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Date Posted: 06:54:14 05/21/17 Sun
Author: Casey Killingsworth
Subject: Casey Killingsworth's Show Reviews - 5/20/2017 - Dwayne Johnson/Katy Perry
In reply to: Jurb 's message, "Episode 829: The Live Discussion Thread - Our Season Finale, or: "Farewell, Bobby & Vanessa"" on 23:12:13 05/20/17 Sat

Okay, here’s my review. This was overall one of the more enjoyable season finales in recent memory. Dwayne Johnson certainly continues to deliver as a dependable host. In fact, it may have been the strongest of all the live coast-to-coast shows to air this season. It did feel like the show was the least dependent on topical humor it’s been in recent memory but its’ easy to see why. They were obviously aiming for a feel good show with a fun host for the finale and if the writers’ weren’t just plain burnt out on having to keep up with the past few weeks’ worth of political news then they were finally just glad to be freed from the pressures of having to constantly mine comedy out of all of the insanity for at least the next couple of months. As far as cast screentime, it was widely reported in the hours leading up to the live show that this would be both Bobby and Vanessas' last but you might not have known it just from watching since they are used Vanessa way more than they used Bobby. Hell, this might have been the most she was ever used in her entire seven year tenure on the show. This reminded me quite a bit of five years ago when Mick Jagger hosted what was both Wiig AND Sambergs' final show. Besides them, Cecily, Beck and Kyle felt the least underused tonight. Sasheer didn’t seem to be in much tonight but I have quite a bit more to say on that so I’ll be saving those comments for near the end. Most of the rest of the cast seemed overshadowed by big name cameos (among other things) but in the case of this week I think we can forgive them for that. Anyway, let’s break it down.

Hallelujah Part II - This cold open was an appropriate way to close out the season and tie everything together in a neat little package. It pretty much retroactively justified having Kate as Hillary sing Hallelujah when Chappelle hosted. Also, did anyone else notice that when Baldwin tries to sing as Trump, he almost sounds exactly like Darrell Hammond doing Trump? B-

Monologue - This was all right. It wasn't quite what I was expecting from a Rock hosted episode but it was much more enjoyable than his singing and dancing monologues. I could kind of tell where the gag with Baldwin was headed before Hanks came out but they were both charming and gave the show its most enjoyable political discourse in ages. B-

Cartier Fidget Spinners - This reminded me a lot of Wiigs' Red Flag perfume from her own final season but it was the perfect piece for Vanessa to go out on. I don't know much about fidget spinners to take a side in the ongoing debate on them (hell, I don't even think I've seen one in real life yet) but whoever wrote this clearly does and has. It didn't seem like too hot a take but I could still see this putting off some pro-fidget spinner people. B-

Koko Watchout Vs Trashyard Mutt: Payback - I had a feeling they might bring back the Koko Watchout vs Trashyard Mutt WWE promos. I don't think it really holds much of a candle to the first one but I did like the California Girls reenactment and the long lost twins bit. I’m a little surprised the Katy Perry mention didn’t setup a cameo. C+

Rappers On The Track - This film seemed a lot like something MAD TV would've done 14 years ago but this turned out to be funnier than it had any right to be. Kenan really carried this even though people like Beck, Kyle, Melissa, Vanessa, Cecily and even Jost and Che each added their own silly touches to this. If anything, this really shows you what the cast and crew are talking about when they say they value Kenan as an onstage director. The Katy Perry cameo felt a little forced but I suppose it was to be expected. It was nice to see they found a way to sneak in David S. Pimpkins. B-

Scorpio - This sketch was a little predictable. Still, the girls were likable in it and the Rock played a decent straight man. C-

Jurassic Gemma IV: The Lost World - I didn't expect this but we are past the point of no return with this sketch. Plus, it is Vanessas' last show and The Rock was the only host that made this sketch work. I'll also admit that taking these characters outside of a bar and grill setting really improves this sketch. Also, was the background screen supposed to look as cheap as it did? C+

Xentrex - This sketch was another example of sketches getting funnier the more they escalate in absurdity and danger. The visual of Dwayne manhandling Kyle around his office was great. I also liked how this sketch felt like someone threw Happy Fun Ball and the Hartman/Roseanne MetroCard sketch in a blender (which SNL archives now shows me were both in the same episode oddly enough). B+

Update was actually a decent way to close out this season. Both Che and Jost had their fair share of great jokes tonight. It was a little soon to bring back Dawn Lazarus considering she just debuted this character two weeks ago this month...but then again we may definitely never see her again after tonight. It was inevitable that we would also see Drunk Uncle one final time and he certainly went out with a bang...pun intended. Seriously, the "shots" bit was my favorite even though I may have preferred they end on some more Jost & Che material. B-

RKO Movie Set – This sketch gave me bad flashbacks to the infamous January Jones episode but at least this was different since it was less one note and built up to something resembling an actual ending. D+

Worlds’ Most Evil Invention Exchange - The reveal of a child molesting robot was funny for its immediate shift in tone alone. I thought Dwayne acted his part really well since I could hardly tell if his unease giving his presentation was real or not. Beck, Kyle, Bobby and Sasheer played very well off of him. The White Castle plug at the end was a nice touch. I've already seen some of the reaction to this sketch posted online and let me tell you...it's exactly what you would expect. B+

Wingman - This sketch was all right if not a little inconsistent. I kept expecting it to go a bit further than where it actually ended up going. Bobby cameos were funny though and kudos to Beck and The Rock for selling this. Although, I have to say, I think the very idea that someone of the Rocks' stature being bad at approaching women may have been the most ridiculous thing about this sketch. C-

Senior Class Of 2017 – This was cute. It wasn't the Bobby/Vanessa send off or final closing sketch of the season I was expecting but it was still funny and enjoyable and a decent way to close out the season. The reactions of Alex, Melissa, Pete and Leslie (especially Pete and Leslies' back and forth) made this for me and Dwaynes' general inappropriateness was a nice touch. Still, I wish this had more of an ending rather than being cut off so abruptly. B-

Goodnights – I usually don’t comment on these but I feel like I just have to say a few things here. I’m a little disappointed they cut these off as early as they did and deprived us of some final shots of Bobby and Vanessa together with their cast. The Rock gave us a nice speech but the very end of the show (or what we saw on television anyway) felt pretty lacking. I just recently started following some girls on Twitter who are fans of the show and have made it out to New York to catch the last few weeks’ worth of shows at 30 Rock live in studio 8H. They have told me that Bobby (!), Vanessa and Sasheer were all CARRIED off the stage at the end of the show (there is a photo somewhere on Twitter of Vanessa being carried) and that a security guard at studio 8H had revealed to at least one of them that Sasheer was also leaving at the end of this season. The only thing that really surprises me about this is how it was not announced beforehand ala Bobby and Vanessa but I suppose it would be tricky for Sasheer and the show to navigate her exit in the first place. Also, unlike Bobby and Vanessa (or Taran Killam or Jay Pharroh for that matter) it would seem Sasheer is deciding to leave the show without any future television or film projects in the works. This is what actually makes me a little bit sad about her leaving so quietly and abruptly but Sasheer is also a stand up who can go on tour and continue to do her weekly “party time” showcases in New York in between lining up possible on screen gigs. Personally, I wouldn’t mind paying to go see her do live stand up in Denver if she ever decides to tour again. Jay Pharroh was in a similar situation about a year ago and seems to be doing well for himself. Then again, this is all just speculation I am hearing second-or-third hand from somebody who was there so I think we should take this with a grain of salt until we hear something from either Sasheer herself on social media or from an official source like Deadline or Variety as we did with Bobby and Vanessa. At any rate, I wish the three of them the absolute best of luck in all their endeavors.

Now, for the final time, here are my final rankings of SNLs’ 42nd season…

1. Dave Chappelle/A Tribe Called Quest
2. Tom Hanks/Lady Gaga
3. Kristen Stewart/Alessia Cara
4. Lin Manuel Miranda/Twenty One Pilots
5. Louis C.K./The Chainsmokers
6. Dwayne Johnson/Katy Perry
7. Jimmy Fallon/Harry Styles
8. Aziz Ansari/Big Sean
9. Chris Pine/LCD Soundsystem
10. Alec Baldwin/Ed Sheeran
11. Melissa McCarthy/Haim
12. John Cena/Maren Morris
13. Scarlett Johansson/Lorde
14. Felicity Jones/Sturgil Simpson
15. Casey Affleck/Chance The Rapper
16. Octavia Spencer/Father John Misty
17. Margot Robbie/The Weeknd
18. Emily Blunt/Bruno Mars
19. Emma Stone/Shawn Mendes
20. Kristen Wiig/The xx
21. Benedict Cumberbatch/Solange

Now, I’d like to do something a little special and rank all of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnsons’ episodes in a similar manner from best to worst. This was as much of a challenge as when I did this for the other five timers that hosted recently (and maybe a near five timer). What made this a challenge is the fact that Dwayne has hosted the show in various completely different eras of quality in its history. Hell, he’s been billed ad both “The Rock” AND “Dwayne Johnson”. What does that tell you? Anyway, since I’ve now only reviewed three of his five shows and had only been able to locate the one most recent previous one prior to this (but big thanks to Stooge and The Doc on posting their reviews of his ’09 and ’15 shows respectively before this one) I had to rely partly on memory for the sketches I didn’t feel I needed to watch again or haven’t seen in recent enough memory until it all came falling into place. Here goes…

1. The Rock/AC/DC (3.18.2000)
2. Dwayne Johnson/Katy Perry (5.20.2017)
3. Dwayne Johnson/George Ezra (3.28.2015)
4. Dwayne Johnson/Ray LaMontange (3.7.2009)
5. The Rock/Andrew W.K. (4.13.2002)

Well, that season was a wild ride and what a way to cap it off! See you in the fall! Have a great summer!

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