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by Nummer and H-Bomb
Episode 12: Jason Bateman / Kelly Clarkson (2/12/05)
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)
During last week’s Paris Hilton episode, I made the comment that some of the sketches really made it clear that the current cast has simply run of out gas. This weekend’s Jason Bateman episode took that concept a step further by not only applying it to some sketches – but ALL the sketches. It is definitely a bad moment for the season when a song by Kelly Clarkson gets more coneys than the comedy the show is know for.
With the exception of Seth Meyers and Fred Armisen as Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles, there really wasn’t much worth watching tonight. That said, even the Meyers/Armisen bit boiled down to being just another male kissing male shock comedy piece. The next best thing was Sanz bringing back his Chubb Hottie character from the Winslet episode back in October. I was happy to see it back until I realized Sanz had failed to come up with any fresh fat jokes in the 4 months he had between appearances.
Watching the rest of the episode was a bit like being stuck in time. The sketches boasted new characters up front (Hammond’s Shaun Connery impression excluded), but the routines came straight from Comedy Writing 101’s cliff notes. For example, Finesse Mitchell’s “Important Moments in Black History” was nothing more than a repackaged “African American Archives” (Walken 2/22/03). Horatio’s Kim Jung Il was basically his Saddam Hussein impression with a different accent – although he did refrain from saying “bro bro”. Kenan and Maya’s “T.T. and Mario” was almost a straight rehash of “Ashford and Simpson” (Berry 10/18/03). Perhaps worst of all, “Gays in Space” was Futurama’s Zap Brannigan character acted out live by few people all at once – they even used a strikingly similar outfit. After this kind of stuff, some say Lorne has provided the cast and writers with comedy templates and sketch cookie cutters. Just add new faces, mix and done.
And what can be said about Bateman. For having basically grown up in front of cameras, most of his performances felt as awkward as Al Sharpton reading cue-cards. From his monologue (which Amy Poehler saved) to his first sketch appearance in “Monkeys Throwing Poop at Celebrities”, Bateman continually flubbed lines while looking nervous. Lord knows he isn’t the first or last to do this on SNL, but it kind of added to my overall feeling of the episode: why is Jason Bateman hosting?
On the other side, Kelly Clarkson did a great job with the multiple roles she was given. Showing up in two sketches, Clarkson (and her wardrobe selections) gave us a reason to keep watching some of the dryer moments. For not being a Clarkson fan pre-episode, I will say she almost made me forget “From Justin to Kelly” tonight. And who was that crazy guitarist during her first song? Was Radiohead not hiring?
Clarkson aside, come 1:00 AM it was crystal the episode could have used improvement in nearly every department. If the remaining 8 episodes of the season are like Bateman, waiting until the finale in May will feel like an eternity.
If I had one word to describe this week’s show with host Jason Bateman, it would have to be clumsy. Besides Kelly Clarkson’s remarkable performances, most of the sketches appeared very disjointed, with Bateman doing most of the flailing by flubbing his lines on several occasions. He seemed to try almost too hard at being casual and enthusiastic in front of the live camera, when, in fact, it only caused his deliverance to be more flustered and awkward. Add that to the once again lousy sketch writing and you have an episode that was far from memorable.
Crazily enough, Kelly Clarkson was the best part about the entire show. She not only kicked out two great songs, but she also got the chance to appear in a couple of skits as well. Granted all she basically did was show off more of her singing voice, but she was able to pull off some comedy in Rap Night as Sanz’s girlfriend, Olestra. “Did you have shrimps?!”
Shrimps aside, the only other moments that were only slightly humorous were me-harmony.com, T.T. & Mario and Meyers and Armisen on Weekend Update as Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles, respectively. Keenan Thompson was the main reason why I found me-harmony.com and T.T. & Mario even remotely funny. I don’t know why, but Keenan in drag always makes me chuckle, much in the same way that Tracy Morgan did. In T. T. & Mario, it was his facial expressions, complete with his super wide eyes. Normally, I wouldn’t praise these lame attempts at humor, but in a show chock full of lame attempts, these seemed to be the funniest.
Probably the most amusing bit of the night was Meyers and Armisen impersonating England’s most disgusting couple, Prince Charles and his long-time love, Camilla Parker Bowles. Despite the gross kiss that we all knew was coming, Armisen’s face as Camilla almost made it worth enduring the old, predictable joke. Leave it to Armisen to shed some light on an otherwise extremely dull episode.
These brief glimmers of comedy, however, were grossly outweighed by the vast majority of simply awful sketches that were presented. Monkeys Throwing Poop at Celebrities? Why does it appear that whenever the writers can’t come up with anything substantial, they rely on the antics of animals to make up for it? Finesse Mitchell proved himself a completely unnecessary part of the SNL cast with his Important Moments in Black History segments. Not only has the entire idea been replayed time and time again, but Mitchell couldn’t even contribute anything more than a “Hell no!” The cold opener and Rap Night once more demonstrated that Sanz is way past his peak on the show and really should’ve left with his buddy Fallon. With the exception of Rick in the Caitlin sketches, Sanz is only capable of playing the same loud, obnoxious character, only “mixing it up” when the role calls for a different accent.
Gays in Space, Subway Performers, Bill Curtis Recording Session, Public Speaking and, of course, the monologue only served to showcase Bateman’s uncomfortable and almost A.D.D.ish demeanor. By the end of the show, I was about convinced that he had jumped ship with the cue cards and just started making up his own lines. I could barely follow what he was saying most of the time. And apparently, I wasn’t the only who didn’t get Bateman, judging by that monkey’s reaction during the closing credits. He about bitch-slapped Bateman in the face!
Overall, had it not been for Kelly Clarkson as musical guest, this show would’ve easily been the worst of the season, as far as coneys go. Despite my less than favorable opinion of Bateman, after hearing about how great Bateman was, especially on Arrested Development, I was truly expecting this show to be better than it was. I guess Bateman is better off sticking with his day job.
1. Cold Opening: Kim Jung Il Press Conference
2. Monologue: Jason Bateman
3. Commercial Parody: me-harmony.com
4. Sketch: Monkeys Throwing Poop at Celebrities
5. Vignette: An Important Moment in Black History (#1)
6. Sketch: The Best of T.T. and Mario
7. Sketch: Subway Solicitation
8. Vignette: An Important Moment in Black History (#2)
9. Music: Kelly Clarkson “Since U Been Gone”
10. Weekend Update
11. Sketch: Gays in Space
12. Sketch: Bill Curtis Recording Session
13. Vignette: An Important Moment in Black History (#3)
14. Music: Kelly Clarkson “Breakaway”
15. Sketch: Rap Night with Chubb Hottie
16. Sketch: Public Speaking Class
20 / 64 Coneys
19 / 64 Coneys