Oct 3, 2010

SNL, 10/3/10, Bryan Cranston with Kanye West

I’ll do a much deeper analysis of Saturday Night Live, the series, at another time, because I have a lot of history with and passion about the show. In the meantime, here is my quick analysis of last night’s episode.

The Cold Open: Typical and expected political sketch riffing on the press conference transferring from Rahm Emmanuel to Pete Rouse as White House Chief of Staff. The real event just happened yesterday; do they really wait so long to write the open? Well, it shows. There were a few clever moments.  Fred Armisen did his very weak impersonation of President Obama, but Bill Hader was funny as his consigliore. It is apparent already that everyone on the show will continue to rely on cue cards for every word.

Monologue: Byron Crandon, err, Bryan Cranston delivers a clever song a la The Music Man focusing on how he’s not a household name.

Fake commercial: A spot for Pepto Ice, a malt beverage that cures the runs. This is what happens when a comment at a bar becomes a sketch. Weak.

The Miley Cyrus Show: One of the highlights of the show, this sketch served as sort of a newcomers showcase. New featured player Vanessa Bayer did a great impression of Miley, capturing her country skankiness and vapid teen speak, with her gummy smile. Newcomer Paul Brittain was also very good as Johnny Depp; I’d actually go see his version of Goodnight Moon. Cranston was wasted as Billy Ray, but otherwise the sketch was quite funny.

What’s Up with Dat, Episode 77: This sketch gets pulled out at least every other week. For some reason, it entertains just on its predictability and the fact that most of the regulars go all in for the bit. (The Actual) Morgan Freeman got first chair, so he got to speak a bit before D’Andre Cole broke into song again; he actually did a little acting with the death stares he was giving Cole. (The Actual) Ernest Borgnine looks happy to be anywhere at age 93, but it was cool to see him. This sketch is always a bit one note, but energetic; I keep wondering how long Jason Sudekis can keep up his frenetic dancing without passing out. And where else are you going to get a random Mary Kay Letourneau/Vili Fualaau reference?

Corporate Basketball: Blessedly, the only appearance of the awful Kristen Wiig on the show, doing her Shanna, the sexpot with gross personal habits. Oh look, Kristen Wiig doing a character with a wispy, quiet voice, the novelty! I just don‘t get her. The least attractive cast member playing a sexy woman;  weak to the power of 20. Just not funny. This sketch also exhibited one of my biggest pet peeves about SNL; every sketch is blocked so that no actors actually face each other or make eye contact, so they can keep their eyes locked on their cue cards.

Digital Short: Fairly clever riff on iPhone apps and the cross pollination of social media and advertising.

Kanye West, first song: Can’t say I’m a fan, just because this isn’t my style of music, but the staging was very unique for SNL, all white light and a score of dancing beauties (I think I‘ve been in that dream but with different music). At first, I thought it was a prerecorded video. I’ll have to leave it to someone else to say if the performance was any good, but it was visually stunning.

Weekend Update: Usually the only reliable part of the show, Seth Meyers delivered several good jokes, including a good one comparing Kim Jong Il to the Bush family. The momentum slammed to a halt when they brought out the confused “second hand news” guy, which is just a hack job on Emily Litella. Andy Samberg as Cathy (Ack!) was clever. A few more jokes, then a clunker about Zombies that even Seth looked embarrassed to read.

Oh, a game show sketch. Haven’t seen one of those in a week. Actually, this one was pretty good, a 1972 kids game show with a kissing host who favored Samberg’s 12 year old character. Two dudes kissing used to be shocking, now it’s just funny, especially when done with gusto as it is here. Kenan Thompson was funny as a sassy little girl who wanted none of it.

Worst of the night: A sketch about a local one hit wonder singing duo who used to be popular but now no one goes to see. Metaphor for SNL? I didn’t get it. Yawn.

Kanye and the girls again live from the clean room at Intel with autotune. Not as good as the first song, as far as I could tell, but still visually unique for SNL.

A fairly funny sketch about Henry, a way small 5th grader being taught to fight by his father.  The kid is played to the hilt by the vastly underused Nasim Pedrad. This was silly, but funny with some unexpected child punching. A clever character that will likely be seen again. Very well written and decently performed.

Final sketch was a pre-taped Sharper Image commercial for a traveler’s gadget for African Americans: A Black Noise Generator. It puts out Muffled Tyler Perry movie sounds, old women complaining through the wall noise, the soundrtrack of “Friday” and “Bass”. I thought it was completely offensive and designed to perpetuate stereotypes. Or very funny. Not sure which.

On the whole, an average episode based upon the last few years. The host was underused. A couple of decent sketches, a couple of unwatchable ones. The latest group of “featured players” seem to have some talent and I hope they get more screen time. If you haven’t figured it out, I hate Kristen Wiig (as a performer, she may well be a wonderful person) and wish she’d move on to other endeavors, so I was glad she only made the one appearance.

Up next week: Sue Sylvester herself, Jane Lynch with musical guest Bruno Mars. I plan to live blog it, so if you’ve got nothing better to do, join me.

More to Come.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, crap load of typos in that one, now fixed. That's what happens when you blog while watching football.

    ReplyDelete

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