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by Nummer and H-Bomb
Episode 16: Cameron Diaz / Green Day (4/9/05)
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)
So much of tonight’s episode was bad, so I’ll start just by focusing on the positive aspects: the explosion of cameos and Green Day.
After yet another Robert Smigel “Michael Jackson TV Funhouse” cartoon early in the show, Jimmy Fallon, Justin Timberlake and Drew Barrymore joined Horatio Sanz and host Cameron Diaz in a resurrection of the always talked about “Barry Gibb Talk Show”. While the cameo rumors were heavy for this episode, the selection of this particular sketch was a welcome surprise. The sketch itself played basically like it did the first time we saw it in 2003 with Fallon as the title character and Timberlake backing him us as the quiet brother. Despite feeling like a complete clone of the original at times (more than a few lines were identical), it was still very nice to see an old favorite. For those who didn’t like this sketch, let’s just give thanks it wasn’t a “Fever Pitch” themed Boston Teens. By the way, was anyone else surprised that Fallon couldn’t go a full year before returning to SNL?
Positive aspect #2: Green Day. The boys played two solid tracks from last year’s “American Idiot”. I couldn’t tell you at what point the trio felt the need to bring on an additional guitarist, keyboard player and supporting vocalist, but the group sounded great. I’m also not sure what happened during “Holiday”. At one point, Billy Joe has a line that included the word “fuck”. When this point came up in the song, it sounded like his mic was cut for a second. Either that, or NBC used some kind of delay. Just goes to show you that the man still doesn’t have a taste for punk rock. Damn the man.
Unfortunately, without the celebrity heavy “Barry Gibb” or Green Day, tonight’s episode would have earned a staggering 8 coneys. 8 coneys! To avoid repeating my complaints from the last few reviews, tonight’s episode was poor for the same reasons most of the others have fallen short – lack of effort. If it wasn’t for the prospect of a Will Ferrell hosted episode in May, I’d have no reservations about this season closing down early. More and more of the sketches are becoming so tedious that I’m almost embarrassed for the people on screen. Unless we get a 4th quarter creativity spurt, I shudder to think how this current group can stretch out their overused ideas over four more episodes. Anyone want to guess how many more Debbie Downers or Appalachian Emergency Rooms they can squeeze in?
Cast aside, this episode also demonstrated either a blue or lazy technical crew. Not only did they hopelessly butcher the names being displayed during the Pope Debate opener, but they also missed the cues for the censor blur with Armisen’s middle finger and later on with Diaz’s “flash” in the “Woo!” sketch. Sloppy Joes yo. Sloppy Joes.
Another gripe has been the current status of Will Forte. Apart from a few background or supporting characters, Forte has been severely underused the past few months. The last time I remember him leading a decent sketch was “Reinhold Investments” from the Giamatti episode back in January. When weaker cast members like Finesse and Riggle are getting more screen time than Will, of course the show is going to suffer. C’mon Lorne! Let Forte do another sketch about farting cows or speed reading to liven things up. And while we are at it, let Armisen play something besides old and/or gay men.
And what can be said of Miss Cameron Diaz? It has become all to normal over the past few months to expect less than stellar efforts from the cast, but Diaz turned in a performance that may have been worse than Colin Farrell last December. I would be hard pressed to find a sketch where Diaz didn’t flub at least one line (“President’s Bush” anyone?). Granted I wasn’t expecting an Oscar worthy performance going in, but tonight’s efforts made her first two hosting gigs look like total flukes. I’m also curious as to who thinks Cameron Diaz = spring break? This was the second Diaz episode in a row to feature a college spring break themed sketch.
Summed up, the Diaz episode was clunker. Apart from the two highlights mentioned earlier, it was a 90 minute variety show filled with anything but “variety”. That is, unless they changed the definition of “variety” to “an uneven comedy troupe relying on old sketch formulas dressed up in updated situations and/or settings”. Oh well, at least Maya wasn’t in many sketches.
Well, it looks as though the Cameron Diaz/Green Day episode of SNL did, in fact, decide to follow suit with the rest of the drivel we’ve seen over the past couple of months. Save for Saturday TV Funhouse, Barry Gibb Talk Show and Green Day, the rest of the show’s skits were merely average or below in status, which wasn’t too surprising considering that was pretty much the expectation to begin with. Despite the expectations, however, it was still disappointing to witness yet another less-than-stellar show, especially looking back at what Diaz has given us in the past.
In my mind, the majority of the material, ranging from “new” concepts to worn out bits, seemed more or less like quick and easy ideas to fill up the SNL time slot. Hey, the Pope just died, so we should do something on that. But instead of trying to come up with an original thought, let’s just reformat the presidential debates with a bunch of old, tired cardinals who can barely speak and call it The Papal Debates. And let’s also make sure everyone completely screws up all of the cues. Oh, and since we have Diaz back, we definitely need to do another spring break skit like we did the last time she hosted, but let’s make it a musical so Maya can sing yet again. Yeah, yeah and since I’m sure no one got enough pointless gossip during Weekend Update from the giggle girls, we should throw in some more with the craptastic Spy Glass. And make sure that Sanz is totally drunk out of his mind before he goes on as Gene Shalit. Ugh.
Trying to be somewhat positive about the show, however, I did take note of some randomly occurring funniness. While Diaz’s monologue started off weak, it did gain some steam toward the end, most noticeably with the emergence of Fey’s high school photo and Poehler’s remark about Diaz’s picture before plastic surgery. “Oh my God, do not let Justin see that!” Likewise, the Holland Tunnel Hotel also offered a brief laugh with its tips on prostitution: Almost always wear a condom – even when they’re doing it to your face.” Just goes to show you really can learn something new every day.
It was nice to see a slightly better Weekend Update, this time around, even if Fey and Poehler did appear to do most of the laughing. The jokes seemed more tolerable, some even enjoyable, like Cookie Monster now being referred to as Pilates Monster in an effort to promote better eating habits and Fey having to sit next to the lady breastfeeding a pair of tiger cubs at the airport. I could’ve done without the Dramatic Weekend Update Play, however, which really just looked like a way to get Fallon back at the WU desk.
As I stated earlier, though, the best moments of the night were undoubtedly the TV Funhouse cartoon on Michael Jackson, the return of The Barry Gibb Talk Show and both of Green Day’s performances. Robert Smigel once again demonstrated his brilliant comedic skills with his hilarious Michael Jackson cartoon. I, for one, would rather see this over Poehler’s impression of the singer any day. Who else could top Jackson repeatedly puking in a bucket over the notion of dating an 18 year old girl with the Elephant Man bones repeatedly puking into a bucket over Jackson’s attraction to small boys? The Barry Gibb Talk Show was definitely the biggest surprise of the night, and a wonderful one at that. I never thought I would be happy to see the return of Fallon on the SNL stage and this skit is probably the only exception. “I once gave a kangaroo a heart attack just by staring at it!” Although it didn’t seem quite as funny as its debut last season, it was still, without question, the best sketch of the night. Lastly, Green Day pulled off two great sets, boosting the coney count of an otherwise substandard show.
In spite of realizing that this show wasn’t going to be outstanding, the idea that this type of petty humor is all that SNL is capable of providing is just no longer acceptable. Looking at the calendar, there are only four more episodes left. Not a whole lot of time for the cast and crew to get their act together, but hopefully with the likes of Johnny Knoxville and Will Ferrell hosting, they’ll be able to end a mostly dismal season with some memorably funny shows.
1. Cold Opening: Decision ’05: Electing the next Pope
2. Monologue: Cameron Diaz
3. Sketch: Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
4. Cartoon by Robert Smigel: Michael Jackson
5. Sketch: The Barry Gibb Talk Show (cameo: Jimmy Fallon, Drew Barrymore, Justin Timberlake)
6. Sketch: Holland Tunnel Hotel
7. Music: Green Day “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”
8. Weekend Update
9. Sketch: “Woo! The Musical”
10. Sketch: Sofa Bed
11. Green Day “Holiday”
12. Sketch: Spy Glass
20 / 48 Coneys
19 / 48 Coneys