Some thoughts on this weekend's "Saturday Night Live" just as soon as I become Jane...
Everyone is, not surprisingly, talking about the vice-presidential debate sketch and how well Tina Fey continues to play Sarah Palin, and she's certainly nailed it. But I'm starting to feel diminishing returns with the impression, in part because nothing's going to sting quite as much as "I can see Russia from my house!" from the Palin/Hillary sketch, in part because Palin almost seems to be copying Fey at this point, rather than the other way around.
(The sketch also ran into the same problem "SNL" has had going all the way back to the 2000 election: the Democratic candidates, both presidential and vice-presidential, don't lend themselves as well to caricature because they don't have obvious physical or verbal mannerisms that can be easily and recognizably exaggerated. Even McCain's been a toughie, which is one of the reasons we're getting more of Palin and her Marge Gunderson accent than we are of the guy at the top of the ticket.)
But beyond that, this was the first episode of the season where I was glad I kept watching past the political sketches. It had the usual weird pacing choices, where some of the weakest sketches (dancing at the bar, people talking about the bailout) were near the front, while some of the funniest (Mary Poppins has a social disease, Mark Wahlberg talks to animals) didn't come until after Weekend Update. But the good sketches were very funny, as was Update. The bit where Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers went on a run of jokes about the world's fattest man getting engaged was particularly nice; Update always works best when the anchor or anchors inject their personality into it, and you could tell that Seth and Amy and the Update writers had spent a while coming up with all these punchlines and couldn't resist trying to get every single one of them into the show.
Hopefully, Anne Hathaway will wind up as a semi-regular host after this outing. The Mary Poppins impression wasn't that surprising, given that she's done a couple of movies with Julie Andrews, but she was good throughout; versatile and bright and more than willing to goof on herself with that monologue about having dated a con man. (It's not online anywhere I can see, but if you missed it, she went on about how her new boyfriend is a much nicer man: an African prince she met on the Internet, who's so interested in everything about her that he asks about things like her Social Security number and her mother's maiden name.) And she even got to cameo in the Digital Short.
Before I open it up, I'm going to make a simple request: when discussing a show that does contemporary political satire, it's impossible to not discuss politics in some way, but please try to keep it civil. I had to shut down one of the Letterman/McCain threads from a week and a half ago because it was getting ugly, and the latest "Mad Men" discussion is almost getting derailed by people noting the (physical) resemblance between Betty's dad and McCain. If people can't play nice, I may have to introduce a No Politics rule around here, and that means no more "SNL" discussion right along with it.
What did everybody else think?