• I knew having a whole bunch of former female castmembers guest starring tonight wouldn't stop Wiig from doing her weekly “annoying character sketch of the night”. But I did not expect to see this episode open with this sketch.
• As for the former female castmembers, the only ones I'm truly happy about returning tonight are Ana Gasteyer and Rachel Dratch. Ana is one of my favorite female castmembers of all-time, and I've always really liked Rachel as well. Rachel is VERY underappreciated, and this is surprisingly her first appearance on SNL since leaving the cast four years ago. I have no problem with Amy Poehler or Tina Fey in general, but Tina was just on SNL a month ago and it hasn't been too long since Amy left the cast, plus Amy cameos all the time anyway. Molly Shannon annoyed the hell out of me in her later seasons, but she somewhat redeemed herself slightly when she hosted in 2007 where she did a good job. And Maya Rudolph... well, if you're familiar with my reviews, then you already know my thoughts about her (hint: it ain't good).
• This was the usual Lawrence Welk/baby hands routine that I never care for, and Betty White and the former female castmembers sadly didn't really add much new. It was nice to see them all say LFNY together, though. For one horrible moment, I thought Fred would say LFNY for the 328th episode in a row.
Monologue - Betty White
• This was a very good monologue, with funny comments from Betty throughout. My favorite was the hayride parts and the Ouija board line towards the end.
Mini-Sketch - MacGruber #1
• I was wondering if they'd do another MacGruber before the season ended, but the absence of any MacGruber shorts when Ryan Phillippe hosted a month ago made me assume we wouldn't be seeing any before the movie comes out. Glad to see as I was wrong, since I always enjoy the MacGruber segments.
• Seeing Betty White get involved was nice, and her telling embarrassing stories about MacGruber's childhood was funny. And I always love whenever Will Forte goes into an angry yelling rant.
• I still think they should've updated Kristen's look, though, to match how her character's hair looks in the upcoming movie.
Sketch - Delicious Dish
• I was actually happy to see this show up tonight. I always enjoyed these sketches back in the day, and it's one of the few Molly Shannon characters I tolerated since this one is low-key and keeps Molly's usual over-hyperactiveness toned down.
• As soon as Betty mentioned her muffin, I knew the direction this was going in and that this would basically be a female version of Schwetty Balls. They actually did a follow-up to Schwetty Balls before, with the far-inferior Schwetty Wieners sketch that nobody remembers. I found tonight's Dusty Muffin sketch good since it was slightly more creative than just changing “balls” to “wieners”, and this one had a lot of clever lines like the cherry bit. And of course, it was funny to see Betty White saying this stuff and her delivery was excellent. But this still comes nowhere close to the greatness of the original Schwetty Balls sketch.
• It would've been nice if they found some way to work Rachel Dratch's Delicious Dish character into this one. Remember the last two Delicious Dish sketches after Molly left the cast, and Rachel replaced her with a new character?
Sketch - The Manuel Ortiz Show
• Seriously, SNL? We're bringing this back? Of course, nothing should surprise me in the 09-10 season since they make every damn thing into a recurring sketch, but nobody even cared for this the first time.
• As expected, this just repeated the same joke and premise from the first installment, only this included about 50 more unnecessary walk-ons.
• Ana awkwardly dancing by herself for a few seconds before leaving was pretty funny, though, and Betty's strained dancing when she and Bobby came on was the best part of the sketch.
Mini-Sketch - MacGruber #2
• This was a good continuation of the first installment, with Betty playing dead and Will catching her.
Sketch - Gingey
• Did anyone else think Amy eerily resembled Chucky from Child's Play in that wig?
• I'm surprised to see so many sketches tonight starring the returning female cast. I mean, of course I expected them to be in a number of sketches, but I thought it'd just be their usual familiar recurring characters while the non-recurring sketches would feature only the current cast. But the returning female cast seems to be dominating everything tonight.
• The performances in this weren't bad for the most part, and Betty's lesbian comments stole the sketch at first, but this was just a one-joke premise and the whole thing got old after a while. The ending was weak, too.
• Did you notice how terrible Jenny Slate's old-timey accent in this was? Maybe she stood out badly mostly because she was a newbie paired with a whole bunch of veteran female castmembers, but seriously, her voice in this wasn't convincing at all, while the rest of the SNL ladies' accents were just fine. Now I'm starting to see what others mean about Jenny being bad at doing any kind of accent. I feel like my opinion of Jenny in general gets worse and worse with each passing week. My patience with her is really wearing thin. I used to root for her from the start of this season, but she has not impressed me at all these last few months.
• And honestly, if they were going to pair one of the new female featured players with the SNL alums in this sketch, it should've been Nasim Pedrad; she's proven to be more reliable and competent than Jenny Slate... as well more reliable and competent than Abby Elliott, too, for that matter. Abby has done absolutely NOTHING these last few months, and I'm really having my doubts on her chances for being brought back next season. If one of these three girls were to get fired this summer, it seems most likely to be Abby.
Mini-Sketch - MacGruber #3
• I kinda saw that this would go in the whole “MacGruber falls in love with his grandmother” direction, but it still made me laugh with him proposing to her, Betty saying “Are you out of your f***ing mind?”, then them about to kiss followed by the bridge exploding.
Weekend Update - Seth Meyers, featuring Whitney Houston, Sally O'Malley and Dotty O'Donaghan, Amy Poehler and Tina Fey
• Best jokes: Times Square Bomber, handgun stolen
• Maya as Whitney Houston - NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! This segment was absolute torture for me to watch and it seemed to go on forever.
• And just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, Molly had to bring out Sally O'Malley again. I DESPISE that character. I was actually expecting it tonight and I knew they'd have Betty White play a similar, older character, but I still groaned my way through most of this. Not even Betty could save this segment. This whole bit just devolved into her and Molly both rambling about nothing. A complete waste of time.
• When this Update started, I half-expected Amy to be there next to Seth, guest co-anchoring like she did in last season's finale & the Weekend Update Thursdays from the beginning of this season. But when Seth was shown sitting there by himself, I figured we'd see Amy later on Update in a “Really” segment, and I was right. “Really” is always a reliable funny segment and it saved this whole Update. I especially laughed at the penis size conversation between Amy and Seth. Seeing them banter with each other like that made me realize that I actually kinda miss Amy being on Update. I wasn't even crazy about Amy as an Update anchor back in the day, but considering how tired and unfunny Seth has gotten on Update lately, the years with him and Amy together seem golden in comparison.
• It was nice that they got Tina involved, too, but honestly she wasn't really given much to add in this and I can't even remember any lines she had.
Sketch - Scared Straight
• Ugh... I should've known they'd do this with Betty White hosting. Everyone expected this sketch to appear in the last episode when Gabourey Sidibe hosted, but I guess SNL wanted to save it until this week since they probably figured Betty would be funnier in it. At least SNL had enough restraint not to do this sketch two episodes in a row.
• And Betty was funny in this, especially with the wig and the “Wizard of ASS” line, but she was the only thing here I was really amused by. Well, I did laugh at Jason throwing the sneaker at Bill from off-camera when Bill started cracking up again (even though like I said in my last review, Bill's character breaks are really beginning to lose their novelty).
• Also, did you notice this sketch was much shorter than usual? I was surprised when it ended as fast as it did. Though I suppose ending it with Betty saying “Wizard of ass” was funnier than them just doing the usual tired “Jason jumps his butt onto the desk, then asks the three boys if they learned their lesson, then the three boys say ‘no’” ending.
• I'm starting to see what people have been saying these last few months about Kenan losing weight. At first, I didn't see it at all, then in the last episode, I thought he just looked thinner only because he was standing next to Gabourey Sidibe in 80% of the sketches (I mean, no offense, but ANYONE would look thin standing next to her). But in tonight's Scared Straight sketch, Kenan really was quite noticeably thinner, especially compared to the earlier Scared Straight installments.
Sketch - CSI: Sarasota
• A pretty clever CSI parody. Betty was hilarious in this with her various one-liners while putting the sunglasses on, and I was also happy to see Rachel finally get a lead role tonight (well, co-starring role), when all the other returning female castmembers each already got theirs earlier. Poor Rachel never seems to get treated fairly compared to the other females from her era. I don't understand why. Also adding to that is during the goodnights when Betty White thanked each of the returning females EXCEPT for Rachel. I'm sure that was just an unintentional oversight on Betty's part (or maybe whoever wrote the cue cards), but you still gotta feel bad for Rachel.
• Also, I'm actually glad Rachel's big role tonight came in this sketch instead of a Debbie Downer sketch like I was worried about (Debbie Downer is the one and only Rachel Dratch character that I don't care for), even if this was basically just her playing a variation of her Abe Scheinwald character.
• And Rachel must be even shorter than I had thought, because even tiny little Betty White looked slightly taller than her.
• The voice-over during the taped sequences was pretty funny, too, especially the “hard candy” line.
Digital Short - Mother's Day Tribute
• I was surprised this came on so late. The Digital Shorts lately have usually been in the first half of the show.
• When Andy said “This one's for you” to Betty at the beginning, I thought they would cut to a rap video like many people were expecting them to do with Betty White. But then they threw me for a loop with a straight-laced scene of the whole current cast & returning female cast singing the Golden Girls theme song.
• The whole time during the Golden Girls song, I kept wondering what the “twist” was going to be, and it was worth it when Betty put on the ski mask and the whole thing turned into this insane heavy metal musical. That was priceless, especially Nasim's reaction to being splattered with blood, and everyone randomly punching each other. Then Betty ended it perfectly with her final line at the end.
• Overall, this was awesome and the first Digital Short I really liked since “Sergio” all the way back in January. Good to see the Lonely Island finally out of their slump.
Sketch - Census Questions
• As soon as this started, I wondered why this whole set-up seemed familiar, then I remembered the Census sketch with Christopher Walken and Tim Meadows. And that's basically the route this sketch ended up taking, with Tina Fey in the Meadows role and Betty White in the Walken role. It kinda makes sense, since Tina herself wrote the original Walken/Meadows census sketch.
• Like the Dusty Muffins sketch earlier, this Census sketch was nowhere near as great as the original, but this was still okay in its own right. Betty had a good amount of funny bizarre lines. I felt that Tina should've done a better job in the straight man role, though; her performance left a little to be desired, especially compared to how great a straight man Meadows was in the original.
• I didn't like the ending; a disappointment compared to the “What, again? We just did it!” ending with Walken from the original Census sketch. Also, was anyone else distracted by the visible cue cards behind Kenan? I'm guessing they'll probably show the dress version of this sketch's ending when this episode is rerun.
I wasn't really looking forward to this episode beforehand because 1) I expected it to be 90 minutes of just the returning female cast doing their old tired recurring sketches while giving Betty White nothing to do, and 2) I haven't been happy with the second half of the 09-10 season in general. But to my surprise, I actually ended up enjoying this episode. It wasn't bogged down too much by the old returning recurring characters, and if you don't count Weekend Update, then there was only one actual old recurring sketch brought back and it was one that's actually funny (Delicious Dish).
And honestly, seeing the old female castmembers interacting with current castmembers that some of them never got to work with before was actually pretty nice, such as seeing Ana Gasteyer in the same scene as Fred Armisen & Bobby Moynihan, and seeing Rachel Dratch standing next to Nasim Pedrad. In fact, there was this infectious fun, energetic vibe in the air during the whole episode, which made even the weaker material come off better than it really was. And Betty White was an excellent and very fun host, even better than I expected. Also the funny thing is, I thought she wouldn't appear in as many sketches as hosts usually do because of her age and because of the returning female cast, but Betty ended up appearing in EVERYTHING, even the cold opening and Weekend Update.
This episode may not have been perfect, but overall it was certainly still good, and definitely satisfying compared to most episodes from the second half of this season. It's the first episode I really enjoyed since Jon Hamm.
CASTMEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN
ARMISEN: 3 sketches (Lawrence Welk, Manuel Ortiz, Digital Short)
FORTE: 7 sketches (Lawrence Welk, MacGruber #1, Manuel Ortiz, MacGruber #2, MacGruber #3, CSI, Digital Short)