Sunday, September 16, 2012

Credit Where It's Due

The season premiere episode of Saturday Night Live was a lot better than I expected it to be. Very little of Crazy Eyes McKinnon, no more Kristen Wiig, and Seth McFarlane was mostly funny (although I fast-forwarded through the monologue because his crooner shit is unbearable to me).

There were two highlights for me.

First, Jay Pharaoh playing Barack Obama. I have high hopes for this, because Pharaoh is a funny performer and never gets enough to do on the show. I've never liked Fred Armisen's Obama, like a lot of people--he gets the vocal inflection right, but there was never any humor that came out of a characterization, like with Will Ferrell's Bush Jr. or Phil Hartman's Clinton. Pharaoh seems to have a better idea of how to make his Obama a comedic character rather than just a vague impression; hopefully, that will make Jason Sudeikis more bearable as Romney, though he was certainly helped by Romney just making dumber and dumber statements over the summer. They did a better job highlighting Romney's obliviousness, which is a much better source for humor than what they were focusing on before, which was his blandness.

The second was the puppet class sketch. Bill Hader was taught by some of the Henson people who to do puppetry for the finale of Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and it's nice to see him get to use it some more. The puppetry was excellent, and the sketch itself was hilarious.

Not every sketch worked. That Gangam Style thing is as ridiculous as most instantly-forgettable internet fads are, and I wish Armisen would retire that stupid producer character who tries to give advice on sex programs. (Though, honestly, I wish Armisen would just leave entirely.) I also wish they'd bring back "What's Up With That?"

Oh, and I dug Frank Ocean.

All in all, a decent episode. Better than I thought it would be. A surprising number of sketches actually knew when to end (and just as many didn't, par for the course, though that short Amish bit was hilarious; hey, as long as it gets the laugh, 30 seconds is more than enough). Just thought I'd mention it, since I talked last week about how bad I thought Seth McFarlane would be. (And he nailed Ryan Lochte; that was his personal best of the night.)

That said, I'm looking forward to Joseph Gordon-Levitt even less.

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