Samuel L. Jackson / Ben Folds Five
January 10, 1998

[OPENING] President Clinton's $40 billion movie project

Hammond as Clinton is never a total loss, and this was a cute premise, but the writing wasn't as sharp as it could have been. By the way, I miss Mark McKinney doing the Al Gore walk-throughs.

Grade: B-


[MONOLOGUE] Samuel L. Jackson

I'm really curious if Jackson wrote this to be presented as a "top ten" list when he appeared on "Letterman" earlier in the week. If so, I can understand why the "Letterman" people turned it down. The "SNL" people should have done the same.

Grade: C


[COMMERCIAL] Lemon Glow Floor Cleaner

This left me cold ­ the writing seemed to wander, and Molly wandered with it.

Grade: C


[SKETCH] Publisher's Clearing House Giveaway

Not bad, although it went on a little long. Those live check presentations are ripe for parody, and although this bordered on racial stereotype it was well-performed and straightforward.

Grade: B


[SKETCH] Bravo's Interview with Quentin Tarantino

Norm told Letterman he was no good at sketches; this piece belies that. His Quentin Tarantino was very funny, if one-note, and he got to do his Burt Reynolds again. I can't recall seeing Ana Gasteyer do Alice from "The Brady Bunch" before, but they need to find some excuse for bringing her back for a complete sketch. (Paging Melanie Hutsell .... )

Grade: A


[SKETCH] PBS's Jazzterpieces

Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawn. This would have been better as a 30-second "promo" than an extended sketch.

Grade: C+


[SKETCH] Judge Judy

I admit I've never seen the original show. This wasn't bad, and Jackson was funny, but Cheri Oteri seemed a little too close to the Old Woman On The Porch. To my mind, Tracy Morgan stole this as the bailiff.

Grade: B+


[TV FUNHOUSE] George Clooney

Hysterical! The best cartoon since the second "Ex-Presidents." I don't imagine Clooney will be doing any voices for Smigel the way he did for "South Park." A good subject, funny writing, and a competent copy of "Speed Racer's" anime style.

Grade: A+


[WEEKEND UPDATE] with Colin Quinn

Let's spot Colin a few points for being nervous ­ I know I would be. I miss Norm and want Norm back, but Colin was an acceptable substitute. The bartender story was, well, an acceptable if uninspired introduction. And it was a nice touch to have Harry Caray call Colin "Norm." (I like Harry better in small doses than when he has a full-length skit.)

I liked the new graphics and the new paint job on the set.

Grade: B+


[MUSICAL GUEST] Ben Folds Five (performing 'Brick')

Didn't see them. Didn't care.


[SKETCH] Titanic's evacuation

Funny concept. I got tired of it, but if it couldn't have been any shorter and still have the necessary comic exaggeration. Jackson and Morgan were kind of uninspired.

Grade: C+


[SKETCH] Mango breaks another heart

Very funny. Kattan grabs hold of a character and goes after it with more gusto than anyone since Farley.

Grade: A-


[SKETCH] The Learning Annex

Not bad for this late in the show, but I kind of lost interest.

Grade: B-


[SKETCH] The Playboy Channel

Clever, well-written and well-acted.

Grade: A-


[COMMERCIAL] The Weston Collection's I'm #1

I'm sure the filmed pieces are more expensive, and they therefore like to run them more than once to amortize the cost. But this wasn't that funny the first time around, and it's one of those pieces where, once you've seen it you've seen it.

Grade: D



I realize they ran the "Chris Farley Show" clip the week of his death, but I was still kind of expecting a live tribute this week. No such luck. I'm sure this was a tough week for everyone in the building, but the show must go on. Jackson seemed to enjoy himself and seemed willing to play a variety of characters.

Grade: B

Episode Review written by John I. Carney

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