A Review by "Heystu," Semi-Pro Critic
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As I went through the motions of preparing for my review of this episode, I had this thought circling around in my head as to who should leave and will depart SNL following tonight's live broadcast. As much as I find this current ensemble adequate, it is also flawed and perhaps even bloated. The fact that nearly half of the current cast has been on the show five years or longer does open up the idea that there time has come and gone and that they should move on, but given how more recent cast additions such as Finesse Mitchell and Rob Riggle have simply failed to step up to the plate and leave a noticeable impression on the viewers has drawn an ultimate conclusion. As much as I hate to say it, but Lorne Michaels needs to clean house and do it as soon as humanly possible. There is plenty of budding young talent on the comedy and improve circuits flowing though this land, yet he seems reluctant to have even a mere sampling of this elixir.
This week's episode, the last of the season as well as the closing act of the third decade of the show, has all the makings of a broadcast just like any other in this particular season. The host this week is Lindsey Lohan, the semi-attractive redhead that exuded blandness in her first hosting stint last season and further radiated her dainty, nondescript manner in a cameo on the show back in November. Granted, the episode she hosted was actually pretty good, and will probably best remembered in the annals of SNL history for the first appearance of "Debbie Downer," though Lohan's performance on the show was not a decisive factor. Tonight's musical guest is the British super-band Coldplay, whose appearance is clearly a thinly-veiled sweeps stunt.
COLD OPENING: It's that old standby "Hardball," with Chris Matthews (DH) working through the motions with Condi Rice (MR), the editor of Newsweek (CP), and of course, Zell Miller (WF). Mike Isikoff (correct me if the name is wrong) defends his magazine despite the retraction fallout, while Madam Secretary threatens to doctor photos of Chris in his whities. As much as I appreciate some good ol' boy commentary by Ex-Senator Miller, even that's beginning to go stale.
what once was red now is blonde. After making a no-joke joke about her new hair color, a future form of our host (AP) flies in and warns our host that at the rate she's going, she'll be a complete train wreck within two years.
"Woomba": I'll tell ya, after you see this ad for the third time, it really grows on you.
"America's Next Top Model": Tyra Banks (MR) takes one pregnant pause too many in the mock-up of the final round of the only hit show UPN can really brag about. Oversexed amputee Amber (AP) somehow makes it into the final three, and like she always does, loses to a semi-undeserving but generally likable contestant played by the host. On the bright side, we get a quick spoof of "Chaotic," a reality show on United Paramount that was far riper for parody.
"'Monster-in-Law' Screening": A quintet of Star Wars fans (FA, WF, SM, RR, Linz) disrupt a screening of the lightweight Jane Fonda-J.Lo flick because the leader of the gang couldn't confirm his tickets. An endless string of bad one-liners ensue.
SMIGELTOON: It's time for Divertor, the superhero/tool of the GOP that sidetracks national crises from the populace's attention by creating celebrity scandals. I'm happy to see that Bobby's back on track after the mess that was "Shazzing," but his apparent bitterness towards the media, not to mention a quick jab at the Paula Abdul sketch from two weeks ago, suggests that he's gradually turning into a crazy old coot whose bitterness towards anything that crosses his path cannot be hindered.
"Appalachian Emergency Room": And the hits just keep on comin'! This time around, our West Virginian receptionist (SM) deals with more afflictions from the likes of the bickering Bo Dances (DH, AP) and the quasi-legendary posterior of Tyler (CP), plus a wannabe cheerleader (Linz) with a broken "cooder bone." What is there to say, besides the fact that this is a moderately popular recurring sketch and that is has plenty of white-trash comedy fodder to last for what seems like an infinity of sketches?
MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: Chris Martin and the lads from London stick to the formula with their current single, the mid-tempo "Speed of Sound."
WEEKEND UPDATE: A lesbian couple (RD, MR) that share a bad pun for their hyphenated surname squabble like the Bickersons, while Vicente Fox (FA) and Al Sharpton (KT) settle their differences by making offensive jokes about each other's ethnicity. When the dust settles, people are going to remember tonight's buzzword as "Super Jumbo Trump-ons" and not "Danni Sanz-Cox."
"The Prince Show": They may as well do this one more time, too. Nobody even remembers the Prince-Beyonce connection anymore, and Wanda Sykes (KT) hasn't really been a newsmaker of late, so why this sketch juxtaposed between being reliving in the 80's and being stuck in a topical sketch from early 2004?
"Little Italy": The donna della notte (Linz) of a New York mobster (HS) storms into his hideout with a grocery list of demands and in the process trashes the dump. This sketch would've been nothing more than aimless melodrama if not for Fred's closing punch line.
MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: You would think the season would end with a bang, and the viewers and audience alike would hear a big hit like "Clocks," right? Alas, instead they perform another song from X&Y, the ballad "What If."
"The Ride Home": The bourgeois father of two small kids (CP) makes a drunken pass at the barely legal babysitter (Linz) while driving her home, resulting in yet another twist ending. Despite a great performance by Parnell, this last live sketch of this milestone season will only remind the general public of the comparative genius of the infamous "Polar Bear" bit that closed Season 20. Luckily, this tepid sketch segues into
"Bear City": Given that this was one of the few aspects of the show that consistently entertained me this season, I'm happy to see that America's favorite anthropomorphic ursines earned one last go-around, this time involving a mama bear catching her baby bear watching what appears to be a skin (fur?) flick. I must make a final confession, though: with summer approaching, I'm really going to miss utilizing the phrase "anthropomorphic ursines."
With that masterstroke, the third decade of SNL is officially over, and in a situation similar but not quite like the end of the second decade of the show. Hardly anyone was taken by surprise by how commonplace Lohan was as host, but given her budding stardom she'll probably host at least one more time. Coldplay was adequate, though they definitely go into the "better live than recorded" category.
Looking back at this season, I would there is plenty of room for improvement. Amy Poehler's usurping of Jimmy Fallon's chair at the "Update" desk was arguably the big headline at the beginning of the season, and while she steadily held her own throughout the season, she couldn't quite fill her predecessor's shoes. Pondering these past twenty episodes also helped me arrive at the conclusion that this was a very slow-moving season; as crazy as it sounds, but the Ashlee Simpson incident now feels like almost an eternity ago. At some points the music was better than the comedy, which in most cases can be a bad sign. Perhaps 2004-05 had a Jekell and Hyde complex; one moment it's bearable, the next was atrocious, almost as if it were two separate mini-seasons.
Sketches That Should Probably Be Removed For Repeats: "Woomba," "Monster-In-Law," "Little Italy," and "The Ride Home."
Next Week: Alec Baldwin joins Steve Martin, Christopher Walken, and Tom Hanks to become the fourth host to ever receive his own "Best of" special. Baldwin I can live with, but how long must we wait before they ever honor Buck Henry? Or for that matter, John Goodman?
And now, a retrospective of Season 30:
Best Musical Guests:
3. System of a Down
2. Modest Mouse
Worst Musical Guests:
3. 50 Cent
1. Ashlee Simpson (like you didn't see that coming)
3. Will Ferrell
2. Liam Neeson
1. Paul Giamatti
3. Robert DeNiro
2. Tom Brady
1. Paris Hilton
The 10 Most Indeliable Moments of The Season:
10. Bear City (recurring)
9. Horatio Sanz jams with The Muppets (Robert DeNiro/Destiny's Child)
8. The first presidential debate (Ben Affleck/Nelly)
7. "I s*** you not" (Colin Farrell/Scissor Sisters)
6. Paula Abdul critiques Amy Poehler (Johnny Knoxville/System of a Down)
5. Owen Wilson's misshapen nose (David Spade/Jack Johnson)
4. "F*** yeah!" (Johnny Knoxville/System of a Down)
3. The rise and fall of Debbie Downer (recurring)
2. Bono tears the roof off the dump (Luke Wilson/U2)
1. Ashlee Simpson gets busted (Jude Law/Ashlee Simpson)
Most Valuable Player: After much thought, I'll go with Amy Poehler. Given how uneven this season was, she was probably the most consistent performer in the cast.
Worst Overall Episodes:
3. Robert DeNiro/Destiny's Child
2. Ashton Kutcher/Gwen Stefani
1. Cameron Diaz/Green Day
Best Overall Episodes:
3. Will Ferrell/Queens of the Stone Age
2. Johnny Knoxville/System of a Down
1. Luke Wilson/U2
Contact the author of this article at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ta-ta for now!