SNL: S15E16... HOST: DEBRA WINGER... DATE: MARCH 24, 1990

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or...

The Host Who Didn't Care

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First off, Debra Winger is one of these actresses whose name alone makes me feel like I should be more familiar with their career than I actually am. That said, I do really like the few films in her resume and consider her to be a pretty good actress based on her reputation along with the evidence I've seen so I went into this viewing open to being entertain.

Unfortunately, it didn't take long for me to become disappointed by the Oscar-nominated actress's ambivalent attitude toward the show. I've said this several time in the past but it bears repeating because it was my biggest issue with this episode. I hate these people who even joke about being disinterested in their role the host.

So far, I think Charles Grodin has been the only host to pull the hostile host character while still being funny even though many more have tried. I'd say that Bruce Dern also came close during his very first appearance but he came across as too big of a jerk to get behind. I'd say the same goes for both Bill Murray and Chevy Chase who seemed too good for the new cast during the first couple visits after leaving the show, so I'd say that Debra Winger is in good company with people who have tried this approach and failed.

Right out the gate, in her opening monolog, she joked about how she became the host by default while doing a half-assed job at reading the cue cards, finishing her routine by saying "Thank God that's over," in a genuine tone that didn't feel like she was trying to be funny. 

Not only did her monolog have this disinterested tone but most of her characters seemed to be hostile about being there as well. Not only that, there were only six sketches to the night, not counting the news, monolog or three performances by Eric Clapton to fill the time. Then, to top it off, she then finished the night by saying, "I'm going to stick with movies," again sounding like she genuinely didn't want to be there.

To add even more to the disappointment, this being such a so-so season the sketches weren't that good in the first place making it extra important for the host to at least fake their enthusiasm to make the viewing not feel like a chore the way this episode ended up feeling to me.

So, now that I've shared my disappointment in this episode, it's now time to move on and share what is contained, as I give you... 

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with a sketch called Reagan And The Census where a census agent dropped by Ronald Reagan's house to ask him the standard census questions.  Just like his final years as president, Reagan claimed to have zero recall to answer even the simplest of questions. After the census agent left in defeat, Reagan found that he somehow managed to lock himself out of the house. In a panic, the former president set off the burglar alarm while trying to get back in. The alarm led to even more panic since the former world leader had no idea what to do and after running around for a bit he turned to the camera to announce, "Live from New York..."
  2. Debra Winger then officially opened the show with a monolog about how she never expected to host the show then went on to explain the formula of how this came to be. It turns out this was the episode that aired the Saturday before the Academy Awards and since she was nominated for an award in the past, had no current projects, was in town and free made her the perfect default choice to host this Oscar's themed episode. Her delivery was terrible and her lack of enthusiasm seemed sincere as she genuinely seemed relieved to be done with the introduction.
  3. Wayne's World then returned for another installment where this week the two basement dwelling cable access hosts talked about the Academy Award by sharing the Oscar picks where they have Batman winning everything even though it was it nominated that year. Their guest of the week was Debra Wingers who plays the school slut who seemed just as uninterested in being their fictional guest as her monolog made her seem uninterested in hosting the show.    
  4. Toonces The Driving Cat also returned for a parody of Urban Cowboy only it's called Urban Toonces. In this version of the story, the car driving cat is the one to bring patrons to the bar by riding the mechanical bull the way Debra Winger did in the real movie. Following the bull ride, Toonces drove everyone home only he's drunk so he ends up driving his passengers off a cliff in the traditional Toonces style.
  5. Eric Clapton then took to the stage to perform No Alibis.
  6. Once again, Dennis Miller gave us the news. This week, Mr. Subliminal dropped in for another segment where he sneaks his own agenda while sharing the news of Donald Trump's love triangle between Ivana Trump and Marla Maples. 
  7. The Adventures Of Calamity Jane was a sketch where Debra Winger played the titular character who had a desire to prove that she's as rough and tough as any of the Wild West Cowboys. Her aggressive vice fueled attitude only worked to land her in the middle of an intervention to correct her masculine tendencies and addiction to the drink. Eventually, after weeks of therapy and relapses, she finally discovered that her determination to compete with the guys stemmed from the fact that she's actually gay.
  8. Eric Clapton then returned to the stage to perform Pretending.
  9. Jon Lovitz's Romantic Scene was a sketch with Jon Lovitz and Debra Winger having a romantic dinner. Phil Hartman plays the waiter who interrupts Lovitz romantic stride. Soon after Hartman leaves the scene Lovitz reveals that he's pissed because he wrote this script to show off his acting chops and that he's more than just a goofy sidekick. This led Debra to encourage Lovitz to keep on going but the second he started to act cast member after cast member dropped by to upstage Lovitz by showing off their own acting skills.  
  10. We then went to the Senate Record Labelling Hearings from back in the day when the decided to require explicit language warnings on albums. They started off the scene with "Ozzy" finishing his testimony before we got introduced to Satan who just put out an album of his own and thinks the stickers are bad due to the First Amendment. Unlike reality, in the world of the sketch, Satan actually wins and the warning labels never got implemented.
  11. Eric Clapton returned to the stage once again to perform Wonderful Tonight.
  12. Finally, Debra Winger closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

Even though this episode did feel like a chore, these three favorite moments from the night made the viewing at least somewhat entertaining. First, I loved Urban Toonces because it was funny to see the car driving cat riding a mechanical bull just like the host did when she starred in Urban Cowboy which was the reference for the sketch. Next, I really liked The Adventures Of Calamity Jane because I found it a fun way to point out the hypocrisy that there are different social expectations for a woman with "masculine" habits than for men who do the same exact thing. Finally, I was a fan of this week's Wayne's World because I always find these two characters to be funny but mainly because I needed a number three.

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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.