Monday Morning Quarterback: SNL Season 35, Episode 2

Posted by Jesse October 5th, 2009 at 09:02am In SNL

Ryan Reynolds seemed to be on board for providing male eye candy on par with Megan Fox’s season opener last week, until Reynolds turned out to appear in surprising little of this week’s SNL episode, overshadowed by Lady Gaga, who contributed not just two long performances, but two sketch appearances, including one pitting her against Madonna — whose lack of close-ups led me to take several minutes to figure out whether it was her, Abby Elliott, or an extremely fast-changing Kristen Wiig.

That cameo, besides not being particularly well-executed, was a weak point of the night: it involved the resuscitation of the long-dormant Deep House Dish sketch, which had more or less exhausted itself a couple of years ago. Tonight it was pretty clearly an excuse to trot out Gaga and throw her into an awkwardly timed fake fight with Madonna.

Though I often preach to the importance of SNL’s recurring stuff needing the right mix of familiarity and variation, sometimes I realize it’s more to do with how much space comes between recurrences. Despite some guaranteed variables — the cheerfully ridiculous dance-music parodies that change from sketch to sketch — Deep House Dish quickly became tired based on its frequency, and even what may have been a year-long break didn’t endear it to me. On the other hand, very, very little changes in Fred Armisen’s series of “you gotta get a…” ads: chandeliers, marble columns, and tonight, porcelain fountains, all pitched for their Long Island classiness. But because the bit only comes back when Scarlett Johansson is available to play Armisen’s equally unconvincing salesdaughter, it’s pretty much hilarious regardless. Johansson, then, joined the list of ladies upstaging Reynolds (her husband), although he did nice work playing her husband in the sketch, too — he’ll come to you!

In fact, Reynolds did fine all night; he just didn’t stand out much. His only real showcase was a weirdly dopey monologue about the difference between superhero movies and romantic comedies, which made him sound vaguely clueless about both. Elsewhere, he disappeared into a couple of elaborate, lengthy sketches: a Family Feud riff on the John/Mackenzie Phillips situation, and So You’ve Committed a Crime… and You Think You Can Dance? These are the types of TV parodies that finds SNL overindulging and stretching out, but both sketches had an appealing looseness to them, and felt surprisingly fully formed.

Also contributing to the lack of Reynolds screen-time: Update went pretty long, which is fine when it includes stuff like this:

Kenan’s nonsensical take on Barkley has made for one of the show’s most surprisingly and hilariously malleable recurring characters, popping up as needed in his own bits or others. This episode was heavy with recurring characters, TV parodies, and guest stars: basically, pretty safe stuff, with little as flat-out wonderful as the Mostly Garbage dog food ad. But as semi-uninspired run-throughs go, this was a pretty damn enjoyable one.

Episode Grade: B

2 Comments

  • 1. Maggie  |  October 5th, 2009 at 9:57 am

    Barkley is the new Harry Caray, my favorite “celebrity” commentator on Update ever.

  • 2. sara  |  October 5th, 2009 at 11:57 am

    I thought So You’ve Committed a Crime… and You Think You Can Dance? and the Swedish (Norwegian?) cop show sketches were the best of the night. The former, well, who knew Ryan Reynolds could do an Australian accent? And unlike the Family Feud sketch, the creepiness was hilarious, not gross. (That Family Feud sketch could have been done so much better. Bill Hader deserved better.)

    And Scandinavian accents are HARD. I giggled through the entire thing because I was imagining what they’d do if Stellan Skarsgard hosted. With special guest Lena Olin!


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