***** - Future classic
**** - Almost perfect
*** - Average in every way
** - Eh
* - Is this 1994-95 again?
COLD OPENING: A Message from President Bush
- A good opening, and the reading of the letters was a nice change of pace for these address the nation openings. I also laughed at Jason’s sly looks into the camera each time he’d read “Dear Mr. President”.
- I wish they’d to a non-political opening for once (even the Borat opening was somewhat political), but I guess they want to get the audience familiar with Jason’s Bush impression since this is the third episode in a row that opened with him. I don’t remember them using Forte, Parnell, or Hammond’s Bush impressions so much when they first started out. I think this is a good sign that Jason as Bush is here to stay.
MONOLOGUE: Annette Bening
- I wonder why the got the female castmembers to play the audience members instead of the writers like they usually do.
- The real estate questions were only average, but this really picked up with Alec Baldwin(!!!!) making a surprise cameo. That was cool to see him again so soon after his last hosting job, and he was hilarious as usual here.
COMMERCIAL: An SNL Movie Trailer Re-Cut: Apocalypto
- Is this re-cut movie trailer thing going to be a new segment for SNL now? Since most of the traditional commercials this season have been lame, maybe this trailer thing is a good idea. I like the idea of it, and this one was really funny. Yes, it was very predictable what they’d do with it, but I laughed my ass off anyway. The “I smell bagels” line at the end capped it off perfectly.
- I wonder if the Lonely Island guys had anything to do with this. The only reason I ask is because the “An SNL Movie Trailer Re-cut” opening title reminded me of the SNL Digital Short title sequence. And this re-edited trailer thing does seem like something the Lonely Island guys would do.
SKETCH: Good Morning: I Hate this Town
- I thought this would be kinda funny when they showed the opening credits, but this just turned out to be a complete one-joke sketch with them calling the people in their town dumbasses for the entire sketch. Just plain stupid. Kenan’s part was lame, too. Why in the world was this chosen as the first sketch of the night? Not a good way to kick things off.
- Jason’s performance slightly elevated the sketch, but this was still really, really bad.
TV FUNHOUSE: Diddy Kiddies
- This was pretty boring. I laughed at a few parts, but this went on way too long and didn’t have much of a pay off. Smigel’s cartoons have been kinda below standards this year in general. He better have a good Christmas one for next week.
SKETCH: Lovestruck Teacher
- I knew where this was going after the first 20 seconds, and it didn’t get any more interesting from there. And Samberg did basically nothing here. Annette’s song at the end just made things worse.
- This was also the first of many times tonight where Annette’s cue cards reading came into notice.
NEXT WEEK: December 16, 2006: Justin Timberlake
- While I still don’t care for his music or him at all, his hosting job last time really impressed and surprised me. I think he’ll do another excellent job again next week, and hopefully this can equal or top last year’s Christmas Spectacular with Jack Black and Neil Young. I just hope they don’t drag out The Barry Gibb Talk Show for a third time. That definitely should have been a one-time only sketch.
SKETCH: Two A-Holes at a Live Nativity Scene
- Good to see the Two A-Holes again, and this was better than the slightly disappointing outing from earlier this season with John C. Reilly. I also like how they shook it up a little and did some different things like the donkey bit and Annette putting the cell phone next to the baby so Kristen and Jason will look at the baby.
DIGITAL SHORT: Pep Talk
- Finally, a Digital Short! It’s felt like ages since the last one. I wonder why they’ve been so scarce this season, whereas in the second half of last season, there was one almost every week. The ones getting cut at dress don’t sound that bad. I’m especially curious to see the Gawker one.
- This was obviously cut from last week since it had Matthew Fox in it, and his appearance looked really out-of-place tonight. It’s not like that time when they aired the Tangent short with Scarlett Johannson after her episode aired, because there were so many celebrity cameos in that short that Scarlett just blended in with them. But with this short, if you didn’t watch last week’s episode and didn’t hear who hosted it, you’d wonder why the hell the dude from Lost is standing in the background in this short.
- Fred and his crazy threats were really good, especially when he said to Amy “In 30 seconds, my ass in your mouth”. I also liked him breaking down and crying towards the end.
- The head explosion/mannequin ending was a little too weird, though, and didn’t quite work for me.
SKETCH: Buyer Beware
- This has “recurring” written all over it, and like most current recurring sketches, it will suck. This was hardly funny at all, Maya almost had no purpose being there - only to sit there with a bored, semi-disgusted expression, and this should’ve been way shorter. One or two laughs came from Kenan, who honestly wasn’t as bad as I expected him to be, but that was it. Please, SNL, restrain yourselves from bringing this one back because it just ain’t gonna work out.
WEEKEND UPDATE: Poehler & Meyers, with Al Gore, Gloria Patrick, and Will Forte
- Best jokes: India condoms, Cell phone, Slaves
- Darrell’s Al Gore commentary was okay. I’m glad he updated his Gore impression a little instead of just basically doing Gore the same way he did 6 years ago.
- Also, the second time Darrell made the “barf” noise when quoting Linsday Lohan, it looked like he was trying not to laugh.
- Kristen’s part was really funny and clever way to pull of a fart joke.
- Will’s songs on Update are usually always awesome, and this was no exception. Fred as the guitarist and the pictures Will held up getting replaced with divorced couples was a nice touch, too.
- Anyone else notice the theme of cigarette lighters on Update this week? First the Kristen commentary with her using a lighter (or was it a match?) to hide the fart smell, then Amy using one during the cell phone smoking joke, then Seth holding one up after Will finished his song. Weird.
SKETCH: Monster under the bed
- A hilarious insane sketch and the usual bizarre greatness we’ve come to expect from Will.
- Annette was funny, too, but her cue card staring was starting to get on my nerves by this point.
- I couldn’t even tell that was Bill as the monster at first because that make-up disguised his face well, but I could tell it was him by his voice.
- Rerun, and our first repeated commercial of the season. At least it was one of the few funny ads this season has had. They don’t usually rerun commercials that have the host in it, but I guess they got away with it tonight since Baldwin appeared earlier in the monologue. Plus even if Baldwin hadn’t appeared in the monologue, this is the same night where they showed a digital short with last week’s host in it, so I guess nothing can be considered too weird; they probably would’ve re-aired this commercial either way.
SKETCH: Introverted Co-Workers’ Night Out
- I forgot all about this sketch. I remember wondering if they’d bring this back again way back when this originally aired last season.
- Will and Kristen are excellent with these low-key characters. I also like Kristen’s “It’s a problem” catchphrase.
- Will’s having an awesome night, by the way. This is the third sketch/segment in a row he got to steal (not counting the Valtrex rerun). Nice to see him actually appearing a lot tonight, too, since it seemed like before tonight, he was averaging only 1-2 appearances per show this season.
- Annette was decent, but her voice was a little too loud for this role; she should've been more low-key like Will and Kristen. It's kinda sad that even Lindsay freakin Lohan was better in this sketch, even though Annette Bening is more of an appropriate age and acting range for this type of character.
- Also once again, Annette brought it down a little with her staring off-camera at the cards. It was insane during this sketch; I don’t think she took her eyes off the cards or made eye contact with anyone at all during the whole 4 minutes, although it did kinda fit her character in this sketch since she was introverted. Also, the facial expressions she made in this sketch kinda made her look like Jane Curtin, but that's probably just me.
- The “surprise” twist at the end with Will detailing their sexual experience for later that night wasn’t quite as good in this one since it didn’t come as a surprise like last time, but the use of the word “mess” in place of you-know-what was hilarious, especially Annette saying she can’t wait to be butt-messed.
SKETCH/COMMERCIAL: Cat Lawyer
- This started out pretty funny and Bill as the assistant was hilarious with his cat sounds, but the entire ending getting cut off when they ran out of time ruined the whole damn thing. Actually, as soon as the sketch started I had a feeling this would get cut off since it started at 12:56, the same time when the last sketch is usually already in progress and almost about to end. I wonder how much of the sketch we didn’t see. I mean, they went to commercial right in the middle of Annette’s line. I can’t even give this a real rating.
- Monster under the bed
- Weekend Update
- Two A-Holes at a Live Nativity Scene
- Introverted Co-Workers’ Night Out
- Digital Short
- Alec Baldwin’s appearance in the monologue
- Lovestruck Teacher
- Buyer Beware
- Good Morning: I Hate this Town
- TV Funhouse
- The ending of the Digital Short
- The last sketch getting cut off
- Annette Bening’s constant cue-card reading
A really mixed episode. While there was great stuff like Monster under the bed, Apocalypto trailer, Two A-Holes, and Introverted Co-Workers, there were also a few too many real bombs in the mix like I Hate this Town, Buyer Beware, and Lovestruck Teacher. And the 10-to-1 sketch getting aborted on the air left a really bad taste in the mouth. It seems like all the sketches were either really terrible or really great. Barely any average sketches. The show did improve a lot after Weekend Update as almost all the better sketches came in the second half of the show. Since the great stuff outweighed the terrible, I’d say this was an overall okay show. And Annette Bening was pretty disappointing. She was funny in some sketches and at least she didn’t just play boring straight characters all night like Matthew Fox, but some of her “funny” roles like Lovestruck teacher fell completely flat, and her staring at the cue cards for most of the show was very distracting. I wouldn’t say she was quite as bad as Robert DeNiro since unlike him, Bening showed actual enthusiasm for being there and she didn’t stumble over her lines while reading them (I only noticed one line flub from her, and that was at the beginning of the Cat Laywer sketch). But I just expected a lot better from her.
TONIGHT’S RATING: ***
CASTMEMBER/HOST COUNT DOWN:
ARMISEN: 2 sketches (Pep Talk, Weekend Update)
FORTE: 4 sketches (Pep Talk, Weekend Update, Monster under the bed, Introverted Co-Workers’ Night Out)
HADER: 5 sketches (Lovestruck Teacher, Two A-Holes at a Live Nativity Scene, Monster under the bed, Introverted Co-Workers’ Night Out, Cat Lawyer)
HAMMOND: 1 sketch (Weekend Update)
MEYERS: 1 sketch (Weekend Update)
POEHLER: 7 sketches (Monologue, Good Morning: I Hate this Town, Pep Talk, Buyers Beware, Weekend Update, Monster under the bed, Valtrex)
RUDOLPH: 3 sketches (Monologue, TV Funhouse, Buyers Beware)
SAMBERG: 2 sketches (Lovestruck Teacher, Pep Talk)
SUDEIKIS: 3 sketches (A Message from President Bush, Good Morning: I Hate this Town, Two A-Holes at a Live Nativity Scene)
THOMPSON: 3 sketches (Good Morning: I Hate this Town, Pep Talk, Buyers Beware)
WIIG: 4 sketches (Monologue, Two A-Holes at a Live Nativity Scene, Weekend Update, Introverted Co-Workers’ Night Out)
ANNETTE BENING: 7 sketches (Monologue, Good Morning: I Hate this Town, Lovestruck Teacher, Two A-Holes at a Live Nativity Scene, Monster under the bed, Introverted Co-Workers’ Night Out, Cat Lawyer)