SNL: S06E12... HOST: BILL MURRAY... DATE: MARCH 7, 1981

or...

Season Five Structure For

This Homecoming Show

Though I am a big fan of the idea of the homecoming host, I have a few mixed feelings about this instance. Due to the fact that I went into the viewing already aware that it would be Gilbert, Rocket, Ann and the entire cast of featured player's last week, Murray's alumni ribbing felt kind of like a dick move when I would've liked to have seen at least some kind of proper send-off.

This episode also felt different than any other episode from the season. It feels as if Murray may have used his experience to adjust the format to where it would run more like season five. For one, there were fewer sketches that ran longer which I feel didn't work for the original cast, and it really didn't work now.

Where every other sketch from this season was so short that we got in and out so quickly, we were never around long enough to get bored. This in and out approach is what led me to love this cast and made this season see slightly above average when I could see it being much worse if they decided to stick to this sketch structure throughout the entire run.

It not only felt like the sketches were longer, I saw many of the same issues from season four when they first switched to the longer sketch format where some of the reference material was too dramatic and they seemed to copy the tone of the original scene rather than make it silly and fun. 

I also really hated their attempt at an end of the season switch from Weekend Update to some lame segment that was split up throughout the show called Saturday Night Live NewsLine. Where I might not mind this attempt to switch something like this over the season break but to switch things up so dramatically at the end of an already shortened season, would have left me worrying about the history of my favorite show because I actually like this cast and feel it's the producers issues that gave this season the reputation as the one where everything went wrong. 

So, even though I liked seeing Bill Murray as host to try to help the new guys, I don't think that he accomplished his goal and may have even made them look worse, as this is my least favorite episode of the year. That said, a bulk of the disappointment comes from the behind the scenes politics because the sketches on their own were just okay to fine.

Now that I'm done with my griping, it's time to move on to share what I saw, so with this, I give you...

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week the show starts in Bill Murray's dressing room as the entire cast enters to ask for advice on how to deal with being compared to the original cast and Bill tried to remind them that it just doesn't matter as go goes through and give backhanded compliments to everyone before claiming to save the original cast so he will do the same for this crew. He gets them all to chant, "It just doesn't matter," before getting so nervous that he starts to feel sick, but then they manage to get him chanting again and excited to host the show, which triggers him to announce, "Live from New York..."
  2. Bill Murray then officially opens the show by coming out and running around like a crazy person, almost dropping some lady on her head. Eventually, he is joined by Murphy who reminds him that he's got to stop messing around and do the monolog. Murray then tells Murphy that the problem with this cast is that they lost the wild side and goes on to try to get him to lighten up.
  3. Formula for the Good Life is an educational short that promote a company called United Chemical and we see an interview with Piscopo's, "I'm from Jersey," character whose job is to clean up their toxic waste and does so without any protection. We then follow him to the mall where he sings, "If You Love Jersey Like I Love I Love Jersey..."
  4. Bill Murray then plays a writer who talks as the types away on his latest mystery. The people behind him act out the story having to shift gears and adjust every time Murray makes an edit to the story. They seem annoyed to be under this control but commit when they have to. They also have to go at double speed as he does a quick reading to see if the page needs a rewrite and get pissed when he decides to start over from scratch. 
  5. This is followed by a parody of the movie Altered States called Altered Walter only in this story it's Walter Cronkite who is experimenting with sensory deprivation and it's the scene where he realizes he needs to add drugs to his routine to really dig into this experiment. We then go down to South America where Walter goes on an Ayahuasca trip where he ends up visually pretty much a modern day YouTube Psychedelic Compilation filled with all kinds of crazy Photoshopped images highlighting pop culture from the day. He then returns to the isolation tank with the drugs and he experiences astral body projections.
  6. Delbert McClinton and Bonnie Bramlett then hit the stage to perform Givin' It Up For Your Love.
  7. Saturday Night NewsLine is a science news break hosted by someone that I've never seen this season and I'm going to have to look him up to see who he is.
  8. We then go to a fake ad for Chapstick where Denny and Gail meet a bunch of celebrities that are really promoting the brand.
  9. Saturday Night NewsLine returns with Billy Murray doing the arts. It feels like it's trying to be Weekend Update but this next to last episode of the season MAJOR CHANGE is too jarring to really except with it is and like it but that said, it's Bill's Oscar picks so that helps. He then goes on to give SNL awards to the former cast mates who've all gone on to star in movies except for Garrett who just gets an honorary reward.
  10. Cut Flowers is a short film where we see a bunch of guys working in a flower shop that has way more employees than guests. Bill's brother Brian comes into buy something special and wants it to be something exotic. Bill finds an exotic five dollar flower and Brian eats it there on the spot and leaves as if this were common which triggers Murray to give it a try.
  11. Bill Murray then returns as his lounge singer character, and it's still the same exact fun but repetitive sketch.
  12. Saturday Night NewsLine returns for yet another segment. This time Rocket gives us more of what you'd expect from Weekend Update but I'm still not a fan of the format, name change or the fact that they got rid of Gail. This week Piscopo gives us the sports.
  13. Gail then comes out as a character that must have been in the news at the time who was let go after her boss made an announcement that they were not having sex which turned into a weird controversy. She's there to announce her new job and all of her co-worker claim to understand it was wrong that it happened while also making the announcement that there is no sex involved in their working relationship, going directly against the point.
  14. We then get to an apartment building where Murray and Ann are in a rush to meet up with their friend but they seem extra concerned that they can't remember his cat's name. We then see why because the owner seems like the type that would be offended if they had managed to forget so they have to go behind his back to figure it out which puts too much pressure on Murray.
  15. Delbert McClinton and Bonnie Bramlett then return to the stage to perform Shotgun Rider.
  16. Bubba's Wash, Fayetta's Dry is a sketch where Murray owns the washing machine side of a laundromat and Denny owns the dries due to the rulings of their divorce and the two do nothing but bicker.
  17. Finally, Bill Murray closes the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

As I mentioned above, I found the fact that there were fewer but longer sketches to be annoying but it didn't help that there were three news segments and two music spot that barely gave me anything to choose from. That said, here are the favorite moments that I was eventually able to come up with.

First, I love the sketch where Murray and Ann are freaked out from not being able to remember the name of their friend's cat because of just how extreme Bill Murray went to figure it out to the point where he had a pretty funny panic attack that was the perfect end to the bit. Next, I really liked Formula For A Good Life, because the, "I'm from Jersey," is growing on me as a go-to favorite character in an otherwise bad episode. Finally, I was a fan of Bill Murray the mystery writer because as a "writer" myself, I could relate to how they came up with the concept. 

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.