I was reading many of the reviews here and they are all pretty sweet, particularly for seasons that are harder to get a hold of like 12, 13, 16, 17, etc. I am now just short by 1 1/2 seasons and then I'll have every episode of "Saturday Night Live." So yeah, I GUESS you could say that I like the show.
Now, don't get me wrong. That's not to say that I will praise every episode regardless of its content because this season will definitely have its ups and downs. I'll be the first one to admit that the early post-Ferrell years were not kind to us, but they have rebounded nicely as of late (IMO) and delivered some top-notch episodes in the past few seasons.
But anyway, I'm going back to this season because I think it has a number of interesting pair-ups, in particular this first episode with mushmouth Sylvester Stallone hosting and the now-obscure Jamiroquai as the musical guests.
Let's take a look at exactly where our cast was at this particular time. Jim Breuer, Will Ferrell, Ana Gasteyer, Darrell Hammond, Chris Kattan, Norm MacDonald, Tim Meadows, Tracy Morgan, Cheri Oteri, Colin Quinn, and Molly Shannon were the repertory castmembers with absolutely no featured players on hand, which only happened in a handful of seasons, most of which during the Ebersol years.
In the words of Brian Fellow, let's get goin'!
(Kudos to bjdwsm, Stooge, and RoseArt for the reviewing style)
1. Oprah (3:30
The first sketch of the 23rd season focuses on the recent controversy surrounding Marv Albert and the revelation of his bizarre sexual practices. During the interview, Winfrey (Meadows) attempts to interview Marv (MacDonald) about his book, but it turns out to be a ploy and all Oprah wants to know about is the 'biting' incident.
- Norm's responses to the questions are really funny with just the ways he screams out, "yes!"
- May be the best line of the night: "Usually when I eat pizza, I do not have a... FULL ERECTION."
- Tracy Morgan also shows up here and shows off his spot-on Mike Tyson impression. It seemed a bit out of left-field and weird that he'd be in the Oprah audience, but it was funny nonetheless.
- It was really amusing that Marv was so offended by the notion that he had a three-way with another man on top of all the other perverse sexual acts he engaged in.
By the way, these opening credits are perhaps the least interesting in the history of the show next to the one from the very beginning of the first season. Just still pictures with a weird barrage of colours in the background.
2. Monologue: Mickey helps out (3:59
Sly first talks about the dangers of live TV before he is pulled aside by his loyal trainer, Micky (Breuer), who tells him to rely on his boxing smarts and talk like a gorilla rather than try to be a comedian.
- Sly seems to be really at ease on the stage, which I find pretty surprising for some reason. See, Steven Seagal? Just because you're an action star, doesn't mean you can't pull off an entertaining monologue.
- Much like the opening, we get another random impression appearance by Tracy Morgan, this time of Mr. T. Although it makes a bit more sense here, it still feels a little weird that he shows up and says a couple of lines before leaving the stage.
- Breuer does a pretty good job with his take on Mickey, even if it is a bit over-the-top.
- All in all, not the funniest monologue but Stallone starts off the show with some infectious energy and Adrian (Kattan) rushing the stage is a hoot. Also, did anyone else catch Stallone audibly telling Chris not to kiss him?
3. Xerox Assjet 790 (1:09
A commercial for the revolutionary product in which you can finally send that perfect picture of your ass via a xerox machine that is specifically made for this purpose.
- This was silly, but a lot of fun. I liked how they went into great details about its technical specifications just to photocopy one's ass.
- Will Ferrell was perfectly cast as a spokesperson, too.
4. Rita's New Car (4:46
Rita DelVecchio (Oteri) awaits the arrival of her husband (Stallone), who surprises her with a brand-new car. Her excitedness dies down though once she finds out that her neighbour, Janelle (Shannon), was the first to make an ass-groove in the passenger's seat.
- Cheri Oteri: most people love her or hate her. I'm somewhere in the middle. While she could be fairly annoying with some of her obnoxious characters, but her impressions could be fantastic like her wonderful interpretation of Barbara Walters.
- This is one character of Cheri's that would eventually wear out its welcome (like most SNL characters in general) and here it was nearing the end of its run.
- I liked Rita referring to the kids urinating on her porch as "little Dom Deluises" and also her ways of getting angry with her husband and telling him to leave.
- I can't even do justice to how funny Stallone looked in costume as a fat Italian guy and he seemed very natural here. His Frank Stallone reference was also great.
- It's a funny sketch, nonetheless; it certainly wouldn't end up being near the best of the night though.
5. Car Accident (3:46
After a horrible car accident involving a husband (MacDonald) and wife (Gasteyer), Sylvester Stallone tries to help them out but keeps getting berated by the man for his terrible movies.
- This is a classic sketch and shows that Stallone had a good sense of humour about himself and had no problem mocking himself.
- Norm was hilarious in this, especially with his long bellowing and stating that he just remembered "Stayin' Alive." I also liked his long-winded editorial comment on "Over the Top," as well as Stallone's building anger throughout the sketch.
- Will Ferrell's line as the medic ("Hey, you're punching car accident victims!") kills me just with the way he delivered the line.
- Norm's final line of "'Stop Or My Mom Will Shoot' sucked" was a great closer.
6. The Roxbury Guys (4:13
Rocky Balboa himself (who else?) takes a jog up and down the street and is greeted by several passers-by before being stopped by the Butabi Brothers (Ferrell and Kattan), who recruit him for a night of dancing. Sly turns out to be pretty awkward of course and so they must take him to a therapist before taking him out again.
- Talk about recurring characters that were always bordering on overkill. Unlike most characters though, sometimes they switched this up enough to have it remain somewhat fresh.
- This bit had the usual wacky dancing from Will and Chris, but the addition of Sly was a hoot. His awkward dancing was funny, but then once he got to the ridiculous over-the-top dancing at the end of the sketch, it was a riot. Also, when he pushed Kattan out of the car for changing "Eye of the Tiger" to the immortal "What Is Love?"
- Stallone dancing with the kids was a bit much, but other than that this was a lot of fun.
7. Reno's Investigation (3:34
Janet (Ferrell) meets with her assistant, Dennis (Meadows), Olympics bombing suspect Richard Jewell, and finally President Clinton (Hammond) regarding his recent scandal.
- The funniest part of the sketch was at the beginning when the falsely-accused Richard Jewell walked in, punched Reno right in the gut, and she asks, "Same time next week?"
- Ferrell's Janet Reno impression is a manic delight; she goes from logical thinking to going insane when Clinton mentions Waco to suddenly getting a surge of sexual energy around any other men, including Dennis.
- I'm not sure what to think about the filmed sequence in which Janet thinks over her decision about whether or not to investigate the president.
- The ending with Janet kissing Bill seemed awkward and the sketch seemingly didn't know how to end with the two just awkwardly standing there.
8. Fun with Real Audio: Casablanca Outtakes (1:33
Outtakes from the 1942 classic highlight some awkwardness on the set when Humphrey Bogart keeps breaking wind.
- This was about as juvenile as it sounds and not exactly a high point for Robert Smigel's cartoons.
- The ending was kind of amusing with the wind from Bogart's flatulence causing the plane in the background to start up, but that's about it.
9. Weekend Update with Norm MacDonald (14:05
Guests: Cinder Calhoun and Richard Jewell
Best jokes: Marv Albert/biting incident; WNBA; Elton John; Crack babies; Monsters/Abbott & Costello
- For some reason, it made me laugh with Norm haphazardly arranging his papers on the desk.
- The first guest is Cinder Calhoun (Gasteyer), a headlining singer from Lilith Fair, who talks about when she discovered she was funny after delivering a pair of zingers to Tracy Chapman and Fiona Apple. She then grabs a guitar and gets really emotional while singing her anti-meat tune. Ana does a good job and it's a pretty funny feminist-style song, though Norm didn't look too amused and even made a sort-of snide joke after she left.
- The second guest commentary is from Richard Jewell, making his second appearance of the night, to discuss his accusation of being the Olympics bomber. It was funny mostly because of Norm and his accusations of Jewell killing Mother Teresa.
- Norm wasn't on top of his game like usual, but even mediocre Norm is still fairly good.
10. Stallone & Pesci (1:00
Before our host can announce Jamiroquai, Joe Pesci (Breuer) interrupts and complains about how he has to do movies with David Spade now instead of being in movies like "Cop Land."
- Breuer's Pesci is always fun to watch and it was cool to see them take him out of the talk show format for once as well.
- Can't really rate this though as it was way too short and only served as an introduction to the musical guest.
11. Musical Performance (So no one cares about these, right?)
12. The Computer Station (5:06
While attempting to purchase a new computer, one customer (Ferrell) has to deal with a strange introverted employee named Leon (Stallone), who proves to be no help at all. Eventually, the manager (Meadows) is brought in and the real root of Leon's problems is apparent.
- This is another absolute classic. Everything in this sketch clicks from Ferrell's dumbfounded reactions to Sly's best performance of the night as a very odd former Orange Julius employee.
- I loved Leon stumbling into the backroom and then coming back out, telling the customer that no one knows what a pentium processor and also when he tries to sell him a vending machine and thinks of it as a sort of super computer.
- The ending was a little hokey but it didn't really take away from this great sketch.
13. The Lost Deep Thoughts
14. Planet Hollywood (4:02
After making an appearance at his 1/3-owned restaurant, Stallone has to deal with a couple of rabid fans (Breuer & Morgan), who proceed to slowly push him to the brink of insanity.
- Sly plays himself as a good victim of slow burn, but this bit just went on for a bit too long.
- As much as I like Jim and Tracy, they were way over-the-top here and Jim was borderline-annoying at times.
- This bit also seemed to be way too self-serving; it was like the opposite of that car accident sketch from earlier.
- The newspaper headlines at the end were amusing though.
15. Lou's Lovely Daughters (5:26
Hosting a public access show from his basement, patriarch Lou (Stallone) shows off his three homely daughters (Gasteyer, Oteri, & Shannon) in an attempt to get them out in the world and on some dates.
- This was a nice, quiet sketch and Sly again did a fantastic job with this role.
- Out of the three daughters, Cheri was probably the funniest ("I got hair on my chest") and the ugliest with her unibrow and crustache in tow. Also, anytime someone plays the accordion, I always get a few chuckles.
- Ana was also funny as the smoking pregnant daughter who didn't want to be on the show, though Molly didn't really do a whole lot outside of an amusing Mae West impression.
16. Elton John: More Songs I Rewrote To Honor Dead People (1:01
Elton John (Ferrell) sings variations of his well-known tunes to honor celebrities who have recently passed on.
- I can't really rate this either, since it got cut off really early by time constraints. It looked like it was shaping up to be pretty one-note, though.
OVERALL: This was a really strong season premiere. Outside of the Smigel cartoon and the Planet Hollywood sketch, nothing was really that bad and the lowest good sketch was around ***. Stallone made for an exceptional host, which I'm sure no one expected at the time of this broadcast's original airing. He stuck to some familiar territory, but also did a fantastic job in the Computer Station, Lou's Lovely Daughters, and Rita's New Car sketches. As for the cast, this was a strong showing for many of them so it will be really hard to pick the MVPs out of this episode.
HOST: SYLVESTER STALLONE - 8 segments (Monologue; Rita's New Car; Car Accident; The Roxbury Guys; Stallone & Pesci; The Computer Station; Planet Hollywood; Lou's Lovely Daughters)
CAMEO: RICHARD JEWELL - 2 segments (Reno's Investigation; Weekend Update)
JIM BREUER - 6 segments (Monologue; Xerox Assjet 790; Car Accident; The Roxbury Guys; Stallone & Pesci; Planet Hollywood)
WILL FERRELL - 6 segments (Xerox Assjet 790; Car Accident; The Roxbury Guys; Reno's Investigation; The Computer Station; Elton John)
ANA GASTEYER - 5 segments (Xerox Assjet 790; Car Accident; The Roxbury Guys; Weekend Update; Lou's Lovely Daughters)
DARRELL HAMMOND - 2 segments (The Roxbury Guys; Reno's Investigation)
CHRIS KATTAN - 2 segments (Monologue; The Roxbury Guys)
NORM MACDONALD - 3 segments (Oprah; Car Accident; Weekend Update)
TIM MEADOWS - 4 segments (Oprah; Xerox Assjet 790; Reno's Investigation; The Computer Station)
TRACY MORGAN - 3 segments (Oprah; Monologue; Planet Hollywood)
CHERI OTERI - 2 segments (Rita's New Car; Lou's Lovely Daughters)
COLIN QUINN - 1 segment (Xerox Assjet 790)
MOLLY SHANNON - 4 segments (Oprah; Rita's New Car; Planet Hollywood; Lou's Lovely Daughters)
EPISODE MVPs: Sylvester Stallone/Will Ferrell/Norm MacDonald
Next week: Matthew Perry/Oasis