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Date Posted: 02:08:21 04/22/17 Sat
Author: Stooge
Subject: John Malkovich / T.I. - December 6, 2008 (S34 E10)
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.

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

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


Cold Opening - A Message from Hillary Clinton
• So, Amy’s back. I had a feeling she’d be back either this week or next week. And this was obviously a perfect opportunity for her with Hillary being named as Obama’s secretary of state.
• Amy did a nice job here and she had several funny lines.
• Darrell as Clinton is always a good addition, even if he didn’t have much to say.
Stars: ***½


Monologue - John Malkovich
• A nice change of pace for a monologue, and Malkovich was perfect for this. His creepy mid-story comments to the kids were pure gold, especially his comment about stealing one of their toes and the pennies-sucking line.
• This also felt like something they would do with Walken, which is always a good thing.
• I’m impressed by how they assembled that Christmas set so quickly.
Stars: ****


Commercial - Gas Right
• An interesting way of pulling off what was a basically a fart joke commercial. The huge strip and the fake buttcheeks was a good sight gag.
• Fred also gave a very funny performance and his delivery of the line at the end cracked me up. Kristen’s reaction in the bed was good, too.
Stars: ***


Sketch - “Sexy” Shana
• I think they used that exact same office set in that sketch last season with Walken playing the creepy office guy who was obsessed with Jason Sudeikis. Speaking of Sudeikis, where the hell was he tonight anyway???
• Some of Kristen’s unsexy actions were funny and Malkovich’s inexplicably joyful reactions to her were a good touch.
• I pray this doesn’t go the way of all Wiig characters and become recurring and quickly run into the ground.
• I know I rarely say anything positive about Kenan anymore, but I have to admit, his facial reactions in this sketch gave me a couple of laughs.
Stars: ***

[2017 UPDATE: Regarding Sudeikis' absence in tonight's episode, we later found out that he was going through a divorce at the time, and he apparently asked Lorne if he could have a week off so he could deal with that personal matter. Sudeikis returned to the show the following week for the Christmas show, but noticeably looked very sullen during the goodnights. I'm guessing the divorce was really hard for him to deal with.
Regarding me praying that this Shana character won't quickly get run into the ground like all of Wiig's characters, I apparently didn't pray hard enough...]



Miscellaneous - A Message from Barack Obama
• Well, Fred FINALLY made his Obama voice deeper. My main complaint about his impression before was that his voice was too high-pitched. He sounded a little more like him than usual tonight, but I still wouldn’t mind if Lorne brought in someone new to play Obama come January (I'm personally hoping for Jordan Peele).
• This commercial was pretty funny and creative, and made good use of Fred’s impression. His poetic semi-singing in parts was amusing.
Stars: ***

[2017 UPDATE: Some people had a theory back then that Fred's Obama voice was digitally altered to sound deep in this commercial. I didn't believe that theory at the time, but the fact that none of Fred's subsequent Obama appearances had him with the deep voice he had here has me re-thinking that theory.
Either way, this would end up being one of only THREE times where I actually liked Fred's Obama. The two other instances were 1) the post-Bin Laden's death cold opening with Fred's Obama acting bad-ass at a press conference ("Kiiiiiiilllled Bin Laden!"), and 2) the Cosby Show parody with Fred doing an Obama/Cliff Huxtable hybrid voice.
Also, I still can't believe Lorne passed on Jordan Peele. Think of how great he would've been on SNL.]



Sketch - La Rivista Della Televisione con Vinny Vedecci
• I should have expected them to do this sketch tonight with a big, long-time veteran actor like Malkovich hosting.
• This wasn’t quite as good as the last one with Shia Labeouf but this sketch is pretty much always enjoyable.
• Bill’s Malkovich impression was AWESOME. He sounded just like him and I laughed so much. I was actually wondering before tonight if Hader could do an impression of Malkovich. I don't think I've ever seen anyone do a Malkovich impression before, which is odd since he has such a unique, distinct voice.
• The “Being Vinny Vedecci” porno clip was also hilarious, and Bobby was a great addition to the sketch as the little Italian boy. I especially liked Bill calming Bobby down with a cigarette.
• Andy and Kenan as “Chef Boy-R-G’s” (complete with Flavor Flav-esque chain clocks) was a good ending gag. Andy looked kinda like the Swedish Chef.
Stars: ***½


Digital Short (ALLEGEDLY) - Virgania Horsen’s Pony Express
• Was this really meant to be preceded with the “An SNL Digital Short” title screen? I mean, I know the Lonely Island guys made both this and the hot air balloon Virgania Horsen ad from last season, but the balloon one wasn’t billed as a digital short, so why was this? Plus, we got a true digital short later in this same episode.
• This wasn’t as good as the hot air balloon rides from last season, and this was probably better off staying a one-off. But there were still a few decent parts and Kristen playing those other two characters and using that weird deep voice made me chuckle.
Stars: ***


Sketch - Calculator Twins
• When the family first mentioned the twins, I got worried and thought this was going to be the Weird Twins sketch with Kristen again. Thankfully, I was wrong, but what we got instead wasn’t much better.
• Armisen and Malkovich’s performances and voices were funny, but the material itself was weak and went nowhere. I think it would’ve been funnier if they DIDN’T get a calculator for Christmas and to see what their reactions to that would’ve been.
Stars: **


Weekend Update - Poehler & Meyers, featuring Plaxico Burress, Boy George, David Rasmussen
• I was really getting comfortable with Seth solo on Update, but I guess I don’t mind seeing Amy back for now. I was a little surprised not to see any interaction pieces between Seth and Amy tonight. I mean, you’d figure they would get all the mileage they could out of having Amy behind the desk again.
• Best jokes: OJ, Cyber Monday, drunk women, Vagina 911
• As soon as Seth began introducing the Plaxico Burress commentary, I groaned and knew Kenan would come out to play him, despite the fact that he looks and sounds NOTHING like him. Yet more evidence how much we need a new black guy on SNL. The commentary was weak, too. A waste of time.
• Fred was great as Boy George, even though the commentary itself was a bit slow in parts. But there were some good parts, especially his reaction at the end to being in an English prison. I also liked his giggling. Was that in-character or was Fred really breaking up? Probably not, but he makes it look so real.
• Andy’s commentary as the 9-year old was really funny, with all his raunchy comments. The Cat on your Fat line was my favorite.
• Amy didn’t say anything about this possibly being her last show or gave any hints. So I guess she’ll still be on next week for the Christmas show which will probably be her last official show and she’ll get a send-off.
Stars: ***½


Sketch - Gertie
• I was wondering where the new girls were tonight. This ended up being Abby Elliott’s only appearance all night, and of course, she had the least amount of lines out of all the girls in this sketch. Is she EVER going to get any real roles to play?
• Michaela Watkins seems to be good at making pissed-off/disturbed facial reactions.
• Malkovich was hilarious as Gertie and I never would’ve guessed they would do something like this with him.
• The ending with Malkovich alone in the room talking about him growing a tail, his nipples being the size of coffee can lids, then randomly saying “I think I’m gonna burn this house down now” was excellent.
Stars: ****


Digital Short - Jizz in My Pants
• TWO Digital Shorts in the same episode? They haven’t done that since the Steve Martin/Prince episode.
• I groaned a little at first when I realized this would be another Andy Samberg musical short since they’ve been so weak lately, but then I noticed Jorma, and I got very interested. I was very surprised to see him with such a huge role in this. He’s had small non-speaking cameos in some digital shorts in the past, but this is his first co-starring role ever on SNL, and it’s a bit unusual they let him have such a big role since he’s just a writer.
• I think I also saw Akiva as the DJ with the sunglasses. Is this the first time all three Lonely Island guys appeared in the same short on SNL?
• This short was absolutely hilarious and WAAYYY better than the last few musical shorts. It reminded me more of the early digital shorts from 2005 and 2006 (back when the digital shorts could do no wrong) and even reminded me of the music videos Lonely Island did before SNL. Andy and Jorma’s singing and facial expressions in this were awesome. I hope they let Jorma continue to have prominent roles in more digital shorts.
• The Timberlake cameo was subtle and perfect.
Stars: *****

[2017 UPDATE: "I hope they let Jorma continue to have prominent roles in more digital shorts." Yes, this was only the beginning, as he would have more co-starring roles in future shorts, like "I'm on a Boat" and "I Just Had Sex" just to name a few.]


Sketch - J'accuzzi
• An interesting and funny concept and I don’t know why, but this felt like something SNL would do in the late 80’s.
• The interview segments with Malkovich were the funniest parts. He had some great lines there.
• Michaela actually looked a lot like Glenn Close here, even though she was just supposed to be playing an actress filling in for Close.
Stars: ***½

[2017 UPDATE: I guess the writers noticed Michaela's resemblance to Glenn Close, too, since she would later be cast in yet another role that Close played in a movie: her "Fatal Attraction" character, in the "Bad Guys, Good Conversation" sketch when Bradley Cooper hosts in February.
Also, I'd bump my three-and-a-half star rating of this sketch up to a more-deserving four or four-and-a-half stars.]


_________________________________________________________

Episode Highlights:
• Jizz in My Pants
• Monologue
• Malkovich’s performance as Gertie
• Bill’s Malkovich impression
• Weekend Update, minus Plaxico Burress

Episode Lowlights:
• Plaxico Burress
• Calculator Twins

Best Performer of the Night:
• Andy Samberg / John Malkovich


FINAL THOUGHTS
A solid show, and the first episode in a while that stood out as above average. Nothing was too horrible in this episode, and there were a few great high points.
John Malkovich was a very good host, which I was expecting since he already hosted twice before, and his episode from 1993 is one of my personal all-time favorite SNLs. They seemed to give him a good number of Walken-esque roles tonight as well, which is interesting. Hopefully, Malkovich will come back again soon and maybe even become a frequent regular host.

[2017 UPDATE: *sigh* 9 years later, Malkovich STILL has yet to return for a fourth hosting stint. For the life of me, I cannot understand how he never became an SNL favorite who regularly hosts every few years. Between 1989 and 2017, he should've had AT LEAST 6 or 7 hosting stints by now.]


CASTMEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN
ARMISEN: 5 sketches (Gas Right, Barack Obama, Vinny Vedecci, Calculator, Update)
FORTE: 2 sketches (Shana, Vinny Vedecci)
HADER: 2 sketches (Vinny Vedecci, Calculator)
HAMMOND: 1 sketch (Hillary Clinton)
MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)
POEHLER: 2 sketches (Hillary Clinton, Update)
SAMBERG: 6 sketches (Shana, Vinny Vedecci, Calculator, Update, Jizz, J'accuzzi)
SUDEIKIS: 0 sketches
THOMPSON: 3 sketches (Shana, Vinny Vedecci, Update)
WIIG: 5 sketches (Gas Right, Shana, Virgania Horsen, Gertie, J'accuzzi)

ELLIOTT: 1 sketch (Gertie)
MOYNIHAN: 1 sketch (Vinny Vedecci)
WATKINS: 2 sketches (Gertie, J'accuzzi)
WILSON: 3 sketches (Shana, Calculator, Gertie)

JOHN MALKOVICH: 6 sketches (Monologue, Shana, Vinny Vedecci, Calculator, Gertie, J'accuzzi)

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