Sunday, May 10, 2015

Sunday Morning Quarterback – Reese Witherspoon & Florence + the Machine

I find Reese fascinating.  She had that pretty high profile run in with police, which has proved to be little more than hiccup in her career.  She seems to have a carefully cultivated public image, almost Cruise-esque.  I’m curious what she’ll bring to SNL. 

I’m equally curious to see what Saturday Night Live’s writers are going to bring to the table.  The finish line is within sight.  Will they coast to the finish or cross it with a final burst of energy? 

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

The Southern Republican Leadership Conference – Yes, political conferences are basically pep rallies. The novelty of Strong’s DJ hyping the crowd up wears off pretty early, leaving the sketch to rely on the not-quite impressions performed by the cast members.  Which isn’t to say that the sketch doesn’t boast some clever writing, but some of it lost between Strong’s spot on DJ voice and the pumped in pumped up music. 

Rating: Darrell Hammond

Monologue – It’s touching to see the members of the cast with their mothers.  It’s also a perfect illustration of how sprawling the cast is as this “monologue” goes on forever.  You’ve got to applaud the writer who thought that awkward banter between the cast and their mothers would be entertaining rather than painful.  It’s cute and almost touching, but nowhere near funny.  Not even in the same neighborhood. 

Rating: Jim Breuer

Be Scene in L.A. – Cecily has been doing some serious character work this back half of the season, so it’s great to see her at it again.  But this sketch boils down to the bodily functions of women of a certain age.  Thankfully Pharoah and Thompson provide some laughs with their inept producers. 

Rating: Kristen Wiig

Picture Perfect – On the plus side, it’s a game show sketch that isn’t Hollywood Game Night or Family Feud.  On the down side, Strong playing a Latina again?  The idea that someone has to draw the Prophet Muhammad is a funny one and slightly edgy for SNL at this point.  The halfway point sound was a great touch as was Moynihan and Thompson’s uneasiness.  And the sketch went on as long as it could without stretching things too thin, which is something SNL isn’t known for doing.

Rating: Kristen Wiig

Mr. Westerberg – A bitch session gone astray is a pretty obvious premise, but this really works for a couple reasons.  One is Bennet’s aloofness.  Another is the scenarios that he presents.  And lastly, the fact that he seemingly enjoys the treatment.  This was just great. 

Rating: Norm Macdonald

Florence + the Machine First Performance – Look, I never got caught up in the firestorm that was Florence + the Machine when they first blew up and were everywhere.  Somehow I managed to avoid them.  But this song is pretty awesome.  Part of why I like it is because I’m a sucker for xylophones.  I do dig this song. 

Weekend Update – The good news about SNL’s upcoming season finale is that we’re guaranteed a break from Leslie Jones’ relationship expert.  The novelty has officially worn off after multiple appearances.  Something that’s gotten better with multiple appearances, Jost’s runner about his relationship with his dad.  It gets me every time and I laugh every time.  I question the inclusion of Two Girls You Wish You Hadn’t Gotten Into a Conversation with at a Party, because Reece didn’t add anything and because it was crazy brief.  It had zero momentum.  Willie, on the other hand is always welcome.  “Two young crazy fun-loving kids…jumped me in the parking lot.”  Good stuff Willie. 

Student Theater Showcase – I will admit to really liking this reoccurring sketch.  I love how spot on the voices are and how “deep” the thoughts are.  The pretension in this sketch is so funny. 

Rating: Norm Macdonald

Southern Ladies – This is one of those sketches that gets better and better the more it marinates.  Reese does a great job of selling her character and the stories told are funny, nutty and gross.  And of course the reveal really brings it home.  The reveal is what made me love this sketch. 

Rating: Norm Macdonald

Whitewater Kingdom – This sketch is the answer to the question “can you put Bennet and Mooney characters in a live sketch and make it work?”  The answer is a resounding “no.”  This was painful to watch. I wonder if they had their camera and editing equipment taken away or if they’re making a pitch for their continued existence on the show.  Either way, this sketch was not a good sign. 

Rating: David Spade

Florence + the Machine Second Performance – Right off the bat, I’d dug how half of the backup singers had horns to play.  Versatility is always a plus.  Again, this song is pretty dope, due in no small part to the energy it contained.  While these performances may not have convinced me to buy her albums, I’d probably check out Florence live in concert. 

Whiskers R We – This sketch is a solid earner.  McKinnon’s always on and Reese held it together surprisingly well.  Of course the stories told about the cats were just the right kind of nutty.  One’s a registered sex offender and another is a cult leader.  What’s not to love? 

Rating: Norm Macdonald

Final Thoughts: This was a pretty solid episode with only a few missteps.  That monologue was enough to make me  hope that SNL never does a holiday themed monologue again (though the home video component almost made it worthwhile.)  And while Mooney and Bennett collaborations may not be everyone’s cup of tea, that live sketch of theirs was certainly no one’s cup of tea. 

Reese did fine job.  She didn’t have to do much heavy lifting, but she also wasn’t just an extra in the sketches.  And while she didn’t really add anything to Update, she get props for showing up. 

Host Rating: Josh Hutcherson

Next Week: Louis C.K. and Rihanna end the season.  Should be interesting. 

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