If you're reading this because you didn't watch last night's SNL and want to know if you missed much, you can exhale now. The episode offered such half-hearted fare that I can't even summon feelings of irritated disappointment. It was just there.
I admit I wasn't expecting much to begin with: we haven't heard from Ryan Phillippe in a while, he most known for being Reese Witherspoon's evil ex-husband. I feel bad for Phillippe: I read way too much Hollywood gossip and get the impression that Witherspoon isn't the innocent peach she's often portrayed as yet he takes all the blame for the failure of that relationship. I thought it was amusing, meanwhile, that in the SNL tribute to the decade Witherspoon was lauded for hosting the first post-9/11 episode. Maybe Phillippe would go balls to the wall and surprise us all with a what-the-hell episode.
But no. Phillippe's the co-star in a movie based on a 90-second SNL sketch, and that's the kind of host and episode we got. His monologue featured a bunch of other SNL recurring characters asking when they'll get their own movies. It also marked the first time I didn't enjoy "What Up With That?" (granted, it was an abbreviated version). This segued into another variation of the ESPN Classic women's sports championships, a sketch that combines unfunniness with the increasingly irritating gag that vaginas are hilarious in their gross-weirdness. Fill 'em with semen and put a cork in 'em, amirite??? If you didn't like that, there was also a commercial about how the ladies in the Shake Weight ads look like they're giving handjobs (it's true, but the observation alone isn't funny.) The Hip Hop Kids sketch had a couple of funny lines in it ("For every baby bear, there's a way out of a cave") but it dragged on too long. "Teen Talk" came back, featuring Fred Armisen as the fill-in host who demands teens yell their embarrassing questions into a microphone louder so he can hear (the lone bright spot was Andy Samberg's ridiculous voice). We also saw a sketch called "I Got This!" the game show where people fight over the check, where absolutely nothing happened that wasn't already explained in the title and concept.
The spot that will inevitably be passed around Hulu is the "Magical Mysteries" video from the "Thrilla Killa Klownz," although I wasn't cracking up mostly because a.) the bit was buried at the end of the episode so I just wanted to go to bed and b.) I was wondering if SNL should get much credit for a near line-by-line parody of an Insane Clown Posse video that is already ridiculous and ironic. But better than nothing. The Digital Short too was amusing, playing on the concept of a man running back to an ex-lover's house to beg her to come back only to see some new guy in the background. You could see the gag coming a mile away but I liked the weird ending.
I also didn't terribly mind either the Larry King cold opener, as I still enjoy Kristen Wiig's Bjork impression. Update also had a few bright spots, like Bill Hader's James Carville impression and the brief appearance of Fr. Swimcoach Scoutmaster.
But overall, the episode reeked of not-trying, I think exemplified by two sketches that weren't so much "sketches" but one-liners strung together by the thinnest of concepts, like "Mort Mort Feingold, Celebrity Accountant," who talked to Kate Gosselin, John Edwards, Tyler Perry, Shaun White, the kids from Twilight, Mel Gibson and Susan Boyle all about their finances (although I did like the John Edwards digs, whose marital status went "from 'married' to 'disgusting.'") In case you were wondering, the show is also still doing that sketch where guys sit around and drink beer and sing the chorus of a song (in this case, "Breakfast at Tiffany's") and say weird things.
Phillippe, aside from his kind of scary-deep voice and pumped-up physique, was pretty much a non-entity in the episode, but better than Ke$ha, who already is beginning to feel stale. Her first song was, you guessed it, "Tik Tok," and began with her singing the bridge to the song a cappella, super-dramatic-like. She was also wearing a sparkly fringed cape decorated with the American flag and she had these like cuckoo-bananas backup dancers wearing helmets! There were also lasers. She inquired whether any of us stopped to think that maybe we are the aliens. God. The second song was less catchy but still featured her talk-rapping in her irritating Valley Girl inflection. Probably trying to attract some negative press for her insensitivity she was decorated in glow-in-the-dark paint in some vaguely ethnic designs, topped with feathers. "Hey! It's Saturday night! Do you wanna make out?" she asked the audience at the end of the song. Nobody seemed up for it.
--I liked the Broadview security commercial but I liked it the first time they aired it, a few months ago.
--Calm down volcano, you're eating our sky.
--RIP DJ Supersoak
--You can tell SNL is looking for a way to take on Tea Partiers but hasn't quite figured out the perfect route.