Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sunday Morning Quarterback – Chris Pratt & Ariana Grande

Saturday Night Live is back!  Over the summer there were additions (Michael Che, Pete Davidson) subtractions (John Milhiser, Noel Wells, Brooks Wheelan, Nasim Pedrad) and even some lateral moves (Mike O'Brien, Cecily Strong).  Time will tell how well those moves pay off.  

Hosting the season premiere is Chris Pratt, who is coming off a huge summer.  He's known for comedy, so this should be a breeze.  Welcome back SNL!

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

And introducing our new Host Rating Scale;

Drake – Outstanding
Edward Norton – Impressive
Josh Hutcherson – Fine Enough
Charlize Theron – Essentially an Extra
Seth Rogen – Expectation, Unmet
Jim Parsons - Awful

CNN State of the Union – SNL had to address the NFL, because it’s the biggest story and it’s not going away anytime soon.  But this cold open is a mess.  Aidy was rusty and Roger Goodell is so nondescript that he’s impossible to lampoon without going over the top, which is not where the writers went.  Kenan and Jay were fine, but this sketch went nowhere. 

Rating: David Spade

Monologue – This was a pretty underwhelming monologue.  If they wanted to trot out a well worn monologue type, they should have done the Audience Q&A, rather than the musical monologue.  It was poorly executed and not all that entertaining.

Rating: Janeane Garofalo

Cialis Turnt – I’m positive that there will be think-pieces written about the appropriation of Black culture in this sketch.  I guess that white people performing Hip-Hop clichés will never go out of style.   A cleverer sketch would have been the same product name, only it’s marketed to an urban demo.  Then you’re making fun of the Big Pharm targeting a specific demographic, rather than Hip-Hop culture.

Rating: Jim Breuer

He-Man & Lion-O – This sketch was a mess.  It had a paper thin premise that wasn’t explored, in favor of patting crotches.  The sketch goes nowhere.  If the sketch had a high point it’s Aidy Bryant’s horny mom, but that’s a character she’s accustomed to playing.  And the abrupt ending didn’t help things.  Kyle Mooney and Taran Killam deserve better. 

Rating: Robert Downey Jr.

Animal Hospital – I enjoyed this sketch last year, so seeing again was a  much needed sign of hope.  Strong and McKinnon do a great job with their nutty accents and nuttier characters.  The sketch builds and delivers.  That bit with the turtle was perfectly executed comedy.  It’s a one joke bit, but they sell it.  The ending was wack. 

Rating: Kristen Wiig

Marvel Trailers – This was spot on about how Marvel is running things and can’t be stopped.  I think I’m most excited for Pam 2: The Winter Pam and Fancy Ghosts. 

Rating: Tim Meadows

Ariana Grande Performance #1 – She sounds a bit hoarse.  I really want to spray some Chloraseptic down her throat, and that’s not a euphemism.  I have to say that watching Ariana Grande perform makes me feel crazy old.  I have zero point of reference for her.  I guess her performance was fine? 

Weekend Update – First off, it was brilliant to pair Colin Jost with Michael Che, because the only person who could make Jost look comfortable at the desk is someone who’s a complete novice at performing on the SNL stage.  Che needs to find his rhythm quick, because I feel the viewing audience will be unforgiving.  Fortunately Update had a ton of moving parts this week.  Cecily, unsurprisingly, made an appearance, as did Leslie Jones.  I’m happy Leslie Jones is getting to perform her stand up on Update, because honestly, if you don’t use white guilt for that, then what are you saving it for?  Pete Davidson is completely being set up to succeed.  Not only was his bit brilliantly hilarious, but it was his first show.  I bet John Milhiser, Noel Wells and Brooks Wheelan wish they got a showcase like that on their first episode.  Finally the Cheer Up President Obama bit should be commended for trying something new on Update. 

Flirting – More white people doing Hip-Hop?  This one is slightly less offensive, because it’s not as shallow.  Pratt and Bryant also do a good job of jumping in and out of the rap cadence.  Also the premise of two people who are shy and awkward yet spontaneously jump into rhyming is kind of funny.   Still, twice in one episode? 

Rating: Kristen Wiig

Bad Boys – I was slayed the first time Bennett and Mooney did this riff on a 90’s sitcom, which unfortunately didn’t make it to air.  But this time was even better, if it was a bit more grounded.  The establishing shots were just awesome.  The awkwardness in this sketch is to pitch perfect.  This one spoke my language. 

Rating: Norm MacDonald

NFL Player Introductions – This was a very well executed sketch.  The changes in appearance were great, as was using utility players like Jones, Jost and Che to fill in gaps.  I do wish they’d gone a bit bigger and nuttier with the crimes.  Also, Tim Stevens indicted on tax fraud? For shame. 

Rating: Norm MacDonald

Ariana Grande Performance #2 – Jay-1 tells me that Ariana Grande is dating Big Sean, which is weird, because I thought her career was on an upward trajectory.  Whatevs.  This song was ok, but I was completely distracted by The Weeknd’s hairstyle.  I feel like someone should tell him that he’d be respected and acknowledged as an artist without a hairstyle that seemed constructed strictly for attention. 

Puzzle World 6 – What a garbage sketch to end the show on.  I genuinely tried to detect the comedy in the sketch and came up with nothing. 

Rating: Janeane Garofalo

Final Thoughts: While the highs were high, it was a pretty brutal episode.  It’s a season premiere, which tempers things, but man, that episode was not that much fun to sit though. 

And in hosting SNL, Chris Pratt is exposed as having few strengths beyond being charming.  I’ve got to believe that this outing has diminished his stock a smidge, after his stellar summer. Honestly, for Pratt's rating I've got to give him a Charlize Theron.

But let’s look on the bright side; Pete Davidson had an impressive debut and Kyle Mooney is going all in with his shorts. 

Next week: Sarah Silverman, who was allegedly a SNL castmember.

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