All in all it was another uneven night on "Saturday Night Live." Host Sofia Vergara made the most of what she was given, and once again, it felt like some missed opportunities to utilize the host's talents (and I mean more than her fantastic figure, which was on display all night). It seems like the "SNL" writers have a stock list of ideas they turn to and it doesn't matter who the players are at all. Obviously it can be tough to design an entire show around a star in short notice, but it seems like they could do a better job. Isn't writing under pressure part of the job description?
Best of the Night
Abby Elliot does some of her best work as Zooey Deschanel, and it is impossible not to laugh at her TV show sidekick Michael Cera (Taran Killam, with a priceless falsetto nervous giggle.) Last time we got Zooey herself doing a freakishly accurate impression of Mary Kate Olsen, and this time we had the pleasure of Vergara bringing out the trademark cackle of Fran Drescher.
The "Modern Family" actress has been known to get a bit shrill herself, so it was a bit of a joke on her as well as Fran. The bonus was Kristen Wiig as Drew Barrymore, cute little crooked-mouthed delivery and all. Added points for Zooey deflating the enthusiastic Michael with "You're like a sister to me," and calling Mayim Bialik's Blossom "the Jewish Strawberry Shortcake." Watch all the quirkiness here at the "Saturday Night Live" video site.
I can't believe I'm saying this, but for once, the Mitt Romney cold open actually had really good laughs that made use of its long running time. Once again it was Romney trying to suck up to voters by pretending to be "just like them," though every third whistle stop there was someone shouting out "We don't believe you!" It started with praising sports teams he knew nothing about, but escalated to cock fighting enthusiasts and piercing conventions. Also loved the glorious fawning over East St. Louis, Illinois, which caused a stunned reply from resident Kenan Thompson: "Are you crazy? This is a hellhole!" Watch it at the "Saturday Night Live" page.
The "Saturday Night Live" commercial for "Almost Pizza" got more intense and insanely funny as it went on. Wiig tries to sell her husband (Bill Hader) and daughter (Nasim Pedrad) on trying the new product: "It smells like pizza!" "That was their intention!" Hader gets more suspicious as Wiig only fake-eats a slice, and what's that, the pizza's getting hotter? He knocks the slice out of his daughter's hand and when it hits the floor, it sounds like glass breaking. Watch what happens next.
Another highlight this week on "Saturday Night Live" had the sassy host as herself and newcomer Kate McKinnon as Penlope Cruz doing a Pantene commercial. The hook was that Vergara got all of the easy lines and Cruz got all the medical terms, but the simple joke was made even funnier by the wind machine and girls' soft-core writhing on a couch together as they read their lines. Also, the word "refrigerator" has never been more hilarious.
Worst of the Night
Fred Armisen seems to be in a lot of "Saturday Night Live" sketches where a person acting like an idiot is supposed to somehow be funny. In this Action News promo bit, three anchors shoot one of those dramatic turn-and-smile moves for the camera. Except Armisen, who just stares blankly off to the side and laughs moronically. Have no idea where the joke was supposed to be in this one.
It should tell "Saturday Night Live" something that when a sketch was revealed as a "Gilly" number, there was a half-hearted smattering of three claps. Three. This should tell you that the obnoxious recurring character of Wiig's should have stayed buried in "SNL" past. On top of it, the segment began with the hook of the host as a sex ed teacher--how do you begin with that premise and then turn it into a sketch on stupid Gilly pranks?
Like the last time I reviewed the "Manuel Ortiz Show" sketch, there was pretty much only one good joke. There is so much to parody--or even simply imitate--on Spanish language TV, and getting a bunch of Jerry Springer-like guests to dance awkwardly together really misses the mark. This time the only decent laugh came at the end, when the children born to their own grandpa...or something...turned out to be the One Direction kids came out in curly hair and mustaches. The fact that they were the worst dancers added another layer of amusement, but it was not enough to save this sketch.
It's sad that as I was watching "Saturday Night Live" musical guest "One Direction" that I thinking, "Hey, they finally got it right. A boy band without the one or two 'less attractive' guys." If you can get past the combed-forward hairstyles (some of these kids were bordering on Donald Trump hair), this carefully packaged group was actually pleasant to look at and listen to. After a shaky performance by "The Wanted" on "American Idol," it was nice to hear solid vocals from each of the performers in One Direction, and now is when everyone will start shouting accusations of lip synching. The pop princes sang "What Makes You Beautiful," and "One Thing," and the sweet, catchy tunes helped balance out some of the shrill sounds of Vergara's characters.
The show also included a "Hunger Games" sketch all the way at the end of the night, a three-peat of the "Lil' Poundcake" commercial, and a Bravo show this is no doubt funniest when you've actually seen the programs it's mocking. I'm always happy to see Bobby Moynihan's Drunk Uncle on the "Saturday Night Live" Weekend Update, though I understand that his long-winded blatherings that are somehow bigoted, nostalgic and social commentary all at once are an acquired taste.
It felt like an off night on "Saturday Night Live," which made me surprised that I ended up with four sketches in the "Best of the Night" category. What did you think, "SNL" fans? Would you consider it a good or bad night for the comedy show? Which were your favorite sketches?
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- Arts & Entertainment
- Zooey Deschanel
- Sofia Vergara
- Kristen Wiig