Tuesday, December 30, 2014

SNL 40.6 Review - Woody Harrelson, Kendrick Lamar

Original Airdate - 11/15/14

How is it possible that this is only Woody Harrelson's second time hosting Saturday Night Live?!?  One of the most talented and diverse actors of the last 25 years, unfortunately known more for his drug use over the years than his immense talent, was finally asked back for the first time since 1989.  This could potentially be due to the amazing year Woody had, with True Detective and the third of four Hunger Games movies coming out this year.  By the end of the episode, I was hoping we wouldn't have to wait another 25 years to see him back again.

Cold Opening

In what was one of the better Cold Openings in awhile, we see what it would look like if President Obama and Senator McConnell had a drink (or five) together at the White House.  Although this sketch once again fell into the Cold Open trend of being a little too topical to really be a memorable highlight of the episode, it was still better than most of what the crew has put together the last few episodes for the start of the show.


In one of the weirder monologues in recent memory, Woody Harrelson came out for his monologue in what appeared to be an obvious drunken stupor.Now if this was just an act or if this is Woody being Woody, I do not know.  Either way, it was awkwardly entertaining at first when he pulled out his guitar to sing his version of Taylor Swift's "1989" since that was the last time he hosted.  After not too long, he was joined by Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth (the only one of the Hunger Games three not to host yet) to try and save him from embarrassing himself too much.  Then when Jennifer Lawrence came on stage, things got really bizarre.  Yes, it was funny when Woody referred to her as Taylor Swift.  However, it was more awkward than comical to watch just how much Jennifer Lawrence was thrown off by Woody getting down on one knee and biting her thigh.  Needless to say, after the Cold Open and Monologue, the jury was definitely still out on what kind of episode this would be.

Weekend Update

With as strong as the Weekend Update co-anchors have been, it takes some strong segments to steal their thunder.  It starts with yet another appearance from Leslie Jones.  The stand-up-esque routines she has been delivering from the Update desk really seem to be her forte as the sketches she has been featured in up to this point have been mediocre.  She shines when she gets to just be her own ridiculous self.  Her banter with Colin Jost also is the closest thing to the report Seth Myers had built up with the many characters that came across the desk while he was host.  The second featured guest to the desk was an inevitable one.  With Woody Harrelson hosting, and the huge success of his HBO show True Detective, the topic had to be addressed.  The only question was if Matthew McConaughey would show up himself, or would bring out another impression.  Jim Carrey hilariously mimicked McConaughey earlier this season, but they also had Taran Killam's impression that debuted last season after the Oscars.  Unfortunately, Matthew did not show up, however we had some hilarious banter with Woody and Taran's McConaughey at the Update desk.  He has his cadence and random ramblings down perfectly.  Although having McConaughey show up himself for this segment would have been better, this was still pretty good.  I guess you are only allowed to bring on cameos from one project at a time on SNL.

Best Sketch

Although Woody got off to an awkward start, the good thing was once he didn't have to be himself anymore, he was able to shine like we have all become accustomed to.  This sketch is a great example of that.  This sketch featured the new dating game "Match'd."  As the title suggests, this is the hip dating show where the horny guys just talk about how they are going to get into the hot girl's pants.  This sounds pretty standard until the twist is revealed that the host, played by Woody, is the girl's father.  All of a sudden, these dirty boasts the boys had been making to turn the girl on turn into respectful complements meant more for the father than the girl.  This sketch is acted perfectly all around.

Worst Sketch

We get it!  You like to play guitar and sing!  Unless the guest host is a musician, there is no reason for two appearances by a guitar and two singing sketches.  It's just too much.  They used it once in the Monologue, but it had to come back for this sketch about the world's worst campfire song.  Although the sketch wasn't terrible, it did feel like wasted time considering the strength of the rest of the episode.

Dark Horse Sketch

This was actually my favorite sketch of the night.  The premise was simple: a group of guys sit around the car reminiscing about the good ol' days of NYC, when there was a hot dog stand on every corner, there wasn't a new frozen yogurt shop popping up everyday, and it was much easier to get crack.  Wait ... what?!?  Throughout the episode, Woody loves to make light of the fact that he spent most of the 90's intoxicated by something.  Here, as everyone remembers things normal people would remember about the past, Woody reminisces about what he would remember: the drugs.  As the sketch continues, it just keeps getting more and more ridiculous as Woody honestly feels his comments are contributing to a completely normal conversation.  Instead, we see just how funny our host can be.

This episode fit its host perfectly.  It was random, obviously under the influence of something, all over the place, yet it worked in almost every way.  Like I said at the beginning, I find it strange that this is only the second time Woody Harrelson has hosted since this show is built for a performer with the range and slight derangement like Woody.  I hope he gets asked back soon, like in the next 25 months instead of 25 years.


View the full episode here:

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