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by Jason Nummer
Episode 13 - Forest Whitaker / Keith Urban (2/10/07)
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)
When I first heard Forest "Ghost Dog" Whitaker was hosting SNL this weekend, I thought meh. Then Jenn and I revealed a showing of Kevin Macdonald's "The Last King of Scotland". Whoa. I knew going in that Whitaker's take on Idi Amin had gotten him nominated for virtually every best acting award under the sun, but for once, the buzz was right. Whitaker's performance can only be described with words like insane, funny, bizarre, playful or scary - and that could all come from the same scene. Whitaker has a wide acting range and if SNL capitalizes on it, look out. This episode has potential to be the next "out of nowhere" episode, similar to Ian McKellen, early appearances of Christopher Walken or more recently, Jeremy Piven.
Making the episode even more unique is the music selection. With Keith Urban booked, SNL gives us the first country act the show has seen in nearly four years (the last being The Dixie Chicks in 2003). It seems like Urban's personal life (last Fall's Betty Ford Clinic check-in and the 2005 marriage to Nicole Kidman) gets more headlines than his recent music, so maybe he'll use this National TV gig as a start to reversing that. Can't say I'm a huge fan of the guy, but like last week's Lily Allen appearance, I'm sure he'll be better than some of the season's weaker guests: AFI, Stefani and Akon.
|THE GOOD||THE BAD|
After seeing him in both the dress rehearsal and live episode, I have to say Forest Whitaker was a great host. Maybe too much of what made the live cut focused on his singing abilities, but his mentally-challenged character on “Am I a Crazy Street Person” was totally best (“Let’s stop for Jell-O along the way”), as was his wig and hand gestures during the “Assagios” sketch. And although he didn’t appear overly energetic at times, you could tell by his monologue and during the closing credits that he enjoyed being an SNL host.
Not only was “Am I a Crazy Street Person?” a standout moment tonight, but so was “Sloths”, which many have pointed out may have been a nod to the humor found on rathergood.com. Thanks to this message from the Staten Island Zoo, America now knows Sloths will not only eat cocaine off America’s grave stone, but they’ll also hire dogs to burn down a hospital. Too bad NBC hasn’t posted an uncensored version similar to what they did with last December’s “Dick in a Box”.
Just one week after I wrote about the sorry current state of Weekend Update, SNL’s fake news staple managed to rebound a tad thanks to some well written guest segments. Keenan and Hammond started things off as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Their bit, commentary on degrees of blackness in African American men, has been done before, but they made it seem fresh. Their visual aid, which included Bill Clinton, was really effective and Keenan’s Sharpton impression definitely wasn’t as annoying as it could have been. This laid the way for Sudeikis and his wonderfully over-the-top portrayal of Astronaut Bill Oefelein. “Double Wink!” Couple this with some decent jokes from both Poehler (“she forgot eggs”) and Seth (“at the end of the pregnancy, she crapped out”), and you’ve got an Update that has finally taken a turn for the better.
In addition to his Update spot, and still riding high from his appearances in Barrymore’s episode, Sudeikis’ 2007 comeback streak continues. Although nothing tonight was quite as funny as his turn as Lonnie San Francisco in last week’s “Firestarter Brand Smoked Sausages”, he was very effective as the host of “Am I a Crazy Street Person?” as well as the mauled contestant in “Animal Planet: Man Vs. Beast”. Although I’m still trying to forget about October’s Bear Shark sketch, it’s still good to have Suds back.
Lastly, Bronx Beat was surprisingly funny tonight. When it made its debut less than a month ago in the Gyllenhaal episode, predicting it would be back within a few episodes was a no-brainer. With jabs at home brewing and bugs that live in your eyelids, tonight’s Beat was actually a slight improvement over its debut, but with Maya’s “I hate him, but you know what? I love him. He gave me my two daughters and my son” line appearing in both appearances so far, this sketch could get old faster than Debbie Downer.
Whitney Houston’s real life divorce was announced over four months ago. Believe it or not, tonight marked the third time since this news broke that Maya has felt the need to don her Whitney impression to take jabs at “Bobby B”. I just can’t believe this sketch made the live cut while a brilliant parody of “The Last King of Scotland” didn’t. The only thing that saved it was Whitaker’s mopey Uncle Tommy character – but even that was just an excuse for both Maya and Whitaker to sing together again.
In tonight’s bummed out category, we have Andy Samberg. His time was pretty short this week, if fact, it was so short he didn’t appear in the live episode at all. At dress, he had another “Moment with the Out of Breath Jogger” ready to go, as well as a bit part in the “Last King of Scotland” parody, but he saw them both cut. Apart from his role in Barrymore’s monologue last week, he hasn’t seen much action since the Piven episode where he “moved the chains” and brought out The Blizzard Man for a second appearance. Is this an indication he’s been spending too much time thinking up digital shorts and not live segments?
|THE BOTTOM LINE!|
An above average outing that improved slightly over the weak writing present in most of Barrymore’s episode. Whitaker may have been bummed he had to sing three times instead of playing a wider range of characters, but he still did a good job and will likely be asked back if the situation ever arises.
In what is a first in recent SNL memory, the next live episode was not announced during any of tonight’s commercial bumpers. Rumor has it Rainn Wilson has been tapped to host on 2/24/07, but I’m guessing nothing could be made official since a musical guest hadn’t signed on yet. Odd.
1. Cold Opening: Dick Cheney’s Valentine Letters
2. Monologue: Whitaker
3. Sketch: Bronx Beat
4. SNL Digital Short: Andy Popping Into Frame
5. Sketch: Assagios
6. Commercial Parody: Urigro
7. Sketch: Animal Planet: Man Vs. Beast
8. Music: Keith Urban “Stupid Boy”
9. Weekend Update
10. Sketch: Whitney Houston’s Valentines Day Special
11. Sketch: Am I a Crazy Street Person?
12. Keith Urban “Once in a Lifetime”
13. Sketh/Pre-recorded segment: A Message From the Staten Island Zoo
35 / 52 Coneys