Live from New York it's....Late Night with Conan O'Brien!
SNL writer and current late night talk show host finally gets his just
due. Prior to being named host, Conan is most remembered on SNL (aside
from his writing) as one of the revelers in the "Irish Drinking Songs"
sketch and as the usher who greeted Tom Hanks as a then new-member of
the "5-Timers Club". Two fairly memorable sketches to those who watch
SNL regularly, especially now that the reruns air at least 75 times a
day on Comedy Central. I must admit I've only seen Conan's "Late Night"
program about twenty times, but I have found him to be funny so this
week's show has potential. Don Henley's an interesting musical choice
since one could argue his best work was with the Eagles and his best
solo effort was the "Building the Perfect Beast" album of 15 years ago.
COLD OPENING / THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF STRIKES AGAIN
No question that Will Ferrell continues to amuse us each week as Gee
Dubya, mastering that classic uneasy look and giving us great lines like
"I'll be on the job 24/7...that's 24 hours a week...7 months a
year...you can count on it." The only criticism I have is that every
opening sketch this season has involved either the current, former, or
(in the case of the debate coverage) future president and I get the
feeling the writers are falling into a troublesome formulaic trap.
Guys, it's okay to open with something non-political. They came closest
on the Jennifer Lopez show but even that included Tracy Morgan dressed
as Bush Jr.
MONOLOGUE / FROM STUDIOS 8H TO 6A
The montage of Conan's SNL acting career was cute (and I evidentially
didn't leave out any Conan
moments), including playing the horse's butt. Then we take a tour of
the "Late Night" studio (was
that woman actually Conan's mom?) Don't ask me why, but I'm really
starting to get annoyed with
Tracy Morgan. He reminds me alot of the recently departed Molly Shannon
in that I like very few
of the characters he plays (including when he plays himself). The
monologue kind of slumbered
along until we get the payoff of Max Weinberg enjoying the horizontal
mambo with his wife on
Conan's desk...now we know what goes on when "Late Night" isn't taping.
GRADE: B-plus (mostly due to Max & Mrs. Max).
COMMERCIAL / THE SUB SHACK IS A LITTLE OLD PLACE WHERE WE CAN
Dead-on parody of Subway commercials featuring Jared Fogel, although
memorable and the sight of large quantities of meat and mayo was a
TOP O' THE EVENING FROM SULLY AND DENISE
Jimmy Fallon and Rachel Dratch are back as the Boston kids, complete
with Conan as their 26-year old friend. If you're from Boston like
myself, you definitely enjoyed the prayer for Nomar's wrist injury and
the zing to TV meteorologist Bruce Schwoegler from Lexington's own
Dratch ("You are a moron!") The funny part about the Schwoegler slam is
that Rachel must've grown up watching his weather reports, plus he just
recently announced his retirement after 30 years in the biz...wonder if
Rachel's retort was personal from years of innacurate forecasts? Great
walk-on by Ben Affleck at the end bumps up the grade, and thanks to Sean
Bradley's computer problems we couldn't read about it in his sketch
MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE HALL OF JUSTICE...IT'S MOLECULO
Simple premise with Conan playing the superman-looking caped crusader
who shouts out his name
(nice touch was the Acme Federal Savings Bank, complete with its own
anvil--just kidding). Don't
know if this particular line was meant to be funny, but I liked it when
Conan's character said
"Wherever evil lurks, I will be there." You can actually take that two
different ways. "El hombre de moleculo!" was pretty funny too.
SOME OF THESE ARTISTS HAVE BEEN GONE SO LONG MAYBE THERE WAS
Always fun to watch a sketch like this and see who does the best
impressions of obscure musical
acts. Chris Kattan has done David Lee Roth before and it showed; Conan
O'Brien gets points for
actually trying to portray Right Said Fred; Tracy Morgan had the voice
of the guy from Cameo
down, although all he said was "Word Up"; Rachel Dratch could pass for
Toni Basil's twin sister;
Jimmy Fallon's Neil Tennant was ok, but he originally called himself
Nigel in error; Horatio Sanz as
the Rico Suave guy (I think his name was Gerardo) got the best line from
Chris Parnell--"Man, you
really let yourself go."; and Will Ferrell's Corey Hart was funny for
using the 'driving with his
sunglasses at night' joke. If some of the jokes were punched up a
little more, this would've made for a decent sketch to open up the show,
just to get away from the usual presidential address.
MUSICAL GUEST DON HENLEY TRIES TO GET OVER IT
The former Eagle drummer plays his current hit single "I Found
Somebody". The line from the song
that says it all is "everything is different now". Yeah, his songs are
more mellow than ever. Doesn't
do much for me.
WEEKEND UPDATE / AND NOW FEY & FALLON WITH THE FAKE NEWS
I watched this week's SNL on tape, so I had to go back and time WU
because it seemed to set
some kind of land speed record. Sure enough I was right--4 1/2
minutes! That's got to be the
shortest WU in recent memory, which says alot given how short most of
the WU's have been lately. Still, F&F managed to squeeze in 15 jokes,
with Tina Fey getting the best laughs this week: "'Just
Shoot Me' is (Kathy Lee's) husband Frank's favorite show, and that he
wanders around the house
all the time just saying the title over and over again."..."Jesse
Jackson told the Chicago Sun-Times he doesn't have a checking account or
a credit card, probably because to get those you need a job!" Maybe
Jimmy Fallon's joke about the movie "Chocolat" being so choco-long sums
up why WU has gone for quality and brevity over quantity and lame
10-second Chris Kattan reenactments.
YOU TAINT GOT A THING IF YOU TAINT GOT YOUR....WHAT?
The absurdity of this sketch was something out of a Tom Green show
(please let me know when
they're rerunning the Tom Green SNL episode so I can plan to be nowhere
near a TV set). The
whole joke is Conan mispronouncing "Brown", coming up with a new name
for a man's "fleshy fun
bridge", and Rachel's character marrying Will Ferrell 10 hours after
Horatio Sanz crashes his car
trying to get to McD's in ten minutes so he can get back in time to
watch Bruce Jenner. Does
anyone want to admit to writing this crap? I'm sure most high school
and college-aged kids who
saw this are probably making cracks (no pun intended) about their taints
as we speak.
TV FUNHOUSE / I CONTINUE TO LAMENT FOR ACE & GARY
The only amusing bit to trying to "Find the black people at the Knicks
game" was the Sesame
Street/Electric Company-type music accompanying the sketch. Otherwise,
what is the joke here?
That very few blacks attend Knicks games? Not funny. Given that Rob
Smigel also contributes to
Conan's show, I thought a sketch involving Triumph the comic dog puppet
would've been more
appropriate and probably alot funnier. Celebrity alert: I swear I saw
Bob Costas when they
showed the fans sitting at courtside. I thought Bob was more of a
baseball fan, but I guess if you get courtside seats you'll like almost
any sport. On a totally unrelated note, "On the Record with BobCostas"
airing on HBO is informative, thought-provoking sports television--can't
say that too often.
VIVA LA DIVA
Ana Gasteyer's Deandra Wells diva character was originally introduced to
us last season, and based on the mostly inadequate recurring characters
we've seen this season, I'm glad they brought her back. Gasteyer is the
most well-rounded female cast member SNL has had since Julia Sweeney
almost a decade ago (Cheri Oteri was pretty good also, but alot of her
characters got repetitive at the end of her run). There's a little
Celine Dion in Ana's Deandra character, played with the right touch of
condescending obnoxiousness. Will Ferrell is funny again as Gordon "Boo
Boo" Davis, first with his chilling glare at Ana, then with his typical
blowup. Conan complimented this sketch perfectly as Deandra's son Josh
("I'm detaching with love right now, mother.") If they can keep this
recurring sketch fresh, it has potential for a long shelf life.
TAX CUTS ARE NOT NEEDED FOR THE (MARC) RICH
Not much going on with this sketch. Chris Kattan sits there as Marc
Rich and tells us he is the best
the Democrats can do for a spokesperson.
DON HENLEY GETS TO THE HEART OF THE MATTER
What a shock--if you're going to bring Henley back for a second song,
you know it's going to be
one of his so-called classics. This was never one of my favorite Henley
tunes, and this version was
worse than the original.
ESPN'S SPORTSCENTURY PRESENTS GERRY COONEY...NO, WAIT
Sarcasm alert: Chris Parnell's impression of Chris Fowler will go down
as one of his best ever
(move over Tom Brokaw!) Seriously, the only reason Parnell played
Fowler is that he looks the
most like him. Parnell/Fowler profiles old-time boxer James "The
Gentleman Masher" Corcoran,
played amusingly by Conan. Best moment was Conan saying he didn't like
it while Jerry Minor's
character was pounding away on his face.
FINAL GRADE: B-minus. I'm in a rut because this is the third
show I've given a final
grade of B-minus. Unlike the Katie Holmes show, this one started strong
and sputtered a little
towards the finish (which is why I couldn't pull the grade up to a B).
Conan also carried this show
much more as a host than Holmes did. I can't quite put my finger on it
but something has been
missing with SNL this season. I'm waiting for another solid Calista
show that may never come. The next new show is St. Patty's Day hosted
by Julia Stiles, another
young movie actress (a formula that's had mixed success this season)
along with musical guest
Aerosmith. Now I like Steve Tyler and the gang from Beantown, but it
seems like they're becoming the musical equivalent of John Goodman for
their once-a-year appearance on SNL. Shoot, I hope Goodman isn't
reading this because he might get an idea to host again.
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