SNL #38.4 RECAP: Host Christina Applegate, musical guest Passion Pit
Christina Applegate has hosted Saturday Night Live twice now, but the distance between the two gigs is vast -- 19 years vast! Why the long wait? Especially since Applegate's first time on SNL, back in May 1993, saw the birth of Chris Farley's motivational speaker character, Matt Foley. What new recurring character would Applegate help spawn in 2012?
Let's take a look and find out!
But first, the requisite cold open focusing on this past week's VP debate between sitting Vice President Joe Biden and the Republican nominee, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan. Despite what you heard out of the mainstream media afterward, there was plenty of smirking to go around from both sides. If you actually watched the debate, you'd have noticed that. At any rate. SNL trotted out Jason Sudeikis as Biden, and as rumored, Taran Killam scored the role of Ryan. But Kate McKinnon earned the right to open the show as ABC News correspondent Martha Raddatz. J-Suds as Biden always plays up his wild-card factor, anyhow, and Killam really nails Ryan's facial expressions. But. Eight-and-a-half minutes?!? Hey. OK. Before we go on. Anyone else notice how many profanities have been thrown about in the dialogue purposefully -- not accidental slips, mind you -- to be bleeped this season? McKinnon's Raddatz asked the pols not to f*ck her over as if she were Jim Lehrer. There were at least a couple of other cue-card curse words in the previous episode. Is this where our culture is now? Topical humor needs f-bombs? Hmmm. Oh, and also: Usain Bolt!!!
Christina Applegate's monologue references her 1993 gig, as well as Farley's Foley debut. She's also apparently happy that this is the one time in fall that's not holiday season. But, hey, what's up with the pumpkin hate? Which leads to a musical number. Don't worry. It's an original song-and-dance number. With a Muppets rip-off, intentional. So you can see all of it above. And also a Dane Cook impersonation?! With Su-Fi hat??? Courtesy of Sudeikis. Completely random. Except for the fact that NBC prematurely cancelled Cook's upcoming midseason sitcom for the network not more than 24 hours before this aired. Weird, huh?
The fake ad slot takes aim at the real Gillette ad for razors featuring the odd facial hair of Adrien Brody (Killam), Gael Garcia Bernal (Fred Armisen), and André 3000 (Jay Pharoah). The twist? A clean-shaven imprisoned Jerry Sandusky (Sudeikis). Good thing Sudeikis stuck around for another season! He's cleaning up so far. Or was the whole point of being coy over the summer? Comedy nerd debate commence....NOW.
After some real ads, SNL brings back "The Californians" from last seasons laugh-filled debut. Fake blonde hair, bad accents, traffic advice...and more Usain Bolt!!! Applegate took over the leading lady role played previously by Kristen Wiig. You remember her, right? The first beat of this sketch is lacking. Beat two, more of the same. They're relying on the accents and faces to sell it rather than the material. I'd sure like to see Usain Bolt host an entire episode of SNL, though!
Next week, host and musical guest Bruno Mars.
Back to this week's host, as Applegate steers the ship on the "Tech Talk" sketch skewering the iPhone 5, with a panel of tech media people played by Bill Hader, McKinnon and Kenan Thompson representing CNet, Wired and Gizmodo, respectively. So they're sure to cover this sketch thoroughly on their websites! Am I right, bloggers? Apple Maps: Disaster! (not really) But after the #firstworldproblems critique from our tech talkers, we see the perspective from three Chinese factory workers, played by Armisen, Nasim Pedrad and Cecily Strong. Now Mike Daisey is paying attention! Nice dig at American manufacturing. "Does diabetes count as a product?" Zing!
Time now for a fake movie trailer, for "Give Us All Our Daughters Back!" It's like Taken meets The Expendables. Not my words. Theirs. Besides, it gives the cast a chance to show us a slew of celebrity impersonations: Jay Pharoah's Denzel Washington once more, plus Killam as Liam Neeson, Armisen as Harrison Ford, Applegate as Uma Thurman, Sudeikis as Mel Gibson, and Bobby Moynihan as Steven Seagal. Lots of one-sided phone calls and unnecessary action scenes. Plus, Bill Hader as Arnold Schwarzenegger (because of his new book, not because anyone needed to see yet another take on Ahnold).
Ladies and gentlemen, Passion Pit. They're playing that one song from that one commercial! "Take a Walk," they're telling me it's called. Good to know.
Weekend Update time.
Arianna Huffington (Nasim Pedrad) has a word or two about how Martha Raddatz moderated the VP debate. Does standards and practices not understand her pronunciation of the word "penis"? It's not a dirty word. But still. Just curious. A lot of meat here for the feminists and anyone who thinks the men in politics aren't thinking about the needs of women. Which is too many of the men in politics.
Lance Armstrong had his Tour de France titles taken away by the U.S. bicycling officials. Zut alors! That means we get a few words about it from Jean K Jean (Thompson). Zut alors! Sacré bleu! Arrêtez, s'il-vous plait!
Wait. Hold on a second. Is this is an Odysseus-based sketch? With the scene featuring the Sirens? Why yes, yes it is. Sudeikis plays Odysseus. Our Sirens: Applegate, McKinnon and Strong. This isn't online officially yet? Argh. It's because they sang the hits from the 1990s, isn't it. "Stay." "I Don't Want to Wait." "That Don't Impress Me Much." "All I Wanna Do." "No Scrubs." Nice budget on the special effects. Must include unofficial video. Must.
Jay Pharoah's non-celebrity impersonation of Principal Frye is a bonafide recurring character, making his third appearance here. This time he wants to talk to the Booker T. Washington High School students at the Halloween Ball. Make that Hell-Oween Ball. Trick or treat! Applegate shows up as the school's librarian in a ghost outfit, looking for books -- any books -- since the kids all just use Google now. Kenan Thompson comes to the rescue as the gym teacher.
Once again, Passion Pit! Let's not get carried away now. Let's just listen to "Carried Away."
Five to one. Five to one. For our final treat of the evening's live sketch comedy programming, we see Applegate putting on her Maya Rudolph voice to be a choreographer in a dance studio. Her students: Thompson, Pedrad, Killam and Moynihan. "This is Fosse!"
Pretty good episode, wouldn't you agree? Christina Applegate fits in seemlessly. Usain Bolt is a natural comedic talent in addition to being the fastest human on planet Earth. Are there humans on other planets yet? What about that guy who jumped down to Earth from space? Does he count? Sorry. Tangents. As far as Season 38 of SNL goes, you'd have to agree that featured players Kate McKinnon and newbie Cecily Strong have started out more than strong. Stronger even than relative veteran ladies in the cast such as Nasim Pedrad and Vanessa Bayer, who have ceded air time to the new ladies. An interesting development! Particularly since Pedrad and Bayer already have some strong characters to contribute. Only a glimpse of new guy Tim Robinson in one of the pre-taped bits. And still little for new girl Aidy Bryant to shine yet. No pressure. Just stating the facts. Not as much Hader, either, come to think of it. It's almost as if the SNL producers have made a concerted effort to let the newer cast members put their stamp on this season. Transition year! But without all of the problems of a transition year!
See you next Saturday.