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Date Posted: 10:52:32 04/29/17 Sat
Author: Stooge
Subject: Hugh Laurie / Kanye West - December 13, 2008 (S34 E11)
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 was Amy Poehler's final episode as a castmember.

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

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


Cold Opening - Governor Blagojevich Testimony
• I was wondering who would play Blagojevich if they did a sketch on him tonight, and Jason was a good choice. He did a funny impression and it was nice to see him front-and-center at the beginning of the show, too, after not having jack squat to do last week.
• The ring with Abe Lincoln’s hand was hilarious.
• Bill did an excellent job as Robert Byrd once again and he was probably the best part of the whole sketch. Why was this Bill’s only appearance all night?
• I didn’t like Kristen’s part all that much. It felt too thrown-in and didn’t make me laugh.
• The “Are you retarded?” part at the end was great.
Stars: ***


Monologue - Hugh Laurie
• I liked the sweetcheeks reference at the beginning, although those who didn’t see Hugh’s monologue last time he hosted wouldn’t have gotten that.
• A bit long for a monologue, but I liked it and Hugh did a great job as expected. Him giving chapstick as a gift to an audience member, then singing a medley of only three seconds from various Christmas songs was great.
Stars: ****


Sketch - Bronx Beat with Betty and Jodi
• NO!!! Well, it figures they’d do this since tonight is Amy’s last show, so I guess this was their last chance to “make up” for not being able to do this in the Jon Hamm episode due to Amy having her baby that day. But seeing as how I’ve grown to despise this sketch and pretty much anything involving Maya Rudolph, I did not need to see this once again. I did love that the audience didn’t seem too thrilled at the beginning to see this, either, judging from their lack of applause.
• The fact that this was chosen to be Amy’s last actual sketch was pretty disappointing to me. There’s so much other and better stuff Amy could’ve done instead.
• The only parts I chuckled at were Betty and Jodi saying “I wish WE had accents”, and the 'blood pudding' part.
Stars: *½

[2017 UPDATE: Wasn't that "I wish WE had accents" line later recycled in the most recent Bronx Beat installment from Tina Fey and Amy Poehler's hosting stint in 2015?]


Sketch - Dysfunctional Christmas Dinner
• This was a well-done sketch and the acting was very good. It was also interesting to see Casey finally getting a meaty role in a sketch.
• Everyone telling Kristen to sit down whenever she would try to leave, Jason’s yelling in general (he seemed so into it), and Hugh’s long stretched-out “DAMNIIIIIIIIIT!!” were the funniest parts.
• It felt like they could’ve done a little more with the ending, though.
Stars: ****

[2017 UPDATE: IIRC, Casey co-wrote this with Kristen. SNL would later do a VERY inferior sequel to this sketch the following November when Casey was already gone from the show, with Abby Elliott doing a piss-poor job playing Casey's role. Doing the sketch without Casey always seemed kinda insulting to me, considering she had such a big hand in writing the original installment. I dunno, maybe they got her permission, but it still doesn't seem too right. I had quite a lot to say about that in my review of that installment, as you'll see when we get to that season.]


Sketch - Culhane Wedding
• Pretty good, and a lot of the characters’ awkward speeches were funny. My favorites were Fred as the ex-boyfriend, Bobby’s 'speech' that just consisted of him saying “Whaaaaaaaat?” and doing the mic-drop, and Will’s racist comments. The ending with Kristen’s random “body in the bathroom” comment was good, too.
• Talk about making up for last week - Jason has been very dominant in tonight’s show so far. He was a good straight man in this, and I laughed at his angry back-and-forth pacing in the background during Hugh’s rambling speech.
• Couldn’t they have given Abby something to say here? Has anyone else noticed she rarely ever speaks when she’s in a sketch? I think she’s only had about 3 lines out of all the 4 episodes she’s been in so far.
Stars: ***½


Weekend Update - Poehler & Meyers, featuring Gov. David Paterson
• Best jokes: Chu, Walmart iPhone, Michael Jackson’s glove, obese women
• Fred was absolutely hilarious as the blind governor, and he looked just like him. Some parts had similarities to Fred’s blind comedian character - especially the “walking in front of the camera and blocking Seth and Amy” thing, but Fred’s always great at pulling that off and making that camera gag funny. And I also loved Fred-as-Paterson’s comment about his life being the plot from a Richard Pryor movie.
• It was nice to see one last “Really with Seth and Amy”. They both got in their usual great snarky quips tonight. I wish Seth would stop messing up his lines during these Really segments, though. Also, I wonder if this segment will now officially be retired or if Seth will try doing a “Really” by himself.
• I was wondering if they would acknowledge on-the-air about this being Amy’s last show, and she did. I thought her speech at the end was going to be serious and emotional (Jimmy Fallon did something similar at the end of Update on his last show), but then Fred popping up in front of the camera once again was unexpected and made me laugh a lot. I was expecting a little more of a send-off for Amy, though, but this was still fine. I’m also surprised Amy wasn’t in more sketches tonight. I was expecting her to be all over the show for her last night, but she only appeared twice both tonight and last week.
• Now that Amy made it official that she’s gone, I hope that by the next new episode they finally build a smaller new Update set for Seth and take Amy out of the Update opening credits.
Stars: ****

[2017 UPDATE: "Also, I wonder if this segment will now officially be retired or if Seth will try doing a “Really” by himself." As we know now, they kept “Really” going for the remainder of Seth's Update tenure, sometimes with Seth doing it by himself (with very hit-and-miss results), sometimes with him and a special guest, and sometimes with him and Amy herself when she would make a guest appearance on Update. Can't remember if he and Cecily Strong ever did one together during their short time as co-anchors.]


Sketch - Lamps!
• I guess this had a creative idea, but the execution of it didn’t work AT ALL - like that Turkeys sketch from the Tim McGraw episode. Maybe I’m just not fond of sketches with talking objects/animals. Not even Will as the Grandfather clock could save this for me.
• The twist at the end with this being a musical for Broadway in Iraq wasn’t funny, either.
Stars: *


Sketch - Cat Christmas Letter
• There were a few funny parts like Hugh having to refer to the cat as their feline son, but overall, this was kinda weak and the punchline at the end could’ve been a lot funnier.
• Kristen’s goofy cat voice got old with me after a while and I didn’t like her reverting to some of her Target Lady physical mannerisms (i.e. the way she kept leaning backwards while speaking). What can I say, I’m just not quite as big on Kristen these days as most of the people on this board seem to be.
Stars: **

[2017 UPDATE: "What can I say, I’m just not quite as big on Kristen these days as most of the people on this board seem to be." BTW, by 'this board', I was referring to the other, now-defunct SNL board, where I first posted this review. I believe people here on Voy started getting sick of Kristen around the same time I did; maybe even a little earlier.]


Digital Short - Layoffs
• A bit unusual for a digital short, and was there really anything done here that couldn’t have been done in a live sketch?
• This was a little disappointing when you realize that the last two SNL Christmas shows had Lazy Sunday and Dick in a Box as their digital shorts, which were both huge. Yet this Christmas, we only get an average digital short that everyone will probably forget in a few days. Maybe Jizz in My Pants from last week should’ve been saved for this Christmas show instead.
• The writing for most of this short wasn’t too great, but Fred’s weird performance made me laugh a lot and he saved this. Kenan (in his ONLY appearance all night) revealing at the end that the cookies Fred were eating were actually stool softeners was pretty funny, too. Still, like I said before, this was a bit underwhelming for a Christmas show digital short.
• Did Bobby get a haircut?
Stars: ***

_________________________________________________________

Episode Highlights:
• Monologue
• Dysfunctional Christmas Dinner
• Weekend Update
• Bill as Robert Byrd
• Fred, Bobby, and Will in Culhane Wedding

Episode Lowlights:
• Lamps!
• Bronx Beat
• Cat Christmas Letter

Best Performer of the Night:
• Jason Sudeikis / Fred Armisen


FINAL THOUGHTS
An okay episode, but kind of disappointing for a Christmas show. I guess my expectations were pretty high. The first half of the episode was pretty good for the most part aside from Bronx Beat, but the show took a real dive after Update where most of the remaining show dragged and hurt the overall quality of the episode. Also, there weren’t many sketches in this episode that felt like an instant classic, unlike the last two Christmas shows from 2005 and 2006 (Jack Black, Justin Timberlake) where SNL went all out and gave us MANY all-time memorable sketches.
Hugh Laurie did a good job as host, but he was much funnier the first time he hosted where he was allowed to do the type of characters and bizarre British humor that he excels at. He still did fine with what he was given tonight, though.


CASTMEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN
ARMISEN: 4 sketches (Wedding, Update, Lamps, Digital Short)
FORTE: 5 sketches (Blagojevich Testimony, Christmas Dinner, Wedding, Lamps, Digital Short)
HADER: 1 sketch (Blagojevich Testimony)
HAMMOND: 1 sketch (Blagojevich Testimony)
MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)
POEHLER: 2 sketches (Bronx Beat, Update)
SAMBERG: 2 sketches (Wedding, Lamps)
SUDEIKIS: 4 sketches (Blagojevich Testimony, Christmas Dinner, Wedding, Digital Short)
THOMPSON: 1 sketch (Digital Short)
WIIG: 5 sketches (Blagojevich Testimony, Christmas Dinner, Wedding, Lamps, Cat Letter)

ELLIOTT: 2 sketches (Wedding, Digital Short)
MOYNIHAN: 3 sketches (Blagojevich Testimony, Wedding, Digital Short)
WATKINS: 3 sketches (Wedding, Lamps, Digital Short)
WILSON: 2 sketches (Blagojevich Testimony, Christmas Dinner)

HUGH LAURIE: 7 sketches (Monologue, Bronx Beat, Christmas Dinner, Wedding, Lamps, Cat Letter, Digital Short)

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