A Review by “HelloStuart,” Amateur Critic and Masked Vigilante
I honestly can’t believe that in the last ten weeks, I’ve only written two episode reviews. So it goes in a season where up is down, black is white, and the comedy runs hot and cold like a broken faucet. After the cancellation of the March 18th live broadcast, the SNL faithful had to undergo their third four-week hiatus of the season; the fact that this was previously unscheduled has been hard to bear for quite a few. The fact that there hasn’t been a memorable show since Steve Martin’s comeback two months ago has only salted the wounds even more.
This week’s host is Antonio Banderas, the Latin heartthrob that was so memorably spoofed by Chris Kattan in a raunchy talk show parody nearly ten years ago. This week’s musical guest is R&B singer Mary J. Blige, who continues a recent pattern of bringing back acts that haven’t appeared on the show in at least a decade. Though I have nothing against her music or her presence on the show, this is slowing making me fear that this trend will eventually get out of hand; I’m almost afraid to wonder if the musical guests for the three live broadcasts in May will be Ellen Shipley, Gary Tigerman, and Fishbone.
And now, the sketch-by-sketch analysis:
COLD OPENING: Tonight on “Anderson Cooper 360,” Rep. Tom Tancredo (JS) continues to defend his anti-immigrant stance with red herrings, while Mexican President Vicente Fox (Tony) defends his countrymen’s thirst for exposed breasts in Tijuana. Afterwards, Rep. Cynthia McKinney (KT) defends her cop-slapping incident while just barely avoiding the race card. Sure, some of the political satire felt obvious, but it could've been excuted much, much worse.
MONOLOGUE: Out of fear of being deported after the show, Antonio admits that’s he really a very homely woman named Guadalupe. At least he has no qualms about wearing a red cocktail dress…
“Basic Instinct 2: Return of the Beaver”: A promo for the dead-in-the-water sequel promises more “hair pie” as well as additional tension between Sharon Stone (AP) and the beleaguered cop (WF) that cross-examines her.
“Deal or No Deal”: Fred Armisen does another bad impression of an 80’s TV star (Howie Mandel, to be specific) in this inevitable spoof the hit NBC game show. Tonight’s contestant is unclear of the rules, which slowly frustrates host the former Dr. Fiscus. The fact that the briefcase bimbos are trying to help the poor schlub doesn’t help matters, which only enhances the absurdity in this bull’s eye of a parody.
“Computerized Voiceover Lady”: The automaton sound-alike from Heder/Simpson (RD) is back and as flirty as ever. This time, she puts the charms on a “caller” (Tony) at a dinner party. Fred portrays the Spanish operator-surrogate in the most random moment of the show, which is more than enough to make this a decent sketch.
“Besos Y Legrinas”: Remember that telenovela sketch from Aguilera/Maroon 5 in Year 29 where everybody was crying over somebody else? You don’t, but sadly I do. Tonight, everyone in a small yet tight upper-class neighborhood has their fingers wrapped around a hunky gardener named Paolo (Tony). If you do remember, it’s just more of the same; in other words, this was a one-joke skit taking advantage of the fact that the host just so happens to speak Spanish.
“The 13th Annual Women’s Basketball Coaches Fashion Awards”: The stances and tactics of our nation’s finest lady hoopsters are honored in an awards show sketch that turns into a mess of cheesy musical numbers and lesbian stereotypes that misses more baskets than it hits.
MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: Mary opens up about her man issues (like she hasn’t had enough of them over the years) with her hit “Be Without You.”
WEEKEND UPDATE: Speaking of Kattan, it appears that Chris took the night off from cleaning grease traps at White Castle to drop by the Update desk and prove that he might have some dignity left in his defeated, underemployed body. Otherwise, when the show goes on autopilot, so does Update; Dan Rather’s (DH) commentary on Katie Couric was not bitter but unequivocally sarcastic, and it proved to be the one shining beacon of the segment.
“Zorro’s Body Double”: Antonio thinks Catherine Zeta-Jones (AP) has bird flu, so an unkempt stand-in (HS) tries to sneak in a smooch during the filming of yet another movie starring the Gay (as in happy) Blade, a cute idea undermined by the fact that the sketch had no real ending.
“Rascals’ Karaoke Night”: Is there any reason why Amy has been in nearly every sketch tonight, and might this have any connection to Maya’s absence thus far in the show? But I digress- a shy singlet (RD) sings an old Aretha Franklin tune as her date (Tony) gets freaky with the emcee (AP). This sketch, much like the one before it, suffers from awkward ending syndrome; apparently, somebody forgot that belting “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” is often a bona fide comedy killer.
“Backstage”: Amy and Parnell argue against illegal aliens (seriously, is this tonight’s theme or something?) while Jason supports their search for the American dream. This somehow segues into a public service announcement for all Latinos to adhere to their secret plan of rising up and taking the gringos’ jobs.
MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: Mary guides us through a tale of a woman scorned in her current single “Enough Crying.”
“Wine Snobs”: Three oenologists (AP, CP, Tony) critique several spirits that remind them of several odd scents, each of which are indirectly connected to past moments of drunken depravity. It started off in an interesting manner, but not even oversized wine glasses could keep this from being dull and flavorless.
Alas, the “Spring slump” continues. After another long wait, tonight’s show proved to be a bit of a letdown. Banderas was given little to work with, and the cast appeared to be frustrated by a lack of fresh ideas as the writers misfired without a drop of penitence. Tonight’s broadcast narrowly avoids being the worst episode of the season, however, on the weight on Mary J. Blige’s soulful performance, a flower of straight-up angst and redemption that blossomed in a big clump of mud. Maya Rudolph’s nonattendance in this episode is only a stronger omen that she’s walking away at the end of the year; Bill Hader’s absence, on the other hand, is just a continuation of a pattern that started earlier in the year.
Sketches/Segments That Will Probably Be Removed In Repeats: at least half of Weekend Update, “Zorro’s Body Double,” “Karaoke Bar,” and “Wine Snobs.”
Next Week: Despite the uproar of the show’s internet fan community, Lindsay Lohan makes her third hosting stint, while Pearl Jam continues the aforementioned pattern with their first appearance in twelve years. Maybe it’ll be funny, who knows?
Questions or comments? Feel free to leave HelloStuart a PM or an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.