It's the last episode of what is usually the "winter downer" portion of the season. Usually, from the first episode of January in a season until around mid-February, the show quality takes a dip for whatever reason, whether it's the time of the year being the writers' least favorite, or something. I'm not even sure, but the pattern has occurred before. In season 34, the "winter downer" was actually a HUGE dip in quality compared to the rest of the season. From Rosario Dawson's episode until Alec Baldwin's episode, the word "middling" was as high as it got. And, last year, the quality of the season was lower, so it seemed that it wasn't as much of a dip, but I do remember the Weaver and Kutcher broadcasts being on weaker knees in my eyes than usual.
But, so far, this "winter downer" has yet to exist. The past 4 episodes were all enjoyable, and fun. From Jim Carey's energy to Dana Carvey's nostalgic characters being brought back, I'd say this supposed "winter downer" was a delight. So, here's to the fifth, and for the most part last, episode of the "winter downer episodes 2011" being a decent one.
Our host tonight is Russell Brand. He's renown in England for his comedy, obviously, and has starred in American movies, such as Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Musical guest is a little bit more controversial, being Chris Brown. After the problems Brown faced 2 years ago around this time, it was unlikely he would gain popularity back, but, sure enough, I'm hearing his new single "Yeah 3x" on the radio all the time.
The O'Reilly Factor: I was a bit worried this was going to follow the same formula as it did back when Darrell was still around. Back in October 2006, Darrell played Brit Hume interviewing the current president, at the time, George W. Bush. And, the whole sketch was a way of saying "President Bush is dumb", which, by the, obviously was a long-past drawn-out, cliched joke. But, tonight's sketch was following more of the joke that made fun of O'Reilly, and all the bizarre things, such as a game show-esque part of the interview, was funny.
Monologue: I was impressed by how well this monologue flowed. Kudos to it being a real monologue also. It was long in time, but it went by pretty quickly, since all the stuff he said was funny and consistent.
Gublin & Green: I thought this was a good way to take upon the Spiderman Broadway show fiasco. I laughed at Andy's Bono-esque character.
Ultimate Vacation Giveaway: I wasn't impressed with this being the lead-off sketch. This character was a great sketch when it originally aired back in 2007 with Brian Williams, and then they did it again with Emma Stone back in October, which was alright, since the buffer space in time was about 3 years... but doing it again so soon was not what I wanted. The only part I laughed at, really, was when Kristen put her hand on Russell's crotch to see if he had peed his pants yet.
Don' You Go Rounin' Roun To Re Ro: This commercial parody was decent. The heavy reliance on British-based sketches was a bit too much tonight, and yes, I considered the circumstances of who was hosting pretty fairly.
Royal Taster: Taran's performance in this was pretty funny, and this sketch was probably the best written sketch of the night. The ending was perhaps a bit too random to end the sketch, but, either way, it was a good sketch.
Musical Performance: Chris Brown performs "Yeah 3x" which isn't too bad of a song, and the dancing was actually pretty impressive.
Weekend Update: Tonight's Update was strong, and, while Fred's commentary as Egyptian President, Hosini Mubarak, was the weakest segment of the night, it was paid in respect by the Eminem/Lil Wayne duo. I was so impressed just by Jay's impression, and I knew that he was just leading in to Taran's impression of Eminem. Taran was super impressive in this, and the audience agreed. It was also funny to see Bill back as Stefon.
Livin' Single: A new sketch featuring Vanessa, which was nice to see. Plus, even more Taran on top of the rest of Taran we've seen tonight, and I'm not complaining. He's doing great in everything he's in. It got pretty physical when Russell came out, which made it funny, and the way Vanessa ended it was good.
Spot of Tea: This was your standard Lonely-Island-For-Live-Sketch. The premise just focused on the Earth quakes breaking everything, but the performances by Andy, Bill, and Russell in this were good.
Musical Performance: So, I have no idea what this song was called, but I looked on SNL archives, and, I can't even copy the whole title... but I'll say that Chris Brown performed "No Bullcrap". This wasn't that good, and I just kind of passively watched this.
Washington From The Past: This was actually a good 10-to-one sketch, and it ended the night nicely.
Tonight's show had it's moments, and it had it's blemishes. It all worked out to be a decent show. Pretty average, but nothing awful. Russell was a good host, and he did good carrying the cast through their last consecutive week until their two-week break. Chris Brown was very well-recieved by the audience, which I was impressed by, due to how much controversy had came over from everyone finding out he was originally booked. His music, though, was just alright.
Tonight's show broke the shell completely of Taran, finally. I feel like I've seen a good side of all the featured performers this year, and I hope to see even more in the remaining seven episodes left. I feel like this is the "new voice" much like how the Bill-Kristen-Jason-Andy sega started somewhat of an SNL revolution also. I hope to see Paul break into characters, and do some out-of-the-box stuff. And, I hope to see Nasim finally get more into episodes... she's still being utilized as more of a first year performer, which is more like "everyone! look what I can do!" instead of adding on new things that she's been working on since she has been on the show. And then there's Abby, who I can only hope has at least another episode or two like she did last week with Dana Carvey, with her being all over the episode. I hope to not see any cast members get cut over the season, unless they're leaving on their own.
March 5, Miley Cyrus hosts with musical guests The Strokes. I'm glad to see the cast getting a good-timed break. But, I am worried about Cyrus's hosting abilities. Granted, like others have said, Zac Efron's episode wasn't only passable, but I actually really enjoyed it, and I wasn't expecting anything from him. Maybe Miley can come out of that drab accent of hers, and be just as versatile as Zac Efron was back in 2009.