***** = Excellent, a possible future classic
**** = Great
*** = Average
** = Meh
* = How'd this get past dress?
Cold Opening - Bailout for Big Three Automakers
• This reminded me of the General David Petraeus Hearings cold opening from last season. Like that sketch, tonight’s opening suffered from going on too long and having too many people.
• Fred’s Barney Frank always cracks me up.
• Bill was awesome in this and almost stole the sketch for me. Did his voice remind anyone else of Dan Aykroyd as Jimmy Carter?
• Bobby's part was pretty funny, too.
• The part about how nobody watches C-Span was really good, especially Jason saying that you could run a snuff film on C-Span and nobody would know.
• I think this is the first time ever where Fred has said LFNY by himself. Strange considering how long he's been on the show. He has said it in unison with other castmembers before, but I think this is his first solo LFNY. You could tell he seemed pretty excited to say it, too. Nice energetic delivery.
Monologue - Tim McGraw
• McGraw’s message to hip-hop fans watching the show was pretty funny, and he actually made some pretty clever and accurate comparisons of hip-hop to country.
• I didn’t care for the musical performance at the end, but I guess they had to let him do it here since he wasn't the musical guest. At least the song was short and he did it on the home base stage. I should just be glad he didn’t pull a Jon Bon Jovi and perform a full-length musical performance on the musical guest stage.
Sketch - Clear Rite
• Most of the first half of the sketch kinda dragged and Kristen’s pauses were done too often and got old after a while. It almost seems like they were trying to recreate the Jamie Lee Curtis Activia sketch in a way.
• The awkward interaction with the first two guests was pretty funny.
• Michaela Watkins speaks!
• I think this is the first time I’ve ever seen Tim McGraw without his hat. He looks a lot different without it.
• The twist with this turning out to not be a real commercial was pretty good and saved this. Kristen also had a really good line at the end asking if it’s okay to put superglue in your mouth.
Sketch - Dateline
• I heard about this getting cut from a few episodes ago.
• The sketch was completely one-joke and the writing didn’t take it far, but Bill’s impression was dead-on (no surprise) and his creepy expressions and vocal sounds were hilarious. He kept the sketch funny; I especially liked the end where he admitted that he DOES get delight from others’ sad stories.
• I think the intros from Bill were live, but the actual interviews were pre-taped. It had to have been, because there's no way Kristen could've gotten changed that fast from the preceding sketch, and there's no way she, Jason, and McGraw could've gotten changed from this sketch to the following Turkeys sketch in such a short time.
Sketch - Turkey Run
• This was also a previously cut sketch, from exactly two years ago when Ludacris hosted the Thanksgiving show. Funny how they bring it back when he just happens to be the musical guest. Coincidence, I know, but still. I would’ve loved to have seen the original version just so I could see Ludacris in a turkey suit. I’m guessing he originally played McGraw’s role and either Amy or Maya played Michaela Watkins’ role.
• The premise of this sketch was pretty interesting, plus it seemed like something SNL would do in the early days, but the execution of the sketch fell flat. There were maybe a few decent parts, but it wasn’t anywhere near as funny as it could’ve been.
• The green-screen in the background kinda got messed up in this weird way halfway through the sketch, but they fixed it after a few seconds.
• The ending was very weak, but I liked how the camera panned back and showed the whole green-screen set and the audience.
Sketch - Live Another Death
• It took the audience a while to get into this. They barely responded to anything in the first half of the sketch.
• McGraw was pretty funny here. I loved his reaction to hearing the name Pussy Galore and then him recording her saying her name onto his camera phone, and recording her from behind as she walked away.
• Fred’s scar looked so unbelievably fake.
• Nice 007-esque on-screen graphics at the end.
Weekend Update - [blank] & Meyers, featuring Bill Clinton, Arianna Huffington, Zell Miller
• “Amy Poehler is still on assignment”? Does that mean they’re actually expecting her to come back after maternity leave? I’m confused. Man, I wish we could know for sure if she’s officially off the cast for good or not. If she does come back, hopefully it’s only for ONE show just to get a proper farewell, because I have already moved on past her.
• Best jokes: Palin book, Gary Busey, Madonna
• Nice to see Darrell actually doing stuff tonight. I take back what I said in last week’s review where I said Darrell might as well leave now that McCain lost, since I was convinced Darrell won’t have anything left to do. Well, I still think he should leave at the end of the season, but the point is he’s not entirely useless like I made it sound. His Clinton never fails and he had several good lines tonight. Particularly his comments about why you should fear Hillary, how talking is his SECOND favorite activity, and him saying he would never want to “screw Hillary”.
• I saw a clip before of Michaela’s dead-on Arianna Huffington impression online, and I’m glad SNL wasted no time letting her use it on the show. Michaela has already gotten her first big breakout role on SNL in just her second episode. That’s pretty impressive. The commentary itself had kind of a slow start, but the end with her comparing the war in Iraq to pornography was hilarious.
• I’m seriously starting to think that they’re putting Will on Update every single week this season just to see how many people will notice. This has got to be the record for most consecutive guest appearances on Update ever.
• Will hasn’t played Zell Miller in ages and his impression used to always be a riot. Unfortunately, his appearance tonight was disappointing. The commentary was mostly one-joke and Will’s impression seemed very toned-down this time, compared to his insane, purple-faced, screaming mad portrayals of Miller in the past. The Browns and Blacks bit was pretty funny and unexpected, though, but that was it. As much as I love Will, maybe it’s time for him to step back and take a short break from Update. He doesn’t need to appear on it every week.
Sketch - The Blizzard Man
• They haven’t done this character in two seasons, and I guess they brought it back tonight just because Ludacris was in the first Blizzard Man sketch. I had been hoping to see Ludacris appear in a sketch tonight since he did a surprisingly good job hosting last time he was on (although his episode itself kinda sucked).
• What kind of recording studio office room has a doorbell?
• I always crack up when I initially see Andy in that outfit, wig, sunglasses, and multicolored 8-ball jacket. Dude looks like he just stepped out of a time machine from 1992. Is his look and name supposed to be modeled after Snow, that Canadian reggae rapper from back in the day?
• This was very similar to the first Blizzard Man sketch, but I still enjoyed some parts and I think the two-year absence helped. Andy’s cheesy raps had some funny lyrics and something about the way he moves his arms and head during his songs makes me laugh. Also, the part with him imitating T-Pain with the hat and autotuner was a good unexpected addition.
• I always like the parts before the actual goofy songs where Andy starts rapping realistically (“yo check my style out”, etc.), because he’s actually very skilled at rapping if you’re familiar with his work (Lazy Sunday being the most obvious example). I’d like to see him get more opportunities to do full-on real rapping as other characters, as long as it’s not in any more digital shorts.
• T-Pain had a few funny lines.
• I had been wondering how they were going to fit McGraw into this sketch. I almost didn't recognize him dressed like that.
Sketch - Jeff Montgomery on Thanksgiving
• I’m surprised to see this character back. I loved the first one with Jon Hamm from a few weeks ago, but didn’t expect this to become recurring. I don’t mind, since they used a new format and put Will’s character in a different setting/situation this time and it worked, although not as well as the first one did. Will does a great job in this role.
• It seems like they’re going to try to have this character appear for every holiday. Should we expect to see him on Christmas and Valentine’s Day next?
• McGraw was a surprisingly great straight man here.
• Everyone around the table each going "no" and other one-word answers reminded me of that Fall Foliage sketch with Josh Brolin.
• The back-and-forth camera switches were really off during this sketch, and several times castmembers were off-camera during their lines.
• The surprise ending with Will saying he ate the dog, then asking to use the bathroom was hilarious.
Sketch - Dale Britches’ Down Home Phony Phone Calls
• I thought this would be pretty funny when it started out, but most of the sketch kinda fell flat for me. The joke of everyone having friendly reactions to the tame prank calls was boring and got old. McGraw did a good job carrying most of the sketch, though, and surprisingly didn’t mess up at all.
• Bill’s “Ah’m gonna kill yew!” scene was the only part that made me laugh out loud.
Sketch - Bartender Mark Payne
• I was one of the few people who didn’t hate this character the first time Bobby played him, but I was worried that they would make this into a recurring character and have “peppa” become the new annoying SNL catchphrase. I turned out to be only half-right. They did bring the character back, but thankfully, he went through the whole sketch without uttering “peppa” once. Instead, they replaced his pepper obsession with him obsessing over the “sticky” bar counter, which wasn’t really any better, but I did laugh at his line comparing the stickiness of the bar to “post-it notes with no helpful reminders”.
• I’m glad they attempted to make this sketch different from the first Mark Payne sketch instead of just repeating everything from the first one. The “Cocktail”/glass-smashing bits were pretty funny and I also liked how they attempted to add more dimension and depth to his character with his sympathy and interaction with McGraw.
• I’m still anxious to see what Abby Elliott has to bring to SNL. She unfortunately got the same type of miniscule roles tonight that she and Michaela got last week. Hopefully Abby will be used more next time.
• Arianna Huffington and Bill Clinton on Weekend Update
• parts of Live Another Death
• Bill as both Keith Morrison and Congressman Walter Jones
• Jeff Montgomery on Thanksgiving
• Turkey Run
• Dale Britches’ Down Home Phony Phone Calls
• The first half of Clear Rite
Best Performer of the Night:
• Bill Hader
Well, this turned out a little better than I thought it would be. There weren’t any sketches that stood out as particularly great (even Update was kinda average), but most of the sketches were at least acceptable and there were only a few true weak spots.
Tim McGraw impressed me as the host. While he didn’t really stretch too far away from his country persona, he still did a pretty good job in the sketches and he exceeded my expectations. I wouldn’t say he was as funny as Garth Brooks, but he was definitely way better than Michael Phelps or Jon Bon Jovi.
CASTMEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN
ARMISEN: 6 sketches (Automakers, Clear Rite, Turkey Run, Another Death, Jeff Montgomery, Mark Payne)
FORTE: 4 sketches (Automakers, Another Death, Update, Jeff Montgomery)
HADER: 4 sketches (Automakers, Dateline, Another Death, Phony Phone Calls)
HAMMOND: 3 sketches (Automakers, Update, Phony Phone Calls)
MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)
POEHLER: 0 sketches
SAMBERG: 3 sketches (Turkey Run, Another Death, Blizzard Man)
SUDEIKIS: 3 sketches (Automakers, Dateline, Turkey Run)
THOMPSON: 4 sketches (Automakers, Turkey Run, Blizzard Man, Mark Payne)
WIIG: 6 sketches (Clear Rite, Dateline, Turkey Run, Another Death, Jeff Montgomery, Phony Phone Calls)
ELLIOTT: 2 sketches (Jeff Montgomery, Mark Payne)
MOYNIHAN: 3 sketches (Automakers, Jeff Montgomery, Mark Payne)
WATKINS: 4 sketches (Automakers, Clear Rite, Turkey Run, Update)
WILSON: 4 sketches (Automakers, Dateline, Jeff Montgomery, Phony Phone Calls)
TIM MCGRAW: 9 sketches (Monologue, Clear Rite, Dateline, Turkey Run, Another Death, Blizzard Man, Jeff Montgomery, Phony Phone Calls, Mark Payne)