I guess you could consider me an Edward Norton fan, I mean I’ve seen both Down in the Valley and Leaves of Grass and how many people can say that? So you could say that I’ve been looking forward to this episode of Saturday Night Live since it was announced. Plus, I really dig Janelle Monae, so the episode feels loaded with potential.
That said, I almost had to temper my expectations because they were so high. I wanted Norton to knock it out of the park, but I also had to accept that SNL’s writers seem to be hit or miss lately. Still, I’m an optimistic type of dude.
Was my optimism warranted?
Wait, let’s refresh in the ratings shall we?
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
Healthcare.gov Site Problems – This sketch is fine. It’s well acted. It’s just entirely predictable. The site can only handle six users at a time. Canada has better healthcare. The hospital themed felt mildly inspired. Doctors without Boundaries and Bang Ambulance both had a spark, but this sketch did nothing to fill me with hope for the episode. And that buffering joke was just poorly timed.
Rating: Jim Breuer
Monologue – I appreciate that Norton is poking fun at himself (and Chris Kattan!) but once Alec Baldwin comes in the monologue threatens to be derailed. Fortunately Norton holds his own and pulls some pretty impressive impressions out of his back pocket. Miley Cyrus’ cameo felt gratuitous, but it was a decent monologue.
Rating: Chris Farley
Autumn’s Eve – While I’m glad SNL’s women are getting some screen time, I wish it was for something other than “you know what’s funny about women, their vaginas.” Pumpkin spice feminine product. I will admit to not being too mature to appreciate the line no one laughed at “why should your mouth have all the fun?” Still, the writers should try harder.
Rating: Robert Downy Jr.
Cops in Classrooms – The premise of a visit getting derailed is a pretty funny one. And everyone plays their part well. The infectious nature of Shallen’s train of thought was pretty funny to witness. But something felt off. Maybe it was Norton’s obvious reading his cue cards. Maybe it was because it felt like the trial of a character? I don’t know. But it was fine apart from that horrible non-ending.
Rating: Tim Meadows
Steve Harvey Show – This could have been a horribly one-note sketch, but Norton’s character flourishes really saved this bit. Keenan’s Harvey is one degree removed from his Al Sharpton, so they’re pretty flat characters. But the enthusiasm of Norton’s character was just great. I believed he worked at a Halloween store.
Rating: Kristen Wiig
Midnight Coterie of Sinister Intruders – C’mon, a horror movie by Wes Anderson? It’s brilliant. It’s tonally spot on and the characters were perfect. Norton pulls out another impression. Because I’m such a huge Wes Anderson fan, I’m crushed that this movie isn’t a reality. But this is one of the few parts of SNL that I actually want to rewatch tomorrow.
Rating: Phil Hartman
Office Meeting – I really enjoyed this sketch. I dug the anticipation of waiting for Norton to make his appearance. And who doesn’t find marsupials creepy? I loved the narrative going on in the vent, with the incredibly talented possums. This was just weird enough to be great. I mean when Russell tried to figure out if the dead possum was a leader or just a charismatic citizen, I was in.
Rating: Norm MacDonald
Motel Drug Deal – The sketch was marred by a few things. First is Mike O’Brien. I feel bad for the guy, but he had to carry so much of this sketch and his character was barely a character. Secondly, Taran Killam stumbling over one of his three lines this week. And lastly the complete and utter lack of an ending was appalling. But Norton played his part and the Sesame Street shoutout was dope.
Rating: Darrell Hammond
Janelle Monae Performance #1 – I’ll be real with you; I saw Monae perform this song on Letterman so I’m not totally slayed or all that impressed seeing it on SNL. It’s still a dope performance, it’s just my second time seeing it. Still, it’s is a great high energy peformance.
Weekend Update – I can’t front; this was a weak Update. There weren’t that many quotables this week. And I was really disappointed that Anthony Crispino didn’t interact with Strong. But yeah, this was weak.
12 Days Not a Slave – Wow, this is uncomfortable. The complete and utter silence from the audience in the beginning of this sketch is horrifying. But yeah, this sketch was just to tonally off that it’s appalling. Divorce yourself from SNL making headlines for it’s staggering lack of diversity, this sketch is just a poor idea. I will give writers credit for Norton’s lines America not dealing with racism for centuries, which was a hint of commentary. But I’m really looking forward to reading what people say about this sketch tomorrow. And the less said about Miley the better. Still, props to Aidy Bryant for doing her best to get laughs; she’s a star.
Rating: Janeane Garofalo
Ruth’s Chris Virgins – I almost gave SNL credit for tackling race in two sketches in a row and had this sketch dealt with Blaccents, it might have been sharper. As it is, four virgins incorrectly pantomiming sex is mildly funny. Norton give it his all, which helps keep this thing afloat. It’s just ok.
Rating: Darrell Hammond
Janelle Monae Perfomance #2 – Great song and great performance. I’m genuinely curious how Monae is full of so much energy. In my mind she sleeps in a hyperbaric chamber and exits it like a mummy or a vampire. Janelle Monae is truly one of the few acts that I’d say I’ve got to see live before I die.
Spooktacular Halloween – This is classic Five to One sketch. I love how campy Norton’s “Dad” is. He was like John Waters mixed with a prop comic. I was no more good when he flicked the booger. Maybe I was punchy from the hour, but this really worked for me.
Rating: Norm MacDonald
Final Thoughts – Edward Norton has done the best of the hosts thus far this season. On one hand I’m going to applaud the writers for balancing the characters that Norton played; sometimes he was the straight man and sometimes he was in on the fun. On the other hand I’m going to call out the writers for their poor ideas; Autumn’s Eve and 12 Days Not a Slave. Y’know SNL writers, perhaps you shouldn’t bring attention to your white male’s club by writing sketches dealing with women and race? Just a thought.