SNL Weekly Review: March 4 by Dylan Zsigray ’18

Hi All! It’s been awhile since I wrote a review of Saturday Night Live.  Part of this is due to the show being off the air for a few weeks, but I never found time to review the most recent episode (Episode 14), which was hosted by Alec Baldwin.  That episode aired around the same time as the majority of my responsibilities for Model United Nations kicked in, so I had to push that review to the sideline until our conference was finished.  Needless to say, I never did end up writing it, so I’m going to highlight my favorite sketch from that episode in this review.  

Last night, Octavia Spencer hosted SNL, for her FIRST time!  Overall, I was unimpressed with this episode.  Granted, there were some high points, but there was no energy throughout the cast and most of the sketches seemed forced, to the point where I began wondering if the writers had no solid ideas for this episode and just went to the pointless sketch binder and chose around ten sketches to run with.  I’m going to cut Spencer some slack because it was her first time on the SNL stage, but I hope that episodes like this do not continue happening for the remainder of the season.  Below is my review of last night’s episode.

“SUPERSTAR!” (The Best Sketch of the Night)

“ALEC BALDWIN’S SHOW: Sean Spicer Press Conference #2”: Going back to Alec Baldwin’s episode, the second edition of the Sean Spicer press conference was by far my favorite sketch from the episode.  When this sketch first came on, I did find it peculiar that the showrunners would run with the same sketch, with the same characters, for a consecutive week.  But, due to the overwhelmingly positive reception that Melissa McCarthy’s portrayal of Spicer received, I guess they had to do it again.  This edition of the now-recurring sketch was not as good as the first one, but I mean who would not want to see Spicer ram through the press crowd with a Segway podium? This sketch, although not as good as the first one, certainly was better than the rest of Baldwin’s show, which was not good at all.

“OCTAVIA SPENCER’S SHOW: Republican Movie Trailer”: This digital short was tremendously written and acted out.  I think that I speak for everyone who was watching this sketch that I thought they were going to name some obscure Republican representative from Idaho to be the focal-point of the sketch.  They did the opposite, literally choosing no one, which made the sketch that much better.  The constant “TBD” cut-ins were extremely funny and the editing made it not seem choppy at all.  Everything about this worked, and it speaks testament to what some Americans hope will happen within Trump’s term.

“I gotta have more cowbell!” (Good Sketches)

“Drug Company Hearing”: I was pleasantly surprised with the plot of this sketch.  What made this sketch work was a) the absurdity of the names and b) the acting, particularly on the part of Spencer.  Plus, the drugs that these peoples’ names were associated with were obviously chosen because of their awkwardness, which made the sketch that much better.  This was a good rebound after the dismal monologue.

“Girl at a Bar”: I really liked this sketch and I think it shows how men really act when around girls.  They try to be showoffs, forming themselves into whatever they think that the girl wants.  Only, they don’t want a relationship.  They basically want to use the girls.  This sketch worked because it was realistic and cleverly written, especially once Aidy Bryant’s character came in, supposedly to save Cecily Strong’s character, but in turn just did what all the men did.  

“Weekend Update”: Weekend Update was once again solid last night, I have no complaints.  The jokes were well written and well delivered by both Michael Che and Colin Jost.  Their chemistry has gotten noticeably stronger each episode.  Laura Parsons made another appearance, which was hilariously uncomfortable as usual.  However, what was most stellar about this edition of Weekend Update was the visit by Eric and Donald Trump Jr.  Wow, this was amazing.  Eric was just so childish while Donald Trump Jr. was acting more like a father.  Plus, when Eric kept bringing up that Donald Trump Sr. was still running the business, I about died from laughing.  I hope that these two become a recurring thing.

“Youngblood”: Don’t you hate it when somebody tries to show you something, but then they themselves do not know how to do it? I do, which is why I thoroughly enjoyed this sketch. Kenan Thompson changing the rules of chess as the game went on was really funny, but what worked was the chemistry and banter exchanges between Thompson and Pete Davidson, along with Thompson and Spencer.  Davidson would cut off Thompson as he was speaking because he’d have a checkmate, and Spencer would make fun of Thompson as he was playing.  Everything about this sketch was exemplary.

“Well, isn’t that special” (Hit or Miss Sketches)

“Jeff Sessions Gump Cold Open”: To be honest, I am not a fan of Forrest Gump.  I tried to watch the movie, but halfway through I gave up with it.  However, I did see the park bench scene (a beautifully shot scene may I add) and I liked it.  So, when this was the cold open last night, I was excited to see what it would be all about.  I’m putting this sketch in the “hit or miss” category not because it was wonderfully written (which is wasn’t) or fluid (also not true), but because of the creativity associated with it.  The fact that the writers were able to draw some parallel between Sessions and Gump reflects that those in the writers room are willing to take risks, which I applaud.  I chuckled a few times in this sketch, but I think that I may have enjoyed it more had it had less characters or been shorter overall.

“Octavia Spencer Monologue”: I don’t understand why the monologues lately have been so short.  Spencer was on stage for two minutes and forty-eight seconds.  That’s it.  I do not know if this was because she was nervous or if she had no ideas for her monologue, but when a monologue is this short is sort of starts the show on a weird note.  Monologues need to be like five to six minutes in length to really connect with the viewer.  Spencer’s was funny at times but too superficial.

“Zoo-Opolis Voice Actors”: The premise and plot of this sketch was pointless and the only reason that this sketch exists is to do impressions of people.  Well, it worked.  The only reason that I did no fast forward through this sketch was because of the impressions that Spencer, Alex Moffat, and Melissa Villaseñor did.  My favorite was probably the Kristen Wiig impression and the Kate McKinnon impression.  They were spot on, especially the Kristen Wiig one that reminded me of the good ol’ Target Lady days.

“Buh-bye” (Bad Sketches)

“The Chocolate Man”: This sketch was an absolute atrocity that made no sense and was forced on the part of the writers and actors.  All day, I have been questioning the end goal of this sketch, as to what its original purpose was.  It was not funny nor satirical, so why include it? I still am shivering because of me having to sit through this sketch.

“Spencers Gifts HQ”: No, just no.  There was no plot with this sketch (seems common) and the ending, when Spencer and Thompson go to some private island together was just super confusing.  This was also a horrible sketch that seemed like it was thrown into the lineup because the show needed to be 90 minutes in length.

“Sticky Buns”: I could sense what the writers were hoping to accomplish with this sketch, but it just did not get there.  It dragged on for too long and just wasn’t funny.  I feel like it would have been funnier had it been Starbucks or something, when the workers are noticeably inept during a morning rush hour.  Nothing worked with this sketch, which was disappointing.

“Wine Bar”: This sketch was so awkward to watch.  The positioning of Spencer’s dialogue cards made it hard to watch her as she was never looking at any of the people she was talking to.  There was no plot with this sketch and the atmosphere of the five women in it was just an atmosphere of uneasiness.  Perhaps this is due to this sketch not being one of the strong ones, but then why include it in the lineup?  

Octavia Spencer’s first run at hosting SNL resulted in an episode that will hopefully be forgotten about.  Scarlett Johansson returns to the SNL stage next week before the show goes off the air for the rest of March.

Dylan’s Ranking of the Episodes:

  1. Dave Chappelle
  2. Emma Stone
  3. Tom Hanks
  4. Kristen Stewart
  5. Kristen Wiig
  6. Aziz Ansari
  7. Lin-Manuel Miranda
  8. Casey Affleck
  9. Alec Baldwin
  10. Margot Robbie
  11. Octavia Spencer
  12. Felicity Jones
  13. John Cena
  14. Benedict Cumberbatch
  15. Emily Blunt

 

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