An Amateur Critic Joint
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Usually when I write a review, the first two paragraphs are written in future tense, thus making it look like I was writing the article and watching the show at the same time. Unfortunately, I could just barely sit through this particular episode, so I'm going to break tradition just once. I try to start my reviews with a slight sense of optimism, but under these conditions, that's a tall order. If you thought Season 29 wasn't going all that well, then you must be sugarcoating your real opinion about the current status of the show.
This episode's host is Christina Aguilera, another New Mickey Mouse Club alumnus who just so happens to be emphasizing acting over singing for a limited time only. This episode could be a repeat of the Simpson/Lachey episode last month, except that the former genie in a bottle can actually sing. Right under the headline as the musical guest is Maroon 5, the soul-rock quintet whose existence I barely recognized prior to last week's review.
And now, the inevitable sketch-by-sketch analysis:
COLD OPENING: Yep, it's "Hardball" again, this time debating the topic of gay marriage. With varying views on the topic are 1996 presidential candidate Gary Bauer (CP), an ego-stroking Rosie O'Donnell (HS), and horny homophobe Ah-nuld (DH, in duel roles). The skit lasted a little over two minutes, and then Chris Matthews (DH) wrapped it up with all the meticulousness of a rabid dingo.
MONOLOGUE: Jimmy Fallon walks up to Christina, asking her about her act, not to mention the conservative-in-comparison wardrobe. Meanwhile, Tina, Lorne (second time he's appeared all season), Horatio, Kenan, and Finesse are standing backstage pretending to defend some of the crude anti-Christina jokes on "Weekend Update." After Tina storms off, Lorne suddenly realizes that apparently he hired a guy named "Finesse" six months ago, and said cast member makes comments similar to Jimmy's. And how does it all end? With an a cappella rendition of "Beautiful," a song that she performed on the show last season. Obviously, they were trying too hard to be tongue-in-cheek.
"Sex and the City": It's the much-anticipated season finale, with the bombshell that we kept hearing all of this week: apparently, aging sex addict Samantha (Christina) is actually a transvestite. Outside of all the bad puns ("Yay, puns!") and a dead-on imitation by Christina, this was more pedestrian than it should've been.
"Do You Know Who My Father Is?": I thought this was going to be a game show spoof about illegitimate children, but it turned out to be a game show spoof about bratty rich kids. Despite the fact that Will Forte was hilarious as usual (he was one of the contestants), it probably would've been funnier (and more pointed) had it been my original presumption.
SMIGELTOON: Wow, this is only the third cartoon thus far this season. Despite that, it's "Fun With Real Audio" yet again, this focusing on Access Hollywood host Pat O'Brien in reflective thought. Unfortunately, the closest he can come to finding serenity is repeating cheesy gossip headlines. Coincidentally, this was one of the few times I found serenity in the whole show.
"History Channel": Phil Donahue (DH) hosts a special about obscure women's-libbers, focusing on 1880's-era harlot Abigail Rivington-Steele (Christina) and her mortified "friends" (RD, AP, MR). I'm impressed by the fact that the host can do a convincing Southern drawl, but the Donahue impression was a little overdone.
MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: What Maroon 5 song would you be expecting at 12:08AM (11:08 central/mountain) eight days after Valentine's? Why, "This Love," of course!
WEEKEND UPDATE: Some people might be bothered by the fact that the jokes on "WU" have been more tabloid-heavy in recent weeks, but I would probably categorize as the same people who watch reruns of the Dennis Miller era that can't seem to understand the Dan Quayle and Leona Hemsley jokes. I say, if it's funny, run with it. Any-hoo, in a relatively subdued Update, the second half was stronger than the first; Will Forte pretended to be black, Jimmy turned dinosaurs into "Jesus horses," and Tina jabbed at the hygiene of animal-rights activists.
"You Got Served": Two rival groups run into each other in Venice Beach and try to prove who's better by "Breakin'" to early-90's dance hits. Sadly, the scantly-clad Christina is the only one with truly funky-fresh dance moves. I loved the non-sequitur ending with Will, but ultimately this sketch was really about nothing. And did anybody notice how unconvincing Chris Parnell was one of the young'ums?
"Green Room": Christina lets Star Jones (KT), her fiancé (FM), a pale Patti LaBelle (MR), and three of the four Osbournes (RD, AP, HS) into her dressing room, only to remind her of her media reputation as a skank. Despite once great line by Aguilera, the ending was too pious, but that was after the clumsy set-up.
"Besos Y Lagrinas": A telenovela spoof with Christina as a maid/kissing bandit. Being the occasional patron of the Spanish channel arts, I am proud to say that the utter stupidity that underlies this sketch is right on the money, as most telenovelas have about ten seconds of plot per episode, then focuses on sex and white-collar crimes. A lot more clever than it looks.
"Huggies Thong": Again? Excuse me while I concuss myself by banging my head on the keyboard.
"Attitude": Boss (CP) orders sandwich, secretary (AP) goes out to buy sandwich, brings in employee (WF) with attitude problem, boss fires him, employee jumps out of first-story window, the secretary returns with the sandwich, a jogger steals the sandwich. And somewhere in there was a concept and a punch-line.
MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: The band once known as Kara's Flowers returns to the stage with "Harder to Breathe," which apparently was a top five hit six months ago.
"Neighborhood Pharmacy": A slight rewrite of the ten-to-one sketch from Queen Latifah/Ms. Dynamite episode, with a crippled cashier (HS) harassing the embarrassing purchases of his customers. By this point, I didn't really care anymore, so you can go draw your own conclusions on this piece of drivel.
Man oh man, am I glad that's over. I will admit that I've kept most of my criticism towards the cast at bay, but now I've been pushed over the edge. Even the least critical of SNL fans must be thinking overhaul by now. The sketches were vaguely repetitious and the writing felt phoned-in. Christina Aguilera, who turned out to be a fair but average actress, is wasted in one premise-challenged sketch after another, save for her impressive Kim Cattrell impression. Maroon 5 was just as energetic a live act as their music was vaguely familiar in sound. And to think that Will Forte was in practically in every sketch, which was something I suggested over a year ago. Despite a noble effort, this had to have been one of the weakest and most inconsistent SNL episodes in the last five years.
Sketches That Will Probably Be Removed In Repeats: Take everything, I don't care.
In Three Weeks: The host and musical guest(s) are not yet determined. More than likely, they probably don't want to identify themselves. Maybe that's why rumors that Will Ferrell will host won't go away- he won't officially host until Lorne straightens the ship.
I would now like to take this time to comment on the increasingly sad state of SNL fan sites. Of the twenty known sites that focus on the show in general (in other words, this excludes sites like "Maya Rudolph: Super Fox of the Century"), it seems that half of them have rather suddenly been abandoned by their creators. Upon clicking on "Fanfare" at NBC's SNL site, you will find no more than five sites that are outdated beyond recognition. From what I know of, only one of these sites has a legitimate excuse to be deemed discarded: the webmistress of "Saturday Night Live Fever" (saturdaynightlivefever.cjb.net/) was victim to a worm in November 2003. True, there are some great SNL sites that are still up n' running (SNL Archives, SNL Transcripts, SNLRA), but it's very depressing to see so many sites dedicated to SNL that presumably list Robert DeNiro/Norah Jones as the next "upcoming" episode. For shame.
I am currently a radio broadcasting major at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, and I currently reside in nearby Downer's Grove. If you have questions about SNL or if you want to comment on my reviews, please contact me firstname.lastname@example.org. Upon receiving repeated requests, I do not tape or sell bootleg episodes.