Rev. Al Sharpton / Pink
December 6, 2003

By Meredith L.

Cold Opener: Quite the bold move...taking the opener away from Darrell Hammond and handing it over to the irreverent Jimmy Fallon (in character as Jeff Zucker of NBC Entertainment). Oh, NBC, where they "turn lemons into TV shows." Jimmy Fallon usurps the cold opener throne with gusto, but fails to pack the comedic punch of his predecessors, Darrell Hammond and Chris Parnell.  B-.

Monologue: I know that I am in the minority here, but when Tracy Morgan walked onto the stage, I was elated. To be frank, I have been less than impressed this season at both the quality of the skits and the seemingly phoned-in performances of some of the cast. It was nice to see the cast aside Morgan back on the SNL stage. Here, he suits up as a young Al Sharpton, complete with hideous jogging suit. Tracy: "You talked to Yassir Arafat in this suit." Al: "No, I didn't." Tracy: "Well, you should have." The closing James Brown musical number made the skit for me. I'm sorry, folks, but this one gets an A.  It is one of the few monologues I have actually enjoyed this season.

Mom Jeans: I remember this commercial from last season, yet still found it just as hilarious as the first time. In case there are any skeptics out there, it is true: the soccer moms of America really do cram themselves into jeans that ugly. They'd be better off in burlap sacks than the jeans marketed for their demographic.  A, since I wasn't doing reviews when this episode aired.

Michael Jackson: Amy Poehler reprises her role as the media-maligned Michael Jackson. Chris Parnell joins her as an attorney, with Al Sharpton as Johnny Cochran and Rachel Dratch as Liz Taylor. Rachel Dratch shines in the role; I felt Helena Cassadine's presence in the room as she kvetched at Amy/Jacko (if you don't know who Helena Cassadine is, believe me, you're better off). Horatio sits in the back as a random stranger. They make a not-so-subtle dig at Michael's "balcony scene" with his child, showing Amy throwing her bundle of joy in the air and catching it on the incline. Cue the most poignant moment of the sketch: a bewildered Michael Jackson stares down at the child and croons, "I wonder how you were made!" Not a bad sketch overall, though Amy's incessant orders to "Get your hands up" sound nothing like Michael Jackson. B+.

Brian Fellow's Safari Planet: Again, I preface this leg of my review with the admonition that I have always enjoyed Tracy Morgan's performances. He was riddled with some pretty ridiculous/inane material during his tenure on SNL, but was able to get a laugh out of me on more than one occasion (which is more than I can say for certain other regulars). I was in sheer rapture when the Brian Fellow theme song sounded, and was shocked that they would resurrect the skit of a departed cast member. Al Sharpton joins him as brother Ryan Fellow. He "likes the ladies," and the brotherly pair enjoy clubbing with Eskimos. Chris Parnell comes onto the scene with a seal. Did you know that seals have multiple sexual partners? Apparently, the Fellow brothers did not as they ask, wide-eyed and astounded, if seals are Mormons. While Chris rambles, the two rub their respective lone neurons together to ponder the notion of Frosty the Snowman as a future guest. However, Brian dismisses this idea with the realization that he's Frosty the SnowMAN. Tina Fey steps onto the scene next as Sarah Bellow with bat in tow. Since bats live in caves, Brian reasonst that this bat must know the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden. Ryan concurs, expressing his desire to use the reward money to go clubbing. "Wanna see my snowballs?"  A for its shameless irreverence and my relief at seeing the skit resurrected. Yes, I am being subjective tonight.

Elijah Wood and Jet: Elijah Wood should be a fun co-host but, please, who the hell is Jet? Let's hope a bit more talented than the other musical guests this season.

Three Wise Men: Tracy, Al, and Keenan get pulled over by a Roman cop (Jimmy), an action which is met with a defiant, "You just pulled us over because we're black." Jeff puts in an appearance as an angel covered in angel dust (not the narcotic, though it does "sound really bad"). I would say that this skit crashed and burned, but it never took off.  D.

Pink:  I hereby rescind my initial claim that I would not grade the musical guests. Her performance more than merits my critical wrath. I am fairly certain that her unzipped pants violate several health codes, and will have to do some research to determine specifics. My admonition to female performers everywhere (being a female myself):  if you don't got it, don't flaunt it. Not only was her outfit heinous, but her voice was hoarse. Honestly, I think that she is trying too hard to be like Gwen Stefani and failing miserably. Her pants are proof positive that today's pop-obsessed youth are addicted to crack.  F, for having all the stage presence of a peanut shell.

Weekend Update: Reading over my notes, I realize that half the punchlines elude my memory. Operating according to the dictates of logical deduction, this must mean that they weren't funny. Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey apparently have been "putting it in the wrong place all this time." Tune in next week for the punchline to Jimmy's clandestine Slavery Museum joke, since Al Sharpton is three times his size and could sufficiently silence him. Don Pardo tells Des Moines, Iowa to "suck it" for refusing to air tonight's broadcast. Justin Guarini is likened to an aging Art Garfunkel. The highlight of this week's installment voices one of the most profound truths in today's SNL realm: Tina to Jimmy after a failed attempt at third-grade math: "You're an idiot." Jimmy: "Yeah." He later goes on to call Tina "Bitchy McJealous." Paris Hilton comes on for some cute double entendres with Jimmy. "Is it roomy [at the Paris Hilton]?" "For you, maybe, but most people find it very comfortable."  C+.

Movie Set: Cue the African-American stereotypes. However, let me point out here that Tracy has gotten more play tonight than in any episode last season. Al Sharpton offers a tribute to racial equality, all the while silencing the woman on scene (Maya).  D.

Al Sharpton's Casa de Sushi: Black man, Spanish house, Japanese food. An obvious campaign ploy to exemplify how ecumenical our presidential hopeful is. Amy, Maya, Keenan, and Will join Al Sharpton for some spoofing of "California Love" by the late Tupac Shakur. He must be rolling over in his grave. Despite the fact that Al Sharpton loathes les fruits de mer, he acknowledges that "campaigns don't pay for themselves." Here comes Horatio to prove me wrong once again: that he does deserve a spot on this cast. He turns in a flawless rendition of Harvey Fierstein. In fact, for once, Horatio saved a skit.  B+.

Presidential Candidates: Congregated in John Edwards' living room to watch in envious agony as Al Sharpton earns himself some votes on SNL, the eight presidential hopefuls engage in some rather inane banter. Chris turns in a decent performance as Joe Lieberman, Jimmy is General Wesley Clark, Will is John Edwards (gracious host and prolific cook), Jeff Richards is Howard Dean, Seth is John Kerry, and Darrell is Dick Gephardt, the eight-time loser. However, Dick is right about one thing on a symbolic level: Darrell has "more experience than anyone here." It is a shame that the show's most talented veteran has had to give his screen time to some of these lackluster newbies (who shall remain nameless ::coughcoughjimmycoughcoughseth::). This sketch is too busy and involves too many characters to be cohesive.  D.

Pink: Someone please clarify for me: did she spit at the beginning of her performance? Did she also tear the headphones from her ears? I don't really care. Thank God her SNL stint is over for tonight.  F.

The Latoya Jackson Show: Maya dresses up as the illustrious Latoya in the second jab at the Jackson family tonight (third if you count the lame punchline during Weekend Update). Al is Joseph Jackson and Keenan is Chaka Khan. However, instead of offering him the opportunity to showcase some of his comedic talent, he plays an out-of-breath Chaka who burns out five seconds into the skit. Fred Armisen is hilarious as Michael Jackson's infamous impersonator from Belgium. This man is capable of anything. I am sure of this. Latoya ends by thanking all of the "hard-working gay guys who put [her] together."  C+.

Taxi scene: Horatio is the cab driver, Maya is the wife, and Al is Al, who notes that this scenario is "goofier than George Bush's health care plan." I have to admit, George Bush's health care plan is pretty goofy. Fred returns as the albino transvestite out to destroy Horatio's family; however, even he can't save this one.  F.

Cryogenix: Loved it the first time, loved it the second time. "Halitosis...there'll probably be a cure for that someday."

Johnny Cash: Darrell Hammond turns in another sparkling performance as the late Johnny Cash, whose death was overlooked because John Ritter died the same day. When will the writers realize that, the more skits Darrell is in, the funnier this show is going to be?  A-.

Overall episode grade: C. There were enough funny moments to counteract Al Sharpton's lackluster performance. I was so distracted by his missed cues and shifting, cue card-reading eyes that I failed to find him funny (except during his musical number). I originally gave this episode a C+, but dropped it down to a C because I realized just how much the episode fizzled out after the first few skits. Fred was sorely missed, as was Darrell in the cold opener. Elijah Wood, being the somewhat seasoned actor he is, should be able to pull off some good impersonations to compensate for Al Sharpton's lack of theatrical talent this week.