In the 1990s there was the battle between the late night sketch shows. The two were the behemoth Saturday Night Live on NBC and the little show that could, MAD TV, on Fox.
I didn’t really like the new cast of SNL in 1995. I actually wrote about both SNL and MAD TV in my first year at Madison Area Technical College for their paper. I remember writing, “Will Ferrell only has two modes: angry and hyperactive. He will be gone in a couple years and we will never hear from him again.” Boy was I wrong, and I am glad to be wrong because his George W. Bush was the greatest impression since Carvey’s George H. W. Bush. And the world would be a sadder place without The Anchorman.
But back to MAD TV. It was edgy and exciting. I was on teamMAD TV for the 2nd half of the 90’s. The characters The Vancome Lady, Mrs. Kwan, and the UBS man were my jam. I remember when I first saw The Greatest Action Story Ever Told. The year was 1996 and it blew me away. It was filmed like an actual trailer spoofing The Terminator and as a fan of those movies and Christmas, I fell in love.
In this sketch Bryan Callen played The Terminator. He would go on to play, Coach Mellor, one of my favorite supporting characters on The Goldbergs. David Herman who played Jesus went on to steal Office Space as The ill named Michael Bolton. These two comedians are pure comic gold. I think this is one of the best trailer spoof of all time.
It starts with the deep-voiced narration that was in almost every trailer of the 90’s and 00’s. You see electricity and instead of traveling to the Griffith Observatory, The Terminator travels to Bethlehem in Judea.
I wonder how many takes were required to film with a straight face the scene where The Terminator, naked as a jay bird, wants a wise man’s (played by Phil LaMarr) robes “What are you, some kind of wise guy?” Asks The Terminator before He punches the wise man out, The Terminator next scans for Baby Jesus but sees that He has already left for Nazareth.
Flash forward to 33 AD. The Terminator tries to save Jesus but Jesus tries to explain for the first of many times that He is to be crucified for the sins of mankind. “What are you a Glutton for Punishment?”, The Terminator asks. Jesus tries to explain to The Terminator why it is wrong to kill, finally realizing that it is like talking to a brick wall. When you watch this you kind of get frustrated along with Him.
Next, Jesus is at The Last Supper. The Terminator kicks in the door and shoots Judas with a shotgun blast and Jesus quickly heals Judas. So The Terminator shoots him again. Jesus gets exasperated, “Look, I have a lot on my mind right now and you are really starting to stress me out! OK?” Then Jesus chases The Terminator to get the shotgun away from him.
The next scene is at the Crucifixion and a woman is sobbing uncontrollably. The Terminator puts his arm around her and says, “Don’t worry. He’ll be back.” A great use of Arnold’s catchphrase.
There are so many memorable lines : “Hasta La Vista, Baby Jesus.”, “Come with me if you want to live.”, “In the Beginning their was Arnold.”, “Forgive Him Father, he is a robot from the future.” and my favorite “STOP KILLING JUDAS!!!!!”
I know that this isn’t Biblically accurate. Roman Centurions did not try to arrest Jesus while he was preaching The Sermon on the Plain. The Chief Priest’s soldiers arrested Him in the Garden. It is a small historical and biblical point but what the heck, this is about a Terminator going back to save Jesus. I still love this sketch.
It makes you wonder how frustrated Jesus is with us humans. He makes it pretty clear that we are supposed to love our neighbors, not hoard wealth, be merciful and humble and show justice. It is not rocket science but we as humans so often get it wrong. Look at the religious right for example. They try to serve Him but in the end do things, for noble reasons at first, end up going against His very mission. I and other Christians are more like The Terminator in this sketch than we would probably like to admit. We like to think that we have it all down when it comes to Jesus but often we are as clueless as The Terminator.
I am a Christian and that last line, “Don’t worry, He’ll be back.” is at the core of my faith. That Jesus will return. That death does not have the final word. That sin does not have the final say. Jesus will be back and when He returns all sins will be washed away. We will be the people we were supposed to be before greed, lust, violence and pride took hold in our hearts. But until then as Christians, we have to continue as Prophet Micah said in Micah 6:8 to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.