Josh Hutcherson / HAIM
November 23, 2013

*** Stooge's Look-Back Sketch Review of the Week ***

Since this is my final year of doing SNL reviews after 14 long consecutive seasons, I'll be starting each of my reviews this season with a special "look back" on one of my all-time favorite sketches from the seasons that I've reviewed, by re-posting the original review I wrote for the selected sketch back when it originally aired.

Tonight's look back will be at a sketch from the Dwayne Johnson/Ray LaMontagne episode (March 7, 2009). Here's the original review I wrote for the sketch:

Sketch - Game Time with Dave and Greg

• This sketch had an interesting bizarre premise and Bill was awesome as the “non-alien”. I was laughing out loud right from the start just from his frozen facial expression at the beginning, and I especially loved his reaction to the spilled water and when his wings sprouted up.

• Was that Seth’s voice as the caller from New Jersey? Very rare to have him in an actual sketch.

Stars: ****


Before I start my review of this week's episode, I have an announcement to make. For the rest of the season, I'll be using a different format for my reviews. You see, my diminishing interest in reviewing has officially reached the point where I now have ZERO enthusiasm for writing these reviews; I'm just not into doing these at all anymore. That's part of the reason my last few reviews have been posted much later than usual. Another reason for that is I've been having a very difficult time coming up with anything to say about the sketches these last few weeks (especially in my Edward Norton review, which I personally feel is one of the lousiest reviews I've ever written). The only reason I'll continue doing reviews for the remainder of the season is because there are people who enjoy reading them and because I want to make my final season a full, complete one; it wouldn't be right if I ended my 14 years of reviewing by abruptly stopping mid-season.

But to make things easier on myself, I need to change the way I write my reviews: instead of the bulleted list format that I usually use for each sketch, I'll now be using a simpler, shorter, quicker format that's kinda like the one Casey Killingsworth uses. I apologize if this change in my reviewing format comes as a disappointment to anyone, but it's honestly for the best. It will allow me to get my reviews posted faster, will make it easier for me to sum up my thoughts on each sketch without forcing myself to come up with a lot of stuff to say, and is pretty much the only way I'll be able to make it to the season finale in May without losing my mind. Thanks for understanding.



***** = Excellent, a possible future classic

**** = Great

*** = Average

** = Meh

* = How'd this get past dress?

Piers Morgan Live: An okay installment, although nothing stood out as memorable. Each of the three interview segments had their share of laughs, and I like that they gave Beck Bennett a comedic role after being relegated to nothing but straight man parts the last few episodes. The highlight of this opening was the computerized ankle monitor footage showing where George Zimmerman was. ***

Monologue: Predictable approach to a Hunger Games parody, though I always like watching "inside" sketches where we see the whole cast playing themselves - especially new cast members playing themselves, which Noel did here. When this monologue ended with Hutcherson asking Cecily to carry him to the next sketch, I thought they actually would show them walking across the studio over to the set of the next sketch, which would've been a nice touch, but considering the next sketch was 1) set up on the same stage as the monologue and 2) starred Cecily herself, I guess there was no way to pull that off. ***

Girlfriends Talk Show: Well, they finally mixed the formula up a little by having a male guest for a change. However, even with that difference, I still found myself very bored during the whole sketch and I didn't find anything here worth noting, which made me come to terms with the fact that I'll probably never care for these sketches no matter what they do with it. **

Baby Boss: I remember reading in one of the summer articles about the new cast members that Beck did this "adult in the body of a baby" routine in his SNL audition, and I was very intrigued when reading that. So I was glad to see that routine make it on the air in a sketch, and in such an early time slot on the show, too. Beck did an excellent job with his performance; you wouldn't expect someone like him to pull off this type of character, but he certainly did and the baby mannerisms were very funny and dead-on. Also, I couldn't help but notice that Beck looked a lot like Chris Parnell in that wig when they first cut over to him, which is funny because Beck has often been compared to Parnell and they have a lot of similarities as performers. Anyway, this was a great one-off sketch, and I certainly hope they don't try to ruin it by making it recurring. The only way this could work as a recurring sketch is if they change Beck's occupation in each installment (i.e. waiter in a restaraunt, police officer, etc.). ****

Matchbox 3: This reminded me a bit of that Tree Pimp short with Kenan from last season in that they both had a very mock-serious vibe. The Tree Pimp short was pulled off much better, though. This one certainly had its moments and the overall production was well-done, but the short as a whole never really felt like it took off. I guess I kept expecting it to start getting really funny, but then the short just ended before that happened. This short was still decent for what it was, but I was expecting more. ***

Weekend Update: Best jokes - Bieber party, Rob Ford/disrupts meeting. Aidy's Lady on an Airplane character was okay, though her name makes me think they're setting her up to be the new Girl You Wish You Hadn't Started A Conversation With At A Party. Though I don't really see Aidy's character being made recurring; it feels like it was intended to just be a one-time thing. **½

80s Romance: Admittedly, I didn't find this sketch all that funny on first viewing and I initially felt the joke of all of Hutcherson's lines being him lip-synching to select lyrics from the 80s song "Your Love" got old too fast. However, I enjoyed this more on second viewing. The premise may have been silly but was also creative and unique, and this was executed well, especially the timing with the lip-synchs. Fun ending, too, with everybody in the sketch lip-synching & dancing to the song "Jessie's Girl". ***

Best Buy Firing: Oh, no... I can't stand these "Bobby and Cecily tell off their co-workers" sketches. Man, what is tonight's episode, the "All-Cecily Strong Bad Recurring Characters Night"? I thought I read somewhere that the person who wrote these Bobby/Cecily co-worker sketches last season isn't on the writing staff anymore, which gave me hope that we would no longer see these sketches. Guess again. Anyway, this was the usual annoying, unfunny "bitch" nonsense from these two characters, and these sketches are really missing something without Tim Robinson's funny old man character. The only things I liked in tonight's installment was the return of Taran's creepy-stare character (nice rare touch of continuity, BTW, with having Bobby & Cecily state that Taran follows them from job-to-job) and Beck as the guy with mysterious orange stains around his mouth.

dancing: When I read about this Good Neighbor short getting cut last week, I was very curious to see it and hoped it would make it to air in a future episode. Thankfully, my wish came true, but now that I've seen this short for myself, I was a little underwhelmed by it. It wasn't bad, just paled in comparison to the far-superior Sigma and Ice Cream shorts. This was more on par with the first Good Neighbor short with Miley Cyrus, where it was just pretty good but nothing outstanding or memorable - just average overall. I still liked several of the quickly-paced gags here, though, especially the random bit where Beck just threw the VHS tape at the VCR and it fell on the floor yet still played on the TV screen like normal. ***

Animal Hospital: Yet ANOTHER sketch co-starring Cecily Strong tonight. This one had a one-joke premise, but there were still some laughs here-and-there. Otherwise, it was a typical late-in-the-show sketch. Hutcherson disappeared into character surprisingly well here, though I have to wonder, was him saying "dead uncle's monkey" instead of "dead monkey's uncle" a line flub or an intentional joke? **½

Winston Sam Bass, Investigative Report - Not a bad pre-taped sketch. At first when this started, I thought it was going to be some kind of new-age "Rocket Report"-type segment, but it instead just ended up being a silly bit with Mike O'Brien interviewing bugs. However, the silliness worked fairly well, and this was really the first decent thing that Mike O'Brien has done all season so far, which makes me wonder if he's going to be one of those performers who works better in pre-taped segments than in live sketches. ***

Turkey Lady: An odd showcase for Vanessa. I give them credit for trying something different and the performances were all fine, but this sketch didn't turn out to be anything special overall. I was also expecting a much better punchline than what we got. And what the heck was up with that ending with the animation of a live turkey running out of the house? I did love Taran's delivery of the "goddang turkey!" line, and hopefully this sketch proved everyone wrong who said Taran wouldn't be convincing in father-figure roles. But I do think Beck Bennett is going to become the go-to guy for those types of roles in due time; this is kinda like how in the late 90's, Will Ferrell initially was the resident "father-figure" guy of that cast until Chris Parnell came along and took over those roles. **


Episode Highlights:

• Baby Boss

• 80s Romance

Episode Lowlights:

• Best Buy Firing

• Girlfriends Talk Show

Best Performer of the Night:

• Taran Killam


BAYER: 5 sketches (Monologue, Baby Boss, 80s Romance, Best Buy, Turkey Lady)

BRYANT: 7 sketches (Monologue, Girlfriends, Update, 80s Romance, Best Buy, Animal Hospital, Turkey Lady)

KILLAM: 5 sketches (Piers Morgan, Baby Boss, 80s Romance, Best Buy, Turkey Lady)

MCKINNON: 5 sketches (Piers Morgan, Monologue, 80s Romance, Best Buy, Animal Hospital)

MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)

MOYNIHAN: 4 sketches (Piers Morgan, Monologue, Best Buy, Turkey Lady)

PEDRAD: 2 sketches (80s Romance, Best Buy)

PHAROAH: 3 sketches (Monologue, Matchbox 3, Best Buy)

STRONG: 6 sketches (Monologue, Girlfriends, Update, 80s Romance, Best Buy, Animal Hospital)

THOMPSON: 6 sketches (Monologue, Baby Boss, Matchbox 3, 80s Romance, Best Buy, Animal Hospital)

BENNETT: 4 sketches (Piers Morgan, Baby Boss, Best Buy, dancing)

MILHISER: 2 sketches (Matchbox 3, Best Buy)

MOONEY: 4 sketches (Monologue, Best Buy, dancing, Turkey Lady)

O'BRIEN: 2 sketches (Best Buy, Investigative Report)

WELLS: 4 sketches (Monologue, 80s Romance, Best Buy, Animal Hospital)

WHEELAN: 3 sketches (Baby Boss, Best Buy, Animal Hospital)

JOSH HUTCHERSON: 9 sketches (Monologue, Girlfriends, Baby Boss, Matchbox 3, 80s Romance, Best Buy, Animal Hospital, Investigative Report, Turkey Lady)

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