As I mentioned a few months ago; aside from Alec Baldwin, no person is benefiting more from “The Reign of the Infected Tangerine” than Melissa McCarthy—whose Sean “Spicy” Spicer has pretty much put the cherry on top of SNL’s political humor this year. This week, as McCarthy becomes the latest in a long line of stars to become SNL “5-timers”, we’re going to take a look at her 3rd and 4th time hosting. First from 2014, McCarthy was sort of on the fringe between TV Star & Movie star as this aired, so we weren’t quite sure where this would go. At the same time, SNL had no idea where it was going to go; especially considering this was Seth Meyers’ last as a cast member before going to “Late Night”. There’s no real reason to mention that aside from historical context, so on that note, let’s take a look…
Melissa McCarthy/Imagine Dragons (Original Airdate: 2/1/2014)
HALFTIME SPECTACULAR: If you’ve seen one parody of highly-flamboyant Broadway before…here’s another. When this first aired, I had a feeling that with an “oversized” cast like this one was, it might’ve resulted in “Epic” sketches a la “Steve Martin 1991”? Well…this one kinda missed the mark by about 100 miles, but it wasn’t “Terrible”. Taran, Kenan & McCarthy each played their parts with the over-the-topness that only parodies of Broadway could accomplish. Beck, Bobby & Jay do their parts as the bemused straight men of Fox NFL Sunday, though it’s Jay who steals this one as Michael Strahan. On the plus side, welcome to the LFNY Club, Beck Bennett, and Bonus point for use of the phrase “You’re Tearing me Apart!” from whoever played the football (Milheiser?)…which IMO counts as Two references to “The Room” in one.
SCORE: 6 out of 10 minutes of the Halftime show I will actually watch.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Does ANYBODY know who John Milheiser is? (*CRICKETS CHIRP*) Just checking…
MONOLOGUE: I don’t know if it’s leftover acting from starring in “The Heat”, but McCarthy really doesn’t want to let go of her Badass side—Especially If a number of the upcoming sketches are any indication—it’s very prominent here, and it shows. While I feel 13 years is a little too late for any “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” homages, I still have to applaud them for at least trying something different (Especially something highly technical). And while it’s always Bobby who steals the scenes, he lets Taran do it this time while Bobby plays straight man. Just the fact alone that this is highly unconventional, and NOT a Song and Dance-ologue certainly propels this Monologue into the Top 5 for the year, easily. Bonus Meta Points for use of Lincoln & The Llama in the Hallway.
SCORE: 8 out of 10 Fists of Fury.
CVS/VALENTINES DAY: (*CHANNELING DAVID SPADE*) I liked this sketch the first time I saw it…when it was the “Little Bear holding a Heart” ad from 2006 (*END*). Yeah, I know the “plot” is different, but who are we kidding? It’s the same basic idea, a “Gift” of “Love” that requires little to no thought whatsoever. To be fair though, unlike the 2006 ad, this one actually had some decent jokes (Favorites include: “Jewelry” next to the Dog food, Kyle as the “Jewelry” “Expert”, A Christmas stocking as a gift & Aidy’s subsequent response). If it weren’t for the fact that this was similar to that OTHER commercial from 2006, I would say that this was good on its own merits…and since this and the other commercial were Years apart, I’ll forgive it.
SCORE: 6 out of 10 days to go until stores throw away the Valentines Displays to make way for Easter.
DELAWARE 1 NEWS: And speaking of things we’ve already seen before, just replace “Angry Congressperson” with…oh…say for example…ANGRY BASKETBALL COACH, and, yeah, this is pretty much That sketch all over again minus the ESPN elements. But to be fair, this is actually a lot funnier than the other sketch. Each camera angle gets progressively funnier, and McCarthy’s surly nature is icing on the cake. But once again, if it weren’t for the fact that she played the same character in a previous season, this too would be perfectly fine on its own merits alone. Still though, our attention spans aren’t THAT shot to shit!
SCORE: 7 out of 10 Screen Door factories in Wilmington (5 points if anybody gets that joke).
WOMEN’S GROUP: I mentioned this one last year as part of “Ghostbuster week”; see 7/14/2016 for the review of the sketch.
SCORE: 5 out of 10 times a day McCarthy’s character watches the movie “Commando”.
GUESS THAT PHRASE: First thing’s first, glad to see Kenan as a Contestant this time. And thank GOD, because the role of Game Show host seems to have Beck Bennett written all over it—you can tell that all his time shilling for AT&T is actually paying off here. Of course, the sketch belongs to McCarthy…though I dare ask if she’s portraying her character as one with…shall we say…”Special Needs” (Oh wait, they mentioned UCLA Medical Center, I’m guessing she’s a Guinea Pig). Though FAR better than last week’s “Couple’s Quiz”, this one seems to be just a straightforward game with a random idiot, and not a game with a plot twist like we’ve been seeing a lot of lately. Not complaining, though, sometimes it’s good to alternate between the twists.
SCORE: 8 out of 10 vowels I’d like to buy…even though there are only 5 of them in the English Language.
28 REASONS: For all the slack we gave Jay for not doing much outside of playing Obama, When he shines, he REALLY shines…what a pity it has to be during a pre-taped piece. That being said, this is yet another music video with a very catchy beat that also happens to be very funny in an awkward way. In the grand scheme of things, I’d probably make this my #2 choice for best music video of the season (“Twin Bed” still holds the lead, BTW). Kenan & Sasheer are simply there as back-up singers, and Bobby proves himself as a scene stealer once again with his brief part. Also, am I the only one who noticed how Kate’s teacher character looked Scarily like Tina Fey?
SCORE: 8 out of 10 Professor Shabazz K. Morton’s
Seth’s Best: State of the Union, Motley Crue, And only because it was his last Update joke ever, the “Weed” story.
Cecily’s Best: Super Bowl, John McCain, Sexercising.
Commentaries: I’m just going to jump ahead to the big one first, a sizable representation of Seth’s friends show up to wish him the best; Amy, obviously, Andy Samberg (who I’m still trying to get used to calling a “Golden Globe Winner”), and of course, Stefon Returns! This was more of a sentimental moment rather than it being “Epic” like Stefon’s Finale, and certainly more sentimental than any other “Update” departure in history. But if that’s the way Seth wanted it, so be it. In fact, so touching was the moment that not even Fred Armisen’s random appearance as “David Patterson” could ruin it at the last second. Back to Business, I don’t know why, but Taran’s “Buford Calloway” would probably have been more effective if he dressed like a Southern Gentleman from the 1800s (White Suit, Big Hat, Magnolia in the Lapel, etc.).
SCORE: 7 out 10…Seth Meyers’ (You’ve earned it!)
ART EXHIBIT: For a second, I thought they were going to Exile Nasim into a Non-speaking role, but thankfully she spoke up–Though to be fair, standing perfectly still in costume DOES take a lot of skill, ask anyone who plays a Living sculpture on the streets of New York. McCarthy continues to let her surly side show, and unfortunately, this was one of her weaker performances of the night. Unlike her mercenary character earlier, this character is just unlikeable, rude & childish. Also, I think I’m going to start a swear jar for any/all times Mike O’Brien says a line awkwardly and/or flubs it. If you liked it, good for you, but the sketch just have me a very negative vibe.
SCORE: 3 out of 10 exhibits on loan from the Lourve.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Now that I’m seeing this again, it actually seems like par for the course for McCarthy now that she has “Spicy” under her belt. Tough, Brash, willing to pick a fight at the drop of a hat. It doesn’t change the fact that it might’ve been a little TOO abrasive for my tastes, but at least it makes more sense in perspective. Also, Mike O’Brien as a cast member might be one of the more spectacular backfires the show had in recent memory. Unlike Mikey Day today, not everybody who’s a good writer on the show is gonna have good stage presence—and O’Brien should’ve spent some time boot-camping with Second City before going on camera.
GIRLFRIENDS TALK SHOW: Normally when they move a fairly popular sketch to later in the show, it’s either because of language/subject matter, or because it’s starting to get phased out. In this case, I’m going to assume it’s an 80/20 split respectively—especially once we get to talking about “Body Awakenings” and the 5-O joke. While this was pretty much a standard edition of the sketch, I gotta give them a little credit for having McCarthy play just “A Friend” of Aidy’s character instead of the more predictable route of playing her Mom/Aunt/Relative or something.
SCORE: 4 out of 10 teenagers who snicker at the word “Lei”
DIANE (AKA “Summer in a Day”): This seems to be a trend with most of the characters McCarthy has been playing in her past three appearances; Frumpy, Awkward, Bizarre, sometimes with Food all over her face, or even a combination of each. I’m going to go with the Frumpy/Food combo here. Aside from pigging out on ribs and cussing out Bobby, she didn’t really do much here. Then again, neither did Bobby—despite doing most of the heavy lifting in narrating. Most of the “Humor” of the sketch comes from just how silly the premise is, but then again…Take it, Tommy…Which makes Three “The Room” references in this review.
SCORE: 6 out of 10 orders of Ribs from “Tony Roma’s”
GOOD NEIGHBOR – SUPER CHAMPIONS: Ah, this must be that “Man on the Street” routine of Kyle’s the board keeps talking about; It’s pretty good, if not awkwardly charming. Though to be fair (Boy, I’ve been saying that a LOT tonight) Kyle’s “Character” seems to be a mix between Samberg’s “Shy Ronnie”, the late Calvert Deforest (AKA Larry “Bud” Melman) and about 90% of anybody Fred Armisen played in his “Bad” years…and yet, that’s actually NOT a bad thing in this case. He plays up the fact that he’s an awkward interviewer pretty well, and the random animations that play in between his questions are simply that—hilariously random. I wouldn’t want this bit to recur, however, simply because it’s still just one joke of Kyle being ill prepared to interview people and that particular joke can only work so many times.
SCORE: 7 out of 10 runs on the Super Bowl Toboggan ride in Times Square.
FINAL SCORE: 75 out of 120 (62.5% Watchable)
FINAL THOUGHTS: Though not a “Best Show Ever” by any means, its one of the strongest shows I’ve seen in months, and it will certainly be enough to satisfy us until March. McCarthy was her usual funny self (Give or take a couple exceptions), Seth’s Sign off was classy & somewhat dignified, and with his sign off, an era ends for SNL.
UPDATED THOUGHTS: McCarthy would get a little better in her Next episode (which we’ll talk about Tomorrow), but you could tell that the show in general was about to set the wheels in motion for a major transitional phase—if the massive hiring spree earlier in the year wasn’t already an indication. With Seth, Head Update writer Alex Baze and about 30% of the Writing Staff getting ready to migrate across the hall, there was renewed hope that the show would get back on track after a bumpy half-year. Eventually, the pieces would come together, but it wasn’t instantaneous—the rest of Season 39 was a little frantic, Season 40 was downright Schizophrenic, but they would sooner or later find their footing in Season 41 only to maintain & strengthen that footing this year…but I’m getting ahead of myself.
We’ve got More McCarthy tomorrow, this time from just last year.