The fifteenth season of "SNL" is slowly winding down by this point, and just before the PR disaster that some pundits called "The Diceman Cometh" comes quite possibly the best episode of the season. The host is Alec Baldwin, who is so effective in this episode that he would host ten more times between 1990 and 2003. As musical guests, The B-52's return to the show eleven years after bringing down the house at the same time Teri Garr was a debutante behind bars. In the middle of all this magic was the big Earth Day concert that was being held in Central Park the day after this episode aired. This is a very exciting mish-mosh to watch.
And now, a sketch-by-sketch recap:
COLD OPENING: Dana Carvey as President Bush, addressing the nation about Earth Day and the environment. A typical and borderline formulaic Pappy appearance, but it works. Carvey had been doing the George H. Bush impression for two years by that point, but he still has fun with it.
MONOLOGUE: Alec Baldwin smugs at the camera for five minutes. Ugh. The only real low point of the show.
"Greenhilly": The second sketch of the night is a soap-opera spoof where a visitor (Baldwin) wrecks romantic havoc around a country villa. Over the course of the sketch, he manages to seduce Victoria Jackson, Jan Hooks, Nora Dunn, Phil Hartman (with the most heterosexually gay kiss I've ever seen) and a dog. The Hartman-Baldwin kiss was not only a surprise, but hilarious.
"The Environmentally Conscious One": Alec Baldwin plays a Brando-type in this spoof of "The Wild One" where a young rebel enters a small town, bullies people in recycling, and seduces the daughter of the owner of the local sulfer plant (Vic Jackson in a rocket bra). The best part of the sketch also involves Hartman, who plays the sulfer magnate. Upon learning that the plant going to blow up at any minute, he tells a departing Baldwin, "Take me with you." Hartman says it so effeminitely that Baldwin almost breaks character and laughs. Best sketch of the night. Also: look for David Spade and Rob Schnieder, then writers on the show, as members of Baldwin's gang in this sketch.
"The Garbo I Knew": Biographer James O'Brien recalls Greta Garbo and her butler hiding from a delivery man (Schnieder). Hooks, playing Garbo, once again proves that she can do pratfalls very well.
"Only In New York": A lesser recurring sketch in which Joey and Cindy Adams (Hartman and Dunn) gossip and kvetch. Probably the weakest sketch of the night.
MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: The B-52's perform the title track from their 1989 hit album "Cosmic Thing." Look for a Earth Day flag in the background. A very energetic performance.
WEEKEND UPDATE: Dennis Miller, probably the best of all the "WU" anchors, seems a little bored in this episode, but he still finds laughs. Kevin Nealon provides news from ten feet away, and A. Whitney Brown talks about the environment in "The Big Picture."
"Nude Talk Show": Jon Lovitz plays a man with a dream, and that dream is to host an all-nude talk show on cable access. Bizarre but creative, with a great awards-show spoof near the end of the sketch. Look for Conan O'Brien as Jon's somewhat camera-shy guest on the first episode.
"Sexual Tensions Diner": Hooks and Dunn play waitresses, Hartman and Nealon play man-child customers, and Baldwin is a trucker seeking only a "hot cup of coffee." It's not the best sketch, but it's still amusing.
MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: The B-52's play "Channel Z." Likable, but "Cosmic Thing" was better.
"Middle-Aged Man": The debut of a recurring sketch that appeared occasionally in year sixteen. Mike Myers plays Ed Miles, a semi-superhero who gives a couple (Baldwin, Hooks) tips on sex. Like "Nude Talk Show," you can't help but soak up the silliness.
All in all, a very memorable episode. If my memory serves me right, Comedy Central edited out "Only In New York," "The Garbo I Knew," "Sexual Tension Diner" and the B-52's "Channel Z" back when they repeated episodes from the 80's. Deservedly so, as they pailed to such surrealist masterpieces like "Nude Talk Show" and "The Enviromentally Conscious One." This is, quite simply, the last great episode before SNL's overpopulation era.
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