Miley Cyrus came by SNL this week and, despite generally positive reviews, we still found it pretty average. Nothing egregious about it, nothing particularly horrible, but really nothing to write home about. And the feedback for Cyrus was mostly polite, praiseworthy even, commending her for at the very least not embarrassing herself, at the best acquitting herself remarkably well. But we really weren’t surprised by that. It’s no fluke that she was a star of a hit cable show and a pop music phenomenon. She’s got talent. Sure, she might have headlined a terrible, cloying cable show for Tweens, and she might perform grating, insipid kidz bop, but she’s been tremendously successful at it, and there’s really no denying that she has some kind of talent. So by all rites she should have been fine on SNL. And she was. And she parodied her image, parodied Justin Bieber, parodied Fergie, all to perfectly okay results. But nothing transcendent. Nothing special. Nothing that resonated like a sketch from a few years ago that featured an at the time teenage superstar. Lindsay, show Miley how it’s done:
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Sure, Miley had fun. She sang and danced. She even impersonated Lohan. But, unlike Lohan, none of Cyrus’ sketches will be remembered in five years.
Oh, and Jason Sudeikis reprised his Satan on “Weekend Update” and it was pretty cool. The dude can do no wrong (Sudeikis, not the Devil).
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.
Coming up: What sketch did we watch four times? And we hand out the season MVP award early.
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.
The Muppets are proving themselves to be the Leonardo da Vinci of modern media, moving effortlessly between movies, TV, community service, comics and cultural relativism*. Dudes are just hitting it from all angles right now. They’re like Miley Cyrus times four, with actual talent and vast more human emotion and independent thought.
Sure, they’ve always pounded the pavement when it comes to the traditional media, boasting a vault full of films and TV specials and music albums. But lately they’ve shown to be experts at exploiting popular YouTube videos to create their own. Right now the Muppets at the forefront of what I like to call viral video deconstructionism. Starting with their attempts to usurp the iconic skateboarding dog, and most notably in their “Bohemian Rhapsody” music video, they’ve deftly played with what we’ve come to call internet memes (at least I think that’s right. Still not quite sure what a meme is. Ask Urlesque). And they continue this trend now with what might be the most subversive video yet: Beaker (who has sort of become the go-to Muppet for these videos) performing a meepfelt version of “Dust in the Wind,” only to be crowded out and ultimately sabotaged by those YouTube pop-up comment boxes. Beaker, shine a light and we shall follow.
Expecting Pepe After Dentist anytime now.