by Mike Ryan, posted Dec 12th 2011 1:00PM
Kristen Wiig had a great week. It's not going to come as too much of a surprise to anyone that she's at the top of the list this week. The problem is, when Wiig excels, the rest of the female cast suffers. That's just the way it seems to be. This problem is heightened when there's a female host – in that since the Tina Fey era, it's not exactly like it's been easy to get airtime as a female cast member (sans Wiig). So add one more female to the equation as a host and, well, you'll see.
by Mike Ryan, posted Dec 11th 2011 12:40PM
Katy Perry wasn't listed as the 'SNL' musical guest last night (that was Robyn), but, boy, she sure did sing a lot. Of the eight segments that Perry made an appearance in, she sang in six of them. I'm sorry, but that's pretty telling that the writers didn't know what else to really do with her. And to be fair to the writers: from what we saw of Perry, they probably did the best that they could. And it's always a bad sign when the host plays his or herself, which, yeah, she did that, too. I appreciate Perry willing to stretch herself as host instead of "musical guest who also appears in a sketch", but, yeesh, this was pretty bad. Not even Matt Damon and Val Kilmer could save this show. But, hey: At least Kristen Wiig had a good show. And 'Weekend Update' saved this show from being the worst of the season. Barely. On to a pretty ugly scorecard...
by Mike Ryan, posted Dec 5th 2011 12:45PM
The interesting thing about "Coach Bert," the best sketch this past Saturday night, was that no cast-member really stood out – at least as far at the Relevancy Poll is concerned. The concept and the writing were perfect, but it was played so straight, other than Buscemi, it's hard to remember who was even in the sketch. One of the lesser sketches of the night, "Miley Cyrus Show," was all about Vanessa Bayer. And to Bayer's credit, having a recurring sketch as popular as "Cyrus" is quite the coup. So, sorry Taran Killam, you were great in "Coach Bert," but it doesn't help you much around these parts. And so it goes with the Relevancy Poll...
by Mike Ryan, posted Nov 21st 2011 1:45PM
It was a very crowded week for our favorite 'SNL' players. Not only did they have to share the spotlight with Jason Segel --who appeared to be glowing from having so much fun – but they also had to share the spotlight with the Muppets. Also, a key element of success on the Relevancy Poll was missing this week: The "Weekend Update" segments. I mean, yes, there were two segments, but they were monopolized by the real John Huntsman and then, later, by Kermit the Frog. Who's number one? Let's find out!
by Mike Ryan, posted Nov 7th 2011 12:45PM
For whatever reason, I had a feeling that Saturday night's show was going to be one of the better efforts of the season. Maybe I'm psychic! (Unfortunately, I'm not psychic.) Too often, when making 'SNL' predictions, the discussions break down into either, "Well, he's funny," or, "She was great in this movie, ergo, she will be a terrific 'SNL' host." (For the record, I may be the only person alive who instigates these type of discussions.) Here's really the most important intangible of being a great 'SNL' host: playing well with others. Charlie Day played well with others. So much so that everyone got themselves into the act this week, which, with a cast this big, is rare. But that's what made it good! So, with that, on to this week's slightly crowded Relevancy Poll...
by Mike Ryan, posted Oct 10th 2011 1:00PM
The quality of Saturday's show aside, this was the first week that really allowed the cast to be featured on the front lines. Which, yes, lead to a few shakeups in the Relevancy Poll. It is striking, though, to watch the differences in airtime that featured players Taran Killam and Paul Brittain have been receiving. Both guys seem extremely talented, yet Killam is getting more time than even a lot of the full-time cast members are while, at the same time, we are starting to worry about Brittain's future on the show.
by Mike Ryan, posted Oct 3rd 2011 10:30AM
Even though the results were disappointing, this week's 'SNL' was, again, very host-centric – meaning there wasn't a ton of lead-role airtime to go around for cast members. Though, Jay Pharoah managed to get his first sketch of the season on the air, while poor Paul Brittain was nearly shut out. But who leads the poll after the second week of the season? A show hosted by 'Bridesmaids' star Melissa McCarthy? It should be no surprise that the top spot goes to...
by Annie Wu, posted Apr 25th 2010 3:00PM
(S35E20) Like most of the public, I only knew Gabourey Sidibe from 'Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire' (Okay, seriously, if we're gonna do that, can we put it on the end of every movie adaptation of a novel? 'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, based on the novel 'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban' by JK Rowling). It was one of those movies that I wasn't sure if I wanted to even watch because just looking at Sidibe in the trailers made me uncomfortable.
by Annie Wu, posted Apr 18th 2010 1:00PM
(S35E19) All in all, a pretty mediocre episode. Ryan Phillippe didn't seem to stretch himself in any way. Well, okay, okay, he dressed up as a chick for a sketch, but apart from that, there was no palpable attempt to celebrate the fact that Ryan Phillippe was hosting or play to his strengths. I mean, I won't pretend I know what those particular strengths are, but 'Saturday Night Live' usually does a fair job of letting hosts try something dramatically out of their comfort zone or play up something unexpected. There was no sense of that in this episode.
Maybe they wanted to keep the episode toned down to counter whatever amount of crazy Ke$Ha wanted to unleash. By the way, that girl looks like she perpetually smells like drugstore watermelon body spray and BO. If that's the look she's going for, she's really nailing it.
by Annie Wu, posted Apr 11th 2010 3:49PM
(S35E18) Tina Fey gives hope to all nerdy funny girls out there. You may be frumpy and strange now, girls, but all you have to do is work really hard, be yourself, create/write/star in a hit show with Alec Baldwin and become super-famous. Then you will finally be able to soothe the flame of self-hate this is currently raging within you. This is the only option to escape your ugly duckling phase. Sorry if you were convinced otherwise.
All right, seriously, this was a solid episode. It felt like Fey had a strong hand in what kind of material was being produced; most of the sketches worked very well for her. This was also the first time I had heard Justin Bieber. And that's all I'm going to say about that.
by Annie Wu, posted Mar 14th 2010 12:31PM
(S35E17) Congratulations, Jude Law. That was a solid episode all around and a fine return to the 'Saturday Night Live' stage. And despite the fact that Pearl Jam was virtually unrecognizable to any ears that haven't heard them since the early-'90s, at least Law's musical guest didn't have any reason to do an awkward hoedown during a career-crippling blunder.
Cold Open: Of course they had to talk about this. Of course. Now, if you haven't read up on the incredibly weird Eric Massa story, it probably would have seemed like 'SNL' was just making up most of it. Unfortunately, they weren't. Maybe that's why they felt that ridiculously long intro was necessary? Anyway, the treatment of this topic was all right, though the absolute best part was Bobby Moynihan as Massa, attempting stealth snorkeling on Andy Samberg (the weak distraction was especially nice). And no, sorry, you can't unsee it.
by Annie Wu, posted Mar 7th 2010 1:45PM
(S35E16) This was definitely one of the weirder installments of 'Saturday Night Live' in a while, but for fans of Zach Galifianakis, it was a real treat. It's very rare that the entire tone of the evening so perfectly fits the host. A lot of hosts, be they athletes or singers or professional actors, use 'SNL' as a platform for showcasing other talents that they have (or think they have) and that can often lead to strange, near unwatchable territory.
Galifianakis knows where's his strong points are and confidently played those up all through the episode. He is not at his best with cue card-heavy parts, but rather when he forces the audience to bask in his glorious, beardy, unsettling presence. So we got a lot of that. A lot. Response to this episode will probably be highly divided (well, more so than other weeks) but, speaking as a long-time fan of Galifianakis, it worked.
by Annie Wu, posted Feb 28th 2010 1:22PM
(S35E15) Someone at NBC or 'Saturday Night Live' sensed that you haven't thought about the music of Jennifer Lopez (no one calls her J. Lo anymore, right?) in about ten years, and in an effort to get "Waiting for Tonight" stuck in your head again, they brought her back. It was supposed to be some sort of double-whammy, a way for Lopez to promote her upcoming film, 'The Back-up Plan,' and her new album at the same time.
But then her label dropped her about a week ago and all ten people that were paying attention simultaneously tugged at their collars and went, "Ooh, awkward." These same people sat through her musical performances during this episode and, mid-cringe, mumbled, "Well, y'know. Bless her heart for trying."
by Annie Wu, posted Feb 7th 2010 11:33AM
(S35E14) There was a different tone to this episode. The writing was a bit more ambitious than usual, going out on a limb a few times to tackle an idea that would require a little more work to get the laugh. It was admirable, sure, but a lot of the sketches still fell flat this week. It was strange. I also realize it's extra-weird if one considers my review of Ashton Kutcher's last stint on 'Saturday Night Live', in which I pondered out loud about whether or not he and the writers could have afforded to get a little wackier.
Kutcher's enthusiasm was nice to watch but the episode really felt mediocre. Maybe the low end of mediocre. Is that even a thing? Well, it is now.
by Annie Wu, posted Jan 31st 2010 10:32AM
(S35E13) The first time Jon Hamm hosted Saturday Night LIve, back in 2008, it was before I had seen his work on Mad Men and 30 Rock (the latter was due to the fact his guest appearances didn't exist at the time). I was super-excited that the seemingly perpetually serious Hamm actually turned out to be hilarious, and his performance led to one of the best episodes of the entire season. Taking all this into consideration, I was walking on dangerous ground as I prepared to watch Hamm's return to the SNL stage.
Were my expectations too high to be met? Did Hamm's pre-SNL beard somehow take funny away from him (I've heard beards can sometimes do that)? As it turned out, I had absolutely nothing to worry about. Hamm did yet another stellar job as host, bringing a level of charm and commitment that made just about every sketch work.
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