TV Review: Saturday Night Live

Photo Credit: Dana Edelson, NBC
Photo Credit: Dana Edelson, NBC

Pre-Show Thoughts

I don’t know if I’m in the minority when I say this, but I really do not care for Cameron Diaz. The only good movies she’s been in as of late were the Shrek films and even those were driven down into the ground with constant sequels. The Other Woman? Sex Tape? The Green Hornet? Just three of the poorly received films she’s locked herself to over her career. Yes, she had some big hits there too, like There’s Something About Mary and The Mask, her first film role, but not nearly enough for me to consider her a “must watch” actress. Basically, my interest in this episode host-wise is pretty low. As far as I’m concerned, the real grab is Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars. Both men are exceptionally talented musicians and I really cannot wait to see what their pairing will produce. It’s already known that they will play “Uptown Funk” during the night and that song is seriously right up my alley. Bring the groove gentlemen, I’m ready.

The Good

From the Set: Cameron Diaz with Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars
Photo Credit: Dana Edelson

For the first time this season, the show got off on the right foot with the Cold Open. Mashing up Schoolhouse Rock and President Obama’s recent executive order on immigration, Saturday Night Live made a skit that was less biting commentary and more humor, which really is what it should be. The definite star of the skit was Bobby Moynihan playing the order, and his turn was great from the moment he said in a slightly sing-songy voice, “I’m just an executive order and I pretty much happen.” Kenan Thompson was great too as the desperate bill that the President kept pushing down the stairs. My only wish is that the stair pushing didn’t happen a third time. SNL has a big problem with repetition and not knowing when to end a joke. The third push was one too much, ending a great skit with a simple chuckle and not powerful laughter.

Baby Boss is easily one of my new favorite recurring characters. Of course, this is because Beck Bennett is a real master at doing physical comedy. Why wasn’t this guy upped to the main cast in the off season? What I loved the most about this was that they’re expanding the Baby Boss mythos. Now we see where he lives and we met his wife (a very game Cameron Diaz). I look forward to the inevitable skit of Baby Boss trying to raise his newborn baby. Since this is the first time we’ve seen Baby Boss this season, I’m impressed with SNL’s ability to keep him back, especially since they already used Pete Davidson three times in the Weekend Update. It keeps Baby Boss fresh and makes me always happy to see him.

The ladies of SNL anchored a few skits of their own last night and most were pretty good. We got our first official music video this week with “Back Home Ballers,” a tribute to visiting parents on Thanksgiving and all the glory that brings. This included bowls of anything, cheap pajamas, and having your parents wait on your every whim. It was both funny and truly impressive. Whoever SNL has writing these segments is a real gem. The skit that topped “Back Home Ballers” though was the 10-to-1 sketch Night Murmurs. If I can’t get my retired pornstars, this is a worthy substitute. Cecily Strong, Kate McKinnon, and Cameron Diaz were hilarious as late night phone sex workers who are more than happy to please you but would like a little bit in return. This then led to increasingly asinine requests that were perfectly accentuated by the ladies deadeye delivery. This skit was a good end to the night.

The Bad

Photo Credit: Dana Edelson
Photo Credit: Dana Edelson

Whatever momentum the Cold Open provided was soundly destroyed in Diaz’s monologue. It was your typical Q&A session that really went nowhere. This is especially disappointing when you think about how Sarah Silverman crushed it by radically changing the style a few weeks ago. Diaz’s Q&A was as formulaic and expected as it could be. The questions posed by the cast members in the audience primarily focused on her looks and her movies, meaning the staff probably spent all of five minutes writing this out without considering if it was actually funny. It wasn’t. The only highlight was how mercifully short it was with only four questions.

Nest-Spresso was a massive missed opportunity as well. As a longtime fan of SNL’s parody commercials, my favorite part is when the cast explains why some completely ridiculous product actually works. That is almost always a surefire way to make the skit that much better. This was recently done to great success with Swiftamine back during Chris Rock’s show. So when Taran Killam perfectly set up the Nest-Spresso explanation by asking Bayer how it works, I was floored when her response was simply, “I don’t know.” Seriously?! They couldn’t think of a way to explain how a Keurig like machine speeds up the incubation process for chicks or why bones are spit out if a pod is put in upside down? This just reeked of either laziness or complete lack of creativity. Way to miss the absolute perfect chance to spike this skit to something memorable.

The Dr. Dave & Buggles Animal Hour was the real low point for me. It was even worse than the New Annie skit which, while I did laugh at times, was generally unfunny and featured Leslie Jones blowing a line (again).  Dr. Dave was just bad. The main crux of the joke was how the monkey, Buggles, supposedly ripped off Dr. Dave’s testicles and threw them against an exit sign before the show started. Sure, this actually wasn’t that terrible at the start, but it was just run right into the ground. Again, the repetition issue I mentioned earlier. SNL sometimes thinks re-doing the same joke over and over will make it funnier but it almost never works. This was one of those many examples. It also didn’t help that it reminded me exactly of Brian Fellow’s Safari Planet, which is so much better, and subsequently Tracy Morgan, which just made me sad.

Photo Credit: Dana Edelson
Photo Credit: Dana Edelson

Overall Thoughts

While Diaz didn’t do anything particularly memorable to stand out during the night, her willingness to do whatever made her a welcomed host. Truly, a good guest is one who is able to take whatever skit is given to them and go through with it without any apparent hesitation. This was even her fourth time hosting which means she only needs one more go to enter the Five Timer’s Club. I have no doubt that Lorne Michaels will be more than willing to make that happen. Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars were as great as I expected too. Their performances of “Uptown Funk” and “Feel Right” featuring Mystikal had the right about of foot moving groove to make me really excited for their forthcoming Uptown Special album.

As for the show itself, the night wasn’t anything special. The only skit to make me laugh really hard was the Cold Open and, like I said before, Diaz’s monologue nerfed that headway. The rest of the night failed to reach the same height despite there being a couple enjoyable segments that were good enough to deserve a few replays online later. That’s really what the night will ultimately be broken down to. Some clips with zero incentive to watch the entire show through. I wouldn’t even recommend doing that. Good thing the show has a week off. If last week’s Woody Harrelson episode was an indicator, James Franco with Nicki Minaj should be great on December 6th.

Rating: 6.5/10