Thursday, December 31, 2015

SNL 41.9 Review - Tina Fey & Amy Poehler, Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band

Original Airdate - 12/19/15

Usually, the most anticipated episodes of Saturday Night Live are the ones hosted by former cast members.  This was true earlier this year when Tracy Morgan made his triumphant return.  This is what Lorne Michaels was banking on when he brought back Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, two of the most beloved castmembers of the 2000's, to host the Christmas episode this year.  It's rare for there to be co-hosts of the show, but if anyone should do it it is Tina and Amy.  Tina has hosted once before, and although Amy has never officially hosted, she has been one of the most frequent former castmembers to pop by and say hi.  Add to that The Boss as the musical guest, and we had the makings of a legendary episode.

Cold Opening

The political scene right now provides so much rich material for a show like SNL that every week they almost feel obligated to make a statement on the latest spectacle.  This week was a Republican debate.  With so many candidates on the stage, and the fact that you pull out all the stops for the Christmas episode, they brought announcer Darrell Hammond out of the booth to show off his spot on Donald Trump impression.  Taran Killam has been doing an admirable job, but nothing beats Hammond.  The show was definitely off to a strong start.


Although the material for this monologue wasn't necessarily original, Tina and Amy show once again why they might be the best comedy duo working today.  There is just so much chemistry between these two, and they are so naturally funny, that they could make reading the phone book fun.  This new attempt at a Christmas song is a perfect example of this.

Weekend Update

Two things were certain about this episode's trip to the Weekend Update desk: Kate McKinnon would find some character to bring just like she does almost every single episode, and Tina and Amy, Weekend Update anchor alums, would make some sort of appearance.  Both of these came true.  McKinnon brought out some strange old lady to talk about soap operas, but it turns into a strange discussion about whatever she is eating out of her leftover container.  Both Kate and Colin cracked as they were thrown off by the smelly meal.  Then we have Tina and Amy just showing up to read a couple jokes of their own.  It's so nice to see them back at the desk every now and then.

Best Sketch

There were so many great sketches that came out of this episode, I couldn't pick just one.  Honorable mention goes to a creative sketch that allows Tina and Amy to bring back their Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton impressions.  The first sketch picked shows one of the benefits of bringing back former castmembers and writers as hosts.  Instead of churning out a batch of sketches every week like they did when they were castmembers, Tina and Amy have had sketch ideas rolling around in their heads for years that they are finally able to bring to the stage.  This sketch of a really bizarre game show is the type of awkward, uncomfortable comedy that they were known for back in the day.  The second sketch is special for a few reasons.  It starts off fairly bland until you realize Tina and Amy don't do anything without their buddy Maya Rudolph.  Then, there she is.  Also, this is officially the first Bill Cosby appearance since his legal troubles, which is really a shame since Kenan Thompson does one of the best Cosby impressions there is.  The joke definitely hits home, while part of you is forced to ask, "Too soon?"

Worst Sketch

A danger of having former castmembers around is you can get stuck in some generic, average sketches.  This sketch is one that didn't need to happen.  The first time this sketch was brought out a few years ago, it was funny for a little while, but by the end of it, it was already getting old.  I think they were hoping that, with time, the sketch would freshen back up.  It didn't.  A film director who used to work on The Jeffersons is giving acting advice to serious actors in a a classic drama.  I can imagine this is sketch was pulled out because of its ties to some improv games, but it just isn't that funny.

Dark Horse Sketch

When you have old castmembers around, you can pull out old sketches.  I don't know how long it has been since there has been a Bronx Beat, but it was a welcome site to see Amy and Maya reprise their roles and find a way to include Tina.  I don't know if it is a good thing or a bad thing, but sometimes when the old castmembers return, it makes the current cast irrelevant.  I think it is a good thing every now and then, but not something to get into a habit of.  The second video is the best end of the show event of the season so far.  Springsteen, his band, the cast, and apparently Paul McCartney all get together and sing "Santa Claus is Coming to Town."  Just enjoy.

More is always expected out of the Christmas episode.  This, along with the season finale are always considered the highlights of the year.  This episode was set up to be great more than any other so far this season.  Although it wasn't a perfect episode, it certainly wasn't a disappointment.  It definitely brought 2015 to a strong close for Saturday Night Live.


View the full episode here:

SNL 41.8 Review - Chris Hemsworth, Chance the Rapper

Original Airdate - 12/12/15

Return trips to host Saturday Night Live are not handed out very easily.  You have to show that there is something special there that can be expanded on to be asked back.  Rarely does anyone ever get two hosting gigs in one calendar year.  In the last few years, only comedy A-listers Melissa McCarthy and Louis C.K. have had the honor of hosting in consecutive seasons.  This makes the decision to ask back Chris Hemsworth somewhat head scratching.  Hemsworth made his hosting debut only this past March as a part of the publicity tour for Avengers: Age of Ultron.  It was a mediocre show, with nothing that really warranted a return hosting gig, especially with such a quick turnaround.  However, here we are just nine months later, and Chris Hemsworth is back.  However, this episode proved more of the same from the last one he hosted.

Cold Opening

There are certain people you are willing to reshuffle your deck for at SNL.  Will Ferrell is one of them.  One of the biggest conundrums of the 2000's for the SNL cast and writers was what to do with President George W. Bush once Will Ferrell left the show.  In this Cold Opening, he shows why no one was really able to replace him.  The most interesting part of this opening was how obvious it was that this was thrown in at the last minute.  It's like Will Ferrell showed up and said, "Do you want me to do something?"  The reason I say this is because the first sketch after the monologue had Cold Opening written all over it.  It was a political satire done through one of the political talk shows, the host wasn't in it, and it had a slightly underwhelming ending as it was most likely lacking its punchline of "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!"  It seems obvious to me that this sketch got bumped from the Cold Opening when Will showed up, but like I said, there are some people you reshuffle the deck for, and the show was better because they did it for Will Ferrell.


The writers decide to make light of the fact that it has not been long since Chris Hemsworth walked the SNL halls by having him wander around in a homecoming of sorts.  It was slightly awkward and forgettable.  Chris Hemsworth might be willing to do anything, but he just doesn't seem to be a naturally funny guy.

Weekend Update

Weekend Update saw a couple fan favorites arrive as the guests this week.  First came Leslie Jones, who I feel is losing some of her charm.  She really only has one gear, and I feel it is starting to get a little old.  She is still funny, but it just isn't as fresh as it was when she first arrived.  The other guest was whoever Kate McKinnon felt like being that particular day.  She seems to make an appearance at the Update desk every week as one character or another.  This week, it was Angela Merkel, one of her best.

Best Sketch

It is never a good sign when the best sketch is one that did not feature the host.  However, that is what happened here.  This fake commercial hit a home run, partially because of how true it actually is.  With the new Star Wars here, it also brings about a whole new generation of toys and action figures for kids to play with ... or adults to collect.  First generation Star Wars nerds try to convince kids that the toys are the most fun left in the box.  It's a slightly sad, very true, and really funny take on the culture.

Worst Sketch

Did someone tell Chris Hemsworth he could sing?  It appears so with this sketch.  At a Holiday get-together, the group decides to gather around the piano and sing Christmas carols.  That's when Hemsworth and Cecily Strong decide to sing a very strange and bizarre Christmas show tune no one else seems to know.  I think it's supposed to be funny, but it turned out to just be awkward and uncomfortable.  My face was the same as the faces of those in the sketch, partially because it was weird, and partially because Chris Hemsworth really can't carry a tune.

Dark Horse Sketch

One thing that has to be said about Chris Hemsworth is he is willing to do pretty much anything.  In this sketch, he takes the plunge many hosts before him have taken and dresses in drag.  The way the play this sketch is what sets it apart though.  A group of ladies is out to lunch talking about the Hollywood hunks they appreciate most, when one very muscular lady in the group keeps bringing up Chris Hemsworth.  Slowly throughout the sketch, all the girlfriends realize their friend is actually Chris Hemsworth just trying to keep himself relevant in women's minds.  The lengths he was willing to go for his own vanity is the type of uncomfortable that brings about great laughs, especially in one of the last sketches of the show.

For some reason, Lorne Michaels loves Chris Hemsworth.  However, I think he has now proven that in his two hosting gigs, he just isn't that funny.  He definitely tries, but it just doesn't seem to work.  With two hosting credits in nine months, and him being one of the hottest names in Hollywood, I have a feeling that he will get another shot at this.  Hopefully, the writers find some better ways to use him.


View the full episode here:

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

SNL 41.7 Review - Ryan Gosling, Leon Bridges

Original Airdate - 12/5/15

To start the Holiday push at Saturday Night Live, they decided to give a hosting opportunity to an actor known as one of the best actors working today.  It was his first time hosting because he is not necessarily known for comedy, but he can be funny when he needs to be.  The major takeaway from this episode is Ryan Gosling also is good at recognizing when something is funny, as he broke character to laugh in almost every sketch he was in.

Cold Opening

Donald Trump has become a walking punchline.  It almost isn't funny at times to do a lot of Donald Trump jokes since it is getting to a point where you don't have to distort the truth anymore to satirize him.  This sketch was fine, but ultimately forgettable.  Their Trump sketches are so much funnier when he has other politicians to make fun of in the process.


A little known fact about Ryan Gosling is that he is Canadian.  Well, that is no longer a little known fact thanks to this monologue.  Mike Myers emerges as a fellow Canadian to make light of their heritage in glorious song.  It was pretty silly, which they were willing to claim during the song, saying it was obviously a song about Canada written by Americans.  This seemed to be the one time during the episode that Gosling was able to hold it together.

Weekend Update

One of the benefits of switching up the Weekend Update anchors last season was freeing up Cecily Strong to go back to doing her characters, which is really what she does best.  She was perfectly serviceable as an anchor, but she is much more valuable to the show overall when she isn't tied to that desk.  This week gave another example of what she is capable of.  Some of her characters I don't really care for, but this one seemed to be interesting.  It seems to be a running trend to find ways to make Colin uncomfortable, and this one definitely does that.  Next, we have the first appearance this season of Anthony Crispino, the second hand news correspondent.  This character is funny, but they always take it too far.  However, instead of taking it too far this time, Ryan Gosling appeared as the third hand news correspondent who gets his news from Anthony.  He gets the mannerisms down perfectly and makes this bit truly complete.

Best Sketch

I know the actors do everything they can to not break character during a sketch, but I love it when they do.  It tells us that the material is so funny, the actors can't even keep a straight face.  Rarely has this happened recently, but Ryan Gosling proved to be quite the giggler throughout the episode which helped others lose their cool also.  This one was the worst because it was the funniest.  There were three people abducted by aliens.  Two of them seemed to have a very stereotypical alien encounter, but one very much did not.  As Kate McKinnon describes her experiences, you start to see Gosling hide his laugh, which leads to every other actor on stage be forced to do the same thing.  It made for a truly hilarious sketch.

Worst Sketch

Most of the sketches were funny in the episode.  Picking a worst sketch is more about picking the one that seemed to just be less funny than the others (which means Ryan Gosling laughed the least in it).  This sketch about a trip back to the Hollywood star's Canadian hometown was just a little too weird to truly be funny.  He is being interviewed in a local bar in his hometown when his childhood friend comes up and tries to embarrass him.  It's slightly awkward and definitely was an attempt to show a new side to the Hollywood hunk.  These sketches usually serve their purpose, but often don't have as many laughs as others.

Dark Horse Sketch

I am going to highlight two sketches here.  The first is a traditional, late in the show sketch of Santa and his naughty elves that want to be punished.  It's goofy and wrong in many ways, but still really funny.  The second sketch was one that was played early on in the show, but it perfectly defines what a Dark Horse Sketch is.  When a couple hear that Santa is to make an appearance at the Christmas party they are attending, they lose it with excitement.  The awkward, strange, disturbing actions that follow are absolutely ridiculous and hilarious.  It is as dark that SNL comedy can get.

Watching this episode, I realized something.  The current Saturday Night Live cast is too professional.  They are so good at what they do, it can sometimes come across as mechanical.  This is what makes Weekend Update the best part of the show right now.  Colin and Michael are not afraid to laugh at the jokes because they aren't actors.  There isn't a Jimmy Fallon or Will Ferrell or Horatio Sanz or Bill Hader that lets the audience know when they think something is funny.  Nobody cracks.  However, if you look back through the years some of the all-time best SNL sketches are when people can't keep a straight face (cowbell sketch, Debbie Downer, Stefon, etc.).  This either means the show isn't as funny as it used to be, or the actors are just better at keeping their cool.  However, breaking character is something that makes the show great.  It reminds you that the show is live and anything can happen.  I didn't fully realize this connection until this episode when Ryan Gosling cracked in almost every sketch.  At times, it may have been a little much, but for the most part, everything is funnier when the actors can't help but laugh.  You could almost tell that they knew he was having a rough time so they tried to rub it in a little more.  We need more goof balls on SNL, like Will Ferrell, that are so good at making people laugh that those on stage can't even help it.  Either that, or we need someone who isn't afraid to let everyone know when they find something funny, like Jimmy Fallon.  This might truly be what is holding back the current group of "Not Ready For Primetime Players" from being immortalized with the legends of the show's past.  At least for one night, they had someone that provided the laughter on stage, and it made the episode amazing.


View the full episode here:

Friday, December 4, 2015

SNL 41.6 Review - Matthew McConaughey, Adele

Original Airdate - 11/21/15

Just looking at that combination of host and musical guest, this looks like a powerhouse episode.  Matthew McConaughey is one of the hottest names going right now in Hollywood.  He has hosted before, but that was back in his romantic comedy hunk phase.  Now he is in his critically-acclaimed phase.  He can still be funny though.  As for Adele, nothing needs to be said.  So would the episode live up to the hype?  No ... no it could not...

Cold Opening

One of the more consistently entertaining segments SNL does right now is the Fox & Friends parody, partially because to exaggerate an already crazy concept, they have to completely fall off their rocker.  It makes for great cold openings.  This segment featured Dr. Ben Carson, brought to you by Jay Pharaoh, who completely nails the uncomfortably calm demeanor of the presidential hopeful.  However, the whole sketch was ruined when they cut the best part of the sketch every time.  At the end of every sketch, they run a list of ridiculous mistakes they have made so far in the show.  This is one of the funniest and most creative moments SNL has right now.  This time, they decided to cut this rolling scroll of one-liners in favor of yet another clip of Leslie Jones yelling at the camera.  Leslie Jones is funny, but she could have yelled at the camera in another sketch.  By putting it here, it ruined the sketch.


I realized something from this monologue.  I would listen to Matthew McConaughey tell stories all day long.  He is going to make a great old man one day.  For his monologue, they simply send him out on stage to tell the story of the origin of his catchphrase, "All right, all right, all right."  Any time you can reference Dazed and Confused and Wooderson, it's a good day.  It was a fascinating story also.  It shows that a good monologue doesn't have to be an elaborate monologue.  More times than not, the opposite is true.

Weekend Update

To celebrate Thanksgiving, Colin and Michael decide to be in the giving mood by each writing a joke for the other one.  If you watch Weekend Update at all, you know Che rolls his eyes at most of Jost's punny punchlines, while Jost just doesn't have the guts to say what Che says.  Only two guests on Weekend Update this week.  First, we have a character brought back from a random sketch a couple seasons ago.  Vanessa Bayer is way too good at being a little kid.  She comes on as a child actor to read a few headlines and picks the most gruesome and morbid headlines to focus on.  It's not a great bit, but it wasn't bad either.  The star of this Update was David Ortiz, brought to you by Kenan Thompson.  Big Papi recently announced he would be retiring after the 2016 season, so the guys brought him on to discuss it.  What happened next sounded nothing like David Ortiz, but it was hilarious.

Best Sketch

As far as sketches go, this episode was pretty lackluster, which was disappointing with a talent like Matthew McConaughey in the building.  The best sketch was a prerecorded bit that used a concept I feel the show has used before back in the day.  It focused on a family getting together at the holidays that can't find a topic of conversation without arguing.  There is only one thing that can bring this holiday gathering together: Adele.

Worst Sketch

There were several candidates for this spot with as many sketches falling short.  The worst of these sketches was this game show called "Should I Chime In On This?"  The host would give a headline from the news of a controversial topic while loudmouth, uninformed contestants decide if they should chime in on this.  The host even says, the correct answer is always no.  However, the contestants can't help themselves.  It was a very interesting concept, and very telling of where our society is right now.  However, in execution the sketch just fell flat and wasn't funny at all.

Dark Horse Sketch

Usually, I take the Dark Horse Sketch from the post-Weekend Update portion of the show.  However, all those were terrible this episode so I picked a sketch that felt like it should have been in that portion that was pretty funny.  The premise was they have invented a 3D printer that could make a man.  They had three men on stage to try and show how their printed man blended in with other men.  This was one of the few sketches that showed McConaughey's true comedic ability, mainly his capacity for physical comedy.  It was fun.

I was hoping for such great things out of this episode.  I am a big Matthew McConaughey fan as he has shown he can pretty much do anything.  However, this SNL episode showed something he hasn't shown in quite some time; not comedy, but failure.  There were some decent moments, but this episode overall just didn't work.  I will say it was better than Donald Trump's episode, but that's not saying much.  Outside of Weekend Update, the monologue, and Adele belting out her latest music, the rest of the episode was pretty forgettable.


View the full episode here:

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Week 13 College Football Recap: Rankings, Heisman, Playoff Projections

Rivalry week is in the books, and it was just as exciting as could be expected. South Carolina pushed Clemson in the Palmetto Bowl. Auburn forced Alabama to rush Derrick Henry 46 times to win the Iron Bowl. Ohio State romped Michigan in The Game… Next up are the Conference Championships, except, you know, the Big 12, whose makeshift Championship Game was Bedlam, which was not even a contest. Oklahoma clinched with their monster win in Stillwater. Look ahead to the rest of the games next weekend below…
Top 25 Poll
Others receiving votes: Appalachian State, Florida, LSU, Utah, Western Kentucky
Dropped from the rankings: Washington State (15), UCLA (21), Florida (16)

25 (24). Toledo (9-2) – Toledo loses out on their chance at the New Years bowls after dropping their finale to in-state for Ohio and also misses out on the MAC Championship Game. They still have an impressive resume, though.
24 (12). Michigan (9-3) – They got absolutely trashed by the Buckeyes at home. It was the first time all year that Michigan looked like the previous regime.
23 (NR). USC (8-4) – USC beats UCLA for the first time in 4 years, placing a potential Rose on their controversial season.
22 (NR). Mississippi (9-3) – They won the Egg Bowl with ease. Depending on the week, this is either the best team in the nation or not even a top 25 team.
21 (23). Wisconsin (9-3) – The Badgers ended one of the quieter 9 win seasons in recent memory with a victory over their biggest rival Minnesota.
20 (22). BYU (9-3) – The Cougars dismantled up-and-down Utah State. Remember when we thought this was a potential playoff team? They flew under the radar after their couple losses and mounted an impressive 9-win year with a backup QB.
19 (NR). Memphis (9-3) – Memphis proved a point with their demolition of SMU over the weekend. Justin Fuente also got himself a new job by halftime.
18 (11). Navy (10-2) – Navy got taken apart by Houston, ending their chances at appearing in a New Years bowl. It is the best season Navy has had in decades, though.
17 (25). Florida State (10-2) – After shutting out the Gators offense, the Seminoles put themselves in position to snag one of the big bowl game spots away from a more deserving team that actually plays in a quality conference.
16 (18). Oregon (9-3) – They struggled defensively in the Civil War, but they have all year. If Vernon Adams had been healthy, this would be the conference champ and playoff contender.
15 (20). Temple (10-2) – The Owls capped their 10-win season off with a bang, and now get a shot at the AAC title and a potential invite to a major bowl game.
14 (17). Northwestern (10-2) – Even though their two losses were blowouts, this is clearly the 5th best team in the Big Ten, which was a much better conference than anyone gives it credit for.
13 (13). Houston (11-1) – Houston crushed Navy, and they would move up, but their loss is too ugly and everyone else have more impressive closing resumes.
12 (19). TCU (10-2) – TCU beating Baylor was a surprise. This team got way too much credit taken away just for losing with their backup QB.
11 (10). Oklahoma State (10-2) – Getting smacked around at home is bad, but Oklahoma has been doing that to most everyone. They simply ran into a buzz saw on Saturday.
10 (5). Baylor (9-2) – Baylor ends their disappointing season next week against Texas, but losing to TCU the way they did (3rd string QB) doesn’t quite end their chances at a big bowl.
9 (2). Notre Dame (10-2) – Another heartbreaking road loss for Notre Dame almost guarantees a spot for the Irish in one of the New Years games.
8 (9). North Carolina (11-1) – One of the best offenses in the nation took it to archrival NC State. Watch out, Clemson.
7 (14). Stanford (10-2) – Stanford is the most balanced team in the country. They need a bit of luck to get in the playoff, and they need to beat a very talented and dangerous team for a second time this season.
6 (8). Iowa (12-0) – Iowa survived against Nebraska to cap their undefeated regular season. I would say that they are the worst undefeated major conference team I can remember, but then I remember there was 2014 Florida State…
5 (6). Michigan State (11-1) – Sparty took out Penn State to clinch the division and a potential play-in game with Iowa.
4 (7). Ohio State (11-1) – The way Ohio State won really makes you question how they lost to Michigan State. I don’t think there is a single person, Urban Meyer included, who thinks Zeke was wrong in his criticizing of the playcalling.
3 (3). Alabama (11-1) – Alabama looked sluggish in the Iron Bowl, but they got out alive. And they get potentially the worst division champ the SEC has ever had in the title game.
2 (1). Clemson (12-0) – They barely won in against pitiful South Carolina, but they won. They are going to have their hands full against UNC.
1 (4). Oklahoma (11-1) – They are undefeated at home and on the road. They won in Waco and won in Stillwater with style. They lost their biggest rivalry game midseason on a neutral field. This is the best and scariest team out there, and their lack of a conference title game is actually going to help them, not having one last chance at getting upset.

Conference Championship Games
First of all, the Sun Belt is completely screwed up. If you have 11 teams in the conference, you have got to play 10 conference games, not 8. Georgia Southern, Appalachian State, and Arkansas State would likely form a three way tie at the top of the conference, but only one game occurred between the three teams, so the “conference champ” is going to be Arkansas State, barring a disaster against 3-8 Texas State next week. How irresponsible is it to have 11 teams anymore? Ugh. Whatever. That is the only conference without a championship game. Well, that and the Big 12.

8. Mountain West Championship
San Diego State at Air Force, 4:30PM ESPN2 – I just have no interest in this game. The Aztecs didn’t lose in conference, but they didn’t play Boise State or Air Force. They got beat by South Alabama out of conference. Air Force’s only bad loss was losing to rival Navy by 22, but there is honestly no shame in that this season. Screw it, there are always surprises, and it is hard to see one of the military schools being a conference champ.
PREDICTION: San Diego State 21-17
7. Conference USA Championship
Southern Mississippi at Western Kentucky, 9:00AM ESPN2 – Look at Southern Miss’s conference schedule. It is an absolute joke. This will not be close.
PREDICTION: Western Kentucky 34-14
6. MAC Championship
Bowling Green vs Northern Illinois, FRI 5:00PM ESPN2 – Northern Illinois has the higher peaks, but they also have some confusing losses. Bowling Green hasn’t really been there before either. This is a virtual coin flip.
PREDICTION: Bowling Green 45-37
5. SEC Championship
Florida vs Alabama (#3), 1:00PM CBS – I thought that Florida could have a chance in this game, but after their offense got shut out against FSU, I just can’t see them getting on the board against Alabama.
PREDICTION: Alabama 23-0
4. PAC-12 Championship
USC (#23) vs Stanford (#7), 4:45PM ESPN – Stanford was all over USC in LA, but winning a second time is tough. USC has been dynamite recently. Helton is making his case to keep that job. Last time Stanford was in this position, though, it was against UCLA, and they beat them down 2 weeks in a row.
PREDICTION: Stanford 28-20
3. AAC Championship
Temple (#15) at Houston (#13), 9:00AM ABC – It is tremendous that this is the title game in the AAC, since it is one of the matchups between the top 4 teams that hasn’t happened yet. It should be a tough battle.
PREDICTION: Houston 38-27
2. ACC Championship
North Carolina (#8) vs Clemson (#2), 5:00PM ABC – North Carolina is capable of scoring against anyone. They have been playing for style points since their ugly loss to South Carolina to start the year, but this week just proved that Clemson and UNC have Cock struggles in common.
PREDICTION: North Carolina 41-37
1. Big Ten Championship
Iowa (#4) vs Michigan State (#5), 5:00PM FOX – Everyone is all over Michigan State, even though they have struggled with several teams this year. Iowa really hasn’t. Their game control is off the charts. This will be an ugly game offensively, even though both teams have uncommonly put up decent scores recently.
PREDICTION: Iowa 16-13

Head Coaching Vacancy Predictions
I have no sources, this is just speculation, guesses, and best fits…

§  Virginia Tech hires Justin Fuente (HC, Memphis)
§  Memphis hires Brent Venables (DC, Clemson)
§  Georgia hires Les Miles (HC, LSU)
§  LSU hires Jimbo Fisher (HC, Florida State)
§  Florida State hires Chip Kelly (HC, Philadelphia Eagles)
§  Maryland hires Lane Kiffen (OC, Alabama)
§  Miami hires Charlie Strong (HC, Texas)
§  Texas hires Mark Richt (HC, Georgia)
§  Missouri hires Tom Herman (HC, Houston)
§  Houston hires Kendal Briles (OC, Baylor)
§  Louisiana-Monroe hires Major Applewhite (OC, Houston)
§  North Texas hires Doug Meachem (OC, TCU)
§  Rutgers hires Jim Tressel (President, Youngstown State)
§  South Carolina hires Kirby Smart (DC, Alabama)
§  Syracuse hires Ed Orgeron (DL, LSU)
§  Toledo hires Jason Candle (OC, Toledo)
§  Tulane hires Greg Schiano (unemployed)
§  Virginia hires Gene Chizik (DC, North Carolina)
§  UCF hires John Grass (HC, Jacksonville State)
§  USC hires Jeff Fisher (HC, St. Louis Rams)

Heisman Trophy Watch
5. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State – He won’t win because of his remarks after the Michigan State game, but he has proved that he is that whole offense, and when they utilize him, they are not going to be stopped.
4. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford – He is approaching the Barry Sanders record for all purpose yards in a season. That should be enough…
3. Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma – When he was out, they nearly lost at home. When he is in, he is one of the most dialed-in and inspired players I have seen since Tim Tebow. He needs to be invited.
2. DeShaun Watson, QB, Clemson – He had another huge game this week, but he drops one spot only because…
1. Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama – 250+ yards and 45+ carries in a rivalry game. Yeah.
College Football Playoff Projections
Chik-fil-A Peach Bowl: Notre Dame over North Carolina
Rose Bowl: Ohio State over Oregon
Fiesta Bowl: Houston over Baylor
Sugar Bowl: Clemson over Mississippi

College Football Playoff Semifinal #1 (Orange Bowl): Stanford over Alabama
CFB Playoff Semifinal #2 (Cotton Bowl): Oklahoma over Iowa
National Championship Game: Stanford over Oklahoma

What are your favorite college football rivalries? What do you think will happen in the conference championship games next week? Your top 4? Heisman top 5? Let me know!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

SNL 41.5 Review - Elizabeth Banks, Disclosure

Original Airdate - 11/14/15

After a week of making political statements with Donald Trump taking on hosting duties, Saturday Night Live makes up for it with satisfying a request of many fans of the show.  For many years, Elizabeth Banks has topped many lists of people deserving a shot at hosting the show.  After a headline-making hosting gig that led to a lackluster show, this episode showed what the show is all about.

Cold Opening

Following the tragic events that took place in Paris just days before this episode, SNL used their platform to voice support for those grieving what had happened.  It was simple, but very poignant and effective.  For a second, it doesn't look like Cecily Strong can make it through her brief emotional message.  Part of me wants to see what potential sketch was planned that we missed, but this was such a perfect start to the episode.


Elizabeth Banks is a multi-talented actress.  Not only is she starring in the last Hunger Games movie right now, but she also directed her first movie this year in Pitch Perfect 2.  We have seen enough Hunger Games themed sketches over the years with Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Woody Harrelson hosting in the past few years to promote the previous films.  After a short homage to this franchise, they take advantage of the fact that they have a musical director on stage and allow her to direct her own musical number while she performs it.  It was a musical number, which is a typical fallback for monologues, but it felt different as they added that wrinkle to it.  It was definitely fun and enjoyable.

Weekend Update

Jost and Che were on top form once again.  Colin brings punny, ironic jokes a la Seth Meyers, while Michael brings an edge that few have had the guts to bring to the Update desk.  Together, they form quite the odd couple and dynamic team.  The guests to the Update desk were all repeats.  First we had Pete Davidson, almost invisible in the Trump episode, get his opportunity to give his unique perspective on current events.  Then we had Bruce Chandling, the most awkward bad comic ever.  This character keeps getting brought back, and I don't care because it is so different and awkward that it is worth seeing once or twice per season.  Last, we have Kate McKinnon channel her unique skills through her depressed Russian old lady.  It's the same jokes every time, but it's still funny every time.

Best Sketch

A host's skills are tested by how seemlessly they can blend into the rest of the cast.  From the first sketch on, Elizabeth Banks was just another player in the show.  This is always best because it allows the writers to do whatever they want with the sketches.  Of all the quality sketches that came out of this episode, this might have been my favorite.  It is a recurring sketch that takes a natural comic host like Banks for them to pull it out.  This sketch has fallen flat in the past, but this time it was hilarious.

Worst Sketch

This was hard because all the sketches were funny.  However, I will have to go with this one.  The Girls Club has come up with some pretty fun songs and performances in the last few years.  However, the last couple haven't been great, this one included.  It had some laughs in it, but these prerecorded music videos have come to have an expectation of being a highlight of each episode, dating back to the Lonely Island guys.  These last couple have not lived up to the legend.

Dark Horse Sketch

Mike O'Brien has been a writer for the show for quite some time.  He hopped up to the cast for one season when the show was desperate for new blood, but was demoted back to the writing room the next season.  Every now and then, he comes out with a special sketch written for him.  This is his first one in awhile, but it is fun as it talks about the adventures of Uber.

This was, from start to finish, one of the best and most enjoyable episodes of the season so far.  It took way too long for Elizabeth Banks to get a hosting gig, and let's hope her next stop at 30 Rock is not too far out.


View the full episode here:

2016 Golden Globes Preview and Predictions

The Golden Globes might not be the most prestigious of awards, but they are an entertaining circuit and a good early indicator of what Hollywood is really into during awards season. The nominations come out in a couple weeks, so without further ado, here are my annual (slightly sarcastic) predictions for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s 73rd Annual Golden Globe Awards…

1. Uzo Aduba – Orange is the New Black
2. Jean Smart – Fargo
3. Catherine Keener – Show Me a Hero
4. Lena Heady – Game of Thrones
5. Regina King – American Crime

1. Hugh Laurie – Veep
2. Christian Slater – Mr. Robot
3. Peter Dinklage – Game of Thrones
4. Damian Lewis – Wolf Hall
5. Jonathan Banks – Better Call Saul

1. Angela Lansbury – Driving Miss Daisy
2. Queen Latifah – Bessie
3. Rachel McAdams – True Detective
4. Nicole Kidman – Grace of Monaco
5. Lady Gaga – American Horror Story: Hotel

1. Oscar Isaac – Show Me a Hero
2. James Earl Jones – Driving Miss Daisy
3. Colin Farrell – True Detective
4. David Oyelowo – Nightingale
5. Patrick Wilson – Fargo

1. Fargo
2. Show Me a Hero
3. Bessie
4. American Crime
5. Wolf Hall

1. Ellie Kemper – Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
2. Julia Louis-Dreyfus – Veep
3. Jane Fonda – Grace and Frankie
4. Lily Tomlin – Grace and Frankie
5. Gina Rodriguez – Jane the Virgin

1. Jeffrey Tambor – Transparent
2. Rob Lowe – The Grinder
3. Anthony Anderson – Black-ish
4. Patrick Stewart – Blunt Talk
5. Matthew Perry – The Odd Couple

1. Transparent
2. Veep
3. Orange is the New Black
4. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
5. The Muppets

1. Taraji P. Henson – Empire
2. Viola Davis – How to Get Away with Murder
3. Tatiana Maslany – Orphan Black
4. Claire Danes – Homeland
5. Melissa Benoist – Supergirl

1. Jon Hamm – Mad Men
2. Rami Malek – Mr. Robot
3. Sam Heughan – Outlander
4. Kevin Spacey – House of Cards
5. Terrance Howard – Empire

1. Game of Thrones
2. Outlander
3. Mr. Robot
4. Empire
5. House of Cards

---Note: I have not seen even half of the TV predictions. A lot of it is Golden Globe trends and shots in the dark. As a rule in TV and movies, the HFPA loves big names and foreign productions.

1. Inside Out
2. Anomalisa
3. The Good Dinosaur
4. When Marnie Was There
5. The Peanuts Movie

Explanation: Pixar is hard to beat in an ordinary year, but they have two films, so it might be even easier for one of their best films ever Inside Out. The Charlie Kaufman-scripted Anomalisa is making waves, but that might be more of a Critics Choice winner than a Golden Globe winner.

1. Son of Saul (Hungary)
2. Mustang (France)
3. Labyrinth of Lies (Germany)
4. Goodnight Mommy (Austria)
5. The Clan (Argentina)

Explanation: There isn’t a whole lot of commentary on this one. Son of Saul has established itself as a Best Picture contender, so its status here is somewhat obvious. The Globes like to shake things up, so a horror film and a film about a family of serial killers seem like solid contenders.

1. “One Kind of Love” – Love and Mercy
2. “Love Me Like You Do” – 50 Shades of Grey
3. “Til It Happens To You” – The Hunting Ground
4. “See You Again” – Furious 7
5. “So Long” – Concussion

Explanation: Giving Lady Gaga a double nomination, as well giving invites to Brian Wilson, Wiz Khalifa, and Elle Goulding seems like a HFPA thing to do.

1. Bridge of Spies – Thomas Newman
2. Inside Out – Michael Giacchino
3. Carol – Carter Burwell
4. Star Wars: The Force Awakens – John Williams
5. The Hateful Eight – Ennio Morricone

Explanation: The Globes love Spielberg and John Williams, of course. It would be a cool inclusion if Morricone got in. I really do not know what to expect here. I haven’t heard enough of the scores to make precise predictions. This is definitely just me projecting and hoping.

1. Spotlight – Thomas McCarthy, Josh Singer
2. Joy – David O. Russell, Annie Mumolo
3. The Hateful Eight – Quentin Tarantino
4. Steve Jobs – Aaron Sorkin
5. The Martian – Drew Goddard

Explanation: These are the highest profile Golden Globes movies this year, and a few of the biggest names in screenwriting. I almost included Brooklyn and/or Carol here, but these seem like as safe of bets as possible for this awards organization. I love that they only have one category. It makes getting nominated even more prestigious, and at times (It’s Complicated, for example) even more strange.

1. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu – The Revenant
2. Ridley Scott – The Martian
3. Steven Spielberg – Bridge of Spies
4. David O. Russell – Joy
5. Quentin Tarantino – The Hateful Eight

Explanation: The Globes didn’t award Inarritu last year, so they will take it upon themselves to do that this time. The others are just the powerhouse names and movies that would be typical here. Thomas McCarthy should probably be included, but he isn’t quite a household name just yet.
The HFPA Dream Lineup:
JJ Abrams – Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Woody Allen – Irrational Man
Angelina Jolie – By the Sea
Steven Spielberg – Bridge of Spies
Quentin Tarantino – The Hateful Eight

1. Jane Fonda – Youth
2. Elizabeth Banks – Love and Mercy
3. Jennifer Jason Leigh – The Hateful Eight
4. Ellen Page – Freeheld
5. Diane Ladd – Joy

Explanation: Love and Mercy is the closest thing to a musical we have this year, so that will gobble up a few nominations, I suspect. Fonda and Ladd are reflections of the HFPA’s love for older Hollywood actors. This year is unusually stacked for supporting actresses.
The HFPA Dream Lineup:
Maggie Smith – The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Kristen Stewart – Clouds of Sils Maria
Meryl Streep – Suffragette
Alicia Vikander – Ex Machina
Kate Winslet – Steve Jobs

1. Michael Keaton – Spotlight
2. Sylvester Stallone – Creed
3. Idris Elba – Beasts of No Nation
4. Benicio Del Toro – Sicario
5. Jason Mitchell – Straight Outta Compton

Explanation: This is definitely the category where the HFPA just does whatever they want. The Globes are ok with Netflix, so this will be the start of Elba’s quest for an Oscar nod. Straight Outta Compton is sort of a musical, which will likely garner noms from this group. The HFPA just loves stars. Nominating Stallone here would be like when Michael Douglas got in for Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.
The HFPA Dream Lineup:
Bradley Cooper – Joy
Robert De Niro – Joy
Harrison Ford – Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Brad Pitt – The Big Short
Seth Rogen – Steve Jobs

1. Jennifer Lawrence – Joy
2. Meryl Streep – Ricki and the Flash
3. Sandra Bullock – Our Brand Is Crisis
4. Lily Tomlin – Grandma
5. Amy Schumer – Trainwreck

Explanation: There really are only like 7 contenders for this category, but these are pretty safe picks. The top 3 are as big of locks as any potential nominees in any category.
The HFPA Dream Lineup:
Sandra Bullock – Our Brand Is Crisis
Tina Fey – Sisters
Melissa McCarthy – Spy
Meryl Streep – Ricki and the Flash
Rebel Wilson – Pitch Perfect 2

1. Matt Damon – The Martian
2. Bradley Cooper – Burnt
3. Joaquin Phoenix – Irrational Man
4. Steve Carell – The Big Short
5. Shameik Moore - Dope

Explanation: It would be an upset if Moore gets in, but he is such a natural and really did give one of the best performances of the year. Remember when Damon was the slam dunk winner in this category for The Informant! but then ended up dropping to Robert Downey Jr. for Sherlock Holmes? I can see something similar happening here, even though Damon is far and away the class of this category.
The HFPA Dream Lineup:
Bradley Cooper – Burnt
Robert De Niro – The Intern
Bill Murray – Rock the Kasbah
Al Pacino – Danny Collins
Paul Rudd – Any-Man

1. The Martian
2. The Big Short
3. Joy
4. Irrational Man
5. Spy

Explanation: The HFPA loves Woody Allen, even his lesser features. The Martian’s inclusion in this category is a bit of a copout because there is no way it loses, unless they just want to shamelessly award as Hollywood of a picture as there is in The Big Short.
The HFPA Dream Lineup:
The Big Short
Irrational Man
The Martian
Pitch Perfect 2
Ricki and the Flash

1. Cate Blanchett – Carol
2. Alicia Vikander – The Danish Girl
3. Rooney Mara – Carol
4. Marion Cotillard – Macbeth
5. Charlotte Rampling – 45 Years

Explanation: This is an interesting category because Vikander and Mara are almost certainly being campaigned as supporting, but the Golden Globes don’t care. They put you where they want to put you. They love international actors in this category, so Vikander and Cotillard should coast to nominations. Rampling would be a bit of a surprise, but that is not out of the realm of possibility in this category. Sometimes this category is predetermined with the Dames, Meryl, and the K(C)ates, but this year is a bit more wide open.
The HFPA Dream Lineup:
Angelina Jolie – By the Sea
Nicole Kidman – Secret in Their Eyes
Helen Mirren – Woman in Gold
Julia Roberts – Secret in Their Eyes
Charlize Theron – Mad Max: Fury Road

1. Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant
2. Eddie Redmayne – The Danish Girl
3. Johnny Depp – Black Mass
4. Tom Hanks – Bridge of Spies
5. Will Smith – Concussion

Explanation: Oh, the Globes have got to love the star power in this category! I can’t really come up with anything else. These are all virtual locks.
The HFPA Dream Lineup:
Bryan Cranston – Trumbo
Johnny Depp – Black Mass
Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant
Tom Hanks – Bridge of Spies
Will Smith – Concussion

1. The Revenant
2. Spotlight
3. The Hateful Eight
4. Bridge of Spies
5. Carol

Explanation: This was a little difficult. The Globes and the Oscars don’t really match up all that much in their Best Picture categories. I just suspect that The Revenant will be big with this organization, but not necessarily the Oscars and beyond. They gave everything to Linklater last year, so Inarritu will get his this year. The others are just typical GG movies. Tarantino, Spielberg, and one artsy film sprinkled in.
The HFPA Dream Lineup:
By the Sea
In the Heart of the Sea
Mad Max: Fury Road
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Straight Outta Compton

That’s it! What did you think of my predictions? Stay tuned in the coming weeks for my next Oscar predictions and updates on the Critics Circles after the National Board of Review Awards kick off the season!