*** 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, we're going to do something a bit different. With tonight being Seth Meyers' final episode, instead of my "look back" being on one of my favorite sketches, I thought it'd be interesting if I showed my review of the very first sketch I ever made a comment about Seth on, which is from his second episode: Seann William Scott/Sum41 (October 6, 2001).
JARRET'S ROOM (6:44)
- I'll repeat myself: Hmm, this again???
- Was that Seth Meyers playing the DJ? I think it was him, but I'm not too sure.
- That pic of Kattan looked like the same picture of him from that Golden Girls sketch from last season's Lara Flynn Boyle episode.
- Without Chris Parnell, this felt like it was missing something. He was hilarious in the other two Jarret's Room sketches.
- Jeff Richards was okay in the role that was basically Parnell's. I'm just glad they're giving Richards stuff to do.
- This is my favorite of all the JR sketches so far. Wow, a JR sketch that's actually good? This episode is really going well.
- RATING: ****1/4 B
***** = Excellent, a possible future classic
**** = Great
*** = Average
** = Meh
* = How'd this get past dress?
Cold Opening - Halftime Spectacular
• At the beginning, I almost thought that was Jason Sudeikis playing Howie Long instead of Beck Bennett. The fact that the "TV 14 DL" rating graphic covered Beck's face for the first few seconds didn't help. BTW, does it annoy anybody else how at the beginning of sketches, that "TV 14 DL" rating graphic sometimes covers a performer's face?
• Jay's Michael Strahan impression was a nice return and got some laughs out of me once again.
• I wasn't thrilled about the whole Broadway portion of this cold opening. It started out fine with Kyle Mooney's part, which cracked me up (and it's still a nice novelty seeing him with a speaking role in a live sketch). But then this slowly went downhill afterwards and devolved into a boring parody of a whole bunch of Broadway cliches. Despite decent performances from everyone, this just bored the hell out of me. Aidy's quick walk-on made me laugh, though.
• According to SNL Archives, our "favorite" current SNL writer James Anderson appeared in this sketch as a dancer. That's probably a strong clue as to who wrote this. Gee, James Anderson writing a sketch about Broadway musicals, flamboyant men, and outdated impressions of old singers? WHAT A SURPRISE! BTW, I thought I remember hearing that this James Anderson guy was black? According to some screencaps of him on his page at SNL Archives, he's actually white.
• Nice to finally see one of this season's newbies getting to say their first "Live from New York..." Beck certainly looked ecstatic to say it.
Monologue - Melissa McCarthy
• I liked this monologue just for the sheer fact that it was much different than usual, what with the backstage clip Bobby showed of Melissa when she last hosted, and the whole mid-air battle between Melissa and Bobby onstage. This is Melissa's second monologue in a row that did something creative and out-of-the-norm, so there's at least ONE bright spot to her hosting so often.
• I appreciated how in the backstage clip, they made use of the running gag with backstage sketches always having an Abe Lincoln, showgirls, and a llama by showing Melissa actually interacting with Lincoln and the llama.
• The cutaways to Taran as the referee were hilarious. Also, did anyone notice that right before he said "throwing stars", you could hear what sounded like a crew member saying the exact same thing?
Commercial - Some Dumb Little Thing from CVS
• The beginning of this made me think this was going to be too derivative of that "A Teddy Bear Holding a Heart" commercial from the 05-06 season, but this went in its own direction after a while and ended up being one of the better segments of the night.
• My favorite parts were the "tickle face" bit, Kyle as the sleazy-looking "jewelry associate", and Bobby's Valentine gift to Aidy being an old Christmas stocking (I also loved Aidy's response to that).
Sketch - Delaware 1 News
• I was surprised to see the return of Melissa's basketball coach character (Sheila Kelly), but this was a fairly clever way of bringing her back and giving her a new occupation, so I have no complaints. And hey, if they were going to bring back any of Melissa's characters from her first two episodes, I'd certainly rather it be this than any of those interchangeable "wacky" characters she played.
• The pre-taped rampage scenes were all pretty funny, especially Melissa shooting all of the security cameras and her taking off in the police car.
• Was Melissa supposed to make a live appearance here that ended up getting cut? When they showed this sketch being set-up during the preceding commercial break, there was one of those close-ups of "camera blocking rundown" notes for this sketch, and on it, Taran and Melissa were the only two performers listed as being in the sketch; obviously, the notes were excluding the pre-taped portions of this sketch, which had several other performers in it. However, Melissa didn't make a live appearance in this, so why was she listed on those notes? I'm guessing they were originally going to have Taran interview Melissa's character at the end similar to how Bill Hader interviewed her at the end of that basketball coach sketch, but her interview must've got cut at the last minute (most likely because this sketch was immediately followed by a live sketch that Melissa actually DID appear in, and there wouldn't have been enough time for her to change costumes).
Sketch - Women's Group
• Unusual seeing two full-length live sketches back-to-back with nothing in-between, not even a commercial break. I can't remember the last time that happened.
• An enjoyable sketch. This had a nice dark tone to it and I appreciated how Melissa was more restrained and lower-key than most of the characters she usually plays. She did a good job in this and I liked several of her lines and her photo collages. The box bit was really funny, too.
• Didn't care for the ending with Melissa jumping out the window, and how the sketch just abruptly ended after that. This is yet another sketch that I'm assuming had its original ending cut after dress; it felt like Melissa jumping out the window was supposed to be followed by something.
Sketch - Guess That Phrase!
• Isn't this the same character as Melissa's ranch dressing lady? Or her ham lady? Or her pizza-eater lady? Oh, no, wait - she's wearing a different wig. That's pretty much the ONLY difference here.
• I was very happy that SNL finally put Beck Bennett in a gameshow host role and that Kenan finally WASN'T in that role (of course, they still HAD to put Kenan in this as a contestant, though... *groan*). As expected, Beck fit into this role like a natural. I said way back at the beginning of the season that Beck was born to play those types of utility roles that people like Bill Hader, Phil Hartman, Chris Parnell, and Jason Sudeikis used to always play. With some of the roles Beck's been getting these last few episodes, hopefully it's a sign that they're ready to start gradually phasing him in as the new utility player of the cast instead of them continuing to try making a utility player out of 11-season-old Kenan.
• The sketch itself was a bore and felt way too "Didn't we already see this before?". And as I said above, Melissa's character felt like a tired amalgamation of various characters she's already played before (which THEMSELVES felt derivative of characters she's already played before). For example, the made-up phrases she would come up with in this sketch reminded me of the made-up commercial jingles her ranch dressing lady came up with. And how come every time Melissa hosts, it feels like EVERY SINGLE sketch has to center all around her?
• I usually don't really mind Vanessa Bayer, but lately, I'm starting to get tired of her frequently playing smiley, chipper, overly-nice characters like in this sketch. That being said, she did have a funny line here about her daughter.
Music Video - 28 Reasons
• A pretty good video, if a bit repetitive (even though that was the point). The first "slavery" twist was very funny, and they kept most of the rest of the video funny with other bits like Bobby's cut-off attempt to start his own song, and the "jazz...I'm kidding, SLAVERY" fake-out
• I also really liked Kate as the Tina Fey-esque teacher; she managed to get several laughs of her own. Unfortunately, this ended up being the only noteworthy thing Kate did all night, and it was just a pre-taped bit. Other than this, she was practically non-existent in this episode.
Weekend Update - Meyers & Strong, featuring Buford Calloway, Stefon Meyers, Amy Poehler, Andy Samberg
• Best jokes: Birds attacked, Dissolving group
• I notice Cecily's been doing quite a few anti-Bush jokes recently. Is she trying to channel Tina Fey? If you remember, Tina did an overabundance of anti-Bush jokes during her later Update years, which was one of the gripes some people had with her during those later seasons of hers.
• I said earlier this season that whenever Taran pops in to do an Update commentary, you KNOW it's going to be good, as his appearances on Update lately have all been hilarious (Marco Rubio, Jebidiah Atkinson). His old-timey southern gentleman commentary tonight was further proof of that. The material itself wasn't anything to write home about, but Taran totally sold it in a way that none of the other current cast members would've been able to. He gave a very funny performance and his delivery had me laughing out loud at several parts.
• Taran's commentary also has the distinction of being the final guest commentary during the Seth Meyers era of Weekend Update. That being said, I'm kinda surprised we didn't see Taran playing Jebidiah Atkinson instead. After all, didn't Seth and Alex Baze write that character's previous two commentaries? Since tonight was the last episode for both Seth and Baze, you'd figure they'd want to get in one last Jebidiah Atkinson, with that being such a popular character and all (he could've reviewed/criticized Obama's recent state of the union address). Or maybe Seth and Baze are planning on popping in from time-to-time to guest-write some new Jebidiah Atkinson commentaries.
• Seth's farewell ceremony was okay, if a bit low-key. I don't think Stefon or Amy Poehler's cameos surprised anyone, but Andy Samberg was certainly out-of-nowhere. Anyway, Stefon got in his usual funny bits and I loved his reactions to Cecily, but aside from Stefon's lines, there wasn't much else here that was all that memorable. The "David Paterson" pop-in at the very end did make me laugh just for its sheer randomness, which made me forgive the fact that we got yet ANOTHER too-soon Fred Armisen cameo.
• For years, when I pictured how Seth would close his final Update, I figured he'd sound a little choked-up during his goodbye speech, and that's exactly what ended up happening. However, I'm surprised that Amy also got choked-up along with him (well, she SOUNDED choked-up when saying her name at the end). I can understand why Amy got a little emotional, because even though she left the cast years ago, she and Seth did join SNL at the same time, which probably made her feel connected to Seth saying goodbye.
Sketch - Art Exhibit (a.k.a. Danny Trans)
• I sure would like to know what exactly this sketch was intended to be, because it certainly wasn't funny.
• I already had a bad feeling about this sketch near the beginning with all the awkward camera screw-ups when Melissa's character first showed up. We couldn't even SEE her until about half a minute after she entered. Unfortunately, the sketch spiraled even further downhill from there with a whole bunch of awkwardness, zero laughs, and (like The Doc said in his review) a general negative, unlikeable, and unpleasant vibe that actually started making me uncomfortable towards the end. SNL has certainly has its number of bad sketches before, but I can't think of many that gave me THAT type of an uncomfortable feeling like this one did.
• And as if this sketch wasn't already terrible enough, to top things off at the end, we get an unnecessary walk-on from Kenan as if he was supposed to "save" this disastrous sketch.
• One bright spot to this mess is that it gave Kyle Mooney his very first big role in a live regular sketch... and even then, his character left mid-sketch and was never seen again, unfortunately. From what we did see of Kyle in this, he performed fine and I'm glad that he seems to be gradually becoming more comfortable as a live performer.
• And, hey, at least we got to see another appearance from Brooks Wheelan's famous recurring character, Silent Background Man! (if anyone remembers, "Silent Background Man" was an old running joke I used to always do about Dean Edwards in my reviews back when he was on the show). And we also got to see the return of Mike O'Brien's own hit character, Awkward Line-Delivery Guy! I swear, in every live sketch that Mike is in, he always sounds like he's reading his lines for the very first time. And tonight is the second episode in a row that Brooks Wheelan had no lines in... and the last line that he DID have on the show (in Vanessa's Poetry Teacher sketch from the Drake episode), he flubbed. Wow.
Sketch - Girlfriends Talk Show
• Very unusual to see this on so late in the show. Every time they did this sketch in the past, it was always the first sketch of the night, wasn't it? This installment must not have done too well at dress.
• Not a surprise to see this sketch in a Melissa McCarthy episode, but I remember predicting that it would appear in the episode she hosted LAST season. Surprised they waited until this year to do it.
• Is it just me or did they really rush into introducing Melissa's character at the beginning of this? Usually these Girlfriends Talk Show sketches start out with about a minute or so of dialogue/chatter between just Aidy and Cecily before they bring out the guest, but tonight, it's like they were worried the audience wouldn't handle being "deprived" of Melissa's presence at the beginning of a sketch, so they wasted no time in introducing her character in this.
• This started out like it was going to be a nice change of pace by having Aidy's character pick the guest for once, but after a while, it just ended up devolving back to the same tired formula of the guest being closer friends with Cecily than with Aidy. In other words, the same old boring story.
• Aidy's character did have some funnier lines than usual tonight, though, especially her comment about Anderson Cooper. I also liked Melissa's "5-0" joke. And Melissa had a good ad-lib at one point when she kept having trouble saying one of her lines.
Sketch - Diane
• Isn't this the same character as Melissa's gameshow lady? Oh, no, wait - she's wearing a different wig. That's pretty much the ONLY difference here. Have I made my point enough tonight about how similar all of Melissa's characters are?
• The set-up of this with Bobby's narration seemed like it was going to be an interesting sketch at first, but it turned out to just be yet ANOTHER "Melissa McCarthy plays a weird disgusting character" sketch. There was nothing in this sketch that we haven't already seen Melissa do before.
• Wait, did I just hear Melissa say "shit"? *rewinds DVR* Yep, there it is. Oooookay. Moving on.
Miscellaneous - Super Champions with Kyle
• YES!!! Words cannot express how excited I was to see this. When Kyle used to do these mumbly man-on-the-street segments on Jimmy Kimmel Live a few years ago, that was my first exposure to Kyle and I instantly became a fan of him & his offbeat Andy Kaufman style of weird humor. So I was thrilled to see him bring this segment to SNL.
• This was just as funny as I anticipated, and it gave me by far my biggest laughs of the whole night. While I'm sure there's a good number of viewers who absolutely hated this short and didn't get what was supposed to be funny, that's what I love about Kyle's humor; it's that type of intentionally-awkward anti-comedy where people watching aren't sure whether to laugh or not. It's the same thing that made me such a huge fan of Andy Kaufman.
• I also love how this used the same type of cheesy computer graphics & music during the scene transitions that these segments previously had on Jimmy Kimmel's show.
• I can definitely see this becoming a recurring segment on SNL for Kyle, which I would look forward to. Hopefully between that and Kyle's increased presence in live sketches tonight, he'll have a higher chance of getting a second season on SNL.
• Super Champions with Kyle
• Some Dumb Little Thing from CVS
• Taran's Buford Calloway commentary on Weekend Update
• Women's Group
• Art Exhibit (a.k.a. Danny Trans)
• Guess That Phrase
• portions of Halftime Spectacular
Best Performer of the Night:
• Taran Killam / Kyle Mooney
CAST MEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN
BAYER: 4 sketches (CVS, Women's Group, Guess That Phrase, Art Exhibit)
BRYANT: 4 sketches (Halftime, CVS, Women's Group, Girlfriends)
KILLAM: 5 sketches (Halftime, Monologue, CVS, News, Update)
MCKINNON: 2 sketches (Halftime, 28 Reasons)
MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)
MOYNIHAN: 5 sketches (Halftime, Monologue, CVS, 28 Reasons, Diane)
PEDRAD: 2 sketches (Women's Group, Art Exhibit)
PHAROAH: 2 sketches (Halftime, 28 Reasons)
STRONG: 3 sketches (Women's Group, Update, Girlfriends)
THOMPSON: 5 sketches (Halftime, Monologue, Guess That Phrase, 28 Reasons, Art Exhibit)
BENNETT: 4 sketches (Halftime, CVS, News, Guess That Phrase)
MILHISER: 3 sketches (Halftime, News, Diane)
MOONEY: 5 sketches (Halftime, CVS, News, Art Exhibit, Super Champions)
O'BRIEN: 3 sketches (Halftime, News, Art Exhibit)
WELLS: 3 sketches (Halftime, 28 Reasons, Art Exhibit)
WHEELAN: 2 sketches (News, Art Exhibit)
ZAMATA: 3 sketches (CVS, 28 Reasons, Art Exhibit)
MELISSA MCCARTHY: 8 sketches (Halftime, Monologue, News, Women's Group, Guess That Phrase, Art Exhibit, Girlfriends, Diane)