Sunday, December 21, 2014

SNL: Season 40 Ep. 10

SNL season 40 has really been on the money so far (the Chris Rock episode aside) and it continued this week with Amy Adams. Adams did kind of fade in and out throughout the episode, but another strong show. Onto the review.

We knew SNL would take on the North Korea/Sony Hack situation, but the way they did it in the cold open was really inventive. At first Taran Killam appeared as Sam Smith in "A Very Somber Christmas"....but was quickly replaced by.......Dr. Evil! "1 Million Dollars. muhahaha". Dr. Evil (Mike Myers) then went on a monologue of how silly it is to be offended by Sony. 

The monologue was your typical singing Christmas one, except for some reason it had to feature Kritstin Wiig (her 2nd time appearing in a monologue this season). All in all, it was pretty plain.

Next was an ad (that looked incredibly real for a minute) for an Asian American Doll....trying to be as politically correct as possible. This was pretty spot on, including the end where the ad fell apart because they included a dog.

Asian American Doll

The next skit was "Tenderfield Christmas Card" youtube form. It was trying to spoof the viral family videos that come up this time of the year, with the rise of youtube. It was pretty bland overall, although the children (Kyle Mooney and Kate McKinnon) saved this from falling completely flat.

It was about time. Next was the 2nd season of "Serial"...the Christmas edition. How did Kris deliver the toy to that child? The formatting of this was terrific. Cecily Strong in particular, was spot on as Sarah Koenig. You probably need to see Serial (I've just started) to get the full sense of it, but this was a really good parody.

The Girlfriend talkshow made its return, with Strong and Aidy Bryant. It was going on alright...until it was apparent that this was just a vehicle to feature One Direction. It wasn't as clever a vehicle as a couple weeks ago with Nicki Minaj (who stole the spotlight from James Franco). This was just substandard.

Jay Pharoah and Pete Davidson were featured in an "Office Party" Christmas music video. There were some good elements here (McKinnon especially), but again, this just fell kind of flat and predictable.

Weekend Update was fairly strong....well at least Michael Che was. I still have my doubts on Colin Jost, who just doesn't have his own persona on Update. He keeps trying to be like Seth Meyers. Only Leslie Jones seems to be able to take Jost out of it.

Bobby Moynihan appeared as Kim Jong Un.....and it was fairly clever how they did this. Jost broke the 4th wall saying how he didn't think this was a good idea. Moynihan kept up the character....until red sniper targets appeared on him

Bobby Moynihan as Kim Jong Un

Kenan Thompson appeared as Che's neighbor Willie, to talk about the holiday season. Willie has his spirits up...but things aren't going well for him. Pretty predictable.

The reason Wiig was here....for Garth & Kat (along with Fred Armisen). Its been a while since we've seen these characters, so the spontaneity of it worked well. They had great chemistry with Che.

Garth & Kat

The post Update skit was "A Very Cuban Christmas". This was all over the place (but with a few good ideas thrown in there). Armisen came back to play Raul Castro. Pharoah was also featured as President Obama. The best though was McKinnon as Diana Nyad, throwing "shade" at Elian Gonzalez (Davidson) for how he crossed on a boat. That was pretty much the best and only humorous moment of this skit.

The best skit of the show....and one of the best of the year, was "A Magical Christmas". Moynihan and Mooney were great here as old-time 1940s characters. That pairing is really starting to take form. Three "dames" appeared to woo them...(Strong/Mckinnon and Adams). Everything about this just gelled. Something doesn't seem normal with the three sisters, and then they place a bet with Mooney/Moynihan that if they can't guess the drinks they get....they'll "yum yum garbage", you know something is pretty off. You know its going somewhere, but you don't know where just yet. I won't spoil the sell at the end, but this was a timeless sketch (not relying on pop culture).

SNL closed out with a Cat Rescue skit featuring McKinnon and Adams. This was a reappearing sketch, but a bit of a surprising one. Then again, for a closing skit, it worked. McKinnon and Adams really worked well together here to bring it together.

Overall this season, SNL is on a really good stretch. In terms of Christmas shows, it may have been fairly average, but it keeps up a trend of consistency that Season 40 has had so far. Kate Mckinnon and Cecily Strong in particular had a really strong week (as did Kyle Mooney and Bobby Moynihan).

Avg. Score: 7.19 (each segment was scored out of 10, and averaged, including the musical act).

Bill Hader - 8.06
Martin Freeman - 7.56
Chris Pratt - 7.50
Woody Harrelson - 7.42
Amy Adams - 7.19
Sarah Silverman - 7.15
James Franco - 7.07
Jim Carrey - 7.01
Cameron Diaz - 6.81
Chris Rock - 6.52

Sunday, December 14, 2014

SNL: Season 40 Ep.9

This week brought Martin Freeman and Charli XCX in one of the stronger shows of the season. Freeman had real presence (unlike James Franco last week). Onto the review

The cold open was Charlie Rose (Taran Killam) talking to the pair of psychologists who helped with the CIA torture program. It turned out that they also worked on other things...self checkouts and that Cars for kids jingle. Being a longtime online radio listener, that "Cars for kids" jingle really is torture. Bobby Moynihan and Kyle Mooney really had chemistry as the psychologists. Overall, a decent open.

Martin Freeman's monologue was a straight up monologue. No singing, no questions from the audience. Thank God. Yes, his monologue was basically an "I'm British and quirky" kind of monologue, but it worked for him. Kate McKinnon and Killam appeared as Maggie Smith (in her Downton Abbey PJs) and Alan Rickman, respectively. 

The first of a lot of shorts/features was "Sump'n Clause" (Kenan Thompson). If you've been bad, don't worry...everybody gets sump'n. It was quite a catchy tune, but it did go on for a bit much. We would see Kenan singing again in one of the most bizarre/fantastic skits of the season.

Our first sketch was about a Wedding between Leslie Jones and Freeman....with a lot of objections. This was a little odd at first, but it really built on itself. Vanessa Bayer was great as Freeman's wife. "Why are you throwing our marriage away?". Killam was also brilliant as Freeman's doctor....talking about his....well....reconstructed "late stage jenga tower penis". And McKinnon closed it out as a random old lady/psychic. What really sold this sketch though was Freeman's closing line on his need for chocolate. So all in all, a pretty out there sketch (but as stated, not the most bizarre one of the night), but it worked.

Next up was a short, and it may be the best thing of the season. With "the Hobbit" trilogy winding down, Bilbo needs to naturally we got The Office: Middle Earth. The production value of this was brilliant meshing the two together. Killam as Gollum was unrecognizable, so props to the make-up crew. I would totally watch multiple seasons of this.

We went from that, to the stereotypical local news program sketch with "Right Side of the Bed". Cecily Strong and Killam had good chemistry here, and Freeman held it together, needing to dance for every promo. That, along with the fact that these type of shows (in Connecticut at least) exist made this somewhat work and mildly amusing (but without much of a point).

Another short followed that, with the "Christmas Mass Spectacular". Think the underground festival shorts of past seasons (with Nasim Pedrad), but with church. This actually was pretty realistic on most who are two a day church goers (Christmas/Easter). And that made this work.

Weekend Update was pretty solid as it seemed Michael Che was back on the right path. Che was especially solid with a hit on Dick Cheney and the torture report. 

Sasheer Zamata got a chance to be a guest on Update, talking about the diversity issues with Google/Apple and technology (emojis). Zamata actually made a point here (although she did seem a little nervous, which is acceptable being her 1st appearance on Update).

Cecily Strong brought in another long-named character to Update..."The 1-Dimensional female character from a male driven comedy". It was pretty dry and solid humor (if not done before).

And we saw Bayer bring back "Jacob" to discuss Hanukkah. "Jacob" and Che had some pretty good chemistry here, adding to the character.

Next up was an "Assembly Line" sketch between Killam and Freeman, much like one of those Abbott and Costello routines. It didn't really bring anything new to the element, but it wasn't terrible. It just wasn't that memorable.

And now, the "Pine River Lodge" skit. This may be one of the most underrated skits of the season. It starts off looking like a cousin to "What's Up With That", with Kenan playing a similar character, and Freeman as Fred Armisen's old Sax-man character, but then it actually had a plot. Freeman was worried about "Roman" (Killam). It builds and turns out that Killam stole something precious of Kenan's. The reveal here was great. Is there anything that Taran Killam can't do? 

The "10 to 1" sketch was a waterbed commercial featuring Freeman and Aidy Bryant as his wife and the company mascot. Bryant really made this work with her singing jingle and just general over-the top nature of her character. 

This was an incredibly solid show. Martin Freeman could easily be a SNL regular. He just has that British style of humor. A Benedict Cumberbatch cameo would have been great, but it would have just been an added bonus. Also, Taran Killam is really becoming the MVP of the cast. He's starting to get into the same air as the likes of Bill Hader and Darrell Hammond.  Overall, If not for the Bill Hader show (and the incredible Jan Hooks tribute), this would be the top SNL of the season.

Avg. Score: 7.56 (each segment was scored out of 10, and averaged, including the musical act).

Bill Hader - 8.06
Martin Freeman - 7.56
Chris Pratt - 7.50
Woody Harrelson - 7.42
Sarah Silverman - 7.15
James Franco - 7.07
Jim Carrey - 7.01
Cameron Diaz - 6.81
Chris Rock - 6.52

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Grammy's "Best Album Review" (Beck)

Its time again to review the nominees for "Album of the Year" (well, technically this is just the 2nd year I've done this), but anyways. The review process will be much like last year. Each track will be reviewed, followed by either a ✔(great track), an O (just okay/average), or an X(throwaway/poor). Following the review, I'll have the percentages for each rating. The raw score will come with multiplying the  percentage by 2, adding the O percentage, and then subtracting the X percentage. Got it? Okay. Here we go.

Beck - "Morning Phase"

(All video rights to Beck and Capitol Records)

1) Cycle

It starts off with a nice string opening. Very calming feel that builds upon itself. Its a good intro to "Morning Phase". (✔)

2) Morning

Begins with a guitar intro, slow and methodical. It features an interesting echo vocal effect that builds. Its a tranquil continuation of 'Cycle'. This track is really elevated with an intro like 'Cycle'. It sets and builds that kind of calming feel. (✔).

3) Heart is a Drum

It builds off of prior themes. There's some interference between the guitar rift and the vocals. It doesn't work as well as it did in 'Morning'. It does feature some nice lyrics though; "Your heart is a drum/ keeping in time with everyone". While the intro may be distracting, it does build and improve with real meaningful lyrics. Has a rather eerie ending , possibly foreshadowing future tracks. (O)

4) Say Goodbye

It starts off with a more traditional intro, with little to no effects. 'Say Goodbye' has a nice banjo/folk instrumental backing. The instrumentals play off each other. The track is simplistic (but in a good way). This allows the lyrics to play out; "See the street that rests upon/ The quiet street we're standing on/ It is time to go away". (✔)

5) Blue Moon

 It has a bit of a "world/soundscape" intro. A very lyrical song (but with repetitive instrumentals). Its maybe a little bit too simplistic. It does feature very powerful lyrics though; "Don't leave me on my own/ So cut me down to size so I can fit inside/ Lies that will divide us both in time". (O)

6) Unforgiven

Has a bit of an EDM/Daft Punk kind of feel for the intro. The instrumentals feel crowded. It does feature solid lyrics; "Somewhere unforgiven/ Time will wait for you/ Somewhere unforgiven/ I will wait for you". Overall, it just feels too muddled, like its trying to do too much. (X)

7) Wave

It has a nice string intro (a movie soundtrack feel). This track really finds a way to capture emotions (the strings combined with Beck's vocals). (✔)

8) Don't Let it Go

Takes the album back to a folk kind of feel with the intro. It kind of has a James Taylor - vibe. 'Don't Let it Go' doesn't try and do too much. It has a perfect blend. (✔)

9) Blackbird Chain

It has a very sublime/Nashville feeling (a switch from the intro). Almost has a bit of a Jimmy Buffett vibe. The track doesn't quite seem to mesh with the rest of the album, but its a good song nonetheless. (O)

10) Phase

Very similar to 'Cycle', setting up the back-half of the album. Its very hopeful sounding. Its not as profound a track being in the middle of "Morning Phase". (O)

11) Turn Away

A simple two-note guitar strum starts off the track, accompanying the vocals and letting them stand out. The lyrics are powerful; "Turn turn away/ From the sound of your own voice/ Calling no one, just a silence". Truly lyrical vocals. (✔).

12) Country Down

Has a bit of a similar feel to 'Blackbird Chain'. Lyrics include; "What's the use of being found/ You can lose yourself/ In the weeds hiding down river right next door". A harmonica is featured towards the middle of the track. Overall, its kind of slow and trudges along. (O)

13) Waking Light

This is a perfect closing track that wraps up nicely. It has a nice electric/synth guitar feature. This track also features some of the strongest lyrics; "When the memory leaves you/ Somewhere you can't make it home/ When the morning comes to meet you/ Lay me down in waking light".

Beck is certainly an acquired taste, but "Morning Phase" has a nice melancholy yet hopeful feel to it. Beck's vocals really mesh with the tranquility of the album.

✔ = 54%
O = 38%
X = 8%

Beck - Morning Phase: 138

Sunday, December 7, 2014

SNL: Season 40 Ep.8

This week saw Nicki Minaj and James Franco.....I put it that way because in the pair of sketches Nicki was in, she had more of a presence than Franco did. But overall, this was another consistent show.

The cold open saw Politics Nation w/ Al Sharpton (Kenan Thompson). It looked like it was going to get into Eric Garner and Ferguson...but it was still just mainly about the Al Sharpton impression. As a cold open, it was just fine, nothing special.

The monologue was really brief this week. Seth Rogen joined Franco, and they went on about the "Sony" hack, with "leaked pictures and e-mails of their own". Again, this was fine, but not memorable (despite Seth Rogen in his underwear, which, well, is kind of a common occurrence).

The first skit was about "Peter Pan Live!" which occurred this past Thursday. In place of Tinkerbell, they brought in Aidy Bryant's "Tonkerbell", which is a fun character, but gets old pretty fast. Cecily Strong did a good job as Peter Pan, really trying to point out that she's a "boy". Overall, as was the case for much of the 1st half of this week, it was just fine. They missed out on that weird/psychedelic crocodile. That would have made for a good sketch.

You knew it was coming, a Star Wars parody trailer. It mainly hit on how old the original cast is now (Franco as Old Luke Skywalker oddly kind  of looked like Cristoph Waltz). It may have been simple, but it had its moments, like Bobby Moynihan as Princess Leia trying to work R2D2, and the end with "Salacious Crumb" zipping around in a wheel-chair.

Next up was "MTV Jingle Ballerz", basically a nativity scene featuring singers/rappers. It was an ensemble sketch with a lot of impressions (which can get old quick), but this one worked. The "Three Wise Men" were great, featuring Eminem (Taran Killam), Riff Raff (Franco), and Rick Ross (Kenan). Nicki Minaj also appeared as Beyonce. The best for last, though, was Kanye West "Yeezus" (Jay Pharoah). 

A "Mike O'Brien" short was next. Yes, that Mike O'Brien. if you blinked last year, you may have missed him, but it was good to see him getting credit. The short was titled "Grow A Guy", and was pretty brilliant. Basically, O'Brien was getting mocked by his "friends" (mainly Beck Bennett as the main bully), so he creates James Franco. It all comes together in the end, and it truly was brilliant.

The next sketch seemed to be just a cheap "Oh look, 2 guys kissing, ha ha, laughs" sketch. It was about a troll (Franco) and a couple (Kyle Mooney/Bryant) trying to cross a bridge. Cecily Strong played some odd character tagging along with the troll. This was just horrendously bad.

Weekend Update was at its finest this week. It opened up with a real take on Eric Garner and Ferguson. Colin Jost really opened up and was at his finest throughout this week's update. Michael Che has kind of plateaued it seems, so its up in the air whether this pair will work in the long run. The jokes were really solid (especially Che on online girl scout cookies).

Update Part 1

The second-hand news man (Moynihan) returned, and he was pretty good as usual. Probably blasphemous, but I kind of like this character better than Drunk Uncle. He's just so wacky and out there.

2nd hand news man

Once more, Leslie Jones "Relationship Expert" came back. Leslie always hits this out of the park. She has a lot of chemistry with Jost (kind of like what Stefon had with Seth Meyers)

Leslie Jones

Nicki Minaj again made an appearance (this time for Update), as Kim Kardashian explaining her photos for "Paper" Magazine. It was kind of "meh", and didn't really go anywhere.

On deck was a pretty odd "pop culture" sketch, but it really worked. Its main plot was that this young guy (Pete Davidson) needed to clear his brain for a new password, so James Franco acting as the director of it set out to clear out random pop culture references (like Savage Garden, or Billy Zane from "Titanic"). Nicki Minaj appeared as an "Anaconda" music video memory, and she wasn't going away. (video unavailable)

Next was a mayoral recall ad, where Franco played a former mayor who was voted out of office by a kid. It was sort of juvenile (with Franco's rant), but more or less it was amusing (Sidenote: My mayor should enjoy "Frozen", sorry Franco).

Finally, the former "porn stars" returned (Vanessa Bayer/Strong). This time, they were pitching "Sunseeker Yachts". The way they kept on mispronouncing "yacht" was amusing enough for this last sketch. James Franco and Seth Rogen came in later on. The innuendos...aren't really innuendos for this sketch anymore, but it still works (considering it was the first time its appeared this season).

This was kind of an odd show overall. It had a lot of great elements, but it didn't really connect. As I mentioned in the beginning, James Franco was kind of overshadowed by Nicki Minaj (who would make a fine host sometime). Franco really needed that political ad sketch as a showcase. Altogether, it was a solid show, though the 2nd half out-shined the 1st.

Avg. Score: 7.07 (each segment was scored out of 10, and averaged, including the musical act).

Bill Hader - 8.06
Chris Pratt - 7.50
Woody Harrelson - 7.42
Sarah Silverman - 7.15
James Franco - 7.07
Jim Carrey - 7.01
Cameron Diaz - 6.81
Chris Rock - 6.52

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

An Infringing Tradition

Thanksgiving has traditionally been about family, giving thanks, along with of course food, parades....and football. A new tradition has been creeping in over the past decade or so......Black Friday....which frequently has been starting on Thanksgiving day. Target, Wal-Mart, Big Lots are just a few stores that have been opening their doors earlier and earlier (ex: K-Mart will be open at 6am, JC Penny's at 5pm), quite an unwelcome tradition for many.

For a holiday supposedly about family and "togetherness", that's being taken away from a countless amount of employees. Employees being forced to cut their holiday short, for  the company's top dollar. So why not just take the day off? Because that's not a possibility for many, including K-Mart employees   . Those trying to actually get the holiday off are threatened with layoffs. Employees ultimately have "little control".

Some of those workers can't afford to be out of work. With families to provide for, they need the extra wages (as they're being paid at or near the minimum wage). Therefore, they can't risk their job by asking for the day off, knowing that in response they could lose their job. So with the companies knowing that most of their employees can't afford to be without work, they open up earlier and earlier, with increasing sales.

"Thankfully", some stores are restoring what Thanksgiving is supposed to be. T.J Maxx and Home Depot both announced that they'll be closed Thursday. According to the USA Today, those 2 aren't the only stores closing their doors on Thanksgiving. 

Here's a list of other stores that will not be open on Thanksgiving, according to news reports and company statements:
Ace Hardware
Barnes & Noble
Crate and Barrel
Neiman Marcus
Bed Bath & Beyond
Burlington Coat Factory

So who will win the struggle here? Well, who knows at this point. As long as stores open, people will line up, camp out for that HDTV or that Laptop. So what ultimately matters more to executives? The Bottom Dollar? The Tents lined up for that special deal? Or their employees, and their loved ones, children, and their time spent with them? 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

SNL: Season 40 Ep. 7

This week's SNL certainly had its highs and lows (but better live skits). A few cast-members really shined, so lets get into it.

The cold open was easily the greatest cold open of the season, and likely the best political skit of the season. It saw a "schoolhouse rock" segment about a bill....and an executive order. Jay Pharoah as Obama kicking the bill down the steps was great, as was Bobby Moynihan's portrayal of the executive order which "just kind of happens"

This excellent cold open made up for an absolutely dreadful monologue from Cameron Diaz. If it isn't a musical monologue, its a "take questions from the audience" one. It wasn't even clever or unique, just scattered and all over the place. Best to forget about this one.

The "Back Home Baller" girls returned (from last year's Christmas episode twin bed short). Aidy Bryant and Leslie Jones made this passable, but overall it was just okay (although bringing back Jean and actually showing her was great).

This next sketch was pretty promotional "An HBO first look at Annie". While it may not have gone anywhere, it still had great interactions with Vanessa Bayer and Leslie Jones, both as Annie, along with Pharoah as Jamie Foxx. Those 3 together made this work (even though Diaz was kind of absent).

There was a bizarre commercial for a "nest-spresso", for your chicken needs. I'm not even quite sure how to describe it. Vanessa Bayer was great in trying to sell it, and the dialogue was good, but overall it just seemed too out there (and I'm a fan of odd ball humor).

Next up was a High School theater showcase...put on by the students. It was one of those productions where the students are trying to preach or teach to the parents, about capitalism/sexism, etc. This is one of those sketches where you might have to watch it more than once for it to really sink in (sort of like Woody Harrelson's apple campfire song). But all in all the production-level was great.

High School Showcase

As for Weekend Update, I thought the jokes were really solid. Whether it was "if you want to know more about immigration reform, ask your grandpa at Thanksgiving", or "worst place for retirement is Loud Surprise, Arkansas". Michael Che waded into the Bill Cosby mess a bit, and while it was good, it could have been fantastic if he was able to go on for another minute or two longer in an actual rant (and it certainly seemed like Che wanted to say more).

Kate McKinnon's Angela Merkel returned, and while its still good, its starting to feel a little stale, without anything truly unique about it anymore.

On the other hand, Taran Killam and Cecily Strong appeared as Charles Manson and his new wife, and it was scarily accurate how Killam portrayed Manson. Killam really is turning into the MVP of SNL. 

Beck Bennett's office "baby" boss made its return, this time outside the office and at his home with his wife (Cameron Diaz) along with Kenan Thompson and Shasheer Zamata. It introduced a new element to this character, seeing him at his home....with his giant baby chair at the table. Cameron Diaz was really present and active in this sketch. 

Oy, I don't know what SNL was thinking. Some Animal Hour Brian Fellows ripoff with Kenan. Just, no. It felt like a cheap knockoff. 

Another week, another Kyle Mooney/Beck Bennett short, this time the return of Chris Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick was looking for a fight with Bennett's character. It wasn't anywhere close to the Fitzpatrick for class president short last season.

The substitute poetry teacher skit returned, starring Vanessa Bayer. This went on for a bit (although Kenan's "friends" poem was pretty good). Then Diaz came in with a rather erotic poem, so that was pretty much the bit. I'm not sure why they have this as a recurring sketch.

Another featured music act, this time it was the 2nd one of the night that saw Mark Ronson/Bruno Mars joined by rapper Mystikal. This was as old-school as they come, and it was terrific (although the 1st performance, 'Uptown Funk' was pretty good as well).

The last sketch was a take-off of those nightchat phone dating ads. It was a little all over the place, with Cecily Strong/Cameron Diaz and Kate McKinnon (whose character was probably the best here). It was amusing though, as far as late night/last sketches go.

Overall, this has been a surprisingly good season so far, with the Chris Rock episode being the only true dud. Each episode has had its moments, including this week's with some strong character sketches.

Avg. Score: 6.81 (each segment was scored out of 10, and averaged, including the musical act).

Bill Hader - 8.06
Chris Pratt - 7.50
Woody Harrelson - 7.42
Sarah Silverman - 7.15
Jim Carrey - 7.01
Cameron Diaz - 6.81
Chris Rock - 6.52

Sunday, November 16, 2014

SNL: Season 40 Ep.6

A week off to help us forget about Chris Rock, this week brought us Woody Harrelson & Kendrick Lamar in a fairly consistent show.

The cold open saw President Obama and Sen. McConnell having that Kentucky bourbon sitdown that they've been talking about. Things got pretty out of control as they went 6, 7, and 9 drinks in. All in all, it was a fairly good opening political skit, but could have done better to be really memorable.

Honestly, Woody seemed a little out of it during the monologue. He started singing about the last time he hosted (1992), to the beat of Taylor Swift. He was joined on stage and saved by his fellow Hunger Games cast-mates Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, and Jennifer "Taylor Swift" Lawrence. JLaw in particular was really good in this monologue (funnier than her entire time when she previously hosted SNL).

Next saw a promo for a CBS sitcom "The Dudleys", a stereotypical sitcom with viewers wanting it to be edgier, so it was, and it kept on going, with viewers continually complaining. This was actually pretty topical, with CBS just cancelling "The Millers", and looking to be in trouble regarding sitcoms not named "The Big Bang Theory". This also featured a great cameo from "Orange Is The New Black's" Crazy Eyes (Uzo Aduba). This was pretty good.

The first skit was an MTV show "Match'd". It started off not really knowing where it was going, but got its twist with Woody Harrelson (playing the host) announcing that Cecily Strong (as the contestant) was actually his daughter. Beck Bennett/Kyle Mooney and Taran Killam quickly eased up as the 3 guys looking to date her. The twist definitely saved this skit, and made it passable and amusing.

There was a short about NYC's new marijuana policy. It had everything (Stefon's voice). Woody Harrelson was a leader, looking similarly to Andy Samberg's "Ras-Trent" character. And Free Funyuns!. Was it stereotypical for a pot skit? Sure, but it was well produced.


The next skit was a football halftime locker-room speech, with Woody as the coach. He introduced new ways to tackle to prevent concussions (and Jay Pharoah's reactions were priceless). Kenan Thompson also was great as the veteran player coming in to talk (and being pretty out of it, due to concussions). It was a dark, comedic take on head injuries in football, that really showed the reality of the situation.

SNL brought back the ensemble singing thing, with a CD based off the Tony Bennett-Lady Gaga duets album, titled "Young Tarts & Old Farts". It featured Aidy Bryant as Meghan Trainor (how did it take this long for this impersonation?) among others. It wasn't as good as the Michael Buble Christmas version last year when Jimmy Fallon hosted, but was fairly amusing.

Weekend Update was pretty good, although the chemistry between Jost and Che continues to be hit or miss. Relationship expert Leslie Jones returned, and just owned it. She came on to talk about "crazy bitches". Her rapport with  Colin Jost is great.

Then True Detective stars Woody Harrelson and "Matthew McConaughey" (Taran Killam) came on. Taran's McConaughey impression is just spot on, and over the top. 

Next, we saw a skit in a NYC bar with a group talking about how much has changed over the years, the pizza places, subway etiquette......and crack....lots of crack. Crack was the main element here, with Woody's character obsessed with crack. He ended up walking out, with the group then approving of meth. It was pretty much a 1-shot/1-joke skit, but it did work for some laughs.

The skit that will be the bane of my existence, the campfire song. Right after watching this, I honestly hated it, declared it the only bomb of the night. After watching it again the next day, I must admit, I actually liked it. Basically, Woody decided to sing a song about apples to his group around the campfire (Vanessa Bayer, Bobby Moynihan, Leslie Jones, Kyle Mooney). "In the usual the usual the usual way". Too Many Cooks theme vs. "Apples", its on. 

The final skit saw the return of "Last Call", featuring Woody and Kate McKinnon. It brought what you expect from the "last call" skits by now, general making out and grossness (although shrink wrap was introduced). 

So with my change of heart with the Campfire skit, there weren't any real bombs this week. While there weren't really any true stand out "skit of the season" types (although maybe my love of the campfire song will grow), it was consistent up and down.

 Avg. Score: 7.42 (each segment was scored out of 10, and averaged, including the musical act).

Bill Hader - 8.06
Chris Pratt - 7.5
Woody Harrelson - 7.42
Sarah Silverman - 7.15
Jim Carrey - 7.01
Chris Rock - 6.52