A Review by “HelloStuart,” the Castaway Amateur Critic
This week’s host is Matthew Fox, the veteran television actor currently starring in the hit ABC series “Lost.” Though it’s nice to see that the enigmatic ABC hit is finally being represented on SNL, it’s actually taking a backseat to the musical guest: Tenacious D. Yes, Jack Black and Kyle Gass have brought their kick-ass blend of folk and death metal back to the Studio 8H stage. As far as I know, this is the second time ever in SNL history that a comedy act has been selected as musical guest (the first, of course, being Ashlee Simpson).
And now, the sketch-by-sketch analysis:
COLD OPENING: In an NBC Special Report, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (FA) and his translator (WF) go into great, almost excruciating detail over soldiers with missing limbs in front of an uncomfortable Dubya (JS). If Fred’s pseudo-Arabic gibberish was intended to be wacky, it certainly didn’t make the sketch any funnier.
MONOLOGUE: Dr. Jack admits that he’s wanted to host for nearly a decade now, but he’s relieved that he finally earned his shot. Even when Michael Richards (BH) dropped by to show of his “new material,” this wasn’t really going anywhere.
“Sale-Mart”: The employees of a presumably evil big-box store don’t benefit from low prices in several ungainly ways. This is a good commentary on the slow death of the valued employee, but couldn’t they have done this sooner, since every other TV show that’s latently critical towards society (“The Simpsons,” “Family Guy,” “South Park”) has already ventured into this territory? Someone was clearly sleeping at the wheel here…
“Nancy Grace”: Tonight, Her Graceless (AP) unwittingly race-baits college professor Dr. Albert Edwards (KT) on the Michael Richards commentary, reacts to the aborted OJ Simpson press junket, then grills Officer Greg Tanner (Fox) over a parking ticket. Though you can tell Amy has a lot of fun impersonating Grace, and her impression in return is spot-on right down to the exaggerated Southern accent, you can’t help but wish she was given something funny to say.
“Deep House Dish”: So DJ Dynasty Handbag dumped Tiara Z and replaced her with the not-quite-as-dense T’Shane (AS), it’s still the same Dish. One rising star of the House music world (MR) struts her glass eye, while another (AP) leaps out of her 43rd-story apartment for the shear thrill of it. I really don’t know what to make of all of this, but would it be safe to say that this recurring sketch has officially run its course?
“‘Lost’ Fans”: A hodgepodge of Matthew’s fans grill him on a lengthy elevator ride in some attempt to dehumanize people that get too caught up in their favorite TV shows; outside of Fred’s Jersey boy and Maya’s emotionally unstable office drone, the characters in this sketch weren’t terribly fleshed out.
MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: JB and KG go back and forth on lead vocals for “Kickapoo,” the song that leads off the “Pick of Destiny” soundtrack.
WEEKEND UPDATE: In what has to be single stupidest Update commentary I’ve seen since I’ve been watching the show, “Kramer” has become the new N-word, or so Jesse Jackson (DH) and Reverend Al Sharpton (KT) declare. Granted, both activists have become self-caricatures, but I’m not going to dwell on that, nor that does that have anything to do with the weakest crop of Update editorials so far this season. Amy’s Aunt Linda (KW) comes back to review movies in what is essentially a carbon copy of her first appearance last month, while Whitney Houston’s (MR) lamenting her mansion was essentially three minutes of rambling alleviated only by a one-sided phone conversation with her ex-husband. If there was one highlight, though, it was Amy’s longwinded editorial on Britney Spears’ inability to wear panties; the euphemisms ran rampant, but it was almost akin to a stand-up comedy riff.
“Crazy Mountain Man”: A sketch about two sisters (AP, KW) and their puppy love for a pie-obsessed Blue Ridge hermit (Fox) turns into a fourth-wall smorgasbord, complete with Maya pretending to be Lorne and a pointless romp to the tune of “Yakkity Sax.” This was insane, sloppy, yet… strangely likable.
“History vs. Math Buffs”: Two history-loving marrieds (WF, KW) are shocked and appalled when their prodigal college-age son (AS) switches his major to mathematics, which results in a random appearance by a math history professor (Fox) and some deliriously hammy, Movie-of-the-Week acting by Forte, who happened to be the solitary saving grace of this undercooked vignette.
“The Mayan Empire”: With bloodthirsty European explorers ready to crush their isolated existence, what does their beloved emperor (FA) want to focus on? Why, a heavenly invention called chocolate! Yeah, it’s a lazy theory (as the announcer, played by DH, admits), whoever wrote this has a love for life’s most minuscule foibles and it shows.
MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: Several cast members recreate past musical trends that all failed to usurp “The Metal.”
Right now, it seems that the show and all its life forms are aware of its strengths but keep obsessing over its weaknesses. It was interesting to see Matthew Fox immerse himself into his roles (something that hasn’t been of late), but an A for effort couldn’t salvage a really weak broadcast. It’s safe to assume that Bill Hader is a decent character actor, but can’t carry a sketch for his dear life, and as much as I like Jason Sudeikis, he keeps getting more bland and flavorless as time passes on. Andy Samberg was in nearly every sketch this evening, and though he may not be my first choice for a clutch hitter, at least he’s in better shape than when I all but dismissed him at this point last season. This season, however, is roughly one-third over and already it’s one of the most enigmatic periods in SNL history that I’ve had to sit through.
Sketches/Segments That Will Probably Be Removed in Repeats: Weekend Update and everything after the “Crazy Mountain Man” sketch.
Next Week: Two-time Academy Award nominee Annette Bening hosts, while musical guest Gwen Stefani makes her fourth scheduled appearance on the show with some assistance from Nigerian-born R&B crooner Akon.
Feel free to contact “HelloStuart” at firstname.lastname@example.org.