No. Just... no.
I'm kidding, of course. I wrote the above as a joke in response to someone on this board who suggested that my review of this Kristen Wiig-hosted episode should consist of me only saying "No. Just... no." Here's my actual full-length review, and even though it won't be easy for me, I'll try my best to resist the urge to use my "No. Just... no." card.
***** = Excellent, a possible future classic
**** = Great
*** = Average
** = Meh
* = How'd this get past dress?
Cold Opening - Benghazi Hearings
• I was pleasantly surprised not to see a Lawrence Welk sketch as the opening, although I knew we'd still be getting one later in the night.
• A very odd cold opening, and one that came off very sloppily written and executed. At first, I was going to give the show a little credit for having the balls to tackle controversial subjects like this, but they didn't pull this off well at all. It came off just awkward, sluggishly-paced, and barely contained any genuine laughs.
• I did enjoy the lack of an answer when Nasim asked why they're even holding these hearings if we already know who was behind the Benghazi attack.
• At first, I thought Taran was Jason, until they cut to a closer shot of him.
• Bobby cracked me up in his brief appearance as Ariel Castro; his sleazy facial expression alone was great.
• "Mr. Ramsey"??? What was up with Bill referring to Bobby's Ariel Castro as that? Was there originally an appearance from Jay as Charles Ramsey, but after dress rehearsal, they replaced him with Bobby as Ariel Castro and forgot to change Bill's line on the cue card? Like I said earlier, what a sloppy sketch.
Song-and-Danceologue - Kristen Wiig
• This was the part of the show I was most curious about beforehand, because 1) we've rarely seen Kristen just being "herself" during her SNL tenure, 2) she's known for being somewhat shy and awkward as herself in interviews, and 3) I couldn't picture what the writers would do for her monologue. I half-expected her to walk out onstage in-character as someone, much like how when Dana Carvey first hosted in 94-95, he did his whole monologue in-character as George Bush.
• The beginning half of this monologue with Kristen just singing onstage was your typical lazy cookie-cutter "Song-and-Danceologue", complete with having the usual 2-4 castmembers playing background dancers wearing matching outfits. Ugh. I'm beyond tired of that trope.
• This picked up a bit with Kristen going backstage. However, it's starting to become way too cliche and predictable for EVERY former castmember's monologue to involve them going around the studio while singing (Fallon, Rudolph, Short, and now Wiig). I used to love this type of monologue, but it's getting tired and overused now. Hell, even the ending of tonight's monologue with the whole cast wildly dancing onstage was just a second-rate carbon-copy of the ending from Fallon's monologue.
• The less said about the cameos from Gilly and Maya Rudolph, the better... except there's two things I just have to say: 1) at least it wasn't a full-length Gilly sketch, and 2) Maya's pregnant AGAIN??!??
• What was with the huge applause for Fred as if he was making a cameo? Did the audience forget that the man hasn't even left yet? You know, every time SNL does this type of monologue with SNL alums running into current castmembers backstage, I keep hoping they'll throw in a joke in which the alum is surprised that Fred, Kenan, and Seth are STILL in the cast... but for some reason, they never do that joke anymore. In Tim Meadows' later seasons, they made jokes like that about him all the time whenever a former castmember hosted. The fact that they don't do jokes like that nowadays is a sad sign that staying on SNL for over 10 years is now considered the norm. Ridiculous. This is exactly why we'll most likely be seeing Kenan and Fred still in the cast next season (I'm calling it right now).
• Despite the laziness of recycling the same ending from Fallon's monologue, I admit that Taran's crazy wild dancing at the end cracked me up (which is an observation I think I *also* made in my review of Fallon's monologue, but I don't have time to check right now). Like I always say: "it's always funny any time Taran Killam dances in a sketch."
Commercial - 1-800-Flowers
• A decent commercial, even though it feels like I've seen something like this on SNL already.
• Kate did a fine job as the mom.
• I always appreciate whenever Kristen Wiig plays a low-key deadpan role like this - that's where her strength TRULY lies, not those over-the-top, wacky, annoying, interchangeable characters that the SNL writers have always typecasted her in.
• I have to give the show credit for managing to come up with something low-key and calm for Wiig & McKinnon to co-star with each other in, since I'm sure some people were worried beforehand that anything pairing Wiig & McKinnon together would be an over-the-top mug-fest.
• The Father's Day ending with Bill as the dad was pretty funny, too.
Sketch - The Californians
• Your typical laughless Californians suck-fest. I'll never understand how people can find this dreck amusing.
• At least the last installment of this sketch from the Bieber episode had that funny gag at the end where the camera kept switching to different angles of Bill during his dramatic close-up. What do we get for tonight's ending "dramatic close-up" gag? An unfunny mug-off between Kristen and Maya. No thanks!
Commercial - Aw Nuts! Mom's a Ghost!
• A strange approach to a Disney Channel parody, and not one that was particularly funny, either. I didn't really care for this commercial.
• The part with Tim's soul being sucked out was okay I guess, and at least Kristen's role in this was a type of role we don't usually see her in.
• Taran was wasted as the dad. Couldn't they have at least given him one or two lines? Also, once again, I thought he was Jason when they showed pictures of the family at the beginning. Never realized until tonight that Taran and Jason kinda look alike from a distance.
Sketch - The Lawrence Welk Show
• Ugh, what is there to say about this? This sketch is the ultimate example of "If you've seen one installment, you've seen them all". Even the first time it appeared in Anne Hathaway's 2008 episode, I wasn't crazy about it back then, either.
• And if you're going to do this sketch tonight in Kristen's "triumphant" return to SNL, what's the point of just doing a run-of-the-mill, by-the-numbers rewrite that was no different from any other Lawrence Welk sketch? Board member RoseArt said it best in the live discussion thread: "Why not shake up the format and explore the sisters past or something. I mean for god sake you have Kristen hosting you should be doing something special." I guess that's too much to ask from these current SNL writers, who clearly DO NOT understand how to properly write a series of recurring sketches without making all the installments the exact same each time.
• Something kinda interesting about these Welk sketches is that they truly show you how much the female cast keeps drastically changing from season-to-season ever since 2008. I don't think there have been any two installments of this sketch that have had the exact same line-up of female castmembers playing Kristen's sisters. The line-up keeps constantly changing because half of the female cast in any given Lawrence Welk installment usually leave or get fired before the next installment! And have you noticed that every time this sketch appears, the female castmember that's been on the show the longest (besides Wiig) always plays the lead sister who walks on first in these sketches? For a while, it was Casey Wilson, then after she got fired, Abby Elliott became the lead sister. Now that Abby's gone, Nasim's the new lead sister. How long until Cecily gets that role?
Weekend Update - Seth Meyers, featuring Anthony Crispino, Garth & Kat
• Best jokes: Boy suspended
• Wow, what happened to Seth's voice? Did he have a sore throat this week? His voice sounded much lower and hoarse than usual.
• Also, let me just say that the news earlier today about Seth officially being announced as the new Late Night host made my fucking day because it means he's FINALLY leaving SNL! However, it sucks that we still have to put up with him on SNL until the middle of next season. Why he's not leaving after the season finale next week is something I can't figure out. Having to switch Update anchors mid-season next year is going to be quite awkward; something that hasn't happened since the Norm/Colin tradeoff in the middle of 97-98 (only THIS one won't be happening on such short notice like the Norm/Colin thing did, obviously). But I do have one theory about why they're doing this: maybe in the first half of next season when Seth is still there, they'll have his potential replacement do lots of guest commentaries as themselves so the audience will be familiar with them by the time he/she takes over the desk (I'm personally crossing my fingers for either John Mulaney, Anthony Jeselnik, or another stand-up comedian that's not currently working on SNL).
• I constantly go back-and-forth in my opinion of Bobby's Second Hand News guy. His last appearance earlier this season was much funnier than usual, but tonight's commentary was underwhelming and reminded me why I sometimes don't care much for this character. I mean, his commentary tonight wasn't terrible or anything, but none of his news items were all that funny and most of my laughs here were merely just light chuckles, nothing more. And the gag with his voice pitch getting higher-and-higher when he was saying his usual "I'm pretty sure..." routine might have been a bit TOO silly for its own good.
• Fucking Garth & Kat... first of all, what was with that bizarre fake-out intro by Seth, where he made it seem like he was delivering a Mother's Day message, only to suddenly throw it to Garth & Kat? Darn you, Seth, for making me think you were going to wrap up tonight's Update and we would be safe from any of Wiig's Update characters appearing! Secondly, you guys know my hatred for The Californians? Well, multiply that hatred by 100 and you'll get what my feelings for Garth and Kat are. These shitty characters have never been anything but a colossal waste of airtime.
Sketch - Target Lady
• Aaaaaand here's yet another Wiig character I never cared for - surprise surprise! I remember back in Kristen's first two seasons when Target Lady was the ONLY annoying character of hers. I miss those days.
• Speaking of Kristen's early characters from her first two seasons, where the heck were the Two A-Holes tonight? Considering next week will most likely be Jason's SNL swan song, it would've been very fitting to do one final Two A-Holes tonight.
• Unlike most of the recurring sketches tonight, it seems like the writers were trying to explore some different aspects of the Target Lady character a little more than usual this time, with bits like her entrance at the beginning when Bobby's shift ended, etc. Unfortunately, the character STILL wasn't the least bit funny.
• Vanessa and Kenan had an amusing exchange while walking off. That's all.
• Where was Bill as Target Lady's hotdog-chomping boss? He was the only good thing in the last installment from last season.
Sketch - Acupuncture
• At first, this was reminiscent of that CPR Training sketch with Steve Carell and Andy Samberg from 07-08. However, this Acupuncture sketch ended up being much better than that, and was the first actual good sketch of tonight's whole episode.
• There were several funny gags all throughout the sketch; I especially liked the part with Kristen doing a fake Asian voice to pass herself off as Dr. Chang, and the part where the skin bubble on Jason's back kept inflating.
• My favorite, though, was Bobby as the black-sounding voice outside the window. He managed to be hilarious without even being on-camera.
• I also like how this sketch carried over into the following musical guest intro with Kristen and Aidy still dressed in-character & still covered with blood.
Sketch - Double Date
• An interesting sketch, and I wonder if Tim had a hand in the writing, not only because he co-starred in it, but because he's known for his unconventional sketch ideas. However, this one wasn't quite as creative and oddball as his usual material.
• This was still a decent sketch, though, especially compared to most of tonight's material. I liked seeing Tim & Bobby teamed up together, and they were both funny and very convincing as children.
• Taran stole the sketch with his insane drawn-out laughing fit, which was priceless.
• The ending was abrupt. Did this get cut off at the last minute (which is something that Tim Robinson is all too familiar with), or did they just cue the applause lights too early?
Sketch/Commercial - Classy Sexy 'Elegnace'
• The streak of good non-recurring sketches ends here. While this may have been non-recurring, it wasn't funny at all. The humor in this was just dumb and each of the songs went on too long, weren't interesting, and fell flat.
• Like the preceding Date sketch, this one also seemed like it had some last-minute trimming done to it; when the three ladies were all singing together towards the end, the scene cut back to Nasim & Kenan while the singing could still be heard going on in the background.
• Double Date
• Garth & Kat
• The Californians
• The Lawrence Welk Show
• Classy Sexy 'Elegnace'
• the rest of Weekend Update
• Target Lady
Best Performer of the Night:
• Aidy Bryant / Bobby Moynihan
CASTMEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN
ARMISEN: 5 sketches (Songologue, Californians, Lawrence Welk, Update, Acupuncture)
BAYER: 4 sketches (Songologue, Californians, Lawrence Welk, Target Lady)
HADER: 4 sketches (Benghazi, Songologue, 1-800-Flowers, Californians)
KILLAM: 5 sketches (Benghazi, Songologue, Californians, Mom's a Ghost, Date)
MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)
MOYNIHAN: 6 sketches (Benghazi, Songologue, Mom's a Ghost, Update, Target Lady, Date)
PEDRAD: 5 sketches (Benghazi, Songologue, Lawrence Welk, Target Lady, Elegnace)
PHAROAH: 3 sketches (Songologue, Target Lady, Elegnace)
SUDEIKIS: 3 sketches (Songologue, Lawrence Welk, Acupuncture)
THOMPSON: 5 sketches (Benghazi, Songologue, Californians, Target Lady, Elegnace)
BRYANT: 4 sketches (Songologue, Target Lady, Acupuncture, Elegnace)
MCKINNON: 3 sketches (Songologue, 1-800-Flowers, Acupuncture)
ROBINSON: 5 sketches (Benghazi, Songologue, 1-800-Flowers, Mom's a Ghost, Date)
STRONG: 5 sketches (Songologue, Mom's a Ghost, Lawrence Welk, Date, Elegnace)
KRISTEN WIIG: 10 sketches (Songologue, 1-800-Flowers, Californians, Mom's a Ghost, Lawrence Welk, Update, Target Lady, Acupuncture, Date, Elegnace)