Monday, December 7, 2009

Blake Lively/Rihanna - Review

Cold Open - This saw the Salahis (not the real Salahis) interrupt Obama's speech on the economy in Philadelphia. The entire sketch was basically Bobby & Kristen posing for pictures with the secret service, Joe Biden etc. Pretty one-note & went on a little too long for what it was. Also, Fred - have you just given up with the Obama impression?

Monologue: Out comes Blake Lively in a pretty red dress talking about how she met the Muppets - cue The Muppets. I really liked Jason's Fozzy Bear impression and Kristen's rendition of Hark, The Herald Angels Sing as Beaker. Aside from that though, it really seemed like an attempt to overshadow Blake Lively.

Swine Fever: I don't care what people say - I love Swine Fever. Not so keen on repeating commercials, but at least it wasn't Grand Hoochie Skank Rose, right?

ESPN Ladies Bowling - I wasn't too into this one the first time during Drew Barrymore's show, but at least it was new then. This time it played really lame. Maybe it's just me, but I just don't find Vagisil puns that funny. I will say that I do enjoy Jason Sudeikis and Will Forte working together. They share a really nice rapport that elevates even lame, gross-out sketches like this one. Side note - is SNL obsessed with Gene Rayburn?! You might remember in that Grease sketch from the Christopher Walken show a while back, they changed the lyric "Greased Lightning" to "Gene Rayburn". In this sketch, one of the bowlers surnames was Rayburn-Gene. What is it with Gene Rayburn?

The Situation Room (Tiger Woods): To be honest, it just seemed like a wasted opportunity. You have the biggest story of the week, and this is the best you can do with it? Not only was Kenan's impression terrible (sorry, Kenan) but what was Blake Lively's accent? I did enjoy Jason's impression of Wolf Blitzer complete with mumbling and Tiger's written statement that had pleas for help written on the back, but all in all it was a disappointing take on the week's big story.

Digital Short - Rihanna and Shy Ronnie: So I actually enjoyed this one. It was Rihanna singing a song with Shy Ronnie who, you guessed it, is shy & won't rap in front of her. It doesn't sound so good written down, but Andy's mannerisms and uber-quiet voice killed me, and Rihanna killed also, especially for someone who was completely silent in the promos. Does anyone else think that Andy Samberg should just bite the bullet and pursue a career in rap? It seems like it's his life goal.

Gossip Girl - Staten Island: As a concept it was funny, but it was so poorly executed, I don't think I laughed once. I smirked when I heard the Gossip Girl voiceover but aside from that, it was awful. I'll give props to BlItalicake Lively for a convincing accent, but accents alone weren't enough to salvage this.

Underground Rock Festival: One of the highlights of the night for me, and a diamond in the rough for sure. So it was basically a commercial for a super-underground rock festival mocking this actual infomercial. It featured Jason Sudeikis & Nasim Pedrad, both of whom did terrific jobs. The band names made me laugh as did the Ass Dan memorial picture, and the super cheap-looking graphics. All in all, great work on the part of everyone involved.

"And you know that there are gonna be mimes running all around this bitch!" Quote of my life?

Weekend Update: Another definite highlight. Sharp jokes from Meyers, and great guest appearances from Abby Elliott as Brittany Murphy and Kenan Thompson as Bill Cosby. Abby's impression skills rival Bill Hader's and her Brittany Murphy was actually uncanny.
"Hi Seth, it's great to be he-uh, hosting Saturday Night Live!"
Kenan redeemed himself from his earlier Tiger Wood impersonation with a top-notch Cosby impression, where we were treated to a sampling of Bill Cosby rapping.

Virginiaca and Daughter Shopping: Oh lord, not Virginiaca! I have no words.

UPS Commercial 1: Another great commercial! This was a take-off of those UPS commercials with the guy in the "lady wig". Bill killed as per usual and it was great send-up of those ubiquitous commercials.

Late Night w/ Chris Hansen: Another one of those botched executions - see what I did there, eh? The premise was there, the impressions were there, but the writing/jokes were completely AWOL. Tip to writers - don't depend on an impression/beloved character to save a sketch. If a general idea/jokes aren't there, don't write it!

UPS Commercial 2: I think I actually liked this one better than the first one. A basic continuation in the series, and another great send-up of the UPS ads.

NASA - Potato Chips: I read a Ken Tucker review of the show in which he likened this sketch to There Will Be Blood, and I can't help but agree. The sketch was completely absurd and screamed Will Forte, with the premise being a guy being interviewed for a position as an astronaut at NASA. The interviewer urges him not to eat a potato chip while he's gone, but of course the interviewee does & all hell breaks loose as a result. Not only were Jason Sudeikis, Blake Lively & Will Forte completely committed to their parts and the bizarre premise, but it was hilarious as a result, and was by far the best live sketch of the night. It culminated in Jason Sudeikis' character regurgitating the potato chip, and normally I'm not one for gross-out humour, but it was executed and timed so well, that it was really funny.

Overall -
Overall, this was a show dominated by cast performances. Blake Lively was required to do very little but what she did, she did respectably well. She didn't seem out of her comfort zone like January Jones but nor was she completely at home like Taylor Swift or Joseph Gordon-Levitt. It's kinda telling though that the musical guest was given more to do in the digital short, and killed, while Blake Lively was given very little to do in the whole show. In general, the writing was lazy and sub-par and not much better than that of the January Jones show, redeemed only by Weekend Update, taped sketches & that final sketch. With the influx of new writers this season - Hannibal Buress, Christine Nangle, Jillian Bell, Jessi Klein, Ryan Perez, Michael Patrick O'Brien - you would think that they would depend less on old characters/premises (Virginiaca, CNN, talk shows), but it seems like these are becoming the very foundations of this season. Sketches like NASA - Potato Chips are what the writers should be aiming for and also, the cold opens do not always have to be political, particularly if it's been a relatively uneventful week. Remember when SNL would open with a Will Ferrell/Cheri Oteri cheerleaders sketch? I want to see a variety of cold opens!

MVP of the show - I have to say Jason Sudeikis. From his Fozzy Bear in the monologue to the ESPN sketch to Wolf Blitzer to Philip Seymour Hoffman to Kickspit Underground Rock Festival to that final sketch, he killed pretty much everything he was given to do. Close second - Will Forte.

Overall score - 6.5/10

Stray Observations -

  • No Jenny Slate?
  • Has anybody else noticed that Bill Hader mouths "Hi Maggie & Hannah" at the goodbyes? It is the most lovely thing ever.
  • Next week - Taylor Lautner. Let's hope he shares the same enthusiasm as Taylor Swift.


Anonymous said...

Completely agree about the Tiger Woods sketch. Far too easy. theyshould have just left it as a Weekend Update joke.

makenzie, said...

i loved Andy & Rihanna's Digital Short.
i fully disagree with alot of this. I think SNL is great & these people who judge if the show is good or not obviously do not realize that this show is amazing, no that they just do all of this live, but this show is one of the LONEGEST running shows on TV... give them a break.

amyfairycakes said...

I'm actually fully aware of that makenzie, but there's been three good episodes this season and by last season's standards, they would have been pretty mediocre. I judge the show because I know what these writers and cast members are capable of - see most of last season! - and I can't stand to see lame/obvious writing when if they tried a little harder, they could come up with something more punchy/funny. There's just been too many bad episodes this season to not judge them and not point out the flaws in the writing.

I think SNL is great too makenzie - I run a blog about it in my free time for crying out loud, but I'm not going to say the show was good if it patently wasn't and make excuses for them because they do it live. These writers have been chosen over countless other writers because of their talent, they get paid for what they do and right now, they are doing their jobs badly and sorry, but I'm going to highlight it, just like I will highlight the good writing when it gets back on track.

malanb5 said...

great blog! I'm glad there is someone else out there that is obsessed with popular culture as I'm. You write very well and even though I don't agree with some of your points I respect them. I didn't have time to read all of it. but I have two comments:

1) I thought the Tiger Woods skit was fairly well done. It's true that Kennan didn't do the best job but I think he nailed the mannerisms and some of the speech patterns of Woods. Blake did a German accent rather than a Swedish one but props for her actually trying to play a role that requires some acting/impersonation ability. Most guest are absolutely horrible at this.
The sketch itself was too long and probably could have been condensed. You know what was going to happen after the first two cut scenes thus a lot of humor was gone. I think with such a juicy story like this, the writers could have derived a lot more humor from it.

2) I have to disagree with you about the NASA sketch. I thought it was just plain stupid even though the characters committed there was not real humor and the part where he spits out the chips was to be expected and only made me smile. It seemed like this was a bottom of the barrel sketch with no real punch line or point. Some people love random humor but I'm not a big fan of it.

Anonymous said...

happy anniversary jizz in my pants!

Levi said...

Obviously I enjoy the blog and being able to talk with you guys about your opinions of the show, so while I appreciate that you like the show, makenzie, you shoulda stuck around long enough to realize this is dedicated TO the show and not against it.

As for the episode, I thought this show was nearly (but not quite) as bad as the January Jones episode. I'm just being honest. Most of the sketches were either too unfunny or even made me uncomfortable. The ones that were kinda funny were too predictable for me to get into them...I mean...we all kinda knew what was gonna happen with Shy Ronnie when she said his name, but like you said, the characters are what kept it alive.

You made a great point about Blake Lively being overshadowed. Now that I think about it, I really think that's the case. Her presence was pretty low, though I thought she did a good job.

I also noticed Jenny's absence. It was funny to see someone lifting her up at the goodbyes, though.

makenzie, said...

yeah, i mean i was not saying anything to you about the review, just in general how people say terible things about it. I do agree they can kinda jazz it up a little, but it hasn't been terrible. and i will quote Andy Samberg because i feel the same way, "If I watch an episode of SNL, and there’s one thing that I liked, then that’s a good episode. " (haha.) I guess that's just how i am. I don't agree with critics totally anyway, on anything, but i'm sorry i did not mean anything against your blog. I actually think it's fantastic. (:

amyfairycakes said...

No probs =) I was just pointing out that I don't hate on the show because I don't like it, it's because I know that they are capable of more. The disparity between the qualities of last season & this season is too wide to not acknowledge. I do love Saturday Night Live though, that's why I keep watching.

Anonymous said...

what happened to the weekend update show on thursdays, did it just fill a space?

amyfairycakes said...

Yeah, NBC just filled the schedule with it until 30 Rock returned.

The Animation Empire said...

The Weekend Update Thursdays were only 3 episodes (same this season and last).

Jenny Slate had one sketch... as the ill-fated Janice (guitar and tambourine). Previously played by Michaela and Maya. (Only once each.) Jenny needs to do something amazing fast, because there's nothing keeping her on the show right now (Nasim's taken off, though).


Matt said...

Underground Rock Festival was one of the best skits in a long time. I still laugh after seeing it for the 4th or 5th time. Loved the potato chip skit as well. It felt like a Python skit.

amyfairycakes said...

Agreed about Underground Rock Festival. I've rewatched it over & over again, and I find a new line to crack me up every time.
"An encore performance from Mr Potato Dick."
"Yeah, they my boys. They be spraying cat piss on the audience."
"Haha, yeah!"

If you watch the actual infomercial, Jason was hilariously like the guy in it.

Matt said...

Jason also looked a bit like MC Search. My favorite is the part about the Facts of Life Season 3 screening. Why season 3? Too funny, ninjas.