Seth MacFarlane / Frank Ocean
September 15, 2012


***** = Excellent, a possible future classic

**** = Great

*** = Average

** = Meh

* = How'd this get past dress?


Cold Opening - Obama vs. Romney

• I'm sure I'm not the only one who got confused at first and thought Fred was playing Obama when they first showed him at the beginning of this, before I realized he was just playing a normal character.

• The idea of having Fred introduce Jay's debut as Obama was actually a clever passing-of-the-torch moment, and I liked Fred's inside joke-y comment "Sure wouldn't want his job". This showed Fred to be a good sport about the show talking away his Obama impression, and I bet he's actually relieved not to have to worry about playing him anymore.

• As for Jay's Obama impression, I can't understand why so many people are unimpressed with it; I thought he was just fine. Was it the best Obama impression ever? No, but he certainly sounded enough like him and you can tell that unlike with Fred, we'll be seeing Jay doing much more fun, loose things with the impression every time he plays him.

• To all of the people complaining that Jay didn't create enough of a character with his Obama impression... WTF??? This was just his first time playing Obama, people. Give the guy some time. After all, the first few times Dana Carvey played Bush Sr., it's not like he immediately started doing the characterizations that his Bush would later become well-known for (the crazy hand gestures, "Na ga da", etc.). None of that was seen at all in Carvey's early Bush appearances; he just did a straight impression of him at first.

• Some people said they weren't surprised at the announcement earlier this week that Taran will play Romney's running mate Paul Ryan, but I was. Why? Because I figured they'd be saving Taran for taking over the Romney impression after Jason leaves. So now what are they gonna do if Romney wins the election? I guess Bill's the only castmember left who can believably play Romney, but this might be Bill's final season, so what would be the point of handing a presidential impression over to a castmember who's soon to be on his way out? If they do that, they're gonna have to replace the Romney impression AGAIN just half a year after giving it to Bill. SNL's kinda shooting themselves in the foot here if you ask me. Should've just let Bill play Paul Ryan instead and have Taran ready to take over Romney after Jason leaves.

• Speaking of Jason, I'm betting that he will be to this season what Dana Carvey was to his final season, 92-93 (which was an election year like this current season). Remember in the episodes from the first half of 92-93, Carvey usually only showed up to play Bush or Perot in an election-related cold opening, then he would pretty much disappear for the rest of each episode, only showing up in maybe 1 other sketch. Hell, in some episodes that season, the cold opening was the only thing he'd appear in. Then mid-season shortly after the election ended, Carvey left the cast. Sudeikis will probably follow a very similar route this season: he'll most likely only show up to play Romney or Biden in an election-related cold opening and he'll disappear for the rest of each episode aside from maybe 1 other sketch, then shortly after the elections end, he'll leave the cast. I just hope he actually gets a send-off when he does leave, unlike Carvey who left the show very quietly with no special mention or send-off at all for some strange reason.

• Sorry for the insanely long review of this cold opening. I'll just end it by saying this opening was decent and that my favorite parts were Obama's dig about not having five creepy adult sons, and the whole Lou Rawls-lookalike bit with Romney.

Stars: ***


Opening Montage

• Yay, new opening credits and theme music!

• While I enjoyed this, I felt that this was actually a little too visually similar to the last opening credits. Something about the overall look wasn't as different was I was hoping. In addition to that, some parts of the new theme music sound way too similar to the last one, only more slowed down. I do enjoy the bluesy sound to the new theme, though.

• I know some people are probably disappointed by the use of still photos for the cast instead of moving clips, but I personally don't mind. Interestingly, this is the first opening montage to use still photos of the cast since 1999-2000.

• Nasim in particular looks very, very attractive in her photo.

• I'm excited about the three newbies, especially Tim Robinson. From what I've heard about him and from what I've seen in online videos, he seems to specialize in bizarre, Will Forte/Monty Python/Kids in the Hall-esque humor, which excites me because that's what SNL desperately needs right now. Nobody's really been able to fill in the "weird creative sketches" void after Will Forte left, so hopefully this new Robinson guy will change that.

• Is Cicely Strong hispanic? If she is, you'd figure the various news articles on the new castmembers would've made a bigger deal about her being SNL's very first hispanic female castmember. Also, if she really is hispanic, then this current cast is starting to become more diverse than people are giving it credit for.

• I'm disappointed that there's still no new home base/musical guest stage. Maybe next year will be the season when we finally get a new one, considering how likely it is that most of the veterans in the cast will depart at the end of this season. Next season will most likely be the official start of a new era, so that might be why they're waiting until then to change the home base/musical guest stages. In fact, that may also be the reason why the new opening montage/theme music this year is so similar to the last one and why there's only cheap still photos for the cast; SNL could be planning on changing the montage again next year (to go with the new stage), which is probably why they apparently didn't bother spending too much money on this year's new montage.


Monologue - Seth MacFarlane

• This was pretty much what I was expecting from MacFarlane, but he pulled everything off well here. Even the musical at the end, which I was kinda dreading beforehand, turned out to pretty funny.

• I liked all the celebrity voices MacFarlane did in this, especially his Marty McFly impression.

Stars: ***


Commercial - Mitt Romney Ad

• A funny attack ad parody. A bit reminiscent at first of the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" John Kerry attack ad from the 04-05 season premiere.

• A good amount of funny lines and subtitles throughout this, particularly the "What a dick" and "probably gave Dan's wife herpes" parts.

Stars: ***½


Sketch - Sex After 50

• Okay, let's say it all together now, everyone: WHY IS FRED ARMISEN STILL ON THE SHOW???

• The only comment I'll make about this awful Roger Brush sketch is that I did get one laugh from Fred saying "No wonder you can't get it up" after seeing MacFarlane's "wife".

Stars: *½


Commercial - Eastwood and Chair

• Not quite as funny as I was expecting, considering how long SNL fans had been anticipating the show parodying the Clint Eastwood/chair incident.

• There were still some funny parts, and this seemed to get better as it went along. It was mostly just the first half of this that was kinda weak, especially the lame "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" musical.

• The computer chair being wheeled in as Jon Voight was a good joke.

• Jay's brief testimonial was very funny, and I enjoyed the return of Taran's sassy guy character who always seems to appear in these celebrity theater play commercials (Meryl Streep on Ice, "Jay rocks about broadway"). Taran's one-liners in these are always funny.

Stars: **½


Sketch - Lids

• I did think we'd get some kind of Gangnam Style reference in this episode, but I definitely wasn't expecting an entire sketch based on it.

• Did anyone else notice that with his hair like that, Sudeikis looked exactly like he did in his earlier seasons when he was younger? I almost felt like I was watching a rerun from 05-06 back when he had that hairstyle.

• I was surprised at first that Bobby was the one to play Psy, but I guess he's the only castmember who comes anywhere close to somewhat resembling him from a distance. Bobby pulled this whole thing off very well, though, and we don't often see him do roles like this.

• It took me a while to recognize Taran as the green suit dancing guy.

• Bill was absolutely hilarious in his brief appearance. He never fails to kill whenever he's given a quick silly walk-on role like that.

• The cameo at the end from the real Psy came off as kinda pointless. I wouldn't have minded it if they actually gave him something funny to say or do.

• Overall, a decent goofy little sketch. While this wasn't anything too great overall, it was still fun for what it was.

Stars: ***


Sketch - Puppetry Class

• Right at the start, as soon as I saw Bill sitting there as a grizzled-looking military character, I immediately knew we were in for a good time.

• Bill, of course, owned this sketch and just about everything he said and did got a great reaction. Are ya payin' attention, Lorne? THIS is the backbone of your show right here.

• My favorite parts were Bill having his puppet smoke a cigarette and blow out actual smoke from its mouth, Bill's puppet strangling Kenan's puppet, and of course, Bill practically having sex with Vanessa's puppet.

• The other performers here did fine in their roles, too, and each got their share of laughs.

• The ending came off a little abrupt.

Stars: ****


Weekend Update - Seth Meyers, featuring Mama & Alana Honey BooBoo Child, Ryan Lochte, Mimi Morales & boyfriend

• Best jokes: Ryan Reynolds/Blake Lively, Al Pacino/Joe Paterno bio film

• Is it just me, or does Seth suddenly look a lot older this season? Also, it looks like his hair is starting to gray, too.

• I figured a Honey Boo Boo parody was inevitable, but I didn't think Bobby would play Mama June - I'm sure most of us expected a certain new female castmember to play this role (where has she been so far tonight anyway?).

• The Honey Boo Boo commentary was a definite highlight of this Update. Bobby did an excellent job here; he was hilarious and had several funny lines throughout. And Vanessa did surprisingly really well as Honey Boo Boo, and I've never seen her play a sassy role with attitude like this before. I wouldn't have expected her to be able to pull off something like this, but she did.

• Just when I thought they were underusing MacFarlane in the first half of this episode and wasting him in generic supporting roles, the turning point starts here. It's always nice to see a first-time host get their own Update commentary, and MacFarlane did a great job with the Ryan Lochte impression; he got lots of good laughs here. And was his "It feels so weird to be dry" comment an ad-lib? It came off that way, especially judging from Meyers' reaction.

• Okay, now I'm almost certain Cicely Strong is hispanic. Anyone know for sure?

• It was very interesting seeing Cicely starring in her own Update commentary as her first appearance on the show. You could hardly tell she was a newbie making her debut; she came off like an experienced castmember right off the bat, which is a very good sign.

• I wasn't too crazy about her commentary itself, though. It wasn't anything special, and something about Cecily's Mimi Morales character felt a little too Mad TV-esque to me, not that I'm saying that's automatically a bad thing. Her character just didn't feel very original or distinctive. Either way, you can definitely tell we'll be seeing Mimi Morales again, without a doubt.

• Most of my few laughs during Cecily's commentary actually came from Jay, who cracked me up with just that silly look he had on his face the whole time while leaning back in his chair.

Stars: **½


Sketch - Do I Stutter?

• Nothing too special overall. This did have an interesting premise that I liked, but the resulting sketch was kinda forgettable. With better writing, this easily could've been a standout sketch.

• MacFarlane certainly did his best and there were still a few good moments, like Tim Robinson explaining he was confused over how to answer that yes-or-no question. I thought the "Drop and give me 5, 5, 5, and 5!" ending was funny as well.

• Similar to what I said earlier in this review about Seth Meyers on Update, Fred is noticeably starting to look very old, particularly in this sketch. You can tell his hair's starting to gray out, too.

Stars: **½


Sketch - Steve Harvey

• Not bad, considering I normally don't care for Kenan's Steve Harvey impression at all. I still think Kenan sounds and acts absolutely NOTHING like him, but the impression was more tolerable in this sketch than usual.

• MacFarlane looked simply hilarious in that ridiculous bald cap, mustache, and suit. That visual was funny enough to keep me amused throughout the whole sketch.

• It also helped that there were a couple of good lines here, such as MacFarlane's comment "I feel like an Iranian DJ", and the low-budget version of Earth Wind and Fire being named "Dirt Water and Heat".

• Vanessa has been surprising me in tonight's episode, not only by how often she's appeared, but because she's clearly improved as a performer. She seems much more at ease in her performances and comes off more natural. Before tonight, I never could've pictured her becoming SNL's lead female, but if she keeps up the improvement that she's shown tonight, she can believably become the utility female player in this cast (though I personally would prefer to see more of a balance in how each of the current females are used).

• Speaking of Vanessa's increased presence tonight, her appearance in this sketch was around the time where I started noticing how weird the show feels with no Kristen Wiig and how refreshing it is not having Wiig hogging a majority of the female roles, as well as how refreshing it is not having to worry about which annoying recurring character of Wiig's will pop up next. As for the other recently-departed castmembers, I did think about Andy Samberg a little and the show does feel a bit odd without him. And as for the third departed castmember, uh... Abby who?

Stars: ***


Sketch - First Date Voices

• This episode is starting to turn into "How many bizarre-looking wigs can we get Seth MacFarlane to wear in one night?"

• Didn't care too much for this sketch as a whole, but this certainly had its moments and at least this actually gave Nasim something to do for once. I still can't help but get the feeling she's gonna get lost in the shuffle this season since we have all these new girls now and as we know, Nasim has ALREADY been struggling badly for airtime since last season. But we'll see what happens to her this season.

• I can tell a lot of people are going to be comparing this sketch to those "silly accent family" sketches Molly Shannon used to do, but I felt this was actually more similar to a more-obscure sketch from the Susan Dey episode in 1992 where she and Mike Myers were on a date at a restaurant and they kept expressing their various feelings by using cartoonish voices, sound effects, and gestures.

• Kenan made me laugh as the waiter, especially when he just walked right past their table when he didn't want to deal with them anymore.

• MacFarlane actually stopping himself from doing the stereotypical black guy voice was a funny quick bit.

• Finally, there's Aidy Bryant. While I liked the scary demonic voice she did here, it sucks that this brief role was her only appearance in her first episode.

• Remember what I said earlier about how Bill always kills whenever he's given a quick silly walk-on role? Wash, rinse, repeat. He absolutely stole this sketch as the waiter with the mental problem. And I'm pretty sure him shaking the water pitcher all over everyone was an ad-lib; it seemed like he was trying to get MacFarlane to crack up.

Stars: **½


Mini-Sketch - Wooden Spoons

• It's a good thing I didn't blink during this sketch, because I would've missed this whole thing!

• All joking aside, I'm just surprised by how incredibly short this was, and I have to wonder if it was intended to be this length or if they had to shorten it at the last minute because of how late the time was when this sketch started (12:58).

• Either way, I always like when SNL does quick little sketches like this where the set-up and punchline is quickly delivered and the sketch just ends.

• The sole joke of this sketch was funny enough to make this sketch worth the time.

• It was nice to see Tim Robinson co-starring in a sketch on his debut night, even if he didn't get much dialogue in this. I'm still getting a bit of a good Will Forte vibe from him; I can picture Forte doing a sketch a lot like this.

Stars: ***




Episode Highlights:

• Puppetry Class

• the Honey Boo Boo and Ryan Lochte commentaries on Weekend Update

• Mitt Romney Ad


Episode Lowlights:

• Roger Brush

• a few portions of Weekend Update


Best Performer of the Night:

• Vanessa Bayer / Bill Hader



ARMISEN: 4 sketches (Obama vs. Romney, Sex After 50, Do I Stutter, Date Voices)

BAYER: 5 sketches (Sex After 50, Eastwood and Chair, Puppetry Class, Update, Steve Harvey)

HADER: 6 sketches (Romney Ad, Sex After 50, Eastwood and Chair, Lids, Puppetry Class, Date Voices)

KILLAM: 4 sketches (Obama vs. Romney, Eastwood and Chair, Lids, Do I Stutter)

MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)

MOYNIHAN: 6 sketches (Sex After 50, Eastwood and Chair, Lids, Update, Do I Stutter, Date Voices)

PEDRAD: 2 sketches (Lids, Date Voices)

PHAROAH: 4 sketches (Obama vs. Romney, Romney Ad, Eastwood and Chair, Update)

SUDEIKIS: 2 sketches (Obama vs. Romney, Lids)

THOMPSON: 6 sketches (Romney Ad, Lids, Puppetry Class, Do I Stutter, Steve Harvey, Date Voices)


BRYANT: 1 sketch (Date Voices)

MCKINNON: 2 sketches (Sex After 50, Lids)

ROBINSON: 5 sketches (Sex After 50, Eastwood and Chair, Do I Stutter, Date Voices, Wooden Spoons)

STRONG: 1 sketch (Update)


SETH MACFARLANE: 9 sketches (Monologue, Sex After 50, Lids, Puppetry Class, Update, Do I Stutter, Steve Harvey, Date Voices, Wooden Spoons)