A Review by “HelloStuart,” the “Nice Guy” Amateur Critic
And now, we’re finally in the home stretch. With this time of year, we tend to see higher quality hosts, exceptional musical guests, and most importantly, some of the funniest shows of the season.
If I may veer from my usual open-minded, impartial self for a brief moment, let me just say that I am absolutely pumped that Tom Hanks is hosting this week’s broadcast. I have a great respect for everything he’s done as actor, and his appearance on the show (his first hosting stint since 1996) has always been very welcoming. The musical guest is the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who like Hanks have had a lasting cultural appeal but also hasn’t appeared on the show since I was in grade school.
And now, the sketch-by-sketch analysis:
COLD OPENING: Bush and Cheney discuss the FBI shakeup, which leads to a funny jab at the Livingston incident from three months ago. Shortly afterwards, Senator Bill Frist (Tom) walks in to face the humiliation of his failed Senate Gas Plan, which leads into an infomercial-type tinkering with the now-infamous piece of legislation. I liked too-good-to-be-true element of the proposal, but wouldn’t it have been nice if they gave us a 800 number to call?
MONOLOGUE: Just before he introduces a video diary of his filming of “The Da Vinci Code,” Tom must field questions from several audience members, an albino monk (WF), the Flying Nun (RD), Pope Benedict XVI (DH), and a hesitant Christ impersonator (JS), all in relation to the controversial film. For once, a funny monologue!
“Wheel of Fortune”: Three idiots (AP, FA, KW) can’t solve “By the skin of our teeth” as Pat Sajak (Tom) tries to control his temper in the “stupid funny” sketch of the week.
“Kaitlin and the Iguana”: This time around, the prepubescent spazz (AP) overexcites herself while anticipating a lizard-sitting courtesy of Uncle Rick’s friend Eli (Tom). If you've seen once Kaitlin sketch, you've seen them all.
FILM: The year is 1991, somewhere on the streets of New York City, three guys (WF, CP, KT) discuss the merits (or lack thereof) of a pop band called Ariell & Ephraim (played by Hanks and AS) and their funky hit “Please Don’t Cut My Testicles.” A bit conceptual (like most of the films this season) but nonetheless amusing.
“Universal Studios”: Two grown brothers (Tom, FA) call for their bewildered mother (RD) as they wait in line at the Florida-based theme park. While the two idiots stand in line, the senile old bat actually has an exciting time getting lost in the crowd. Though it was amusing at first, it eventually dragged on about two minutes longer than it should have.
MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: Tom must really love this band if he keeps referring to the band members by name. Either way, this is their new single “Dani California,” which is an adequate song that only complements the Chili Peppers’ quasi-funk lite-rock bender since the late ‘90s.
WEEKEND UPDATE: Tonight on Update, Tina grills Rosie O’Donnell about her potentially spiteful gig on “The View,” while the Kelly Brothers (FA, WF) debate the immigration crisis in song. Otherwise, there wasn’t really anything all that memorable.
“Claremont Yoga Center”: A student of fitness and enlightenment (RD) is repulsed by her class partner Teddy (Tom), who sweats all over the poor girl. The key to the sketch was obviously the physical humor, with Hanks going the extra mile to create an awkward tension that not only paid dividends on the audience but even made the usually stoic Amy crack up.
“Colin’s Place”: Here’s a really stupid way to start a sketch: “Tonight on ‘C-SPAN After Dark’.” The misleading intro makes way for Colin Powell (KT) shrugging off Condi Rice (MR) and her State Department crony (Tom) in an obvious and largely unfunny homage to “Sanford & Son.”
MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: Anthony, Chad, Flea, and John pull of a little bait n’ switch; at first it seems like they’ll be playing some album cut from their new album, but instead unleashes an scorching rendition of their 1992 hit “Give It Away.” Just plain wow.
“Country Club Tennis”: Several pompous vieil argent types argue over the ability to play tennis with an unusual amount of arms in yet another sketch with a one-joke premise.
I’ll be honest with you -I don’t think I’ve seen a May broadcast this lackadaisical since Year 20. Tonight was that one rare instance where the music carried the show; the broadcast was practically dead before they launched into “Give It Away.” Granted, Hanks’ appearance was a tad underwhelming and I’m sure a lot people were incredibly disappointed, but a scorching performance by the godfathers of funk-metal saved the day. Of course, Hanks wasn’t dreadful as host and he never will be; he simply had to put with so-so writing as well as a couple of overlong sketches.
Sketches/Segments That Should Be Removed In Repeats: “Bush and Frist,” Horatio as Rosie on WU, “Colin’s Place,” and “Country Club Tennis.”
Next Week: Now here’s something completely different: Julia Louis-Dreyfus becomes the first female ex-cast member to host, while Paul Simon makes his 1,784,236th appearance on the show.
Contact “HelloStuart” at email@example.com.