Wood / Jet
December 13, 2003
Pre-show comments: What I am looking forward to tonight
is a host who actually has theatrical talent. Last week's Al
Sharpton debacle left me questioning whether or not SNL actually
has any steam left to propel it (though Tracy Morgan was a refreshing
Hardball w/ Chris Matthews: They struck the penultimate balance
this week; I love both Darrell and Chris in my cold opener and,
lo and behold, they were both there this week. Amy Poehler is
Hillary Clinton, Chris Parnell is Joe Lieberman, Kenan Thompson
is Carol Moseley Braun, and Darrell Hammond is (of course) the
inimitable Chris Matthews. Hillary Clinton is running on the
Democratic ticket, but not. Maybe. Carol Moseley Braun is aiming
to be the first female, black, Jewish ninja for president. Good
luck to you, Ms. Braun. It takes a long time to earn a black
belt. Chris tells Lieberman that he hasn't seen anyone lose
this much support "since Pamela Anderson lost a bra strap."
Joe Lieberman, pride and joy of my home state, tells us that
"I will bring on the noise and, if it is financially advisable,
I'll bring on the funk." Bring it on, Joey. Great impersonations
all around. A-.
Monologue: Unfortunately, I had to watch this
episode the day after it actually aired; therefore, the Chris
Kattan surprise (the second this season...he just can't stay
away) was spoiled for me by a loose-lipped friend. There he
was as Gollum, reminding us of a very sad truth: "The show's
been sucking wind since Chris Kattan left." Truer words
were never spoken. In fact, the show's been sucking gales of
wind since Chris Kattan left. UPN gives Elijah and Chris a maybe
for their new series, "A Hard Hobbit to Break."
Boys' Choir: Will, Jimmy, and Elijah suit up as
members of a boys' choir, with Kenan presiding as choir master.
I noticed that Jimmy had difficulty keeping a straight face
at times during this skit but, then again, that's nothing new.
The three compete to hit the highest note, punctuating the silences
between performances with demoralizing banter and Will's victorious
"Taste it!!" after his performance. Elijah takes home
the gold medal for his spectacle-shattering dog whistle of a
high note. When puberty suddenly sets in, his friends save him
by clobbering his cajones for the desired vocal pitch.
Queer Eye for the Straight
Guy: I must be the only
person left in America who has never seen this show and, moreover,
has no desire to start now. Horatio, a stylistically challenged
Santa Claus, attempts to soften his image with civilian clothing
and a haircut. However, as observed by that ingenious child
in his lap, he ends up bearing a striking resemblance to Kathy
Bates. Since I am tired of hearing about this inane reality
show and only enjoyed Fred Armisen's few lines, this one gets
a B- (only because the Kathy Bates joke was funny, and
the impersonations were dead on).
TV Funhouse: First one all season, if memory serves
me correctly. Anything that satirizes our president is a winner
in my book, and anything that emphasizes his amazing powers of
chameleon-like metamorphosis is even better. The artists employ
famous Dubbya sound bytes in order to lend voice to their Bush
cartoon. The cartoon ends on a sad note, however, as Bush vows
that "Those responsible [for the White House tree not lighting
up on command] will pay a price." A.
Weekend Update: What can I say? Bush's twins down
8 kamikazes in honor of Pearl Harbor Day. How noble, and how
patriotic. Their jingoistic father must be proud. Jimmy is
right: if you're actually sad that Punk'd is ending, "You're
a moron." Reality TV is nothing more than a way for people
lacking any actual talent to get famous. Someday, the world
will see this; that idealistic dream is what gets me out of bed
every morning. Jimmy turns in a performance as the overrated
John Mayer (another pride and joy of my home state...in case
you haven't noticed, the state of Connecticut has produced some
people of questionable renown). Tina's commentary on the administration's
rewards to puffed-up, gluttonous cash cows is pure genius; heaven
forbid they actually reward the soldiers who are dying around
the world fighting Bush's battles. They should, at the very
least, get a gift certificate to American Steakhouse or something.
However, I guess the facts remain: "American businessmen
are the true heroes." Since the morning-after pill won't
be available over the counter this week, Tina is "having
this baby." Jimmy Fallon Explains What You Did: I'd be
upset if the wrong dwarf comedy duo came on stage. He should
be more sympathetic toward dwarf comedy aficionados. Maya shows
up as Whitney Houston and offers up a dead-on impersonation of
her voice-dragging, note-elongating, crack-headed ways; Kenan
toddles along beside her as Bobbi Kristina, gnoshing on some
UFO (unidentified food object) and lip synchs a Christmas Carol
with Maya officiating. Finesse shows up as Bobby Brown and,
I must say, offers a refreshingly charismatic performance. I
originally gave this weekend update a C+ but, in hindsight, feel
that it should be bumped up to a B. Not bad at all.
Donatella Versace: I am still of the opinion that this
skit should hit the back burner, but I am, apparently, in the
minority. It's nothing against Maya Rudolph's dead-on impersonation
of the diva, but, instead, a sheer lack of laugh-power. Tonight,
she is touting her newest product: designer eggnog imbued with
nicotine and self-tanner. However, Donatella forgets that she
doesn't swallow food and spews her eggnog everywhere. Elijah
comes onto the stage and fulfills my pre-show prophecy: this
show really is better when the host can act. He offers an alarmingly
accurate impersonation of Boy George, complete with British accent
and breathy vocals. Horatio, who has proven me wrong about him
more times than I can count this season and sufficiently won
me over, comes on as Rosie O'Donnell (though looking markedly
more feminine). He downs an entire bottle of the eggnog, decorating
his clothing with the designer quaff. I hate to do this, but
this one was actually good: A-.
Howard Dean for America: This skit dragged on too long, and
took too long to get to any sort of punchline. However, Darrell
Hammond's striking impersonation of Al Gore saves the skit, along
with Jeff Richards' sole appearance tonight as Howard Dean.
Gore speaks for five minutes about Dean's policies, never allowing
the poor presidential hopeful to get a word in edgewise.
C-. The actors themselves save this one from a worse fate.
Rialto Grande Casino: This is the second week in a row that
they have resurrected a skit from a dearly departed cast member.
I like this trend. Please, God, let it continue. These past
few weeks have shown me that you really don't know what
you've got 'til it's gone. I could turn this leg of my review
into a lame song that I'm sure you all know, but I'll abstain.
Anyway, Mackey on drums is one of my favorite characters of
late. His bad timing is actually funny; not because he is perverted,
not because he employs bathroom humor (which is a great comedy
form, but not when overdone), but because he's just good, old-fashioned
funny. Chris Kattan shines as Buddy Mills tonight, laughing
with his protegé (Elijah) until his prostate begins to
throb. He reminds us that, when his wife wears a thong, it's
like a bookmark in the middle of War and Peace, which
is quite the hefty tome. A+. My favorite skit tonight.
Overall episode grade: A-. This is, by far,
the best episode all season (though I didn't much care for Jet).
Elijah Wood's superb acting ability made the episode not only
watchable, but enjoyable. I can't say I have as high hopes for
Jennifer Aniston as I did for him, but at least we're starting
to see, in the spirit of Tim Calhoun, "a lot more actors...and
a lot less athletes, politicians, and pop stars."