SNL peason premiere fails to live up to expectations
Alexandra Kilpatrick | Monday, September 15, 2008
“Saturday Night Live’s” season premiere this past weekend began on a strong note with a humorous opening bit, “A Non-Partisan Message from Governor Palin and Senator Clinton,” a message that sexism is inappropriately playing a role in the presidential campaign. Tina Fey cameoed as Sarah Palin, who is portrayed as inexperienced, while Clinton, played by Amy Poehler, is depicted as a “supporter” of Obama. The sketch referenced Palin’s apparent confusion over the Bush Doctrine in her first major interview on ABC when Poehler mentioned the doctrine and Fey stated, “I don’t know what that is.”
Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps hosted the show and stated in his opening monologue that hosting SNL was “seriously like the ninth greatest moment of my life” after winning eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics. William Shatner also made a surprising cameo during the monologue, attempting to throw in an endorsement of “Priceline.”
The show went downhill from there, with a predictable sketch titled “Quiz Bowl,” a question-and-answer game show between public school Richmond High team and Amish home school Jasper Family team, depicting the home-schooled team as ill-informed and extremely religious.
A commercial for Jar Gloves also disappointed with a ridiculous and exhaustive chain of events, stating that problems opening jars leads to injuries, suspicion and eventually trial and prison.
Lil Wayne performed as musical guest, first playing “Got Money” and later, the crowd-pleasing “Lollipop.” The music overshadowed the vocals to some extent, but otherwise, the rapper lived up to expectations. During “Lollipop,” Wayne unexpectedly pulled out a guitar at the end of the song and played a few chords.
“Weekend Update” was spattered with weak political jokes and stabs at Governor Palin, including the introduction of a new guest named Alaska Pete, played by Will Forte. Nicholas Fehn, the recurring guest political comedian, also appeared to the audience’s disappointment, as his incomplete sentences and thoughts were not funny the first time and certainly are not funny now. Andy Samberg played a frazzled Cathy from the “Cathy” comic strip as another new guest.
“The Charles Barkley Show” could have been very funny after last season’s Sundance Channel Iconoclasts with Charles Barkley and BjÃ¶rk. However, the sketch relied on clichéd jokes, like guest world-record runner Usain Bolt apparently being so fast that he came and went in a second.
A final commercial, “The Michael Phelps Diet,” nearly saved the show. To help people trying to lose weight, Phelps recounts his typical 12,000-calorie-a-day diet, stating “it works wonders for me” with a subtitle “based on 4000 laps of swim practice at world-record pace.” Jared Fogle from Subway made a cameo, and the diet was hilariously promoted but described as “almost certainly fatal.”
All in all, the show did not live up to expectations. The new season hurt from the departure of Maya Rudolph, and far too many sketches tried too hard to lure laughs instead of going for the political wittiness the show could be delivering.