Sunday, January 4, 2015

SNL 40.10 Review - Amy Adams, One Direction

Original Airdate - 12/20/14

The Christmas episode is always is special time at Saturday Night Live.  They always get the top-notch hosts, the best cameos, the best musical guests.  It's traditionally one of the best episodes of the season.  This has at least been the case the last few seasons with superstar former castmembers running the show: Jimmy Fallon three years ago, Martin Short two years ago, and topping it off with the power couple of Jimmy Fallon with Justin Timberlake as musical guest/co-host last year.  For the 40th season, they had to pull out all the stops again for the Christmas episode, right?  Well, Amy Adams is a solid choice for a host, but maybe not ideal as the host for such an important episode similar to Chris Pratt's choice for the season opener.  An amazing Christmas episode was still possible, but then you add in the uncomfortable and awkward mood surrounding a variety show like SNL that lives on social satire the week a movie was pulled from theatres due to alleged terrorists threats from North Korea because it is a satire of their country.  Saturday Night Live had to be very careful with how they responded to such an un-American act of censorship, or did they?  They tried to ride that line very carefully throughout the episode, leading to a solid episode under the circumstances, but overall an underwhelming Christmas episode.

Cold Opening

The episode definitely got off to its strongest start of the season as they found the perfect way to comment on the events of the week.  After starting "A Very Somber Christmas with Sam Smith," which would match one of the potential moods of an episode where they would be forced to hold back for fear of censorship or retaliation.  It is then interrupted by the only person that could get away with being perfectly blunt and candid on the Sony hack controversy, Dr. Evil.  I mean, he went to Evil Medical for goodness sake!  Mike Myers resurrects this character and gives a scathing commentary on North Korea, Hollywood, Sony, and even his own career.  This sketch did what it needed to do; it broke the ice and loosened everyone up on a night that had the potential to be tough to do comedy.  The main thing this sketch did for me was remind me that we are coming up on 13 years since the last Austin Powers movie.  I know the last one wasn't great, but man that's just way too long of a drought...


Amy Adams's monologue officially makes it a trend of the writers simply mailing it in and giving up on writing good material for some bits.  It makes sense that Amy Adams would sing for her monologue.  She has an amazing voice and it's the Christmas episode.  Why not?  If that's all it was, it would have been simple, elegant, and classy.  It would have fit our host perfectly.  However, Kristen Wiig comes out to crash the monologue.  Although it's always cool to see Wiig come back time after time, it felt like she was simply just told to go out and riff.  It felt like an unorganized mess that did what is hard for a monologue to do; it royally screwed it up.

Weekend Update

Here was the next opportunity to comment on the aftermath of the Sony Hack and the shutdown of The Interview.  Jost and Che were hired as Weekend Update co-anchors to push the envelope a little more than Seth Myers and Cecily Strong had been doing.  So here was their chance.  They definitely didn't shy away from the topic.  Could they have done more?  Sure.  Was it good enough?  Sure.  The best commentary on the situation came with the first guest, as Bobby Moynihan comes out in his Kim Jong-Un outfit.  I think everyone in America had the same reaction as Colin did.  "No no no no..."  Referring to him as Bobby instead of by character, Colin talked a very confident Moynihan down from the comedic ledge in one of the better commentaries of the current situation.  Next, Kenan came out as a perfect character for the occasion as he is Positive Willy with nothing to be positive about around the holidays.  It was one of the depressing but funny sketches.  And last but not least, since you have Kristen Wiig around why not pry Fred Armisen away from the Late Night set and have some Garth & Kat time.  These two are so good at this that it never ceases to be funny, even when it's impossible for them to keep a straight face.

Best Sketch

A few episodes ago, there was a sketch about a sitcom that was constantly changing its cast and concept to accommodate to fans' comments about political correctness.  It was a very effective commentary on how our society is so concerned about offending someone that it refuses to make a comment on anything.  What became a sort of follow-up sketch in a way, this commercial for "Asian American Girl" makes a similar statement in a much more direct and funny way.  The doll is completely generic with no cultural or stereotypical statements coming with it.  The kids in the sketch become the voice of reason as the parents did everything they could to not say anything wrong by not saying anything at all.  It is a very clever sketch that is not only funny, but a perfect statement on how our society is getting upset about one kind of censorship (The Interview) but is promoting another form without even realizing it.

Worst Sketch

I didn't really dislike any sketch in this episode.  With that said, this one was just too weird for me.  Two guys out for a drink hear a group of sisters singing when things go a little strange.  The strangest thing about this sketch is someone had to be in some sort of mindset to come up with this insane idea.  For pure originality, this sketch deserves a watch, but wow ... where did that come from?

Dark Horse Sketch

If you have ever read any of my SNL reviews, you will know I have a soft spot when it comes to impressions.  So when this sketch about a Cuban Christmas Special started, I was excited to see what impressions would come out of this sketch addressing one of the lost news stories of the week.  The impressions that came out of it were so-so, and the sketch would have been fairly forgettable if it wasn't for the impression of Fidel Castro.  The sketch is worth watching just to see it.  Don't blink, or you might miss it.

Like I said, this episode didn't really have a bad sketch.  The problem was outside of the Cold Open, it didn't really have a great sketch either.  Amy Adams is a great host, and this was a strong episode.  However, as a Christmas episode, it was quite disappointing.  Looking back now at the first half of the season, this episode was a great microcosm.  There were some great moments, and some moments where the writers failed.  At other times, the writing has been quite clever and intelligent.  With all that said, I have high hopes for the second half of the season as the show continues to do everything it can to get out of the shadow of Wiig, Armisen, Hader, Myers, Samberg, and the rest of the recent past.


View the full episode here:

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