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Date Posted: 13:20:46 05/05/17 Fri
Author: Stooge
Subject: Steve Martin / Jason Mraz - January 31, 2009 (S34 E14)
In reply to: Stooge 's message, "Retro Reviews - May 2017" on 09:14:42 05/05/17 Fri

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 President Obama
• An okay opening. The constant “remember when”’s at the beginning with the music playing in the background and the letter from Bush with “READ OTHER SIDE” written on both sides of the paper were pretty funny.
• Jason’s Biden always makes me laugh, especially the backwards strutting at the end as he left. But his appearance made it really obvious that SNL still hasn’t found much about Obama to make fun of. I hope they don’t end up over-relying on Biden for all the laughs.
Stars: ***

[2017 UPDATE: Looking back on that last comment of mine, I can say today all these years later that while they wouldn't exactly end up "over-relying" on Biden for all the laughs during the first 5 years of Obama's presidency when Sudeikis was in the cast, it was still obvious that the writers had a much-easier time writing funny stuff for Biden than they ever did for Obama. Part of that was, of course, due to Jason's amusing and likeable take on Biden. If SNL had someone in this cast who did a just-as-funny take on Obama (and no, Jay Pharoah's future impression doesn't qualify, either; his impression was certainly accurate but not inherently funny), it probably would've really helped the writers' job.]


Monologue - Steve Martin
• As expected, this was great with Steve just being himself.
• The funniest lines were the “scene-behinders” comment, his line about the whole audience being in his next movie called “Everyone Painfully Dies”, and the comment about his mother predicting millions of people watching will be gay and not know it.
Stars: ****


Commercial - Chewable Pampers
• I didn’t like this too much and it felt like SNL has already done similar commercials before but better.
• I complained about this before, but I don’t know why Kristen always has to play the lead female role in, like, every commercial this season and Jason always has to play her husband and wear glasses. Couldn’t Casey, Abby, or Michaela have played Kristen’s part in this commercial instead? It wouldn’t have made the commercial any funnier, but at least it would’ve been a nice change of pace from seeing Kristen all the time.
• The “What’s that smell?”/“dinner” part gave me a good laugh, though.
Stars: **½

[2017 UPDATE: This was awfully similar to the "Earthies" commercial from the early 90s, which is probably what I had in mind when I wrote "it felt like SNL has already done similar commercials before but better". However, I don't know if I would say the Earthies commercial was exactly "better"; it was at least higher-brow than this Chewable Pampers ad, but I've always felt Earthies was one of the weaker, more forgettable fake ads during an era where SNL produced MANY all-time classic fake ads.]


Sketch - Introverts
• I had forgotten all about these characters. SNL hasn’t used them in a long time, and I’m surprised it appeared as the first sketch of the night this time, since the other times these characters appeared, it was late in the show.
• I liked seeing these characters again, though, and it’s one of the rare Kristen Wiig recurring characters I can still tolerate. But this felt a little too similar to the installments with Lindsay Lohan and Annette Bening where the characters were at the same bar location they were at tonight. I wish they would have put the characters in a new setting like they did in the Rainn Wilson installment where they were at an office.
• The “Sit on my face”, ecstasy as mints, and the conversation about a construction of a 3-inch denim vagina were the best moments of the sketch.
Stars: ***½

[2017 UPDATE: These Introverts sketches with Will, Kristen, and whoever was hosting that night were always funny but have ultimately become forgotten. This was definitely one of Kristen's more tolerable recurring characters, though, so it was certainly refreshing seeing it in this episode considering this was during a time when Kristen's performances on the show were gradually going more-and-more downhill and she was slowly working her way to becoming my least favorite then-current castmember.]


Digital Short - Laser Cats 4
• I was disappointed when I realized this would be yet another Laser Cats. How many more times can they drag this out? Even the intentional cheesy mistakes (cameraman reflection in the mirror) felt half-assed this time. And the ending with Lorne telling everyone to get out once again was the same-old same-old. That’s not funny or surprising anymore. Couldn’t they have done something different for the ending?
• I’m also disappointed they didn’t do a digital short utilizing Steve more, like the “Close Talkers” short with him and Will last time he hosted.
• How come Andy’s character wasn’t wearing glasses like he did in all the other Laser Cats?
• Steve suddenly appearing at the end as the dad and the “Bros Foureva” medal was a pretty cool conclusion, though, I have to admit.
Stars: **½


Sketch - Issues
• There was another talk show sketch called Issues on SNL before, with Jim Breuer as a stoner. Those weren’t that great, but I’d take that over this sketch any day.
• This was absolutely weak, which I was expecting once I saw Kenan had the lead role. They better not make this recurring.
• Steve’s man-boobs was pretty funny, though, as was Kenan asking if he could touch one of them.
Stars: *½

[2017 UPDATE: This James Anderson-written talk show sketch, in which literally the whole joke was Kenan as the host making his trademark bug-eyed KENAN REACTS face in reaction to each of his guests' odd physical appearance, thankfully never became recurring. Then again, Kenan and James Anderson are both still with the show, so maybe I shouldn't speak too soon....... That would be hilariously ridiculous, though, randomly bringing this forgotten one-off sketch back after 8 years. I can't picture modern-day Kenan Thompson still doing something like this though; as I've constantly said in recent months, Kenan has matured a lot as a performer since those days and thankfully no longer really does overly-hammy stuff like this sketch.]


Sketch - Bernie Madoff
• What was the point of this? Where was the punchline? This went absolutely nowhere and I kept waiting and waiting for it to get funny. No laughs at all. Just Fred as Madoff calling people on the phone for what felt like forever.
• I don’t know what made them think Fred’s Madoff impression could carry its own sketch. It could barely even carry its own Update segment in the preceding episode. Fred tried his best as always, but not even he could save the weak material in this sketch.
Stars: *


Miscellaneous - In Love with Steve
• This was great and made good use of the female castmembers. I was also surprised to see Casey given a funny big part for once.
• Steve groping Kristen’s chest and saying she doesn’t qualify for a SAG award was hilarious.
Stars: ****


Weekend Update - Seth Meyers, featuring Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Angelina Jolie, Gov. David Paterson
• Best jokes: Blagojevich, RNC New Chairman, Pot Farm, Super Bowl, Girls Next Door, CSI ShamWow
• Jason’s commentary was okay and I liked the poem he wrote, and the (intentionally) badly-written 'senate/Tony Bennett' rhyme.
• Abby’s sudden Angelina Jolie appearance literally came out nowhere. I heard Abby did an impression of her in an audition video on YouTube, but I never got to see that. Her impression was very funny here and she looked exactly like her. This is the most Abby has made me laugh on the show so far.
• I was very surprised they did another Paterson bit after all the controversy over the last one. I’m happy to see Fred’s impression again, though, because his Paterson always hilarious, especially the binoculars at the beginning. He had a lot of good lines, like the archery line, the Forest Gump bit, and the slams against New Jersey. I also always laugh at the way he stares into the camera with that sly look after a joke.
Stars: ****

[2017 UPDATE: "This is the most Abby has made me laugh on the show so far." Hmm, notice I said "so far", as if I thought this would be just the start of many funny Abby Elliott performances for years to come. So much wasted optimism.........]


Sketch - Thomas’ Wife
• Okay, this sketch confirms it: I am officially getting more and more sick of Kristen Wiig with each passing episode. It needed to be said. She’s been going downhill this season. I didn’t think they’d be able to top Gilly as most annoying new character, but they managed to do just that merely one episode later with THIS sketch. Kristen needs to give it a rest with all of these unfunny, one-note, goofy-voiced characters - it’s just stale. As someone who used to like Kristen a lot, it’s sad watching her transformation into some kind of bad Molly Shannon/Mo Collins hybrid.
Stars: *

[2017 UPDATE: Unlike the "Issues" sketch earlier in this episode, this "Thomas!" sketch unfortunately DID become recurring later on. It was only brought back once (in the following season's Gerard Butler episode), but believe it or not, it managed to be EVEN WORSE than this first installment, and that's saying something! I have a lot more stuff to say about that character, but I'll save it for when we get to the Gerard Butler episode.
Oh, and also, as my review above shows, you can now timestamp this sketch as the official point where I truly became anti-Wiig.]



Miscellaneous/Musical Performance - Steve Martin and his band perform “Late for School”


Sketch - Billy “The Gun” Van Goff
• This was a very good sketch, especially the story about “the incident” where he threw his gun instead of the ball.
• Why were the interview portions pre-recorded and not live? It made me realize that almost all of the castmembers who were in this didn’t appear in any live sketches at all tonight (including poor Bobby, who’s birthday was the same night).
Stars: ****

_________________________________________________________

Episode Highlights:
• Monologue
• Weekend Update
• Billy “The Gun” Van Goff
• In Love with Steve

Episode Lowlights:
• Thomas’ Wife
• Bernie Madoff
• Issues
• Chewable Pampers

Best Performer of the Night:
• Steve Martin


FINAL THOUGHTS
For a Steve Martin episode, this was a letdown. Expectations were very high and the strong quality of Steve’s last episode from 2006 proved he hadn’t lost his touch with SNL after a 12-year absence from hosting, but the result tonight was underwhelming. There were a few classic Steve Martin-centric material like the monologue and backstage sketch, but there was an unusual amount of sketches that went on and on with pretty much zero laughs. The writers didn't seem to go all out on this episode like they usually do when Steve hosts. This wasn’t quite as bad as the Rosario Dawson episode, but for Steve Martin standards, this was almost down there with his episode from 94-95.
After two weak episodes in a row, I hope the show isn’t falling into some kind of mid-season slump. We had a pretty strong first half of the season, and they need to continue that.

[2017 UPDATE: The official Mid-Season Slump of Season 34 would continue for a few more episodes, but the season would return to its usual high quality in March.]


CASTMEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN
ARMISEN: 3 sketches (President Obama, Madoff, Update)
FORTE: 3 sketches (Introverts, Digital Short, The Gun)
HADER: 3 sketches (Introverts, Digital Short, The Gun)
HAMMOND: 1 sketch (The Gun)
MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)
SAMBERG: 2 sketches (Digital Short, The Gun)
SUDEIKIS: 4 sketches (President Obama, Chewable Pampers, Update, The Gun)
THOMPSON: 3 sketches (Introverts, Digital Short, Issues)
WIIG: 4 sketches (Chewable Pampers, Introverts, Backstage, Thomas’ Wife)

ELLIOTT: 3 sketches (Introverts, Backstage, Update)
MOYNIHAN: 1 sketch (The Gun)
WATKINS: 1 sketch (Backstage)
WILSON: 3 sketches (Issues, Backstage, Thomas’ Wife)

STEVE MARTIN: 8 sketches (Monologue, Introverts, Digital Short, Issues, Backstage, Thomas’ Wife, Late for School, The Gun)

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