Natalie Portman hosts a roller coaster of a ‘Saturday Night Live’

Saturday Night Live
Natalie Portman & Dua Lipa
February 4, 2018

Natalie Portman returned to host Saturday Night Live for the first time since 2006, and she was given exactly two very good sketches, a bunch of mediocre crap, and one sketch that was so bad, I think there is a chance it might have been intended as a meta joke on bad sketches. That or it literally needs to be hung up in the Worst Sketches of All Time hall of fame because oh my God it was that bad.

So bad.

Just … terrible.

Like, did they have a bunch of fourth graders visit the studio and then did they invite them to write a sketch and then they felt like they had to perform it because they didn’t want to disappoint a bunch of little kids?

Is one of the lesser writers dying of cancer and this was his dying wish, to have this sketch performed?

Were there terrorists in the building, holding a gun to Lorne Michaels’ head and forcing the show to do this sketch?

Is Saturday Night Live being used as a vehicle to disseminate secret messages to our spies abroad and this sketch was an important code to ensure global security?

Or did the writers think the sketch was so stupid as to come back around to being funny?

Because if so, they were sorely mistaken. Woof. Continue reading “Natalie Portman hosts a roller coaster of a ‘Saturday Night Live’”

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Will Ferrell makes everything better on ‘Saturday Night Live’

Saturday Night Live
Will Ferrell & Chris Stapleton
January 27, 2018

I love Will Ferrell.

The man is a big sweet doofy comic genius who makes everything that he touches funnier. There’s an argument to be made that he helped saved Saturday Night Live when he joined the cast in 1995, and he certainly saved what could have been a mediocre episode last night. None of the sketches from this week’s episode are going to be remembered as classics, but Ferrell’s presence added that extra level of goofy zaniness that elevated the episode as a whole. I’m unclear on why Lorne Michaels doesn’t make Ferrell hosting an annual thing. This sentiment also applies to Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler. In fact, maybe Saturday Night Live should just join in on this whole reboot fad in television and reassemble their season 27 cast.

Continue reading “Will Ferrell makes everything better on ‘Saturday Night Live’”

Jessica Chastain is very good. Last night’s ‘Saturday Night Live’ wasn’t.

Saturday Night Live
Jessica Chastain & Troye Sivan
January 20, 2018

There is an expression Dan Savage coined to represent good qualities in a sexual partner: “GGG,” which stands for “good, giving and game.” It turns out those same qualities are what is required in a good Saturday Night Live host: good at acting, giving in their exchanges with the cast mates and game for anything, including making themselves look foolish. And to the beautiful Jessica Chastain’s credit, she is quite GGG!

However, it doesn’t much matter how GGG any host is unless the material they are given is actually worthy of their goodness, giving and gameness. Last night’s sketches weren’t. With a couple of exceptions, the writers let Chastain down last night with overly broad bits and sketches that lacked a point. I don’t know who wrote which sketches, but it sure felt like last night was a wasted opportunity to give the few women in the writers’ room a chance to write sketches for an actress known for her strength and outspokenness. HIRE MORE WOMEN, LORNE.

Continue reading “Jessica Chastain is very good. Last night’s ‘Saturday Night Live’ wasn’t.”

‘Saturday Night Live’: Sam Rockwell was fucking great

Saturday Night Live
Sam Rockwell & Halsey
January 13, 2018

The story that will dominate the news about last night’s episode of Saturday Night Live is that Sam Rockwell accidentally said “fucking” during one sketch, Colin Jost deliberately said “shithole” during “Weekend Update,” and as a result there will be a bunch of think pieces about how this is a reflection on how our culture is being vulgarized by our vulgar President and blah blah blah blah blah.

But what we should really be talking about was just how good last night’s Saturday Night Live was and why. It’s easy to credit a talented host, and let me be clear, Sam Rockwell was a talented host and SNL needs to figure out when they can bring him back as soon as possible. Last night’s episode also seemed to almost have a theme to it: the awkwardness of social situations in a politically correct era, which in its own way helped tie the episode together.

But you know what I think really made this episode work was the brevity of the sketches: not counting the monologue and Weekend Update, there were 10 sketches last night, most of which were about three minutes long. Keeping the sketches tight and brief meant that no one sketch overstayed its welcome and that even if you didn’t care for a particular bit, a new one was just around the corner. It felt fresh and light and invigorated. And in conclusion, the takeaway from last night’s episode should be: don’t be like this intro, keep the writing short and sweet.

Continue reading “‘Saturday Night Live’: Sam Rockwell was fucking great”

James Franco hosts a ‘Saturday Night Live’ that tries — and fails — to be controversial

Saturday Night Live
James Franco & SZA
December 9, 2017

This is the fourth time James Franco has hosted Saturday Night Live (which means the next time he comes back — and he will be back — he will be inducted into the “Five-Timers Club”). And this just makes sense, he’s a natural fit for the show. Funny, goofy and willing to be self-deprecating, Franco blends rather seamlessly into the cast (if the cast were constantly plugging their new movie, The Disaster Artist).

Unfortunately, he appeared on a night in which the writers seemed more determined to provoke than entertain, and they weren’t even particularly successful at that. To be fair to Franco, he did his very best with material that often fell short of his comedic talents. In fact, in most of the sketches he was in, Franco was the best thing about them.

Oh well, maybe next time, Franco. (And we all know there will be a next time — no way you’re going to pass up that Five-Timers robe.)

Continue reading “James Franco hosts a ‘Saturday Night Live’ that tries — and fails — to be controversial”

Saoirse Ronan is given not much to do in an otherwise fairly solid ‘Saturday Night Live’

Saturday Night Live
“Saoirse Ronan & U2”
December 2, 2017

Saoirse Ronan is the young actress who made a name for herself about 10 years ago in the film Atonement and is now receiving All of the Praise for her performance in the indie film, Lady Bird. Saoirse is talented, she is beautiful, she is likable and funny and Saturday Night Live gave her fuck all to do last night.

With the exception of the final sketch, Saoirse was stuck mostly in background roles and characters that a nameless extra could have just as easily and just as memorably performed. Which is a shame, because as evidenced by EVERYTHING SHE HAS EVER DONE EVER she is perfectly capable of delivering.

That said, it wasn’t a bad episode. It wasn’t a GREAT! episode or anything, but aside from a sketch or two that didn’t land, there was nothing in this episode that was so terrible that it made me want to throw something through my television. So we’ll count this as a win. Good job, guys! Except for the part where you snubbed your host. Don’t snub your host.

Continue reading “Saoirse Ronan is given not much to do in an otherwise fairly solid ‘Saturday Night Live’”