A Night With Al Bundy, My TV Dad
To this day, I still consider National Lampoon's Vacation to be my favorite movie of all time. What does this have to do with Ed O'Neill or this episode, you ask? Well, I love Vacation because it's always reminded me of my dysfunctional family before the divorce where the general goal was always to have family fun only to end up a comedy of errors.
To me, the Bundy family from Married With Children was pretty much the Griswolds with a bit more of an edge, not quite the edge of my post-divorce family but it was the closest thing I had to relatable TV.
I used to fantasy that my family was more like the trashy Chicago clan because, excluding the outsiders who actually introduced the chaos, the blood-related in our bunch had a super strong bond as long as there was a common enemy then would turn on each other when times were calm in a way that reminded me of Bundy love.
This is why I was excited going into tonight's viewing with a few slight concerns that if any season could underutilize a host with the potential to do something good kind of like how earlier this season when they dropped the ball with Rick Moranis as host. Then again, this is the exact midpoint of the season and if this year is anything like Season 14, like I hope it is, this is the point of the year where I expect the show to get good.
Unfortunately, this start to the second half of the season didn't blow me away like it did last year but I definitely did see some improvements. Though I do feel like a big part of the improvement had to do with my excitement to see Al Bundy as the host but as I pointed out above a good host doesn't always equal a good show. In this case, it happened to be true because the Bundy-isms that are just part of Ed O'Neill can't help but come through adding an extra layer to my entertainment.
That said, I still saw a slight overall improvement and can't wait to see how the rest of the season plays out. Until then, it's time to move on from my thoughts and share what I saw, as I give you...
The Wicker Breakdown:
This week's show started with a sketch about Noriega's Plan where we see the former ruler of Panama talking to Bush in prison visiting rule. It turns out that the two go way back and not a lot about one another's families. Bush is there to apologize knowing that there is a lot of dirt to be shared when this case goes to trial and doesn't want Noriega to spill the beans which leads the former dictator to share a new corrupt plan that Bush cannot resist. We then went to a tiny submarine with Bush and Noriega taking out one of their common enemies before Bush's announcement of, "Live from New York..."
Ed O'Neill then officially opened the show with a monolog about how he is not a contest winner but the star of Married With Children that aired on FOX at the time which was a new station and not nationally available. He then goes on to explain how both his show and SNL have more in common than one might expect because they both have been involved in a lot of controversy over content at the time only the rest of the cast disagrees and wants to distance themselves from such a crude source of comedy. Maury also made a cameo appearance to ask Ed to try and distance his connection to FOX as well, which is funny because I always remember Married With Children being seen as such a controversial show but my family watched it like it was The Brady Bunch when compared to real life.
BiziLady was a fake ad for a tiny razor for women on the move to always be ready to shave.
We then went to a corner store for a sketch called I Got What You Need, where Ed O'Neill and Kevin Nealon play two Italian store workers who answer all of the customer's questions with, "I got what you need right here," while hinting that they are talking about their crotch. This leads to a few confused faces until it is revealed that what they're actually the perfect item that is sitting on the shelf just out of sight.
Wayne's World then returned for another installment where the two basement dwelling public access talk show hosts interviewed Ed O'Neill as the Driver's Ed teacher from their high school who is obsessed with driver's safety while the make goofball hosts make wordplay jokes that go over the teacher's head. The sketch ended with an impromptu PSA about drinking and driving making it two weeks in a row that SNL has treated this cause as a joke. I get it though, at the time driving while intoxicated wasn't even a crime and was just starting to be publicly discouraged, so I can see how this change in morality can lead to a few jokes until the masses finally catch on and agree.
Harry Connick Jr. then took to the stage to perform It Had To Be You.
Once again, Dennis Miller gave us the news. This week, Al Franken dropped in to discuss the subtleties of language and how it is used differently amongst subcultures but only ended up focusing on stand-up comedians who have various death-themed phrases for when they bomb. Dana Carvey's Grumpy Old Man character also got a segment where he explained why radio was way better than TV mainly because "That was the way things were and they LIKED IT."
The Nagging Husband was a sketch where Ed O'Neill gets home super late from work to find his wife waiting up in a bathrobe and doing a crossword. She's too focused on the puzzle to create any form of fuss even when her husband begins to nag. After a few seconds, it becomes clear why she doesn't seem to care because she is not the brunt of his anger and all of Ed's nagging is directed at himself as he beats himself up over the horrible day he just experienced. Though it was a funny twist, it was also sad to see this mess of a man with good intent be so hard on himself without even a hint of acknowledgment to either comfort or correct his mood.
Dennis Woo's Real Estate Fortunes The Easy Way was a parody of a real infomercial from the time where this rich Asian guy claimed to have a book that shared the secrets to becoming as rich as him but was mainly a way for him show off the luxurious items and many women he was able to afford.
Ceausescu's Wake took place in a Romanian Funeral home where the citizens that he used to rule struggle to come up with compliments about the late communist leader. To make things more interesting, everyone in the room spits whenever they say his name.
Harry Connick Jr. then returned to the stage to perform It's Alright With Me.
Lothar Of The Hill People also returned for another installment where the medieval men's counselor of sorts continues to discuss woman issues with the various member of his clan.
Lorne Michaels then got a segment called SNL In The 90's where he explained the upcoming changes to the show now that we're entering a new/futuristic decade with many amazing advanced technologies, some may be do-able soon but for the most part, these are unachievable dreams.
Finally, Ed O'Neill closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.
I wouldn't say this episode was my favorite of the season but it was super fun to see my childhood TV dad host my favorite show with these three favorite moments from the night. First, I loved the I Got What You Need sketch because when done right, I love comedy that sets up an expectation only to have an extremely different payoff as the result. Next, I really liked this week's Wayne's World because even though Ed O'Neill played a different character than he played in the Wayne's World movie, I still found this to be a funny visit. Finally, I was a fan of the Dennis Woo's Real Estate Fortunes The Easy Way sketch because the infomercial being parodied used to crack me up as a kid.