***** = Excellent, a possible future classic
**** = Great
*** = Average
** = Meh
* = How'd this get past dress?
Cold Opening - The Vice Presidential Debate
• For some reason, I had kinda wanted to see Christina Applegate play Martha Raddatz. Despite that, Kate McKinnon was just fine in the role and pulled it off perfectly.
• This debate parody was fantastic! Loved the whole thing, and this had so many memorable moments throughout. I can ALREADY tell that this cold opening will most likely go down in history as one of those debate sketches that's looked back on as an all-time classic (much like the VP debate sketch with Palin & Biden in '08, the first Bush/Gore debate from '00, the Dukakis/Bush Sr. debate from '88, etc.) and will get played on lots of SNL Presidential Bash specials for years to come.
• Jason absolutely nailed Biden's demeanor from the actual debate, and Taran deserves a lot of credit for doing very well with his Paul Ryan - someone who isn't easy to imitate.
• Just some of the many highlights in this opening included Raddatz saying "Then don't try to f**k me like I'm Jim Lehrer", Biden explaining how he works out by pushing a broken-down Amtrak, Raddatz telling Ryan to stop looking directly into the camera as it scares small children, Usain Bolt cameo #1, Ryan drinking from a water bottle straw above him like a gerbil, Raddatz suddenly shifting the topic from baseball playoffs to abortion, and of course Biden wiping off Ryan's Widow's Peak.
• What was with the brief shot of Jason putting false upper teeth in his mouth? Was that an intentional joke, or were we not supposed to see that? I never noticed Jason wearing fake upper teeth in any his previous Biden appearances.
• Anyone else notice that the shot of Kate saying the "don't f**k me like I'm Jim Lehrer" line appeared to be pre-taped? You could tell because something about the audio quality & the way Kate looked suddenly changed during that one shot. I understand why they did this, since it IS kinda risky doing bleeped-out swearing in a live sketch - the sound people could easily mess up and not bleep at the right time.
Monologue - Christina Applegate
• Most of Christina's jokes at the beginning kinda died with the audience. It didn't help that she kinda stumbled a bit over the Yankees/underdog one.
• The Matt Foley shoutout & screenshot was nice.
• I'm glad they refrained from having Christina say the tired, overdone "I was such a good host last time that they waited _____ years to have me back!" bit. When was the first time SNL ever used that joke, anyway - was it Bob Newhart's 1995 monologue?
• Oh, joy - yet another song-and-dance monologue... Ugh. I really don't understand SNL's obsession with having their hosts sing these low-on-humor songs while 2-4 castmembers show up in the background as flashily-dressed backup dancers. This type of monologue is rarely ever funny, and they've become interchangeable to me lately. I'm beyond tired of it.
• Tonight's monologue was redeemed by the addition of the "Fruppets" (BTW, dead-on Kermit voice from Hader) and the return of Jason's awesome Dane Cook impression that we haven't seen in years. Funny thing about that is, I was just thinking about his Dane Cook impression a few days ago and wished that SNL used it more often back in the days when Cook was still relevant. Looks like I DID kinda get my wish in a way.
Commercial - Gillette
• This started out as a dead-on parody of the actual Gillette "masters of style" commercial and I got a good laugh at the sudden reveal of Sudeikis as Jerry Sandusky. I loved the studio audience's gasping at that reveal, too.
• The goofy, creepy smile Jason had the whole time was a nice touch.
• While I appreciated the ballsy idea of this, they unfortunately went nowhere with it. It just... ended, with no actual punchline. This needed more jokes than just having Sandusky appear as one of the guys.
Sketch - The Californians
• Not happy at all to see this back this season. Can't stand these Californians sketches. To me, they're nothing but a redundant cycle of intentionally-bad accents, road directions, dramatic close-ups, and everyone staring at themselves in the mirror. I just don't get how that was supposed to be funny even the first time, let alone in the THIRD installment. And worse, they never add any new elements to the premise; it's basically the same thing every time. Why exactly is this sketch so popular with many people?
• Tonight's installment was the usual unfunny dreck. I tried, but I couldn't find any redeemable factors in this at all - not even Jason's mustached character or Usain Bolt cameo #2.
Sketch - Tech Talk
• This is the latest in the tradition of recent internet-themed interview sketches like The Comments Section, You Can Do Anything, I Didn't Ask For This, etc. I wonder if these sketches are all penned by the same writer(s).
• I really enjoyed this one. The sudden twist with having the actual Chinese laborers come out to put the whiny consumers in their place was a genuine surprise, and most of their snarky insults were great. My favorites were Cecily's handbag bit (her delivery of that line was TERRIFIC) and Fred counting diabetes as the lone product America has contributed.
• Another great part was Nasim doing a slow-motion sarcastic dance while Cecily played a sad tune on the violin.
Commercial - Give Us All Our Daughters Back!
• Time for another impressions showcase piece. Unfortunately, this particular one wasn't very good. This was nowhere near as funny as it could've been. Several well-done impressions in this were wasted in a subpar premise with disappointing writing.
• Of all the impressions, Taran's Liam Neeson was my favorite. That was an awesome impression; Taran never ceases to amaze me with how many great impressions he can pull off. Christina's Uma Thurman deserves mention just for the funny detail of the prosthetic long fingers she had in this. I actually didn't notice that the first time I watched this.
• Jason's Mel Gibson ranting about Jews was a very cheap, dated bit.
• My main laughs actually came from some of the announcer's lines, such as him describing Uma Thurman as being "dressed like a taxi" and some of the reviews he read ("Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gives it... one review.")
• Bill's appearance at the end as "Ahnuld" Schwarzenegger fell completely flat. However, his Ahnuld impression is much better than Darrell Hammond's. I never understood how a man so good at celebrity impressions (Darrell) could be so lousy at doing one of the EASIEST impressions in the world (Ahnuld). Everyone and their grandma can do a better Ahnuld than Darrell.
• Okay, now that I'm done unnecessarily beating up on Darrell Hammond...
Weekend Update - Seth Meyers, featuring Arianna Huffington, Jean K Jean
• Best jokes: Big Bird/Obama's car
• Nasim's Arianna Huffington is really coming into its own. Her appearance tonight was very enjoyable and her performance was strong. She had several clever comments, particularly the bit about if men could get pregnant and comparing Paul Ryan to a typical male character in a Lifetime movie.
• However, if Nasim's Huffington is going to continue appearing on Update in the future, they need to drop the constant nicknames she keeps giving Seth; that gag has gotten too redundant already.
• Jean K Jean??? Now why did they have to go and dig up this weak character out of the mothballs tonight? He hadn't appeared in years, and clearly it should've stayed that way, as his commentary tonight was a waste. Just the usual tired stuff that they've always done with this character that I've never really found funny. Oh, and yay - we get more of Seth's annoying off-camera giggling like he's never seen this shit before.
Sketch - Siren Song
• The audience seemed to love this, but I didn't care for it AT ALL. After a while, I actually couldn't wait for this sketch to end when it was becoming obvious this wasn't going in an interesting direction. Having men shamefully happy to sing along to Paula Cole/Shania Twain/etc. songs from the late 90s just isn't my idea of "funny".
• If I had to say anything positive about this, it's that Jason's performance was excellent and I appreciate the fact that we're seeing so much of him in tonight's episode.
• Jason being splashed by water repeatedly throughout the sketch reminded me of a similar gag used throughout that Lighthouse sketch from the last time The Rock hosted in '09.
Sketch - Principal Frye
• I'm a bit surprised to see a Halloween-themed sketch this early. We have a new episode next week, which is closer to Halloween, so why didn't they just save this sketch for that episode?
• The last Principal Frye sketch from the Josh Brolin episode was pretty funny, but tonight's installment was a big step down. This was nowhere near as funny, and Jay's character is already starting to lose steam. And the supporting characters in this installment weren't as interesting as the supporting characters from the last one.
• Wow, most of Christina's lines absolutely bombed with the studio audience. I did like her one line about being mistaken for a KKK Fairy, but that was it.
• Even Kenan's coach character wasn't as funny as usual, although I did laugh at him referring to Christina's costume as a "slutty Jedi".
• Vanessa's appearance in this made me realize that we barely saw her at all tonight in general. Just her brief part in this sketch and her recurring bit role as the foreign maid in the Californians sketch. That's all she was given to do all night. After the season premiere where it seemed like they were gonna make her the new go-to female of this cast, she's actually been appearing less and less with each passing week. I feel kinda bad for Vanessa - a repertory player - being overshadowed lately by Cecily and Kate - two new featured players... but not as bad as I feel for Aidy Bryant. Where the heck WAS Aidy tonight?
• Jay noticeably had a hard time keeping a straight face towards the end of this. He did the same thing in the last installment from the Brolin episode. It seems what Jay's laughing at is the ridiculousness of some of his lines, almost as if he's never rehearsed them before. Hmm... I'm almost starting to wonder if the writers are pulling a "Stefon" by changing some of Jay's lines at the last minute in these Principal Frye sketches to make him crack up on the air. Most likely not, but you never know.
• I'm confused by the leprechaun bit towards the end. At first, Jay was addressing a "young woman dressed as a leprechaun", then halfway through his statement, Jay suddenly refers to the same leprechaun costume-wearing student as a male. Huh??? Did Jay screw up that part, or was he just saying that the student was a guy trying to pass himself off as a girl? Either way, it came off odd as if Jay skipped a portion of that line.
• Very abrupt ending. When they cut to the outside shot of the school while Jay was still talking, I thought that was a technical error at first. Then I realized the sketch was actually over, and I was left wondering why there was no ending to it. Was something removed from this at the last minute?
Sketch - Choreographer Jillian Chizz
• The third bad sketch in a row. What the heck is going on tonight?
• I was very bored with this whole sketch. I kept waiting and waiting for a funny moment, but it never came.
• This was just one of a few sketches tonight where I got some serious Kristen Wiig vibes from Christina. And not just her voice; there was also something about the mannerisms and actions (especially the way she kept leaning backwards while speaking) Christina used throughout this sketch that made me feel like I was watching a performance from Kristen Wiig. I felt this same way during the Californians sketch earlier tonight; Christina's voice in that one sounded eerily similar to Wiig at times, too.
• Kenan's "This don't make no sense" was okay the first time he said it, before the writers proceeded to run in into the damn ground by having Kenan repeat it ad nauseum for the rest of the sketch. Did they really expect people to find that funny after the 100th time he uttered it? For some reason, the writers always seem to have Kenan do stuff like that - for example, that Dolphin Movie sketch from the Charlie Day episode where Kenan kept saying "I do MY job" over and over throughout the sketch until that line stopped being funny.
• The ending with the students suddenly acting like Applegate's character was a very lame and corny way to close the sketch.
• The Vice Presidential Debate
• Tech Talk
• the Arianna Huffington commentary on Weekend Update
• Choreographer Jillian Chizz
• The Californians
• the Jean K Jean commentary on Weekend Update
• Siren Song
• the song-and-dance portions of the monologue
Best Performer of the Night:
• Jason Sudeikis
CASTMEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN
ARMISEN: 5 sketches (Gillette, Californians, Tech Talk, Our Daughters, Siren Song)
BAYER: 2 sketches (Californians, Principal Frye)
HADER: 4 sketches (Monologue, Californians, Tech Talk, Our Daughters)
KILLAM: 7 sketches (Vice Presidential Debate, Monologue, Gillette, Californians, Our Daughters, Siren Song, Choreographer)
MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)
MOYNIHAN: 5 sketches (Monologue, Californians, Our Daughters, Siren Song, Choreographer)
PEDRAD: 4 sketches (Monologue, Tech Talk, Update, Choreographer)
PHAROAH: 4 sketches (Monologue, Gillette, Our Daughters, Principal Frye)
SUDEIKIS: 6 sketches (Vice Presidential Debate, Monologue, Gillette, Californians, Our Daughters, Siren Song)
THOMPSON: 6 sketches (Monologue, Californians, Tech Talk, Update, Principal Frye, Choreographer)
BRYANT: 0 sketches
MCKINNON: 6 sketches (Vice Presidential Debate, Monologue, Californians, Tech Talk, Our Daughters, Siren Song)
ROBINSON: 1 sketch (Our Daughters)
STRONG: 2 sketches (Tech Talk, Siren Song)
CHRISTINA APPLEGATE: 7 sketches (Monologue, Californians, Tech Talk, Our Daughters, Siren Song, Principal Frye, Choreographer)