Saturday Night Live

Season 35 Episode 24

Weekend Update Thursday (1)

Aired Saturday 11:30 PM Sep 17, 2009 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (6)

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  • Comedy Night Done (Almost) Right

    A Review by "HelloStuart," Amateur Critic and Philandering Councilman

    What the heck is this? A live SNL special before the proper season premiere?

    In all seriousness however, NBC was so impressed by the hype, ratings, and sweet, sweet ad revenue of last year's Weekend Update Thursday experiment that it's now a semi-regular series. It's not really a spinoff per se (as seems to be treating it) as much as it is an extension of the topical humor that Generation Y confuses for hard news nowadays. The concept is simple: one topical sketch, followed by two segments (20 minutes!) of Seth Meyers' distinct brand of Nor'easter snark.

    Now that Season 35 has unofficially commenced, this might be a good time to recap all the changes that were made over the summer. To compensate for WUT and another 22-episode season, the writing staff was augmented by five scribes. Correct me if I'm wrong, but 27 staff writers has to be some type of record; hopefully there's not too many cooks in the kitchen. My theory is that each writer is a specialist of some kind, and will focus strictly on one aspect of the show rather than SNL as a whole (the monologue, Digital Shorts, so on and so forth). Secondly, and most importantly, Casey Wilson and Michaela Watkins were let go; where Casey was an over-glorified sketch extra who never really proved that she could run with the big dogs, Mike was an inspired breath of fresh air who frequently hit the mark in limited action. On that note, please welcome Nasim Pedrad (the first Middle Eastern cast member ever) and Jenny Slate (the first bisexual woman).

    Tonight's show had the feel of an NFL preseason game; there's nothing on the line because everybody's just warming up. The cold opening set its target on one of last week's major news stories, Rep. Joe Wilson shouting "You lie!" as the president addressed both houses of Congress. The sketch imagines a GOP caucus held before the joint address in which Sen. Mitch McConnell (JS) plans out a mass staging of the now-infamous remark. Unfortunately for Rep. Wilson (WF), he needs to see a man about a horse just as the rest of the caucus agrees to back off. Not surprisingly, after the address Wilson is panicking and McConnell et al. are struggling to console him. This was a middleweight satire; you knew what was coming but you weren't sure how it was going to arrive at its destination. Kristen's jab at Rep. Michele Bachmann was an added treat; considered by some to be furthest far-right Republican in Congress right now, her suggestion of changing "You lie!" to something about labeling Obama as a half-Muslim socialist was as a pointed, outrageous, and absurd as it was eerily accurate.

    The next 25 minutes were all about Weekend Update. With Amy Poehler back in the fold (at least, temporarily), she and Seth did a semi-comprehensive rundown of everything that's been in the news since September 1st, from the new Osama bin Laden audiotape to that Chinese trade dispute. After a minor technical snafu, "Ragin' Cajun" James Carville (BH) counterpoints last weekend's DC tea party as a gumbo of conservative craziness, a diatribe that travels into BDSM and an allusion to "Eyes Wide Shut." When Amy acknowledges the passing of the latest world's oldest woman, Madonna (KW) honors her VMA-style by comparing Gertrude Baines to her own madcap career as an actress, singer, and tabloid target. We all know that Wiigy is a perfectionist, and her ability to immerse herself into a role is almost unrivaled; this time around, she was almost too mannered and self-referential for her own good. This was followed by another tea party commentary, a debate between race-baiting Former President Carter (Darrell's back?!?!) and square GOP head honcho Michael Steele (KT). The inevitable stalemate was a hoot; we all know Carter was out of line, but the image-obsessed, cliché-spewing Steele was the wrong sparring partner on so many levels. Things wrapped up with another edition of the fan favorite "Really!?!" that started out a rant against Kanye West's public belligerence and drifted to other recent public meltdowns such as Joe Wilson's and Venus Williams'.

    One last thing: was it just me, or did they recycle the old Colin Quinn Update backdrop?
  • Good not great. They Didn't Feature The New Cast Members or any Girl outside of Kristen. The Show was good and Funny and good quality.

    Good not great. They didn't feature the new cast members or any girl outside of Kristen. The Show was good and Funny and good quality.

    The You Lie thing with Joe Wilson was pretty Funny. I Didn't get the Madonna Thing but that's just me. Bill Hader's James Carville Bit was very Funny, especially the way he laughed. Darrell Returned again as Jimmy Carter. I just wish they would have done something with Jenny Slate, Abby Elliott, or Nasim Pedrad like an Impression or a monologue or anything but they used Kristen again and again. Sorry but I really Dislike Her.
  • An okay first episode of the year with ups and downs

    It's been awhile since I've really cared or paid attention to Saturday Night Live, but I watched about half of the episodes AND Weekend Update Thursdays last year and I actually thought they were funny, for the most part. So I decided to check out the premiere of the Weekend Update, and much like last year, I thought they were just kind of funny.

    The episode certainly had its ups (the introduction sketch was great, as was the Really?! segment and Bill Hader's James Carville impression kept making me laugh), but its the downs that really got to me. I didn't think the Jimmy Carter/Michael Steele skit was funny at all, and not because of Darrell Hammond. I just cannot find anything funny about Kenan Thompson's characters. He doesn't mesh as well with the rest of the cast.

    The episode was just alright, nothing more. It certainly made me laugh, but SNL hasn't been the same for awhile, so I guess this is what to expect from here on out (and on a side note, MORE ANDY SANDBERG! He's hilarious.)
  • Her other drug? Drugs.

    It's good to be back... but weird at the same time. This is the first time a live shortened/primetime special has premiered before the actual season premiere. It's almost like these are the warm-up shows to get us going for the real goods.

    Now, since this was a half and hour show, this will be a short review, but, since I have the space, why not touch up on what the big chatter of the summer is/was?

    First I'll scrape through the minors: Don Pardo has officially retired, and there is NO word on who the announcer will be. (The announcing roles this week were all pre-taped from last season to 3 seasons ago) I wish him the best.

    Since my last review in May (excluding Rosie/Whitney I did in June) I, and most others, speculated Darrell's final leave. Well, Darrell is apparently back. He said a few weeks ago that he was 'in negotiations' and I guess those negotiations went well.

    Also, the writers' staff has hired, I think the final number was 6 new writers to the show. They haven't done that in a while.

    Finally, here is the major news. After what seemed like the most boring summer for SNL news, early September dropped an A-bomb. Casey and Michaela had been fired from the show. Now, Casey, many had saw coming. I know she is talented, but SNL and her did not fit. Michaela, on the other hand, was a HUGE surprise to almost every fan of the show. Michaela was a big utility player, and for someone who only did 15 episodes, Michaela did spectacular. Now, there are many 1-year-SNLers that made it big later on in life, and just didn't work on the show, but Michaela will probably be one of the most memorable 1-year-SNLers who did GOOD on the show. I am unhappy with the news, and I've ranted about it (you can go to any big SNL board and probably find my postings on the subject) but I wish both of them the best. I'm not going to get into the whole thing on the review.

    And, yes, we have 2 new women cast members: Nasim Pedrad and Jenny Slate. Both are very cute girls (I've also seen some of Jenny's videos, and she seems hilarious), and I'm excited to see how they do.

    Republicans Meeting: This was a great way to open the unofficial premiere. It was so silly, and such a great premise. Joe Wilson, last Wednesday, said "You Lie!" to Barack Obama in a joint congress address, incase if you don't know the back story behind this. This seemed almost like a different pace for the SNL political sketches, and it was a hilarious way to open up the season.

    Weekend Update: And, right after Jason's LFNY, we segued right into Weekend Update, with, what appears to be a different looking desk, and a refurbished back-drop. Amy and Seth seemed very excited to get everything going off to a bang. After one technical glitch, that Amy and Seth handled very well (and the camera crew, for that matter, also) and a few jokes, we went to Bill as James Carville. Bill's impression of him killed, just like all of Bill's impressions do, and, while the beginning was funny, it seemed to be stretched out after the points were made.

    Weekend Update Part 2: After a commercial break, we had Kristen as Madonna. Kristen captured Madonna even better than last season, and the writing was funnier too. One joke later, we had Kenan and Darrell as Michael Steele and Jimmy Carter. This was a very funny commentary, and after this, we went into...

    Weekend Update Part 3: This featured a "Really?!" with Seth and Amy over all the anger issues we've been having lately (i.e: Kanye West's VMA melt down, the Williams tennis incident, and Joe Wilson), and it was great. This really initiated the Weekend Update to the audience.

    And, that was our show. The show came back with a rejuvenated feel, and turned out to be an above-average broadcast. My only complaint was how this started before the real premiere, and how it's making me hungry for a real show. But, I guess that's the ratings trick.

    As expected by me, the two new women were not seen, and they probably won't be seen until next Saturday.

    SNLWU will return next Thursday. Amy will be back for one last Update (she'll probably be back later). And, of course, two weeks from now will be the season premiere with host Megan Fox and musical guest U2.

    Tomorrow night, you can catch the repeat of last season's finale: Will Ferrell/Green Day
  • Good to see SNL partially back.

    You Lie - Exactly what a cold open should be. The sketch gets rolling along immediately without the need for a setup. Throw in a nice twist with the missed direction and we have a sketch that fires on all cylinders for a quick hit. The subject was easy fodder for lampooning and the writers and performers did a good job with it. Grade: A+

    Weekend Update - Amy's back? Just for Thursday? Anyway, Seth and Amy immediately fell into their old routine without missing a beat. Due to the extended length of WU, there were more guests than usual. A quick rundown: * Hader as James Carville - Hader was very good, but Carville is not too relevant. His profile was much higher a decade ago. * Hammond and Thompson as Jimmy Carter and Michael Steele respectively - A decent piece lampooning the racist assertions made by Carter. * Wiig as Madonna - - Not funny at all. Easily the weakest segment of the night.

    As usual the Really?! segment was the highlght of WU with bad behavior of celbrities as the target. Grade: B-

    Overall - The opener was great and WU kind of fizzled out. Trimming out 5 minutes of WU and adding one more sketch would work wonders. Grade: B+
  • Good way to kick off the season.

    The "You Lie!" Group: Nice, funny, relevant political sketch. Bill Hader has really gotten over with the audience as the moment he started to do a generic, Southern congress person accent you could hear people laughing. The only thing to dislike about this sketch was how quickly the group decided against doing it. I don't know if somebody forgot their line or not, but they transitioned from wanting to do it to being completely against it.

    Weekend Update: Amy Poehler is just not funny, but Seth Meyers was not too great either. The James Carville segment was good though and Jimmy Carter and Michael Steele was alright as well. Good to see Darrell Hammond back, even if it just for one night.

    A good way to kick off the 35th season, but I am not necessarily confident that it will be a good year as they only had to write one sketch after all, and the Weekend Update portion (the one thing we are guaranteed every week) was disappointing.
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