A Review by the Former "Heystu," Amateur Critic and Tired Workaholic
Did anybody read the most recent issue of Entertainment Weekly this week? There's this little piece of garbage in the "News & Notes" section about how wonderful it is to watch Jimmy Fallon and Horatio Sanz crack up. Having watched all their little giggles over the past two years, I would wholeheartedly have to disagree with the blurb. Thus far, this is the first time I've heard anything positive about what may very well be the most annoying element of the show right now, though at least they gave subdued credit to Rachel Dratch and her "Debbie Downer" flub elsewhere in the magazine. And no, this does not make me a hypocrite; Dratch's giggling last week was actually pretty amusing, and there are plenty of people that I have come to know over the last year that agree with me. These people also agree with me over the fact that putting Fallon and Sanz together is the comedy equivalent of celery and mustard.
Tonight's host is rapper/actor/sketch comedy patron/video game character/celebrity for celebrity's sake/jack of all trades Calvin Trillus, otherwise known as Snoop (formerly Doggy) Dogg. Having watched reruns of Doggy Fizzle Televizzle on MTV2, it is suffice to say that while he not have much versatility in his roles, he is very amusing to watch nonetheless. Our musical guest is Canadian "punk princess" Avril Lavigne, who is supposedly trying a more mature sound on her upcoming second album.
Let's take a look at a sketch-by-sketch recap*:
COLD OPENING: A political sketch that ends in what was probably the inevitable: a spoof of the final episode of Friends. Donald Rumsfeld (DH) admits that he's taking a lot of flack for the situation with the torture of Iraqi prisoners (in case you haven't heard, they've been treated to atrocities like electrocutions, sleep deprivation, and watching last year's Eric McCormick episode), so he resigns to chagrin of a strangely lustful Dubya (Forte again). Yeah, that's right, it's a perfect parallel to Ross and Rachel, and yes, Rummy does come back to open-mouth kiss the president. I guess that explains why President Bush seems to hate homosexuals
MONOLOGUE: Big Snoop (or should I say Big Calvin?) walks into a makeshift harem, with the four females in the cast holding feather fans. After they make the unavoidable "fo'shizzle ma'nizzle" comment, The Big Dogg admits that he wants white people to stop saying that, and to start using pig latin again. Makes sense, but is-ay was-ay o-say un-fay!
"Mom Jeans": The perfect gift for mother's day: jeans for out-of-shape childrearing women. It's a repeat from last season, so why bother? On the other hand, at least it's not "Huggies Thong" yet again.
"Show Biz Grande Explosion": I have no problem with Ferecito (FA) or anything like that, but do they really have to turn this into a recurring sketch? Either way, the Latin percussionist does a man-on-the-street bit, and then teaches a reluctant Snoop how to make em laugh. Considering that Ferecito has done the exact same thing in all of his appearances, I can't really say repetition ages well in this particular situation.
"Depressing Rap Battle": It's a fight for best rhymer that takes a negative turn when a physically-handicapped fellow named MC Glide (Snoop) starts stomping the competition. Once he meets his match in a slightly more cheerful wheelchair-bound rapper named Sunshine (KT), Snoop changes jackets, breaks character, and ends the sketch with a brief freestyle. I thought it made an honest observation about society and how it treats the handicapped, but otherwise this was just a big ego trip for Snoop.
"Scheinwald Studios": Oh boy, it's another forgettable recurring sketch. As you might recall, the forward-thinking grandson (SM) of the sleazy old fogey who still runs the joint (RD) is trying to move the studio in a new direction, but he lets his dear old grandpa interfere with a business meeting with MC Night Terrors (Snoop) and his equally frightful movie pitch. Here's the hoping the third's time is not the charm.
"Snoop's Party": Two guys (KT, FM) want to meet the man himself, but all Dogg wants to talk about is the demise of Friends. Obviously, they are dumbstruck but try to keep the conversation going for the sake for being star-struck, and they end up in a fountain spoofing the show's opening credits. Funny, but nothing extraordinary.
"ABC Fall": A funny faux promo for the network's new reality programs, all of whom mimic their Thursday night "hit" Extreme Makeover. Amongst the hilarious new shows: "Face Friends," the soap opera-style "The Angel Surgeons," "I'm Going to Cut Your Face," two shows involving butts on faces and vice versa and the utterly absurd "Monster Garage Face."
MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: Avril, now a little older and a little wiser, channels her inner Sheryl Crow and sings about chastity to the tune of "Don't Tell Me (What to Do)."
WEEKEND UPDATE: After last week's half-hearted effort, this slightly lengthier edition of the segment was a real hoot. Despite an early joke about the Iraqi torture scandal that bombed on impact, we do get to meet scrutinized soldier/sadist Lynndie England (RD), while Bill Clinton (DH) comments on his new book. But the best part of all was a faux clip show featuring all of Jimmy's acoustic-guitar performances on Update. To pay homage (while not quite being historically accurate) to the likes of Kevin Nealon, Chevy Chase, and even the deservedly forgotten Charles Rocket really put a smile on my face.
"Appalachian Emergency Room": If this appears on the show one more time, this might become a candidate for the next really bad SNL movie. I'll be honest; this is really growing on me, even if jokes about boys in trinket machines and Stretch Armstrong figures up the ol' potato chute aren't exactly politically correct.
SMIGELTOON: I'm beginning to wonder if Robert Smigel is taking his segments into a new direction, combining animation with live-action with greater frequency. Then again, recurring bits like "X-Presidents" and "Ambiguously Gay Duo" have pretty much run their course, so why not take things in a new direction? Nonetheless, "Pothead Theater" presents a viewer's choice, where local stoners are asked what they'd like to see on TV, from fish catching people to a television watching people. All in all, this was a haze of lunacy.
MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: Avril now channels Liz Phair, but it's Exile in Guyville-era Liz, not her current "Why Can't I" pop drivel. Even though she has watered-down punk in the veins, she still does justice to "My Happy Ending."
"Duster's Digest": Finally, a spokesperson (CP) suggests, a magazine for PCP addicts. With topics like "Now You're In the Polar Bear Cage, Now What?" you have to admit it shows promise. And of course, you can't go wrong with Rick James (Snoop) endorsing the magazine, even if he can play a bass guitar with just one hand on the ax.
"A Mother's Day Message from Snoop Dogg": The title sums it up pretty well. Basically, Snoop recites a poem to his mom, with his weird sexual references included.
Well, it looks like we have a winning streak on our hands. Basically, this was a satisfying if uneven effort, with the cast continuing to find its chemistry after a shaky start to the season. It would be redundant to say Snoop was a tolerable host, since he's famous for rolling with the punches, and already has one previous episode in 1997 under his belt. Avril Lavigne's latest punk-pop techniques were digestible if not memorable.
Sketches/Musical Moments That Will Probably Be Removed In Reruns: The "Mom Jeans" rerun, "Scheinwald Studios," "My Happy Ending," and "Mother's Day Message."
Next Week: It's the season finale, with Full House darlings Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen becoming SNL's first identical twin hosts, with up-and-coming rapper J-Kwan as musical guest. Plus, a special year-end recap from Heystu!
Contact the pleasant, well-to-do fellow who wrote his article at email@example.com. He did not tape this particular episode, so don't ask to borrow his copy. He's not being mean, he's just a little stressed.
*like an analysis, but with pizzazz.