Saturday Night Live

Season 30 Episode 1

Ben Affleck/Nelly

Aired Saturday 11:30 PM Oct 02, 2004 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (1)

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  • The Right Women for the Job

    A Review by the Former "Heystu," the South Beach-Friendly Amateur Critic

    The beginning of the thirtieth season of SNL came with some sort of if-it-ain't-broken, don't-fix-it mentality, with essentially the same cast members and writers from last season save for the departed Jimmy Fallon. Once again, we have new opening credits and a slightly altered stage, but it's still the same old SNL. The cast is still uneven, the writing is now on the fringe of bipolar disorder, and to my greatest annoyance, the producers of the show continue to bring in the flavor of the month to host and/or serve as musical guest. The hullabaloo over who's replacing Fallon on "Update" has only been a mere distraction.

    Tonight's host, by the way, is the one and only Ben Affleck, who just so happened to have hosted six months ago. It might seem too soon, but then again, Candice Bergen once hosted twice in six weeks. The musical guest is St. Louis-based rapper Nelly, who is promoting not one but two new discs. This guy is obviously in a state of euphoria, and not because his Cardinals are contending for the World Series. It's also worth noting that tonight will mark the debut of Rob Riggle, who is 1) a veteran of the improv circuit, 2) an old buddy of Amy Poehler, and 3) the first former Marine cast member. I can't wait to see him in an Iraq-themed sketch.

    And now, the sketch-by-sketch analysis:

    COLD OPENING: I should've put money on this, because I predicted this months ago. It's a spoof of the first presidential debate, pitting a flustered, stammering Dubya (Will Forte) against an indifferent John Kerry (Seth Meyers), with a stiff Jim Lehrer (Chris Parnell) shooting the bullets. Despite the fact that it was way overlong (12 minutes!), each of the three actors in this sketch managed to accurately portray the newsmakers.

    OPENING CREDITS: After last year's dazzling music video-style intro, we go back to the stylish, humorless credits that we've come to expect. While it may seem bland, I do have one question for Don Pardo: who's "Will Fert"?

    MONOLOGUE: Ben Affleck walks up to center stage, makes a bad joke about his frequent hosting, and then has his preface crashed by none other than Alec Baldwin. After hectoring him for appearing on the show too often, he brags that he's hosted nine times (he's actually hosted 11) and mutters the s-word under his breath. But at least the banter was amusing.

    "Dr. Porkenheimer's Boner Juice": Sounds like a product I'd buy. It's also of note that this is Riggle's first sketch appearance.

    "Debbie Downer": Wow, we've gone twenty minutes without a commercial break. But anyway, America's favorite miserable giggle machine is back, continuing her crusade against feline AIDS at her friend Ronnie's (Affleck) 35th birthday party. Rachel Dratch manages to keep her composure this time (Horatio Sanz cracked up once), but the magic is totally gone.

    "Swift Veterans": Spoofing the much-debated John Kerry attack ads, people who claim who to have served with Kerry, plus a guy who once saw Platoon, give their thinly-veiled support for President Bush. The allegations of entering and leaving a prisoner camp, not to mention the shameless plug for Adobe Photoshop, are a hoot.

    "Kerry Hotel Room": Oh boy, yet another political sketch. An awkward moment of snuggling between JFK and the condiment queen (Maya Rudolph) is interrupted by the mouth of the south, James Carville (Affleck). After a few minutes of oddball analogies about flip-flopping and crazy wifes, former President Clinton (DH) pretends to be room service and makes a move on Teresa. Even with a really bad pun involving ketchup, this sketch really didn't do anything for me.

    MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: Nelly and Jaheim are as energetic as sitting on stools can be. Of course, the song is called "My Place," so maybe they wanted to relax.

    WEEKEND UPDATE: The surprise was ruined when I ran into an article about it in the Chicago Sun-Times, but yes, Amy Poehler has succeeded J.Fa as Tina's co-anchor. So far, so good, but her opportunities to make funny were limited by James Gandolfini's comments on the McGreevey/Capal scandal, Ben Affleck's public tongue-lashing of buddy Matt Damon, and Elton John's (Sanz) hatred of the Pacific Rim. A little overstuffed, but I'll give Poehler a little more time to prove herself as a credible newswoman.

    "Woodfield Mall": The weird thing is, I've been to this shopping center (Schaumberg, IL is about twenty miles from where I live), and the last time I was there the escalators weren't working. That figures heavily into this minimalist disaster-movie spoof, complete with the hunky hero (Affleck), the love interest (AP), and the old nag who constantly gets bitch-slapped (Dratch). This was such an absurdist delight.

    "DJ Ray": A wedding reception is hampered by an obnoxious MC (Affleck) and his less-than-appreciated choice of music. Playing Night Ranger's "Sister Christian" over the blessing of a parish priest (Fred Armisen) was absolutely inspired, not to mention Ray's interaction with the frustrated bride and groom (AP, RR). It's funny how Poehler and Riggle have now played marrieds in two different sketches tonight.

    MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: Nelly comes back to say "We Can Leave Her." Such chivalry!

    "The Family": The show wraps up with a short film by Alison Jackson providing a hidden-video account of a typical night at the Bush family ranch. Playing Skynyrd all the way up to eleven was a nice touch.

    Like it did last year, a new season has started with an unbalance affair with dizzying highs and unappealing lows. Affleck was effective as host, and while hip-hop isn't my cup of tea, Nelly sure knew how to keep the crowd entertained. Fey and Poehler instantly clicked as partner on "Update," but then again the two of them have known each other for going on a decade now. And where in the heck was KT and Finesse?

    Sketches You Won't See In The 60-Minute Edit: "The Kerrys' Hotel Room," "The Family," and "We Can't Leave Her." And don't be surprised if the debate is drastically edited, The Brown Bunny style.

    Next Week: SNL gets "Queened" when the former Dana Owens promotes "The Dana Owens Album" and some Jimmy Fallon movie. Who wants to put money that he'll cameo?

    The aspiring writer known as "heystu" resides in Downers Grove, Illinois. Contact him at