*** Stooge's Look-Back Sketch Review of the Week ***
Since this is my final year of doing SNL reviews after 14 long consecutive seasons, I'll be starting each of my reviews this season with a special "look back" on one of my all-time favorite sketches from the seasons that I've reviewed, by re-posting the original review I wrote for the selected sketch back when it originally aired.
Tonight's look back will be at a digital short from the Shia LaBeouf/Avril Lavigne episode (April 14, 2007). Here's the original review I wrote for the short:
DIGITAL SHORT: Dear Sister
- This really had me confused the first minute or so when it was just Hader and Samberg getting shot while that weird song kept playing, and I was wondering where the hell this was going. But once Shia came in, I got the joke and laughed my ass off for the rest of the short. This was brilliant.
- The funniest parts were when Kristen kept getting shot repeatedly while they played the same “whatcha sayyyyyyyy” part of the song over and over, and the ending with the two cops shooting each other while two different parts of the song played at the same time.
***** = Excellent, a possible future classic
**** = Great
*** = Average
** = Meh
* = How'd this get past dress?
Cold Opening - VMAs Backstage
• Well, at least they're getting this inevitable parody of Miley's VMAs twerking debacle out of the way right off the bat, and at least this isn't another political opening.
• Interesting set-up with the apocalyptic wraparounds with Kenan and Noel Wells. However, the main portions of the sketch with the two Mileys weren't all that great, though I was expecting this to be much worse.
• I'm glad they didn't just do another Miley Cyrus Show sketch tonight, though I guess they couldn't anyway without Jason Sudeikis to play Billy Ray.
• It's weird how Kyle Mooney looks so drastically different and less goofy-looking when he has his hair in a ponytail. I almost didn't even recognize him in this sketch at first.
• Taran helped save the sketch with his funny impression of Robin Thicke. I especially loved his line about Miley "grabbing at my junk while I half-sing".
• Bobby also had a funny walk-on as the crying teddy bear.
• Could've done without the two Mileys singing together at the end.
Monologue - Miley Cyrus
• I couldn't believe how short this was; it was only, like, a minute and a half long. This has got to be one of the shortest monologues in recent memory.
• There's not much to say about this monologue at all, really. The Miley portions weren't bad, but didn't contain anything noteworthy, either, except maybe for the part with her casually revealing that Hannah Montana got murdered.
• My only real laugh came from the wrecking ball bit with Bobby, which makes this the second segment in a row tonight that he saved.
Commercial - Fifty Shades of Grey Screen Tests
• I usually always enjoy when SNL does these screen test sketches, and this was no exception. I got a lot of laughs from this and I liked most of the impressions. I also appreciate how this used mostly new impressions instead of the same-old ones we've seen too many times before.
• My favorites were Taran's Christoph Waltz (absolutely DEAD-ON), Noel's Emma Stone, and Jay's Shaq.
• Kinda odd how Noel's Kristen Stewart had no lines, but she totally nailed Stewart's sullen facial expressions.
• There were a few impressions I didn't care for, particularly Bobby's Seth Rogen. Impressions were never Bobby's strong suit, and this served as a reminder of that. However, seeing him dressed as Rogen reminded me of Rogen's monologue from 08-09 where Bobby played a lookalike in the audience who said he pretends to be Rogen to get girls.
• At first, I had a hard time telling who that was playing Phillip Seymour Hoffman, before I realized it was Beck Bennett.
• Kate's Jane Lynch was uncanny as far as looks go, though I thought the voice could've been better.
Sketch - Girlfriends Talk Show
• This is only the third installment and I've already run out of things to say about it, as the sketch is basically the same thing every time and I never cared for it to begin with.
• At least these are always a fine showcase for Aidy, who does her best with the material she's given in these and provides the only laughs.
• So much for Miley's promise of there being no twerking tonight...
• Miley's character really annoyed me, and it seemed like she just kept repeating the same basic lines at some points.
• The ending came kinda abruptly.
Miscellaneous - We Did Stop (the government)
• Wow, this came out of nowhere and was absolutely great. A very unexpected and creative way to parody the government shutdown, and this overall music video was very well-done. I can already tell this will definitely become a viral hit.
• Taran had me cracking up so much all throughout this. He gave a hilarious performance as John Boehner and had lots of funny little moments.
• I also got a good laugh from the shot of Jay as Obama peeking through the window with a nervous expression on his face.
• Was that Brooks Wheelan playing Uncle Sam, or was that just some random extra? It was hard to tell; in some shots, it looked just like Brooks, but in other shots, it didn't. Anyone know for sure?
Sketch - Piers Morgan Live
• Taran had several funny lines, particularly his opening one about being the voice of a fancy hedgehog if he were in a cartoon, him referring to Sway as a human beehive, and his closing line at the end about being a village idiot from Ohio.
• Interesting seeing Nasim's Arianna Huffington outside of Update for a change.
• This seemed like it was going to be really fun at first, showing various Hillary Clinton series with Hillary played by a different girl in each one (Vanessa, Kate, Miley), even though that reminded me of the 1993 Danny Devito episode, which had a running theme with all the female castmembers each playing Amy Fisher in separate sketches throughout the night. But the result of this sketch was kinda underwhelming and not as strong as it could've been.
• The Breaking Bad-esque clip with Kate was the best one, while the MTV clip with Miley was the weakest.
• I was shocked when I saw Beck Bennett playing Bill Clinton. We've gotten so used to Darrell Hammond's signature Bill Clinton impression for so long that it feels bizarre seeing any new person taking over the role. This reminds me of one time where Fred Armisen played George Bush Sr. and people on the SNL boards were disappointed that Dana Carvey apparently wasn't available for a cameo that week.
• Anyway, Beck did a surprisingly decent Clinton voice, and I liked the part with him finding his old "saxa-bong".
Weekend Update - Meyers & Strong, featuring Pat Lynhart, Shannon Sharpe, Jacob
• Best jokes: man arrested/weed on the bus, snake saved
• Cecily's delivery was slightly better tonight, and her "that's good weed" punchline was the first time she's made me laugh as Update anchor. There's still a lot of awkwardness with her and she still looks out-of-place to me behind the desk, but I am seeing small signs of improvement.
• As usual, the Winners/Losers segment was completely forgettable and came off as a watered-down Daily Show segment, only without the clever, sharp humor. Nothing else to say, except did anyone else find it strange that they left in Bill Hader's old voice-over at the end of the segment?
• Kate did a very good job in her commentary as a Grand Theft Auto-loving mom, and made me laugh a lot. I know people always compare Kate to Kristen Wiig, but this Update commentary was actually something I can picture Cheri Oteri doing. In fact, Kate's delivery in this was VERY Oteri-sounding at times. Anyone else think so?
• Also, was there any particular reason why Kate's chair was so much lower than Cecily's? Kate's chair was so low, she looked like a child sitting next to Cecily.
• Jay had me laughing out loud all throughout his Shannon Sharpe commentary. His voice & delivery alone was hilarious. At first, I thought the voice sounded the same as his Michael Strahan impression, but this one turned out to be much funnier. Even when the commentary starting running long near the end, Jay's delivery still kept me cracking up.
• The Jacob commentary... Remember what I said earlier in this review about how I've run out of things to say about the Girlfriends Talk Show sketches because it's the same thing every time? Wash, rinse, repeat. I liked Jacob's first Update commentary and I can't help but find Vanessa adorable whenever she plays this character, but Jacob's subsequent appearances have all just repeated the same things and it's now officially old. The only new thing they added tonight was him getting caught off-guard when meeting Cecily, which was a very realistic moment at least. Other than that, I'm thinking maybe they would be better off taking this character off of Update and putting him back in sketches, ala his first appearance in that Bar Mitzvah sketch.
Sketch - Cheer Squad Abduction
• A dreadful sketch, and one that got worse and worse as it went along. By the time they had the alien show up towards the end, there was no hope left for this. And the ending with the model spaceship taking the moon away was particularly terrible and felt very anti-climactic.
• This whole thing also brought bad flashbacks of that awful Nascarettes sketch with Jaime Pressly, which had a similar structure to this. Both sketches even used a same joke of one of the cheerleaders being male (Fred Armisen in the Nascarettes sketch, Taran in this sketch).
• Though it wasn't enough to save the sketch, the only two remotely chuckleworthy moments belonged to Taran: his "deal with it, dad" lyric during his solo cheer, and the amusing way he screamed in horror during one part. And Kate's "I'm Dakota Flanning" solo cheer was stupid on paper, but came off funny only because of her great delivery.
• A really noticable blooper happened when the camera accidentally cut to a shot where you could see an SNL stagehand hooking Nasim's cables (for when she "flew" up to the spaceship later in the sketch), which was very distracting. During that same shot, it also looked like Taran was hooking Noel Wells' cables. And did anyone else's screen keep turning green right before that shot, or was it just on my local NBC affiliate?
Sketch - Mornin' Miami
• The main joke with the three hosts repeatedly dropping their cheerful moods, slamming their coffee mugs down, and just angrily sitting there in silence was funny at first, then got too redundant and predictable after a while; there was no escalation to those parts. Bobby's pissed-off facial expression during those parts was great, though.
• I wanted them to go further with the premise and explain why the three hosts hate each other and their jobs so much.
• The promos for upcoming episodes had several funny lines. Kate especially had some good ones, such as the worst-looking rabbits contest and the racist foley artist.
• Bobby stating his full name at the end was funny, but the sketch ended kinda strangely after that, almost as if it got cut off too early.
Sketch - Poetry Class
• Finally, there are some of the new castmembers. This episode had been feeling way too light on the newbies, especially once Weekend Update started.
• At the beginning when Mike O'Brien started talking as the screen showed the outside shot of the school, I actually thought that was Bill Hader's voice at first before I remembered he's not on the show anymore.
• I'm sure some people were kinda annoyed by Vanessa's delivery in this, but I personally found Vanessa's character really cute and it reminded me of her character from last season's Dove Chocolate recording session sketch. However, I don't think they're supposed to be the same character like some people are assuming. Vanessa's voice in the Dove Chocolate sketch was much more low-key and soft-spoken, and she wore a different wig. I think both characters just have the same habit of mumbling little things at the end of their sentences.
• The sketch itself was forgettable and had nothing really noteworthy, though I felt that Vanessa carried it well-enough with her performance.
Film - Kyle's Office
• Yes!! Good Neighbor has officially arrived, ladies and gentlemen. I've been eagerly awaiting seeing them do short films on SNL ever since the announcement that Good Neighbor's director was hired for the show.
• This short did not disappoint. While it wasn't quite up to par with some of their best YouTube work, it was still very enjoyable and a fine way for the Good Neighbor shorts to start off their SNL tenure. I can't wait to see more shorts from these guys.
• So Bobby Moynihan is Nick Rutherford's replacement? Before the season started, I figured if Kyle and Beck were going to get a new third guy for their Good Neighbor shorts on SNL, that it would either be one of the other new guys or Tim Robinson, before I found out Tim wasn't going to be in the cast anymore (anyone else think he would've worked great with the Good Neighbor guys?). Maybe the third guy role in each short will be played by someone different each time. Although when you think about it, it's kind of a slap in the face to Nick Rutherford for SNL to just "replace" him like that. I hope the rest of the shorts will be pairing up just Kyle and Beck without a new third guy shoehorned in (although to his credit, Bobby did fine here).
• We Did Stop (the government)
• Kyle's Office
• Jay and Kate's Weekend Update commentaries
• Fifty Shades of Grey Screen Tests
• Cheer Squad Abduction
• the Jacob commentary on Weekend Update
• Girlfriends Talk Show
• portions of the Cold Opening
Best Performer of the Night:
• Taran Killam
CASTMEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN
BAYER: 7 sketches (VMAs, Screen Tests, Piers Morgan, Update, Cheer Squad, Mornin' Miami, Poetry)
BRYANT: 4 sketches (Screen Tests, Girlfriends, Cheer Squad, Poetry)
KILLAM: 6 sketches (VMAs, Screen Tests, We Did Stop, Piers Morgan, Cheer Squad, Kyle's Office)
MCKINNON: 5 sketches (Screen Tests, Piers Morgan, Update, Cheer Squad, Mornin' Miami)
MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)
MOYNIHAN: 5 sketches (VMAs, Monologue, Screen Tests, Mornin' Miami, Kyle's Office)
PEDRAD: 3 sketches (Screen Tests, Piers Morgan, Cheer Squad)
PHAROAH: 6 sketches (VMAs, Screen Tests, We Did Stop, Piers Morgan, Update, Poetry)
STRONG: 3 sketches (Girlfriends, Update, Cheer Squad)
THOMPSON: 5 sketches (VMAs, Screen Tests, Piers Morgan, Cheer Squad, Poetry)
BENNETT: 4 sketches (Screen Tests, We Did Stop, Piers Morgan, Kyle's Office)
MILHISER: 2 sketches (Screen Tests, Poetry)
MOONEY: 3 sketches (VMAs, Screen Tests, Kyle's Office)
O'BRIEN: 2 sketches (We Did Stop, Poetry)
WELLS: 4 sketches (VMAs, Screen Tests, Cheer Squad, Poetry)
WHEELAN: 2 [?] sketches (We Did Stop [???], Poetry)
MILEY CYRUS: 10 sketches (VMAs, Monologue, Screen Tests, Girlfriends, We Did Stop, Piers Morgan, Cheer Squad, Mornin' Miami, Poetry, Kyle's Office)