*** 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 sketch from the James Franco/Muse episode (December 19, 2009). Here's the original review I wrote for the sketch:
Sketch - Vincent Price's Christmas Special
• The opening “You're watching TV Land - which means you're a cat in an empty apartment” line was very good.
• Now this is a recurring sketch I actually LIKE seeing and is actually DIFFERENT each time they do it. I always love these Vincent Price sketches and tonight did not disappoint.
• Even before Franco walked on, I knew he'd be showing up as James Dean; that was a given. Also, didn't he play James Dean in a sketch that got cut after dress last time he hosted? I think I remember reading that one also had Fred as Liberace hitting on him, just like in this sketch.
• I was surprised to see Kristen as Katherine Hepburn again, since she already played her in a Vincent Price sketch before; the one from the Matt Dillon episode, back when Kristen was just a featured player. She usually plays different classical actresses in each of these Price sketches, but I guess she's run out of classical stars that she knows how to impersonate. I didn't mind seeing her Hepburn return, though, since it was funny again this time, and honestly, these Price sketches are just about the only way I seem to be able to tolerate Wiig anymore these days.
• The Marilyn Monroe asbestos commercial with Abby was pretty funny.
• Fred stole the sketch as Liberace once again, especially the comment about how he likes balls in every color except blue, and the whole thing at the end with him “experimenting” with Franco under the piano. I also loved the way Bill panicked after that and yelled “Go to commercial!!!” His reactions to Liberace are always funny.
• The ending with a rabies-infected Kristen suddenly popping up in front of the camera while screaming reminded me of the ending of the Greg the Alien sketch (a.k.a. Game Time with Dave and Greg) from earlier this season which ended with Bill doing that exact same thing as Kristen.
• When you think about it, these Vincent Price sketches are kinda like SNL's current-era Celebrity Jeopardy, with Bill's Vincent Price being the new Trebek, the silly celebrity visitors in each one being like the idiot celebrity contestants on CJ, Kristen showing up as a different celebrity (almost) each time like how Jimmy Fallon would play a different celebrity in each CJ, and Fred's Liberace being the returning guest each time, like how every CJ had Norm's Burt Reynolds and later Darrell's Connery.
• Are there any holidays that the Vincent Price sketches haven't covered yet by now? I remember there was Thanksgiving (which was this sketch's debut, back when Eva Longoria hosted in '05), St. Patrick's Day (the Matt Dillon installment), Halloween (Jon Hamm), Valentine's Day (Alec Baldwin), and now Christmas (Franco). There was also supposed to be a Memorial Day one with Kevin Spacey in '06 (I remember reading that Spacey played Jack Lemmon in it, I think), but it got cut after dress. When they inevitably run out of holidays, will they stop these sketches, or just cover the same holiday again but set in a different year?
***** = Excellent, a possible future classic
**** = Great
*** = Average
** = Meh
* = How'd this get past dress?
WRAPPINVILLE: Noooooo! Did they REALLY have to bring this Dancing Mascot thing back tonight just because Timberlake was in the building? After all, we just saw the sketch back in March; it's way too soon to do another installment. Anyway, the same thing I always say about this sketch still applies: Justin undeniably brings lots of infectious energy, but I've never really cared much for these Dancing Mascot sketches before. Really, these sketches are just an excuse for the studio audience to go nuts, nothing more. Speaking of the audience going nuts, what was with that one particularly loud audience member who kept interrupting Aidy's lines, almost FORCING Aidy to break character several times? Anyway, Fallon being added as Timberlake's mascot partner didn't exactly make this sketch any funnier, but he fit in this perfectly, which makes sense, as these Dancing Mascot sketches are kinda like those guitar song parodies Jimmy used to always do on Weekend Update back in the day. Here's something that's interesting to me: in my review of the last installment of this sketch back in March, I said at one point "For some reason, I was expecting "Thrift Shop" to be one of the songs Justin parodied in this installment, but it didn't happen. That could've been kinda interesting, especially since that song was just performed on the show last week." Well, it took them 9 months, but SNL finally answered my request, as they did a Thrift Shop parody at the end of tonight's sketch. Maybe next time, they'll answer my request to stop doing this sketch for good. *½
MONOLOGUE: Is it odd that when Jimmy made his entrance at the beginning of this, I half-expected Timberlake to enter onstage with him? I kept forgetting throughout this episode that only Fallon was hosting. With how often Timberlake ended up appearing in the episode, he might as well have been officially announced as the co-host. Anyway, the premise of Jimmy having to fill in for all the guest singers who didn't show up was funny and Jimmy's always great at pulling off stuff like that. The appearance from Paul McCartney was okay, I guess, but the novelty of him cameoing on SNL is now completely gone, to be honest. It feels like he appears on the show so much nowadays that there's no element of surprise left. ***
CELEBRITY EDITION FAMILY FEUD: A decent impression showcase overall. My favorites of the impressions were Jay's Ice-T and Jimmy's Jim Parsons. And Taran's Ashton Kutcher always cracks me up, especially tonight. And I couldn't help but love that shot of Jimmy literally hiding behind the podium so we couldn't see him laughing at Timberlake's impression of him; I remember hearing several places that Jimmy always gets embarrassed any time someone does an impression of him to his face. I liked the random joke with Brooks Wheelan playing himself and making fun of his own lack of SNL screentime. That bit also proved a point I made a few weeks ago that this season seems to be filled with lots of meta self-deprecating humor from SNL. Also, if you stuck any of the other 5 featured players in Brooks' place in this sketch, the joke still would've worked, considering how little ALL of the newbies have been used these last few episodes (especially Mike O'Brien, who lately seems to be almost completely shunned from appearing in live sketches anymore... did you see how sullen he looked during the goodnights in this episode?). Timberlake's Fallon impression was decent, certainly better than the one Andy Samberg did in Fallon's previous episode. However, I'm curious to see Taran Killam's impression of Fallon, as he supposedly did one in his SNL audition. I said this before, but John Milhiser in his normal look resembles Jon Cryer more than when he actually plays him. I also don't understand that thing Milhiser kept doing with his nose; Cryer doesn't do that, does he? ***
(DO IT ON MY) TWIN BED: A very funny music video, and a huge step up from last week's subpar H&M video. This was a fantastic showcase for the ladies of the cast, and there were lots of quick funny moments all throughout. I also loved the part where they showed a childhood photo of each female cast member, if only because I always like seeing what SNL cast members looked like when they were little kids. And that young picture of Jimmy never fails to crack me up whenever I see it (it's been on various sites over the years). However, if the female cast members were all playing themselves, I don't get why Kate was bringing a BOYfriend up to her room, nor why her room had all those posters of male teen heartthrobs, when she's openly gay. Did they think her being shown with a woman would've been too distracting/confusing to casual viewers who aren't aware of Kate's sexual orientation? ****
THE BARRY GIBB TALK SHOW: Remember that "Noooooo!" of mine from earlier in this review (in response to the Dancing Mascot sketch showing up)? Well, multiply it by two and you get my reaction to the return of Barry Gibb Talk Show. Of all the recurring staples in Timberlake's episodes, this one has been my least favorite, because it's literally been the SAME THING every single time. Even in the Dancing Mascot sketches, at least you never know beforehand where the sketch's setting is going to be or what song Timberlake's character is going to parody next. But with these Barry Gibb sketches, you know EVERYTHING that's going to happen and WHEN it's going to happen. There's no variety or element of surprise in these. The only thing that "changes" from installment-to-installment are the panel of celebrity guests, but that doesn't even matter because the guests always get little-to-no lines anyway. They might as well just play a rerun of the first Barry Gibb Talk Show installment instead, and I don't think anyone would even know the difference. Also, how did they go through this sketch without even mentioning the fact that Robin Gibb is... you know, DEAD??? I thought they'd at least put in a throwaway joke similar to that Harry Caray sketch shortly after his death ("By the way, didn't you die?" "Yes, I did. What's your point?"). The real Barry Gibb making a cameo at the end hopefully means we've officially seen the last of these sketches. *½
WEEKEND UPDATE: Best jokes - Moon Rover. The Billie Jean King commentary didn't do much for me. It basically just milked every cheap lesbian stereotype that's out there, and Kate's demeanor and performance was too similar to her Grand Theft Auto Mom bit from earlier this season (only that one had much funnier lines). Are they having Kate play a hardcore bad-ass in every one of her Update commentaries now? I hope not, because it's ALREADY getting old. The Fallon/Bloomberg commentary was kinda forgettable and Bloomberg barely had anything to do here, but the few lines he did have were mostly funny. However, something about the commentary came off as kind of a stretch. This is the third Update in a row that has mentioned Seth's upcoming departure - the countdown seems to have officially begun, ladies and gentlemen. **
WAKING UP WITH KIMYE: Didn't like this the first time, and tonight's second installment was just more of the same. The only actual funny thing about this one was the "Bound 2" music video parody at the end, which gave me a laugh. There must've been a lot of trimming done to this sketch after dress rehearsal. I'm not just assuming that only because of how insanely short the sketch was, but also because when they showed this being set-up during the preceding commercial break, they showed a close-up of the "camera blocking rundown" notes for this sketch, which listed all of the performers who were supposed to appear in it, including Jimmy. However, Jimmy was nowhere to be seen in the actual sketch. I wonder what they cut out and who Jimmy was supposed to play. I was actually looking forward to his appearance here and was hoping he'd be able to save the sketch, but then it just abruptly ended before he even showed up. *½
NOW THAT'S WHAT I CALL CHRISTMAS: Another impressions showcase, but this one was pretty fun to watch. Jimmy in particular was excellent and he really shined, busting out a whopping FOUR impressions here (Alan Rickman, Harry Styles, Michael Buble, and Pitbull). Was him playing Buble intended to be a reference to the fact that Buble was actually the musical guest when Jimmy last hosted, and that they even did a similar commercial with Buble in that episode, where he sang duets with various singers? Anyway, other than Jimmy's impressions, my other favorites here were Jay's DMX and Bobby's Andrea Bocelli. ***
A CHRISTMAS CAROL: When I realized where this sketch was going (Jimmy as a gay Ebenezer Scrooge), I couldn't help but groan. Hackneyed gay-themed humor at its laziest. Shortly after this sketch ended, I said to myself "I bet anything that James Anderson was the writer behind that"... so I wasn't surprised to find out later on that he indeed wrote the sketch, and I see he also had help from Kent Sublette, another writer who seems to specialize in unfunny homoerotic or musical-based humor. I have to wonder if either of these two writers were the ones responsible for all those infamous gay-themed "masterpieces" that constantly plagued the 04-05 and 09-10 seasons. If so, how in the world are either of these guys still employed at the show after all of that nonsense? Anyway, my overall point is, I hated this sketch and there wasn't a single original funny joke to be found here. *
BABY IT'S COLD OUTSIDE: I enjoyed this a lot. This was executed beautifully, featuring nice low-key humor, a creative structure to it that you don't usually see on the show nowadays, and two solid lead performances from Jimmy and Cecily. This felt like something SNL would've done in the 70s and 80s, back when they were more willing to break from the show's usual format and do out-of-the-ordinary pieces. SNL needs more experimentation like this, and less tired stale crap like that Gay Ebenezer Scrooge thing. ****
• (Do It On My) Twin Bed
• Baby It's Cold Outside
• Now That's What I Call Christmas
• A Christmas Carol
• The Barry Gibb Talk Show
• Waking Up with Kimye
Best Performer of the Night:
• Jimmy Fallon
CAST MEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN
BAYER: 2 sketches (Twin Bed, Kimye)
BRYANT: 3 sketches (Wrappinville, Twin Bed, Christmas Carol)
KILLAM: 4 sketches (Family Feud, Twin Bed, Barry Gibb, Christmas Carol)
MCKINNON: 6 sketches (Family Feud, Twin Bed, Update, Kimye, Now, Christmas Carol)
MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)
MOYNIHAN: 3 sketches (Kimye, Now, Christmas Carol)
PEDRAD: 2 sketches (Twin Bed, Kimye)
PHAROAH: 3 sketches (Family Feud, Kimye, Now)
STRONG: 6 sketches (Twin Bed, Barry Gibb, Update, Kimye, Now, It's Cold Outside)
THOMPSON: 3 sketches (Family Feud, Christmas Carol, It's Cold Outside)
BENNETT: 1 sketch (Twin Bed)
MILHISER: 2 sketches (Family Feud, Now)
MOONEY: 2 sketches (Now, Christmas Carol)
O'BRIEN: 1 sketch (Twin Bed)
WELLS: 4 sketches (Family Feud, Twin Bed, Kimye, Now)
WHEELAN: 4 sketches (Family Feud, Twin Bed, Now, Christmas Carol)
JIMMY FALLON: 9 sketches (Wrappinville, Monologue, Family Feud, Twin Bed, Barry Gibb, Update, Now, Christmas Carol, It's Cold Outside)