SNL Scorecard: Was Tina Fey Overshadowed by Captain Jack Sparrow?
There was a sense that, after a few recent not-so-great shows and a month off to recharge (the last new SNL was back on April 9), Saturday Night Live was due for a triumphant return this week -- especially with its most heralded recent alum, Tina Fey, hosting the Mother's Day episode in the same week that Osama bin Laden was killed. And Fey even brought Maya Rudolph along for the ride to help out. So, plenty of material to go around, right? Right?
As it turns out: Sort of. The Bin Laden reaction was, all things considered, fairly weak. And it was odd that Fey would host the show without even appearing on "Weekend Update," which, obviously, is one of her huge strengths. (Though, as you will see below, "Update" did just fine without her.) Unfortunately, it felt like Fey's appearance as host became an afterthought -- with Michael Bolton as Captain Jack Sparrow and Stefon upstaging Fey's return -- which is a shame because Fey's last two appearances has host were so memorable. Even Fey's Sarah Palin impression -- which, at least this time around, should have stayed tucked away in the closet -- seemed forced in a "Tina's the host, so we have to do Palin" kind of way. Anyway, off to the Scorecard we go...
Sketch of the Night
"Weekend Update" (Meyers, Sudeikis, Armisen, Bayer, Hader) Bill Hader's Stefon, of course, is going to get the headlines. Everyone loves Stefon! Hader breaks character! Admittedly, I thought Stefon had a fresher feel to him than the last time we saw him, which was way back in mid February. Put it this way: It actually looked like Hader was genuinely laughing this time as opposed to, let's say, enhancing his laughter for comedic effect -- for what that's worth. Regardless, everything about "Update" clicked this week: Meyers appears to still be riding high from last week's performance at the White House Correspondence Dinner, and Sudeikis as the Devil was the best Bin Laden commentary of the evening. The absurdity of Armisen and Bayer as "Gaddafi's Best Friends Growing Up" was my personal highlight of "Update" because, well, we all know people just like this. It's too bad the rest of the show didn't have the energy that "Update" possessed.
"Digital Short: Jack Sparrow" (Samberg, Taccone, Schaffer, Bolton): "It turns out Michael Bolton is a major cinephile." Michael Bolton was so good in this that he may have just earned himself top billing in tomorrow's SNL Relevancy Poll. Good on him for having a sense of humor about himself. Or, if he doesn't have a sense of humor about himself, the dude really likes Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies (and Erin Brockovich, apparently). This is proof that an OK idea can hit another level by just having a more than willing participant. Where's the "Michael Bolton should host SNL" Facebook page? I'd "like" that right now.
"Mermaid" (Fey, Thompson, Brittain, Armisen, Bayer, Elliott): "Mermaid" is only up this high in the scorecard because of the brilliant concept: Undersea utopia ruined by Bin Laden's corpse. The concept alone makes me laugh, as I'm sure it did everyone at the pitch meeting. The execution, on the other hand, was... mildly amusing. Yeah, yeah, there's a 9/11 truther under the sea. OK, fine, whatever. That's the problem: once Bin Laden's body shows up, where do you go with it? Obviously SNL didn't know, either.
"Pregnant in Heels" (Elliott, Fey, Wiig, Pharoah, Killam): "I'm not so much a person as I am a collection of choices." You know, perhaps it's just the jolt of seeing Abby Elliott and Jay Pharoah featured so prominently, together, in a sketch that shocked me into laughter. Perhaps that's the key for those two: team up! Become the new Farley and Spade or the new Belushi and Aykroyd. Elliott and Pharoah forever! And nice job by Elliott for nailing Rosie Pope's "born in England, moved to America, every morning a thousand bees sting my tongue" accent.
"GOP Debate" (Fey, Hammond, Hader, Sudeikis, Thompson, Moynihan, Wiig): I bet Tina Fey hates playing Sarah Palin by this point. I bet when this idea was raised at the pitch meeting her first reaction was, "Really, guys? She's not even in the news right now. I mean, Seth, come on, you didn't mention her once at the White House Correspondence Dinner. Why are we doing this?" So, yeah, this whole sketch seemed like a contrived way to get Fey in the Palin makeup once again. Then again, it's always nice to see Darrell Hammond as Donald Trump. But why wasn't more time set aside to hammer that guy? You know, someone who actually is in the news. (To be fair, Meyers did a pretty great job of doing just that last weekend, so perhaps he felt that was enough.)
"Hallmark Mother's Day" (Brittain): This ran so late in the evening that it was tacked on after the sketch following the last musical performance -- so, yeah, I'm sure Paul Brittain was watching the clock all evening, hoping nothing went too long, because this would have been the first to get cut. Anyway, well, this was weird. Happy Mother's Day!
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