Sunday, April 5, 2015

Sunday Morning Quarterback – Michael Keaton & Carly Rae Jepsen

I pretend like I’m a Michael Keaton fan, but that’s mostly because I can remember him before he was Batman (and was excited that he was going to be Batman).  But honestly, I haven’t really followed his career and I appreciated Birdman more than I enjoyed it.  Still, I’m looking forward to Keaton hosting Saturday Night Live. 

Hopefully SNL’s writers will give him some material to work with.  They did a pretty good job last week with Dwayne Johnson and here’s hoping they keep the streak alive.

Did they?   

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

Road To The Final Four – The cold open gets props for really playing up the “live” aspect of the show with the Wisconsin win.  On the flip side of the coin, it’s a pretty toothless take on student athletes.  There were a few chuckles, but it felt like the kid gloves were firmly in place. 

Rating: Tim Meadows

Monologue – I’m really torn on this monologue.  On one hand, Keaton played such a passive in it that it’s troubling.  Apparently his main role in the monologue was in approving a monologue that relies heavily on movie characters he originated decades ago.  On the other hand, it’s pretty well executed and the last lines in both Moynihan and Killam’s songs are right on target.  Also, it’s pretty cool to see Keaton trot out both Batman and Beetljuice’s catchphrases. 

Rating: Kristen Wiig. 

CNN Newsroom - At first it’s troubling, because getting comedy out of a horrific plane crash is a dicey proposition (ask Gilbert Gottfried) But the longer this played out the better it got.  If we’re being honest, I’d watch both the puppet recreation and the CNN’s Reenactment Dance Troupe.  Also great; how Keaton’s character slowly goes into full on dancing.  This sketch is really a triumph. 

Rating: Norm Macdonald

Prom Queen – I’m really hoping that Mike O’Brien leaves SNL because someone is willing to finance his vision and sensibility on a weekly basis, because I’d totally watch that show.  Once again, Mike O’Brien hits it out of the park, with this unique take on a familiar situation. 

Rating: Norm Macdonald

Your Grandmother – Interesting juxtaposition with the chatline framing of the push for you to call your grandmother.  It doesn’t quite work, partially because the parts with Sasheer’s character are so jarring.  Also, Sasheer segment with Leslie came off as awkward, but not in the intended way. 

Rating: David Spade

Wallace Advertising – Very weird sketch.  There are so many different component, Keaton’s weird divergence, the products being pitched, Keaton’s bloody wound.  They mostly come together.  The Labattos cereal and it’s subsequent pitch were really funny.  This sketch is really a case of something being greater than the sum of it’s parts and a situation where the performance really puts the sketch over the hump. 

Rating: Kristen Wiig

Church of Neurotology – So, that’s two weeks in a row that SNL is running behind a HBO documentary with a ton of buzz?  There’s a fine line between being topical and being late to the party.  That said, this is pretty well done.  They nail the creepy cultish vibe and the period specific looks of the characters.  Also, this is an incredibly dark short, in terms of tone.  It’s definitely darker than it is funny.  But it’s still funny. 

Rating: Norm Macdonald

Carly Rae Jepsen First Performance – I know it’s not right, but one of the metrics that I judge a performer on is there backup singers and the band supporting them.  Jepsen’s support is so nondescript.  The look like a stock photo of a group.   There’s zero character on the stage during his performance.  I’ve seen more edge on a spork.  It amazes me how SNL stage can host a performance by St. Vincent and by someone like this. 

Weekend Update – I really enjoyed Jost’s riff on Lethal Weapon.  It was well thought out and well written.  Pete Davidson has become a lesson in diminished returns.  He’s proven himself to be not nearly as funny and entertaining as he finds himself to be.  I’d be 100% fine if we didn’t see him near the Update desk for the remainder of the season.  And the Norman Reedus appearance really felt like an attempt at reading the lowest common denominator.  I will say that I’ve yet to tire of Jebidiah Atkinson’s shtick.  I really liked how he tore into everything this outing.  I’m pretty sure I laughed at most of what he said.  It just struck me. 

Smart House – Did the characters in this sketch need the accents?  Probably not, but they really added something to the texture of the sketch.  Strong and Keaton were both very strong in this sketch.  Their enthusiasm for making their home a smart house definitely helped sell the sketch.  But they also felt like real characters.  Also, I’m completely adopting “add science to it” as part of my personal lexicon. 

Rating: Norm Macdonald

Carly Rae Jepsen Second Performance – There’s a part of me that really can’t take this slow jam seriously.  I think it’s because how under-sexualized Jepsen is; she’s not trying to be a sex symbol or show a ton of skin.  Even the song is confusing as she’s proclaiming she’ll be a friend yet also asks if the guy care for and want her.  Another part of me appreciates this song as a throwback to a pre-SWV era of R&B.  I’d darn near an innocent song. 

An Easter Message from Michael Keaton and Portia – This is very reminiscent of the Edward Norton Halloween episode Ten-to-One sketch.  I loved that one and I love this one just as much.  Keaton milks the jokes for all they’re worth and it works perfectly.  Keaton also amps up the creepiness to an almost menacing level, while still keeping things funny. 

Rating: Phil Hartman

Final Thoughts – The monologue had me worried, but this episode ended up being quite good.  The writers came up with some nutty concepts and Keaton seemed completely game.  More than that, he was up to the challenge. 

Host Rating: Drake

Next week: Taraji P. Henson and Mumford & Sons, because if you thought things couldn’t be a larger gap between the target demos of the host and musical guest for this week, SNL opts to raise you

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