***** = Excellent, a possible future classic
**** = Great
*** = Average
** = Meh
* = How'd this get past dress?
Cold Opening - A Message from President Obama
• Ugh... why are they doing these dull Obama openings so damn frequently? The writing in them is never funny and watching Fred’s Obama impression is as interesting as watching paint dry. The political writing in general this season has been terrible. For example, this sketch’s idea of “political satire” was having Obama go on and on about how great steak tasted at a restaurant. Seriously, SNL? It’s really time for Jim Downey to step down from writing these cold openings; the man is way past his prime.
• And, of course, Fred gets yet another LFNY, for the third week in a row. The frequent Obama cold openings alone would explain why Fred has said LFNY like 70 times this season, but he also stars in most of the other cold openings as well (Larry King, Lawrence Welk, Moammar Kadafi, etc.). Is this going to be Fred’s final season or something, and that's why they're letting him open the show so much? It SHOULD be his final season, anyway; staying beyond 8 seasons is pretty much always a bad idea.
Monologue - Gabourey Sidibe
• I was kinda disappointed to see another musical monologue (especially after we had one just two weeks ago with Tina Fey), but Gabourey’s performance here was very good and gave you confidence in her as a host. However, the song wasn’t really all that funny. It probably wasn’t supposed to be, but this barely had any memorable parts. Well, I did laugh at the Mariah Carey line and I liked Bill’s quick walk-on.
• Also, an interesting thing is that the entire cast appeared in this, although I didn’t realize that when originally watching it. This current cast is a lot smaller than I thought.
Sketch - The Suze Orman Show
• Is this the first time they’ve done this sketch since the Josh Brolin episode a year and a half ago? I remember back then, I was only just beginning to get sick of Kristen Wiig but I could still tolerate her to an extent and I still enjoyed the Suze Orman sketches. I tried hard to enjoy this one tonight, but I just couldn’t help but get annoyed by Kristen. Really shows how much my opinion of her has changed over the last year.
• There seemed to be an unnecessary overabundance of lesbian jokes all throughout this sketch, though I did like Kristen’s pap-smear cruise story, especially the “blowhole” line. That and Gabourey’s drunk story were the only two big laughs of the sketch.
• At first, Gabourey’s presence made me happy since it took some screentime away from Kristen and I initially laughed at Gabourey’s Jamaican accent, but she had a noticeably hard time with the delivery of her lines. She kept stumbling over lines that were actually supposed to be humorous and could’ve gotten bigger laughs if they were delivered correctly. Overall, this sketch was pretty hard for me to watch.
Sketch - Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
• I remember Kenan first played Steve Harvey several years ago in a Prince Show sketch, and I remember being stunned by how absolutely horrible Kenan’s impression was and how he didn’t sound remotely like Steve Harvey (this was back in Kenan’s earlier seasons, before I got used to his inability to do any accurate impressions). Kenan did seem to try a little harder to sound like Steve Harvey in tonight’s sketch, but he still came nowhere close.
• The premise of this sketch was dumb as well, and the joke got old fast. And since when is Steve Harvey known for mispronouncing words?
• I did laugh at Kenan's initial facial reaction to seeing the Icelandic names on the bottom of the screen, but that was it.
• How come this sketch couldn’t be done live? I mean, this WAS pre-taped, right? It sure looked like it.
Sketch - Old Mrs. Johnson
• This sketch had a good premise along with surprisingly actual clever writing. And while Gabourey was funny, her again having trouble delivering several lines and completely losing it at one point took away from the writing a little and made this sketch not come off as strong as it could've been. I wonder if they'll show the dress version of this in future reruns, assuming Gabourey didn't mess up there.
• I still liked this sketch overall, and the twist at the end with Gabourey explaining her life story was good and unexpected. The Wikipedia part was pretty funny, too.
Digital Short - Cherry Battle
• Uh... wow. This has got to be easily THE most bizarre Digital Short ever. And considering how strange some of the shorts have been, that’s really saying something.
• And normally, I like “strange”, but I didn’t know what the hell to make of this. I did kinda laugh and this was at least less predictable than last week’s awful Other Man short. But in the end, I didn’t really find this too outstanding; it seems like the Lonely Island actually could’ve gone more out and made this a really insane, instantly-memorable classic short.
• Also, this didn’t really seem much like a “battle” to me. When this started, I thought it was going to be like the Extreme Activities Competition short Andy did with Kristen.
Sketch - I Did It in My Style, The Story of Frank Sinatra
• When Fred first spoke in that voice, I wondered why it sounded so familiar until I realized this was a follow-up to the International Masterworks sketch from the Ryan Reynolds episode, where the Norwegian actors were doing an American play. I remember back when that originally aired, I predicted they would end up making it recurring, although I thought they would bring it back within the whole International Masterworks show again. I at least have to give SNL credit for using a new set-up this time.
• That being said, this sketch was terrible and was nowhere near as funny as the first installment. Most of this fell completely flat.
• The newspaper reviews were the only times I chuckled, even though the reviews did go on too long and probably weren’t really that funny. But for some reason, I liked them.
Weekend Update - Seth Meyers, featuring Judy Grimes, Stefon, John Mulaney
• Best jokes: Larry King, Charmin ads
• This was yet another Update where more time and focus was spent on the guest commentaries than on Seth’s jokes. But considering how weak Seth’s jokes are lately and how I pretty much can’t stand him anymore, maybe the fact that the Updates are focusing less on him is a good thing. But when the commentaries lately have mostly just been excuses to trot out tired, overdone commentators like Aunt Linda, Judy Grimes, and James Carville, it’s not exactly a better alternative. Weekend Update is in desperate need of an all-around revamp/makeover.
• When Seth was introducing the first commentary and started by mentioning the Iceland volcano, I had a horrible feeling that Kristen would show up as Bjork for the second episode in a row. But then Seth said “travel writer” and I groaned out loud, knowing that meant the “just kidding” lady was coming back. At this point, I actually would’ve preferred Kristen’s Bjork to this tired nonsense again. You’ve seen one Judy Grimes commentary, you’ve seen them all; and it wasn’t even funny the first time as much as it was impressive.
• On top of that, Kristen couldn’t even keep up with her own fast delivery tonight and she stumbled on a few words.
• Seeing Bill as his Stefon character from a sketch in the Ben Affleck ‘08 episode was a surprise. I remember really enjoying that sketch last time, and it was good to see him in a new set-up here. He had some funny lines tonight, like “Tranny Oakley” and him explaining what Teddy Graham people are.
• Then in the middle of the commentary, Bill just lost it for some reason and couldn’t stop laughing. He’s been doing this more frequently this season. He had a very similar character break on Update a few months ago when he played Eliot Spitzer, as well as the Scared Straight sketches, the Pageant Talk sketch after Zach Galifianakis started laughing himself, and both Hollywood Dish sketches (well, the dress versions of Hollywood Dish shown in the reruns). Do you remember when seeing Bill Hader break character used to be as rare as seeing Dan Aykroyd or Phil Hartman crack up? One of the things I used to love about Bill was his absolute professionalism. If his character break on Update tonight happened a year ago, it would’ve had me on the floor. But tonight, I merely just smiled and chuckled when Bill broke. The novelty is wearing off. I’m not denying that it was still a little funny, but I don’t think it’s a good sign that he’s having a harder time staying in character these days. What’s happening to him?
• John Mulaney appearing on Update tonight was a complete surprise. I read last week that Hannibal Burress, another SNL writer, had an Update commentary that got cut after dress. I was disappointed to find out it got cut since it sounded like it could’ve been very interesting, so it was good to see Mulaney’s bit make it on the air tonight. SNL hasn’t had a writer do Update commentaries since the days of Kevin Brennan and Hugh Fink 10 years ago. I don’t know if they’re trying to return to that, or if maybe - just maybe - they’re trying out potential replacements as Update anchor if Seth leaves soon? Some people said they can’t see Seth leaving after this season and that could be true, but maybe he’ll just step down from Update and work entirely behind the scenes as just the head writer. But if he did, it probably wouldn’t exactly solve SNL’s current writing problem. IMO, Seth needs to be eliminated from the show COMPLETELY; he’s clearly past his prime and I believe he is one of the main factors in the decline of this season’s writing quality.
• I enjoyed John Mulaney’s commentary and seeing him felt like a breath of fresh air. I may be a little biased, though, since I’m a fan of Mulaney’s work in general and he’s one of the stronger writers on the show currently; he’s written some of the best sketches from the last two seasons. Anyway, his delivery during tonight’s commentary was funny and he had a few good lines like referring to girl scouts as “the weird child army in tablecloth dresses”. Hopefully, this could be the start of something beautiful - either Mulaney making more appearances as a guest commentator or (*crosses fingers*) Mulaney becoming the possible next Weekend Update anchorperson... or maybe that honor might go to Hannibal Burress, Jessi Klein, anyone. Either way, something big needs to change. Seth represents part of what’s bringing SNL down right now, while John Mulaney is part of what represents hope for SNL’s future.
Sketch - 2010 Public Employees of the Year Awards
• SNL’s fake award show sketches are usually ALWAYS boring and way too long, and this was no exception. It felt like there were almost no funny moments in this overlong sketch, and the only true laughs came from Bobby’s performance, even though he wasn’t given any actual funny lines to say. It really says something about Bobby’s talent that he was able to wring laughs out of a dull role like this. This guy definitely needs to be promoted to the main cast next season.
• Gabourey AGAIN stumbled over one of her lines, during her DMV monologue. I’m enjoying some of her performances tonight, but I don’t know... It almost feels like the writers intentionally gave her such difficult, long-winded dialogue in every sketch so she’d mess up on the air.
• The Brendan Fraser cutaway could’ve been funny, but SNL already used that clip before.
Sketch - Alarm Clocks and More
• No. Just no. Please stop doing these, SNL.
• When they first did the Doorbells sketch in the Taylor Lautner episode, I felt like I was one of the very few people who didn’t mind it and I actually defended Jenny Slate in my review of that sketch (since it seemed like everyone was hating on Jenny back then). But now I feel kinda foolish for all of that. There was absolutely no reason to ever make that sketch recurring, and it gets more and more annoying in each installment.
• For those on this forum who called out some reviewers last week on complaining too much about recurring sketches, MY problem personally with SNL’s current recurring characters this season is that they never do anything new with most of them; each installment for most new characters these days are just completely lazy copy-and-paste rewrites of the first, with only a few minor changes, and they usually get less and less funny in each installment. And some of them are one-dimensional characters that had no business being recurring in the first place! Take this sketch for example: it’s the exact same every time. It starts with Nasim and Bobby, and Bobby goes “Pfft! Nice doorbell/car horn/alarm clock” and walks out on Nasim, then Jenny enters and goes “Does this ever happen to you???”, then throws a traditional doorbell/car horn/alarm clock off-camera, and proceeds to showcase a whole bunch of tedious ringing/honking tones for various types of people. They even have Fred and Abby appear as the same customers in every installment, asking for a doorbell/car horn/alarm clock that suits them, then saying “Thanks...” with a forced smile afterwards. The overall sketch is very one-dimensional and it’s been downhill after the first installment.
• And honestly, I don’t know what to think about Jenny Slate anymore. My opinion of her and faith in her has actually lessened a little in the last few months. First off, have you noticed she never gets any big roles outside of this Tina-Tina Shaneuse character? When she’s not playing this character, she’s stuck in non-speaking walk-on roles all the time. Compare this to Nasim Pedrad, who has been showcased in quite a number of lead roles, playing a variety of different characters each time. Even when she gets a small walk-on role, Nasim still comes off like a very experienced performer. I cannot say the same for Jenny. And Nasim actually adds something new and unique to SNL, doing several low-key slice-of-life type sketches like School Dance and Roomies; neither sketch is laugh-out-loud hilarious, but they’re both entertaining, relatable, and a breath of fresh air compared to the usual humor on SNL these days. Jenny’s Tina-Tina character, on the other hand, is just another in a long line of one-note, goofy-voiced, catchphrase-driven unfunny characters we see these days on SNL, which is the LAST thing the show needs right now. Now, I’m not trying to sound like one of Jenny’s haters. Despite what I said above about her, she still comes off as a likeable performer most times and I still WANT her to improve and succeed on the show. I just sincerely hope that this Doorbell lady character isn’t the best she has to offer SNL.
• Oh, and as for my thoughts about the remaining female featured player, Abby... Abby who? It seriously feels like Abby has disappeared on the show for the last few months. She NEVER gets lead roles and never stands out anymore these days, unless she’s doing an impression on Weekend Update... and the last one she did was Meryl Streep all the way back in January! I don’t know if this bodes very well for Abby’s future on the show. She’s been on the show for TWO YEARS now and has yet to break out.
• Aaaaaand getting back on topic after all of that... I laughed at the “boner” alarm clock for men. Unfortunately, that was my only laugh during this whole sketch.
• Did you notice Gabourey almost reached for one of the alarm clocks by mistake when Jenny was supposed to? Gabourey caught herself half-way through and stopped, then laughed a little. I like her, but man, she seems to be messing up in EVERY sketch tonight.
Sketch - Gabourey and Hamilton
• Kenan seems to be in every sketch tonight. That’s no surprise considering this episode's host. I should just be happy we didn’t get a Virginiaca or a Scared Straight sketch, which a lot of people were predicting would show up tonight.
• I was happy to see Will’s anti-Obama guy back (see, guys, I don’t hate ALL recurring sketches). And just like how the last sketch with him in the Drew Barrymore show was one of the very few highlights in that weak episode, his appearance tonight was easily better than almost any other sketch in this episode.
• Just the idea of a racist character like this being the ex-boyfriend of Gabourey Sidibe is hilarious in itself. And there were some good moments here, and Will’s line about transferring Robert Ludlum passages to Gabourey’s back with his penis was priceless. But overall, the sketch was a bit disappointing for his standards. It was still a funny sketch in general, but it didn’t have quite as many laughs as the Drew Barrymore installment.
• What was with that close-up of Gabourey when she didn’t even say anything? When the camera cut to her, she and no one else spoke for the next few seconds, then she opened her mouth like she actually was going to speak, but Will started saying his next line. Did Gabourey blank out and completely skip one of her lines or something? Seriously like I said earlier, she seemed to not be able to get through a single sketch tonight without messing up at least once.
• Gabourey and Hamilton
• most of Old Mrs. Johnson
• John Mulaney on Weekend Update
• A Message from President Obama
• Alarm Clocks and More
• 2010 Public Employees of the Year Awards
• I Did It in My Style, The Story of Frank Sinatra
• parts of Weekend Update
• Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
• The Suze Orman Show
• Gabourey Sidibe’s constant screw-ups
Best Performer of the Night:
• Will Forte
I know I shouldn’t keep getting my hopes up considering how consistently disappointed I’ve been with the second half of the 09-10 season, but I really thought Gabourey Sidibe’s presence this week would snap the lazy writers into shape and inspire them to write an actual good show. But nope. The result was yet another mostly uninspired, forgettable episode. There were a few rare shining moments of hope like the great material in the Old Mrs. Johnson sketch and the show ending on a good note with Forte’s Hamilton sketch, but for the most part, the episode felt like a long string of weak sketches that missed the mark, and it felt like nothing stood out as truly great overall - even the better sketches in this episode only received a three-star rating.
And Gabourey Sidibe... I’m not quite sure what to say. She was a likeable and enthusiastic host overall, which is always nice for SNL to have (though no one this season has matched Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s level of enthusiasm) and she made me laugh at times, but her apparent nervousness and inexperience hurt the show in a lot of spots. I had a feeling before the show that she might have trouble keeping a straight face in a sketch or two considering how giggly she was in some interviews I’ve seen her in, but I wasn’t expecting something like THIS with her making some kind of flub/screw-up in just about EVERY SINGLE SKETCH. I want to cut her some slack, but I rarely see a host mess up this much. The last host with this many screw-ups was January Jones, although by no means am I saying Gabourey was as bad a host as her. Gabourey still showed far more charisma and got far more laughs than January Jones did.
There are only two episodes left this season. I’m already not looking forward to the Betty White/former female castmembers reunion extravaganza thing. I have no problem with Betty White herself (although it’s kinda ridiculous that SNL’s only getting her to host because of some dumb Facebook campaign), my issue is with SNL bringing back a whole bunch of female castmembers for the show. What the hell is the point? If it’s because SNL doesn’t want to overwork Betty White and use her in too many sketches, then isn’t that what you have the CURRENT cast for? This could actually be a good excuse for some of the newer, underused castmembers to get some much-needed exposure. But with a show that’s most likely going to be filled with the return of old tired characters like Sally O’Malley and Debbie Downer, the current cast (especially those poor featured players) is going to get lost in the shuffle.
So in my opinion, SNL only has one more opportunity left for another good episode this season, and that’s the season finale. The finale better be strong, because there hasn’t been an episode that I truly and genuinely enjoyed since Jon Hamm in January, and I’d hate to have this season end without a single good episode in its final 4 months. I constantly compare the quality of this 09-10 season to 1993-94, but even that season didn't have this long of a gap between great episodes.
CASTMEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN
ARMISEN: 5 sketches (President Obama, Monologue, Mrs. Johnson, Frank Sinatra, Alarm Clocks)
FORTE: 3 sketches (Monologue, Frank Sinatra, Hamilton)
HADER: 3 sketches (Monologue, Frank Sinatra, Update)
MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)
SAMBERG: 2 sketches (Monologue, Digital Short)
SUDEIKIS: 3 sketches (Monologue, Frank Sinatra, Employees of the Year)
THOMPSON: 6 sketches (Monologue, Millionaire, Mrs. Johnson, Frank Sinatra, Employees of the Year, Hamilton)
WIIG: 3 sketches (Monologue, Suze Orman, Update)
ELLIOTT: 3 sketches (Monologue, Millionaire, Alarm Clocks)
MOYNIHAN: 4 sketches (Monologue, Millionaire, Employees of the Year, Alarm Clocks)
PEDRAD: 3 sketches (Monologue, Alarm Clocks, Hamilton)
SLATE: 3 sketches (Monologue, Frank Sinatra, Alarm Clocks)
GABOUREY SIDIBE: 9 sketches (Monologue, Suze Orman, Millionaire, Mrs. Johnson, Digital Short, Frank Sinatra, Employees of the Year, Alarm Clocks, Hamilton)