Hello, everyone. Glad to be back for another season.
***** = Excellent, a possible future classic
**** = Great
*** = Average
** = Meh
* = How'd this get past dress?
Cold Opening - “Either the 7th or 8th GOP Debate”
• A pretty fun way to start off the season, and I was hoping they’d do something like this.
• Does Alec playing Rick Perry mean that he’ll have to cameo every time SNL has to do a sketch about him, or was this just a one-time thing and they’ll eventually pass the impression over to a castmember?
• Jason had some really funny lines, especially him silently mouthing “I’m white” while comparing himself to Herman Cain.
• When Taran was yelling in Chinese during one part, something about his facial expression and delivery of that totally reminded me of Will Ferrell. And it’s not just this sketch; there’s been a few other sketches in the past where Taran had somewhat of a “young Will Ferrell” vibe, although maybe that’s just me who feels this way. I certainly do think that Taran has “future alpha male of the cast” written all over him. Once the veterans in the cast finally leave, Taran is going to own the show. Mark my words.
• Odd how they repeated Bobby leaving mid-debate and high-fiving Kenan from the last debate sketch.
• Kristen does a good Michelle Bachmann. Loved the “You know you want it” line.
• Casting Paul Brittain as Ron Paul was quite apt, and it’s good to see Paul actually getting a funny role. Also, his voice eerily sounded exactly like Will Forte in this sketch. Forte would’ve been perfect for the role of Ron Paul had he still been in the cast.
• I’m glad Bill got the first LFNY of the season, since his LFNY deliveries are usually always energetic and fun.
• I knew they’d use this montage for the third season in a row, but I thought there’d be some slight alterations to the style of it. In the 2002-03 season, they used the same montage for the third consecutive season but made some big changes to the format/coloring of it. Same thing happened in the 2008-09 season. However, the montage style remains completely unaltered this year.
• Well, Nasim has been promoted, which I have no real feelings about. I loved her in her first season in 09-10, but that diminished last season into a feeling of indifference about her. I just can’t seem to get excited about her anymore.
Monologue - Alec Baldwin
• Is it just me, or does Alec look like he lost some weight?
• The “Go Fudge Yourself” joke was great.
• Steve Martin cameo! Who didn’t see this coming? The rivalry between him and Alec is still enjoyable, and the urine sample part was pretty funny.
• It was nice to see Seth Rogen there, too, I guess, but he did practically nothing but just stand there. Couldn’t they have at least given him some actual material? SNL strangely never seems to know how to use Seth Rogen properly whenever he’s on. I found both of the episodes he hosted a bit underwhelming/forgettable.
Commercial - Red Flag Parfum
• For something that was a variation on the always-familiar “Kristen Wiig plays a crazy character” crutch, this was actually a clever way of executing it.
• A pretty funny commercial, mostly for the guys’ reactions, especially Jason spitting his drink back out into the wine glass and when Kristen gagged Taran.
Sketch - All My Children Wrap Party
• Casting Vanessa as Susan Lucci seemed questionable to me at first, but she managed to pull off the role decently enough. Both Vanessa and Susan Lucci certainly have similar huge smiles, anyway. I remember I used to think Michaela Watkins actually looked a little like Susan Lucci.
• A one-note premise, but the result wasn’t too bad. This had its share of laughs, mostly from Paul Brittain’s character, Andy entering the wrong room, and especially Jason’s fan-operator character (just his look and voice alone had me dying).
Sketch - WDHX Channel 19
• The epitome of a bad predictable sketch. I could tell where this whole thing was going about 35 seconds in, and barely anything here made me laugh.
• I’m sure some people will automatically write this off as another typical “wacky Kristen Wiig sketch”, but that WASN’T the problem with this. The problem was that no castmember could have made this sketch funny; the material itself was just lame.
• The herpes bit was decent, at least.
Weekend Update - Seth Meyers, featuring Tony Bennett
• Best jokes: Fashion terms, PETA porn
• Alec’s commentary as Tony Bennett was just fantastic. Practically everything that came out of his mouth was hilarious, particularly the “heb-bro” line and his whole Poise Pads promotion. Good stuff.
• And... that’s it? Wow, this has to be the shortest Update in ages! Just for that reason alone, I’m giving this a decent rating. Actually, I remember the Update in the season finale back in May was also fairly short with only one guest commentary, so maybe SNL has finally gotten the hint and realized that having overly-long Updates with endless amounts of guest commentaries per week was just hurting the show.
Sketch - Who’s on Top?
• Seriously, is Bill the only castmember they use to play gameshow hosts anymore these days? I remember when they actually used to alternate between him and Jason as the go-to players for that role.
• I admit to groaning at first when the premise of the game was explained and I thought to myself “They’re actually doing an entire gameshow sketch about gay sex???” But to my surprise, this sketch ended up being A LOT funnier than I was expecting. The silly execution of this was just perfect and I loved the rapid-fire fast pacing. In fact, I had to keep rewinding the lightning round part since the jokes went by so fast and there were so many quick laughs there that I kept missing some of it.
• Loved Jason just walking off and saying “Yeah, I’m not playing this” as soon as he heard what the gameshow was about.
• Other big laughs came from Alec’s inexplicable eagerness in playing the game, the Paul Giamatti part where Alec just said “the other guy” without even hearing his name, “Oprah” being the answer for the Dr. Oz/Dr. Phil question, Bill warning Alec “You only have 45 minutes to answer”, and the ending with Alec choosing to LOSE all of his money.
• Overall, this sketch was absolutely insane but I really liked it.
Commercial - Top Gun Auditions
• This was originally supposed to air in the Justin Timberlake season finale back in May. Funny thing is, some people said back then that there’s still a possibility that it could air this season (minus Timberlake’s parts obviously), but I didn’t think they would since I figured it would be odd for them to debut it NOW when it was filmed for a previous season. Although this isn’t the first time SNL did something like this; the “Yankee Stadium Stories” filmed piece with Fred Armisen and Amy Poehler that aired in an early 08-09 episode was originally supposed to air in the 07-08 season finale (I think).
• Although this sketch felt a little too formulaic compared to better Screen Test sketches in the past, this was still a lot of fun and had some good laughs. My favorite parts were Bill as both Alan Alda and Harvey Fierstein, Andy as Crispin Glover, and Taran as both Tom Hanks and Bobcat Goldthwait.
• Even the parts that didn’t work for me like Nasim as Paula Abdul and Bobby as Mindy Cohn (seriously, sit the hell down, Bobby - you know that nobody will ever top Chris Farley’s classic take on Mindy Cohn) were both still acceptable since this sketch was so fast-paced that those two bad impressions were quickly over with and forgotten once they were followed by a funny impression.
Sketch - Child Psychologist
• As soon as Nasim appeared in this sketch as the little girl, I simultaneously sighed in relief and groaned in disappointment. Why, you ask? Well, I was relieved because this wasn’t another Bedilia sketch like I had been dreading, but I was disappointed to see Nasim introducing YET ANOTHER little kid character. And as soon as I heard Nasim making those high-pitched whining noises, I knew we were in for a looooooong annoying sketch.
• While this was a “new” character for Nasim, it still strangely felt same-old same-old from her. And like most of Nasim’s little kid characters, this is yet another one that’s overly-attached to a family member of hers, this time her dad. Why the hell do all her kid characters have this same crutch?
• This sketch pretty much confirmed for me that I’m indeed liking Nasim less and less these days. My indifferent feelings toward her are now almost starting to turn into contempt for her, although I hope/predict it doesn’t get to that point as Nasim is honestly not actually bad or anything. But I’m not quite sure what’s going on with her. I’m beginning to think that the only reason I liked her so much back in 09-10 is because the much-hated Jenny Slate joined with her, and Nasim came off as so much stronger & a breath of fresh air compared to how poorly Slate was doing. But in 10-11 when Slate was replaced by the far-better Vanessa Bayer, Nasim’s weaknesses and limitations started becoming exposed.
• My only laugh in this whole sketch came from Alec’s ending line to Vanessa: “After we have sex, you should probably go home”.
• The absence of a Bedilia sketch tonight made me realize that this overall episode actually featured no recurring characters AT ALL. Did anyone else notice that? A huge contrast to the Justin Timberlake season finale in which every single sketch was recurring. This is the first episode in a LONG time that featured zero recurring characters. I think the last one was Anne Hathaway’s first episode all the way back in ‘08 (before anyone points out that episode had a Lawrence Welk Show sketch, remember that was the FIRST time they did that sketch; it wasn’t recurring yet).
• Another unusual absence from tonight’s episode was a Digital Short. I can’t remember the last season premiere that didn’t have one... hell, the season premiere back in ‘09 had TWO Digital Shorts!
Sketch - Angels in the Trenches
• I’m relieved to finally see a TCM sketch without the usual introduction from Jason/Bill and without an ethnic stereotype character played by Fred. Although in retrospect, there was no reason for this sketch to even be used in the TCM format at all. This would’ve been just fine as a random old-timey war sketch. The TCM set-up/ending just seemed unnecessarily tacked-on.
• A very good 10-to-1 sketch. The bizarre requests were all funny, especially the “cripple” insult. And Taran did a fine job as the hapless straight man.
• Wow, Bill Hader’s hair has gotten LONG over the summer. Is he growing it out for a movie he’s filming or something?
• Hey, Jay Pharoah, nice to see you could show up tonight after all! He sure didn’t look very happy during the goodnights, probably because he knows his SNL future is pretty much screwed. When he can’t even get any airtime in the friggin season premiere (not even in the Top Gun impression showcase, which he would’ve been PERFECT for), there is undeniably a problem. Looks like this season will be more of the same in regards to Jay’s decreasing amount of both airtime and confidence that started in the second half of last season.