As I mentioned in my review of the last new episode, my review tonight is going to be special because it’s my 10 year anniversary of doing SNL reviews. I’ll be doing a big celebration for that, which took me a long time to put together (that’s the reason why there’s lately been a delay in my retro-reviews for the 90-91 season). At first, I planned on having the anniversary celebration at the beginning of this post before my actual review of the Scarlett Johansson episode. But I decided to do the celebration BELOW the review, since 1) I figured the Johansson review is the main reason you’re reading this and 2) the anniversary celebration is gonna be VERY LONG. So here’s my review for the latest episode and stay tuned afterwards for my 10th Anniversary Celebration...
***** = Excellent, a possible future classic
**** = Great
*** = Average
** = Meh
* = How'd this get past dress?
Cold Opening - President Obama and Hu Jintao Press Conference
• Oh, I didn’t know they were showing a rerun of the Joseph Gordon-Levitt episode tonight. I just-- what’s that? This is a NEW cold opening? Could’ve fooled me.
• There was nothing original at all in this besides Bill putting lipstick on himself towards the end, which did get a chuckle from me. Otherwise, this cold opening was a complete waste. It was decent last season, but this stuff just does not work a second time.
• And I’m sorry, but seeing Bill Hader yelling in angry fake Chinese is nowhere near as funny as Will Forte doing the same thing. Damn, Will Forte’s presence is being sorely missed this season.
Monologue - Scarlett Johansson
• Oh, this has got to be a fucking joke. It’s GOTTA be. It is now simply undeniable that the current writers are not giving a shit anymore about SNL. We’re 6 episodes into the season, and only ONE monologue (the season premiere) wasn’t a copy-and-paste tired musical or Q&A mono? This is sad. I know monologues in general have a reputation for not being very strong, but when you do a long string of monologues in a row that are either just the host singing or the host taking questions from castmembers unconvincingly portraying audience members, you KNOW there’s a serious problem.
• Oh, and now Kristen comes along to chew up more scenery and make me groan endlessly.
• I was happy at first to see the Ke$ha inclusion because 1) it’s about time SNL parodied that hot mess, and 2) it actually gave Abby Elliott something to do. But unfortunately, the Ke$ha bit led absolutely nowhere and got no laughs.
Commercial - Maternity Television
• This was a pretty good parody. A couple of good laughs, particularly the Wild N’ Out scene (LOVED Jay’s Nick Cannon), the brief Cribs scene, and even Bobby as Snooki at the end simply because 1) it was brief and 2) they did something different with his Snooki and finally took her out of the Weekend Update setting.
• I congratulate Andy for looking and sounding NOTHING like Mario Lopez.
• It was interesting seeing Scarlett in the My Super Sweet 16 scene since they actually did a parody of that show the first time Scarlett hosted in 2006. I don’t remember that sketch being funny except for a good performance by Chris Parnell as the dad.
Sketch - Millionaire Matchmaker
• Two reality show sketches in a row? Really, SNL?
• And having never seen Millionaire Matchmaker before, SNL’s parody of it and Scarlett’s impression was completely lost on me.
• I was happy to see Vanessa being given a big role, but her character’s voice gave me unwanted flashbacks to Kristen as Trina (a.k.a. the “Thomas!” lady). Seriously, the voice was pretty much the exact same. Vanessa’s character was thankfully much more low-key and tolerable, though.
• The sketch itself was pretty bland, aside from about one or two of Scarlett’s insults to Vanessa that made me chuckle. And the ending was way too abrupt.
Sketch - The Manuel Ortiz Show
• NOOOOOOOO!!! Couldn’t they have left this unfunny one-joke nonsense back in 09-10 season where it belonged? There’s no way they can top Betty White’s stilted dancing to the salsa music anyway (which was the only truly hilarious moment these Manuel Ortiz sketches ever had), so why even bother with anymore installments?
• Only thing even remotely amusing in tonight’s sketch was Bill’s frozen dramatic facial expression after saying “So this is whyyyyy!” And I liked Nasim’s voice/accent during her brief appearance.
Commercial - Unstoppable
• Wow, I loved this. It was really strong and had lots of quality laughs.
• Great to see Jay’s excellent Denzel impression back. He had me cracking up for this entire sketch, especially the serious-face-then-laughing-and-clapping bits, his “BOOM!” whenever the train would crash into something, and his random “Okay!” after hugging Taran.
• Taran was very good in this as well. The self-righteous grin on his face after saying “Where did you learn trains, old man - from INVENTING them?” was great.
• I also got a big laugh from the train suddenly crashing into the nursing home shuttle bus.
• Another great thing was the cinematography; it was fantastic and made this feel like a genuine movie trailer. There was a lot of good attention to detail.
Sketch - Hollywood Dish
• Remember my review of the Manuel Ortiz sketch above? Copy-and-paste all of my complaints from there to here, no difference at all.
• The two hosts’ moms randomly appearing behind them was the only thing original and chuckleworthy here. As much as some people love watching Kristen get abused, I can’t even laugh at her getting drinks spit/dumped on her. We all know it’s going to happen anyway, and that’s been completely run into the ground.
• Oh, and Bill Hader continues his increasing failure to keep a straight face. I still remember the days when it used to be impossible to get Bill to crack; now his character breaks are almost expected. You can predict the exact spots in the Hollywood Dish, Scared Straight, and Stefon sketches where Bill will lose it. No, this doesn’t quite make him a Jimmy Fallon (yet), but for someone who used to be on the same level of Dan Aykroyd’s or Phil Hartman’s professionalism, Bill’s de-evolution is getting discouraging.
Weekend Update - Seth Meyers, featuring President George W. Bush and Kanye West, Frank and Gladys Madden
• Best jokes: Pamela Anderson
• Jason and Jay’s commentary as Bush and Kayne was pretty good. Although I’ve seen many impressions from Jay, I had never seen him do Kanye before, so that was exciting. I knew Jay’s impression wouldn’t let me down and he absolutely NAILED it. Awesome! Jay continues to be amazing and he’s been having a fantastic night. Judging from how SNL’s been using him, it seems like he can possibly become a young, black Darrell Hammond. I remember it was Abby who people predicted would be the new Darrell (instead, she seems to have taken the path of being the new Finesse Mitchell), but I think it’ll be Jay instead.
• Jason hasn’t played Bush in AGES, so it was interesting to see it back. And, of course, this sadly ended up being Jason’s first and ONLY appearance of the entire episode. *sigh*
• Okay, Vanessa and Fred’s commentary as the old couple... WTF? I know I’m not the only one who noticed that their commentary was VERY identical to an earlier Update bit with Rachel Dratch and Chris Kattan (not Fred) playing basically the same characters. Even the look of Vanessa and Fred’s characters was the exact same.
• Anyway, possible plagiarism or not, most of the Vanessa/Fred commentary dragged and wasn’t funny, but I did like Fred’s “Wouldn’t you?” line at the end. That was a long-ass dull set-up just to get to that punchline, though.
Sketch - St. Kat’s Middle School
• Oh... my... god... This sketch... I-I have no words.
• There’s a difference between a simple weak sketch and a sketch that’s so horrible, so completely devoid of any premise, laughs, or decent writing whatsoever that you have to wonder what in the world could have possessed Lorne to let the sketch make it to dress rehearsal much less the live show. This Middle School sketch definitely falls under the latter category.
• Someone on another SNL board said this sketch had a big 94-95 vibe to it, and I agree 100%; I got that exact same feeling throughout this entire thing. I can easily imagine Chris Farley in 1994 playing Kenan’s role and Farley would’ve done his overused, tired “screaming fat guy” schtick during the close-ups of him on the floor crying “GO AWAY!!! etc.”, except Farley instead would’ve yelled “SON OF A BITCH!!! SHUT YER PIEHOLE!!! SON OF A BITCH!!!” over and over again like he did in every damn episode from 94-95. Though even Farley’s rendition would’ve been funnier than the unfunny dialogue that was coming out of Kenan’s mugging face.
• I think I can seriously say that this will go down as one of the worst sketches in SNL history. Not even the studio audience was laughing at this shit. It’s now one day after the episode aired and I’m STILL trying to figure out what this sketch’s punchline was supposed to be.
Stars: * (even that’s being generous)
Digital Short - What Was That?
• Funny that the song was called “What was that?” because I was asking myself the exact same question about this short after it ended.
• A very strange and seemingly pointless short, but I did get a few laughs. Some of Andy’s whiny yelling made me chuckle even though his dialogue wasn’t funny in itself, and the inclusion of Arcade Fire was okay despite the fact that they were given no actual funny lyrics either. I dunno, I guess I’m just desperate for amusement after the horror that was the Kenan/wheelchair sketch. Nothing will ever seem as bad as that trainwreck.
Sketch/Commercial - Paula Deen’s Big Ol’ Soakems
• When I said nothing will seem as bad as the Kenan/wheelchair sketch, I clearly spoke too soon because now we get a sketch with Kristen Wiig flying solo and doing an annoying over-the-top accent for the entire duration. Whoopee-dee.
• Actually, I’m exaggerating a bit as this wasn’t as horrible as the Kenan sketch, but it still wasn’t very funny and came off as just a filler segment or yet another excuse for Lorne to pimp out Kristen.
• Oh, and bleeped-out swearing in a live sketch? I thought SNL swore off (no pun intended) doing that after the Jenny Slate disaster.
Sketch - Stars of Tomorrow
• Okay, has anyone noticed that EVERY SINGLE SKETCH tonight so far has been in the form of a TV show? Is this intentional?
• This sketch was okay. Nothing outstanding overall, but enjoyable enough. Vanessa did a good job in her role, especially her reciting Bubba’s lines from Forest Gump.
• Having a Brokeback Mountain re-enactment by two young girls was funny in concept, but it wasn’t really necessary to show the whole scene. Although Vanessa’s delivery of “I wish I knew... how to quit you” was great.
Sketch/Commercial - Ceramic Busts
• Aaaaaand of course, we have the return of this staple in Scarlett Johansson episodes. At least they put it all the way in the 5-to-1 slot this time; they must’ve realized that pretty much ZERO people were anxiously awaiting this sketch’s return, including the studio audience as they were completely silent during this. In fact, is it just me or has the audience been really dead all night in general? This is fucking painful.
• This tired sketch gets more and more boring with each installment. You can tell they’re running out of elegant household products for these two characters to hawk, as “Ceramic Busts” doesn’t even sound humorous in the characters’ New York accents unlike “Chan-duh-lee-yuhz” or “Maw-ble Cahh-lumns”.
• There’s been way too much of Fred Armisen in tonight’s episode. I’m now at the point where I almost groan whenever he shows up on camera these days; that’s how sick I’m getting of him. It’s amazing; this is the same guy who used to be one of my favorite current castmembers from 2002 to about 2008.
• The George W. Bush and Kanye West commentary on Weekend Update
• Maternity Television
• St. Kat’s Middle School
• Ceramic Busts
• The Manuel Ortiz Show
• Hollywood Dish
• Press Conference
• Song-and-Dance monologue #392 this season
• Paula Deen’s Big Ol’ Soakems
Best Performer of the Night:
• Jay Pharoah
I’m really running out of ways to say “a mediocre show tonight”, but... yep, this was yet another disappointing and mostly-weak episode. I hate to come off like a grumpy whiner and complainer this season (I’m really NOT one, and you would know that if you’ve read my reviews for seasons prior to 09-10), but it’s extremely frustrating for a devoted long-time viewer like me to have to sit through episodes filled with unfunny, baffling garbage like the Kenan/wheelchair disaster and the 50th installment of that stupid Manuel Ortiz Show, knowing that SNL is capable of doing so much better. When the show’s getting in bad shape, I call them out on it - simple as that. What’s happening to the SNL that I know and love? I’m mystified that some people are actually really enjoying this season and calling it a vast improvement over last year. Are we watching the same show?
We’re 6 episodes into the season and it’s sad when the Jane Lynch episode is the closest this season has come to a strong show. In a normal good season, the Lynch show would just be passed off as a mostly-forgettable episode, yet this season it’s the closest they can come to a masterpiece. *sigh* How much am I supposed to lower my standards to enjoy this season?
CASTMEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN
ARMISEN: 6 sketches (Press Conference, Manuel Ortiz, Update, Middle School, Stars of Tomorrow, Ceramic Busts)
ELLIOTT: 4 sketches (Monologue, Maternity Television, Millionaire Matchmaker, Ceramic Busts)
HADER: 4 sketches (Press Conference, Manuel Ortiz, Hollywood Dish, Digital Short)
MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)
MOYNIHAN: 3 sketches (Maternity Television, Millionaire Matchmaker, Stars of Tomorrow)
SAMBERG: 4 sketches (Maternity Television, Manuel Ortiz, Middle School, Digital Short)
SUDEIKIS: 1 sketch (Update)
THOMPSON: 3 sketches (Manuel Ortiz, Middle School, Ceramic Busts)
WIIG: 6 sketches (Monologue, Manuel Ortiz, Hollywood Dish, Middle School, Paula Deen, Stars of Tomorrow)
BAYER: 4 sketches (Maternity Television, Millionaire Matchmaker, Update, Stars of Tomorrow)
BRITTAIN: 3 sketches (Unstoppable, Middle School, Ceramic Busts)
KILLAM: 4 sketches (Millionaire Matchmaker, Manuel Ortiz, Unstoppable, Middle School)
PEDRAD: 3 sketches (Press Conference, Maternity Television, Manuel Ortiz)
PHAROAH: 3 sketches (Maternity Television, Unstoppable, Update)
SCARLETT JOHANSSON: 9 sketches (Monologue, Maternity Television, Millionaire Matchmaker, Manuel Ortiz, Unstoppable, Hollywood Dish, Middle School, Stars of Tomorrow, Ceramic Busts)
And now... the big moment that, well, I’ve been waiting for, at least:
STOOGE’S 10TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION
(Warning: This is going to be quite long, I hope that’s not a problem)
Okay, first a little backstory. Prior to November 2000, I was just a reader and observer of the SNL reviews that fans would post on SNL message boards. Back in those days, Mark Polishuk and Jordan Davidson were the Top Dogs of SNL reviews. I was particularly a HUGE fan of Polishuk’s reviews. I don’t know how many people here remember or even heard of Mark Polishuk before (I know at least The Doc and jojo remember him), but Polishuk’s SNL reviews were simply THE BEST. Just epic. They were very funny and entertaining as hell, and I would always look forward to every Sunday evening after the latest new SNL episode just so I could read his review of it. He officially stopped doing reviews in 2002, and to this day even 8 years later, there has yet to be an SNL reviewer who could top or equal Polishuk. That’s how awesome he was.
Anyway, being a big admirer of Polishuk’s reviews back in the day, it was sometime shortly after the 2000-01 season began when his reviews started giving me the inspiration to try MY hand at SNL reviews. I knew that if I did a review, it would be nowhere near Polishuk-levels of greatness, but I had enough confidence to give SNL reviewing a shot, even if it just ended up being a one-time thing. So right after November 4, 2000 following the airing of the then-new episode Charlize Theron/Paul Simon, I rewatched that episode on tape, typed up a quick sketch-by-sketch analysis of it, and posted it on the SNL message board, thus making it my very first SNL review ever. Are you curious to see some excerpts from it? Here are some! Be warned that they’re very amateurish and almost completely unrecognizable from my more-polished reviews of today, but that’s what makes it interesting to look back at. So let’s journey back in time to 10 years ago when Will Ferrell was at the height of his SNL reign and popularity, when America was in the midst of the insane drawn-out Bush/Gore elections due to those pesky Florida ballots, and when I was an immature 16-year old fresh-faced rookie reviewer:
This is my first time doing an SNL review, so bare with me, folks. I've read a lot of SNL reviews in the past and I must say that Mark Polishuk is my favorite reviewer and I love reading his reviews. But don't worry, I won't steal his reviewing techinique (CAST MEMBERS WITH TIME TO WASH LORNE'S CAR, BUSIEST CAST MEMBER, etc.) Writing my own SNL review feels really awkward for me now, but hopefully after a few weeks, I'll get used to it.
MONOLOGUE: Charlize Theron
This was funny, but I think it would've made more sense to put this on later in the show or after a sketch like they did with Tracy's talk with Garth Brooks and Jamie Foxx. The only thing missing would be Tracy calling Lorne a "bitch" but that could get old after a while so I'm not complaining. Anyway, Tracy was right about a lot of stuff in this monologue, like the part about him being in so little sketches in tonight's episode (oh, wait, that's every episode, ain't it?), and there not being enough sisters to host the show. There was only 2 black female hosts, and that was over 10 years. Only 2 black female hosts in 26 years? Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? Tracy was also right about racism and people being treated badly because of their race. But you know, I hate it when the host doesn't do a real monologue, whether it be taking questions from the audience, going backstage, and I especially don't like it when a cast member interrupts the monlogue, because it takes the attention away from the host. All monologues should just be about the host, whether it be stand up, or talking about their recent movies or TV shows, or maybe just something about them. Last year, only 3 out of 20 hosts did real monologues (Jerry Seinfeld, Norm MacDonald, and Joshua Jackson), so I guess it's not a common thing anymore.
WEEKEND UPDATE WITH JIMMY FALLON AND TINA FEY:
Let me start out by saying that I might be in minority in this, but I don't really like the new Weekend Update format. Tina Fey is good, but Jimmy Fallon doesn't fit on WU. He can't be serious, doesn't look like the anchorman type, and messes up too much. I guess it sounds like Colin Quinn, too, but hey, at least I liked him. I wouldn't say take Jimmy off of WU mid-season, but I don't know what to do with him. The part with Rachel Dratch was okay, but a little weird. I didn't like the part with Hugh Fink too much. I hate it when they get a non-castmember as a correspondent (Kevin Brennan) and I won't be smiling if this guy becomes a cast-member next season.
SKETCH: A Glimpse of our Possible Future with Al Gore:
Another excellent Al Gore impression by Darrell Hammond. It got funnier with the pre-recorded footage with Darrell as Clinton. That reminded me of something similar they did in the cold opening of the Heather Graham episode from last year, where Hammond played both Gore and Clinton. But I noticed some techinical errors in this sketch: 1) The camera took a long time switching from Gore to Clinton when Clinton first walked on set. 2) Whoever that was playing the double for Clinton when he was in the same shot as Darrell as Gore was terrible, because when Gore said "Yes I'm on!" the double threw his beer can away, but when it switched to Clinton, he still had the beer can in his hand. Then after Clinton said "We're out of beer" and walked away, the camera cut back to Gore, and the double for Clinton was still standing in the same place, then he walked away. 3) Also, did anybody notice a camera behind Darrell as Clinton? Anyway, techinical errors aside, I just realized something about Darrell Hammond. In his years on SNL, all he ever really did was Clinton, but he can't do Clinton anymore so this season, all he ever does is Gore. But if Gore doesn't win the election, then that makes Gore and Clinton he can't do anymore, and that means that Darrell will probably leave. I remember in the 92-93 season, all Dana Carvey ever really did was George Bush then after he resigned and Clinton was president, Carvey left mid-season. Darrell will probably do the same if Gore doesn't win. I really hope Gore wins, for Darrell's sake.
Conclusion: An okay episode. Nothing really outstanding, but it's acceptable. Charlize was good. The best sketches were the three "A Glimpse of our Possible Future" segments. There has yet to be a real outstanding episode this season. I'm sure that'll change when Tom Green hosts. I'm one of the few people here who actually like him. Well, anyway, that's my review, and thanks for reading.
And that’s how I got my start. From that point, I continued doing SNL reviews on a regular basis and as time slowly went on, I became more and more comfortable. Here are some excerpts from my third review ever, the infamous and disastrous Tom Green/David Gray episode from November 18, 2000. Before we start, though, I must note that as embarrassed as I am to admit it today, I actually used to be a huge Tom Green fan 10 years ago. Gimme a break, I was just a 16-year old idiot high-schooler back then! I actually bought into the hype at that time about Tom Green being “the new Andy Kaufman” (which was complete BS now that I look back at it; Tom Green was clearly a passing fad while Andy Kaufman’s brilliant work still holds up to this day). Anyway, here are some interesting excerpts from my Tom Green review:
Overview: You all should know that I'm one of the few
posters here that love Tom Green. That crazy guy
cracks me up and he's always good for laughs. However,
his comedy is too off the wall for SNL and I don't
know if this show will be good or not. The writers
probably aren't gonna know what to do with him. But as
long as Tom is his usual wild self, I predict this
episode will be the standout episode of the season,
whether it's good or bad. I have a feeling Tom will do
something outrageous on SNL that'll leave his mark on
the show. This'll be interesting. Just seeing Tom is
good enough for me. Oh, yeah, and the musical guest is
David Gray. All I have to say is that it's interesting
how both the host and musical guest's last names are
[NOTE: Starting with this episode, I used a new and more-organized reviewing format that you might find similar to the one I’m currently using 10 years later.]
COLD OPENING: Decision 2000 Battle For the White
-At first, I thought this was gonna be the same cold
opening from last week's episode since they both
opened the same way. As a matter of fact, both cold
openings were almost entirely the same thing.
- This almost turned out to be something similar to
the Tom Brokaw Pre-Tapes sketch they did when Dana
Carvey hosted in 96.
- Ferrell's George W. is always funny, even though
it's kind of "in-acu-rit".
- I liked the "note" that George W. pulled out.
- Move over Clinton. Darrell's got a new impression.
The audience is starting to like Darrell's Gore as
much as his Clinton. I don't like it that much. I
think Clinton's more exciting. Gore is boring, but
Darrell's got the impression down pat.
- Gore and Bush singing "I got you baby" reminded me
of the sketch they did in the Joan Allen episode where
Chris Parnell as Newt Gingrich and Darrell as Clinton
both sang together.
- The song was a nice touch.
- The first time all season where Darrell Hammond said
"Live From New York". Just taking notes.
- These Gore/Bush cold openings are always funny.
SKETCH: Dog Show:
- This is my first time reviewing a Dog Show sketch
and just let me say that I can't believe how stupid
these sketches are. They're brainless, childish, and
dumb. This looks like some crap they got from the "All
That" show from Nickelodeon.
- Molly doing the out-of-character Mary Katherine
Gallagher move just proves that all her characters are
all alike. She's getting on my nerves.
- When Molly told Will's character that he's gay, she
spoke in her regular voice instead of her Miss Colleen
voice. She can never stay in character. At least she
didn't laugh like she does in every other sketch.
- The "Maybe I am, and Maybe I am" joke is beyond old
right now, and so is this sketch. Why'd they make this
- There's one good thing about this sketch, and that's
that the dogs are so cute. Rocky Balboa is always so
jittery and shaky. Where do they get those dogs? They
must belong to a crew or cast member.
- Tom Green's character saved this sketch, and so did
the pig, especially when it tried to get loose from
Tom's arm. They can never do this sketch without one
of the animals moving when they're not supposed to.
- How did Tom get his voice like that? Also, was that
squealing noise really coming from the pig?
- Oh, wait, Molly started laughing a bit when the pig
wouldn't stay still. Forget what I said before about
her not laughing during this sketch.
- Mr. Bojangles was terrified of the pig.
- This sketch is still dumb and will continue to be.
Rating: ** (Tom and the pig saved this sketch).
- Tom goofed at the beginning, he was talking when he
didn't think the camera's were rolling then he said
"Oh, are we on the air?". It was like when Molly was
talking at that beginning of the Dog Show sketch from
last season when she thought the cameras weren't
rolling ("A little scaryoop!").
- Did anybody realize that Tom and Will were singing
off-beat during some verses?
- Did anybody see this lady in the audience that was
directed Tom when he knocked the clock over?
- Tom and Will are once again a good comedic pair and
this started out funny even though it had no point,
then the sketch suddenly got cut off for time before
it was even over, like the Buena Vista Social Club
sketch from 2 shows ago. I mean, after Tom smashed the
grandfather clock, he yelled "Stop the music!" then
the sketch suddenly ended. This sketch had no point at
all. That seemed to be a theme in tonight's episode.
Well, at least this was sort of funny
MISC/GOODBYES: The Wedding:
- This live wedding, (or whatever you wanna call it)
will definitely go down as one of the most memorable
moments in SNL history. I knew Tom would do something
- I'm still waiting for the day when Will Ferrell is
gonna change his hair back to normal. Poor guy had to
wear a wig to look formal for the wedding, even though
he was playing himself.
- Who were some of those people at the wedding? Were
they relatives, friends, crew members?
- Glenn and Phil, those two guys from Tom's TV show,
were also at the wedding.
- This was a unique way to end the show. Also, they
almost ran the full credits, but it got off before the
end. I don't think we'll ever see the complete ending
credits at all this season.
Rating: ***** (for trying something different)
This show is definitely the standout episode of the
season, but overall, the episode just wasn't very
good. It started out great, then quickly went downhill
after the first 20 minutes. It wasn't Tom Green's
fault. The writers were just lazy. Even some sketches
without him sucked. Maybe cause it's been 3 live shows
in a row and the writers need a break. Smigel needs to
leave cause his ideas are getting more f*cked up as we
go along. As for Tom, other than the Oprah sketch, he
was his usual wacky self but he was working on some
bad material. I still luv ya, Tom (not in that way!).
But this has to be the weirdest SNL episode I've ever
seen. Definetely not the worst, but very weird.
Here are some excerpts from my review a few episodes later, Lucy Liu/Jay-Z (December 16, 2000):
COLD OPENING: Gore and Bush at Chi-Chi's:
- Man, they could put Bush and Gore anywhere. Next
thing you'll know, they'll put these two at Chuck E.
- Too bad Gore lost the elections. I was hoping he
would win for Darrell's sake since all he ever really
does is impressions of Clinton and Gore. I don't
think he'll leave mid-season like I said a long time
ago on this board, but since he can't do Gore
frequently anymore, he'll probably be underused.
- On the other side, I'm happy that Bush won because
Will Ferrell's Bush impression is hilarious and never
gets too boring like Darrell's Gore. This is most
likely Ferrell's last season, so I wonder who they're
going to get to play Bush after he leaves.
- Darrell really has his fans. The audience applauded
when he just walked on-screen as Gore.
- Chris Kattan always plays waiters. This season
premiere's Blind Date sketch for example, and there's
countless other examples.
- Will Ferrell said "Live from New York" as Bush in
nearly every episode this season.
- Your usual great Gore and Bush sketch.
SKETCH: Robert Goulet
- As soon as this began, I knew this was going to be a
Robert Goulet sketch. The other one from earlier this
season also opened up with the announcer interviewing
old people. Well, Will's Robert Goulet is funny,
though, so I'm not complaining about this being
- This was good. Adding Jay Z and his rappers here
was a nice touch.
- Did Will say "fuck"? I swear he did. But it also
sounded like "fluck". I'm not sure. I guess we'll
find out when this episode is rebroadcast. If he did
say "fuck", all I have to say is 'Wow!' Last time
they did this sketch, he got away with saying n*gger,
and now he said fuck? Can't wait until the next
Robert Goulet sketch to see what they get away with.
[NOTE: For the record, Ferrell obviously didn’t drop an f-bomb; I later realized that the word he said was indeed “fluck”. However, Jay-Z actually said “shit” during one part of that same sketch, and I didn’t even notice it at the time!]
[NOTE: As seen below, this Lucy Liu review was the very first time I ever did the Castmember Count Down stats where I list the number of sketches each castmember appeared in, which I still continue to do today.]
Cast Member sketch count:
Jimmy Fallon: 7 sketches
Will Ferrell: 4 sketches
Ana Gasteyer: 3 sketches
Darrell Hammond: 5 sketches (I think he was Santa in
the ornaments sketch)
Chris Kattan: 4 sketches
Tracy Morgan: 2 sketches
Chris Parnell: 2 sketches
Horatio Sanz: 3 sketches
Molly Shannon: 3 sketches
Rachel Dratch: 3 sketches
Tina Fey: 2 sketches (she hardly appears in anything
else other than WU)
Jerry Minor: 1 sketch
Maya Rudolph: 2 sketches
Jimmy Fallon was the star tonight, and Will Ferrell
wasn't used much as he usually is. Darrell Hammond
was used more than Will, which is rare. Please
correct me if I'm wrong on the cast member sketch
Here are some excerpts from my review of Mena Suvari/Lenny Kravitz (January 20, 2001):
COLD OPENING Clinton Says Goodbye
- I was watching MadTV tonight, and they did a sketch
very similar to this. Of course, the main difference
was that sucked and this didn't.
- The camera started shaking for some reason right
before Clinton said "Live From New York".
- Ferrell's Bush impression is now getting the
applause that it deserves.
- There was nothing really special about this, except
that this is most likely the last time Darrell will do
Clinton. His impression will be missed.
- And the non-presidential cold opening crisis
[NOTE: Ha! I love how I assumed that would be the last time we’d ever see Darrell’s Clinton impression, when it ended up appearing about 70 more times after this episode aired. Of course, I never would have guessed back then in 2001 how long Darrell would continue to stay with SNL.]
OPENING MONTAGE: So Rob Smigel's back? What the? I
thought he was gone for good. Also, anybody notice
that Pardo announced Jerry Minor as "Jimmy Minor"?
That's his second mistake in all his career (his first
was when he announced the SNL band as R.E.M. last
season when Danny DeVito hosted).
SKETCH Rap Street
- Horatio's fake moustache started peeling off halfway
through the sketch and when he and Jerry noticed, they
both started breaking character. It took Horatio a
long time to get back in character. It's funny when
stuff like this happens, like Kattan's beard in last
season's Christopher Lowell sketch.
- This was pretty good. Nothing bad, but nothing that
great about it either.
SKETCH: Veronica and Co.
- I will only sum up this sketch in four words: "I
hate Molly Shannon!!!"
[NOTE: That above review about Molly Shannon still cracks me up to this day. Of course, I could still copy-and-paste that exact same review these days and replace “Molly Shannon” with “Kristen Wiig”.]
Here are some excerpts from my review of Conan O’Brien/Don Henley (March 10, 2001):
Conan O'Brien is hosting tonight. He's the star of
his own late-night talk show on NBC and he used to be
a writer on SNL. Since he already has experience with
SNL, he'll probably feel more comfortable with the
show. It feels weird having him host though because I
think he's the first late-night talk show host to host
SNL (Jay Leno doesn't count because he didn't have his
own talk show yet when he hosted SNL). He's a real
funny guy and it will be interesting to see what he'll
MONOLOGUE Conan O'Brien
I was wondering myself during the opening montage if
Conan would walk on-stage in the same manner he does
on his own show, and he did.
A very lively audience tonight.
This was a pretty good monologue, really different too
(especially the way it ended). I thought Conan
would've done an actual monologue, but this was still
good. It was really, really long though. I thought
it would just end after Conan showed the clips of all
the sketches he's been in as a writer.
And finally, here are some excerpts from my review of the season finale, Christopher Walken/Weezer (May 19, 2001). Also, by this point, my review format had changed yet again:
[MONOLOGUE] Christopher Walken
“Hey, Jimmy, WAZUUP?” -- Christopher Walken to
This was a hilarious monologue. Christopher Walken
keeps messing up the song “Let’s Call the Whole Thing
Off”, even when Jimmy Fallon keeps trying to tell him
the right way to sing it. Christopher Walken was his
usual hilarious self here. He just amazes me. Even
Jimmy Fallon was cracking up all throughout this, but
then again, he laughs in every sketch he’s in. I was
really hoping for a Fatboy Slim video spoof for
Walken’s monologue, but this was just great enough.
[MISCELLANEOUS] Memorial Day is Here
Jimmy Fallon, Horatio Sanz, Chris Kattan, and Tracy
Morgan perform the “Christmas Time is Here” song once
again, this time in the form of “Memorial Day is
Here”. I’m surprised we’re seeing this yet again.
They already re-did the Christmas song before, for no
real reason. The rhymes really seemed tacked on here
this time, and the lyrics didn’t fit. Oh, well, they
all looked like they were having fun anyway
(especially Kattan), for the last sketch of the season
(ironically, the last sketch of last season also had
the cast members singing together – remember the
“Diggin’ a Hole” sketch?). Even Tracy, for his
only sketch tonight.
[NOTE: At the end of that review, I did a lengthy analysis of the 2000-01 season as a whole. Obviously I’m not gonna post the whole thing, but here’s a little excerpt from the end:]
Even though SNL fans have been contemplating this for
the past few years, I think now is the time for SNL to
have its cast change. New cast, new writers, new
everything. The show is starting to weaken a little
again, and it’ll probably only get worse next season
if they don’t fix this. The writers are getting lazy
and we need a fresh new cast with a lot of new people.
Here’s who I would suggest keeping for next season:
Jimmy Fallon ??? (still thinking about it)
[NOTE: As strange as it is to admit it nowadays, I actually wasn’t very happy about the 00-01 season at the time it originally aired and, yes, I felt that cast needed some revamping. In retrospect, the 00-01 season was actually very strong. Also, given my current outspoken thoughts about Maya Rudolph, I have to find it funny that I put her in the list of castmembers to keep. Maya was still new and fresh back then in 2001, and it wasn’t until sometime in the 02-03 season when I got sick of her. Also, for those wondering why Will Ferrell wasn’t in my “keep” list even though I love the guy, I assumed that the 00-01 season was Ferrell’s last since he was becoming a big star and there were talks at the time about him possibly not returning for the 01-02 season. He DID return, thankfully, and ended his SNL tenure with a bang.]
And that ends the lookback into my rookie reviews for the 2000-01 season. I’m not going to do this for the seasons that followed, obviously, as we’d be here FOREVER if I did. But to continue celebrating my 10 year anniversary, I will now pick one of my favorite sketches from each of the last 10 seasons and post the original review I wrote for it, starting with 2000-01 and ending with the current 2010-11 season. Also, reading the compilation below, it’s interesting to note how my reviewing format changed so much over the years. In my 2002-2005 reviews, I used an interesting “highlights-lowlights” format for every sketch, similar to the “Good Idea-Bad Idea” format that board member Amy uses in her reviews nowadays.
From December 16, 2000 - Lucy Liu/Jay Z:
SKETCH: Celebrity Jeopardy:
- Yes, a CJ sketch! I always love these
sketches. I know some people here think SNL does this
sketch too much, be c'mon, they only twice a year.
- Jimmy's Robin Williams impression was hilarious and
almost dead-on, but, like most of his impressions, he
didn't look a damn thing like him, but he sounded and
acted just like him.
- I'm not sure how accurate Lucy's Catherine
Zeta-Jones impression was since I've never saw her
- Darrell's Connery is still funny, like when he
messes up the titles (The Penis Mightier, Ape Tit,
Famous Tities, and our new one today, Anal Bum Cover)
and his always making fun of Trebek's mother, but he
always plays Connery. I think the only other person
he played on CJ was Phil Donahue. They have to give
him some other people to do, because there is hardly
anybody he can't imitate perfectly (John Travolta and
William Shatner being the exceptions).
- Will's Alex Trebek is always welcome, but it isn't
accurate at all.
- Did anybody notice that after Will read off the
"Make Any Noise" title, somebody in the audience made
a "yeee" noise?
- The part where Sean Connery called Robin Williams
"Legally retarted" was hilarious.
- You could tell that Jimmy's hand with a pen through
it was fake since you could see his real hand holding
the fake hand in his sleeve.
- Your usual excellent Celebrity Jeopardy. I'm glad
they brought this back.
From October 6, 2001 - Seann William Scott/Sum41:
- Good lord! Will Ferrell just may be the funniest man alive. Not that that's anything new, but who else but him could make this funny? This was simply hilarious!
- It looked like Ferrell was going to laugh at the beginning.
- Mario, if you're ever thinking about updating your "Will Ferrell's Greatest Moments" list, this one would be a good one to add.
- RATING: ***** A+
From March 15, 2003 - Salma Hayek/Christina Aguilera:
(SKETCH) Jealous husband in a box
- A strange but good premise. Yet another "bizarre Forte sketch". He's wonderful at these.
- Jimmy beating up the box was hilarious.
- I remember reading in one of Jamie Klein's episode reviews that this sketch got cut from a recent episode.
From March 13, 2004 - Ben Affleck/N.E.R.D.:
(SKETCH) Frondi's Gigli bashing
-- Fred's character and his Gigli insults.
-- For some reason, Parnell's high-pitched voice during the filming made me laugh.
-- The magazine covers ending (and did anyone notice the "Frondi vs. William Hung" article?).
From January 22, 2005 - Paul Giamatti/Ludacris featuring Sum41:
[SKETCH] Condoleezza Rice Hearings
• The return of Seth’s John Kerry impression.
• Great performances and a lot of solid lines from everyone here, and the writing was excellent.
• Amy as Barbara Boxer with all the ridiculous visuals she had about Condoleezza and calling her “Conda-lies-a-lies-alot”.
• Why was Rob Riggle even in this? He had no lines and did nothing but sit there. Too bad this also ended up being his only appearance tonight.
[NOTE: I REALLY had to struggle long and hard to find a strong-enough sketch from 04-05 to post here. It’s almost easy to forget nowadays how terrible 04-05 was. I hated that season. Also, that comment I made back then about Rob Riggle cracks me up, since it perfectly sums up his entire SNL tenure.]
From May 13, 2006 - Julia Louis Dreyfus/Paul Simon:
[SKETCH] MySpace Seminar
-- Rare to see Andy with an actual lead role in a live sketch. He was really good here.
-- I thought Jason was Fred at first until he started speaking. Fred’s good at playing creepy characters, too, so I’m surprised he wasn’t in this.
-- All the guys in this sketch were great and there were a lot of hilarious parts, like Seth’s Dateline question, a lot of Will’s lines and him faking the keyboard typing.
-- Horatio’s having a rare good night. He in particular was very funny in this, especially him hiding behind the plant at the end.
-- Overall, an excellent sketch and one of the season’s best.
[NOTE: That comment I made about how odd it is to see Andy starring in a sketch seems funny in retrospect, but remember that back in the 05-06 season when Andy first joined, his starring roles usually only came in Digital Shorts while he would just get bit roles in live sketches. Also, remember how painfully awkward Andy used to be in live sketches back then? Thankfully, he’s improved a lot over the years.]
From November 11, 2006 - Alec Baldwin/Christina Aguilera:
SKETCH: Carpool Conversation
- Started out slow, but once it got going and the increasingly stranger it became, it was hilarious. Alec and Kristen were both great.
- The “Bobby McFerrin raped my grandmother” line was just classic and had me laughing for two minutes straight, as did the ending with “Don’t worry, be happy” playing on the radio.
[NOTE: Oh, Kristen, how I long for the good ol’ days back when you could reliably deliver great work like this on a consistent basis.]
From February 23, 2008 - Tina Fey/Carrie Underwood:
Sketch - I Drink Your Milkshake
• A very random way of parodying There Will Be Blood, but I really enjoyed this. Hader was just so dead-on as Daniel Day Lewis. Hader’s always brilliant when they let him do sketches/impressions like this. He had me laughing hard during the sketch, especially his “I FINIIIIIIISHED!” at the end.
• Amy’s second appearance in a row tonight playing a guy.
• I knew Armisen would parody Anton Chigurh sooner or later since he does look a lot like him.
• At first when Hader said that Juno would be his guest in the next installment, I thought that meant they really were going to continue this sketch next week when Ellen Page hosts, but then Tina showed up playing her.
From March 14, 2009 - Tracy Morgan/Kelly Clarkson:
Sketch - Rocket Dog
• Another awesome bizarre sketch that Tracy Morgan was born to do. He had a lot of funny lines, too, like “Houston, we have a dog” and his line about how Thailand is heavy on dogs and low on laws.
• All the “In Memoriam” montages were hilarious, especially when they showed one for a guy in a dog costume and Tracy. I also laughed at how they kept playing that upbeat song during the memoriam montages.
• Kristen was a very good straight woman in this and I liked all her facial reactions. She’s much better at low-key acting like this than the annoying or over-the-top roles they always give her nowadays.
From December 5, 2009 - Blake Lively/Rihanna:
Sketch - Potato Chip Thief
• At first, I thought Jason was supposed to be Colonel Sanders, before I remembered Bill usually plays him. I also thought at first that Will was playing his character from that Dr. Uncle Jimmy's BBQ/Hospital sketch, since he had a similar wig and voice.
• This sketch was fucking hilarious, and was clearly from the demented mind of Will Forte. We rarely get to see any of his patented bizarre sketches anymore these days. The only other one from this season I can think of is the Anti-Obama Guy sketch and maybe the digital short Will was in with Megan Fox. This sketch felt like a welcome return to the type of sketches Forte used to always do and it was a great way to end the show. Since this may most likely be Will's final season, I hope we see more Bizarre Will Forte Sketches as the season goes on... or really just more bizarre original creative sketches in general instead of the lazy recurring crap we've been overfed with this season.
• Pretty much everything here had me laughing my ass off, especially Will's trademarked purple-faced yelling when he was standing on the desk, Jason's voice in this sketch in general, Jason spitting back up the chip into Will's hand, Will dripping that same “chip” back into the bowl, and Jason retrieving his “hemorrhoid donut” before leaving.
• And this was yet another sketch that proves Forte and Sudeikis need to be paired up in sketches a lot more often as they seem to always make a great team.
From October 30, 2010 - Jon Hamm/Rihanna:
Miscellaneous - Back to the Future Screen Tests #2
• I felt that the first one earlier tonight ended abruptly and I was hoping it would be a two-part segment they’d follow-up later tonight, so I was happy to see this.
• This was even better than the earlier segment. All the impressions in this one were just hit-after-hit and there were no Sam Kinisons or Jennifer Tillys to bring it down.
• LOVED the hell out of Bill’s Alan Alda! As soon as they flashed the “Alan Alda” screen test title, I hoped it would be Bill who would play him, and he did not disappoint. Absolutely fantastic impression and all of his lines were excellent.
• I mentioned in the first Screen Tests segment that I always love when they imitate former castmembers on SNL. Well, this second segment added two more to that: Gilbert Gottfried and Joan Cusack, although most non-SNL fans probably aren’t even aware that either of them were ever castmembers on SNL.
• Taran Killam’s Gilbert Gottfried was pretty funny even though I’ve seen far better Gottfried impressions before, but then Taran COMPLETELY wowed me with his excellent and hilarious Pee Wee Herman. The voice was eerily perfect; if I had my eyes closed, I’d think that was actually Pee Wee talking. More impressions from Taran, SNL!
• And hey, Abby Elliott was actually given something to do! I mean, it was only for a few seconds and in a pre-recorded bit, but still! You mean Lorne is actually aware of this girl’s existence? I always enjoy her Joan Cusack impression.
• Not even Kenan’s Bill Cosby could bother me; that’s always been the only accurate one of Kenan’s impressions because he’s been doing it since he was a kid on Nickelodeon.
And, well, that’s all, folks. Thanks for indulging me in this fun trip down memory lane. I’m still amazed when I realize that I’ve been reviewing every new SNL episode for 10 years straight. It’s been a very fun 10 years and I hope this streak continues. Hopefully 10 years from now in November 2020 (can you imagine what SNL will be like by that time?), I’ll be a fogey 36-year old celebrating the record-breaking 20th anniversary of my SNL reviews. Who knows? Well, here’s to 10 more years and beyond! Thanks for reading and good night.