I’ve been looking forward to this episode since it was announced. I like Paul Rudd and I’m happy for the success he’s experienced in his career. Also, the dude is funny. And he can act. I caught his last time hosting on SNL and thought he held his own.
By the same token, I’m sort of dreading this episode. I’m pretty much over Ron Burgundy. Anchorman was funny and fun, but I can’t even say he was my favorite part of it. Also, it feels like the promotion for this movie has gone on for months and it’s still two weeks away. And since Paul Rudd is here, his Anchorman cohorts are probably in tow.
Well, let’s get this over with.
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
Sound of Music: Live and Condensed – I’ll give credit where credit is due; while I’m not a fan of Dooneese, she worked pretty well here. I probably also liked it because it departed from the Lawrence Welk format. I mean except for Armisen showing up at the end, which I totally loved. What can I say; I’m a sucker for weird left turns that make zero sense. Plus it was dope seeing Wiig almost poke and prod McKinnon into breaking.
Rating: Norm MacDonald
Monologue – I liked Paul Rudd’s confession about being overshadowed by his musical acts. I didn’t really care for the trotting out of his Anchorman cohorts. It’s pretty predictable and it would have been much more powerful had they not done it a couple of weeks ago. I guess this as inoffensive as something as gratuitous as this was could be. I also like that Steve Carrell seemed to be contractually obligated to appear and didn't seem to be hiding that fact.
Rating: Jim Breuer
Politics Nation – Wow, this was kind of a nonstarter. I liked the referencing of the weight difference between Kenan and Al. But apart from that, this was a pretty one note sketch and Rudd had nothing to do but be the straight man.
Rating: Robert Downey Jr
Dan Charles: Biggest One Direction’s #1 Fan – This had a ton going for it. First you’ve got a character for Rudd to dive into. Second you’ve got the juxtaposition between Charles and One Direction’s base. And lastly you’ve got the interaction between Rudd and the girls. This was just flawless.
Rating: Phil Hartman
Divorce – This sketch was brilliant! The backstories of the characters was so hilarious. It was very cleverly written. Then you’ve got the dancing, while seated. And they way Bayer and Rudd’s enthusiasm for the song grew as the song built was just perfect. And then when you’ve accepted the nutty premise with a song that randomly plays and reunites the couple, the reason for the song playing is explained. This was expertly done. I feel bad for anyone who tries to watch it online tomorrow.
Rating: Phil Hartman
One Direction Performance #1 – First off, these kids have totally grown up since the last time they were on SNL (which was the last time I saw them.) They look so much more mature. The song is pretty tolerable. I dig that pretty much every member gets their time to shine, which I imagine is hard to do when writing a song. I will say that Mumford & Sons should take offense at their sound being so obviously bitten.
Weekend Update – None of the desk jokes went over, which made them funnier to me. I’m pretty much an outspoken fan of Jacob. He’s probably a close second of the correspondents that have actual ties to Seth. I’m glad Jacob got a chance to say goodbye, but I hope he’ll return. And then we have Jebidiah Atkinson. It was obvious he’d be back, despite how he should have been a one-off character. I liked his return appearance, but it couldn’t come off as anything other than forced. It reminds me a bit of the fable of Icarus.
Unveiling of David – Um, Jay Pharoah alert! So this sketch is just a dick joke. I should hate it. But what sells is how contemporary the characters are. Again, it’s a matter of juxtaposition. They are outfitted for the era, yet speaking in modern terms and rhythms. It worked.
Rating: Tim Meadows
White Christmas – This is a pretty funny premise; a white version of a Black movie. Or is it a Black movie with whiteface? It’s funny and it’s sold on the performances. The white gospel, the use of NKOTB and Mike O’Brien’s entire look. Very well done. Though I don’t know if I should be applauding SNL for tackling race or condemning it.
Rating: Norm MacDonald
Santa’s Workshop – Yet another great premise. Rudd’s midlife crisis Santa was just perfect. The little touches like the goatee and him still having huge eyebrows were really nice. I loved how dialed into trends he was. One demerit; this sketch was messy. From scenery moving, to stagehands being visible in reflections, there were distractions galore.
Rating: Chris Farley
Ghosts of the Past – This sketch had the melancholy of filmed short. Strong’s remembrances of past lovers might have meant to have been funny, but came off as just pitch perfect bad romance novel writing. Rudd’s Victor had heart and was kind of sweet. It was also a great look in on the skeletons everyone has in their closet. I mean, except for me, of course.
Rating: Norm MacDonald
One Direction Performance #2 – I don’t really know what more to say about these guys. Um, the blonde dude appears to have the weakest voice? Yeah, I’m done.
Bill Brasky – I’m old enough to have actually seen the original Bill Brasky sketches and this one felt different. I can totally see why it aired; you’ve got two of the originators of the sketch present, but still it felt way different. I don’t really recall any of Brasky’s Buddies attacking anyone the way Hank attacked Strong’s character. And while I know Brasky anecdotes have included him having sex with men, the line about him date raping Karl Malone felt a bit off. I don’t know, this just felt cruder than how I remember Brasky sketches being in the past. Maybe my memory is off.
Rating: David Spade
Final Thoughts – I thought this was a pretty solid episode. There were quite a few funny sketches with solid premises. But the Brasky sketch ended things on a sour note for me. Honestly, if it wasn't for the Brasky sketch, I'd probably say this was the best episode of the season. Rudd did a good job and the writers seem to have been refreshed. I’ll admit to being kind of disappointed that Armisen (and to a lesser extent, Wiig) didn’t pop up outside the cold open. Next week is John Goodman and I literally can’t wait.