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Date Posted: 02:43:01 09/04/17 Mon
Author: Stooge
Subject: Scarlett Johansson / Arcade Fire - November 13, 2010 (S36 E6)
In reply to: Stooge 's message, "Retro Reviews - September 2017" on 02:29:47 09/04/17 Mon

Here's the original review I posted back when this episode first aired. This is the episode with Voy's FAVORITE sketch of all-time, St. Kat’s Middle School, a.k.a. the 'Kenan wheelchair' sketch!

---------------------------------------

RATINGS SYSTEM
***** = Excellent, a possible future classic
**** = Great
*** = Average
** = Meh
* = How'd this get past dress?

Cold Opening - President Obama and Hu Jintao Press Conference
• Oh, I didn’t know they were showing a rerun of the Joseph Gordon-Levitt episode tonight. I just-- what’s that? This is a NEW cold opening? Could’ve fooled me.
• There was nothing original at all in this besides Bill putting lipstick on himself towards the end, which did get a chuckle from me. Otherwise, this cold opening was a complete waste. It was decent last season, but this stuff just does not work a second time.
• And I’m sorry, but seeing Bill Hader yelling in angry fake Chinese is nowhere near as funny as Will Forte doing the same thing. Damn, Will Forte’s presence is being sorely missed this season.
Stars: *½

Monologue - Scarlett Johansson
• Oh, this has got to be a fucking joke. It’s GOTTA be. It is now simply undeniable that the current writers are not giving a shit anymore about SNL. We’re 6 episodes into the season, and only ONE monologue (the season premiere) wasn’t a copy-and-paste tired musical or Q&A mono? This is sad. I know monologues in general have a reputation for not being very strong, but when you do a long string of monologues in a row that are either just the host singing or the host taking questions from castmembers unconvincingly portraying audience members, you KNOW there’s a serious problem.
• Oh, and now Kristen comes along to chew up more scenery and make me groan endlessly.
• I was happy at first to see the Ke$ha inclusion because 1) it’s about time SNL made fun of that hot mess, and 2) it actually gave Abby Elliott something to do. But unfortunately, the Ke$ha bit led absolutely nowhere and got no laughs.
Stars: *½

Commercial - Maternity Television
• This was a pretty good parody. A couple of good laughs, particularly the Wild N’ Out scene (LOVED Jay’s Nick Cannon), the brief Cribs scene, and even Bobby as Snooki at the end simply because 1) it was brief and 2) they did something different with his Snooki and finally took her out of the Weekend Update setting.
• I congratulate Andy for looking and sounding NOTHING like Mario Lopez.
• It was interesting seeing Scarlett in the My Super Sweet 16 scene since they actually did a parody of that show the first time Scarlett hosted in 2006. I don’t remember that sketch being funny except for a good performance by Chris Parnell as the dad.
Stars: ***

Sketch - Millionaire Matchmaker
• Two reality show sketches in a row? Really, SNL?
• And having never seen Millionaire Matchmaker before, SNL’s parody of it and Scarlett’s impression was completely lost on me.
• I was happy to see Vanessa being given a big role, but her character’s voice gave me unwanted flashbacks to Kristen as Trina (a.k.a. the “Thomas!” lady). Seriously, the voice was pretty much the exact same. Vanessa’s character was thankfully much more low-key and tolerable, though.
• The sketch itself was pretty bland, aside from about one or two of Scarlett’s insults to Vanessa that made me chuckle. And the ending was way too abrupt.
Stars: **½

Sketch - The Manuel Ortiz Show
• NOOOOOOOO!!! Couldn’t they have left this unfunny one-joke nonsense back in 09-10 season where it belonged? There’s no way they can top Betty White’s stilted dancing to the salsa music anyway (which was the only truly hilarious moment these Manuel Ortiz sketches ever had), so why even bother with anymore installments?
• Only thing even remotely amusing in tonight’s sketch was Bill’s frozen dramatic facial expression after saying “So this is whyyyyy!” And I liked Nasim’s voice/accent during her brief appearance.
Stars: *½

Commercial - Unstoppable
• Wow, I loved this. It was really strong and had lots of quality laughs.
• Great to see Jay’s excellent Denzel impression back. He had me cracking up for this entire sketch, especially the serious-face-then-laughing-and-clapping bits, his “BOOM!” whenever the train would crash into something, and his random “Okay!” after hugging Taran.
• Taran was very good in this as well. The self-righteous grin on his face after saying “Where did you learn trains, old man - from INVENTING them?” was great.
• I also got a big laugh from the train suddenly crashing into the nursing home shuttle bus.
• Another great thing was the cinematography; it was fantastic and made this feel like a genuine movie trailer. There was a lot of good attention to detail.
Stars: ****½

Sketch - Hollywood Dish
• Remember my review of the Manuel Ortiz sketch above? Copy-and-paste all of my complaints from there to here, no difference at all.
• The two hosts’ moms randomly appearing behind them was the only thing original and chuckleworthy here. As much as some people love watching Kristen get abused, I can’t even laugh at her getting drinks spit/dumped on her. We all know it’s going to happen anyway, and that’s been completely run into the ground.
• Oh, and Bill Hader continues his increasing failure to keep a straight face. I still remember the days when it used to be impossible to get Bill to crack; now his character breaks are almost expected. You can predict the exact spots in the Hollywood Dish, Scared Straight, and Stefon sketches where Bill will lose it. No, this doesn’t quite make him a Jimmy Fallon (yet), but for someone who used to be on the same level of Dan Aykroyd’s or Phil Hartman’s professionalism, Bill’s de-evolution is getting discouraging.
Stars: *½

Weekend Update - Seth Meyers, featuring President George W. Bush and Kanye West, Frank and Gladys Madden
• Best jokes: Pamela Anderson
• Jason and Jay’s commentary as Bush and Kayne was pretty good. Although I’ve seen many impressions from Jay, I had never seen him do Kanye before, so that was exciting. I knew Jay’s impression wouldn’t let me down and he absolutely NAILED it. Awesome! Jay continues to be amazing and he’s been having a fantastic night. Judging from how SNL’s been using him, it seems like he can possibly become a young, black Darrell Hammond. I remember it was Abby who people predicted would be the new Darrell (instead, she seems to have taken the path of being the new Finesse Mitchell), but I think it’ll be Jay instead.
• Jason hasn’t played Bush in AGES, so it was interesting to see it back. And, of course, this sadly ended up being Jason’s first and ONLY appearance of the entire episode. *sigh*
• Okay, Vanessa and Fred’s commentary as the old couple... WTF? I know I’m not the only one who noticed that their commentary was VERY identical to an earlier Update bit from 2002 with Rachel Dratch and Chris Kattan (not Fred, like some people mistakenly remember) playing basically the same characters. Even the look of Vanessa and Fred’s characters was the exact same.
• Anyway, possible plagiarism or not, most of the Vanessa/Fred commentary dragged and wasn’t funny, but I did like Fred’s “Wouldn’t you?” line at the end. That was a long-ass dull set-up just to get to that punchline, though.
Stars: **

Sketch - St. Kat’s Middle School
• Oh... my... god... This sketch... I-I have no words.
• There’s a difference between a simple weak sketch and a sketch that’s so horrible, so completely devoid of any premise, laughs, or decent writing whatsoever that you have to wonder what in the world could have possessed Lorne to let the sketch make it to dress rehearsal, much less the live show. This Middle School sketch definitely falls under the latter category.
• Someone on another SNL board said this sketch had a big 94-95 vibe to it, and I agree 100%; I got that exact same feeling throughout this entire thing. I can easily imagine Chris Farley in 1994 playing Kenan’s role and Farley would’ve done his overused, tired “screaming fat guy” schtick during the close-ups of him on the floor crying “GO AWAY!!! etc.”, except Farley instead would’ve yelled “SON OF A BITCH!!! SHUT YER PIEHOLE!!! SON OF A BITCH!!!” over and over again like he did in every damn episode from 94-95. Though even Farley’s rendition would’ve been funnier than the unfunny dialogue that was coming out of Kenan’s mugging face.
• I think I can seriously say that this will go down as one of the worst sketches in SNL history. Not even the studio audience was laughing at this shit. It’s now one day after the episode aired and I’m STILL trying to figure out what this sketch’s punchline was supposed to be.
Stars: * (even that’s being generous)

Digital Short - What Was That?
• Funny that the song was called “What was that?” because I was asking myself the exact same question about this short after it ended.
• A very strange and seemingly pointless short, but I did get a few laughs. Some of Andy’s whiny yelling made me chuckle even though his dialogue wasn’t funny in itself, and the inclusion of Arcade Fire was okay despite the fact that they were given no actual funny lyrics either. I dunno, I guess I’m just desperate for amusement after the horror that was the Kenan/wheelchair sketch. Nothing will ever seem as bad as that trainwreck.
Stars: **

Sketch/Commercial - Paula Deen’s Big Ol’ Soakems
• When I said nothing will seem as bad as the Kenan/wheelchair sketch, I clearly spoke too soon because now we get a sketch with Kristen Wiig flying solo and doing an annoying over-the-top accent for the entire duration. Whoopee.
• Actually, I’m exaggerating a bit as this wasn’t as horrible as the Kenan sketch, but it still wasn’t very funny and came off as just a filler segment or yet another excuse for Lorne to pimp out Kristen.
• Oh, and bleeped-out swearing in a live sketch? I thought SNL swore off (no pun intended) doing that after the Jenny Slate disaster.
Stars: **

Sketch - Stars of Tomorrow
• Okay, has anyone noticed that EVERY SINGLE SKETCH tonight so far has been in the form of a TV show? Is this intentional?
• This sketch was okay. Nothing outstanding overall, but enjoyable enough. Vanessa did a good job in her role, especially her reciting Bubba’s lines from Forest Gump.
• Having a Brokeback Mountain re-enactment by two young girls was funny in concept, but it wasn’t really necessary to show the whole scene. Although Vanessa’s delivery of “I wish I knew... how to quit you” was great.
Stars: ***

[2017 UPDATE: This was the debut of Vanessa's Laura Parsons character, who wouldn't make her second appearance until years later in the 2013-14 season where they did those children's acting camp sketches, then after that season, the character went on ANOTHER long hiatus until 2015 where she became an Update staple with the "Newscasters of Tomorrow" segments.]

Sketch/Commercial - Ceramic Busts
• Aaaaaand of course, we have the return of this staple in Scarlett Johansson episodes. At least they put it all the way in the 10-to-1 slot this time; they must’ve realized that pretty much ZERO people were anxiously awaiting this sketch’s return, including the studio audience, who were completely silent during this. In fact, is it just me or has the audience been really dead all night in general? This is fucking painful.
• This tired sketch gets more and more boring with each installment. You can tell they’re running out of elegant household products for these two characters to hawk, as “Ceramic Busts” doesn’t even sound humorous in the characters’ New York accents unlike “Shan-duh-lee-yuhz” (chandeliers) or “Maw-ble Cahh-lumns” (marble columns).
• There’s been way too much of Fred Armisen in tonight’s episode. I’m now at the point where I almost groan whenever he shows up on camera these days; that’s how sick I’m getting of him. It’s amazing; this is the same guy who used to be one of my favorite current castmembers from 2002 to about 2008.
Stars: *

_________________________________________________________

Episode Highlights:
• Unstoppable
• The George W. Bush and Kanye West commentary on Weekend Update
• Maternity Television

Episode Lowlights:
• St. Kat’s Middle School
• Ceramic Busts
• The Manuel Ortiz Show
• Hollywood Dish
• Press Conference
• Song-and-Dance monologue #392 this season
• Paula Deen’s Big Ol’ Soakems

Best Performer of the Night:
• Jay Pharoah

FINAL THOUGHTS
I’m really running out of ways to say “a mediocre show tonight”, but... yep, this was yet another disappointing and mostly-weak episode, and as I pointed out earlier, not even the studio audience was into this show. I hate to come off like a grumpy whiner and complainer this season (I’m really NOT one, and you would know that if you’ve read my reviews for seasons prior to 09-10), but it’s extremely frustrating for a devoted long-time viewer like me to have to sit through episodes filled with unfunny, baffling garbage like the Kenan/wheelchair disaster and the 50th installment of that stupid Manuel Ortiz Show, knowing that SNL is capable of doing so much better. When the show’s getting in bad shape, I call them out on it - simple as that. What’s happening to the SNL that I know and love? I’m mystified that some people are actually really enjoying this season and calling it a vast improvement over last year. Are we watching the same show?

We’re 6 episodes into the season and it’s sad when the Jane Lynch episode is the closest this season has come to a strong show. In a normal good season, the Lynch show would just be passed off as a mostly-forgettable episode, yet this season it’s the closest they can come to a masterpiece. *sigh* How much am I supposed to lower my standards to enjoy this season?

CASTMEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN
ARMISEN: 6 sketches (Press Conference, Manuel Ortiz, Update, Middle School, Stars of Tomorrow, Ceramic Busts)
ELLIOTT: 4 sketches (Monologue, Maternity Television, Millionaire Matchmaker, Ceramic Busts)
HADER: 4 sketches (Press Conference, Manuel Ortiz, Hollywood Dish, Digital Short)
MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)
MOYNIHAN: 3 sketches (Maternity Television, Millionaire Matchmaker, Stars of Tomorrow)
SAMBERG: 4 sketches (Maternity Television, Manuel Ortiz, Middle School, Digital Short)
SUDEIKIS: 1 sketch (Update)
THOMPSON: 3 sketches (Manuel Ortiz, Middle School, Ceramic Busts)
WIIG: 6 sketches (Monologue, Manuel Ortiz, Hollywood Dish, Middle School, Paula Deen, Stars of Tomorrow)

BAYER: 4 sketches (Maternity Television, Millionaire Matchmaker, Update, Stars of Tomorrow)
BRITTAIN: 3 sketches (Unstoppable, Middle School, Ceramic Busts)
KILLAM: 4 sketches (Millionaire Matchmaker, Manuel Ortiz, Unstoppable, Middle School)
PEDRAD: 3 sketches (Press Conference, Maternity Television, Manuel Ortiz)
PHAROAH: 3 sketches (Maternity Television, Unstoppable, Update)

SCARLETT JOHANSSON: 9 sketches (Monologue, Maternity Television, Millionaire Matchmaker, Manuel Ortiz, Unstoppable, Hollywood Dish, Middle School, Stars of Tomorrow, Ceramic Busts)

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Replies:

  • Anne Hathaway / Florence + The Machine - November 20, 2010 (S36 E7) -- Stooge, 03:05:30 09/04/17 Mon
  • It's a shame Hathaway has not hosted again since 2012 -- She's (a reliable host like Jon Hamm and Jim Carrey), 09:42:04 09/04/17 Mon
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