Monday, October 4, 2010

Saturday Night Live October 2nd, 2010

Saturday Night Live, Season 36, Episode 2
October 2nd, 2010
Bryan Cranston
Musical Guest: Kanye West

Cold Open.
Andy Samberg and Bobby Moynihan show the contrast between the former and new White House Chief of Staff. Points to the SNL writers for pointing out what should have been obvious, but I hadn’t thought too much about before the sketch.

It’s sad whenever the monologue’s central joke is no one knowing whom the host is. Admittedly I didn’t recognize his name at first either, since it’s been a while since I watched Malcom in the Middle and don’t currently have cable! So I’m guilty of “Oh, yeah, that guy!”

Commercial Parody: Pepto Bismol Ice. I can imagine a world where this product is real. Enjoyable, if only moderately funny satire.

Miley Cyrus Show.
I was surprised that the first full sketch of the night starred two of the new featured players. Vanessa Bayer was great and the theme song was also great. The sketch is sort of a nice compliment to Amy Poehler’s Dakota Fanning Show….similar, but with enough of a different take to make it enjoyable. Paul Brittain’s Johnny Depp was serviceable enough but didn’t get too many great lines.

What Up With That? Back to School Edition.
If they are going to keep doing these, they need to push them a lot further. I wanna see Kenan Thompson working up a crazy sweat and singing his heart out. It’s starting to feel phoned in with its paint by numbers formula. The only part I never get tired of is Jason Sudeikis’ dancing. Minor thing: Is one of the new guys playing the same character Will Forte did? That seems unnecessary.

Sexy/Not So Much.
I was okay with them retreading this Kristen Wiig sketch from last year, but it’s weird that they followed the structure so closely. They didn’t need to have the same exact amount of characters/types/etc. If you are going to change the setting, go a bit further and change some more elements as well! Don’t fall into the SNL rut.

Digital Short.
I like how it started out as a parody of annoying pop up ads/cell phone services, but then had a silly/cute/violent twist that actually tied it all together rather than being completely random. I’m all about strategic randomness.

Kanye West.
Because of the white backdrop that blocked the entire stage and all the models on stage, this was the most an SNL musical performance has looked like a music video. It was interesting, but I prefer that musicians save the theatrics for the MTV Music Video Awards.
Weekend Update
I sorta liked the secondhand news guy by Bobby Moynihan. But it’s a mild like. Andy Samberg’s Cathy comic strip impersonation is still inspired. Part of me wishes they rigged something in the wig to automatically make the hair fly up rather than have him lift it with his hands. But that’s probably over-thinking it.

Game Show: Kidz Smart.
Another sketch where the main gag seems to be watching two male performers kissing each other (like the Vogelcheck family). The additional premise of the host being a pervert is funny mainly because Kenan Thompson’s kid character beats the crap out of him. The most distracting part was Vanessa Bayer being a bit too obvious in her cue card reading. Hopefully she’ll get over that.

The Bjelland Brothers.
Well, at least the performers seemed like they were having fun—even if I wasn’t. This lame sketch about lame performers didn’t go anywhere new or interesting. First time they sang the “sparkling apple juice” lyrics wasn’t so bad, but of course they have run it into the ground with forced repetition. These are the types of sketches that make you think they already burned through the good material and it’s time to flip the channel. In fact, I decided to go to sleep and watch the rest of the show later.

Henry Basement Karate.
This was my favorite sketch of the episode (and of course it was the second to last one! If it wasn’t for my DVR I would have completely missed it). Mostly because I like that Nasim Pedrad keeps trying out new non-celebrity characters. The voice is a tad annoying, but she really can pass for an elementary school boy. Henry is like a mashup of Amy Poehler’s Kaitlin, Mike Myers’ Wayne, Rachel Dratch’s Sheldon (from Wakeup Wakefield), Martin Short’s Ed Grimley (from SCTV), and Bruce McCullough’s Gavin (from Kids in The Hall). All characters I love! The thing I like best isn’t the character’s potential catch phrase “I’m Way Small,” but the way he overanalyzes his own life with complete objectivity. Sorta like a sports commentator explaining why he is the way he is. It’s a subtle trait for a comedy character, and it took a few exchanges to really gel. I re-watched it and noticed how the audience didn’t really laugh at first but started laugh more as it went. Luckily there was also the physical comedy of this little kid being repeatedly punched in the face by his own father for you to latch onto if you don’t like dialog-based humor as much as I do! I’m interested to see a reprise of this sketch—but hopefully placing the character in a completely new scenario. Luckily the dad was played by the host, so it’s unlikely they’d repeat that aspect.

Commercial Parody: I-Sleep Pro.
My second favorite sketch (and the last of the evening!). The conceit of Black Noise vs. White Noise is total genius. Even if the natural payoff is [arguably] racist humor—it’s undeniably funny!
Final thoughts. Nasim Pedrad is my new favorite performer on the show. Vanessa Bayer seems to have the most potential of this year’s new featured players. She’s already contributing the most, so I’m looking forward to seeing more.