Sunday, October 26, 2014

SNL: Season 40 Ep.4




This SNL had some fairly extreme highs and lows. Jim Carrey was his usual goofy self, and as for Iggy Azalea? Well.......yeah, lets just say less than spectacular. Onto the review


The cold open saw SNL mocking the new "ebola czar" hire. It felt rather forced, and just fell flat. Kenan Thompson was actually a bright spot, portraying Al Sharpton as the "only NY politician that would want to be seen with Obama", but not enough to save this one. The writing for political skits has really faded over the last season or two.

The monologue was rather, well, strange. Jim Carrey was dressed as "Helvis", a Elvis/Devil hybrid, singing about pecan pie. It was just, weird (but somewhat amusing).

There were 3  ads where Carrey parodied Matthew McConaughey in those Lincoln ads. The first one was solid, but the weaker of the 2 that were to follow. The 2nd one saw McConaughey with some random kids in the backseat (the strongest of the 2), and the third one saw a cross between the AllState ad and the Lincoln one.




The first skit was a Carrey family reunion, with Jim as himself. It featured a variety of his former movie characters, even a cameo from his Dumb & Dumber To co-star Jeff Daniels. All in all, it had its moments (especially when Bobby Moynihan, at least I think it was, came in as The Mask).

One of the top skits of the young season (but 1 trumped it in the 2nd half), saw a haunted graveyard trying to scare a young couple, except for Paul & Phil, who wanted to let you know that they're just good dead guys. Jim Carrey really made this work.



Michael Che was on point during weekend update, but more importantly, Colin Jost might just be coming into his own, so watch this space. The jokes were solid (prob. among the best so far this season), especially when Che talked about ebola panic. With all the romantic comedies on TV this season, SNL brought in a "romantic comedy expert" portrayed by Vanessa Bayer to banter with Michael Che with cliche romantic comedy jargon. Drunk Uncle made his return and it was a pretty good appearance. Was kind of surprised it took this long to see Drunk Uncle for the 1st time this season.


There was a "secret billionaire matchmaker" skit that was just sort of random and blase, although Carrey's "Illuminati old man" character was sort of fun.

That was followed by a Ghost chasers show parody, starring the newest cast member Leslie Jones. Her role as the easily believable homeowner was amusing, but all in all this fell flat.

There was a walking dead/high school zombie apocalypse skit. It was rather predictable, with Carrey portraying a father still caring for his zombie son. It wasn't intriguing or interesting.

Now for the skit of the show, an office Halloween party. Poor Aidy Bryant, she was "just a woman trying her best" being confused for a variety of costumes, but the stars here were Kate McKinnon and Jim Carrey who each dressed up as the young dancer in Sia's music video for "Chandelier". They then proceeded to have a dance off across the entire SNL stage. I don't know why this was stashed to the back-half, because it was brilliant.



The final skit was a bizarre Halloween emporium commercial thing, where Jim Carrey had been possessed by a demon. Not that interesting.

It was an enjoyable, but lukewarm Halloween episode for SNL. As I mentioned from the start, this show had its extreme highs and lows. The bright spot though continues to be Michael Che, who is shining on Weekend Update, and Leslie Jones should be a big component joining the cast.

Avg. Score: 7.01 (each segment was scored out of 10, and averaged, including the musical act).

Bill Hader - 8.06
Chris Pratt - 7.5
Sarah Silverman - 7.15
Jim Carrey - 7.01



Tuesday, October 21, 2014

2014 World Series Preview


Two wildcard teams will meet in this year's world series, the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals. In fact, with the old playoff configuration, the Giants wouldn't have even made the postseason, as the #2 NL wildcard. I'll do a position breakdown, followed by my overall prediction .

Catchers:
SF Giants: Buster Posey
Regular Season (RS): 147G/605PA, 22HR, 89RBI, 47BB/69K, .311/.364/.480
Postseason (PS): 43AB, 0HR, 5RBI, 3BB/4K, .302/.354/.302

KC Royals: Salvador Perez
RS: 150G/606PA, 17HR, 70RBI, 22BB/85K, .260/.289/.430
PS: 34AB, 1HR, 1RBI, 1BB/2K, .119/.143/.118

While Perez does have decent offensive numbers, he's known for his defense, with a 2.1dWAR and a 30% caught stealing percentage, but Posey (you could argue) is the face of the Giants. He's the overall package with offense and defense (Posey also had a 30% caught stealing rate). And unlike Perez, Posey has been batting well in the postseason.

Advantage: Posey (SF)


First Base:
SF Giants: Brandon Belt
RS: 61G/235PA, 12HR, 27RBI, 18BB/64K, .243/.306/.449
PS: 35AB, 1HR, 6RBI, 8BB/8K, .286/.409/.371

KC Royals: Eric Hosmer
RS: 131G/547PA, 9HR, 58RBI, 35BB/93K, .270/.318/.398
PS: 29AB, 2HR, 8RBI, 7BB/8K, .448/.556/.759

Both Hosmer and Belt are average when it comes to defense. Belt was incredibly limited during the regular season, while Hosmer showed potential, and has been raking during the postseason.

Advantage: Hosmer (KC)


Second Base:
SF Giants: Joe Panik
RS: 73G/287PA, 1HR, 18RBI, 16BB/33K, .305/.343/.368
PS: 46AB, 1HR, 5RBI, 2BB/1K, .239/.271/.348

KC Royals: Omar Infante
RS: 135G/575PA, 6HR, 66RBI, 33BB/68K, .252/.295/.337
PS: 29AB, 0HR, 1RBI, 4BB/9K, .207/.294/.207

This is an interesting set of players. You have Panik, who broke out in the 2nd half with the Giants, and the steady veteran with Infante. On the whole, they're fairly similar on defense. 

Advantage: Draw


Shortstop:
SF Giants: Brandon Crawford

















RS: 153G/564PA, 10HR, 69RBI, 55BB/129K, .246/.324/.389
PS: 38AB, 1HR, 5RBI, 4BB/9K, .211/.279/.342

KC Royals: Alcides Escobar




















RS: 162G/620PA, 3HR, 50RBI, 23BB/83K, .285/.317/.377
PS: 36AB, 1HR, 3RBI, 1BB/6K, .278/.297/.417

Crawford and Escobar are both solid SS's, but Escobar provides tremendous value on the basepaths with his ability to steal bases.

Advantage: Escobar (KC)


Third Base
SF Giants: Pablo Sandoval












RS: 157G/638PA, 16HR, 73RBI, 39BB/85K, .279/.324/.415
PS: 43AB, 0HR, 1RBI, 4BB/7K, .326/.396/.419

KC Royals: Mike Moustakas












RS: 140G/500PA, 15HR, 54RBI, 35BB/74K, .212/.271/.361
PS: 29AB, 4HR, 5RBI, 1BB/6K, .241/.267/.655

Sandoval is a slightly better defender, but provides more consistent play. Yes, Moustakas has found his power this postseason, but Sandoval is still a safer bet at the plate.

Advantage: Sandoval (SF)


Left Field
SF Giants: Travis Ishikawa













RS: 62G/119PA, 3HR, 18RBI, 9BB/34K, .252/.311/.393
PS: 26AB, 1HR, 7RBI, 3BB/5K, .269/.345/.462

KC Royals: Alex Gordon




















RS: 156G/643PA, 19HR, 74RBI, 65BB/126K, .266/.351/.432
PS: 27AB, 1HR, 9RBI, 6BB/11K. .222/.400/.444

Ishikawa has made a good impression in his return to the Giants. He came to the Giants this year from the Pirates organization, and has stepped into a brand-new OF role. However, Gordon has unleashed his potential this year, both with his bat and superb defense. 

Advantage: Gordon (KC)


Center Field
SF Giants: Gregor Blanco




















RS: 146G/444PA, 5HR, 38RBI, 41BB/77K, .260/.333/.374
PS: 44AB, 0HR, 3RBI, 4BB/4K, .159/.229/.182

KC Royals: Lorenzo Cain



















RS: 133G/502PA, 5HR, 53RBI, 24BB /108K, .301/.339/.412
PS: 34AB, 0HR, 4RBI, 2BB/6K, .353/.378/.441

Blanco has decent base-stealing ability, but has been slightly below replacement level defensively. Cain however, as evidenced during the postseason so far, has made spectacular catch after catch. He's also had a decent bat.

Advantage: Cain (KC)


Right Field
SF Giants: Hunter Pence
















RS: 162G/708PA, 20HR, 74RBI, 52BB/130K, .277/.332/.445
PS: 39AB, 0HR, 3RBI, 5BB/7K, .256/.341/.333

KC Royals: Nori Aoki














RS: 132G/549PA, 1HR, 43RBI, 43BB/49K, .285/.349/.360
PS: 27AB, 0HR, 2RBI, 3BB/1K, .259/.344/.259

Aoki brings patience at the plate and solid defense, but Hunter Pence is among the heavy hitters for SF, along with Posey and Sandoval. 

Advantage: Pence (SF)


*Designated Hitter*
SF Giants: Michael Morse















RS: 131G/482PA, 16HR, 61RBI, 31BB/121K, .279/.336/.475
PS: 4AB, 1HR, 1RBI


KC Royals: Billy Butler




















RS: 151G/603PA, 9HR, 66RBI, 41BB/96K, .271/.323/.379
PS: 27AB, 0HR, 5RBI, 4BB/4K, .223/.303/.296

The assumption is that Michael Morse will DH for the Giants in Kansas City, coming off of his NLCS Game 5 HR. Oddly enough, Morse may be the better DH here. Butler really saw his power sapped this year, and Morse has been a pleasant surprise.

Advantage: Morse (SF)


(These are now the presumed pitching match-ups, based on where they pitched in their respective LCS)


SP1
SF Giants: Madison Bumgarner

















RS: 18-10 (33GS), 217.1IP, 1.8BB/9, 9.1K/9, 2.98era
PS: 2-1 (4GS), 31.2IP, 7.96K/9, 1.42era


KC Royals: James Shields











RS: 14-8 (34GS), 227IP, 1.7BB/9, 7.1K/9, 3.21era
PS: 1-0 (3GS), 16IP, 8.44K/9, 5.63era

With Matt Cain out for the year, Bumgarner has really stepped into that ace role for the Giants and has taken off with it. As seen during the NL Wildcard Game, Bumgarner was just unhitable. Shields has been consistent, as he usually is, but Bumgarner provides the more upside in this matchup.

Advantage: Bumgarner (SF)


SP2
SF Giants: Jake Peavy














RS: 7-13 (32GS), 202.2IP, 2.8BB/9, 7.0K/9, 3.73era
PS: 1-0 (2GS), 9.2IP, 4.66K/9, 1.86era


KC Royals: Yordano Ventura












RS: 14-10 (30GS/31G), 183IP, 3.4BB/9, 7.8K/9, 3.20era
PS: 0-0 (2GS/3G), 13IP, 5.54K/9, 4.85era

Since being traded from Boston to San Francisco, Peavy has been steady and reliable. On the flip-side, the young Ventura has been impressive, but not without some hiccups in the postseason thus far.

Advantage: Peavy (SF)


SP3
SF Giants: Tim Hudson















RS: 9-13 (31GS), 189.1IP, 1.6BB/9, 5.7K/9, 3.57era
PS: 0-0 (2GS), 13.2IP, 8.56K/9, 3.29era


KC Royals: Jeremy Guthrie












RS: 13-11 (32GS), 202.2IP, 2.2BB/9, 5.5K/9, 4.13era
PS: 0-0 (1GS), 5IP, 3.60K/9, 1.80era

Guthrie has been surprisingly consistent this year, but Hudson is the safe bet here. He's been reliable, and has shown to be an important FA signing by San Francisco this year.

Advantage: Hudson (SF)


SP4
SF Giants: Ryan Vogelsong













RS: 8-13 (32GS), 184.2IP, 2.8BB/9, 7.4K/9, 4.00era
PS: 0-0 (2GS), 8.2IP, 5.19K/9, 5.19era


KC Royals: Jason Vargas


















RS: 11-10 (30GS), 187IP, 2.0BB/9, 6.2K/9, 3.71era
PS: 1-0 (2GS), 11.1IP, 6.35K/9, 2.38era

Vogelsong has been reliable in the Giants previous WS-runs, but Vargas has been a steady addition to the Royals rotation.

Advantage: Vargas (KC)


Closer
SF Giants: Santiago Casilla













RS: 54G, 58.1IP, 19SV, 2.3BB/9, 6.9K/9, 1.70era
PS: 7G, 6.2IP, 4SV, 6.75K/9, 0.00era


KC Royals: Greg Holland













RS: 65G, 62.1IP, 46SV, 2.9BB/9, 13.0K/9, 1.44era
PS: 8G, 8IP, 6SV, 11.25K/9, 1.13era

Casilla took over the closer's role in San Francisco from Sergio Romo, and has done a good job of it. Holland has kept up his consistent streak of dominance, shutting down the 9th.

Advantage: Holland (KC)


Defense:

Both teams play pretty terrific defense, but throughout the postseason we've seen the Royals OF's make catch after catch, whether its Aoki, Gordon or Cain. The Royals get the edge here.

(Lorenzo Cain during the regular season)


Advantage: Royals 


Bench

When it comes to the bench, it's an interesting case. While the Royals don't have many (if any) power hitters sitting on the bench, its full of base-stealers, providing with tough situations for opposing pitchers late in games.

Advantage: Royals


Bullpen

The Royals BP features a shutdown trio of pitchers, but the Giants BP is fairly equally dominant with some flame-throwers of their own.

Draw.


Last year's world series saw a break from the sweeps we've seen lately, and I think this year will see the same. With the Giants' and Royals' BP's fairly even, each late move and baserunner will be important. I see this series going down to the wire.....but I like the Royals in 7.




Sunday, October 12, 2014

SNL: Season 40 Ep. 3



Easily the best SNL of the season, and the same could probably be said for last season as well, Bill Hader brought his best this week to 30 rock (as did Hozier).




The cold open was kind of a hit and miss, with Bobby Moynihan as a gout-ridden Kim Jong Un. Moynihan really tried to make this work, and it did produce a few smirks but really nothing more.

The monologue featured Bill Hader's Skeleton Twins co-star kristin wiig, trying to get Bill Hader to sing (it tuned out he couldn't sing), but Harvey Fierstein made a cameo to encourage Hader. It was actually fairly amusing.


The legendary reporter Herb Welch returned. Taran Killam took over from Jason Sudeikis as the lead anchor. The interaction between Hader and Pete Davidson was really good here.





There was a pretty good fake movie trailer parodying the various dystopian Y.A novel adaptions. It went from The Maze Runner to Divergent and The Hunger Games (with even some Harry Potter thrown in). The production level was also crazy good.


There was a lackadasical Hollywood Game Night skit, because celebrity impersonations. Kristin Wiig brought back her Kathie Lee Gifford impersonation in a cameo. Taran Killam was a bright spot though as Christoph Waltz.

One of the top bits was a "HelpFund" PSA on how "$0.39 can save a life". This is one that SNL couldn't have done a couple of years ago. It really made you think.





Hader and Wiig did a tribute to Jan Hooks, and it was followed with SNL showing "Love Is But A Dream" with Jan and Phil Hartman

Love Is But A Dream

I usually don't feature the music acts on here, but I'll make an exception for Hozier. His SNL performance was sublime. I think he's going to be big here, just like Sam Smith.



Weekend Update was really good this week. Michael Che is really developing. Pete Davidson made his return to talk about......gold chains.

Pete Davidson - Gold Chains

Bill Hader returning meant one thing.....Stefon!!! Apparently Dan Cortese is at all the clubs......





Hader brought his "Anthony Peter Coleman" character back in the Puppetry class skit. I had forgotten about it, but this character really is brilliant, and we even saw a war flashback.....with puppets.



Mooney/Bennett had another short, "Inside SoCal", a public access show. It was pretty much a miss, but not necessarily a complete dud. Mooney/Beckett need to step up their game though to make these a thing.

SNL ended with a bizarre Cat In The Hat skit.....with the Cat having a previous affair with the mother....who was instead with Thing 2.....so.....that happened.

All in all, it was a really strong episode, and just showed how great Bill Hader was during his tenure at SNL.

Avg. Score: 8.06 (each segment was scored out of 10, and averaged, including the musical act).

Bill Hader - 8.06
Chris Pratt - 7.5
Sarah Silverman - 7.15

Friday, October 10, 2014

Remembering Jan Hooks


Late 1980s SNL star Jan Hooks passed away from an undisclosed illness Thursday, October 9th. Being among cast-members like Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, Nora Dunn and Kevin Nealon, she was able to shine, and in my opinion, was one of the most underrated cast-members.




She had success post SNL with stints on The Simpsons, Designing Women and 30 Rock.

One of her most well-known impersonations on SNL was of evangelist Tammy Faye. Here she is with Dana Carvey on "Church Chat" with the Church Lady


She was among the first Hillary Clinton impersonations on SNL.....which will likely still be continuing with the 2016 Presidential Election. Here's a brief clip.


She was one of the top impressionists on SNL, even as Kathie Lee.

And, what I think is one of the top acted dramatic/comedic skits on SNL, one of her most iconic roles as Brenda The Waitress.



RIP Jan Hooks











Monday, October 6, 2014

SNL: Season 40 Ep.2



SNL continued with Sarah Silverman and Maroon 5 (with Adam Levine making a few sketch cameos)



The features were better than the actual skits this week. It started off with a rather poor opening with a mediocre 60 minutes opening interview with Jay Pharoah's 1st appearance as President Obama on the season. It tried to make connections with ISIS and "hip" social media that just turned into a yawn-fest.

Things really picked up though with Sarah Silverman's monologue, as she ad-libbed with a member of the audience.....and then fielded questions from a younger version of herself.


The monologue was followed up by a great trailer parody, Fault In Our Stars: The Ebola In Our Everything. This was just laugh out loud in every sense. 




The first skit was a tribute to Joan Rivers with Silverman portraying the late comedian at a roast in Heaven. It wasn't necessarily bad, it was just blah, and felt forced. Adam Levine portrayed Freddie Mercury....so yeah.

If you blinked, you missed it, but there was a sort of PSA ad on "whites". Right off the bat, it could sound offensive, but it was actually well done, with the message of "Enjoy it now while we're on top....still calling the shots until 2050, 2060 tops". It certainly caught me off guard.

There was a "forgotten tv gems" skit with a soap opera called "supportive women". It was somewhat clever and drew a few smirks, but that was about it.

Weekend Update was fairly strong this week. Michael Che seemed to have already settled in, and there was some actual chemistry between Che and Colin Jost, particularly during this piece of banter.

Weekend Update: What You Can Say

Another amusing Update bit was when Silverman and Kate McKinnon appeared as a feminist music duo "Garage & Her". It was just one of those things that was so random yet hilarious.

Weekend Update: Garage & Her

Another weak skit followed Update, about a singing trio called the "River Sisters" on a river cruise. It was incredibly forgettable.

There was a fairly good 2nd half skit, featuring Bobby Moynihan and Taran Killam, with Silverman coming back from Amsterdam admitting she cheated on her boyfriend who was about to propose. It featured Adam Levine.......as Adam Levine. It ended oddly enough with....Pizza Hut.

This week also saw a better Kyle Mooney/Beck Bennett short. I think it'll just take time for them to grow, but easy to say they haven't reached "Lonely Island" status quite yet.

The show ended with a Vitamix commercial skit between Silverman and Vanessa Bayer that broke out into Silverman's finances and whether she could afford a vitamix blender. Think of last year's "Blue River Dog Food" skit with Cecily Strong and Seth Rogen....but not quite as good.

 Avg. Score: 7.15 (each segment was scored out of 10, and averaged, including the musical act).

Chris Pratt - 7.5
Sarah Silverman - 7.15

Sunday, September 28, 2014

SNL: Season 40 Ep. 1


Being the 40th season, I'll be doing brief reviews of each episode this year. The season premeire started off with Chris Pratt & Ariana Grande.


Overall, it was an average episode, no real clunkers. It got off with a roasting of the NFL, using CNN's "State of the Union". Keenan Thompson and Jay Pharoah were present with great impersonations of Ray Lewis and Shannon Sharpe (respectively). Chris Pratt portrayed Roger Goodell during his horrible press conference. 

Chris Pratt did a predictable safe, singing monologue, with a cameo appearance by his wife Anna Faris. That was followed by another fairly predictable commercial (although it had its moments) on "Cialis: Turnt".

The first skit was just bizarre. A kid (Kyle Mooney)'s He-Man toys came to life, and I just don't know what was happening. Was chock-full of sexual innuendos though. Ariana Grande made an appearance.

The next skit at least got back into the realms of normalcy, but it was a "done that" Animal Hospital sketch. 

That was followed by one of the highlights of the episode, a spoof of Marvel trailers. This was just brilliant, and surprisingly wasn't really overdone as even the best skits/pieces tend to be.


Weekend Update saw the introduction of Michael Che, as he joined Colin Jost. Che was visible nervous (which was understandable), but he started to get into the pace of it. Colin is still too much like Seth Myers. Cecily Strong made a nice return as "The Girl You Wish You Hadn't Started a Conversation At A Party". 

Writer Leslie Jones made a hilarious return to Update in what will hopefully become a regular appearance. 


New featured player Pete Davidson also made a brilliant appearance on Update as the "resident young person", (He's just 20!). Davidson made everything with this. He really established himself, and you can already tell he'll be around SNL for a while. 





Aidy Bryant was featured well in a singing 'girl's night out' bar scene, also with good work from Pratt.

SNL continues trying to make the Kyle Mooney/Beck Bennett features a thing, and while they've had some good work, it just hasn't coalesced yet.

There was a good (if not somewhat ripped from Key & peele) NFL lineup skit, with the players (Ravens/Panthers) announcing their criminal convictions instead of their alma maters.

The night ended on another bizarre skit, on video game testers playing an odd, sensual puzzle game (yes, you read that right). Vanessa Bayer made it work somewhat.

Avg. Score: 7.50 (each segment was scored out of 10, and averaged, including the musical act).

Chris Pratt - 7.5

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Remembering Robin Williams & Joan Rivers


It's been a sad end to the summer in the comedy world, as we lost both Robin Williams and Joan Rivers. Both made their own marks in entertainment and stretched the boundaries. Now I could go on like this, but I think the best way to remember them, is to actually see them doing what they did best.





(A segment from when Williams appeared on 'Inside The Actors Studio'. This was his improvisation at best).





(Robin was never above doing anything. At 'Whose Line Is It Anyway?' he again showed off his best improvisation)




(Robin wasn't afraid to take on controversial issues)





(Much like Robin, Joan also wasn't afraid to get edgy. Here she returned to 'The Tonight Show', following her long absence.)




(Joan with Johnny Carson back in the day.)

This was just a sample. Robin Williams was also known for his dramatic work, from 'Dead Poets Society' to 'Good Will Hunting'. Meanwhile, Joan Rivers stepped into the fashion world with her red carpet interviews, and hosting E!'s "Fashion Police". Joan was working up until the end, even with her own youtube series "In Bed With Joan", which I highly recommend.

Both left a mark, and will be greatly missed.