The puns almost write themselves with Emma Stone hosting “Saturday Night Live.” Will her inaugural duties be “Superbad”? Lord knows there”s no such thing as an “Easy A” when it comes to grading this show. Often times, by the end of a bad edition, most of the viewing audience feels like they are living in “Zombieland.”
Hopefully, the writers of “SNL” have something better up their sleeves than what on display in the previous paragraph. Something else to look forward to: with the song “Use Somebody” FINALLY out of my head after repeated, self-inflicted punches to the face, the show has musical guests Kings of Leon on tap to probably put it right back in my head. Sigh.
Let”s see how the future Gwen Stacy fares on live TV, after the break!
“Cold Open.” Oh boy, we”re starting off on a bad note, with a political rally for Harry Reid. The gag: Paul Brittain”s Reid trying to distance himself from Obama, which doesn”t even make much sense if you know the politics. I guess SNL would rather have Kristen Wiig mocking Christine O”Donnell than Sharon Angle. Just awful. [Grade: D-]
“Monologue.” Male cast members playing nerds that want to make out with Emma Stone dominated her monologue. Not sure what this says about her ability to perform live but the SNL boys all did great work here trying to hit on Emma. Taran Killam”s Michael Cera impression was a particular standout. Again, the jury”s still out on Stone, in that this really wasn”t much of a monologue, but as a piece of live entertainment? Solid. [Grade: B+]
“BabySpanx,” Short, sweet, to the point, and way too believable for comfort. Some parents will watch this and demand that their local big box store start carrying them. [Grade: B]
“HGTV Dream Home Extreme.” Kristin Wiig plays an overexcited host, Emma Stone plays an underwhelmed winner of a $2 million house. That”s the sketch. That”s it. It lasted approximately 12 hours. What? It was only 4 minutes long? Shut the front door! When Jay Pharaoh”s blurred out junk is the best part of the sketch, you have problems. [Grade: D+]
“WXPD News.” Having seen the local news here in Boston try to outscare their viewing audiences, this bordered on the realism seen earlier in “BabySpanx.” The only difference? I doubt anyone”s going to go out and try this sketch”s version of “trampolining.” Bill Hader”s slimy reporter was a standout, with the other parties perfectly fine but given very little to do. Now, I have to go and tell my mother not to be afraid of Skype, which I ironically downloaded onto her new laptop today. [Grade: B]
“Digital Short.” I still haven”t gotten that bottle of sparkling apple juice sent to my house, but I want me some “Grape Jelly” ASAP. Easily the best Digital Short so far this season, not only for Emma Stone turning into the teen pop version of Monty Python”s Black Knight, but also because somewhere in the world right now Kei$ha is pissed off that she didn”t write this song first. [Grade: A]
“The View.” If you”ve seen one version of this sketch, you”ve seen them all. It”s one of those “Mad Lib” sketches in which a few new words are thrown into the last iteration, with that week”s guest tossed in to make it seem fresh. Emma as Lindsey Lohan? Should have been a slam dunk. (An obvious slam dunk, but I”ll take my slam dunks where I can on this show.) But her impression was God awful, there seem to be some prop malfunctions, and only Nasim Pedrad”s thrill at ending the sketch seemed palpable. Totally schizophrenic show so far in terms of overall quality. [Grade: C-]
“Wrangler Open Fly Jeans.” Like you didn”t see this coming a mile away. Well, considering the topic of the sketch, I guess you”d have to look really close, now wouldn”t you? (This episode is just blurred junk happy. Yikes. Is there a Greg Oden sketch on the way?) [Grade: C]
Kings of Leon took the stage next, with their new single “Radioactive.” Couldn”t tell if the vocal mix was off, or if it”s supposed to be that low in the mix. If you like Kings of Leon, you probably like this song. If you weren”t sold on the band before this performance, you”re probably not rushing to iTunes to grab their back catalog. Mileage may vary on this band, though the crowd seemed to eat it up, if the applause was any indication. A little Leon goes a long way with me, but I dig their rhythm section, and double drum action always gets a thumbs up from me. [Grade: B]
“Weekend Update.” Seth did his Seth thing, but it was the guests that made this iteration a stand out. Jimmy McMillan of the “Rent is Too Damn High” party was pretty much an SNL character in and of himself, even without Kenan Thompson”s take. John Mulaney”s second appearance on “Update” killed as much as his first time, even while his “I Love It” segment ruined parts of “Mad Men” I didn”t know COULD be ruined. As for Bill Hader”s Stefon: move over Bruno, I want a Stefon movie NOW. Filled with Furkels. [Grade: A-]
“Les Jeunes de Paris.” I can”t say I understood it, but I also enjoyed the hell out of it. It was just this side of performance art, but had enough internal logic to keep it from being completely self-indulgent. Still, I imagine a lot of people will point to this as their least favorite sketch of the night. Oh well. [Grade: B]
“My Brother Knows Everything.” Hey, it”s another sketch with Nasim Pedrad playing an overly earnest teenager! I think makes #45 during her brief time on the time. Saving this sketch? Emma”s best live performance of the night so far, as Nasim”s best friend. Really strong stuff here in an otherwise competent but nearly invisible performance for her. (By the way: is this the first time we”ve seen Samberg on the show since the monologue? Guess being a rapping puddle of grape jelly took up a lot of his week.) [Grade: B-]
“Ed Vincent”s Sex Symposium.” One of the best sketches Will Forte never did. Did Paul Brittain use “Sex Ed” as one of his audition characters? Certainly felt like a fully conceived character, not something thrown together to fill a few minutes of airtime. I wouldn”t have minded snippets of this spread throughout the show, to emphasize the infomercial nature of the premise. Also? Definitely better as a pre-filmed segment: this would have died as a live sketch. [Grade: B]
Kings of Leon returned to the stage with “Pyro,” which at first listen is a more ear-friendly tune than “Radioactive.” Nicely atmospheric, with the xylophone a nice touch to their guitar-heavy palette. “Pyro” has a Pixies-esque dynamic to it, which this Bostonian appreciated. [Grade: B+]
“Googie Rene”s Partially Damaged Halloween Costume Discount Barn.” I”m pretty sure Kenan Thompson is a fan of “The Wire,” since he was apparently doing a low-rent Clay Davis impression in this sketch. I do want to thank this sketch for giving me a good costume idea for this year: I was going to go as Opie from “Sons of Anarchy,” but since my wife isn”t fond of the potential facial hair that will ensue, I”m now going as Yoda with a Pot of Chili. [Grade: C]
Of the four “Saturday Night Live” episodes this Fall, this was the best, although that had very little to do with Emma Stone. She didn”t take anything off the table, but aside from the Digital Short and “My Brother Knows Everything,” didn”t really stand out, either. Still, as a top to bottom episode, there was more to like than dislike, which made this outing a relative success.
What did you think of tonight”s episode? Favorite sketch? Most excruciating viewing experience? Leave your thoughts below!