Long Live Larry The Lobster!!!
First off, I was shocked to find back to back above average shows without the need of a "for this season," especially since I know very little of Daniel J. Travanti. Other than knowing he was part of Hill Street Blues, which was another bedtime show that to this day causes a Pavlovian response of anger because I hated being sent off to sleep from a very early age, I know nothing of this man.
Next, I had doubts about this episode once I saw that it was a publicity stunt show. Since I wasn't a pre-viewing fan of Daniel J. Travanti, I assumed that all of the energy of the episode would go toward the stunt while the rest of the show would be bland, but that was far from the case.
Not only was I impressed by how well Daniel J. Travanti did as a host but I was extremely impressed with the fact that the viewing audience opted to save Larry The Lobster. Based on Saturday Night Live's history of killing animals on live TV I was fully expecting a kill vote to the point where I planned a PETA based subtitle even though I'm sure that they'd be against this either way.
I'm willing to bet that if this stunt happened in the '70s with the original cast, Larry The Lobster would have never stood a chance. Between Aykroyd who loved throwing animals in a blender, and Al Franken torturing live bugs for laughs, I doubt that they would have even waited for a vote.
In the end, I actually found this to be an interesting experiment. Where I don't really agree with the idea of killing anything just for the sake of humor, if it did end up being a kill vote all we'd see is a meal being cooked in a traditional way. I'm sure that someone would have eaten it, unlike the animals that died only to be demolished as a bit to then be thrown away.
I'm sure real animal activists would even think that I am off on my stance, but I'm just sharing my opinion before I move on to share what I saw. With that, I give you...
The Wicker Breakdown:
This week's episode starts with we start in a restaurant kitchen as the waiter and chef pick put a lobster to cook for a customer. Just as the cook goes to pot the lobster into the boiling water, Eddie Murphy steps in to save him. He then gives a spiel about how it's wrong to cook a lobster alive and then puts the life of "Larry The Lobster" into the hands of a voting home audience using a 1-900 number the way a current show would use Twitter for a live vote.
And, we're back to skipping the huddle as we go straight to Daniel J. Travanti's opening monolog where he talks about his TV role as a cop and then goes on a ride along with a real New York City cop and finds out how mundane the job is compared to the scripted world of TV. They do attend a domestic dispute in progress, but when the fighting couple notices Daniel, they get so excited by his stardom that they stop to ask for an autograph before getting right back into their fight.
We then get introduced to the Whiners who are a couple that whines about everything. In this installment, they are at a crowded restaurant to celebrate their anniversary where they get special treatment from being such squeaky wheels.
Next, we go to a celebrity impersonator agency where Christine comes in claiming to have the best Ethel Merman. The agent then points out that everybody does an Ethel Merman impersonation then has everyone in the room do their Merman impersonation, including Eddie Murphy who is just there to deliver lunch. The agent then breaks the scene and heads into the audience to prove that literally, everyone does a Merman impersonation.
This was followed by a Larry The Lobster update where the vote to Save Larry is 56,893 and the vote to Kill Larry is 65,743.
John "Cougar" Mellencamp then takes the stage to perform Hurts So Good.
Once again, Brian Doyle-Murray and Christine Ebersole give us the news with Mary Gross out in the field. Again, the lack of consistency is getting annoying. This week, Mary Gross interviews the closest that SNL has ever had to an Asian cast member who claims to be Prince Andrew. Tony Rosato gets a segment where he plays the announcer for the Emergency Broadcasting System as he freaks out about the potential end of the world, and once again, Piscopo gives us the sports but is frozen over so can't say a word. The news ends on another update on Larry The Lobster where the vote to Save Larry is 116,207 and the vote to Kill Larry is 123,074. (Clip 2) (Clip 3) (Clip 4)
We then get a parody of Hill Street Blues where Daniel is in bed with his wife talking about their day. We find out that this bed is actually located in Daniel's office and not in an actual room making it impossible to separate his outside life from his work life. Though the concept is funny, anything outside of the bed feels like it could be a real episode of Hill Street Blues which is also fine but it seems to go on forever.
Once again we get a Larry The Lobster update where the vote to Save Larry is 184,316 and the vote to Kill Larry is 171,717. During this update, we also get to learn a little of Larry's life story.
Bavarian Butterfly Dance is a short black and white film showing two guys doing a weird dance with a stool. I don't really get the meaning behind it but I kind of like it.
We then get another update on Larry The Lobster where we get to see the luxurious life for Larry if the audience votes for him to live.
Next, we go to a family's house who are struggling due to the economy. Reagan then steps in to explain the benefits of Trickel Down Economics where the parents spend all that they earn on themselves and that their children will eventually reap the benefits, only when we cut to the family in the future, we find out the kids are dead, but the parents are better off.
John "Cougar" Mellencamp then returns to the stage to perform Ain't Even Done With The Night.
We then get the final update for Larry The Lobster where the audience decided to let Larry live with a vote of 239,096 to 227,452. Which is something I never thought would happen, especially with SNL's history of killing animals on live TV.
Finally, Daniel J. Travanti closes the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.
Here are my favorite moments from a surprisingly fun episode. First, I loved that the voting audience voted to save Larry The Lobster because even though this took place over thirty years ago, it was still fun to see how the voting turned out. Next, I really liked the Everybody Does Merman sketch because not only was it a fun/quirky concept but I also loved how it ended up going meta when the agent broke the fourth wall. Finally, I was a fan of the introduction of the Whiners because this was one of my dad's favorite sketches and he still impersonates them to this very day.