Saturday Night Live: Dwayne Johnson 5/20/17

SNL Dwayne Johnson 2

Last night marked the season finale of SNL, and the induction of Dwayne Johnson into the Five-Timers Club. The show started strong with a great cold open and monologue, indicating that a special show with a special energy was in store. It didn’t quite happen, for some reason. The show was good, but not great.

More importantly than putting a period on the show’s 42nd (!) season (and one of the craziest to date) SNL said goodbye to two cast mainstays. Last night marked the final show for Bobby Moynihan and Vanessa Bayer. While neither leapt off the screen and dominated the action like, say, a Kate McKinnon and Jason Sudeikis or a Kristen Wiig and Will Ferrell, Moynihan and Bayer have been indispensable over last handful of seasons. Both have played the “straight-man” to perfection, while also creating zany, off-the-wall characters that we will always remember. Continue reading “Saturday Night Live: Dwayne Johnson 5/20/17”

Saturday Night Live: Melissa McCarthy 5/13/17

SNL Melissa McCarthy

Last night Melissa McCarthy became the 19th member of the illustrious “Five-Timers Club” joining such luminaries as Steve Martin, Tom Hanks, and Tina Fey as a five-time host of the legendary late-night show. It was a by-the-numbers appearance from McCarthy, and while she is always game and a delight to watch, the show didn’t really stand out as anything special.

The formula seems to be about the same. Step one: get McCarthy to dress up in a crazy outfit. Step two: spray her with, or dump something on her during a sketch. Step three: bring out recurring characters. On their own, all of these things are great. It just feels a tad lazy and predictable. The first appearance from McCarthy as Sean Spicer was incredible. The seventh? It’s impact is a little diminished.

All that said, McCarthy is a national treasure and should be treated as such. It would just be nice to get some new stuff to let said treasure really stretch her legs.

Continue reading “Saturday Night Live: Melissa McCarthy 5/13/17”

Saturday Night Live: Chris Pine 5/6/17

SNL Chris Pine.png

Every now and then, a host will grace the stage at 8H and just be down for anything. Let’s call it “Jon Hamm-itis”. The show is always better when it looks like its participants are having fun, and a game host can really take the show to another level. Enter Chris Pine.

It would appear that the show is basically punting on politics outside of the Cold Open and Weekend Update. I think this might be a good move, as it could make stray political sketches more impactful long-term. The effort to shy away from the politics allowed Pine to go crazy with a wide array of fun and whimsical sketches. It might be a personal preference, but I really enjoyed the departure.

Pine quipped during his monologue (before trying to help us understand the difference between all of the Hollywood Chris’s) that it wasn’t the first time he had appeared on SNL. He made a brief cameo at the Weekend Update desk before the first rebooted Star Trek movie came out in 2009. He joked that Lorne Michaels was so impressed that he allowed Pine to make his triumphant return…eight years later. Let’s hope that it doesn’t take eight more years before Pine graces the SNL stage once again. Continue reading “Saturday Night Live: Chris Pine 5/6/17”

Saturday Night Live: Jimmy Fallon 4/15/17

SNL Jimmy FallonApparently with SNL, it’s all about managing expectations (I guess the same is true about life, if you want to get really deep on it). Several times this season I’ve been excited by the host, or to see how different current events are handled by the show, and the delivery has just fallen flat. Coming into last night’s episode, I had low, low expectations.

I think Jimmy Fallon is very ok. He’s charming yet safe, and I never really warmed up to him as a cast member or conquering hero when he returned to host. His classic recurring characters were never my cup of tea. Whether it was “Jaret’s Room”, “Sully and Diane”, or “Barry Gibb”, I always found myself fast forwarding or flipping the channel. His calling card as a cast member was never being able to keep a straight face. It’s a great trait for a late night host, but a pretty terrible one for an SNL cast member.

Having said that, I really liked last night’s episode. And dare I say, I enjoyed Fallon. He started out hot with a Jared Kushner impression, (complete with blazer and flak jacket) and never looked back. I even usually dread the often lazy musical monologue, however Fallon took a detour. Instead of coming up with a song last-minute in the Writer’s Room, he basically covered Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” as he strolled through Studio 8H. It was pretty cool.

The lesson, as always: lower expectations.

Let’s get into it. Continue reading “Saturday Night Live: Jimmy Fallon 4/15/17”

Saturday Night Live: Louis C.K. 4/8/17

SNL Louis CK

After a lengthy vacation, SNL made its triumphant return to the airwaves with Louis C.K. as host. It was the comic’s fourth time hosting, and his previous trips to 30 Rock had me excited and optimistic for the show to kick off its stretch run with a strong episode.

In the end, it was fine.

So much happens so fast in today’s current climate, and with no new episodes since early March, the show tried to cram everything into only a handful of sketches. The result was, well, it was fine.

Louis C.K. was, as usual, at his best during the opening monologue. He wasn’t given the same sheer volume of over-the-top, weird characters as we have seen in past hosting stints, and at times it felt like he disappeared for long stretches of the show. All told, it was a serviceable edition of the show. Next week Jimmy Fallon hosts, which will be… something.

Continue reading “Saturday Night Live: Louis C.K. 4/8/17”

Saturday Night Live: Scarlett Johansson 3/11/17

SNL Scarlett Johannson

Somehow this is the fifth appearance Scarlett Johansson as the host of SNL. I would never have guessed. Despite having such a seasoned host, the episode got off to a bit of a slow start, which gave me pause as to whether the show was struggling with a 2017 funk. Luckily for me (and I guess for the show too, but mostly me), that wasn’t the case with Scar-Jo’s fifth time.

Perhaps her greatest quality as a host is that she just looks like she’s having a blast. It’s a novel idea, I know. Throughout the night, in character or not, she routinely flashed the hint of a smile and it was clear that she was having the best time. Sometimes that’s all it takes. Continue reading “Saturday Night Live: Scarlett Johansson 3/11/17”

Saturday Night Live: Alec Baldwin 2/11/17

SNL Baldwin.png

This season of SNL has been the highest rated in over 20 years, and this week, the show turned to its most decorated host, a man who has helped contribute to that ratings spike (fittingly he’s plays the other person responsible for the huge viewership). I had high hopes for Alec Baldwin’s 17th stint as a host. And after last week saw a surprise cameo from powerhouse Melissa McCarthy, I thought the show would have plenty of tricks up its sleeve to build on the momentum.

Would Rosie O’Donnell come on to play Bannon? With Baldwin hosting, would they bring in Meryl Streep to don the wispy blonde-ish wig and play Trump? Would the show continue to surprise and push the envelope?

The short answer: not really. McCarthy was back as everyone’s favorite cartoon press secretary, and as usual, she was amazing. That said, I didn’t enjoy it as much as last week’s iteration and it felt as though the novelty had worn off a bit. I love Melissa McCarthy and want her to be in everything ever, but I really wish they hadn’t gone back to the well so soon.

The disappointment led me to another thought. Should SNL really stunt cast just to prickle the President? Sure it would be pretty funny (in theory) for Trump’s arch-nemesis to play his chief strategist, but is the point really to just elicit some mean tweets the next day? I don’t know. It feels weird, and I wish it didn’t. Last week’s episode felt fresh and the start of something while this week just felt…there.

Anyway…

Continue reading “Saturday Night Live: Alec Baldwin 2/11/17”