Just one of our routine check-ins to see if Jimmy Fallon and Late Night are still killing, just in case you were concerned they were getting cocky or complacent after being named The Tonight Show successors. Let’s take a look.
First, some context: we are not especially devoted Seth MacFarlane fans. For a time we watched Family Guy semi-regularly and certainly were a part of that groundswell that helped resurrect the show from its premature grave. But do we consider ourselves MacFarlane evangelists or advocates? Not at all. We still haven’t seen Ted, and are not exceptionally eager to do so. We rarely watch American Dad and we can’t say for sure that we’ve ever caught an episode of The Cleveland Show. We were, however, impressed with his performance hosting the SNL premiere, and it demonstrated that not only could he do funny voices and write an off-color (and oft-humorous) joke, but he could also perform, and perform live, which is not always second nature for a writer-producer-voice actor. Did that mean we were thrilled to learn he was tapped to host this year’s Oscars? No, not really. We thought it was somewhat a knee-jerk, ill-advised decision (probably due, paradoxically, to his mess-up when presenting at the 2012 Emmys). But we knew, at least, that he could hold his own on stage, singing, dancing, cracking wise, and thinking on his feet. Was he going to offend some people? Probably. But that would come with the territory. Wouldn’t that be by design? If you wanted someone with only a love of musical theater and a flair for singing and dancing, then wouldn’t you just turn to Billy Crystal for a record 74th time? So, with Seth MacFarlane, that’s the package, that’s the deal (a faustian bargain, depending on your point of view): some dick and fart jokes and some mildly anti-Semitic and racist humor mixed with some sprinkles of old Broadway.
So were we surprised that MacFarlarne’s hosting turn this past Sunday night was met with a mix of disappointment and outright scorn? No, not at all. That was to be expected. But, after seeing the show, we were taken aback at the amount of criticism leveled at MacFarlane because, frankly, for someone who trades in abortion jokes and greased up deaf guys, we found his material relatively mild. It was almost as if we were watching a different show, different from the one that so much of the (tweeting) public found so repugnant, so misogynistic and racist and base. And, to our surprise, we found ourselves in MacFarlane’s corner. Not because we found his turn especially remarkable. But because it wasn’t that bad. And, more importantly, it wasn’t that vile.
Well kids, what started as a two to three day marathon has turned into a weeks long journey. But we’ve finally reached the end of the Saved by the Bell line, “Graduation.” With the benefit of time we know what eventually happens to the gang, but when we first saw this episode we didn’t know if Zack and Kelly would end up together or if this was it for them. It was the end of their youth, and we like to think that for the actors, from Mark-Paul to Lark to Dustin, it felt like they were actually graduating. It was truly a milestone moment for all of us.
Alright, let’s get to it. Get your tissues ready.
What a face, eh? The kind of visage you could set your clocks to.
Well, we had little hope that the SNL would rebound from its disillusioning Dana Carvey episode last week. For some reason, lately we’ve been giving the show the reverse of the benefit of the doubt, the doubt of the benefit if you will. And when we casually started the episode late Saturday night, it seemed that our prognostications would be proven valid, that we were in for another ho-hum effort with a perfectly fine but completely ordinary host. But, while Russell Brand would prove to possibly be the weakest part of the show, the episode turned around on the basis of two sketches, two pieces that will no doubt sit atop our best of the season list.
Move Over Betty White, ScarJo, Anne Hathaway, and any other Hollywood starlet, young or old, who had her sights set on hosting SNL. Get in line behind the chocolate chip chomper, the macadamia mastictor, the snickerdoodle scavenger himself, Cookie Monster.
Is there anyone on the Internet these days doing better work than Sesame Street (and that includes my mom’s emails)? After firing off one viral sensation after another, from the Katy Perry-Elmo music video (yes, we thought it was good, clean fun) to a terrific True Blood spoof to a brilliant take on the Old Spice commercials, this one could be their magnum opus. Who would have imagined that the most reliable source for viral video genius in 2010 would be Sesame Street?
SNL, Lorne, you have about a month left in the year to make this happen.
And, realistically, wouldn’t it be amazing if this actually worked? But beyond just the novelty, and joy of seeing Cookie Monster take the stage at Studio 8H, it would be especially poignant for the Muppets, original SNL contributors, to return to the show after 35 years. In many ways it would be a return to the scene of the crime, as their brief run during the first season of SNL was one of Jim Henson’s few failures, with the abstract Muppet segments proving unpopular with audiences. So now, three and a half decades later, and twenty years after Henson’s death, Cookie Monster can make it right. He can bring it full circle. Like a perfect cookie (see what we did there?).
It’ll never happen, but at perhaps Cookie Monster can at least make a cameo. That’d be worlds better than relying on Seth Rogen to play him.
Amy Poehler returned to host the 36th season premiere of SNL this past week, but did it feel like she ever really left? Between her frequent appearances last season on the big show and her stint co-anchoring Weekend Update Thursday last fall she was really on the show as much as Jenny Slate was, and probably more times than Jay Mohr during his brief run (cheap shot, sorry, Jay). She even capped last season by coming back for the famed, Emmy-winning Betty White episode, joining her fellow former female castmates like Tina Fey and Molly Shannon in helping White carry the hosting weight. That episode, the 2nd to the last of the season, felt more like a prime-time special than a regular show (indeed, it was billed as a Mother’s Day edition, but as a result of coincidental timing and to justify bringing in the ringers to support White, who then proved she really didn’t need assistance). And while host-in-residence Alec Baldwin made his annual appearance to close out the season a week later, White’s episode really felt like the big finish. And wouldn’t you know it, SNL felt like it picked up just where it left off, by pulling out the big guns and bringing back the all-time greats, starting with Ms. Poehler herself.
And apparently three-year olds can’t be exposed to breasts but they can watch a parody of a show that is ostensibly an excuse for soft-core porn. I guess this spoof of True Blood is one of those segments that’s really for the adults, because it’s be a sad state of affairs if today’s parents let their kids see Stephen Moyer’s penis, but not the suggestion of Katy Perry’s cleavage.
To be fair, this follows in the proud tradition of Sesame Street’s 30 Rock and Mad Men parodies, two series that are also NSFC. And they really captured Anna Paquin’s essence.