that I give you...
The Wicker Breakdown:
The show starts backstage with all of the remaining members of the original cast sit around a crystal ball as Garrett Morris tries to talk them into doing a seance. It takes some convincing, but they finally give in and get visited by ghosts of the Prime Time Players who have moved on. First Mr. Mike chimes in and no one is happy to see him. He takes a shot at the current season without him, and they take a shot at his crappy movie called Mongo Video. Then Jane channels Belushi, who gets a better response. He complains about how he was excited to come back but hates just being ahead in a globe and in his rant he works in, "Live from New York..."
Bill Murray then hits the main stage to open the show with a Broadway-style tune about New York.
This was followed by a fake ad for Horizon System 12 which is almost a real deal ad for a home entertainment center from the late '90s, complete with a humongous box to contain a humongous screen as well as a whole bunch of speakers.
The current Senator of New York from the time then reads an Irish fairy tale. It's called The Biggest Leprechaun, and we get a reenactment as he reads. In the story, our hero is the biggest leprechaun who is too big to hide. This causes him to get caught all the time which causes his fellow leprechauns to hate him for burning through their budget.
Then we get another sketch from Gilda and Murray's nerd characters. This time Murray is running for high school president but other than that it's the same. Again, these are fun characters that were probably fresh at the time, but now the cliche is so played out over the ages that I rarely feel genuinely entertained by them, even though I know this was not the case in the past.
Paul Simon and James Taylor then come out to play three songs back to back to back. First, they duet on Cathy's Clown, then James Taylor takes the lead for Sunny Sky, and Paul Simon wraps up the performance with Take Me To The Mardi-Gras.
Once again, Jane and Bill anchor the news. This week, Ralph Nader drops by and really criticizes Exon and the rest of the corporate world for holding this country hostage. Bill also share with us the decision process behind the Ayatollah Khomeini's hat and then Roseanne Roseannadanna does a segment where she starts out discussing the breastfeeding debate then goes on to ramble on about Bo Derick's nose hair.
Next, we go to Gaunt Manor to witness a medieval band practice. Bill Murray plays the drummer, who is literally only there to keep time. He has one drum and one drumstick with a straightforward beat, yet he still struggles to figure it out which does nothing but anger his bandmates. He angers them so badly, apparently, Paul Shaffer slips up and accidentally yells fuck instead of flogging. We also get a quick drop in from Belushi who plays the queen/audience for the band, and he/she is not pleased.
Talk Or Die is an action talk show where the host, Michael Palin, interviews guest about theater under very extreme circumstances.
Garrett Morris and Peter Aykroyd then play two homeless drunks who are in the subway terminal begging for money to buy wine. Bill Murray eventually joins them as a fellow homeless drunk. He's managed to get his hands on a bottle of white wine, and the three proceed to taste and discuss the beverage as if they were professional tasters debating the specifics of the brand.
David Sanborn then hits the stage to perform Anything You Want with his saxamaphone.
The David Susskind Show then returns, and I still don't know who he is but this week he interviews a bunch of people who got plastic surgery to look more like the celebrity who they impersonate in order to make a living. One of these guests is actually Donny Osmond who has horrible surgery scars from deciding to go cheap to look like Donny Osmond. Another guest is actually Paul Simon who says his look was always spot on but he had to get surgery to reduce his height because no one was buying a 6'7" Simon.
Finally, the cast and guest close the show by thanking the crowd and saying their good nights.
Even after writing this breakdown I still see this as an extremely average show, with nothing too great or nothing too bad with these three favorite moments. First, I loved hearing Paul Shaffer say "Fucking" instead of "Flogging" because it really caught me off guard. It was also interesting to see how everyone froze for a second to register what happened before just moving on. Next, I liked the homeless wine connoisseurs because I've always had a genuine interest in starting a feature called homeless reviews, where I would have homeless people review fine-dining establishments and luxury hotels in an attempt to find the most interesting flaws. Finally, I was a fan of The Biggest Leprechaun because as a larger than average human, I totally understand.