Thanksgiving. The time of year where families could get together and recap all that has happened within the past year. Sometimes that’s done with great reverence, other times…ok, most of the time…that’s done with complete and total awkwardness (Especially when it comes to discussing politics). And since Thanksgiving is chock-full of that awkwardness, it’s time for something just as painful to look back on—another Retro Review from that period in my life where I needed to be hit in the head with several copies of Webster’s Dictionary and Roget’s Thesaurus. But what makes this episode PARTICULARLY awkward is the fact that I’m about to talk about someone whose star was on the rise, only for it to be extinguished far too soon…also, according to my research, this was the ONLY SNL Thanksgiving-ish episode I wrote about back in the 1999-2003 time frame; so it looks like I have no choice in the matter. Hard as it is to believe, but it’s been 15 years since the still missed Brittany Murphy hosted SNL for her first and only time—plugging “8 mile” at the same time; Even harder to believe is the fact that she left this world 7 years ago under not-quite-clear circumstances (Though we’ll talk more about that later). If you were of a certain age—particularly, a millennial teenager—Ms. Murphy had something special going for herself. Granted, she appeared in a LOT of formulaic romantic comedies, but that was supposed to be a stepping stone into something better (I assume…”8 Mile” and the Michael Douglas movie “Don’t Say a Word” were her only high-profile dramas that Didn’t go straight to video). But as promising as her career would’ve been, this episode wasn’t exactly the Best way to introduce yourself to a bigger audience (as our opening sketch will demonstrate).
REMINDER: Old thoughts are Black, blocked and un-edited (Except where I find necessary), New thoughts are in Blue, and this was also the season I used Simpsons quotes to describe the sketches after a previous reviewer retired & said it was OK to do the bit; let’s take a look…
Brittany Murphy/Nelly (Original Airdate: 11/16/2002)
Chanukah Song #3 or “We’re gonna hit him where it hurts, right in the Judaica!”
OK, this was what everybody around here has been talking about all week, The return of “Stan and Judy’s Kid”. We all know about the legendary 1st Chanukah song, and we were quite aware of the 2nd one. This time around, he’s got it going on! He’s got a choir, an Orchestra and…ROB SCHNIDER?! I always thought he was Lithuanian! All kidding aside, this was hands down the best opening that I have seen in years. And believe me, it takes a lot to impress me…Ooh, a “Ford Focus!”
EDITOR’S NOTE: This would probably be a good time to mention Adam Sandler, as well as the fact that (not counting various anniversary appearances) this would be the Last/most Recent appearance he (and Schneider) would make on the show. Which I always thought was unfortunate considering the movies he would churn out over the years since this aired, and how an appearance on the show might’ve helped out a little…but nope, Sandler has made his bed, he’s in with the Netflix crowd, and he seems perfectly OK with making mediocre/passable films—whatever floats your boat. As for this chapter of the Chanukah songs; let’s face it, when you’re a teen, you tend to be immune from over-hyping. When this aired, I thought it was Water Cooler television—but now all I see it as is a cheap promotional cash-in for a movie that didn’t turn out so great; not only that, but “Punch Drunk Love” came out around the same time; and I have a feeling “Eight Crazy Nights” did to that movie what “Norbit” did to Eddie Murphy’s appearance in “Dreamgirls”. The plusses? At least this one had a little more effort than the original; using a child choir and more pizazz to get the point across does work. Otherwise, take all of that away, and the whole thing would’ve been a little too desperate…even more than Schneider’s brief blip.
REVISED SCORE: B-
Monolouge or “The name’s Poochie D and I rock the telly, I’m a half Joe Camel and 1/3rd Fonzerelli. I’m the Kung-fu hippie from Gangsta’ City, I’m a rappin surfer, your the fool I pity!”
(SPEAKS IN TRI CORDER) Note to self, find better rapping reference. Here we have the (Rather Small) Ms. Murphy with the daunting task of following up Adam Sandler, good luck there kid! Once again, this isn’t a monolouge! This isn’t even a ‘louge at all, it’s more of a sketch! But I care not, this was actually interesting. Sadly, it’s one of those moments when it starts great, but ends up weak. Mainly because of Ms. “I’ll never tell”. But I love it how people can make fun of their “Achievements”, (Corky Romano, Hah!) in a joking way.
EDITOR’S NOTE: OK, 2002 Me, repeat after…uh…myself…it’s spelled “Monologue” A Mono-louge is an Olympic event. Now that we’ve got that settled, As much as I want to Try and pay respect to the late Ms. Murphy, her raspy, waif-like awkwardness makes it a little hard to do…and she’s barely doing anything in this to begin with aside from refereeing and eventually harnessing her inner-Eminem…or “Innerem”, if you will. The main action is all about the East V. West…as well as a continuing reminder that Chris Kattan…(*THUNDER*)…is a spazzmonic dweeb who couldn’t do anything cool even if you poured liquid nitrogen down his pants; but thankfully he doesn’t do much here. The REAL stars of this one are Chris Parnell—who I completely forgot used to throw down quite a bit on the show—and just how tight his flow is, Tracy throwing some Rappers Delight, and (“SAY MY NAME DON PARDO!”) Amy Poehler giving us a sneak peek of her “Pregnant Palin” rap 6 years in advance. Surprisingly, this holds up after 15 years.
REVISED SCORE: B+
Welcome Back, Potter or “Harry Potter, is that gum you’re chewing?” “No ma’am, it’s brimstone!”
Yet another unexpected twist! I don’t know who it was who was playing “Potter”, if anyone knows, fill me in. But this was (In my corniest metaphor ever.) Definately out of left field. I thought I was going to be in for a buzzkill, because I’m not the Harry Potter fan that you think I am…Actually, I’m not even a fan at all. But at either rate…
EDITOR’S NOTE: I guess because Will Forte was a brand new cast member who barely made any appearances as of the show’s broadcast, I honestly didn’t know if he or an unnamed extra was supposed to be playing Harry Kott…uh, I mean Potter. For the most part, this was what I would call an “Easy in, Easy out” sketch; one where there’s a set-up, and exactly one punchline to the sketch, but it thankfully doesn’t belabor point…but maybe it does that a little TOO well, considering the sketch (if you can call it that) was made almost entirely out of still-shots. Doesn’t exactly warrant an A rating, but at least the piece is competent enough to get the laugh and get out.
REVISED SCORE: B-
Leather Man or “Homer, that’s supposed to be leather patches on a Tweed blazer… you ruined a perfectly good jacket!” “Incorrect Marge, TWO perfectly good jackets!”
(SQUEAL, SQUEAL, WHOOSH) Huh, Pig flying, nice! Why did they bring this one back again? Albeit the reason why this sketch was done was so we could see a tight body fit into something tighter…(CAT CALLS, WHISTLES)… Uh, But with that arousing thought aside, the highlight was definately the (Ahem) “Snake on Snake” action. The BJ joke at the end was sickening…Sickeningly funny! If they do this one again, I would like to know how “Choo-Choo” ever made it out alive. (Possibly by vaccum cleaner)
EDITOR’S NOTE: Yes, we were all young once. So much so that the sight of a beautiful woman in skin-tight leather would be enough to take down the fighting 4th. But as much as Ms. Murphy’s figure kept me awake in this sketch, it was Fallon and Sanz that garnered the most attention here…and for All the WRONG reasons. It seems kinda quaint now, but for pretty much ALL of Fallon’s tenure, if he was paired in a sketch with Sanz; any/all attempts to do the sketch professionally was thrown out the window thanks to their non-stop giggling…which in this case, takes up about 40% of the sketch. Also not helping; in spite of Murphy being eye candy, she seems to be delivering her lines in a way that would make cue card readers embarrassed. Also, also not helping; the sometimes badly timed sound effects of the leather squeaking around. This would be the 2nd and (thankfully) last time this sketch would be done—which is just as well, because the last minute and a half of the sketch is a textbook derailment.
REVISED SCORE: C-
Donahue or “Two Callers…that’s the best we’ve ever had!”
Nice to see that Darrell is doing Doanhue again. All I have to say, is What took so long? Hell, if he did it a few months earlier, Donahue’s show ratings would go through the roof…If you call 0.0000094 “Through the roof”. Was that enough gauze for “Striesand” there? What about “Al Sharpton”, what the hell was that about? The Michael Moore piece was OK, but the best part were those mini-commercials, Especially that “Your ad here” spot. The 2nd one was kinda reminiscant (Sp?) of the “Donheiser” spot from 1989’s “East Berlin Squares”. But all in all, it was one hell of a return for Darrell. What has it been, 5 years? It’s about damn time!
EDITOR’S NOTE: When you let a few years pass by, certain sketches become what’s known as “Time Capsules”; ones that show what life was like at the time, and also gives us a chance to compare/contrast how things are now. For instance, remember a time when MSNBC actually used to be a low-rated Middle of the Road news channel instead of the modestly rated liberal powerhouse it is today? Even more so, yes, Phil Donahue tried to mark a comeback by having a nightly program on the then fledgling network, only for his own ratings to be lower than fledgling; Keith Olbermann took over his time slot shortly thereafter, and the rest is history. Anyway, this sketch did mark the first time in about 5 years since Darrell Hammond put his Donahue impression (and his non-stop tangents) to good use; truth be told, it was neck & neck with his Ted Koppel & Dan Rather as one of my favorite impressions he did (Clinton became overrated after a while, IMO). Jeff Richards at least got the Look of Michael Moore down, just wish he had more of a chance to speak. Watching Tracy do Al Sharpton is kind of jarring considering Kenan Thompson has been doing it now for 15 years (and counting); but to be fair to Tracy, at least his was FAR more accurate than Kenan will Ever be. It’s a good thing they blasted the soft focus on Maya’s Streisand, otherwise it wouldn’t’ve been half as convincing. Finally, in that 2nd commercial with the near-empty audience, it was nice of Conan O’Brien’s staff to let them use their set for it…Man, that’s a Lot of Information for an otherwise “OK” sketch.
REVISED SCORE: B-
Jarrett’s Room or “What do you think he’s doing up there?” “Drug Lab.” “Drug Lab!?” “Or playing video games, I don’t know!”
It has been a little while since we’ve seen Jarrett and Gobi get high off their ass. Speaking of getting high, I just thought of a great idea for Christmas…”The Chia Bong!” All you do is just add water…OK, that was the single worst joke in history, and I will be burning in hell shortly. Meanwhile, what the hell happened to “DJ Feinstein”? I liked his British schtuff much better than this! what do you think “Fonzie”?
FONZIE: “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay, I think the sketch just “jumped the shark”. Something I know all too well, “Whoa!”
Well put, fonz. Anywho, despite that particular thing from happening, the sketch was great as usual. Britt was too slow to look hyper, How’s that for an Oxymoron?
BAD INSULT BOY: You’re an Oxymoron! You Oxymoron!
Uh yeah, why don’t you just sit in the corner over there. To sum up, Keep on puffin’ boys, but save some for “Phish”.
EDITOR’S NOTE: (*SIGH*) OK folks, we’ve got a LOT To unpack with this one as This sketch brings up an unfortunate elephant in the room; you’ve probably noticed that this is a transcript of the sketch instead of a video. Normally whenever no video of a sketch is available, it’s usually because of music rights; but since I recall the music Seth playing being pretty generic, that couldn’t be why. Then I read the sketch’s transcript, and remembered that Ms. Murphy’s character was essentially playing a college pill-popper; so much so, that at one point in the sketch, her character’s heart speeds up, stops, then starts up again. I bring this up, because it had been long rumored (though never 100% confirmed) that Ms. Murphy passed away due to (among other things) a misuse of prescription drugs—not unlike her character in this sketch, but switch out drugs with “Vitamins” and No-Doz. As such, this would be a pretty good reason why NBC would remove not only this sketch, but also a portrayal of a zonked-out Murphy (played by Abby Elliott) a few weeks before she died in 2009. I know, I hate bringing up someone’s morbid details for what I can only call a theory at this point, but I can’t be the only one who finds that and this sketch just a little too coincidental. So on that note, let’s just try to judge this one on its own merits. Basically, if you’ve ever seen a “Jarret’s Room” sketch before, you know what to expect; Fallon & Sanz laughing their asses off, Dozens of Weed jokes in the space of a few minutes, Seth pretending to be British, Jeff Richards coming on to play a clueless bully, etc. Also, I recall stealing that “Chia Bong” joke from Carrot Top, so I’m technically not wrong in saying it was the “Worst joke in History” (Then again, Ms. Murphy stole “Featheren” from an episode of “Two Guys & a Girl”, so nobody’s perfect).
REVISED SCORE: B-
C-SPAN or “But Think of the Scandals!” “Yeah, the British tabloids would have a field day!”
…And sure enough, very much like the New York Knicks, the show starts to choke. What the hell was this all about? Why do we care so much about the Brits? Should we really dive head first into their personal lives that much? I’m sorry, but it’s something that it think I needed to vent. Anywho, Seth was ultimately weak in this one, as was alleged “Part English” Dratch. The only thing that kept it afloat were the captions and Jim Downey’s V/Os (Well, I’m told it’s Jim Downey, I don’t know exactly.) But either way, it’s a sign that we’re losing steam.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Hmmm…who was Paul Burrell again? (*LOOKS UP ON “THE WIKIPEDIA OF CONGRESS”*)… Ah, OK, I remember, former Princess Diana butler getting caught up in a Homosexuality scandal of some kind. Watching this again with adult eyes and ears, the hushed VOs from Steve Higgins (NOT Jim Downey),and the graphics that appear on the bottom of the screen was indeed the ACTUAL Comedy; Seth mincing his way through it seems supplementary in comparison. Considering how Dated the sketch is, I’m actually kinda surprised some of the humor holds up a little. Regardless, Thankfully about a few months later, Messers Stewart & Colbert would do a sketch about British Homosexuality right.
REVISED SCORE: C+
Tennis Talk W/ Scott Joplin or “…Or you could sing while I accompany you on the clavicord!”
Wow, someone must have eaten one of Gobi’s “Pot Pies” when this was written. Honestly, this sketch would have volunteered for stem cell research if it weren’t for Tracy and Dean in drag! Someone must have been given an ultimatum to write this…
LORNE: Either You Write This, Or I’m sending you to MAD TV!
WRITER: Gulp, Yes Sir!
To summorize, the saving grace is the two black dudes in drag! Otherwise, it’s a buzzkill!
EDITOR’S NOTE: A long time ago, Sketch comedy came at me at two speeds; either “Funny” or “Not Funny”, Never would I consider “Weird” to be a 3rd option and still find the sketch enjoyable…but times and feelings change. This one in particular has seen a bit of a cult following as one of those weird sketches that (for some reasons) supersedes its weirdness and actually presents itself as a form of “Charming”. It doesn’t matter that a Ragtime Piano Player from the 1920s wants to discuss modern day tennis, just go with the flow and we’ll all feel better about ourselves eventually. I mean……just watch it and ask yourself if you could come up with a more bizarre scenario in a Sharknado sequel; you can’t, can you? And although men dressing as women has sort of devolved in my mind as a comedy crutch, it doesn’t make Tracy & Dean Edwards’ use here any less of a sketch saver. The absurd nature of the Premise alone, let alone Maya’s constant piano intervals, is worth the price of admission. I know I throw around words like “Trainwreck” and “Derailment” a lot, but this is more of the legitimate kind where you just don’t want to look away no matter how strange it is.
REVISED SCORE: B+
Update or “I’m Al Unser Jr.!” “I’m Princess Margret!” “I’m Drunk!”
Why is it that the Update features always suck? It’s sort of like how #10,6,5, & 1 on David Letterman’s lists always suck. (Sorry Dave) I share Tina’s digust when she had to introduce “Drunk Girl”…(SPEAKS IN TRI-CORDER.) Note to self, invent “Alcohol Patch”. As for Liza and Mr. Wax Head, I’m glad that they’re canceled! I mean, c’mon! does America really need another “Osbournes” reject? Anna Nicole, I’m looking in your direction…
ANNA NICOLE: Uh, Huh? Wha… why is the room spinning? Can somebody get my ass out of this chair?
OK, walk it off there kid! You and Update walk it off!
EDITOR’S NOTE: To Quote George Carlin; “Well ,That’s a Little VAGUE!”, so let’s try again:
Best Jokes (knowing full well that most of them are outdated as hell): Phillips Defibrillator/Dick Cheney 6-pack, Harry Potter, Bennifer, Richard Gere
Commentaries: Like I said a while ago, even though Drunk Girl was Jeff Richards’ best character on the show, that doesn’t mean it was any good…especially since drunkenness kinda hits home a little, but I digress. As for Liza Minelli & (the late) David Gest…I never thought I’d say this in a million years, but watching this now, these two roles were PERFECT for Maya and Kattan (*THUNDER*)…hey, c’mon, I’m giving him a compliment for once. It’s perfect for Maya because of how she enjoys going over the top; and it’s perfect for Kattan because all he really has to do is sit still and do very little while still being a spazz; but at least it’s a minimalistic spazz this time around, so he gets a rare pass.
Oh, yes, I forgot. The year 2002 was also the year when the E! Network (which aired Classic SNL reruns at the time) dropped a bomb of biological warfare called “The Anna Nicole show” onto an unsuspecting public—and for whatever reason, that same public ate it up the same way promos for her “show” were eating into said SNL reruns ‘round the clock…I hate wishing ill of the dead, but then again I’m currently reviewing a show where the host is deceased, so what do I care? We will Never forgive you, Anna Nicole Smith; thanks to your success, the Kardashians are partially YOUR fault.
REVISED SCORE: C+
Astronaut Jones or “Maybe we should finally tell them the big secret, that all the chimps we sent into space came back super intelegent!”
This sketch has sparked me into doing another one of my famous commentaries…
COMMENTARY: OoooK, How can I say this Without sounding offending? On my birthday, I got that “Live From New York” Book. And in it, they talk about how they never gave Garrett Morris a chance, no matter how hard he tried. After seeing this tonight, with a performance that has him reduced to licking his lips around and confering with Tracy and Nelly, I can not only agree with that statement, but I am offended by the fact that despite his best efforts, Garrett Morris is still getting the short end of the stick! I’m sorry, I know I’m not one to preach, but it just doesn’t seem right for him to be treated this way after all these years… And to top it all off, The put him in the stupidest sketch this side of “The Sensitve Naked Man”. I actually saw him perform Off Broadway once, and he was terrific! Even on “Jamie Foxx” he was better than on SNL! Anyway, that’s my opinion, and just my opinion, everybody has theirs.
Getting back on track, why do they even bother with these sketches? No matter how many monkies get thrown in the wrench, it’s still the same thing! Yet despite this, it’s not the “Oy Vey of the day”.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Nothing really to add to the statement; Garrett got majorly underserved by the show back then, and the fact that the audience barely realized he was even in the sketch says a lot. Luckily, I’ve become fond of the Astronaut Jones sketches since then, so consider this an early (yet somehow belated) Christmas gift to Garrett and to Tracy…
REVISED SCORE: B-
TV Funhouse/Religtables or “Bad Dog, I condemn you to hell!”
Now this one get’s the “Oy Vey!” Mainly for one sole purpose, Cartoons, Religion and Produce does not go together no matter how many times you try. That Cucumber Priest thing was what nailed it shut.
EDITOR’S NOTE: There I go being narrow-minded again. The short wasn’t that bad; if anything, I thought it was a capable spoof on just how insipid the “Veggietales” franchise can be—especially if you don’t want religion jammed unnecessarily down one’s throat…………should probably re-phrase that given the subject matter. If I’m not mistaken, this short aired around the time the Catholic Sex Scandals (including a MAJOR One in Boston that inspired the movie “Spotlight”) was reaching critical mass……again, phrasing. So to that respect, I Kinda get what Smigel & Co were going for…Could’ve done without an ear of Corn “Pleasuring” himself, but whatta’ya gonna do? Also, the CGI (though incredibly cheap looking) is actually kind of impressive not just for 2002, but also SNL’s short turnaround times.
REVISED SCORE: C+
Big Thick Book or “Marge, I’m Bored!” “Why don’t you read a book?” “‘Cause I’m trying to Reduce my boredom”
Actually funny this week! Not “Peepants from Vermont” funny, but still OK.
EDITOR’S NOTE: I think “Peepants from Vermont” was a callback to a Bush open a few weeks earlier…have to look it up again. Anyway, this is filler, so…
REVISED SCORE: N/A
Girl W/O Gaydar or “Bart, Where did you get that shirt?” “Dunno, it came out of the closet.”
At least they’re doing the smart thing and moving this to the last one of the night.
And now a message to the guy who wrote this… If you throw in a lesbian, you’re still not going to improve it! It’s still the same stupid joke, only W/O Will Ferrell as your ending punchline. I quote radio personality Don Imus: “You know the Cynide pills you carry with you? Take them now, because it’s over! It’s in the yearbook, For-Get About it.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: As I mentioned back in Dwayne Johnson’s 2002 episode, FUCK THIS SKETCH! And Thankfully, this was the Last one of these they did. Again, I’ll always be “Not Gay, but Supportive”. I just hated these sketches because Nobody can be THAT Stupid in trying to figure out if someone’s straight or not…4 TIMES. And thankfully, this is the ONLY sketch of the show where I don’t have to change the grade……………seriously, 4 TIMES they thought people would like this.
Grand Diagnosis: B-
Prescription: Think of how bad it would be if Sandler wasn’t there
Next Time: Take all the “You talkin’ to me” Jokes you can find, and chuck ’em! Cause a guy like DeNiro wouldn’t stand for it. BTW, could anyone out there fill me in as to who “Norah Jones” is? Is she new to the music world, or is she just trying to get noticed?
This Review is dedicated to all the Men and Women in America…Who choose to eat Ham instead of Turkey on Thanksgiving.
UPDATED SCORE: C-
UPDATED THOUGHTS: With all due respect to Ms. Murphy, wherever she is, this episode was not only a little too over hyped in my young eyes (Thanks in part to Sandler), but it also suffered from the most common thing that could happen to an average episode; It bolts out of the gate with the best of intentions and high hopes, only for it to run out of gas at/near/after “Update”—thus turning said high hopes into just another average show. Certainly not disastrous, but certainly not memorable (except for the fact that the host in question is now literally a fond memory). But sure enough, as so-so as this episode was, it paled in comparison to the disappointment that would follow my one Mr. DeNiro–hell, I can remember all the hype and the build-up that was made for that one; what should’ve been a Raging Bull turned out to be a Rocky & Bullwinkle…but I digress. Also, one last reminder—I listened to a lot of Alt. Rock back then, so my ignorance as to who Norah Jones is was perfectly valid.
Here’s what’s on tap for December:
*Al Gore’s Appearance from 2002.
*UPDATE (11/27/17): Since Kevin Hart will be hosting this year’s Christmas Show, and I have at least one of his previous episodes in my archives, we will post that during that week.
*My OTHER Favorite SNL Christmas Episodes (Not to be confused with “The 12 Days of SNL Christmas Sketches” I did last year)
*And in 2 weeks…I Know I promised to do this back in the summer, but that “Summer of Starmaker” thing turned out to be more time consuming than I thought it would be—Back to Back Bobby Moynihan & Vanessa Bayer retrospectives WILL Happen.
Here’s to a Vast Waistband this Turkey Weekend!