Sunday, February 1, 2015

Sunday Morning Quarterback – J.K. Simmons & D’angelo

Clearly we at Fission Spaghetti are fans of J.K. Simmons.  Most of it stems from his role on Oz, but we’ve pretty much enjoyed in him everything he’s ever done.  It’s why we were so happy he got nominated for an Oscar and why we were worried about him hosting Saturday Night Live.

See, we hold him in such high esteem that we’re worried that a subpar episode of SNL could conceivably tarnish him in our eyes.  And no one likes to see their acting gods tarnished. 

So…was there cause for worry? 

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

Super Bowl Showdown – I get that the Super Bowl is kind of a big deal, but I just don’t know if there’s enough there to build a sketch around.  Pharoah’s Richard Sherman sounds off, like a generic Black Cali accent.  Thompson’s Marshawn Lynch is acceptable, but how do you parody Marshawn Lynch?  The best impression comes via Killam’s Pete Carroll.  Sadly there’s really nothing to this cold open, which stumbles around trying to find a reason for existence. 

Rating: Jim Breuer

Monologue – Two weeks in a row and SNL has does a great job of circumventing musical monologue fears.  Simmons has some good lines in this one; his distain for hair and Stefon being his favorite character during Fred Armisen’s run on the show.  Fred gets to show off, Leslie Jones gets to be Leslie Jones.  Fun was had by all. 

Rating: Kristen Wiig

Totino’s Super Bowl Activity Pack – This is pretty funny, but it’d be better if it had a target.  If this was an NFL commissioned or endorsed product, to give women something to do during the Super Bowl, that would have been funny. For me, the point was muddled, which undermined the whole thing.  Is it about gender roles?  Is it about the portrayal of women in advertising? 

Rating: Kristen Wiig

Miss Trash 2015 – For the first live sketch of the evening, this was a very undercooked sketch.  It felt like two different ideas (Miss Trash pageant and a contestant signing up for the wrong pageant) crammed together in one sketch that was underwritten.  The Miss Virginia angle didn’t get enough time to grow and whole sketch went nowhere. 

Rating: Robert Downey Jr.

Cinema Classics – Who doesn’t love Reese De’What? Confession time; I’ve never seen Casablanca.  Fortunately everyone knows the ending, and this alternate ending was great.  McKinnon’s mugging and trying to extricate herself was great.  Simmons does a pretty mean Bogart.  I also appreciated how this time around, there weren’t cuts back to Reese, showing the sketch is evolving. 

Rating: Phil Hartman

Teacher Snow Day – This was a layered short.  There were so many different teachers doing so many different crazy things.  I liked how Davidson’s character was an observer to the whole thing.  I really dug how Simmons got into the whole thing, I’ll say I was slayed by his appearance. 

Rating: Norm MacDonald

D’angelo First Performance – Right off the bat, I’m pumped because this is one of my favorite songs off of Black Messiah.  So, D already has me.  Secondly, I’m digging his look and how dramatic his performance is.  The performance is a pretty solid one.  It makes me want to listen to Black Messiah, again. 

Weekend Update – Another week, another reading bumbled by Che.  At least this week he got it out of the way early.  One-Dimensional Female Character from a Male Driven Comedy continues to be a great character.  If the trade off of Strong not being co-anchor is that we get to see her perform characters on Update, I’m fine with that.  I also appreciate how SNL has been using restraint when doling out the Jebidiah Atkinson.  I still love the way he milks his lines and he still slays me when he shows up. 

Pushy – I dig how Simmons is using an accent in this sketch, but it’s really about about Moynihan.  It’s got some good lines like Helvetica Bonham Carter, but didn’t get sold until Pushy tried to humanize himself to avoid being killed.  It was a nice turn and very well played. 

Rating: Kristen Wiig

The Jay-Z Story – This was brilliant.  Nearly every part of this short was perfect.  The origin of the name was great as was the casting, though the juxtaposition of O’brien, Sudekis and Simmons as Jay-Z, Kanye and Nas really speaks volumes about Sasheer/Beyonce.  I love how they went all in, including the “Jay-Z” songs playing in the background.  The only thing that felt a bit unnecessary was Pharoah doing actual Jay-Z.  But beyond that, it was perfect. 

Rating: Phil Hartman

D’angelo Second Performance – Doubly slayed.  This is my favorite song from Black Messiah and it allows for a statement to be made.  I loved the choreography and general rocking out.  I’m definitely listening to Black Messiah tonight. 

Career Day – You’d think that a sketch centered on a Japanese Messy Boy would be better than this was.  The scenario for how he got the gig was pretty awesome.  No awesome, that phone call on speaker phone.  It probably would have been funnier to hear just his responses.  There just weren’t that many jokes in this sketch. 

Rating: Robert Downey Jr. 

Final Thoughts: Simmons did a good job as a host, which makes sense because he’s a great actor.  He pretty much played the straight man in the sketches, but seemed to be up for anything.  The writing wasn’t always there, but Simmons give it his all. 

Host Rating: Edward Norton

Also, what was up with Beck Bennett not being in the episode?  He was there at the epically long good-bye, but I didn’t see him in any sketches.  Curious. 

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