SNL Review October 22, 2016: Tom Hanks/Lady GaGa

Leave a comment

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Tom Hanks" Episode 1708 -- Pictured: (l-r) Kenan Thompson, Beck Bennett, Tom Hanks as David Pumpkins, and Kate McKinnon during the "Haunted Elevator" sketch on October 22, 2016 -- (Photo by: Will Heath/NBC)

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE — “Tom Hanks” Episode 1708 — Pictured: (l-r) Kenan Thompson, Beck Bennett, Tom Hanks as David Pumpkins, and Kate McKinnon during the “Haunted Elevator” sketch on October 22, 2016 — (Photo by: Will Heath/NBC)

This review was originally posted on News Cult in October 2016.

Love It

Black Jeopardy – If memory serves me correctly, Tom Hanks is the first guest to appear on both Celebrity Jeopardy and Black Jeopardy. I thought this concept had been played out, as it has already explored well-meaning white people who don’t mean to be offensive, and black people who defy easy categorization. But I had not considered a possible appearance from the “Make America Great Again” crowd, which at first seems like an easy target for meanness, but instead there is a pivot towards common ground like conspiracy theories, that one guy who fixes everything, and Tyler Perry. Race and class are both big factors in this country.

100 Floors of FrightsSNL enters a late, compelling entry for the most popular Halloween costume of 2016: David S. Pumpkins. Any questions? At first, Hanks’ Mr. Pumpkins gives off a Paul and Phil vibe of “goofy ruining spooky.” He and his skeleton pals are certainly delightfully out-there, but there is a lingering sense that this sketch may have blown its load too early with a too-soon reveal of the main attraction, but then it takes it to another level by doubling (or 73-ing) down on Pumpkins and saying, “We knew just how to scare you the whole time.”

More

SNL Recap May 14, 2016: Drake

Leave a comment

SNL: Drake, Leslie Jones (CREDIT: YouTube Screenshot)

This review was originally posted on Starpulse in May 2016.

Drake now finds himself in a select crowd of entertainers who have not just pulled “SNL” double duty as both host and musical guest, but done so multiple times. His first double threat gig was a highlight of Season 39, so in terms of potential hosting quality, he is a fine selection. But what about timeliness? He certainly remains big in the music world, but he is not quite as huge in the culture at large the way other repeat double dippers (Justin Timberlake, Miley Cyrus) have been. But he has the acting chops, so when it gets down to it, who cares? As for the material he is given, it represents a whole range of ideas, some of which work quite well, and others that only work sporadically. All in all, the expansive effort is appreciated.

Donald Trump Vice President Selection – There is not much to make fun of Donald Trump this week (at least, not much new), although the “Joey Pepperoni” quip points to a goofy path that could hold up for the future. So instead, the focus is on the mogul’s VP selection, which could offer new targets for humor, save for the fact that most of the candidates floated are casualties of this election cycle and thus have already been mocked. But sneaking George Zimmerman’s name in there is sharp and the right sort of dangerous. Otherwise, this is just putting down Chris Christie for being nakedly opportunistic, which is way too obvious and not pathetic enough to really make an impact. C+

More

SNL November 14, 2015 Recap: Elizabeth Banks/Disclosure

Leave a comment

SNL: Disclosure, Elizabeth Banks, Leslie Jones, Sam Smith, Lorde (CREDIT: YouTube Screenshot)

This review was originally posted on Starpulse in November 2015.

“SNL” often responds to its most controversial outings in subsequent episodes, but the Donald Trump spectacle is nary mentioned at all a week later, save for a quick hit on Weekend Update. And this is for the best, because Elizabeth Banks shall not be overshadowed. She has been a deserving host for at least a decade, and in her debut, she puts on a showcase monologue, and then she fades into the ensemble for an episode that is all over the place. Meanwhile, musical guest Disclosure makes it a party by inviting their friends Lorde and Sam Smith.

In lieu of an opening sketch, “SNL” acknowledged the terrorist attack at Paris’ Bataclan Concert Hall with Cecily Strong stating a message of solidarity in both English and French.

Elizabeth Banks’ Monologue (BEST OF THE NIGHT) – “Catching the directing bug” is a simplistic premise, and musical monologues are overdone, but Elizabeth Banks uses the setup to show off her personality – the wisest direction to go when making your “SNL” hosting debut. The flourishes that she adds by taking the reins away from Don Roy King are just weird and edgy enough to start this episode off with some individuality. She is a lady in control, unafraid to demand diversity and make hacky tricks like green screen and star wipes work like gangbusters. B+

More