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Date Posted: 13:14:34 05/19/17 Fri
Author: Stooge
Subject: Tracy Morgan / Kelly Clarkson - March 14, 2009 (S34 E18)
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 - Tracy Morgan at Rockefeller Center
• Awesome opening! It was refreshing to finally see a non-political cold opening this season, and this was a very clever and original way to start the show. Tracy punching everyone and all the slow-motion effects and close-ups were hilarious.
• John Cena as an NBC page? How random.
• Nice to see Tina there, too. Why didn’t the audience give her any applause of recognition? I know most of the sketch was pre-taped, but the part with her at the end was live, right?
Stars: ****


Monologue - Tracy Morgan
• Tracy was his usual hilarious self in this monologue as expected, right from the start when he said to the audience “Thank you, white people” and said he’s in more sketches tonight than he ever was as a castmember.
• The newspaper articles and pictures of Tracy at home were great.
• I had been hoping before the show that there’d be some Tracy/Lorne interaction. Loved the “Get me a soda, bitch!” reference.
• Second show in a row with a rare sketch appearance by Seth.
Stars: ****


Commercial - Chewable Pampers
• AGAIN??!!! This is turning into another “Morgan Stanley”, the commercial that was shown almost every single week in the first few episodes of the 2005-06 season, but at least THAT commercial was actually, you know, FUNNY. Chewable Pampers, on the other hand, shouldn’t have even been aired the first time.


Sketch - Brian Fellow’s Safari Planet
• As much as I love Tracy, I was never a big fan of this sketch, but it did grow on me a little during Tracy’s last season and it was inevitable that they would bring the sketch back tonight.
• The “competitive mice eater” line and the cow having a tea party were the best parts.
Stars: ***


Sketch - The View
• After three View sketches this season, I’m ALREADY sick of these.
• At first, I thought Tracy was going to reprise his Star Jones impression as a guest in this installment. Having him instead play Sherri Shephard makes sense, I guess, but I think it would’ve been funnier to see him as Star Jones again.
• The Whoopi Gold-bus was funny, though.
• I still can’t stand Kristen’s Hasselbeck (yes, I know the real deal is annoying, but there’s a way you can make an impression of an annoying celebrity funny, which Kristen can’t seem to pull off - same goes for her Kathie Lee Gifford impression in those Today Show sketches), but the huge stack of letters she showed from people who want her to fail was somewhat funny.
Stars: **


Sketch - MacIntosh and MacIntyre
• Oh, not this Lorenzo MacIntosh/Scared Straight thing again. I never liked these sketches before and it’s the same thing EVERY TIME. The only difference this time was the inclusion of Tracy as Kenan’s sidekick, but not even he could add much to this. And the prison rape lines seemed tamer than usual this time.
• However, I loved Bill cracking up when Tracy kept pointing at his face! You rarely ever see a true professional like Hader break character, so it’s a novelty when it happens (like Phil Hartman laughing in the Frankenstein/talk show sketch). I heard Bill laughed during the dress rehearsal of one of the previous Lorenzo MacIntosh sketches, but it was interesting seeing him do it in the live show. It was also funny when he started a chain reaction of Andy and Bobby laughing as well!
• In that wig and moustache, Tracy kinda looked like how he did when he first joined the cast in 1996, only his moustache wasn’t as thick back then.
Stars: **

[2017 UPDATE: Boy, it sure feels strange looking back at this comment: “You rarely ever see a true professional like Hader break character, so it’s a novelty when it happens” Ha! That sure wouldn't remain a novelty much longer, would it?]


Sketch - Dateline
• Is this whole episode going to be nothing but recurring sketches?
• This wasn’t much different from the first Dateline sketch, but Bill’s Keith Morrison impression and his hilarious creepy sounds continue to crack me up, so I didn’t mind.
• There were a few new things in the sketch to keep it fresh and funny like Bill’s “You liked it, so you put a ring on it” line, his disappointed reaction when he heard no one died, and Tracy “ooh-ing” and “ah-ing” along with Bill.
Stars: ***½


Sketch - Astronaut Jones
• Yet another recurring sketch, but like Brian Fellow, this sketch was expected tonight and I was happier to see this back than Brian Fellow.
• The theme song is always enjoyable, although I would’ve liked it more if I hadn’t just seen The Best of Tracy Morgan on NBC a few weeks ago.
• Andy as the female alien was funny and unexpected.
Stars: ***


Weekend Update - Seth Meyers, featuring John Malkovich, Tracy Morgan, Barbie
• Best jokes: NYSE, New Jersey, San Francisco, Naked Bike Ride
• After getting a glimpse of Bill’s awesome Malkovich impression in the Vinny Vedecci sketch, I’m glad to see his impression on full display here. His Malkovich is so scarily dead-on and I loved his angry tirade at the end. Bill doesn’t appear on Update much, but whenever he does, it’s always gold.
• Tracy’s sudden appearance was funny, although the camera almost spoiled it by cutting to the other shot too early before Tracy even showed up, so we just saw an empty seat next to Seth for a few seconds while Seth was in the middle of a joke. Strange. Anyway, Tracy’s “Really” segment was short and sweet and gave me a good laugh.
• Kristen as Barbie was okay, but nothing special to me, and I was hoping one of the other female castmembers would play Barbie when Seth was introducing the commentary. Plus, SNL already used the same basic premise before in those sketches where Amy Poehler played Barbie. Kristen’s attempt to open the bottle with her Barbie hands was pretty funny, though.
Stars: ****

[2017 UPDATE: Hmm, another comment about Hader that's weird to look back on today: "Bill doesn’t appear on Update much". This was obviously before the days of him regularly playing Stefon on a frequent basis.]


Sketch - Big Love
• Interesting idea to parody this show. Abby looked dead-on as Chloe Sevigny’s character.
• Tracy in drag usually gets laughs, but this sketch didn’t really seem to go anywhere and was actually too short.
• The “church of more man” line was really funny, though.
• The sketch ended VERY awkwardly. Looks like someone in the control room was sleeping and forgot to cue the pre-taped ending sequence in time, so we just got a few seconds of the poor castmembers standing around silently while waiting for the camera to finally cut away from them, then a shot of a paused screen before the ending sequence played properly. What’s with the camera/control people tonight, anyway? Lots of technical errors from them so far.
Stars: **


Digital Short - Party
• This was great and seemed more like the early digital shorts (back when they consistently hit a home run every week) instead of the wildly hit-or-miss quality of the digital shorts lately. In fact, this reminded me a little of the Rainn Wilson business meeting digital short with all the different ridiculous characters they kept cutting to.
• This moved so fast and there were so many funny parts that I had to rewatch several times to catch all the characters. The funniest part was Will as the “cereal rapist”, and I also really liked Bill’s “Yep...that’s us” line at the end.
Stars: ****


Sketch/Commercial - Suppressex
• Will’s deadpan delivery of “This is NO time for an erection!” was great.
• A pretty funny sketch and Tracy as a doctor was a funny concept. I especially liked his comments about the green M&M.
• Bill’s testimonial as the department store Santa was really good.
Stars: ***½


Sketch - High IQ
• An absolute unexpectedly random, insane sketch that worked perfectly with Tracy Morgan. I also liked how the whole cast got involved.
• Bobby and Will on the bungee cords was my favorite part.
Stars: ****


Sketch - Family Flix
• Another awesome bizarre sketch that Tracy Morgan was born to do. He had a lot of funny lines, too, like “Houston, we have a dog!” and his line about how Thailand is heavy on dogs and low on laws.
• All the “In Memoriam” montages were hilarious, especially when they showed one for a guy in a dog costume and when they showed one for Tracy. I also laughed at how they kept playing that upbeat “Life is a Highway” song during the memoriam montages.
• Kristen was a very good straight woman in this and I liked all her facial reactions. She’s much better at low-key acting like this than the annoying over-the-top roles.
Stars: ****½


Commercial - Gas Right
• Come on, ANOTHER rerun??!! I know repeating commercials is nothing new for SNL, but think about it - how many new commercials have we had this season anyway? Like, four? And barely any of them were even funny, although this one was okay... the FIRST time.

[2017 UPDATE: You know, as great as the 08-09 season is in general, it was definitely a bad season for fake ads. So many weak commercials and an excessive amount of repeats.]

_________________________________________________________

Episode Highlights:
• Family Flix
• Monologue
• Cold Opening
• Digital Short
• High IQ
• most of Weekend Update
• Bill cracking up in the “MacIntosh and MacIntyre” sketch

Episode Lowlights:
• The View
• most of MacIntosh and MacIntyre
• Big Love
• Two repeated commercials

Best Performer of the Night:
• Tracy Morgan / Bill Hader


FINAL THOUGHTS
An overall very enjoyable episode, but it was structured quite strangely with a misleading first half. After an awesome cold opening and monologue, the rest of the first half of the show was way too recurring character-heavy. But once they got that out of their system, the second half of the episode was consistently funnier, with the last two sketches standing out as particularly strong. I’m glad the writers gave Tracy bizarre, creative sketches that suited his style perfectly. In fact, minus the recurring character stuff, this episode actually felt kinda like a typical Christopher Walken episode with all the strange unique sketches tailored for the host. It was great having Tracy back on the show and made me realize how much I miss him in the cast and miss his ability to make any sketch funnier with his presence and delivery.

CASTMEMBER COUNT DOWN
ARMISEN: 3 sketches (View, Digital Short, High IQ)
FORTE: 4 sketches (Digital Short, Suppressex, High IQ, Family Flix)
HADER: 6 sketches (MacIntosh, Dateline, Update, Digital Short, Suppressex, High IQ)
HAMMOND: 1 sketch (High IQ)
MEYERS: 2 sketches (Monologue, Update)
SAMBERG: 7 sketches (Brian Fellow, MacIntosh, Dateline, Astronaut Jones, Digital Short, High IQ, Family Flix)
SUDEIKIS: 5 sketches (Brian Fellow, MacIntosh, Big Love, Digital Short, High IQ)
THOMPSON: 5 sketches (View, MacIntosh, Dateline, Digital Short, High IQ)
WIIG: 5 sketches (View, Update, Big Love, High IQ, Family Flix)

ELLIOTT: 5 sketches (Dateline, Big Love, Digital Short, Suppressex, High IQ)
MOYNIHAN: 4 sketches (MacIntosh, Digital Short, High IQ, Family Flix)
WATKINS: 2 sketches (View, High IQ)
WILSON: 3 sketches (Big Love, Digital Short, High IQ)

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