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: October 13, 2012

After a strong start with a parody of this week’s Vice-Presidential debate, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE settled into a familiar pattern of overlong sketches and comedy bits that just don’t work.

Once again Kate McKinnon rises to the top as one of the most promising new performers as the series relies heavily on Bill Hader and Jason Sudeikis to wring laughs out of unfunny material.

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

Cold Opening: Vice-Presidential Debate: Finally, they hit one out of the park when it comes to skewering the Presidential election. This was pitch-perfect with Sudeikis doing an awesome Joe Biden taking down Paul Ryan (Taran Killam). And McKinnon does a pretty dead-on Martha Raddatz as moderator. From Biden laughing and smiling throughout Ryan’s turn at the mic to candidates differing views on policies, SNL gets it right and it gets the show off to a great start. (Grade: A-)

Monologue: Host Christina Applegate sings about this being the perfect time of the year because there are no holidays to celebrate. It’s cute, but it’s clear the only reason this exists is to showcase that Applegate sing (and she sings quite well) (Grade: C)

Gillette Masters of Style Commercial: Huh? Parodying an already lame commercial, but tossing in Jerry Sandusky into the mix. I’m still scratching my head at what they’re going for with this. It seems like one person found this funny and it passed through when no one was paying attention. (Grade: F)

The Californians – Wedding: I never liked this recurring sketch that makes fun of Californians, their weird accents and obsession with freeways and landmarks. This is no improvement. Having Bill Hader make funny faces and bug out his eyes is not enough to save this train wreck. Plus, the sketch goes on FOREVER and doesn’t seem to know when to end. (Grade: D)

Tech Talk: iPhone 5: Applegate plays the host of a tech program that discusses the problems with the new iPhone 5. She then brings factory workers in China to counter those complaints with the show’s tech-savvy and elitist guests. An amusing idea, and at least it gets points for trying to be original. (Grade: C)

Weekend Update: Usually the most reliable part of the show, this week, it just didn’t cut it and Kenan Thompson’s character of Jean K. Jean doesn’t help either. However, Nasim Pedrad’s Arianna Huffington was actually quite good, even though the segment went on a little long. (Grade: C+)

Taken Spoof Commercial: Inspired by THE EXPENDABLES, this trailer features actors who have been in movies where their character’s daughters have been abducted. Hence, a parade of impersonations from Harrison Ford, Liam Neeson, Uma Thurman and Denzel Washington. Interesting idea, no jokes.(Grade: C-)

OdysseusSudeikis saves this sketch as a captain of a boat trying to avoid sirens trying to get his boat to crash. The sirens (McKinnon, Applegate, Cecily Strong) sing catchy female driven pop songs that Sudeikis absolutely loves. Tolerable. (Grade: C+)

Choreographer: Applegate plays a dance instructor in the Bob Fosse mold. Embarrassingly bad. ‘Nuff said. (Grade: D)

Principal Frye: Hell-oween Bash: One of Jay Pharoah’s rare recurring characters that isn’t an impersonation. Sadly I’ve never liked this character either. Applegate is good as a mousy librarian, but Pharoah’s character always felt like it was lifted from SNL’s past without adding any new twists to the mix. (Grade: C-)

Musical group Passion Pit offered up two 1980s inspired songs. Good stuff.

As I’ve said before, SNL is hit and miss, especially when it goes through transitory times with new cast additions and defections. I’m sure it will rebound eventually, but for now, we’ll just have to suffer through until the series can find a way to be consistently funny again.

Next week Bruno Mars is the host and musical guest. Let’s pray it gets better than this.

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Article: TV Review of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE – Season 38 Hosted by Christina Applegate




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