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SNL: Scarlett Johansson & Death Cab for Cutie

by Jonathan Toomey, posted Jan 15th 2006 2:12PM

Scarlett JohanssonAfter the unbelievable buzz that the "Lazy Sunday" video created, SNL had a lot riding on this, the first new episode of 2006. Save for the few mediocre sketches that we've come to expect, this was pretty good episode. Scarlett Johansson hosted (while she didn't mention it in her monologue, she's obviously promoting her new film Match Point) and she had some extremely funny moments. And just to clear it up now (for those of you who didn't see it) there was no Digital Short. But that's good because like anything on this show, if they overuse it then it gets old fast.

Cold Open - Interesting story about this. A good friend of mine works at NBC and every few weeks he gets to help with the audience duties at SNL. He was there last night and in case you couldn't figure it out, that Pat Robertson thing (while funny) wasn't supposed to open the show. He said there was a Hardball sketch which included Sudeikis as Tom Delay and Forte as Zell Miller but it died during the dress rehearsal so they cut it. The Robertson cartoon was supposed to be part of the "Darwin" bit that aired later but they squeezed it out and put it at the front of the show. Hard to believe that Hardball was that unfunny, but Pat Robertson claiming that Fred The Baker was killed because he desecrated bread and filled it with Bavarian creme was hilarious.

Scarlett's Monologue - Nothing too special here. Amy Poehler came out wearing the same dress as Scarlett and they sang a duet together about being a star. It made fun of that fact that Scarlett is an Oscar worthy actress and Amy only makes terrible movies with Rob Schneider.

Taco Town Commercial - Fourth time they've used it, but I'd be fine if they played it every episode. Never gets old. I finally paused it and listened to the ending. The precise name for the meal is "The Pizza Crêpe Taco Pancake Chili Bag." Delicious.

MTV 4's Deep House Dish - A fictional dance music show on a fictional MTV channel. DJ Dynasty Handbag (Kenan) was the host and Rachel Dratch played the boring sidekick. It featured musical performances from Poehler, Scarlett Johansson, and Parnell. It should have been over before Chris Parnell did his song, but it was funny when Kenan called Rachel "human Ambien" because she was boring everyone so much.

Smorgasbørd - This was a Swedish cooking show on the Food Network, which the announcer claimed was "ESPN for fatties." Hilarious. Hosted by Seth Myers (glad to see he's still alive) and Scarlett, they cooked pickled herring and meatballs because what else do Swedes eat? The funniest part was when they went to commercial break and it was for the new Swedish Chef Ringtones. Andy Samberg was the Swedish Chef (rolling-pin and rubber chicken in hand) and he hummed the tune of "Axel-F" by Harold Faltermeyer (the theme to Beverly Hills Cop).

"Darwin" - The was the TV Funhouse cartoon I mentioned earlier. It was supposed to be on a Christian Fundamentalist network for children so naturally the cartoon made Darwin seem like a bumbling idiot who kept missing out on important messages from God. It was amusing that all the characters other than Darwin were drawn in HannaBarbera fashion. This also had a commercial break advertising other shows on the network like "Bryo - The Gay Stem Cell" and "Celibots," which were Transformers who wore chastity belts.

Mike and Toni's Chandelier Galaxy - This was a commercial for a lighting superstore owned by Rachel Dratch and Fred Armisen. Apparently anything you do under a chandelier (like eating steak, drinking wine, and having sex) becomes infinitely better. Scarlett played their idiot daughter, but the best part was that every purchase came with a free set of ben-wah balls. "If you have to ask, then you probably don't want them." Same rule applies here. If you want to know, then Google them.

Duluth Live! - A live morning show on a local affiliate in Duluth Minnesota, this was supposed to feature some post holiday shopping tips, but they made the mistake of having a live band sing the show's theme song. The band, fronted by Scarlett and Will Forte, also featured Andy Samberg on guitar, Finesse on bongos, Fred Armisen on drums, Bill Hader on keyboards, and Rachel Dratch and Kristen Wiig as back-up singers. I was glad they used all cast members for this and not extras. Either way, the band kept playing and the show's hosts (Poehler and Sudeikis) could barely get a word in. Will chugged a bottle of Jack Daniels and Andy broke his guitar. End of Story.

Weekend Update - Pretty solid this week. They had a funny bit about all the inappropriate faces Alito's wife was making during the Supreme Court nomination hearing. Also humorous was the "Nutbird" quiz where Tina read Amy some outlandish statements and Amy had to guess whether Pat Robertson or a crazy homeless guy said them. Other highlights were Bush in the nominations for Terrorist of the Year (according to Harry Belafonte) on a ballot which also included Osama bin Laden and The "Burger King" King as well as Andy Samberg speaking up for all the shaggy haired people in this world.

My Super Sweet 16 - It's about time someone spoofed this ridiculous MTV show. If you haven't seen it, every episode features some filthy rich family and their daughter (sometimes son) as they prepare for their 16th birthday. They always show the party and they always look like Playboy Mansion-type bashes. Scarlett played the daughter and she was full of one liners. "Mom, you're being stupid, give me $1000." "You couldn't get the Duff Sisters? This party is worse than the Holocaust." At the end they featured Kristen Wiig as next week's birthday girl and she was angry that her Daddy couldn't get Shakira to wrestle an alligator at her party. "Why won't she do it? She's acting like a total immigrant!"

Once in a Lifetime Jewelers - Kind of funny I guess... Jason Sudeikis is a recently engaged man who goes to buy a ring. Scarlett was the salesperson, and Sudeikis just rambled about nothing really. In the end he tried to steal a tray of rings, but the security guard (Finesse) tazered him. This wasn't that good.

Deep Sea Explorers - Seth Myers, Scarlett, and Horatio played deep sea researchers who looked like they jumped right out of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Seth and Scarlett were married but she announces she's leaving him for Horatio because the previous night they made love. But how is the real question? The sub they're in is only big enough for three people, but a naked Andy Samberg shows up and admits he had sex with them as well. Seth Myers can't figure out how all this went on without him knowing as he claims, "I can barely even get the notion of a boner without it sending sharp pains through my pelvis."

Mr. Willoughby - A film trailer for the new picture based off of the lost (and only 1/2 finished) Jane Austen novel. Starring Tina Fey, Rachel Dratch, and Scarlett Johansson as three Victorian-era woman who all want to marry Mr. Willoughby. Except they can only describe all his horrible qualities. When he speaks, the air is filled with the scent of roasted meats. He has neck moles. His beard hides facial deformities. His teeth are like sharp pieces of corn. He sleeps with choir boys and screws cows. He reeks of urine and has wax-caked ears. Yet they all want to marry him. For the final sketch of the night, this was pretty funny.

Death Cab for Cutie - I love these guys and despite the tongue lashing they've received for jumping ship and signing with a major label for their recent album Plans, I don't care because the album is really, really good. They played 2 songs off of it. "Soul Meets Body" was up first and they finished with "Crooked Teeth." Both sounded great I thought, but I've listened to them for years so I'm quite biased.

Very solid episode and next week looks promising as well when Studio 8H welcomes Peter Sarsgaard and The Strokes.

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Check out this behind the scenes video of Jorma Taccone dancing topless to Death Cab for Cutie, with Bill Hader


those of you who don't know, Jorma is one of the new writers for SNL, along with Akiva Schaffer, both of whom along with Andy Samberg created TheLonelyIsland.com

January 28 2006 at 3:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

well, snl sucked as usual. BUT, it did introduce this old guy to death cab for cutie. What a great band! Yes, there are those among you (we older guys) who have heard of but havent heard them yet. What a great introduction! Anyway gotta get their stuff. Oh and the taco commercial? I said "what again?" Bring back AM Brew!

January 22 2006 at 4:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Marla, Seattle, WA

I have been a big Death Cab fan for awhile, and I think they did a nice job. Ben's jumping around with Chris' guitar solo and the rainbow lights In "Crooked Teeth" were a highlight for me...I thought Scarlett did pretty well. To me, the "submarine skit" and "Mr. Willoughby" stood out as bein' quite funny...:)

January 20 2006 at 8:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Nick Fox

Look for Jorma Taccome (who came from The Lonely Island Dudes with Andy Samberg and Akiva Shaffer) to be in more sketches. I have a feeling that they may be going to an older style of SNL with writers who are more involved with the show all around. Here is why I think we will actually see Jorma: In the "Lettuce" Digital Short Jorma walks by at the end munching on some lettuce...also in that atrocious Duluth sketch I believe he played the studio manager that talked to the hosts. I wouldn't put it past Lorne to kick most of the current cast to the curb, keep the current featured players, and add Jorma (as well as a few other new guys).

As a sketch comedy writer myself I, feel at liberty to say that the show is absolutely horrible, and this past episode only made me believe that more. With the number of writers that they have, 45 minutes (the length of the show minus music commercials, music, WU, etc.) is not too much to ask them to write. I can usually write 22 minutes (a 30 minute show) in a week. It's not that hard, I just think they are getting lazy.

Alec Bladwin's episode was the best of this current season, probably because of his ties to the "golden days" of Hartman and the like. He probably came to the table with some good, old-style sketches, or at the very least, he was a little more discerning when it came to choosing sketches that were right for him.


PS: If you haven't seen the video of Jorma dancing (sans shirt) to Death Cab for Cutie rehearsal, FIND IT!

January 19 2006 at 4:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I thought Scarlet just sang far too much. She wasn't particularly good, but whatever, I don't watch for the host.

I understand your concerns about the underuse of Andy Samburg and Bill Hader, but really, they are the new guys. I certainly agree that they're very good, but typically the featured players do get less use than others to begin with. There has been a bit of a shortage of Bill, but I don't think Andy is being neglected at all (even though I think the writing could defintely learn from thelonelyisland stuff, as it's actually funny, as SNL is generally not lately.

January 17 2006 at 7:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Scarlett made me turn the show off -- I couldn't stand her totally wooden appearance. She's beautiful and she would have been better off with her mouth shut, looking pretty in the corner.

They also need to break-up the Fey/Poeler duo for the Weekend Update, the two of them are NOT funny together, more annoying than anything. It's like listening in to some stupid high school girl telephone conversation. Vapid doesn't begin to describe the circus.

I am not looking for a 100% show ... hell, these days most of us would take a show that is 50% funny! Do they need to replay lame pre-records over and over?

Maybe they just need to get rid of Lorne Michaels, he IS the brain child behind all of the faltering sketches, he's the one that hires/fires lame writers/actors, sounds like Lorne's time has come.

January 17 2006 at 3:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brendan Van Doan

I personally didnt think this episode was that bad. The only thing that makes me watch SNL every week is Andy Samberg I've been a lonely island fan (andy samberg's website with Jorma and Akiva, both SNL writers) and i have to say that he is going to become the next great thing to come out of SNL. I was worried when he was hardly ever featured in skits, but im just glad they are using him more and more. Taco Town, Swedish Chef, Shaggy Hair update and even his role in the mostly unfunny Deep Sea Explorers skit was just hilarious. I hope SNL gets rid of alot of ppl and use samberg and all of the current featured players in more skits.

January 16 2006 at 1:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This was probably one of the most unfunny episodes of the year. You have to give Scarlett a lot of credit, especially in the dialect area, for a 21-year old actress. She didn't have a lot to work with regarding the writing and she was pretty funny by herself. The Darwin and Duluth segments were not that good and way too long. If the premise isn't there in the first place, making these longer won't save them. Do the writers get paid by the inch? The banter of the rap segment with Kenan was awful, though the songs of the guests was a saving grace and using Rachel as a boring bafoon is a complete waste. She usually is one of the best people on the show. She hadly had any lines in the chandelier commerical and was funnier than Fred with just a few looks. Samburg looks like he's being groomed to the be the next big thing. He was on Letterman earlier in the week and was pretty engaging in his time with Dave. Look for his use to grow. Why aren't they using Bill Hader more? He clearly is one of the best impressionists they have had in years. They used him to carry a lame Vincent Price skit earlier in the year and the guy has dropped off the map since then.

January 16 2006 at 9:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I thought Scarlett did a pretty good job. I was particularly impressed with the parts of the show that required her to sing. I thought she had a good voice and inhabited her characters. Whether she was playing a bitchy 15 year old, a harpy Queens princess, or a rapper-wannabee, it was all done well.

Plus she was drop dead gorgeous the whole time. My oh my!

January 15 2006 at 11:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The Swedish cooking show killed me. Loved the Chandeliere commercial - "Or this one, or that one..." The rest was fairly lame until the submarine skit: mostly because it felt like typical improv bits and seth's reactions to the sex and guitar playing were nice.

As for Scarlett...she did a fine job. The cue card are to be expected. It's a film star, not an actor. Unless you want to get broadway people on the show every week, you're going to get reading of cards.

And btw, she does some good accents and she's just insanely sexy in a 1940's film noir way. Ayecarumba.

January 15 2006 at 8:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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