Back To Shorter Sketches =
Back To An Above Average Show
Sorry to keep pleading the case for shorter sketches but here is a perfect example of how format alone can make for a better episode. Just like with a majority of the host from this season, the name James Coburn was only a slightly familiar name, and if it wasn't for The Muppet Movie, his face would barely ring a bell. Unlike other hosts of this caliber, we got in and out of each sketch before I even had the chance to get bored, which is the best that I can ask from this season.
Alright, not getting bored isn't the only thing I liked from this episode, I was also a fan of James Coburn's energy and how he genuinely seemed to be up for a night of fun and not in a forced rah-rah-rah kind of way. Even in his fictional interaction with the cast it just felt like they all got along and not just two forces thrown together.
I also like how this cast deals with controversial topics. Where I was concerned that there might be a lot of "it was a different time," bigotry based on the cast's introduction at the end of season six where it felt like a lot of the people being discriminated against got hit with a lot of shrapnel while the sketches point out how said discrimination is wrong.
No, this cast is more like the cast from season six in that those discriminated against hold the power, or they don't treat them different at all. Take for example the sketch where Mary Gross thinks that James Coburn is gay. Not a single person in the sketch has a problem with it except for Christine, but that's just because she finds him attractive, which is the only reason they bring up that he might be gay in the first place.
There's nothing all that offensive about the signs that she claims to seem. It felt more like exploring differences than making fun of the fact that he might be gay. In fact, he doesn't get offended by this misconception, no, he leaves with Eddie Murphy who plays a not so exaggerated flamboyant gay while Mary Gross leaves with Christine but they play it as normal rather than playing it for shock value.
I don't know. I may be way off when compared to modern interpretations that seem to lean toward finding any difference being mentioned as obscene and offensive no matter what the context. Keep in mind, this is coming from someone who’s lived through both extremes in a time period where we all seem to be trying to figure it out, but none of us seem to agree.
Oh well, only time will tell, and until then it's time that I tell you what I saw as I give you...
The Wicker Breakdown:
It looks like they are back to consistently starting the show with an opening sketch. This week's show starts with the celebration of Ronald Reagan's 71rst birthday as "Frank Sinatra" sings a medley of Reagan-themed Sinatra tunes.
James Coburn is one of the rare guests from the season to get a monolog where he and Eddie Murphy discuss the post-show party. Eddie asks James to order his drinks being that he was only 20 at the time. Coburn then advises Eddie on how to order with confidence to avoid the need for a fake ID.
Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood also returns for another installment, this time Mr. Robinson talks to Mr. Landlord about getting his heat turned on, and we learn the meaning of the words Mutha and Pyromaniac and his "Mean Mutha" friend sets fire to the landlord's apartment allowing Mr. Robinson to warm up.
We then get a fake ad from Jerry Falwell's Jesus In Blue Jeans which is a religious-themed rock album minus any edge that I think actually exists now without being a joke.
Lindsay Buckingham then hits the stage to perform Bwana.
Christine and Mary are at a bar waiting for James Coburn when Christine admits to having a crush on him. Mary warns Christine not to waste her time because James is a homosexual then goes on to point out all of the signs. Her signs are so off that it doesn't come across as homophobic which isn't really what I would expect from that time. The sketch ends with Eddie and James leaving together and a hint that Mary and Christine are also hooking up but again, not in an offensive or homophobic way. Good on you 1982!!!
Once again, Brian Doyle-Murray gives us the news. This week, Eddie Murphy ask the question why there aren't any black people on TV anymore. They tossed Mary Gross another bone and allow her to review a book about what happens after you die only to be distracted by Brian who finally realizes how attracted he is to her when she's not wearing her glasses which leads to the two making out as he offers to reinstate her as the co-host of the news. (Clip 2)
We then see through Reagan's eyes as we go to the White House to see how he winds down the evening after his birthday celebration from the opening sketch. James Coburn, as himself, drops b because Reagan wants him to help with the Polish invasion because the characters he's played makes him seem like a perfect fit.
Lindsay Buckingham then returns to the stage to perform Trouble.
Unique Perspectives is a talk show where we meet a couple of survivalists who pretty much share the same fears of WWIII that survivalists have today, only they're just into building their fallout shelter as a way to get chicks if the day ever comes.
Those Crazy Taboosters is s Leave It To Beaver type school with a family of unibrow having Chucky from Child's Play looking redheads. The neighbors drop by to ask why the daughter won't go out with their adopted black child. They think it has to do with the color of his skin, but then we meet the redhead dad who looks just like the mom. We then not only find out that they too are twins, but that the daughter is far from being a racist and that the reason for the lack of interest is that she's in love with her father, and the boy's in love with the mother which instantly leads to their discrimination. It's weird, but though creepy, this incestual relationship between this group of freaks seems kind of loving and fun because it's too extreme and cartoony to feel like it is grounded in reality.
For some reason, they keep giving Christine Ebersole a singing segment at the end of the show. Tonight she sings Don't Let It Show, over images from throughout the season. It may not be nepotism because the producer's last name is missing an "e," but there definitely feels like there is some sort of favoritism going on because at least with Garrett Morris, they attempted to make his singing segments how some type of humor involved.
Finally, James Coburn closes the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.
As always, it's so much easier to find favorite moments when you have more to choose from and here's what I managed to come up with. First, I loved Those Crazy Taboosters because the way that they handle such a taboo subject in such a cartoony way allowed me to set aside the reality of the family's relationship and appreciate the statement on discrimination that they are making. Next, I really liked this week's installment of Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood, but I have to admit that it's mainly because this is a default favorite segment. Finally, I was a fan of the routine by Marc Weiner because you just don't see this type of strange stand-up anymore.