Posts Tagged ‘tina fey’

(Season 38, Episode 10)




MARTIN SHORT: nothing really unless you count “Frankenweenie” back in October

PAUL MCCARTNEY: “Kisses on the Bottom” (album) – even though it came out way back in February



COLD OPENING: “Silent Night” (1:41)
Silent Night

–      Let me just take this moment to say that what happened in Newtown, Connecticut was a horrific tragedy. We’ve seen tons of school shootings all across the United States and for this one to happen at a fucking elementary school should tell the US government something about A) gun control laws and B) how they deal with mental health because clearly someone or two people or whatever who are able to go into an elementary school and start shooting at six-year olds has got something wrong in their head that has been ignored their whole life. I’m definitely not placing any sympathy on the shooter(s) so don’t think that but I just think that if they were treated at an earlier age, maybe shit like this wouldn’t happen. I also agree with Morgan Freeman’s statement that the media keeps sensationalizing the shooters instead of the victims for the most part which makes others want to one-up them and go out looking like a monster. It’s rather sickening on everyone’s part and I just hope the parents are able to recover this tragic loss. Sorry for getting on the soapbox a bit there but I just wanted to say that right off the top.

–      Anyway, this was a lovely tribute. They didn’t need to say anything. No one came out and talked specifically about what happened but this song by the New York Children’s Chorus encapsulated the whole thing and was a very classy and poignant way to open the show.

–      The kids did look pretty darn happy to get to say LFNY at the end.



MONOLOGUE: Martin Short (6:28)

–      This was excellent. Martin was a ball of energy, the lyrics were hilarious, and the cameos were just the icing on the cake.

–      The stuff before the backstage/music portion of the monologue was very funny as well like Martin pretending to be humble and talking about his love of things in order of importance and ending with family. I also loved the brief return of Ed Grimley.

–      Paul Shaffer playing piano with Short was also great and I liked him mentioning that Letterman was “the cranky one.” Short sitting on the piano was funny and awkward when he mentioned that he didn’t know how to sit on one.

–      I liked Kristen Wiig’s cameo. Martin wanting to kiss her little deformed hand was very funny and it seemed to be ad-libbed when he got all hot and bothered by it.

–      I loved Martin going around kissing everyone because you could see Jimmy Fallon and Tom Hanks actually holding hands and jumping around excitedly in the background afterwards. Also, Sam Jackson backing up and his cold stare towards Short when he attempted to kiss him was hilarious too.

–      Martin kissing Lorne Michaels was also a hilarious shocker and it was nice to see Tina Fey there as well.

RATING: *****



SHOW: A Tony Bennett Christmas (5:13)
A Tony Bennett Christmas

–      ANOTHER CAMEO?!? Alec Baldwin returned and was fantastic! Having Martin play Tony Bennett’s brother Jerry was a hilarious bit of business as well.

–      Having Jay Pharoah show up as Kanye West (another great impression of his) made me realize that this was the first speaking role for a castmember tonight. Not that I’m saying it’s a bad or a good thing… just an observation.

–      The usual sponsor bit was also hilarious with Kanye awkwardly promoting a laxative suppository product. Baldwin’s “it sure is easy to get down in the dumps when you can’t take one” line was hilarious and Short had some great allusions to constipation as well.

–      Short hugging Baldwin over and over was also quite funny.

–      Is it just me or has Alec Baldwin lost a shitload of weight?

RATING: ****



SKETCH: Royal OB/GYN (5:27)

–      Absolutely hilarious; I can see this as being a future classic. I don’t blame Bill for a second for coming so perilously close to cracking up in this sketch because Short’s character looked hilarious and WAS hilarious as well. It also seemed that after a while, Short was clearly trying to MAKE Hader crack up on purpose.

–      The first time Hader almost laughed was from Short’s ridiculous example of how he should respond when he sees her vagina. It caused me to lose it as well because Martin is just so damn good at being silly and over-the-top.

–      All the euphenisms that Short came up with for Kate’s vagina were hilarious. The “Downton Abbey” one got the biggest reaction but my favourite ones were “the King-Maker” and “Piccadilly Cervix.”

–      The guard bit worked but I wish we had not have seen Bobby sneaking by in the corner of the frame.

–      “Church of Taint Andrews” being the name for the Royal Butthole was hilarious as well.

–      Fred’s return as the Queen at the end was actually pretty damn funny because it was used so sparingly and I liked her saying she had to get her “Judi Dench” washed.

RATING: *****



COMMERCIAL: You’re a Rat Bastard, Charlie Brown (3:04)
You're a Rat Bastard, Charlie Brown

–      Oh my God, this was terrific. The impression showcase was hilarious enough but combined with the fact that it was a Charlie Brown special just made it all the more hilarious.

–      It was great to see Jason’s Philip Seymour Hoffman impression make a comeback.

–      The best new impressions were definitely Martin Short as Larry David (I actually thought it was really Larry for a second), Kate as Edie Falco, and Taran as Michael Keaton (his facial expressions were perfect).

–      The random shots of the audience reactions were hilarious.

–      The football scene was awesome with Bill and Kate just exchanging profanities and then Bill quickly saying that they would take a little intermission.

RATING: *****



MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: “My Valentine” (3:07)
Paul McCartney1

–      Joe Walsh?! Holy shit! I don’t think I have ever heard this song before this episode but this was a fantastic performance from McCartney et al. I may be a bit biased because I love the guy but I just really dug this.



WEEKEND UPDATE with Seth Meyers (10:39)
Guests: Jacob and The Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With at a Party
update1 update2 update3 update4 update5 update6 update7

–      Best Jokes: North Korea rocket launch; Hillary Clinton/no hairdresser; HSBC; Jersey Shore Series Finale; Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; Google/porn; deer/contraceptives; daughter born on 12/12/12

–      I was really surprised to see Vanessa Bayer playing this Jacob character because I remember her doing the same character from two years ago in a bar mitzvah sketch. I liked all of Bayer’s cheap “low-level roast jokes” followed by her mugging for the camera. This was very funny though in a great character-focused and dry kind of way.

–      The Girl You Wish… commentary was the best one that Cecily has done up to this point and she continues to impress me with her performances time after time. Too many highlights to list here because the whole thing was awesome but rest assured, I loved it all. Also, her quick racist comment is always great and the minstrel show thing was the best one yet.

RATING: **** ½



SHOW: What Up With That? (7:45)
What Up With That.

–      Yes, I like the fact that they brought this back. Samuel L. Jackson and Carrie Brownstein were great cameos as well along with Hader as Lindsey Buckingham of course.

–      Martin Short bringing back Jackie Rogers Jr. was absolutely hilarious even though they seemed to have forgotten to apply his pale white makeup or maybe didn’t have enough time. Either way, it was very awesome to see him back. Sam’s reaction during the whole thing was great too. They need to get Jackson to host again.

–      Jason’s dancing continues to entertain me.

–      Of course, everyone’s talking about Sam’s F-bomb. I believe Sam’s story that Kenan was supposed to interrupt him but they messed up the cue. Sam saying “bullshit” afterwards though was definitely intentional and Kenan had a terrific recovery line by telling him “That costs money.” Carrie making the zip-your-lip motion afterwards was funny too.

–      I also like how Kenan called Carrie “the funny one on Portlandia.”

–      Poor Tim Robinson; he made his only appearance of the night here as a dancing Santa.

RATING: ****



MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: “Cut Me Some Slack” (4:39)
Paul McCartney2

–      This was not a song I expected from McCartney as it was more fast-paced and heavy but he did a great job nonetheless. Nirvana (well, most of them) were awesome in accompanying the legend as well.



SKETCH: Old Friends (3:42)
Old Friends

–      Silly little sketch with solid performances from both Short and Armisen as two old friends who share a lot of really strange details about their lives like Fred being a James Cameron impersonator (and apparently it’s going really bad) and Short being an actor for EMT training.

–      The odd detail with Martin and Fred asking Taran for the gramaphone and a captain’s telescope while adding that they would like to pay a lot for them was really funny.

–      Martin’s World War II book opens up with “It was the 1940s and everything was in black and white.”

–      The bit at the end with Martin saying he lives in a big field was also quite funny.

RATING: *** ½



SKETCH: Pageant Audition (4:08)
Pageant Audition

–      And one more highly-entertaining sketch to finish the night off… why not? Martin and Paul were a great duo and I liked how Paul kept asking if he could sing but Martin told him that he was not capable of singing.

–      The bit at the beginning with Kenan was hilarious.

–      Martin simply yelling at Paul doesn’t sound funny in theory but when it comes to the performances here, it really worked. I also liked how Paul just played the whole thing straight-faced and was clearly trying really hard not to laugh at Short’s antics.

–      Jason and Cecily were good straight characters too.

RATING: **** ½



MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: “Wonderful Christmastime” (3:40)
Paul McCartney3

–      I absolutely LOVED how they segued from the previous sketch right into this musical performance.

–      Wonderful musical performance to finish off the night. Paul delivered and it was nice to see the New York Children’s Chorus again.






–      Martin Short



Yep, I’m going the full monty for this. What we got here was a beautiful, lovely, awesome, wonderful, hilarious show. Martin Short was absolutely perfect as the host and Paul McCartney was stunning. The bevy of cameos was also terrific and along with the touching tribute at the top of the show, it just made this whole episode come to life. I thoroughly enjoyed this and I hope people recognize it as a classic in years to come.


by Brendan Wahl

(Season 37, Episode 10)

The Show:

1. Winter Formal (5:07)

The Boston Teens are back! Sully (Fallon) and Denise (Rachel Dratch!) wait to get into a formal and also interact with their friend, Patrice Donovan (Amy Poehler!) and then a man (Killam) that turns out to be a huge fan of their antics.

– It’s weird that I totally forgot about these recurring characters being brought back when it comes to Jimmy Fallon characters that he did while on the show. Absence makes the heart grow fonder though I guess because I really enjoyed seeing them back again.
– Amy Poehler was a huge surprise here, actually. She had a pretty funny small part though.
– I loved all the “retawded” moments the best and the moment where Fallon grabbed Amy’s boob was pretty damn funny.
– It looks like the picture quality was off. I’ve noticed before that whenever SNL does a fuzzy screen and cuts to someone, the picture looks a bit blurry but they usually seem to fix it quickly. This just seemed to linger. It wasn’t a huge mistake and it wasn’t super annoying or anything, but I did notice it.
– Awesome, super-energetic LFNY delivery from Fallon.
Rating: *** 1/2

2. Monologue (3:04)

Jimmy talks about how thankful he is to be back on the show, talks about all the sketches that he ruined by laughing the whole way through them, and then goes backstage and sings a Christmas song while the entire cast dances around him.

– Excellent stuff. Jimmy going around the whole studio and talking about the sketches he ruined by laughing was great, but I also loved him saying that Buble was doing cocaine and the final big dance number with him and all the castmembers on the stage except for Seth Meyers of course.
– Wow, Jimmy looks really, really happy to be there. He had a really infectious energy.
– Lorne’s first appearance of the season.
Rating: *****

3. Today (4:51)

Hoda Kotb (Pedrad) must deal with Kathie Lee’s (Wiig) antics and drunken behaviour on another episode of the morning gab-fest. Before things get too crazy though, Regis Philbin (Fallon) interrupts the show and joins Kathie Lee in bashing Hoda before ultimately taking her spot at the desk.

– It’s been quite a while since we’ve seen this sketch and I enjoyed this one quite a bit. Kristen seemed to tone down the mugging and obnoxious behaviour that she usually uses during these sketches. I personally never really found it annoying but I guess some people do.
– I think Nasim is definitely the best Hoda Kotb we’ve seen in this sketch so far.
– I never knew Jimmy Fallon could pull off a Regis Philbin impression but he did a pretty damn good job and reminded me of what a great impressionist he was while he was on the show.
Rating: *** 1/2

4. Michael Buble Christmas Duets (2:52)

After the success of Buble’s Christmas album, he releases another one featuring duets with other celebrities/singers including the girl from MIA (Pedrad), Sting (Fallon), Thom Yorke (Armisen), Ke$ha (Elliott), Russell Brand (Fallon again), Taylor Swift (Wiig), Scott McCreery (Killam), and Justin Bieber (Fallon yet again!).

– They’ve been doing a lot of these ensemble sketches lately and this was another terrific one. Buble played a great straight man to all the insanity going on around him.
– My favourite impressions were the three from Jimmy Fallon (he’s a house of fire tonight!), Fred’s insane Thom Yorke impression, Taran as Scott McCreery, and Pharoah as Kanye West.
– Although Kristen didn’t do an actual impression of Taylor Swift, her facial expressions were pretty damn accurate.
Rating: ****

5. Mirror Chat (3:26)

Jimmy waits for the next sketch in his dressing room and begins to talk to his reflection (Samberg) about what he should do throughout the night to keep the show moving along at a great pace. His reflection suggests old tried-and-true methods and some of which are not really of interest to Jimmy.

– This was hilarious and very reminiscent of the Mick Jagger/Jimmy Fallon mirror sketch from Year 27. This seems like it’ll probably be a future classic with a good impression of Fallon by Andy and great performances with twice.
– My favourite parts were Jimmy and Andy talking about how sad a certain song was, Andy telling Jimmy to do another impression other than Seinfeld because he couldn’t do one, and the part where they were both pressed up against the mirror.
Rating: **** 1/2

6. 1920’s Holiday Party (4:55)

Lilia (Wiig) begs fellow partygoers not to force her to have to sing even though all they’re concerned with is getting Maxwell (Samberg) to play them a piano song. Meanwhile, another man (Fallon) begs them not to force him to dance as well.

– I was going to dismiss this as an unnecessary sequel to this sketch from two years ago, but they did shake this up a bit with the addition of Jimmy Fallon’s character.
– I really liked the part with Jimmy dancing on top of the piano and a few of the times when Kristen missed her cue to sing along with Andy playing the piano. Andy’s deadpan delivery when saying that the song is over was pretty funny too.
– The ending with the raccoons was kinda dumb.
Rating: ***

7. Tommy Palmese (2:42)

An ad is shown for a new one-man show featuring Tommy Palmese (Armisen) telling his life story with a whole lot of neuroses much to the chagrin of anyone watching it.

– I liked this a lot more than I thought I would. Fred always does well playing these quirky types of roles.
– Bill Hader’s discomfort during the scene with Fred in his face was hilarious and probably my favourite part. I also liked Vanessa Bayer running out of the theatre.
Rating: *** 1/2

8. Season’s Greetings (2:15)

Jimmy, Horatio Sanz, Chris Kattan, and Tracy Morgan perform their old classic “Christmastime is Here”  for the very enthusiastic SNL audience that just eats it right up.

– I can’t really rate this but it was awesome to see these four doing their Christmas song again. A lot of people said Tracy seemed pissed off here but based on his smiles during the goodnights, I think this was just part of his character.
– Kattan sticking his head into the frame was hilarious.

9. Michael Buble sings “Holly Jolly Christmas” (2:02)

– Buble did a pretty good job here and it was nice to hear a nice traditional Christmas song with the audience clapping along as well for a while.

10. Weekend Update with Seth Meyers (9:23)
Guests: Nicolas Cage with Jude Law (and a director) and Jimmy Fallon, Tina Fey, & Amy Poehler

Best Jokes: the two Trump debate jokes; Romney attack; radioactive monkeys; Wolf Dad; toy drive

– The ‘Get in the Cage’ segment with Andy was pretty much the same as the other two that he did but I still love his Nic Cage impression. I really like his reasons why it was silly that he wasn’t included in the new Sherlock Holmes movie. Paul Brittain as the director was a good little addition. Not bad overall.
– The appearance of Jimmy Fallon was somewhat expected but certainly not Tina Fey! Amy also joins in and the two co-anchor teams go at it with a Joke-Off. My favourites were Jimmy’s joke about the crumpled-up $20 bill and “unlike the strippers, the toys must NOT be damaged.” Great segment that the crowd really dug.
Rating: ****

11. Beethoven’s Orchestra (5:52)

After a performance of Symphony No. 9, Beethoven (Fallon) takes the time to introduce each individual member of his orchestra much like an energetic bandleader might do between sets at a modern-day concert.

– This was a piece controlled by a nice steady performance by Jimmy as the charismatic Beethoven not even attempting to do a German accent, which made me laugh quite a bit.
– The Hitler joke was hilarious and Paul Brittain had a great moment with it.
– Wow, Andy has been dominating a lot tonight. He’s probably having one of his best nights performance-wise as well.
– Nice to see Horatio Sanz and Chris Kattan making another appearance, this time in a proper sketch. Kattan blowing on a jug was funny as was Horatio playing a Mozart song and then laughing about it.
– Random appearance by Wiig as Triangle Sally! That was awesome. Kenan as B.B. King was out of nowhere too.
Rating: *** 1/2

12. War Horse (4:39)

Two patrons (Hader & Wiig) get ready to watch a play with rave reviews called “War Horse,” but then quickly learn that the usual horse puppet has been replaced by a man (Fallon) doing a very unconvincing job. Halfway through the play, the boy (Samberg) is also replaced by a hand puppet.

– Wow, talk about a strange sketch but still highly enjoyable.
– There were many great parts here including Jimmy inexplicably dancing as the horse, Jason Sudeikis appearing at random points singing strange little musical interludes, the intermission starting after about a minute and ending almost as quickly, Kenan using a hand puppet in Andy’s role after the intermission, and the random “USA” chants to end the play.
– The bits with Hader & Wiig could’ve been trimmed down a bit as it seemed that they were just there to explain the joke for us as if we didn’t already get it ourselves.
Rating: ****

13. Michael Buble sings “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” (3:45)

– Another traditional Christmas song makes for another happy viewer, indeed. Buble did another great job here too.

14. Jesus Visits the Denver Broncos (4:00)

Tim Tebow (Killam), Matt Prater (Samberg), and co. (Thompson, Pharoah, & extras) receive a visit from Jesus (Sudeikis) who tells them that he helped them win the last six games but that they have to at least make an effort in the first half of the game so as to not make it look like a random miracle.

– Funny premise for a sketch and Jason turns in another fun performance here, this time as Jesus. Very funny execution.
– Special mention to Killam, who does a great job as Tebow and his constant overbearing love for Sudeikis was really funny and probably one of his best performances on the show so far. I’ve been so impressed with Taran for the little time that he’s been on the show.
– Surprised Jimmy wasn’t in this sketch but it wasn’t a damper or anything because it was a well-written and very well-acted sketch.
– Loved the mormon line at the end.
Rating: ****

15. Goodnights

– Rockefeller ice rink goodnights?! AWESOME! When’s the last time they did those? Like 2005 with Jack Black, I believe.

OVERALL: Another super-awesome show with a lot of great sketches and a fantastic host in Jimmy Fallon. I noticed that he didn’t break character at all during the entire show (he’s come a long way since 2003/2004) and his performances throughout the episode were more than stellar. Add to that two impressive performances by Michael Buble and a great Christmasy feel to the whole thing made this one a true winner. What an absolutely fantastic season we’ve had so far… and it’s only half-over.


HOST: JIMMY FALLON – 10 segments (Winter Formal; Monologue; Today; Michael Buble Christmas Duets [3 roles]; Mirror Chat; 1920’s Holiday Party; Season’s Greetings; Weekend Update; Beethoven’s Orchestra; War Horse)
MUSICAL GUEST: MICHAEL BUBLE – 2 segments (Monologue; Michael Buble Christmas Duets)

CAMEOS: RACHEL DRATCH – 1 segment (Winter Formal)
TINA FEY – 1 segment (Weekend Update)
CHRIS KATTAN – 2 segments (Season’s Greetings; Beethoven’s Orchestra)
JUDE LAW – 1 segment (Weekend Update)
TRACY MORGAN – 1 segment (Season’s Greetings)
AMY POEHLER – 2 segments (Winter Formal; Weekend Update)
HORATIO SANZ – 2 segments (Season’s Greetings; Beethoven’s Orchestra)

FRED ARMISEN – 5 segments (Monologue; Michael Buble Christmas Duets; 1920’s Holiday Party; Tommy Palmese; Beethoven’s Orchestra)
ABBY ELLIOTT – 5 segments (Winter Formal; Monologue; Michael Buble Christmas Duets; 1920’s Holiday Party; Beethoven’s Orchestra)
BILL HADER – 5 segments (Monologue; 1920’s Holiday Party; Tommy Palmese; Beethoven’s Orchestra; War Horse)
SETH MEYERS – 1 segment (Weekend Update)
BOBBY MOYNIHAN – 5 segments (Winter Formal; Monologue; Today; Tommy Palmese; Beethoven’s Orchestra)
NASIM PEDRAD – 4 segments (Monologue; Today; Michael Buble Christmas Duets; Beethoven’s Orchestra)
ANDY SAMBERG – 7 segments (Monologue; Mirror Chat; 1920’s Holiday Party; Weekend Update; Beethoven’s Orchestra; War Horse; Jesus Visits the Denver Broncos)
JASON SUDEIKIS – 4 segments (Monologue; Beethoven’s Orchestra; War Horse; Jesus Visits the Denver Broncos)
KENAN THOMPSON – 4 segments (Monologue; Beethoven’s Orchestra; War Horse; Jesus Visits the Denver Broncos)
KRISTEN WIIG – 6 segments (Monologue; Today; Michael Buble Christmas Duets; 1920’s Holiday Party; Beethoven’s Orchestra; War Horse)

VANESSA BAYER – 3 segments (Monologue; Tommy Palmese; Beethoven’s Orchestra)
PAUL BRITTAIN – 3 segments (Monologue; Weekend Update; Beethoven’s Orchestra)
TARAN KILLAM – 6 segments (Winter Formal; Monologue; Michael Buble Christmas Duets; Beethoven’s Orchestra; War Horse; Jesus Visits the Denver Broncos)
JAY PHAROAH – 3 segments (Monologue; Michael Buble Christmas Duets; Jesus Visits the Denver Broncos)

EPISODE MVPs: Jimmy Fallon/Andy Samberg

by Brendan Wahl

(Season 36, Episode 20)

1. Cold Open: Osama bin Laden Video Will (4:41)

C-Span presents the last will and testament of Osama bin Laden (Armisen), while a translator (good ol’ Jim Downey) reads off the terrorist leader’s wishes and demands.

– I, for one, am very glad that SNL decided to tackle this story. I really wasn’t sure if they were going to hit it head-on or do some sort of patriotic theme in regards to the news. It would’ve been acceptable either way, but I’m glad they took this route.
– That being said, this wasn’t a terrific cold open but that’s not to say it wasn’t without its moments.
– In particular, I liked his constant clamouring for a 12-year old virginal Dakota Fanning to be one of his pallbearers and his gratitude for his “human shield, Fatima.”
– Fred was an obvious choice here and people may complain that he plays these foreign dictators too much, but honestly he does a good job of it.
– I also like how Downey always does the translator’s voice with these types of sketches. He has that dry, witty voice that works perfectly.

2. Monologue (4:54)

Tina discusses the upcoming birth of her new baby before bringing out fellow pregnant pal Maya Rudolph. It soon turns into a duet about childbirth before they are also joined by their fetuses in song.

– Tina’s got quite the baby bump now, doesn’t she? Good thing she addressed her famous impression right away.
– I liked her comment about having “the number one book in the country and the number 86 TV show.” It’s a shame more people don’t watch 30 Rock.
– I groaned when Maya came out, but her singing skills were put to good use especially when the two ladies decided to add some funk into their groove.
– The visual of the babies joining in on the song was a little creepy but funny nonetheless. Kristen and Kenan’s facial expressions combined with the microphone umbilical cords were pretty damn funny.
*** 1/2

3. GOP 2012 Undeclared Candidates Debate (6:57)

Shepard Smith (Hader) hosts the debate between the GOP candidates Mitt Romney (Sudeikis), Newt Gingrich (Moynihan), Michele Bachmann (Wiig), Sarah Palin (Fey), Jimmy McMillan (Thompson), and of course… Donald Trump (Darrell Hammond!).

– If this is a harbinger of things to come for the debate sketches we’ll see in 2012, it’s a good sign.
– Plenty of highlights here for everyone involved like Newt backing out and leaving early, Bachmann using a Fatal Attraction-style strategy, Mitt Romney using a lot of self-deprecating methods, Sarah Palin lamenting on vanquishing the world’s greatest villain in Katie Couric, McMillan rants about going underwater to find bin Laden, and Donald Trump has his own podium made of gold and being held up by marble columns while he compares himself to Citizen Kane (a movie he’s only seen half of).
– Hader’s Shepard Smith had a bunch of great lines too like when he responds to Bachmann’s rant by saying, “I’m scared AND horny!”
– “In closing, we’d like to congratulate Barack Obama on his re-election.”

4. Below The Waves (3:34)

What starts off seemingly as a Little Mermaid spoof devolves into something more than that as Osama bin Laden’s body lands on Crabby (Thompson) and the sea creatures start having an intellectual discussion about the news item.

– Well, I breathed a heavy sigh of relief here when I realized it was NOT going to be a lame spoof of The Little Mermaid.
– The bin Laden twist was funny as it meshed with all of the colourful characters, especially when it came to the conspiracy nut manta ray (Armisen).
– “It’s some sort of body wrapped in a … what’s that called… SHROUD!”
– Lots of things to enjoy here like Brittain using Osama’s death as a reason to get drunk, Crabby suggesting to use the body as a trap for terrorists at GITMO, and the princess (Fey) remaining content throughout the whole ordeal made me chuckle.
*** 1/2

5. Digital Short: Jack Sparrow (3:11)

While recording a new club-banger with Michael Bolton (!!), the Lonely Island is put off by their compadre’s knack for referencing Pirates of the Carribbean and Jack Sparrow in particular, thus ruining the track.

– Another major hit for the Lonely Island. If this is any indication of how the next album’s gonna turn out, sign me up.
– Michael Bolton was an absolutely random choice to be in this video, but he was hilarious, especially how he just stood on the beach and turned the song from a club hit into a ballad about Johnny Depp’s iconic character.
– Bolton had many moments of genius here: I loved him showing up in the club with the pirate hat on but the icing on the cake was Bolton deviating from that even and referencing Scarface, Erin Brockovich, and Forrest Gump.
**** 1/2

6. Ellie Goulding sings “Lights” (3:29)

– This was a really solid performance from this up-and-comer. She is not only gorgeous, but she also has a very nice voice that lends itself to this well-written ballad.
– I also found out that she writes her own music, so kudos to that as well.
– Plus, this may be the smallest back-up band I’ve ever seen someone have on SNL in recent memory, outside of the Ting Tings.

7. Weekend Update with Seth Meyers (14:28)
Guests: The Devil (Sudeikis), Kaddafi’s best friends from growing up (Armisen & Bayer), and Stefon (Hader)

Best Jokes: The opening Osama jokes; Conspiracy Theories; Free Black Eyed Peas concert; elderly newlyweds

–  I’ve been really enjoying Sudeikis as the Devil, so whenever he shows up I usually get a huge grin on my face. The costume is simple ala Mephistopheles back in the day. This time, the Dark Lord shows up to complain that now he’s got to live with bin Laden… and they lost him too. I loved little bits from him like admitting that Hell has dial-up internet and his little snide remark about “Outsourced.” Suffice to say, that sums that show up for me. I also loved how the Devil’s mother is the Snapple Lady.
– The two friends of Kaddafi essentially took a one-joke premise and ran with it for a while, but it was still amusing thanks to Armisen and Bayer’s performances. For a second, I was afraid that Fred would drag out his impression of the foreign dictator again, but thankfully that did not happen. I liked the ending with Seth joining in as well and then Vanessa saying, “Seth Meyers, everybody!”
– Finally, Stefon comes out for the final commentary. This character will never get old. This time, he gives advice on where one can go for Mother’s Day and of course, he evolves into a rant involving things like “Jew Diamond Philips,” “Baloney Danza,” and the club “SPICY!” Of course, Hader loses it like always but the character is so damn endearing so he can get away with it. When he suddenly kissed Meyers on the cheek, I lost it. Hilarious.
– Seth – “This woman raised me and changed my diapers.”
Stefon – “Lucky lady…”
– Seth’s jokes were not top-notch as usual this week, but he still had some good ones.
*** 1/2

8. Birthing Seminar (5:05)

A number of expectant mothers and their husbands (Fey, Elliott, Moynihan, & Sudeikis) sit in a birthing seminar room and watch a video to help them all prepare for natural childbirth.

– There’s so much to say here. This may have been my favourite sketch of the night just for the insane things that were going on in the instructional video.
– Hader and Rudolph were fantastic as the couple in question and kudos to them for not cracking up at all during the whole ordeal.
– I was not expecting Maya’s massive pubic wig, so when that showed up I howled in shock.
– Some of the comments from the parents were pretty hilarious (“Oh, that is some murky business”).
– When the other couple (Thompson & Wiig) joins the original one in the video, it gets REALLY insane.
– The twist at the end was fantastic too.
**** 1/2

9. Bedelia’s Sleepover (4:33)

The introverted teenager, Bedelia (Pedrad), makes her third appearance and tricks her mom (Fey) into coming over during a sleepover.

– Bedelia is one of my favourite characters and I was really worried she would never show up again. After her appearance with Fey last season, it must’ve been Tina that asked that the sketch come back.
– The type of humour here is a little different from the typical SNL style too in that it’s more observational and relies less heavily on jokes.
– Killam showing up as a fellow nerd and then saying a very specific thing at the same time as Bedelia was classic.
– Based on the reviews I’ve read so far, this was a very underrated sketch and I only have praise to heap on it.

10. Ellie Goulding sings “Your Song” (3:19)

– This is the song that sold me.
– Ellie shows off her vocal talent to the max here with this excellent cover of Elton’s classic tune.
– I am officially in love.

11. Pregnant in Heels (2:06)

A spoof of a series I’ve never seen involving a fashion designer named Rosie Pope (Elliott) helping out a millionaire pregnant girl (Fey).

– I didn’t really get most of this, but there were some funny parts with the bits involving “signature Bravo music and cuts to a dog,” the appearance of Jay Pharoah, and the attempt to put a suit on the baby while still in the womb.
– It was okay overall.
** 1/2

12. Googie Rene’s Slightly Damaged Prom Wear Barn (3:00)

Googie (Thompson) is back again, this time with a showcase of his damaged prom dresses and with the help of a different assistant (Fey).

– For some reason, I enjoy this character. I really shouldn’t because, I mean, it’s Kenan in a big, loud obnoxious role but… it just works. Googie just looks insane the whole time, almost daring the viewer to look at him, which always makes me chuckle.
– The forced-wooden acting here is the cherry on the cake.
– While this wasn’t as strong as the one on Stone/KOL, it was still very enjoyable. I particularly enjoyed the dress with the grass stains on the back of it, Googie’s constant mispronounciations and awkward way of walking, and Shanelda (Fey) saying that she is ready for her first kiss with a girl.
– Why was Maya in this sketch too? Not complaining, but it was just odd.
*** 1/2

13. Hallmark “Mother” Collection (1:08)

A commercial for the new series of Hallmark cards for Mother’s Day. In a delirious twist, it’s for people who are crazy and are their own mothers.

– This was a twisted delight and a good way to end the Mother’s Day edition of the show.
– Paul gets a rare lead role in this Norman Bates-like part minus the actual killing.
*** 1/2

14. Goodnights

– Is it just me or did Taran and Nasim seem awfully close? If so, good on ’em. They would make a pretty adorable couple.
– Also, did anyone else notice that Tina and Ellie kind of looked at each other for a second and then turned away? Awkward.

OVERALL: This was a fantastic show. I know the first thing that people will say is that I overrated it but to me, this was the best show of the season thus far. This makes me forget all about Elton’s episode and gives hope for the next (and final) two episodes of the season. Tina was relegated to a few background roles, but she still excelled with her reliable Palin impression, her nuanced performance in the Bedelia sketch, and her funny turns in the “Pregnant in Heels” and “Below The Waves.” The writing was pretty top-notch this week too with only an average sketch sticking out, but nothing bad overall.


HOST: TINA FEY – 7 segments (Monologue; GOP 2012 Undeclared Candidates Debate; Below The Waves; Birthing Seminar; Bedelia’s Sleepover; Pregnant in Heels; Googie Rene’s Slightly Damaged Prom Wear Barn)
CAMEO: MAYA RUDOLPH – 3 segments (Monologue; Birthing Seminar; Googie Rene’s Slightly Damaged Prom Wear Barn)
FILMED CAMEO: MICHAEL BOLTON – 1 segment (Jack Sparrow)


FRED ARMISEN – 3 segments (Osama bin Laden Video Will; Below The Waves; Weekend Update)
ABBY ELLIOTT – 4 segments (Below The Waves; Birthing Seminar; Bedelia’s Sleepover; Pregnant in Heels)
BILL HADER – 3 segments (GOP 2012 Undeclared Candidates Debate; Weekend Update; Birthing Seminar)
SETH MEYERS – 1 segment (Weekend Update)
BOBBY MOYNIHAN – 3 segments (GOP 2012 Undeclared Candidates Debate; Birthing Seminar; Bedelia’s Sleepover)
ANDY SAMBERG – 3 segments (Jack Sparrow; Bedelia’s Sleepover; Googie Rene’s Slightly Damaged Prom Wear Barn)
JASON SUDEIKIS – 3 segments (GOP 2012 Undeclared Candidates Debate; Weekend Update; Birthing Seminar)
KENAN THOMPSON – 5 segments (Monologue; GOP 2012 Undeclared Candidates Debate; Below The Waves; Birthing Seminar; Googie Rene’s Slightly Damaged Prom Wear Barn)
KRISTEN WIIG – 4 segments (Monologue; GOP 2012 Undeclared Candidates Debate; Birthing Seminar; Googie Rene’s Slightly Damaged Prom Wear Barn)


VANESSA BAYER – 4 segments (Below The Waves; Weekend Update; Birthing Seminar; Bedelia’s Sleepover)
PAUL BRITTAIN – 3 segments (Below The Waves; Bedelia’s Sleepover; Hallmark “Mother” Collection)
TARAN KILLAM – 3 segments (Monologue; Bedelia’s Sleepover; Pregnant in Heels)
NASIM PEDRAD – 1 segment (Bedelia’s Sleepover)
JAY PHAROAH – 1 segment (Pregnant in Heels)

EPISODE MVP: Kenan Thompson

by Brendan Wahl

(Season 36, Episode 1)

SNL has had quite a summer. The first thing we discovered is that long-time castmember (since 2002), Will Forte, announced that he was leaving the show to care for his ailing sister in Los Angeles, five upcoming hosts were announced (Amy, Bryan Cranston, Jane Lynch, Emma Stone, and Jon Hamm), Jenny Slate was fired or quit (it was never confirmed either way, but it looks like the former), and finally… four new featured players were hired. Vanessa Bayer (a comedienne from Improv Olympic in Chi-Town) Paul Brittain (another iO Chicago player), Taran Killam (a former MADtv castmember for one season), and Jay Pharaoh (a very young stand-up comedian from Virginia) join the fairly large cast this season.

As mentioned by several people, this year is looking like its going to be a transitional year with several repertory players being cut next season (methinks it will be Fred and Kenan). However, that is in the future and for now, we look to this week’s show. Season premieres in general for the program can be iffy at best and drab at worst with a few notable exceptions (namely Damon/Springsteen and Cook/Killers come to mind). For the last few years, they haven’t always been the strongest choice (athletes, no-charisma divas) so that’s why when I heard that Poehler was set to be the first host of the season, I was definitely down for this.

Joining Poehler is Katy Perry, the gorgeous pop singer who apparently has been decidedly lukewarm when it comes to live performances. The songstress has been the source of a bit of controversy lately as her recent performance on Sesame Street with Elmo was pulled because of the very revealing clothing she wore on the program. Of course, this “controversy” is a rather silly situation and the hopes are that Katy will make reference to it in some way, shape or form.

Time to rumble!

The Show:

1. RNC Headquarters (5:43)

Republican candidate Christine O’Donnell (Wiig) meets with her advisors (Hader & Sudeikis) in the Delaware Senate campaign to discuss some of her recent controversial admissions like her dabbling in witchcraft when she was young and her anti-masturbation campaign. When O’Donnell admits that she initially confused masturbation with something else, her stance completely changes and the conversation turns lurid. Not to mention her history of running illegal dog-fights and her history of committing arson. This sketch works due to Kristen’s knack for comic timing and her chemistry with Hader and Suds. This was a great way to start the season with a fun target and some enjoyable writing. A-

2. Monologue (5:08)

Elated to be back, Amy promises to be a diva host and after announcing the arrival of the four new featured players, Poehler tells of her pre-show nightmare to the audience. The nightmare is mostly just an excuse to load up on cameos from the likes of Rachel Dratch, Jimmy Fallon, Tina Fey, and Justin Timberlake, but it was still a hilariously rapid-fire section of the monologue with everyone delivering on the laughs, particularly Nasim in Poehler’s old Caitlin get-up, Wiig explaining a complicated dance number very quickly, and Fallon and Fey retaking their spot at the Update desk. A

3. Bronx Beat (5:51)

Well, I guess this was inevitable. This talk-show bit has never been a favourite of mine mostly due to its repetitive nature despite the strong attempts by Poehler and Rudolph (another cameo!) on every occasion. I would imagine that Emily Spivey came back to write this sketch because it follows the same typical formula. This time, Betty & Jodi discuss the recent outbreak of bedbugs and the latter talks about her renewal of wedding vows with her “stupid husband.” Their guest is a librarian with an Elmo shirt (Katy in a cute reference to the Sesame Street incident), whose boobs are discussed for a majority of the sketch. That was probably the downside although there were some good lines here and there like Betty saying that she would go to France except she “can’t speak the language and [she] hates the people.” C+

4. Bosley Hair Restoration (1:30)

The first real gross-out piece of the show is all about fixing your bald spots by removing some hair from “down under” and placing your short ‘n’ curlies where your hair should be. The pube wigs are pretty funny and Suds works well as the spokesman. B+

5. Maternity Matters (4:13)

I could tell from the opening that this was another sketch featuring Roger Brush (Armisen), the producer of several women’s issues shows, who is forced to act as host when the regular female host is absent. Of course, his answers are sexist and he is clearly in desperate need of some PR. Equating Poehler’s self-confidence problems with the stress involved in missing his water bill payment is the highlight. I read somewhere that this character is supposedly based on someone and it really wouldn’t surprise me if it was because Fred acts like a typical ball-busting producer who needs to be behind the camera. B+

6. The Mosque at Ground Zero (1:17)

What starts off as a description of the perfect gay wedding day (between Poehler and Bayer) turns into a crazy rapid-fire commercial for the new mosque at Ground Zero. It doesn’t end there though. Every Republican irrational fear of the Mosque is elevated tenfold here as they advertise pregnancy termination and innocent add-ons like an espresso bar. Classic. A+

7. Katy Perry sings “California Girls” (3:45)

God, she is absolutely gorgeous. Just thought I should let that out right now. Although I and several others were warned of her tendency to dog it during live performances, I found her to be quite apt and a pleasant little distraction to look at and admire. At least she didn’t auto-tune her whole performance either. B

8. Weekend Update with Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler (15:17)

At first it seems like Seth is going solo, but after an early-on edition of “Really?!?”, Amy joins in and reports on the rest of the news with Mr. Meyers. Like all other editions of “Really?!?”, this one is a lot of fun like when Seth mentions the nonsense over the troops being supposedly “not at war with Iraq anymore” and the silly controversy over homosexuals in the military. There’s plenty of good material from both newscasters this week like Seth’s war with Blockbuster, Kim Jong Not Ill being the leading cadidate to take over North Korea, and my favourite: buying your subway tickets on a iPhone app. Will Smith (new kid Jay Pharaoh with an awesome impression) stops by to yell and shill for his son, Jayden, who he’s promptly whored out to movies like The Karate Kid. There’s also a funny 911 call re-enactment where Poehler admits to doing two of the voices afterwards in an amusing bit (“The third voice was Gene Hackman,” Seth ad-libs). Finally, Gov. David Paterson (Armisen) wheels in for some comments on the two new candidates for his replacements. The usual schtick occurs, but he is interrupted by the real deal (yes, Gov. Paterson himself) and the two engage in some amusing banter, which is particularly impressive for a blind governor who can’t see cue cards. The best line: “You’re still sporting the beard? I shaved that off a year ago. Are you blind?!” It was nice to see Paterson has a sense of humour, but the two Patersons stepping in front of the camera aimlessly was the icing on the cake. They really brought the house down. A+

9. The Lean Years (3:33)

Continuing with the Showtime tradition of “women with secrets,” Amy Poehler stars in a series called The Lean Years as her Amber character with one leg. The portion of the sketch that features Amy talking about the show in a very serious, philosophical tone is the best part of the sketch. Never thought I’d see an impression of Stanley Tucci on this show though. B-

10. Digital Short: Theme from ‘Boogerman’ (2:09)

Katy Perry performs the critically-acclaimed original song from the aforementioned film at some type of awards show while clips of the movie play on the screen in the background. Based on the clips, there is no way of figuring out the convoluted plot of the film, which only adds to this digital short’s charm. The dancing is amusing as well as the ending. A-

11. Chez Henri (3:38)

A woman (Wiig) is constantly one-upped by her friend, Trish (Poehler), in front of their mutual friends (Elliott & Bayer) with her tiny hats. It continues to escalate to ridiculous levels with Bill Hader effectively playing an effeminate passer-by who keeps score. At first, I really didn’t like this sketch but upon second viewing, I’ll admit that it’s got that ‘so ridiculous, it’s funny’ vibe to it and it doesn’t hurt that the reveals of the restaurant are hilarious as well. B+

12. Katy Perry sings “Teenage Dream” (4:12)

Another tune from Perry and a very revealing skirt. Good thing Russell Brand wasn’t around… B

13. Actor II Actor (1:07)

Andy Samberg sits down for a James Lipton-style interview with Justin Timberlake but it turns out to be a very quick one-joke sketch as Andy just wants to know why Justin isn’t singing anymore. Despite the brief length of this sketch, it still turns out to be pretty funny just based on the chemistry between the two. B+

14. The Even More Expendables (2:35)

Mocking the fact that The Expendables really only had about two stars in it, the sequels and spin-offs are announced with people like Steven Seagal (Hader), Chris Tucker (Pharaoh), and Brigitte Nielsen (Samberg). It gets even more obscure than that though as Brooke Hogan (Elliott), Kim Jong Il (Poehler), Hooch (of Turner & Hooch fame), and Steven Slater (Killam) of Jet Blue infamy are all slated to appear. Not to mention the return of Sudeikis’ Rod Blagojevich impression. Just an excuse for the cast and host to do their favourite impressions, but hell, I had fun watching it unfold. B+

Amy has about a bajillion people to thank due to all the cameos and then gets a big hug from Maya Rudolph as the cast and guests bid a goodnight to one and all. Yep, Saturday Night Live is back, folks.

So how was this premiere? Better than last year’s and a LOT better than the one two years prior. Amy was an energetic host as one would expect and despite being a former castmember, she didn’t try to dominate the broadcast like some have done (coughMollyShannoncough). She definitely had some great support though from a re-energized cast and a number of cameos from some willing participants.

The cast clearly had a lot of fun and enjoyed having one of their own back with them for their first week back. Jay Pharaoh shined the most out of the newbies and did a couple of fun impressions (Will Smith and Chris Tucker), while also having a small part in the digital short. Taran Killam was pretty funny in his brief bit in the ten-to-one sketch, but Bayer and Brittain were barely visible during their first episode. This is nothing to worry about, people, this is their very first episode.

What else to say? Fun start to what I am hoping is going to be a hell of a season!


Has there ever been a really bad performance by a former castmember-turned host besides a few awkward moments with Chevy? Even David Spade was fun.

I think it’s only a matter of time before Fallon hosts…

Katy Perry addressing her Sesame Street incident with that sly little jab was funny because she wasn’t overt about the joke.

I’m sold on Pharaoh so far. Just waiting for the other three newbies to do something memorable now.

I gotta admit I giggled like a schoolgirl at all the cameos in the opening monologue.

It’s about time Bobby Moynihan got promoted.

Tell me: What is YOUR favourite season premiere?! Also, who is your favourite former castmember-turned-host?

Host Rating: B+

Musical Guest Rating: B

Show Rating: B+

I think one of the only times in history where someone said they were going to actually play a particular role on an upcoming episode of Saturday Night Live was during the lead-up to last night’s show. Appearing on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Tina told her former Weekend Update co-anchor that, yes, she would be reprising her role as Sarah Palin in a sketch on Saturday Night Live. Joy rang through the streets and a lot of hype centered around where Fey’s Palin would fit into the night’s festivities.

Having Tina Fey back to host the show was an idea that caused some questioning back in 2008 when she hosted for the first time, but she went above and beyond to provide a number of fun performances in an above-average episode. Having her come back for a second time got my hopes up real high!

Unfortunately, Justin Bieber is also there to make an appearance as musical guest and according to several sources, he was prepared to appear in a few sketches as well with his ultimate goal to be in a digital short with Andy Samberg. But really, Bieber needs to stop singing and leave the planet, so that is that.

Let’s dive in!

The Show:

1. The Census

El Presidente (Armisen) makes an appearance to discuss the census for 2010 and informs the public in his very calming, soothing voice the many questions that are asked on the form. Included are inquiries as to the location of any health care opposers in the household, available weapons should there be any problems with those people, and other suspiciously right-wing sounding ideas. It’s actually one of the better political pieces they’ve done with just Obama. A-

2. Monologue

This is where I expected the strongest section of the night to be and sure enough, Tina brought the goods by talking about her hectic work schedule and then introducing several people like her tax lawyer Steve Martin (yes, that one!), Bieber, and Mark Sanchez playing the role of her husband. Will Forte and Kenan also had a couple of funny roles here as well. Aces. A

3. Brownie Husband

The ultimate lonely-woman treat, a life-sized husband made entirely out of Duncan Hines brownie mix. Tina here plays a Liz Lemon-like character, who does all sorts of things with this inanimate husband. The best part is the “liquid goo” center. B+

4. The Masters

Ahh, yes. Knew there had to be a Tiger Woods sketch in here somewhere around the first hour. Indeed, Tiger makes his return to the Masters and all that new golf announcer Ashlyn St. Cloud (Fey) can talk about is his scandal and after noticing what he actually looks like, realizes that yep, she’s slept with him. B+

5. Sarah Palin Network

Tina reprises her famous impression of Sarah Palin and advertises her new network featuring “subtle” criticisms of Obama’s death panels, husband Todd fighting crime on a snowmobile, a 30 Rock parody with Stephen Baldwin, and many more hilarious bits. This was easily the best sketch of the night with Fey’s Palin absolutely killing and many of the parodies being bang-on. A+

6. Lonely Teacher

Fey plays lonely Miss Delancey, who develops a crush on one of her students (Bieber) and has extended fantasies of them singing to each other seductively. It was a little bit creepy to have Bieber trying to seduce Tina Fey, but Tina’s performance here makes it work especially various little tidbits like how she put wine in her cereal. B

7. Justin Bieber sings “Baby”

Okay, so Bieber has a number of male backup dancers that have to all at least be 25. That’s a little weird. Plus, this song almost just features Bieber repeating the word “baby” about ten thousand times like a trendy pop band. D

8. Weekend Update with Seth Meyers

Another stellar edition of Update this week. This time, Seth welcomes the Devil (Sudeikis), who confirms that anytime a priest touches a child, it is NOT his work and in fact he is appalled by the act. Also joining Seth this week is Aunt Linda (Wiig) after almost a year-and-a-half absence to humourously rant on some of the newest releases. The best commentary, however, comes at the end with Fey presenting another edition of Women’s News, mostly focusing on the Sandra Bullock/Jesse James incident. Her description of Bombshell Mcgee as a “7th grader’s binder in metal shop class” is the icing on the cake. Seth also had some great stuff this week too, including dismissing the priest/children molestation cases as water cooler talk. A+

9. Ruff, Rugged and Roker

Everyone’s favourite weatherman Al Roker (Thompson) hosts an alternate show in the wee hours of the morning from a dingy nightclub and then quickly switches to ‘weather mode’ when they need him for Today. The split personality of Roker as straight-laced newsman and then party animal who’s trying to find some weed makes for a pretty funny sketch and Tina Fey’s Dina Lohan is amusing too. B+

10. School Dance

A young girl (Pedrad) is somewhat of a wreck at her school dance as all she wants to do is hang out with her mom (Fey) chaperoning. After making awkward small talk with several boys around the dance, she finally connects with one of them (Bieber). Some might disagree, but I think this one definitely played for laughs but at the same time, I think it went for sentiment as well and I definitely liked that section of the sketch too. A-

11. Justin Bieber sings “U Smile”

I think this is the one where Justin rapped. To be honest, I don’t really care. I’m sorry. C+

12. Tiny Hooker

After alluding to this sketch earlier on Update, Fey indeed plays a tiny hooker who stops in for a drink at the bar after some depression after not being able to make ends meet. I don’t really know how to further describe this one, but it’s pretty damn funny. A-

Tina thanks one and all for coming out and waves goodnight as the show comes to a close.

Well, that was another stellar performance from Fey in what turned out to be one of the most original broadcasts of this season as there was only one recurring character in the form of Aunt Linda and a handful of impressions. Tina proved tonight she is a comedy goddess and based on this and her other episode, she should be invited back frequently to host.

Justin Bieber, on the other hand, was not nearly as good. Let’s just never mention him again.

Host Rating: A-

Musical Guest Rating: D

Show Rating: A-