Ten episodes of the usually-twenty-episode SNL season are in
the books, and
thus it's time for the famed YEAR (SO FAR) IN REVIEW...pack a lunch, because
this might take a while.
For this review, I will be introducing the *TS* asterisk. This
preface any comment that I make about anything being the best of the season,
since I have yet to see the Charlize Theron/Paul Simon episode (hence, the T
for Theron and the S for Simon). Anyway, on with the show...
2000-2001 SNL YEAR IN REVIEW SO FAR
Hey gang! It's cool to like SNL again! Saturday Night Live is currently
undergoing its third -- or is it fourth? -- upswing in popularity, and
ratings are up. NBC even had the confidence in the show to put 20-minute
segments in against Survivor on Thursday nights. What are the reasons
behind SNL's resurgence as a major TV force? The answer lies within the
conflict that may or may not be going on behind the scenes; the main theme
of this season seems to be, on many levels, a battle between the young and
The political sketches have gotten a lot of attention in the mainstream
media, and this is attributable to the great performances of Will Ferrell as
President Dubya and Darrell Hammond's various roles as Al Gore, Dick Cheney
and former prez Bill Clinton. The habit of starting every single show with
a political sketch, however, is starting to wear thin. There are only so
many ways to say that Dubya is an idiot; the writers have to start applying
his stupidity to the actual things that he does in office.
Politics, however, don't generally attract the young viewers
that NBC (or
more accurately, NBC's advertisers) crave. Recent rumours have suggested
that NBC ordered SNL to develop more recurring characters in order to make
younger audiences keep watching. Younger audiences, the network reasoned,
will keep tuning in to see memorable characters, and thus the preponderance
of simple, one-note recurring characters this season. This is stupid for
many reasons; first of all, it assumes that the teenage audience are all
idiots who can only relate to characters that have a simple,
easy-to-remember catchphrase. Second of all, what made past recurring
sketches like Wayne's World, the Ladies' Man or (going way back) the
Festrunk Brothers so popular is that the characters had some depth to them,
and the skits each took the characters and put them into different
situations. One-note characters like Woodrow, for example, belong on MadTV,
not Saturday Night Live. These characters only turn off SNL's core fans
(like us on-line reviewers), and trying too hard to attract new fans could
backfire; when the SNL fad passes, these casual fans will leave and NBC will
be stuck with a bunch of disgruntled hardcore fans.
It's been rumoured for the past few seasons, but this FINALLY looks like the
year when a large cast changeover will take place. Molly Shannon is leaving
on Feb. 24, which is long overdue. I won't get into another round of
Molly-bashing, but she has clearly worn out her welcome on the show. All of
her characters fall prey to the catchphrase syndrome that I mentioned
earlier. Most sorely missed with be Darrell Hammond, who will probably be
let go since his political characters are now all out of office. Chris
Kattan, Ana Gasteyer and Tracy Morgan all seem to be on the fence. If NBC's
lust for recurring characters is true, then Kattan and Ana might be retained
for another season; Kattan has Mango, and Ana has Bobbi Mohan-Kulp and her
character in Gemini's Twin. The big wild card is Will Ferrell; he plays the
key role of Dubya, and is easily the heart of the show. A performer of his
caliber would be a huge boost for next year's season.
I, for one, am excited about the newer cast members. Jerry
Dratch and Maya Rudolph all deserve to get bumped up to full cast-member
status for next year (Rachel should have gotten it this year), and I'm
pretty much in love with Tina Fey. Chris Parnell has been criminally wasted
this season; he hasn't been given much of anything to do this year, aside
from the DiMarco brothers. Horatio Sanz finally has himself a good
character (Rap Street), and Jimmy Fallon is positioned as the "star" of the
show for next year. A core cast of Fallon, Parnell, Sanz, Dratch, Rudolph,
Minor and Fey for next year looks very solid, and will only improve if Will
and/or Ana sticks around.
Some on-line SNL fans are saying that this season is the worst since
1994-1995. I strongly disagree, if for no other reason than I don't think
that a season of dead air would be worse than that debacle. The problem
with the 00-01 season is that there has yet to be a real stand-out show that
everybody loves; the shows have generally been good, but are sabotaged by at
least one really major flaw (bad recurring sketch, Adam McKay film, etc.).
I think "serviceable" is the best way to describe
the hosting. Everyone has
played their roles well in a drama-class kind of way, but only Dana Carvey
(obviously) has really made his characters shine. The only really terrible
host was Tom Green, and that show was a total write-off (except for David
The musical portion of the show is much improved from last
because more rock acts have been featured on the show instead of teen pop
and rap. Call me biased, but U2 turned in one of the most memorable
performances in SNL history back in December.
Keep in mind that some of these may differ from my original letter grades,
since I've had more time to reflect on them. Sketches from the Thursday
specials are not counted. Plus, *TS*.
BEST SHOWS: Calista Flockhart/Ricky Martin; Kate Hudson/Radiohead;
WORST SHOWS: Tom Green/David Gray; Lucy Liu/Jay-Z; Mena Suvari/Lenny Kravitz
BEST HOSTS: Dana Carvey, Kate Hudson, Calista Flockhart
WORST HOSTS: Tom Green, Val Kilmer, Rob Lowe (Kilmer and Lowe are okay, but
they get put here by default)
BEST MUSICAL GUESTS: U2, Radiohead, Nelly Furtado
WORST MUSICAL GUESTS: Jay-Z, Eminem, Lenny Kravitz
BEST SINGLE SKETCHES: The Presidential Odd Couple (Nov.11);
Society (Dec.9); Celebrity Jeopardy (Dec.16); CBS makes early predictions
about NBC games (Nov.11); Palm Beach (Dec. 9)
WORST SINGLE SKETCHES: Dog Show (Nov.18); McKay's "The Pervert" (Jan.13);
Rock Around the Clock (Nov. 18); Ching Change on Broadway (Oct.21); Burt
Bacharach (Dec. 9)
BEST NEW RECURRING SKETCH: Rap Street
WORST NEW RECURRING SKETCH: Veronica and Co.
BEST COMMERCIALS: Blasingame Attorneys Sue Dogs (Dec. 9); Cracklin'
Flakes...with Ecstasy (Nov. 11); U.S. Olympic Highlight Video (Oct. 7)
WORST COMMERCIALS: William Shatner for Priceline.com (Dec.16); Corn Chip
Nail Tips (Oct. 7)
BEST SMIEGEL CARTOONS: X-Presidents (a tie between Oct.14 and
WORST SMIEGEL CARTOON: Sex and the Country (Nov.18)
BEST WEEKEND UPDATE BITS: Janet Reno and Bill Clinton (Nov.11);
various walk-ons; Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton (Dec.9)
WORST WEEKEND UPDATE BITS: Jeannie Dixon (Nov.18); Kattan as the New Year's
Baby (Dec.16); James Madison (Dec.16)
Jennifer Lopez, sister of Tampa Bay Devil Ray pitcher Albie Lopez, is making
her SNL hosting debut. Fun fact: her first SNL appearance was almost
exactly a year ago, as she musical guested on the Feb. 5, 2000 show.
Christina Costello: HOSTED BY ALAN CUMMING!!!!! YAY, ALAN!!!!!
Jen isn't just the host, but also the musical guest as well.
isn't just some Hammer-esque deal; she not only has a no.1 hit record, but
also a hit movie in The Wedding Planner. I think film critic Richard
Roeper summed up this film the best when he said that "Lopez plays a
professional wedding planner who cannot find a man for herself. I guess
this film takes place on the planet Yeah Right." Ah, that wacky Roeper;
avoid the brain tumors, and he and Ebert will make a fine team. I also call
dibs on stealing the "Planet Yeah Right" bit and its various permutations
for future reviews.
Anyway, Jennifer is a pretty decent actress, as shown from
her work in
Out of Sight and Selena. I'm not a fan of her music, but she
makes up for that by being walk-into-a-pole gorgeous. Plus, she is dating
well-known rapper/criminal Puff Daddy, so that means I can make many, many
jokes at her expense! Yay!
[COLD OPENING] Xaturday Night Live
Finally, a change from the political openings! Hmm, they're really stepping
up the production values, too....wait a second, this is just the runover of
the Chicago-Los Angeles XFL game. I was wondering why Rachel Dratch looked
so hulking. The only way that the XFL will be successful is if they cut all
ties from the WWF at once and treat it as a totally separate product; having
the Rock do commentary reeks of cheesiness. Los Angeles won 39-32 in double
overtime, by the way.
[COLD OPENING] Detroit Rock City
Okay....now it's another half-hour wait until the local news is over. I'm
watching SNL on NBC's Detroit affiliate, so I get to listen to the Detroit
news. A mother and her child died in a car crash, a high pressure system is
moving into Michigan and some guy named Bubba jumped over 14 semis on a
motorcycle to set a new world record. Reach for those stars.
[REAL COLD OPENING] Putting the "Ass" in "Classy"
Hey, there actually was a change from the political openings! This is a
continuation of the bit from last Thursday, where Will "Sir Mix-A-Lot"
Ferrell has a hankerin' for some spankerin' of Jennifer's rump. It's a
little odd having an entire sketch centered around a host's body part, but
whereas based a skit around Tobey Maguire's shinbone might have failed, an
emphasis on Jennifer Lopez's ass is quite welcome. Let's face it: it is
quite the ass. In fact, I'm in the mood for some spankerin' of another
fashion....good God, I apologize. If Will was smart, he would've tried to
get Jennifer to sit on a gummy Venus de Milo; instant excuse. Starting the
show off by saying "LFNY, it's Jennifer Lopez's booty" might be making
things just a smidgen too silly. B-
[MONOLOGUE] Not A Real Green Dress, That's Cruel
Another one of those monologues where the host pokes fun at herself (a la
the Britney Spears mono from last year). I notice that the name "Puffy"
isn't mentioned here, interestingly enough. The gag here is that she says
she isn't a self-obsessed prima donna, while her stylists keep primping her.
I don't think she is a diva; no self-respecting diva would make the
monstrous faux pas of wearing the same dress twice.
Captain Hook: Bad form!
Anyway, this monologue was at least notable because it involved
actors (besides the stylists). I didn't realize that eyelashes that stick
together was such a big deal; I guess the dress makes sure that her breasts
don't have the same problem. B-
[COMMERCIAL] If This Is The Second Time We've Heard of Them,
Really NEW Cracklin' Oat Flakes, Now Are They?
Rerun from the Calista Flockhart show. This was one of the better ads of
the year, and it originally merited an A.
[SKETCH] A Self-Obsessed, Talentless Diva? The Hell You
The first Mango sketch of the year (I think), and a few new twists were
added this time around. This was the first time that Mango ever interacted
with a woman, so we saw that it's only men that fall prey to the Mango
mystique....which is odd, since Mango works at a strip club for women.
Chris Kattan got to roll around on the ground with Jennifer and pinch her
nipples, which wins him the Lou Gehrig award as the Luckiest Man-man-man on
the Face-face-face of the Earth-earth-earth. This sketch pretty much
reinforced the fact that Mango is just a new-age Lyle the Effeminate
Heterosexual. The sketch where it was revealed that Mango was an average
Joe with a wife and kids hurt the Mango mystique (or, in the spirit of the
sketch, the mystery that is Mango). As far as little stuff went, the bit
about Parnell being Will's son was pretty funny. Maya was Diana Ross, and I
guess Ana was Celine Dion; who was Molly supposed to be? The bit about
Parnell being Will's son was pretty funny. B
[SKETCH] The MTV Crew Isn't Getting Out Of That Building
A new concept for the Gemini's Twin characters, which is good; after being
featured thrice in eleven shows, they were nearing the point of overkill.
This is the first one of these sketches (that I've seen *TS*) that really
made Ana look older than the other two. I'm surprised that hasn't become a
joke, since every boy/girl band seems to have the "older one." Why not
spoof it? My Baba (Ukrainian for "grandmother") also has one of those
Russian multi-dolls; that one has literally about thirty dolls in it, so the
final one is about two centimetres tall. As least, I think it's the final
one, since I can't get it open. Lousy stubby fingers. B+
[CARTOON] Ray Would Fit In Well At Frontier Land; He Could
Sell The Bowie
The credits for this cartoon revealed that Adam McKay was a co-writer. I
will have to retract some of my statements against Mr. McKay, since this
Funhouse was a classic. The animated sight of Ray saying "Oh, (#*%!," and
then hopping into a limo after Bambi's mother was shot was great. I'll
assume that it was Jordan Davidson impersonating Elton John during the
songs; good work in getting on the show, Jordan. In a cartoon called "Ray
of Light," you'd figure that Madonna, not Elton John, would sing the songs.
Then again, Madonna isn't very Disney (Dick Tracy notwithstanding).
As funny as this cartoon was, I think we should not lose fact of an
important point: Trent Dilfer really does suck. The only reason the Giants
even had a chance in the Super Bowl was because of Dilfer's ineptitude at
[MUSICAL GUEST] Wow, They Actually Did Play Her Song
It's time to mock the musical guest's clothes! White pants, red tank
top...um, er, it looked like...uh, never mind. Remember when everyone
crapped all over Sisqo for pre-recording his lyrics last season? Rerun
those comments. The excuse that the lyrics need to be dubbed because the
performer "needs breath for dancing" is idiotic. Those two guys in the
background (not the DiMarco brothers) can handle the dancing, so sing your
own damn song, Jennifer! NA, since I can't rate something that didn't
[WEEKEND UPDATE] At Least De Niro Got To Speak
You'd think that Update would be weak, since a lot of jokes got used last
Thursday, but this was arguably the best WU of the season. The news bits
were generally hilarious, especially Tina's roll call of tasteless
television shows. My only quibble is that Tom Hanks, world-famous actor,
was given so little to do; if he's going to make a cameo, at least make it
something more interesting than picking up a mouthy volleyball. Speaking of
Wilson, here's an observation: he had sex with a turtle using his nub, but
as his "face" shows, Wilson's nub is really his nose. That's too kinky even
for a renowned lover like myself.
Voice of Reason: Who are you trying to kid?
Shut up, Voice of Reason. Jerry's bit as Rasheed Jenkins was
great; one of
the writers must have a kid in grade school, since this was 75% of all grade
school speeches. Not me, however; my grade 4 and 5 speeches about the
Toronto Blue Jays were both very well received. A+
[SKETCH] Yeah, Nobody From In Living Colour Went
On To Be
This was a great concept, but it quickly devolved into yet another musical
number. Talk about dropping the ball; all sorts of jokes about In Living
Colour could've been used. David Alan Grier is on an NBC show, so I'm
sure he could've been swayed into doing a cameo. The opportunities missed
here are endless; I'm so disappointed I'm going to stop talking about it. C
[COMMERCIAL] Nothing Says Valentine's Like Hard Rock
One of my general rules for films is that when the soundtrack gets a lot of
hype, the movie itself is crap. Is there anyone out there who would wish to
argue that Valentine is a good movie?
Denise Richards: Yeah, I would!
Quick, what's two plus two?
Denise Richards: Uh....um....
That should keep her occupied. Anyway, the amount of songs
on this album
looked like my family Napster collection. My brother and I have 1050 songs
between us...wow. If Napster is really shutting down on Monday, then we're
prepared for the famine. What was the approximate ratio of real-to-fake
groups on this album? I recognized about a quarter of the names, but there
may have been more since I'm not that knowledgeable about the genre. B
[MUSICAL GUEST] At Least She Sang It
The tune is "My Love Don't Cost A Thing." It should be "my love doesn't
cost a thing," but I guess being grammatically correct isn't street. This
is her new big hit, but it's not really very good at all. It's kind of sad
when the singer has to tell the audience to come alive. Now, let's get down
to clothes-mocking! Uh...same white pants...army tank top stolen from Nelly
Furtado. Damn, Jennifer, wear something goofy. D
[SKETCH] Regis Should've Hired C-Dog
Jennifer's sure milking the Bronx connection tonight, eh? A cynic would
mention that she's doing it to get cheap cheers from the New York crowd, but
since I'm not a cynic I don't mention it. This sketch was okay, mostly
because the acting was funny. Dominican Lou made his return, and the
argument between he and C-Dog was pretty funny. Rachel was...
Denise Richards: I got it! The answer is four! Two plus two equals four!
Good for you, Denise. What's two times two?
Denise Richards: Aw, not again! Uh...um...
As I was saying, Rachel was funny, although she was basically
riffing off of
Cheri Oteri's Rita the Porch Lady. On a Bronx-related note, I should add
that I hate Derek Jeter. He might be a nice guy and a great ballplayer, but
he's a Yankee. Ergo, he is evil. B
[SHORT FILM] Boy, Dieter Sure Let Himself Go
This was really stupid, but it was saved only by Will Ferrell. There was
just something in that plaintive wailing that was funny, as opposed to
stupid. Maybe the baby's name was Scott...Scott EVIL (Mark puts his pinkie
to his mouth). Where in the world does Adam McKay get these ideas from?
[SKETCH] At least Jeannie Dixon can say she killed at the
home! (rim shot)
Molly was playing a character that, unlike most of her other roles,
absolutely required a straight face. She almost made it...Molly, you suck.
I was hoping the crowd would spontaneously break into a chant of "MadTV!
MadTV" to show their disgust, but it was not to be. The only laugh I got
was when the guys brought in the faux-brick walls for her to perform.
Otherwise, this was the worst performance of comedy in a nursing home since
Steve Blackman....if anybody at all gets that reference, you might have less
than a life than I do. D
[COMMERCIAL] The Blasingames Must Need More Business, Hence
Ad. I'll Bet That's It
Another repeated ad, this one from the Val Kilmer/U2 show. It got an A the
first time around. I don't mind all these repeated ads as long as the funny
ones are repeated.
[SKETCH] My Golf Game Is Comparable To Bob Hope's
This was pretty odd. There is no other word for it than odd, I think. I
kind of liked it, since I have a soft spot for 1940's dialogue. The use of
the word "gams" in any sketch will immediately make it funnier. Some of the
non-cast member soldiers were making such exaggerated faces that they were
funny; the simian-looking guy in the bottom left of the screen was
particularly funny. Quick question: if Jennifer's character was straying
from the material, why were the backup singers also going along with it? I
should note that Ana and Maya have done a lot of singing tonight, which is
perfectly fine considering how both of them have very good voices. B-
PERFORMERS OF THE NIGHT: Ana Gasteyer, Jerry Minor, Tracy Morgan,
Rudolph. Jerry and Tracy for acting, and Ana and Maya for their 3 singing
BEST SKETCHES OF THE NIGHT: Ray of Light, Weekend Update
WORST SKETCHES OF THE NIGHT: Fly Girls Reunion, Jeannie Dixon
BUSIEST ACTORS: Will Ferrell, Jerry Minor and Tracy Morgan (5 sketches each)
(NOTE: I don't count repeated commercials, since they've been counted
ACTORS WITH THE TIME TO SHOVEL LORNE'S DRIVEWAY: Jimmy Fallon and Horatio
Sanz (one sketch each). Unusual for them.
MISTAKES: Molly ruined any hope that the Jeannie Dixon sketch had of being
good with her total, uncover-upable character break.
"Where are you going, J-Ho?"-- Chris Kattan, as Mango
"What the frick?"-- Chris Kattan, as Mango (it sounded
funny when he said
"Next month, George W. Bush will make his first trip to
Europe as president
to meet with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. In order to make a good
impression, Bush has been spending time trying to learn some English
words."-- Tina Fey
"Their daddy is one of the Wayans brothers."
"All I know is that it's not Marlon."-- Tracy Morgan, as a Fly Girl, to
"You are not gonna ruin my chances of being the Puerto
Chung!"-- Jennifer Lopez, as news anchor Cindy Gonzales
Since Jennifer Lopez's butt was such a topic of interest, this show was all
about buts. This show was good, BUT the sketches were unspectacular, except
for the Smiegel cartoon and Weekend Update. In its defense, there also
wasn't anything that was really terrible (even Jeannie Dixon was average).
Jennifer Lopez did a good hosting job, BUT she didn't play any characters
that were too far removed from herself. In fact, she actually did play
herself in most sketches. Not a lot of range, but then again, we are
talking about the star of Wedding Planner. Her music was pretty bad,
BUT...uh, actually nothing. Saying that the music was bad says it all.
Since BUT starts with a B, the show gets a B, albeit a shaky one.
Next week's show is hosted by Sean Hayes, best known for his
role as Jack on
Will & Grace. You'd figure that NBC would use a bigger star for
Sweeps Month ratings; I mean, Tom Freaking Hanks was right here this week,
and he didn't even get a line. Hayes, nevertheless, is still funny and has
some experience with improv and stand-up comedy, so he won't seem out of
place in the sketches. The musical guest is Shaggy, who is one of the few
rappers that I actually sort of like. Also, in next week's review, I will
be posting my semi-traditional review of the Oscar nominations. So,
everyone have a nice Valentine's Day and TTFN.
Denise Richards: I got it! The answer is also four! Now, no
problems...um, what did I come here for again?
Something about sex, I think.
Denise Richards: Nice try, I'm not that stupid.
Mark "M-Po" Polishuk
BACK to Jennifer Lopez "SNL" Episode Reviews