Queen Latifah / Ms. Dynamite
March 8, 2003

By Dave 69

Well, I've finally decided to add my two cents to the review madness. It's about time you people got a critic who could spell, not to mention speaks for the regular horndog guy.

A COUPLE O' PRESHOW THOUGHTS

This will not be as long as some people's diatribes, I promise. No agendas. Other than the following:

1.       Hope Dave Letterman is back on Monday!  Watching guest hosts are just plain painful. No written material and you really begin to appreciate how quick Dave is on his feet. Of course, watching a guest host is like watching Leno on any night. He'll never veer from the script. Remember when Jay was funny? Gosh, I think it was when he was on Letterman!!!

2.       More Tina Fey!!! I know many share my belief, but she is, to quote my buddy Chris Walken, the shiz-nit! She should be in more sketches with more makin' out. Eliminate some of your head writing responsibilities-you've made your mark already as first female head writer-and put yourself in front of the lights more, where you've been doing nothing but getting rave reviews and getting lonely men moist!!! Did I just reveal too much? In closing, two words, Tina: JANE CURTIN! It can be done, and you're just the broad to do it.

3. Anybody else want Edward Norton to make an appearance this week on the show? His lady is hosting, and I always thought he'd be great on the show. Plus, he's always in NYC.Ê I could see him in the 5-Timers Club if they'd just give him a chance.

4. Watch "Big Bucks: The 'Press Your Luck' Scandal" on Game Show Network on Monday, March 17.Ê Or at least tape it if you plan to party St. Patty's style. Oh and if we're not at war. Then there are definitely more important networks to watch. Nonetheless, it's all about that dude that "broke the code" on Press Your Luck and won $110,000 in one episode in 1984-when that much money meant something on game shows. I saw a sneak preview, and it's a really interesting analysis of a guy who obsesses a wee bit too much.

5. Just started the SNL book. A great read early on, but I can't wait to get to the chapters on the current years.


REVIEW

Since I'm new to this, I will explain my scoring system. It will be a letter grade. No further explanation necessary.


COLD OPEN-POINT/COUNTERPOINT
Darrell Hammond, Dan Aykroyd
A great and inspired cold opening in which the timing couldn't have been better. I made two predictions as this sketch began, and one of them happened. First, I felt it would be perfect for Aykroyd to say, "Bill, you ignorant slut," and he did indeed!  (ding) Second, I thought Norm MACdonald would relieve Aykroyd when the latter would pretend to get winded or tired. Nothing beats a Norm cameo but I would be wrong on that. (buzz) For as long as each of their speeches was, they were succinct, funny, and the sketch flew by. Now was it just me, or did Aykroyd stutter a few times? At first I thought it was a flub, and then when he did it again later, I thought maybe it was a Dole characteristic. It was a little surprising that they let the announcer shout LFNYISN as opposed to either Aykroyd or both. Always disappointing when it's not shouted on camera. Grade: A-

OPENING MONTAGE
I don't mean to sound nitpicky here, but I think Don Pardo may be recording his announcements. He doesn't have the same "live" resonance and excitement in his voice, and I'm sure he'd rather just come in on Thursday afternoon, lay down his tracks, and not stay up until 1:00am Sunday morning. Obviously, he's not getting any younger. I remember he had screwed up a few times in recent years one that comes to mind is when he said "Tina Fey" at the wrong time. (One side note: I think Darrell Hammond has done a Don Pardo impression in place of Don once or twice. Maybe that's the way to go from now on. Or get Alan Kalter! He's great.)


MONOLOGUE-LAND OF LATIFAH
Queen Latifah, Seth Myers, Horatio Sanz, Maya Rudolph, Tracy Morgan
Lots of energy from Queen Latifah, but she seemed a little nervous at first. Had no idea what would happen next would be among the funniest things I'd ever seen during a monologue. As with much good comedy (especially Sandler's), some things seem almost too obvious or too easy. But they executed the "Land of Latifah" bit absolutely brilliantly. Other than the Queen briefly breaking up, it was a terrific open.  Grade: A-

BET-HE A BABY
Maya, Dean Edwards, Queen, Jeff Richards
Decent premise; reminded me too much of Tim Conway's lame character "Dorf on Golf". However, the urban lingo was perfectly utilized, and when the Queen of Latifah first said "He a baby", I laughed out loud. It was obvious that Dean and Maya were vamping before the last song to allow Jeff to get his head and hands out of the couch. Solid first sketch.  Grade: B

(Don't worryI can be harsh with my grades as well. Quite honestly, though, this was one of the best shows in an otherwise very weak season. So maybe I'm feeling a little generous.)

NEXT WEEK
Pre-recorded Don Pardo
Salma Hayek, Christina Aguilera
Other than pre-recorded Don pronouncing "Aguilera" wrong, I am left hoping for two things next week: 1) Salma recreates some of that "girl-on-girl action" that she did so well in "Freda", and 2) Christina tries a little makeup.

LIVE WITH REGIS AND KELLY W/SPECIAL GUEST FRENCHIE
Darrell, Amy Poehler, Chris Kattan, Queen
Very clever, very tight. The Queen was perfect as Frenchie, even though I'd never seen American Idol. She just had great attitude. Kattan was not stretching much to play Gelman, but he still handled it with aplomb. My only question was with the Regis/Kelly interplay, and trying to figure out whether it was ad-libbing or not. I waffled on this at first, I thought it was, because Hammond seemed to chuckle a few times, but then when Poehler came out preggers at the end, I realized it was because of the fondling. Perhaps I'm thinking too much, but what if Poehler played a pregnant Kelly with only one leg? Sorry, I swore I wouldn't go off on tangents.   Grade: B+

COMMERCIAL-WHO FARTED?
Darrell, Jeff, Maya, Horatio, Queen, Tracy, Seth, Rachel Dratch
Thought I was going to hate it, but the premise was so ludicrous that it just further proved that anything could be made into a reality show at this point. (Side note: doesn't everybody else know by now that "reality" is the absolute wrong word to use? NONE of these shows is real-it's all premise-driven by an unrealistic premise. Thank you.) But to quote Tracy Morgan on a previous Super Bowl Special, "That was a straight-up fart joke!" And a good one at that.  Grade: A-

VH1's WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Amy, Maya, Queen, tons of dancing extras
First of all, I noticed that both audio channels were not on for the first minute or so of this sketch. Luckily, the more important of the two was working. But what you could hear (if you were anal like yours truly) was the floor director counting down "5 4 3 etc." for the next live moment of the sketch. So it will be interesting to see how they treat this in repeats. Anyway, control room take note: Lorne may be letting one of you go this week. The bit fell a little flat, but I blame part of that on the initial screw up. I wonder if the actors knew it, and I wonder how quickly the control room noticed it, and if there was a lot of "Oh, shit"s being said. Also, this is now the fifth-straight TV network parody they've done (60 Minutes, BET, Regis, Farted, VH1). They couldn't possibly do another one next, could they?  Grade: C+

I'M A CELEBRITY WHO FARTED?
Rachel, Jeff, Chris Kattan, Darrell, Jimmy Fallon
Apparently, they can. Kind of funny, kind of "Joe Dude" redundant. Nothing like running a good idea into the ground. Only positives were the "Juicy Busey" line, Kattan's very funny Kathy Griffin, and the last line "and coming soon, 'I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of 'I'm a Celebrity Who Farted?' ' " (I think I got the quotation marks right) Grade: B-


WEEKEND UPDATE
Tina Fey, Jimmy, Horatio, Jeff, Chris Parnell
, pencil-taking signer of Declaration of Independence
What can I say? Another solid piece of the show! A great update with good jokes and excellent guests. Some joke highlights: Wellesley girls who got their tongues stuck on 9-foot ice penis sculpture on campus (small bias-I just enjoy hearing Tina say "penis"), women in history trading cards-collect all ten, Michael Flatley sexually assaulting a girl without ever using his arms, priceless piece of art stolen in prison, Aretha float, Clinton & Dole reminding us what real leaders sound like when they talk, not clear what the deal is w/Jerry Seinfeld's new kid, childhood sweethearts celebrating 79th Anniversary with husband saying "Dear God, when is this excruciating hell going to end?", be like Chazz Palmenteri and drink Vanilla Coke, "Married by America" and "Vagina Auction" updates, Hooters Air w/flight attendants who can be used as a floatation device (saw that coming), sequel to "Footloose", Jimmy's bad joke "Remember the Alamo? More like, Remember the a la mode", followed by a "Bloader Brothers"-style laugh, and Tina saying, "I hate you you're an idiot!" Featured guests: Khalid Sheikh Muhammed (Horatio) talking not about the terror, but his bad picture-"I look like the 'Time to make the donuts' guy! I look like a Mario brother had sex with a brillo pad!" Very very funny. Dustin Hoffman (Jeff) at the Update Door acting drunk like he did at the Grammy's. The best part was when he accidentally spit on Jimmy, and Tina wiped it off WITH HER TONGUE! (I wish) It went on a touch long, but still funny. Trevor the Broadway guy (Parnell) reacting to musicals being shut down due to striking musicians. Did an a cappella number in front of the desk. "Nothing should be canned, except maybe peas_and peace." Very clever, though a touch long again. God, this is a long, run-on paragraph. But at least chock-full of information!  Grade: A-

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, MS. DYNAMITE!
Obviously, we know who holds the upper hand in discussions between a Queen and someone who's just a "Ms." But I was disappointed, because I was expecting Jimmy Walker in drag. Thank you, I'll be here all week. Hadn't heard of her before, the performance makes me want to steal some of her songs from Kazaa-it was just that good!  Grade: B

THAT'S MY HAM NO, IT'S MY HAM! HOW 'BOUT WE SPLIT IT? NO, THAT'S TOO EASY!
Amy, Rachel, and Horatio vs. Queen, Maya, and Tracy, featuring Jeff and Chris Parnell
Hooray first non-TV associated sketch of the night! Odd premise, but it kept my interest. I really wanted to see some bitch-slappin' or ham-throwin'. Now you'll have to excuse me, 'cause suddenly I'm a little hungry for a sandwich. Okay, now I'm refreshed. Ending was odd, equating Gulf War II to a tug-o-ham, but I'll accept it, just because Jeff didn't flinch once while holding the ham over his head. And why was he able to take it away so easily? Because he worked there?Ê Puh-lease.  Grade: B-

TV FUNHOUSE-"THE X-PRESIDENTS PROPAGANDA CARTOON"
I'm flipping over all the cards: any inclusion of "Grape Ape" into a bit is an instant winner.  Grade: A

A&E BIOGRAPHY
Darrell, Queen, Dean, Fred Armisen, Tracy, Maya
Right back to TV parodies again, dammit! Cute, not great. There is nothing that can't get past the censors anymore, so talking about "giving it to me in the butt" doesn't seem very shocking any more. Remember when "The Penis Song" was a big deal? Yeah, I'm starting to get like Grumpy Old Man. Hammond was funny as host, but sometimes his behavior distracts from the rest of the sketch. I know he was drinking to get him through this biography, but he hammed it up a little too much. I'm just sayin'.  Grade: C+

WALGREENS
Horatio, Queen, Tracy, Rachel, Chris Parnell, Jeff, Fred
Not an original idea to embarrass someone with a price check on personal items. One more Grumpy Old Man bit: remember when people used to be embarrassed to ask for condoms at pharmacies? Well, we've come a long way, baby! A few funny moments, like when Rachel needed something for a yeast infection, and Horatio responded with, "Where, in your vagina?" That made me laugh. And anything Tracy says sounds funny, especially "yeast infection in her vagina." The point driven home at the end that you only get this kind of hands-on service at a mom-and-pop store was okay at best.  Grade: C+


FRED McFEELY ROGERS (1928-2003)
Horatio
Rarely does SNL go sentimental, and it is ALWAYS at 5 minutes to 1am, but this was perfect. This entire generation of current cast members grew up on "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood", and Horatio brought tears to quite a few eyes in 8H for sure with his heartfelt song. For as much as Mr. Rogers is parodied, he is remembered as an influence to everyone who ever watched him. Remember, only those who do something important are lampooned or impersonated. For many, many of us, he was our first real neighbor Grade: A+

GOODNIGHT, EVERYBODY!

Overall show grade: B+

Comments: 
Queen Latifah proved herself to be a very versatile host, from the monologue on. Unfortunately, they stuck with musical sketches a little too much, perhaps not trusting the Queen's range. But with what she had, she was way, way better than I expected. And I must confess, I haven't seen "Chicago," the new Steve Martin movie, or much of "Living Single," so I was a bit naive as to her talents. The fact that she's Oscar™ nominated definitely shows she's got the chops. I think she'll do just fine for herself (note understated sarcasm).
Also, Jeff Richards got quite a workout in this show. He's not just a drunk girl anymore.
Finally, SNL writers: stop trying so hard! When you go for easy instead of contrived, it can be just as funny! No charge for the advice, but you can send Mrs. Fey over to thank me personally, if you wish.

Thank you for indulging me through my maiden voyage. I can assure you I won't be a regular, so savor every morsel I dish out.

Peace in the Middle East,

Dave69