Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sunday Morning Quarterback – Kevin Hart & Sia

Happy New Year  It’s been a long time since SNL was new and I’ve genuinely missed it.  Sure things have been pretty rocky so far this season, but I believe it’s going to get better.

Kevin Hart is Saturday Night Live’s first host of 2015 and he’s a star who seems to continually be on the rise.  His last hosting effort didn’t leave a bad taste in my mouth, so I’m looking forward to what he’s going to bring to the table this time. 

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

MLK Cold Open – I guess this is a mildly topical sketch.  But apart from the bit about the Oscar nominations, this felt cribbed from a variety of sources including that infamous episode of The Boondocks and several stand up routines.  Also two things really distracted me; the cue cards popping in the reflection behind Kenan and Pete Davidson’s blatantly and unnaturally reading of those cue cards. 

Rating: Jim Breuer

Monologue – I always applaud whenever a host strays from having a monologue written for them.  Like Chris Rock and Louis C.K., Hart opted to perform genuine stand up material. The audience loved it and so did the band. 

Rating: Phil Hartman

Justin Bieber for Calvin Klein – I’ll always appreciate Kate McKinnon’s Bieber impression, but there’s very little meat to this ad parody.  And it goes on way too long for something that’s so light on material. 

Rating: Darrell Hammond

Why’d You Post That? – This sketch was marred in the opening minute by a horrendous technical glitch and it never fully recovered from that.  Even the wall dungeon didn’t work right the first time.  Despite those bumps, Hart did his best to keep things from going off the rails and gave it his all.  But the only thing anyone is going to remember about this sketch is how the screen, an integral part of the sketch, malfunctioned. 

Rating: Chris Farley

Bushwick, Brooklyn 2015 – This bit was gold.  I loved how those corner dudes adapted to the gentrification of Brooklyn.  Artisanal Mayo, dog walking business, Kareem and his life partner, where all placed perfectly.  Also, I’m totally going to steal “put gluten in your muffins or something.” 

Rating: Phil Hartman

James Brown at the Apollo – Having the cast as James Brown’s backing band is funny enough, but having Hart’s Brown ask them to answer individually was pure comedy.  And the food order was just a cherry on top. 

Rating: Phil Hartman

Nancy – This was nice silly little sketch.  The walk on music switch up build nicely to Hart’s Martin, who has learned enough English to do his job.  It’s absurd, but it works because everyone sells it.  Most importantly, the music cues go off without a hitch. 

Rating: Kristen Wiig

Justin Bieber Call Back – Pretty much an example of diminished returns. 

Rating: Darrell Hammond

Sia’s First Performance – I’ve been a fan of Sia’s since one of her songs played a pivotal role in one of television’s finest finales, so I’m happy that she’s found success and having her moment.  That said, her aversion to performing is becoming a distraction.  While it’s dope that she is still trying to make sure there’s a performance, it’s like literally distracting from the song. 

Weekend Update – Right off bat; Colin opted not to shave this week?  Update felt very abbreviated this week, I’m guessing because Hart’s monologue.  Only one guest this week but Mrs Santini is pretty awesome.  I love how she writers her notes on paper scraps and napkins.  She’s such an awesomely passively aggressive neighbor.  Neither Jost nor Che had any major mess ups, which is a good sign. 

We Must Move On – Wow, this is a one-note sketch.  And holy cow does it go on forever.  Usually, I dig this kind of sketch, but this time out it did nothing for me.  And Leslie Jones popping up at the end felt less like an escalation than a prolonging. 

Rating: David Spade

Kevin's Son – Kevin gets to play himself, unlike what he’s been doing in every other sketch tonight.  Pharoah does a pretty good Hart impression, which isn’t surprising because he’s basically a savant.  But yeah, it’s one of those sketches where a cast member does an impression of the host.  And I’m 99% sure that’s what the script for this sketch says. 

Rating: Darrell Hammond

Sia’s Second Performance – So this is the second time this song has made an appearance on SNL this season, right?  I like this time better, but again, the performer is distracting.  A signing mime?  I’m pretty sure that’s against the rules, because mimes don’t talk, and signing is talking.  So really he’s not a mime, he may possibly be a deaf clown, but he’s not a mime. 

Chocolate Drop Listening Party – Hart brings an established character to SNL?  I guess that since he’s a big time movie star he doesn’t have a problem with loaning Chocolate Drop out.  Though I’m betting most of SNL’s audience has no idea that this character wasn’t dreamed up by SNL’s writers.  It’s a funny premise, with the appropriate amount of escalation.  And I’m glad we found out why Kenan looked dead in every shot he was in. 

Rating: Chris Farley

Final Thoughts – I wonder if the writers were happy that Hart’s monologue ran long and planned for it by underwriting the show or were upset that the monologue ran long and their material got cut?  Either way, there at least two great and well executed premises this week.  The holiday rust seemed most apparent with the blocking and cuing of the screen in that first sketch. 

Kevin Hart’s second time hosting SNL and he did an equally good job.  Sadly there wasn’t another Z-Shirt bit.  Kevin Hart is always “Kevin Hart” but the writers used that to their advantage. 

Host Rating: Josh Hutcherson

Next Week: Blake Shelton.  I wonder if I can lure Jay1 to cover SMQB next week? 

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