Let The Reagan Years Begin
If it wasn't for the fact that Karen Black hosted an episode in the second season, I'd have the same issue that I've had with a bulk of the host from this season, in that, I'm not really familiar with her career. This leads to shows that don't end up getting any bonus points for simply triggering a nostalgic response due to the comfort that comes with familiarity.
That said, the fact that I was familiar with Mrs. Black from just watching her in season two, caused me to instantly root for her when I saw she was next in the queue. Where I felt Karen's first appearance was overshadowed by the fact that it was Chevy's last shoe, this episode was wholly hers, and she did a perfectly fine job as a host.
This issue with the hosts from this season's careers not building to the point where they are now modern-day famous may be why this cast of Not Ready For Prime Time Players never got their redemption. Where I understand the audience of the time not accepting them because they were replacing the beloved initial cast, I feel more modern fans would change their view if only bigger names were hosting from the comedy world to lure fans in to revisit the season and see it not as bad as it sounds.
So, now that I've introduced the above idea, it's now time to move on and share what I saw as I give you...
The Wicker Breakdown:
The show starts on Ronald Reagan's Inauguration Day with the Carter family snatching up as much as they can as they pack up to move out of the White House. Carter gets a call on the emergency phone and rather than answer, he steals the phone as well. The Reagan's arrive and tell the Carters to leave, but they stand their ground as they announce, "Live from New York..."
This was followed by a fake TV ad for a new album entitled The Legendary Composers which credits classical composers for modern pop hits from the time.
Next, we get another fake ad from the Foundation For The Tragically Hip that seeks help for the hip kids in need of trending fashion and technology.
We then meet the wife of a game show host who is a little too excited by her lot in life and acts like an excited contestant toward every aspect of life, which is a bit shocking to the new neighbors who drop by for an introductory dinner.
Then we go to Frank Sinatra's dressing room where he gets a visit from Reagan. Sinatra is pissed that Reagan stole his spotlight at the inauguration while also pointing out his hatred of George Bush as Vice President. He then goes on to use a mafia tone to talk Ronald into switching to Nancy as VP/First Lady. Ronald rushes out the door, and it is revealed the Nancy Reagan is the real puppet master.
The Rocket Report then returns for another week with a segment about New York Dare Devils, mainly focusing on a real-life cab driver who attempts to turn left during busy traffic and runs the light in the process.
We then go to an art museum where Rocket breaks up with Mona Lisa, who is portrayed by Karen Black as the talking painting. Though she is sad, she takes it rather well, and Rocket asks for one last smile for the road.
Cheap Trick then hit the stage to perform Baby Loves To Rock.
Once again, Racket and Gail give us the news in another week where both he and the overall segment continues to show improvement as I become a growing fan of Gail. Of all the anchors so far she's the only one to read with a conversational tone to where even though you can blatantly see her reading the stories it doesn't come across as reading in her voice the way it does with everyone else. This week, Ann stops by with diet tips starting by pointing out you are a moron if you believe in the idea of using a smaller plate to make it look like you have more food and instead suggests spreading the food all over the table to make it look like you're eating a ton. We also get a filmed report about Sunbelt fun while showing footage of a very restrictive Cuba and once again Piscopo drops in to give us the sports. (Clip 2)
We then go to a parody of 60 Minutes for a segment called No Babes In Newsland where they do an expose about how there are no women on the show only to get the usual sexist answers, like period excuses and the old cliche that women should be seen and not heard.
We then go to a hospital room where Yvonne plays a nurse who tends to a patient as we hear his thought and see his point of view. Eddie then joins the scene and tries to hook up with Yvonne thinking the patient won't even notice because he's in a vegetative state but we know he's not because we can hear his thought. He then gets a visit from his family who just wants him to die so they can collect their inheritance but an old fling arrives to set everything straight and sing him a song and wishes he chose her over his unloving wife before she too moves along, leaving him alone with the song in his head.
The Fair Dinkum Championship Finals is a sketch where Scots in kilts compete in some kind of groin grabbing competition?
Yvonne then plays Eddie's neighbor who confronts him about his loud music. The two go on to play the dozens as they try to work through the complaint. Eddie gets cocky and turns the music up as Yvonne runs off to get her man. Eddie goes from being Mr. Tough Guy to Mr. Nice when he finds that the guy is pushing seven feet tall.
We then went to do a diner where Piscopo returns as his, "I'm from Jersey," character who is forced to share a booth with Karen Black because the place is packed, and the two surprisingly hit it off rather well because he is so obnoxious.
Cheap Trick then returns to the stage to perform Can't Stop It But I'm Going To Try.
What's It All About? With Pinky And Leo Waxman returns for another installment and as always they interview the host as herself and are more interested in what they have to say, so they end up cutting her off whenever she attempts to answer their questions.
We also get another installment from the National Handgun Association where a mugger uses Eddie Murphy as the weapon to snatch money from Piscopo and Ann with the reminder, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people."
The Stanley Clark Trio then makes a special appearance as they perform Wild Dog.
Finally, Karen Black closes the show by thanking the audience and saying her goodnights.
Once again, this was another slightly above average episode for the season that I'd consider regular average overall with these three favorite moments. First, I loved the sketch about the game show host wife because it's my type of quirky and the energy of the sketch was enough to make it seem fun. Next, I liked Eddie Murphy's confrontation with his neighbor Yvonne because I used to play the dozens all the time as a kid, but we used to call it "basing." Finally, I was a fan of the hospital sketch because it was another of those surreal and sentimental sketches that I love when they do it right, which I feel they did in this attempt.