Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Oh, No!: "The Best of Saturday Night Live: The Mr. Bill Collection"

Starting out as a series of short films on "Saturday Night Live" in the late 1970's and early 1980's, "The Mr. Bill Show" was a funny one-joke idea that was milked repeatedly. Here, in a forty-eight minute marathon, a little goes a long way, but I was still laughing enough.

Created and produced by Walter Williams, "The Mr. Bill Show" featured a red-shirted clay figure named Mr. Bill, and his dog Spot. His "friend" was Mr. Hands, a pair of human hands who would usually end up hurting Mr. Bill and Spot, or naively bringing in Mr. Bill's archenemy Sluggo, a sour, dark figure who really was out to hurt our hero and his dog. Such mild fare like Mr. Bill going to New York City to see the sights, or going to the theater, usually meant lots of clay carnage, with tag lines like "oh, no!," "he's going to be mean to me!," and "why, oh, why?" tossed around constantly.

The films on the video collection run anywhere from under a minute to well over three minutes. They are gathered in a natural progression (the first one is really rough), as Bill finds himself framed for bank robbery, goes to trial (my favorite segment), and ends up in Sing Sing. We meet Bill's parents, and he even gets a girlfriend named Sally along the way. Williams still does Mr. Bill stuff on his website, using his character to champion environmental concerns in his native Louisiana, especially during the BP oil spill.

I don't know if this is a complete collection or not, but forty-eight minutes is a perfect amount of time for these snippets. It is just long enough to get the gist of the joke, but without becoming completely boring. I watched this in one sitting, laughed at the travails of this clay figure, and moved on. One note: the opening credits sequence, featuring an ancient early '90's attempt at computer animating Mr. Bill, is disastrous. Yikes, I'm glad that idea wasn't pursued.

"The Best of Saturday Night Live: The Mr. Bill Collection" made me nostalgic for staying up too late when I was a kid, watching this kinda forbidden television show, and sometimes getting the jokes. (* * * *) out of five stars.

The Best of Saturday Night Live: The Mr. Bill Collection
Written and Directed by Walter Williams
Cast: Walter Williams
Genre: Comedy
MPAA Rating: Not Rated, BC Rating: N/A, UK Rating: N/A, Aus Rating: N/A
Contains mild violence and some adult situations
Viewing: VHS

IMDB page, My rating: 7/10