Last week "Saturday Night Live" did everything possible to try and ruin Megan Fox's comedy career. Is it possible the always hilarious Ryan Reynolds could get jinxed by what already appears to be a 2009-10 season curse? Or will a number of surprise guest stars save the program? Could Lady Gaga's first appearance on the legendary show make us forget about unfunny skits and tired characters? Let's dive in and find out.
Once more, Fred Armisen addresses the country as President Barack Obama. As he congratulates Rio for winning the 2016 Olympics the laughter gradually dies down as the skit turns into a scathing (and I mean scathing) criticism of everything Obama said he'd do in his first year and he has not. Conservatives really think "SNL" is pro-Democratic party no doubt ate this up. After going through a laundry list of unfulfilled promises, Armisen does say, however, "It's not all bad news. The cash for clunkers really stimulated the economy, unfortunately it was the economy of Japan." He then asks the Republicans to stop their inflammatory criticisms.
"If I see any more hateful rhetoric I'm going to have to take drastic action," Armisen says. Pauses for a moment and then shakes his head and says, "Nah."
Ouch. And certainly not playing to a somewhat stunned audience.
Grade. B. Just for the guts to do it.
The usually funny and charming Ryan Reynolds appears and talks about his "crazy, busy" summer because of the hits "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" and "The Proposal." He then goes into a cute, but not necessarily amusing rundown on the differences between acting in a romantic comedy and a superhero movie. He ends by saying, "Right now I'm focused about being a superhero in 'Green Lantern' because if there is one thing that kids love it's lanterns. Look for that in spring 2053."
Is he suggesting the Warner Bros. flick isn't gonna happen? Is he taking a potshot at someone because of discussions on where they can actually afford to shoot it? Curious.
Grade: C+. Nothing here 20 other hosts couldn't have done.
Mostly Garbage Dog food Commercial
A five second joke that isn't very funny. The commercials have been excruciatingly disappointing this year.
Celebrity Family Feud
This looks promising. We're heading back in time to watch the Osmond Family vs. the Phillips Family. Considering the crazy Mackenzie Phillips incest stories this week, timely! Jason Sudeikis doesn't look much like Richard Dawson, but he is really doing his best to get the mannerisms down. Tough fit for him. Reynolds appears as Donny Osmond, Bill Hader as John Phillips and Kristen Wiig as Mackenzie. Starts off strong and has some nice moments such as when the answer is "things you do with your father" and both Marie Osmond and Mackenzie hesitate to answer. Unfortunately, it fizzles quickly and has a really awkward ending. This ain't no Will Ferrell "Jeopardy," That's for sure.
Grade: B. Funny, but not as inspired as it could be and felt a little MAD Tv.
SNL Digital Short - "I Threw It On the Ground."
Samberg is solo in this hip-hop song about a guy who just thinks everyone is out to disrespect him. How does he react? Well, the title is your answer and the song's chorus. Best part is Elijah Wood and Ryan Reynolds play Hollywood "phonies" who taser him again and again...in his butt hole. Funny for a millisecond.
Grade: C. Wood cameo? B.
Porcelain Fountains for sale
Armisen shows up as the owner of a porcelain fountain store hawking viewers to buy and install those tacky fountains in their front yard. Scarlett Johansson, Reynold's wife, makes a not-so surprise appearance as a his daughter Lexi to help dad sell them. Quite honestly, it's one of her better performances in the last three years. Reynolds plays Nick, his son-in-law and installation guy who promises, "I come to you. I come to you." Note Hollywood producers: Reynolds doesn't look bad with a mustache.
Grace: D. Johansson cameo? B
Deep House Dish
Oh, this has got to mean a Lady Gaga cameo! Got to say I'm a big fan of this skit. Kenan Thompson (although he slips into a little Charles Barkley by accident here and there) is your host DJ Nasty and his buddy T'Shane (Andy Samberg) are ready to talk house music with their guests.
First up? Miss Ice Tia (Wiig). "I wrote this because I have mad low self esteem and I want to shout it from the rooftops! I am a loser holla!" Next, Reynolds as Danny McCooz singing his hit "Status Update." Some sample lyric: "Danny Cooz is heading to Costco." After performing he tells Nasty, "I picked my most interesting status updates and a DJ friend of mine who owes me money for cocaine mixed it for me. I'm blessed." But then....
Lady Gaga and Madonna performing a song (?). Holy crap. That's really them! (Indulge my shock at seeing the two of them together for the firs time). Madonna misses her cue, but she still gets in some good swipes as they two divas hit the floor in a, um, somewhat realistic cat fight. Kudos to the two stars for making this happen. Madonna has been very quiet about Gaga who has borrowed a LOT of her success from her. Some of Madonna's great lines during the fight: "What the hell is a disco stick?" "What kind of name is Lady Gaga?" Nasty gets in the middle of them and says, "I want you two to kiss and make up. Kiss each other!" And of course, he gets in the way of their kiss and it turns into a free for all with the duo sexually attacking a surprised Thompson on the couch of the show. Good stuff.
Grade: A . They got Madonna and Gaga to appear together. 'Nuff said.
Lady Gaga, "Paparazzi."
In her first live performance on "SNL," Gaga performs her latest hit "Paparazzi." Intriguingly, this song actually sounds better live than the recording. One thing is for sure, Gaga is as impressive live as her reputation suggests. Her red leather bustier looks a tad Madonna "Vogue" inspired, but perhaps it's a tribute if Ms. Madge is still in the audience? One bizarre note: I can't remember the last time I've seen a pop singer's hair get so in the way of her dancing...
Grade: B+. She may have outdone Beyonce's performance last season.
So, yet another "Thursday Night SNL" this week means we get some really great one liners right on the weekend, right? Of course not.
Anchor Seth Meyers mocks Chicago for losing the Olympic bid by saying Cubs fans are more than used to the phrase "Chicago has been eliminated."
Your David Letterman joke of the night: The guy who tried to blackmail him? Arrested for a "stupid human trick." "Oh, and one of Letterman's embarrassing secrets? "After sex he would say, stay tuned for Craig Ferguson."
Our first guest on Update is Darryl Hammond returning to the show as California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. He doesn't look much like Arnold, but he's got the voice down. The bit is mostly about how the Governor went on record saying Roman Polanski can't get away with what he did 30 years ago even if he is a great filmmaker. He notes, "I was around in the 70s. I had sex with the ladies. These were not 13-year-olds girls! I did not have to give them quaaludes and champaign. I would just flex muscles. That were my champagne. These were my Quaaludes!" And for us locals, a more true than you'd realize joke when he notes, "In California there is not enough money and there are too many fires. There are times I wish those states would come and buy the fires from us. You know things are bad in Calif when you are hoping an earthquake will come and swallow up the fires." So, true.
Next up is Thompson doing his increasingly funny Charles Barkley (which explains his slip before). The audience liked that Barkley kept calling Meyers "Screech," but didn't get most of his great old school NBA references. You can be guaranteed somewhere a couple of NBA beat writers are laughing their butts off.
Oh, an A-Rod joke on not producing in October.. Cute Seth. What is this, a lounge in the Catskills?
Finally we have Armisen and one of the new ladies (I have no idea who) as the President of Iran and his lovely wife. Like an old married couple, she does all the talking and Mr. Ahmadinejad just sits there dumfounded. The Mrs. says on her more stylish attire while visiting New York City, "I have to slut it up a little. You know, like your Rachel Ray. It has color! Deal with it!" She also tells us, "My husband is, a little slow. But I love him." Looking at him she then says, "Why are you smiling all the time? Nobody likes you." Even more, "He looks like a toddler that made his first poop. He thinks he won the election! So much misplaced confidence, he's like Turtle from 'Entourage.' He even farts under the sheets and blames it on Israel." Yep, pretty much one of the better few minutes of the night. Let's hope they figure out a way to bring this one back.
Grade: B -. Just for the Barkley and Mrs. Ahmadinejad bits.
So You Committed A Crime And You Think You Can Dance?
A bizarre combination of two popular reality shows. Andy Samberg is having a busy night as he shows up as host Kevin Federline who reminds us all that he "got super - fat!" Samberg is pretty great in an easy impression that he makes his own. The judges Nathan Lane, Nancy Grace and Phil Spector are just there for a sight gag, but Hader rocks as a freaky looking Spector. Ryan Reynolds is the show's Australian choreographer Dixon Carruthers (uh, Reynolds has some freaky cut arms). First dancer? A sex offender and just follows his partner around. Second contestant? Older felon who just keeps trying to escape. Third dancer? Death row inmate who wants to eat everyone.
Grade: B+ . Honestly, shouldn't have worked, but a couple of giggles.
We're told we'll be watching scenes from a Norwegian drama full of actors who have spent a tremendous amount of time studding American English to make their performances as realistic as possible. There is a reason it was the last real sketch of the night and was pretty painful stuff to watch.
Grade. D. Lame. Seriously lame.
Lady Gaga, "Love Game," "Bad Romance"
Even more network history. Gaga says "I wanna take a ride on your disco stick" (think about it) while wearing what looks like a very uncomfortable circular globe contraption. She then heads for the piano and the music stops and segues into an acapella version of her new single "Bad Romance." She then transitions into her smash "Poker Face" (although there was something else in between in there I didn't recognize.) And then ends with some other song which is seems to be a minor biography. And that's it. Well, hell, at least she did something different.
Grade: B. A little anti-climatic considering all the buzz she'd sing all of "Bad Romance" on the show.
One last bit...
Gaga hanging out behind-the-scenes in one of her trademark crazy costumes. This one? A bubble dress. Guess who shows up with the same outfit? Samberg. Gaga, "This is weird! I spent 20,000 n this dress." Samberg, "And I made this out of garbage." The short skit dissipates into a physical joke with the two of them trying to kiss each other, but unable to reach other because of the costumes.
Grade: C. Waste.
Overall: What's going on at "SNL"? The first two shows have been largely dreadful. Even potentially funny concepts fall apart in 2 min or less. When the :30 TV spot for "The Stepfather" is more creative than and hour and a half of original Emmy-nominated TV and celebrity cameos are the only reason to watch, something's really, really wrong. Snap out of it! We're holding out hope they can turn it around when Drew Barrymore hosts next week.
What do you think of this weekend's "Saturday Night Live"? Was Madonna vs. Gaga the only highlight? Share your thoughts below.