Kate McKinnon and Seth Meyers in SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE - Season 38 - Host Joseph Gordon-Levitt | ©2012 NBC/Dana Edelson

Kate McKinnon and Seth Meyers in SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE - Season 38 - Host Joseph Gordon-Levitt | ©2012 NBC/Dana Edelson

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: September 23, 2012

We’re knee deep into the Presidential political campaign and SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE is floundering with its political sketches and overall comedy – and this is only the second episode this season.

With Joseph Gordon-Levitt hosting (he did a fabulous job the last time he appeared on SNL), delivering something funny should not have been a problem. Yet, with all the good will and characters Levitt showed off, the material did not support him.

The good news for supporting players Tim Robinson and Kate McKinnon, they got some additional face time to show who they are. And even Jay Pharoah, who has been predominantly sidelined was given more sketches than he had in a given show all last year.

However, you need material to make this stuff work and make you laugh. And I barely laughed.

WEEKEND UPDATE was the strongest segment as Seth Meyers delivered a few amusing Mitt Romney jabs as well as an Obama rant. Good stuff there.

Supporting player Kate McKinnon also offered up a pretty funny Stepford-esque portrayal of Ann Romney. McKinnon really stepped to the fore this episode to prove she has something special as a performer. I like her, and I think she can help fill the void left by Kristen Wiig. Alongside Nasim Pedrad and Vanessa Bayer, they have strong women on the show to carry it forward.

A commercial for a Dos Equis knock-off beer from The Most Interesting Guy in the World’s douchebag son (Gordon-Levitt) was also mildly funny.

The rest of episode, not so much. The cold opening featuring a spoof of the LIVE WITH KELLY AND MICHAEL morning show was dead on arrival, Levitt playing a weird daughter with weird parents flat-lined and even a sketch involving rich rappers called THE FINER THINGS was absolutely terrible.

Both Bill Hader and Jason Sudeikis were largely under-utilized this episode, which is a sign executive producer wants to bring the new performers front and center but aside from McKinnon, they’re just not ready.

Tim Robinson is quirky, but like Bobby Moynihan, he hasn’t found his SNL mojo yet. Aidy Bryant and Cecily Strong were pretty much AWOL. And Pharoah (now a full-fledged cast member) despite the extra screen time, continues to prove he’s a great mimic, yet doesn’t bring any comedy panache to the table. I hate to compare him to Eddie Murphy’s stint on the show in the early 1980s, but if you look at the energy and the funny Murphy brought to everything he did, compared to Pharaoh, there’s no contest. And the sad part is, I’m rooting for Pharaoh. He’s a ball of untapped talent, yet his ability to really shine and make us laugh doesn’t get past, “oh, that was a dead-on impersonation.” Writing is one element of this, but the other is the performer. And he needs to really start bringing it or he’s going to get the boot from the show.

Strangely, the other thing that is desperately missing is the SNL Digital Shorts. Most of those were created and performed by Andy Samburg who left last season. It’s a gaping hole that needs to be filled by somebody – and hopefully someone will rise to the occasion and resurrect that very important part of SNL’s recent new media history.

SNL enters Season 38 with the cards stacked against it –cast defections, new people trying to find their way, other seasoned players almost ready to leave. It’s going to be tough moving forward, but after 38 years, the show has weathered some really rough patches. This is another one, but if Michaels has proved anything – the show will always find its way again.

Related: TV Review of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE – Season 38 Hosted by Daniel Craig

Related: TV Review of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE – Season 38 premiere – Hosted by Seth MacFarlane

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Article: TV Review of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE – Season 38 Hosted by Joseph Gordon-Levitt

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Comments:

  1. Carl,

    You are a moron.

    Yours Truly,
    Everyone who understands and appreciates the art of sketch comedy

    Jon
  2. This was a terrible show. It seemed half of it was just a paid political ad for Obama. Hey Seth, I know your a lefty tool but angry political rants aren’t that funny. Also try taking a shot at Obama once in a while, it would make the show more interesting. The Ann Romney bit was particularly bad, took forever and was painful. It’s really too bad meyers didn’t leave as the show’s writing has plummeted since he’s taken over.
    As for the rest of the show the “tres equis” spots were hilarious and easily the high point but other than them it was indifferent to painful.
    Really what a turd of a show.

    Owl
  3. I love the new season of SNL, I think it’s absolutely hilarious…one of the better seasons, great writing, etc. Sorry, I have to disagree. Last week’s Psy sketch was awesome!

    Astrochicks
  4. I felt the opening was very bad but the hypnotist was great as were several other skits that were not political, one of the best SNL in quite a while but once again not saying much either.

    fredf
  5. Pretty much dead on Carl, if anything you were too kind. Terrible episode. The Magic Mike monologue was just not funny. Tres Equis was mildly funny, but not great. Watching Weekend Update is really painful. Seth is such a tool for Obama is makes the jokes predictable and hence, not funny. How about they open up making fun of just that fact, then maybe when Seth comes on it actually would be funny. Speaking of Obama, I find is hard to believe these comics can’t come up with anything funny about this administration. The potential there is totally untapped. How about the fact that the President will always say how hard they are working on this or that, then next thing you know he is on the golf course. You telling me they can’t find one joke in that situation, but they can find enough material for a whole Night at the Roxbury movie?

    Ant-ney
  6. I think Kate McKinnon definitely knows how to impersonate Ann Romney! She reminds me a lot of Tina Fey and how well she did Sarah Palin. Joseph Gordon-Levitt was pretty good, but I hope the next one is better. I wasn’t able to catch the show the other night since I was working late at DISH. I set my Hopper a while back to record the entire season to the two terabyte DVR automatically. I’m just glad that I can watch it when I want without worrying about space! Hopefully Daniel Craig is good when he hosts in the next few weekends!

    Riley
  7. Pingback: Bill Hader : The Latest Fuzz

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