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Date Posted: 23:16:07 09/01/17 Fri
Author: Mike (Male)
Subject: Dwayne Johnson / Katy Perry
In reply to: Stooge 's message, "Retro Reviews - August 2017" on 02:13:46 08/01/17 Tue

(Because it seems like that thread vanished, and I'm 3+ months late)

Cold Open: Worth it for the rare season-length callback. Had the sketch strayed any more from the “Hallelujah” in the Dave Chappelle show, it would have missed the point. Same setup, same lights in the background, same “consoling” that winked at the over-seriousness of the original bit. SNL often puts on a “wrap-up” sketch at the end of the season finale, but this year it came at the beginning as well, and it worked.

Monologue: Trying to move on from The Rock Obama, Dwayne Johnson looked ahead to 2020, and a “Rock-Hanksy” ticket that seems to have legs. Kind of a miracle that Baldwin was able to ditch the President Trump getup so fast, and I liked his move chiding the house band for giving Hanks applause. Not sure if his snapping at Alex Moffat (who had no lines) was some kind of inside joke.

Cartier Fidget Spinner: Vanessa and Bobby both had great sendoffs tonight, and this fake ad was right up her alley. “Because God, the sex is good.”

WrestleMania promo: And here was the first Bobby sketch. My only real complaint – this was one of those rewrites that pretended the characters didn't know each other. Funny seeing Dwayne Johnson trying to shadowbox badly. And about halfway through the sketch, his mustache was starting to fall off.

One Voice: Blink and you'll miss the cornerstone joke of this music video: the song's title on the lower-left corner of your screen. In fact, this was full of rewards for SNL's fans who watched this a second or third time to let it all sink in. Like how Kenan acknowledged Marci Jamz sneaking herself into the track. Or Jost and Che teaming up as “2 Black Guyz” for some reason. Wish Bobby had brought back an old character – Riblet or Ass Dan – even if just for one line. I think Katy Perry and David S. Pimpkins were edited in later (and reshot with Aidy), since they didn't appear in the group shot?

Scorpio: A fun sketch to play “guess the premise.” We all knew that 30 seconds in, either Dwayne Johnson or Cecily would reveal the central joke – and it was not what I expected. Mostly because it wasn't all that funny. Enough for a 10-second “Family Guy” cutaway gag, but nothing more.

Jurassic Park: These characters were a shoo-in for at least a dress rehearsal sketch, since Gemma debuted as Dwayne Johnson's girlfriend – in the one sketch of these that actually worked. And unlike the WWE sketch, the characters acknowledged that they'd seen each other before, “two or three years” ago. And the writers deliberately kept Vanessa's character from revealing her name, another inside joke for the fans. Still, the humor's been sucked out of this sketch almost completely. I suppose there's no other way to simulate a river-rapids ride in a live sketch than to put it in front of a green screen, but SNL still could've done a better job faking it.

Xentrex: A success if only because we got to hear Kyle's buttoned-up doctor character with The Rock's voice. Also because we heard Cecily inviting you to “threaten your doctor.”

“Swish Swish”: Dwayne Johnson's first female musical guest. And as a lot of the season-finale MGs have veered toward the strange in recent years, Katy Perry turned the stage into a catwalk while dressed like a hot referee. The song certainly didn't feel like a showcase for her.

Update: Jost and Che have been running on fumes for too long with their Trump jokes. It takes up too much time – and without Lorne's intervention, this easily could continue for another season. I'm sure the argument is that the White House news has been too crazy to ignore. But when the news is funny or crazy enough BEFORE the Update treatment, SNL can't do much of anything to improve it. And they still try to wring laughs out of the same “Pence hates gay people” joke. Che's joke about dog meat was hilarious, even if nobody got it. For Vanessa's last show, I was thrilled to see Dawn Lazarus back (as opposed to Jacob or Laura Parsons). Not sure if her walk-off was scripted. And to nobody's surprise, Drunk Uncle is back. Loved his fidget-spinner line and inside-the-tent Ghostbusters jab. We'll miss him, until he comes back in a year or two.

Murder by Numbers: Oh God. If the audience is going to laugh at Steve Higgins' sound effects instead of the actors on stage, just show him instead. SNL at its worst.

International Mad Scientist Society: Outstanding! So why on earth was it buried after Gemma and that fart sketch? A clever and daring idea that got a big reaction from the audience. The look on Kyle's face as he tried to distance himself from the child-molesting robot idea was priceless. And Dwayne Johnson said the other mad scientists were so disgusted because they were hangry. THEN, the writers (Beck/Kyle?) had the guts to give this the White Castle seal of approval. Best sketch of the night, and one of the best of the season.

“Bon Appétit”: And now, a sex romp stuffed (ha) with food puns. Both of these songs made Katy Perry appear less like a human being and more like a collection of memes. I guess that was real fruit on stage?

Wingman sketch: Pretty good for something near the end of the show. Beck knows his sleazeballs, and chose this time to go with somebody who sounds vaguely like his Vladimir Putin. And SNL has been kind to fit in Vanessa, Bobby, and Sasheer into basically every sketch tonight, albeit without many lines.

Senior Awards Night: Did anybody else get freaked out by this? Seeing Beck and Kyle on stage with Bobby and Vanessa telegraphed too strongly that they were leaving SNL as well. Just another piece of fake news, with no added payoff.

Grade: A B to finish the season. Dwayne Johnson's last two shows were both winners (especially Show #4 in 2015, from my recollection), and this one had a string of great sketches. However, while he's not anywhere near phoning it in, he didn't stretch as much as he used to do, instead bringing back the character of Gemma's boyfriend and essentially playing himself in most other sketches. Even playing straight man to Beck the wingman. Still, after the stench of that RKO Studios sketch, the child-molesting robot gave the show the boost that it needed. Katy Perry (in her fourth SNL tonight) has never been a great fit, but tonight's performance seemed the most awkward.

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