Some thoughts and concerns about the upcoming season:
* Farewell to Ana Gasteyer. She had a great stay on the show, and in my opinion, she was one of the best and most versatile female cast members of all-time. I'll miss her. I heard that she might still make occasional cameos as Martha Stewart, that should be good.
* We got two new guys coming in, Fred Armisen and Will Forte. I read some stuff about Fred Armisen, and I don't know anything about Will Forte, but I do find it odd that one of Will Ferrell's replacements has the same first name as him, and the same first letter of his last name. I'll probably have a hard time recognizing them in sketches for the first few episodes, I went through the same problem last year with Seth Meyers.
* I'm surprised this will be Tracy Morgan's seventh season on the show. It doesn't feel like he's been on that long, probably because his first 4 or 5 years were a complete waste. He's doing better now, though, and I hope he gets used more this season.
* How in the world is Dean Edwards still on the show???
* Even more importantly, why the hell is Chris Kattan still on the show? Do we really need yet another season of clichéd "Chris Kattan is gay" jokes and tired Mango and Mr. Peepers sketches?
* And the biggest question on every SNL fan's mind: Who will our new Bush impersonator be? Darrell Hammond's probably out as an option (since he plays basically everyone else in the Bush administration). I'm predicting it will be either Chris Parnell or Tracy Morgan. Tracy as Bush would be absurd enough to actually work. But it should be Parnell, he needs the attention.
COLD OPENING: NBC Special Report: Dick Cheney
Kind of a short opening. Dick Cheney on an airborne missile was a funny sight. This didn't feel like season opening material; I would expect it to have something to do with Lorne trying to find a new Bush impersonator (like 94-95's Clinton auditions opening). Cheney talking to Bush over the phone made it even more obvious that they haven't found a new Bush impersonator yet. I hope they find one soon, or they might end up '94-95'-ing it by hardly doing any presidential parodies.
It's basically still the same opening montage from the past 2 seasons, but I like the changes they made to it. I also noticed Horatio Sanz has got a new pic. Why is Seth Meyers is still a featured player? Maybe he and Jeff Richards will be promoted mid-season. Will Forte kind of resembles Jim Breuer; it must be the eyes. Is Fred Armisen the first castmember since Tim Kazurinski to wear glasses in the opening montage?
MONOLOGUE/SKETCH: Matt Damon / Britney and Justin at The Lounge
A full sketch within the monologue? I don't think they've done that since Alec Baldwin's Roxbury Guys monologue. This was an interesting idea, at least. The Britney and Justin skit wasn't really as funny as it could've been, but I liked Amy Poehler's Britney Spears impression. The other highlights of the monologue were Matt Damon's brief impression of Mike Tyson, and Maya Rudolph's quick walk-on as Justin from American Idol.
COMMERCIAL: NRA, Part 1: Aflac Duck
This was hilarious. When this started out with Jimmy Fallon and Horatio Sanz duck hunting, I didn't know what to expect. The killing of the Aflac duck and the NRA message came out of nowhere. I love the commercial parodies that take an unexpected turn. The looks on Jimmy and Horatio's faces after they shot the duck were also priceless.
SKETCH: Brian Fellow's Safari Planet
Again??? Geez, I've grown to like this character and it's good that Tracy Morgan finally has a successful character, but they shouldn't overuse it like this. I still think Tracy does a fine job with this character, and his guest's confused reactions to him are always funny. But this wasn't nearly as good as The Rock one. How will they be able to the parrot making a phone call and pretending to be Brian Fellow?
Please, don't do this sketch again, for a while.
COMMERCIAL: NRA, Part 2: Carrot-Top
Even better than the first one. Sketches featuring Carrot-Top getting shot are always funny.
NEXT WEEK: Sarah Michelle Gellar
Sarah Michelle Gellar was a good host the first two times. I wonder if she'll eventually become a five-timer.
SKETCH: Sully & Denise at Bruce Springsteen's Concert
These characters are always enjoyable, and the accents always crack me up. Doing a Boston Teens sketch when Matt Damon's the host was a given. His reference to "Good Will Hunting" was pretty funny. I was kinda hoping that Ben Affleck would show up during this sketch to play Donnie Bartalotti, but it didn't happen. This wasn't the only time tonight where I thought he would show up.
Springsteen not being able to lift up Denise was hilarious. "He can't lift the jugs!"
COMMERCIAL: Nutri-Quick Meal-on-the-Go
Good commercial parody. The look on Jeff Richards' face as he was using the bathroom was hilarious. It's really nice to see a lot of commercial parodies on the season premiere.
SKETCH: Hannibal Lecter Goes to Michigan State
Not a bad movie trailer parody, but ran a little too long. Matt Damon did a good 'young Hannibal Lecter'. Will Forte makes his SNL debut playing a college student. Why does he keep reminding me of Jim Breuer?
MUSICAL GUEST: Bruce Springsteen
WEEKEND UPDATE: Fallon, Fey, Seth Meyers & Matt Damon, Fericito
It's good to see the Fey & Fallon team together for another season, though it wouldn't break my heart at all if Jimmy left and Tina anchored Update by herself. Speaking of which, I'm predicting that his will be Jimmy's last season on SNL. I think Tina would be fine with doing Update solo.
There weren't many outstanding jokes tonight, but there weren't really any bad ones either. The best was Tina's "John Walker Lindh" mini-rant, and Jimmy's: "An elementary school principal named Nancy Drew has instituted a new lunchroom policy: Classical music is played and there is no talking allowed. This has inspired a new Nancy Drew novel: 'The Mystery of the Old Bitch.'"
It's always good to see Seth Meyers on Weekend Update, his Update bits have all been good so far.
I've always had a fondness for ethnic characters, so I really enjoyed Fred Armisen's Venezuelan comedian/drummer. It's nice to see him with such a big role on his first show. I'm looking forward to seeing more from him, I've heard a lot of good stuff about him.
SKETCH: THE REAL Matt Damon
Clever idea for a sketch, and was executed well. Chris Parnell did a great job.
By the way, this was the other sketch where I was expecting a Ben Affleck cameo, since they mentioned his name. I'm disappointed that he didn't show up anywhere in tonight's show.
SKETCH: Versace Pockets
As much as I like Maya Rudolph's Donatella Versace, the premise is getting tired. Plus, Maya's impression was really off this time; she seemed to have toned it down a lot.
Tracy Morgan was playing P. Diddy? Man, that was a weak impression; he wasn't even trying. As funny as he is, Tracy isn't really a good impressionist.
I was laughing my ass off at Horatio's Rosie O'Donnell with her new bull-dyke haircut, the biggest laugh of the night.
Great to see the return of Dean Edwards' only recurring character, Silent Background Man. Now we know why he was kept on the show.
TV FUNHOUSE: The Smurfette Show
The only person in the world more annoying than Carrot-Top has got to be Anna Buffalo Smith. Someone needs to harpoon that whale and take trash TV show off the air now. I'm happy to see SNL taking as shot at her, but unfortunately, this cartoon wasn't anywhere near as good as it should have been. The whole Smurfs cross-over was went nowhere. I think they should've just done a real sketch parodying her (I bet Rachel Dratch or Amy Poehler could easily pull off the impression). Or even better, have her be the one in the NRA commercial to get shot.
At least it wasn't Fun with Real Audio.
MUSICAL GUEST: Bruce Springsteen
SKETCH: Sex Robot 2000
This was nothing special or hilariously funny, typical for a late sketch. This is Chris Kattan's second role in all of tonight's show, and both of them were only small parts. They never seem to know what to do with him anymore. That's when you should know your time on the show is up.
SKETCH/COMMERCIAL: Dr. Phil
What's this? Jeff Richards starring in a sketch? His Dr. Phil impression was good, and he looked a lot like him. Better than Will Ferrell's impression, who's Dr. Phil looked more like Terry Bradshaw with a moustache. This was nice and short, but didn't go over well with the studio audience. The funniest part was when he told the woman to take her top off, and she reluctantly starting doing that.
By the way, who was that in the Santa outfit? I couldn't tell. I'm guessing it was Will Forte? Whoever it was looked like they didn't even want to be there.
COMMERCIAL: The War on Iraq
Great way to close the show. A whole bunch of funny lines in this:
"It's a story of moustaches. Lots and lots of Tom Selleck moustaches"
"Are Tony Blair and George W. falling in love?"
"'The War on Iraq' coming to NBC this fall... or possibly December. Or in the New Year. Nobody seems to know for sure"
Again, a great closer.
Got cut off again. What else is new? I found it funny that Jeff was still dressed as Dr. Phil.
Pretty disappointing for a season opener. There was way too much average material and quite a lot of forgettable stuff. I do like that they did some more material than usual tonight, and tried some different stuff (recurring NRA ads, sketch within the monologue), but this could have been much better. There hasn't been a really good season opener since the 1998 Cameron Diaz episode. Matt Damon did a fine job as the host and showed good range, he should host again later. The best material of the night was the mock commercials and Sully & Denise. Worst of the night was the Smigel cartoon. Funniest single moment of the night definitely had to be Horatio as Rosie O'Donnell.
CAST MEMBER COUNT DOWN
DRATCH: 1 sketch (Sully & Denise)
FALLON: 4 sketches (NRA #1; NRA #2; Sully & Denise; Weekend Update)
FEY: 1 sketch (Weekend Update)
HAMMOND: 3 sketches (NBC Special Report; The Real Matt Damon; Sex Robot 2000)
KATTAN: 2 sketches (Monologue/Britney and Justin; Sex Robot 2000)
MORGAN: 3 sketches (Brian Fellow's Safari Planet; The Real Matt Damon; Versace Pockets)
PARNELL: 6 sketches (NBC Special Report; Nutri-Quick; Hannibal Lecter Goes to Michigan State; The Real Matt Damon n; Sex Robot 2000; The War on Iraq)
POEHLER: 6 sketches (Monologue/Britney and Justin; The Real Matt Damon; Versace Pockets; TV Funhouse; Sex Robot 2000; Dr. Phil)
RUDOLPH: 3 sketches (Monologue/Britney and Justin; Versace Pockets; Dr. Phil)
SANZ: 6 sketches (NRA #1; Brian Fellow's Safari Planet; NRA #2; Sully & Denise; Hannibal Lecter Goes to Michigan State; Versace Pockets)
ARMISEN: 2 sketches (Weekend Update; Dr. Phil)
EDWARDS: 3 sketches (Nutri-Quick; The Real Matt Damon; Versace Pockets)
FORTE: 2 sketches (Hannibal Lecter Goes to Michigan State; Dr. Phil [?])
MEYERS: 6 sketches (NRA #2; Nutri-Quick; Hannibal Lecter Goes to Michigan State; Weekend Update; Versace Pockets; TV Funhouse)
RICHARDS: 3 sketches (Nutri-Quick; Sex Robot 2000; Dr. Phil)
Chris Parnell, Jimmy Fallon and Horatio Sanz (!) were the stars of the night. I think those three will carry the show now that Ferrell's gone, and it's about time; I predicted the Fallon/Parnell/Sanz take-over would happen way back in 2000. Kattan was wisely not given much to do, Rachel unfortunately only had Sully & Denise, Jeff Richards finally got to star in a sketch, and Dean got in his patented useless appearances on the show.
And that's the show. Thanks for reading.