Saturday Night Live

Season 31 Episode 12

Steve Martin/Prince

Aired Saturday 11:30 PM Feb 04, 2006 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (3)

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out of 10
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  • He takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’…

    A Review by "HelloStuart," Amateur Critic and Disgraced Memoirist

    Well, if you haven't heard the good news, I may as well tell you now: after sitting out half the season, Maya Rudolph returns to the good graces of SNL with this week's episode. Luckily for her, she's not returning with the show in a state of chaos; in truth, she'll probably make a respectable season even better. Whatever questions were raised when Tina Fey returned from maternity leave four months ago have been either answered or eradicated.

    Speaking of good news, this week's host is someone that is almost iconic to the show and was a one time feared to never appear again. That man is the comedy immortal Steve Martin, whose appearance tonight is his fourteenth as host, a record that has been challenged but never equaled. His musical guest is Prince, who also hasn't been on the show in quite a while; in fact, the last time Señor Purple appeared on SNL he and Charles Rocket dropped f-bombs and got half the cast and crew fired. It probably figures that all this fan gratification is occurring during February sweeps, as the Olympics gobble up the next three Saturdays. In fact, this incredible smattering of good news almost completely overshadows the fact that the live broadcast scheduled for March 18th may or may not have been cancelled for wrestling coverage.

    And now, the sketch-by-sketch analysis:

    COLD OPENING: A filmed opening sketch? What is this, “Lonely Island Live”? But I digress- Steve and Kelly Ripa are enjoying a quiet dinner in a nice restaurant as his “Viagra clock” ticks like an egg timer, but word of Alec Baldwin tying Mr. M’s record forces our hero to take some very drastic action.

    MONOLOGUE: Steve takes a much-deserved bow before realizing that his memories of first hosting the show thirty years ago are fuzzy and self-serving at best. Maya makes an impromptu appearance to show off her curvy, post-pregnancy look, which results in the repressive explosion of Steve’s Viagra clock.

    “Teddy Bear Holding a Heart”: Spoofing that omnipresent Debeers ad campaign, this fuzzy little trinket is the perfect gift for inconsiderate cheapskates on Valentine’s Day.

    “Oprah”: Today on the show, The Big O (MR) briefly comments on the James Frey scandal before dressing down another memoirist (Steve) that allegedly fudged the facts in his own autobiography. “Stone Freedman” weasels his way through the various half-truths (or “half-lies,” if you will) before running for cover. Maya’s first real sketch since October proves that her straight-man skills haven’t rusted, though Steve might’ve played his character as too over-the-top.

    “Don’t Buy Stuff You Cannot Afford”: A debt-riddled couple (Steve, AP) cannot grasp that concept into their heads as a spokesperson (CP) lays out his uncomplicated plan for money management. This sketch reminded me of your typical ad spoof from the early years of SNL- a simple concept takes a hilarious tangent through earnest performances.

    “Hamas”: Steve shows off his tender, principle-betraying side when he reluctantly agrees to appear at a post-election rally for the Islamic Resistance Movement. The fact that the three terrorists (FA, BH, SM) gush over Steve because of his wonderful film work in the late 70’s/early 80’s may be a metaphor for how my generation idolizes him, and that’s the greatest saving grace of this wry albeit rushed and overdue attempt to mention West Back politics.

    FILM: Steve and Will Forte rush towards each other in what seems like a passionate kiss, but instead they make small talk from a very close distance. This piece was another small victory for the independent comedy movement, even if Samberg and his boys are technically working for the man now.

    “Quick Zoom Theater”: A scenario involving a doctor and patient (Steve, FA) turns really hammy once the cameras get overactive. The missed targets were cute, but like “Hamas” this felt rushed and underdeveloped.

    MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: The (former) Artist trades purple for fiery red with his sizzling 80’s-style rocker “A Woman Scorned.” (Given that my girlfriend was watching the show with me in my dorm, I had to repress the urge to make an ass of myself and groove along to one of the best songs he’s written in years.)

    WEEKEND UPDATE: Keeping up with the frantic pace of tonight’s show, “Update” proves to be short on length but long on laughs. A joke about a half-human, half-dinosaur creature with some connection to Paris Hilton went straight over my head, but jabs at the New York Knicks and Justice Samuel Alito’s stance on abortion more than made up for it.

    “Super Bowl XL”: Aaron Neville (HS), Aretha Franklin (KT), and Mac Rebennack (JS) confer and obsess over food during last-minute preparations for tomorrow’s New Orleans-heavy pre-game show in a throwaway sketch built around celebrity impressions.

    BACKSTAGE: Steve begs Lorne to pay him an extra $500 for hosting this week, but it appears that Jimmy Fallon’s convalescence of a brain-damaged Alec Baldwin is a far more important matter. More often than not, cameos tend to be a shameless way of punching up weak material, but tonight’s SCTV-like running gag actually makes it feel a lot less cartoonish.

    “The Prince Show”: Before you ask, the real Prince does not appear in this sketch. Even so, it’s your typical affair for Fred’s impression of tonight’s musical guest; an awkward chat with his personal chef (Steve) goes nowhere, but a conversation with Drew Barrymore gives Kristen Wiig yet another great impression to fall back upon.

    “State of the Galaxy 2145”: A political sketch this late in the show? That’s a good sign. In an Asimovian twist to this week’s State of the Union address, President Bush’s ancestor (WF) is more or less repeating the same rhetoric over a century from now. A hologram Chris Matthews (DH) and an android built to resemble Brian Williams (SM) also throw in their two cents in a sketch where resistance to comedy was very, very futile.

    FILM: I’m not kidding- another film! In a piece that was cut from the Johansson/DC4C show from last month, “The Tangent” stars a man (FA) who annoys a friend, gets discovered, becomes a celebrity, and falls back to earth during one very long-winded diatribe about dining out.

    “Surf Club”: An older gentleman in Bermuda shorts (Steve) seems oblivious as he sticks out like a sore thumb in a group of younger, Quiksilver-clad waveriders. The heave-ho banter gets repetitive as the surfers try to dump this unwanted father figure, though I’ll bet I could’ve come up with a better ending to this sketch if I had the chance.

    MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: Prince and Tamar (no, I’ve never heard of her either) duet on the leadoff single from his new album, “Beautiful Love (3121).”

    “Naturally Crafting”: An archetypal weekend afternoon PBS craft show lets its title become a double entendre when its host (RD) seduces her guest (Steve) during a segment on wreath-making.

    Over the course of this past season, I have found it quite difficult to make a lot of critical statements about the current state of the show; whatever key arguments I’ve made were either short-lived or quickly debunked. Tonight’s broadcast is no exception; I secretly hoped that maybe this would be a generation gap-infused train wreck and that the blood of mediocrity would stain Steve’s hands, and I was proven dead wrong. Pardon the hyperbole, but if the Jack Black broadcast was the best episode of the season thus far, then this would be a very close second; the sketches ran quick, fast and deprived of mercy yet with the tenacity of a well-oiled machine. The sheer delight of this show almost absolves the over-reliance on filmed segments.

    Sketches/Segments That Will Probably Be Removed in Repeats: “Quick Zoom Theater,” “Super Bowl XL,” “State of the Galaxy 2145,” “Surf Club,” “Beautiful Love (3121),” and “Naturally Crafting.”

    Next Month: Natalie Portman hosts with Chicago’s very own Fall Out Boy as musical guest. See you after the Olympics!

    If you have any questions or comments about this review, feel free to contact HelloStuart at