Sunday, May 18, 2014

Sunday Morning Quarterback – Andy Samberg & St. Vincent

It’s SNL’s season finale, which means a couple things.  First off it means that this awkward growth spurt season is finally over.  We’ve not only witness a transition with new members joining the cast, but we’ve also see Seth Meyers hand off the Weekend Update desk to Colin Jost and Cecily Strong.

But it also means that Saturday Night Live is going to try to end on a high note.  SNL is a tv show after all.  And season finales are often spectacles.  So we have SNL alum Andy Samberg hosting, wish other guest stars pretty much a guarantee. 

And if you bet that more former SNL cast members would show up in sketches than new cast members, I can tell you if your bet will pay out.

Our rating system, for the final time this season;

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

Jay-Z & Solange Cold Open – This story was everywhere and fortunately SNL had a Black female member of the cast to allow SNL to offer a take.  It’s funny.  Solange is an unknown quantity, but Pharoah’s Jay-Z is solid as always.  The added audio of the video is funny.  “I hate spiders.”  That’s a solid take.  Maya popping up as Beyonce is both a gift and a curse.  It’s great that Maya Rudolph was there for this role and she definitely has Beyonce down in terms of voice and attitude, if not physically.

Rating: Kristen Wiig.
Former Cast Member/New Cast Member Tally: 1/1

Monologue – I like that Andy was being self-deprecating (and mirroring Tina Fey’s monologue in the season premiere) by pointing out that he wasn’t known for his live sketch work.  And then it devolved into an excuse to trot out former cast members, Bill Hader, Seth Meyers and Martin Short.  I’ll admit to being surprised by Martin Short.

Rating: Jim Breuer
Former Cast Member/New Cast Member Tally: 4/1

Camp Wicawabe – I love these two kids.  Note for next season; put Aidy Bryant and Kate McKinnon together in sketches more often.  I will say that it’s an interesting tactic to have what it ostensibly an attempt at a reoccurring sketch in the season finale.  It’s great to see Aidy play someone who isn’t on the same wavelength of awkward as most of her other characters seem to be.  And McKinnon completely inhabits her character.  And, is that Kyle Mooney?  Yes it is.  Andy Samberg does a fine job.  Though I do wonder why this sketch was set in 1990.  Because it was a simpler time? 

Rating: Kristen Wiig
Former Cast Member/New Cast Member Tally: 4/2

When Will The Bass Drop – This was a nice goofy and funny Digital Short.  I think everyone would agree that EDM is horrible, out of control and must be stopped, so who can’t enjoy a short that both takes a piss out of the genre and critiques it?  The exploding was pretty cool, as was Indy’s cameo. 

Rating: Norm MacDonald
Former Cast Member/New Cast Member Tally: 4/7 (though technically, Mike, Beck and Brook are glorified extras.)

Confident Hunchback – This really feels like something Sandberg pitched multiple times when he was on the show, that he finally got through as the host.  It’s incredibly short, it gets in and out.  It doesn’t overstay it’s welcome, which is great.  It would have been better if Samberg weren’t relying on cue cards.  It’s vaguely reminiscent of the Tales of Sober Caligula. 

Rating: Tim Meadows
Former Cast Member/New Cast Member Tally: 4/8

St. Vincent Performance #1 – While I own all of her albums, I’ve never seen St. Vincent perform before her collaboration with David Byrne, so I don’t know if she picked up his theatricality or if she was already doing stuff like this.  I do like how the stage is spread out and the use of the space.  It’s too bad that the blocking is keeping the dude on keyboards out of nearly every shot.  Basically dope performance and good song.

Weekend Update – I love Kyle Mooney’s Bruce Chandling.  I love how the audience both anticipates and loves his eye roll.  I’m completely slayed by the somber turn his act takes.  It’s a great twist and really has time to breathe.  “Grim reaper is knocking at the door…and I don’t want to answer it.”  I also appreciate the reoccurring bit if having returning correspondents refer to Colin as “Seth.” Beyond that Update had like what, seven jokes?  Mildly disappointing.  Next year, Update may get ratings.

Former Cast Member/New Cast Member Tally: 4/9

The Vogelchecks – This sketch is what it is.  It’s been gone long enough that it makes me smile.  What really makes me smile; Fred completely losing it.  How is he this rusty? 

Rating: Chris Farley
Former Cast Member/New Cast Member Tally: 8/9

Waking Up With Kimye – I’ve said it before, but I love the characterization of Kanye as someone who is trying, and failing, to convince the world that Kim is not as vapid as she seems.  I will admit to being surprised that there wasn’t a graphic of Kourtney pulling the rickshaw.  Andy shows up in this sketch, but doesn’t really add anything.  Killam’s Bruce Jenner was pretty funny. 

Rating: Kristen Wiig
Former Cast Member/New Cast Member Tally: 8/9

Hugs – This was fun for what it was.  Again, it sticks with the Digital Short brand.  Pharrell is ubiquitous so he really did do much.  I am looking forward to the upcoming thinkpieces about how The Lonely Island are using their privilege as white males, to mock Hip-Hop. 

Rating: Tim Meadows
Former Cast Member/New Cast Member Tally: 9/9

Legolas From The Hobbit Tries to Order At Taco Bell – Nice to see Bobby Moynihan in a live sketch.  Yeah, it’s a mildly funny juxtaposition.   But I think Jay Pharoah summed it up perfectly with his final line in the sketch. 

Rating: Tim Meadows
Former Cast Member/New Cast Member Tally: 9/9

Bilzzard Man – 2 Chainz really sells this sketch.  His insistence that Blizzard Man is great is perfect.  And he doesn’t even seem like he’s acting.  Kenan almost losing it early in the sketch was surprising, but beyond that everything was pretty solid.  Samberg kills with his subtly odd adlibs.  And his rhymes are gorgeously horrible. 

Rating: Norm MacDonald
Former Cast Member/New Cast Member Tally: 9/10

St. Vincent Performance #2 – Really a dope song. It sounds like it would’ve been right at home on Strange Mercy.  I also love the quiet but specific choreography.  This is what a performance on SNL should be; it should be about making an impression. 

Bvlgari – I’ll admit to being kind of letdown by this.  I’ll freely admit to being over this sketch, though “Santa came down my chimney and so did three other guys” is a pretty funny line.  Samberg and Wiig did their obligatory part, but didn’t really add anything.  This feels like a sketch where new incarnations play well in the writers room and at the table read, but that doesn’t translate to the episode. 

Rating: Darrell Hammond
Former Cast Member/New Cast Member Tally: 10/10

Final Thoughts: So that’s how SNL ends the season.  Samberg did a fine job coming home and bringing a ton of friends and fellow alum with him.  While the tally makes it seem like new cast members and former cast members showed up an equal number of times, new cast members really got the shaft this episode.  If you weren’t Kyle, Sasheer or Beck, you were basically an extra. In terms of substance, the former cast members blew the new cast members away.  

Next episode is (probably) in October.  And if you think that’s a long wait, imagine how long it feels for the new cast members who don’t know if they’re coming back. 

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