Reese Witherspoon / Alicia Keys
September 29, 2001

In a surprising move, SNL did the unthinkable and fired Chris Parnell. Most surprising because he brought a great deal of professionalism to every role he did, no matter how small the part he played, although he usually showed more seriousness than anything, his humor was pretty subtle, and he was able to get laughs without yelling and acting crazy. His firing is most troubling because Chris mirrored what SNL used to be like and his firing is showing what SNL is slowly becoming. And another thing, he was also a damn good impressionist, though he probably wasn't really known for impressions, he impressed me alot with quite afew of them, particularly Tom Brokaw. Also missing is last season's new featured player and writer, Jerry Minor who showed alot of potential with his hilarious Al Sharpton impression and characters such as the Rap Street guys, Willy Sluggs and Rasheed Jenkins. Alot of us saw his firing coming before the season ended, because he appeared in so few sketches. I found him pretty funny most of the time and enjoyed his appearances on Mr. Show and I don't think he was given a fair chance on SNL. I thought much of what he did was great. He just wasn't able to do all that much unfortunately. Like David Koechner, I think Jerry deserved at least one more season. But, I wish good luck to Chris and Jerry in whatever they're currently doing now and I hope to see them again in the near future.

We've also got afew new players, one which includes Amy Poehler from the Upright Citizens Brigade TV show that used to be on Comedy Central, and was and still remains to be one of my favorite TV shows ever. I really don't know what Comedy Central was thinking when they cancelled it. I have 26 of the 30 episodes on tape and even on repeated viewers I still find every moment of their insane sketches hilarious, probably one of the most brilliantly written and innovative sketch comedy shows to come along since MR SHOW, another great sketch comedy show that was cancelled after only 30 episodes, but Mr. Show had a bigger following. Ever since UCB was cancelled I always hoped SNL would pick up one of the 4 members after the show was cancelled, and my choice would have probably been either Matt Besser or Amy Poehler, although most of the stuff that Besser would do wouldn't be allowed on network TV, so Amy was probably a better choice. Even last season Matt Walsh (who played Trotter on UCB's show and is now on The Daily Show) appeared on a segment on WU as the angry father who beat the hell out of Adam McKay. I'm excited to see what she'll bring to the show and I hope shes able to be as funny on SNL as she was on UCB. It kinda seems weird for someone to join the show who I'm familiar with. Another new player is Jeff Richards of MAD TV, who I caught on Late Friday last weekend, he seemed like a pretty funny guy, and was a damn good impressionist, I'm curious to see which ones hes gonna do on SNL. I haven't seen any of his MADtv work though. I've also seen alittle bit of Dean Edwards stand up on HBO and Comedy Central, but not enough to judge how I think he will do on SNL. The only one I really never saw and don't know about is Seth Meyers, I'm sure we'll become more familiar with him sooner or later.

[OPENING] Message from Rudolph Giuliani
Perfect way to open the show under these circumstances. After the September 11 incident, it was a nice way to acknowledge the situation yet allow the show to run pretty much as it has before. Simon's voice seemed unsteady at times, and the pacing of the song seemed alittle bit slow, but otherwise, a great way to open the show, although I kind of saw this type of opener coming, but the Paul Simon song was quite surprising. Liked Giuliani's quip to Lorne towards the end. I'd feel alittle weird grading this, so I will just leave it as is.

Oops, Don!
I had a feeling they'd keep the same montage from the previous season. It would have been nice if they kept the same look, but changed all the pictures like they did for Ana, seeing as how this might be quite afew of the long time castmembers last season on the show.

[MONOLOGUE] Reese Witherspoon
Not great, but I shouldn't be complaining considering what the show had to go through this past week. You could see by the look on her face that she felt weird having the follow the previous segment. But really, couldn't we get something better than a lame bit out of a standard issue joke book. Pretty weak idea for a monologue, I find it alittle bit hard to believe that this was the best thing they were able to think of. Although, Reese showed a lot of enthusiasm and feeling, but the polar bear joke just wasn't funny at all. But I feel I should give her credit for doing an actual monologue.
Grade: C

[COMMERCIAL] Preparation H
With: Jimmy Fallon, Chris Kattan, Dean Edwards, Seth Meyers, Jeff Richards.
I actually enjoyed this, it had a pretty funny concept, using typical skateboarding "dudez" plugging Preparation H in ebonics. Plus it was a good way of showcasing the new guys alittle bit. With Parnell no longer in the cast, I see they got Will Ferrell doing the voice-overs again, hes not as good as Parnell was, but acceptable. Anyway, this was pretty good, and the "my rectums on fire" chant at the end was kind of funny in a weird sort of way.
Funny lines: "Im about ta drop an H-bomb on dis riz-oid!" -- Jimmy Fallon
Grade: B

[SKETCH] Wake Up Wakefield
With: Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch, Reese Witherspoon, Horatio Sanz, Jimmy Fallon, Dean Edwards, Amy Poehler, Jeff Richards.
I'm slowing getting used to this new recurring sketch, it has some funny points that highlight the extreme lameness of cable access shows and these type of people, but it also has many highly irritating parts as well. I was pretty disappointed to see that this was Amy Poehler's only part in the show tonight. Someone as funny as her deserves a better part than this. I just hope this isn't a sign of how shes gonna be used all season, thinking back to how little they used Mark McKinney who came to SNL after being hilarious on Kids in the Hall. I'd say Rachel Dratch and Horatio Sanz are still the highlights of this sketch. I particularly liked the line Horatio said that I put below and the bit about feeding elderly people bruised fruit. I still find Maya's voice in this quite annoying, she should tone it down alittle next time. This still hasn't fully worn out it's welcome yet, but I can see it getting old after awhile. We'll see.
Funny lines: "I take latin, so I can only understand the root words." -- Rachel Dratch .. "Don't be a playa hata. Be an intermural sports participata!" -- Horatio Sanz
Grade: C+

[SKETCH] Little Mermaid
With: Reese Witherspoon, Will Ferrell, Horatio Sanz, Rachel Dratch, Dean Edwards, Seth Meyers, Jeff Richards.
Kind of a weird sketch to put this early in the show. It wasn't really all that funny either, I know they were trying to go for weird here, but it just didn't really work out. But Will's reactions were quite funny, and Horatio was also good at times, particularly his drunken entrance. And the fact that he carries the fish around with him is funny in itself. The ending with the 3 new guys as fish sort of reminded me of the old Monty Python sketch, and since Rachel is a castmember now, she shouldn't still have to play bit parts like this and be completely wasted. For some reason I found the ending kinda funny with the voice-over guy sounding angry and the hand that closes the book being slapped with handcuffs. Still it wasn't awful, I think it was just too early in the show.
Funny lines: "The Little Mermaid will not return due to pending legal actions."
Grade: B-

[WEEKEND UPDATE] with Jimmy Fallon and Tina Fey
With: Jimmy Fallon, Tina Fey, Darrell Hammond.
Wow, they still left Parnell's voice-over in there, I bet in a way they even know what a mistake they made in firing him and left in his voice, but it it did seem a little insensitive, like they're saying "you're not good enough to stay with the show but we have the rights to recycle your voice-overs for years after." Maybe not, I guess I'm just overly bitter that they fired Parnell. Anyway, pretty good first WU of the season, I was wondering how'd they'd handle it and they did just fine, they still got good chemistry. Liked the Glitter joke alot and the Don King joke, and Jimmy's pokes at Jordan returning. Darrell Hammond's Jesse Jackson was a bit more over emphasized at times than usual last night, but still hilarious. The addition of adding Jerry Minor as Al Sharpton to Darrell's Jackson on WU was great last season, so it felt kinda empty without him last night, especially since Minor's Al Sharpton was one of the funniest things to come from last season. Even Jimmy did an okay job, up until the point where he became too preoccupied with his hair, and you wonder why people don't find him believable in the anchor role. Other than that, this was probably the best segment of the entire night.
Grade: B+

[SKETCH] The Culps
With: Reese Witherspoon, Will Ferrell, Ana Gasteyer.
Lives up to the standard Culps sketch. But I can soon see a Culps overkill coming (if it already didn't) if they do these too much this season. This was actually pretty mediocre, but I guess thats what sells at the moment. Not the worst Culps sketch I've seen, but nowhere near the best I've seen. I'm surprised this came in the show after WU, but then again, they only did 2 real sketches before it. Nice try, but this one was too much like all the others. I guess I gotta be in the right mood to truly enjoy a Culps sketch.
Funny lines: "Domo arigato Mrs. Lezboto." -- Will Ferrell and Ana Gasteyer
Grade: B-

[SKETCH] Celebrity Jeopardy
With: Will Ferrell, Darrell Hammond, Reese Witherspoon, Dean Edwards.
Celebrity Jeopardy has been particularly weak the last few times, it's been pretty much the same thing the last few times. Darrell should give the whole Connery thing a rest, or at least come up with fresher things for him to do or say. But I guess I gotta come to terms with the fact that they don't have the same writers now that they had from 96-98, back when this sketch made me laugh. Although Reese did pretty decent job as Anne Heche, I liked the made up "space language" which is a reference some might not get unless they saw the 20/20 interview a little while ago, but I'm sure most people know about it by now. Dean Edwards in his first real role, did a alright job as Tucker, although the voice he used was too high, but he had the right idea with it and he did look quite abit like him and had alot of his mannerisms down pretty good, but he didn't really have a whole lot to work with, using old lines from Friday and Rush Hour isn't really what I call too clever. By the way, Jerry Minor's Chris Tucker impression (which was never done on SNL) was much more accurate. I can't really say I can form an opinion on Dean Edwards as of yet, as of right now, I liked Jerry better. But as always Will Ferrell was great showing that classic Trebek anger. Not a very funny installment of this sketch though, probably the worst one to date. I miss Norm.
Grade: C

[SKETCH] Farting Baby
With: Reese Witherspoon, Will Ferrell, Ana Gasteyer, Chris Kattan, Tracy Morgan, Maya Rudolph.
It's times like these I just gotta question Lorne's decisions on what he thinks is funny. I mean seriously, how bad were the cut sketches for this to have made it on the air? This was nothing more than a complete and utter waste of time. I'm really not sure what they were going for when they wrote this trash, perhaps stunned silence from the entire audience. Although, Tracy Morgan, who pretty much only appears in cameos now, was quite funny at the last minute of the sketch. And of course there was that strange, but interesting moment when Ferrell and Kattan started talking about coffee, but it didn't really work all that well. It seemed like that part was just sort of thrown in there at the last minute by another writer. But I gotta hand it to whoever wrote this sketch, it truly took balls to submit a sketch like this to Lorne. We'll know SNL has gotten bad, when the "farting baby" becames SNL's new hit recurring character. I can already see the movie in the works. Nothing surprises me these days.
Grade: F+

[SKETCH] Donatella Versace Sings for the Kids
With: Maya Rudolph, Dean Edwards, Chris Kattan, Darrell Hammond.
Not exactly a great sketch, but not that bad for the last sketch to be aired tonight. I was kinda hoping they would somehow write Amy's weird british model character which she did on UCB afew times, but no such luck. I wasn't familiar with too many of the impressions in the sketch, except for Maya as Donatella Versace and Dean Edwards as Grace Jones. Dean's Grace Jones was far better than his Chris Tucker impression, he seems to be good with doing impressions of faces people make, because he got both Chris Tucker's and Grace Jones' down pretty accurately. Maya's impression of Donatella Versace wasn't too bad, without a doubt more accurate than Molly Shannon's impression was. Plus Maya had a drugged up look on her face through out the entire sketch which was pretty funny. A mediocre sketch at best. But at this late in the show, I can't complain too much, and following the farting baby sketch makes it seem all that much better.
Grade: C

This was actually a pretty weak season premiere episode, but I'm just glad they were able to do a show at all this week under the current events. As expected, for the most part SNL took a 'not with a 10 ft pole' approach to the whole issue. Which is fine, but I think tonight's show relied on too many tired recurring characters and childish humor such as the baby sketch. If this is any indication of how the rest of the season will be, which I seriously hope not, maybe Parnell and Minor got out just in time. I also noticed SNL lost Adam McKay as a writer, which is a shame, I guess that means we won't see any more of his short films, even though quite afew people didn't seem to like them much, but I sure enjoyed most of them. I wonder if hes planning on making a full length movie, or maybe got a better writing job elsewhere, I doubt they'd fire him after writing for the show for 6 years. Whatever the reason, I'm sad to see him go. I hope to see some more of the new featured players next week, especially Amy. Although I'm not expecting a great show next week, it will hopefully be alot better than this weeks episode, I was looking forward to seeing Stiller host again, but I guess we're gonna have to settle for that guy from Dude Wheres my Car. Ugh. Last season's second show of the season was quite good, as are most of the second shows, so who knows.

Review ends here.

Episode Review written by Emmanual Goldstein

BACK to Reese Witherspoon "SNL" Episode Reviews