Saturday Night Live

Season 29 Episode 11

Megan Mullally/Clay Aiken

Aired Saturday 11:30 PM Feb 07, 2004 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (1)

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  • I'm Aiken All Over

    A Review by the Former "Heystu," Amateur Critic and Quadruple Amputee

    As we now enter the second half of ‘03-04, I am expecting some serious changes. Usually at this point of the year, Lorne Michaels usually makes adjustments to the cast and writing staff, either promoting featured players and/or hiring more writers. The last time any kind of shake-up was made was during season 27, when Amy Poehler and promoted and Chris Parnell became the second cast member to be fired, then rehired by NBC (Jim Belushi was the first). If had the control to make changes on SNL, I would promote all three featured players, tell Darrell Hammond to take a hike, and make Will Forte the center-point of the cast. Unfortunately, none of that is going to happen.

    To be honest, I can't really say I was anticipating tonight's episode. Hosting this week is Chicago-bred actress Megan Mullally, who like Justin Timberlake, launched her career doing mostly stage work. Unfortunately, episodes hosted by Will & Grace cast members have been proven to be not all that worthwhile, as memories from last year's Eric McCormick/Jay-Z debacle still linger. Sean Hayes hosted way back in '01, and he provided a generous amount of energy to an otherwise drab episode. Bringing us tonight's music is Clay Aiken, making him SNL's first reality show-based guest.

    And now, the inevitable sketch-by-sketch analysis:

    COLD OPENING: Darrell Hammond wipes off the cobwebs from this Ted Koppel impression for the first "Nightline" sketch in five years. Tonight, the hairstyle-challenged newscaster asks John Kerry (SM), John Edwards (WF), and recent election dropout Joe Lieberman (CP) about Janet Jackson's cleavage. Kerry and Edwards seem appalled, but Joe seemed to like it. I must admit, this sketch was a "breast" above the rest.

    OPENING CREDITS: Methinks Don Pardo is not growing old gracefully. Especially when he says, "Chris Kattan! -er, uh- Chris Parnell!"

    MONOLOGUE: This is the moment that could make or break the episode. After all the closetcase jokes in McCormick's monologue, the broadcast steadily went downhill. Something similar to that happens this time, but Mullally wins us over by teasing the presumably all-gay male backup dancers she utilizes for an impromptu musical number. Then Clay Aiken jumps onstage, Megan calls him "Ruben Stoddard," and then he storms back off. One question, though: there are ten male cast members, and I only saw nine onstage. Where was Jeff Richards?

    "Celebrity Poker": Spoofing the Bravo series, Kevin Pollak (JF) and a straight-man announcer (CP) provide play-by-play on a round between Carrot Top (SM), Geraldo Rivera (DH), Gene Shalit (HS), and Tammy Faye Messner (Mullally). The celebrity impressions were alright, but even I sympathized with Parnell's annoyance over Fallon/Pollak.

    "Huggies Thong": It was funny the first time, okay the second time, unbearable the third. Do you see a pattern?

    "Mom's House": A man's fiancée (AP) is extremely irked by his childlike rapport with his mother (Mullally). The mother, in turn, gives the seemingly normal bride-to-be the cold shoulder. Breathtakingly stupid.

    "61st Annual Golden Globes": Sharon Stone (AP) gives a spacey, meandering speech leading into Michael Douglas' recent Lifetime Achievement Award. Also sitting in the audience is an annoyed Megan Mullally, who is subdued by her husband (maybe the real thing), only to end up storming the stage and tackling Stone. If you saw her dizzy discourse last month, you could relate.

    "Oprah's Favorite Things": The Big O (MR) is giving gifts to the audience because IT'S HER FIFTIETH BIRTHDAY!!! And as you might imagine, the audience (including RD, TF, and AP) goes berserk. Comedy and madness live peacefully as one.

    "Taxi Ride": A cabbie (Mullally) overemphasizes her love of black people to an annoyed Wall Street broker (KT). Then, another black guy (FM) and two strippers enter the taxi to help enforce her borderline-stereotypical comments. This otherwise dull-edged social satire had its moments, but what really vindicates this sketch were the much-awaited leading roles by Kenan and Finesse.

    MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: Clay Aiken reminds us of the art of the traditional pop ballad with his current hit "Invisible."

    WEEKEND UPDATE: In what was probably the most consistent "Update" thus far this season, Tina and Jimmy made one bulls-eye after another, poking and prodding at recent headlines involving Dubya, Howard Dean, Joe Lieberman, and yes, "Juggs" Jackson. While the return engagement of Native American comic Billy Smith (FA) was only a slight improvement over his first appearance on the show, it was Barbara Walter's (RD) one-woman interview that really bugged me. I mean, didn't Baba Wawa talk to herself quite memorably in Season Two? On this show, shameless repetition does not always equal laughs.

    "TCM Presents": Sketches based on The Wizard of Oz have never proven to be all that funny, and this is no exception. Glenda the Good Witch (MR) calls Dorothy (AP) a witch, and her stay in Munchkin Land is made even more uncouth by the crushed, flailing bodies of little people under her house, and of course, an inevitable wrongful-death lawsuit. On the bright side, the sketch had a certain self-awareness that has been missing for most of the year.

    "NASA Damage Control": "Zinger" Clinger (SM) is back, and this time he's lambasting his equally vicious ex-girlfriend, Debbie "Slam" Slamowski (Mullally). It was clever, but at times it felt a little forced.

    MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: Not to be confused with OutKast's recent #1 hit, it's "The Way That You Move Me."

    "Grammys Backstage": The supposed relatives of Dionne Warwick (KM), Bonnie Raitt (Mullally), and Clay Aiken (take a wild guess) try to sneak into the awards show, but security (AP, CP) seem to know better. In a word, insipid.

    After a shaky start, it looks like the show is back on firmer ground. There was more irony-heavy sketches in this episode, and that's a jump in the right direction. Jeff Richards appeared for about five seconds (as my TV Tome counterparts have repeatedly pointed out), but his very limited role had no damaging effect. Megan Mullally was superb as host, quite possibly doing the best job since Justin Timberlake earlier this year. Clay Aiken was okay, even though his Celine Dion-type crooning is not quite my cup of tea. Hopefully, this is the beginning of a beautiful winning streak.

    Sketches That Will Probably Be Removed For Repeats: "Mom's House" and most of the last half-hour of the show.

    Next Week: Drew Barrymore ties Madeline Kahn for the second-most hosting appearances by a female (four), with semi-skank soulster Kelis as musical guest.

    Whine, henpeck, and/or verbally abuse me at I usually write reviews right from the live broadcasts, so please don't ask for tapes of tonight's or any other episodes.