Sunday, October 06, 2013

Notes on the SNL Miley Cyrus episode

Despite the fact that Miley Cyrus has always been a weak actress and is now a walking punchline on top of that, the show found a way to work around her. SNL is most impressive when it shows it can be host-proof.

Still, the episode had three sketches that were so seriously misguided, one has to question if the head writing staff has really got it together. Forty sketches are written every week and it's the job of the head writers (there are two sharing the position this year) to select the 10-12 best among that lot. Many disgruntled cast members (Janeane Garofalo, Chris Elliott, and Norm McDonald) have all said in interviews that a lot of the best sketches don't get picked.

The three sketches that left me scratching my head:
-I love Vanessa Bayer but the poetry sketch didn't have a strong lead character or any clearly-delineated punchline.
-The Kyle Mooney sketch operated under the weird assumption that someone would want to have sex with Miley Cyrus. Does the show not understand that people kind of see her as hideous with her new
haircut, tattoos, and general demeanor? They should have saved that skit for another guest star. It was also odd that there were very few jokes in that sketch. The "she's like 100 years old" line was just kind of bizarre. It seemed like a kind of humorous bit Andy Samberg would do in a digital shorts sketch but he would tip it more towards the bizarre jokey side so people would get that it was an oddball character. I think Kyle Mooney will have trouble finding his place on SNL.
-The cheer squad sketch lacked any actual hard jokes. Was the biggest reveal supposed to be that the alien was dancing to the beat? It was kind of funny in a low-key kind of way and the more talented actresses in the bunch-Vanessa Bayer and Kate McKinnon-did what they could to turn their bit parts into something kind of funny. Bayer's enthusiasm in delivering the line "I got held back" and McKinnon imbuing that bit of physicality in her introduction as Dakota Flanning both were smile-worthy though not entirely laugh worthy

The definite highlights to me were the casting session sketch and the Piers Morgan talk show sketch. Simple winning ideas. I also loved the Good Morning Miami with the hosts who hate each other. It had a nice rhythm to it and there was much humor to be mined from the brief promos. The racist Foley artist is someone they could develop a character around.

Some other notes:
-What was up with Miley Cyrus's dress in the opening montage. It rivaled her VMA attire for classlessness. I was too distracted by her midriff showing lawyerish pants suit to pay attention to the monologue, sorry.

-Vanessa Bayer still kills as Miley Cyrus and Jacob the Bar Mitzvah boy even though those sketches are probably soon approaching expiration.

-Nasim Pedrad plays Ariana Huffington well but isn't it kind of a weakness that she's becoming best known for an impression that another cast member (short-lived Michaela Watkins) already made famous?

-I think of the five new white guys, Beck Bennett is still the hardest to pick out. I really marvel at mother nature for creating a man with a face so indistinct. Was he Clinton? I think they need to put name tags for all the new cast members. Or insert a nice CGI arrow in post-production that follows the newbies around with their names overhead

-On another note, people point him out Beck Bennett as the guy from the AT&T commercials, but why don't people refer to Kyle Mooney as the Xfinity Comcast commercials and those pop up more often.

-Noel Wells played three characters in the first ten minutes of the show and she's ranked behind five other women in seniority. Who's she sleeping with and/or blackmailing among the exec producers? No just kidding, I love her so far, but it's a pretty alarming ascendency.

-Taran Killam is in so many sketches, it's fairly obvious he's basically the only guy writers trust to deliver at this point. It likely sets up a very lofty expectation at this point. Can he compare with Will Ferrell, Phil Hartman, Fred Armisen, Jon Lovitz, Will Forte, Jimmy Fallon, Dana Carvey, Amy Poehler, Kristen Wiig, and Bill Hader who were all MVPs (which I'll loosely define as someone who got the majority of the screen time) at various seasons of the show? Is he deserving of a supporting nomination at the Emmys like Kristen Wiig, Amy Poehler, and Bill Hader have gotten in recent years? Discussions very much worth having.

-Aidy Bryant is basically playing the same "Valley Girl" character in most of her sketches. In the poetry sketch, she basically was the same character as the "Girlfriends" talk show in mannerism and accent. I thought she had the opportunity to break out with a spot-on impression of Rebel Wilson but she didn't have any lines except for "yeah" in agreement with Kenan Thompson's Steve Harvey.

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