EDITOR’S NOTE 10/31/2016: So, about the title of this entry. It seems as though some people are complaining about it, to which I offer this reason: For the uninitiated; Back when Tracy was a cast member on the show, he would appear in a number of sketches where he’s seen chatting backstage with whoever was hosting that week. The punchline to these sketches would always be Lorne showing up telling Tracy to leave the host alone, to which Tracy would reply…well, you know. My apologies in advance if this title rubs certain people the wrong way, but it was either this or “I’m gonna take you behind the middle school & get you Pregnant”. In the end, it was a shorter title, and I want to get to the point.
Well, it looks like you’re getting a Two-fer this week (not affiliated with “Toofer” from “30 Rock). It Figures, I do a List, and an “SNL Vintage” episode pops up the same day. Not only that, but probably one of my favorite episodes from Last Year; the one where my “Close personal friend (Trademark Pending)” Tracy Morgan comes back after recovering from his 2014 accident. The nostalgia Goggles were on pretty tight in this review—which I originally wrote for “The Place that no longer exists” Back in October 2015…and unlike the previous Christopher Walken review, these thoughts are up to date—give or take a thing or two:
Tracy Morgan/Demi Lovato – Original Airdate: 10/17/2015
DEMOCRATIC DEBATE: (EDITORS NOTE: Yes, I know, I already mentioned this sketch in the debates list, but for the sake of authenticity, the following were the Original thoughts on the sketch in question.) HO-LY SHIT………….They actually got Baldwin to show up! Oh, and Larry David is there too……..(*SPIT TAKE*) WHAT THE WHAT?! I know people have been making comparisons between Bernie & Larry forever, but the fact that they were actually able to convince him to do it is just…………..I’m speechless…In a GOOD Way. And considering how much he’s dominating over everybody here, I have to hope beyond hope that this is a One-time appearance. Because once you go big like this, it’s gonna be damn near impossible to top—Though if he Does show up again, at least have the courtesy to do so during February Sweeps, Pace yourself. Everybody else (Baldwin included) was icing on the cake and contributed what seems like a small amount in comparison. This was ALL Larry, Some Kate, a Little Baldwin, a sliver of Taran & Mooney, and J.R. was just there to serve with a rather weak Anderson Cooper (which, BTW, is the ONLY thing keeping me from giving this a Perfect 10). Yeah, there were actual jokes being told here, but I feel the need to quote David Letterman when Johnny Carson made a post-retirement appearance on his show…”What’s The Point? Like I’m gonna continue after that!”
SCORE: 9 out of 10 sketches Larry Wrote that got cut during his one year as a writer—revenge must be sweet tonight.
MONOLOGUE: One of the rare “Pure Sentimentality” moments that just happens to have light-hearted “Glad you’re OK” jokes…oh, and the Principal cast of “30 Rock” (and 1/4th of ”Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”, Jane) in tow. Thankfully for a recent Netflix binge, this was made all the more sweeter to watch. Almost 4 years after it went off the air, and they haven’t missed a beat—although the aspect of it being Live vs. Taped kinda gave things a “forced” feeling in some places. And yes, it kinda feels like a cheat having all these guest stars on to “Help” Tracy, but as long as they don’t overstay their welcome, they Are welcome. That being said, I know it was 4 years ago, but does ANYBODY remember “Smash” or “Animal Practice”? NBC must be counting their blessings they have “The Voice”, Football & Strong Dramas now. Back to Tracy, he hasn’t missed a beat, he has good friends cheering him on all the way, and I think we can finally say with confidence that he’s gonna be OK. Welcome Home, Indeed.
SCORE: 9 out of 10 times a day I yell “I AM A JEDI!!”
FAMILY FEUD: Impressions, Assemble…(*CRICKETS*)…Wait, it’s a NON celebrity edition? Oh…OK, fair enough, variety’s a good thing…And I have to admit that this is an interesting angle that’s not quite on the same level as 1991’s “dysfunctional” edition (Which I’ll talk about in future weeks), but there are some elements of dysfunction on display. Jonesy manages to find a rare role that’s only Partially Yelling, and still manages to get through it with dignity & grace. Best parts include Che’s defection, Tracy & Sasheer’s Car Wash/Stripping conversation, and the “Pulling out” punchline. I do credit them greatly for doing a Civilian version of a Feud sketch, it shows that the writers are still willing to take tried & true ideas and put them in new directions…just give Kenan a few more lessons on how to “Act” like Steve Harvey, and you’ve got gold.
SCORE: 7 out of 10 Cities where Feud is Beating “Wheel of Fortune” in the ratings.
BRIAN FELLOWS: I think the entire collection of SNL fans on the Western Hemisphere would’ve Revolted if this didn’t happen tonight. For the record, I never really got the appeal of these sketches, but what the heck, the Nostalgia Goggles are secured tightly. Though, is it just me, or does Tracy seem a little…uh…Meaner this time around? Usually he acts a little goofy before going off on his guests, but this time around he looks perpetually pissed. The added twist of everybody having thought bubbles at the end was kinda clever. Add to that a camera blocking blooper with the camel (though it would’ve been funnier if it “Accidentally” Spit instead…seriously, it looked like it was ready to do so), and it’s just another day in the life of the world’s most unlikely animal lover.
SCORE: 7 out of 10 vials of Lip Gloss required to visit the zoo.
MITCHELL’S FAKE COCAINE: And an early “What the Hell did I Just Watch?” nominee for the year has just been revealed. Every once in a while, a sketch comes on that can only be described as “Handey-esque”. Something that is so densely layered and nonsensical at the same time that, of course, the initial reaction to seeing it the first time around is an unqualified “Wha?” Just the notion of the product’s purpose is strange enough, but THEN you add the “Fake Poop Spray” angle and “Wha?” turns into “The Hell?!” Follow that up with Beck dropping a deuce in Jonesy’s bedroom, and you ultimately wind up with something too hard to define clearly…Though I would be lying if I didn’t think Jonesy’s last second shout reminded me a little of Eddie Murphy in “Trading Places” (“Who’s been putting out their Kools on My Floor?!”). After seeing this several times, I only have more questions than answers.
SCORE: 5 out of 10 pieces of Fake Vomit needed after accidentally smelling Fake Poop Spray.
Colin’s Best: California Wildfires
Michael’s Best: Oscar Pistorius, Playboy (just cause it’s an easy joke)
Commentaries: The mini-rant on Trump & Carson misfired in a few places, but there were still a few good lines (Nick Cannon, Carly Fiorina). Tina delivers another instalment of “Women’s News” and rightfully puts Playboy in its place—arm butts, awkward poses and all. Then the Mini-comment on the “Mysterious Object” in Space was just……strange….even by the strangest of standards. And then Kenan continues convince us that “Willie” is funny, except this time it was slightly disturbing…and THEN, freakin’ Woodrow randomly shows up—and I do mean “Randomly”. I mean, 15 years it’s been since we’ve seen Tracy do it, and This is how they bring him back? Don’t get me wrong, it was still a nice surprise, but even after all this time, we STILL have no idea what his deal is…and will remain one of the show’s great mysteries.
SCORE: 7 out of 10 WSMV’s (NBC in Nashville, TN)
THE LOVLIEST KINGDOM: (EDITORS NOTE: No Video or Transcript, but considering this was the weakest sketch of the show, maybe we’re better off) Even though this CLEARLY has (Writers/constant thorns in my side) James Anderson & Kent Sublette’s fingerprints all over it, Tracy’s lines (Especially “I Wrote a Sonnet about Titties”) is not only a saving grace, but also—quite possibly—the line of the year so far. Not because of the line itself by any means, but because of the overly gleeful way Tracy delivered it (Not unlike “Houston, we have a DOG!” 7 years ago). That being said, Gay jokes are one thing, but as far as near-pedophilic material goes…well…yeah, I’ve seen bigger derailments on AmTrak. At least the rest of the cast’s energy was enough of a counterbalance to keep things neutral.
SCORE: 5 out of 10 lands far, far away…where pedophiles can be imprisoned.
THE STANDOFF: Like many things, this could’ve gone in a number of directions. And like many things, they decide to go with the least likely, most absurd and most out-of-left-field one……………Just like a certain OTHER short film about a Tough guy dancing tried to accomplish (and I’m glad I’m not the Only one around here who thinks so.). But to be fair, the situation here is FAR different than what Schiller, Schneider & Farley did in ’93. For starters, this was shot in HD and nobody’s in Jail seeking revenge. That aside, Tracy does most of the metaphorical footwork here by giving us a very “Dramatic” yet still Comedic performance—probably the deepest thing he’s done since “Woodrow”, and the ballet shoes were an odd touch. The premise is still somewhat ridiculous, and Taran & Sasheer seem to be in agreement. This probably would’ve been funnier if we actually got to see a full dance number between Tracy & Taran, but I guess “Less is More” prevails.
SCORE: 7 out of 10 grueling hours of choreography by Bob Fosse—on the condition he comes back to life to do it.
WHERE’S JACKIE CHAN AT RIGHT NOW: A 2nd “What the Hell did I Just Watch?” nominee for the year has just revealed itself. Only this time, it was more “Random” than “Dense”. I honestly don’t know which was the more ridiculous part; the Parade of seemingly random impressions, or the line “We Won a Peabody!” That being said, those who did impressions (Especially Jay’s Chris Tucker, Taran’s Owen Wilson & Bobby’s Steven Segal) made up for lost time…I’d also add Sasheer playing the late Lynne “Chief” Thigpen to the list if it wasn’t so awkward. As for Tracy & Kenan, their motivations for trying to “Find” Jackie Chan seem directionless at best—based on how they’re dressing, it looks like the want to find Chan so they could take him on or something. Then again, if they simply looked him up on IMDB instead of Googling, the sketch would be over in about 12 seconds…but that would be too easy. Of the two “Bizarre” sketches this episode, at least this one made me laugh.
SCORE: 7 out of 10 Movies Chan is currently filming…I’m not kidding, look at his IMDB page.
ASTRONAUT JONES: (EDITORS NOTE: Surprisingly, no clip is available, but then again if you’ve seen one episode of Astronaut Jones, you’ve seen ‘em all) Take it away, M. Night Shyamalan. Everything I said about “Brian Fellows” earlier can easily be said about this too, SO Glad they were able to make time for this tonight. It’s still a one joke premise, and it always will be. But once again…Nostalgia goggles—Though I do like the additional twist of a brief homage to “The Martian”. It almost doesn’t matter that Tracy messed up a couple of lines near the end, but I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t criticize…though to be fair, losing a lot of dialogue while the pretty alien girl delivers her speech is kinda the sketch’s main joke (aside from Tracy asking the girl—Ms. Lovato in this case—to take it off), so I’ll forgive it. I can’t think of a better way to wrap up this show.
SCORE: 8 out of 10 Glacial pools on Mars NASA has yet to discover.
+1 for Rolling out the Red Carpet (Probably one of my Favorite Host bumpers of all time)
FINAL SCORE: 72 out of 100 (72% WATCHABLE)
FINAL THOUGHTS: Hands Down, the Best show in the past 3 years, easily—I don’t think I’ve rated a show this high since Martin Short/Paul McCartney in 2012. There were plenty of “Feel good” moments to be had, but if you were to take away the weight of Tracy’s return (Including the Open mind, Kid gloves & Nostalgia goggles I mentioned at the top of the review Plus the cameos) it would still be slightly above average. Any doubts that Tracy would falter were thrown away the moment he took the stage–or possibly as early as when the Promos came out this week—and (with apologies to Samberg) he did it Like a Boss. Of course, it certainly helps that Larry David (and others) was quite the insurance policy. Nevertheless, this night was all about Tracy and his chance to tell the world that it’s gonna take more than an accident to keep him down, and he’s more than welcome to come back again & again. The ONLY bad things I can say about an episode this good is that (1) it’ll be difficult to top—especially w/Captain Combover hosting next time*, and (2) it’s going to set one hell of a curve for the rest of the year to live up to.
*”He who shall not be named” wound up hosting the next episode.
UPDATED THOUGHTS: One Year Later, this show STILL holds up, it Still acts as a welcome wave of nostalgia, and it’s still a genuinely funny show—with a couple exceptions. Seeing Taran & Jay on screen once again felt a little bittersweet, though I wish I could say the same for J.R. (seriously, you call THAT an “Anderson Cooper” impression, Alex Mofatt did better than that, and he probably used his regular voice too). Although the inclusion of about 50% of the “30 Rock” cast was a nice bonus, Tracy did most of the grunt work and did it well. It almost makes me wish He won the “Guest Actor” Emmy this year, but whata’ya gonna do?
TOMORROW: Another S.O.S.N.L. entry for Halloween, but this one will honor a True Pioneer of the Horror Genre. And now, because it’s still Halloweekend, let’s end this review with some good old fashioned “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah”…