Posts Tagged ‘rihanna’


(Season 38, Episode 7)

 

WHAT THEY’RE PROMOTING:

ANNE HATHAWAY: “Les Miserables”

RIHANNA: “Unapologetic” (album)

 

COLD OPENING: Mitt Romney at Home (4:35)

–      I was hoping for a Fox News parody but this worked out just fine and acted as a swan song (probably) to Sudeikis’ Mitt Romney impression. I enjoyed the fact that he was progressively getting “drunker” from chugging all that milk.

–      Nice to see Kate’s Ann Romney impression return as well although I doubt we’ll see it much more again.

–      The beer can sound effects being used every time Romney opened up a carton of milk was a nice touch.

–      Taran playing three of Mitt’s sons without changing his appearance or costume at all was a very funny detail and only added to the hilarity of the sketch.

–      Moynihan’s Karl Rove was funny, especially when he asked Romney to borrow 300 million dollars and Romney just threw him over the porch.

–      The moment at the end with Jason and Kate was actually a bit sweet.

RATING: ****

 

MONOLOGUE: Anne Hathaway (3:43)

–      It was quite expected that they would do a big musical number here because of Les Miserables but I did not expect the extremely funny subject matter regarding everyone being excited to do nothing on Sunday, their day off. This was excellent.

–      Sudeikis has a very nice singing voice (I loved him singing about tomorrow being “chill as hell”).

–      Also, the initial appearance of Taran and Cicely with headset microphones was hilarious.

–      Stefon has gotten to the heights of popularity that Anne can even reference him in the monologue and everyone knows what she’s talking about.

–      Kenan’s bit about waiting to vote the next day was awesome and I also really liked Tim & Aidy’s thing about barely being in the show along with Killam announcing that they will all have sex the next day (with Anne disgustedly backing off).

–      Also, did anyone notice as the camera faded away, Anne and Jason kept up the running joke of her having issues with him during the week as they started yelling at each other? That was clever.

RATING: **** ½

 

 

SHOW: Girlfriends Talk Show (4:31)

–      I had doubts about this as it started but it was really funny and a great lead-off sketch.

–      Another starring role for Aidy Bryant and another impressive performance. This girl has gone leaps and bounds since her appearance in that Daniel Craig sketch in which I thought she was way too broad compared to the rest of the cast.

–      Hathaway was pretty good here as well even though her role wasn’t the biggest of the sketch.

–      Cicely also made for a good host of the sketch but it’s ridiculous how good Aidy was compared to the other two ladies. This was really her time to shine.

–      I really liked Cicely’s story about her stalker/boyfriend watching her eat steak.

–      I also appreciated that the sketch didn’t go on longer than necessary.

RATING: *** ½

 

FILM: The Legend of Mokiki and the Sloppy Swish (2:21)

–      Wow, this was SUCH an odd short film but Taran was hilarious just with his facial expressions and strange dancing alone. Kenan was also funny in this as the singer/narrator.

–      Hathaway turning into a female version of Killam’s insane character was a riot and probably made me laugh the most here.

–      Did anyone else get a Lou Bega vibe from Kenan in this sketch?

RATING: ****

 

SHOW: Homeland (4:33)

–      I wish I had seen this sketch before because I probably would’ve appreciated it more but I still had a ball with most of this.

–      Hathaway turned in another great performance here as the emotionally unstable Carrie obsessed with Killam’s character Brody and corkboards. Taran was also quite good here as Brody, who could barely open his mouth when he spoke.

–      Hader and Thompson were good straight men here too, especially how Hader’s interpretation of Mandy Patinkin was so on-the-money.

RATING: *** ½

 

SKETCH: McDonald’s Lay-Offs (5:11)

–      Well, this wasn’t the strongest sketch but the performances from Moynihan and Strong were damn inspired. They carried the subpar material over-the-top.

–      My favourite parts were Cicely barking and referring to Bayer’s character as a bitch, Moynihan and Strong saying that Nasim should be at the end of sentences because she’s a big period, Killam’s vacant stare, Sudeikis telling Nasim that he’s already married, turning the McDonald’s jingle into a song about how Jay should kill himself, and the ending with Tim Robinson as the elderly employee.

–      Aidy looked like she was on the verge of cracking up here.

–      There seemed to be a camera gaffe here when they cut to Pharoah too early.

RATING: ***

 

MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: “Diamonds” (3:50)

–      What an odd performance. It didn’t make the song any better because to be quite honest here, I was not a fan. Was it worse than fun? Hell no. Was it good? Eh.

 

WEEKEND UPDATE with Seth Meyers (14:40)

Guests: Barack Obama, Same-Sex Maine Couple, and Drunk Uncle

–      Best Jokes: Obama’s poll data; General Petraeus resignation; Medal of Honor; NFL on TV; heavy drinkers; man shoots horse

–      Jay brings back his Obama impression for a commentary on how he won the election. It was pretty funny with lots of good lines sprinkled throughout the segment and Pharoah just having a lot of fun with the impression this time out. I particularly liked his bit about a Hispanic gay woman being born every eight seconds, his Wesley Snipes “quote,” the comments about Republican congressmen talking about rape, and him saying that this is a “terrible job and I hate it.”

–      Hader and Armisen bring back their same-sex couple characters but this time from Maine with cartoonish accents and wearing dungarees. I liked that this commentary never went for an over-the-top moment and didn’t go the route of a silly male-on-male kiss. It was pretty decent overall.

–      I very much enjoyed the return of Moynihan’s Drunk Uncle character. I don’t care how many times he does this character; I still love it. I particularly enjoyed his comments on voting, groupon, confusing political races for skin colour, his state of denial, the little “Windows 8” comments, 1950’s Playboys and dignity, and his quick “jewspapers” comment.

RATING: ****

 

SHOW: Ellen (4:44)

–      This was a great sketch with Kate doing her fantastic Ellen DeGeneres impression and Kenan having some great lines as her DJ who is excited about having the same hours as a schoolteacher.

–      Very accurate stuff here too like Ellen making two little girls (played by Bayer and Pedrad) famous along with declaring it a half talk show/half weird daycare.

–      The visual of Ellen having a text conversation with Sofia Vergara was hilarious.

–      Hathaway brought back her great Katie Holmes impression and I loved her bit about going in disguise by slightly shifting over her mouth to look straight.

RATING: ****

 

SKETCH: American Gothic (5:29)

–      This was a very silly but highly entertaining sketch with some great chemistry between Hathaway and Sudeikis (no surprise there; they always work well together). I liked how both of them were so giddy about the painting and how they progressively got more and more deflated until the last comment about posing there for 10 hours resulted in their looks of utter sadness.

–      Kenan’s been in a lot of sketches tonight.

RATING: ****

 

MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: “Stay” (3:54)

–      This was much better than the first song. Overall, Rihanna’s been decent. I’m getting kinda tired of seeing her on SNL though.

 

COMMERCIAL: Flaritin (1:28)

–      Good little commercial parody to end the night on with my favourite bit coming from Fred getting really mad at Moynihan for smoking in his face and doing his exaggerated coughing spell.

–      Hader made for a good spokesman of course.

RATING: *** ½

 

Goodnights

 

BEST PERFORMER(S) OF THE NIGHT:

–      Anne Hathaway/Taran Killam/Jason Sudeikis

 

FINAL THOUGHTS:

If last week’s show was the best of the season thus far then this was easily the second-best. Anne Hathaway was an awesome host and it’s seriously going to take me the rest of the season to contemplate if she or Levitt was host of the year thus far unless someone blows them both out of the water but I have my doubts about that happening. There was simply nothing bad this week. I loved a lot of sketches and highly regarded the rest for the most part. Awesome episode.

TONIGHT’S RATING: ****

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by Brendan Wahl

(Season 37, Episode 20)

The Show:

1. Cold Open: Fox & Friends (5:13)

This edition of Fox & Friends sees Gretchen (Bayer), Steve (Killam), and Brian (Moynihan) discussing the one-year anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death and then kissing the ass of the owner of FOX News, Rupert Murdoch (Armisen).

– This was another terrific edition of this sketch. SNL has always been right on the money with this parody of that stupid and biased FOX morning show. It doesn’t hurt that this sketch is anchored by three of the newer castmembers.
– Moynihan was definitely the highlight this time, especially with his comment about finally taking down the Christmas tree, his Barack Obama comment that didn’t apply to the situation this time, his remark about Tupac not being dead because of the concert he had just the previous week, and the “panda on weightwatchers” joke that he goes back to later.
– Bayer’s highlight was her talking about Photoshop and how it made it look like a mountain had presidents’ faces on it.
– I liked Armisen and his accent while doing the Rupert Murdoch impression.
Rating: **** 1/2

2. Monologue (3:09)

Eli talks about being in New York and how he has already become a “classic New Yorker,” suggesting various hotspots to some audience members (Hader, Moynihan, Pedrad, Thompson, Bayer, & McKinnon) like the Olive Garden and SoHo and BeBo.

– Eli looks like a cross between his brother Peyton and Michael Phelps.
– Not a bad way to start and at least Eli seemed to be pretty chill and relaxed unlike a complete mess like we all feared. He still wasn’t as good as Peyton though.
– At the same time, the premise was a bit lacking despite a few amusing moments throughout like Eli getting stuck and saying, “fuhgeddabuddit!”
– The shoutout to Eli’s offensive line was a nice touch.
Rating: ** 1/2

3. amazon.com (1:31)

An ad for gifts that you can get for your mom on Mother’s Day. Overall though, she really just wants “Fifty Shades of Grey” and some time to herself.

– Very funny commercial parody with some great performances from Jason, Kristen, and Vanessa in particular. Just the way Kristen freaked out after Jason and the kids walked in on her was golden as was her reaction to the kid singing into the vibrator, thinking it was a microphone.
– Vanessa having gloves on in the bathtub was a hilarious touch.
– I also really liked the part with Nasim humping the washing machine while staring at a picture of Joel McHale.
Rating: ****

4. EA Sports Motion Capture (4:59)

Several football players like Tim Tebow (Killam), Ray Lewis (Thompson), Victor Cruz (Pharoah), and Troy Polamalu (Samberg) stop by to pose for their motion capture shots for the newest NFL game while Eli Manning has a hard time understanding the concept.

– This was pretty funny and a nice way to change up the “athlete has a hard time during a shoot” sketch by breaking it up a bit with different athletes besides Eli coming in every now and then.
– Killam was great as Tebow once again and I loved his pose and his “thy will be done” comment. Him double-checking with God was a great detail as well.
– What was with the rewinding sound effect during Jay Pharoah’s part?
– I really enjoyed Kenan coming out as Ray Lewis and not wanting to put the motion capture suit on (“those funky-ass pajamas”) plus his dance was great.
Rating: *** 1/2

5. Text Message Evidence (6:31)

A murder trial goes awry when the accused (Manning) has his text messages read out loud by his lawyer (Sudeikis) in an effort to prove that he was home the entire time during the night in question. The messages start to paint a picture of a less-than-savoury individual.

– I feel like this sketch isn’t getting the praise it deserves. It was a very clever satire about text messaging and the ridiculous way that our society has become so oversaturated with social media. That sounds pretty deep but I really feel like that’s where the sketch was headed.
– The whole part with Eli’s picture of him using the banana in a phallic representation was absolutely hilarious as it was handled in such a deadpan style.
– The text message to the coma patient was a very dark part but I laughed really hard.
– Eli had some pretty good comic timing here. I really like how he leaned over to the microphone every time he went to say something.
– The ending was great with Eli not wanting to hear his browsing history and just admitting to the murder.
Rating: ****

6. Little Brothers (1:30)

Eli Manning is the new spokesperson for Little Brothers but instead of just helping out, he also bullies the kids’ big brothers until they learn to stop being abusive.

– Much in the same style of Peyton’s United Way commercial parody but not quite as funny, this was still pretty good and Eli did a fine job.
– My favourite parts were the parts with Eli counting to five really quickly while pointing a bow and arrow at one of the older brothers and freaking out at Samberg’s character and calling him Peyton in a Freud-like manner.
Rating: *** 1/2

7. WXPD News New York (4:16)

Elderly reporter Herb Welch (Hader) is on the scene again, this time to provide coverage of the new Occupy Wall Street movement that has returned yet again.

– Pretty much the same old/same old but Hader is always a delight to watch in this role. Eli provided pretty good straight man foil here as well.
– I liked the detail of Herb still having the Ash Wednesday mark on his head. His insults towards Nasim were funnier than usual as well.
– I loved the video package that Herb put together.
– Vanessa gets another great part in this sketch and coupled with Herb’s comment, it was hilarious.
– They gotta get a new ending.
Rating: *** 1/2

8. Rihanna sings “Talk That Talk” (3:08)

– Whoa, that spider-web set is super-cool.
– Not a bad performance. I’m not a huge fan but she did fine. We have some pretty mainstream musical guests for the last three shows of the season but that’s okay because we were treated to a lot of indie darlings this season.

9. Weekend Update with Seth Meyers (10:00)
Guests: Patricia Krentcil and Admiral General Aladeen (with Martin Scorsese)

Best Jokes: Obama: Forward; Al Qaeda low morale; Ultimate New Yorker; Coke/Monster

– Kristen did a good job with her commentary as the “tanning mom,” Patricia Krentcil. It wasn’t a GREAT piece but Kristen did the best she could do with it and the bread/toast gag at the end was hilarious.
– The appearance by Sacha Baron Cohen was hilarious and unexpected. He had some great lines as the dictator and then it got even crazier and funnier when Martin Scorsese appeared under duress and stated that the film was better than Raging Bull.
Rating: *** 1/2

We get a brief tribute to Adam Yauch here. Touching moment.

10. What Is This? (4:39)

A young woman (Elliott) hosts a very simple gameshow in the hopes of getting a potential lover (Manning) to explain to her what they are in terms of a relationship.

– Abby finally gets a non-impression lead role in a sketch and she did very well here.
– Besides the main point of the premise of the sketch, Bill Hader was also very funny with his nearly-correct answers that the judges accept anyway.
– The final round was quite funny too with Bayer just getting the same question every time and Manning being berated.
Rating: *** 1/2

11. Helga Lately (4:34)

A Swedish version of Chelsea Lately features the host (McKinnon) and all her guests speaking in over-the-top stereotypical Swedish accents while annoying the guest (Manning).

– I enjoyed this for the most part. It wasn’t brilliant or anything but it was a clever way to attack the stupid, horrible Chelsea Lately show without doing a straight parody of it.
– My favourite part was Kate stirring her drink with a fish and seductively licking the wine off it. I also liked Kristen’s repeated remarks of “my vagina.”
– The brief message from the Kardashians was funny. The quick Top Chef joke was even better though.
– Eli REALLY looked like Peyton in this sketch.
Rating: ***

12. Rihanna sings “Where Have You Been” (3:29)

– Again, this was a pretty impressive set. Another good performance. I liked this one a bit better than the first.

13. Miss Drag World (3:38)

After one drag queen (Manning) is declared third place in a contest, he/she goes apeshit and freaks out at the notion of losing, much to the annoyance of the other two contestants (Armisen & Moynihan) and the emcee (Thompson).

– This was really bad. Nothing funny about this one at all. Okay, I thought Kristen’s brief appearance was okay.
– The music at the beginning sounded like the beginning of What Up With That? I would’ve much preferred to have seen that sketch.
– Whoa, Samberg’s name was “Brendan Wallace.” That’s almost my name. Thanks for the shoutout, SNL!
Rating: *

14. The Essentials (4:00)

This week, Robert Osborne (Sudeikis) takes a look at Cheech (Armisen) & Chong’s (Hader) early work involving a third buddy named Richard Armstrong (Manning), a square who doesn’t want to stick around and do illegal activities.

– Well this was much better than the previous sketch. Still, the premise was kinda weak and was boosted by Fred and Bill’s great impressions of Cheech & Chong and Sudeikis’ mimicry of Robert Osborne.
– I thought the very idea of a third friend that leaves at the beginning of every Cheech & Chong movie was hilarious.
– Jason smoking the joint near the end was funny and I’m surprised they got away with it. I don’t remember the last time they had someone supposedly “smoking” a joint on the show.
– The Mitt Romney twist was funny.
Rating: ***

15. Goodnights

OVERALL: An episode that I would place somewhere around the mid-point in terms of this season’s quality, which really says something about what a strong season we’ve had thus far. Eli was better than expected while not quite reaching the plateau that his brother did while Rihanna was a decent musical guest. Lots of above-average sketches with a few REALLY good ones and only one real stinker in the whole bunch.

BREAKDOWN:

HOST: ELI MANNING – 9 segments (Monologue; EA Sports Motion Capture; Text Message Evidence; Little Brothers; WXPD News New York; What Is This?; Helga Lately; Miss Drag World; The Essentials)

CAMEOS: DAVID BAAS – 1 segment (Monologue)
SACHA BARON COHEN – 1 segment (Weekend Update)
DAVID DIEHL – 1 segment (Monologue)
ABBY MCGREW – 1 segment (Monologue)
SHAUN O’HARA – 1 segment (Monologue)
MARTIN SCORSESE – 1 segment (Weekend Update)
CHRIS SNEE – 1 segment (Monologue)

FRED ARMISEN – 5 segments (Fox & Friends; WXPD News New York; Helga Lately; Miss Drag World; The Essentials)
ABBY ELLIOTT – 3 segments (Text Message Evidence; What Is This?; Helga Lately)
BILL HADER – 7 segments (Monologue; amazon.com; EA Sports Motion Capture; Text Message Evidence; WXPD News New York; What Is This?; The Essentials)
SETH MEYERS – 1 segment (Weekend Update)
BOBBY MOYNIHAN – 3 segments (Fox & Friends; Monologue; Miss Drag World)
NASIM PEDRAD – 4 segments (Monologue; amazon.com; WXPD News New York; Helga Lately)
ANDY SAMBERG – 4 segments (EA Sports Motion Capture; Little Brothers; WXPD News New York; Miss Drag World)
JASON SUDEIKIS – 5 segments (amazon.com; EA Sports Motion Capture; Text Message Evidence; WXPD News New York; The Essentials)
KENAN THOMPSON – 5 segments (Monologue; EA Sports Motion Capture; WXPD News New York; Helga Lately; Miss Drag World)
KRISTEN WIIG – 4 segments (amazon.com; Weekend Update; Helga Lately; Miss Drag World)

VANESSA BAYER – 6 segments (Fox & Friends; Monologue; amazon.com; WXPD News New York; What Is This?; Helga Lately)
TARAN KILLAM – 4 segments (Fox & Friends; amazon.com; EA Sports Motion Capture; Helga Lately)
KATE MCKINNON – 2 segments (Monologue; Helga Lately)
JAY PHAROAH – 1 segment (EA Sports Motion Capture)

EPISODE MVPs: Bill Hader/Jason Sudeikis


by Brendan Wahl

(Season 36, Episode 15)

Have we ever been this far into a season without a truly bad episode? The last season I remember being this good was Year 26 (2000-2001) and the difference there is that the cast during that year was not nearly as strong and cohesive as the one that has been present on the show for the last few years. The year-end awards are going to be very difficult for this season as there are some real strong contenders for best host and best episode, specifically, that will be a chore to sift through and choose the strongest candidate.

This week we get British stand-up comedian/actor Russell Brand aka Mr. Katy Perry aka I’m Jealous. Brand exploded onto the acting scene in 2008 with Forgetting Sarah Marshall and his hilarious ex-junkie rock star character, Aldous Snow. Soon after, Russell became almost as popular in America than he is in England with starring roles in Get Him to the Greek and supporting roles in Bedtime Stories and The Tempest. Before that bit of success, he was eternally popular in England to the point of an actual rock star and he actually IS an ex-junkie.

Joining Brand is musician/Rihanna-beater Chris Brown. Talk about controversial choices. Not only has Chris Brown been convicted of beating his ex-girlfriend, Rihanna, but the aforementioned songstress is also good friends with Katy Perry, who is Russell’s wife of course. This would make for a pretty interesting dichotomy and whether to see if Brand would put up with having to share the stage with this loathsome personality.

Show show here we go!

The Show:

1. The O’Reilly Factor (5:09)
-Armisen, Sudeikis, Pedrad

 

Well, with Darrell Hammond no longer on the show, Jason Sudeikis takes over the impression of conservative pundit Bill O’Reilly, who highlights his pre-Superbowl interview with President Obama (Armisen). The satire is pretty close t the mark, as they mock O’Reilly’s obvious factual errors, his constant interrupting of the president’s answers, and his undermining of the whole segment. The sketch takes things a little further though as Bill turns the proceedings into a gameshow-like affair with Obama being forced to hold up letters to answer the various pop-culture questions. My favourite little aside was O’Reilly remarking that, combined with the Superbowl, his interview was viewed by a record TV audience. Overall, despite Jason’s impression that was lacking, this was a well-rounded satire of the big interview. A-

2. Monologue (7:46)

For the first time since Dane Cook (I might be wrong), the monologue consists of no goofiness with the cast or writers-as-audience-members, but rather just a good sampling of our host’s stand-up comedy material. Russell riffs on many different subjects from his English patriotism to his marriage to Katy Perry having lots of “ordinary moments.” It ran a little long in the tooth (much like Dane Cook a couple of years ago), but it was still good to see the host let loose and he clearly had a lot of fun with the crowd. B+

3. Gublin & Green (1:42)
-Armisen, Moynihan, Samberg, Bayer, Brittain, Killam, Pedrad, Pharoah

Due to the problems with one of the latest broadway productions, Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, a lawyer (Armisen) presents his firm that specializes first and foremost in re-imbursing various folks for their Spider-Man-related woes. The best bit comes from an actor who is “not Bono” (Samberg) talking about how his soundtrack was used for this play and in turn, it makes him depressed. B+

4. Ultimate Vacation Giveaway (5:00)
-Brand, Elliott, Moynihan, Thompson, Wiig, Killam

Kristen Wiig makes her third appearance as sweepstakes congratulator (I guess that would be a good job description) Cheryl Bryant, who proceeds to inform the latest winner (Brand) that he’s won a $50,000 cruise. Of course, like the other two sketches they’ve done with this premise, the winner is none too impressed and instead just remains stone-faced throughout the whole ordeal. These sketches really depend on two things: the host’s performance and the reactions of past winners (Elliott, Thompson, Killam in this case) that they always show. It succeeds mostly based on Brand’s portrayal of a redneck-type individual and his ability not to crack during Wiig’s crazed performance. B

5. Don’ You Go Rounin’ Roun To Re Ro (2:42)
-Brand, Armisen, Hader, Wiig, Pedrad

In a brilliant parody of those British gangster flicks that all seem to be the same now, ex-con Terry Donovan (Hader) is on the prowl for a big-time gangster (Armisen) in order to save his young daughter. The little details in this trailer are exquisite like the look of Russell’s dreadlocked villain and Armisen’s angry dog companion that every British gangster villain seems to have by his side. The performances by everyone are superb and it’s so well-done that if one told me this was a real film, I might believe them. A+

6. Royal Taster (4:31)
-Brand, Hader, Killam, Wiig (Voice)

King Reginald (Brand) employs his new royal taster (Killam), who couldn’t be more nervous due to the intense hatred between his Highness and his tortured chef (Hader). The majority of the sketch is Russell and Hader screaming at each other much to the utter horror of Taran, but it’s a sketch that relies heavily on Russell’s large amount of charisma. Bill was a delight as the chef though and Killam was game as the unfortunate soul in the middle of this scuffle. Aces. A-

7. Chris Brown sings “Yeah 3x” (2:43)

I’m surprised he didn’t get booed out of the building upon his appearance on the stage. With regards to the actual performance though, this wasn’t as bad as I thought it might end up being. It was actually pretty short too. B

8. Weekend Update with Seth Meyers (15:12)
-Also: Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, Taran Killam, and Jay Pharoah

The highlight of Update this week has to be Seth’s comments revolving around a recent senator’s retirement due to a Craigslist picture of him being leaked on the website, Gawker. After commenting on what could be the Egyptian President’s next job (replacing Regis), Hosni Mubarak himself (Armisen) stops by to comment on his recent resignation. Mubarak cracks some cheap jokes in between the discussion of his regime and his bit is well-written and very funny. Seth’s AOL bit is cute but a little cheap, but his joke regarding Al Gore’s new TV channel that no one but Al Gore knows about was exquisite. His bit on the superpower poll was delightfully nerdy and so it was great as well. Lil Wayne (Pharoah) and Eminem (Killam) stop by to present a Valentine’s Day song that they recently wrote and promise that the song contains no misogynistic lyrics. The two crooners censor themselves at the most opportune moments, but it still doesn’t hide the fact that the song is much like their other offensive songs. Despite Pharoah’s good impression of Lil Wayne, he is upstaged by Killam’s phenomenal wailing impression of Eminem, the best I’ve ever seen. Finally, the last guest to join Seth is city correspondent Stefon (Hader), who offers some terrible romantic hot spots (“Booooooooof… with 9 o’s.”) for New York couples. That is funny in itself but the interplay between Bill and Seth is terrific and the unwanted flirting is also a delight. And of course, Bill loses it again. One of the better Updates of the entire season. A+

9. Livin’ Single (5:08)
-Brand, Elliott, Wiig, Bayer, Killam

A strong independant woman (Bayer) hosts a show in which she boasts about the joys of the single life to her studio audience (including Elliott and Wiig) and her DJ (Killam), who harbours an unrequited love for her. Taran gets another one for the highlight reel here and Bayer is a delight as well. Bayer brings out a pastry chef (Brand), who gets her motor runnin’ in more ways than one, which also upsets the DJ as well of course. The side-story between Bayer and Killam was very well-written and it is the highlight of this amusing sketch. B+

10. A Spot of Tea (3:52)
-Brand, Hader, Samberg, Brittain

Three gossipy old coots (Brand, Hader, Samberg) host a British panel-discussion show from a low-rent house built directly on the fault line where earthquakes are a-plenty. The inclusion of a seismograph and the strange juxtaposition of the constant earthquakes with a dry show hosted by old ladies make this one of the more odd sketches in recent memory. It kind of reminds one of Monty Python and that’s definitely not a bad thing. The sponsor bit was definitely the best part of the sketch and Brittain’s walk-on at the end was also amusing. A-

11. Chris Brown sings “No Bullshit” (3:46)

The intro to this song was pretty funny, as Brand remembered at the last second to take off his earring from the previous sketch. Why does Brown decide to start his songs up before he’s even introduced? Nevertheless, Brown takes it down a notch for this song but it’s hard to buy this sentiment with the obvious nature of his character looming overhead. It’s also not as good as the first song. C

12. Time Machine (2:45)
-Brand, Hader, Sudeikis, Wiig, Killam

To finally settle the forefathers debate once and for all, a general (Sudeikis) unleashes a super-secret time machine much to the surprise of Nancy Pelosi (Wiig), House Speaker John Boehner (Hader), and Rand Paul (Killam). Out comes George Washington (Brand), but instead of educating everyone on what he truly thinks of today’s politics, he goes mad with the devices of today and attempts to murder the people before him. It’s a fast-paced sketch to close out the night’s festivities and it’s quite amusing. The ending was fittingly dark as well. B

Russell doesn’t look too enamoured by Chris Brown but thanks him nonetheless as well as the cast, crew, Lorne Michaels, and even lighting director Phil Hymes. Brand even shows everyone that he injured his finger during the proceedings.

Another show in the can, another positive episode. This is the season that WILL NOT DIE. Russell helmed a very funny episode and was a really fun host as well, participating in sketches where he didn’t always have to be the center of attention. Whereas Chris Brown was an alright musical guest, Brand was a burst of energy and looked to be having a ball during the night. I can only hope that he will be invited back at least once more to show more of what he can do in 90 minutes.

It should be noted again that this was another highlight show for Taran Killam, who continues to impress ever since his great showing in Carrey/Black Keys. So far, Bayer and Killam have been the two featured players who have impressed me the most while Brittain has had some isolated pockets of comedy and Pharoah has relied a bit too much on his impressions.

Host Rating: A-
Musical Guest Rating: C+
Show Rating: B+


by Brendan Wahl

(Season 36, Episode 5)

It’s a wonderful thing when SNL finds a host that they enjoy working with and one slowly sees them morph into a go-to host and one that is invited back almost every season to command the reigns of the show. One of these hosts is Jon Hamm. After making his hosting debut two seasons ago on another Halloween episode, Hamm solidified a good reputation as a host who was more than willing to go the distance in his performances and also to step aside and not have to be the center of attention in a sketch at all times. It is nice to see a host worshipped every now and then, but it is an absolute delight when the host becomes an honourary castmember for the night.

Joining Hamm is a two-time musical guest, Rihanna. While her first appearance was mid-way through the last season, she was fairly entertaining in that particular underrated Blake Lively/Rihanna episode (I know, I’m in the minority of people who liked it). This time, she promotes her upcoming album “Loud” and brings her usual strong-willed, Chris Brown-dumping self to the stage. Rihanna is an odd one for me; at times, I really dig her stuff but then sometimes I just want to turn off the TV and be sure she is done singing before turning it back on.

Program START!

The Show:

1. A Message from the Vice President (3:25)

The beloved Joe Biden (Sudeikis) makes one last-ditch attempt to save the Democrats during the mid-term elections, but declares it “dead in the water” anyway. What really makes this work though is Biden comparing the state of the economy to the Chilean miners and declares since they dealt with that fine, no one else should have any right to complain about the economy. Biden’s test related to this is funny and whenever Sudeikis does the impression, it’s almost always gold. B+

2. Monologue (3:46)

After doing Mad Men for four seasons so far, the “Hammer” thinks himself a master at developing ad campaigns on the spot. To test this newfound talent, Hamm takes product suggestions from the audience including one near-stumper from a particularly weird gentleman (Samberg) of 9-volt batteries. Jon is such a relaxed and laid-back host that this whole thing just works very naturally for him. B+

3. Digital Short: Ronnie & Clyde (2:53)

It’s the return of Shy Ronnie (Samberg)! This time, Rihanna refers to her “Bonnie & Clyde ’03” hit and initiates a bank heist with her very unhelpful accomplice. This time it’s even better than their first digital short together even though a lot of it was fairly predictable after having seen the original. Oh and our host? He plays a customer who is probably getting lucky with our musical guest. Another fun piece. B+

4. Vincent Price’s Halloween Special (5:32)

One of my favourite recurring sketches makes its return as Vincent Price (Hader) welcomes the usual technical difficulties and difficult-to-deal-with guests. This time, he welcomes a pilled-up Judy Garland (Wiig) and Senator John F. Kennedy (Hamm) and his campaign manager/prostitute, Candy (Pedrad). Liberace (Armisen) is introduced in a terrific way and this time, the gay jokes are even more plentiful than usual. All the same, it’s more good fun from Vincent and the gang. A-

5. Back To The Future 25th Anniversary DVD (2:31)

With the release of the new BTTF DVD, some auditions for the major roles in the movie are shown. This sketch is mainly here to highlight the impressions from the cast and there are tons of good ones from Al Pacino (Hader) auditioning for Doc to Robin Williams (fun impression by Hamm) vying for the same role as well but getting carried away by his wacky improv. We also get another bang-on impression by Jay Pharaoh, this time of Eddie Murphy. A

6. Audition (4:40)

During an audition for a local play, the director grants time for actress Lizette Barnes (Wiig), who basically spends her time explaining what she will show and do and what she will absolutely not do. What starts as a seemingly gross-out sketch develops into much more than that when her husband (Hamm) enters the room and evokes an impassioned speech about his wife’s talent, dating back to a dog commercial. The performances of Hamm and Wiig are what really carry this well-written sketch, but Sudeikis provides terrific straight-man foil as well. A-

7. Back To The Future 25th Anniversary DVD (2:46)

More auditions! Much like the Star Wars Auditions sketch from Kevin Spacey/Beck back in 1997, they make this one a two-parter. This time, Samberg shows off his Nicolas Cage impression but once again Bill Hader dominates the sketch, this time with a wonderful impression of Alan Alda. We see a few that we’ve already seen before like Bill Cosby (Thompson), Joan Cusack (Elliott), and Prince (Armisen), but it turns out that Killam does a funny impression of Gilbert Gottfried and Pee Wee Herman as well. A

8. Rihanna sings “What’s My Name?” (3:50)

Taking a page out of Kanye’s playbook, Rihanna revamps the stage and douses it in a beautiful red glow second only to the beauty of Rihanna herself. With low-to-no expectations, Rihanna does a pretty decent job with this first song and her outfit is nothing to sneeze at either. B

9. Weekend Update with Seth Meyers (11:02)

Seth’s guests this week are James Carville (more fun with Bill Hader!), who comments on the mid-term elections with the usual clever metaphors that he likes to throw out, and Garth & Kat who come by to sing some “planned” Halloween songs from their new concert tour. Of course, it’s just as slapped together as their songs usually are and that only adds to the charm. Seth’s jokes are just as consistently good as usual like a funny bit involving a new Trick or Treat app on the iPhone and also one involving China’s wonderful air quality saving a boy’s life. The one involving the miners was pretty slick too. A-

10. I Didn’t Ask For This (5:38)

A talk-show featuring an unwilling Youtube celebrity (Moynihan) talking to fellow Youtubians as they all try to figure out why people make fun of their unfortunate mishaps that just so happened to be captured on camera and posted to the eponymous website. One guest (Wiig) was accidentally hit with a hammer, while the other (Hamm) was caught crying as his son finally confessed his love for him. Hamm actually sends the host and Wiig into a fit of laughter because, well, his crying noise is too much not to make fun of. This sketch was a pretty clever commentary on the media, actually. A

11. Highway Cops (5:11)

A 70s show on NBC features two cops, Randy (Hamm) and Cutter (Sudeikis) drive their boss crazy with their constant distractions preventing them from doing drug busts or catching criminals in general. The distraction involves their bike rides together which eventually develops into a, you guessed it, a man-on-man kiss. However, it’s not played for gross-out quality and the whole thing is a pretty funny throwback to cheesy cop shows. B+

12. Darlique & Barney (4:54)

Lounge act Darlique (Wiig) & Barney (Hamm) start their show off with a little joke and a fake fight. This is one of those sketches much like the “Bjelland Brothers” one from Cranston/West that features some terrible lounge singers and an even worse act. However, unlike the aforementioned sketch, this one is not nearly as good and it really drags for most of its duration. Hamm really tries though and he and Wiig have good chemistry. C+

13. Rihanna sings “Only Girl (In The World)” (3:44)

The umbrella girl’s second number has a lot more flash than the first but in the rare instance that this happens, style actually creates more substance with this performance. B+

14. Cartoon: Dog in Purse (1:30)

A cartoon from former writer Fred Wolf! Simplistic animation aside, Dog in Purse features David Spade doing the voice of a dog making snide remarks about celebrities and the media in general. It works perfectly because of Spade’s voice perfectly fitting the cartoon character, but overall its a pretty quick sketch. B

Jon thanks everyone and wishes everyone a happy Halloweeeeeeeeeen!

Jon Hamm is the new Steve Martin. There, I said it. In terms of new SNL hosts in the past ten years, no one has stepped up to the plate quite like Don Draper himself. He can easily carry a show like he did during his first gig but then he can also step aside and sometimes he blends in so well that you’d think he was a castmember. If Hamm doesn’t become a five-timer in the next two years, there is no justice in the world.

Rihanna was surprisingly entertaining as the musical guest and her contribution to the digital short was appreciated as well.

The main highlights in the cast this week were Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader, who actually got to anchor a number of sketches more than he is usually allowed.

Notes:

Constantly referring to Bill Hader as “ma’am” in the monologue was hilarious.

“1.21 Jigawatts? Great, Scott!”

Sudeikis jumping out the ground floor window was a great sight gag.

Alda: “I want in. Who do I have to f*ck?”

Not to sound perverted or anything, but holy god has Rihanna got some nice gams or what?!

Hader sure has fun playing James Carville. I’m glad he brings it back so often… (“I look like a mean peanut!”)

I think I heard Jason cracking up off-screen at Kenan answering the phone really quickly.

Kenan’s subplot with his wife in that “Highway Cops” sketch almost stole the entire scene.

Host Rating: A+

Musical Guest Rating: B+

Show Rating: B+/A-