SNL Scorecard: Just How Excellent Was Dana Carvey's Trip Down Memory Lane?

Well, you can't say you weren't warned, but Dana Carvey made sure that last night's SNL felt more like an episode from 1991 than an episode from 2011. Nothing against Carvey; recurring characters are just what he does. And considering how he hasn't hosted the show in 11 years, it wasn't like he was going to spend too much time trying to cultivate new ones -- hence "Wayne's World (dated in a fun, nostalgic sort of way) and "Church Chat" (just plain dated). At times it did feel like REO Speedwagon asking the crowd, "Hey, who wants to hear 'Take it On the Run'?" But did Carvey's flashbacks doom the show to a sad trip down memory lane? Or did James Franco's hard work around the set strike a steady balance? (Also, what the hell was that second Linkin Park song all about? Seriously?) Let's check the scorecard...

Sketch of the Night

"Sports Bar" (Carvey, Armisen, Sudeikis, Killam): "Embrace me. Embrace me -- under the neon lights -- embrace me," were the words that haunted me as I tried to sleep last night. Still, it's frustrating that we're treated to the why-even-bother "Live with Regis and Kelly" or the fairly terrible "Bad News" while this sketch gets buried at the end of the night. Regardless, it was great to see Carvey actually play a new role. And, hey, Jason Sudeikis everybody! (Take a good look, because that's the only time you will see him in last night's show.)

Score: 8.0

The Good

"Wayne's World Cold Open" (Myers, Carvey): The bad news: If your mother tuned in and saw this last night there's a good chance that she's going to, once again, start thinking it's hip to use the word "not" after sentences. Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar -- a man in his late 40s and another man in his mid 50s -- use their suburban Chicago cable access show to make their Oscar picks. Not surprisingly, for those immersed in Campbell and Algar's canon, they both enjoyed Winter's Bone. Yes, the jokes were dated, but it was fun to see Myers and Carvey together again onscreen. Used as the cold open, the nostalgia train may have been an easier ride if it had stopped right after the two screamed "Live from New York..." Alas, it didn't.

Score: 7.5

"The Roommate" (Samberg, Bieber): A parody trailer for The Roommate that looks much better than the real thing. Justin Bieber plays a college student who discovers that his new roommate, Decklin, is insane. The best part of the trailer is learning that Sir Ben Kingsley portrays Decklin. Also, Bieber did a nice job.

Score: 7.5

"Weekend Update" (Meyers, Brittain, Wiig): Seth Meyers started "Update" with a look on his face that read, "I swear to god, if Dennis Miller shows up, I'm out of this place." Meyers was solid -- his best line was comparing Tunisia to Soundgarden and Egypt to Nirvana -- but the highlight of "Update" (and maybe the entire night if it had been its own sketch) was Paul Brittain as James Franco. "I love doing things!" Franco lists all the everyday jobs that he plans on doing, then making a documentary about doing that job. Before the end of the night Franco is seen holding the cue cards. Please, SNL, make James Franco a recurring character. Oh, yeah, Kristen Wiig also played a disco-singing weather reporter (sigh).

Score: 7.0

"Dana Carvey Monologue" (Carvey, Lovitz, Hader, Wiig, Samberg): Yeah, unfortunately, Dana Carvey still thinks it's funny to do a Ross Perot impression, but it was nice to see Lovitz show up. Carvey sings about the glory days of 1986-1993 while mistakenly referring to Wiig and Hader as Karen Wong and Rainn Wilson.

Score: 6.5

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  • Buffy Freak says:

    Wow I think you seriously overrrated the was painful. Dana seemed to have almost as hard a time reading the cue cards as Robert DeNiro. While I liked the impressions in the Teen Crisis Hotline sketch, the material was pretty weak. And Church Chat was only saved by the Kardashian impressions.

  • topsyturvy says:

    I thought the Bad News sketch was actually pretty funny. The highlights were the James Franco bit and the Sports Bar, especially when Taran Killam joined them at the end for some sweet dancing.
    The monologue would have beeen saved if Jane Curtin or Tina Fey or Will Farrell had come out. Bringing on Jon Lovitz as proof of the Glory Days? Wow! To me he was always the worst of any season.

  • stakeit says:

    That Linkin Park song WAS weird! I was hesitating for a while :"Does this suck or is it just too postmodern for my taste?!" But very quickly I came to the conclusion that it is a bunch of instruments played at the same time and somebody just singing randomly to it.

  • Alex says:

    I thought Fred Armisen's Ice-T was right on the money, should be recurrent.

  • anonymous says:

    I actually liked the Bad News sketch and I thought the Church Lady skit was better than the Waynes World skit.

  • Mike Ryan says:

    Well, Carvey's big thing was the 86-93 cast, so, other than Carvey and Myers, the only one left from that era that works is Lovitz (maybe Dennis Miller, but the odds of him ever showing up again on SNL are very, very low). Also, it's been awhile, but Lovitz was THE huge star of SNL from 85 to around 89.

  • Kristen says:

    I hate when they bring out the Kardashians but the Holy Trinity of Sluts introduction is still making me laugh.

  • Gecoff says:

    A pretty disappointing night overall - maybe my expectations were too high. James Franco was the highlight of the night. Paul Brittain seems the most sidelined of the 4 newcomers overall this season, but he's fantastic. I loved Church Chat though.
    As far as I can remember, this is the first character (non-celebrity impression) Abby has created in 2 1/2 years on the show, even if it wasn't very good. At least that's finally some very very slow progress...
    My expectations are back down to zero for next week - can't stand Russell Brand or Chris Brown.

  • Al says:

    I thought "Bad News" was a lot better than everything else you have under Bad and Ugly, as well as the monologue (that song just did nothing for me; I kept waiting for the verses to start).
    As for Linkin Park, I actually don't like all. But when I saw the percussion-fest as I zipped past their 2nd performance, my drummer's reflexes immediately had me rewind to hear the song, and I LOVED it (probably for the same reason you hated it; it sounded NOTHING like Linkin Park).

  • topsyturvy says:

    I'll have to take your word on Lovitz being "THE huge star" of SNL for those four years. I don't remember that.

  • Mike Ryan says:

    Are you familiar with the fire incident from the last show of the 85-86 season?

  • Anthony says:

    I thought Dana Carvey was excellent! He's seriously the perfect host. His presence alone made this an above average show and even boosted snl's neilson ratings making them the most watch event, for their time-slot, of the night! Yeah it had its low points (the outdated Ross Perot imitation, the 'little girls' beauty pageant' sketch, etc.) but is was great to see classics like "Wayne's World" and "Church Chat" with modern twists! Dana is a reminder of one of snl's greatest era's (as he proclaimed in song) and his impersonations and original sketches are greatly/missed needed in the entertainment world. Bottom line (#1): The mix of his modernized classics with the new cast's style was interesting and refreshed/complemented both sides of the collaboration.
    Bottom line (#2): Dana Carvey is a great host and NEED's to have his own show again!

  • Jamie says:

    I felt like the whole night was a huge waste of Dana Carvey, who I really love. The only memorable sketch for me was "The Roommate." I really, really wanted to like this episode, but they just had the most mediocre/bad material for Carvey. And yeah, no clue whatsoever what was going on with Linkin Park.
    Also agree with you on Moynihan as Snooki, but that's always a winner for me. But weirdly enough, I didn't hate the Abby Elliott sketch, and I really don't care for her.
    Another also: I really hate myself for laughing at Bieber-related comedy bits twice this week. (Daily Show, SNL)

  • Scraps says:

    Seems like Bieber is taking a page out of Timberlake's book. He's young and awkward and I have no interest in his music, but he seems willing to play ball. The rest of the show played like an SNL week off. It's like they called Carvey in to do a nostalgia show that was pretty easy to write and put together.

  • forgetful mike ryan says:

    less you forget kevin nealon.
    and although it's not official, during carvey's tenure began the careers of sandler, rock, farley, spade and, to a lesser extent although still notable, meadows and schneider. last i checked all those names still work on a consistent basis.

  • Quirky- says:

    Turns out you ain't checked in a long time, 'Forgetful Mike Ryan', 'cause Chris Farley's been dead since '97. But you're right, it would've been awesome if they'd brought him back for a Carvey sketch.
    PS - just in case you're spelling it phonetically, when you say it aloud next time in conversation, it's 'lest'...

  • casting couch says:

    Damn you, hulu, for your international restrictions.

  • Mike Ryan says:

    Yeah, just like David Spade began the careers of Will Ferrell and Molly Shannon?

  • Fabe says:

    I love Abby Elliott.

  • Fabian says:

    She also plays Paula in the "Gilly" sketches and Shirley in the "Laurence Welk Show" sketches with Kristen Wiig playing the main character in both.

  • Geoff says:

    Those are both just glorified extras though that could be played by anyone, not real characters, so I don't count them. I tend to like her impressions though, whether recurring or one-times. I have fond memories of her Sally Field and Sarah McLachlan bits.

  • Fabian says:

    Hopefully she'll bring of those impressions back, and I think if she worked on the Diedra Kurtz character a little more she could have something there. but hopefully she brings out some new characters too.

  • AdamLovesTV says:

    I think you way underrated "Bad News."
    Elliot was doing two things that had me laughing out loud, one was that sort of disingenuous apology thing that customer service people do (especially in the middle of the country where they still have to pretend to be nice).
    Bust mostly she really nailed that character of the dumb/talentless person who has been told or convinced themselves that they are really good at something.
    I've worked with people are totally convinced of their phone skills, or how to give out information, or how to explain where the bathroom is. There's this great air of confidence that comes out over their, in reality, sub-par skills.
    Also great to see Abby doing stuff.
    For me that like an 8.