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Sunday, December 8, 2013

Saturday Night Live: Paul Rudd & One Direction

 
Apparently, "mediocre" is this season's new baseline status, as this was another episode with neither a really strong standout sketch nor any overtly terrible sketches (and, frankly, "medicore" isn't a bad baseline for a show that has a propensity to set that baseline at "lackluster"). Paul Rudd brought his usual goofy charm to a handful of roles (his standout sketch was likely the pre-taped One Direction bit, and he did an effective job of keeping the premise of that sketch from being too creepy), and though there were guests a-plenty in this episode, they were mostly relegated to two sketches (one of which was the cold open), so Rudd didn't get squeezed out too much.

Other Thoughts
I'm glad SNL addressed the enormous windfall for NBC that was the live Sound of Music, but I could have done without Kristen Wiig's Doonise being the vehicle they chose to do so (and bringing Armisen back just to reprise his Laurence Welk feels like a waste).

Another quandry: does Nine Direction's rendition of "Afternoon Delight" count as a song for the purposes of our tally, or is it this season's second "Song That Is Not a Song for the Purposes of "Episodes with a Monologue Featuring a Song"? I'm going with "song" for now, but sound off in the comments if you disagree, and I may change it. 

I was expecting grim things when that Al Sharpton sketch showed up in the first position as the episode's obligatory (and largely unfunny) nod to current events, but thankfully, there were better sketches after it.

Weekend Update was back to it usual length with two guests. Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy isn't a favorite of mine, but he's reliably funny, and it was nice to see him acknowledge Seth's upcoming departure. And then they brought back Jebidiah Atkinson, only three weeks after his debut (which, of course, was cheekily acknowledged by Jebidiah himself: "run things into the ground much?"), to skewer Christmas specials, to hilarious results.

The "Ghosts of Hookups Past" sketch with Cecily Strong was another favorite, and I especially liked how Rudd's character, while not fitting the mold of Strong's other ripped-from-a-romance-novel lovers, was still just a relatively normal guy and not ridiculously over-the-top in being the atypical lover.

For someone who came of age during the Will Ferrel era of the show, seeing him and David Koechner (along with Taran Killam, Paul Rudd, and Keena Thompson in the Tim Meadows role) reprise the Bill Brasky sketch was a treat. A great way to end the night  

Least Favorite Sketch: "Michelangelo's David has a small penis". A one-joke premise (and a fairly obvious one at that) that wasn't terribly funny (though I did chuckle at Jay Pharaoh's anachronistic character and the "smile" of Nasim Pedrad's Mona Lisa). 

Favorite Sketch: I'm not sure exactly what the point of it was, but I quite enjoyed the divorced couple sketch. It almost felt like one of the better end-of-the-night weird sketches, it built nicely and kept me guessing (and laughing - "she’s not a gold digger, she works at a silver mine!"). A well-constructed and original sketch, something the show should be lauded for trying (especially when they get it right).

Captain Von Trapp: You’re so beautiful in that terracotta disaster of a dress.

One Direction Member: Is this for your daughter?
Dan Charles: Yeah.
One Direction Member: What’s her name?
Dan Charles: Her name is, uhh, Dan Charles.

Jebediah Atkinson: If you ask me, Family Guy killed the wrong dog. Oh what, he’s a cartoon! If you care so much, learn how to draw!

Episodes Featuring a Game Show: 2/8
Episodes Featuring a Talk Show: 7/8
Episodes with a Monologue Featuring a Song: 3/7
Episodes with a Monologue Technically Featuring a Song That Is Not a Song for the Purposes of "Episodes with a Monologue Featuring a Song": 1/8  

4 comments:

  1. You were higher on this episode than I was (which isn't to say that you were particularly high on this episode). I'm not saying I didn't find anything enjoyable with this episode but most sketches were a dud.

    "I could have done without Kristen Wiig's Doonise being the vehicle they chose to do so (and bringing Armisen back just to reprise his Laurence Welk feels like a waste).

    Bringing Kristen Wiig back as Doonise and Fred Armisen back as Laurence Welk was a giant waste. Who ever found this bit funny to begin with?

    "Nine Direction's rendition of "Afternoon Delight" count as a song for the purposes of our tally"

    I'd say yes because that was pretty much the entirety of the opening monologue. I have to say I really didn't approve of this monologue. I like Anchorman and the "Afternoon Delight" scene more than the next person but I'm just offended at the lazy writing. It was pretty much taking an actor from comedy and having them recreate a funny scene. There really wasn't any spin or modification to it. It was just the same scene again.

    The Al Sharpton sketch was painfully unfunny.

    "Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy isn't a favorite of mine, but he's reliably funny"

    I'm pretty much done with Jacob. He/she was funny for a time but it's pretty much the same joke every time he/she shows up.

    "seeing him and David Koechner (along with Taran Killam, Paul Rudd, and Keena Thompson in the Tim Meadows role) reprise the Bill Brasky sketch was a treat."

    This was fine, but I was too distracted by Taran Killam not being Steve Carell. If you're going to have a skit featuring four guys and three of them are Will Ferrel, David Koechner and Paul Rudd and it's already established that Steve Carell is in the house...why not cast the fourth guy as Steve Carell!?

    Or maybe Steve Carell booked it out of there after the opening monologue? Which them makes me feel like he's kind of a douche. I probably should have watched the goodbye to see if he was in the crowd.

    Also, you didn't mention White Christmas at all (not that you needed to since it was on par with the show in its mediocrity). However, I felt it was the perfect example of what can bother me about SNL's fake movie trailers. I feel like they get into the habit of having the narrator say too much. Basically, they're telling me what the joke is instead of showing me the joke. It's like they have no faith I can figure it out for myself.

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  2. @Dr. Bitz: Who ever found this bit funny to begin with?

    I know there's people out there who love(d) that bit. I dunno, maybe we'd like it more if we'd ever actually seen Laurence Welk's show?

    It was pretty much taking an actor from comedy and having them recreate a funny scene. There really wasn't any spin or modification to it. It was just the same scene again.

    Yeah, that bugged me too. I'd have much preferred they do the bit but with a different song, which would speak to what people know while still being somewhat original.

    why not cast the fourth guy as Steve Carell!?

    Apparently Carell was Brasky (or at least his voice - I'm not 100% sure if he was also the body in the foreground).

    Now, you can certainly argue about whether or not Carell would have been better used as the fourth guy at the bar than as Brasky (especially since the voice was modified to the point that it could have been anyone), but they did use him in the sketch.

    I feel like they get into the habit of having the narrator say too much. Basically, they're telling me what the joke is instead of showing me the joke. It's like they have no faith I can figure it out for myself.

    Yeah, I know what you mean. They do it pretty much in every trailer, and it bugs for that reason as well as the fact that it breaks the gag of it being a fake trailer, because no actual trailer uses narration in that way.

    That said, I did enjoy what the trailer was spoofing, as well as the fact that it seemed like another subtle dig at the show's race issues.

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  3. I always thought Doonise was funny. I could live without the Lawrence Welk bookends, though.

    I agree with you guys that the over-narration kills all of SNL's fake trailers. There hasn't been that much voiceover in movie trailers for decades, if ever.

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  4. Yeah, I think "Afternoon Delight" is a monologue song.

    That sketch with the couple and the Fleetwood Mac song was probably my favorite, just for the sheer weirdness and how Vanessa Bayer in particular hit just the right balance between restraint and unselfconscious abandon.

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