‘SNL’ Recap: Tina Fey And Arcade Fire (And Aaron Paul)

Senior Pop Culture Editor
09.29.13 105 Comments
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Tina Fey is one of the most beloved, admired, and respected SNL cast members of all-time, but the thing to remember is: with the exception of Weekend Update, she didn’t have much of an on-screen presence. With few impressions and even fewer characters, Fey was Sarah Palin…and not much else. This isn’t a criticism — she was hired as a writer, and eventually became head writer when Adam McKay departed, and had better things to do than play Background Dancer #4 for Andy Roddick (although she did that, too) — but it might explain why most of her characters from last night could be described as “Tina Fey-esque,” if she wasn’t already playing “Tina Fey” herself.

Fey was asked to host the premiere to usher in a new era for SNL, one with six new cast members and without Bill Hader, Fred Armisen, and Jason Sudeikis. Her mere presence was reassuring, and she often held back, letting others own the spotlight in a fine episode that felt too safe and unable to surprise. Except for Blerta. Long live Blerta.

Cold Open

An inauspicious beginning to an uncertain season. Not even Kate McKinnon (WE DEMAND MORE KATE MCKINNON) or Aaron Paul could save this corpse of a cold open choking on its own vomit. OK, that may have been a bit harsh, but didja hear the Breaking Bad finale is on tonight? Sorry we haven’t covered it more.


Meet the newbies: Beck Bennett, John Milhiser, Kyle Mooney, Mike O’Brien, Noël Wells, and Brooks Wheelan. Before long, you’ll be praising some of them, choosing favorites based on which one drops the first The Wire reference, and irrationally wishing others would crawl back into the pit that brought us Gary Kroeger. CAN’T WAIT.


Easily the best sketch of the night. Just as I haven’t been able to look at Homeland‘s Carrie Mathison the same after Anne Hathaway’s weepy impression last season, Lena Dunham will now forever be “weak and soft and dressed like baby.” Blerta is the best thing that’s ever happened to Brooklyn, in all her heavy eyebrow glory.

New Cast Member or Arcade Fire?

Lorne Michaels got one of the episode’s biggest laugh with, “Is it the black one?” I’m not sure whether that’s a good thing or not. I don’t recall SNL ever acknowledging a new batch of cast members as head on as it did with “New Cast Member or Arcade Fire?” — it was sketch comedy exposition, needed, if a little tiring. Also, the Black One, a.k.a. Kenan, did a fine job as a game show host, but he’s no Bill Hader. No one is.



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