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by Jason Nummer
Episode 3: John C. Reilly / My Chemical Romance (10/21/06)
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)
John C. Reilly has played comic relief to everyone from Dirk Diggler to Ricky Bobby. Hell, he was even Sasquatch in one of the Tenacious D HBO episodes back in 1999. Come this Saturday, the 41-year-old Reilly will get to take center stage in the world of comedy as he hosts SNL for the first time. Personally, I think he'll do a great job. The guy consistently steals scenes on the big screen, so I'm sure he'll have no trouble delivering laughs on TV as well. Add this to the improved writing and performances the SNL crew belted out during Jamie Pressly's episode two weeks ago, and we could have an Instant Classic on our hands.
Also making their SNL debut is My Chemical Romance. Providing promotional support for the late October release of their third studio album, "The Black Parade", I'm guessing we'll be treated to newer tracks (unless they reserve their second slot for a "greatest hit" ala last season's trend). I've never given these guys much attention, so I'm going into their two segments with an open mind. I know they've got extremely fanatical fans, and anyone who cites their influences as Morrissey, Iron Maiden and The Misfits can't be all bad. Can they? At any rate, we've got a great chance of seeing men dressed as skeletons in marching band uniforms. And what more can we ask for during Halloween time?
|THE GOOD||THE BAD|
The laughs weren't nearly as frequent as Pressly's underrated 10/7/06 episode, but a cameo from Will Ferrell, an awkward male swimming instructor and Samberg/Reilly's bizarre Harpoon Man Digital Short gave tonight's show a few standout moments. Starting with the monologue, Reilly did the predictable "nobody knows my name" routine often seen when character actors of his caliber host, but Will Ferrell (as James Lipton) did his best to add some surprises. This was the first time Ferrell had done Lipton on SNL since the wonderful "Stalking Billy Bob Thornton" sketch way back in 2001, so it was nice to see him back. Granted most of his Lipton jokes and one-liners were nothing new, but at least he didn't opt for another Celebrity Jeopardy sketch.
In the Digital Shorts arena, Samberg and Reilly unveiled "Harpoon Man" which was thankfully much better than the bland "Cubicle Fight" short from Dane Cook's season premiere. For those who missed it, Harpoon Man was a whaler in Alaska until "bad guys" killed his family. He now scours New York in vengeance, but as the announcer slowly reveals, he looks like a six foot tall midget with no wiener, is a bigot and may suffer from impotence. Very childish in the end, but funny none the less. Or did it just seem slightly funnier since it was surrounded by dryer moments?
Finally, Reilly and Forte delivered a swimming instructor sketch that I wouldn't be surprised to learn was actually written for or by Will Ferrell. I say this because the sketch played out very much like Ferell's Terrance Maddox character: out-of-shape man going for laughs by being half naked with tons of sexual innuendo. Maybe this was only top of mind since Ferrell had just shown up in the monologue, or maybe it was because Reilly's performance as the swimming instructor was just so Ferrell-esqe in terms of mannerisms and line delivery. Regardless, the sketch worked and the voice-over ending about gold and bronze changing places in the future was best.
In the 10/20/06 issue of Entertainment Weekly, Ken Tucker wrote an article entitled "Satired Out" in which he called out three SNL ripoffs currently on TV. Obviously the two main culprits are Studio 60 and 30 Rock, but the third was identified as SNL itself. He claims the 32nd Season "is playing out like a MADtv parody of SNL, with blandos like Jason Sudeikis and Bill Hader sucking the air out of every sketch". I have to say I took issue with Hader and Sudeikis being called "blandos". That is, until I saw Reilly's episode. Tonight was the first time it appeared Sudeikis was just going through the motions. Appearing in five segments overall, he seemed to be rushing his way through sketches while heavily relying on cue-cards. Sure, he was going to have a bad show at some point, but his actions tonight made Ken Tucker's "blando" description look right on the money. I'm sure Hader could have balanced this all out with his usually reliable performances, but he unfortunately didn't score much airtime this week.
Sudeikis also had a rant towards the end of the "Bear Shark" which poked fun at the segment for basically being about "nothing". He then added that if Bear Shark did in fact have undertone commentary about Iraq or human cloning, we'd be too stupid to get it. While I admired this epilogue for what it was, I couldn't help but think of the sketches tonight that were about Iraq or other current events. Are we "stupid" for thinking the Fox News Bush interview or Poehler's over the top Kim Jung Ill impression aren't funny? There is nothing to "get" about those sketches, they're just bad to begin with. And regarding Forte's George W. Bush, I hate to say SNL should stop doing Presidential parodies, but after seeing Will do this character 22 times now, it just isn't funny anymore. Some say it hasn't been since the 2004 Debate sketches.
Bear Shark aside, the other non-topical material which has so far been this season's best bet, didn't work as well as Pressly's or even Cook's episode. Three segments about eating Oreos (McMillan Family Moments) was overkill and "Lonely Jennifer", despite a wonderfully funny Reilly in drag, ended with just another man-to-man kiss designed for cheap gross out laughs.
Other missteps tonight included Hader only being used for background characters, Armisen only getting to flex his comedic muscle as a Dr. Evil looking weirdo named Robert in the "Lonely Jennifer" sketch and a bland Weekend Update (the weakest yet for the young Poehler and Meyers duo). I do give credit to Seth for the kick ass CBGB joke about not getting their security deposit back due to graffiti throughout the club though.
|THE BOTTOM LINE!|
Just like Kevin Spacey's 31st Season Finale, the host was ready to go, but a majority of the material prepared was anything but brilliant. I'm also very surprised we haven't seen any commercial parodies yet this season. I'm not saying I miss them, but they are such SNL staples. Were departed cast members like Parnell or Fey the only one responsible for these or something? What gives?
Finally, My Chemical Romance earned some credit too. Their first song "Welcome to the Black Parade" was worth three coneys alone, despite no skeleton masks being involved. It's also funny to hear lead singer Gerard Way sing about "when he was a young boy". Dude, you're in your twenties.
1. Cold Opening: Fox News Interview
2. Monologue: Reilly
3. Sketch: Colonial Williamsburg
4. Sketch: Doug Frangelo – Swimming Instructor
5. Sketch: Korean Central TV Presents Kim Jong Il
6. Sketch: Two A-Holes Work out with a Trainer
7. Music: My Chemical Romance "Welcome to the Black Parade"
8. Weekend Update
9. Sketch: Lonely Jennifer
10. Sketch: House of Carters
11. SNL Digital Short: Harpoon Man
12. Sketch: McMillan Family Moment #1
13. Sketch: Operation Bear-Shark
14. Sketch: McMillan Family Moment #2
15. Music: My Chemical Romance "Cancer"
16. Sketch: McMillan Family Moment #3
29 / 64 Coneys