Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sunday Morning Quarterback – Blake Shelton

I know very little about Blake Shelton.  I know he’s one of the judges on The Voice, he’s a Country singer and he’s married to another Country singer Miranda Lambert.  I also know that his brand of crossing over is to play the kinda goofy backwoods guy as opposed to the uber patriotic redneck that many Country singers choose. 

Apparently NBC loves him.  He even had his own Holiday Special a few years back, which was rerun last year.  Despite my misgivings about him as a performer, I was pretty optimistic that SNL’s writers would write to his strengths and that’d he’d follow their lead. 

So, how was the episode? 

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

Inside The NFL Cold Open – Beck Bennett as Bill Belichick was a decent impression, especially when he overtly mentions throwing Tom Brady under the bus.  Killam’s gets some laughs as Tom Brady giving laughable denials, which would be fine but then the sketch takes a turn.  Moynihan’s character Dougie Spoons comes in and it erupts into a full on A Few Good Men parody.  For reference The Ben Stiller Show also did a parody of A Few Good Men and that show was cancelled over two decades ago.  Topical much? 

Rating: Darrell Hammond

Monologue – I can’t front, I almost turned on this monologue when Blake’s guitar came out, but it won me back with Hee-Haw.  Seriously, I have an inexplicable respect and admiration for both Hew-Haw and Larry the Cable Guy.  It’s literally inexplicable.  Anyway, the castmembers inability to understand Pickin’ and Grinnin’ is worked to great effect.  And the monologue has an actual ending. 

Rating: Norm MacDonald

Farm Hunk – First off, as someone with family roots (and family) in Iowa; ouch.  That said, 95% percent of this sketch was awesome.  His intro was funny, but the sketch was all about escalation.  The Hollywood/porn jokes, McKinnon’s interruptions, Bryant’s breakdowns.  And I loved the Jon Benet Ramsey reference.  The only weak part of the sketch was Leslie Jones, playing herself?  Boo.  It’s like having a perfect routine on the uneven bars and fudging the landing. 

Rating:  Kristen Wiig

Wishing Boot – This song is awesome.  Everything about this video, from the production values to everyone’s hair was perfect.  The Jake reveal slayed me. 

Rating: Phil Hartman

Celerity Family Feud – There was almost nothing good about this sketch.  Apart from McKinnon’s Keith Urban, the American Idol impressions were awful.  Like, shamefully terrible.  And for format and structure reasons, I get why they started with the American Idol team, but it really just drew attention to how terrible the impressions were.  It’s a rare feat when a sketch feels both underwritten and way too long, but this sketch achieved it. 

Rating: David Spade

Blake Shelton First Performance – Huge props to Blake’s back up singer for really selling me on this being a song that you could groove to.  She was way into it, which made me a believer. Honestly the song was not that bad.  It had a definite groove, albeit one provided by a banjo, but still. 

Weekend Update – Where to start?  Ok, this was genuinely a solid edition of Weekend Update.  I want to be on record saying that I liked both the King Adbullah joke and the triplet joke.  I thought they were funny and the audience reaction only made them funnier.  I liked Pete Davidson stand up bit about watching gay porn (apparently he’s best when he’s doing gay material).   I’m conflicted on Riblet.  On one hand I liked how his initial introduction was handled.  On the other hand, I’m kind of over Moynihan playing wiggers.  Still, Riblet was funny and perhaps a jab at everyone calling for Lorne to find new anchors for Update.  Nicole was funny on her own, but Riblet’s return was way telegraphed. 

Parole Hearing – I really enjoyed Kenan’s cannibal character not understanding the proceedings.  It tickled me and probably too much.  I also liked Kenan playing an actual character for a change.  I even dug the nutty ending.  But my favorite part was Kenan bargaining for his last meal request.  Good business. 

Rating: Norm MacDonald

Topeka Today – Nice to see Sasheer getting some prominent exposure in sketches in 2015.  I liked how sometimes the photos juxtaposed the lyrics to the song, while other times it underscored them.  Killam’s old make up was pretty solid.  But for me this sketch was really about Moynihan’s lip bite, when he was feeling the song.  Though the lyric “does the devel let you curse at him in front of his friends” was pretty biting. 

Rating: Kristen Wiig

Blake Shelton Second Performance – I was in awe of the number of stringed instruments onstage for this song.  Only two people weren’t playing a stringed instrument; the drummer and the backup singer.  I wonder if the mention of the Dougie is a reflection of how old the song is or how out of touch the boys in that town are with pop culture.  I did like that the song provides a tutorial for how to chew tobacco as part of the chorus. 

Westside Theatre – Last sketch and the first real miscue of the night, as Blake forgets to read his second line.   Seeing Blake’s character transformed from a skeptic to a believer is funny, but the sketch runs out of material way too early, yet keeps going.  And it’s really sad because that’s the note the show ends on. 

Rating: Darrell Hammond

Final Thoughts – Thankfully the writers did keep Blake in his comfort zone.  Counting the monologue he got musical three times and even played himself in most regrettable sketch of the night.  Update tried something new and gets an “A” for effort. 

Blake did what was asked of him.  He didn’t blow my expectations out of the water, but he also didn’t fall flat on his face.  He may not have been the most comfortable, but he made it through without any major incident. 

Host Rating: Charlize Theron. 

Next Week: J.K. Simmons and D’angelo.  Yeah, as an Oz fan, I’m really looking forward this episode. 

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