'SNL' Scorecard: Did Steve Martin Succeed in Sabotaging Alec Baldwin's Show?
by Mike Ryan, posted Sep 25th 2011 12:30PM
Watching Alec Baldwin host 'SNL' – which he has now done a record 16 times -- has become a little like purchasing a recent album from the now disbanded R.E.M.: We know that we're going to get a solid effort – even great, at times -- but the truly memorable moments are from the first decade of work. A point Baldwin even kind of alludes to in last night's monologue. The first show of the season is usually a mixed bag at best (with last year's excellent Amy Poehler hosted effort a huge exception). "But they've had all summer to think of new ideas," is often a criticism levied at the first show of a season, but that's not really the way it works. With Baldwin as host and with the exact same cast as last year (with the only change being Nasim Pedrad promoted from featured player to cast member) there was hope that SNL's 37th season could come out firing on all cylinders. Nope. So, with that, welcome to another season of 'Saturday Night Live' and, yes, another season of SNL Scorecard!
("Another season of SNL Scorecard? I don't remember this being on AOL TV last season," you are probably not asking yourself. This was a feature that used to publish at Movieline.)
Sketch of the Night
"Top Gun 25th Anniversary DVD" (Ensemble) Yes, this is now the third time 'SNL' has dipped into the fake screen test well. First in the late '90s with 'Star Wars,' then again just last season with 'Back to the Future.' I say, keep dipping as long as you like, 'SNL.' Also, any sketch in which Bill Hader brings his Alan Alda impression has a chance of being ranked as the Sketch of the Night. It's interesting to note that there's a second part to this sketch that's listed on Hulu as a web exclusive (embedded below), meaning that last night's show probably went long, forcing the second part to be cut. A second part that's even better than the first! More Alda! Captain Lou Albano! Johnny Depp! And what would have been your only chance to see Jay Pharoah last night, playing Michael Winslow from 'Police Academy' fame.
"Red Flag" (Wiig, Sudeikis, Killam, Sandberg)
"She's lived in Vegas for eleven years." "All her friends are dudes." In last night's commercial parody, Wiig plays a seemingly attractive woman who shows up to a ball wearing a perfume called Red Flag, which warns men that she's "f-cking crazy." It should be noted, Wiig, who last season was a tad preoccupied with the release of 'Bridesmaids,' had a very good night last night.
"Who's on Top?" (Hader, Baldwin, Bayer, Sudeikis)
Jason Sudeikis probably had the right idea by getting out of this sketch as fast as possible. I mean, wow. Two reasons I'm ranking "Who's on Top?" this high: For a night that was overall fairly flat and tame, this game show parody -- that relies on contestants guessing which man would be on top during intercourse with another man – was anything but tame. Bruce Springsteen versus Bill Joel! Secondly, as Baldwin is hemming and hawing about his answer, I loved Hader's host's subtle reminders that Baldwin only has "ten more minutes" to answer.
"Dying Wish" (Baldwin, Killam, Moynihan, Armisen) At least the usually notably bizarre last sketch of the night is already in midseason form. Taran Killam plays a solider in a movie called 'Angels in the Trenches' who has to relay the dying words of the members of his fallen platoon to family members -- which range from, "tell my wife I love her," to slightly more awkward messages as, "tell my son there's no Santa Claus," and, "tell my son that a cripple isn't a full human being."
"Satellite Delay" (Wiig, Baldwin, Elliott) Wiig is reporting on location in Costa Rica for 'Eye on Buffalo' and there is a noticeable delay in the feed – which includes some issues with spiders. Again, Wiig had a nice night. And it was nice to hear that Wiig has retired Gilly and Penelope because instead of sketches like this, yes, we would have gotten another Gilly. Wiig's fictional characters are absurd enough to warrant a one-time viewing, but don't really lend themselves well to recurring characters. It's nice to see Wiig getting away from that because, even though this sketch was the definition of "one note," this is the sort of thing in which she really excels.
"Cold Open: GOP Debate" (Ensemble) If nothing else, at least we now know which cast members will be playing your favorite Republican presidential candidates. Most notably: Sudeikis as Romney, Baldwin as Rick Perry (I guess we'll be seeing a lot more of Baldwin this season?), and Paul Brittain who steals the show as Ron Paul. (And who, with this sketch, really did cement himself as the next Will Forte.) But just like the first show of the season, the first real political sketches of an election cycle are by far the weakest. Go back and look at Dana Carvey's first try as George H.W. Bush or Will Ferrell's George W. Bush: They're awful and nothing like the caricatures they would eventually become. Unfortunately, with this sketch (with the exception of Brittain who almost single-handedly put this in the "good" column), that's where we're at. Also, there's no doubt that Tina Fey is the happiest person on Earth right now because Sarah Palin isn't running for President.
"Child Psychologist" (Pedrad, Baldwin, Bayer) I like Nasim Pedrad and I think it's well earned that she made the full cast this year: but, and I've mentioned this many times before, she seems to rely too much on playing children. This is, what, her third or fourth character that's under the age of 15? And, yes, I went back and forth on this one trying to decide if it was more funny (and at times it was funny!) or if her crying was more annoying. "Annoying" did barely defeat "funny" in this case.
"All My Children Wrap Party" (Ensemble) Did you know that soap operas have crazy twists? Yes, I realize that 'All My Children' came to an end on Friday, so I suppose this is topical, but I really don't think this covers any new ground. Granted! I was not a watcher of 'All My Children,' so, perhaps fans of that show saw something in this that I didn't. Though, I will admit that it was nice to see Andy Samberg's One Take Tony (at least, I think it was One Take Tony?) at the 2:37 mark.
"Weekend Update" (Meyers, Baldwin) I don't blame Meyers for a flat "Update," I think of all the cogs that make up 'SNL,' "Update" is by far the part that needs the longest time to warm up. And it didn't hurt that last year Meyers had Poehler as a guest co-anchor to set the mood. Baldwin's Tony Bennett did not have the same effect. Look, I love Baldwin's Bennett as much as the next guy, but, man, did that drag on. And it dragged on with very little input from Meyers, who usually excels at playing the master of ceremonies with his eccentric guests (case in point: Stephon wouldn't be half as funny or popular as he is today without Meyers' banter).
"Alec Baldwin Monologue" (Baldwin, Martin, Rogen) Steve Martin showing up during an Alec Baldwin hosted episode is now about as surprising as Seth Rogen making a joke about how he likes drugs – and both happened during this monologue. I love Martin, but, really, steroid jokes? Also, here's another pet peeve: When a performer drinks something that is supposed to be disgusting, but we, as reasonable human beings, know that the item being consumed is probably just water – yet! – the audience screams out, "Ewwww!" Stop doing that! You know very well that Steve Martin is not actually drinking Alec Baldwin's urine! Also, I can envision Seth Rogen calling Lorne Michaels on the phone sometime early last week:
Rogen: "Hey, it's Seth Rogen."
Michaels: "Hi, Seth."
Rogen: "So, um, I see Radiohead is playing your show on Saturday. If I walk out on the stage during the monologue or something, can I come?"
Average Score For This Show: 5.80
Weekly Host Scorecard:
· Alec Baldwin 5.80
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