Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sunday Morning Quarterback – Tina Fey & Arcade Fire

It’s the season premier of Saturday Night Life.  It’s a rebuilding year, which means there’s a ton of new cast members.  That can be a good thing or an awkward thing. 

On the plus side Tina Fey is hosting and you’d be hard-pressed to find another SNL alum in recent memory who has been more successful.  She wins awards, conquered tv and was successful in both print and film.  Also, Arcade Fire are along for the ride. 

Let’s get it on. 
Our unchanged rating system is as follows;

Phil Hartman – Comedic gold
Chris Farley – Definitely funny, but kinda messy
Norm MacDonald – Funny, but not for everyone
Kristen Wiig – So-so premise saved by performer.
Tim Meadows – Didn’t hate it, didn’t love it, dripping with adequatulence
Darrell Hammond – Funny, but overstayed it’s welcome
Jim Breuer- Crowd pleaser, but a bit obvious
Robert Downey Jr – Brilliant performer, not a lot to work with
David Spade – Trying too hard
Janeane Garofalo – Weird weird, not weird funny

Obama Cold Open – Things appear to start off on a high note; Jay Pharoah has never been better.  (It retrospect it’s because it’s the only thing he had to prepare for this week.)  Obamacare is almost defined by it’s lack of definition, so this sketch really resonated.  It’s unfortunate that the crowd stepped all over Aaron Paul’s lines, especially his last line.  This was a topical and tame sketch, not really a funny one. 

Rating: Tim Meadows

Monologue – For the record I would totally watch sketches with all of Tina Fey’s forgotten characters.  I enjoyed the hazing of the new cast members, though I think that part of the reason Tina danced so much is because she was a female cast member.  I liked her taunting them as they danced.  I loved the line “congratulations you’re done of the night.”  But it’s sort of sad that Tina Fey isn’t the most memorable part of her own monologue. 

Rating: Chris Farley

Girls – I’m glad SNL decided to take on Girls and even happier that they decided to do the smart thing of attacking the inanity of the show rather than the lack of diversity.  Had they done the latter, it would have been a pot/kettle type scenario.  The sketch is like an extended “first world problems” joke.  The impressions were pretty spot on.  Nice to see the females get time to shine. 

Rating: Norm MacDonald

Express Air – This is a funny sketch that stands on it’s own.  The star is the writing and the premise.  It wasn’t flawless; the bit with small parents didn’t need a line and the farting joke got stepped on by applause.  The absurdist ending worked out really well.  Really strong sketch. 

Rating: Phil Hartman

New Cast Member or Arcade Fire – This seems a bit too self referential for me.  If the last sketch was a triumph for the writers, this one is a strike out.  That’s two sketches so far that relied on the newness of the new cast members.   The writing isn’t there on this sketch and Tina Fey barely delivers.   Lorne Michaels played aloof like a pro, but this sketch has nothing.  So far SNL is relying on the new cast members, but in the worst way imaginable. 

Rating: David Spade

eMeth – This is a funny, if predictable bit.  It’s saved by lines like “gacked up on whop chicken.”  Also; who’s hosting this week; Tina Fey or Aaron Paul? 

Rating: Tim Meadows

Arcade Fire Performance #1: First off, I’m kind of impressed that Arcade Fire has a song that’s actually danceable.  It’s almost slinky.  I mean the song has an actual groove.  Win’s awesomely awkward dancing is also spectacular.  This song has me even more excited for Arcade Fire’s new album. 

Weekend Update – Cecily Strong had a decent debut.  She’s still getting comfortable and working on delivery, but she did not offend.  That line about Low Winter Sun hurt.  Tina didn’t really add too much with her appearance, but the O.J. bit was very strong.  I will say that I was very impressed with the character of Bruce Chandling.  That’s a funny character and I hope he reappears.  I predicted that Anthony Crispino was going to appear, but we got Drunk Uncle instead.  I was close.  Meth Nephew would have been much funnier if it wasn’t Aaron Paul’s third appearance of the night, and playing the same character.   

Cinema Classics – The first hint of a reoccurring sketch of the night.  The formula of the behind the scenes drama bleeding into old movies is tried and true, but this felt stale.  This is a sketch that sounds funny on paper, but doesn’t really play live. 

Rating: Robert Downey Jr.

Rick’s Model Ts – The premise of the very first used car commercial is a very solid one.  The way it played with car commercial tropes was stellar.  I feel like Tina Fey’s delivery sort of muddled some of her lines.  But it was still a strong sketch. 

Rating: Norm MacDonald

Arcade Fire Performance #2: Let me just begin by saying that I enjoy the theatricality of Arcade Fire.  I dig the matching outfits.  I like that Win Butler looks like he could be performing a song from the soundtrack for the Lone Ranger.  I love that there’s so much going on onstage.  And I enjoyed that the cameras caught the percussionists switching instruments. 

Manolo Blahniks – First off, props to Lorne for returning this sketch to the five-to-one spot.  This sketch is a double edged sword; on one hand it’s great to see familiar characters, even if it’s the last sketch.  On the other hand, this sketch is so terribly formulaic that it’s barely funny anymore.  Part of the comedy comes from the outrageousness of their statements, but it’s hard to be outrageous when it’s been done so many times.  This sketch makes me really look forward to Seth Meyers leaving Update. 

Rating: Jim Breuer

Final Thoughts – The premiere satisfied fans and naysayers.  Fans are going to see the potential that was evidenced tonight; Kyle Mooney and Mike O’Brien had strong performances.  But at the same time naysayers are going to point out that the main cast didn’t really have anything to work with.   There were no real knockout sketches this week, nothing happened this week that anyone’s going to be talking about tomorrow.  And while Tina Fey joked about it in her monologue, she didn’t play any memorable characters. 

I really don’t know if there’s anything to take away from this premiere.  In fact this entire season might end up being like a typical season premiere; people are going to be finding their rhythms and getting comfortable.  

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