Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sunday Morning Quarterback – Thoughts on the New Cast

Has any group of new SNL cast members been more scrutinized that the current crop?  Between their overwhelming whiteness and their inherent newness, they’ve been picked apart by everyone from viewers to critics to SNL writers. 

Well, it only seems right that we here at Sunday Morning Quarterback add our two cents to the discussion.  With half of the season behind us, we’ve gotten a peek at what the new cast has to offer.  And since Saturday Night Live is still on the holiday hiatus, now seems as good a time as any.

To be fair, the new cast really has a tough go of things.  They were immediately brought out for ridicule during Tina Fey’s monologue in the season premiere.  And then their non-descript appearance was mocked in the same episode in a sketch. 

While they haven’t had a ton of time to shine, they have had a chance to make an impression.  So here are our thoughts. 

Beck Bennett – Having a national campaign under his belt, Beck came to SNL with arguably the biggest profile.  For the most part Bennett’s been relegated to straight man roles, which is actually an important role on the show.  His Boss Baby sketch, from the Josh Hutcherson episode, gave a glimpse at his skill as a physical comic and he really shines in his shorts with Kyle Mooney.  Of all of the new cast members he’s probably had the most opportunity to shine. 

Bennett is a funny guy who does seem to have a problem playing it straight, which makes him an asset to the show. 

John Milhiser – Poor John Milhiser; his first real shot at screen time was in a sketch where he played the ass half of a centaur with Bruce Willis.  After that he was pretty much background until he got to play an enthusiastic stage parent in the Lady Gaga episode.  But that sketch made quite the impression as it finally justified his hiring. 

He’s probably the least utilized addition to the cast.  Here’s to hoping that he gets an bigger profile in the second half of the season. 

Kyle Mooney – Kyle Mooney’s made a pretty big splash on SNL so far.  He’s clearly filling the Andy Samberg role in terms of anchoring the filmed shorts.  His sketch appearances are pretty forgettable, but he shines in the shorts, with “Dancing”, “Beer Pong” and “Miley Sex Tape” being the best of the bunch. 

Having proven to be a digital whiz it will be interesting to see if Mooney can transition to the “Live” portion of the show and have some memorable sketch appearances before the season is out. 

Mike O’Brien’s had a couple of chances to really shine in sketches.  In the premiere he had the Used Car sketch with Tina Fey and he also had the drug deal sketch with Edward Norton.  Neither really left in impression.  But his short “Bugs” with Josh Hutcherson made it’s mark.  Winston Sam Bass is a character that will hopefully make a return. 

O’Brien is a pretty good utility player.  He can be the star of the sketch or play nice with others.  It will be interesting to see what he does for the rest of the season.  

Noel Wells has the distinction of being the only new cast member who isn’t a white male.  Unfortunately she’s the lone female additon to a cast loaded with talented females.  As such, she hasn’t really had the chance to shine, apart from her Zooey Deschanel impression. 

While I hope she gets her chance in the spotlight, there are a ton of women in the cast and the writers don’t really write for them.  She’s going to have a rough first year. 

Brooks Wheelan stands out if only because he got to play himself twice on the show.  The first time he showed up on Weekend Update to show off his regrettable tattoos, and most recently he showed up in the Celebrity Family Feud sketch.  Apart from that his most memorable appearance was in the Critter Control sketch from the Edward Norton episode. 

Brooks Wheelan is an enigma.  The Critter Control sketch gave a hint of what he can do, but just barely.  Hopefully he’ll really blossom in the back end of the season. 

Of course we can’t leave without mentioning the newest addition to SNL’s cast Sasheer Zamata, who is (surprise) a Black female!  In fact SNL was so excited to have her join the cast that they immediately added her to the website, without including her cast portrait or twitter info. 
SNL is so desperate to prove they have Black friends that it looks like they made one up.
Being the lone Black female on SNL is either crazy pressure or a breeze.  It will be interesting to see how the writer utilize her during the second half of the season.  

Honestly, given how loaded the cast is and how little the new addition have had to do thus far, it's pretty doubtful to expect that they'll get a chance to blossom as the season progresses.  Hopefully there will be a breakout, but that's really hoping against odds.  

But at least we can look forward to Drake pulling double duty next week.  Huzzah! 

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