We are now past the one year anniversary of my first announcing my campaign to get my name on SNL. The results so far have been utter and complete failure, but I remain hopeful. If you support the idea of having myself (and by proxy, the entire SNL on-line community), then be sure to either e-mail SNL via their official website <http://www.nbc.com/snl> and demand to hear Mark Polishuk's name on Saturday Night Live. If you are a reviewer yourself, cut-and-paste the following line in each of your reviews (preferably near the top): I WANT TO HEAR THE NAME 'MARK POLISHUK' ON SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, SO IF YOU ARE ASSOCIATED WITH NBC, MAKE IT HAPPEN! Together, we can all make this happen! Go forth, my minions! E-mail, e-mail! Make me famous!
AND WHILE WE'RE IN SELF-INDULGENCE CORNER...
...I may as well announce my retirement. The 2001/2002 season finale will be my last article as a full-time SNL reviewer. I figured I may as well make an official announcement since I get e-mails whenever I'm even late in posting a review; if I failed to write one altogether, my mailbox would be flooded like Johnstown. My reasons for retiring are as follows...
* My Sundays next year will be busy with school and work and possibly also a job at the school paper. Since Sunday is the prime day for getting the reviews posted on Sean Bradley's webpage, this creates problems.
Reverend Lovejoy: Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest, people!
I just won't be able to justify spending a couple of hours writing an SNL review when I have so much to do. Hell, I can barely justify it now. Waiting until later in the week to write a review also isn't an option, since I personally find it really hard to keep up the enthusiasm about a show that's four or five days old.
* As a result of my workload and thus the relatively low emphasis that I've put on reviewing this year, my work itself has suffered. I realize that referring to a bunch of SNL reviews as 'my work' will alert the Pretentious Police, but I always try to produce the best material possible. Reading over my reviews from the past season, it just seems to me like I'm repeating myself. What kind of a hypocrite would I be if I were to criticize the likes of Chris Kattan for staying on SNL too long if I kept cranking out what I feel are subpar reviews week after week? So, instead of falling to the depths of Molly Shannon, I'm pulling a Cheri Oteri preemptive strike and leaving early enough that the memories remain fond.
* This past summer, I finally saw that Charlize Theron/Paul Simon episode that I missed last season. It was good to watch an episode of SNL simply as a fan, without trying to nitpick it all apart for a review. I'd like to get that feeling back again.
* I've become resigned to the fact that a) Tina Fey will probably never date me, what with the whole "she doesn't know me and is already married thing." Sigh.
It should also be mentioned that I'm not giving up the ghost entirely. I'll obviously still be a frequent poster on Jordan's SNL board and perhaps also write a few special feature items for saturday-night-live.com When I actually have free time and am not stressing about other things, I'll even produce the odd review. It's better in the long run to write a handful of really good and creative reviews each year (known as the Louman-Gardiner technique) rather than 20 okay ones.
But in short, the fact that I'm not really retiring won't deter me from producing a bunch of material to fill these pre-episode preambles. Let the Mark Polishuk Retirement Tour begin!
Cameron Diaz last hosted the premiere of the 1998 season, which in fact marked the beginning of my first full year of episode reviewing. Oh, now I'm going to cry! It's just so fucking poignant!
Sniffle. I'm better now. Cameron's first hosting performance was so well-received (well, the show itself was well-received; praise for her role was a bit more reserved) that here she is, over three years later, promoting her new movie The Sweetest Thing. Presumably the movie is about Cameron riding in a car through the streets of Dublin dressed as Elvis Costello, apologizing to her wife for missing their anniversary while all sorts of weird things happen in the background. Then again, I haven't seen the previews, so my plot synopsis could just uninformed claptrap. -- Redundancy Alert: There is no such thing as informed claptrap -- Whatever the plot is, any movie where Selma Blair is the LEAST attractive female lead can't be all bad. Cameron's last SNL gig was also the only time I've ever seen her make a public appearance not high, or drunk, or both, so let's hope she makes it two-for-two.
The musical guest is famed native American musician Jimmy Eat World. Kudos to SNL for showing some diversity in who they decide to...what? It's not one guy? It's actually a band? Oh, you mean a band of natives, otherwise known as a tribe. What? It's actually four white guys from Arizona? I dunno; Arizona has a lot of natives. Are you sure they're all Caucasian? Yeah, I can wait...Ob-le-di, Ob-la-da/Life goes on/Brah!/Na na na...oh, you're back. They are white after all? Well that's just horseshit. Here I was looking forward to some good old-fashioned Navajo rock, and all I get is a band of white guys and this lousy t-shirt.
[COLD OPENING] "Dad, I've Got Some Bad News."
"Aw, Your Mother's Not Pregnant, Is She?"
Non-political opening! Zounds! Still doesn't stop Will Ferrell from adding yet another LFNY to his credit. I wonder if he's anywhere near the all-time record; somebody should make a list about those LFNYs or something and count them up.
Voice of Reason: Don't you have a list like that?
Shut up, Voice of Reason. The quality of these sketches is judged by the pre-song banter, and this might've been the funniest Kulp dialogue ever. The stuff about Marty's constant testicular pain...that's gold, Jerry, gold. I guess Bobbi asked Marty "Won't you come out to play?" in her empty garden, Johnny, but it turned out the garden wasn't all so empty after all. The song montage was good as usual, with the highlights being Will singing 'Sweet Child O'Mine' and the Led Zeppelin parody. The streak of Kulps sketches without a U2 song is extended yet again. Let's go with a 45 (Bobbi's age) out of 55 (which of course stands for....uh....Bobbi's age when the child is ten).
[MONOLOGUE] "Marge, When Kids Today Say 'Bad,' They
Mean 'Good.' And To 'Shake Your Booty' Means To Wiggle One's Butt.
Permit Me To Demonstrate."
It's not only good to see Will Ferrell back on SNL, it's also good to see the return of bizarre and slightly disturbing Ferrell humour. His character of Ryan "Bang Bang Maxwell" Silverhammer was hilarious, if a bit like his boy band dance coordinator from the MTV Movie Awards a few months ago. Just when you think that the man is crazy to wear a bowlcut wig and (thankfully not so) tighty whities on national television, keep in mind that Will also gets to fondle Cameron Diaz's ass. This must be one of those contractual perks that Lorne is offering Will to stay on for next year. The monologue itself was little more than an excuse for Cameron to shake what her momma gave her, so...well heck, not much wrong with that. To quote baseball Hall-of-Famer Dizzy Dean, it ain't bragging if you can do it. God bless the man -- and it must've been a man -- who came up with the fashion of hiphugger jeans. He will get a special room in heaven with the makers of the Wonderbra and the inventors of shoes, since there is nothing that men find more attractive about a woman than a nice pair of shoes. The preceding message was brought to you by the Foundation for Sarcastic Dialogue Intended To Satirize Inexplicable Feminine Obsessions (FFSDITSIFO). This monologue gets seven acronyms that don't spell anything out of ten.
[SKETCH] "Do You Come With The Car?" "Oh
You! Tee Hee!" "Do You Come With The Car?" "Oh
You! Tee Hee!"
In what can only be described as a horrifying coincidence, I actually heard a Billy Ocean song on the radio during my work shift on Saturday night. I don't see why the Auto Show Spokeswoman (ASS) awards had to settle for Ocean and his estranged wife when Joe Piscopo is just sitting at home bopping his banana. Then again, it does provide a substantial role for Dean Edwards, though I'm sure that Dean probably has a great Piscopo impression that he's dying to use. Anothe casting tidbit is that I think Tina was one of the losing nominees, though I'm not totally sure. See? I can't even recognize my beloved Tina anymore; I really am losing it! This whole sketch was basically built around Parnell's Halle Berry-esque speech, and since he delivered, the sketch delivered. The shot of Eric Benet was appreciated on behalf of the two people that hadn't already gotten the joke, and suddenly slapped their foreheads and said "My God! That's a spoof of Halle Berry! I get it now!" This is opposed to David Byrne, who slapped his forehead and said "My God! What have I done?" and then continued his spastic dancing. The cut-away to Jeff Richards "cutting the music" on the tape recorder was another funny highlight of the sketch. This one gets a '57 Chevy out of a '76 Dodge Dart.
[SKETCH] "Wow, Very Impressive! You're A Natural Mr.
Simpson." "Really?" "Uh Huh. All You Need
Is Your Own Set Of Clubs, And Stay The Hell Out Of My Locker!"
In what can only be described as another horrifying coincidence, I just recently made my mother a mix CD that included Shania Twain's "That Don't Impress Me Much." It's almost like SNL is spying on my life and then taking obscure details to turn into the basis for their sketches. Oh well; at least they're focusing on the small stuff and thus we haven't seen Rachel Dratch in the role of Paul Markishuk, Prematurely Bald Teenager. Anyway, this sketch lost a ton of reality points for the repeated beachball in the face bit; if anyone's seen the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, you'd know what no heterosexual man in his right mind would chuck a beachball at Molly Sims, even a fictional one. The premise itself was okay, but couldn't they have really gotten obscure with the song selections? Why not have Doug Mutabi show up and request 'What Is Love'? Cameron and Maya's dance routine wasn't nearly as funny as the studio audience apparently thought it was. Let's all get down on our knees and thank the lord that this sketch was not produced in 1996, since the sight of Tracy Morgan shirtless back in the day would've caused a greater loss of viewership since that time when Randy Quaid had an epileptic fit onstage during the 1985 Gary Coleman/Falco episode. Now that was awkward; poor Robert Downey tried to improvise it into the sketch, and thus Randy's fit was passed off as "President Reagan demonstrating why you should say no to drugs." Then Downey got it into his head to try some drugs himself and the rest is tragic history. Back to 2002, this sketch didn't impress me much (OH THE WIT) and thus is rated by the Tracy Morgan Now And Then Scale: 162.5 pounds out of 250 pounds.
[SKETCH/INTERLUDE] "Is Everything Okay? You Look A
Bit Flushed." "It's Just The Excitement From Studying
Jebidiah." "Looks Like You've Come Down With A Serious
Case Of Jebaditis." "Just As I Was Getting Over My Chester
A. Arthritis." "You Had Arthritis?" "No."
And here we are, at the funniest part of the show. These backstage skits are always good, especially when they mock Donald Sutherland's incredibly dull voice. Loses a point for accuracy since Ana didn't mispronounce anyone's name, like Glenn Close did at the Oscars -- i.e. best actress Haley Berry and Reese Witherspoon, star of Legally Bound. Will's calculations were a bit off, if the Julia Stiles/Aerosmith show last season was number 500, then this is really the 521st episode of SNL. Unless...oh my lord, I've missed more episodes! Somebody send me a tape so I can enjoy the shows as a fan! Help help! The interlude, though brief, still gets 4.5 out of 5, which by coincidence is the number of times that Glenn Close has been nominated for an Oscar and lost.
[SKETCH] "You? Went Into Outer Space? You?" "Sure.
You've Never Been?"
"Please, however; don't make Astronaut Jones a recurring character. I couldn't stomach that theme song again." -- Me, from my review of the Britney Spears show from 2/2/2002.
SNL needs to heed my advice. This was a carbon copy of the first Astronaut Jones sketch, only with three chick aliens instead of one. I gave it a 7/9 the first time because it was fairly clever, but when I want to watch a rerun, I'll just pop in my tape of the original episode (oh come on, you think I wouldn't have the Britney Spears show on tape?) This one gets an NA, or maybe an NO for 'not original.'
[SKETCH/COMMERCIAL] "Aw Shoot, Quebec's Got The Bomb!"
This is one of the things that annoys me about being Canadian; EVERY SINGLE TIME that people jokingly badmouth our country, Celine Dion's name is mentioned. Come on people! Canada has produced the Tragically Hip, Sloan, Sarah Harmer, Sarah McLachlan, the Barenaked Ladies, the Guess Who, Neil Young and Our Lady Peace among others. That more than balances out one crappy French singer, though Celine may well have sold more albums than the rest of them put together. Sigh. It's a nice bit of luck that Ana's pregnancy is coinciding with Celine's recent pregnancy, and thus there's an explanation for why the normally sickeningly tiny Celine Dion is suddenly blown up like a balloon. The obligatory joke about "changing diapers, no wait she means for her ancient husband" was made, and the rant about making toast was pretty funny as well. I'll give this one quatorze out of vingt.
[SKETCH] "Gentlemen, I Give You Britannia! Gambling With All The Glitz And Glamour Of The British Isles! Best Of All, The Waitresses And Showgirls Are All Real Brits. Fresh From The Streets Of Sussex, They Are." "Freshen Your Drink, Guv'ner?" "Get Out." Gorgeous Living? Not 'Pretty Living'? Thank God. I'm not certain if this is a real show or not, since it seemed like a weird hybrid of Absolutely Fabulous and every other show about cooking/fashion/decorating on cable television. If it had remained just Amy ranting about all sorts of things in her British accent, the sketch might've been really good, but Cameron's character just killed everything stone dead. I think Cameron might've taken her advice about burying her dress to make it unwearable to heart when picking out her Oscar fashions.
Mr. Blackwell: No kidding! Here's one Charlie's Angel that should be sent right to hell!
Jimmy was a bit more enthusiastic as the naked chef, a title that every 13-year-old girl wished was true. Just so you know, the real Naked Chef doesn't actually cook naked; the title is in reference to making food from scratch, so it's "naked" in a metaphorical sense. Trust me, no man would ever go anywhere near a hot stove without at least a strategically-placed oven mitt, if you catch my drift. Since Amy was particularly funny in this skit, I'll be generous and give it the eleventh seed out of sixteen teams in the Southwest conference for the SNL April Madness tournament.
[WEEKEND UPDATE]"I've Got To Win This One! I Bribed
Everyone In Hollywood!" "And The Oscar Goes To...George
C. Scott, In 'Man Getting Hit By Football'!"
This was Weekend Update as directed by David Lean. A much longer than usual WU with so much funny stuff that it was like biting into a really big Reuben and having half the stuff fall out the sides. Let's start with the actual news, the highlights of which included the bits about Playboy/girl hiring the women/men of Enron, Kathie Lee hiring Honduran children to write her autobiography, Ray Charles endorsing slot machines for the blind and John Walker Lindh's answering machine. Now, onto the subnews bits, or as I like to call it, the Jimmy and Tina Fun Zone. Tina's mini-rant about Bush's "you're with us or against us" speech was great, and had I taped the episode, I would've reproduced the exact dialogue for posterity. Not only was there a temporary reprise of the Apollo Theatre-esque hooting from the Jack Black episode after the 'Clinton needs a new bitch' joke, but this was topped by bit about Tina being a robot. I just knew that such perfection could hardly be natural. If anyone wants to get me a retirement present, I can think of worse things than a Tina Fey robot.
Warren from Buffy the Vampire Slayer: I could just build one for you, but you've got to make be sure to shut it off or else it will follow you around and never leave you alone.
Hell, that's no problem. The fact that Tina barely paused after being "activated" was the funniest part of the whole routine. The special guests were even all good: Jasper Hahn was freshened up with the addition of puppets and songs instead of filthy drawings, Darrell as Geraldo was funny (espeically the list of venues of the Tour of Terror), and the Denzel/Halle Berry thing was just all-around great. Dean Edwards has now gotten two substantial roles in one episode; call Guinness. He did a good impression of Denzel too, especially with the voice. Amy doing the cameo as Julia Roberts was the icing on the cake, since she seems to obsess over Denzel like...well, like I obsess over Tina Fey. Sigh. All in all, this was just about a perfect Update, and thus it gets a 99 out of Curt Hennig.
[MUSICAL GUEST] "I Can't Live The Button-Down Life
Like You. I Want It All: The Terrifying Lows, The Dizzying Highs,
The Creamy Middles."
This song is called The Middle, and is probably Jimmy Eat World's best-known composition. It is not exactly the most complicated song in music history, so if you have a guitar and you know two chords, congratulations: you now have a something to play. In what is hilarious given the fact that he's on SNL, the lead singer looks EXACTLY like Will Ferrell dressed up as Doug Mutabi. The performance gets a neves out of net.
[SKETCH] "Zookeeper, Zookeeper! Those Monkeys Are Killing
Come on, Cameron Diaz in a shirt? What monkey could be forced into a shirt? It's the lack of realism that disturbs me, not the missed opportunity to see Cameron Diaz topless. Then again, she did agree to simulate being anally violated by a skeleton, so I guess Cameron had to keep at least one taboo in her career alive. It sure gives new meaning to the idea of getting boned! (rim shot) This could hardly have been a more generic Mr. Peepers sketch, but the one good side is that we don't have to see the same bit next week when the Rock hosts. 2 empty banana peels out of 5.
[SKETCH] "I'm Sick Of Doing Japanese Stuff! In Jail
We Had To Be In This Dumb Kabuki Play About The 47 Ronin, And
I Wanted To Be Oshi But They Made Me Ori."
This might've had a chance to be really funny if it had been a series of unknown bands, but instead it was just the Papayas, which got old after a while. The fact that only I don't care how many MTVs they make, none will ever approach MuchMoreMusic, or even the original MuchMusic for quality. Sadly enough, my school paper prides itself on promoting 'underground' bands, so before long I'll probably find myself reviewing an album by a group not far removed from the Papayas. Moral of the Story: it's not about if you're mainstream of if you're underground, but only if you actually have musical talent. So to all of you music executives out there...hmm. The odds of somebody from, say, RCA reading this are relatively slim. Oh well. Yet more props must be given to SNL for hiding Ana's pregnancy when it would otherwise detract from the sketch by hiding her behind a drum kit. This is the third straight episode where Tina Fey has done more than just Weekend Update, so now we obsessed fans have even more to dwell over. This one gets 49 leg warmers out of 70. I know that's not an even number, never fear; nobody's leg is going cold. The extra one is being given to Terry Fox.
[MUSICAL GUEST] "A Mountain of Sugar Is Too Much For
One Man. It's Clear Now Why God Portions It Out In Those Tiny
Packets, And Why He Lives On A Plantation In Hawaii."
Not much to say about this one other than that I think that the Japanese girl band from the previous sketch had more advanced chord structures in their songs than Jimmy Eat World do. Special thanks to Freddie and Charlie G on Jordan Davidson's Message Board for coming up with the title of 'Sweetness' for this song (Freddie asked what the titles of the Jimmy Eat World songs were, and Charlie responded). Lord knows I couldn't pick a title out of this garbled mess. This song only was able to eat 3/10ths of the world.
[JACK HANDEY] "Do Not Be Alarmed. Continue Swimming
Naked. Aw, Come On! Continue! Come On! Oh....All Right Lou, Open
Didn't make me laugh, so 0 for 1. Am I a disturbed pervert for thinking that the illustrated woman had a really nice rack? Yes? Okay, just checking.
PERFORMERS OF THE NIGHT: Tina Fey, Ana Gasteyer, Amy Poehler
BEST SKETCHES: The SNL Oscar Interlude, Weekend Update, the Kulps get pregnant
WORST SKETCHES: Astronaut Jones Redux, Mr and Mrs. Peepers,
BUSIEST PERFORMERS: Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph (6 sketches each); Will Ferrell, Ana Gasteyer (4 sketches each)
PERFORMERS WITH ENOUGH TIME TO COMPILE A LIST OF EVERY SONG THAT HAS EVER INCLUDED THE WORD 'ONCE': Rachel Dratch, Darrell Hammond, Chris Kattan, Seth Meyers, Jeff Richards (1 sketch each)
PLACES WHERE THE SNL WRITERS COULD EASILY HAVE INSERTED THE NAME 'MARK POLISHUK': If the Kulps were to name their baby Mark, I'd be on the roof with delight and joy.
MISTAKES: Cameron Diaz was in eight sketches tonight. She screwed up a line in four, was virtually unintelligible in two of them, spoke in a monotone as the Jupiterian, and didn't speak English as Mrs. Peepers. You couldn't have a more incoherent host if Marlee Matlin was on the show.
"Would it be too much to ask that we get the sound right just once?"-- Marty Kulp (Will Ferrell)
"Stop the track! Stop the track! Again, too inside, I'm sorry. A track is a piece of recorded music."-- Ryan Silverhammer (Will Ferrell)
"You go to Brown?"
"No, I don't go to school, I work for UPS."-- Keith (Tracy Morgan) and Molly Sims (Amy Poehler)
"What's wrong with my choppers? Oh I've just remembered, I was punched in the face last night."-- Prunella Watson (Amy Poehler)
"Palestinians would be awesome at Fear Factor."-- Tina Fey, Weekend Update
"It was announced this week that after four years in Los Angeles, the Grammys will move back to New York City. Be careful, you guys. My grammy moved to Florida and like a month later she died."-- Tina Fey, Weekend Update
"Playboy is planning a spread called The Women of Enron. Come on, these women have lost their jobs, their retirement funds, and now they've gotta lose all but this much of their pubic hair? Playgirl magazine is planning a spread called The Men of Enron. Editors say it seemed like a perfect match for Playgirl, which is known for photos of callopsing firms."-- Tina Fey, Weekend Update
"MTV4 is so hip and underground that you can't even call your cable company to order it. You just turn on your TV, and if it comes on, I guess you're just cool enough."-- Iann Robinson (Horatio Sanz)
Another good episode that Cameron Diaz herself had little if anything to do with. Well, I guess that there have been plenty of good SNL episodes that Cameron has had nothing to do with, but this is the second direct example of the phenomenon. Now I'm confused, but if her presence inspires SNL to keep producing good episodes, then make her a damn cast member. Perhaps instead of being drunk, perhaps she was merely hung over, and thus had not the mental acumen to memorize her lines or even read cue cards properly. Jimmy Eat World weren't all that great, and thus as a result should be shunned from the music industry forever more.
Next week's show will be hosted by the Rock, making him the first pro wrestler to host SNL twice -- now that's an honour for you. His last hosting gig was generally okay, but a bit stiff; hopefully the Rock's acting "experience" (he's the star of the upcoming Scorpion King) has made him a bit more charismatic outside of the wrestling ring. The musical guest is Andrew W.K., who actually shares a tenuous connection to the Rock. My school paper gets a lot of free CDs from record companies, and Andrew W.K.'s promo material states that "critics have compared him to Gene Simmons, WWF's the Rock and Jesus Christ." Now I've never heard this guy's music, but come on: Jesus maybe, but there's only one Rock. Until next week, adieu.
BACK to Cameron Diaz "SNL" Episode Reviews