Stars: Fred Armisen, Vanessa Bayer, Bill Hader, Taran Killam, Seth Meyers, Bobby Moynihan, Nasim Pedrad, Jay Pharoah, Jason Sudeikis, Kenan Thompson, Aidy Bryant, Kate McKinnon, Tim Robinson, Cecily Strong
Network: NBC, airs Saturday nights
Original Telecast: December 8, 2012

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE returns after a three-week hiatus, and the time away still hasn’t made the show any sharper or any funnier.

Season 38 has turned into one of the worst seasons in some time and I still haven’t figured out why. Kristen Wiig and Andy Samburg leaving should not have killed the show’s momentum. They were good, but they weren’t the show’s glue. And there’s an abundant of talented performers on the show (and they carry even terrible sketches many times).

So why isn’t there any inspiration or more laughs?

This week, SNL wisely brought in former IN LIVING COLOR sketch performer and now Academy Award winning actor Jamie Foxx to bring some life to the show. Not surprising, it was hit and miss, despite the fact that Foxx rose above just about every sketch he was in whether it was funny or not.

Here’s a rundown of this week’s sketches.

Cold Opening – Obama and Boehner on C-Span: President Barack Obama (Jay Pharoah) and House Speaker Boehner (Bill Hader) talk about coming to an agreement. The sketch paints Boehner as hated by Republicans and is bullied. Pharoah barely survives the sketch with any dignity, while Hader steals his thunder with his awesome (and very funny delivery). Still, I expect more from my SNL political sketches, and this just doesn’t cut it. Grade: C-

Monologue: Foxx gets down to business with a solid monologue. It’s not particularly funny, but he’s so engaging as a performer that it works. Simple and sweet. Grade: B-

Bitch, That’s the Answer with Mookie Meeks: A game show parody with Foxx playing host Mookie Meeks who throws out strange questions to white contestants. Not very funny, but again, Foxx is pretty good. Grade: C

J-Pop America Funtime Now: I usually like this sketch which features Taran Killam and Vanessa Bayer as white hosts on a college TV station program who are a little too into Japanese culture. However, the writing is week this time out, and Foxx dressing up in goofy karate garb fails miserably. He looks funny, but what he’s forced to say just doesn’t cut. Fail. Grade: C-

Alex Cross 2: Madea: Special Ops: A filmed movie parody which should have been a slam-dunk. It’s a buddy cop movie where Tyler Perry (Foxx) plays Alex Cross and Madea – at the same time. It’s a one-note idea that could have been hilarious, but just didn’t push itself to the limits like it should have. Grade: D+

Weekend Update: A pretty short Weekend Update this week, which is a shame because Seth Meyers kills week after week. His guests are Aidy Bryant as Mrs. Claus (who gets some funny digs on Santa Claus) and Foxx as Ding Dong, upset that Twinkie is getting all the attention after Hostess went bankrupt. Grade: B

Dylan McDermott or Dermot Mulroney: Another game show parody, similar to “Bitch”, and much funnier. Hader is a host which asks three black contestants (Foxx, Kenan Thompson and Pharoah) which actor is which. This is an incredibly well-written sketch with some pretty funny wordplay. It’s capped off by an appearance by Mulroney. Foxx and Thompson are great in the sketch, though it’s perplexing why Pharoah is essentially relegated to the sidelines with very little to say. Grade: B+

Marcus Banks: Tree Pimp: A filmed segment about a former pimp (Thompson) who now sells Christmas trees. Weird and sad, this is a nice, strange sketch. It’s short on big laughs, but at least SNL is trying to do different things. Grade: B-

Maine Justice: A dead on arrival sketch about a court TV show set in Maine where everyone is transplanted from New Orleans. I didn’t get it. It’s not funny at all and even a cameo appearance by IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA star Charlie Day can’t save it. Terrible! Grade: D-

Swarovski Crystals: The best sketch of the night with Bayer and Cecily Strong in a commercial for Swarovski Crystals. They’re former porn stars promoting crystal jewelry and this is very, very funny. Foxx even gets a few good lines as well, though it’s the great timing of Bayer and Strong that make this work. The funniest line of any sketch of the evening goes to Bayer when she says, “I lost part of my foot. It broke off in a butt. And I’ve regretted it ever sense, but I don’t regret crystals.” Grade: A-

Ne-Yo is the musical guest and does a solid job too.

This episode as a whole is hit and miss. Foxx, at least brigs a nice comedic energy, something that’s been lacking from other movie star hosting as of late (Jeremy Renner and Daniel Craig failed miserably in their stints).

At least Foxx has sketch comedy background, so he elevates everything he’s in. He also was cracking up in sketches throughout the show which was also fun to watch. It’s a shame he didn’t pull out any of his IN LIVING COLOR characters though – fans would have ate it up.

Next week is Martin Short and Paul McCartney for the Christmas episode. The chances for that working are quite high. Fingers crossed.

AGREE? DISAGREE? LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD – COMMENT BELOW

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Comments:

  1. Don’t put Blacks on SNL if the writers are ONLY able to focus on any and every racial stereotype (as usual) – including whack Jay Pharaoh and Keenan(name?). They got on the show, but the PISS POOR go-to-the-obvious writers make them look TALENTLESS. This episode thoroughly exposed the writers’ lack of creativity. So sad to see that Jamie Foxx wasn’t able/didn’t step up and limit the nonstop coon buffoonery.

    seriously?
  2. Despite the abundance of controlled racism, which I was fine with, I liked the whole show. As a true fan, I’ve stopped caring how good the show is, as long as it’s on when it’s supposed to be. They can’t all be 100% perfect, and the fact you gave the highest grade to a (albeit funny) sketch loaded with middle school jokes tells me your standards aren’t exactly high enough to appreciate the rest of the show as a real fan.

    Matt
  3. After last nights episode I did a search for SNL reviews just to see if other people think that this season has been one with a decent cast being given terribly written skits and your page was at the top. I was never a Kristen Wiig fan even though she is from my town. She did the same voices and faces with every character and that isn’t funny, it’s lazy. Andy was genius but will be lost in bad movies most likely containing too many other SNL cast members (a sure fire way to make a bad movie in my mind).

    Other than canning Abby Elliot for a reason I can’t figure out (Lorne being an egomaniac who really doesn’t know what ‘funny’ is?) SNL sucks this year because right from the season premiere they have gone for openly raunchy jokes instead of following the advice of Crusty the Clown….. yes, Crusty the Clown…. who said “The young people today, they think that comedy is dirty words. It’s not. It’s words that sound dirty”. The writers are thinking old school Howard Stern (whom I’m a lifelong fan of) instead of pre-tv Jack Benny.

    The porn star skit wasn’t funny, it was edgy as far as pushing the limits on what people can say on regular tv, but it wasn’t funny. The Maine skit was hilarious in 2 ways, Sudakis who is also genius and Foxx just because he was laughing but also because his character was something you would have seen on In Living Color. J Pop usually has a few good laughs and while Foxx’s part was poorly written, he started off strong doing the ‘moves’ as he entered and talked but then his dialog went south. His outfit was hilarious, but it wasn’t Japanese, it was USA Network circa 1980′s ‘Kung Fu Theatre’ Chinese, esp. that stash and that shows me again that the writers just aren’t familiar with the material they are trying to mimic or mock.

    I’ll shut up but end with this; SNL, the ‘L’ stands for LIVE. There are too many pre-taped films eating into your time. They used to only happen a few times a season, then maybe once a episode and now we are getting a couple a week. A couple of poorly written but nice looking (i.e. a film look) skits that are apparently being done to…..? Allow the cast to be out on the streets? Show they can be in movies? I don’t know. I don’t get it. Live means live. Mr. Bill, Ambiguously Gay Duo and the rest of the classics weren’t on every week nor was there a Dick in a Box every week and there shouldn’t be otherwise you might as well pre-tape the whole show. Oh, and the Boehner character wasn’t anywhere near orange enough to be funny. Too much reliance on poor costumes. Chevy as Ford with no makeup….. that’s Jack Benny funny.

    Crash
  4. Pingback: TV Review: SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE – Season 38 – Host Martin Short | Up to the hour news

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