*** 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 Christopher Walken/Foo Fighters episode (February 22, 2003). Here's the original review I wrote for the sketch:
- Walken was hilarious as usual.
- The video with Walken beating Parnell to death with a tire iron.
- Seth's reaction to Walken's video.
- Really the first Seth sketch of the season that's up to the level of his excellent work last year. I was almost beginning to lose faith in him.
- I won't mind if they make this recurring, because even though it will once again prove my point that SNL's new characters always seem to be in the overused talk show format, there's a lot of funny different pranks they can show in each installment to keep it fresh.
- This kind of reminds me of a recurring sketch called "Prank Stars" that they used to do at the SNL You site. I wonder if this is more proof that people who work at SNL go to that site, or if it's just a coincidence.
***** = Excellent, a possible future classic
**** = Great
*** = Average
** = Meh
* = How'd this get past dress?
Cold Opening - GM Hearings
• Not all that great of an opening and the writing was too redundant at parts. However, Kate's performance was very funny and she did what she could with the material. I did genuinely like the "Can you use it in a sentence?" line and the bit with her unexpectedly showing up next to the questioners while wearing a fake mustache.
• I really enjoyed the LFNY fake-out with Taran cutting off Kate's LFNY and then scolding her for trying to end the sketch. It's a rarity nowadays for SNL to do anything special with the LFNY tagline.
Monologue - Anna Kendrick
• A song-and-dancelogue was to be expected with Anna Kendrick hosting, but I was surprised by the fact that I actually enjoyed this. They had fun with this one, especially with the various cast interactions throughout the studio, and the overall monologue was pretty entertaining if not exactly laugh-out-loud funny.
• I liked how Aidy was wearing the same tall white wig we'd later see her wearing during the Little Mermaid sketch.
• When seeing the entire gigantic cast (minus Colin, of course) standing together on the homebase stage at the end of this, it was hard not to think of the classic "Not Gonna Phone It In Tonight" cold opening. While this was nowhere near as strong as that, of course, it brings to mind something fellow reviewer The Doc (who apparently wasn't able to view this monologue for himself, unfortunately) said at the beginning of the season about how having such a huge cast opens up chances to do memorable full-cast pieces like the aforementioned "Not Gonna Phone It In Tonight". SNL needs to take advantage of this more often, especially since there are only a few episodes remaining this season before they (hopefully) cut the cast size down to a more-sensible size for next season.
Sketch - FOX & Friends
• A while ago, I was beginning to think they had retired this sketch, but then a few hours before tonight's episode started, I kept getting this strange feeling that this sketch would pop up tonight.
• This was decent, and better than most of the installments of this sketch from last season. While I didn't find the interview segment with Anna Kendrick's character to be anything memorable, the rest of the sketch had its share of laughs, mostly from Bobby's dimwitted statements as usual.
• Am I the only one who found it lazy that they cast Vanessa in the Elisabeth Hasselbeck role? I mean, she already played the last blonde female co-host, Gretchen Carlson, in previous installments, and it seemed lazy to keep Vanessa in the sketch playing Carlson's replacement. I did notice that Vanessa at least attempted to make her Hasselbeck sound a little different from her Carlson, but aside from just talking in a higher pitch, it still wasn't much of an impression. And they still had Vanessa acting the exact same as she did when she played Carlson, as if Hasselbeck and Carlson are completely interchangeable. They should have put in effort to make it more clear that Vanessa was playing a different person.
• Surprisingly, Kenan actually attempted to change his voice for a celebrity impression, which is unusual for him.
• Aaaaaaaand there's the old familiar "cutaway to a Kenan bug-eyed reaction shot" gag. It astounds me that SNL apparently thinks that crutch is still funny.
Music Video - Dongs All Over The World
• Wow, this was flat-out terrible. I cannot remember the last time SNL attempted such a blatant knock-off of such a recent, well-received sketch. This tried SO hard to be another "(Do It On My) Twin Bed" and failed miserably in every aspect. Newsflash, SNL: you can't just have a music video with the female cast singing and expect it to automatically become an instant viral hit. Part of what made the Twin Bed video work was that 1) the subject matter was funny and 2) there were lots of amusing lyrics and jokes all throughout. With this Dongs short, on the other hand, there was nothing inherently funny about the main premise and they apparently forgot to throw in any actual jokes. This whole short just came off desperate.
• If I had to find anything positive to say about this (aside from the obvious fact that the ladies looked good), it's that the song's beat was pretty catchy, and the brief interlude with Aidy & Vanessa having a conversation with each other provided my only laugh.
Sketch - The Little Mermaid
• The main joke started getting a little old after a while, and I also don't think it was a wise idea to place a sketch featuring Anna singing in an intentionally-bad pop/hip-hop style immediately after the Dongs short, which also featured her singing in an intentionally-bad pop/hip-hop style. Seeing both of those back-to-back felt too redundant.
• My main laughs all came from Aidy, who was perfect in the role of Ursula. I also always like when Aidy plays the type of straight role where she's the only voice of reason in the sketch; she's great at that type of humor. She made lots of funny comments throughout this sketch, particularly her line about how Anna's singing sounded like a baby having sex, and the whole Iggy Azalea exchange between her and Anna. I also liked Aidy's brief ad-lib when the wrong music was accidentally cued up for a few seconds.
• Speaking of Aidy, there were some points where her Ursula voice sounded exactly like Julia Sweeney, oddly enough. I don't mean Julia's normal speaking voice, but a voice that Julia once used for a character or impression back when she was on the show. I think I'm thinking of either her Leslie Abramson impression or that Yard Boy sketch she did with Luke Perry.
Short - Flirty
• An interesting change of pace for Good Neighbor, as this was lower-key and more quietly slice-of-life than their usual humor. I'm also not used to seeing their shorts in such an early time slot, as their shorts are usually relegated to the last 15 minutes of the show. In fact, I wasn't even sure at first if this was a Good Neighbor short until Beck showed up at the end. Another dead giveaway that this was Good Neighbor's work was the ending, which kinda reminded me of the ending of the short they did with Miley Cyrus.
• While this isn't exactly my favorite of Good Neighbor's SNL shorts so far, I still certainly enjoyed this. The humor was both relatable and funny, Kyle (and to a lesser extent, Vanessa) gave an endearing performance, Beck's walk-on & one-liner was great, and the freeze-frame ending with Kyle happily jumping in the air was actually cute.
Weekend Update - Strong & Jost, featuring Chancellor Angela Merkel, Brooks Wheelan, George R.R. Martin
• Best jokes: Joe Biden/skin care
• Kate's Angela Merkel impression is always pretty funny so I didn't mind seeing it return, and her commentary tonight was actually funnier than her first from earlier this season. Her performance here was amusing and she had some good lines throughout.
• I was wondering recently when/if Brooks would ever get to do another stand-up commentary on Update. When he did his first one earlier this season, I assumed he'd regularly be doing stand-up commentaries on Update frequently all throughout the season, similar to how Norm MacDonald (in 93-94), Tracy Morgan, Colin Quinn (from 95-97), Finesse Mitchell, David Spade, etc. would regularly do their stand-up act during their Update commentaries. I can't believe Brooks is just now doing only his second one when we're at the home stretch of the season. I wonder if he had been attempting to get more of these on the air, but they kept getting cut after dress?
• Anyway, while it was nice to see Brooks get a rare showcase for himself, I was disappointed to see that he was just recycling his old "butter prank" bit that's he's been doing for years in his stand-up. It also doesn't help that I don't really find this particular bit of his to be all that great, aside from the "Lou Gehrig's Disease" comparison part. Brooks' natural "regular guy" likeability did help carry this commentary, but I want to see something funnier and fresher from him next time (if he ever gets a "next time", that is).
• I see that SNL listened to my review last week (YEAH, RIGHT) where I complained about how they haven't been doing any interaction segments between Cecily & Colin on Update so far. It was nice to finally see those two interact with each other tonight, and their "memory" bit actually wasn't too bad. Cecily repeating her "Here are tonight's top stories" opening line and then segueing right into the next joke was a pretty unexpected way of having fun messing around with Update's format.
• I can't think of much at all to say about Bobby's George R.R. Martin commentary. He performed fine as usual, but the material itself was forgettable. In fact, I already can't remember a single thing he said in this. His facial expressions made me laugh more than any of his lines did. Also, did anyone else notice that the side of his fake beard peeled off halfway through the commentary (funny thing is, this also happened to Taran later tonight during the "Big Joe" sketch)? I was expecting an eventual funny ad-lib about it from him or Cecily, but neither seemed to notice.
Sketch - Les Jeunes de Paris
• Wow, now this I thought for SURE was retired. They haven't done it in a good two years, although there was one that got cut after dress last season (with Anne Hathaway, I think).
• The last installment with Zooey Deschanel where they did a brilliant crossover between this and the movie "The Artist" set the bar for these sketches really high. While tonight's installment went back to the generic standard formula, I didn't mind because it's been so long since they last did these, which made the formula feel fresher this time. And you have to appreciate the well-done & well-timed physical performances that these Les Jeunes de Paris sketches always have, which makes it fun to watch.
• My favorite parts of this were the Cups reference, and the walk-ons by Kyle as Jean-Luc Picard and Jay as Ruby Rhod.
Sketch - Principal Frye
• Not sure why so many people seemed to think that THIS sketch had been retired. Didn't they just do one earlier this season with Kerry Washington?
• The same thing I said about Jay's Principal Frye character in my review of the last few installments still applies: I've grown bored of him, he's become too one-note and does nothing for me anymore. That being said, he did make me laugh once in tonight's installment: him telling the zebra "You ain't Drake!"
• I used to find Kenan's gym teacher character funny, but now I've gotten sick of his routine, too.
• Most of my only laughs came from Anna's character, who had several funny responses to the rude off-camera students.
• I hate how these Principal Frye sketches always end so abruptly by cutting to an exterior shot of the building while Jay's still talking. Every time that happens, I keep thinking at first that they accidentally cut to the exterior shot too soon, but then the audience applauds and I'm always left asking myself "Wait, that's supposed to be the ending???"
Sketch - Big Joe
• I think I just found a new SNL Guilty Pleasure...
• While the sketch itself was very dumb and predictable as hell and I can see why so many people hated it, Taran's performance had me literally laughing out loud throughout the whole sketch. I don't know what it was, something about the way Taran looked with the fake muscles, big beard, and freakishly-tall stature, combined with the comically-deep voice he used and the funny way he delivered his lines (even all of his repeated sayings of "I can't do it") just cracked me the hell up, I can't deny it.
• I shudder to think how dreadful this sketch would've been if any other cast member had played the "Big Joe" role. Taran is truly the only one in this current cast who had the ability to wring a good amount of laughs out of this weak script. Performances like this show why Taran's become the new alpha male of the cast.
• I got an unintentional laugh out of Taran's huge platform shoes, which were obviously used to make him look so tall. Were we not supposed to notice those shoes, because if not, then the camera did a poor job of hiding it.
Sketch - Audition
• I knew beforehand to expect lots of singing material tonight considering both Anna's musical background and how song-and-dance-crazed today's SNL is, yet I STILL felt the overreliance on singing tonight was excessive.
• This sketch was an incoherent mess that lacked focus and (most importantly) laughs. There was too much stuff going on, and none of it funny, but if the main joke was supposed to be about Vanessa's bad singing, she didn't even make her singing as comically bad as it should have been. At some points, she didn't even sound all that terrible, so what was supposed to be so funny about her singing?
• I didn't find the running gag with everyone having a Pharrell hat funny either, but we knew going into tonight's episode to expect some kind of dumb Pharrell hat joke.
• My only laugh in this whole thing came from Taran's line "Did one of you not get enough oxygen in the womb or something?"
• Kenan Bug-Eyed Reaction Shot #2 tonight... Man, if this keeps up, it's soon gonna get to the point where we can play a weekly drinking game out of it.
• Yet another sketch tonight with a terrible ending. I know that coming up with proper sketch endings was something that SNL has always struggled with from day one, but it's noticeably become a big problem this season. The Doc was right when he recently pointed out how so many sketches this year just seem to abruptly... end with no real conclusion. It's getting annoying.
Commercial - NCAA Tourney: Best of The White Guys
• This was cut from last season's Melissa McCarthy episode. Board member FeaturingEmilyPrager did a dress rehearsal report for that episode and looking back at his detailed description of this commercial, the only differences from tonight's version were: 1) Jason Sudeikis did the voice-over instead of Beck Bennett, 2) Tim Robinson played the role we saw Mike O'Brien play tonight as the white guy being interviewed on the street with Kenan, and 3) Melissa McCarthy also had an on-the-street interview that was cut tonight (for obvious reasons).
• Anyway, this commercial was just filler and it centered on an easy and cheap joke, but there were a few minor chuckles from the various categories shown, and I liked the joke about white players bouncing around European leagues for three years before becoming coaches.
• Beck's intentionally-cheesy voice-over gave this a certain positive energy that helped. Not sure if Sudeikis' voice-over would've been as good.
• The segments with Mike & Kenan were not funny and brought nothing to this.
• Les Jeunes de Paris
• Dongs All Over The World
• Principal Frye
Best Performer of the Night:
• Taran Killam
CAST MEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN
BAYER: 7 sketches (Monologue, FOX & Friends, Dongs, Flirty, Les Jeunes, Principal Frye, Audition)
BRYANT: 3 sketches (Monologue, Dongs, Little Mermaid)
KILLAM: 6 sketches (GM Hearings, Monologue, FOX & Friends, Les Jeunes, Big Joe, Audition)
MCKINNON: 5 sketches (GM Hearings, Monologue, Dongs, Update, Les Jeunes)
MOYNIHAN: 7 sketches (GM Hearings, Monologue, FOX & Friends, Little Mermaid, Update, Les Jeunes, Big Joe)
PEDRAD: 2 sketches (Monologue, Les Jeunes)
PHAROAH: 4 sketches (Monologue, Little Mermaid, Les Jeunes, Principal Frye)
STRONG: 4 sketches (GM Hearings, Monologue, Dongs, Update)
THOMPSON: 6 sketches (Monologue, FOX & Friends, Principal Frye, Big Joe, Audition, NCAA Tourney)
BENNETT: 3 sketches (Monologue, Flirty, Big Joe)
JOST: 1 sketch (Update)
MILHISER: 3 sketches (Monologue, Les Jeunes, Big Joe)
MOONEY: 4 sketches (Monologue, Flirty, Les Jeunes, Big Joe)
O'BRIEN: 3 sketches (GM Hearings, Monologue, NCAA Tourney)
WELLS: 3 sketches (Monologue, Les Jeunes, Big Joe)
WHEELAN: 3 sketches (Monologue, Update, Les Jeunes)
ZAMATA: 3 sketches (Monologue, Dongs, Audition)
ANNA KENDRICK: 8 sketches (Monologue, FOX & Friends, Dongs, Little Mermaid, Les Jeunes, Principal Frye, Big Joe, Audition)