Saturday Night Live

Season 34 Episode 7

Ben Affleck/David Cook

Aired Saturday 11:30 PM Nov 01, 2008 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (7)

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  • One more for the road

    A Review by "HelloStuart," Amateur Critic and Mourning "King of the Hill" Fan

    After ten live shows in eight weeks (seven regular broadcasts plus three prime-time specials), the much-hyped and somewhat grueling first phase of SNL's 34th season has drawn to a close. At times it was hard to tell where the show morphed from a sketch comedy program to a self-depreciating paid political announcement; though the last remnants of the show's soul might have been mortgaged for the sake of publicity, the ratings went through the roof and NBC made another mint. Hopefully, SNL will be a bit more low-key and not quite as fawning after the election is over.

    This week's host is Ben Affleck, the affable actor-director that has hosted SNL with moderate success three times before. The musical guest is David Cook, the winner of the seventh season of "American Idol" and a burgeoning solo artist in his own right.

    And now, the sketch-by-sketch analysis:

    COLD OPENING: In the aftermath of last Wednesday's Barack Obama infomercial, John McCain (himself!) and Sarah Palin (TF) buy airtime on QVC because that was the only channel they can afford. This blurring of satire and reality works because Senator McCain can take a joke; much like the real Palin two weeks ago, he stayed true to his political platform but took a few jabs for good measure. The most self-serving jokes could be found in the products the GOP ticket was "obligated" to sell, like "Ayers fresheners" and knifes that slice though theoretical pork barrel spending; those jokes died quick deaths, but I'm sure McCain and his jewelry-model wife were grateful for the right-leaning levity. The "Palin 2012" t-shirts? Not so much.

    MONOLOGUE: The man behind "Christmas with the Kranks" admits to a history of supporting losing Democratic candidates, than endorses McCain (wink, wink). At least Ben was more subtle than Josh Brolin…

    "Jar Glove": Yep, it's that ad spoof from the season premiere, and it holds up quite nicely.

    "The View": Ten years ago, ABC's estrogen-fueled chat-fest was a constant target for the SNL writers, but looking back those sketches haven't aged well, if only because now we're so accustomed to seeing the show's five hosts grabbing each other's throats. On that note, the first "View" sketch in nearly a decade is a sucker-punch for Elizabeth Hasselbeck (KW), the right-leaning pretty little mouthpiece that has become this generation's Debbie Matenopoulos. While Whoopi, Joy, and guest host Jennifer Aniston (KT, FA, CW) try to interview Alec Baldwin (Ben), Thin Lizzie spews off a bunch of Democratic operative conspiracies that she probably printed off spam e-mails, than whines when she can't get a word in edgewise. Chalk this up as another spot-on impression for Kristen, portraying the ex-reality star as the shrill, uninformed bible-thumper that she really is. Casey's Aniston was spot-on as well; too bad she only had three lines in the whole sketch.

    "Countdown with Keith Olbermann": One more topical sketch? Sure, why not? Tonight's broadcast hits another early plateau with Affleck's mimicry of another partisan TV personality, the articulate but deeply paranoid MSNBC host. After ranting about allegedly bigoted comments by President Bush and Senator McCain, Keith throws a feeble talking head (FA) into a spur-of-the-moment act of character assassination, than raves about getting nixed by an upper-scale apartment board because they don't allow cats. You may argue that the sketch ran long, but Ben's Olbermann impression was something to savor, simultaneously pompous and breathless, even if he didn't get the voice quite right.

    "Target Greatland": Tonight, the Target Lady (KW) is wooed by a skeevy UPS driver (Ben) while she performs her usual bargain-hunting antics. I enjoy the Target sketches because you seldom know what to expect; the character isn't so rigidly written that the same thing happens every time that she appears. For five minutes, the universe revolves around a flaky, minimum-wage cashier and the misfits of society that wander into her check-out lane. How can you hate that?

    "The Staten Island Zoo": A rewrite of a ten-to-one sketch from two years ago, except the subject is fire-breathing, vampire giraffes and not horny, braggart sloths. Too bad people stopped watching those chintzy clips five years ago; otherwise, this time-filler would've been regarded as a hip parody of a popular web site.

    MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: "Light On" evokes Nickelback, but with a guitar solo that would put Chad Kroeger to shame.

    WEEKEND UPDATE: In his second solo mission, Seth makes a few eleventh-hour election jokes but mostly takes a backseat to three pretty decent commentaries. Senator McCain turns up again (to a mixed reaction from the audience) and announces a change to his strategy for winning the White House. John "the reverse maverick" wants you to think he goes with the flow, but McCain "the sad grandpa" is an annoying also-ran in disguise. (Too bad Bob Dole already used that strategy.) The rest of Update was carried by two relatively safe audience favorites; the Kelly brothers (WF, FA) sang a nonsense song about proper voting procedures, while the always irascible Aunt Linda (KW) tore the Fall TV lineup a new one.

    "Night School Musical": A group of middle-aged losers and dropouts sing and dance about their GED –and possibly their own personal redemption- in a spoof of the Disney movie franchise. Sometimes the joke felt too obvious, but the character development was a goldmine for dark comedy and blatant schadenfreude.

    "Grady Wilson's Marriage Techniques": A middle-aged entrepreneur (KT) sells a videotape that promises will bolster your sexual prowess; his "advice" consists of him bouncing around in his underwear in the basement with a static camera catching all the action. I'm not used to seeing Kenan doing physical comedy, and though it's not exactly a secret talent, it sure beats another "Mrs. Hastings" sketch.

    "Film Pitch": Two brothers (Ben, BH) with a strained creative partnership pitch a movie plot to two executives (JS, AS). Where one Zolesky is straightforward about his family-movie premise, the other has apparently walked out of what one suit calls "some half-remembered gay nightmare." Bill's catatonic scribe is probably the most original and grounded character we've seen in awhile; too bad the execution was flatter than a pancake.

    MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: "Declaration" will appease fans of Lifehouse and Our Lady Peace, though David's ability to rock is hindered by the prefabrication of his sound.

    "Bierhoff Brothers": Two hip German siblings (Ben, FA) sell an all-purpose –or should I say, no-nonsense- jacket that comes with a miniature rescue flag, pockets for hiding meat by-products, and can be converted into a tent. It's funny because the product actually sounds like something Germans actually do wear.

    Tonight's show was a rare instance of a live broadcast without a truly bad sketch; there were two or three pretty good sketches, and there were moments in the show that were largely forgettable, but overall the show was well-rounded. Perhaps what was most amazing about tonight's broadcast was that Senator John McCain stood on the sidelines for most of the show, getting vilified in every other sketch, including the two segments he appeared in, and played along with a willing smile on his face. I had nearly forgotten what a fun host Ben Affleck can be, and I hope he becomes a five-timer. After what might've been the strongest episode yet of Season 34, SNL is back on the hot streak that began after the strike last year, and hopefully this good momentum can be sustained long after the election.

    Sketches/Segments That Will Probably Be Removed in Repeats: "Staten Island Zoo," "Grady Wilson," "Declaration," and "Film Pitch."

    In Two Weeks: Paul Rudd hosts with musical guest Beyonce.

    Contact Stu at This review is dedicated in the memory of James C. Swiglo, 1956-2008.
  • The usual filler with two or three good sketches.

    I just LOVED the intro with John McCain and Tina Fey. I really like the guy as a person, he's capable of making fun of himself and can totally take a joke. And Tina Fey, she will sure be missed.

    But the best sketch of the night by far was Affleck's parody of Keith Olbermann. I hadn't actually laughed out loud at anything SNL had to offer in a long time. It was truly refreshing.

    The parody of The View was hilarious too (but not as much). I think one Kenan's best roles is playing Whoopi Goldberg.

    Weekend Update was alright. The rest of the sketches where trash.
  • A fairly solid episode. There was a noticeable lack of Hader and Moynihan this week and an unfortunate return to tired characters (Target Lady and Aunt Linda). Affleck's fourth appearance has cemented him into the pantheon of "great hosts".

    McCain/Palin cold open – A very good opening with a politician who came to play. His interactions with Tina were very humorous and the items for sale were clever: blank plates commemorating the town hall debates, a series of Joe collectables figures, fine gold (Feingold pun), Bill Ayers air freshener, and McCain's pork knives. My favorite part was Palin going rogue. I thought McCain did a good job with the script and he was more than willing to engage in some jokes that poked fun at his own campaign. Grade: A

    Affleck Monologue – Short and simple monologue. It was worth a smirk and did not overstay its welcome. Grade: B

    The View – Gee, a public service announcement via SNL. Kristen's character has pulled down a load of garbage from the Internet that she holds as gospel. And so begins our lesson. Our instructor Whoopi Thompson states, "Sweetie, you have to discriminate when you read things." True, but I don't think anybody needs to learn this lesson from a feeble SNL sketch. The writers were so busy proselytizing that they forgot to make it funny. Affleck's decent Baldwin impression was not enough to save this homily disguised as a sketch. Grade: D

    Keith Olbermann – A tour de force performance from Affleck. The writers handily nailed the way that Olbermann tries to spin anything into a controversy and Affleck delivered it with an enthusiasm rarely seen from SNL hosts. The problem lies with the format. It was essentially a one-man show and did not utilize the cast members (other than brief appearances from Kenan and Fred). Still, Affleck did an amazing job of pricking the infamous ego of the former ESPN anchor. Emmy worthy work from Affleck. Grade: B (A+ for Affleck)

    Target Lady – This character has been stale from the moment it premiered three years ago. This was easily the best of the Target Lady sketches thanks to Affleck's hilarious portrayal as a love struck UPS man. He had more than a dash of Sandler worked into the character, but it freshened up an otherwise dead sketch. Grade: C+

    Giraffes!! digital short – An almost note-for-note remake of Sloths!. It was better the first time around, but this was still a lot better than the horrible crap that the Lonely Island dudes have dishing out this year. Maybe they'll have an original (and funny) idea in two weeks? Grade: B

    Weekend Update – The jokes were better than usual this week. The absence of the Thursday show seemed to help build a supply of good jokes for Saturday. McCain's appearance here was nowhere near as funny as during the opening. The return of the Kelly brothers was a surprise. They hadn't appeared in over 2 ½ years and had left the consciousness of most viewers. Forte can hit notes that seem impossible for any anatomically correct male. Aunt Linda is starting to get very old. The constant recycling of characters is easy on the writers and performers, but can get very tiresome for the audience. Grade: B-

    Night School Musical – A clever twist with great songs and good performances by the cast. Andy really shined in this sketch. I love it when the writers try something new. Grade: B+

    Grady Wilson – Kenan finally hits a home run! Who knew that Kenan was so good at physical comedy? I think he has found his niche. Not that he should keep repeating this character, but he should definitely do more physical comedy. I particularly loved "The Bumble Bee" and "The Gotcha!". Nice job K! Grade: A

    Zelesky Brothers – Great gay emo characterization by Hader with some funny lines. The sketch just didn't go anywhere and didn't have an ending to it. How about a re-write of Wall-E 2? Huh? An unfinished or heavily-edited sketch thrown in just to fill up some time. Grade: C

    Bierhoff Brothers Coats – Kind of funny, I guess. Germans have been the butt of some good SNL jokes in the past, most notably Dieter and Hanz and Franz (Austrian?), but this time there was not much to laugh at other than some OK accents and a poke at the Germans' obsession with practicality and functionality. Another quickie, I suppose. Grade: C
  • This week saw old favourite Ben Affleck take to the SNL stage as host. There was a notable guest appearance from John McCain, and American Idol winner was musical guest.

    Ben Affleck/David Cook review Cold Open: Fantastic premise! John McCain was excellent, and maybe stole the show from Tina Fey. Strike that, no maybe about it, he was awesome. My particular favourite? The plates commemorating the ten town hall debates that Obama refused to participate in.

    Monologue: A little short and uneventful. I've become accustomed to celebrity cameos and glitzy monologues these past couple of weeks, so this one fell a little flat for me.

    Jar Glove: Yes, it's a repeat from the Michael Phelps episode. Still amusing, but not nearly as funny as the first time.

    The View: Very good. Only, I wish they had done a little more with the sketch than just have each character essentially repeat their catchphrases. All of the impressions were spot-on though, even Kenan's. Also, props must be given to Casey Wilson's impression of Jennifer Aniston, which while it was lost in this sketch and really had no place in it, was still great. The best I've seen from Casey so far, good work!

    Countdown with Keith Olberman: Best sketch of the night! It painted Keith Olbermann as being deranged and mentally unstable. It ran a little long, but Ben Affleck's delivery just made it! He smirked a few times, but honestly I don't know how he made it through the entire sketch and not crack up. His personal comment addressing Mr. Lieberstein was classic. Absurd and bizarre. Just the way I like it!

    Target Lady: The best Target Lady sketch in a while. This time saw a cheesy UPS man with corn-rows hit on Target Lady, much to both her dismay and delight!
    "Can I scan you? Just like I thought! Priceless!"

    Giraffes: This was a message from Staten Island Zoo, that presented a student-made video about giraffes. Much like the Sloths sketch before it, it was hilarious. Some information I did not know about giraffes : They come from outer space, vampire blood runs through their veins. Who knew SNL was so educational?

    David Cook: n/a
    Yeah, I didn't watch it.

    Weekend Update: Best one in a while actually. I'm really warming up to Seth Meyers who has proved himself to be an extremely competent solo anchor. Guest commentators included Aunt Linda, John McCain and two brothers who sang a song about voting machines, which was hilarious.

    Night School Musical: Wasn't as good as it could have been, and the music drowned out the lyrics, so I could hardly hear what they were singing about.

    How to Get the Fire Back in Your Marriage DVD: This was one of those sketches that was cringey and disgusting, but you couldn't help but laugh at it. Kenan played an old man who released a DVD providing love-making tips for the older couple. And they showed examples. Oh, they showed examples.

    Pitching a Movie: Bill Hader's only appearance tonight, and it was gold, absolute gold. He played the emo brother to Ben Affleck's emotionally stable character. Both were pitching a coming-of-age tale but Bill's character Stefan also introduced some lude elements into his pitch, including "diaper people". Has to be seen, best character of the night!

    Bierhoff Brother's House of German Coats: 8/10 Fred Armisen and Ben Affleck played the Bierhoff brothers who were selling coats to german tourists, which had a wide array of accessories. They could even be used as a tent. Pretty funny. Ben Affleck's German accent really did it for me.

    Overall, this was a good solid episode. Ben Affleck blended into the cast seamlessly, and I have to say it almost became The Ben Affleck Show. Some cast members were hardly seen, like Bill Hader, Will Forte, Darrell Hammond, Bobby Moynihan, and Jason Sudeikis. So, hope to see more of them, and maybe a little less of Fred Armisen, whom I love, but I'm getting a little too much of.

    Favourites : Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Movie Pitch, Weekend Update
  • Ben Affleck hosts.

    A pretty good episode here tonight. Ben Affleck's impression of Alec Baldwin was incredible despite the entire The View segment being painful to watch. Pretty much anything with Kristen Wiig is just awful.

    Kenan Thompson's Grady Wilson sketch wasn't spectacular, but was mildly amusing. It was a throwback to the one man ads that black cast members Eddie Murphy, Tracy Morgan and Chris Rock used to do. While Kenan is underrated unfortunately he isn't in their league and wasn't ready for a segment like this.

    The German coats segment was another cheap attempt at retro, but once again Fred Armisen is not Dana Carvey.

    Ben Affleck was funny again in the Keith Olberman sketch although it did run way too long. It was great to see a host that is actually known for being funny and it produced much better results.

    As usual John McCain was very funny on the show. He has no trouble mocking himself and let's hope this last minute plugging helps him win the White House.
  • Great, funny episode with terrific guest stars such as Tina Fey!

    The show opened with Tina Fey as Sarah Palin next to John McCain (the real one). They did a really funny skit about how the McCain campaign was going to sell all kinds of stuff on QVC. They could only get on this crappy network, while Obama managed to air on three major networks.
    They sold Joe action figures (Joe the Plumber, Joe Six-Pack and Joe Biden), plates, pork knives, jewelry, "Sarah Palin's Ayers Fresheners" and Palin 2012 t-shirts (which Palin presented in secret).
    McCain: "I'm a true maverick, a republican without money."

    Ben Affleck was awesome, hilarious. He's really, really good at impressions! He was particularly good as Alec Baldwin and UPS guy at Target (hilarious)..

    Will and Fred sang in Weekend Update, they were sooooo funny!! :D

    I LOVED Kenan giving tips about sex positions in "Grady Wilson's Put the Fire Back In Your Marriage Techniques". Hahaha, he was great.

    Fred and Ben Affleck did a German coat sellers sketch, they were awesome with German dialects! Hahaha...

    In conlusion, a really great show! Fun fun!
  • Marry, Divorce, Marry, Divorce. Either way, I'm writing a book on it!

    I enter tonight's review with a little uncertainty. I know it's been pushed aside, but lets remember that the Screen Actors Guild is STILL negotiating their contract. Of course, threats of a strike have been seen since the writer's strike ended, but, it still could happen. Granted, they're thinking of just boycotting big things, like the Golden Globes, and the Oscars, due to the fact that actors really don't want to strike over the holidays, or the winter, but, still, let's just keep this in mind, that a possible strike could happen at any time, and that any episode could be our last for a while. Overracting, much? Time will tell...

    How does that tie with SNL? Well, I think we learned how that does so after the Brian Williams episode. But, anyways, tonight's host is our first returning host of the season, Ben Affleck. There's also David Cook as musical guest. Not so excited, but whatever.

    McCain/Palin on QVC: John McCain's 3rd appearance on the show! This was an exciting opening, and Tina Fey's Sarah Palin will be missed. This sketch worked out, and the Cindy McCain cameo was good for a chuckle.

    Monologue: Ben Affleck briefly talks about how he's endorsing John McCain, because who ever he endorses loses. This was our 5th consecutive real monologue.

    Jar Glove: Well, at least we went 7 episodes without a repeat commercial. Can't complain. All I can hope is that they don't go season 31 on us, and repeat this commercial 3 more times. At least not until December.

    The View: I was excited to see The View make it with this current cast. Armisen's Joy Behar was hilarious, and I've got to give it to Casey. This is like her Rachael Ray all over again. It was absolutely adorable. She captured that Aniston thing. Affleck was so delightful as Baldwin, while Kenan's Whoopie was hilarious to watch. I also loved Kristen's Hasselback. This sketch was hilarious, and I couldn't stop laughing at this.

    Countdown with Keith Olberman: I'm glad they finally did a sketch about him. He is so biased, it's not even funny! This sketch ran a little too long, but Affleck's Olberman was hilarious. That being said, I'm glad the election season is over.

    Target Greatland: This Target Lady sketch actually worked a lot better than the Jonah Hill version. The writers twisted things up a little. Once again, Affleck made this sketch hilarious.

    Girraffes: Remember that Sloths sketch from the Forest Whitaker show? Yeah, well this is the exact same thing, except Jason plays the zoo keeper, and the song is about Girraffes. The only thing that even made me chuckle was Sudeikis's comment at the end.

    Weekend Update: Now, why is Amy still in the credits? Stu said that they might do a fanfare for her in a month or so, but will Amy be willing to do that? Any ways, tonight's Update was so less awkward than last week's. John McCain's commentary was funny, while the Kelly brothers was totally pointless. And, of course, Aunt Linda came out of nowhere since May 2007. I guess that was adequate. Over all, it was a middling Update.

    Night School Musical: This was actually a really funny idea. The audience didn't seem to take this that funny, while I thought it was hilarious.

    Grady Wilson's Sex Moves: Okay, now this was grose. I was laughing, but at the same time, I was saying 'gross'! It was a funny sketch, though.

    The Brother's Ideas: Better idea than execution. But, hey, it was the 2nd to last sketch.

    German Coats: I guess this had some form of comedy, but overall, I really didn't laugh.

    Okay, Ben Affleck is possibly our best host this season. Anne Hathaway and him are both fighting for first, while Jon Hamm is definetely a close 3rd. David Cook really didn't do anything for me. But, I expected that.

    Tonight's show was a satisfying one. Not as good as the Hamm show. But, it was still a memorable one.Even though I'm routing for the Obama/Biden ticket, the McCain/Palin ticket is so much funnier! Both McCain and Palin were great on SNL. That being said, I'm glad politics is over. I'm wondering if SNL can stay as consistant as it has been without their political sketches being so dominant over the show. I'm not going to lie, I'm worried a little, but we'll see how things wrap out.

    This cast really did great. 10 live broadcasts in 8 weeks is a huge task, and all of them proved to be adequate, minus Phelps/Wayne. Even after concern of writing burn-out from the Josh Brolin/Adele show, SNL came roaring back for the Hamm and Affleck shows. Now, the cast will be rewarded a 1-week break. It's not much, but they'll take it.

    I hope that this season can commence as planned, and that no actors glitch will happen. But, I shall say no more.

    November 15 is our next live show, with host Paul Rudd, and musical guest, Beyonce.

    Tomorrow at 9 PM EST, it is the presidential bash 2008. I'll be watching, but not reviewing.

    And, last but not least, this Saturday's repeat is James Franco/Kngs of Leon. A so-so show of the season. I actually need to get that episode on DVD. The live broadcast had this awkward transition back into HD, so it was wierd.
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