Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sunday Morning Quarterback – Drake

Different people watched this episode of SNL for different reasons.  Some people are tuning in to watch Drake and see if he’s talented enough to host.  Some people are tuning in to watch his break down at the “good-bye” because he hates saying good-bye.  And some people are tuning in to watch Sasheer Zamata make her Saturday Night Live debut. 

I’m watching because I always do.  I’ve got zero expectations for the episode.  Drake is an unknown quantity; he’s trained as an actor so this should be old hat to him.  But double duty can be taxing.  I just really hope SNL doesn’t overdo it with Blackness, now that they’d added three Black females to the show. 

Before we get too far along, here's 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 – This is easily one of my least favorite reoccurring sketches.  So, while I hate to see it, I’m glad they got it out of the way early.  I get that it’s an easy way to tackle three topical stories, so it’s practical. Anyway, Moynihan’s Christie is acceptable, but Drake’s A-Rod was surprisingly funny.  And McKinnon’s Bieber was solid  She totally nailed his mugging and aloofness.  Apart from the lack of an ending this was a really decent sketch. 

Rating: Kristen Wiig

Monologue – Right off the bat, I’m impressed at Drake’s enunciation.  You can tell he’s aware of who is watching the show.  The move to a sketch during the monologue caught me off guard.  It makes the first appearance of Sasheer and also gives us a musical component.  The weakest part of the monologue (can I even still call it a monologue?) is Mooney pulling out his Woody Allen impression for Drake’s Uncle Barry. 

Rating: Jim Breuer

Hip-Hop Classics – This sketch is another surprise; it’s mostly filmed.  But it’s also mostly good.  Killam’s Eminem is more one note than the actual Eminem, but Drake’s Weezy impression killed.  Zamata’s Rihanna wasn’t great, but I was literally slayed by Rick Ross as a Teletubbie.  That’s So 2 Chainz felt forced like the writers don’t get 2 Chainz.  But Drake’s Jay-Z on Mr. Wizard was sublime.  Drake really got the essence of Hov.  Flav on The Wonder Years felt very extra.  But I’ll never tire of Thompson’s Sway. 

Rating: Norm MacDonald

Nancy Grace – Finally Noel gets her time to shine!  Unfortunately it’s in this sketch, with in impression of a personality that most of forgotten about.  I believe this sketch marks the second time Katt Williams has been portrayed on SNL and I’m equally sure that the show’s audience is mostly unaware who he his.  Drake plays his part, but the audience is not feeling Noel’s Grace, which is contagious and sucks all the energy out of this sketch.  To make matters worse, her line about caring about the babies, meant to be her catchphrase, bombs, which makes every subsequent utterance, and the silence that immediately follows, painful. Surely there was a better way to work the new marijuana laws in Colorado into a sketch. 

Rating: David Spade

Resolution/Revolution – This was funny and catchy and true.  It’s equally well put together.  The bit with the cosplay and how it lingered on it was just great. 

Rating: Phil Hartman

Slumber Party – Once again we get a great Aidy Bryant character (with possible reoccurring potential.)  And then thing get weird.  While some SNL sketches can tread into creepy territory without creeping you out (think Forte’s sexual predator) this one doesn’t.  Drake does a good job as lame dad.  But Bryant’s aggressiveness is way creepy.  And the reveal at the end is equally creepy. 

Rating: Janeane Garofalo

Drake Performance #1 – He’s pulling a Timberlake, in that he’s using limited lighting to keep the focus on himself.  I will give Drake props for performing two songs.  Started From The Bottom is such an old song that it’s difficult to care about the performance.  But Trophies is new.  Unfortunately his performance of it is so dramatic that it reminds me why I’m not an unabashed Drake fan. 

Weekend Update – The Jacqueline Bisset bit had me weak.  Bisset is possibly my favorite thing that Bayer has ever done.  I’m always glad whenever Pedrad’s Arianna Huffington shows up to flirt with Seth, so I’m glad I got one last taste before he departs.  Apart from that, both Seth and Cecily did a good job. 

I Am Rahat – Drake completely carried this sketch.  He provided all of the energy and had most of the lines.  This is the sketch that should sell anyone who doubts that Drake can hold his own.  Drake completely inhabited this character. 

Rating: Chris Farley

Detention – Ok, so they’re trying to make this character reoccur.  I dug Bryant making it rain with change and her idea that endless Doritos is “ballin’”, but I’m still not sold on Bryant’s poetry teacher.  Drake did find with what little he had to work with.  I am curious what caused O’Brien to break at the end of the sketch though. 

Rating: Tim Meadows

Drake Peformance #2 – Again, props to Drake for cramming four songs into two performances.  I could really have done without Hold On, We’re Going Home done as a ballad, but anytime Jhene Aiko makes an apperance is kosher with me. 

Mornin’ Miami – I’m really glad this sketch came back.  While I miss the festering animosity from Moynihan this time around, I really loved the dead air in the sketch.  And of course Egg Begley Jr was awesome.  Have a Great Day At Twerk felt forced, but didn’t kill the sketch. 

Rating: Phil Hartman

I know – Wow, this is easily the weakest of the shorts this season.  Usually I’m down for a Bennett/Mooney pairing (as I just mentioned last week) but this one fell flat.  Maybe there wasn’t enough of Mooney explaining how he knew.  Also I felt that there was a miss opportunity for Mooney’s ghost to say “I…don’t know.”  Eh, you can’t hit a homerun every time. 

Rating: Janeane Garofalo

Final Thoughts: For a first time host, Drake really made a strong showing.  He held his own and even carried some sketches.  What’s really weird is that I preferred his sketch work to his musical performances.  Sasheer made an impressive debut too.  Next week is Jonah Hill, who brings along loads of expectations. 

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