A Review by "HelloStuart," Amateur Critic and Disgraced Florida Congressman
I try to avoid discussing politics in my reviews, but I can’t help and stare at awe with what is now being referred to as "Foleygate." Everything that has occurred so far reads like a bad SNL sketch in itself: a congressman gets caught making lewd comments to a former page on instant messenger, the GOP head honchos learn of this information, then sits on it for three years, then said congressman makes a bunch of bullcrap excuses before finally admitting that he’s a Log Cabin Republican and resigns from office. The fact that SNL would draw inspiration from this scandal was like shooting fish in barrel; so what if "The Daily Show" approached the comedic value of this controversy not only punctually but with more aplomb? SNL still has that reputation of feeding topical humor into pop culture, as scattershot and as clumsy as it might be.
This week’s host is Jaime Pressly, the actress-model who recently scored a much-deserved Emmy nomination for her work as Joy on the NBC comedy “My Name is Earl.” The musical guest is Corinne Bailey Rae, a British singer-songwriter that might remind some people of an early Nelly Furtado, or at least an updated Joan Armatrading.
And now, the sketch-by-sketch analysis:
COLD OPENING: Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (DH) makes his first SNL appearance to address (yeah, you guessed it) Foleygate. The pride of Yorkville, Illinois tries to put a positive spin on the situation before the GOP loses any more seats in the upcoming midterm elections, going as far as to say that Rep. Foley was “helpful” and reached out to his lonely, insecure underlings. You hear one double entendre, you’ve heard them all, am I right?
MONOLOGUE: Joy Darville Hickey Turner’s attempt to thwart Southern stereotypes with a sultry rendition of Peggy Lee’s “Fever” is retaliated by every redneck cliché you can think of, right down to the Ku Klux Klan and a palpable “Hee Haw” homage. Hey, at least Andy plays a mean banjo.
"Nancy Grace": The condescending attorney-cum-news program host (AP) obsesses intermittently between the Foley fallout, identity theft, and the rationale behind her recently adjusted chair. Even the Headline News janitor (KT) is thrown into her web of self-deluded paranoia. Kudos to Amy for stepping up so far this season as a celebrity-impression artist, not to mention making the most of the best-written sketch of the evening.
"New York City Stories": Martin Scorsese (FA) and Rosie Perez (AP) point at random things on the street that have allegedly fond memories attached to them. At least Amy got another impression down pat.
"Jon Bovi": An incredibly atrocious pair of musicians (JS, WF) with a yen for unimaginatively rewriting Bon Jovi and Scorpions lyrics fail to impress a no-nonsense record label exec (Jaime) ...or do they? Though the concept was fine, I found it odd that all three actors stared at cue-cards for the duration of the sketch, with little if any eye contact between the three leads; were the rockers supposed to be borderline autistic (which I guess would provoke sympathy but would almost certainly kill the joke), or was this just plain old indolence?
“WVIR News”: The winner of a contest at a local car dealership (Jaime) finds her victory tainted by a nervous, potentially bisexual news reporter (KW) and her awkward flirting. Kristin was utterly hilarious; it’s nice to see that rare character-driven sketch that doesn’t pander or potentially gets on the viewers’ nerves.
“New York City Stories”: I had a feeling there this was going to be a wraparound sketch. In part two of a series of short films spotlighting Big Apple-based celebrities commenting on their dwellings (yes, it’s a spoof), ‘70s art-rockers Lou Reed and Patti Smith (FA and AP again) bemoan what has become of the legendary nightclub CBGB’s. As much as I’m endeared to the subject matter (I have a great affinity for late ‘70s punk and power-pop), this went way over my head.
“Mrs. Hastings”: The ghetto-poseur daughter (Jaime) of an apparently affluent man gets in trouble at her private school, but before the book can be thrown at her, the little brat’s stepmother (KT) intercedes brings the sketch to a screeching halt. Sadly, I think this sketch has “recurring character” written all over it; this was also hurt by its painful dearth of plot and direction.
MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: Corinne gets simultaneously sultry and virginal for her breakthrough hit “Put Your Records On.” There’s just something about a black strapless dress…
WEEKEND UPDATE: After a promising start, reality comes down like a big, unfunny hammer. Amy makes an obvious fat joke about Rep. Hastert, and Seth's jab at Bill Frist was more of a groan-inducing shared opinion than a real joke. The two commentaries weren't much better; Hader's Peter O'Toole impression would've been much more effective if it had been better-written, and the NBC ripoff "Fugly Betsy" (FA) was nothing more than a lazy jab at NBC's ratings woes. I personally don't tend to dwell on the past, but I'm already starting to miss Tina.
The NASCARettes”: Live from the Charlotte Motor Speedway, the racing league’s first-ever dance team makes its debut with disastrous, casualty-heavy results. The troupe’s one male member (FA) seemed tacked on, as was the subdued, catty tension between the other performers.
"New York Stories": Yay, a trilogy! This time around, author Fran Lebowitz and Yoko Ono (FA and AP once more) act disruptive and whiny as they lament the non-corporate NYC of years past. "Season of Glass," indeed.
"Big Wigs": Well, it's truth in advertising- two upper-management stiffs (Jaime and AP) enliven the lamest pun you can think of. Then, after they die in a ceiling fan mishap, they\'re replaced by two women (MR, KW) with baseball bats calling themselves -yeah, you guessed it- "Ballbusters." Oof.
"His Kuato": The torso-dwelling alien dude from "Total Recall" (AS) fails to impress a girl (Jaime) at a party. This sketch is salvaged only by an arbitrary topical ending, when Governor Schwarzenegger (DH) turns the Smint-obsessed freak into an allegory for the immigration debate.
MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: The lovely Brit strums through the acoustic ballad “Like a Star.”
“Cider Chat”: Two upper middle-class, seemingly white-bread women (Jaime, KW) discuss random occurrences, then share a few disturbing comments to a soft, almost poetic beat while sipping apple cider on the porch on a cool Autumn night. I’ll admit that I was torn on this particular skit; it was hard to decide whether or not this was a satire of the doldrums of suburban life or just an excuse on the writers’ part to throw random comments at a wall to see what sticks.
“A Moment with the Out-of-Breath Jogger from 1982”: Yep, that’s the entire sketch; no need to explain it, because it’s exactly what it sounds like.
Wow, what a train wreck. It\'s funny that they recycled the Ebersol-era logo during the opening credits this week, in that this broadcast was like a throwback of that period; a strong cast was hampered by some incredibly pedestrian writing. Though I cut the new Weekend Update some slack last week, this week seemed like a sad indication of things to come; the one-liners that staggered out of Amy and Seth\'s mouths were heavy on clichés and more often than not deafeningly imprudent. Not even the heightened presence of the four much-ballyhooed \"newbies\" (Suds, Wiigy, Bill, and Andy) could prevent this from being a misfire. This is not how the second episode of the season is supposed to be, unless this is an unfortunate harbinger of SNL’s near-future.
Sketches/segments that will probably be removed from repeats: "Mrs. Hastings," Weekend Update, at least one of the “New York City Stories” filmed pieces, and "Big Wigs."
Next week: a repeat of last weekend’s Cook/Killers broadcast. Yes, already.
In two weeks: Academy Award-nominated character actor John C. Reilly (a.k.a. that dude you see in every other movie) with musical guest My Chemical Romance. Oh please, let Mr. Cellophane be funny…
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