SNL: S07E17... HOST: JOHNNY CASH... DATE: APRIL 17, 1982

or...

A Rollercoaster Of Doubt

With A Satisfying Pay Out!!!

I'm willing to bet that if I were born in modern times I would have been diagnosed with some form of autism. I don't mean this in the way that someone who rationally prefers a clean room claims to have OCD or when someone has a brain fart and claims to be retarded. No, I was an extremely shy kid who was off to the side in every family photo and was extremely sensitive to noise and am all of the above still affect me to this very day only I wear a better disguise.

My dad used to take us to a campsite/trailer park where we would go fishing with his boss who, I think, lived there. This site had a little bait shop where country bands would play generated a lot of noise. To this day, I believe that these bands are why I have such a hatred of the genre because my parents would send me in to the store to buy sodas on my own.

This was terrifying to me because the music got louder and louder as I approached, while these hillbillies would hoot and holler. The combination of my fear and their joy only amplified the anxiety inside me to the point where I'm kind of reliving this experience as I write and keep in mind, this happened way back around the time this episode originally aired.   

I mention this because even though I grew to really like Johnny Cash but I'm by no means a lifelong fan. Hell, if it wasn't for Social Distortion's cover of Ring Of Fire, I'd probably barely know who he was, but as I got older and started to like loud music but only loud music that I like, I had the best of box set that was a staple for any punk rock crossover fan.

So, I do like Johnny Cash but would be a poser if I even tried to attempt to claim that my fanaticism was close to being die hard. That said, I was very excited to see his name in the queue at the start of the season when I looked at the lineup, especially after seeing that his musical guest was Elton John, who is another performer that I didn't appreciate until later in life so I was looking forward to seeing this episode with fresh eye.

Then about half way through this season of so-so hosts, there was another episode I was really excited about. At seven episodes in I thought for sure this new cast would have found their leg to be able to do something amazing with their Tim Curry/Meatloaf comb but unfortunately, that episode was a bomb that left me unsure about the rest of the year.

Fortunately, the writers and cast started to get their act together around episode 15 which again, got me feeling hopeful about this viewing because I really don't want to dump on the show but I still had my doubt because of how inconsistent this season has been.

So I spent seventeen days specifically waiting for this episode because Johnny Cash was one of the few hosts that I knew without having to look him up, and I'm so happy this show was the best of the bunch. In fact, I genuinely think that this may be the only episode so far that I liked every single segment going all the way back to season one.

The other weird thing is, this was the first episode from the season where I knew who the band was and they weren't my favorite segment. That's not to say the Elton John's performances were flawed, I just personally wasn't aware of either of the songs so the points lost were from not tapping into a nostalgic experience the way some of his other tunes may have.

Sorry for rambling on so much about my personal life, but that's just how I do. Now it's time to get my episode specific by moving on to share what I saw as I give you... 

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's episode starts with Johnny Cashing performing The Train Of Life complete with comedic interludes and mini vignettes that parody his upbringing.
  2. Once again we're back to the huddle with no monolog approach to starting the show as Johnny Cash poses with the cast before transitioning into the first official sketch.
  3. The Honeyrooneys is a parody of the Honeymooners only "Andy Rooney" plays the part of Ralph Kramden and Eddie Murphy as Ed Norton. Ralph Rooney isn't all that grumpy but loves to share his observations.
  4. Elton John then takes the stage to perform Empty Garden.
  5. We then go to death row where Eddie Murphy is being given his last rights when the guard interrupts to get the show on the road. Eddie then pretends to lose his contact lens to try and stall but it doesn't work. His final attempt to stall is to request a personal show from Johnny Cash and is stunned to find that he is readily available and willing to perform. The song he requests is the uncut version of 99 Bottles Of Beer On The Wall which Cash explains was actually 999,999 Bottles Of Beer On The Wall that takes him forever to perform keeping Eddie alive for a few more days but they still end up executing him.
  6. Once again, Brian Doyle-Murray and Christine Ebersole give us the news with Mary Gross "Out on assignment." This week Mary Gross checks in from Russian as she tries to hunt down the Red Scare, Sweetchuck plays his scientist character who gets a segment on different types of amputation and we got an update from Eddie Murphy on the backlash caused by the Larry The Lobster stunt. Eddie reads a letter that gets a little racist say that the person didn't know "You People" ate seafood so to prove that they do, he eats a lobster on air claiming that it's Larry. 
  7. Johnny Cash then takes to the music stage to perform I Walk The Line, Folsom Prison Blues, and Ring Of Fire back to back to back.
  8. Once again we see through Ronald Reagan's point of view as he works through his Trump-like decisions as he delusionally works through a conflict between Margaret Thatcher and the President of Argentina.
  9. Tonight's home movie is called Jay Clay Gets Depressed and is a claymation short about the Fracas troll is depressed and tries to hang himself only the fact that he is made out of clay makes his head get ripped off by the noose and ends up sticking to his butt which causes him to get a new outlook on life.
  10. We then get a fake ad for Tegrim Shampoo the dandruff shampoo that works so well you can shake your hair over Johnny Cash, without worrying about peppering his all black outfit with your dead skin. 
  11. Elton John then returns to the stage to perform Ball And Chain.
  12. We then go to a modern commuter train where Johnny Cash talks to Brain Doyle-Murry about his love of trains as The Train Poet, while Doyle-Murray just wants to read his paper.
  13. Black Talk is a quick talk show segment hosted by Eddie Murphy who gossips with his friend who looks like Young MC, but doesn't allow him to get a word in because he's talking at him, not with him.
  14. Johnny Cash then returns to the music stage to perform Sunday Morning Coming Down.
  15. Finally, Johnny Cash closes the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

This is the first time that I actually liked that there were only a few sketches to choose from because I genuinely liked them all and could justify having any as a favorite but here's what I managed to come up with. First, I loved Eddie Murphy on death row and is allowed his final request to have Johnny Cash sing 999,999 Bottles Of Beer On The Wall because not only was it a funny concept but I loved how even in the world of the sketch, Cash played along to help a prisoner out. Next, I also loved the opening sketch because not only was it a fun rendition of The Train Of Life but it was also funny to see Sweetchuck play out bits of Johnny Cash's life. Finally, I was a fan of The Honeyrooneys because I used to love jokes about Andy Rooney as well as his real segments of 60 Minutes. 

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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.