Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sunday Morning Quarterback - Bill Hader & Hozier

Hader is coming home!  This is the one episode of SNL so far this season that I genuinely have expectations and hope for.  When Hader left SNL, I got a bit saddened. 

But now he’s back with some musical guest I’ve never heard of.  Will Saturday Night Live be amazing this week, or is the bar so high that it can only be disappointing? 

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

Kim Jong Un Cold Open – This was a dreadful cold open.  I get that traditionally the cold open is a political or topical sketch, but by the same token the cold open is also traditionally funny.  This sketch amounts to Kim is short, injured and a megalomaniac.  Nothing new here.  Nothing to see here. 

Rating: Robert Downey Jr.

Monologue – It’s sort of refreshing to see someone completely comfortable doing the monologue.  I liked the attempt at some basic jokes.  The tease of the singing was perfect and Wiig’s appearance was utterly predictable.  The build up to Bill’s singing was flawless as was the payoff.  Having Harvey Firestein present was a nice touch.  Best musical monologue ever?  Possibly. 

Rating: Kristen Wiig. 

WXPD News – Herb Welsh is one of Hader’s most memorable characters.  Nice to see Pete Davidson get some sketch time in and his reactions to the mic hits were pretty solid.  Herb’s antagonism to his coworker and his blatant racism are just cherries atop a solid character.  “Why didn’t your wife take your last name” might be the best comeback ever.  Also a Zagnut reference, which makes me want to dust off the “Ancient Candy Podcast” idea I’ve had for years. 

Rating: Norm MacDonald

The Group Hopper – This is a spot on parody.  It looks just like all of those trailers for all of those movies based on books that I’m too to read and honestly never would even if I wasn’t.  There were great touches (…”a casual fan of The Giver” and “adapted from a YA novel written entirely in the comments section of a Hunger Games fan page”) but it went on way too long.  We got the joke.  I think the problem was that they told the story of the whole movie, rather than parodying the trailer. It was overly ambitious and suffered for it. 

Rating: Darrell Hammond

Hollywood Game Night – This is one of those “cram a ton of celebrity impressions into a sketch and hope it covers up the lack of writing” sketches that pop up from time to time.  Pharoah’s Morgan Freeman suffered because he didn’t have a dead hand.  Bennett’s Nick Offerman was really good, as was Killam’s Christof Waltz.  Strong, playing her second Latina of the night, as Sofia Vergara was just “eh.”  Obviously Hater’s Al Pacino and Wiig’s Kathy Lee Gifford stole the sketch, but Hader’s Pacino had nothing to work with. 

Rating: Tim Meadows

Help Fund – This sketch was wonderful.  The annoyance of Hader’s Charles Daniels at being second-guessed was perfectly done.  The escalation of people questioning him was well doled out.  And it was nice to Leslie Jones playing a different type of character than she usually plays.  I’m kidding, that didn’t happen.  But the sketch worked fine with that. 

Rating: Phil Hartman

Love is a Dream – It’s a fitting tribute.  What more can you say? 

Rating: N/A

Hozier Performance #1 – This dude is a complete unknown, so he’s got my attention.  But his performance does nothing for me.  He seems like he’s trying to be earnest and soulful, but it’s not working on me.  Apparently this song about same sex marriage, which is a topic that Macklemore rode to the bank and then blew up with some C4.  I’m not feeling this dude. 

Weekend Update – This week was a struggle.  No only does Che get to do a bit of riffing (again) but he also gets both correspondents?  Is Lorne trying to find ways of making Colin Jost look even less capable behind the desk?  Pete Davidson was actually kind of disappointing this week.  His bit not only wasn’t funny, but was horribly set up.  A gun ban at the BET Awards is the segue into Pete’s bit?  Wha?!  Stefon was bittersweet; it sucked seeing him without Seth, but he still nailed it.  That said I don’t know who got dissed more on Update this week, Dan Cortese or Colin Jost. (And you don't know how weird it is to be in a position to defend a white writer/performer on SNL.)

Puppet Class – Anthonly Coleman is another welcome return character.  Depending on his movie career, I could totally see this being the next movie based on an SNL sketch.  The bit about Jacqueline slayed me.  “I was a honey pot, a sex trap.  I did what I had to do.”  The only thing funnier than a clichéd grizzled veteran is one who has a puppet.  Likewise the only thing funnier than war flashback is a war flashback with puppets.  WASHINGTOOOON!

Rating: Phil Hartman

Inside SoCal – I like the evolution of this bit.  I dig that it’s a desk show now. I want to see more Ill Investigations.  I want to know how baller art can be.  The one downside; Cecily playing her third Latina of the night. 

Rating: Norm MacDonald

Hozier Performance #2 – I just feel like Hozier is trying way too hard and I can’t take him seriously.  To me he feels like a John Mayer, without the pop sensibilities.  I’m sorry, I guess I’m just not his demo. 

Cat in the Hat – Great five-to-one sketch.  Awesome premise and perfect execution.  The tension between Cecily and Hader’s Cat is stellar.  And seeing The Cat in the Hat off his game was hilarious.  “It’s Jonathing now.”  “Oh the places he let me go” is a great line, but tonally a bit off. 

Rating: Norm MacDonald

Final Thoughts: Hader brought his A game, which everyone expected.  Fan favorite characters returned and the writers seemed inspired by Hader, for the most part.  It’s unfair to grade Hader as a host, since he’s recent alum, but this may end up being the high bar of the season. 

Of course it's weird that SNL celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month by having Cecily Strong play three different Latinas in the same episode.  

Next Episode: Jim Carrey and Iggy Azelea or “Black Audiences Made Me Rich” week.

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