Saturday, October 12, 2013

SNL Season 39.1 Review - Tina Fey, Arcade Fire

The new season of Saturday Night Live started a couple weeks ago, and being a big SNL fan I thought I would let you know how the season is going and give you the highlights of each episode.  This is really a transition year in the show as many of the stars of the last decade have moved on over the last couple seasons, like Kristen Wiig, Andy Samberg, Bill Hader, Fred Armisen, and Jason Sudeikis.  To make up for the loss, the show added six new featured players this year, all but one of them guys.  This first episode of the season really became a showcase for the new cast to introduce them and show what they could do.  Having Tina Fey as host made this transition even smoother.  However, it also made for a slightly average show as they try and find their new way with new personalities on stage.

Cold Opening

The cold opening is always one of the most memorable moments of any SNL episode.  It sets the tone for the rest of the night.  If there is ever any political drama going on at the time, this is usually when it appears.  With the start of ObamaCare only a few days later, SNL thought they could spotlight that as well as one of their best impressions of the last decade.  Jay Pharoah's Obama is less an impression and more an embodiment.  As he explains (poorly) how ObamaCare works, they couldn't help but have a cameo mentioning the series finale of Breaking Bad as an example of what happens without ObamaCare.  Aaron Paul was great, as was every other bit.  This was one of the show's highlights, if for no other reason than to hear Pharoah's Obama say, "It's good to keep in mind our butts."


As you prepare for a former cast member to host, you get excited to see all the former sketches they made regular come back, like Kristen Wiig's Target Lady and Will Ferrell's Alex Trebeck.  However, Tina brings light to a simple fact that all of us were thinking at the same time, she didn't have any recurring bits.  She had no characters.  As she says, she's just pleasant.  She then starts the shameless parade of the new cast members by indoctrinating them in true SNL fashion, dancing during the monologue.  This later appeared again in the game show, "New Cast Member or Arcade Fire."

Weekend Update

There are three standards to base any episode of SNL on: the cold opening, the monologue, and Weekend Update.  This Weekend Update had a lot going for it.  It was the start of the farewell to Seth Meyers as he moves on to Late Night later this year.  It also had the debut of Cecily Strong as co-anchor, definitely one of the show's breakout stars last year.  You also had one of the most loved Weekend Update hosts of all time hosting.  Still, it fell a little flat.  Cecily did great in her first time out, but using Tina only to give her some advice as a female Weekend Update anchor?  It was a waste.  They also tried letting a newby establish a new character of Bruce Chandling, an unfunny comic playing the crowd.  It didn't work.  Thank you Drunk Uncle and Aaron Paul, his Meth Nephew (or Meth-ew if you want) for saving the show).

Best Sketch

In a night of solid but not outstanding sketches, the best was probably the parody of the show Girls.  I have never watched the show personally, but I feel like I have after watching this.  I just wonder if they will actually introduce Tina Fey's Blerta to the show.  I think it would add a lot of depth.

Worst Sketch

There was definitely a clunker in that first episode.  This look at a classic film made by someone being blackmailed by a taxidermist just wasn't funny.  That's all there is to it.  It was weird, it was silly, and it wasn't funny.  At least we got to meet Kenan's Reese De'What.

Surprising Sketch
The surprising sketch of the night usually goes to one that comes after the first musical performance and Weekend Update.  This is usually saved for some lesser, weirder, more random sketches.  These can tank (like Reese De'What's classic movies) or it can become gold.  Either way, it's well after midnight by that point so they can do whatever they want.  This episode's surprising sketch features the only bit from a new cast member to work in that first episode.  Mike O'Brien's used car salesman from the 20's was perfect.  "We've got all the latest brands.  Model T..."  Then enter his wife that belongs in a looney bin, and you have some good laughs.

This is a hard episode to judge.  It was so different with the focus on the new group.  You also had a host that is very talented, yet still fairly one-dimensional (which she admitted herself).  There was nothing here that will go down in history as a classic bit, but it didn't suck (besides the stuffed animals).  It was a solid average show.


Watch the full episode here:

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