'Saturday Night Live' at 40 - From A to Z: Part 2
Credit: NBC

'Saturday Night Live' at 40 - From A to Z: Part 2

Not Ready for Primetime Players? Hardly.

As we approach the fortieth anniversary special of “Saturday Night Live,” it’s time to take stock of what makes the show so unique. Yes, the Not Ready For Primetime Players are key. So are the show’s writers. And hey, that whole “live” thing is still pretty important.

But what about larger themes and trends? What disparate elements add up to the show as presently constituted? We’re going to break down “SNL” from A to Z, finishing here what we started last week.

Check out N to Z below...

Read Full Post
<p>Tom and Padma</p>

Tom and Padma

Credit: Bravo

Recap: 'Top Chef: Boston' crowns a winner in Mexico

The winner cooked the best dessert Tom Collichio ever ate

In the final part of its three-part finale, "Top Chef Boston" came down to the two most winning chefs: Gregory and Mei. Prior to the finale, Mei won or was in the top eight out of 12 challenges. Gregory won or was among the best seven out of 12 times.

Read Full Post
<p>&quot;Saturday Night Live&quot;</p>

"Saturday Night Live"

Credit: NBC

'Saturday Night Live' at 40 - From A to Z: Part I

How Do Eddie Murphy and Weekend Update both fit in this part?

As we approach the fortieth anniversary special of "Saturday Night Live," -- Not to be confused with the 40th anniversary of "Saturday Night Live" -- it’s time to take stock of what makes the show so unique. 

Yes, the Not Ready For Primetime Players are key. So are the show’s writers. And hey, that whole “live” thing is still pretty important. But what about larger themes and trends? What disparate elements add up to the show as presently constituted? 

We’re going to break down “SNL” from A to Z, working the first half of the alphabet this week and finishing up next Saturday, the night before NBC's big special (and nine months before the actual anniversary).

Check out A to M...

Read Full Post
JK Simmons and Kenan Thompson

JK Simmons and Kenan Thompson

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'Saturday Night Live' - JK Simmons and D'Angelo

The 'Whiplash' star hosts the last show before the big anniversary special

JK Simmons seems like a pretty inspired choice to host “Saturday Night Live,” with his acting versatility baked into his lengthy track record in both the most serious of dramas and silliest of comedies. He’s been in seemingly everything, but his recent award-winning turn in “Whiplash” is getting him the kind of attention not often bestowed upon him. Look for at least one sketch tonight parodying that film, and at least one or two others that reference one of his many, many, many roles.

Read Full Post
Sleepy Hollow - Kali Yuga
Credit: FOX

Recap: 'Sleepy Hollow' - A vampire by any other name is 'Kali Yuga'

You can't be named Carmella and NOT be vampire. It's the rules.

Last week, “Sleepy Hollow” pulled itself out of the lore quagmire it had gotten bogged down in for the first half of Season 2. Sure, Pittura Infamante sagged in the middle, but there was no sign of impending doomsday and/or teen angst love octagons, so I’m calling it a win.

Can the show carry the momentum into this week’s episode, “Kali Yuga”? Let’s find out!

*******

Last week, Ichabod went on a date with his estranged witch wife who was trapped in Purgatory until recently and still thinks their son is salvageable from evil, so I guess it’s par for the Crazy™ that this week he would go on a platonic date with his hetero-life partner, her sister, and the supernatural antiquities thief friend who has attempted to sleep with both women. Oh, and karaoke. While I will forever feel cheated to not hear Ichabod Crane sing the iconic Britney Spears song “Oops, I Did It Again,” it was nice to watch Jenny and Abbie behave like actual siblings. Complete with all the hypocrisy and ill-fated attempts at giving relationship advice to each other.

There’s a rule against people in supernatural dramas being in happy, functional relationships though. Just as quickly as Jenny and Hawley seem to have the beginnings of a real go at things, an old flame/caretaker shows to be the Big Bad of the week. With heels that high, lipstick that dark, and a name like Carmella Pines, Hawley’s lady Indiana Jones (no, not Lara Croft) teen guardian is legally obligated to be a vampire. She instantly acquiesces to expectations, but with a Hindu twist: she’s here to find the Kali MacGuffin and by God, Southern Gentleman Aquaman is going to help her.

Why, you ask? Well, the answer the show GIVES us is because Carmella is the only family SGA has left — Hawley took the traditional “my parents died in an accident days before Christmas” route to becoming an orphan — and he feels semi-responsible for her being turned into monster while looking for his runaway teenage ass in Mumbai. The SUBTEXT says it’s because she clearly Mrs. Robinson’d him and they’re swimming in a miasma of unresolved feelings.

Hawley’s shenanigans pit him against the group for most of the episode. He breaks into the Library of Exposition and steals the blueprints to the Kali statue MacGuffin, he points a gun at Ichabod (momentarily severing their man bond and breaking my shipper heart), he manipulates and tricks Jenny, and he locks Abbie and Ichabod in a vault so he can run off with Carmella. Of course, Hawley’s also desperately hoping to save his surrogate mother and doesn’t have time to debate the merits of loving a shitty family member (I mean, who DOESN’T have a murderous vampire loved one?) with his friends, and what does SGA get for his loyalty? Played by Carmella, who has been pining (zing!) after him. Exactly zero people can believe she just wanted Hawley to be a platonic companion post Hindu-vampire ritual. I mean, she even took his shirt off while her man-harem looked on.

While Abbie and Ichabod take Hawley’s bizarre behavior in stride — after all, thieves tend to be Chaotic Neutral and can’t be trusted to make sense — the depth of Jenny’s feelings for SGA become even more painfully obvious. She repeatedly runs after him, despite his warnings to stay away. If Carmella was even remotely competent with her venom claws, Jenny Mills would be dead twice over. Once in the Sleepy Hollow underground, and again during the climatic battle. Luckily, being an immortal being doesn’t immediately grant you competence, and Jenny escapes unscathed. Of course, even putting her in danger is reason enough for Hawley to throw in the towel and flee both the relationship and the town, under the guise of hunting down Carmella of course. Ugh.

Speaking of incompetent immortal beings, I had literally forgotten that Orion the angel even existed until Ichabod had a fit over finding Xena’s mini-chakram necklace. Take that for what you will.

Jenny and Hawley aren’t the only ones having relationship problems, though. Being trapped in vault with no cell signal forces Ichabod and Abbie to hash out their issues. Things get a little meta as the writers use them as a mouthpiece to basically apologize for veering away from what works — Ichabod and Abbie solving mysteries and stopping the end of the world together.

Off in the C-plot, Frank and Cynthia Irving spend the entire episode dealing with their own relationship issues. Despite being mysteriously exonerated for his crimes, Frank’s wife can’t reconcile her marriage until he agrees to a metaphysical exam. Of course, this means a trip to the Cabin in the Woods and Katrina, who had been delightfully absent from this episode. Katrina instantly starts harping on about her son Henry and the inflection of her voice says she still thinks the Horseman of War is A) alive and B) still has good in him.

I want to shake her.

Much to Katrina’s dismay, Irving is free of Henry’s influence. But if the Horseman of War didn’t resurrect the Captain, it leaves the door open to other possibilities. My money is on Orion.

“Kali Yuga” continues to get “Sleepy Hollow” back on the right track. For me, branching out beyond Christian mythology both extends the lifespan of the show, and makes for more interesting story options. Letting the Headless Horseman plot languish while focusing on the relationship between Ichabod/Abbie, Abbie/Jenny, and, sigh, even Ichabod/Katrina is a step in the right direction. Oddly, the Irving family storyline at this point is so disconnected from the group that it seems out of place. But I’ll take small hiccups over series-shattering missteps any day.

Odd & Ends

 Katrina not finding Mary Poppins “very progressive” actively offended me

 If Carmella has venom-hands, why not just dissolve her way into the vault?

 So, how were the Hindu-vampires converting people to their cult before they got the statue back? Did Knox just recently acquire it?

 Hopefully one day, we get to the hear the story of who Carmella murdered when Hawley was 18 and why she felt she was doing it to protect him. I smell a “your parents didn’t really have an ‘accident’” reveal

 I really, REALLY enjoyed Ichabod’s reaction to getting the emergency exit puzzle wrong

 Exactly what KIND of yoga classes was Abbie taking and where can I sign up?

 Did Irving have no reflection in the cabin window? If not, did he have one in the police station one-way mirror? WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

Read Full Post
Blake Shelton and Cecily Strong

Blake Shelton and Cecily Strong

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'Saturday Night Live' – Blake Shelton

The country star and 'The Voice' coach makes his hosting debut

Look: maybe this won’t be so bad?

This has been a pretty stellar season of “Saturday Night Live,” by far the best and most consistent since I’ve started covering it here at the start of Season 36. So who could blame the show for picking a host based on corporate synergy rather than comedic talent? Plenty of hosts serve a larger purpose than “comedic quality” when they appear, and at least we are sure that Blake Shelton isn’t ashamed of making a fool of himself. (We have his cringe-inducing holiday specials as evidence of that.)

Read Full Post
Sleepy Hollow - Pittura Infamante
Credit: FOX

Sleepy Hollow - 'Pittura Infamante' gets back to Monster-of-the-Week basics

The show gets back on track with a fun, murderous romp.

The back half of “Sleepy Hollow” Season 2 got off to a shaky start last week, as Katrina’s terrible life choices continued to hamstring the group. But as much as we want to lay the blame at the feet of Ichabod’s wife, it’s hard truth time: the show’s been wobbly for all of the sophomore season. The show has simply gotten bogged down by its own weight. Too many plots, too many characters, not enough truly bonkers one-off villains and too little of the dynamic of Ichabod and Abbie that made the first season so much fun. You know it, I know it. Apparently even the writers know it, because “Pittura Infamante” cut away the festering romantic quadrangles and hand-wringing angst about Henry's soul in a (successful) attempt to right the ship.

********

For the first time in forever, **strains of “Frozen” soundtrack play in the distance**, the show cold opens without any of the main cast. Some poor soul is trying to paint without paint, so at first I thought for sure Henry was back and senility had set in, but no! It’s merely an art restorer. You can tell by his lab coat and misguided attempt to stop the paining from bleeding instead of, I don’t know, running away and/or setting it on fire. Yes, yes. It’s a priceless piece of history. A POSSESSED priceless piece of history. Priorities, man! Alas, our art restorer has the self-preservation of a rock. It’s a sad, debilitating disease known as Redshirtitis. Prognosis? Dead by the end of Act I.

At the cabin in the woods, Abbie is helping Ichabod get ready for a date with Katrina, which is both adorable and surreal. Just a police officer assisting her hetero-lifemate in the art of dating his wife in the 21st century. Totes normal. She even cracks wise about Ichabod’s excessive name dropping (bless her) because Ichabod is taking his wife on a date to a house they used to visit in the 18th century when it belonged to their friends and wasn’t a historic art exhibit. Hot.

Crane rocks a man bun while simultaneously declaring he doesn’t understand “business casual,” but his duds say otherwise. Not that it matters since Katrina is in a LBD and no one will be looking at Ichabod. Katrina inadvertently highlights the dichotomy of the modern dating wardrobe. Dudes get to look like they could be headed to the office while ladies have to balance on the knife’s edge of ‘oh, this old thing?’ and ‘high class escort.’

Abbie accidentally outs Ichabod’s affair with Betsy Ross within Katrina’s hearing and, her job complete, exits stage left.

Our art restorer’s name is Mr. Hollister and he needs Ichabod and the audience to know he is ready for that gender reversed revival of MacBeth because the paint won’t come off his hands. Ichabod is concerned but possible demon shenanigans will have to wait because it’s 2015 and by God, he is going to grope his wife in public.

At the police precinct, Abbie combs through her family’s centuries old journal until some random officer we’ve never seen before engages her in conversation. Normally, I’d think it was just filler since it’s a white cop, but this is “Sleepy Hollow” and they’ve got no compunction for the status quo on which Red Shirts™ live and which die. The music swells, Abbie sees the other cop pull out his gun, and just when I’m about to feel vindicated that he will indeed die, the other shoe drops. Undead Frank Irving has turned himself in.

He looks pretty good for a corpse, to be honest.

Back at the Adams’ home, Ichabod and Katrina are doing their best “we’re just like you!” impression while eating off their dead friends’ porcelain. The Crane’s basically went to a wake for their date. Katrina laments that she sometimes wishes she was still in the 18th century. You and me both, sister.

Fun fact: Fifteen years after the fact, my first reaction to seeing Dawn Summers on my tv screen is still irritation. 

Luckily(?) the mood is lifted when the murder is revealed. Finally, something for the Crane’s to focus on other than their crumbling marriage. Poor Mr. Hollister had been hung upsidedown by his foot, in an approximation of the Hanged Man tarot card because “Sleepy Hollow.” Ichabod tries to monologue tarot information at Katrina but she’s all, “Dude? Witch.” Then it’s Katrina’s turn to monologue. She remembers Dawn Abigail Adams was in search of proto-Jack-the-Ripper — who was murdering vagrants — back in the day because all upper class ladies need a hobby. Dude was killing people in exactly the same manner, leading Abigail to conclude it must be a doctor, since only physicians and politician’s wives knew where the carotid artery was prior to 1974.

Meanwhile, at the precinct, Abbie discovers Irving doesn’t remember dying, doesn’t feel particularly evil, and would like to see his family (and probably a shower, though he doesn’t mention it). Abbie is suspicious because she is genre savvy.

Katrina has a vision/memory that leads her to Dawn Abigail Adams’ secret correspondence. Turns out the killer was one Mr. Colby, deranged painter. He disappeared in 1782, into this painting it would seem. Roald Dahl would like a word, “Sleepy Hollow” writers. Anyway, Colby’s creating an inverted cross out of human blood to escape from the painting. They don’t say it, but Colby must be cursed to only use one drop of blood from each victim because seriously, humans are basically 1.5 gallons of blood supported by bones and a sack of flesh.

Nothing says “touch me” like a possessed painting glimmering with the blood of a recent victim, so of course Ichabod complies. Then, to add another layer of “burn it, OH MY GOD SERIOUSLY BURN IT,” this happens:


Via Twitter

While Ichabod and Katrina hem and haw about their evil painting, Abbie is working her ass off: roping in Jenny to go retrieve bullets that can kill a dead man (inadvertently leading Jenny to almost getting eaten by a zombie), telling Irving’s widow that she’s not really a widow, explaining to said ex-widow that they need to make sure the deal Frank made with the devil isn’t still viable, discussing with Jenny the best way to give Frank a supernatural physical to check for residual demonic influence, and lock and loading her gun with new anti-undead bullets. Mills’ sisters get shit done.

Side note: While Jenny is freaking out about digging around in a gooey corpse for the bullets, the most unrealistic thing is that her cell signal would be that good in the middle of the woods. Also, adorable that Abbie’s big sister instinct kicks in and she offers to come out and fish the bullets out herself.

It takes a hot minute, but Colby finally escapes the painting again. Well, now we know why he needs so much blood. He’s been wasting it all by bathing in it. Dude, you are too old for the modern art movement. Use your brush to paint, not your face.

Unperturbed by the number of witnesses or police, Colby casually sucks another dude into his painting. Ichabod and Katrina follow, after realizing the frame is covered in entrapment runes that are obviously doing a bang-up job of keeping the killer contained…wait. Apparently Dawn Abigail Adams and Katrina’s coven captured Colby and entrapped him. If they offer an explanation as to why they did that instead of, I don’t know, killing him, I didn’t catch it.

Witch covens: Creating solutions that cause more problems since the dawn of time.

Inside the “mind of the killer,” as Ichabod says since he’s a drama queen, the Crane’s are easily distracted from their mission by a bunch of books. Katrina laments that Colby became a murderer because someone in his childhood wouldn’t let him be an artist. The screams of the Red Shirt™ resonate through the house like a polite cough, reminding the heroes that they’re on a time table. Better get to heroing.

They arrive too late, the Red Shirt™ is strung up and bleeding out. Just kidding! He’s still alive and Katrina whisks them all back to the real world right before Revolutionary Carrie kills them all. In an actual great moment of bait-and-switch, Ichabod goes to set the painting on fire but can’t, leaving it up to Abbie to play the Big Damn Hero™ and shoot the painting until Colby is dead.

Bullets. What problems don’t they solve?

Despite disregarding every order given to her, Reyes forgives Abbie for stepping in since she both killed the killer and may have been right all along about Frank Irving. Evidence has apparently come to light that could exonerate him! Huzzah!

Oh, also Katrina and Ichabod are going to try and fix their marriage. Meh.

So, what did y’all think? Was this a step back in the right direction? Or has “Sleepy Hollow” jumped too many sharks to save itself in your eyes?

Read Full Post
Kevin Hart and Aidy Bryant

Kevin Hart and Aidy Bryant

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'Saturday Night Live' – Kevin Hart and Sia

The star of 'The Wedding Ringer' returns to host for a second time

It’s only been two years since Kevin Hart last hosted “Saturday Night Live,” and yet Hart will find himself interacting with plenty of new not ready for primetime players. (Nearly half the cast is new in that time.) Hopefully that leads to a better episode, as his initial hosting gig didn’t produce a particularly memorable episode. I’m mostly curious to see if the show can continue the momentum produced by its stellar Fall run, one of the best sustained runs in the past five years. Will we see another great episode, or are the Powers That Be already focused on next month’s 40th anniversary extravaganza?

Read Full Post
Sleepy Hollow - Paradise Lost
Credit: FOX

Recap: 'Sleepy Hollow' - 'Paradise Lost' but still can't lose Katrina's bad choices

Ichabod's wife is a menace to common sense.

Welcome back! I hope everyone had a good Winter Holiday Of Their Choosing™ because it’s back to the grind. Especially for soldiers in the war against determined but inept evil.

Last time we saw the gang, Team Henry had pulled off a Hail Mary save, with the Horseman of War turning on his master and killing Moloch. But with cryptic phrases like “There were Horsemen before you, there will be Horsemen after you,” the words of Beyonce ring true: Don't you ever for a second get to thinking you're irreplaceable.

Meanwhile, Captain Irving is dead and the Horseman of Death is still in chains beneath Sleepy Hollow. How will Henry’s change of heart affect the Crane family dynamic? Let’s find out!

*******

We open seconds after we last left off. Ichabod is seeing flashes of lights because demons die like a flash bang. Basic demon biology here, guys. Duh. Also, the horns are fire resistant so I hope someone makes a killer Viking drinking horn from their fallen enemy.

Ichabod cries out twice for his wife in an outdoor whisper, then gives up and shouts in relief that Abbie is okay. This marriage is doomed. Katrina is here though, she was just off camera. I guess Moloch’s death flung her from her tied up perch on the tree? Or she’s up to no good. I mean, no one can be that dangerously naive about saving people from their poor life choices, can they? (Spoiler: They can.) Jenny also survived the ordeal and everyone just assumes Henry is dead and rides off into the sunset.

Sloppy work that surely won’t come back to bite them in the ass.

Six weeks later, Abbie is trying to explain “organic” food and farmer’s markets to a man to whom farm-to-table was a fact of life and not a privilege of the economically well-off. Though I call bullshit on Ichabod’s aversion to the grapple: farmer’s have been tinkering with produce since time immemorial. It just didn’t involve syringes. The weekly “Man Out of Time” bit is ruined when Crane spots a brimstone and worm infested apple. It’s all the proof he needs to declare evil is gestating again. What is it with this show and the pregnancy metaphors? I mean, childbirth is painful and sucks, but it’s not EVIL.

Back at the Exposition Library, Ichabod is getting his detective on: rotten apples are just the latest clue pointing to something fishy going down at Wilcox Farms. Abbie is all “Calm down, Nancy Drew,” before changing the subject. Turns out Ichabod has been sleeping at the library while Katrina lives at the cabin and hangs out with Abraham. Either Crane is in denial about the state of his marriage or…yeah, it’s denial. Girlfriend is choosing the Avatar of Death over her husband. Does she need to leave a blood red lipstick mirror good-bye?

Abbie is too good of a friend to point out the obvious and off we go to check out the supernatural hijinks on the old Wilcox farm. An hour later, our heroes have found nothing. So is this farm abandoned? Because trespassing without a warrant is still frowned on. With nothing else to focus on, Abbie tentatively broaches the subject that they’re tilting at windmills and the danger is over. Girl, what part of SEVEN YEARS did you not understand? Right on cue, ominous evil chanting and light emanates from the barn. The barn with a cow skull covered in a bloody pentagram that’s just sitting outside in plain sight. Were you guys even LOOKING? Who misses that?

Chagrinned by their subpar investigation skills, Ichabod and Abbie skulk over to check it out. Inside the barn, the offspring of a Jawa and Darth Maul wear standard cultist robes and beseech the tiny fire to send them a new master. At least that’s what they’re doing until our heroes open fire. Just as I’m admiring the high quality make-up effects, the show kicks it up another notch with an angel. Complete with resplendent wings. Resplendent BLACK wings. Huh. Well, let’s reserve judgement. Perhaps they’re subverting the trope…OH MY GOD, that angel stole Xena’s chakram. I’ll forgive a lot of things, but nobody steals the Warrior Princess’s bit!

Not-Xena chases off the demons, pops his wings into whatever dimensional portal they live in when the budget can’t afford to animate them, and introduces himself. His name is Orion and he’s on a mission to track down and kill all the creatures that escaped from Purgatory when Moloch died. He knows they escaped because that’s when he, Moloch’s prisoner, also fled for the mortal plane. Welcome to the party, this year’s over-arcing storyline!

Meanwhile, underneath the city Katrina is visiting Abraham, which includes a silencing spell drawn with a glow stick. Neat. She’s determined to find a way to separate his body from the avatar of Death and revert him to human form. Ugh, her Pollyanna streak remains unbroken. Then the show goes a step too far. Katrina says she knows it’s her fault that Abraham turned to the forces of darkness. If she hadn’t fallen in love with Crane, then Abraham’s jealousy issues never would’ve gotten out of control.

EXCUSE ME? NO. DANGER DANGER. Abraham is a grown-ass man who made terrible life choices. Full stop.

Still reeling from this garbage, we return to Ichabod and Abbie who are sizing up their potential angel ally. Abbie gets a call from Jenny, and had to cancel Mission: Get Jenny Laid due to demon infestation. But now Jenny is going to call Southern Gentleman Aquaman, so everything went better than expected. Then Ichabod gets a text from Katrina and leaves reluctantly. Angels should be trustworthy but then again, Lucifer was an angel.

Read Full Post
<p>The finale of &quot;The Comeback&quot;</p>

The finale of "The Comeback"

Credit: HBO

Recap: 'The Comeback' Finale - 'Valerie Gets What She Really Wants'

A sad season finds a believable happy ending

In its final minutes of its second season, "The Comeback" asked us to believe that Valerie Cherish would actually leave the Emmys and what appeared to be an inevitable win for her work on "Seeing Red." Literally walk down the aisle and out the door, into the rain.

Read Full Post