Monday, February 02, 2009

Never badmouth synergy!

I didn't want to do a post on this week's "Saturday Night Live" because it, coupled with the awful Steve Martin episode of "30 Rock," made me sad.

But then I saw one of the three "MacGruber" sketches air as a Super Bowl ad, and I saw Lynette Rice's post at EW about how Pepsi paid for the sketches -- all of which aired during the commercial breaks, as opposed to in between two other sketches the way "MacGruber" usually does -- and I was reminded again of why the SAG deal hasn't closed just yet. Does Will Forte get paid extra because of the Pepsi money? Because it aired again as an actual ad during the Super Bowl? Or does he just have to show up to tape them and be thankful he still has a job in this economy?

(If you care -- perhaps to see how the Pepsi plugs completely squandered the MacGruber/MacGyver meeting -- you can see the three sketches here, here and here. The middle one's the one that aired during the Super Bowl.)

Anyway, if you didn't say your fill about the ads (AdMeter ratings are out, and you know I found virtually all of the spots lame), the halftime show, or NBC's production last night, feel free to talk about that stuff -- and/or "SNL" -- here.

47 comments:

Kevin said...

Just the worst recurring sketch in SNL history. MacGruber is dated, lame, repetitive, and horrifically unfunny.

What the hell is Pepsi thinking?

Andrew said...

Pepsi is for those who think young, and you know what the kids like? MacGyver.

Was I the only one who had trouble recognizing Richard Dean Anderson in those ads? He was only shown briefly, but I seriously thought it was John McCain for a second there.

When I saw that Steve Martin was hosting, I was actually excited, but dear god did they drop the ball. Keenan Thompson needs to be fired or at least stop getting roles in sketches as "Talk show host" because he simply can not carry five minutes of comedy alone.

How sad is it that they didn't trust Steve Freaking Martin to carry the comedy end of things on Saturday Night Live of all places? DO the writers really think his greatest talent lies in being the straightman?

As for superbowl ads, I don't really remember any of them, which suggests they not only weren't good superbowl ads, but that they completely failed in their reason to exist. I did like the Alec Baldwin Hulu ad, but was he wearing ruby red lipstick?

Hal Incandenza said...

Agreed: a perfectly awful SNL ep. Even the Digital Short fell flat. Forget firing Thompson--I'd sack Wiig. In small doses, she can be funny (see: Knocked Up, but she's been positively murdering sketches all season (chalk it up to bad writing, too, of course). Very disappointing.

Hal Incandenza said...

Oh, but I like MacGruber (Forte can really do no wrong...)

Bobman said...

Was I the only one who had trouble recognizing Richard Dean Anderson in those ads?

No! He looked really bad - I thought it was Fred Willard at first. Even Patty and Selma would have been disappointed.

debbie said...

LOVE the title of this post...

I hope Pepsuber isn't the start of a new corporate advertising model, seems slimey.

My favorite commercial (for its content, not its effectiveness), Nannerpus!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkp1k4TNJNA

Andrew said...

MacGruber is probably my favorite current recurring SNL sketch. It's simple joke that they always make small tweaks to without overstaying their welcome. The fact that it found airtime on the Super Bowl tickles me to no end.

R.A. Porter said...

Curious also: who wrote the sketches? Do they get paid for them for every reairing? Are they covered under the WGA's umbrella?

(I'm kidding. The way the WGA bent over last year I already know the answer is "no". Go SAG!)

Mac said...

Also, what the hell was up with Martin taking three minutes of television to play that banjo song? That was a "we just don't care" moment if I ever saw one.

Figgsrock2 said...

I guess this is their way to DVR-proof SNL, since I stopped fast-forwarding to watch the skits. Which I realized weren't skits when the peacock logo wasn't at the bottom. Which really ticked me off.

Overall, what a huge letdown after the NPH ep.

R.A. Porter said...

@Mac, I'd have been happier if they'd given Martin another three minutes and tossed Jason Mraz.

Brian J said...

There was a new episode of "30 Rock" this past week and I missed it? Oh, damn it to hell.

Alan Sepinwall said...

There was a new episode of "30 Rock" this past week and I missed it? Oh, damn it to hell.

No, I was referring to "Gavin Voulure," from earlier in the season. My point was, it used to be magic whenever you put Steve Martin together with the "SNL" family. Not lately.

JDSTL said...

Not sure how any of you can think Forte is funny or a genius, there is nothing creative or funny about them and I would say Forte is the weakest part of the ensemble but it is kind of like saying lung cancer is the worst of the life threatening diseases. No, they're all bad. A new low has been hit for Super Bowl marketing and how thought that was even possible?

bgt said...

@BrianJ

30 Rock was a rerun this week, I think Alan is referring to the ep of 30 Rock earlier this season with Steve Martin.

My vote for worst commercial (by far) goes to the NBC promo that had characters from Heroes, Medium, etc. lip syncing "I fell allright...". Whoever approved that promo should be fired today.

Tracey said...

Re Superbowl ads: I was watching the news this morning and they showed the Doritos crystal ball commercial, saying it was voted as the best commercial in the Superbowl. Er... seriously? 'Cause if that's the best, I'd hate to see the worst. That thing stank on ice. Maybe I'm just biased because we have a vandalism problem in my office, so I don't find anything amusing about vandalism.

amysusanne said...

It's pretty genius, but I did question Pepsi's decision to air only the second one last night. That's really what happened right? I wasn't sure if I'd just missed the others or not when I saw that second one pop up. I suppose the absurdity of it might have been funny by itself (it's kind of funny to not acknowledge MacGyver at all) but I did like the first one Saturday, where MacGruber and MacGyver actually met.

I'd like to think that the actors got paid well for the ads, especially if they're going to continue running, but it's probably best to just assume the worst. Although somebody's gotta pay RDA, I guess.

I was so bummed at how below average SNL was. Other than the Angelina Jolie gag and a couple of moments of "Laser Cats", I can't even remember anything that happened during the show.

Bobman said...

Also, what the hell was up with Martin taking three minutes of television to play that banjo song? That was a "we just don't care" moment if I ever saw one.

So when that first started, I thought it was a joke. "Off of my new banjo album" and all.

Then it started, and it wasn't really funny at all, so I wasn't sure it was a joke, but couldn't imagine that he was really putting out a full banjo album (especially cuz, God love him, but he's not a great singer).

But sure enough, he's really releasing a banjo album. Wow.

Anonymous said...

If you have, or ever have had, a soul sucking job, the careerbuilder.com ad was hilarious.

MacGruber was just plain awful.

Tracey said...

@anonymous: Oh, good catch! Somebody showed me that one on YouTube earlier today, and I thought that actually was a pretty good one (although they dragged it out a bit more than necessary with the whole 12-days-of-Xmas style). I'm surprised to see it rated that low.

I suppose that in this economy, the idea of voluntarily leaving a job you don't like seems ... a bit selfish when so many people are out of work with no choice. But I remember being in a job so incredibly horrific that I occasionally had to pull off the road and cry for a while on my way to work.

Matt said...

Martin is not a terribly good singer, but he's an excellent banjoist. I'd bet he asked for it as a condition of hosting, and because he's Steve Martin, he gets what he wants. (And Mraz/Caillat were decent.) And seriously, Bradley Cooper is your next host?

Kensington said...

Eh, I still won't have any sympathy if the actors go out on strike. Times are tough, and I ain't bleeding over some actors.

Carmichael Harold said...

To follow up on the disappointment of Steve Martin on 30 Rock and SNL, well, is there any logic to the disappointment? I mean, I used to love me some Steve Martin (L.A. Story is still one of my favorite films, and it's not even close to the best thing he's done), but when was the last time that he was funny on screen?

Travis said...

Seriously Lorne Michaels, you can't hold out anymore. It's time to hire a black guy with a deep voice. Fred Armisen playing Obama during the primaries was one thing, but the man is PRESIDENT now. He's not going anywhere. Armisen doesn't even do a decent impression - he has that annoying high-pitched voice and he's only somewhat funny because he's legitimately creepy. Putting him in blackface every week just to avoid adding a castmember to the almost all-white cast is getting really insulting. Good satire blows up things that standout about a person -- see Tina Fey's Palin. All you've really got to exploit about Obama so far is the charm, and Ferd Armisen can't do it cause he doesn't have any.

Also while you're at it, hire a new head writer (and new writing staff, for that matter) who knows that a comedy sketch involves more than one joke repeating over and over again. Keep Seth Myers focused on Weekend Update where he's good and hand the skit reigns over to some new blood. They actually have a pretty talented cast right now - but the writing is the worst I've ever seen it.

david said...

yeah, youd think steve martin could attach himself to something worth watching. these pink panthers are an embarrassment (of riches, i suppose). he needs a bill murray-style wes anderson treatment, or at least a full apatow.

J said...

It might be because it was on as mostly background noise, or because of my lowered expectations, but I thought this SNL was more tolerable than the last time Martin hosted. Though I honestly can't recall anything I enjoyed beyond the Weekend Update guest appearances (I liked about half the David Patterson appearance, and the very end of Angelina Jolie, when Meyers tries to engage her in small talk and she bolted). Oh, the Bernie Madoff thing wasn't funny but was a good stab at pathetic.

I liked that they never bothered to explain Richard Dean Anderson. And the third ad, where everything was pepsipepsipepsi. The version they showed during the Superbowl was longer than the one on SNL, and it felt longer than the average MacGruber sketch. (That's one of the reasons it's usually tolerable, it's always short.)

AG said...

I thought the Bernie Madoff piece worked really well, actually, and Martin continues to be a remarkably good banjoist. Otherwise? Seconded re Keenan Thompson (talented guy, but utterly wasted for years now), seconded re painfully bad digital short, and seconded-thirded-fourthed-dear-god-get-that-mess-off-my-TV re Armisen's Obama imitiation. If anything it's getting looser and worse.

Lizbeth said...

It's official, Steve Martin is the new Robin Williams. This is the first SNL I stayed up for in years, and it was painful.

Thank god I went to bed before the banjo song (which I caught online today).

Andrew said...

I have never heard such a loud silence as I did during that Madoff sketch. Can you imagine how bad the sketches they cut must have been if they kept that one in after the dress rehersal?

And what is up with every week there being at least one sketch that isn't even remotely funny on the page, but they plug in Kristin Wiig to do all of the heavy lifting and she turns something unbareable into a mild diversion? It didn't work this week with that awkward make-up counter sketch, but the lady who really loves surprises or the one-upper lady seem to be recurring characters all of a sudden.

KB said...

MacGruber is hilarious! These weren't the best MacGruber's ever, but I enjoyed them. If Pepsi wants to pay money for me to watch MacGruber instead of DVR-skipping past some other Pepsi commercial, I'm all for it. I'm amazed that people can complain about this sort of thing. All you would get instead is some other dumb Pepsi commercial.

As for SNL, not so good except for the QB-with-a-gun sketch which was genius.

Karen said...

I was really excited to see Steve Martin hosting SNL again--but geez, he was just phoning it in. He didn't even seem to be enjoying himself.

Someone, somewhere in some blog on the internets said a week or so ago that it was amazing that they'd never brought Richard Dean Anderson in as a guest on a MacGruber sketch, so I was delighted to see him magically appear. And then they just WASTED him. I couldn't believe it. The joke is that you've got MacGyver, and you make the joke about Pepsi? See, this is why advertisers shouldn't write sketch comedy. It was painful to watch--and I usually like MacGruber.

I also confess to liking Laser Cats--it's just so goofy and innocent--and I thought this one was terrific. I loved the split-second non-sequitur of the Roomba Cat internet meme. You just never know what they're going to throw in.

The rest of it--including that endless and unfunny banjo song--was painful.

Anthony Strand said...

I really dug the banjo song.

But I also really enjoy "The Steve Martin Brothers", so what do I know?

Josh said...

Andrew's dead on; during the show, right after the godawful Madoff sketch, I told my wife, who wasn't aware, that the first half of the show is supposed to be the good stuff. How was any of that good? I missed the banjo song, but I've seen him in the past, and Martin's not bad on it.

However...the third MacGruber...well, I did laugh at it, as blatant a commercial as it was, having Will Forte say the brand name over and over was funnier than I thought it'd be.

amysusanne said...

They *did* use MacGyver. The first "sketch" was all about MacGyver wanting to MacGyver things and MacGruber thinking his ideas (and his name) were stupid. Not high comedy, but a MacGyver acknowledgement and the tease that it was actually a commercial for Pepsi. Followed by part two, where it was just accepted that MacGyver was there and the third one which was filled with over the top, absurb Pepsi pimpage. The more I think about it, it was probably best that they used the second one for the Super Bowl spot.

Usually I find myself warming to a bad show or at least finding something nice to say about it after the fact, but on Monday night that episode still sucks as bad as it did at the time. Total disappointment. Although I'm puzzled by the banjo hate or any confusion over it's inclusion there. He's an excellent banjo player. He plays on stage with bands all the time. It's his thing. I'm guessing he wanted to promote his record as much as the new movie...and I'm guessing said record is wayyyy better than the new movie anyway. Having three minutes of it didn't seem odd...it actually seemed like something that would have been right at home back in the early days of the show that people are always waxing poetic about. Not crazy about the vocals, but the rest = awesome.

Bitsy said...

The only thing I laughed at were the cold open with Obama, which was slightly clever but not really funny. Sudeikis as Biden is really growing on me. But come on, was it really all that surprising that it was going to suck? Martin's on there promoting The Pink Panther 2, and he's been doing Cheaper by the Dozen and other such monstrosities for the past ten years. Especially after the Gavin Volure disaster, I wasn't all that shocked.

Number Five said...

Hear hear KB! The 5 to 1 sketch, a fake NFL Films documentary about a Depression-era QB legend played by Steve Martin, was hilarious. The only thing you need to find on Hulu.

I love MacGruber, but that iteration was a comedy abomination. Aside from wasting MacGyver, making fun of using product placement... while using those product placements is the worst kind of having your cake and eating it too. There's just no way around it. Of course, it's less the writers' fault than the network execs for pushing it on them in the first place.

Adam said...

Alan, a side question: what's the story behind the tradition that whenever there's a backstage scene, we see Abe Lincoln, some showgirls and a large animal?

Jessica said...

I love MacGruber.

Second the Obama recast...oh my god it's painful to watch. They might as well not have an Obama impersonator at all if they're gonna do it like that.

Andrew said...

In case anyone's interested, according to this article Forte and co. were paid extra money for this since it fell outside of their SNL contracts. Since I bash Silverman quite a bit, it's only fair that I admit that this was a pretty clever move on his part.

Tyroc said...

Forte is the funniest part of the show (well, maybe tied with Armisen.)

And McGruber never fails to make me laugh. I was ECSTATIC to see it as a Superbowl commercial. Much better than most.

I also love Forte's odd neighbor character from Halloween, his Zell Miller impression, his Tim Calhoun character, and his dance in the coaching sketch with Peyton Manning has to be one of the very funniest things EVER on the show.

I wish they had shown that as part of an NFL synergy moment.

Kenrick said...

my favorite recurring snl bits are currently macgruber and laser cats. although i didn't watch the show as it aired, i caught the clips on hulu. i love macgruber. i'm not ashamed that i shouted in excitement when the commercial appeared during the superbowl.

haha did anyone catch the star wars reference in laser cats 4? keenan was the half machine father but when he removed his mask he turned into a white dude (martin). at least i read it as a darth vader reference.

Bryan said...

Belushi, Radner and all the rest that gave their heart and soul to this show are turning over in their graves. Michaels started selling out years ago but now he's gone completely over - and to Pepsi of all companies, not even something cool.

Martin is dangerously close I think to completely ruining a marvelous 15 year career.

I would never sound the death knell for this show -it's come back too many times- but I think we are in for another of their dry spells.

The only redeeming part of the show was bringing back Patterson after all the heat he got last time - good for you Fred, way to show some comic balls.

R.A. Porter said...

@Bryan, I agree with most everything you said, but Martin's got a *40* year legacy at stake, not 15. Everytime he sullies his reputation with a Pink Panther or a phoned-in performance like this one (except for the banjo playing, which was excellent; clearly, that's all he truly cared about on Saturday) it hurts.

Bryan said...

I enjoyed the Banjo too R.A. - what I meant about the career though is, I know he's been around for that long but I'd only consider the first 15 or so legendary (when was the first Father of the Bride 91?)I agree completely - it hurts.

R.A. Porter said...

@Bryan, good point. Though he does still have the underrated Bowfinger from '99 and some of what he's written in the past decade is still solid.

But for legendary, yeah, you'd probably have to go back a ways.

Tyroc said...

My 7 year old niece loved the Pink Panther.

Sure, it's derivative (it's a remake after all) but if its making millions of kids laugh why is that a bad thing?

Steve wrote his amazing memoir in the last few years for us adults.

Alex said...

@Kevin - "Just the worst recurring sketch in SNL history."

I respectfully disagree with you on this. After seeing the photo on this post, I unable to get McGrubber out of my head. The McGrubber sketches that had the theme about him dealing with the economic meltdown made me pee my pants. Seriously, ask my wife.