Not So Special For A Season Opener
But Still A Solid First Episode
It was just a couple of days ago, during a review, when I realized how the trend to open the show with a political sketch feels like it starts each episode in a hole that our host they has to crawl out of. Tonight I realized this wasn't the always the case and that I used to like the political satire and I just figured out the potential reason. I think the real reason that I hate the political bits from this time is that I think Will Forte is too adorable as Bush and despite the fact that they are bashing the potential war criminal, it may be why both sides now see this monster as a cute little man who loves to paint.
So, tonight's show did start out in a hole but we were quickly out of it with the help of Steve Carell. Though tonight's episode didn't feel all that special for a season opener, it did present enough evidence that this season is going to be a fun one. Yes, there were a few post-summer bugs but thanks to the return of Jason Sudeikis, who snuck in at the end of last year, and the addition of Bill Hader and Andy Samberg, this season already seems to have the energy boost that last season desperately lacked.
Another difference that I've noticed between this season and last year is that these three new dudes brought some goofiness back to the show. Last season, I also pointed out that I there was a problem with the most Upright Citizens Brigade-trained. Don't get me wrong, I love the UBC and currently listen to tons of podcast by people from their crew, but it felt like there was a merger of the school/club's alt-comedy style and mainstream entertainment that created a hybrid of the two that didn't work all that well.
It was as if the toning down of the alt-comedy for the masses led to sketches that felt like they wanted to be intellectual but missed the mark which then also softened the silliness that had the potential to be there. Not only do I feel that these three new featured players will add to the fun, I'm also pretty confident that the upcoming addition of Kristen Wiig will double the number of laughs brought in with the fresh cast.
Either way, this season opener has given me hope that this season will lead to way less uninspired post about why I felt each episode was so so-so leading me to make so-so content myself. The worst part about review an average night is that it often leads me to commit the problems that I'm complaining about, like my repetitive complaining about how repetitive the show can be.
With all of that said, it's now time to wrap this one up, and to do so, I give you...
The Wicker Breakdown:
This week's show started with a parody of NBC Special Report where once again, Darrell Hammond played Tim Russert, this time to host a Q&A session with a very reluctant Will Forte and President George W. Bush who very nervous about having to answer any question about current events without the help of a handler. Of course, with this being the opening sketch, it eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York...”
Steve Carell then officially opened the show with a monolog about he once auditioned to be on the show as a Not Ready For Prime Time Player only to be beaten out by Will Ferrell. He then went on to brag about his recent success with 40-Year-Old Virgin and how the sleeper hit put him in front of a whole new audience than he was used to before he was in such a hit. This led him to sing a song about how he now in league with “frat-packers” like Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson and so-on and so-on.
This was followed by a fake ad for The Morgan Stanley Brokerage Firm that had Will Forte and the titular CEO/Broker who berated Amy Poehler about the fact that she was not trying enough at school and dressed like a whore as if he were an irate stepfather, especially considering Poehler's “couldn't care less response. After the tirade was over, we learned that he wasn't related to Amy at all but was just her timid dad's, as played by Fred Armisen, stockbroker to show just how far the company will go to make sure that their client's money is going to the right cause by trying to be the nagging voice to make sure Armisen didn't waste his money on college and that Poehler would actually learn.
We then joined the passengers on Jet Blue Flight #292 where Amy Poehler played one of said passengers who was having a blast while watching her favorite shows on the headrest TV sets that Jet Blue was known for at the time. Her joy turned to fear when she changed over to watch Darrell Hammond as a news anchor who was reporting on a story about how Jet Blue Flight #292 was about to make an emergency crash landing. Meanwhile, Steve Carell, who played Amy's husband, remained blissfully unaware of the situation because he was too caught up on how many options he had for entertainment, even as his wife continued to freak the hell out.
This was followed by a parody of Anderson Cooper 360 where Seth Meyers played Mr. Cooper in order to report from the floodwaters of New Orleans, where he interviewed the mayor about the cavalcade of inept celebrities who also flooded the area only to do more harm than good while trying to build homes for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
The Couple That Should Be Divorced then returned for another installment where once again, Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers played a couple who were constantly at each other's throats only to sneak out of the room for some make-up sex at the height of their arguments. This time the same-old-same-old sketch took place on a double date with Steve Carell and Rachel Dratch while eating at a high-end restaurant.
This was followed by a fake ad for Girls Gone Wild Katrina hosted by Jason Sudeikis as Doug Stanhope who had no shame in asking the women trudging through the floodwaters to show him their breast for the latest Girls Gone Wild video.
We then went Backstage where Maya Rudolph was worried that she was getting late enough into her pregnancy that her baby bump was starting to show, limiting her abilities to play certain roles. Meanwhile, Lorne Michaels was also back there but Maya's pregnancy was the last thing on his mind since he was too worried that musical guest, Kanye West, would say something to start another SNL controversy since this episode was directly following the event where West proclaimed that George W. “didn't like black people.” The sketch then wrapped up with an awkward run-in between Kanye West and Mike Myers who share the stage with West when he made this controversial statement and shared how he got hit with a lot of shrapnel simply by sharing the stage during the Katrina fundraiser where it all went down.
Kanye West then took to the stage to perform the songs Gold Digger and Touch The Sky back to back.
Once again, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler gave us the news. This week, Horatio Sanz was filling for Tina who was out on pregnancy leave. Finesse Mitchell dropped by as the shows new Nightlife correspondent to comment on how he accidentally picked up on a dude while doing research for his report. Bill Hader and Andy Samberg also made their news debuts by having an “impersonation-off,” where Andy Samberg was declared the winner even though he wasn't doing true impressions and instead just claimed to be a famous person by name and then say “Wassuuuppp,” as if they were in the old Budweiser commercial.
Variety Vault was another series to get a second installment where they share more unaired footage from a '60s variety show that was a blend of Hee-Haw and Laugh-In.
TV Funhouse then gave us another installment of Fun With Real Audio where this time we saw an animation of the latest Supreme Court nominee in a variety of odd situations to the audio of a speech where he shared his views that contradicted the unethical events.
Kanye West then returned to the stage with Adam Levine to perform Heard 'Em Say.
Debbie Downer also turned to start off the season by bringing us all down while at another wedding reception only this time Debbie had competition with Steve Carell who played Bob The Bummer.
Finally, Steve Carell closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.
Though this episode was by no means special enough for a season debut, it was still better than almost all of the show from last season, thanks to sketches like these that contained by three favorite moments of the night. First, I loved Debbie Downer Meets Bob The Bummer because I like Debbie enough on her own but the addition of Bob helped the segment from feeling as repetitive as the last few. Next, I really liked Jet Blue Flight #292 because I remember the flight being referenced since it was around the first time I flew on Jet Blue and was so impressed by the fact that each seat had its own TV set, I would have been just like Steve Carell. Finally, I was a fan of this week's Variety Vault because it kept cracking me up whenever Amy Poehler's old lady character would say, “Ah, nuts!!!”