An Interesting Start To

A Season With High Potential


There has been a slow exodus of Not Ready For Prime Time Players over the past couple of years to where Tim Meadows and David Spade are the only two left with more than a couple years’ worth of tenure. Norm MacDonald, Mark McKinney, and Molly Shannon make up the rest of the less experienced cast. The remaining nine cast members are all fresh meat who might take a little time to figure out the ropes.

That’s not to say that I was terribly disappointed, but it was clearly a new cast season starter since the performances didn’t feel stilled from vacation rust. Instead, the performances were fun but maybe a little misguided due to some much rookie excitement taking place at the same time. I don’t even know if I should be throwing around terms like stilled or misguided since I might be a little confused from growing used to the last batch of cast for so long.

Thanks to the way the show started to cycle in new cast member a handful at a time, it felt like the period from when John Lovitz and Dennis Miller entered the scene, all the way up to this episode felt like one mega era since there was so much crossover from year to year. Though I wish some of the rookies from last season would have been held onto for at least one more year, I know for a fact that I’ll eventually learn to love this cast with the fun part being, seeing how long it will take them to get there.

Aside from the flaws of new season jitters, I took issue with the episode because I feel like Mariel Hemingway was never a go-to host to kick off a brand new year. I mean, she would have been a perfectly fine guest number five or somewhere near the traditional second-half slump show portion of the year. Even around the time that this episode originally aired, I can’t imagine her as a host that any comedy fan would get all that excited about.

You would think that, especially for an episode that featured so many newcomers, they’d start out with someone with some experience to get the audience excited about the new faces instead of wondering if something went wrong. Looking at the lineup of hosts I see at least three names of people who would have started this season out right.

I feel sorry for putting any weight on Mariel Hemingway for my feelings of disappointment since I’m sure I would have considered this episode to be good but not great, if not at least average even if it was the second in line.

Alright, I think I’ve covered my main complaints so now it’s time to shift gears and move on, as I give you…

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with O.J. Today which was another sketch that provided parody coverage of the O.J. Trial that was still going strong even after the summer break. In the sketch, we got introduced to an entire morning news crew who reported on everything O.J. including O.J. weather, traffic, and sports. Other than that, this sketch pretty much just continued making fun of the fact that the case had become a fiasco. As always, this being the opening sketch, it eventually built to the announcement of, “Live from New York…”

  2. Mariel Hemingway then officially opened the show with a monolog where she introduced a mostly new cast by quickly pointing out all of the men and making out with all of the women to highlight the fact that she’s gay. I’d say that if a guy tried to pull this off that it would be super offensive, but considering the time, this playful form of sexual harassment was apparently fine to joke about. I’m by no means trying to say “but no one seems to mind when…” as I point out this type of behavior whenever there’s a “hot host” on. This just happened to be the first case where an openly gay woman got to join in on the fun.

  3. This was followed by a fake ad for A.M. Ale that promoted early morning malt liquor drinking as the right way to start your day.

  4. Get Off The Shed! was a sketch that had to be an homage to the Steve Martin, “What the hell is that thing?” routine, and the several similar sketches that have played out over the years. In this version, we never actually see the kids, but we do watch their parents get more and more frustrated as they continue to yell, “Get off the shed!”

  5. We then got a parody of Nightline where Darrell Hammond made his debut as Ted Koppel interviewed Tim Meadows as Colin Powell about how the public was pushing him to run for president, while Norm MacDonald as Bob Dole was furious because he had to hard-sell the public on why he should be in control.

  6. Mariel Hemingway then portrayed Showgirls era Elizabeth Berkley for a sketch called Leg Up! This was a talk show sketch hosted by Molly Shannon and Cheri Oteri as Ann Miller and Debby Reynolds who interviewed their guest about dance but weren’t quite ready for “Berkley’s” pole dancing routine.

  7. Once again, Norm MacDonald gave us the news. This week, Nancy Walls made her news debut to deliver the “Head Shaking News” where she read a bunch of horrible stories for her and Norm to shake disappointingly shake their heads at how disappointing this world can be.

  8. Blues Traveler then took to the stage to perform Run-Around.

  9. The Telephone was a sketch where Mariel Hemingway got stuck on the phone with her long-winded relatives, so she turned to her husband, played by Will Ferrell, to help her get off the call only his efforts are more disturbing and/or creepy than being helpful in any way. In fact, his efforts are so bad, Mariel went as far as to take Ferrell to get tested to see if he was actually “retarded” (their words not mine.)

  10. Spade In America was pretty much an extended version of David Spade’s Hollywood Minute news segment where he got a little extra time and attention to rip on celebs making headlines. This week’s focus was on the Unabomber, so the segment’s not as similar to Hollywood Minute as I thought, but it does still use the same pithy brand of humor.

  11. This was followed by a parody of A&E Biography where the featured subject was Mariel Hemingway for a parody profile about how she landed her role on Central Park West, which in the world of the sketch, she won out over four men playing the single female role who all crammed themselves into one gigantic dress.

  12. Fuzzy Memories was the follow up to Deep Thoughts By Jack Handey, only instead of the stories being told via text, Jack’s quirky tales got acted out in single camera short films. This week Jack remember back to his grade school days when he used to get up by bullies and how this led his father to want to move since he was afraid of his son’s bully’s father.

  13. Blues Traveler then returned to the stage to perform Hook.

  14. Mark McKinney then tapped into his Kids In The Hall character portfolio for The Chicken Lady Show where the Chicken Lady hosted a public access show with her co-host Mickey The Dyke to discuss various forms of fetishism amongst their panel of guests.

  15. Finally, Mariel Hemingway closed the show by thanking the audience and saying her goodnights.

Hopefully, it won’t take long for this season to figure things out because even though I felt this episode fell of the weaker side of shows, it was still pretty fun thanks to these three moments of the night. First, I loved the Get Off The Shed! sketch because it reminded me of the classic What The Hell Is That Thing sketch from Steve Martin. Next, I really liked the A.M. Ale ad because I used to work a lot of graveyard shifts back in the day, so I related to the A.M. drunks who this ad was talking to. Finally, I was a fan of The Chicken Lady Show not because it was all that hilarious, but it was really fun to see this character get brought back to life following The Kids In The Hall.


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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.