Monday, February 8, 2016

SNL Season 41: Ep.12




SNL returned after a week break with Larry David. Surprisingly, this was the first hosting gig for David. So....did he Curb SNL's enthusiasm? Onto the review






Cold Open: A Letter From Ted Cruz - SNL's really starting to hit home that role of Ted Cruz for Taran Killam. This was just a general introduction to Sen. Cruz, talking about his looks, mannerisms, etc. SNL hasn't had a problem on the Democratic side this year, but they just can't seem to cover the GOP side the right way. There's just something missing, and this cold open is a sign to that. (5.0)


Monologue - A good old-fashioned stand-up monologue, which tend to be the best. I feel like if you aren't familiar with Larry David or Curb Your Enthusiasm, this monologue makes for a nice introduction. David delves into the differences of being a "poor schmuck" and a "rich prick" and explaining that he's okay with woman dating him for his money. Overall, probably one of the better stand-up monologues since Louis CK. (8.4)




FBI Simulator - Oh man, this sketch. This is like late 90s/Early 00's SNL. Cecily Strong plays an FBI instructor while Kenan Thompson is on a simulated firing range, having to choose between bad and good targets....and then he runs into Kevin Roberts (Larry David). I have no idea how they came up with this character, but I'm so glad they did. David was at his best here. From his giant 1980s mobile phone, to the line "Can a bitch get a donut?", this was just fascinating on so many levels. (9.0)




Bern Your Enthusiasm (short) - We knew a Bernie Sanders impression was going to come, but SNL made it inventive with this short. Combining the 2016 campaign with "Curb Your Enthusiasm", this played out like an actual HBO spin-off. As is often the case with SNL shorts, this was incredibly well produced. Cecily in particular really shined in her "talk down" role as Suzie, as did Leslie Jones and Aidy Bryant as defected voters. And just know.....Bernie doesn't do a cough and shake (9.5)




Steam Ship: A ship starts going down Titanic-style, and the women and children start heading for the lifeboats. That is, until Larry David starts making some objections...and demands they check for pubes. This sketch rolls along, and then Bernie Sanders made his long-awaited cameo. Sanders looks to try and unite the sinking ship. He has a nice little rift with Larry, including talking about "democratic socialism". This was a little surprising vehicle for a Sanders cameo, but it did work. All in all, Clinton (the SNL premiere) and Sanders have both made successful cameos this season.....(same can't be said for that Trump hosted episode...but lets just forget about that). (8.0) 




Totinos (ad) - A rare continuation, this was a take-off from last year's totinos pizza rolls super bowl ad. It feels the same, but then it takes a dark turn when Vanessa Bayer realizes that the guys are reacting to a blank screen. It takes a spin, revealing itself to be an X-Files promo. A pretty clever and unique idea by the writers here. (8.4)




(The 1975) - (7.4)



Weekend Update - Given the show's solid energy, Colin Jost and Michael Che were on their game. The writers must have been fast with rewrites, because Jost started off with a take on the awkward GOP Debate intros, which had just occurred about a few hours prior. 

Kate McKinnon appeared as "Sturdy Barbie", another new model that didn't make the roll-out. McKinnon just seems to be great in any new role, including this one 


Jon Rudnitsky (who? Exactly), made an appearance, joking about his somewhat failed season so far. He went on to audition for "Dirty Dancing Live", dressed as Patrick Swayze and all. This started off amusing...but then kept going and going and going.

Finally, Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson appeared as "Zoolander" and "Hansel", talking about political fashion. This was okay (I'll admit, not a big Zoolander fan overall). (7.2)



Intro To Song-writing - It was nice seeing Pete Davidson lead a sketch like this. He played a teacher teaching the basics of rhyming in song writing. It looked at first like this wasn't going anywhere, but then David's character starts going on about frogs and toads, which captivates the entire class. This was a sort of sketch that only would have worked with someone like Larry David. With any regular actor, this sketch likely would have tanked. (6.9)


Cam/Peyton - With the superbowl on the writer's minds, we got this sing a long with Cam Newton (Kenan) and Peyton Manning (Taran). They discussed their differences in celebrating and the like. It then took a turn when police showed up to arrest Cam for "dancing", showing the differences in perception among different NFL players the public has. (7.3)


(The 1975) - (7.6)



Last Call - With the right host, these are becoming the go-to 10 to 1 sketches (like the 'former porn star' ones). This was one of the better "Last Call" skits. Kate and Larry had some chemistry here. That, and the writing was particularly well-done. (8.0)



Larry David & Bernie Sanders brought a spark back to SNL. There just seemed to be a lot of energy from the monologue onwards. Here's hoping SNL was able to bottle this up for the rest of the season....and here's also hoping that Larry David gets to go on a nice hosting spree over the next few seasons.

 Overall Score - 7.73


Tracy Morgan - 7.94
Larry David - 7.73
Elizabeth Banks - 7.53
Adam Driver - 7.22
Chris Hemsworth - 7.20
Amy Schumer - 7.18
Matthew McConaughey - 7.13
Tina Fey/Amy Poehler - 7.03
Ryan Gosling - 6.92
Miley Cyrus - 6.07
Ronda Rousey - 5.78
Donald Trump - 4.92



Sunday, February 7, 2016

Coldplay Top 10



This year's Super Bowl Halftime Show is set to star Coldplay, also featuring Beyonce and Bruno Mars (and who knows? Maybe another guest or two). As I did last year with Katy Perry, I decided to do a top 10 list for Coldplay. Now, when I first heard they were going to be the featured act, I was a little bored. However, I then realized......I actually like most of their singles. I legit had a tough time narrowing the list down to just a Top 10. So with that being said, here it is.

(All rights to Coldplay/Parlophone,Capitol,Atlantic Records)


10) "Hymn For The Weekend" ft/ Beyonce


Their recent single, this is one of 3 duets on this Top 10. Coldplay have been known for their dynamic guest-star tracks.




9) "Viva La Vida"

One of the better lyrical tracks, this kind of anthemic song are what Coldplay does best 




8) "Princess Of China" ft/ Rihanna

At the time, this was seen as a pretty out-there duo, but it really worked out in the end.




7) "Adventures of a Lifetime"

One of their latest singles, this sees Coldplay starting to veer into a dance genre.




6) "Yellow"

From one of Coldplay's latest, to a more classic hit. "Yellow" was one of the first singles that really put Coldplay on the map.




5) "Paradise"

A beat-driven song, this is another example of what Coldplay does well.




4) "Lost" ft/ Jay-Z

A collaboration that maybe a lot don't know about; this "Lost" version with Jay-Z is just astounding.




3)"The Scientist"

This song is quintessential for Coldplay. A well put together ballad. 



2) "Fix You"

Perhaps the most moving ballad from Coldplay, this track really hits all the necessary elements, and builds up to a big conclusion.




1) "A Sky Full of Stars"

While you could make the case for "The Scientist" or "Fix You" being the best Coldplay track, I actually think "A Sky Full of Stars" tops them. It has that similar ballad feel of those prior 2 tracks, but also brings in this sort of EDM (Dance) element. Its the best of both worlds.





Friday, February 5, 2016

Super Bowl 50 Preview





The 50th iteration of the Super Bowl is around the corner between the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers. Its shaping up to be a battle between the veteran nearing the end of his career, Peyton Manning and the young rising star Cam Newton. So how will it shape up? Lets get to the position by position breakdown.


Kicker:

(DEN) Brandon McManus
30/35 FGs, 85.7%, 52 long, 5 50+, 35/36 XPs


(CAR) Graham Gano
30/36 FGs, 83.3%, 52 long, 2 50+, 56/59 XPs

Both kickers appear to be fairly solid. Even though he plays in the better kicking environment, I give a slight edge to McManus

Edge: Denver
           



Punter:

(DEN) Britton Colquitt


84 punts, 43.6avg, 22 in 20, 39.7net avg


(CAR) Brad Nortman
70 punts, 45.4avg, 20 in 20, 39.8net avg


Despite the altitude advantage in Denver, Nortman actually has the better numbers here. 

Edge: Carolina
             




Returners:

(DEN) Emmanuel Sanders


17 punt returns, 103yds, 14 long

Andre Caldwell
7 kick returns, 162yds, 29 long


(CAR) Ted Ginn Jr
27 punt returns, 277yds, 37 long

Fozzy Whittaker
9 kick returns, 209yds, 33 long

There's some questions about Whittaker's health, but Ginn can be explosive whenever he gets the ball. 

Edge: Carolina
         

         




FS:

(DEN) Darian Stewart


63 comb tckls, 1FF, 1INT, 10PD


(CAR) Kurt Coleman
90 comb tckls, 7INTs, 1sck, 9PD

Coleman seemed to be the more active safety in this match-up.

Edge: Carolina




SS:

(DEN) T.J Ward
61 comb tckls, 2FF, 2scks, 6PD


(CAR) Roman Harper
73comb tckls, 5PD

The more active safety here was T.J Ward for the Broncos

Edge: Denver
          



CB:

(DEN) Aqib Talib
45 comb tckls, 3 INTs, 13PD

Chris Harris Jr

58 comb tckls, 2FF, 2INTs, 6PD


(CAR) Robert McClain

7 comb tckls, 1INT, 1PD

Josh Norman

56 comb tckls, 3FF, 4INTs, 18PD

This is quite an interesting match-up. On one hand, Norman is the best overall CB from this batch, but the Broncos have more depth with Talib and Harris Jr.

Edge: Denver

       



MLB:
(DEN) Brandon Marshall


102 comb tckls, 2FF, 1INT, 1.5scks

Danny Trevathan
109 comb tckls, 2INTs


(CAR) Luke Kuechly
118 comb tckls, 2FF, 4INTs, 1sck

The inside linebackers for the Broncos are both solid, but Kuechly is almost like if Troy Polamalu was a LB, he's just all over the field.

Edge: Carolina
        



OLB:

(DEN) Von Miller


35 comb tckls, 4FF, 11scks

DeMarcus Ware

25 comb tckls, 1FF, 7.5scks


(CAR) Shaq Thompson

50 comb tckls, 1sck

Thomas Davis

105 comb tckls, 4FF, 4INTs, 5.5scks

There's some questions about Thomas Davis coming off an arm fracture. He certainly is a force at full health, but there's no questioning the Broncos depth of Miller and ex-Cowboy Ware.

Edge: Denver
               
           




DE:

(DEN) Derek Wolfe


49 comb tckls, 5.5scks

Malik Jackson
45 comb tckls, 5scks


(CAR) Charles Johnson
12comb tckls, 1sck

Jared Allen
32 comb tckls, 2scks, 1INT

The Panthers have a pair of solid veterans (but like Thomas Davis, there's some injury concerns with Jared Allen). The Broncos seem to have the more consistent pass rushers here.

Edge: Denver
         
        




DT:

(DEN) Sylvester Williams



25 comb tckls, 3scks


(CAR) Star Lotuleiei

22 comb tckls, 1FF, 1sck

Kawann Short

55 comb tckls, 3FF, 11scks

Sylvester and Star are fairly similar, but its Short that makes all the difference here. He's simply a force on that defensive line.

Edge: Carolina
        
        




OL:

(DEN) Ryan Harris/Evan Mathis/Matt Paradis/Louis Vasquez/Michael Schofield




1,718 rush yds, 4.2avg, 39 scks, 97 QB hits


(CAR) Michael Oher/Andrew Norwell/Ryan Kalil/Trai Turner/Mike Remmers

2,282 rush yds, 4.3avg, 33 scks, 61 QB hits


The Broncos OL will have a big test in fending off the Panthers and keeping Peyton upright, but they could be up to the task, Meanwhile, it seems it hasn't mattered who's running the ball, the Panthers just find a way to create running lanes. 

Edge: Carolina
       





TE:

(DEN) Owen Daniels


46 rec, 517yds, 3TDs


(CAR) Greg Olsen
77 rec, 1,104yds, 7TDs, 1F/FL


Daniels is a nice TE, but besides maybe just Gronk, you could make the case that Olsen is one of the most dynamic TEs in the league. 

Edge: Carolina





WR:

(DEN) Demaryius Thomas
105rec, 1,304yds, 6TDs, 2F/2FL

Emmanuel Sanders
76rec, 1,135yds, 6TDs, 1F/1FL


(CAR) Ted Ginn Jr
44 rec, 739yds, 10TDs

Corey Brown
31rec, 447yds, 4TDs

The lack of top flight WRs has made what Cam Newton has done this season even more impressive. On the other-side, the Broncos have a pair of high quality receivers in Thomas and Sanders. They may have some problems with drops (especially this season), but they're the WRs I'd want.

Edge: Denver
            
            





FB:

(DEN) Virgil Green


12rec, 173yds, 1TD


(CAR) Mike Tolbert
62ATT, 256yds, 1TD/ 18rec, 154yds, 3TDs

Green is more of a TE than a typical FB. On the other-side, Tolbert is power-back lining up at FB that's capable of those goal-line situations.

Edge: Carolina




RB:

(DEN) Ronnie Hillman
207ATT, 863yds, 7TDs/ 24rec, 111yds, 3F/1FL

CJ Anderson
152ATT, 720yds, 5TDs/ 25rec, 183yds, 2F/2FL


(CAR) Jonathan Stewart
242ATT, 989yds, 6TDs/ 16rec, 99yds, 1TD, 3F/2FL

I included Hillman and Anderson because they've both been used pretty evenly for the Broncos running game. They'll both be key as there are some questions on how far down-field Peyton can throw right now. Stewart is a solid back in his own right, but had a few injury problems down the stretch (but appears to be fine now).

Edge: Denver





QB:

(DEN) Peyton Manning
67.9 rating, 198-331, 59.8 compl %, 2.249yds 9TDs/17INTs,   6ATT, -6yds


(CAR) Cam Newton
94.4 rating, 296-455, 59.8 compl %, 3,837yds, 35TDs/10INTs,  132ATT, 636yds, 10TDs


This might be a different scenario if we were talking about the Peyton Manning of a couple years ago, but there's no doubting that he slowed down this season. Cam Newton though had a MVP-caliber season. He's a dual threat in passing and running. He's pretty amazing the speed he has considering he has the body of a LB. There's really no question on who has the edge here.

Edge: Carolina
         






Prediction: The general thought from some pundits points to a Carolina blowout. I think its going to be a lot closer than that......but still a Carolina victory. A high-scoring game would certainly favor Carolina, but you can't count out the Broncos defense which stymied the Patriots in the AFC Championship game. Of course its a tougher task to try and stop Cam Newton, which is why I think it'll be just too much for them in the end.


27-20 Carolina