Hey, guess what? Saturday Night Live is still on the air. And it’s funnier and better than ever!
What? That episode I had DVR’d was a re-run from the ’70s? OK, I guess that does make sense. I thought having OJ Simpson host and Ashford & Simpson as the musical guest was rather perplexing!
SNL kicked off its new season with basketball star LeBron James as the host of its 33rd season. And even with a four-month hiatus, the writing was just as tired as ever.
SNL has become that fighter who just won’t retire even though his best years are behind him. And even though everybody knows this fighter hasn’t been anything but mediocre in years, people still tune in to his boxing matches out of curiosity and the hope that perhaps just once, he’ll show a flash of his former self.
Sadly, if the season opener is any indication, SNL is now just a flabby Larry Holmes.
The first couple of times that I saw Kristen Wiig’s Penelope, a character who has to not just one-up, but one hundred-up, anything people say, I chuckled. We all know these people. And the nervous hair-playing is always a nice touch. Yet, the “Children’s Hope Auction” skit puts Penelope in a class with the Debbie Downer sketches of Rachel Dratch. These are characters whose shelf lives are no more than two sketches before they’re derivative and dull. Give me Wiig’s Target Cashier and A-Hole Girl characters any time.
And does Kenan Thompson ever play a different character? Wow. Send him back to Nickelodeon and Good Burger. There’s more to impressions than just putting on a wig and jacket, Kenan.
That’s not to say there weren’t a few bright spots in the episode. The “Best of Solid Gold” skit, which Kenan was a part of, was smirk-inducing. Although, am I the only one creeped out by LeBron James’ Solid Gold dancer? He felt like a cross between Rick James and Silence of the Lambs’ own dancer, Buffalo Bill.
And as is par for the course lately, the Digital Short provided us with the best line of the night. In “Iran So Far Away,” a timely response to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s remarks earlier in the week that Iran doesn’t have any homosexuals, Andy Samberg (with help from Maroon 5’s Adam Levine) croons about his love for the Iranian leader. “So strong to me. You belong to me. Like a very hairy Jake Gyllenhaal to me.” The side-by-side Ahmadinejad and Gyllenhaal image is funny, but it’s the surprise cameo by a bearded Gyllenhaal at the end of the video that provides the payoff laugh.
This Saturday, Knocked Up star Seth Rogen hosts for the first time, with musical guest Spoon. I’m hoping for a Freaks and Geeks send-up. But I’d settle for a skit with a McLovin cameo.
If Rogen helps with the writing, it shouldn’t be as (Super)bad as the season premiere.