Alec Baldwin / Missy Elliot
November 15, 2003

By Jeff Fiedler

This is my first time reviewing an episode here (glad to join the forum!), but rather than
bore all of you with a long "Hi, I'm " introduction (some other time, perhaps), I
thought I'd just cut right to the chase and get right to the review

BUSH COLD OPENING:
You've all said it ­ I'll say it. Bush is unquestionably Hammond's worst impression. If you can even call it an "impression." (He doesn't LOOK like Bush, he doesn't SOUND like Bush.) Why they haven't gone back to Parnell ­ who I'm really not a fan of but who I'll admit does an infinitely better Bush ­ is completely baffling. A virtually laugh-free skit. Grade: F

MONOLOGUE:
Is it just me, or have the monologues been unbelievably lousy this season? [The Halle Berry monologue was, without a doubt, the worst monologue I have ever seen. First of
all, it had virtually nothing whatsoever to do with Halle Berry. Was she just not willing to poke fun of herself? There were any number of potentially great Halle-related
monologues they could have written. [ Of course, as so many of you always point out,
though, the monologues these days too often have little to do with the hosts and more with (predictable) cast interaction with the hosts, to the point of where calling it a "monologue" is completely misleading] And second, I wouldn't have wanted to see her and Britney kiss, but that monologue should have led up to SOMETHING. There was no joke. Anywhere.] The monologues have really become the show's biggest weak spot. (Well, that, and the cold openings.) I knew THIS monologue was bound to stink as soon
as Jimmy and Horatio sauntered onstage together. These two should be banned from
ever being in the same sketch again. I get ill seeing them together. Jimmy and Horatio's
clowning around here was so unbelievably dumb, it was literally giving me an absolute headache, but the monologue was just barely saved by Mike Myers ­ and yet, even Mike Myers really didn't have anything funny to say beyond just plugging his movie incessantly. [Can I please ask "SNL" alumni to stop doing cameos if the only reason for your cameo is to plug your movie? Save the plugs for the talk-show circuit. It just comes across as really, really shameless.] Talk about a waste of a Mike Myers cameo. [He didn't even do anything else for the rest of the show, darn it! Why wasn't he in a regular skit?] Grade: D (if only for the nostalgia of seeing Myers onstage again). 

HUGGIES THONGS:
Repeat of an earlier-in-the-season commercial. [Does anyone else besides me hate the
fact that "SNL" uses the same commerials for any number of different episodes? My
feeling is, if you don't have any NEW commercials, just don't show any.] Funny premise, though. Grade: B ­

DR. LANDSMAN, PLASTIC SURGEON:
Why has "SNL" been sticking so many one-joke skits in the "first big skit of the night"
position this season (i.e. the Don Zimmer skit)? Not an especially strong skit, and Amy was kinda weak here, but Alec Baldwin's strong comic delivery made the skit seem a lot funnier than it really was. Very rapid-paced skit, I thought. Grade: C +

BURN VS. ZINGER:
Did anybody else think this sketch was, like, unbelievably juvenile? The audience may
have been howling, but I thought this sketch was just flat-out stupid. It's infantile 
humor like this that helped to kill "The Simpsons" for me. [Don't get me started about just how far down the tubes THAT show has sunk ] Grade: F

TONY BENNETT SHOW:
The sketch got worse the longer it went on, but Alec Baldwin's Bennett impersonation is an absolute riot! He really has Bennett down. Baldwin/Bennett's Stay-Free plug was
pretty hysterical, too. Probably made the best use of Baldwin's comic ability than any
other skit of the night. Grade: B ­

THE FALCONER:
There's been extremely few re-occuring sketches in the last two seasons that I'm all that
fond of, so I tend to tune out a little on them. "The Falconer" is one of those that's pretty
hard for me to endure. And this wasn't one of the better installations. Grade: D ­

MISSY ELLIOTT ("Pass the Dutch"):
Wow, this is a really lame song! Enjoyed the Kinks' performances from the Ed Asner rerun from '84 from the "Classic SNL" afterwards infinitely better. 

WEEKEND UPDATE:
This being my first "SNL" review, I feel compelled to point out that I have a hard time
grading "Update" fairly because I really, really hate what "Update" has turned into. My favorite "Update" anchors of all-time are Kevin Nealon (who really did a professional job of making "Update" the news-broadcast parody it's supposed to be ­ "Update" IS supposed to be in the mold of a newscast, right?) and Norm McDonald, who ­ aside from having a fantastic sense of humor ­ can crack me up without even really doing anything. Fey and Fallon, on the other hand, started off as really decent "Update" anchors and have now let the segment deteriorate into their own let's-act-like-class-clowns-rather-than-actual-news-anchors bit (and while I'm on the subject, what gives with the "Update Door"? That's always irritated me. There are no doors on news sets.) Fey and Fallon are constantly losing sight of actual news stories to do comedy bits that are only really funny to themselves (clowning-around too often replaces actual punchlines) and that's not even mentioning Fey's occasional political extended ranting, which really grates on your nerves after a while) or losing focus until they crack each other up a la Fallon and Horatio Sanz. "Update" used to be a really intelligent, professional segment, and I think it's become much too juvenile for my own tastes. I'm really praying "Update" gets a new anchor next season. It's about time for a new change-of-the-guard at the Update desk, anyway. 
"Update" was SLIGHTLY better last night than it's been the rest of this season (partly because Horatio Sanz was nowhere in sight, and thank you to whoever is responsible for that). Fey's Costner joke was my favorite in the batch. The low point of Update for me
was unquestionably when ­ after Fallon's Demi/Ashton joke ­ Jimmy and Tina bounced
out of their chairs and started doing the "victory dance" bit. It's THIS kind of nonsense
that's killed Update as we used to know it. So much for professionalism. 
I also could have lived without seeing the "Will Forte sex tape." Disturbing stuff. Can't believe that bit cleared the censors.
Grade: C ­

C-SPAN CONFERENCE:
Did anyone else think this sketch was a really obvious attempt on the writing staff's part to make up for the lack of a NPR sketch tonight? One non-stop sexual-innuendo-fest. It was funnier in the NPR sketches, though. This reminded me a little of last year's Colonel Lingus skit (which I hated, for the record). Grade: D ­ 

KEEN CORP. SALES MEETING:
The sound of a very quiet studio audience. This sketch got really old really fast. Grade: F

MISSY ELLIOTT ("Work It"):
Better performance than "Pass the Dutch," but still pretty weak. John Mayer still my favorite musical performance of the season so far. 

THE RETURN OF ROY:
Yeah, it was a one-joke sketch, but ­ for a short while, anyway ­ I was still enjoying it better than the last two skits. The turtle bit was just stupid, though. Pretty lame ending. Grade: D 

FAMILY-RUN FILM STUDIO:
Not that funny of a script to work with, but Rachel Dratch managed to salvage the skit somehow. She was the only true highlight of the sketch, though. Grade: D +

OVERALL GRADE:  C ­ at best. Baldwin has quite the gift for comedy, but I thought his talents were pretty wasted tonight, aside from his Tony Bennett skit (and, to a
lesser extent, the plastic surgery skit). Baldwin is truly on the "best frequent hosts" list, but this episode was for the most part a stinker, for no fault of Baldwin's but to the really weak material he was forced to work with. The writing this year has truly been awful. [The low point for me was the Klymaxx skit from the Halle Berry episode. I thought I
was watching a 1985-1986 season sketch. Are we so absolutely desperate for ideas that
we're having to resort to something as dated and obscure as Klymaxx for parody material? This season's been really, really low on sharp and recent satire.] Anyway not one of the better Baldwin episodes by any stretch of the imagination.  

Next time Rev. Al Sharpton and Pink honestly ­ who is booking the guests on this show? I used to really, really look forward to the part in the show where they'd announce the next episode's guests, but now I've grown to dread it, 'cause, 4 times out of 5, I always wound up saying, "Awww, you got to be KIDDING me!!!" The guest lineups just seem to get worse every year lately. Too few genuine comedians (come to think of
it, there's been a real shortage of "SNL"-alumni-hosted episodes lately), too few
genuinely surprising choices (the fact that so many of you are able to correctly predict possible future hosts is proof of this), and too few musical guests who REALLY could use the exposure [I'm not talking about "indie" or "underground" so much as I am mainstream pop/rock acts without the hip-to-the-MTV-set factor. I mean, "SNL" has really become way too much like "TRL" for my tastes. Who was the last musical guest to NOT be omnipresent on MTV Springsteen???] 

Well here's hoping this season starts getting better! Maybe the upcoming holidays will give the writers a much-needed recharge.