HOWARD MEGDAL: I entered the new season mildly hopeful for the opener. It was my hope that someone as physically prepossessing as Megan Fox would have some talent, and U2 is inoffensive. Alas, Fox does not have any talent to match her looks, and it was painfully obvious that SNL’ writers knew it, too. The episode was, in essence, an exercise on how not to depend on the guest star.
STEVE MURPHY: Megan Fox is attractive, but I don’t think she’s much of an actress, and I’m not a fan of U2. The only thing I’m banking on is the writers having a whole off-season to hone their skills and come up with great new stuff. Fingers crossed.
C O L D O P E N :
HOWARD MEGDAL: This was the highlight of the show for me. Fred Armisen looked exactly like Moammar Gadhafi, was fantastically funny about the trip (with material worthy of SNL), and served as doublespeak, Sid Caesar-style, made the skit work just as it should have. Very happy with this. But then…
STEVE MURPHY: Boooooring. What an anti-explosive start to the season. At one point Gadhafi was talking about trying to set up his tent in Englewood, NJ, and I was really, really hoping Armisen would drop into a David Patterson-esque series of New Jersey jokes… but no such luck. Armisen spoke gibberish while an emotionless voice told what I assume were supposed to be ‘jokes’ without any inflection. Too boring to even describe.
O P E N I N G M O N O L O G U E :
HOWARD MEGDAL: I now understand: Megan Fox is at her most eloquent in the print advertisements for Jennifer’s Body. Zoë talks below about taking the SNL writers to task for not giving her funny lines. But from what little we saw, this would have been akin to when Jason Biggs was in that Woody Allen film.
STEVE MURPHY: First of all… we’re still just “featuring” Bobby Moynihan? The guy’s a star. I’ve loved him since that Single Ladies sketch last year, and I think he deserves a full-time “starring” role. On Megan Fox: There’s (poorly-done fake) nudes of Megan Fox on the internet… and she doesn’t remember taking those pictures! Almost, almost funny. This first episode is dragging so far.
C O M M E R C I A L : B L A D D I V A N
HOWARD MEGDAL: This was pretty well-executed as well. The water gun imagery was a bit obvious, but funny, and Bill Hader’s working guy voice consistently makes me laugh.
STEVE MURPHY: It’s a drug for people with shy bladders that lets you pee yourself, and not care that you’re peeing yourself. Technically, the funniest part of the show so far. Technically.
F L I G H T A N N O U N C E M E N T :
HOWARD MEGDAL: So this got old, fast. I just don’t understand sometimes what the target is. Call me old-fashioned, but shouldn’t comedy have a target of some kind? It doesn’t need to be something vital, like the Senate Finance Committee, but something? Is the target stewardesses not providing vital information? Because that sure isn’t my experience.
STEVE MURPHY: They’re calm, but they’re saying such terrifying things! The contrast is clearly supposed to be funny, but… it isn’t. Not once. I found myself actually hoping the plane would crash so this sketch would end.
R U S S I A N B R I D E S :
HOWARD MEGDAL: This was a terribly long waste of time for the small payoff of Fred Armisen smiling like a would-be Russian bride.
STEVE MURPHY: This one actually made me chuckle once, maybe for the first time tonight. An American has narrowed down his potential Russian mail-order brides to Katya (Megan Fox) and Svetlana (Fred Armisen looking hideous in a blond wig), who costs $10 less. A funny concept, and Fred Armisen and Will Forte really nailed it. Megan Fox did a great job of standing there looking hot and not really speaking.
DIGITAL SHORT: A DATE WITH MEGAN FOX
HOWARD MEGDAL: Ah, the random voice with series of non-sequiturs template returns! How wonderful. Megan Fox plays herself, yet seems ill-equipped for the role.
STEVE MURPHY: Wow, Will Forte is so awesome. This one rode entirely on his incredibly odd character, and he made it work. Super weird and creepy. I don’t even know how to describe it. More ‘unique’ than funny, but I always like to see those boundaries pushed.
G R A D Y W I L S O N :
HOWARD MEGDAL: Look, it’s that one unfunny character Kenan Thompson plays! This time, his name is Grady Wilson, but if he shouted “Fix it!” I wouldn’t have been surprised.
STEVE MURPHY: Sex advice from an old man, played by the almost-never-funny Kenan Thompson. No thanks. Tempted to fast forward. Resisting, for Howard’s sake.
U 2 :
HOWARD MEGDAL: Eh. Like Zoë, I think they are fine. I don’t mind their music. I’m just not excited to see them. Guess it’s better than Kelly Clarkson…
STEVE MURPHY: I guess this could have been worse. I have a feeling that if the rest of the show was funnier, I might have wanted this to end sooner.
W E E K E N D U P D A T E :
HOWARD MEGDAL: Wow, even this, my favorite part of the show normally, was a bit weak. Perhaps coming up with material Thursday AND Saturday left very little for them- understandable, but why have the Thursday show then? Judy Grimes talks very quickly, but her humor is empty calories of a meal that tastes sour. As dearly departed Michaela Watkins would say…
STEVE MURPHY: I guess Amy Poehler’s only doing the Thursday night shows? That’s unfortunate. In good news, Seth Meyers had me actually laughing aloud for the first time tonight. Jean K. Jean never fails to entertain me, I was very glad to see him rolling the first chair out. And then Kristin Wiig as travel writer Judy Grimes (the “just kidding” lady) another of my Update favorites! Overall, an oasis in a desert of not-even-close-to-entertaining.
L I V E L O U N G E :
HOWARD MEGDAL: Here’s an idea! Since Megan Fox is a brutally unfunny actress who unconvincingly reads lines as if from cue cards, let’s make her a late night phone chat commercial frontperson, who does exactly that! Still, Bill Hader… tremendous. Face made me laugh in an otherwise forgettable sketch.
STEVE MURPHY: A moderately funny idea done moderately well. I find myself looking forward to the commercials. As Howard said, Bill Hader, who stood perfectly still for 5 seconds while making a funny face, was the funniest part of this by far.
U 2 :
HOWARD MEGDAL: See earlier song.
STEVE MURPHY: I actually enjoyed this song. Could have done without the spoken word sections, but pretty nice overall.
B I K E R C H A T :
HOWARD MEGDAL: I freakin’ hated this. I’d use stronger language, but I don’t want to be fined by the FCC. Oh, and things I didn’t say when I first saw Jenny Slate: “That looks just like Charles Rocket!” But again, SNL: what is your target? That uneducated biker women sound… uneducated? Just don’t see it. One final note on the replacements- Watkins was expendable, but Casey Wilson has talent. I hope we haven’t seen the last of her, and SNL badly underutilized her.
STEVE MURPHY: Finally, the one where the new girl says ‘fuck.’ What I didn’t read in all the news stories was that every other word in the sketch was ‘friggin.’ So the use of ‘fucking’ kinda just sailed by me. Might not have even noticed if it hadn’t been such a headline. But this sketch… do ‘biker chicks’ (whatever that even means) say ‘friggin’ a lot? I don’t get it. As to the new girls in the cast, I’ll need more time before passing judgment. I disagree with Howard about Casey Wilson, who always looked like she was trying to act instead of just acting, I never liked her and was glad to see the two of them go.
T R A N S F O R M E R S D I G I T A L S H O R T :
HOWARD MEGDAL: Maybe this is funny if you saw Transformers. I didn’t, and it wasn’t.
STEVE MURPHY: Ok, this is the kind of comedy I really like, and I’d be willing to bet Andy Samberg wrote it. Totally hilarious. And a surprise cameo from David Silver! I recommend watching this one (and pretty much none of the other videos).
YOUR MOM TALKS TO MEGAN FOX:
HOWARD MEGDAL: Not only did I not enjoy this, but it made me miss Don Pardo. In short: WORST EPISODE IN YEARS.
STEVE MURPHY: I’m just glad this sketch is tied to Megan Fox hosting so I never have to see it again. This was just horrible, horrible, horribe writing. It was pretty much joke-free, and waaaaaay too long.
U 2 :
STEVE MURPHY: U2′s so famous they get to perform three times, and this time with so much fog you can’t see the band at all! But they do have a glowing steering wheel microphone that hangs from the ceiling and a jacket covered in lasers, so it almost doesn’t matter what the song sounds like. Bono’s got a great voice for this song though, I have to give him that.
CLOSING COMMENTS BY ZOË RICE:
I find myself struggling to think of something to write about this season’s SNL premiere broadcast. Mostly, this is because the entire show was a non-event. No skit struck me as particularly memorable, and even the SNL F-Bomb Scandal of ’09 passed me by until I read about it. After rewinding the DVR twice, I finally noticed the entirely unremarkable slip by new cast member Jenny Slate. If SNL was trying to send me off to slumber, it worked. I was bored to sleep.
Mostly, for this premiere, I was curious to find out if I would think the new female blood had talent. Nasim Pedrad, were you in this episode? I think I may have seen you flash by without speaking. That was…erm…great flashing. Jenny Slate debuted with her “Biker Chit Chat,” where she said “friggin’” a lot, except for that one oopsie. I didn’t hate her, and I’m guessing she’ll be more versatile than Casey Wilson, but neither was I remarkably impressed. Here was actually the one skit where Megan Fox might have had a chance to stretch her comic chops. If the writers had thought she might be able to tear her eyes away from the teleprompter, perhaps they would have given her more punch lines.
Which brings me to Megan Fox. Did the writers just not trust her? I did notice a few too many times where her eyes blankly seemed to stare out at what I assume were her lines. But mostly, she just sort of reacted. I got one laugh out of her, when her stewardess character sweetly told a plane full of passengers, “We have decided to land in the ocean.” I wasn’t bothered by Megan Fox. I didn’t think she was bad. She was just kind of…there. I wish she had spoken up and asked the writers, “Any chance you’ll stop staring at my rack long enough to write me something good?”
As happens too often for me with SNL, the opening act was the funniest skit. Moammar Gadhafi’s follow-up UN speech came across as clever and wacky. I particularly enjoyed President Gadhafi bristling at his rejection from Englewood, NJ, and admitting he forgot his native garb and had to find a replacement on Flatbush Avenue. More and more, I find that of the non-Kristin Wiig cast members, Fred Armisen makes me laugh most consistently. Conversely, Kenan Thompson only gets less watchable. He is a one-note comedian, and it’s a note I usually fast forward through.
As for the music? I realize that I am the one person in the world who does not care a whit about U2. I tried to make it through three songs without fast forwarding. U2 to me is the Megan Fox of music–everyone thinks they’re the hottest thing ever, and I don’t have a problem with them, but I just don’t get the addiction.
So what will SNL be like now, during a non-election year? Will Sarah Palin’s upcoming memoir mean we get more much-watch Tina Fey? Will Weekend Update Thursday get all the political skits, therefore leaving Saturday’s episode with the drek? Based on last Saturday, I’m not extraordinarily hopeful.
NEXT WEEK: Ryan Reynolds! Lady Gaga!
STEVE MURPHY: I have high hopes for Ryan Reynolds, who’s a pretty funny guy, and Lady Gaga, while I detest her music, is a born performer and puts on a fantastic stage show. The VMA performance of “Paparazzi” really blew me away, as did her (four?) outfits. I’m curious to see if she can pull that off in the small space SNL provides, but I hear she got her start in small clubs so hopefully she can really do something awesome.
HOWARD / ZOË: Oy.