SNL: S36E06... HOST: SCARLETT JOHANSSON... DATE: NOVEMBER 13, 2010

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A Solid Third Showing From Scarlett,

But Still On The So-So Side Contentwise

 

Tonight’s review is going to be a bit or a repeat of yesterday’s review of Jon Hamm’s episode. Granted, I’m much more aware of Scarlett Johansson, being a fan who’s sought out her non-superhero work since I first saw her in the movie Ghost World. That said, her first two visits were also close to one another and so recent, just like Hamm, that my burnt out brains, that’s even slower from dealing with my first winter cold, has nothing new to say about this appearance.

Also like with Jon Hamm, I wasn’t impressed with Scarlett’s first visit because I think both were given the hot host treatment where every sketch was about their looks when they weren’t just hidden in the background. I liked both of their second appearances much better, but at the same time was disappointed that both of these redemption episodes took place during weaker seasons, so I only saw improvement in their performances, but still wasn’t terribly impressed by their shows as a whole.

Since last night was an improvement for both Hamm and the show, I’m hoping that Scarlett will get a similar treatment as well. With that, let's get into my thoughts during the real-time viewing so I can jump back into bed to get some more rest. See the past twenty reviews if you're interested in reading more about how I feel about this time period’s opening political sketches versus the passage of time. At least in tonight’s sketch, I like the jokes coming from Bill Hader as Chinese leader, Hu Jintao, even though I’m not sure about the Chinese impersonations.

Just the other night I shared how I recently heard how the writers have three default opening for hosts who they don’t know how to write for. They either take questions from the audience, wander around backstage, or sing a song with the cast. So far this season, not a single host has yet to start a show without having to resort to one of these types of opening. Tonight’s song was fine, but having it in my head that this is a default treatment, which of course I already assumed, it’s going to bother me, even more, each time I see one of these three show opening styles.

I feel like the joke about MTV or any cable channel playing anything but their namesake themed content would have already been played out by this time. Yeah, the channel may have been on a pregnancy kick at the time, but the joke was still the same, so I wasn’t all that impressed with this fake commercial. I also wasn’t impressed by The Millionaire Matchmaker sketch, even though I think everyone did a good job. I’ve just never seen the real show, so I didn’t find any humor in the references that get the rest of the audience to laugh, and I except the blame for not liking sketches like this.

As I said the last time The Manuel Ortiz Show sketch was on, I remember really liking this sketch back in the day when I would watch the show with my friends and we’d all dance along, but now, it just seems like a rip off of What’s Up With That, only with dance instead of song. Plus, I’ve grown bored of accent-based humor, which is the primary source of humor between ever dance. I do like the new twist where they mix up the speed of the music.

I’m still not feeling Jay Pharoah’s impersonation of Denzel Washington. I think he’s got the mannerisms and delivery down, but his look is so far off that it feels more fit for stand-up or MADtv where they’d just slap a wig on someone and call it good, and not what I expect from Saturday Night Live. That’s not a slam toward either Jay or MADtv by any means, because I’m a fan of both. I’m not a fan of Hollywood Dish and was disinterested again tonight because people making funny faces over what sounds like a legitimate interview just isn’t all that funny to me.

Based on their name alone, I always thought that Arcade Fire was a three or four piece band with a bunch of dudes, so I was interested to hear what this more eclectic collection of musicians had to offer. I like that the singer was a tall guy, but I wasn’t really won over by the first song, which led me to zone out until the end of the news. Still watching, just too out of it to be inspired to take any notes. The sketch where Kenan kept falling due to the misguided encouragement from his group of friends was funny and all but it was pretty much a rip off of the I Slipped In Jelly And Broke My Arm Digital Short from just a couple of nights ago.

Speaking of which, this week’s SNL Digital Short was another one that was good enough but I wish the song was actually more catchy because the message of the song would have been a good one to have gone viral if only it were easier to sing along. I love Paula Deen-based humor, so, I got a kick out of the Paula Deen parody. I liked the second song from Arcade Fire because I preferred the voice of their female singer, but I’m still not sure that I’d actively seek them out.

I liked the sketch with the kid actors because it was fun to guess the movies, plus Vanessa Bayer always cracks me up whenever she plays characters similar to hers from this sketch. Finally, I was happy to see Fred Armisen’s character returned who sells luxurious items to fancy up any house, because, like with Jenny Slate’s “And More” series, I always love when I see these sketches as quick filler to end the night. After that, we got our goodnights with perfect timing because I’m ready to go back to bed.

But, before I head off to my slumber, let me wrap this one up. Fortunately, Scarlett did end up following Jon Hamm’s lead because this was my favorite appearances from her out of the three. Unfortunately, I wasn’t a huge fan of a lot of the sketches, so even though Scarlett Johansson gave a better performance, the overall show still felt a little bland. Good thing I already know that she eventually joins The Five-Timers Club, because I’m excited for visit number four.

Until then, it’s now time for me to shift gears and dig deeper into the details of each sketch, as I give you…

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with parody C-SPAN coverage of Barack Obama’s China Press Conference that was actually a follow-up sketch to a segment from last year. In it, Fred Armisen as Barack Obama once again managed to upset Bill Hader as Chinese leader, Hu Jintao, regarding the fact that the US still owed his country a ton of money while acting as if we were the ones doing his country so many favors. As always, with this being the opening sketch, this all built up to the announcement of, “Live from New York…”

  2. Scarlett Johansson then officially opened the show with a monolog where she shared that she didn’t have a movie to promote which led her to share how she has no interest in getting attention during her downtime. She shared a couple of examples of what not to do before she was joined by Kristen Wiig as Dina Lohan and Abbey Elliott as Ke$ha to sing the song Class from the movie Chicago to emphasize how people in the entertainment industry no longer display any level of class.

  3. This was followed by a fake ad for MTV where the M now stood for maternity that made fun of the fact that the channel no longer had anything to do with music as it went on to promote an endless smattering of reality-based teen pregnancy shows that their views had to choose from.

  4. We then got a parody of Millionaire Matchmaker where Scarlett Johansson played the show’s host who had no real interest in finding a suitable match for Vanessa Bayer who played a mousy lawyer/client.

  5. The Manuel Ortiz Show the returned for another installment of the Spanish talk show where everyone randomly breaks into dance every couple of minutes.

  6. We then got a parody trailer for a movie called Unstoppable where Jay Pharoah attempted to do his Denzel Washington impersonation once again to crack one-liners as he attempted to stop a speeding train in this new action thriller.

  7. Hollywood Dish also returned for more of Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader acting disinterested as they interviewed our host as herself trying to promote her latest film.

  8. Arcade Fire then took to the stage to perform We Used To Wait.

  9. Once again, Seth Meyers gave us the news. This week Jason Sudeikis stopped by a George W. Bush alongside Jay Pharoah as Kanye West to share their miraculously forged friendship ever since Bush left the office. Vanessa Bayer also dropped by as Chatty Gladys Madden to relate her harrowing experience during a cruise that, but her complaints had nothing to do with the onboard fire, which was the reason the ship made the news. Fred Armisen played her husband who was old and bored and did nothing but tune her out. (Clip 2) (Clip 3)

  10. St. Katherine's Middle School had Kenan Thomson as a kid in a wheelchair whose optimism-induced friends who just got out of a lecture about the power of positive thinking, kept trying to force him to stand up and be healed even though he kept falling to the ground because he leg was legitimately broken.

  11. We then got another SNL Digital Short/rap video where Andy Samberg played a student who rapped a song called What Was That? to the UN Assembly in regards to the many head-scratching events from US history.

  12. This was followed by a parody of A Treat From Paula Deen's Kitchen where Kristen Wiig portrayed Paula to share some fattening butter-filled food recipes and is forced to fit in a plug for eight-ply paper towels to suck up all of the extra oil for her more health-conscious TV viewers.

  13. Arcade Fire then returned to the stage to perform Sprawl II: Mountains Beyond Mountains.

  14. Stars Of Tomorrow was a parody of a documentary-style show that followed child stars that shared examples through  Scarlett Johansson and Vanessa Bayer as they performed monologs from films intended for a much more mature performer.

  15. We then got another end of the night fake ad for Mike's Busteria where Fred Armisen played a pitchman who attempted to sell ceramic busts to add that extra touch of class, is this follow up to the series where Armisen attempted to sell pillars and chandeliers.

  16. Finally, Scarlett Johansson closed the show by thanking the audience and saying her goodnights.

Just like with last night’s show, tonight’s episode was the best out of the three from the host, thanks to sketches like these that contained my three favorite moments of the night. First, I loved this week’s SNL Digital Short: What Was That? even though it wasn’t that great of a song, but I did love the premise of questioning how history keeps landing us in conflicts that do nothing to benefit our progress as living beings. Next, I really liked the St. Katherine's Middle School even though it was very reminiscent of a sketch from just a couple of nights ago, but the idea of people attempting to use positive thinking alone can heal even the most legitimate of injuries it something that’s funny to me. Finally, I was a fan of Stars Of Tomorrow because I love Vanessa Bayer whenever she plays this type of kid character.

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Matt Bunker

I started out with a goal of becoming a paid screenwriter. I had no interest in any other aspect of filmmaking. I received and scholarship to The Vancouver Film School's Writing for Film and Television program where I graduated in 2005. I fell in love with being on set during my first non-school produced short, . I loved being around all the creative people, seeing people having fun while working. The whole liking your job was a new world to me, so I decided to give it a shot. I volunteered for any project I could, doing what ever was needed. The set was my Film School this time. While working as a PA on a feature I was informed that the DP wanted the three tallest PAs to help out in the grip and electric department. That is when I found the department that felt like the best fit for me while I continued to write.