Saturday Night Live

Season 34 Episode 1

Michael Phelps/Lil' Wayne

Aired Saturday 11:30 PM Sep 13, 2008 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (14)

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  • Congratulations, Nancy Kerrigan. You are no longer the worst athlete-host in SNL history. Way to go, Nance.

    A Review by "HelloStuart," Amateur Critic and Mysterious Underwater Creature

    I've been doing this for six years already?

    These last four months have brought us the single most intense and most boring off-season in SNL history. The biggest news amounted to nothing; Amy Poehler will leave the show at some point midway through the season, depending upon her unborn child and the status of her prime-time vehicle with "The Office" producer Greg Daniels. With the exception of newcomer Bobby Moynihan, last year's cast is more or less still intact. Because of the writers' strike, Season 34 will launch with four straight live shows and two more episodes than usual. The cast has three cast members with established impersonations of presidential and vice-presidential hopefuls- Darrell Hammond as Senator McCain, Fred Armisen as Senator Obama, and Jason Sudeikis as Senator Biden. I can only assume that Kristen Wiig will be the lucky lady that prods and imitates Governor Palin, if only by default; I doubt Tina Fey would come back on a regular basis just to play one character.

    This week's host is Michael Phelps, American Olympic hero and the latest in a string of overexposed athletes on SNL. The media has been making cute jokes about this for weeks ("will Michael remember to keep his shirt on?" and so forth) but they overlook the fact that athlete-hosts rarely if ever bring the funny, if only because so few of them are willing to be self-depreciating (Peyton Manning being the exception). Early speculation suggests this will be a "cast night," a show where the host takes a backseat to SNL's regular ensemble. The musical guest is Lil' Wayne, the successful and acclaimed rapper behind the best-selling album "Tha Carter III."

    And now, the sketch-by-sketch analysis:

    COLD OPENING: A non-partisan joint statement by Senator Hillary Clinton (AP) and Governor Sarah Palin (Tina Fey, natch) does little to address the apparent chauvinistic undertones of the election. As Hillary rants about an opportunity squandered, Sarah makes love to the cameras like the oblivious neophyte most liberals perceive her to be. As a topical sketch, the one-liners are sometimes obvious but it really never lags.

    OPENING CREDITS: It's the same credits as last year, but with a little more color. Did Don sound a little hoarse?

    MONOLOGUE: While Michael tries to reign the audience in, his mother (AP) proves to be overzealous and distracting in her support. In discussing his post-Olympic plans, Will suggests a kid-friendly meth lab while William Shatner interrupts to shill for Priceline.

    "Quiz Bowl": A game show sketch where three average high-schoolers (KT, CW, BM) are pitted against three home-schooled barn-raisers (WF, AP, Phelps) in this jumbled commentary on renegade polygamist sects and our failing education system.

    "Jar Glove": An introductory question takes on a life of its own in this left-of-center send-up of late night kitchen toy commercials. Chalk this up as another sketch for the Kristen Wiig highlight reel.

    "Swim Team Pep Talk": In a rehash of a funny sketch from the Peyton Manning show from eighteen months ago, a frustrated swim coach (WF) jigs to "Dancing Plants" to his players' befuddlement.

    "Homely Children": While her parents (BH, AP) entertain guests, the awkward oddity that is Stacia (KW) returns with her equally maladroit cousin Craig (Phelps) in tow. Like "Pep Talk" before it, it's a carbon copy of a funny sketch that didn't necessitate an encore performance.

    MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: With a little assistance from Mack Maine, Lil' Wayne rolls though his current single "Got Money." WEEKEND UPDATE: When an episode like this gets into a slump, you have to hope that Update and its take on current events will give things a jolt. Tonight, they partially succeeded; mountain man Alaska Pete (WF) begs his friends in the lower 48 to lay off his governor, but the key points to his defense belie his own personal abnormalities. Where Pete was somewhat inspired, incoherent comedian Nicholas Fehn (FA) proved that you can only reheat the same one-note character before it turns into flavorless mush. Amy and Seth's recreation of a cockatoo's 911 call was cute, but what was the deal with beloved nose-less comic-strip character Cathy (AS)? Will we be seeing characters from "Get Fuzzy" and "Pearls Before Swine" on SNL anytime soon?

    "The Charles Barkley Show": The Round Mound of Rebound (KT) welcomes Bela Karolyi (DH) and Michael Phelps on his hastily produced talk show. The sketch is little than a vehicle for Kenan's suspect Sir Charles impression and the basketball great's notorious gambling addiction. It all felt thrown together.

    "T-Mobile": Finally, a funny sketch! Spoofing a cell phone ad that aired over the summer, two teen siblings (CW, Phelps) bicker over their "5" before dad's (JS) offhand remark unearths tensions with his cold shrew of a wife (KW). Dad's defending his tendency to hang out with his daughter's friends only throws things in a tailspin of delicious schadenfreude.

    DIGITAL SHORT: "Space Olympics 3022" is a weird, green screen-heavy musical take on sports in the distant future, as explained by a megalomaniac, Ming the Merciless wannabe (AS). Like most of tonight's sketches, it's a mixed bag; it's general weirdness and touch of originality keeps this piece from being a complete failure, but it barely merited a laugh. "Uno's Waiter": Unctuous, somewhat effete w****r Mark Payne (BM) is obsessed with the smell of pepper and alienates two customers (Phelps, AP) in the aforementioned pizza franchise. This sketch was intended to give Bob a breakout moment in his first show, maybe give him a potential recurring character, but it ended up being a huge drag.

    MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: Tha Carter mumbles through his summer hit "Lollipop," then proceeds to butcher a guitar solo that would put the most remedial "Rock Band" player to shame.

    "The Michael Phelps Diet": Michael awkwardly pitches his high-carb, eat-all-you-want-and-more system of weight loss, based on his own unfathomable 12,000 calorie-per-day intake. Jared Fogle appears out of nowhere to make a bad pun about foot-long sandwiches, than walks away out of disgust. Whether Jared's frustration came from that insipid line or art for art's sake, that's tough to say; if the longtime pitchman thinks he could do a better job of hosting than Michael, then all the power to him.

    Plain and simple, Michael Phelps was a ghastly host. He didn't even meet the lowered standards generally expected from an athlete, and he was the single greatest negative factor in an otherwise humdrum show. On top of being stiff and uncharismatic, Phelps' performance was sloppy, unprofessional, and poorly coordinated. For someone who's eight months pregnant, I was surprised to see how much work they gave Amy tonight; even more remarkable is that her expectant status didn't really hinder her performance at all, except for a fat joke late in the show. I've seen weak season premieres before, but nothing this bad; granted, the Lebron James show last year was below average, but Season 33 recovered quite nicely. Hopefully, this was entirely Phelps' fault and everything will tighten up as the year goes on.

    Segments That Will Probably Be Removed in the 60-minute edit: Nicholas Fehn and Cathy on Update, "The Charles Barkley Show," "Uno's Waiter," "Lollipop," and "The Michael Phelps Diet."

    Next Week: "Pineapple Express" star James Franco hosts with southern-fried rockers Kings of Leon as musical guest.

    "HelloStuart" has written episode reviews of every SNL live broadcast since May 2003. Send him your questions and comments at
  • And I can see Russia From My House!

    Live from New York, it's Saturday Night! SNL is back after summer hiatus! And, what better way to start off the year with a good host? Marci Klein booked Michael Phelps, 8-gold medal winner, to host the show. Ugh, and it gets worse as far as guests. Lil Wayne decides to try rapping.

    Over the summer hiatus, Lorne hired new cast member, Bobby Moynihan. We'll see how he progresses in time to come.

    Palin/Clinton Campaign message: Fey appears as Sarah Palin, while Amy must have lost all that head weight of hers, because she looked as thin as she was back in May! (she's pregnant, and she was standing behind an appodium) This sketch soared to make me believe tonight's show would rock my world! Great start.

    Opening Credits: Same thing, yet the logos and VPRs have this yellow streak after they leave. Also, if you didn't watch in high-def, you saw the show in 3:5 screen again. Just like how it was before SNL went in high definition.

    Monologue: So, we were all over the place for the premiere. Amy did better at mommy Phelps than the real mommy Phelps did at mommy Phelps. Also, Price Line Negotiater spokesman decided to show up, William Shatner! Also, Phelps is starring in a new NBC show this fall! So, even though it had 15 different plots, the monologue was funny.

    Quiz Bowl: Much like Common Knowledge, this show quizzes teenagers from public schools and home schools. Kristen almost reminded me of her character back in the Julia-Louis Dreyfus/Paul Simon episode during Unsolved Mysteries. Actually, she did remind me of her. The sketch was actually funny. People will disagree. But, I must ask, Don Roy King hasn't gotten used to the show? I mean, yeah, we've had 3 and a half months off, but still. Someone was sure asleep in the control room. Well, at least we know that Michael Phelps keeps character when he thinks he's not on camera.

    Jar Glove: Once again, not many will find this funny, but I did. I know I'll be stating the obvious, but the whole randomness of where this commercial went was great.

    Locker Room: Hey, remember that 2nd-worst Peyton Manning/Carrie Underwood sketch of the night? Well, it's back! And guess what! It's exactly the same. Yeah, Forte got some new moves, but nothing that took a giggle out of me. The only thing that made me chuckle was him moving that tape cassette and making that damning sound.

    The Retards: Or whatever you want me to call them. Yes, I was really hoping they'd bring this back, but with Seth Rogen!!! Or at least save it for James Franco! Not Michael Phelps! My god! Luckily, this wasn't the exact same replica from the last time they did it. I enjoyed this sketch a little, but, nothing surprised me.

    NOTE: To all writers, if you're going to do recurring characters, mix it up a little!!!

    Weekend Update: I'll say, this started out very slow. Then, after the first commentary, the jokes finally got their edge. Nicholas Fehn is back. Enough of him! Enough! Fred, make something else! Cathy was somewhat enjoyable. Alaska Pete kind of got things warming up for Update. I'll give him that.

    The Charles Barkley Show: Oh, I was so happy to see Kenan's Charles Barkley back. Unfortunately, this sketch went absolutely no where! But, I'll give it the fact that it did have some comedic preference.

    T-Mobile's 5: A little late to be doing a commercial about T-Mobile, but ignore that. This sketch was absolutely hilarious. This was probably one of the best sketches of the night.

    3022 Olympics: Jesum, the singing digital shorts have been used up. But, I will admit, Andy's hair kept on making me chuckle throughout the whole sketch.

    Unos Restaurant: A sketch revolving around Bobby already? Alright. Was the sketch good? No. Not in the least. I'm sure Bobby brought this in from something he wrote earlier in his life. But, come on, it wasn't funny. I want sketches to have me get a click and be like "Oh! That's why they're doing this! That's clever! That's funny!", and throughout the whole sketch, I waited for that click. The click came when I saw the commercial break.

    Michael Phelps diet: This was a good last sketch of the night. Amy's pregnancy spoof was great. How many lines did Phelps flub in this sketch alone? Subway's Jared's appearance was out of no where, but funny.

    Now, I'm not gonna be a drama queen and say "Is this what our new season is going to look like?!?", because we're simply not there yet. I want to get a taste of the next 3 episode, then judge how this season will play out. I think that the writers gave Phelps these sketches, because they thought he wouldn't fall flat on his face. While we had some sketches that fell flat horribly (Unos Pizzaria, Locker Room, Charles Barkley), we had some actual funny ones (T-Mobile, Palin/Clinton).

    But, tonight, I have to give it up for Michael Phelps. He has been the worst host in recent memory of the show. LeBron James and Ellen Page showed him up. He was terrible. I thought tonight would be a "cast night" meaning that the cast would carry the show, but even they couldn't carry his mistakes and bad acting. Which makes me want to give it up to Marci Klein for getting Phelps. Now, I'm not being harsh, I've rewatched the sketches over and over again. Phelps was bad.

    This is the first time ever that I muted musical performances, but I did. ... I guess... some people like that.... m... music.

    So, in creoble, tonight's episode was just bad writing and bad guest performances. Seriously, by the time the locker room sketch came on, I was biting my nails of how bad things were shaping out to be, as far as Michael Phelps not knowing English nor how to read, those two recurring sketches that were EXACTLY like the originals, and the technical gaffes. The random cameos were enjoyable, but made you think "If only they were hosting..." And, also, the 3:5 screen is hard to get back used to, especially on Update. The technical gaffes were just a case of bad luck tonight. It's the premiere. Don't worry. And lastly, Bobby Moynihan did not please me with that pepper sketch. If all his characters are going to not have a point, and be semi-retarded, then he will be, indeed, the next Horatio Sanz. But, the feeling with him is neutral. It's nice to see that Casey got a good amount of screen time tonight. Once again, I'm not taking this as a preview of our 34th season, yet, I'm just declaring it, as of now, rusty pencils syndrome. RPS.

    Next week: James Franco, from Pineapple Express hosts, with musical guest Kings of Leon. I'm excited to see our first indie band of the season. And, trust me, as far as performance, next week will be awesome. Writing? That's not up to me.
  • I don't think Michael Phelps will be invited back.

    Sometimes the guest star alone can make or break an episode of SNL. This week, Michael Phelps breaks it. He may be full of the ability to swim fast, but all that talent leaves no room for any acting skill. He was a host NBC had to have after his amazing 2008 Olympics, but I don't think he locked up a second appearance with his performance. He had too many problems reading his lines. I do give him credit for knocking the fake ad about his diet out of the park. That was my favorite sketch of his. I recently saw a real ad he appeared in without speaking a single line, prompting me to wonder if the ad producers saw this SNL episode.
  • I like this episode. Decent opening episode.

    Highlights include:

    Opening- Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are always funny.
    Quiz Bowl- Very funny, but Michael Phelps is not that good an actor
    Stacia and Cousin Craig- Sometimes there's nothing quite like making fun of retarded disabled people. I'm sorry.
    Charles Barkley Show- Funny. Not incredible.

    Not-so-highlights include:

    Space Olympics- Terrible. Just terrible.
    Lil' Wayne- I hate rap. Really I do.

    For some reason Seth Meyers isn't in any skits lately... Kenan Thompson is funny as usual, Bill Hader is slipping but still good, I never really did care for Andy Samberg but he is not bad, Kirsten Wiig is great, Amy Poehler is great, Casey Wilson is too early to tell, Bobby Moynihan is promising, Will Forte is average, Fred Armisen is OK, etc etc nobody wants to hear me talk anymore goodbye! :)
  • Phelps was a terrible host (not even a bronze for him), the writing was pretty tired (already). Not a very auspicious debut for the season.

    Palin/Clinton cold open - Fey was the obvious choice to play Palin given the physical resemblance, except that she's not on the show anymore. An entertaining opening, but it could have been better. They played to the obvious stereotypes of Palin as a glamorous airhead and Clinton as a bitter shrew. Admittedly these are funny stereotypes, but it might be funnier to have the two act out of character to some degree. Oh, and they should have made more of the lipstick joke. Obama's remarks over the past week about lipstick were considerably funnier than any of the political satire I have heard over the entire campaign season. Somebody get his speech writer a job at SNL (and I don't mean for political content)! Somebody previously mentioned that Fey was doing a Fargo-type impression for Palin. I noticed the same thing and found it a bit odd since Palin doesn't really sound like a North Dakotan to me. Just Fey's range (or lack thereof) I guess. Grade: B+

    Phelps monologue - Michael is kind of a stiff out of the water, so hand it to the unflappable Shatner to come in with the save (one of the best hosts of all time BTW). Grade: B (thanks to Shatner)

    Quiz Bowl - Bobby's first appearance and he comes off a bit as a Belushi type. The old debate about public school education vs home schooling is given a pretty weak treatment here. At first we are made to think that the public school kids will outshine the homeschoolers in science, but they inevitably turn out to be just as ignorant. The moral of the sketch? Your kids are screwed (unless you are among those who can afford to send his/her kids to an expensive private education). Grade: C-

    Jar Glove - Pretty weak late night commerical parody. At just over 1 minute, it actually felt a bit long. Grade: C-

    Locker Room - I guess this sketch is the new de facto sketch to break out whenever an athlete hosts the show. I enjoyed it more when Peyton Manning hosted. Forte does great moves, but Phelps is a bad actor and worse dancer. Grade: B- (just for Will)

    Spaz Kids - Another reprise sketch. Not nearly as good as when Seth Rogen hosted and it did nothing to expand on the original. Sure, Kristen is great as a weirdo and her awkward dance is strangely funny, but the reactions from the couch were so bad and the sketch so stale, that not even Kristen could save it from the dregs. Grade: D

    Weekend Update - Some decent jokes. Forte's Alaska Pete was a great characterization. The return of Nicholas Fehn was not welcomed by me. Armisen has added nothing new to this and it is getting very old. Samberg as Cathy was a surprise Grade: B

    The Charles Barkley Show - Kenan is still searching for a recurring sketch. Keep searching Kenan. Better yet, stop the search and take a job down at your local Sbarro. No range, no sense of comedic timing and poor impressions. What's to love? Thanks for reminding us that Darrell is still on the show. Nearly as old as the character he was portraying, Darrell is the only link back a better, funnier time on SNL. They keep him around as some kind of good luck charm. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be working so well. Whose brilliant idea was it to get Phelps to host? Apparently they had never seen him do an interview. I've seen cardboard figures with more personality than this guy. Grade: D

    T-Mobile - A one-joke sketch that went nowhere and was stuck a pretty lame joke. The American Beauty thing has been done to death, but this was a feeble attempt at that style of mid-life crisis fantasy. Grade: D

    Space Olympics Digital Short - I just and watched it and wondered when it was going to get funny. I'm still waiting. Nice costumes and effects, but not much biting humor. Not much humor at all for that matter. Remember that one time when Farley was an Olympic skater? That was awesome! Grade: C-

    Uno Pizza Waiter - Bobby's big introduction, though I'm not quite sure why he was saddled with the oh-so tired big black lady stereotype. He's got some chops (and I love the Belushi resemblance) but he'll need to work on some better characters before he'll secure a place as an SNL great (or evern a regular cast member for that matter). A common theme with this episode, but the sketch went nowhere and we were left pondering the fate of a heartbroken waiter after his irritated customers stormed out. The recurring pepper theme was not all that great either. Remember that one time when Carvey and Sandler played waiters with big pepper shakers? That was awesome! Grade: C-

    Michael Phelps Diet - Yeah, we know the guy eats like a pig and burns more calories than a race horse. Pretty slim premise for a sketch. Then again it was a throwaway 5 minutes to one 'o clock sketch. It might have been better if:
    1. Phelps had a pulse (get that guy in the water and he's the world's fastest corpse)
    2. Phelps could read better than a 3rd grader (one of the sacrifices he had to make to win all that gold). Grade: C-
  • Great intro, but not so great show!

    I've been looking forward to this show for weeks after hearing that Michael Phelps was going to be the host, but I'm sad to say this episode was not very funny.

    The opening sketch was pretty good; Tina Fey came back as Sarah Palin and spoke with Hilary Clinton (Amy Poehler). At first glance, I thought it was really Palin. After that the episode went downhill from there. Some of the not-so-funny sketches were: the Space Olympics digital short, the quiz show sketch, and the sketch with the ugly kids.
    One sketch took place in a swimming team locker room, and Will Forte plays the coach and Michael Phelps is one of the swim team members. Basically, this sketch was just a repeat of a similar sketch with Peyton Manning, except that one was much funnier. Will Forte was funny in this one, but I'm sorry to say Phelps was not. There was one sketch where Michael Phelps and one of the female castmembers are at a Uno's restaurant and are trying to order, but their waiter just complains how it smells in there and refuses to serve them. It was ok, but it almost seemed stereotypical of black people (or white people acting black).

    I think the better sketch of this show was the Michael Phelps diet, making fun of how he eats 12,000 calories/day and now you can too!
  • "Meanwhile, the air is still dominated by birds."

    Well, well, well. This is my first time doing a review of a current episode of Saturday Night Live rather than a retro one of, say, Season 3 or something. I will get back to those soon, but I also wanted to review this episode because people seem to be very mixed on the rating. Michael Phelps, the eight-time Olympic Champion diver hosted this one with musical guest Lil' Wayne as the third instance of an athlete and rapper being on a season premiere. I'm no big fan of athlete-hosts at all, but you can always try to depend on the writing. Right?

    Host: Michael Phelps
    Musical Guest: Lil' Wayne

    Cold Open: A Nonpartisan Message from Sarah Palin & Hilary Clinton (Voice of Hader, Poehler + Tina Fey)

    --As expected, Tina Fey came in to make a cameo for the show as running mate Sarah Palin to make a joint announcement with Clinton (Poehler) about the differences between the two. Really funny opening especially with Tina's performance and Amy's frustration that just exploded near the end.

    Monologue (Phelps, Forte, Poehler, + Debbie Phelps & William Shatner)

    --Michael comes out and introduces his very wooden demeanour before announcing his upcoming show with NBC and getting cheered on by his mother (Poehler). Eventually, he gets a funny request from an audience member (Forte) before finally being given some career advice from William Shatner. Debbie Phelps also shows up at the end. A couple of good cameos, but Phelps did not impress at all.

    Quiz Bowl (Phelps, Forte, Poehler, Sudeikis, Thompson, Wiig, Moynihan, Wilson)

    --And it's our first ensemble sketch of the night and first to feature the new Moynihan guy. Suds hosts a game involving a team of public-schooled kids (Thompson, Moynihan, Wilson) facing a team of home-schooled religious kids (Phelps, Forte, Poehler) in a game of knowledge. Some of their answers were pretty funny, particularly those by Forte, and Kristen Wiig also showed up in a hilarious bit.

    Commercial: Jar Glove (Armisen, Sudeikis, Thompson, Wiig, Moynihan)

    --Finally, a glove that allows you to open jars a lot easier and won't make you have to go through all that annoying rigamaroll of accidentally killing your husband, burying him, lying to cops, getting shot at, etc. Loved it.

    Swim Team Motivation (Phelps, Armisen, Forte, Hader, Samberg, Sudeikis, Thompson, Moynihan)

    --Yes, it's pretty much the same as the sketch from the Manning/Underwood broadcast in which a coach (Forte) dances along to a motivational song to rally up his team. This time, however, there are quite a few better lines and the dance was almost as good.

    Big Kids (Phelps, Hader, Poehler, Samberg, Thompson, Wiig, Moynihan, Wilson)

    --Wow, Bobby was in a lot. Anyway, this is another repeat sketch from Rogen/Spoon this time, in which Stacia (Wiig) and her cousin Craig (Phelps) are showing off for their parents (Hader, Poehler) much to the disgust of their other guests (Samberg, Thompson, Moynihan, Wilson) that are over. Another fun bit, no thanks to Phelps.

    Lil' Wayne performs "Got Money"

    --And no one cares.

    Weekend Update with Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler (also: Fred Armisen, Will Forte, and Andy Samberg)

    --Seth and Amy ramble off some good jokes, while we also get a visit from Alaska Pete (Forte) to comment on Palin's status as running mate for John McCain, the return of Nicholas Fehn (Armisen) once again, and a bit in which Cathy (Samberg) (of the comic fame) comes by and complains about various things. Good start, fellas.

    The Charles Barkley Show (Phelps, Hammond, Voice of Sudeikis, Thompson)

    --Finally, Charles (Thompson) gets his own show because of his outstanding gambling debt as he welcomes his guests Bela Karolyi (Hammond) and Michael Phelps. Kenan's impression is fun so the sketch was pretty decent. Loved the quirks too like the crew consisting entirely of children.

    Commercial: T-Mobile (Phelps, Sudeikis, Voice of Thompson, Wiig, Wilson)

    --Brother (Phelps) and sister (Wilson) talk about their "five", before the father (Sudeikis) makes a comment that gets everything uncomfortable especially when he talks about who is in his five. Best sketch of the night, I believe.

    Digital Short: Space Olympics (Phelps, Hader, Samberg, Sudeikis, Wilson)

    --Andy croons about the 3022 Olympics and its budgetary problems, causing them to have to cancel several events. Phelps was a non-factor as this was good-natured goofiness.

    Uno's (Phelps, Poehler, Thompson, Moynihan)

    --A couple (Phelps, Poehler) argue about what movie to see while at a restaurant, before being served by Mark Payne (Moynihan), a very flamboyant server who can't get the smell of pepper out of his mind. I thought this was gonna be a crappy MADtv-like sketch, but Moynihan was actually pretty funny and had me cracking up good.

    Lil' Wayne sings "Lollipop"

    --And still, no one cares.

    The Michael Phelps Diet (Phelps, Forte, Voice of Hader, Poehler, Wilson, + Jared Fogel)

    --Michael Phelps introduces his new diet plan, which allows you to eat whatever you want and not gain any weight. Jared from the Subway commercials made an amusing cameo, but this was probably the weakest sketch of the night.

    And, it's over. Phelps thanks everyone and waves goodnight as the cast deliver hugs all around.

    Best segment: T-Mobile
    Worst segment: The Michael Phelps Diet

    Host: Michael Phelps - 2.5/10
    Musical Guest: Lil' Wayne - 5/10

    Yes, it's true. Michael Phelps was one of the worst hosts of all time. In fact, I'm going to go on record and say that he was ALMOST as bad as Louise Lasser. His performance during the sketches was rotten but thankfully didn't hurt them too much because of the cast's effort. Phelps was a really bad choice overall though and Lil' Wayne wasn't much better for a musical guest. I really don't like rap so I'm a bit biased, but I found both of his songs really blah and lifeless. As for the cast, I was kind of pissed that Bill Hader was barely in the broadcast, but happy that most everyone else got their fair share of screentime. Suds and Wiig seemed to come out of this looking the best and Moynihan had a pretty solid debut. Thanks to the writing and the cast, this is a solid opener for the season.

    Rating: 7.5/10
  • Michael Phelps/Lil' Wayne

    Saturday Night Live,
    Michael Phelps/Lil' Wayne,
    So I am starting season 34 off with a new rating systerm. I rate by stars (*) the highest number a sketch can get is 5 and the lowest is none. Season 34 kicks off with Michael Phelps hosting and Lil' Wayne as the musical guest. I am not a big fan of lil wayne's work. So i didn't watch his performance so there is that. Michael Phelps not fresh off winning his 8 gold medals hosts. Usually there is a saying that athlete are not good hosts. Well I don't really see that but MP had some studders and messed up his lines a lot. That bothered me and I could easily tell he was reading off the cards. But over he was a good host not the best but he sure didn't better than last year's opener. So I give him a **. So lets start off with the show.

    A Non-Partisan Message from Governor Palin and Senator Clinton was the cold opening. Tina for the first time really bothered me being here. I didn't want her too gust star but she did a good job a Palin. The sketch goes along with palin(Tina) and hiliary(AP) talking about there sided issues. And once again hiliary companing about how now everybody is caring about the issues that people are not caring about. For the first time I actually laughed at a sketch with amy doing hiliary ;) Overall it was a great opening and assured SNL still has good political humor. *** ½

    I usually don't like the monologue. But I cant believe I actually laughed at this. AP played Debbie phelps although I wanted CW to do it but what ever. My first meth kit was good but a shocking priceline fill in. One of the first monologues to make me laugh. I give this ***

    The first sketch into the show was called Quiz Bowl. Now SNL hasn't been good with game shows since the Ferrell era. This sketch is included. A lot of goofs from the camera people in this sketch. But it was nice to see delayed jokes at the compound. Faith is always better than science as said I give this sketch a *1/2 only because of Kristen who was the best thing of it.

    Havent seen many but SNL has commercial parodies again. Called Jar Glove but how trying to open a jar leads to murder then being hunted down by the police. Nice to see one of these. I give it a ** Swim Team Pep Talk was the next sketch. To me the worst sketch of the night. The only one not having me smirk or laugh at. Just like mannings so I don't want to say more. I don't give it anything

    The ugly children return. But this time no brother but instead a cousin. This time however it was a bit more funnier. But still had the whole scream-child-scream-child feel. I give it a **

    Weekend Update was next.(after the first performance) usually the same jokes and all but FA character really bothered me. But andy as cathy was funny ** ½

    The Charles Barkley Show was the next sketch. Finally kenan is getting funnier. He gets bald to play charles with guest Michael phelps and that Russian guy. Since he owes some hotel 500,000 he is doing his own show. With kids as the production staff. Overall this is the first sketch of kenan's I'd like to see again. ** ½

    A little late but SNL makes fun of the T-Mobile mobile family with the mother getting mad that the dad thinks that his 15 year old daughters friends are hot along with the son. And having them in his five like the son. Over all this was a nice stick together sketch. ***

    The worst Digital Short having me say take a long break between them. This time around Space Olympics 3022. No laser cats hmm. I thought the idea was weird but andy funny I give it ½

    Bobby's first character as Mark Payne an UNO server who doesn't do his job right because he left his child on the bus. Overall I think Bobby will work out on the show **

    The last sketch of the night makes fun of how phelps eats. He burns calories when picking up a fork so what do think of him eating food Africa needs. Called The Michael Phelps Diet. It was an ok sketch but got better after seeing AP "fat side" **

    Overall it was a great episode. One of the first to actually make me laugh out loud. So that is nice. Adding up my stars and so forth thoughts on my score I gave.
  • The season premiere of SNL with Michael Phelps and Lil Wayne.

    I have been stoked for the season premiere of SNL ever since I found out that the human dolphin was hosting! I wasn't sure how he would do, being that he has not acting ability, but I have to say, it was not that bad. The best part of the show was the opening skit with Tina Fey as Sarah Palin and Amy Poehler as Hillary Clinton. They presented a non-partisan look on the country. It was pretty funny. The other funny part was Weekend Update and the SNL Digital Short. Other than that, it was just an average season premiere. But nonetheless, welcome back SNL!
  • If this was the one of the most anticipated season premieres of SNL ever, why did it not deliver?

    Cold Open: That was too funny with Tina and Amy! Tina was dead on for Palin, and Amy's preggers belly was so cute under that Hilary suit!

    Michael Phelps Monolouge: It was short, and really the only highlight was Amy Poehler portraying MP's mom.

    Quiz Bowl: I personally am getting sick of the game show sketches, but this one was only funny becuase of MP in a blonde wig and Kristin Wiig pointing that finger!

    Jar Glove: It's good to see some commercials again, but this was just so painful to watch.

    Swim Team Pep Talk: Will Forte was funny dancing, but MP should take some lessons. Stacia and Cousin Craig: This was my second favorite clip of the night! At first I was like, what is going on and then, bam! KW and MP come out! Ha, they were so good at that. "Let's go play Wii." "No, Nintendo Wii!"

    The Charles Barkley Show: Stupid and a waste of five minutes.

    T-Moblie: This was awesome! The funniest parts was when Jason said, "Sexy, what do you know about sexy? You have been so cold to my touch..." And when MP popped out of the door frame and was like, "That's funny, because my five is..."

    Space Olympics 3022: Oh my. This was a complete disaster. I got so excited for a Digital Short because I have been waiting ALL summer for this, but I get this totally messed up skit. It was funny at first, knowing that I love Andy, but it got real annoying real fast.

    Mark Payne: That was the restaurant one right? That was annoying and the characters were not entertaing at all except for when MP said, "I wanna go see 'The Women!'"

    Michael Phelps Diet: Definitely the best sketch of the night! All that food was hilarious, and did MP sneeze or something at the beginning? That was funny and how they showed his picture of his hot bod and everyone (mostly the ladies!) screamed!

    Lil Wayne: This is the reason I hate rap music.

    Overall, not a very good episode, and it could have been better, but that's the way it is. I hope next week with James Franco and non rap! Kings of Leon is better!
  • Oh my, I think this show might actually be getting funny again!

    After the past couple of seasons of huge unfunny letdowns I was amazed with this episode. It is a huge improvement over many episodes I've seen in the past as far as comical timing is concerned. Has SNL gotten new writers? I certainly hope so since I wasnt compelled to turn my tv off halfway through the show this time.

    I must admit that I was dreading this episode because of host Michael Phelps, but his hosting turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Okay he's not the greatest actor in the world, but he did alright given his lack of acting experience. His roles gave him more to work with compared to when Peyton Manning hosted. Peyton's acting roles were pretty much limited, where as Phelps got to play around with a variety of different characters and situations.

    Perhaps most shocking is that the political sketch that opened the show actually got me laughing. 90% of the time when the show opens with a political sketch you can barely hear people in the audience laughing but this one turned out to be pretty damn funny. No surprise the sketch was going to be about Sarah Palin in some form.

    The best sketch of the episode has got to be the sketch with those disturbing kids (and Phelps in the giant braces). I dunno why but it was funny in a disturbing kind of way. The SNL Digital Short got us all thinking "um...WTF?" in a funny sort of way.

    Plus I loved the cameo appearances by William Shatner and Jared Fogle.

    I'll try to not keep my hopes up this season. Perhaps it was just luck that this show had a good season premiere. Only time will tell.
  • Season premiere with Michael Phelps and Lil Wayne.

    This episode had its ups and downs.

    The opening skit--Tina Fey as Sarah Palin and Amy Poehler as Hillary Clinton--was okay. Tiny Fey really does look like Sarah Palin, and some of the jokes were funny. After the opening credits is Michael Phelps' intro, which was not bad. I did enjoy Amy Poehler as Michael's overexcited mom.

    Then came Quiz Bowl, which wasn't so funny with the public school kids vs. religious home schooled kids. The Jar Glove commercial was pretty amusing, and I enjoyed Will Forte in Swim Team.

    Ugly Kids wasn't so great. Made me realise that I am not a Kristen Wiig fan (no offense!). Thankfully Weekend Update was pretty enjoyable. Enjoyed Seth Meyers more than Amy Poehler. Andy Samberg's Cathy was not enjoyable.

    Kenan's Charles Barkley Show was alright, and the kids were a nice touch. The T-Mobile commercial skit was good as well, and Andy Samberg's digital short, Space Olympics, is enjoyable as well (as they normally are ^^).

    Didn't care so much for Uno Pizza or Bobby Moynihan. The Michael Phelps Diet was pretty funny, although here it was much more obvious that Michael was having problems with delivering his lines.

    As for Lil Wayne's two performances, I didn't care for his first performance, but I did like Lollipop.

    Overall, Michael Phelps wasn't too bad. Wouldn't call him a fish out of water, but like I said before, he did have some problems with his lines. But I must say, I did enjoy all the images of him--he is hot
  • A great Digital Short and a solid Weekend Update are high points, but the rest of the mostly mixed bag of sketches bring it down and make this overall a pretty mediocre season opening show.

    Hey, thanks for reading this review!

    I'll be judging the episodes by rating each sketch from 1 to 4, then adding all ratings together to give an overall rating to the show. I won't be rating the musical guests, but I'll mention them in the review.

    9-13-2008 Season 34 Episode 1
    Host - Michael Phelps
    Musical Guest - Lil' Wayne

    "Sarah Palin & Hillary Clinton" - Season 34 of SNL opens with a very direct address by Alaska Governor and Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin (Tina Fey) and New York Senator Hillary Clinton (Amy Poehler). Typical jokes were moderately funny, but not especially biting. Palin is clueless and Hillary is ambitious. Fey's impression is fairly funny, down to the Alaskan accent. But, unimaginative presentation doesn't do the sketch any favors. It's also worth noting that this bit contained the first of three references to meth in this episode. Meth is the big humor reference of 2008! - 2

    No changes to the opening title sequence that I can see. I guess we'll have to wait another year before they upgrade the titles.

    "Monologue - Michael Phelps" - Non-performers usually have a rough go on SNL, and 2008 Olympic swimming champion Phelps is no exception. Phelps' mom (Poehler) is sitting in the audience, cheering on her son much like she did during the 2008 Olympics. Then, they take some questions from the audience, and that features the second meth reference in a row. I'm telling ya, meth is so in right now. This was a pretty poor monologue, and would have rated a 1 if not for the appearance of legendary actor William Shatner. It is a rule of entertainment that a little Shatner makes everything better, and his presence bumps this rating up to a - 2

    "Quiz Bowl" - Perky high school kids take on religious home schooled kids on a TV quiz show. Slightly funny, but no real build. Kristin Wiig's physicality was funnier than the sketch itself. - 2

    "Jar Glove" - The setup goes by a little too quickly, but this was a funny parody commercial where they demonstrate the old, frustrating way of opening jars as Wiig makes the standard mild frustration facial expressions. Then, the commercial shows the frustration going to ridiculous extremes. Solidly funny concept and well shot. - 3

    "Swim Team" - Will Forte reprises his inspirational coach character, now coaching a swim team. Forte's focus and physicality makes this work and gets a good response from the crowd. Unfortunately, it's the same punchline as last time. While the studio audience seemed to like it, I'm docking it half a point because it's basically a repeat. - 2.5

    "Ugly Kids" - Another virtual repeat as Wiig and Phelps play two ugly pre-teens trotted out at a get together of their parents. The friends in the sketch make appalled faces, while the kids act obnoxiously awkward and dumb. There's really no joke or build beyond that, so this sketch is the first clear miss of the night. - 1

    "Musical Guest Lil' Wayne" - Pretty good, I have to admit that I liked the second rapper better than Lil Wayne himself, but this was an okay jam.

    "Weekend Update" - The first few news jokes fell flat, then Will Forte came out as a character called Alaska Pete and did a commentary about Sarah Palin, which was quite funny. Again, Forte's focus is really great. The second section of news jokes went much better than the first. Then Fred Armisen came out and did his Nicholas Feihn character, the stand up improv comic. It's really a one joke character (Feihn can't ever really begin a thought, much less complete one) but honestly, Armisen does halting speech so well it doesn't matter because it's funny. The third set of news jokes marks the third and final meth reference of the night, then Andy Samberg did a commentary as the notoriously lame newspaper comic strip character Cathy. There's not much to it beyond Cathy's frazzled hair cliches. Even with the first set of jokes and the Cathy commentary bringing it down, this Weekend Update still scores a solid - 3

    "The Charles Barkley Show" - Kenan Thompson as Charles Barkley in the standard celebrity talk show format so familiar to SNL. Thompson makes it work well, though. His lines are funny, especially his "werewolf like fear of silver." The TV production crew composed entirely of small children was also another funny, surreal touch. I liked the sketch.- 3

    "T Mobile" - A rare live commercial parody, written in much the same structure as the "Jar Glove" earlier in the night. Despite the same "take it to the extreme" humor approach, it was a hit with the audience and I found it very funny as well. - 4

    "Digital Short - Space Olympics" - A music video by Andy Samberg, this is another impeccably produced original comedy song and one of the best produced cheap special effects segments so far on Samberg's series of shorts. The humor of the song recalled Adam Sandler as well as classic Weird Al Yankovic, but is distinctly the ever improving musical work of Samberg. The skewed ridiculousness of the lyrics and fresh concept are very entertaining. As far as I'm concerned, it was easily the high point of the night. Well done! - 4

    "Uno Pizza"- Bobby Moynihan, the new guy on the show, who is already being hyped because of his slight resemblance to founding SNL player John Belushi, takes the center stage for the first time as an obnoxious waiter who has many different ways of describing a strange pepper smell in the air. In truth, it sounded basically like Moynihan was doing a stereotypical loud black woman. It was mildly received by the audience, but I'm sure the SNL staff is going to relentlessly press this character upon us, so prepare to see him again, and again, and again. As for me, I didn't think the sketch was all that great, or the character all that intrinsically funny. - 2

    "Musical guest Lil Wayne" - Lil' Wayne's second song sounded too much like the first, he even starts it with the same vocal effect on his mic. I thought it was pretty weak.

    "The Michael Phelps Diet" - Phelps stumbles and coughs through an unfunny one joke sketch. Phelps consumes a lot of calories, so for non athletes, his diet is entirely inappropriate! The cast tries gamely to generate laughs, and this would have rated a 2 for their efforts, but, as a Shatner appearance giveth, a Jared from the Subway commercials appearance taketh away. - 1

    Final thoughts - A great Digital Short and a solid Weekend Update are high points, but the rest of the mostly mixed bag of sketches bring it down and make this overall a pretty mediocre season opening show.

    Final rating - 29.5 out of a possible 48 61% Funny
  • Michael Phelps hosts.

    The episode started with a fairly amusing sketch featuring SNL veteran Tina Fey returning to portray Sarah Palin and Amy Poehler as Hillary Clinton. Fey looks exactly like Palin, but was also able to do a funny impression of her.

    Unfortunately two sketches within the first half hour were complete ripoffs of previous things they had done. When Seth Rogen hosted he played one of the ugly twins along with Kristen Wiig, and when Peyton Manning hosted he did the "inspirational song" with Will Forte in the locker room. Kenan's line during the ugly kids segment was funny though. "There are kids in this picture?"

    Michael Phelps failed miserably as a host here. Not only was he nervous, but he was clearly staring at cue cards during his scenes. Seth Meyers was funny in the Weekend Update segment with his deadpan humor, but as usual Amy Poehler was not. The return of Nicholas Fehn was funny, but Andy Samberg as a woman was annoying. The Charles Barkley Show was pretty good and I'm glad that Kenan Thompson was able to play the star of a sketch as he is often underutilized by SNL. The digital short was okay, but it seemed way too Flight of the Conchords. Lil' Wayne is a creative rapper who has come up with some clever lyrics, but he just doesn't produce the kind of music that appeals to me.

    Bobby Moynihan was absolutely horrible. He's a terrible Horatio Sanz, who is terrible already. The final segment was okay, I liked the Jared cameo, but this show is just not what it used to be. All in all an okay premiere though.