‘SNL’: Plain Jane

Not that Jane Lynch was sub-par in her first (of hopefully many) outing as host of SNL,  quite the contrary, but it’s that, once again, the material failed to live up to the vast talents of the host.  It’s confusing, bewildering and frustrating that they keep wasting their resources.  Perhaps, as we felt with the Zach Galifianakis show last season, the writing staff is actually less motivated by a talented host; they rely on the host to elevate the material, so what they deliver is second-rate.  It’s just a theory, and probably misguided and misinformed, but you also can’t ignore the body of evidence, because, while this week’s show was better than last week, it wasn’t a great improvement.  We saw plenty of Jane Lynch (and plenty of wigs), but nothing truly memorable.

The show wasted no time with the inevitable Glee parody, inserting it as the first sketch after the monologue (which poked also poked fun at Lynch’s TV alter ego Sue Sylvester (but we can we please put a moratorium on musical monologues.  This particular song made sense, but it’s like every fucking week.  It’s the monologue, not the opening number)).  But while the sketch started out promising – with Jason Sudeikis as Mr. Shue, Abby Elliott as Rachel (although we were bummed that she didn’t reprise her portrayal of Emma Pillsbury that she nailed on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon), Kenan Thompson as Mercedes, and, best of all, Fred Armisen as Artie, the kid in the wheelchair, er…the glasses – it was quickly hijacked by our arch-enemy, Kristen Wiig’s Gilly.  Just like Gilly ruined Christmas, she ruined this sketch.  They had a perfectly good parody, with some strong impressions, but instead of finding a novel idea, they shoehorned in one of their (inexplicably) most popular characters, and doing so spoiled any real chance of skewering Glee, a show that deserves to be brought down a peg or two.  And, perhaps worst of all, Lynch barely appears as Sue Sylvester, just doing so to introduce the demon child.  We have mixed feeling about these kinds of crossovers – we initially were disappointed when their Mad Men parody with Jon Hamm turned into a “Two A-Holes” sketch, but we came around on that one, because in the end it still played on the Don Draper character – but we are certain in our detestation of this one.  Curiously, Hulu is not hosting the sketch; we’re going to speculate that this is because a) Fox objected to SNL using their intellectual material or b) the ending of the sketch – Gilly exploding a bomb in the music room – was found to be in bad taste, considering the still very sensitive school violence issue.  So, in lieu of the sketch, we submit Late Night‘s far superior Glee parody, “6-bee,” as well as the aforementioned Mad Men/A-Holes sketch.

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The show followed this up with a commercial for a “mMom’s on Facebook” filter, which was fine, if mostly just relevant (as long as you don’t think too hard about the logistics of the application).  However, after many pointed out the similarity between SNL‘s “Ladies Who Lunch” sketch with Amy Poehler and Tim and Eric’s Tiny Hats bit, the show might take another hit for this sketch, as it calls to mind a music video done by the LA comedy group Back of the Class.  We don’t think SNL ripped off the video or the idea, but rather it was a case of common inspiration. But what is more upsetting, like with the “Ladies Who Lunch,” is that SNL is doing it second, and doing it worse.

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The next sketch, “The New Boyfriend Talk Show,” was probably our favorite of the night, at the very least because it featured Sudeikis in a robe and mustache, but mostly because it was relatively original and threw in Kenan Thompson as Magic Johnson (“real friend of a show”).  Also, Andy Samberg proves once again that he’s adept at playing prepubescent boys.

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Lynch continued  it give it her all throughout the show, most notably in a Sunday Night Football sketch in which she has to sing an extended, superfluously informative, version of theme song for the duration of the bit.  It was an impressive performance, and probably something we didn’t quite expect from her, but it just made us pine for a similar football theme song sketch from the show’s past.

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The rest, bullet-point style:

  • A new “Secret Word Game Show,” which is another sketch series they can retire.
  • “Returns & Exchanges,” with Jay Pharaoh as Denzel Washington working the returns desk of a department store.  An excellent impression by Pharoah, no doubt, but this was one of those instances in which the premise is a tenuous excuse for a celebrity impression.  Feels very forced, which is why impressions like they usually end up on “Weekend Update,” or on a fake talk show.
  • The return of “The Suze Orman Show.”  This is one of Kristen Wiig’s characters that we really do enjoy (probably because she’s constrained by portraying an actual person, as opposed to her loopy, cartoony, original characters), but this particular installment was kind of murky, with Orman goading her guest, an old roommate played by Lynch, to admit her homosexuality.  Another sketch praying on gay stereotypes, which is become something of a crutch.
  • This week’s Digital Short vacillated back to the wrong side of bizarre.
  • Sam + Zucker(berg) on Update.
  • And, in the Will Forte Memorial Last Sketch slot, a “Tax Mastersparody that verged on the grotesque, and ended oddly abruptly.

Emma Stone continues her path to becoming this generation’s Lindsay Lohan by taking over hosting duties in two weeks.  Lohan’s hosting gigs were mostly successful, with memorable sketches like “Debbie Downer,” “Hogwarts Academy” and “Coin Slot.”  In fact, she was on her way to being the female equivalent of Alec Baldwin before her career (and life!) derailed.  Looks like Stone is going to pick up where she left off.  However, hopefully the cast and crew don’t pick up where they left off after this week’s show.  With Stone, a much less seasoned comedian, as host,  they need to raise their game, instead of depending on the host to compensate for mediocre material.  Imagine this week’s sketches in less capable hands than Lynch’s?  Not a pretty picture, is it?

See you then!

1 Comment

Filed under Analysis, Conspiracy Theory, Saturday Night Live

One response to “‘SNL’: Plain Jane

  1. Pingback: More ‘SNL’ Revisionist History: The Disappearing Denzel « Jumped The Snark

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