After a full week of NBC-bashing by the various late-night TV talk-show hosts, how would the reigning big daddy of late-night TV comedy handle its own mockery? Not quite the way you'd think, or hope, even when it looked like they might just surprise you with something magically great. Not once. Not twice. Three times this happened on last night's Saturday Night Live. Let's go through the motions…
The cold open imagined an edition of CNN's Larry King Live in which King (Fred Armisen) presides over a summit with Jay Leno (Darrell Hammond), Conan O'Brien (Bill Hader) and via satellite, David Letterman (Jason Sudeikis). Starts out with a funny line by Armisen about himself, quickly fizzles when you think, they brought Hammond back tonight for that impression of Leno? "C'mon. We didn't come here to have fun!" Prophetic. The voices are all over the place. And the jokes are, well, aimed at Larry King? Hammond and Hader are known for some great impersonations, but here, it seemed more about the look than the voice. Sudeikis, meanwhile, had a decent look but was reduced to the throwing-pencils shtick. But this sketch really only works if you forget about what's really happening at NBC and focus on making Larry King look silly. Wait. Maybe that was the point? Oh, also a Carson Daly (Will Forte) reference.
Sigourney Weaver was our host this week, and it's her second time. First time was way back in 1986? Which means we get a look back at the 1980s. Weird but sexy. Yep. That was the '80s. Did you know? Fun fact! Weaver's late father not only used to run NBC, but also created The Tonight Show. How do you like them apples? OK. Maybe not an apt metaphor movie catchphrase, but still. Great timing. So Weaver has something funny or profound or profoundly funny to say about her dad and this current kerfuffle, right? Right? Well. Hmmm. Someone hands her a piece of paper reputed to be the letter her dad wrote pitching the show. Not enough payoff there. Another foul ball. Two swings at the NBC mess, two foul balls.
Now what? A great show? Stick around and we'll be right back. But first. It's Grady Wilson (Kenan Thompson) with another instructional video of his personal love-making techniques. The sexy sex moves sketch moves up early this time around. Sometimes it's the name of the sex position that sells it, sometimes it's trying to figure out how Kenan, or how his partner Marta (Weaver) visualizes the title, and a couple of times, how what the two of them are doing is really supposed to look. How long did it take you to figure out The Brandy Snifter? The Lawnmower?
This is quickly followed by another recurring sketch with adult themes. It's the return of ESPN Classic's classic mustachioed broadcasting duo, Pete Twinkle and Greg Stink (Sudeikis and Forte), this time covering the Summer's Eve Lady Stars of Darts Championship. Featuring Darcy Vancouver (Wiig) and Olga "The Wolf Bear" Bogunskaya (Weaver). Everything the lady dart-throwers do is secondary to the pitter-patter of Sudeikis and Forte. Which, come to think of it, carries a similar writing pattern to last week's movie quote quiz sketch with Charles Barkley answering questions the wrong way. With another recurring idea, which is how many funny slogans can Sudeikis deliver for the sponsor, Summer's Eve…douche. (Childhood flashback for "old" people to Eddie Murphy's Brut, by Faberge)
Now we do have a commercial break? Nope.
An SNL Digital Short, and the second James Cameron showed up in Lorne Michaels' office, I knew we were in for another installment of Laser Cats, the movie pitch from Andy Samberg and Bill Hader. Nice nod to The Three Amigos poster in Lorne's office, though! For Laser Cats 5, their chief (Armisen) sends them into a time machine — from the plot of Terminator — with giant cats and robots, only to be saved by Ripley — Weaver's character from Aliens — and then a bit from Avatar. And a random quick Titantic reference with the band. Mix liberally. A couple of funny surprises, none of which are supplied by Cameron.
Now a commercial? Yes, commercial. Also: Jan. 30, 2010 is host Jon Hamm with Michael Buble!
The opening of Disco Booty Junction looked really promising, what with a smiling and dancing Jenny Slate and Bill Hader in 1970s get-ups. Alas. Not to be. Host Jerry (Kenan Thompson) wants him some Nilla wafers, but no rats. He introduces the duo Amber and Cream (Weaver and Wiig), and the joke here is who's Amber and who's Cream? Kenan's character is not the only one who's annoyed with this idea. Is Pat a woman or a man? Don't ask, don't tell, for once, sounds like a good idea.
Oh, look. It's The Ting Tings. And this is a song that they sing sing. But not at Sing Sing. That would be nuts.
Weekend Update gives us a third chance to crack jokes at NBC's late-night troubles. SNL's head writer Seth Meyers leaves it to himself to take the third and final swing at the topic of Leno and Conan, and after an initial reference to Cinemax — as in, you don't need to turn on Cinemax to see someone get screwed on TV — he goes for a multiple-marriage analogy. Really?!? No, what I'm saying is, this was something that could have used the Really?!? treatment. And also Amy Poehler. The one truly funny part of Meyers' riffing was when he brought it home in more ways than one, noting that if Leno can take Conan's job, and Conan can take Fallon's job, that would mean…home. Fallon could take back Weekend Update. "I cannot go back to being in one sketch every three weeks." Of course, NBC wouldn't dare upload this clip separately, so you need to scroll through the full episode, like so:
Larry the Goose (Samberg) returned for the one-year anniversary of the Miracle on the Hudson plane landing, which began because geese flew into the plane's engines. Let's remember the geese who perished that day, with a roll call of puns!
Meryl Streep must be so proud to have someone so young (Abby Elliott) playing her.
And now it's time for the inevitable Avatar parody, with Weaver playing her character, Hader as the guy who becomes the avatar thingy, and Sudeikis and Armisen playing two of the other guys, and Samberg as Hader's blue alter-ego. Look. I haven't seen the movie. Hooray for me! But if you tell me that Nasim Pedrad is in Avatar, I will stop what I'm doing, find my nearest 3-D IMAX cinema and gladly hand over the $20 or whatever they ask me to see Nasim Pedrad big and blue in Avatar. Until then, we'll all have to make do with an anal sex punchline.
Is it just me, or is the opening musical theme to this "Riley" sketch exactly the same as the theme to everyone's (least) favorite character, Gilly? Armisen is Riley, a kid who calls everyone he doesn't like a bitch. Weaver and Sudeikis play parents to Samberg's character, who has invited Riley over for dinner. Riley is like Harvey Fierstein as a foul-mouthed kid. Other than that, I'm not sure where all of this bitch talk is supposed to lead. He said I probably wouldn't get it, bitch!
Hey, look. A peacock!
In better news, this sketch about Sigourney Weaver, her boyfriend/husband/unspecified (Sudeikis) and another couple (Hader and Wiig) are sitting down to watch the Golden Globes, except Weaver has just discovered the Internet. And more specifically message boards and Internet commenters. This is really funny, even if the live studio audience is letting it sink in like a slow burn. Internet comments! "I should slap her in her bitch mouth…I'm Sigourney fricking Weaver!"
"Do you think men are going to masturbate to this? Do you think women will?"
Speaking of which, Jan. 23, 2010 is an SNL
repeat with Blake Lively and Rihanna.
And now, more with The Ting Tings. Shut up and let me go! I don't think they mean this as a literal thing right this very second. Don't worry, guys.
Time for one last sketch, and it's not odd in the way most final-five-minute SNL sketches are. Playing off memorable movie scenes such as The Fabulous Baker Boys, Weaver plays a sultry singer who gets up on a piano in a red dress, while her male partner (Bobby Moynihan) plays the keys. Thing is, Weaver's Jessica Fire is scared of heights. Dante Rice (Moynihan) keeps assuring her a piano is not that high off the ground as they perform a medley of standards. One of those sketches that's not really funny, but with a twist ending that's supposed to be funny. Points for the "I'm peeing!" callback. It's not online, either separately or as part of the "full" episode. You'll be fine if you missed it.
This week really didn't give a lot to any of our featured players, and even Wiig's characters played secondary roles. Weaver was a good sport. All in all, an episode I enjoyed for the most part, although I kept wishing it were better. Story of my life?