STEVE MURPHY: I love Will Ferrell, and he’s always funnier live. I remember one sketch in particular when he was still in the cast, with Jimmy Fallon and Pierce Brosnan working at a Gap store. The sketch was pretty funny already, but then Will Ferrell comes out riding an electric wheelchair and starts ramming into things and ad libbing some hilarious questions, even takes a call on a tiny, Zoolander-size cell phone. Both Fallon and Brosnan cracked up the entire time. I hope we get some of that uncontrollable Will Ferrell tonight!
HOWARD MEGDAL: My expectations for a Will Ferrell episode are mixed. I love Will Ferrell. But the writing and surrounding cast during his years on SNL were often among the weakest of any during SNL’s history. Will it simply be a return to old characters? If so, it might disappoint.
I am also aware that Green Day is a band.
C O L D O P E N : BUSH & CHENEY REUNITED
STEVE MURPHY: Now that’s a cold open I can get behind! “If ya ever wanna Biden it up and get a burger with me, I’m game!” Could that administration have just been naturally more fun to laugh at? Maybe that’s why these Geithner cold opens have been so bland, because he doesn’t conjure that same kind of bile.
HOWARD MEGDAL: I couldn’t help but think of your comment a few weeks ago, Steve, that Hammond plays outdated characters. Who has been on TV lately more than Dick Cheney? Pulled off well, I thought.
M O N O L O G U E :
STEVE MURPHY: The Wistful Dreams of Danny O’Neill. Well that settles it, I will laugh at anything Will Ferrell says, no matter how serious.
HOWARD MEGDAL: This seemed like his point. Not enough momentum to be great, I thought.
W A D E B L A S I N G A M E , E S Q . :
STEVE MURPHY: An old commercial that I just don’t remember, I guess, but not too shabby. A nice reminder of what was a great cast.
HOWARD MEGDAL: Yes, that was a good commercial. But like I said, just not sure it was a great cast.
T H E L A W R E N C E W E L K S H O W:
STEVE MURPHY: Kristin Wiig remains my hero. I died laughing. Those tiny hands… It’s a rare comedienne who goes for the incredibly ugly, ultra-awkward characters, again and again. And Will Ferrell’s reactions were the perfect counterpoint.
HOWARD MEGDAL: I guess no one really cares about this, but Fred Armisen’s Lawrence Welk was really good!
C E L E B R I T Y J E O P A R D Y ! ! !
STEVE MURPHY: Hell yes I added 3 exclamation points to that title!!! I was a little worried when I saw Kathie Lee, but then… the real Tom Hanks! Amazing! And of course the man who makes this sketch perfect: Darrell Hammond as Sean Connery. Ferrell always nails Alex Trebek’s face of disapproval, and does not disappoint this time around. Then out of nowhere… a surprise visit from Norm MacDonald as Burt Reynolds! Kathie Lee was a bit of a downer for me (and for the audience from the sound of it), but the rest of this sketch was hard-to-breathe funny. Also, I hope everyone caught the amazing “sibilance” throwback reference as Tom Hanks tested the fake mic on his desk! That was how Hanks tested the mics during a Wayne’s World sketch like a hundred years ago, playing a roadie for Aerosmith, that week’s musical guest. It’s a line some I quote all the time, often when testing mics! Good work bringing it back, writers!
HOWARD MEGDAL: Or Hanks, on his own. Tell me this: did we really come out ahead with Hanks giving up comedy films 20 years ago? Cary Grant provided a nice array of both drama and comedy for us. I feel like we missed out on Hanks. Again, this seems like a show designed to feature what Darrell Hammond does best- which is just fine with me!
T N T ‘ S H O R R I B L E A D S :
STEVE MURPHY: Totally dead-on. TNT’s fully-animated ads at the bottom of the screen are the most-annoying on television. Great idea and well-done by Keenan as Charles Barkley!
HOWARD MEGDAL: And he obviously would be distracted. Just nicely done.
G R E E N D A Y # 1 : KNOW YOUR ENEMY
STEVE MURPHY: I’ve liked Green Day a lot since I was a kid, and I really enjoyed this track from their new release. Solid song, hope the album’s that good!
HOWARD MEGDAL: I know they were singing lyrics, but I don’t know what they were and I don’t care.
W E E K E N D U P D A T E :
STEVE MURPHY: Amy Poehler’s back! One night only, but it’s a nice surprise. My favorite bit made a hilarious return as “Really?!?” took on ASU’s decision not to give President Obama an honorary degree. Will Ferrell brought it home, very funny (as usual) playing Harry Caray.
HOWARD MEGDAL: But they spelled it “Harry Carey”! They spelled it wrong! This is a total nitpick, but Ferrell is so perfect- how can you ruin the perfection? I thought Really?!? was a bit slower than normal, but it makes sense- they were out of practice.
S P E E C H E S A T A F U N E R A L :
STEVE MURPHY: They did this once before with wedding speeches, and this was just as funny! Every single person made me laugh… except for surprise guest Maya Rudolph, who I just never find funny. But great work by Kristin Wiig and Will Forte!
HOWARD MEGDAL: God bless Maya Rudolph, comedy isn’t her forte, so I hope she finds other work. This was more of a mixed bag for me, some laughs for sure, but not as many as I’d expect.
G R E E N D A Y # 2 : ???
STEVE MURPHY: A lot less enthused about this one. Ah well, can’t win ‘em all. And they didn’t post this video so I don’t even know what it’s called!
HOWARD MEGDAL: And yet this won’t keep me up at night.
R E A L A D : I’M A CELEBRITY, GET ME OUT OF HERE!
STEVE MURPHY: I actually thought this was an SNL sketch. This is the worst idea for a show I’ve ever seen.
HOWARD MEGDAL: Once Rod Blagojevich dropped out, the entire balance was ruined! Just kidding- of course it’s terrible.
G O O D N I G H T S A I G O N (…IN THE DINING CONCOURSE)
STEVE MURPHY: Only Will Ferrell could have pulled this off. Who would have thought I could ever laugh at Billy Joel’s “Goodnight Saigon”? And Ferrell makes yet another important contribution to handheld percussion with his hilarious maracas. This one finishes with a wild, star-studded ending, highly recommend you watch it! A terrific season-closing sketch!
UPDATE: OMFG. They didn’t post this last sketch on Hulu. And I can’t find it on YouTube. Whoever’s in charge of this should be fired. In case you missed it, the famous people in this sketch were: Anne Hathaway, Paul Rudd, Norm MacDonald, Artie Lange, Tom Hanks, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph and Green Day. All dressed in black playing fake instruments and singing Goodnight Saigon with Will Ferrell. “And we will aaaaaaaalll go doooooooown togetherrrrr….”
HOWARD MEGDAL: In total agreement on this. Cannot believe it isn’t online. Overall, this looms for me as the first season since last decade where I’ll be actively missing SNL over the summer. That isn’t to say there haven’t been things to recommend the show each year since. But I think SNL really turned a corner this year, between the group mix and the writing staff working in sync with those players.
I also think it is worth saying a provisional goodbye to Darrell Hammond, who seemed to be saying goodbye in the final song. I think he looms as one of the better cast members ever- particularly in the realm of politics.