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Saturday Night Live: Steve Carell/Usher (season finale) - VIDEOS

by Annie Wu, posted May 18th 2008 1:05PM
Steve Carell
(S33E12) To ensure a strong season finale, Saturday Night Live made a very smart choice to go with Steve Carell. He is an incredible comedic performer and his first hosting stint went pretty well, so I wasn't surprised to see him pull it off again this time around. Actually, this picture is from the first time Carell hosted. Is it weird that I've had it sitting on my desktop since then? Yes, probably. Anyway, the material was better than some of the other episodes', with a few spectacular highlights, including the hilarious digital short.



Oh, and I noticed that Casey Wilson wasn't in any of the sketches. I think I've made it extremely obvious in previous reviews that I really don't care for her, but it must have been tough to not be able to participate in the final episode of what may or may not be her last season. Even Darrell Hammond showed up more than twice. EDIT: Ah, yes. Wilson was onstage for the Cold Open and part of "Deal or No Deal." I guess I just mentally blocked her out.

Cold Open (Graduation): Maybe it's because I still have the mind of a twelve year-old, but I thought this was an absolutely hilarious idea. I also appreciated the fact that they actually got an Asian extra to accept the diploma for Wang. Way to go. The placement of this skit at the top of the show was a bit weird, though. It would have been better to put the John McCain monologue at the very beginning and then let him reappear on "Weekend Update", instead of showing those two back-to-back.



Monologue: Ahh, I knew something was up when Steve Carell walked out wearing his serious eyebrows. The subtlety in Carell's uncomfortable reactions are always hysterical, so I love it when he plays panicky. "Feels like my hair is growing!" It was also lovely to see his wife, SNL alum and funny lady Nancy Walls, because they're super-cute together. In my notes for this part of the monologue, I just typed "GLEE", like, twenty times. I'm not sure how many people in the audience actually recognized her, though.



"There Can Only Be One": A Barack Obama/Hillary Clinton take on the LeBron James and Kevin Garnett NBA ad. Man, I cannot get over how bad these two impressions are. In the past, when players' impressions of presidential candidates weren't exactly spot-on, they played off mannerisms enough to make it funny. Like, Will Ferrell's George W. Bush wasn't that perfect, but he got the squinting and smirking down. Fred Armisen's Obama just looks grumpy all the time and doesn't carry the right amount of gravitas, and Amy Poehler's Hillary Clinton sounds like a generic, rich, white lady voice. Maybe Kristen Wiig will take over once Poehler's baby bump gets out of control. I have more confidence in her ability to pull off the impression.



"Deal or No Deal": One of my favorite things about Carell's correspondent character from The Daily Show was what happened to his voice when he struggled to keep from crying. That's pretty much all he was doing throughout the entire thing, so I was pleased.



"Two A-Holes Do Karaoke": The A-Holes! It's been a while since we've seen them and this skit felt a bit rusty. It wasn't the best, but it was still good to hear from some of the few recurring characters remaining on the show.

"SNL Digital Short: Japanese Office": Oh. My. Word. I cannot get over how absolutely spectacular this was. First of all, the special appearance by Ricky Gervais made me way happier than necessary. This whole thing was really well done. I'm sure it was twice as enjoyable for people who are actually familiar with the show(s), as the subtle nod to "Assistant TO the Regional Manager" and the stapler in the jelly probably didn't make sense to casual SNL fans. Highlights included Wiig's Japanese schoolgirl laugh, Kenan Thompson's pouty Stanley and Carell's everything. "It's funny because it's racist!"



"McCain in One": John McCain probably squeezed into the season finale because he didn't want to be the only presidential candidate not to get in on the action. I wonder if he remembers that he hosted already. Anyway, this was pretty funny. The writing was good for the most part, but the majority of the comedy came from seeing McCain poking some fun at himself. Nice work, old man.



"Weekend Update": Quit hoggin' the show, Senator McCain! Granted, this was super-funny, but having back-to-back appearances just made it feel like McCain overload. The "McCain in One" really should have been the Cold Open. Also, I appreciated how it was a bit riskier material than that from Obama or Clinton's SNL appearances. Heck, McCain has nothing to lose at this point, right? Darrell Hammond's Jesse Jackson and Thompson's Al Sharpton were quite good as well, but my favorite part was seeing John Lutz in a Speedo ascot.






"Charlie Flitt Show": As I type this, I am having all my doors and windows replaced with massive paper pictures of myself. The highlight of this skit was seeing Bill Hader looking super upset in a fat suit. Also, I couldn't help but stare at Poehler's baby bump all night. She and Will Arnett are going to have the coolest baby ever.



"CPR": All I could think of was Videodrome. Also, I bet Andy Samberg has a total man-crush on Steve Carell and wrote this skit so that he could get some mouth-to-mouth action. Twice. The final double-thumbs-up from Usher was also a nice touch.



"Bless This Child": It was obvious that this would be the final skit of the evening, but at least it wasn't so bad that it let the season end with a whimper. Doing the wave with the baby was hilarious, as was the spin-and-jump. Wiig and Carell need to work together more often.



Usher: This guy really, really, really likes to sing about sex, doesn't he?

How would you rate this episode?
1 - Awful!22 (5.1%)
224 (5.6%)
389 (20.8%)
4110 (25.7%)
5 - Carell-tastic!183 (42.8%)

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22 Comments

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terrance

does anyone know where i can find the ricky gervais clip on SNL about the Jap. vers. of the office. That was incredibly hilarious and can't seem to find it anywhere anymore.
Thanks!

July 08 2008 at 1:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Argus

Annie, I don't understand you criticism of Amy Poeler, I've always felt that her Hillary was spot-on. Even Armisen's Obama has come a long way since its inception. Is it possible you're pre-disposed against impressions? I've noticed you put down Darrel Hammond's impressions in the past as well, and yet he's consistently praised for them by most other critics as well as other comedians.

May 19 2008 at 12:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Argus's comment
Annie W.

Hillary has this weird, slightly rough, pitched down quality to her voice. When I listen to Poehler's impression without looking at her, I don't imagine Hillary at all. It's so completely off. This lady on YouTube has the voice down perfectly: http://youtube.com/watch?v=aRbBJi0jfdU

As for Darrell Hammond, I don't think I've put down his impressions that often. He's obviously one of the best impressionists to be on SNL in years. Most of my negative remarks about Hammond are regarding his seemingly never-ending stay, as he is now making Tim Meadows look like a total cut-and-runner.

May 19 2008 at 12:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
nickmagoo

wow. that impression is SO spot on. brilliant. armisen's obama is okay at best; i know i've seen better, can't remember where (mad tv?).

May 19 2008 at 8:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jake

i'm really excited to see Get Smart which opens on june 20th, i'm just concerned that the Love guru opens the same time. I don't get why studios go head to head with two comedies on the same weekend. although get smart is more action comedy. Are any of you excited about one more than the other?

May 18 2008 at 10:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Fred

I liked the idea behind the graduation sketch better the first time I saw it, by Rowan Atkinson:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=roVw9CJWhc0

May 18 2008 at 8:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Fred's comment
Edd

Haha that was my favourite bit of the game!

May 18 2008 at 9:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bebhinn

I realized about 2 seconds into the roll call that this sketch was stolen from the Rowan Atkinson one. It's like the writers took the idea and just tried to alter it enough to not be complete theft. Unfortunately the SNL one has NONE of the wit of RA's... add that to the fact that the original was included in a classic comedy special from over a decade ago, and it's just a little pathetic. Or a lot pathetic. I was looking forward to Steve Carell on the show, but I thought this skit set a bad tone. Here are some of the reasons the original was far better.

Atkinson sets it up simply and then hits you with Anus as the first name. There's no trying to set up some elaborate story about why all these people with weird names are at the same school. It's a ridiculous idea and should have been treated as such. The following lines are clever, witty, and take the joke beyond "hey, we're saying dirty names, isn't that funny?"

Clitoris? Where are you Clitoris
Herpes? Still with us I see.
Very well, remind me to beat Myprick when he comes...
Bottom, squeeze Myprick in.

SNL added middle names that didn't add to the comedy or dirtiness, it just slowed down the comedy and eliminated the shock value.

Finally, Atkinson's admonishment to the audience to: "C'mon, grow up. Please!" is so fabulously ironic. There is no comparison.

The US The Office may be an improvement on a UK original, but they should have left the Atkinson sketch alone.

May 24 2008 at 5:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
nickmagoo

casey wilson, alas, has the comedic timing of a dull grey rock. she is just not on the same page as the other performers and tried waaay too hard.

sadly, get smart looks awful - and i didn't see my favorite GS character, hymie, the hyper-sensitive robot, in the promo ads.

May 18 2008 at 7:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Edd

HAHAHA @ the Japanese Office! Good ol' Ricky Gervais... Now if he will just cameo in the US version we'll be smiling!

May 18 2008 at 5:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Edd's comment
Bash

He is in GTA 4 that's enough for me...

May 18 2008 at 8:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
JW

I saw everything after Weekend Update, and Carrell was great, but the sketches weren't. I kept thinking "I want to change the channel, but I am not sure because something funny might actually happen." Out of those few, I liked the Charlie Flitt Show the best, especially when he kept jumping out of the photos of himself, and kept emphasizing that he lost 200 POUNDS!

May 18 2008 at 5:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to JW's comment
kevjohn

You just summed up why most of tune in every week. We keep thinking something funny might happen. Hah! The weeks that it does are becoming rarer and rarer.

May 19 2008 at 12:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Charlotte

"It's funny because it's racist!" -- That was my favorite line of the night. Of course, it's always nice to see Ricky Gervais. I love his giggle.

May 18 2008 at 3:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
lucyfan62

Kristin Wiig is BRILLIANT! Last week as the boozy celeb on the Match Game skit and her briefcase girl who kept toying with opening the case was hilarious. I hope the SNL gods let her keep making the occasional movie appearance to keep her happy so she'll stay on the show for a long time. I miss Maya, but Kristin makes up for that loss. And bring back Aunt Linda! They had the perfect opportunity to bring her out of mothballs to review Amy's movie! GAAAAAAAAAH!

May 18 2008 at 3:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John Stewart

I didn't watch the show, but I watched all the clips in this review. Thanks. =)

May 18 2008 at 2:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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