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Date Posted: 01:23:42 06/18/17 Sun
Author: Stooge
Subject: Drew Barrymore / Regina Spektor - October 10, 2009 (S35 E3)
In reply to: Stooge 's message, "Retro Reviews - June 2017" on 06:24:59 06/02/17 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 Fred Armisen in blackface and a short wig
• Okay, so is EVERY single opening from this season going to feature only Fred Armisen addressing the nation as some political figure? We’re 3 for 3 so far this season. Does Lorne think this is 1975 and Fred is Chevy Chase? Even then, at least Chevy didn’t do political cold openings every week. I’m getting really sick of this, and this is from someone who loves Fred.
• I also don’t need to say anything more about his Obama impression, which I honestly refuse to even call an "impression" anymore. And if they really ARE trying the “Chevy-as-Gerald Ford” approach with Obama, that is not the way to go about this. It's not working. Lorne is just being a lazy bastard by not hiring anyone new to play Obama.
• At least this was short. The line directed towards Hillary about the 3 AM call and the line about Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize simply for not being Bush were the funny parts.
Stars: **


Monologue - Drew Barrymore
• I liked the picture they showed from Drew's first time hosting in 1982. I've yet to see that actual episode, and I've always been very interested in it because it's hard for me to imagine an SNL episode hosted by a 7 year old.
• I enjoyed this monologue, and I really liked the concept of all of Drew’s ancestors in film talking exactly like her. It was kinda similar to the Walken Family Reunion sketch (which I loved), but the cast was more successful in their impressions here since I guess it’s easier to sound like Drew Barrymore than it is to nail a Walken voice, which only Hader and Poehler did perfectly. I still remember Fred’s horrible attempt at a gay Walken voice.
• I was also happy to finally see what Abby’s Barrymore impression is like (you could see a small glimpse of it before in her Rachel Maddow impression, though). And I had forgotten that Kristen played Barrymore once before as well, in that Prince Show sketch from way back when Kristen was a new featured player.
Stars: ***½


Sketch - Gilly
• As soon as I saw the classroom set during the commercial break, I first thought of Amy Poehler’s Kaitlin character but then remembered Amy’s not on the show anymore. Then I thought “What other recurring sketch does SNL do now that involves kids?”, then I immediately remembered “Oh, no, no, no… GILLY!!”, followed by me mumbling about a hundred swear words to myself. Why, why, why do they continue doing this horrible sketch? I used to despise those Kaitlin sketches, but those seem downright tolerable now compared to this shit.
• And I LOVE how this always has to be the first or second sketch of the night. That’s right, keep shoving Wiig down our throats, SNL…
• And now, Gilly has her own title card shown at the end of her theme music? Oh, god, is she supposed to be the new “I’m Carol”?
• When they showed Abby playing the same basic role that hosts Rosario Dawson and Zac Efron played in the first two installments, I was wondering who Drew would play, then I realized they were probably going to do the “host imitates a castmember’s recurring character” angle, and I was right. Of all characters for Drew to imitate, why this? While it did shake the formula of the sketch up a little bit, two Gillies instead of one made this even worse.
• The only laugh in the whole sketch was Drew randomly saying “spaghetti”, and one or two lines from Kenan and Bobby. That was it.
• Will Forte’s character seems to look different every time they do this sketch. I understand him wearing a wig now because of Will’s new buzz cut, but what happened to his glasses?
Stars: *½


Sketch - Celebrity Ghost Stories
• I was kinda excited when this started out since I usually love “impression showcase” sketches like this with the cast, but this turned out to be pretty boring and not as good as it should’ve been.
• And why the hell wasn’t Hader in this (other than doing the voice-over)? They couldn’t find ANY impressions of his to use?
• I did like seeing Abby’s Anna Faris impression, though, and it was dead-on. She looked really good, too, but that’s beside the point. That’s two impressions tonight from Abby that I heard she does but I never got to see for myself until now. She even wore the exact same dress Faris wore in her monologue when she hosted last season.
• Drew’s Sharon Osbourne impression… well, let’s just say she’s no Amy Poehler, and that’s putting it as kindly as I can. It left a LOT to be desired.
• The picture of Fred as the Mexican ghost was hilarious.
• Justin Long? Where the hell did he come from? I didn’t even know he and Drew were an item until now. Every episode this season so far has had the host bring their boy/girlfriend or wife into a sketch.
• The ending with Nasim as Charlene Yi was kinda funny, but it seemed really out of place with the rest of the impressions in this sketch. I doubt most of the audience is even familiar with Charlene Yi.
Stars: **½


Commercial - University of Westfield
• A pretty funny commercial parody and the whole cast did a good job.
• Kenan’s various distractions during the interview with Will cracked me up.
• The fake diploma at the end was the best part. Jenny also made me laugh with her mumbling the name of the university. For some reason, her delivery of that line reminded me of Amy Poehler. I know, I've been mentioning Amy an awful lot in this review. Strange.
Stars: ***½


Sketch - La Rivista Della Televisione con Vinny Vedecci
• Okay, I usually love this sketch even though it follows a distinct formula, but tonight’s installment was really disappointing and boring. This reminded me a lot of the weak one they did with Jon Bon Jovi where nothing really exciting happened in the sketch and it felt like just the “same old same old”. This sketch just came off as unnecessary this week; couldn’t they have saved it for a more exciting host who would give them more to work with? Drew Barrymore had absolutely nothing to offer this sketch.
• There were only a few good original parts, like the long list of female staffers Bill slept with and the picture of Bobby as Bill’s wife.
• I also did like them making fun of their own formula with Drew saying “I’m sure that’s never happened before”, referring to the show's guests not understanding Italian.
• When Bill was talking about Letterman, I thought he’d do a vocal impression of him since he usually does a brief vocal impression of a different celebrity in each Vinny Vedecci sketch, but I was disappointed that he didn’t do it in this one. Ever since the Letterman scandal broke out, I wanted to see SNL do a parody with Bill playing him, since he looks the closest to him out of the cast and I’m sure he could do a dead-on Letterman voice if he had to play him.
Stars: **½

[2017 UPDATE: Later this season in a cold opening tackling the infamous Late Night Wars between Conan and Leno from early 2010, SNL finally would have someone in this cast impersonate Letterman, but it ended up being Sudeikis, not Hader (and it was a non-verbal impression with Sudeikis just making goofy Letterman-esque sounds and gestures - still funny, though). Hader would actually play Conan in that cold opening.]


Weekend Update - Seth Meyers, featuring James Carville, Scrooge McDuck, Maya Angelou
• Best jokes: Premature awards, Michael Steele, Nobel Peace Prize
• Good to see Bill back as James Carville. His impression is hilarious and he had lots of great lines tonight, especially all the stuff about Rush Limbaugh. And I love the way he laughs.
• When Seth introduced the Scrooge McDuck commentary, I thought Bobby or Will would play him since they’ve played cartoon characters on Update before, but I forgot that Andy has before as well (Cathy), as well as other birds he played (Larry the Goose). Anyway, his Scrooge McDuck bit was just absurd and too pointless. Andy’s Update commentaries are so damn hit-or-miss, and this was a clear miss. I did chuckle at Seth pointing out Andy/Scrooge eats duck liver, which was followed by Andy/Scrooge’s unenthusiastic mumble of “gold coins”.
• Aargh, why does Kenan have to be on Update every damn week? That’s getting more tired than Fred opening the show every single week. Sure, Kenan has some rare hits on Update (Charles Barkley last week) but tonight’s Maya Angelou commentary was back to being more of the usual Kenan bore-fest.
Stars: ***


Sketch - ESPN Classic
• Jason’s first appearance of the night, and it was pretty late in the show. I really can’t understand why the show doesn’t use him more often.
• An oddly-structured sketch, but Jason and Will’s commentary kept the whole thing funny and just the way they looked in those wigs and moustaches cracked me up. Jason and Will aren’t paired together very often, but it seems whenever they are, they play off each other very well and make a great team (like the Jon Bovi bits…the writing in those aren’t funny, but their energy and delivery sells it).
• Jason’s inane Tampax plugs and slogans were hilarious, as were several of Will’s lines, especially the one about why he likes women with short hair.
Stars: ***½


Sketch - Cooking Al Fresco with Fran & Phil
• This was just a dumb premise that actually could’ve gone somewhere with better writing. But the whole sketch wasn't executed well at all, and it felt too one-joke with the repetitive crow attacks.
• The only laughs came from the cutaways to Bobby as Guy Fieri (love his impression), the birds dipping the bread into the sauce, and Bobby’s skeleton being dropped at the end.
Stars: **


Sketch - Larry King Live
• Interestingly, this is the second time they did a Larry King Live sketch in a Drew Barrymore episode. The last time was in her 2004 episode with her playing Anna Nicole Smith during the whole TrimSpa thing. Who could've guessed back then that Anna Nicole would be dead just three years later?
• Unfortunately, that’s the only thing of interest I can say about this sketch, because… what the hell WAS this??? I mean, seriously, SNL? Talking about wieners for 5 minutes? This went nowhere, got no laughs, and not even Fred or Jason could save it.
Stars: *


Digital Short - Brenda & Sean
• I liked this better the first time… when it was called Body Fuzion!
• This was clearly some kind of spiritual successor to the aforementioned Body Fuzion short in that both shorts were cheesy 80’s videos, but couldn’t they have remembered to make this one FUNNY like Body Fuzion was? While this short did another scarily-accurate job in perfectly capturing the grainy 80’s VHS tape look, this was boring and had no laughs at all. It just had me wondering what the point was supposed to be. What the hell is GOING ON with SNL tonight? This whole episode is seriously starting to put me to sleep.
Stars: *


Sketch - Barnes & Noble
• Ah, thankfully, this sketch came and at least ended the night on a good note.
• Jason’s line at the beginning about nobody ever having read an entire book during a bookreading before was pretty funny.
• When Will showed up as his anti-Obama character from those wedding/funeral sketches from last season, I got scared and thought this would be yet another one of those sketches with the rest of those characters also stepping up to the mike after Will got done. But thankfully, this featured only Will’s character, and his was easily the best character from those wedding/funeral sketches. It was nice to see him spun-off into his own sketch. He was hilarious here and his best lines were “start towards the end” and how he finally uses toilet paper now. Great ending as well.
• Also, did anyone else notice that even during the goodnights, Will was still acting "in character" while everyone else on stage was clapping? Priceless!
• Nasim seems to be fitting in very well already and she continues to impress me even in small roles. But I'm STILL eagerly waiting to see what Jenny Slate can do. How long will she be given the "non-speaking roles in live sketches" treatment? She made an honest mistake, Lorne - get over it. Just don't have her do sketches where she has to say "friggin" repeatedly and everything should be fine.
Stars: ***½

[2017 UPDATE: After spending a few more months being stuck in Bit Part Hell, Jenny Slate would finally be let off probation a little later this season in December, in the Taylor Lautner episode... in which she would spend her first big role accidentally reading Bill Hader's line off a cue card at one point. GOOD LORD.]

_________________________________________________________

Episode Highlights:
• Barnes & Noble
• ESPN Classic
• Monologue
• some of the Seth and James Carville portions of Weekend Update
• University of Westfield

Episode Lowlights:
• Gilly
• Larry King Live
• Digital Short
• Scrooge McDuck and Maya Angelou on Weekend Update
• Fred as Obama
• Drew as Sharon Osbourne
• some parts of Cooking Al Fresco

Best Performer of the Night:
• Will Forte / Bobby Moynihan


FINAL THOUGHTS
A very disappointing episode. I usually enjoy Drew Barrymore’s episodes because the writers usually go out of their way to do more off-beat, bizarre, creative sketches whenever she hosts (especially her 2007 episode, which was filled with really weird but funny sketches, like the Firestarter Smoked Sausages thing), but tonight, it felt like the writers weren’t even trying at all. There were some bright spots here and there, but the episode never fully took off. Not even Weekend Update felt quite right. The best sketch of the night came at the very end, and even that one wasn’t too much to brag about compared to last week's best sketches. Like I mentioned earlier, I actually almost fell asleep during this episode, which is almost unheard of for me. Even during some typical weak shows like the Megan Fox season premiere, I don’t really have trouble paying attention and staying awake. But tonight’s episode was so damn BORING. The last time SNL almost put me to sleep was during that awful Rosario Dawson episode last season.

It's still too early to predict how this whole season will be. I'll cut the writers a little slack for tonight as I'm beginning to think there's a "third episode of the season" curse that SNL has. In 08-09, the third episode was Anna Faris/Duffy, which was just as boring and weak as tonight's episode. And in 07 and 06, the third shows were Jon Bon Jovi and John C. Reilly, respectively, which were both DISASTROUS episodes. I have hope that SNL will bounce back next week. Unlike some, I'm not ready to write off next week just because it's the fourth consecutive live show. Need I remind you people that Anne Hathaway/The Killers was a fourth consecutive episode, and that turned out to be the best episode of that whole season. So we'll see what happens next week.

[2017 UPDATE: What was the third episode from the following season? Jane Lynch/Bruno Mars, right? From what I remember, that was an okay episode, so I guess you can say that's when SNL's Third Episode Curse officially ended.
Also, as I would soon find out, the poor quality of this Barrymore episode wasn't actually due to a Third Episode Curse, but was simply subpar writing that would sadly soon become status quo for this season in general.]



CASTMEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN
ARMISEN: 6 sketches (President Obama, Ghost Stories, University of Westfield, Vinny Vedecci, Larry King, Digital Short)
FORTE: 4 sketches (Gilly, Vinny Vedecci, ESPN, Barnes & Noble)
HADER: 3 sketches (Monologue, Vinny Vedecci, Update)
MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)
SAMBERG: 4 sketches (Monologue, Ghost Stories, Update, Cooking Al Fresco)
SUDEIKIS: 3 sketches (ESPN, Larry King, Barnes & Noble)
THOMPSON: 5 sketches (Monologue, Gilly, Ghost Stories, Update, Digital Short)
WIIG: 5 sketches (President Obama, Monologue, Gilly, ESPN, Larry King)

ELLIOTT: 4 sketches (Monologue, Gilly, Ghost Stories, Digital Short)
MOYNIHAN: 5 sketches (Monologue, Gilly, Vinny Vedecci, Cooking Al Fresco, Digital Short)
PEDRAD: 5 sketches (Monologue, Ghost Stories, University of Westfield, Digital Short, Barnes & Noble)
SLATE: 3 sketches (Monologue, University of Westfield, Digital Short)

DREW BARRYMORE: 9 sketches (Monologue, Gilly, Ghost Stories, Vinny Vedecci, ESPN, Cooking Al Fresco, Larry King, Digital Short, Barnes & Noble)

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