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by Nummer and H-Bomb
Episode 1: Ben Affleck / Nelly (10/2/04)
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)
I have to admit this episode was better than I anticipated. Starting with help from Baldwin during the monologue, Affleck clearly established himself as legitimate recurring host. I felt he did a very good job as James Carville (Kerry’s Florida Hotel Room), DJ Rage and the mall patron keeping everyone calm during the escalator malfunction. That said, I’d still like to see at least a year pass before he shows up again.
The true standouts of this episode were easily the political sketches. The 12+ minute juggernaut opening debate was wonderful. Both Seth (Kerry) and Forte (Bush) successfully showed they could run this bit as well as Hammond (Gore) and Ferrell (Bush) did in 2000. The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ad was also brilliant. Who knew Kerry threw the swift boat’s engine overboard so they could get by on wind power, only to flip-flop and ask for the engine to be put back in? Even Hammond’s tired Clinton impression and Maya as a singing Teresa Heinz couldn’t ruin the Kerry Florida Hotel Room sketch moments later. I’m glad to see SNL returning to its political humor roots.
Low points of the episode were Debbie Downer, Dr. Porkenheimer and Camp David. What gave Debbie Downer so much word of mouth after its initial appearance last May was the on-camera laughter from the cast. Seeing them do the sketch straight this time around showed how weak the premise actually is. Hopefully we won’t see this again for awhile. As for Porkenhemier, I felt SNL reached a new low. Seriously, “boners”? I expect this type of juvenile humor from MAD TV, not SNL. Closing out the failures was Camp David. There wasn’t anything funny about it and the voyeur filmmaking style used made it flat out annoying.
I’m also still on the fence about Poehler and Fey doing Weekend Update. Since the Update set really wasn’t changed much as a result of the anchor switch, Poehler only felt like a bubbly guest to me. I’ll have to see this a few more times before I can weigh in a final verdict. Thank God Gandolfini spiced it up with his New Jersey comments.
Other notes: I thought it was odd the number “30” was nowhere to be seen in the title cards. Usually on an anniversary year, the SNL title is re-worked to include the anniversary number (ie: SNL25). Is Lorne embarrassed of his aging baby?
Finally, for being such an outspoken anti-Bush man, Baldwin did some “fuzzy math” of his own. He stated during his monologue cameo that he has hosted 9 times. In truth, he has hosted 11 times. You just got zinged Baldwin!!
Compared to last season’s opener with Jack Black, which ranked a remarkable 34.5 out of 52 Coneys, I felt this season’s premiere with Affleck was pretty bad to say the least. There were a few decent laughs towards the beginning of the show, but things really seemed to go downhill after about the fifth sketch. Overall, it seemed to be a pretty lousy way to start off the season, especially given all the time everyone had to prepare.
As I mentioned, the episode started off strong with the hilarious Presidential Debates cold opener. Albeit long, Forte and Meyers effectively pulled off their characters of Bush and Kerry, respectively. Even the makeup jobs were amazing! I have to say, I am relieved that SNL finally seemed to decide on who was going to impersonate Bush and I’m glad to see that they chose Forte. Other highlights of the show were the monologue (with an excellent cameo by Alec Baldwin), the Swift Boat Veterans Spoof and DJ Rage. In fact, I found the Swift Boat ad so funny, I ended up spilling an entire glass of red champagne on Nummer’s couch! As for DJ Rage, I’ve got to hand it to Affleck as he can really pull off the loud and obnoxious characters. I mean, what wedding DJ doesn’t randomly throw on Tone Loc’s “Wild Thing,” while the best man is trying to read a touching poem to the bride written by their dead mother?
Sketches I could have definitely done without were, without a doubt, Dr. Porkenheimer’s Boner Juice, Debbie Downer, The Mall and Camp David. Dr. Porkenheimer was just plain dumb, even for a commercial spoof. I mean, who the hell came up with “boner juice” and thought that would be a clever campaign? Equally ludicrous was Debbie Downer, which should have seriously been kept as a one-time sketch. It’s completely obvious now that the spontaneous laughter by the cast members during it’s debut last season was the only thing making it even remotely humorous. Then we come to The Mall sketch. With the exception of Forte’s fireman character falling off the rope while trying to rescue Affleck and gang from the stalled escalator, I thought this skit was pointless. “Stupid, stupid, stupid.” Right on, Affleck. Finally, Camp David rounded out the losers with a random portrayal of the Bush family partying at the compound via what looked like a hidden camera. Putting it mildly, it was a completely unimaginative and a horrible way to close the show.
As for Weekend Update with Fey and new co-anchor Poehler, it seems that Nummer said it best at the SNL party….”It’s just too much girl.” Of course, I will give it more time to grow on me, but my initial feeling is that this particular duo just isn’t going to work. However, it was Poehler’s first time in the role, so hopefully, with time, it will become more natural for her without seeming so forced and artificially perky. At least we were able to enjoy James Gandolfini’s rousing editorial on New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey’s admission to being gay, where he actually spent more time telling Fey to zip it. “Whoa, whoa, whoa…use your head.” Best.
Lastly, I’d just like to mention that I was sort of surprised to see that Finesse and Keenan were completely left out of the show. Granted, I wasn’t too upset about that fact, but I thought they would’ve been worked in somewhere given it was the premiere. However, from what I saw with Riggle, he looks like he could turn out to be pretty funny. He actually kind of reminds me of Puddy from Seinfeld, which a good thing in my book!
1. Cold Opening: Presidential Debate
2. Monologue: Affleck (cameo – Alec Baldwin)
3. Commercial: Dr. Porkenheimer’s Boner Juice
4. Sketch: Debbie Downer
5. Commercial: Swift Boat Veterans Against John Kerry
6. Sketch: Kerry’s Florida Hotel Room
7. Music: Nelly – “My Place”
8. Weekend Update
9. Sketch: The Mall
10. Sketch: DJ Rage
11. Music: Nelly – “Can we Leave Her”
12. Film: Camp David 1989
23 / 48 Coneys
16.5 / 48 Coneys