Monday Morning Quarterback: SNL Season 34, Episode 15

Posted by Jesse February 9th, 2009 at 10:02am In SNL

I was skeptical of Bradley Cooper’s suitability as an SNL host, even within the parameters of a He’s Just Not That Into You cast member; Scarlett Johansson and Ben Affleck are both multiple hosts who could’ve fit the bill easily. So I give Cooper and/or the writers a lot of credit for bringing this up directly in a funny, self-effacing monologue.

Unfortunately, yikes, the show went south after that; this was one of the weakest episodes of the season. Cooper was right in the middle of it, not quite as blandly smarmy as he is in most movies, but not displaying the skill you might expect of a Wet Hot American Summer alum, either.

Strangely, few if any of the sketches were as purely awful as last week’s lowest points (except maybe the “Sex with Your Wife” game show; that was pretty much instant failure). Take the intervention sketch: it had several weird side jokes in classic Will Forte fashion, like how the intervention van was piled full of drunks so the interventioner wouldn’t have to make multiple trips, but it was built around a series of intrusive noises interrupting the intervention; sort of amusing, and not too belabored, but it felt as if the wrong gags were getting screentime. Why set up a weird, potentially darkly funny intervention just to go back to the “people getting interrupted” template?

The locker-room sketch with Bobby Moynihan as a young hockey fan who fawns over all players but the goalie had a funny set-up but went nowhere; same goes for “Bad Guys, Good Conversation,” which collected a bunch of eighties movie villains so they could… act pretty much how they do in the movies. All night, good sketch ideas popped up and then just kinda trailed off.

Just as frustrating, the sketches that worked more thoroughly were second-hand: another round of the absurdist four-guy singalong, which I always enjoy, even though this one cut out the mid-song toppers for each twisted story; another Today show bit both pleasantly and sleepily reminiscent of better View and Regis and Kelly sketches of yore; and “I’m On a Boat,” a typically funny Lonely Island video that clearly comes more from their album Incredibad (dropping this Tuesday) than the SNL proper.

I did enjoy Weekend Update pretty much start to finish: Samberg as Mark Spitz; Kenan as James Harrison; Kristen Wiig as Bjork; all pretty much aces. Seth even took up the “Really?!?” mantle with aplomb. Update, scattered laughs, and a couple of fiery (if oddly miked) TV on the Radio performances kept the episode from outright disaster. But unless Alec Baldwin is uncharacteristically disappointing next week, it’ll be hard not to see this one as a half-assed mid-season nap.

Episode Grade: C

2 Comments

  • 1. Maggie  |  February 9th, 2009 at 11:47 am

    I agree with you across the board this week, Jesse — even in regards to the musical guest, which I usually skip! I had almost forgotten the “guys singing along” sketch, which is one of my favorite recurring bits. It’s endearing purely because you can tell they must’ve actually practiced it many times in order to not screw it up. The monologue was great (those real Actors Studio clips were priceless) and Weekend Update was solid. Everything else had me cringing at least at times — though I think Bill Hader’s Buffalo Bill deserved its own, better, sketch.

  • 2. sara  |  February 9th, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    Yes! I really enjoyed “Bad Guys, Good Conversation” because everyone was so into it. Except that Samberg’s Hans Gruber wasn’t very good. Buffalo Bill made me laugh very, very hard.


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