SNL: S21E04... HOST: GABRIEL BYRNE... DATE: OCTOBER 28, 1995

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The Newbies Are Settling In!!!

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Though I recognized his face from The Usual Suspects, I went into this viewing having no idea who Gabriel Byrne was. Though I had a couple of concerns that he seemed like a serious actor who might not make that great of a host, I was more interested in seeing the ongoing development of the cast. The cast aspect piqued my interest since I’ve seen continual increases quality since the season’s first episode.

Now that I’ve actually watched the episode, I’m happy to say, not only did Gabriel Byrne do a good job but I’m continuing to love this reintroduction to this collection of the cast. Though I wouldn’t say that Byrne was good enough to where I would root for the show to rush to get him back, he was perfect in the way that he was involved in every scene and interacted very well with the cast while allowing them to continue to figure out their roles.

Once again, I loved the continuing introduction of new reoccurring characters, but at the same time, I like how this season is continuing to slowly roll out the entire new cast. Up to this point, that five returning castmates have carried a bulk of the weight with the help of Will Ferrell, Cheri Oteri, David Koechner and Nancy Walls.

Yes, some other cast members have snuck into a sketch or two and have even been the driving force of a few, like Darrell Hammond and Jim Breuer, but for the most part, it feels like the show is hiding their full hand. I like when they do this because not only does the show seem to improve in its quality, there’s an excitement that comes with continually being introduced to someone new as opposed to the season when they blow their wad and introduce every single newbie at once.

Finally, I hate to keep bringing up Mariel Hemingway’s episode, but I’m a bit obsessed with that episode because I hate the fact that I hated it when I feel I would have liked it a lot more if it landed around this point of the season’s line up. Even though I already know that I will grow to love this collection of cast, it was tough to see them struggle along on their first go with a non-comedic host.

With all of that said, it’s now time to move on from sharing my views to share what I actually viewed as I give you…

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with parody C-SPAN coverage of Halloween In New Hampshire where Republican Presidential hopefuls joined trick-or-treaters to pester a New Hampshire resident into considering voting for them in the ’96 Presidential Election. Not only did they pitch themselves for the position but they also disguised themselves as the opposition in an effort to discredit them as a viable choice. This being the opening sketch, it ended with Norm MacDonald as Bob Dole who announced, “Live from New York…”
  2. Gabriel Byrne then officially opened the show with a monolog about being an Irishman in New York, then went on to explain why this was such a great time to be Irish and working in the arts. As he goes on to discuss his nation with pride, Fred Wolf and Colin Quinn danced behind him while dressed as a bottle of whiskey and a potato.
  3. This was followed by a fake ad for Marshall Power Tools where David Koechner played the pitchman/son of the company’s creator who had a hook for his hand. Throughout the ad, we met more family members who were all missing digits and limbs but still promoted the power tool products.
  4. Mary Katherine Gallagher then made her show debut as the nervous nerd who was trying out for her Catholic School talent show. After fighting through her many nervous quirks, she went on to perform a monolog from a Lifetime Channel movie-of-the-week. She then went on to sing a song that started out somewhat normal but then got strange in the tradition Mary Katherine Gallagher way.   
  5. Cooking With Keith was a parody cooking show hosted by Gabriel Byrne as Keith Richards from The Rolling Stones, who cook stoner-style food while rambling in that famous Keith Richards’ way.
  6. This was followed by another Fuzzy Memories where Jack Handey shared a tale of a fishing trip with his father where he had an irrational fear that his dad was trying to drown him.
  7. Alanis Morissette then took to the stage to perform Hand In My Pocket.
  8. Once again, Norm MacDonald gave us the news. This week, Darrell Hammond dropped by as Phil Donahue to complain about Sally Jesse Raphael and other daytime talk show host for stealing his thunder as one of the originators of the controversy-driven daytime genre. Cheri Oteri then got her first Weekend Update segment to review the movie Dangerous Minds only to act very self-conscious when she noticed that Norm MacDonald was watching. The news devolved to be reminiscent of a high school scene when we learned that Cheri was acting weird because she had a crush on Norm. Molly Shannon and David Spade added to this sense of High School immaturity as they joined in to aid the anchor and guest efforts to flirt with each other. Finally, Lorne Michaels ended the fun by canceling the evening wrap party to punish the group for not sticking to the sketch as planned.
  9. Miracles Of Genetics was a sketch where Gabriel Byrne played a fertility doctor who offered Nancy Walls and Mark McKinney way more information about their future child than the proud parents to be really wanted, including the fact that he's grown up to be a bisexual. He then went on to share their child’s entire life based on his genetic alone. He even went as far as to introduce the couple to a cloned teenage version of their unborn child.
  10. Spade in America returned for another installment where this time David Spade shared a video where he checked in from the World Series to playfully interview players from both the Indians and the Braves.
  11. Alanis Morissette then returned to the stage to perform All I Really Want.
  12. Special Ladies took place in a bookstore where Gabriel Byrne played the author of a book called the Golden Age Of You which was apparently a huge hit amongst his female readers. He then went on to read a couple of entries from his book of poetry and personal journal that seemed rather cheesy, but the crowd of women enthusiastically ate it up. That was until he revealed that his fetish was golden aged women, which didn’t go over well with the middle-aged crowd.
  13. Rikers Island Guard was a sketch that took place in the Rikers Island warden’s office where he Gabriel Byrne tried to fire Tim Meadows as a prison guard because he kept getting beat up and raped by both the inmates and Byrne himself. Meanwhile, Meadows did not want to go because he apparently liked the abuse.
  14. Finally, Gabriel Byrne closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

Another thing that I really liked about this episode is how it felt like the baseline for what would be considered an average episode and thanks to these three of my favorite moments, average looks pretty good. First, I loved the Debut of Mary Katherine Gallagher because I’ve always loved her as a character. Next, I really liked the Miracles Of Genetics sketch because it always cracks me up when they joke that genetics can determine every single second in a person’s life. Finally, I was a fan of Rikers Island Guard because I find it funny when someone continually puts themselves in dangerous situations because deep down they like the abuse to the point where they don’t even see it as an issue.

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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.