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by Jason Nummer
Episode 11 - Jeremy Piven / AFI (1/20/07)
CONEY RATING SYSTEM
0-10 Coneys – Garbage
OAD = Original Air Date*
(*To be fair, coneys will be awarded the same as they were the first time they aired)
"We're stuck in this piece of shit which I NOW OWN!"
Straight out of California comes AFI (aka A Fire Inside) to complete the bill. Apart from what I used to hear on Central Michigan University's college station back in the late 1990s, I haven't really followed this band. I do know their latest album, Decemberunderground, has gone double platinum, but if the music doesn't live up to the hype, I'm grading down simply on the eye liner factor with these dudes.
|THE GOOD||THE BAD|
Piven! Who knew? After last week’s phoned in Gyllenhaal episode and the hit or miss outings from December, Jeremy Piven came along with the best episode of Season 32 to date. Everything from his monologue, described by Uncle Grambo as “best monologue this millennium” to his angry laughter in the “Make-A-Wish NFL Announcer” sketch, everything just seemed to click for him tonight. Making the route even easier for Piven was the cast. Seemingly everyone involved, except Maya who didn’t appear in any live segments, must have gotten bit with some kind of inspiration over the past week. Even Hammond’s usually drab Hardball was fairy enjoyable and inspired tonight, despite a running time of nearly 10 minutes.
Gobbling up a majority of coneys were the pre-recorded segments. First up was Will Forte’s trilogy of MacGyver parodies entitled “MacGruber”. The gag was basically MacGruber needing someone in his team to hand him common objects from around the room in an attempt to avoid various explosions. The only problem? Those common objects ranged from dog turds to bum sperm. Bum sperm? Only Forte. I’ve been pointing out for most of this season how consistently funny Will has been since dropping the Bush impression job. I’m ready to take that one step further and say he’s probably having his best season yet. Easily the cast’s MVP right now.
Building on Forte’s “MacGruber” segments was Samberg’s latest Digital Short. This one was another poke at movie trailers (see the re-cut Apocalypto short from 12/9/06) called “Nurse Nancy”. In an obvious send up to Eddie Murphy, the fake trailer featured Samberg playing all the film’s characters. The bit never got old thanks to increasingly idiotic catch phrases the various characters had, with “Welcome to Baltimore” being my personal favorite.
Samberg’s hot streak continued not only with a return of his Blizzard Man character from the Ludacris episode, but also in an odd sketch about a Make-A-Wish child suffering from A.D.D. (in this case, Automatic Death Disease) getting his wish to call a NFL game on network TV. That’ll move the chains.
The last few episodes haven’t been particular kind to Jason Sudeikis and Bill Hader. They may get a laugh in here and there, but the hot streaks both experienced last season/early Season 32 seemed to be slowly vanishing. Thankfully, that changed tonight with Sudeikis delivering one of the better A-Hole sketches as well as his Urigro commercial parody (don’t we all want thick, ropey jets of urine?). Hader on the other hand, got some more face time as the town’s leader in the “Town Meeting” sketch, played one of the Langford brothers in “Hangmen at Law” and I’m also pretty sure Hader was the caveman in “The 1st Person in the History of the World to Dance”. Easily his most active episode in months.
Finally, nearly the entire cast was excellent in Town Meeting. A sketch about a town debating if they should kill off a unicorn that has brought them nothing but luck? Best. This was more proof that the funniest sketches don’t have to be rooted in politics or current events. Odd situations with even weirder characters should, and are becoming SNL’s bread and butter this season. They sure as hell seem to be then only ones you can routinely count on for laughs.
It seems like ever since the Benning episode last month, there have been more and more technical errors and on-air mistakes. Not only was the mix during AFI’s second song nearly inaudible tonight, but “The Blizzard Man & Common” sketch also suffered from microphone troubles. I expect the occasional boom mic or cue card on live TV, but when you can’t hear someone’s vocals for half the song, you’ve got to feel sorry for the band. Lord only knows what was going through the mind of their record company.
Speaking of AFI, not all the blame can be put on technical gaffes. Both songs were kind of lame. How this band has platinum records certainly didn’t show tonight. A Fire Inside? Some say A Fluke Inside. And where were those synth sounds coming from during the first song?
|THE BOTTOM LINE!|
Piven was great and the cast was better. After four shows in the mid-twenty to mid-thirty coney range, SNL proves this season can still produce instant classics. I mean Piven! Who knew?
1. Cold Opening: Hardball
2. Monologue: Piven
3. Commercial Parody: Urigro
4. Sketch: Make-A-Wish NFL Announcer
5. Cartoon by Robert Smigel: Fun with Real Audio
6. Sketch: The 1st Person in the History of the World to Dance
7. Filmed Segment: MacGruber #1
8. Sketch: Two A-Holes at an Adoption Agency
9. Filmed Segment: MacGruber #2
10. AFI “Love Like Winter”
11. Weekend Update
12. Sketch: The Blizzard Man & Common
13. Filmed Segment: MacGruber #3
14. Sketch: Town Meeting
15. SNL Digital Short: Nurse Nancy
16. Music: AFI “Miss Murder”
17. Sketch: Langford Brothers & Associates – Hangmen at Law
49.5 / 68 Coneys