SNL: S06E13... HOST: NO HOST SEASON FINALE... DATE: APRIL 11, 1981

or...

A Sad End To A Shortened Season

What a weird episode this turned out to be. First off, I don't know why they decided to bail out on the bulk of the cast with so few episode left to complete the season. Sure, I get how the transition was critically rough but I feel this was more due to hard-headed fans and less to do with the cast and this midseason switch out felt more like an alpha male producer move than trying to fix the issues with the show.

Since the next batch of Not Ready For Prime Time Players is the cast in charge when I started watching SNL weekly on the night each episode originally aired, I have confidence that they will quickly win me over to be on their side but this sample of their work makes me nervous because their humor actually seems dumbed down.

I know that this past group of Players may have earned extra points from me due to how shitty they were treated by the show's history but I also genuinely liked this group and was surprised by how many of them they dropped and how they pulled it off. If anything, this sixth season didn't get bad until the new producer got involved.

I go as far as to say that even the slumpiest of the second-half slump shows from this season were better than both of the homecoming show that attempted to crowbar season 4 structure on a season that was doing perfectly well on its own.

This sampling of the season cast leads me to believe that the show is actually about to devolve. Not only do I fear that this new, new cast will stick to this long sketch format but their comedy already seems more dumbed down.

Where I felt the original cast was often clumsy when making their statements on social issues to where the victims, of the discrimination being satired, got hit with a lot of shrapnel, I felt the cast of season six was able to pull off similar style sketches where the discriminated against felt like they were given power and not just a pawn in a slightly different game. Meanwhile, this new, new cast is already back to the same fun and games. 

Alright, now that I've got that out of my system, it's time to explain how this episode was weird. First, there was no real host. Though Chevy was in the opening sketch, there was no real opening monolog. What there was, however, was Piscopo as Sinatra bashing the hell out of the Japanese people because more Americans were buying Japanese cars.

This Japanese bashing went as far as to call for violence which may explain why it was cut from reairing by the time the replays were picked up by Comedy Central which I also find weird because this sketch is readily available on both Seeso and NBC.com.

That's not to say that I'm calling it to be pulled because hiding something like this doesn't mean that it never happened. In fact, this type of correctional censorship can actually make things seem worse as I'm about to bring up in my next example.

There was one other sketch from this episode that I can't find anywhere, not even on the internet. According to the sketch list that I reference to compare my notes against there should be a short called Bag Lady that according to the notes I've found is a video where the voiceover artist criticizes the actions of a bag lady and that the producers had to "sucker" a writer into accepting the screen credit. This mystery leaves me feeling that this sketch may not be half as bad as I'm picturing in my head due to the feeling that there's some kind of cover-up going on.

I could probably go on and on about this episode but for a show that I have negative feelings about, it's already taken up too much of my time. So with that, it's time to move on to finally share what I saw as I give you...

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show starts Chevy Chase wondering through the show's storage as he checks out old props from the show. He eventually finds Mr. Bill who in the world of the sketch is real and the two take a moment to reminisce and of course, Chevy accidentally ends up abusing Mr. Bill, while killing spot as he falls to the ground to announce, "Live from New York..."
  2. Instead of a host's monolog, Joe Piscopo comes out as Frank Sinatra with a song and a reminder to buy American cars while new cast member Tony Rusato comes out with an example of how American cars are built real strong before Sinatra goes on to bash the Japanese just for being the competition, in a way that would never fly today.
  3. Eddie Murphy then plays Bill Cosby who is pitching lite beer to kids.
  4. This was followed by a soap opera style sketch called I Married A Monkey where Sweetchuck from Police Academy is a stay at home husband for his monkey wife. We also get to meet their baby monkey which freaks out to the point where I was worried for Sweetchuck's face.
  5. Robin Duke then introduces herself as well as Jr. Walker & The All Stars who hit the stage to perform Road Runner and Shotgun back to back.
  6. Once again we get the news, with both Gail and Rocket gone Chevy Chase fills in as the host. Though it now seems more planned out, his reading of the notes is still a little strange. This week, Eddie Murphy reviews the movie Stir Crazy only he saw Alerted States, Laurie Metcalf does man on the street interviews asking people if they would take a bullet for the president, and Al Franken discusses his views on what's happening with Saturday Night Live specifically declaring that he had nothing to do with this season. Though he mainly blames the producers this season's cast gets hit with a lot of shrapnel. That said, it is a pretty cutting criticism filled with interesting inside scoops. He mentions that he will be hosting next week but his harsh criticism may have led to the early end of the season.
  7. Same is a parody of Fame where Gail sings a parody of the theme song about how the song is the same as Fame.
  8. The Self-Righteous is a sketch were a self-righteous nurse argues with a self-righteous nurse that eventually leads more and self-righteous people into the discussion.
  9. Sweetchuck gets dressed for his wedding day when he is joined by his father who wants to share a story He then goes on to tell the tale about some Italian couple he heard about back in Italy. I think the accent is supposed to be the funny part because I don't find the sketch to be funny at all. This goes on forever and eventually becomes a straight up drama.
  10. We then get a fake ad for The Famous Broadcasters School Of Cue Card Reading.
  11. Chevy Chase is then joined by Robin Williams and Christopher Reeve to once again discuss the plan to improve the show and then goes on to introduce the band. 
  12. Jr. Walker & The All Stars then returns to the stage to perform How Sweet It Is and What Does It Take, also back to back.
  13. We then get an ad for the Wild Country Gun Cards, a flash card set for learning everything about every type of gun. The sketch ends with the family killing Eddie Murphy who was just supposed to be there to read the meter.
  14. Bag Lady is apparently a short film that makes fun of a homeless lady that I can't find anywhere on the internet.
  15. Finally, Chevy kisses a monkey while Sweetchuck says the goodnight and Gail sings Same again.

Sure there have been times in the past where I've found it hard to commit to my top three moments of the night. Often I get done and regret when I can't resist giving a classic sketch more weight leading it to win out over a smaller moment that got me laughing hard. Sometimes, I struggle to find my favorites when it's a mediocre or poor show. Usually, when this is the case, there are sketches that I do like but not enough to commit to any list. 

Tonight, however, I found it pretty easy to find my top three because they were the only sketches of the night that stood out. First, I loved the opening sketch where Chevy meets Mr. Bill. Not only did I find it great that Chevy was interacting with this piece of clay but his walk down memory lane while looking at retire props from the first cast was enough to hit that nostalgia bone that made it a comforting welcome. Next, I really like the introduction of I Married A Monkey. This sketch might have made the number one spot if it was the future installment that I'm more familiar with but this introduction was fine. Finally, I was a fan of The Self-Righteous sketch because it totally reminds me of the current state of social interaction. 

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.