The thirty-ninth season of “Saturday Night Live” has seen a lot of changes in its cast from the past few seasons, but really not much change in terms of overall quality. You take the good, you take the bad, you take the Drunk Uncle, and there you have the facts of “SNL” in this decade. It doesn”t matter if you throw up a seemingly slam-dunk host like Tina Fey or a potential wild-card like Miley Cyrus: the core elements of the show are what they are, meaning that there”s little in the way that”s going to change until the new writing staff figures out how to work with the new cast in ways that honor the show”s history while forging its future.
24-Hour Energy For Dating Actresses: Some commercials stress applicability to every day life. In other cases, we get something like this! I have no doubt that everyone involved with the show has first-hand experience with the incidents depicted in this parody. But for everyone else? Hard to say. I did plenty of theatre in high school and college, so I understand some of these jokes all too well. But it”s a very, very New York/LA sketch. It”s not as obtuse as “The Californians” in terms of its specificity, but it”s a little too insider baseball for my liking. Also? Why not have 24-Hour Energy For Dating Actors? Are they calm and collected? The fact that the comedian depicted as the final joke was male in this sketch gives off an unintentional but very revealing vibe. Am I reading too much into both? Perhaps. But the fact that I can read it at all means others probably did as well. [Grade: C+]
Black Ops Command Center: Some times, when you get hosts with tough personas, they go the opposite direction in order to derive laughs. (See Craig, Daniel.) Here, Willis plays up his action credentials in a sketch that parodies the normal maneuvers characters in war movies would make. It”s a good idea for a sketch, and the reactions by others to his increasingly graphic stories are amusing. But Willis” delivery is all off: it”s rushed, clipped, and semi-unintelligible. It doesn”t help that he”s clearly reading off the cue cards, making eye contact with absolutely no one else in the sketch. Moynihan completely kills here, although I wish I enjoyed this sketch as much as his character did. [Grade: B-]
Barber Shop: Pop quiz: How much better would be this sketch be without Willis in it? That”s not a slam on Willis, who does fine work with weak material. But the interactions between Thompson and Jay Pharoah are really, really solid, and suggest a lived-in quality from the first moment. All of Willis” anecdotes intentionally kill the momentum of the sketch dead, but it”s wholly unnecessary: Two-thirds of this sketch is comedy gold, and I hope that future iterations of this sketch (should there be any) take the time to develop just these two barbers further. Nothing else is needed. [Grade: B]