SNL: S05E05... HOST: BEA ARTHUR... DATE: NOVEMBER 17, 1979

or...

Bea On The Ball In A C+ Episode

When I first saw that Bea Arthur's was the next in line to host the show, I was pretty excited to see how this would play out considering her history as a comedic actress. Up until this point in the shows that I've seen the female hosts of later ages were in the transitional stage in their career where they go from the romantic lead to the novel old lady who's either extremely naive or overly bitter.

I feel that the few host in the past that fall into this description had yet to find their comedy legs so since Bea Arthur started out in comedy, I was expecting a pretty strong show. Unfortunately though, this episode fell into the same traps that ruined the episodes with transitioning older dramatic actresses.

The longer sketches of the night had the tone of a Lifetime Movie Of The Week where everything building up to the joke felt so melodramatic and bland that the humor isn't worth the patients to sit through the long winded dramatic material.

With all that said, everyone was on point with their acting and this season has a thing that I've noticed where they will have two super long sketches that tend to be as bad as the bits from season four but then the rest of the show is made up of sketches of various length that don't seem overwritten and loaded with filler. I feel that this technique alone will be enough to make this a much better season.

As I've pointed out in the past, I was a student that was happy to get a D as long as it meant that I passed so my C+ grade isn't meant to be seen as a negative rating. Speaking of how things are seen, it's time to share what I saw as I give you...

The Wicker Breakdown: 

  1. The show starts in Ronald Reagan's makeup room following his announcement of his plans to run for president in the 1980 election. The main point of the sketch is how old Reagan is, as the removal of the makeup reveals a grey-haired, balding, old man who gets the honors to mutter the words, "Live from New York..." 
  2. Bea Arthur opens the show by singing Let Me Love You with Paul Shaffer on piano. 
  3. This was followed by a repeat of an ad from season one for a beer for "boat people" called Spuds.
  4. In He Cries First, Bea Arthur plays a doctor that has to announce to a husband that his wife will be losing a breast to cancer. The rest of the sketch goes on in on in a very dramatic tone about how this husband has it so bad because he now has to live with this deformed wife. Part of me feels that the fact that this is not a joke that could be made anymore due to being completely insensitive, the super serious tone seems to be making less of a point toward their original intent to where it feels a little like they are validating this type of outlook when really the problem is that the entire routine just didn't age all that well.
  5. Jane is preparing breakfast for the family as Bill plays the dad getting ready for work and his son played by Tom Davis announces he's too sick to go to school. This causes Bill to freak out making a big deal about how everyone has to do things that they don't want to so he should just man up and go to school. Tom doesn't change his tune leading Bill to call in sick to work to prove a point about how the world doesn't work with all these absences. This causes a chain reaction of everyone in America calling in sick opening the doors to a Russian invasion. 
  6. The Roches then hit the stage to perform Bobby's Song.
  7. Once again, Jane and Bill host the news. Though they do start with a story of the upcoming election, it's still not the main topic of the news. This week there is a segment where Al Franken plays a scientist that pretty much just murders a bunch of cockroaches on live TV. 
  8. This is followed by a Thanksgiving sketch with adults who still have to sit at the child's table that is set up in the basement. They start out complaining about having to sit at this table despite being in their 30s and then everything breaks down as they all start to act like children as they remember thanksgivings from the past.
  9. Woman To Woman returns and this time Gilda's perfectly content, single successful woman character passive-aggressively tries to find holes in the perfect life that Bea Arthur is experiencing as a very proud mother of five.
  10. This is followed by a fake ad for Save Co, a store that buys up all the government recalled products to then pass the savings on to the public despite how dangerous their merchandise is.
  11. Bea Arthur then hosts a party to showcase a play call Two Men to investors. The play is a musical with a story that has something to do with the meeting of Mel Torme and Charles Manson but I could really follow the plot because the songs are more of the point of the sketch than the actual story.  
  12. Mr. Bill then moves into a trailer park as he waits for the insurance money to come in from the burning down of his last abode. Mr. Hand then tries to jump start the transition into the new permanent home by starting the building process and beating up Bill as he goes.
  13. Los Beatalos Cubanos is a TV ad for an album of a Cuban Beatles cover band.
  14. Andy Kaufman then gets a few moments of air time to discuss how hate filled his mail has been since his last visit where he wrestled a woman. He then makes a call to the audience to submit their names for to win the opportunity to fight him when he comes back for his Christmas appearance this time, not only are the $500 dollars up for grabs but Kaufman claims he will shave his head and retire from wrestling if he loses.
  15. The Roches then return to the stage to perform Hallelujah.
  16. Finally, Bea Arthur closes the show by thanking the crowd and saying her goodnights.

So, as you can see this was a perfectly fine episode, there just weren't any big laughs but here are the moments I found to be pretty entertaining. First, I liked the all adult Thanksgiving kid's table sketch because I was literally in that situation this Christmas where I spent most of the night in a separate room with my adult sisters and cousins. Next, even though it's very inappropriate, I was entertained by Al Franken killing cockroaches on live TV. Finally, I was a fan of Los Beatalos Cubanos was an entertaining spot because I genuinely liked the accented covers of Beatle's songs. 

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.