There’s no place like home but sometimes it has unexpected shortcomings of its own. That was the lesson learned by the still-concussed Dorothy Gale (Kate McKinnon) in the black-and-white “alternate ending” to The Wizard of Oz, the celluloid artifact that was spotlighted tonight on an Saturday Night Live sketch.
It was framed as another installment of the fictional PBS show Cinema Classics, hosted by the feckless Reese De’What (Kenan Thompson), whose previous Old Hollywood targets have included Casablanca and To Have and Have Not.
McKinnon’s Dorothy is back in her bed Kansas with her head spinning and trying to set out her memories of the fantastical realm that she visited on the far side of the rainbow. Just like the familiar version of the MGM classic, Dorothy tells the farmhands that they were there in her dream as Scarecrow, the Tin Woodsman, and the Cowardly Lion. The scene veers, however, when Doctor Pickens (Will Ferrell, walking on his knees) asks if he was in the dream.
Dorothy is reluctant to explain to the diminutive physician that he did have an important but, um, small-scale role in the faraway adventure. Other townsfolk of limited stature (a lawyer and a teacher among them) show up with the same awkward question. “Does it really matter what everybody was?” Dorothy protests.
It doesn’t go well when she finally tells her tall tale about a land of singing munchkins. “So what were we funny little weirdos? To make you laugh?” Dorothy tells her neighbors that they should be proud (“You were all heroes in your own small ways.”) but Ferrell’s mini-man of medicine wasn’t swallowing that bitter pill. “I wish that tornado had killed you!”
It gets worse from there. Dorothy really stepped in it with her ruby slippers on this one. Interesting tidbit: There’s a fleeting reference in the skit to the old apocryphal Hollywood tale about a munchkin suicide on the set of the fantasy film, which celebrates its 80th anniversary this year.