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Date Posted: 21:20:20 03/18/17 Sat
Author: Stooge
Subject: Anna Faris / Duffy - September 27, 2008 (S34 E3)
In reply to: Stooge 's message, "Retro Reviews - March 2017" on 05:01:55 03/02/17 Thu

Here's the original review I posted back when this episode first aired.

---------------------------------------

RATINGS SYSTEM
***** = Excellent, a possible future classic
**** = Great
*** = Average
** = Meh
* = How'd this get past dress?


Cold Opening - CBS Evening News with Katie Couric
• First of all, Amy didn’t look or sound a damn thing like Katie Couric. They obviously only cast her in this role just to get the Fey/Poehler pairing again. Getting past all that, Amy's eye-blinking reactions to Tina made me laugh each time.
• Tina’s Sarah Palin impression continues to be top-notch, and the hand gestures were a nice addition this time.
• The way the camera was angled on Tina was kinda strange and the angle looked off-center for most of the sketch.
• Not quite as good as the season premiere cold opening, but still very funny. Best lines from Tina were the Bush Doctrine movie bit, mistaking taxi drivers for Bin Laden, the bit about foreigners in the UN, and her asking to use one of her lifelines.
Stars: ****


Monologue - Anna Faris
• The “talking to a secret camera” plot was an interesting idea and it was nice to see a real monologue, but I thought this was pretty weak overall. The whole “dumb blonde” thing got old fast and there weren’t any real funny jokes.
Stars: **


Sketch - Car Ride
• Surprisingly fast costume change for Anna. She had only a few seconds to go from the home base stage to this set. Although you could tell they were stalling for time at the beginning by opening with that long close-up of Jason, plus you could see the shadow of Anna hastily getting in the car.
• I felt the offensive stuff Jason and Anna were bringing up could’ve gone much further, but there were some good ones, especially the “picture of his penis” and n-word bits.
• At first, I was ready to write off the ending as yet another lazy “car falling of the cliff” cop-out, but the reversed clip with the car bouncing back up with Jason and Anna cheering and then the car exploding as it landed back on the street was so unexpected that it made me laugh. Very, very odd, though, and I still get the feeling they couldn’t think of a real way to end the sketch.
Stars: ***


Sketch - The First Presidential Debate
• I though this would be used as the cold opening, but I guess they preferred having Fey’s cameo as Sarah Palin at the top of the show once again.
• Before tonight, I expected Bill or Jason to take over the role of Jim Lehrer for the debate sketch, but I don’t mind seeing Chris Parnell back in the role since I always liked Parnell on the show. Strange, though, that Lorne is relying so much lately on former castmembers coming back to play all these roles that could easily be filled in by a current castmember. Fey as Palin, Parnell as Jim Lehrer, and there were rumors that he’s trying to get Maya back as Michelle Obama (I hope not).
• Fred’s Obama impression has thankfully improved a lot since last season. He no longer sounds like a cartoon character and he now has Obama’s vocal pattern and cadence down pretty cold. My only complaint is he still needs to work on making his voice sound deeper.
• This may or may not go down as a classic like some debate sketches from the past, but for now I’ll say that this was much better than the mediocre 2004 debate parodies.
• I thought Darrell’s McCain got most of the funniest lines in this one. Best parts of the sketch overall were “You can’t count on John McCain”, the maverick line, Obama's offer of a dinner with Scarlett Johansson and McCain not knowing who she is, and the “bomb bomb iran” part. The appearance of Amy as Hillary “in case McCain didn’t show up” was also a good touch at the end.
Stars: ****

[2017 UPDATE: No, this debate sketch never ended up going down as a classic, and for good reason. There weren't enough memorable moments, and it didn't feature that one legendary line that every well-remembered SNL debate sketch contains.
Also, I really exaggerated in the above review how much Fred's Obama had "improved". While it was marginally better than the ridiculous cartoonish voice he used for Obama the preceding season, the voice was still way off. Unfortunately, this ended up being the best his impression would ever get.
And thirdly, they DID eventually get Maya to play Michelle Obama, about a month later in the Jon Hamm episode. It never became a regular thing like I was worried it would at the time; I believe she ended up only playing Michelle one other time, when she hosted in 2012.]



Sketch - Rowboat Date
• Kenan actually wasn’t as weak as usual here and he was thankfully less over-the-top. Still can’t help but think someone else could’ve done a better job in this role, though.
• The songs made me cringe initially since I usually hate watching singing in SNL sketches, but there were some funny lyrics that made it tolerable.
• The “I can’t swim” punchline at the end barely got any laughs from the studio audience.
Stars: ***


Musical Performance


Weekend Update - Poehler & Meyers, featuring Pres. Bill Clinton and Judy Grimes
• Best jokes: Obama/Mississippi, Palin tribute, tree huts, nude skater, Facebook
• Darrell’s Clinton impression is always a welcome return to the show. He was awesome tonight as usual and had many hilarious lines. Especially him mentioning how women are uncomfortable doing something at first, which of course got a great reaction.
• Surprised that this was Kristen’s first appearance all night.
• I was afraid that Kristen’s “just kidding” character would be made recurring. The first time this character appeared, I didn’t really think it was laugh-out-loud funny but I still liked it because I was amazed at how Kristen spoke all that so rapidly without messing up. But tonight’s appearance was literally the exact same thing as the first time, and it was even less funnier to me the second time around since I knew what to expect. While Kristen is a strong performer in general, a good number of her recurring characters end up becoming too one-note and repetitive (mainly this, Penelope, Stacia, and Target Lady).
Stars: ****

[2017 UPDATE: "a good number of [Wiig's] recurring characters end up becoming too one-note and repetitive (mainly this, Penelope, Stacia, and Target Lady)." And to think, those were her worst recurring characters at the time. Those are nothing compared to her REALLY irritating characters she would soon start doing on a regular basis (i.e. Gilly, "Thomas!" lady, Surprise Sue, Secret Word lady, etc.]


Sketch – Scores Strippers
• Kristen’s Russian accent was very funny and she was the only thing about the whole sketch that really made me laugh.
• The premise of the sketch was interesting and different, but not really funny, and “newspaper headline” endings almost always fall flat. I was bored throughout most of this.
• Bill’s first of only two appearances of the night, and of course, they didn’t let him do anything funny in either of his sketches tonight. Disappointing to see, after he had such a great episode last week.
Stars: **


Sketch – Deep House Dish
• Just when you think this sketch is dead, they always keep fucking bringing it back. Back in 2006, I thought it was gone for good after Rachel Dratch left, but they revived it with Andy replacing Rachel. Then they go through all of last season without using this sketch at all and you assume it’s finally over, but suddenly, they bring it back from the grave tonight for no reason at all.
• Andy’s only appearance of the episode. What’s happened to the cast tonight? It seems a lot of them are barely in the show.
• The only parts I really laughed at was the “this is a political year” bit at the beginning and Kristen’s facial expression into the camera at the end of her musical performance. Fred, Will, and Bobby's singing group sort-of made me laugh just because they looked and sounded so bizarre, but the writers didn't do really do anything with their characters.
Stars: *1/2


Sketch/Commercial - Googie Rene’s Slightly Stained Wedding Dress Basement
• You know it’s a weak night for SNL when we get two sketches IN A ROW starring Kenan in the main role. There’s been way too much of him tonight. Why do we have to put up with this while actual talented, reliable players like Bill Hader and Will Forte were given next-to-nothing to do tonight? Kenan’s annoying performances in these last two sketches are quickly making me forget about his decent low-key performance earlier in the rowboat sketch.
• I remember reading this was cut after the season premiere dress rehearsal, and I can see why. I didn’t laugh a single time during this and the premise was lame.
• When are they ever going to let Casey finally break out and do funny stuff? I’m tired of her getting nothing but these kinds of small walk-on, straight-woman roles week after week. She has so much potential and her paraplegic stripper sketch was just a glimpse of that, but it’s like the writers don’t know what to do with her. C’mon, already, she’s been on over half a season and deserves good roles.
Stars: *


Musical Performance


Sketch - Ex-Boyfriends
• There were a few minor laughs, but the premise of the sketch wasn’t very creative and the bratwurst ending was completely predictable.
• Funniest part for me was Jason nervously gulping down the beer non-stop.
• Will in that Swedish uniform made me chuckle.
• Bill looked kinda like Jim Carrey for some reason with the way he was smiling.
Stars: **

_________________________________________________________

Episode Highlights:
• Palin and Couric
• Weekend Update, minus Judy Grimes
• First Presidential Debate
• Kristen’s Russian stripper

Episode Lowlights:
• Deep House Dish
• Slightly Stained Wedding Dress Basement
• Scores Strippers
• Ex-Boyfriends
• Judy Grimes

Best Performer of the Night:
• Darrell Hammond (I’m just as surprised as you are. I never thought I’d ever pick him for this, but this just shows how scarce most of the cast’s appearances were tonight that Hammond stood out. I chose him because he had the best lines of the debate sketch and his McCain impression seemed a little livelier than usual, and of course his Clinton appearance stole the whole show.)


FINAL THOUGHTS
A let-down after last week’s great episode. The cold opening, Weekend Update, and the debate sketch were the only things that stood out to me as very good. There were a lot of forgettable, average pieces and everything after Update was mediocre at best. I barely laughed at anything post-Update. This episode just felt boring to me and the limited appearances from most of the cast made the show feel empty. There also seemed to be a low number of sketches overall. It was like there was a commercial break after every single sketch, instead of them doing an uninterrupted string of consecutive pieces like they normally do. So far, this season is 1 for 3 in good episodes.
Anna Faris wasn’t a bad host and played her parts okay, but she wasn’t really anything special either. I didn’t laugh all that much at her characters.


CASTMEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN
ARMISEN: 2 sketches (Presidential Debate, Deep House Dish)
FORTE: 2 sketches (Deep House Dish, Ex-Boyfriends)
HADER: 2 sketches (Scores, Ex-Boyfriends)
HAMMOND: 2 sketches (Presidential Debate, Update)
MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)
POEHLER: 4 sketches (CBS Evening News, Presidential Debate, Update, Wedding Dress)
SAMBERG: 1 sketch (Deep House Dish)
SUDEIKIS: 2 sketches (Car Ride, Ex-Boyfriends)
THOMPSON: 4 sketches (Rowboat, Scores, Deep House Dish, Wedding Dress)
WIIG: 4 sketches (Update, Scores, Deep House Dish, Wedding Dress)

MOYNIHAN: 2 sketches (Car Ride, Deep House Dish)
WILSON: 4 sketches (Car Ride, Scores, Wedding Dress, Ex-Boyfriends)

ANNA FARIS: 7 sketches (Monologue, Car Ride, Rowboat, Scores, Deep House Dish, Wedding Dress, Ex-Boyfriends)

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