A Slight Slip But Still Slightly Better
Than The Bulk Of Season Seven
Due to the fact that I was entirely on board with Michael Keaton's career from Night Shift all the way up to Multiplicity, I had really high hopes for this episode. That's not to say that I stopped being a fan of the man after '96 his resume just get spotty after that period, as spotty as this episode was when it came to successful sketches while still being a perfectly fine show.
I have no new complaints about this episode. The acting was fine, the writing was solid, and they even had Michael Palin drop by as a guest to add to the level of fun, but for some reason, this viewing felt flat.
I think the first problem was that they didn't involve Michael Keaton enough in the show which has a tendency to make sketches feel like they were pulled from a shelf that is filled with evergreen material for plug and play content no matter who is the host, making the show feel less special.
The other problem was my big enemy, which if you're not playing along at home, I'm referring to the fact that I hate when an episode has fewer but longer bits. It's not just the length of the material because when the sketches run long, they also seem to get more and more convoluted with what appears to be multiple false endings.
Take the Bill Smith Campaign sketch for example. First, there was a long, tedious setup to show this politician at work minus any attempt at humor at. At first, it seemed like it was going to end on this note and I just didn't get the humor because it was from a different time, but then we go backstage to where we got a few decent jokes mainly directed at this politician's handlers and how they are really running the show. Then out of the blue, this Bill Smith character gets introduced to Eddie Murphy and his buddy who had some R&B routine which eventually leads to another false end but nope. Instead, we go back to the campaign room to see R&B performance before the politician makes his acceptance speech and again it seems like this is the point where it should end only we then go back to the backstage area to see that this politician's wife is cheating on him.
So not only was this sketch convoluted and boring, it felt like it took up a quarter of the show when they could have split it into at least three different bits. Alright, I'm going to drop this here because I don't really like dumping on the show.
So with that, it's time to move on to share what I saw as I give you...
The Wicker Breakdown:
This week's show starts out in the makeup room where Michael Keaton is practicing his monolog. Eddie Murphy then enters the room and Keaton asks him for advice. Eddie says he'll do perfectly fine as long as he remembers the lines because the audience doesn't like when the host read off of the cue cards. This is when the director enters the room to inform everyone that the cue card guy was sent to the hospital and took the cue cards with him. This gets Keaton to really freak out, and the fact that everyone else is calm doesn't help especially when the Gary Kroeger enters the scene and shares that there have been many changes to the script which sends Keaton out of the room in a panic leaving Eddie alone to announce, "Live from New York..."
Michael Keaton then officially opens the show with a monolog where he admits that he would rather be out trick-or-treating and then goes into a bit of a stand-up routine and makes for a pretty decent comedian.
The Interesting Four then return for another segment where they drop by Mary Gross's house on Halloween. At first, she thinks that they are just trick-or-treaters that leads to a repeat of their entire introduction, which alone is about the length of an average sketch. We then go back to the scene where we learn that The Interesting Four have dropped by because of reports that someone has been handing out coffee to the children as Halloween treats after we've just seen that she is the guilty party. Mary tries her hardest to deny that it's her but in true villain form she has to openly admit her plan only The Interesting Four are too inept to believe her and she easily gets away. Seiko uses his powers to go back in time three seconds which only puts them all in an endless loop, well, at least for a little while.
A Sense Of Fear is a show hosted by Michael Palin who is playing a Vincent Price-type character who introduces a scary story. He then goes on to tell a story that turns out to be a narration of what is happening within the room while he seems unaware until he gets in too deep.
Thank You, Ron Reagan is a fake commercial that shows trickle-down economics in perspective by highlighting the extreme difference between the upper and lower class.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus then brings Sweetchuck home after what seems to be the first date. At first, it's awkward as he tries to figure out a way to stay over only to get ten times more awkward when she introduces him to her Teddy Bear and expects him to carry on a conversation with her comforting toy but he's so desperate for sex that he reluctantly plays along.
Joe Jackson then takes to the stage to perform Steppin' Out.
Once again, Brad Hall gives us the news. This week they cover a lot of the midterm elections when up until his point they seemed to only focus on elections during the presidential race. Mary Gross also delivers smile filled, fear mongering, report on the election where she recommends that we cut everything because she finds the entire system to be worthless. Eddie Murphy returns as his movie review character to talk about the rumors that Liberace was gay while trying to share obvious evidence that he is while vehemently claiming that he isn't.
We then go to "Bill Smith's" political campaign where he thanks the attendees humbly before we go behind the scenes to show how he acts in real life where he's actually a doubt filled politician who is being controlled by his handlers. We then go back to the stage where The Love Brothers perform Moving On Up as this episode seems to be falling into the convoluted long winded sketch trap that at best leads to mediocre results as we go back to the room once again to see that "Bill Smith's" wife is having an affair.
Topol The Idiot is a sketch/story told/performed by Michael Palin and the cast with the premise that the story was originally written in another language leading to interesting misinterpretations of slang.
Joe Jackson then returns to the stage to perform Another World.
We then get a repeat of the Halloween-themed short film where they carve into a pumpkin that is filled with blood and guts that ends up looking like a traditional Jack-O-Lantern.
Finally, Michael Keaton closes the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.
Even though this was a so-so show "for this season," I was still easily able to find these to be my favorite moments. First, I loved Topol The Idiot, though, I no longer find humor in accents alone, I am still highly entertained by people from other countries mistranslating slang to then use in inappropriate ways. Next, I really liked this week's installment of The Interesting Four not only because I'm a fan of this collection of "Superheroes," but I also like their time loop joke. Finally, I'm was a fan of Thank You, Ronal Reagan because once again it highlights just how little we've changed as a country especially when it comes to economic inequality, well, except for the fact that it's actually getting worse.