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Date Posted: 01:55:20 06/18/17 Sun
Author: Stooge
Subject: Gerard Butler / Shakira - October 17, 2009 (S35 E4)
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 - The Rock Obama
• I got really worried when this started out with Fred as Obama, since I thought it would be yet ANOTHER Fred-centered cold opening with him saying LFNY for the fourth damn week in a row. But then as soon as he mentioned trying not to get angry, I saw where this was going and realized this would be a follow-up to The Rock Obama sketch from last season.
• I was surprised they did this again and that Dwayne Johnson would come back just for this, but it turned out to be a good idea. This was again a very funny sketch, without being a complete carbon-copy of the first Rock Obama installment. And since it’s obvious Fred’s Obama isn’t going to ever get any better, Dwayne Johnson may be the best option SNL has available right now; he doesn’t even have to really try at the impression, since his voice already sounds close enough to Obama’s.
• The best parts were The Rock making Bill bark like a dog, him ripping off Will’s arm and saying “Better call your insurance”, and Jason telling him he had no right in winning the Nobel Peace Prize and The Rock’s offended reaction to that.
• This cold opening was really long, though, and I wonder if this was the reason there were so few sketches for the rest of the night. I mean, seriously, only two sketches before Update???
Stars: ****


Monologue - Gerard Butler
• I’m not 100% sure, but Gerard couldn’t have been correct about him being the first Scotsman to host, could he? I just have a feeling he (or the writers, really) were wrong.
• This began almost similar to Ryan Reynolds’ monologue, but then when it turned into a musical monologue, I became pretty uninterested at first (I DESPISE musical monologues, if you haven’t figured it out). This didn’t turn out too bad, though. The fight interludes were pretty funny, especially the quick bit with Gerard snapping Fred’s neck.
• What was with the applause break when Kristen merely walked on as a random character? I thought I missed a joke or something, but I guess Kristen’s just THAT popular with the audience now that she would receive applause just for a mere walk-on. If this is going to start happening in every sketch she has a walk-on in from now on, I have to wonder how much longer she’ll be on the show. This usually happens in popular castmembers’ last season. (*crosses fingers in hopes that this is her last season*)
Stars: ***

[2017 UPDATE: Wiig's final season??? Not even close...]


Commercial - Grand Hoochie Skank Rose
• This was pretty entertaining and a bit different from the usual type of commercial parodies.
• The ending line by Kenan about the drink tasting funny was especially funny and made this whole commercial.
Stars: ***


Sketch - Game Time with Randy and Greg
• Okay, is this whole episode just going to be rehashed from last season’s Dwayne Johnson episode? And since he was actually there tonight, why didn’t they just have him reprise his role in this sketch as Dave, instead of replacing him with Kenan?
• Also, even though the title of the sketch was supposed to be changed from “Dave and Greg” to “Randy and Greg”, they still left in the “Dave and Greg” graphic at the very beginning of the sketch; they forgot to change it. Doesn’t SNL ever proofread their own sketch title graphics? This goes right down there with their Family “Fued” mistake from a few weeks ago.
• I was happy to see this Greg the Alien character back, since Bill was hilarious as him last time, and he killed again tonight, especially with the clicking noises, his tail, and the end with him popping up in front of the camera (he and Fred Armisen seem to be the masters at doing that on SNL). But I don’t understand why they had to rehash the same Game Time setting. In the Zac Efron dress rehearsal last season, there was a cut sketch with Greg the Alien co-hosting a Sesame Street-esque kids show. They should’ve just continued putting Greg the Alien in different settings each time like that.
• Like the last time they did this, Seth had a rare non-Update role as the voice of one of the callers. Does he write these Greg the Alien sketches himself?
Stars: ***½


Sketch - Beauty and the Beast
• Gerard looked hilarious under that Beast make-up and was almost completely unrecognizable.
• This was a great Beauty and the Beast parody with many laugh-out-loud lines, such as Gerard mentioning how he just loves a big ass (just the way he delivered the line was priceless), Bill’s line about dating a menorah, and the Ass Castle bit at the end.
Stars: ****


Weekend Update - Seth Meyers, featuring New Jersey Gay Couple, Gerard Butler, Tamara Parks
• Best jokes: Bipartisan, interracial couple, NBC
• I used to not be able to stand the New Jersey couple when they started out, but I’ve grown to like them in their last two or so appearances. I think they’re better when their appearances are spread apart and done once a season, unlike the 06-07 season when they were on Update constantly. Bill and Fred did well with their performances as these two tonight, and the army premise was a nice new angle for the characters.
• The bit with the Balloon from Colorado was… weird. That’s all I could say about it. I usually like when they do different, random interludes like this on Update, but I didn’t really laugh much at this one and it felt like it ended awkwardly.
• I was surprised to see Gerard have his own commentary, as hosts very rarely appear on Update. The Scottish/American translations from Seth were very funny, especially the “300”, Jewish people, and prostitute comments.
• When Seth introduced the orgasm commentary, I thought Abby would play this character since she has yet to appear tonight by this point, but I was disappointed to see it was Kristen. This just proves my point that EVERY major female role is automatically given to Kristen. I would much rather have seen Abby or any of the new girls in this role… and no, I’m not saying that just so I could’ve seen Abby act out an orgasm.
• Plus, for some reason, this reminded me of an old Update commentary Kristen did before where she played a lady who was in the news for farting in an airplane and trying to put it out with a lighter.
• The “Thank you for coming” double-entendre at the end of Kristen’s commentary funny stuff, though.
• Wow, that Cat of the Year joke completely bombed. Haven’t heard a joke on Update get that much silence in quite a while.
Stars: ***½


Sketch - 300
• Our obligatory 300 parody of the night.
• Huh? Did we really need TWO segments in a row parodying the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy? It’s coming off as overkill by this point.
• This did have a few laughs, mostly from Bobby’s supposedly-macho character and Jason revealing why he did all those things with Gerard.
Stars: **


Sketch - What Up With That?
• You know I’m far from being a Kenan fan, but I have to admit, he made me laugh in this sketch and he had great energy. I also loved him going into the actual studio audience, a rare moment that we rarely see during sketches.
• James Franco? WTF? Talk about random. And I love how they didn’t even give him any lines. I’m not being sarcastic; that actually made me laugh.
• After a while, I definitely got a “Duluth Live” vibe from this sketch. That sketch also dealt with a theme song that went on forever & more and more castmembers coming on throughout the sketch as random strange band members. This also kept reminding me of another sketch, but I couldn’t figure out until after this ended that I was thinking of last season’s “High IQ” gameshow sketch. This may have not been as funny as those two sketches, but this was still enjoyable and had a very fun vibe.
• Gerard as the white pimp was unexpected and funny.
• And Jason’s wild dancing in the background had me on the floor! He looked hilarious and stole the whole sketch. That man really is some dancer; has anyone else noticed how many sketches he's showcased this talent in by this point? The Dancing Caveman sketch, a Deep House Dish sketch where he played a rapper, and the Sarah Palin rap are the main ones that come to mind, but I also remember an obscure Superbowl Shuffle sketch when Tom Brady hosted in 04-05 where Sudeikis was wildly dancing back-and-forth next to Brady while playing a cowbell. This was actually back when Sudeikis was just a writer who occasionally appeared as an extra in sketches, a while before they added him to the cast.
Stars: ***½

[2017 UPDATE: As that recent article about Kenan stated, this debut installment of "What Up With That" marked a huge turning point in Kenan's SNL tenure and was just the beginning of a gradual improvement in his general performances.]


Sketch - Trina, a.k.a. Annoying Kristen Wiig Recurring Character #578,043,297
• Okay, this actually started out somewhat funny with Jason’s “making cottage cheese sexy again” line and Gerard’s intentionally-corny “curd” pun. But then out of nowhere, Kristen showed up as that god-awful “Thomas!” lady from last season’s Steve Martin episode, and everything came to a screeching halt.
• I could not believe my eyes. I never would have thought this horrid sketch would EVER be made recurring, not only because it was widely panned by viewers - even including Kristen Wiig fans, and not only because it got absolutely zero laughs from the studio audience, but because Steve Martin played “Thomas!” in the first sketch, so I thought that meant Kristen’s character thankfully couldn’t appear again (unless Steve hosted again). But of course, I shouldn’t put it past SNL to find an excuse to make ANY Kristen Wiig character recurring, no matter how much it bombed the first time.
• I could barely even get myself to pay attention to the rest of the sketch, but from what I saw, it was an exact rewrite of the first sketch, right down to ending with Kristen standing out the window holding up a dead animal (a bird in the first installment, and a mouse in this one) and mistaking it for something else. They even had Gerard asking Jason to promise not to tell his friends about what just happened, but Jason saying “You know, I have a feeling I probably will”, which was the EXACT same exchange last time between Steve Martin and Casey Wilson.
• And we now know this lovely lady’s name is “Trina”, which also happens to be the name of a recurring character from Mad TV played by Mo Collins. Coincidence, or is Kristen finally just flat-out admitting that her recurring characters are “inspired” (and by that, I of course mean ripped-off) from Mo Collins/Mad TV? I guess we’ll know for sure if Kristen’s next new HI-LARIOUS character is named Doreen or Lorraine.
• And that pen ending with Gerard has to be THE saddest excuse for a punchline I’ve seen on SNL in recent memory. “Oh, this IS for this!” WTF? Seriously, who writes this shit?
Stars: * (and even that’s being far too kind… if I could give out negative stars, I would)

[2017 UPDATE: "is Kristen finally just flat-out admitting that her recurring characters are “inspired” (and by that, I of course mean ripped-off) from Mo Collins/Mad TV? I guess we’ll know for sure if Kristen’s next new HI-LARIOUS character is named Doreen or Lorraine." For those who don't get it, Doreen and Lorraine were the names of two of Mo Collins' biggest recurring characters on MADtv. Doreen was the mom in Michael McDonald’s Stuart sketches, and Lorraine was Collins’ most famous character - that weird, glasses-wearing 'uhhhuhhhh' lady.
Anyway, this second installment of Wiig’s “Thomas!” lady character has seriously got to be one of the top 10 worst sketches I've ever covered in my 14 years as an SNL reviewer from 2000-2014. This entire installment was literally just Wiig repeatedly interrupting an interview by entering while holding up a random different object each time and saying in a goofy voice "Ohh-ho, Thomas, look! Ohh-ho!" or "Ohh-ho, what's this, Thomas?" as Gerard Butler (as Thomas) sighs in frustration. That's the entire sketch! How in THE WORLD does something like this make it on the air??? Oh, and as mentioned above in the review, the ending was indeed an embarrasingly-lame punchline - one of SNL's worst sketch endings of all-time, I'd argue.
It says something when even WIIG HERSELF admitted in an interview later this season that she hated doing this character and begged the writer of the sketch (Kent Sublette, who Wiig actually mentioned by name as having written the sketch) not to write anymore installments after this particular one. You know, I honestly think Wiig couldn't stand most of her own recurring characters no more than we could; after all, I recall an even later interview, around early 2011, where she announced she's retiring three of her recurring characters - Gilly, Surprise Sue, and Penelope - simply because she had gotten tired of playing them. In Gilly's case, Wiig's main reason for retiring her may be because, as Wiig admitted, her own mother absolutely hated the character. I think all of this shows that maybe the problem with Wiig's SNL tenure wasn't necessarily Wiig herself, but the horrible material she was consistently given by the writers - namely (again) Kent Sublette, her most frequent collaborator. I think it's quite accurate to point fingers at him as being the main reason for Wiig going downhill - after all, the season he joined the writing staff (07-08) was also the same season where Wiig slowly started becoming unbearable and suddenly started playing a whole bunch of new characters that were incredibly one-note and annoying - most of which have been confirmed by various sources over the years to have been written by Sublette.]



Sketch - Daveheart
• Really random to parody Braveheart this day and age, but this wasn’t bad for a 10-to-1 sketch. I’m guessing they did this since Gerard obviously could easily do the Mel-Gibson-as-Braveheart accent.
• Did anyone else notice that the main set-up of this actually seemed very similar to the 300 sketch from earlier tonight, with Gerard as the troop leader once again and Bobby, Will, Jason, and Bill reprising their same basic roles as soldiers? Only Fred was missing this time.
• The still photos of Gerard’s cowardly facial expressions were the funniest parts. The looks on his face were priceless.
Stars: ***

_________________________________________________________

Episode Highlights:
• Beauty and the Beast
• The Rock Obama
• What Up With That?
• Game Time with Randy and Greg
• Parts of Weekend Update

Episode Lowlights:
• Trina
• 300
• Tamara Parks segment on Weekend Update

Best Performer of the Night:
• Bill Hader / Jason Sudeikis


FINAL THOUGHTS
A definite improvement over last week’s Barrymore snooze-fest. The first half of tonight's episode was very strong, but the quality took an unfortunate dive after Update (minus What Up With That?). Still, this was an overall good episode and tied with Ryan Reynolds as the best of the season so far. Gerard Butler did a surprisingly good job (though I was expecting it), and seemed loose and had fun with each of his roles.


CASTMEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN
ARMISEN: 5 sketches (The Rock Obama, Monologue, Update, 300, What Up with That?)
FORTE: 4 sketches (The Rock Obama, 300, What Up with That?, Daveheart)
HADER: 7 sketches (The Rock Obama, Game Time, Beauty and the Beast, Update, 300, What Up with That?, Daveheart)
MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)
SAMBERG: 0 sketches
SUDEIKIS: 6 sketches (The Rock Obama, Monologue, 300, What Up with That?, Trina, Daveheart)
THOMPSON: 3 sketches (Skank Rose, Game Time, What Up with That?)
WIIG: 5 sketches (Monologue, Beauty and the Beast, Update, What Up with That?, Trina)

ELLIOTT: 1 sketch (What Up with That?)
MOYNIHAN: 3 sketches (Beauty and the Beast, 300, Daveheart)
PEDRAD: 2 sketches (The Rock Obama, What Up with That?)
SLATE: 4 sketches (The Rock Obama, Beauty and the Beast, What Up with That?, Daveheart)

GERARD BUTLER: 8 sketches (Monologue, Game Time, Beauty and the Beast, Update, 300, What Up with That?, Trina, Daveheart)

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