'SNL' Scorecard: Jason Segel and the Muppets Get Things Started
by Mike Ryan, posted Nov 20th 2011 11:50AM
There's a danger in looking too forward to an individual 'SNL' host just because, on paper, they should excel. Too often I've thought, "Well, this person will obviously be great,' only to have that person come off as flat or uninterested. Jason Segel's name immediately jumped out as a potentially great host. I mean, yes, he was obviously going to bring the Muppets with him, that was a given. But this is a guy who has made it clear that hosting 'SNL' has been a lifelong dream. But Segel is a writer. Sometimes writers come to the show with ideas in mind (like Segel obviously did with "Andre the Giant Gets an Ice Cream") that aren't necessarily great. But, happily, Segel brought his A-game and he brought Paul Rudd because, well, why not bring Paul Rudd? On to a very happy Scorecard!
Sketch of the Night
"The Blue Jean Committee" (Armisen, Segel, Thompson, Sudeikis, Rudd, Moynihan, Hader, Gonzo, Rowlf) I still have, "Massachusetts afternoon, staying at my cousin's place, writing love letters to you," stuck in my head. Full disclosure: I still have, "I sent a bottle of sparkling apple juice to your house, did you get it?" stuck in my head from last season, too. But where the "sparkling apple juice" sketch was just weird (and great, to some of us), it's almost as if Armisen refined the idea into "The Blue Jean Committee" and fixed everything that was too bizarre about the prior incarnation. Which produced two of the best quick cutaway reaction shots of the season from Moynihan and Hader. (Actually, at this point, Moynihan just absolutely owns the cutaway reaction shot.)
'Kemper Pedic Bed' (Segel, Bayer) I was worried when, immediately following the monologue, a repeat of Kristen Wiig's "Red Flag" from the Alec Baldwin hosted episodes was aired. I just assumed that they didn't have a parody commercial this week, but then they did – this! – and it was pretty fantastic. The only thing that I can think of is that, perhaps, kids who stayed up to watch the Muppets sing with Jason Segel during the monologue probably weren't quite prepared to watch him masturbate.
"Andre the Giant Gets an Ice Cream" (Segel) This had, "Hey, guys, I've been doing a really great Andre the Giant impression my whole life. You know, Andre the Giant is a passion of mine. After 'The Muppets,' I'm going to bring Andre's life story to the big screen, too. So, can I do it on the air?," written all over it. Thankfully, Segel's Andre the Giant is very good.
"Weekend Update" (Meyers, Huntsman, Kermit) The real John Huntsman stopped by because, if you're John Huntsman, why not go on 'SNL' as yourself at this point? For the third week in a row, Meyers was fantastic. No more so than when he and Kermit the Frog presented a "Really?!? With Seth and Kermit" over the recent classification of pizza as a vegetable by congress. (I just hope that Meyers comes back from the short Thanksgsving week off as charged as he's been the last three weeks.)
"Digital Short: Seducing Women Through Chess" (Samberg, Pedrad, Elliott, Wiig, Wilde) Man, this one got kind of dark at the end by the time Samberg's eating glass, didn't it? Regardless, the moment when Samberg concludes that he can't beat anyone at chess and switches to checkers is more than enough to put this into the "Good." And I did love that the quality of the video does actually make it appear like it's from the 1970s. And, hey, Olivia Wilde!
"Jason Segel Monologue" (Segel, The Muppets) The Muppets make a surprise appearance during Segel's song -- a surprise that surprised absolutely no one. The twist comes when the Muppets just assume, with good reason, that they are the ones hosting 'SNL.' Yeah, it was predictable, but that doesn't mean it wasn't fun. And I also liked that there was an acknowledgement of the infamous "The Land of Gorch" Muppet sketches from the first season of 'SNL.' (Also, speaking of the Muppets, it was actually shocking to see them as puppets with their human counterparts during the "Good Nights.")
"Kissing Family Thanksgiving" (Segel, Wiig, Armisen, Bayer, Hader, Samberg, Rudd) I've addressed this before, but when your entire concept is shock value – which is fine – doesn't making this into a recurring sketch, then, defeat the purpose? How is something shocking when you know what's coming? Do you want to know what I didn't see coming? Paul Rudd. Also, I'll admit, this version of "Kissing Family" had an energy that the previous installments didn't.
"Regis Philbin Auditions" (Pedrad, Brittain, Ensemble) Classify this into the "excuse for each cast-member to do their favorite impression." And some were very, very good. Zooey Deschanel! And good lord, I always forget how good Jay Pharoah's Denzel Washington is – it's uncanny! But, from the start, it was pretty obvious that this was going to end with Wiig's Kathie Lee showing up... and it did.
"Cold Opening: Mitt Romney Shake Up" (Sudeikis) Great concept, actually. But with an episode so chocked full of goodness, why start with this? (Especially, as I mentioned, to be followed shortly by a repeat commercial parody.) Mitt Romney is tired of being the boring candidate because he's not getting the attention the others are – so he resorts to wearing a leather jacket and flubbing his lines on purpose. (Can I point out, once again, that we are now through seven shows and there has not been one single parody of our current President?)
"New Jack Thanksgiving" (Moynihan, Ensemble) The fact that this sketch is online right now is Exhibit A of why it's easily the most disappointing sketch of the night. In other words: no real songs were used. Hey, early '90s music – there's always something to make fun of! But these parody songs were fairly lame. And I'm sure Jay Pharoah does a brilliant Keith Sweat, but, for the life of me, I can't remember what Keith Sweat sounds like. And I owned one of his CDs! (The only thing that even made me smile in the least was Kristen Wiig playing the triangle.)
"Retirement Party" (Wiig, Segel, Thompson, Armisen) Something went really, really amiss here. It's almost as if by the end of this sketch everyone was looking around at each other wondering what went so terribly wrong. Segel had a look on his face that just read, "Oh, God... and this was all going so well. We didn't just kill all the momentum, did we?" Kristen Wiig plays the secretary of a man who's retiring from his company and she has nothing to say. She's adamant that she has nothing to say! According to Hulu, this sketch is 5 minutes and 39 seconds -- but it felt a lot closer to 20 minutes.
(Note: "Red Flag" was a repeat from a prior episode and is not part of this week's scorecard)
Average Score For This Show: 6.05
Weekly Host Scorecard:
· Jason Segel 6.05
· Charlie Day 6.00
· Emma Stone 5.85
· Alec Baldwin 5.80
· Melissa McCarthy 5.45
· Ben Stiller 5.18
· Anna Faris 4.95
You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.