FIVE STAR RATINGS SYSTEM:
***** = Excellent, flawless
**** = Great
*** = Average
** = Poor, with only a few highlights
* = Just plain terrible
[COLD OPENING] Bush responds to criticisms
-- Good to see a behind-the-desk Bush address with Will. This was a good, solid opening.
-- The Ditech commercial reference was hilarious.
-- They got in the obligatory (and dated) reference to the Cheney shooting incident, but it worked here and was thankfully short. A little weird seeing Bush acting in control of Cheney for once, but it was funny.
[MONOLOGUE] Natalie Portman
-- Natalie’s microphone wasn’t working properly at the beginning.
-- Sudeikis was hilarious, and his facial expression.
-- Parnell always plays the pervy characters, but they always make me laugh and his question about Natalie’s old wardrobe was the best part.
[COMMERCIAL] Nelson’s Baby Toupees
[SKETCH] Jamba Juice
-- Good energetic performances from Seth and Natalie especially, and a couple of funny lines like Seth talking about lifting a car with a boy under it, and his urine being the colors of a rainbow.
-- Kenan’s line bombed with the audience.
-- Parnell as the customer ordering a fem boost was good.
-- I knew Horatio was going to laugh during the serious moment towards the end, but I’m surprised Seth laughed first.
-- This was overall okay, but shouldn’t have been the first sketch of the night and this better not be brought back.
[SKETCH] Larry King Live
-- Fred’s Larry King was decent. Not as accurate as some past Larry King impressions on SNL, but Fred still made me laugh a lot here.
-- Kristen’s Felicity Huffman impression was weird this time, and not as good as the first time she played her. Why’d she keep doing that twitchy thing with her eye?
-- The interviews with Will and Natalie’s characters were the best parts.
[NEXT WEEK] March 11, 2006: Matt Dillon
[SKETCH] The Needlers
-- Why do they keep changing the theme song every damn time they do this?
-- I never get excited when these characters make their entrance, but the sketches always end up turning out better than I expect. The banter and one-liners between Seth and Amy were especially good this time around.
-- Natalie played a good straightman here.
-- C’mon, they’ve GOT to get rid of that “The Needlers are in the other room having sex on the ____” ending. It’s the same EVERY TIME and it never gets any laughs. And why’s it always Jason who has to say that line?
-- The sperm sample bit at the end was hilarious, though, and made up for the usually stale sex ending.
[TV FUNHOUSE] Belated Black History Moment
-- Dennis Haysbert? He came out of nowhere, but that was hilarious. I also think this is the first TV Funhouse with scenes that were done live.
-- The Token Power cartoon was great, especially Tracy Morgan’s cameo.
-- Driving Ms. Daisy intro – didn’t work at all, but at least it was short.
-- The Ladysmith Black Mambazo in Outer Space cartoon was the best part and was pure hilarity.
[SKETCH] The Nunis
-- Same old, same old as always. They could be doing so much more with these characters and using them in different funny situations, but instead, they just have them in the same setting with the same premise that only worked the first time.
-- You know that thing I said in the Needlers sketches about the ending with them having sex being beyond stale now? Well, the same goes for this sketch with the “Nuni” pronunciation bit they ALWAYS do at the beginning. It wasn’t even funny the first time they did that (and I actually liked the first Nuni sketch overall), yet they just HAVE to bring that part back every time for some reason.
-- I still chuckled at a few parts like the ice cream eating and a few lines, but they either need to do something new with these characters or stop using them period.
[WEEKEND UPDATE] Fey & Poehler, Stewart/Trump, Cohen, Thompson
-- The Donald Trump disguised as Martha Stewart segment was decent and gave Darrell something new to do with his Trump impression, which was beginning to get stale. Although the Barbera Mandrell joke toward the end fell flat.
-- The Sasha Cohen Olympic joke parts were brilliant, especially the second one.
-- Kenan’s clothing line segment was great and Finesse actually had me laughing until the annoying Starkisha segue at the end.
-- I liked all the different and creative side bits they did with Update this time around. It was almost enough to make up for the usual suckfest with Tina and Amy’s Update jokes. I even liked the Oscar bit with Amy thanking every other famous Tina except Tina Fey.
[SKETCH] Sheldon’s Bar Mitzvah
-- Wake up Wakefield? What the…? Talk about coming out of left field. They haven’t done this sketch in ages and I had thought they retired it.
-- I think the long hiatus actually did this sketch some good because I used to dislike this sketch and find it boring, but I actually laughed at it quite a bit tonight. Plus, another thing that made this work is because they took the characters to a different setting from usual this time. The writers of the Nuni sketches need to take pointers from this.
-- Andy had me laughing here, especially with his facial expression when he was dancing.
[DIGITAL SHORT] The Real Natalie
-- I usually try not to compare the post-Lazy Sunday digital shorts to that one because it’s unfair, but this one DID have its share of similarities. Still, I loved this short and was laughing my ass off at Natalie’s lyrics, her angry demeanor, and all the bleeping. I also liked Andy showing up out of nowhere with the Viking hat, and the "Whaaaat?" ending.
-- They may never be able to top Lazy Sunday for all we know, but I don’t care as long as the digital shorts are still really funny, and so far they all have been.
[COMMERCIAL] Rad 3000
-- Yet another rerun.
-- TV Funhouse
-- The Real Natalie
-- Bush responds to criticisms
-- The Needlers
-- Parnell and Jason in the monologue
-- The Sasha Cohen and Kenan portions of Weekend Update
-- Natalie’s overall performance as the host
-- The Nunis
-- The Tina/Amy portions of Weekend Update
-- The repetitive ending of The Needlers
-- Two repeated commercials
OVERALL THOUGHTS: A pretty good, solid show. Not that much classic stuff in this episode, but almost everything was at least acceptable and even the weakest sketch of the night (Nunis) wasn’t that horrible and it got 2 stars. Natalie did a surprisingly very good job tonight and had a lot of enthusiasm and energy.
OVERALL RATING: ***
CASTMEMBER COUNT DOWN:
ARMISEN: 4 sketches [Larry King Live | The Nunis | Sheldon’s Bar Mitzvah | Rad 3000]
DRATCH: 4 sketches [Jamba Juice | Larry King Live | Sheldon’s Bar Mitzvah | Rad 3000]
FEY: 1 sketch [Weekend Update]
FORTE: 4 sketches [Bush responds to criticisms | Larry King Live | Sheldon’s Bar Mitzvah | Rad 3000]
HAMMOND: 2 sketches [Bush responds to criticisms | Weekend Update]
MEYERS: 3 sketches [Jamba Juice | The Needlers | The Real Natalie]
MITCHELL: 3 sketches [Monologue | Weekend Update | Rad 3000]
PARNELL: 7 sketches [Monologue | Jamba Juice | The Needlers | The Nunis | Sheldon’s Bar Mitzvah | The Real Natalie | Rad 3000]
POEHLER: 5 sketches [Jamba Juice | Larry King Live | The Needlers | Weekend Update | Rad 3000]
RUDOLPH: 3 sketches [TV Funhouse | The Nunis | Sheldon’s Bar Mitzvah]
SANZ: 2 sketches [Jamba Juice | Rad 3000]
THOMPSON: 3 sketches [Jamba Juice | Weekend Update | Rad 3000]
HADER: 2 sketches [Nelson’s Baby Toupees | Jamba Juice]
SAMBERG: 3 sketches [Monologue | Sheldon’s Bar Mitzvah | The Real Natalie]
SUDEIKIS: 4 sketches [Monologue | The Needlers | The Nunis | Rad 3000]
WIIG: 3 sketches [Monologue | Larry King Live | Weekend Update]