A Solid Show, Aside From All Of The News
As I always point out, more often than not, unless I don't like the person for personal reasons, athletes make for pretty good hosts, leading me to have little concerns going into tonight's episode hosted by Lance Armstrong. As far as our host is concerned, this was a perfectly fine show, with Lance having the traditional athlete style where you could clearly see him reading each line and seeming to have a blast while doing so. Though these weren't the best sketches of all time, they were all still pretty fun.
That said, I had the usual problem with there being only fourteen segments to the night making many segments feel like they were extra long. To make things worse, the extra time from having fewer sketches to make up the night wasn't spread out like usual. Instead, all of the sketches that featured our host were perfectly short and had us in and out while the sketch was still funny, while the extra time was given to the sections that focused on the news.
Where in the past, I didn't really mind all of the shows news parodies but I've realized that ever since the victory of Bush over Gore, the news on the show, as well as the real world, started to become more polarizing along party lines with far less focus on the issues between the citizens and the people in power. Sure, the show is still rough on politicians from both sides but the focus seems to be on affiliation in general and less on how horrible the people in charge are at representing the people. Or at least that the way it's starting to feel.
There's also the same issues where the stories making headlines during the era of this episode didn't really stand the test of time. With out-dated references, sketches like the O'Reilly Factor barely felt like a parody at all as it droned on and on about a failed Supreme Court judge pick who I completely forgot about and Scooter Libby whose intelligence leaking scandal seems like child's play in this new era of weaponized information. So, when these two instances were also the key focal points of the opening sketch, and Weekend Update which both also ate up too much time, I feel like it was a bad choice, even at the time.
I felt a bit robbed because Armstrong was doing fine enough that I felt he could take on the whole night as the star of sillier sketches. Again, to be clear, my only issue with the night were these three extra-long news based sketch because the rest of the night was really fun.
With that, it's now time for me to shift gears in order to move on and share what I saw, as I give you...
The Wicker Breakdown:
- This week's show started with A Message From The Vice-President Of The United States where Darrell Hammond as Dick Cheney denied his staff's illegal activities in the Scooter Libby scandal. Throughout the VP's delivery, the room filled with smoke as staff members burnt the evidence. This continued on as Cheney kept insisting the smoke was completely normal even as several firemen came to fight the fire. Of course, with this being the opening sketch, it eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York...”
- Lance Armstrong then officially opened the show with a monolog about how he was excited to host and that he was surprised to find that he had the energy to get through such a grueling schedule. This led him to take a few questions from the audience that mainly focused on his steroid use and when he planned to marry, fiance at the time, Sheryl Crow who was also tonight musical guest.
- We then went to a Celebrity Ironman Race where Lance Armstrong took an early lead thanks to his cycling skills, only to end up finishing the race dead last because of his inability to run or swim.
- This was followed by a fake ad for Totally Rad Smoke Detector 3000 which was a smoke detector that opted to play rad '80s hits instead of an annoying siren when it detects a fire.
- The Indigo Girls had Rachel Dratch and Amy Poehler as the titular band who hosted a show where they lived out their dreams of creating their music while living a secluded life in the mountain with their twenty-six dogs. Musical guest, Sheryl Crow stopped by for a visit but it didn't go well when Crow criticized the girls about how distracting the whole set up was for their guests. This led a bunch of bickering until Lance Armstrong to step in as a ranger to break things up because it turned out this was a national park and not The Indigo Girl's land.
- We then got a parody of The O'Reilly Factor where Darrell Hammond played the confrontational host to highlight how he often put the wrong spin on the major issues of the day, despite his claims to run a “no spin zone.” For this installment, O'Reilly was off with his views on a grand jury investigation of Scooter Libby, and the nomination of Harriet Miers.
- Sheryl Crow then took to the stage to perform Good Is Good.
- Once again, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler gave us the news. This week, Rachel Dratch dropped in as a drunken Harriet Miers to point out that no one in the Bush administration was qualified for their job which is why she felt she fit in. Finesse Mitchell also exercised a sit-in claiming that he wouldn't leave the Weekend Update desk until the show brought on an official black anchor to join the news, following the death of Rosa Parks. He then went on to list several black accomplishments that the media is constantly pointing out that people should be proud of and then broke down how these successes were either examples of sell-outs or white people in disguise. He finished the sit-in protest the moment that Amy informed his that the models he met at the club had just arrived and were waiting in Finesse's dressing room. The White Sox's Scott Podsednik then made a cameo appearance to confront Tina and Amy after he realized they weren't true fans of his sport. Then two wrap things up, Kenan Thompson stopped by as Mrs. Butterworth to claim her responsibility for a maple syrupy smell that mysteriously plagued New York at the time.
- A Song For Sheryl had Lance Armstrong team up with Fred Armisen and Bill Hader who played his gardeners who help out host compose a song for his fiancee, Sheryl Crow, only to find that even with help, Armstrong had no musical talents at all.
- This was followed by a parody of Days Of Our Lives where Darrell Hammond play Donald Trump who was hired for a cameo role but struggled to stick to what little of a script that he had to quote because he was too insistent on promoting himself.
- We then met Horatio Sanz's new character, Carol! In this debut sketch, this cheerful yet skanky overweight character was set up on a date with Lance Armstrong and even though they didn't seem to be a proper fit, the more that the talked, the more that it seemed Carol was changing Lance's character's life for the better.
- Sheryl Crow then returned to the stage to perform Strong Enough.
- Hitman had Horatio Sanz as the hitman in question who was tasked to kill Lance Armstrong's character only to be constantly distracted by Will Forte and his incessant laughter at Horatio's bad guy-style last word/joke.
- Finally, Lance Armstrong closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.
Though I had a few complaints about the three segments mentioned above, I'd still consider this to be a season that started with four solid shows in a row with this episode joining the rest thanks to sketches like these that contained my three favorite moments of the night. First, I loved the Celebrity Ironman Race sketch because it cracked me up how Lance Armstrong was only good at the bike riding portion of the race where he broke the cycling record only to still come in last because of his inability to run or swim. Next, I really liked A Song For Sheryl because I liked Sheryl Crow's involvement throughout the night because her song about getting drunk in the morning came out when I was just the right age for that to make me a huge Sheryl Crow fan. Finally, I was a fan of the fake ad for Totally Rad Smoke Detector 3000 because the concept of playing '80s hits instead of a siren during an emergency was an idea that I could get behind.