Jack Black / The Strokes
January 19, 2002


This was the biggest disappointment of recent memory. What happened?

[cold opening] BUSH'S CHOKING INCIDENT
A promising opening few moments goes downhill REAL quick....Darrell Hammond's Dick Cheney was brilliant, but unfortunately the writing was far from that level. GRADE: C-

[monologue] JACK BLACK
I appreciated the energy of this monologue...and I loved the lighting!!! How cheesy and wonderful! And the flute solo was key...GRADE: B+

[commercial sketch] HENDERSON'S BIG BOWS
Cute idea...Darrell Hammond made a great spokesperson....Rachel Dratch's reaction to the new Jeep ("OOOh What a beautiful bow!") was hilarious... GRADE: B

[sketch] RUSSELL PUTNAM, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER
Boom Mic Alert #1....did anyone else notice that? Great opening, but man-o-man did it go down the toilet QUICK.....Any sketch that relies on those annoying establishing shots (i.e. "HIGH TIMES HQ 11:15 pm" as we zoom into a building) is dead in the water, in my opinion...I can't think of any, and I mean ANY sketch in SNL's history that has used it well or creatively. It's like a bad, lazy cop-out....ugh, how I hate those....And you'd think the cast of SNL would know how to act high....especially Mr. Fallon....even Nicole Kidman did a better job acting high in Eyes Wide Shut. Only Jack Black did well here. (And Darrell made a GREAT villian....he seemed to be the only one who was actually attempting to make the sketch funny besides Jack Black....) An absolute mess. GRADE: D-

[sketch] TALES OF VALOUR
Wow...I don't think I've ever seen Darrell in so many sketches before! Especially in non-impression roles! Congrats, Darrell...and he's pulling it off well. This sketch ran on a little too long...a funny idea though....Jack Black makes a good monster. But still, if it weren't for the ending (Darrell and Tracy looking at the porno pics!!!) it would be a pretty lame sketch. GRADE: C+

[sketch] THE PROFESSOR COUPLE AT THE SKI LODGE
Ugh. I really don't like these characters...Will and Rachel do their best, but the material just isn't that funny....This sketch NEVER ended....This sketch gets a D- (it would get an F but Will's grunting made me giggle a little)

[commercial] FRIENDS COMMERCIAL
Funny. And true. GRADE: B+

[commercial] NOW THAT'S WHAT ACTORS CALL SINGING!
HA! A fun sketch. Darrell Hammond's James Gandolfini was absolutely jaw-droppingly wonderful! I also dug the Al Roker joke, the Kevin Spacey impression, and the Bacon Brothers song.....(the "puff puff puff" rhyme was amazing!) GRADE: B+

[sketch] THE BASS-OFF
BOOM MIC ALERT #2 (although this was just a huge shadow at the end of the sketch right before the Bass-Off ends) Oh....my.....God.......The only thing that amused me was the "Phone Montage." What a strange transition in the sketch, but it's level of weirdness amused me......But what a lame ending. The performances were fine, but the writing was just.....not there. GRADE: D

[WEEKEND UPDATE]
Thank God for Jimmy and Tina....Jimmy seemed more "on" tonight than he did last week. 
I'm not a fan of Tina's new "helmet" haircut...it gets more and more helmet-like with every episode...I liked her with the messy look...but geez, i sound like Joan Rivers...who cares about the haircut? Her Enron rant was absolutely BRILLIANT....I loved every single second of it, and as it continued for longer and longer I just giggled with delight. I never wanted it to end. She was certainly (to quote Jack Black's "best bass player in the world" from a previous sketch) "in the zone."

What I don't understand is how Weekend Update can throw in such bizarre moments (such as the hoopla after the Jennifer Aniston joke, and the Chris Kattan "Amelie" visit) and they work wonderfully, yet other sketches sometimes die instantly when they throw an odd curve-ball in.... Speaking of which...Chris Kattan's Amelie impression was so perfect....what a strange strange idea! It's like Kattan just sits backstage during WU and gets bored and says "Hey! I wanna be a part of this!" From his Dramatic Reenactments to this hilarious visit, he just needs to be on screen...He's smart, too, to do this because Weekend Update is one of the only truly funny things on SNL lately. The Tenacious D song was pretty good too. GRADE: A-

[musical guest] THE STROKES perform "LAST NIGHT"
A fan of their music (although their charm is certainly wearing off on me...their album doesn't stand well on repeated listenings)....their performance was pretty much what I expected after seeing them live last October...But why does the singer hate the microphone so much?  I just found out that all these guys are spoiled Manhattan rich kids....that disappoints me a bit...But it doesn't change my GRADE: B+

[sketch] HBO AMERICA UNDERCOVER, TANGERINE FLORIDA COUPLE
Loud, obnoxious, depressing. Only enjoyed Jack Black's multiple attempts to jump the fence...Sigh...another recurring couple that should stay in the garbage chute....Grade: D

[sketch] THE NEW BIRTHDAY SONG
Woah....What the hell....was that??? I absolutely adored Will's wig and the Druid Chorus (Maya Rudolph seemed to be the only person in the sketch to be having fun with her character!) but it was just way too.....I don't know...It kind of depressed me that SO much time and effort was put into such a slight idea.....but I appreciated the chutzpah to continue on for so long with such a straaaange idea......it kind of reminded me of that German Children's Television show that they did awhile ago (does anyone else remember that? It was strange AND hilarious....where this sketch was simply strange.) GRADE: C+

[Jack Handey] My Big Thick Novel
About on par with Handey's other Novel entries...slight and silly. GRADE: B-

[musical guest] THE STROKES perform HARD TO EXPLAIN
Yikes...they seem off...Julian can't seem to hit the high notes here...Sounds better on the album. GRADE: C

SHOW GRADE: C (that's an average of all the grades of the evening....and it's a lot higher than it should be, WU and the small commercials saved this episode from a lower grade)

BEST SKETCH OF THE NIGHT: Now That's What Actors Call Singing
WORST SKETCH: (3-way tie) Russell Putnam, America Undercover, The Bass-Off

PERFORMER OF THE NIGHT: Darrell Hammond
WORST PERFORMER: Amy (only because she had to play such annoying characters..I'm a big fan of hers usually)

Everyone gets a week off until they're on the air again...let's hope they spend some time actually WRITING sketches this week for Britney Spears...lord knows that she won't be able to do much....but that doesn't mean that I'm not looking forward to her appearance :)

Happy 2 weeks everyone


Episode Review written by Jim


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