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Saturday Night Live

Season 35 Episode 11

James Franco/Muse

Aired Saturday 11:30 PM Dec 19, 2009 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
45 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Live from New York, it's... Fred Armisen and Kristen Wiig!

Sketches include "The Lawrence Welk Show," "What Up With That?," "The Kissing Vogelchecks," "The Tizzle Wizzle Show" (Digital Short), "The Manuel Ortiz Show," "Sigma Lambda Omega," "Vincent Price Christmas Special," "Tree Love," "Christmas Gift Meeting," and "Mark Wahlberg Talks to Christmas Animals."

Muse performed "Uprising" and "Starlight."moreless

Who was the Episode MVP ?

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  • James Franco hosts

    James Franco is one of my personal favorite actors in this generation of actors and actresses. He can go from drama to comedy on the drop of a dime and I'm always glad when he decides to host. Like a broken record, I'll repeat myself: the host in this installment was much better than the writing or skits they were given. Franco was hilarious here, but at times, the writing was not.

    I'll start with what I liked. I loved Franco's monologue, which found him joking about his very wide variety in roles. Some of the skits that followed were pretty good as well; there was the reoccurring bit about the family who loves to kiss each other. As dumb as it may seem, it never gets old for me. It's ridiculous and shocking and the actors do a superb job with it. Also, Franco, Armisen and the other actors do a good job with the skit where the actors dance and shuffle after someone walks on stage or when they cut to a commercial. It may not seem inspired, but it's one of those things that gets funnier every time they do it. And as for the Digital Short, I died laughing. The Digital Short's are one of those things you love or hate; if that's not your humor, you'll hate it, but personally, I love the Digital Shorts. And "What's Up With That" is a skit that shouldn't work, but it does every time.

    But everything else just felt dull. The frat-house skit was plain stupid, I liked Bill Hader in the Vincent Price skit, but everything else about it wasn't that funny (Kristen Wiig plays the SAME character over and over) and the Tree Love skit was just dumb as well. A lot of stupid skits mixed in with some decent ones.moreless
  • Christmas time... what up with that?

    First of all, to people reading this review and noticing the date that this is posted, I apologize for not posting this on TV.com. I typed all these reviews up after they aired, but I just never got to post them on the sight. So, don't think I have some mental problem when i start speaking as if we're back in December. (All though I never typed one up for Lautner/Bon Jovi at it's air, explaining the last review post)

    Our host tonight is James Franco. James hosted back in September 2008, and brought an above average show, although it was more of a cast night than a host night. But I am open-minded on tonight's broadcast.

    Our musical guest is Muse, which I am very excited about. I've wanted this band on SNL ever since I became a fan of this show 3 years ago. Their big single, "Uprising" and my personal favorite of the album "United States of Eurasia" are the hopefuls that I want to be performed tonight, but we'll see.

    The Lawrence Welk Show: This sketch was a one-time thing that I found funny. And, when they did it again for the Will Ferrell show last May, I thought it was just more of a nostalgic sign-off to the season, but I guess it's back. There weren't many new funny parts to this sketch.

    Monologue: James seems a lot more energetic tonight then his last show and this was a pretty funny monologue.

    What Up With That?: This sketch is actually a personal favorite from this season, but, man, tonight something was just off. The band kept on missing cues, and taking wrong spots, and it just seemed phoned in tonight. I guess that's the Christmas show for you, though.

    Affectionate Family: Not my favorite sketch to become a recurring sketch. They did this at the Paul Rudd show a year ago, and the irony in that was was very little, but the irony in this one was non-existent. The audience knew what was coming next, and this didn't really set up for any laughs.

    The Tizzle Wizzle Show: This was such a dark-humored sketch, but, hey, it was pretty funny. James being the only straightman and being completely terrified was great.

    The Manuel Ortiz Show: This sketch was silly and new. I can see recurring within the next 3 or 4 episodes, and it being run down to the ground.

    Musical Performance: Muse performs "The Uprising", which was an awesome performance.

    Weekend Update: The jokes were pretty good tonight, and the Garth and Kat thing was something new, and it was funny to see them crack a smile and laugh during this. But, my favorite of the WU night was definitely Bobby Moynihan as Snooki. My friend has showed me some of this TV show, and I can't believe people get paid for that. This was absolutely hilarious.

    Dumb Frat Boys: This was a decent sketch, but nothing too special. It seemed to be over quickly, but, I guess i'd rather have that than it be dragging on.

    Vincent Price's Christmas Episode: I was excited to see this on, and as funny as it was, it wasn't as good as the last Vincent Price installments from last season. But, once again, it's the Christmas episode. It was still a very good sketch. it had the original formula from 2005, with a commercial in between.

    Tree Lover: Okay, this wasn't that good. It wasn't funny, and Franco, although he tried, didn't pull it off. I can't see many people pulling this off though. It's nothing to Franco. I'm just saying, the sketch itself wasn't that funny, and the delivery didn't help.

    Musical Performance: Muse performs an old single from their last album, "Starlight" which is another great song.

    Office Presents: These characters made me laugh on their second appearance. Their first sketch (with Josh Brolin in October 2008) wasn't that good, but their second (with Alec Baldwin in February 2009) was pretty funny. This one was also really silly, and it worked.

    Mark Wahlberg talks to Christmas animals: I guess this was a funny thing to bring back for the Christmas episode. But the irony of the first time they did this was just funny.

    Tonight's show was a decent one. It was pretty average, and while some of the sketches were funny, others weren't. That's the christmas show though. Muse was awesome, and was one of the more memorable musical guests so far in the season. James Franco also did an adequate job, and did not hurt the show by any means.

    Next broadcast is in 3 weeks (usually 4 for the Christmas break), and it involves Charles Barkley(?!?!) and Alicia Keys. Should be adventurous.

    And, I'll post these old reviews one by one soon enough. It just takes a while to put the formula for it to be spaced out evenly on.moreless
  • More of the same and that's not good!

    Lawrence Welk show cold open (R) - They decided to forgo a political cold open and instead opted for a sketch that has already been done to death. The first couple of times it aired, it was fairly funny, but the joke has not changed at all. Even the music is the same with different lyrics. Without any revisions, this sketch has pretty much burned itself out. A cold open highlighting the worst snowstorm to hit DC in years would have been funny. Especially since Obama had to rush back from the Copenhagen climate summit to beat the storm. Grade: D

    Monologue - Not a particularly strong monologue, but interesting that the writers laughed at themselves over the realization that this has been lackluster season. Blaming it on a lack of election year antics is kind of lame though. The politicos are always doing something outrageous. It just usually doesn't get reported. Grade: C+

    What's up with that? (R) - The title of this sketch echoed my thoughts upon seeing this sketch run again. Never very funny, this sketch drug on interminably long and missed a huge opportunity for laughs by not using Mike Tyson to his fullest abilities. Lazy, lazy writing that would get an F in school for re-submitting the same lousy work over and over. Grade: F

    Vogelchecks (R) - Another recurring sketch. They're reaching back further hoping that we won't notice. The long Hader/Franco kiss was worth a few chuckles, but it was essentially the same as the time where Paul Rudd hosted. Laziness abounds. Grade: C

    Digital Short - Finally something different and funny from the Lonely Island boys. The rap videos might appeal to a certain age segment, but they are hardly universally funny. The premise was simple and the punchline came quickly delivering a healthy dose of black comedy. Grade: B+

    Dominican TV - Very, very weak. The punchline of Latin dancing every time somebody is introduced wears thin after the second time. This sketch was undoubtedly bad, but it was made to look even worse running it shortly after What's up with that?. They both have essentially the same joke. Grade: D-

    Weekend Update - Some decent jokes as usual. Don't know anything about Jersey Shore so Bobby's character meant nothing to me and reminded me a bit of the Drunk Girl bit that Jeff Richards used to do. The other guests were just terribly unfunny. Grade: B-

    Fraternity Pledge - A non-recurring sketch that didn't quite develop into anything. It was nice Something different and the "twist" was funny at first, but it didn't develop any further than that. The ending was also very weak. Grade: C+

    Vincent Price's Xmas special (R) - Another recurring sketch that never offers anything more than some enjoyable impressions. Kristen always does something weird with her character, Fred always plays up Liberace's gayness and Bill always looks annoyed at everything going on around him. Not bad, but nothing new. Grade: B-

    Christmas Tree Seller - Not a bad idea, but not great either. Franco was not the best host to pull this off and this might have worked better with somebody like Walken or Malkovich. Grade: C-

    Office Christmas Presents (R) - Carol, hold my calls! Why do these lousy sketches keep coming back? Just because it's been done before doesn't mean that anybody wants to see it again. Sigh... Grade: D-

    Wahlberg (R) - Andy brings back his Wahlberg impression with a Christmas twist. Better than the first time, but still. Grade: C

    Overall - An episode heavy on recurring sketches with no chances taken. There was so much comedy surrounding the Copenhagen summit that was duly ignored. Everything from the free prostitutes for the delegates to blizzard conditions in Copenhagen during the global warming summit. I suppose GE wouldn't allow SNL to ridicule the summit since they have so much riding on green technology. Maybe when Comcast takes over? Grade: C-moreless
  • I'm orange and love lasagna

    James Franco hosts a second time, Muse perform their music on the show for the first time.

    Lawrence Welk- The sisters (Jenny, Abby, Nasim) perform along with their creepy sibling (Kristin) in a quintet with a Mexican singer (James). Seen one, seen'em all.

    Monologue- James talks about his new role on General Hospital and spins an idea incubator. Then, promises the "best Christmas show ever". We'll see.

    What Up With That?- The third time around has Deondre Cole (Kenan) singing the theme song over Mike Tyson, Jack MacBreyer, and frequent guest Lindsay Buckingham (Bill). Tyson utters something or other. Now that was hilarious, as for everything else, seen it done it.

    Kissing Family- The kissing family makes a second go round, with more effectionate smooching. And this was reran why?

    Tizzle Wizzle Show (Digital Short)- The first funny sketch of the night features a kids' show featuring pajamas, knifes and murder. Clever, creative, fantastic. Keep it up Lonely Island.

    Manuel Ortiz Show- Ortiz hosts a Telemundo-like talk show that features rapid speed salsa dancing between guests. Am I the only one who thinks James' character looks like '70s era Bill Murray? I am. Alright.

    Muse showcase alterna prog sounds on "Uprising"

    Weekend Update with Seth Meyers- Snooki from Jersey Shore (Bobby) discusses the show, gets interrupted by some loser with back abs (Bill); Garth and Kat (Fred, Kristin) sing Christmas songs but they can't remember the lyrics. Mediocre Update.

    Sigma Lambda Omega- Abusive frat brothers (Jason, James, Bobby) torment a pledge when he has to explain simple tasks to them. At least it was original.

    Vincent Price's Christmas Special- In 1954, exasperated Price (Bill) hosts another Christmas Special this time with spaced out Katherine Hepburn (Kristin), brooding James Dean (James) and the closet hinting Liberace (Fred). I always enjoy these, the delirious action is fun to watch. The ending with Liberace and James Dean might've been a bit too much though.

    Christmas Tree Salesman- A man (James) has an emotional attachment to his trees and gives them encouragement. I think they tried this with the wrong host. Not that it wasn't good, just someone else (Walken, Baldwin) would've sold this more.

    Muse perform more alterna prog, this time "Starlight"

    Christmas Present Ideas- The businessman, Jerry and Carl (Bill, Will) discuss present ideas co-worker (James) before calling out another. Most don't enjoy these series of sketches, I do however. They have weird Adult Swim feel to them. Mark Wahlberg Talks to Christmas Animals- Wahlberg (Andy) talks to more things, this time a sheep, partridge, and a snowman. Good close to the show.

    James, you lied. It also looks the writers (and possibly the actors) were ready for the three week break.moreless
  • James Franco hosts.

    James Franco is your host tonight. You might know him from Spiderman, Milk, Freaks and Geeks, General Hospital.....or soon as a corpse on Law and Order.

    Lawrence Welks Show: Never enjoyed this segment, and didn't like it here. James Franco joined the rare group of hosts to appear in the cold opening. Monologue: After watching General Hospital for the past month it's weird to see James Franco act so differently from his character Franco

    What Up With That?: John Stockton? Lol, gotta love the 80's references of this sketch, which has really become huge, for no apparent or understandable reason. Glad they finally found a vehicle for Kenan. How it didn't end with Tyson punching him though was upsetting. Affectionate Family: Sketch based on one concept, the entire family kissed each other, repeatedly. Not too dumb, I suppose, if the show hadn't already done 100 sketches like this before.

    Tizzle Wizzle Show: Parody of a children's show, that ended up being about suicide and knives. Luckily it did not last too long.

    Manuel Ortiz Show: Another talk show, another Fred Armisen hosted talk show. This brought flashbacks to the Horatio Sanz era of SNL, so no, I did not like it.

    Weekend Update: Nothing to write home about, except for the shot at iPhone. It took me several minutes to figure out how to call someone on one of them.

    Pledges: I think Sudeikis was wearing the same sweatshirt he wore when he was supposed to be the RA for Franco's college during his monologue last year. The segment was kind of funny, but grew old really fast.

    Vincent Price: Another crack at TV Land in the opening package. The actual channel doesn't show too many old shows anymore, which is change for the worst. Anyway, I liked Franco reprising his role of James Dean, but there was very little good in this sketch.

    Offices: Yes, the return of, "Carol, hold my calls!" I loved that the crowd recognized it too. Nice way to end the show.

    Mark Wahlberg talks to animals: And a nice surprise, to see this now renowned sketch return. Andy Samberg is horrible at impressions, but this was still a nice surprise.moreless

Featured Episode Clip

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (0)

  • NOTES (2)

    • Sketches/segments not shown in the 60 minute version: the Snooki segment on Weekend Update, Muse's performance of "Starlight," "A Vogelchek Christmas," "The Manuel Ortiz Show," "Illiterate Frat Brothers," "Carl and Jerry's Xmas Meeting" and "Mark Wahlberg Talks to Xmas Animals."

    • Sketches cut after dress rehearsal: a cold open in which during lunch, Sen. Joe Lieberman (Fred Armisen) refuses all the food options in the congress cafeteria; a peeping tom (Bill Hader) with his own insurance company, advertises his service; the four friends (Jason Sudiekis, Bill Hader, Andy Samberg, James Franco) reminisce about more bizarre past experiences; Kenan Thompson and Kristin Wiig sing "Baby, Its Cold Outside"; a man (Will Forte) with a dead prostitute in his home calls in Sen. Joe Lieberman (Fred Armisen) to dispose of it; in a Digital Short, a girl's (Kristin Wiig) vacation in New York leaves her unenthusiastic and home sick; and on Weekend Update, a black Santa (Kenan Thompson) and Nicholas Cage (Andy Samberg) gave seperate commentaries.