Saturday, January 31, 2009

Saturday Night Live, January 31st, 2009

Saturday Night Live
January 31st, 2009
Host: Steve Martin
Musical Guest: Jason Mraz

Cold Open.
First cold opening with Obama as the president. I think Fred Armisen keeps getting better with his Obama impression, and the whitening of his hair is a nice detail. It's going to be hard to follow up all the years of great George Bush openings, but considering Obama gives writers less to work with it, it turned out okay!

Steve Martin's 15th time! I think I prefer when he does a song or interacts behind the stage. His stand up ended up a bit awkward.

Chewable Diapers.
A new classic to add to the rich history of brilliant commercial parodies! Along the lines of the Jiffy Pop airbag.

Only one real commercial, and suddenly a McGruber sketch? And with the real McGuyver doing a surprise cameo? And wait, it WAS actually a commercial? I'm confused! I wonder if it will air on the Super Bowl tomorrow?

Super Bowl.
The return of Will Forte and Kristen Wiig characters I sort of remember them doing once before but find it hard to describe exactly how to describe them. Boring? Out of touch? I guess the passing of time is the extra angle, morphing the characters from timid to random. Subtle comedy to be sure.

Digital Short: Laser Cats 4.
I definitely want to like the laser cats. It doesn't make me laugh, but it evokes the kind of low-budget nonsense I usually enjoy.

I loved this sketch! Similar setup as the Will Forte-Kristen Wiig "Good Excuse" sketch from last week, except PERFECTLY executed! Great new character from Kenan, who can crack me up by just lowering his eyes (as seen with his Whoopi Goldberg on The View). But there were tons of great lines like "What can we glean from this?" "Can I squeeze one of them?" And I was glad there were lots of variations to the running gag rather than copping out to a single catch phrase. I'd certainly look forward to them bringing this bit back at least once more.

McGruber Commercial 2.
Maybe I've just been beat into submission but I really liked this one! Will Forte's reaction to "Are you sponsored by Pepsi?" was genuinely funny.

Bernie Madoff.
Good impersonation, but boring execution.

Casey Wilson and Steve Martin.
I love how Abraham Lincoln is always walking around in the background. At first I thought Casey Wilson singing the Carpenters was going to be a reference to the movie Parenthood. This ended up being a showcase of the current female cast members' singing abilities. I still don't have any strong opinions on any of the newer cast members.

McGruber Commercial 3.
I was convinced that this one was going to be lame but then I laughed at the end line.

Jason Mraz.
This song sounded like Israel Kamakawiwo'ole cover of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" that they always play on New Years after the ball falls in Times Square. Not really my cup of tea, and yet it went down easy enough.

Weekend Update
Not a great impersonation of Rod Blagojevich by Jason Sudeikis (the accent was totally off), but he was still kind of funny and you can't go wrong with Brushy.

Abby Elliott was surprisingly great as Angelina Jolie looking for babies. I guess I have more of an opinion about her now!

After all the controversy last time, I can’t believe they had the balls to bring back Fred Armisen as Governor Patterson again. It's pretty amazing how unafraid of being offensive they are! Feels almost like a throwback to the original years.

ASIDE: I wasn't sure how to spell "Blagojevich," so I clicked on CNN and there he was talking to Larry King.

Husband and Wife.
I give Kristen Wiig credit for trying out so many new characters, but between this and Gilly, she's been crashing and burning lately. Steve Martin seemed like he had no idea what to do, where to stand, or what cue cards to read.

I flipped the channels during the commercial and The Swell Season (with the rest of the Frames as back up!) were performing on Austin City Limits (PBS) so I watched that instead of the last part of SNL. Sorry, but they are one of my most favorite bands! As Glen Hansard would say, "Fookin' brilliant!"

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Saturday Night Live January 17th, 2009

Saturday Night Live
January 17th, 2009
Host: Rosario Dawson
Musical Guest: Fleet Foxes

Cold Open.
Diane Sawyer interviews Vice President Dick Cheney.
One joke repeated for four minutes. I REGRET sitting through it.

Featuring the return of Fred Armisen's stereotype of Latin comedy. I'm not sure if I'd say I MISSED him, but it made me laugh with a mild sense of nostalgia.

North American Savings.
Not exactly hilarious, but completely accurate.

Da Learning Train.
It's a bit sad how SNL's rap culture is eternally stuck in the early 90's (except for the Kanye West glasses on the DJ). But I guess that's part of the point? Giant clock necklaces and Fresh Prince video backdrops aside, this sketch ended up being kind of okay.

Guantanamo Bay Commercial.
This sketch was all the in execution. On paper another going out of business commercial parody would have seemed pretty lame, but they managed to pull it off. Lots of great delivery and visual gags. I need some C-C-Car Batteries.

Aladdin and Jasmine.
Wow. This was like the ultimate Disney fanfic. Obviously written by someone really familiar with the movie. Lots of great lines and jabs at Robin Williams.
"I wish I was dead. But I already used all my wishes."
Probably the highlight of the episode.

Digital Short.
This sketched reeked of Will Forte's overconfident singing/songwriting before he even showed up on screen. Not even his bare ass could save this one.

Started off as another sketch with Will Forte's creepy mustache, then segued into an even creepier new character from Kristen Wiig. She's sort of a live action hybrid of comic strip characters Nancy and Dennis the Menace. She causes trouble, makes shifty eyes, and only says one-word responses. I found this sketch utterly painful and thought it broke Kristen Wiig's winning character creation streak.

Musical Guest: The Fleet Foxes.
I like the Fleet Foxes. They sound like they could have been on the soundtrack to The Last Unicorn This is the first band that's played on SNL all year whose album I actually own (or at least my wife does!). Great harmonies and old-timey Renaissance Faire rhythms. Beards ahoy!

Weekend Update.
Fred Armisen was good as Bernie Madoff. I'm not sure how the teleprompter can keep up with Kristen Wiig's Julie Grimes character. I loved Seth Meyer's questioning of Larry the Goose's pop culture references.

La Policia.
It took me a few seconds to get it. But it was cute.
Random thought I had while watching: Why is Bill Hader with a mustache much funnier thanWill Forte?

The View.
I'm not sure why I love SNL's take on The View, but it seems to hit all the right notes. The impersonations are heightened enough that they get more mileage compared to many of the other celebrity parody setups. It is almost enough to distract from the fact that they didn't have a point to this sketch.

Good Excuse.
Sometimes they save the most creative and original sketches for the end. This is not one of those nights The sketch had an okay premise, but the characters created by Will Forte and Kristen Wiig just seemed pointlessly weird and out of place. The only inspired part was the cut away to the cats in the audience.


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Saturday Night Live, January 10th, 2009

Saturday Night Live
January 10th, 2009
Host: Neil Patrick Harris
Musical Guest: Taylor Swift

First off: Thanks to my wife, Raina for blogging the last few episodes before the break!
Sadly I missed the first two sketches of this week's episode too. I was watching the end of the Carey Grant movie "His Girl Friday," which was too hilarious not to finish up!

Broadway meeting.
A few years ago it seemed like every week SNL would do a sketch that was just an excuse to show off the cast's celebrity impressions. This was like that except with Broadway characters. It's just about the viewer going, "Wow, he looks just like that guy!" Or "She sounds exactly the same as her!" But if you are a hardcore fan of Broadway shows, I'm sure this sketch would have been AMAZING. As a moderate fan I'd say it was cute.

Penelope the Bragger in group therapy.
I'm sure at some point I'll get tired of this reoccurring character, but it hasn't happened yet.
Kristen Wiig manages to get a lot of mileage and genuine laughs. Showing up at the door as the girl was trying to leave was my favorite moment. "I'm having a panic attack, too." That, and having Liza Minelli show up with their friend the tomato.

Doogie Howser M.D. Orchestra
Another sketch I'd summarize as cute. I'm sure a lot of people who grew up watching the Doogie Howser Show will be sharing the clip on Youtube from here till eternity. I did grow up watching the show, but don't really have any nostalgia for it, ironic or otherwise. But I liked that the cast for the most part played it straight--or pretended like they were having fun and smiling. Neil Patrick Harris' lone tear at the end helped the endeavor.

Taylor Swift.
Another musical guest I've never heard of, so I'll assume she's from American Idol.
She gets 10 points for playing an instrument. Sorta like Jewel-light, with hints of Scarlet Johansson.

Weekend Update.
Another song from Will Forte. When will he realize he's not Adam Sandler? They're okay sometimes. But, only SOMETIMES. This was not one of those times. But I did like him asking if we could switch over to HBO for a sec so he could curse. Also bee jokes are usually good.

A repeat of the SNL presidential bash on Sunday? At 9PM prime time? Is NBC that desperate? Do they really expect the ratings to be that good? Who hasn't seen those sketches by this point?

Two First Names.
I'm glad someone had to produce a song parody of Destiny's Child's "Say My Name."
This sketch was another example of the cast just showing off their celebrity impersonations just for one quick gag or word ("yogurt"). Most of the impressions were good (as they often are), so I'm not really knocking them--just the format. The ad for Kangols hats with Billy Bob Thorton and Joey Pants was greatness.

This Push movie looks like it has Airbending in it.

Two Ladies with long nails.
At first this reminded me of the Kids in the Hall Cathy/Kathie sketches, in part because of the drag aspect, but also just in the catty nature of Kristen Wiig and Neil Patrick Harris' characterizations. But once it started to focus more on doing things with long nails, it became more about the visual comedy. And there was something surreal about how the two of them kept doing parallel actions. So even though it never really got any big laughs there was an ambitious approach to whatever it was they were trying to do!

Frost/Other People.
Another series of random impressions. By this point in the episode it was feeling pretty sad.

Whopper Virgins
Parody of Burger King commercials I haven't seen but someone told me about. Seemed kind of funny. I'm kind of sickened by the idea of the original commercials, though. I like that McDonald's was okay with paying to advertise on an episode that basically gave free ad time to Burger King.