Since NBC has gotten so much better at putting buzzworthy clips from SNL online, it's made me less eager to recap the full episodes. Or perhaps it's just ennui from this season in transition. Either way, it's given me a chance to catch up with the past few episodes later, and see if I have a fresh perspective on them.
With Dana Carvey hosting, you knew he'd bring back some of his classic characters, because he had done so before. What you didn't expect was that he'd do so right off the bat in the cold open with Mike Myers returning for a "Wayne's World" reunion. Wayne's World! Excellent! Party time! They even wrote the script to include a callback to their other reunion, which happened not on SNL or even NBC, but at the MTV Movie Awards in 2008. You can see the clip and my first impressions of the Wayne's World reunion on SNL.
The monologue was a little different, because Carvey gave a shoutout to his two teen-aged sons in the audience, who he said had never seen him when he actually was on SNL as a cast member. A mini moment of poignancy. And then he got funny sincere by talking with pride about his cast (1986-1993) being the best SNL cast, because as everyone knows, when it comes to SNL, people have their favorite seasons and casts and say the show hasn't been funny since then. The crowd applauded for Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, more for Andy Samberg, and then even more when Jon Lovitz stepped onstage. "What are you doing here?" That was Carvey asking, for the record.
For the first ad spoof, they went back to the "black noise" well voiced by Jay Pharoah as Kenan Thompson slept, which first aired in episode #36.2 with Bryan Cranston. Just seems "edgy" for the sake of being "edgy."
After the break, we saw the return of Carvey's "Church Lady," who also had a surprise guest in Justin Bieber. He was there without warning, but he had his own movie to promote, and the kids (well, the girls) seem to love him, so why not, right? And oh yeah, Nasim Pedrad as Kim Kardashian (with her sisters) and Bobby Moynihan as Snooki. Sometimes, it doesn't really matter if it's perfect, because these two are perfect in their own ways.
After another break, we're treated to a Vh1 spoof called Celebrity Teen Crisis Center, with celebs answering phone banks for teens. First up, Hader as Alan Alda. Next is Carvey as Mickey Rooney (another of his SNL callbacks), giving bad advice to Paul Brittain. Of course, when this episode aired last month, did we know Rooney would come out publicly to admit that he'd been mistreated in elder care? Fred Armisen gives Ice-T a try. Man, they love having Armisen pretend to be black, don't they? Abby Elliott is Anna Faris giving bad advice to Taran Killam. Of course, this all feels like it was just a build-up to seeing Pharoah do Eddie Murphy. But do you think he botched that last line, or do you think it was written like that? Debate it or don't.
OK. That film trailer spoof of Single White Female which was The Roommate, but with Samberg and Bieber? Still felt phoned in. The fact that Samberg says the name of the movie in the trailer and then declares himself to be a famous actor? I. Don't. Know. Let's move on.
But wait. There's Linkin Park. Still doing their thing. Which is, what, exactly? I jest. I liked it when Jay-Z performed a mash-up with them a few years ago. This first "song" didn't have any Jay-Z in it.
Weekend Update introduced a new feature in this episode called Winners & Losers. What do you think? Doesn't matter. We know now it's coming back. So let's just get to the next thing.
To talk about the Oscars, they had James Franco (Paul Brittain) come on to talk about his many jobs. Not sure how well he nailed the voice or the laid-back attitude. It's just really weird to me to see this show employ two of its newbies in impersonations that neither one has down (see Taran Killam as Brad Pitt). I don't blame the performers. I know there's a pressure on everyone to present something timely and appease their masters. But still. It was a nice touch to have Brittain show up again holding the cue cards.
And what about meteorologist and former disco queen Angela Dixon (Wiig)? Seems very much similar to her recent Weekend Update visit as a former aerobics instructor, doesn't it? Yes. Yes, it does.
Carvey also brought back his Regis Philbin impersonation, but Kelly Ripa wasn't a part of his universe way back when, so Pedrad steps in as his cohort. This was about Philbin leaving, so it's not so much about Pedrad's Ripa, although Killam does put in a good turn as producer Gelman. And it gave Wiig a good excuse to trot out her Kathie Lee Gifford. Don't know why this video isn't online. It should be. Let's blame ABC for blocking it.
After a break, we're back with a play on kiddie pageants, with Thompson and Carvey as the hosts. I don't know. I feel like Zach Galifianakis and Jenny Slate mined this territory already and better. Bayer, Elliott, Wiig and Pedrad play the pre-teens. Oh, and Samberg, too. Get it. A boy is in the pageant? It means he's gay. Gay. Hahaha.
OK. So speaking of Abby Elliott not developing any characters that aren't celebrity impersonations (hey, look at Darrell Hammond's career and tell me that's a bad thing, why don't you), here's a fake ad for a "bad news" service fronted by Diedra Wurtz (Elliott). First thing I noticed is that Jessie Eisenberg (or at least his head and profile) is in this video. They must have filmed this for his week, but cut it at some point before air then.
This second Linkin Park song was, well, we all know it was avant-garde, so avant the garde that the garde will never know what it was, exactly. Let's leave it at that, even though video evidence exists. Chester knows what I'm talking about. Don't you, Chester? Call me!
Oh, right. I almost had forgotten about this sketch, although I remember watching it live on TV. A Green Bay Packers bar for the Super Bowl when this sissy band would perform, because the bartender is brother-in-law with the band's frontman. Killam was the bartender. Carvey and Armisen are the singers. Hader and Brittain are backing band members. Sudeikis, Moynihan and Thompson are among the bar crowd who think WTF? This sketch isn't so much funny as it is believable as people would react to something horrible in the wrong context leaving the room.
Both of Carvey's teen-aged sons showed up onstage with him for the good-nights, alongside Justin Bieber, Mike Myers, Jon Lovitz and the current cast, which Carvey called "the best cast ever." Somehow I don't believe him.