Latifah / Ms. Dynamite
March 8, 2003
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
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.
Since I'm new to this, I will explain my scoring system. It will
be a letter grade. No further explanation necessary.
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-
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
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.
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.
(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.)
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+
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)
Tina Fey, Jimmy, Horatio, Jeff, Chris Parnell, pencil-taking signer of Declaration
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
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.
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
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+
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)
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.
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,