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Date Posted: 12:07:08 04/13/17 Thu
Author: Stooge
Subject: Paul Rudd / Beyonce - November 15, 2008 (S34 E8)
In reply to: HerbertMcHoover 's message, "Retro Reviews - April 2017" on 18:35:53 04/02/17 Sun

Here's the original review I posted back when this episode first aired. This episode was the debut of Abby Elliott and Michaela Watkins.

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

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


Cold Opening - A Message from Vice President Elect Joe Biden
• Kinda telling that SNL is clearly more confident in Jason’s Biden impression than they are in Fred’s Obama. But I can understand since Jason actually does a funny impression and is able to make a funny caricature out of his political portrayal, something Fred needs to take serious notes on. I still don’t know why Lorne won’t just hire someone new to play Obama. I don’t think Fred’s even comfortable in this role, just like how we later found out that Forte wasn’t very comfortable playing Bush (which is why he eventually asked to be let out of the role).
• Anyway, this was a good cold opening. Short and sweet, and Jason got in several big laughs, like his inability to wink, the blunder scale mentions, the imitation of Charlie Brown’s teacher voice, and him just saying off-the-cuff that he’ll make a better president than Obama.
Stars: ***½


Opening Montage
• Very excited about the hiring of the two new girls, Abby Elliott and Michaela Watkins. I know pretty much nothing about either ladies, except that Abby Elliott is the daughter of Chris Elliott, which is really interesting. This is the first time a castmember is the off-spring of a former castmember, am I correct? I do see she has a slight resemblance to her father, but she’s very attractive nonetheless. Also, she’s only 21, which makes her the youngest player on SNL in quite a long time. She's also the first castmember to be born after me. Should be interesting to have some youthful energy in the cast.
• Also, the hiring of two white female castmembers makes me question Casey Wilson’s future status on SNL. I already was feeling a little doubtful recently about how long she’ll last but this adds even more to it. If at least one of the two new girls turns out to be really good and instantly connect with the audience/viewers and if Casey continues to struggle while getting mostly small roles and failing to step it up, I’m afraid she’s most likely to get dropped from the cast soon. I'm sorry, but more and more, I'm just not seeing much in Casey's future on SNL. She's been on almost a whole year and should have had her breakout by now.
• And thirdly, Don Pardo apparently thinks Michaela Watkins’ name is “Michaelilia Watson”. Ouch. Not good for her first show, Don. Also, he was WAYYY late on his cue to say “and your host, Paul Rudd”. How many more embarrassing flubs does Pardo have to make until Lorne finally allows this man to retire already?

[2017 UPDATE: Unfortunately, I ended up being right about Casey's future status. The hiring of the two new girls ended up being one of the final nails in Casey's SNL coffin. Though it didn't take Watkins or Elliott breaking out to cause Casey's dismissal. In fact, the only one of the two new girls who would have an impressive first season ended up getting fired right along with Casey that summer!]


Monologue - Paul Rudd
• This was decent. I liked the show openly admitting and making fun of themselves for the fact that everyone knows their post-election ratings and media attention will drop a bit. I can’t help but feel they could’ve done more with this, though. Also, this should've been more about Rudd himself. The whole monologue was just him talking about SNL post-election but he said nothing about himself. He didn't even get to plug what he's promoting.
• Was Kristen playing a real person? It just seemed like Kristen was using her typical “mid-western accented” character voice. Her scene kinda fell flat with me, although I know that was pretty much the point, but I still didn’t laugh.
Stars: ***

[2017 UPDATE: Yes, the politician Kristen played here is indeed a real person - Janet Napolitano. Not familiar with her at all, although from what I heard back then, Kristen's impression was accurate.]


Commercial - Sproingo
• Why does, like, every commercial this season have to star Kristen and Jason as a couple and inside a kitchen? Jar Glove, anyone? Yeah, I know it seems like I’m ripping on Kristen a lot lately, but I’m sorry, I just have NOT been satisfied by her this season and she’s also suffering from being way overused. I'm tired of seeing her everywhere.
• I liked this commercial better the first time… when it was called Dr. Porkenheimer’s Boner Juice! Actually come to think of it, that commercial sucked, too, and I always hated it.
• An extra half-star just for the “drooping” sound effect towards the end, which was the only part that I chuckled at.
Stars: *½


Sketch - The Affectionate Family
• I also liked this better the first time… when it was called Bird Family when Julianna Margulies hosted! Okay, okay, I’ll stop with that, I promise.
• Seriously, this had a few moments and the cast & Rudd did their best to sell the sketch. But it suffered from being way too predictable. You knew where it was going right after the first kiss, and man-on-man smooching is nothing new on SNL and always comes off as a desperate attempt at shock value.
• And somebody has to do a count of how many times Fred has kissed another guy in a sketch. It's gotta be in the double digits by now.
Stars: **


Sketch - Lorenzo MacIntosh
• Kenan, your attempt at creating your own version of Matt Foley is failing miserably. Give it the hell up, dude. Or if you want this character to be like Matt Foley, at least take a hint from Foley’s appearances and use your character in a NEW setting in each installment instead of always using the same police station setting. Damn.
• This was nothing but an EXACT shameful re-write of the first Lorenzo MacIntosh sketch. Not a single thing was changed at all - it was virtually the same script, same set, same castmembers, same ending, same EVERYTHING. Why is SNL so fucking lazy with their recurring characters nowadays? Ridiculous.
• An extra half-star for the Teen Wolf reference, which I admit was somewhat inspired, but still didn’t come close to saving this colossal waste-of-time.
Stars: *½


Digital Short - Everyone's a Critic
• The homoerotic premise at the beginning wasn’t anything new and didn’t go anywhere at first, although Andy’s bizarre music playing on the radio gave me a good laugh. But then the auction scene came out of nowhere and everyone’s disturbing reactions to the painting was hilarious and caught me completely off-guard. Brilliant twist.
• Both new girls Watkins and Elliott make their SNL debut in non-speaking roles among the bloody montage of characters committing suicide. Wow, what a way to make a first impression... (j/k) It was hard to tell who was who at first, but after re-watching it, Abby was the girl next to Fred who vomited violently after unveiling the painting and Michaela was the old lady slitting her own throat with a huge knife. I thought that was Kristen as the old lady at first, but Kristen was actually shown tied up next to Bill instead (in a random Indiana Jones reference).
• The second twist with the interview at the end wasn’t really needed. It was kinda overkill since by this point, we knew how Casey would react to the painting and her reaction wasn’t even that funny. Although it’s interesting to point out that this was Casey’s ONLY appearance all night and it was pre-taped, meaning she wasn’t in any live material at all. Hmm…
Stars: ***½

[2017 UPDATE: Yep, Casey making no live appearances on the night the two new girls debuted. The writing was definitely on the wall for her at this point.
Also, weak ending aside, this short definitely deserved a higher rating than just three-and-a-half stars. The death/suicide montage ALONE is worth at least four stars; probably one of the more disturbing things ever aired on SNL. Michael O'Donoghue would've been proud.]



Sketch - Tom & Tanya Peeples
• Did Will really mess up at the beginning while he was saying the names of Wiig and Rudd’s characters? If so, he made a good ad-lib afterwards.
• I didn’t enjoy this all that much and I actually started getting a little bored as the song kept going on instead of it making me laugh. This seemed like an amalgamation of the Country Singers sketch with Kristen and Will last season (the toddlers/spaceships/Model-T cars/jars of beer one) and Will’s classic Spelling Bee sketch, only tonight’s sketch was nowhere near as funny as either of those.
• I’m surprised they didn’t save this sketch for next week considering who the host will be.
• The biggest laughs I got were from Will, with his increasingly-unhappy facial expressions during the song and his few funny lines at the beginning and end.
Stars: **

[2017 UPDATE: "I’m surprised they didn’t save this sketch for next week considering who the host will be." For those who don't remember, Tim McGraw hosted the next week. Since he's a country singer, I figured a sketch like this about country singers would be more fitting with him.]


Sketch - Song Memories
• I was really getting sick of this sketch the last time they did it, but the scenery change from a bar to inside a car actually did them some good, because this was the funniest Song Memories sketch in a while. They shook the format up a bit and the disturbing stories from the boys was better than the last few times.
• Jason’s taxi cab story was really good and Bill’s pregnant girlfriend/Bristol Palin story was definitely the best.
Will surprisingly had the least funniest story this time around, which shocked me since his tales are usually the best ones in these Song Memories sketches (remember the pedophile one?). I saw the whole “urine in my mouth” punchline coming from a mile away. His quick “I still failed - my friend did coke, too” line afterwards almost saved him, though.
• The cell phone bit with Rudd was very funny, too.
• The endings of these Song Memories sketches usually suck, but this one actually made me laugh. The whole Pulp Fiction-esque accidental shooting of Bill in the backseat and the random CHIPS-style freeze frame & sign-off was good stuff.
• Lots of violent blood-spurting on tonight’s show so far, between the digital short and the ending of this sketch with Bill getting his brains blown out all over the back window of the car. Interesting.
Stars: ***½


Musical Performance


Weekend Update - [blank] & Meyers, featuring Snagglepuss, Justin Timberlake
• I’m going to try to refrain from bitching once again about why the hell Amy is still left in the credits. But at this point, I’d be disappointed if Amy ended up coming back to the cast. Why? Because Seth is doing an awesome job on Update solo and they need to keep it like this. It’s a much-needed change of format. I don’t want to see the duo-anchor format anymore, or at least not for a long while. They just need to get a new set and new Update opening credits for Seth.
• Best jokes: Nuclear, First Lady, Hillary/Obama, German robbery, Sopranos, A-Rod/Madonna
• The multiple German robbery jokes was a nice throwback to earlier this season when Seth and Amy were telling different punchlines to the World’s Heaviest Man story. I didn’t know if Seth would be able to pull something like that off by himself, but he did great. I especially liked the clever fake-out when he started introducing the next segment, then suddenly turned back and told yet another punchline to the Robbery story.
• I heard a few weeks ago about Bobby doing a Snagglepuss impression for his SNL audition. I was wondering how they’d be able to work that impression into SNL, and the Prop 8 controversy this week proved to be a perfect opportunity. Bobby did a hilarious dead-on Snagglepuss impression and made me think about Snagglepuss in a new way. I honestly never even thought about Snagglepuss possibly being gay, but then again, I haven’t seen any of those Hanna-Barbera cartoons since I was a kid. Anyway, the segment was funny, and Will was a good addition playing the Great Gazoo as Snagglepuss’ lover.
• How many consecutive Update appearances has Will made by now? I lost count, because he’s seriously been in practically EVERY Update this season. Just an observation.
• Very surprising to see Timberlake here. This is the first time in a while where a big star made a cameo that wasn’t announced beforehand.
• As much as I don’t care for Timberlake as a singer, it’s undeniable that he ALWAYS brings the goods on SNL. His quick 2-minute enactment on what his episode next week would have been like was absolutely amazing. He got EVERYTHING about SNL’s predictable format down cold. It was like a run-down of every single episode from the past 3 or so years combined. I especially liked his impression of the opening theme music & Pardo’s announcements, him mentioning Kenan in a dress, Andy and Bill only appearing in one sketch all night, a “Dick in a Turkey” digital short and Timberlake saying that was a horrible idea, and his Hader-as-Vincent-Price impression. By the time he got to making fun of Nicholas Fehn and Target Lady, I was almost literally on the floor. Timberlake must regularly watch SNL every Saturday like the rest of us, because his whole run-down & impersonations of current characters was so scarily dead-on. I could’ve done without his mini-musical performance at the end, but either way, his whole segment was excellent.
Stars: ****½


Sketch - Single Ladies Video Shoot
• Remind me, why the hell is Darrell Hammond still on SNL? I mean, seriously, I’d like to know. Why is this man still employed on SNL??? Get the hell off the show already; McCain lost and you clearly aren't doing shit anymore on the show.
• I think this is the first time in quite a while where a musical guest appeared in a sketch.
• Surprised to see Timberlake making a second appearance, but he again delivered the laughs with just his physical mannerisms and stole the show. Watching this and Weekend Update is making me wish he really was hosting next week. I certainly would rather see that instead of Tim freakin McGraw, but we’ll see how McGraw does.
• I was also a little surprised to see Bobby in a role like this. He was pretty funny here as was Andy.
Stars: ***

[2017 UPDATE: It's pretty painful watching Darrell Hammond this season. Aside from the election/McCain stuff early on this season, the writers seriously had NOTHING left for him by this point. Starting with this first post-election episode, he spent a majority of the remainder of the season being cast in nothing but non-impression, featured player-type small walk-on roles, and he looked SO out of place in them.]


Sketch - Jumper
• I remember hearing about this sketch before, because a year or two ago Jamie Klein mentioned in one of her Adventure Stories that Forte told her he wrote a jumper sketch that references her and her husband Louis (notice that Will and Bill’s names in this sketch were Louis and Jamie?), but the sketch ended up getting cut after dress. I can’t remember who the original host was, though.
• By the way, Jamie and Louis' names were also referenced in that sketch when Will Ferrell hosted a few years ago where he was the pepper grinder at a restaurant and Forte kept intensely saying “GRIND!” in an increasingly-angry tone. Louis and Jamie were the names of Forte and Rachel Dratch’s characters in that sketch.
• I always like seeing Forte and Hader teamed up together. They’re two of my favorite players in this current cast and I was one of the very few people who actually laughed at the infamous Fartface sketch. Luckily, tonight’s Jumper sketch had better writing and a better premise. Will cracked me up a lot, especially the way his voice sounded when he kept emotionlessly repeating “DON’T” through the bullhorn and the semi fake-out where he said “Do not” instead.
• The car alarm bit at the end was also good.
• Yeesh, how many sketches tonight have ended with a character’s death/suicide? I count at least three - digital short, song memories, and this. Kinda morbid when you think about it. At least they didn’t show blood in this one when Rudd jumped off the building to his death (though they still had Will and Bill talk about cleaning up his blood at the end).
Stars: ****


Musical Performance


Sketch - Anti-Gay Marriage Parking Attendants
• This was a pretty good late sketch. Hader and Rudd’s joking attitude while talking about all the gay stuff they do “for laughs” was funny, especially Bill’s “it’s a great way to spend a Sunday” line and the marriage proposal at the end.
• Strange, though, how almost every sketch tonight has featured gay/effeminate characters, homoerotic situations, or at least a reference to Prop 8. That seems to be part of the overall running theme for tonight’s episode: death, suicide, blood, and gay humor. At least some of those sketches were still good, though.
Stars: ***

[2017 UPDATE: The running gay theme in this episode was supposedly intentional; rumor has it that it was the SNL writers' way of objecting to Prop 8 being passed at the time. For those who don't remember what Prop 8 was, here's a link explaining it.]


Miscellaneous - Clearing the Air: A Film by Fred, Bill, and Noah
• Okay, so… who the hell is Noah?
• Lots of Hader tonight, which is definitely a good thing. It’s sad that him getting a lot of airtime is a rarity.
• This was certainly interesting. While not laugh-out-loud funny except for the ending (where Hader and Rudd suddenly reveal that they both f**ked the girl last night), I liked it for the same reason I liked the New York Underground thing with Bill and Fred from a few weeks ago. It was a nice change of pace for SNL and was the kind of low-key, smart humor that not everyone will get. And all the “no-no-no-no-no-no-no”-ing cracked me up.
• Also, who was the blonde girl playing the waitress? Some people think it was Abby Elliott, but I looked carefully and it didn’t look anything like either her or Michaela Watkins. Speaking of which, the two new girls did virtually NOTHING tonight. Abby had a silent role in the digital short and only one line in the Single Ladies video sketch and that was it for her. Michaela made just three quick “blink-and-miss-it” appearances and didn’t have any lines AT ALL. She had a grand total of about 5 seconds of face time all night. Very disappointing, I was hoping to see more for their debut. They were basically just used as extras. That combined with the fact that Casey was M.I.A. all night except for a small pre-taped scene… not a good evening for the women of SNL.
Stars: ***

_________________________________________________________

Episode Highlights:
• Weekend Update
• The montage of reactions and suicides in the Digital Short
• Jumper
• Parts of Song Memories
• Jason as Joe Biden

Episode Lowlights:
• Lorenzo MacIntosh
• Sproingo
• Tom & Tanya Peeples
• The Affectionate Family

Best Performer of the Night:
• Bill Hader


FINAL THOUGHTS
An overall average show, and it took a while to really take off. The first half was mostly weak and got the show off to a very slow, shaky start… but starting with Song Memories, things were more consistent in the second half of the show; the remainder of the episode ranged from decent to great.
Paul Rudd was a good host, although it felt like he should’ve been given a few more comedic roles to play. He seemed to work very well with some of the cast, particularly Bill and Andy.


CASTMEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN
ARMISEN: 3 sketches (Affectionate Family, Digital Short, Clearing the Air)
FORTE: 4 sketches (Tom & Tanya, Memories, Update, Jumper)
HADER: 7 sketches (Affectionate Family, MacIntosh, Digital Short, Memories, Jumper, Parking Attendants, Clearing the Air)
HAMMOND: 1 sketch (Single Ladies)
MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)
POEHLER: 0 sketches
SAMBERG: 4 sketches (Affectionate Family, MacIntosh, Digital Short, Single Ladies)
SUDEIKIS: 5 sketches (Joe Biden, Sproingo, MacIntosh, Digital Short, Memories)
THOMPSON: 2 sketches (MacIntosh, Tom & Tanya)
WIIG: 5 sketches (Monologue, Sproingo, Affectionate Family, Digital Short, Tom & Tanya)

ELLIOTT: 2 sketches (Digital Short, Single Ladies)
MOYNIHAN: 4 sketches (Digital Short, Update, Single Ladies, Parking Attendants)
WATKINS: 3 sketches (Digital Short, Single Ladies, Parking Attendants)
WILSON: 1 sketch (Digital Short)

PAUL RUDD: 10 sketches (Monologue, Affectionate Family, MacIntosh, Digital Short, Tom & Tanya, Memories, Single Ladies, Jumper, Parking Attendants, Clearing the Air)

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