Saturday Night Live

Season 34 Episode 18

Tracy Morgan/Kelly Clarkson

0
Aired Saturday 11:30 PM Mar 14, 2009 on NBC
7.3
out of 10
User Rating
45 votes
5

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

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Live from New York, it's... Tracy Morgan! Sketches include "Tracy Breaks In" (film), "Chewable Pampers," "Brian Fellows' Safari Planet," "The View," "Scared Straight," "Dateline," "Astronaut Jones," "Big Love," "Party Guests" (Digital Short), "Suppressex," "High IQ," "Family Flix," and "Gas-Right." Kelly Clarkson performed "My Life Would Suck Without You" and "I Do Not Hook Up."moreless

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • "I'm back like scoliosis!"

    7.5
    A Review by "HelloStuart," Amateur Critic and Tartar Sauce Magnate



    As much as I love Tracy Morgan on "30 Rock," I don't need to be reminded that he was a mixed bag on SNL. By having him host (or any ex-cast member, for that matter) we'll be subjected to a reprise of beloved recurring characters from years past, maybe a celebrity cameo or two.



    The musical guest is Kelly Clarkson, here to promote her hodgepodge of a fourth album, "All I Ever Wanted." Reviews have been mostly positive, but when you consider that nine different people produced the disc –including former SNL Band guitarist Lukasz Gottwald- you wonder if it's not so much an artistic statement than an expensive potluck dinner to appease the demands of Clarkson's label.



    And now, the sketch-by-sketch analysis:



    COLD OPENING: In a mostly pre-taped segment, Tracy stands out in the 30 Rock plaza boasting of the building that has done so much for him and his career. When he's denied entry for lacking an ID he goes on a punching frenzy, a slap-happy action-movie sequence whose victims include two security guards, a page (not Kenneth, mind you), wrestler John Cena, and Tina Fey. What saved this piece from being utterly impractical was that Tracy is fully capable of doing something like this in real life.



    MONOLOGUE: Tracy addresses all the heresy involving the electrical fire that nearly wiped out his collection exotic fish last month. After pointing out the latent racism of the entertainment media, Morgan explains that he was enjoying a simple evening of feeding fried chicken to mini-sharks, playing old-school Nintendo, and playing with Japanese swords before everything went horribly wrong.



    "Chewable Pampers": Somebody on the show must be infatuated with this ad spoof, because airing this unfortunate commercial for the third time makes no sense whatsoever.



    "Brian Fellows' Safari Planet": I should've bet twenty dollars that the first proper sketch after the monologue would be a revisiting of Tracy's most beloved alter ego, zoology-loving dimwit Brian Fellows. Tonight, a baby cow from New England instigates a typical Brian daydream in which the bovine refuses to invite our hero to a snooty party. Somehow, a red-tailed hawk and a competitive-eating feline from Japan get thrown in the mix. There's no question that if you've seen one Brian Fellows sketch you've seen them all, but Morgan seemingly adores this character and will revive him at any given opportunity.



    "The View": Live from Disney Studios, the five hosts hem and haw about current events while not fully detaching themselves from their caricature-ish personality quirks. Whoopi (KT) shamelessly promotes herself, Joy (FA) gripes about menopause and aging, Barbara (MW) is long-winded, Elizabeth (KW) is incredulous and thinks everything is a political issue, and Sherri (Tracy) has absolutely no idea what's going on. Need I say more?



    "Scared Straight": Lorenzo MacIntosh (KT) is joined by the equally male-rape obsessed Kendrick McEntire (Tracy) for the usual rehashing of old movies and bad sodomy puns. What makes this sketch stand out compared to the previous two entries is that Tracy's over-the-top hamming causes everyone except Kenan to crack up. You know I'm not the biggest fan of breaking character, and Tracy himself has given Jimmy Fallon the nth degree for constantly cracking up in sketches, yet Tracy's performance was the only breath of fresh air in a recurring skit that never should've been repeated to begin with.



    "Dateline": Tonight on "Real Life Crimes, Bad Situations," Keith Morrison (BH) is still aroused by the pain and suffering of others, than meets his match in a serial killer (Tracy) in a moment of ironic schadenfreude. Once again, the writers refuse to rock the boat and in spite of that I still found this sketch (and tonight's show thus far) somewhat gratifying.



    "Astronaut Jones": Ah, this brings back pleasant memories. The inane theme song, Tracy's phony spacesuit, the "simmering" sexual tension, all part of a crowd-pleasing throwaway gag. Tonight, Jones encounters a trans-gendered alien (AS) on the ice planet Krelgar. The premise was threadbare but it was enough to make me laugh, but for some reason this new wrinkle in the formula didn't sit well with me. MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: "My Life Would Suck Without You" is… just that. Basically, it's the type of song that wants to rock but only kinda-sorta meets that goal, well-meaning in effort but pabulum in execution.



    WEEKEND UPDATE: Bernie Madoff's decision to plead guilty this week was the dominant topic on tonight's Update, serving not only as Seth's opening joke but also as an excuse to give Bill's John Malkovich impression a test run. Tracy storms the news desk to bogart the "Really?" segment so he can dispute the $10 strip club tax. There was no complicated explanation or verbose dissection, just a simple straightforward comment. The centerpiece of Update was an appearance by Barbie (KW), the beloved fashion doll whose 50th birthday is apparently being marked with chronic unemployment, a failed marriage, and quietly drinking alone. It's a cruel world for attractive women with no elbows, and the plastic figurine epitomizes this anguish.



    "Big Love": On the cult-hit HBO series, Bill's (JS) newest wife (Tracy) is masculine and unkempt, which confuses and alienates Barb (KW), Nikki (AE), and Margene (CW). I tip my hat to the writers and producers for getting the look right and casting dead-on lookalikes to lampoon Bill Paxton, Chloe Sevigny et al. even if the tone of the characters was way off.



    DIGITAL SHORT: Two party guests (BH, AS) comment on how everybody else at the shindig are literally what they are (Mr. Personality, mama's boys, numb-nuts, etc.). A rare example of a filmed piece –much like "Corporate Headquarters" from Rainn/Fire two years ago- with a simple premise enhanced by snappy editing and a zany execution.



    "Suppressex": An alleged doctor (Tracy) endorses a pill that suppresses erections during inopportune times. Morgan is completely out of place as a straight man, and this might've worked better as a taped piece; however, Bill's part as a department store Santa was the figurative and literal tentpole of an otherwise average sex-joke sketch.



    "High IQ": The bored host (Tracy) of an overly intellectual game show brings in obnoxious music and dancers to shake things up, much to the chagrin of the three contestants (DH, JS, MW). Heavy on pure energy but light on plot, this sketch almost felt like one of the bad pseudo-sketches that we barely see on TGS, the show-within-a-show on "30 Rock."



    MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: "I Do Not Hook Up" is slick in sound but logical and virtuous in message.



    "Family Flix": A profile of the director of "Rocket Dog" (Tracy) goes horribly awry. I cracked up at this sketch, almost to the point that I was in tears. Maybe it was Tracy's nonchalant delivery, or the barrage of "In Memoriam" photos, or just the many layers of randomness unfurling before my eyes, but I can't remember the last time I laughed this hard at ten minutes to one.



    "Gas Right": It's an obvious fart joke –and a repeat from earlier in the season- but I'll take this over "Chewable Pampers."



    This particular broadcast might've been light on substance but heavy on fun. Tracy's seven years on SNL weren't perfect, and he's not the biggest star to graduate from the show, yet he really made tonight's broadcast his own. He even carried sketches that clearly weren't written for him, evidence for that for all his troubles Tracy is a team player first. Where Kelly Clarkson was underwhelming, everything else shined brightly. If only every episode of SNL was thrown into one of Jack Donaghy's funcookers…



    Segments That Probably Won't Appear in Repeats: "Chewable Pampers," "The View," "High IQ," and "I Do Not Hook Up."



    Next Week: A repeat of last month's disappointing Steve Martin/Jason Mraz show.



    "HelloStuart" has been writing SNL episode reviews for this website since 2003. Contact him at sma17kc@aim.com.moreless
  • A totally phoned-in show. I felt that I had seen this show before.

    5.0
    Tracy Morgan Intro - Tracy running around punching people. Kind of similar to that digital short "People Getting Punched While Eating" but not nearly as funny. Grade: C+



    Tracy Monologue - Wasn't going much of anywhere but he saved it from being a mild waste of time by bringing back his famous "bring me a soda b1tch". Grade: C



    Brian Fellow's Safari Planet - The usual routine. Rather than Andy and the hawk, it would have been great to see Forte bring out his falcon. Grade: C



    The View - This sketch has become "sketch by numbers". Just plug different words into the same setting. Not as bad as Bronx Beat, but still not very funny or creative. The ending just trailed off with no conclusion. Grade: D-



    Scared Straight - Another rehash. Not a favorite of mine, but Tracy brought a little more to the sketch than it usually has. There was a bit too much focus on penis jokes, but they were funny nonetheless. Grade: B-



    Dateline NBC - Still another rehash. Virtually the same as last time. Hader's creepy character and Tracy's presence at the end raised this from the recurring sketch dregs. Grade: B-



    Astronaut Jones - They used the same intro from years ago. Tracy looked a lot thinner. It was the same as always: a very long intro and a short segment with Tracy telling the space chick to get out of the dress. Grade: D



    Weekend Update - Hader's Malkovich was brilliant. Really!?! with Tracy was succinct and mildly amusing. Kristen's Barbie was long and not so funny (Amy's was great on the Paris Hilton episode). The jokes were fairly strong with the overgrown garden state joke stuck in my head. Grade: B-



    Big Love - Another chance to put Tracy in a wig. The characters were slim and undeveloped and the only punchline was having Sudeikis realize Tracy is a guy in drag while he shaves. Weak stuff. Grade: D-



    Party digital short - Nice use of literalism. Sometimes literal jokes fall flat on their face, but this Python-esque short overcame the typical problems that sink these types of jokes. The jokes and the cuts were fast and it didn't wear out its welcome. The highlight was easily Forte humping a box of Alpha Bits cereal. I wonder if the mo-fo's were the writers? I loved the self-deprecating ending. Finally a short worth a repeat viewing. Grade: A-



    SuppressX - Mildly funny commercial promoting a drug to eliminate erections. Tracy's pitch was OK, but it was Hader's short testimonial as a department store Santa that sold the sketch. Grade: B-



    High IQ - No show is complete these days without Kristen doing something strange. Take it or leave it, that's just the new reality. Add in the rest of the cast in costumes and don't give them any dialogue and offer no plot development or jokes of any kind and what do you get? A low grade! Grade: D-



    Family Flix - Boring interview segment, weak clips and the supposed "jokes" are random pictures with the words "In Memorium" beneath them. Not good. Not good at all. Grade: D-moreless
  • The trend continues... bland rehashes of sketches that weren't terribly funny the first time around.

    3.0
    COLD OPENING: Was it hilarious? Hardly. But what a nice break from the downward-spiraling, bland political openings we've been seeing since last fall.



    MONOLOGUE: I was entertained by Tracy Morgan's story of how his fire started, and it was a nice brief monologue-- for a change.



    "Chewable Pampers": Enough already! I didn't hate this the first time I saw it, but now it just seems incredibly lazy.



    "Brian Fellows' Safari Planet": I knew we'd be seeing this character tonight, and he still made me laugh. (A cow "putting on airs"-- funny.) But this sketch went the way of many Brian Fellows sketches by getting detoured into WTF land.



    "The View": While the impressions are decent, clearly the people who watch "The View" are not watching SNL, and vice-versa. These sketches need to stop.



    "Scared Straight": Another re-hash. This sketch was never even slightly funny with Kenan. Nothing times two still equals nothing. Awful. Another series that needs to be retired.



    "Dateline": Tonight on "Real Life Crimes, Bad Situations," Keith Morrison is one of the few things BH does that I really find consistently funny. Loved the twist at the end with TM and BH going back and forth.



    "Astronaut Jones": Blah. The whole show is a mishmiash of retreads.



    MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: "My Life Would Suck Without You"-- these may be the most sophomoric, mediocre lyrics ever.



    WEEKEND UPDATE: Horrible. BH's John Malkovich was so far off it was embarrassing to watch. It was like a bad Bette Davis. And the whole Barbie thing could have been written some 20 years ago by an 8th grader. ("The dream house is in foreclosure" ? Really? Is that the best you guys can do?) Barbie was so much funnier years ago in the Britney Spears episode. I will say KW's hair and outfit were perfect, though. The rest of WU was just bleh.



    "Big Love": I've never seen the show, but this sketch gave me a glimpse. It was sort of clever, although once again, it went nowhere, and relied on the closing montage to give it an ending. Yawn.



    DIGITAL SHORT: This was one of the more clever shorts I've seen in awhile. It did remind me of Rainn's Corporate one, but this had a beginning, middle, and end, and the visual gags were funny.



    "Suppressex": BH's Santa was not enough to save this piece of garbage, despite what other reviewers say.



    "High IQ": WOW. Utterly stupid and pointless.



    MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: "I Do Not Hook Up"



    "Family Flix": This was rather enjoyable and seemed funnier than stuff that aired earlier. Certainly this could have switched places with "The View" sketch.



    "Gas Right": again with a repeated commercial?



    In all, I was really bored and angry seeing so much stuff I've seen before. Too much BH tonight, but thankfully he wasn't doing Vincent Price or that dreadful Italian talk show host. Thankfully, not much JS tonight. Might I suggest a sketch in which Dateline's Keith Morrison interviews the Target Lady who has had a run-in with the sex fiend character played by Will Forte? Why not mix up some of these characters rather than repeating the same sketch time and again?moreless
  • Just give him a soda!

    6.0
    Toinght's host is Tracy Morgan, who was a cast member here from 1996 to 2003. It's always nice to have a cast member to return to host. It usually will always make a fun show. Tracy's way of sketch acting is always worth a laugh, and I mean that in a good way.. i think.



    Kelly Clarkson is our musical guest tonight. I really have never liked any of her songs, but it's sweeps so why not?



    Tracy is Back: This was a really silly opening. The Tina Fey cameo was great, and so was John Cena. It was also interesting seeing those familiar extra faces saying lines.



    Monologue: Tracy talks about how the media can't make him look like a big ghetto deal just because he's a black comedian. Pretty funny monologue.



    Chewable Pampers: Wow. A third time already? This commercial has been repeated 3 times in 5 episodes! My god, I think we've found our Urigro and our Pampers Thongs of the season! Can I just say that I'm sick of SNL putting Wiig always as the almost-star of the show. She's great, yes, but the writers and Lorne can over power her at times.



    Brian Fellows Safari Planet: Wow, can anybody believe we haven't seen a current cast member (asides Pampers) up until this sketch?



    The View: At least they did it in Disney World. But, it's the same old predictable formula. Like, for instance, in all 3 The View sketches we've had with this cast, Wiig's Hasselback does the same things: Shows untrustworthy research, starts stressing with a "YES. I Did. Yes i did!" or whatever, and just screams.



    Lorenzo McInTosh: Once again, same old story. Same old formula. I thought Tracy may help this out, but all he did was really just shadow Kenan and vice versa. The only thing I smiled at/kinda chuckled at was the breaking character at the end. It's always nice to see that once every WHILE. Not, like every other episode, but maybe once or twice a season. I also laughed at the "Asian Lady from Grey's Anatomy" line.



    Tonight On Dateline: For a second, I was wondering if this were a repeat sketch, but I realized Bill's hair was shorter. Pretty straight forward with the formula, again. But, I did laugh when Bill and Tracy's characters started doing this "ohhhhh!" thing. There were also some good lines like the 'put a ring on it' and the 'did he shoot you a dirty look?'



    Astronaut Jones: I'm glad they tried changling things up with the guy being a transvestite. But, I wish Tracy's line delivery was more exciting. Like, you know he'd either get a girl, or accept the guy. I wish something unpredictable could have happened.



    Musical Performance: Kelly Clarkson perfroms "My Life Would Suck Without You". It was somewhat a good song.



    Weekend Update: I was waiting and waiting for the show to finally take off, and it DID! Update was really really fun this week. Bill's Malkovich was hilarious, and Kristen's Barbie was just as entertaining. The walk on by Tracy was kind of ruined by the side camera angle gaffe, but otherwise was really funny.



    Big Love: This was a really funny parody. All the impressions were pretty spot on, and Tracy was great.



    The Party: This felt like a good old digital short that you don't see a lot these days. It was original, and so Lonely Islandish.



    Suppressex: Forte's line at the beginning was great. Tracy was great in this too.



    High IQ: At first I thought this was only going to star Wiig just dancing. I was going to roll my eyes, but this turned into a really funny random sketch.



    Musical Performance: Kelly performs "I Do Not Hook Up". It's an alright song. Not as annoying as her first album, and I never really heard her second album.



    Family Flix: This was actually a really goofy 5 to one sketch, and Tracy was great in it.



    Gas Right: Why not end the night off with another repeat commercial? Don't we have any taped commercial that never made it to air this season? Wasn't there a dating service commercial that was cut from the Michael Phelps show? I'd rather see something new than something that is repeated and wasn't that funny the first time.



    Tonight's show was shaping up to be a pretty boring show up until it got to Update. Then, the show took a whole new direction, and was fun! The last 45 minutes was pretty strong, while the first 45 minutes was shaping up to be a pretty weak and perdictable show. The outcome was a modest, but decent mid-season show.



    Tracy was Tracy. He was pretty funny, and made some sketches that weren't original kind of worth watching. Kelly is a good live act, but her music is nothing too too special for me.



    And, here's where I plug in the next live show. Once again, they didn't announce it. It's really getting annoying. Like, they've slowly gotten more and more worse at announcing guests in upcoming dates. Look at last year around this time: We knew Shia and Steve were hosting in May. Then, starting season 34, we didn't find out any of the October shows until right around October started. Now, it's this.



    Next week is the repeat of the boring Steve Martin episode. The week after is a repeat of the Alec Baldwin episode. April 4 is our next show.moreless
  • Tracy Morgan hosts. Kelly Clarkson sings, and apparently eats a lot of donuts.

    5.2
    Cold Opening: This felt very similar to the SNL Digital Short Andy Punches from last season. It was nice to see John Cena make a guest appearance (hopefully he'll host somewhere down the line) but Tracy Morgan running around hitting people is not top-notch comedy. They couldn't think of a political sketch for this week?



    Chewable Pampers: Why did this need to come back for a third week? Even if people enjoyed it, which I doubt they did, completely unnecessary.



    Brian Fellow's Safari Planet: As I predicted, this dim-witted sketch made its return. Good for a few cheap laughs, but nothing too spectacular.



    The View: Again, you get a chuckle or two, but maybe having two talk shows back to back was not good timing.



    Scared Straight: God, this is awful. So far we've had all recurring skits leaving me wondering if the writers showed up at all this week or there was some holiday I missed (I doubt it as I check every religion's calendar for excuses to miss school).



    Dateline: Bill Hader reprised yet another annoying character. This kind of childish humor just makes me realize how far this show has fallen. Astronaut Jones: About a half hour in and we've already gotten another awful Tracy Morgan character. My disdain for this unoriginality aside, I did not like this sketch because it's payoff was yet another penis joke instead of, yeah, I'd welcome ANYTHING else.



    Weekend Update: A disappointing week as well that resembled one of the brutal Late Night with Jimmy Fallon monologues as opposed to witty satire.



    Big Love: Well, it's not a recurring sketch, but is parodying a low-rated show much better.



    Digital Short: A pretty good concept, reminiscent of Rainn Wilson's in the board meeting. But the random characters in that only lasted for about 20 seconds, this went on for too long. I did like the cereal rapist though. Suppressex: Pretty funny, and I liked Bill Hader's speech as the department store Santa.



    High IQ: Just when I thought we might get an episode without Kristen Wiig wandering in front of the screen....just when I thought.



    Rocket Dog: A lame attempt to capture a lot of the humor associated with Tracy Jordan's movies on 30 Rock.



    And that's a wrap. I was not expecting smart comedy with Tracy Morgan as the host, but I expected a little better than this.moreless
Kelly Clarkson

Kelly Clarkson

Herself

Guest Star

John Cena

John Cena

Himself

Guest Star

Emily Spivey

Emily Spivey

NBC Security Guard

Guest Star

Tracy Morgan

Tracy Morgan

Himself

Recurring Role

John Lutz

John Lutz

Numb-Nuts

Recurring Role

Tina Fey

Tina Fey

Herself

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (3)

    • Seth: A rabbi in Massachusetts has created a Purim party bus in which students from various local colleges can ride around and celebrate the Jewish holiday. Because when I hear "rabbi" I think "someone who knows how to put together a party bus."

    • Seth: A man in Pennsylvania who was pulled over for a DWI claimed that the police had no jurisdiction over him because he was his own country saying, "I live inside myself, not in Pennsylvania." And in international news, the Republic of Carl was just beaten with some nightsticks.

    • Seth Meyers: This week Wall Street and the entire financial world were stunned and frightened by the sudden appearance of this mysterious symbol. (shows an arrow pointing up)

  • NOTES (2)

    • With this episode, Tracy Morgan becomes the 25th former cast member --and third African-American former cast member-- to host SNL.

    • Sketches cut after dress rehearsal: at the Uno, Mark Payne (Bobby Moynihan) tells customers (Jason Sudeikis, Abby Elliot) about his mentor (Tracy Morgan); and on Weekend Update, Fred Armisen (as himself) provides a commentary.

  • ALLUSIONS (0)

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