Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Loose ends

Haven't seen "24" yet, and based on what little I've heard and my overall lack of enthusiasm for this season, I may just skip ahead to next week. Spoilers for, in order, "SNL," "Entourage" and "Drive" coming right up...

I didn't watch all of this week's "SNL," but two bits bear mention: "Roy Rules" and Marble Columns. On the former, I'm surprised by how untired I am of Andy Samberg's music videos, as you would think the joke would be old by now. (Then again, some of them have been duds, notably "Young Chuck Norris.") I think what sold this one were the increasingly disturbed/annoyed reactions of whoever was playing Roy (who looks just familiar enough that I'm assuming he's a writer who's been in the background of other sketches/films). In particular, I love the bit where he's wearing a collared shirt and tie and looks dumbsquizzled when Andy declares that "He loves wearing t-shirts!" Sometimes, it's the little details like that.

Meanwhile, we can add Scarlett Johansson to the list of hosts with recurring characters, now that her Noo Yawk "Look at dis one! Look at dat one!" character from the Chandelier Galaxy ad has popped up again. It's basically an excuse for Scarlett to do the accent, but the joke's not tired yet. It does inspire an open question, though: what's your favorite host recurring character? And how many hosts beyond the usual suspects (Martin, Walken, Baldwin) even have recurring characters? Justin Timberlake obviously has a couple, and now ScarJo does, but who else?

I don't have a lot to say about the latest "Entourage," in part because the Vince/Amanda thing becomes a bigger deal in weeks to come, in part because I don't really care. Some have made the argument that her offer of sex is both true to life (there are rumors of a similar agent/client relationship in the real Hollywood) and her way of taking control of the business relationship, but to me it played like yet another "Entourage" hottie throwing herself at Vince. This is obviously a male fantasy show, and if I want genuinely strong female characters, I should look elsewhere, but I'd rather they not introduced Carla Gugino at all than to have her story go down this path. The Ari stuff was funny, with both Bryan Callen and Nora Dunn working as good foils, but I'm so bored I'm not sure I'll even want to keep watching once HBO starts showing the episodes I haven't seen yet.

It feels almost besides the point to comment on "Drive," as I'm assuming this was the last episode that will ever air. (Next Monday is in sweeps, so at the very least I assume it'll be pulled until summer.) Still, a few thoughts:

Glad to see they bogarted the Fast Forward along with the rest of the "Amazing Race" vibe. On paper, it will give the writers opportunities to tell stories that go beyond "figure out obscure clue and drive real fast to it," but it didn't feel like there was enough time to turn this into a decent caper plot.

Why'd they have to go and kill D'Angelo Barksdale's mom? I liked her much better than her partner (and/or Taryn Manning), but of course she's not as young and hot as the other two, so I suppose that answers that question. Of larger concern: because this actress (Michael Hyatt) and Dylan Baker are the only two significant racers to not be in the opening credits, it really telegraphed both her fate and the fact that Baker's due to succumb to his fatal illness any second now. How much more complicated would it have been to produce some mock opening titles featuring Hyatt and Baker until each of them wrapped up his/her run on the show? I know that in the past, producers have claimed that this trick is too expensive and/or time-consuming to do (it's the reason Eric Balfour wasn't in the titles for the "Buffy" pilot, even though Joss wanted him to be), but a commenter on the Zap2It blog says that this week's credits changed so that Tully was driving his new car instead of the pick-up; how much more of a hassle would it have been to do versions including Hyatt and/or Baker?

What did everybody else think?

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

Way back in the 70s on SNL, Buck Henry's Uncle Roy.

Andrew said...

The best all-time reoccuring host character, bar none, is Christopher Walken's "The Continental". That sketch has never been a dud. It's one of the few reoccuring sketches on SNL that actually could've made an amusing movie, because the way I figure it, anyone would pay money to watch Walken be wierd for 90 minutes.

It's always easier to pull off the unexpected death trick if you don't have a fancy opening credits sequence. The Shield uses simple title cards, so all they had to do was paste Reed Diamond's name into the credits for their pilot episode.

Dan Coyle said...

ScarJo?

"MAH-BUHL KALL-UMMMS!" That was a great sketch. Johansson really should do more comedy, she seems to be having a great time in DIS SKETCH, in DAT SKETCH, and...

"Roy Rules" worked because every time the song started getting tired, Sanberg would throw in another totally inappropriate lyric.

I noticed they brought back the creepy Kristen Wiig correspondent character from the Jamie Pressly episode. This stuff isn't exactly FUNNY, but it's a pretty amusing depiction of someone who's losing it and is utterly confused about her sexuality. Wiig is very good in it.

TL said...

Re: "Roy Rules" - I didn't see it on TV, but was the lip sync supposed to be slightly off, or was that a YouTube artifact? If it wasn't supposed to be that way, it should have been.

Isabel said...

Yeah, Entourage better start getting good again. I resigned up for HBO when the new season started and I'm kicking myself for wasting my time.

Matt said...

With respect to the titles on Drive, it's probably also a contractual thing. If someone gets main title billing, I expect there's a corresponding pay bump, and dispute over who gets billed in what order. You also have the time issue, because each face you show in the credits takes another second or so.

Also, a strong argument can be made for George Wendt for best host recurring character on SNL for Bill Swerski's Super Fans.

Adam said...

Tom Hanks, Mr. Short-Term Memory
Alec Baldwin, Pete Schweddy
Justin Timberlake, Andy Gibb

Anonymous said...

I think I know why he is familiar (to me anyway). He was a contestant in the 'I know black people' quiz sketch on Chappelle's Show, the guy who sung the Good Times theme song.

Not sure of his actual name though.

Adam said...

Oops, Robin Gibb. Also, Tom Hanks as that pathetic single guy in the sketches with Jon Lovitz where they commented on every girl who passed by, and Steve Martin as a wild and crazy guy.

jim treacher said...

You know who's got it easy? Andy Samberg's hairstylist.

Louis said...

Don't bother with last night's 24. It was more boring than ever (which is saying a lot this year) and it trotted out another storyline we've seen in past seasons.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Adam, I feel deep shame for not even mentioning Mr. Short-Term Memory, a classic example of a seemingly one-joke character who had a lot of mileage -- especially since he was part of one of the greatest "SNL" episodes ever (the 1990 Christmas show, which also featured the Five-Timers Club, the Global Warming Christmas special and more).

paul c. said...

"24" has travelled so far that the shark's fin is but a small dot on the horizon far behind the boat. Last night's episode was perhaps the worst in the history of the show, ranking right up there with the memory-challenged mountain lion.

Bauer was on the screen for maybe 5-10 minutes. Instead, we're subjected to crises faced by characters I care about only insofar as they either help or hinder Jack on his ramage and who are little more than the red-shirted fellows on the original Star Trek anyway. A romance between two characters I care not one bit about. More behind the scenes drama! Ugh.

I had figured I ride out the season just to see what happens, but now I think I'm done.

dez said...

Bauer was on the screen for maybe 5-10 minutes.

This is my biggest problem with this season: the lack of Jack-time. He's the character I care most about; he's the one whose adventures I'm tuning in to watch. Without him, the show doesn't work nearly as well (I happen to like Karen & Bill and Chloe & whoever she interacts with at the time). If this is Kiefer's way of testing the waters to see if the show can go on without him, the answer is: HELL, NO!

Why do you think "Drive" will get pulled so quickly? Are the ratings that bad? :(

Alan Sepinwall said...

If this is Kiefer's way of testing the waters to see if the show can go on without him, the answer is: HELL, NO!

Again, I haven't seen last night's episode, nor do I plan to -- as I understand it, Bill Buchanan has been relieved of CTU command for, like, the 17th time since he joined the show -- but I think "24" could exist without Kiefer, so long as they found an actor of similar talent and charisma to play the new hero. But these episodes that put him on the sideline aren't a foreshadowing of what life would be like if Kiefer ever left; they're more like "AfterMASH," where you focus on the characters on the fringes because you couldn't be bothered to replace the central figure(s).

Why do you think "Drive" will get pulled so quickly? Are the ratings that bad? :(

Yep. I wrote this post before I saw last night's numbers, which were putrid. It's done.

Undercover Black Man said...

Glad you posted about "SNL"... I only caught the last two-thirds (starting with Marble Columns), and it was a great show! Scarlett Johannson has a real gift for sketch comedy. I hope she becomes a perennial guest-host.

Matt said...

While there were a number of high points in SNL, there were several awful ones as well. The Kuato sketch was painfully bad and clearly had no ending, and if I never see Kenan's "Mrs. Hastings" bit again? It will be too soon.

The monologue delivered by Scarlett Johnasson's cleavage, on the other hand....

Anonymous said...

I think "24" could exist without Kiefer, so long as they found an actor of similar talent and charisma to play the new hero.

Well, if they were thinking Ricky Schroder would be that guy then they're very wrong. He is AWFUL.

Undercover Black Man said...

Matt wrote: "The Kuato sketch was painfully bad and clearly had no ending..."

It made me giggle. And Scarlett found a distinct voice for it. (Loved her delivery of "With pleasure!") Showing she's got serious character-comedy chops.

The non-ending ending struck me as utterly random and a stab at surreal. Until I found out (which I didn't recall) that this "Kuato" thing was an actual character in the Schwarzenegger movie "Total Recall."

Even still a weak ending, I grant you.

Alan Sepinwall said...

And they already did a Kuato sketch this year.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Also, a strong argument can be made for George Wendt for best host recurring character on SNL for Bill Swerski's Super Fans.

Nah. For one thing, he only got the part because Joe Mantegna didn't want to keep flying out to New York just for those sketches. For another, the heart of those sketches was always Farley (and I say this as someone who was often lukewarm to Farley).

Alan Sepinwall said...

I think I know why he is familiar (to me anyway). He was a contestant in the 'I know black people' quiz sketch on Chappelle's Show, the guy who sung the Good Times theme song.

Thank you! I knew I knew him from somewhere, long before I discovered that he was put on earth to give men succulent rubdowns.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Well, if they were thinking Ricky Schroder would be that guy then they're very wrong. He is AWFUL.

Yeah, I've liked Ricky elsewhere, but both he and the writers have really missed with Doyle.

You know who would be an awesome replacement for Kiefer down the line, should Fox want to continue the show without him? Rebecca Romijn. I'm not kidding.

paul c. said...

R.R. did play a convincing badass in "Femme Fatale."

Alan Sepinwall said...

And in the X-Men movies. That's what I'm saying. She can absolutely bring the homicidal crazy that the role requires. She's wasted on Ugly Betty.

Andrew said...

It really has been awhile since Walken hosted now that I think about it. Why the heck haven't they asked him back lately? It's not like he's the type to turn down work for the sake of work. I love me some Continental.

Alan Sepinwall said...

You're right, Andrew. I got a fever, and the only prescription is more Walken!

Matt said...

I fully expect Walken to host either the season finale or in the fall. They like to book people who have things to hype, and Walken has "Balls of Fury" in the fall.

Kristin said...

The only GOOD thing about "24" last night was trying to guess exactly what kind of crazy Audrey brought back with her from China. That girl is seriously messed up.

I'm wondering if they're going for a "Manchurian Candidate" kind of ending...the Chinese dude does the ultimate evil: turns Jack's woman against him and into a homicidal maniac or something.

I'm just waiting for her to get a mysterious phone call from torturer man to hear the "trigger" word.

They spent way too much of this season on political 'intrigue,' which was incredibly dull and boring.

I also think they missed a HUGE opportunity 2 years ago to make Chloe into a field agent after she had that awesome encounter with the bad guy when she was locked up in the car and had to figure out that weapon. (sorry for the run-on nature of that sentence...)

I read on tvguide that they are going to be moving "24" out of L.A. next season. I hope that's true. They need to breathe some new life into the show.

dez said...

Again, I haven't seen last night's episode, nor do I plan to -- as I understand it, Bill Buchanan has been relieved of CTU command for, like, the 17th time since he joined the show

It's worth it just to see why and how he's relieved of it. Brought a little tear to my eye *sniffle*.

but I think "24" could exist without Kiefer, so long as they found an actor of similar talent and charisma to play the new hero.

Maybe. It would have to be someone extra-charismatic to make me forget the Velvety One, though.

R.I.P., "Drive," you magnificently awful excuse for eye candy.

Devin McCullen said...

I'll just make the screamingly obvious suggestion that a good replacement for Kiefer would be....Nathan Fillion. (Actually, I would have thought about taking him out in Season 4 or so and going with Tony.) And I've suggested this before, but making Chloe 8 months pregnant would be comedy gold. Also, folks could run pools on when the writers would crack and have her go into labor.

And I know he's a Big Serious Movie Star now, but it really would be great to see Hanks host SNL again.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I'll just make the screamingly obvious suggestion that a good replacement for Kiefer would be....Nathan Fillion.

See, and this is why we keep you around, Devin. I still like the idea of replacing Kiefer with Mystique, but Fillion would be great, too -- and available.

Andrew said...

While Nathan Fillion sounds like a good idea on paper, I have one concern. Given his track record, wouldn't the show have to be renamed "13".

Anonymous said...

They had the perfect guy to replace Jack: Tony. But they screwed the pooch on that one last season (worst 24 death EVER!).

Alan Sepinwall said...

They had the perfect guy to replace Jack: Tony.

Ehh. Not to speak ill of dead characters, but I don't think Carlos Bernard could have carried 24 episodes of wandering action plot the way Kiefer has.

jim treacher said...

If they replaced Sutherland with Fillion, the "24" would stand for the number of minutes before it was cancelled!

Signed,
Anonymous Minear Haters, Inc.

dez said...

I think Nathan Fillion would be an excellent choice for "24." Plus he could hold his own against Chloe's brand of snarkasm.

Anonymous said...

What happened to Vince's publicist? She was a great character on Entourage.

Anonymous said...

I'll watch Kristen Wiig in just about any sketch - she's remarkably talented, and I hope SNL is a springboard for her.

Marble columns looked like most any Fred Armisen commercial, but it was very funny.

Cat Pick said...

Justin Timberlake (who woulda thunk?) has one of my favorite SNL recurring characters: Robin Gibb ("no, no I don't"). I would have to say Jimmy Fallon's Barry Gibb is even better. I miss Jimmy Fallon.

Anonymous said...

I've never missed an episode of Entourage but after Sunday's episode I took it off the Season Pass. Honestly, the show has always sucked. But now it both sucks and is unwatchable, as opposed to the immensely watchable suck it used to be.