Having unfortunately missed Drew Barrymore's hosting stint last week, we're back in the game as Gerard Butler makes his debut as the host of tonight's NBC's legendary skit show. Having interviewed Butler a number of times, he's always displayed a great sense of humor and it's strange he hasn't landed this gig before. Thankfully, his work in this summer's dreadful "The Ugly Truth" didn't disqualify him (someone told Lorne Michaels "Gamer" wasn't a comedy, right?). In any event, on with the show. Butler's got "Law Abiding Citizen" to hype!
Yet another Obama opening. This week, the president (Armisen) is setting up a meeting with his health care foes: Senators Snow, McConnell and Baucus. But as he promises his assistant, he won't get angry.
When one of the Senators tells him, "We don't want healthcare to fail, we just want you to fail," the president undergoes a dramatic transformation. Yep, it's the return of 'The Rock Obama'!
Johnson seems to do Obama better than Armisen, even it he's ripped to the hilt. He first throws one senator out the oval office window, rips another's arm off saying "You better call your insurance, say you need new arm." (Applause from the audience.) With only Maine's Snow left he says, "Put head in hand, smash it now." (Oops, laughter goes cold. Perhaps a bit too dark for "SNL"?) Luckily, Joe Biden comes in to save Snow before finding his blooper-loving self thrown out the window as well. Cue Johnson yelling the famous intro...
Grade: B. Great site gag with Johnson, but felt like something went wrong.
Gerard Butler starts off by announcing he's officially hosted "SNL" more than any other Scotsman in history. He then segues from joking about how he stars in movies either wearing his shirt or not and how he is more "sensitive" on screen when he has his shirt on to singing a song from his favorite shirt-wearing musical. Wait, is he gonna go there? Is Butler going to sing "Music of the Night" from his highly criticized performance in the big screen "Phantom of the Opera"? You bet he does and somehow he sounds better than he actually did in the movie. While he's mid-verse he's randomly attacked by a crusader. He tries to sing again, but keeps getting interrupted by warriors and ninjas. Surprisingly, not only can Butler sing, but he can sing and kick ass! Impressive. Then Kristen Wiig comes out to hit the high notes at the end of "Night," except -- she's ready to attack him with a knife too yelling, "Take your shirt off." Not tonight Ms. Wiig. Not tonight.
[For those wondering why there is no clip, chances are NBC couldn't clear the Andrew Lloyd Webber song for onine in time.]
Grade: B. Rough at the beginning, but the man completely mocked himself and pulled it off. Good show.
Commercial: Grand Hoochie Skank Rose
Kenan Thompson appears as the proprietor of a slew of ghetto Champagnes including Maison du Satin, Ghetto Imperial and MInneapolis Mystery. Now, he's introducing a new champagne specifically designed to pour down women's asses. Yep, it's Grand Hoochie Skank Rose. (Do your really want me to continue?)
Grade: C. Can we get one slam dunk commercial this season? Just one?
[We then interrupt the show to find out Bud Light Golden Wheat is sponsoring most of tonight's commercial breaks and will be showing highlights from rehearsals over the years with former stars Will Ferrell, Chris Rock, Jimmy Fallon, Darrell Hammond, etc. Let's not spend any energy recapping these clips because they were 10x funnier than anything original on the show tonight and it just gets depressing. Moving on...]
Gametime with Randy and Greg
Thompson and Bill Hader appear as sports show hosts Randy Dukes and "Greg" to talk about this weekend's Major League Baseball playoffs. They start to take calls from their viewing audience, but all anyone wants to ask is if Greg is really an alien (duh). And yes, that's the entire joke of this skit -- Randy's co-host is an alien. For some reason Butler shows up as a former baseball player who is must more interested in Greg being an alien than making postseason picks, but it only serves to extend an excruciatingly lame bit.
Grade: D. This must have been funny in the writer's room, because it certainly wasn't on the air.
Beauty and the Beast
Singing the title song from the Disney classic, Wiig and Butler appear in costume as Belle and the Beast (Butler singing again!). Is it true love for the fairy tale couple? "Oh, darling I can't wait for your transformation," the Beast says. Belle stops mid-dance and replies, "What do you mean mine?" "The curse will be broken and you can stop being a beast," the Beast says. "You think Im' the beast?" "Yeah, we were just singing about it. Oh, this is awkward." It seems the Beast was hoping the curse would end and Belle would transform from what he considers only a "6" to a beauty with a big ass. Honestly, funny stuff, but again with the big asses.
Grade: B+. One note, but somewhat inspired. Who knew this would be Butler's "musical" return?
Shakira, "She Wolf"
No nude colored underwear for Shakira tonight, but she can definitely pull off those moves from the video. More impressively, she can sing live, shake her ass and show how limber she is by doing a sexy split. Not only that, but she does it all in stiletto heels! Wowzers.
Grade: A. Shakira howled on national television and did a full frontal split. 'Nuff said.
Weekend Update with Seth Meyers
Let's skip Seth's lame jokes and get on with the guests:
Hader and Armisen return as the two gay guys from New Jersey, but this time we discover they are in military service. Some choice one-liners:
"I identify him by his first class privates." "We are just gonna go about our army business -- shining our helmets." (Funny, but not sure the audience was into it though.)
Next up the actual Ballon from Colorado shows up and Seth argues that he's not news. Ballon cries, Seth makes him feel better telling him nobody is blaming him. Oh yeah, it was all a hoax.
Update's third guest is Butler who appears explaining he wants to talk to his family who are watching live by satellite in his native Scottish tongue. Seth agrees to interpret but gets some of the translation wrong such as noting "300" wasn't "great," but "gay" and his "New York moment" was "sleeping with a prostitute."
Last, but not least, Wiig appears as a woman who suffers chronic orgasms having had to deal with 200 screaming moments a day. "Not as fun as you'd think," she insists. Then she starts to have one on the air and Wiig, who is probably the best physical comedian left on the cast, um, nails it out o the park. Seth finishes with, 'Thank you for coming' getting an evil eye from his guest.
Grade: B - The guests were great, Seth's jokes were not.
Sparta's Don't Ask, Don't Tell Policy
Butler's back in familiar territory as King Leonidas of his blockbuster hit "300," but this time his army is wondering when he's going to live up to his campaign promise of allowing gays in the Sparta military (has there ever been such a gay episode without Andy Samberg somehow involved?). Leonidas can't believe there would be that many gay soldiers and finally bows to the pressure. "If you're gay, feel free to raise your hand," Leonidas says. Almost all of them raise their hands. "OK, but seriously, who here is actually gay?" Duh, it's "300," they all are.
Grade: B. Funnier than it should have been, but died way too soon.
What's Up With That?
It's a new BET show with Deandre Cole (Thompson) where he tackles today's issues with soul. Tonight's guests: environmental activist Leslie Ferer, James Franco (the real James Franco!) and Fleetwood Mac's Lindsay Buckingham. The joke of the skit is that every time Cole wants to start a new topic he breaks into the show's catchy theme song 'What Up With That?" What makes it work is that Thompson can actually sing and the song is actually good. Gerard Butler appears as White Pete (I can't make this up) and then tries to seduce Ms. Ferer who is wondering what is going on. Honestly, impossible to do it justice. I mean, Peekaboo Street randomly comes on stage as the scene descends into a funk inspired number. And no, Franco doesn't say one word during the entire sketch.
Grade: A- Only Thompson could make this rock, because he can actually sing. Kristen Wiig has her fans, but Thompson consistently saves the show week in and out.
Cottage Cheese Ad Pitch
Butler is Thomas, an advertising exec whose new assistant Trena (Wiig) interrupts his pitch to a cottage cheese company representative. Trena appears numerous times and can't stop bugging "Thomas." Another one of those kooky Wiig characters that some love and others, um, don't.
Grade: C. Probably a reason it was at the end of the show. And it's not good.
Shakira, "Did it Again"
She's back! And Shakira displays even more of her new pop sound which mixes a little bit of Lady Gaga dance with her established latin inspired percussion beats. Not sure if the Asian drummers behind her were actually drumming, but it was an impressive spectacle. The end of the number finds her once more showing off her amazing flexibility as she bends over to bang some drums.
Grade: B+ No "She Wolf," but she proves she's now Gaga or Gwen Stefani copy cat.
The tale of "Braveheart," but from the perspective of William Wallace's younger brother Dave. And, yep, he's history's biggest coward.
Grade: C+ Old recycled coward jokes, but worth a giggle or two.
Overall, the show was funnier than the Megan Fox premiere, but not by much. At least Reynold's turn had some great guest stars and Gaga (not that Shakira didn't impress tonight).
Is it me or does the show seems as though it's paper thin when Samberg is missing (shooting a new movie maybe?) and without the always reliable Darryl Hammond who retired? It's unclear if this is the result of a new economical "SNL," but Wiig, Thompson and Armisten haven't proved they can carry the franchise on their own. We'll take a few weeks off to ponder and return to catch Taylor Swift host on Nov. 7. Let's hope Kanye West doesn't try to crash this moment either.
What did you think of tonight's "SNL"? Share your thoughts below.