Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sunday Morning Quarterback – Josh Hutcherson & Haim

I love episodes like this.  When you get a known quantity hosting SNL things can get predictable (Timberlake will sing and dance, Miley will attempt controversy, Bruce Willis will play on his toughness.)  But Josh Hutcherson, what does anyone really know about the guy, besides The Hunger Games? 

Going in I thought Hutcherson would either impress or bomb.  I’m a very Black/white type of guy, so there’s no middle ground with me.  And would Saturday Night Live’s writers be coasting on fumes before the Thanksgiving break? 

Let’s find out, shall we? 

But of course, our rating system. 

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

Piers Morgan Live – I’m wracking my brain to think of a Piers Morgan bit that I actually enjoyed.  I don’t think there’s been one.  This one continues the theme.  The jokes at Zimmerman’s expense are so obvious and predictable that I half expected the audience to say them with the actors.  There’s a brief moment, when Bennett’s George Zimmer appears, when I have hopes for this sketch.  But they’re dashed as I hear a ton of Pacino in his Zimmer. Even though it’s short, it still goes on too long.

Rating: Jim Breuer

Monologue – Well, at least we got the Hunger Games parody out of the way early.  But this monologue is almost paint by numbers.  Hunger Games? Check. Joke at expense of new castmember? Check.  That said, I truly enjoyed Thompson’s appearance.  Hutcherson’s self deprecating jabs were good as was the line about Hunger Games being a book.  But for me the highlight of the monologue was watching McKinnon and Strong both stake their claims to being the Alpha Female of the cast. 

Rating: Jim Breuer

Girlfriends Talk Show – I’m usually pretty glad to see this sketch.  It’s definitely one of the best recoccuring concepts on SNL right now.  I dug how the talk show evolved into ambush tv this time around.  Aidy’s awkwardness as Morgan is enjoyable to watch, because she really sells it.  Strong’s Kiera, throwing Morgan under the bus was equally fun.  And Hutcherson was probably the best “guest” on their show so far.  But of course the unspoken star of this sketch is Kiera’s creepy boyfriend.  He’s the punchline I’m always waiting for.  And he always delivers.  He’s so crazy. 

Rating: Phil Hartman

Mr. Patterson – I imagine that this will be a divisive sketch.  I usually jot down notes during a sketch, but I couldn’t turn away from this one.  It’s an premise absurd enough to be a five to one sketch (more on that later) but I felt it worked well where it was.  This sketch was all about Bennett’s performance and composure.  And for me it worked. 

Rating: Norm MacDonald, Kristen Wiig

Matchbox 3 – I wonder how well this sketch played outside of NYC?  I know that I compare notes with friend about subway performers a couple times a week, so this sketch hit home for me.  For anyone who think this bit was over the top, I promise you, it is just barely beyond the realm of what I’ve actually witnessed.  Tonally, it reminded me of the Christmas Tree Pimps from last year.  That said, it was just mildly funny.  The elevator bit was the best one. Ooh look, there’s John Milhiser dancing again, for the second week in a row!

Rating: Tim Meadows

Haim Performance #1 – This is one of those performances where I’m moderately invested in it.  I’m way happy that Haim has “made it” in regards to getting on SNL.  I’m genuinely pumped for them, because it’s dope to see talent rewarded.  What’s more, they’re clearly having fun and basking in the glow of being there.  Their joy and excitement is contagious. 

Weekend Update – This was the funniest Update, in terms of content, in recent memory.  The “no one came to my party” Bieber joke was mad funny.  The line about Maroons 2-5 and 2Wonder 2Life also made me laugh.  Worst Lady On An Airplane was just ok.  She had a line here and there, but wouldn’t necessarily miss her if she never returned again. 

The Outfield “Your Love” – This bit was inspired.  From the moment the sketch started, with everyone line firmly cementing it in the 1980’s, I was sold.  And when Hutcherson first appeared it just kept rolling.  But once the bit kicks in, it’s curtains.  This is a brilliant sketch.  The reverse engineering that went on in the writers room, must have been brutal.  But the cojones on the writer who pitched it.  Still, it swung for the fences and succeeded.  Hutcherson was all in and the ending was dope too.  Plus there’s a Haim cameo.  The only flaw in the sketch; the completely superfluous line about texting.  Man, I feel bad for anyone who missed this sketch and has to scour the internet to find it because of music rights. 

Rating: Phil Hartman

Best Buy – I don’t hate these characters, but I can see why people do.  It’s the exact same sketch over and over again and there’s only one joke (two if you count the their sincere admiration/apology before the ramp up of the final insults.)  Still, it’s the first time we’ve seen it this year, so maybe it’s the nostalgia speaking, but I dug it.  Though I totally missed Tim Robinson’s appearance, because he was usually a great closer for the sketch.  That said, Killam’s Andrew was a welcome surprise. 

Rating: Tim Meadows

Dancing – I loved this.  I loved the absurdity.  I loved the journey we went on.  I loved Professor Skillz.  I loved the goofy low budget-ness of the whole affair. 

Rating: Norm MacDonald

Haim Performance #2 – I really don’t know what to say other than I totally echo my sentiments from the first performance. 

Animal Hospital – This is a crazy morbid sketch.  Again, Hutcherson is flanked by Strong and McKinnon.  Funny accents are employed and Hutcherson comes up short of being offensive.  He did mess up his “Uncle’s Dead Monkey” line and it almost cost him his composure.  The sketch is pretty one-note and predictable, but the performances really saved it from being bad and made it entertaining. 

Rating: Kristen Wiig

Winston Sam Bass – The later we get, the weirder things get.  This feels like Mike O’Brien desperately trying to make a case for himself on the show.  It’s a weird bit and the third taped bit in the episode.  What’s really funny is how the audience doesn’t know what to make of it.  There’s an audible “aww” during that shows the audience was paying attention, but maybe not getting it.  I dug Winton’s fat jokes and then his instant regret.  I even dug Lance Sam Bass’ appearance.  I’ll be real with you; I hope Winston Sam Bass returns.

Rating: Norm MacDonald

Elise – Remember what I said about a five to one premise being absurd?  This one of those premises.  The problem is that apparently this sketch was written without any jokes in it?  At least I couldn’t find a discernable joke.  This felt like an experimental play about becoming a vegetarian.  And the ending?  What the hell?  Way to sully the five to one brand, SNL. 

Rating: Janeane Garofalo

Final Thoughts – This episode was like a less than perfect sandwich.  The bread was slightly old, but the cheese, meat, veggies and condiments all complimented each other nicely.  If you can get past the first and the last sketch, this was a pretty solid episode.  Hutcherson was clearly game and performed up to the task.  Haim killed it.  And there was one truly wonderful sketch this week, that’s certainly a contender for sketch of the season. 

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