Sunday, May 4, 2014

Saturday Night Live Season 20 Reviews: Episode Five - Sarah Jessica Parker/R.E.M.




“It takes a great man to make a great wake.”

Concession Speech


4 Stars: A losing candidate gives details about why he lost the election

The only time in SNL history when Chris Elliott says “Live from New York”.  This is a response to the democrats getting beat in the midterm elections and I understand why they wanted to lead with this, because it’s political and topical but this is a fully realized sketch and is only hampered by ending it with the “Live from New York” tag which feels unnecessary and tacked on.  The sketch is over and then Elliott says, “Oh, there is one more thing.  Live From New York…”

This sketch is built on Elliott’s delivery and works because of it.  He goes over his regrets about the campaign, including not answering the negative ads, like that one with his picture smiling with his thumbs up next to that picture of a murdered nun.  He also has a back and forth banter with an off screen crowd member.

“I have to congratulate him, he is our congressman now.”
“No he isn’t.”
“Yes he is.”
“I’m from another district.”

One more thing about this sketch that I didn’t realize until the second time watching it, Chris Elliott’s campaign poster with his face and stupid smile, I want that hanging in my bedroom so I can laugh when I wake up and before I go to bed.

Sarah Jessica Parker Monologue


1 Star: Parker sings “Tomorrow” dedicating it to the losing democrats

I know people think she has a horse face but I wouldn’t kick her out of bed.
Like I’d kick anyone out of bed…
What are you doing here Ethel Merman’s corpse? All right you can stay.

I’m sure Parker was great when she was 8, playing Annie on Broadway, but either she wasn’t committed or her voice has not aged well.  This is only a half realized idea, SJP is sad that the republicans won and then as she’s singing, Myers and Spade come out to say that the whole cast and crew is right wing.  I didn’t know Parker was a huge political celebrity at the time and this would really only work for me if it was someone like Alec Baldwin, Ben Affleck, Sean Penn or some other celebrity democrat.  This is almost unrateable because it’s so short and barely a joke.

Eterna-Rest


4 Stars: Commercial parody for a coffin mattress in the style of the Tempur-Pedic

This is a classic commercial parody.  Elliott and Garofalo have such a joy on their face when they jinx each other at their grandmother’s funeral.  My favorite line is about the air freshener.

“Does it last forever?”
“No, just for the period where it would really stink.”

Good Morning Brooklyn


1 Star: Morning talk show where they talk in Brooklyn accents and say “fuhgettabout it” a lot

This sketch encapsulates everything I dislike about SNL; talk show format, recurring characters, catchphrases, goofy accents, and an appearance by Sandler being Sandler.  Jay Mohr is not the greatest sketch performer and this was his attempt at a breakout character but his Brooklyn accent is way too close to his Walken impression.  A sketch like this up front can kill momentum.  The audience seems to be on board, I was not.  Farley almost kicks it up a notch with his energy but by the time he comes aboard I had no goodwill for the proceedings.

I recently read Jay Mohr’s book where he talks about this sketch and how they didn’t want him to do it because of threats from the Italian defamation league.  I may be able to understand why such a league has nothing else to complain about except for a sketch where people say “fuhgettabout it” a lot but where was the Council For Retarded Citizens to protest Adam Sandler.

Dueling Guitarists


1 Star: McKean and Sandler compete for Parker’s affection with guitars

What the hell was this?

I’m not against this as an idea, but it was not a sketch.  This should have been the monologue, seeing as how it was performed on the monologue set and had no introduction at all.  Parker says, “This is a song about love and what it means to me”, then McKean serenades her on an acoustic guitar with a quaint folk song but is interrupted by Sandler on his electric guitar singing about how he’s “gonna give her the wood”.  They go back and forth until the sketch is over.

My biggest complaint with this: McKean gets angry at the end and yells at Sandler, Sandler says “We were only having fun, please put away your gun”.  OK, if you have a line like that in your sketch, don’t you think there should be a gun involved?  Did SNL run out of prop guns?  What the hell was this about?  Why was it performed on the home base and why did it have no set up whatsoever?

R.E.M.: “What’s The Frequency Kenneth”


Man, I remember the 90s when you could wear whatever the hell you wanted and still look cool.  Now you have to pay 20 dollars for that stained t-shirt, a drummer wearing a poncho, awesome.  Hey, bass player in the velvet suit! You’re ruining a good thing.  Michael Stipe is a crazy snake like man who moves around like he’s getting electrical jolts in various parts of his body but he sure is fun to watch.  Near the end of the song he turns his back to the camera and says “Don’t fuck with me”. What a rebel.  This was one of the more exciting musical performances we’ve seen this year.  The song is good but it seems like the audio levels are a little off.

Weekend Update


4 Stars: German tourists love David Hasselhoff

If it wasn’t for the insanely long Adam Sandler desk piece this would have been perfect.  Best Jokes: New hangover free vodka is out.  It is headache free but it does cause massive anal bleeding.

Liza Minnelli gets a hip replacement.  This marks the first time the words Liza Minnelli and hip have been used in the same sentence.


Sandler returns as Gil Graham, the concert reviewer who reviews concerts he either didn’t go to or got beat up at.  They brought this back a little too soon and it’s the same joke as last time, it’s also very long and I honestly tuned out for a bit so I can’t tell you anything about this.

Fortune Cookie Factory


1 Star: Manager of a fortune cookie factory is rude to his employees and then visited by Confucius.

Is this racist?

Perhaps if there was an Asian cast member or host, it wouldn’t feel so awkward, but then I’d probably complain about the fact that you have an Asian and the best use you can think of is put him in a fortune cookie factory.  I think there’s an idea in this sketch; I just have no idea what it is.  The manager compares everyone’s work to Bazooka Joe and then Confucius enters and gets all his wisdom from Bazooka Joe.

Oh, by the way, the fortune cookie factory is also called “Much Smart Fortune Cookie Co.” and the Chinese manager is played by Mike Myers with an offensive accent and big glasses.  Where’s the slanty eyes and buck teeth?

The Casting Couch with Robert Evans


2 Stars: Hollywood producer Robert Evans hosts a talk show from his couch

Robert Evans tries to seduce a young actress and then remembers that this is a talk show format and takes calls from viewers.  This really needed to be set up better, Robert Evans isn’t really well known and even after seeing his documentary I don’t get this sketch.  SJP is playing this way too serious and her deflections of Evan’s advances almost feel creepy and rape-y.  There are too many ideas here and nothing really gels.

R.E.M. come back to sing “Bang And Blame”.  If you like 90s alternative rock then this is your cup of tea.  I like tea and 90s alternative rock so this is my glass of bourbon I guess.

Munchkinland


1 Star: Dorothy lands in Oz, all the munchkins hate her.

There’s no reason why the munchkins hate Dorothy, I guess somebody was watching The Wizard Of Oz and thought, wouldn’t it be weird if the munchkins weren’t nice.  Although I usually abhor political commentary on the show, this was just after an election and we’re parodying Wizard Of Oz, Robert Evans, and Confucius.  This is an elaborate set with no sketch.  Janeane does a good job with what she’s given, I like her sarcastic adult take on Dorothy but, what the hell was this?

Nobody in the sketch seems to like this at all.  Chris Elliott mentions this sketch specifically in the “Live From New York” book saying he had to get in make-up to be part of the lollipop guild and realizing that this isn’t what he wanted to do.  Possibly the worst sketch so far this year.

R.E.M. performs…wait? Another musical act?  Is R.E.M. that good or is Sarah Jessica Parker that bad or did everyone just have wicked hangovers this week and forget what was funny?  This song was so short it seemed like time filler.

Michael O’Donoghue Remembered


Unrateable: Bill Murray presents a clip of original SNL writer Michael O’Donoghue

It seems this whole episode was building to this.  This is a fitting eulogy for an insane man and Murray pulls it off great.

“He was a man that everyone feared.  We don’t fear him anymore, because he’s dead, he’s dead and he went straight to hell.”

True geniuses never really get a fair shake until after they’re gone.  Watching Chris Farley in the goodnights makes me realize this even more.  Farley was a man I loved when he was alive but it wasn’t until after he died that I truly came to realize how great he was.

FINAL ANALYSIS


Fuhgettaboutit

Average: 2.1 Stars

MVP: R.E.M.: Eliott and Murray bookended a horrible episode with the only highlights

Best Sketch: Concession Speech

Worst Sketch: Munchkinland

How I Would Have Lorne Michaels-ed It: I have no idea.  None of the sketches in this episode could be saved by location.  I definitely would have put the dueling guitarists as the monologue, swapped the spots of Casting Couch and Good Morning Brooklyn and then sent Munchkinland and Fortune Cookie Factory to the Eterna-Rest.  I would also have written some god damn sketches.  This was infuriating to watch.

Host Analysis: I don’t blame her because she was pretty much invisible for the episode.  We got to see her sing 3 times, which wasn’t stellar and then she played bit parts the rest of the night.  I can’t even rate her as a host because this was more of an episode hosted by R.E.M. and the ghost of Michael O’Donoghue and, not to over analyze, but when the best sketch of the night is a rerun from 20 years ago, there is something wrong with this episode.  Parker seemed game for anything; they just obviously didn’t have anything substantial for her to participate in.

Final Thoughts: 3 R.E.M. performances and a Michael O’Donoghue tribute?  Was the entire staff at O’Donoghue’s funeral or were they all just buzz killed after the elections?  I can’t understand why this episode was so bad, 3 musical guest songs and the show is filled with not only horrible sketches but horrible ideas for sketches.  Remember when I said last week that I wish the cast shined more?  Well this week they had a host who was barely present and a cast who really only wanted to do shit.  I gotta say, this is more like it, I started watching this season hoping for a shit fest and up until this episode I’ve been pleasantly surprised.  I’ve really only had passing bad things to say about the first 4 episodes but I didn’t hate them.  This turd is inexcusable.

One of my favorite parts about re-watching these episodes is looking at the goodnight segments.  If you watch the show now it seems like the entire cast is celebrating a week well done, watching this season you always catch one glimpse of a cast member looking solemn.

Up Next: John Turturro hosts, I remember really enjoying this episode when it aired live.  After this crap, I’m really hoping my memories are accurate.

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