Elijah Wood / Jet
December 13, 2003

By Meredith L.

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 guest). 

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."  B.

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.  A-.

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."