Introducing the SNL Scorecard: The Good, Bad and Ugly of Saturday Night

Saturday Night Live's 36th season commenced last night with alumna Amy Poehler as host -- Poehler's first time in that role, making her only the fourth former female cast member to handle hosting duties. A lot of changes were made in the offseason: Abby Elliott and Bobby Moynihan joined the main cast; Will Forte moved on and Jenny Slate wasn't invited back; Vanessa Bayer, Paul Brittain, Taran Killam and Jay Pharoah were all added as feature players. How did the new blood fare in their first episode? Not surprisingly, they weren't seen much (though they did get a chance to briefly wave to the camera during the opening monologue... so that's nice). Even more importantly, was SNL any good? Movieline busted out its fresh new SNL Scorecard (along with the patented Not-Ready-for-Prime-Time-Player Relevancy Poll) to make sense of it all.

Sketch of the Night

"Wedding Venue" (Hader, Poehler, Bayer): An RNC (and partial DNC) sponsored commercial that details all of the other activities that will be going on at the Ground Zero Mosque: Gay weddings, free naturalization for Mexican citizens, a pregnancy terminations facility and, most frighteningly, an espresso bar.

Score: 8.5

The Good

"Weekend Update" (Segments: Jay Pharoah as Will Smith, "Really!?! with Seth and Amy," Fred Armisen as Governor David Patterson): Last night's Update was in full stride -- Seth Meyers' recent ESPY hosting gig couldn't have hurt in keeping him sharp. Of course, SNL's insistence on bringing on the public figures that they parody, once again, brought the show to a screeching halt with the appearance of New York Governor David Patterson (made up for, slightly, by Patterson "unknowingly" wandering into the camera shot.)


· Poehler's rant on Don't Ask, Don't Tell

· "Ahmadinejad's predicted the defeat of capitalism. Predicted? At this point it's more like he noticed."

· Jay Pharoah as Will Smith -- really the only notable contribution, performance-wise, by any of the new featured players.

· "The sounds of nail one, two and three" -- Poehler on the new American Idol judges (wait, isn't SNL still on NBC?)

Score: 8.5

"Hair Restoration" (Armisen, Wiig, Sudeikis, Moynihan): Yep, a fake commercial for male pattern baldness pubic-hair transplants. The look of joy on Moynihan's face sells this all by itself.

Score: 8

"Amy Poehler's Monologue": Poehler brought in a lot of guest stars for a dream sequence involving her pre-show jitters. Rachel Dratch, Justin Timberlake (a welcome non-surprise, considering he's been in New York promoting The Social Network), Tina Fey and Jimmy Fallon all made appearances. As mentioned, the new featured players got a chance to wave at the camera and, as it turns out, Nasim Pedrad does an outstanding Kaitlin impression.

Score: 7.5

"Actor II Actor" (Samberg, Timberlake): Perhaps because it was just so short. Samberg, hosting a serious actor interview type show, after an impressive buildup, breaks down and only asks Timberlake when he's going to make more music.

Score: 7

"The Even More Expendable" (Ensemble): The last sketch of the night, a spoof on the "of course it's going to happen" next Expendables film. This time staring: Steven Seagal, Chris Tucker, Brigitte Nielsen, Eugene Levy, Brooke Hogan, Hooch, Tracy Chapman, Rod Blagojevich, Steven Slater and Kim Jong-il.

Score: 6.5

"Boogerman" (Digital Short): The first digital short of the season was okay, but fairly unmemorable. It was basically a parody of over-the-top award show musical presentations for nominated songs from films in this case, a song from the film Boogerman. This would have been a lot better if they had skipped the award show spoof and just stuck to the fairly dramatically cut trailer for Boogerman. "I was born The Boogerman... and I'll die The Boogerman!"

Score: 6.5

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  • Kristen says:

    Nicely done, Mike! I agree with everything you said. Not bad for a season premiere and I'm looking forward to seeing what the new cast members bring to the equation.

  • lolitahaze says:

    actually the ladies who lunch sketch might be even worse than that. tim warheim of tim and eric has been barraged by tweets asking him if snl paid them for the tiny hats sketch rights. he's not happy.

  • Mike Ryan says:

    Hm, I dunno. I mean, yes, tiny hats are at the center of both sketches, but it seems that the similarities kinda end there. I don't think this is like Jay Mohr stealing a sketch idea (which he admitted to in his book). But, you're right, Warheim is NOT happy.

  • Bobby says:

    I'm not sure why Abby Elliot was promoted to a full cast member. I know she's a legacy (probably the first - I think her grandfather hosted? but her father was a castmember years ago). I haven't seen anything remotely funny from her. Fire Abby. Nassim should have been promoted over her. I saw Nassim try out several new characters and Abby is totally forgettable. Then again, I've heard rumors that Forte left because he wanted to date Abby, but she's with recently-divorced Armisen.
    I couldn't tell the difference between the newbies, other than one was a woman and one was black. Good for Jay for trying out new material. His Will Smith was spot on!

  • Nerd says:

    I think Abby was great last season. She is actually the most promising of all the newish cast members, imo.
    But seriously where was Jason Sudeikis last night?! Other than the opening sketch (which I don't even count cause it almost always sucks) he didn't do a damn thing. And we got very little from the other top cast members too (Wiig, Samberg, Thompson, Hader). Im hoping that it was mostly because of all the guest appearances and next week we'll see more of their A Games.

  • Scraps says:

    That Will Smith line about his dog where "He was just a mut, but I told him he could be anything he wanted to be. And now he's an English Springer Spaniel!" slayed me!!