Brought To You By The Official Amateur Critic of the 2008 Summer Olympics
I suppose right now you're wondering, "What have I am doing to kill time since the last episode three weeks ago?" Well, when I'm not churning out another one of my reviews on a cold winter Chicago morning, I also post almost to the point of mainlining at the various TV Tome forums. I also attend classes at a local community college and work part-time radio station, but that's not important. What is relevant, however, is the fact that SNL is coming up with more and more curious choices for host.
Now, I know what you're thinking, "You just started two straight paragraphs with the exact same type of sentence." True, but the idea of real estate guru and reality show darling Donald Trump hosting SNL does boggle the mind a little. After all, his most memorable acting performance to date was a cameo in the long-forgotten 1994 remake of The Little Rascals. What's even more interesting is that Toots and the Maytals, reggae stalwarts of the past four decades, are serving as musical guests along with a small army of more contemporary performers right at their side. This has all the makings of either a really great, diamond-in-the-rough episode or a really bloated mess.
And now, word to your mother, the sketch-by-sketch analysis:
COLD OPENING: Gee, nobody saw this coming. It's an "Apprentice" spoof with SNL cast members, as The Donald and his two cronies (I don't know their names) must decide whether Fallon, Finesse, or Poehler should be fired. Someone points out that Jimmy tends to crack up in sketches (my biggest issue with the show right now), and without much hesitation he gets the boot. Now if only this was for real
MONOLOGUE: The Donald walks onstage and starts bragging about his various accomplishments, then introduces his "backup Donald," Darrell Hammond. We watch DH's uncanny yet repetitive Trump impression for about thirty seconds, probably because he thinks the audience is the intellectual equivalent of a chimp. Then, who should pop out of nowhere but NBC slave-driver Jeff Zucker (JF), who unsuccessfully argues that with half of it's current lineup riding into the sunset, the whole network is not relying on Donald's magic touch. Oh yeah, and Jeff/Jimmy gets fired again.
"Fear Factor Junior": Joe Rogan (FA) traumatizes first-graders into doing various dangerous and/or disgusting stunts, in an apparent criticism of how strangely appealing this show is to small children. It's good satire, but hopefully this won't be the last sketch of the night that has nothing to with "The Apprentice."
"Live With Regis and Kelly": Regis and Donald are reportedly good friends, so seeing this sketch wasn't that much of a surprise. Anyhoo, the morning show odd couple observes Gelman's (RD) apparent sex change, then play friendly with Donald. The Midas touch and "You're fired" jokes are already wearing thin, but not even DH's forgetting of lines seems to derail this overtly patronizing sketch.
"Backstage": Right after the Regis sketch, Donald runs into Star Jones (KT) in the audience, and they have a quick chat that snowballs into an over-glorified fat joke. Funny that this reminds me of my earlier prediction, as I'm slowly beginning to lead towards "bloated mess."
"Trump's House of Wings": Within blocks of Al Sharpton's Casa de Sushi and Derek Jeter's Taco Hole in suburban New Jersey, this defunct Meinieke's is now The Donald's latest baby. I loved the jingle, and David Crosby (HS) was good for a non-sequitor laugh, but the fact that this "ad" was so similar to the previous two restaurants only made me come to the conclusion that this could've been much, much better.
MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: Toots Hibbert, the Maytals, Ben Harper, Jack Johnson, and a bunch of other guys that somehow wandered onstage perform "Pressure Drop."
WEEKEND TRUMP-DATE: Just let Tina Fey's falsies do the talking here. In an obviously distracted edition of Update, Jimmy compares fallen Tyco CEO Dennis Koslowski to that guy from Midnight Oil, Tina pretends to be drunk so she doesn't have to see all those promos for her upcoming film "Mean Girls," and Omarosa Jingleheimer-Schmidt (MR) is hit in the head repeatedly by assorted debris.
"The Prince & The Pauper": Mary, mother of God, not this again. It's a variation of the story with "the prince of the city" (DH) switching places with a janitor sporting a high school mustache (Trump). Despite a few clever putdowns about bad hair and some hilariously awkward narration by Maya Rudolph, you could tell there more than a little drudgery in making this sketch happen.
"Fathers & Sons": The Donald finally gets to show off his versatility by playing the cold, distant father of a Central Illinois-based talk show host (SM). After introducing a much-healthier patriarch/offspring relationship (JF, HS) that can't stop giggling and hugging, the host adjusts to the outcome that their relationship may not be entirely flawed. I also double-checked my extensive "research" and I have officially proven two of my most daring hypotheses: Donald Trump is a shameless cue-card reader, and Fallon & Sanz are now officially more annoying than funny.
"Live Testimony": At last, a sketch without Donald. And better yet, it's a political sketch. Controversy-monger Richard Clarke (DH) testifies to a panel (FA, RD, CP) that he tried to let the Bush Administration know about the pending attacks but was interrupted and/or distracted by their bizarre quirks. It may not be another one of Jim Downey's masterstrokes, but it was very refreshing not having to watch another "Apprentice" spoof.
MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: Toots is now joined by Bootsy Collins and The Roots on this charming little 30-year-old number, whose name is "Funky Kingston."
"Band Rehearsal": When the final two contestants are away, Donald and the gang will play. While I am now annoyed by the idea of another "Apprentice"-themed sketch, it was fun to watch Trump play keyboards in a punk-power pop trio. There's also a little in-joke tossed in: Fred Armisen (he played the old guy) used to play guitars and drums in an assortment of punk bands here in Chicago back in the early 90's.
Saturday Night Live has stooped to a new low. This episode was nothing more than a shameless advertisement for the network itself and a complete defiance of the f***-the-system mentality of the show's 70's heyday. I swear, Chevy Chase's career must be spinning in its grave. Trump was as wooden as they come as host, and the cast was at times uncomfortable in his presence. Amidst all its fallacies, it was nice to see something as out of the ordinary as Toots and the Maytals performing on SNL. When was the last time a noted non-mainstream act was on this show, anyway? And while I'm asking questions, where the heck was Forte tonight?
Sketches That Will Probably Be Removed For Reruns: "In the Audience," "Fathers & Sons," and probably (against my wishes) the first twenty seconds of "Update" and at least one performance by Mr. Toots.
Next Week: Janet Jackson "nips" things in the bud as host and musical guest.
Contact "heystu" at email@example.com. He's 20 going on 21, a Leo, dark blond, five foot nine, and enjoys dining and the occasional night at the movies. Oh yeah, and he doesn't sell/rent/borrow bootleg episodes to anyone, unless, of course, you meet the demands listed above.