Sunday, November 12, 2006

SNL: I like things that are great

Shock of shocks: Alec Baldwin hosts, and "Saturday Night Live" delivers its best episode of the season.

It wasn't a consistent masterpiece and I felt like they relied too often on surprise cameos in lieu of actual jokes (the monologue in particular was just several minutes of "Please watch '30 Rock'!"), but I liked the Nancy Pelosi opening (a compendium of every Republican caricature of Pelosi), the quasi-sequel to the Tom Hanks Five-Timers Club with Steve Martin (particularly Baldwin's "I was in 'Schwetty Balls'!" taunt), and thought the carpooling sketch was kind of great, particularly Baldwin's line about Bobby McPherrin. (It was also a rare example of a sketch that had a distinct beginning, middle and end instead of a fake TV show parody with a theme song to get the writers around that problem.) I'm not a big Aguilera fan, but loved her duet with the real Tony Bennett; too bad they couldn't figure out a way to get The Cute Beatle to sing with one of them or the other.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Agreed. Seems like Alec Baldwin can't miss right now. Putting on a wonderful performance each week in 30 Rock. Stole the show (along with Mark W.) in the Departed. And hosted a successful SNL (though the bar is set pretty low). But, my question is this. I don't have a great deal of knowledge of SNL history, so could someone tell me why Paul McCartney was playing Paul Simon?

Joel said...

Too bad NBC ruined the surprise on most of the cameos by advertising them during the local news.

The line about Bobby McFerrin made me laugh out loud. The Pelosi sketch was good, as was the "Gold lounge" sketch. Otherwise? Meh. With Baldwin there, it should be better.

Oh, and can you think of two more mismatched voices than Bennett and Aguilera? She needed to dial the vocal gymnastics back a bit to match his usual understated cool.

M. A. Peel said...

I thought Alec looked genuinely surprised when McCartney came in. I haven't watched SNL for ten years. I wanted to see Hugh Laurie, which was an okay show. But Baldwin really knows how to do this kind of comedy, and he had stuff to work with. For the first time ever I thought the time went too fast.

Dan Coyle said...

I was stunned by how funny the episode was- and not just Baldwin's segments, but the Seth Myers Rumsfeld interview, the Ez-Date commercial, almost everything was top notch. To quote Jimmy Fallon, "Hey, I think this is the apocalypse! This is EXACTLY what St. Peter predicted!"

And the Christina Aguliera segments were amazing. It takes a lot to keep me glued to the set during the musical segments, but she did it. I may just buy her album.

Anonymous said...

Sir Paul looked a bit nipped & tucked, don't you think?

Jon said...

Christina shouldn't be letting Tammy Faye do her makeup. And I bet that I'll be hearing that performance again note for note when the Tony Bennett special airs next week. Vocally, technically, she sounded fine, but I don't trust her not to have learned the licks. (Opinion based close-mindedly on the duet only; I FF'd through her solos.)

Anonymous said...

i thought the "brazillian don juan" sketch was hilarious...

Matt said...

Another thing of note is that there were almost no recurring characters that showed up. I don't think we've seen Wiig's Pelosi before (and it's pretty darn good), and the only recurring elements I remember were "The Out Of Breath Jogger" (which is perfectly adequate 60 second filler), and Tony Bennett (which doesn't count because it's a host).

Aguilera was DARN impressive. The other odd thing? For the first time in a good while, Robert Smigel didn't just foul off the pitch, but swung and missed wildly. The "Kobyashi!" TV Funhouse, was awful.

jim treacher said...

"I don't have a great deal of knowledge of SNL history, so could someone tell me why Paul McCartney was playing Paul Simon?"

Maybe it's a nod to Lorne offering the Beatles $3,000 to get back together, whichever year that was? I think they alluded to it when Simon guested once, with Lorne offering $3K for him and Garfunkel.

bill said...

I don't have the book in front of me, so can't verify the episode, but Doug Hill and Jeff Weingrad write about this in Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live. McCartney was visiting Lennon in New York and they were watching the show together. They almost went down to the studio, but decided not to deal with the hassle.

I think it was the show thta Garfunkel played with Simon. Lorned held up a check for the Beatles if they agreed to play. They could divide it up evenly or give Ringo less. Their choice.

theron said...

Alec can do no wrong these days. He makes everything he's in better.

Dave J. said...

Anyone else think Christina Aguilera was lip-synching on the first song? It seemed pretty obvious to my wife and me that she was.

Anonymous said...

The Tony Bennett spoof/interview, esp with the "imitator" Anthony Benedetto-TB's real name, BTW, was great, the rest of the show, disappointing! And the Paul McCartney references with Paul Simon had something to do with the original "5 timer" sketch, as Paul Simon was in that skit, since he was a 5 timer then-youd have to have seen that segment, certainly an all-time great one! As long as Will Forte wasnt in the show much-could he BE any worse?

Anonymous said...

I'm baffled as to why everyone is going nuts about this episode. I get it, SNL attracts famous people. Fans seem to have such a hard-on for cameos that it would be much easier to fill an hour and a half by running through Lorne Michaels rolodex. The Britney Spears sketch was a composite of all of Amy Poehler's southern/wigger characters, Steve Martin seems generally aware that the current writing staff is going bargin-basement for ideas, and Weekend Update is a sign that Colin Quinn may have been judged to harshely (never thought I'd say that).

Anonymous said...

This was the best episode in a year and a half, at least. Every sketch was at least moderately funny. And, while the musical guest is usually an automatic fast forward, Aguilera's first song was actually tolerable.

And I heartily disagree about "Kobayashi!" Smigel's Funhouse stuff has been painfully unfunny lately. This one killed. This and the Tony Bennet show sketch had me crying they were so funny.

Mac said...

One of the first times Baldwin hosted -- it may have been his first time -- McCartney was the musical guest. Baldwin did a cartoon Beatle accent as "The Mimic" when Sir Paul escorted him offstage.

Jaynee said...

I love when Alec B hosts SNL - my favorite that he did was back in 1990 or 1991 when he played an actor in a soap who was willing to make out with anyone - even the show's dog. HILARIOUS. Love him and loved the show on Saturday.

Anonymous said...

When Baldwin hosted last year (around Christmas), that show was funny! Last Saturday? Not so much

Anonymous said...

The Paul Simon/McCartney is being looked at too much! Let's all realize thet Steve Martin is an improv fanatic and probably thought "Hey! This guys name is Paul too! Let's have fun with that!" All in all, great episode. Alec is ALWAYS a pleasure. An regular actor with true comedic talents is rare I think. Aguilera... a little rocky in her career but she has her own pipes AND knows how to use them! Give her some credit! Round of applause for Tony Bennett for being a GREAT sport! Any mockery involving Bobby McFerrin is ok in my books. Obscure references are always a hit. Nice touch to have the radio tune in to that song....

dez said...

Definitely one of the better SNLs in ages. Alec Baldwin was fantastic as usual. Borat should get him for his next film!