Tuesday, December 22, 2009

James Franco/Muse

Sorry about the belated review, guys! Let's get right into it!

Cold Open - So usually I love The Lawrence Welk Show sketches, but there was something a little off with this one. Maybe it was because James Franco was pretty hoarse/couldn't sing well or maybe it was that finger joke at the beginning, but I didn't care for it as much as I ordinarily would. However, I loved Denise. From finger-massaging the snowman in the nipple area to the turkey in the toilet monologue song. "Now there's feathers in the toilet." Overall, not as good as it's two predecessors but a decent way to open the Christmas show.

Monologue - A funny monologue that didn't resort to singing and dancing? I didn't even think it was possible anymore! Few favourite lines. "I'm in a movie called Hope's Promise. Nah, just kidding!" .. "I don't have a movie to promote but then SNL doesn't have an election this year, so we're all doing with a little less." Loved the idea drum bit and also the fact that he was willing to make fun of himself with his TMZ photo was a nice bonus. Good work, Franco!

What Up With That? - Okay, so a lot of people on boards are like "What? We've seen this shiz 3 times in 2 months! What Up With That?!" So I love What Up With That anyway. I don't necessarily think it's hilarious but it brings so much joy to the show, and I actually think that this was the best executed of the three. Mike Tyson killed with his whole "You're undermining my intelligence as a black man with your singing, and that is a tragic thing my brother" and as per usual Kenan killed. Loved the mini DeAndre Cole's and Andy Samberg's appearance as a basketball player. All in all, really enjoyed it if only for Mike Tyson dancing at the end.

Kissing Family - So I thought that this was a nice improvement on the first incarnation of Kissing Family with Paul Rudd from last year. However, I wasn't totally into it. Okay strike that, I was into it until the grandparents (played by Nasim Pedrad and Will Forte) arrived, then I grew a little nauseous. The notion that the parents and the children would be that affectionate was far fetched anyway but acceptable in terms of an SNL sketch. But when Will Forte and James Franco started wagging their tongues, I just kept thinking "But that's his grandpa!" Inter-generational incest = too far. Kudos to Abby Elliott here though whose reactions I enjoyed. (Plaid shirt sighting #1 for Franco.)

Digital Short - Tizzle Wizzle Show -Loved. Favourite digital short of the season for sure. The premise was that The Tizzle Wizzle Show was a children's show and James Franco was their special guest. It featured Jenny Slate, Nasim Pedrad, Bobby Moynihan, Andy Samberg and Abby Elliott dressed in pyjamas or "Jammies." Then they did the Jammy Shuffle which I loved anyway. Then they brought in knives and pills, thereby upping the ante of hilarity. "3 more seconds to choose your knife! 3, 2, 1!" "Don't spit 'em out because we'll know!" The ending was a little off-kilter, but still far and away my fave short of the season.

Manuel Ortiz Show - Nice idea but ultimately it was one joke stretched out to fill an entire sketch. For the first minute I was laughing and then it grew a little tiresome. Favourite line, "Remember when Miguel [NB can't remember character's name] went out for arroz con pollo? Well he was con mi!" Franco's face while dancing was good for a few laughs too, though I'm not sure how intentional it was.

Weekend Update - So many parts I loved in this. First, the jokes were all great, one of my favourites being the bit about winding up a vibrator and then Seth ad-libbing that bit about Pop Goes The Weasel. Then there was Bobby Moynihan's impersonation of Jersey Shore's Snookie, which is one of my favourite bits of the season. Side-note, did anyone see the real Snookie on the Tonight Show where she publicly proclaimed her desire to settle down with a guy who, you know, does steroids?!? Anyhoo, Bobby was terrific here and I loved the line at the end about calling her Garfield. "'Cause I'm bright orange and I love lasagne!" Finally, Garth and Cat as played by Fred Armisen and Kristen Wiig, the carollers who weren't prepared for their appearance was hilarious and another highlight of the season for me. The songs were so ridiculous and it was so clear that Armisen and Wiig were having a great time doing it.

Stupid Frat Members - Good for a few laughs. I loved the premise and I thought Bobby, Jason & James did terrific jobs as the tough yet incredibly stupid frat members. The pledges included "Tie my shoelaces, and explain what you're doing as you're doing it!" .. "What's this?" "Diet Coke." "I thought it was Lite Beer 'cause 4 letters space and another 4 letters." I thought it ended kinda abruptly, and the big cop-out with Andy's character telling them that storks deliver babies kinda grated me, but not bad.

Vincent Price's Christmas Special -One of my favourite recurring sketches. So many parts of this that I loved! "You're watching TV Land which means you are a cat in an empty apartment." Cue Vincent Price welcoming Katherine Hepburn (a great impression by Kristen Wiig), James Dean (played by none other than James Franco) and of course Liberace (Fred Armisen). The interactions between Liberace and James Dean were high-larious.
"I'm confused!"
"Well, that's a start!"
And then the end with Vincent Price's reaction. Gold! I thoroughly enjoyed Hepburn catching rabies from the raccoon also. Nice work!

Talking To Christmas Trees - It was a little weird, but I actually kinda enjoyed it. It could have been better, but I liked the idea a lot - a Christmas tree salesman whose unusually close to his trees. "This man's gonna buy you and fall in love with you!" The reactions from the customers were great and I thought that Franco did a stellar job carrying the sketch. I loved the part at the end where we heard "Beth"s voice.

Fartface - Gosh, I can't even express how much I hate the Fartface sketches. This saw three guys (the Fartface guys) deciding what to buy for the office workers. If you think the word "dildo" is hilarious, then you'd love this! I'm gonna say I hated it.

Mark Wahlberg Talks To Animals - Okay, the beauty of Mark Wahlberg Talks To Animals was that it came out of nowhere and it was hilarious. You can't repeat a non-sequitur sketch like this and expect similarly hilarious results. It wasn't terrible, but it just lacked something. I did like "Hey snowman, I like your stick hands. I've got real hands but we can still hang out."

Overall, I would say this was my favourite show of the season next to Taylor Swift's. I was pretty much constantly happy and amused, with the exception of the duration of Fartface, and I thought that the sketches were among some of the strongest of the season. It helps that James Franco is a great host, hindered somewhat by his hoarse voice this time around, but funny & game for everything nonetheless.
I loved how the show had a non-political cold open - I was expecting something healthcare-related this week - and while it wasn't great, it was a welcome respite from the politics-heavy cold opens we've had this season. The writers relied a little too much on recurring sketches for my liking, but a lot of them were executed very well, so I can't complain.
For the first time in weeks, I don't actually have a lot of criticism. The host performed well, the writing was generally good, and there was no point in the show where I thought "Maybe I'll watch the rest tomorrow" as had happened with Blake Lively & Taylor Lautner's shows. Even at parts I didn't like, I was never bored and I was always eager to see what was next.
All in all, good job everybody. Nice way to round out the decade. Still a bit to go before we reach season 34 standard, but we're on our way with this one!


January 9 - Charles Barkley/Alicia Keys
A look at Charles Barkley's credits on IMDb shows that he hosted SNL in 1993. Anyone able to provide an insight into how he'll do?


Anonymous said...

I loved loved loved the talking to trees sketch. It may be my favorite of the season so far.

I thought James Franco was great. He did seem out of it, but strangely it really works for him, haha. Like his high/drunk mannerisms adds to the funness of the show. It kind of makes sense, who doesn't see the fun in getting a bit wasted and being silly. Just not everyone can pull it off on live television.

He definitely wasn't the best host acting wise of the season so far, but he is the host I enjoyed the most.

Weekend Update was great this week! Bobby's Snookie was absolutely hilarious.

What's Up With That? is getting to be a bit overplayed. I really like the sketch, but they need to have more weeks between showing it. I am endlessly impressed by Keenan during that sketch though. If I were him I'd collapse once I was finished.

Levi said...

I thought this was a decent show, though the fartface sketch (and a few others) went for easy "jokes" and failed. Looking back, one of the few sketches I really liked was the frat one. It was funny, the concept seemed original, and it didn't stoop to easy laughs. Nice.

The cold open was really funny too, in my opinion. I enjoyed it.