***** = Excellent, a possible future classic
**** = Great
*** = Average
** = Meh
* = How'd this get past dress?
Cold Opening - Colonel Moammar Gadhafi’s Address
• I’ve never been too crazy about these “translated addresses to the nation” type of cold openings and I wouldn’t have opened the season with this (though I guess the season technically opened with the Joe Wilson/“You Lie” cold opening from last week’s Weekend Update Thursday, which was a hilarious cold opening, but I don’t count the Thursday shows), but this turned out to be pretty funny and didn’t go on longer than it should have.
• Fred’s facial expressions alone had me laughing and added a lot to this.
• The funniest parts were him explaining the different time zones, the computer crashing, him wanting to watch Taken, and the terrorist stuff/guy stuff line.
• Yay, new opening montage and theme music!! I was a bit worried they would get lazy and keep the previous opening for the FOURTH consecutive season in a row, like they did with the 1990-94 credits.
• I also appreciate the acknowledgement of this being the 35th anniversary, with the “35” being added to the SNL logo, a throwback to the “SNL25” days during 1999-2000.
• So much for Don Pardo leaving. I knew even back in May that all that stuff about him leaving was BS, because there’s no way SNL would let him leave without mentioning it and giving an on air goodbye/tribute to him.
• However, Darrell Hammond’s absence from the new credits was a true shock! Is he really FINALLY gone? It’s confusing, because although it was rumored the Will Ferrell season finale was his final show, there were articles late in the summer mentioning how he’s in negotiations to return after all, then he was included in the last two Weekend Update Thursday specials. But now, I don’t know what the hell is going on, but I sure hope this means he finally left the show.
• Will Forte’s new crewcut looks so strange on him and will take some getting used to.
• I couldn’t tell, but is Kristen back to having blonde hair? It looked like it. She hasn’t been blonde since the 05-06 season when she first joined the show.
• Wow, Abby looks good in her clip. REALLY good...
• Speaking of Abby, I thought I heard that her and Bobby were supposed to be promoted to regular cast, but I see they’re still featured players. I would’ve at least expected Bobby to be promoted since he had a very impressive first season.
• My only complaint about the new credits is that they didn’t change the way the musical guests and hosts pictures are displayed. It’s still the same as the last three seasons.
• I also wish they built a new home base/musical guest stage as well, to go along with the new credits. We've had this same stage since 2003, for crying out loud, although the musical guest stage did look a slight bit different tonight with that big screen in the back. I don’t know if that was just for U2’s performances only, or if that’s going to be a regular part of the musical stage this season.
Monologue - Megan Fox
• Bobby’s character was really good and he saved this whole monologue. His half-horse poster of Megan gave me a good laugh.
• And… it’s over already? Quite a short monologue, but I guess I can’t complain. It’s not like they had a lot of funny material to work with considering this is Megan Fox we’re talking about.
Commercial - Bladdivan
• I was a bit disappointed when this first started out, since it seemed like it was almost gonna be a rewrite of the Urigrow commercial. But I ended up liking this more than I thought I would. And for once, it’s a commercial NOT starring Kristen!
• Loved Fred’s nervous facial expression into the camera at the beginning.
• Jason’s part gave me the biggest laugh, and the ending with Fred and Will sharing the urinal was very funny as well.
Sketch - Flight Troubles
• For some reason, Kristen and Megan playing airplane stewardesses with southern accents reminded me of that sketch last season with Kristen and Neil Patrick Harris playing the southern-accented air traffic controllers. What next, a sketch with Kristen and the host playing southern-accented pilots?
• The sketch was okay overall, but did get a bit one-note and predictable after a while. There could have been a little more variety in Kristen and Megan’s interruptions.
• Kristen’s lines about trying to sneak the passengers some free pretzels in between all the crazy announcements was pretty funny.
• Why did they have the two new girls Jenny and Nasim sitting in the passenger seats at the front but didn’t give them any lines to say at all?
Sketch - Ketya and Svetlana
• Fred’s character was hilarious. Him displaying his “singing talent” was my favorite part. As soon as he showed up in drag, I had a feeling his character was going to end up crying at one point in the sketch, and I was right.
• Funny how this is the second sketch tonight with Fred speaking in a foreign language the entire time while Bill Hader’s voice translates his dialogue into English.
• The first of many sketches tonight where Megan served no purpose at all other than to stand there and look pretty. Exactly the type of roles everyone expected the writers to give her.
• I’ve been talking about Fred’s facial expressions at lot in this review, but his gleeful expression after telling the story about killing her husband had me dying with laughter. Fred’s just one of those guys who can easily get huge laughs with just his facial expressions alone; he doesn’t even need funny dialogue to back him up. I’m just glad to know that even going into his 8th season on SNL, Fred hasn’t lost it at all.
Digital Short - The Date
• This was bizarre as hell, but I’m always a sucker for digital shorts that 1) aren’t musically or pop culture-based for a change, 2) give us a break from Andy Samberg, and 3) feature Will Forte being weird. So, of course, I enjoyed this.
• The writing mostly relied entirely on the surprise twist at the end, but that twist gave me a big laugh. And Will’s voice and expressions alone were enough to keep me cracking up throughout. His voice sounded especially funny when he got all panicky while talking about the nightmares he gets.
Sketch - Grady Wilson’s Burning Up the Bedsheets
• I never would have expected a follow-up to this sketch. I enjoyed the first installment and it was one of those rare times where a Kenan-centered sketch genuinely made me laugh. But there wasn’t much originality in tonight’s sketch, and this didn’t have as much of a impact on me as the first installment did.
• The first half was almost exactly the same as last time, but I did get a laugh out of the “speaking in tongues” part. They tried to shake things up a little in the second half by adding Megan as the assistant, but once again, she added nothing special at all. I wonder if the whole thing was just an excuse for Kenan to practice those “positions” with her....
• This was also the second sketch tonight where Megan’s character went “I don’t get it” after somebody told her a joke (the first was the Flight sketch when Kristen gave Megan’s character the Monk nickname and Megan didn’t understand).
Weekend Update - Seth Meyers, featuring Jean K. Jean, Judy Grimes
• I noticed this in the last two Thursday Update specials, but the Update set changed slightly this season. The words “Weekend Update” on the set now light up and the blue map background is a lot brighter; it’s actually closer to how it looked in 2006 when Seth first started co-anchoring Update with Amy.
• Best jokes: Iran, Glenn Beck, Queens, Underwear
• Jean K. Jean AGAIN??!! This was the same-old same-old stuff from this character. Never been funny to me.
• And as if that wasn’t bad enough, now we have the damn “Just Kidding” lady returning for the 10,000th time??!! Augh!! As much as I hated the idea of Kristen co-anchoring Update like it was falsely rumored over the summer, at least it would’ve put a stop to unfunny nonsense like this character. I was going to give them some credit for trying something a little new with Judy Grimes in the part where she brought out the chart and when she gave an actual travel tip without saying “just kidding”, but it just devolved back into the usual non-stop “just kidding” rambling.
• I don’t know why they would waste the season premiere Update on two overused and one-joke unfunny characters, dragging down an otherwise strong Update. I should just be happy they didn’t make things even worse by bringing out Nicolas Fehn or Cathy as the third guest tonight.
Sketch/Commercial - Live Lounge
• This was very short, but like the monologue, I can’t complain about that. This whole thing was very funny.
• I loved the cutaways to the various freaks waiting for your calls, especially the “woman who wants to be murdered” followed by showing the murderer, and also the creepy frozen big open-mouthed smile on Bill’s face, and the picture of David Duchovny at the end.
• Very odd that this was Jason’s only live appearance all night, appearing in a 2-second cutaway with no lines.
• The ending voice-over and text scroll was a funny ending.
Sketch - Biker Chick Chat
• Oh, wow… So much to say about this sketch…
• First off, I was excited when this began since it starred new girl Jenny Slate, and I was happy to see get her very own sketch on her first night.
• After they showed Kristen as Jenny’s co-host, I could easily tell this was going to be a set-up for a future recurring sketch, which didn’t make me too thrilled since I hate recurring talk show sketches, but I thought to myself “This better be funny, at least”. After a while, I became worried that the whole joke of the sketch was just the girls saying “friggin” over and over again.
• Then, of course, comes the infamous “f” word slip from Jenny. I actually didn’t even catch it the first time, but I did notice her making that strange “oops” face (where she puffed her cheeks out really big) right before the camera cut over to Kristen and I was wondering what that was all about. After the sketch ended and I read on the boards about Jenny accidentally saying “fucking”, I immediately had to re-watch the sketch again to catch where it happened, and when I heard it, I was floored!
• Only a very small handful of castmembers have let the f-word slip. And to have that happen on your FIRST night on SNL and in your first live sketch with a speaking role… yikes. I couldn’t help but feel so bad for Jenny. You know she must have already been nervous enough with this being her first episode and with all the focus being on her in this sketch since she had the lead role. So to have her do a sketch where she has to say “friggin” throughout almost seemed like a set-up to have her slip and say the real word, especially when you add in the fact that she’s not used to being on live network TV. Poor Jenny must have been thinking “I am so fired!” for the rest of the sketch. As much as I’m still willing to give Jenny a chance, I have to wonder if right after Jenny’s slip-up, Lorne sighed deeply and thought to himself “Maybe I shouldn’t have fired Casey and Michaela after all…”
• Obviously, the rest of the sketch was completely overshadowed by the “fuck” incident. But there was nothing to miss. The rest of the sketch went absolutely nowhere, Megan showed up basically just playing a clone of Jenny and Kristen’s one-dimensional characters, and the studio audience was almost completely dead except for whenever Kristen said something. They didn’t laugh at all during Jenny or Megan’s lines. Oddly enough, they barely even reacted to Jenny’s “f” word slip.
• I really wanted to like this sketch since it starred “the new girl”, but it bombed with the audience, had no real genuine funny moments, and will only be remembered as “the sketch where Jenny Slate said 'fuck' on her first episode”.
• I highly doubt Jenny will actually get fired, though. It was clearly an accidental slip of the tongue, and it was only her first episode. If anything, this is kind of a blessing in disguise for her since everybody has been talking about this and so many people are already mentioning her by name. How many castmembers have been talked about this much after just one episode? She’s already gaining recognition! You certainly can’t say the same for the other new girl, Nasim Pedrad, who was basically invisible in this episode and only had two non-speaking roles all night.
Stars: I don’t know what the hell kind of rating to give this… I guess *½ for the actual content of the sketch, but ***½ for the “f” word slip and the notoriety it gave the sketch.
Digital Short - Megan’s Roommate
• A very rare occurrence of TWO digital shorts on the same night. I always like when they do that.
• Unlike tonight’s earlier short, this was more of the pop culture-based, Samberg-centered digital short we’ve come to expect, but I still liked this nonetheless. I usually find the shorts with Andy more enjoyable and refreshing when he plays a straight man as opposed the ones where he tries to get all the laughs.
• Bobby was hilarious as Optimus Prime, especially when he kept threatening Andy and when he was suddenly nude on the couch.
• The ending with both Transformers “transforming” was really silly, but I laughed at it a lot. Though I was wondering who the hell that was as the other Transformer, until he took the mask off and revealed he was Brian Austin Green making a cameo. Ugh. He should’ve kept the mask *on*.
Sketch - Your Mom Talks to Megan Fox While You Get Ready
• Well, I have to give them credit for doing a random, different sketch like this. But as soon as I noticed it starred Kristen, I couldn’t help but groan a little. I can already see this will be another season of Kristen being used in practically every sketch, way more than the rest of the cast. This is why I hoped Abby would be promoted to repertory player, so it would take some of the load off Kristen’s shoulders and give another female castmember closer to an equal share of the screen time. It’s ridiculous to have only one female (Kristen) in the repertory cast for yet another season.
• For a quiet, low-key 10-to-1 sketch, this was acceptable, I guess, but it was a little too bland. I did laugh at a few of Kristen’s lines, like the Rick Moranis/Ghost Hunters story.
• Megan, for the 1,325,325th time tonight, played an effortless role where she was basically just a mannequin for the whole sketch.
• The Seth portions of Weekend Update
• Live Lounge
• Fred as Svetlana
• The Date
• Jenny Slate’s “f” word slip-up
• The rest of the Biker Chick Chat sketch
• All the commentaries on Weekend Update
• Parts of Grady Wilson’s Burning Up the Bedsheets
Best Performer of the Night:
• Fred Armisen
Overall, the season premiere was nothing really special, but most SNL season premieres tend to be disappointing. This was at least not as much of a train wreck as last year’s premiere with Michael Phelps and this featured a little more original material than that one did. There weren’t many sketches tonight that stood out as great, but there were barely any true bombs, either. Mostly everything was middling or average.
As for Megan Fox, she added absolutely nothing AT ALL. She didn’t hurt the show, but she certainly did nothing to help it, either. I know everyone was predicting that, but I was hoping Megan would be one of those hosts that would surprise us and turn in a couple of actual funny performances and play characters we wouldn’t ever expect her to play. I guess I shouldn’t have gotten my expectations that high for her. I’m also a little surprised she didn’t play her idol Angelina Jolie in a sketch. Either that or Abby as Angelina talking to Megan; or maybe even both of them playing Angelina in a “Dueling Jolies” contest type of sketch. That could’ve been fun.
CASTMEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN
ARMISEN: 4 sketches (Moammar Gadhafi, Bladdivan, Ketya and Svetlana, Live Lounge)
FORTE: 4 sketches (Bladdivan, Ketya and Svetlana, The Date, Live Lounge)
HADER: 3 sketches (Bladdivan, Ketya and Svetlana, Live Lounge)
MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)
SAMBERG: 2 sketches (Flight, Megan’s Roommate)
SUDEIKIS: 2 sketches (Bladdivan, Live Lounge)
THOMPSON: 2 sketches (Grady Wilson, Update)
WIIG: 5 sketches (Flight, Update, Live Lounge, Biker Chick, Your Mom)
ELLIOTT: 2 sketches (Flight, Live Lounge)
MOYNIHAN: 4 sketches (Monologue, Flight, Live Lounge, Megan’s Roommate)
PEDRAD: 2 sketches (Flight, Live Lounge)
SLATE: 4 sketches (Bladdivan, Flight, Live Lounge, Biker Chick)
MEGAN FOX: 9 sketches (Monologue, Flight, Ketya and Svetlana, The Date, Grady Wilson, Live Lounge, Biker Chick, Megan’s Roommate, Your Mom)