Well, It’s time to be honest with you…I’ve got nothing. That’s right, this week, NBC decided to air a NASCAR race in prime time, which is all fine & good for certain parts of America…The Problem? I JUST found out about that Yesterday. At the same time, I also found out that NBC is airing a Notre Dame game in Prime Time the Following week—So while I do have time to prepare a more FORMAL editorial next week, I’m kinda twisting in the wind on this one…………….what to do?……………..hmmmm……………….WAIT A MINUTE, This is the Internet! They Save EVERYTHING! I know what to do…pardon me…
(*RUSHES OVER TO ARCHIVE.ORG, DOES A SEARCH, COMES BACK*)
OK, from now on whenever a programming decision is made completely by surprise, or I just flat don’t have anything to talk about, I’m going to open a door that I once thought was closed forever…I’m going to do Retro Reviews of the shows I saw from 1999-2003 that were posted at a certain website that no longer exists. I alluded to some of these back in the summer, so you already know what we’re in for. For the uninitiated, I was a little green when it came to writing things some 15+ years ago…actually, I was VERY Green. So Green, in fact that some of the stuff I wrote is not only grammatically embarrassing, but also Critically unfair thanks to ever-present hindsight today. So the way these reviews will work is simple; I’m going to post the reviews as I ORIGINALLY wrote them years ago, but underneath each sketch are going to be my Updated thoughts on the sketches years later—That way, I can have my humble pie and eat it too. With that said, let’s take a trip back to the year 2000 with an Easy one:
Christopher Walken/Christina Aguilera (Original Airdate: 4/8/2000). Obviously, we ALL know which sketch is going to stand out the biggest in this one, but let’s not forget about the remaining 85 minutes of the episode. One LAST reminder, I was 15 Years Old when I wrote this and for the sake of Authenticity, I will NOT correct any errors (Old thoughts will be in Block Quotes, New thoughts in Italics)…here we go…
Hey Hey, it’s JK! with more of JK’s SNL. This has been one of the most craziest shows this season. And I don’t mean crazy like those people who want to take Elian Gonzales back,(Keep Elian here!) not to sound political or anything, that’s not what this is about. This is about one of the greatest hosts of all time, Christopher Walken! Don’t believe me? just read on.
Yes, even back then I started things off with some sort of opening statement that was borderline topical. The saga of Elian Gonzalez (which is the CORRECT way to spell it, BTW) was what made the news that week…We’ll talk more about him in a second…
Father/Son talk: This is something I definately did not expect. It was good to see the old Bush again. But Will makes a bad effort of copying it. I mean come on, Will’s Bush Jr. sucks. I know he try’s, but it sucks! And the whole slip sliding thing was good the first 5 or 6 times. The only other good part was when Bush Jr.(being the baby he really is.) was sitting on Bush Sr.’s lap. other than that…— C
And Already, I regret posting this review. I’ll grant you that Ferrell’s Bush impression wasn’t at the levels of greatness it would eventually become a year later, but you could see that something brilliant was bubbling underneath. The addition of Carvey as Bush Sr. WAS a nice surprise, as well as an unexpected one since this was back in the day before the internet spoiled such surprise appearances ahead of time. Seeing these two interact would mark one of MANY times (before & since) that there was a passing of a torch/bridging of the generation gap between SNL eras. That said, the “Slip sliding” bit WAS a little repetitive after a while, but Jr. sitting of Sr.’s lap was awkwardly charming. Consider this a bit of a Bonus on top of the rest of the greatness we’re about to witness…
GRADE I’D GIVE IT TODAY: B+
Monolouge: By now, you know that everytime Chris Walken shows up, he does his little song and dance number. Too bad it was that short. I’m telling ya, he was great as usual.— A+
(NOTE: Before anybody reminds me, Yes, I’m using a still from his Monologue a Year later in 2001…for whatever reason, clips from the 2000 monologue are unavailable—the internet is fickle sometimes)
This was at a time when Song & Dance Monologues weren’t forced down our throats (unlike today), so seeing Walken do his whenever he came on was a genuine treat back in the day. I wouldn’t give this one an A+ though because of said brevity. If anything, it PALES in comparison to his Song-o-Logues from 1992 & ’95, where a lot more effort was put in. But you can’t fault Walken for being the showman he was born to play. Also of note, this marks the 2nd time the song “Saturday Night is the loneliest night” is performed. First being in 1987 when Paul Shaffer used it in a sketch as he hosted.
GRADE TODAY: B
Blue oyster cult: Behind the Music: This was good because of what CW was saying golden diapers. And what will was doing with the cowbell. The thing that threw me off back there was that the guy was dead. But I never heard of Blue Oyster Cult, so screw it.— C+
A Friendly reminder that Hindsight can also be a Terrible thing as well. I mean, c’mon, this is probably one of the “Hall of Fame, Top 5, dip the sketch in Gold and permanently enshrine it” sketches of ALL TIME…and stupid little 15 year old me had the Balls to give it ONLY a C+? Why?! To borrow from another SNL great, This sketch had EVERYTHING; Walken being Walken, Ferrell (and his way too small shirt) being Ferrell, Fallon reminding us why he has a career with his constant giggling. It all just came together…dare I say, Perfectly. Again, probably because I was a kid, maybe I didn’t know who the BOC were at the time…I clearly didn’t, because I thought Gene Frenkle was a REAL person back then. If it means having to do penance cures for the rest of my life (And I’m Jewish, BTW), I hope you realize that I simply didn’t know better back then. The sketch is deservedly Iconic, no questions asked.
GRADE TODAY: If there was a Grade HIGHER than an A+, I’d give it.
Elian:The Musical: So it’s come to this. the story’s so overblown enough as it is, they had to go along and make a musical out of it….I’m not saying the sketch was bad. Everything about the sketch, (even CW being Castro) was good. Except for that kiss between “Janet Reno” and “Juan Miguel”, that was pointless.— B-
The biggest problem with ANY Topical humor is that it sometimes winds up getting stamped with a shorter expiration date than most foods at a supermarket. The Elian Gonzalez story—though lengthy at the time—was one of those. If you don’t remember the entire story, that’s what we’ve got Wikipedia for (Whether they get all the details right or not). As for this sketch, it certainly capitalizes on a current event, and attempts to do so in a big-ish way. Walken as Castro should’ve acted as a Warning sign for what was to come 15 years later, but it was still Walken being an extension of himself. Also, For the longest time, I though Ana Gasteyer was playing Idina Menzel, but then again I didn’t pay much attention to the theater as a kid in order to know the difference. Dratch is a rather convincing little boy, and yes that Kiss between Ferrell &…….Kattan (*THUNDER RUMBLES IN THE DISTANCE*)……was probably the one thing that kept this from being a perfectly serviceable knock on the news. It tried a little too hard in some places, but it still looked like they were having fun milking what was left of a major story dry.
GRADE TODAY: C+
The Continental: Finally, a good sketch. Every time Chris blocks the door, it’s just more funnier than the last time. The part with the bathroom was just simply Kick-A** . And for once, somepone finally gave that guy a beatin’.(Pardon grammer)— A+
Not gonna lie, this was probably one of the ONLY times in my 20+ year history of watching SNL that a sketch made me laugh so much that it actually brought me to tears. The strange thing about that is, I saw all the other “Continental” sketches before—and while they were still timeless classics, none of them seemed to compare to this instalment (which, criminally, you can’t find online in a video. So, the transcript will have to suffice). Maybe it was all the ways Walken blocked the door, maybe it was him coining the term “Wowwie, Wow wow WOW!”, maybe it was that final gag of him watching his lady friend through a one-way mirror, or maybe it was a combination of the 3. Either way, it brought the house down in my house. Also of note, this was probably the first time since his death in 1998 that they used one of Phil Hartman’s old voiceovers to introduce the sketch…Poignant, but subtle.
GRADE TODAY: Still A+
Viagra: Being a man, I understood this sketch. It’s just your typical, boy wants to give some to a girl, girl don’t want any, girl flushes pills down a toilet. You know, the usual thing that happens when people reach their 40s—B
(*SIGH*) Yes, I get it, I was 15 years old and a steady stream of hormones were running through my body (Something Billy Crystal prepared me for, but that’s beside the point). This spot pretty much had just one joke. Men use Viagra, Women are either exhausted or disgusted that their husbands Keep using Viagra. So what do we add to keep this from being too one-note? Walken’s delivery, of course…as well as a Rare on-camera, pre-cast appearance by Tina Fey (“Yeah, Thanks for This!”). It’s reasonably OK, and it still holds up—just wish there was more than just the one joke.
GRADE TODAY: C+
Jenny Jones: This i think was the only sketch that sucked. the only good part was when CW tried to sound cool, but that’s it.— D+
Gotta love the Brevity here, BTW. You know you’re getting old when some of you out there need to be reminded what the Jenny Jones show was. Well, it was a “Talk” show hosted by an ex-comedienne/Match Game contestant that sort of felt like a “Diet Jerry Springer” minus the hillbillies. Then one of her guests killed another guest, the show wound up going under due to the lawsuit that followed, and I believe the show was canceled the year this sketch aired………ah, nostalgia. Getting back on topic, yes, this was very much the weakest sketch of the show; due in part to those who appeared as “People who used to be Ugly, but ‘Look at me now, I’m HOT!’” (Which, at the time, was a FAR more common Talk Show trope than “You ARE the Father”), this includes Molly (who makes one of Two annoying appearances this show), Cheri Oteri (who doesn’t even have to TRY to be annoying), and of course………Kattan…(*THUNDER RUMBLES AGAIN*)…Oh, we’ll get to YOU soon…Anyway, Walken pretty much saves this one by being an over-excited audience member trash talking the other guests in pretty much the same way he trash talked Kid Rock in “Joe Dirt”, all while (then) newbie Rachel Dratch plugs away as Ms. Jones. I guess it was sort of a sign of the times to mock these kinds of shows; but if you ever saw the Real ones growing up; the mocking pretty much came pre-installed.
GRADE TODAY: C- (I upgraded it because of Walken’s performance)
Update: I would like to do this part of the review sublimitally if thats ok with you; Colins jokes (meaningless) had some meaning ( not really) but what he said about the Mets (Rocker Time) was just dumb. Oh yeah, that really loud guy (Punching Bag) desereves a swift kick in the a**.
(George W. Bush) It’s just your typical update (Coma) This ends the subliminal part
of the review.(for this week)— D-
Ugh, those spelling errors…This was probably at a time when they aired Early 90s episodes of the show either on Comedy Central or NBC’s former overnight block of SNL reruns, so at the time, “Mr. Subliminal” was sort of new to me even though it was an old bit. Anyway, digressing again…those who already read my take on Colin Quinn’s tenure as an Update anchor probably gets why I felt the way I did about this particular episode. In addition to Quinn’s (by then) standard reacting to the audience; Looking at some of the jokes on the transcript, some of them were actually downright Mean (Mariah Carey, The NFL Today, TBS, and that John Rocker-esqe crack about the 7 Train…which, as a person who has worked in the City for a few years now, is actually kinda accurate—but as Principal Skinner once said “There’s being Right and there’s being Nice”). Since this was the year 2000 & we had yet to know that Fallon & Fey were on the way, perhaps this was one of the first telltale signs that Quinn might be ready to call it a day…who knows? Then we get to probably the Weakest (but Still funny) character Will Ferrell ever played—the uber-abrasive “Jacob Silj”, who speaks extra loudly thanks to a rare voice modulation disorder. Like I said before, I Am a fan of “Abrasive” humor, and the Silj character is actually kinda quaint today. But there’s a difference between Abrasive & “Nails on a Chalkboard”, and Silj falls somewhere in the middle. On the plus side, at least there was a clever running gag bookending this Update; At the beginning, Quinn points out “…as the members of the media, we’re required to say the words “Elian Gonzalez” every ten minutes”. Sure enough, as Update signs off for the night 10 minutes later, Quinn does his usual sign-off followed by mentioning Elian’s name. Little touches like that are a nice bonus.
GRADE TODAY: C-
Christina Agulera: as hot as she may be, I don’t listen to her this counts for the other one too— N/A
At the risk of sounding Crass, She was more “Cute” back in the day than she was “Hot”…that wouldn’t happen until 2006 and I was Well past the point of becoming an adult. Also, Nice run-on sentence, 15 year old Me (Seriously, how the Hell did I get a High School degree?)!
The Census guy: This ties with the continental as the best sketch of the evening. Some good parts were when he thought that the USA and florida were different countries, the fact that he thought he was going to win a car, and the bobcat thing. There are other things, but that would take too long. loosly put…—A+
Another Well-regarded classic that you can thank Tina Fey for (having written this, and contributing to its sequel with Betty White 10 years later). In fact, if it weren’t for “Cowbell” and “Continental”, this would probably be Walken at his most Walken-est (Until that “Family Reunion” sketch 8 years later). A sketch like this manages to stand the test of time for a number of reasons—one being because the Census happens every 10 years, so I’m almost certain there will be another sketch in 2020. But more than that, this sketch felt almost vaudevillian—especially in regards to the “Straight Line/Funny Comeback” dynamic that either Abbott & Costello, Mel Brooks & Carl Reiner and even Martin & Lewis would do back in the day. The sketch is timeless because the type of comedy being represented is timeless, and I’m glad it was able to peek its way into the new Millennium. Of course Tim Meadows reacting to all the non-sequiturs Walken is spouting out is icing on the cake.
GRADE TODAY: Still A+
Sally O’Mally: Yeah we know she’s 50. (50 years old, 50 years old) this was one of those sketches where I almost took a leak all over the place. The only bad part was when Cheri Oteri was being herself… spazzy!— (Marginal) A
Molly Shannon is always going to be one of those Polarizing figures the show ever had; She started out as a clutch player, wound up with a signature character or two, then suddenly took a sharp right turn onto “Annoying Avenue”, but then after she leaves the show, she’s suddenly remembered with great fondness. However, no matter how great that fondness is, her “Sally O’Malley” is probably the Apex of that polarization. Between making the censors sweat over just how deep she can stretch, to the constant (and I mean CONSTANT) reminders that she’s 50, even though she’s wearing a jumpsuit more suited for someone in her 70s. Hell, Shannon herself is in her 50s now, and you don’t see her Kicking & Stretching…you see her in Poignant Oscar Bait movies…but I digress. Simply put, if it weren’t for Walken’s charming awkwardness, this sketch would probably tie with “Jenny Jones” as the weakest (but NOT the Worst) of the night. Also, yes, Cheri Oteri was a Spaz…it shows in this sketch too.
GRADE TODAY: C-
Sketch(es) of the night: The Contenental
The Census Guy
Loser of the night: Jenny Jones
UPDATED LIST: Keep Continental & Census where they are, Move O’Malley in with Jenny Jones, and Place COWBELL where it Rightfully Belongs.
I think that’s it, if it isn’t, sue me. Anyway, thanks for stopping by. About next week, I don’t know who Toeby Maguire or Sisqo is. but usualy on a show when you hardly know who the person is, it will be a good show.(I think) that’s it, and remember, If you don’t agree with me, that’s too bad. see you next time.
Decades later, only Tobey Maguire actually still has a career…but again, I digress. While the episode manages to Hold up some 15+ years later, WOW Did I misjudge this episode as a Kid (Not only that, but I was also a bit of an Asshole too)! Granted, back then I watch all the “Starmaker” tapes ad nausium on a Daily basis, so I kinda had a bias towards the classic years back then, but still…How the Flying F*** could I give “Cowbell” a C+? How could I say that Sally O’Malley was actually Funny? How could I NOT see the brilliance to come from Ferrell’s Bush impression? Long Answer: A lot of things can change in nearly 2 decades time; tastes change, moods change, likes/dislikes change, and (in the words of the Tower of Power) “What’s hip Today might become Passe”. So it only seems natural now to look back on this in both amazement and befuddlement over the fact that once upon a time, I genuinely felt this way about things that I NOW think are unquestioned, unparalleled classics of comedy today. Short Answer: Because I was only 15 and didn’t know any better. Also, before I’m reminded, there are some Dress Rehearsal cuts made to this episode that you can find on “The Best of Christopher Walken” SNL DVD…one of which is “Angel of Death”, which I will hook you up with right now (make your own judgement)…
…and Another which is (Bizarrely enough) a Biopic about Fonzie from “Happy Days”, which you can read about HERE.
Whether the sketches were cut or not, this episode is a neo-classic—if not in the Top 10 of all time…I just wish I could slap some sense into my 15 year old self…and maybe also convince him to buy Stock in Google.
NEXT WEEK: It’s been a while since I did some sort of Cast member Profile; particularly one that may have received the short end of the stick in hindsight. Let’s see who we can use…(*FLIPS THOUGH FILES*)…Actually…now that I think about it, why do Just One? A Look at some of my favorite “One & Done’s” in the show’s history next time.
Don’t Forget, I’ll be LIVE-BLOGGING the 2nd Presidential Debate Tomorrow, I’ll put the page up sometime Before 9PM Eastern.