Tag Archives: Charles Barkley

Is it Wrong to Want More Paul Rudd Than Paul McCartney? Also, a Look Back at the Last Three SNLs

Okay, let’s get this thing going right away. Here are the highlights from this weekend’s SNL hosted by Paul Rudd:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

And that’s it for the highlights.

Read on: More Rudd, less McCartney, the worst sketch of all time? and what’s wrong with this show?

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Analysis, Mancrush, Saved by the Bell

Breaking Badly: ‘SNL’ Weak Too

Well.  That was that.  We gave SNL the benefit of the doubt after a decent, if lazy, premiere, instead looking forward to the second show of the season as the real test.  And, well, they pretty much failed.

As Alan Sepinwall noted in his tweets, it’s a shame that the show totally wasted Bryan Cranston’s immense talent.  It’s not that he wasn’t in any sketches.  And it’s not that he wasn’t good.  He did everything he was asked to do to the best of his abilities.  The problem was that the material was just uninspired, whether it was a retread or a weak stab at something original, it was all very stale.  If this was them trying, then we’d hate to see them phone it in.

More: At least there was What’s Up With That? We never thought we’d say those words.

1 Comment

Filed under Analysis, Bad Humor, Saturday Night Live

Jude Law is One of Our Finest Actors, and a Look Back on the Last Three Weeks in ‘SNL’

Jude Law maybe one our finest actors.  But that doesn’t mean he’s funny.

However, I won’t pin this past weekend’s thoroughly average installment on Law.  He made Sean Penn good on his word, and proved to be an extremely talented thespian, seamlessly transitioning from Shakespearean actor to Russian ballet dancer to Spanish serial killer to Jude Law to American lawyer.  If the reminders that Law recently appeared on Broadway as Hamlet weren’t evidence enough, the way Law breezily donned new accents showed that he’s indeed meant for the stage.  However, acting talent alone doesn’t result a funny show, and outside of a couple bright spots, this one sorta just sat there without much life.

Read on: The perfect host formula, killing time, and Smash Mouth!

3 Comments

Filed under Analysis, Saturday Night Live

‘SNL’ & Sigourney Weaver: Old Tricks AKA The Worst ‘SNL’ of the Decade

Well, at least they’re consistent.  These days every good SNL episode (see: last week’s Charles Barkley affair) is almost always immediately followed by an underwhelming effort.  Despite the buzz they drummed up last week,  and the return of Sigourney Weaver (coming back after 23+ years, the longest such stretch between hosting gigs in SNL history), they once again did not disappoint when it comes to disappointing.

Sometimes it’s lazy writing.  Sometimes it’s bad writing.  Sometimes it’s just bad ideas.  This episode had all three.

With all the attention paid last week to the drama in late night television (including on this blog), it was only natural that they would use the fiasco as fodder.  Indeed, it was encouraging at first to see Darrell Hammond return to play Jay Leno on a Larry King Live cold open.  But where the sketch succeeded in mocking King’s senility and misappropriation of social networking tools, it kind of failed in effectively mocking the late night situation.  There was the big chinned, high voice Leno impression we’ve seen everywhere (although, big points on the denim on denim outfit), and Bill Hader turned in a weird, detached, dour Conan O’Brien.  I understood that they were showing that O’Brien is the powerless victim in this situation, but they didn’t seem to get a handle on his personality (if he wasn’t going to be the crazy Conan we know, he should have been the sharp, assertive pugilist of his mission statement).  It was especially discouraging because Conan honed his chops as a writer on SNL (see: the Lady Watchers). He’s part of the family, so you’d think they could have done him justice.  The best impression was probably Jason Sudeikis’ David Letterman, who appeared via satellite.  Except, that it was the wrong David Letterman persona for this situation.  It was basically Norm MacDonald’s beloved (by us) hyena laughed, self-indulgent, pencil throwing Letterman impression (he of “you got any gum???).  And although Sudeikis did it well, throughout the late night debacle we’ve seen the other Letterman, the outraged, seething, vitriolic Dave.  Obviously, it’s not as broad of an impression, but it could have worked if they tried.  Instead, they took the easy way out.  And, come to think of it, Fred Armisen’s Larry King also owes a lot to Norm MacDonald’s own King impression (but I guess this is perhaps a topic for another post; how, after being on the air for 35 years, it’s impossible for previous versions of celebrity impressions on SNL to not to color the imitations of the same personas by new cast members).  So, really, this sketch was just a testament to the unheralded work of Norm MacDonald.  Although, that all being said, it was definitely one of the strongest opens this season.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Keep reading: More Jaypocalypse jokes, Alien Vs. Laser Cats, and the worst sketch of the decade!

2 Comments

Filed under Analysis, Bad Humor, Good Humor, Saturday Night Live

Charles Barkley Hosts the Best ‘SNL’ of the Decade! No Foolin’!

Alright, that headline is an obvious and deliberately misleading statement, you got me.  However, even more than being technically correct, this weekend’s show actually earned the distinction.  I previously stated my disbelief over the choice of Barkley, NBA Hall of Famer, current commentator and compulsive gambler, as the first SNL host of the decade.  It not only seemed completely out of left field, but even if Barkley was relevant among SNL‘s core demographic, you’d think they would have still chosen someone hipper, funnier and actually from a performing background for the first show.  At least save Sir Charles for 2010 week 2.

But I was wrong.  What I failed to realize is that Barkley was likely to succeed precisely because of his limitations.  It’s the extreme version of Christopher Walken or John Malkvovich, where the fact that it’s the host in a specific role is more of the joke than the sketch itself.  And with Barkley being a good sport ex-athlete instead of an eccentric actor, the writing staff was able to even more successfully use Barkley’s personality and performing constraints to his advantage.  It’s like the Jets plotting a game plan whereby Mark Sanchez has to just manage the game, hand off the ball for the majority of the snaps and avoid turnovers (bet you didn’t see that sports analogy coming.  Well, some of us care about football 3 weeks out of the year.  Mostly for the nachos).  And this is different from writing for an actor who just isn’t particularly talented when it comes to comedy.  Despite her SNL showing, January Jones is still a better acting talent than Charles Barkley; it’s just that SNL could use Barkley’s weaknesses to its advantage.  With Jones they could only try to minimize the damage by having her look pretty and leave the funny to the cast.

All those platitudes aside, while it was a surprisingly good episode by SNL standards, it wasn’t wall-to-wall successful, and I’d still rather see a host earn the laughs with natural comic ability as opposed to lack of it.  However, Barkley really was impressive, and set the bar high for 2010 (tall guy joke!).

More: Highlights! Racism! Cake! Chopping Broccoli!

2 Comments

Filed under Analysis, Good Humor, Saturday Night Live

SNL & James Franco Hit Christmas Break Early: You Can’t Squint Funny

It’s getting harder and harder to write these SNL commentaries; not because I don’t have anything to say, but because I’m afraid that I’m going to sound redundant, as it seems that I have the same reaction almost every week.  Occasionally there’s a funny, or at least a buzzworthy, sketch, or a Digital Short that goes viral, or a host that either succeeds beyond expectations or crashes spectacularly, but for the most part, week in and week out it’s becoming the same show.  Starting to feel like a broken record.

James Franco had a fairly successful debut as host last season (although I can only seem to remember the glossy Gossip Girl send-up “Murray Hill“), but in the period leading up to this weekend’s show (indeed since Franco was announced as the anchor in the Blake Lively-Taylor Lautner-James Franco hosting triumvirate) it seemed there was a feeling that Franco was going to be some sort of SNL savior, that he’s developed into a comedy wunderkind.  Now, his turn on General Hospital may be generating laughs, but it’s not necessarily comedy (in fact, if you listen to Franco, it’s “performance art“).  And the very reason he was hailed for his comedic performance in last year’s Pineapple Express and his subsequent SNL hosting gig was precisely because he was playing against type.  Before that time he was identified more with his previous characters: the quiet cool of James Dean, Freaks & Geeks sensitive bad boy Daniel Desario, and petulant, moody Spider-man friend turned enemy turn friend Harry Osborne.  Franco was so successful in Pineapple Express because it was somewhat unexpected.  However, now it seems that he’s planted himself in the comedy camp, or at least as some sort of genre chameleon or Renaissance Man, moving between comedy, serious drama (Milk), daytime soap operas and Columbia University.  And with this shift, we’re now less surprised with Franco’s comedy aptitude, and then perhaps set the bar a little too high for his second SNL go-around.

Which is not to say he was anywhere near January Jones territory, not even in the same stratosphere.  He was enthusiastic, confident and capable.  But he also spent the majority of the broadcast squinting severely which gave off the impression that either a) he was struggling to see the cue cards without the use of prescription lenses, b) his eyes are particularly sensitive to the bright studio lights, or c) he was really, really high.  His giggly demeanor and off-beat rhythms didn’t help dissuade the viability of option C.  During the monologue if felt like I was looking at French Stewart, not James Franco.  But he clearly felt very at home, and up for anything (including making out with Will Forte).

Keep reading: Greatest Hits, the return of Fart Face and belated thoughts

1 Comment

Filed under Analysis, Discos and Dragons, Saturday Night Live, Yankee Swap