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Christoph Waltz Hosts a Solid "Saturday Night Live," But Alabama Shakes Rips Up the Rug

By Dustin Rowles | TV Reviews | February 17, 2013 | Comments ()


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Christoph Waltz hosted what was probably the best episode of a weak season, which is to say: It was probably a B+, but it was a fun B+ thanks to consistently good (but not great) sketches, and two knock-out performances from Alabama Shakes. It is one of those rare shows where I'd suggest waiting until the entire show arrives on Hulu this afternoon to watch it in its entirety (skip only the last two episodes, a weak "Fox and Friends" sketch and a forgettable Valentine's sketch). However, DO jump straight to the pre-taped Tarantino trailer: Djesus Uncrosses. I've included the "director's cut," and it's outstanding.

Carnival Cruise -- There's not a lot of angles you could take with this, but Saturday Night Live's Cold Open was definitely, uh, one of them. Basically, they trot out the FM radio DJ versions of cruise directors to keep up the spirits of 4,000 people kicking it old school with ketchup sandwiches and fecal-splattered walls. I wouldn't call it funny, but it didn't provoke blood lust.

Christopher Waltz is an amazing actor, but they didn't give him much to work with in the Monologue: Basically, it's a send-up of Austrian-German stereotypes that ends with a bad song-and-dance number reinforcing Austrian-German stereotypes. It gets by on Waltz' charm.

What Have You Become? explores the dashed dreams of lame suburbanites. It wasn't that funny, but I do appreciate the sketches' dark sense of humor.

The Papal Securities ad amusingly focuses on the investment strategies of retiring popes, and while it wasn't a knock-out, it did make excellent use of Waltz as a Pope playing guitar.

Nasim Pedrad introduces a new character, Tippy, who destroys party conversation with awkward interruptions and clueless remarks. The problem with SNL characters who are annoying is that there is a fine line between extracting the humor out of an annoying situation and simply being annoying. This one falls in the latter category. I highlight it here only because I know that Tippy will probably become a recurring sketch.

Djesus Uncrosses is a Tarantino revenge tale centered on a blood-thirsty, n-word using Jesus, and it is not just fantastic, it's the night's best sketch and best use of Christoph Waltz.

Engelbert Jarmacus also makes great us of Waltz as the white, virgin brother in a trio with two Barry Whites. The sketch is a B, but Waltz is an A+.

Alabama Shakes' Hold On is soul-stirring. When I heard that the Brittany Howard was only 23, my first thought was that there's probably a lot of people she went to high school with who are saying, "What? That quiet girl who sat in the back of the class, made strange faces, and looked like a 47-year-old sounds like THAT? I really should've talked to her more."

After opening with a couple of rough jokes, Weekend Update soared, including two great guests, Taran Killam's Marco Rubio and Kate McKinnon's out-fucking-standing peasant woman from the Ural mountains. McKinnon continues to be one of the best things going on with "SNL" this season. (Sadly, it ended on a bum note with another Jay Pharaoh impression of Stephen A. Smith rehashing the same premise and jokes from his last "Weekend Update" appearance.)

I didn't like Fred Armison's Regine character the first time, and I didn't care for it much this time, but two things save the sketch this time around: Bill Hader totally fucking losing it, and Armisen's total insistence that he take it so far that we see his junk. I saw Armisen's soul. Unfortunately, it was through his ass crack.

I love Brittany Howard, but I can't help but think that "SNL" is about three episodes from Aidy Bryant doing an easy Alabama Shakes sketch.




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  • Green_Eggs_and_Hamster

    Alabama Shakes was great. Overall, the episode was pretty bleah. Please, someone, somewhere, stop Tippy from becoming a recurring sketch. That was terrible.

    Also, I really hate Regine. Would the skit be funny if that was a woman playing the roll instead of Armison? I maintain it would not even be considered for inclusion if one of the woman pitched a skit where they act over the top as some guys girlfriend. So, the whole joke, what makes the skit, is that it's a guy in Drag doing the outrageous stuff? In 2013? That's still the joke? Give me a break.

  • Uriah Romero

    Christoph Waltz was awesome on SNL the other night, and I loved watching Alabama Shakes perform as the musical guest. I am glad that I was able to see them live on TV since I got off of work at DISH early. I have the DISH Hopper whole-home DVR and it’s nice that I can choose what room I want to catch my shows. I usually start out in the kitchen and move to the living room, so it’s useful having the flexibility.

  • disqus_Gcd8WEJZYE

    Forgive me for saying this, but while the music is great, watching Alabama Shakes perform is incredibly distracting. My husband kept betting me it was a cast member wearing a latex mask. I would have an easier time believing she's a unicorn than I would believing she's 23.

  • ,

    I can see why the Shakes toured with the Drive-By Truckers.

  • Jt

    I second Casual Hitler, and yes, Kate McKinnon's Ural peasant woman redeemed the whole show for me. Amazing.

  • idiosynchronic

    I told you Alabama Shakes was fucking keeper.

  • kali yuga

    Djesus Uncrossed was a direct ripoff of a much better parody from several years ago. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

  • PG13

    Nasim Pedrad....so pretty. She's the one that plays Kim Kardashian right?

  • sean

    Hmmm..I kept thinking "When did Nasim get so damn skinny?" She looks too think to be healthy.

  • ZombieNurse

    I went to the same school as Brittany Howard, but she was much younger than me and I didn't know her. I may also be related to the beardy bass player in the back, but there is a fair chance that I'm related to almost every white guy from my county (my grandads were man-whores) so that's not too exciting.

    Quite frankly, I'm just excited that someone from my hometown is on television and it's not because of a meth lab or hate crime. Yay, Alabama Shakes!

  • Erich

    The monologue may not have been great, but Casual Hitler absolutely killed me. It was a brilliantly dumb throwaway character, and Killam's delivery made it even better.

  • annoyingmouse

    I don't know what you're talking about, besides Alabama Shakes and the Tarantino sketch, this episode stunk. Waltz was looking at the cue cards and stumbling through his lines in almost all of the sketches. Even the pre-taped stuff seemed like he was stumbling. I'm not sure if it was because of his accent, but I thought he seemed like one of the most wooden hosts they've had in awhile, and I'm including Beiber in that list.

  • Homestar

    I completely agree. I don't think it's his accent, though; I think it's his awkwardness at doing anything live or spontaneous. I thought he was pretty bad on Between Two Ferns, too. He's a good actor, but not in this context.

  • Melody Be Watson

    I love Alabama Shakes, Brittany's voice will be legendary. It was awesome to switch in between them on SNL and Austin City Limits. If you get a chance to see them in concert, OMG go!! Brittany lifts the entire room when she sings. I was kinda bummed that they didn't get to perform "You Ain't Alone"on SNL but she owned it on ACL.

  • e jerry powell

    Also, Zac the bass player is one big teddy-bear-shaped bag o' cuteness.

  • sean

    Did you see the Americana music awards last year? At the where everyone came onstage for " The Wieght"? When it was Brittany's turn...goddamn. The best part was the huge grins on John Hiatt and Bonnie Raitt's faces.

  • Robert

    She blew up Twitter, too, when she got sing half a verse at the Grammys for the In Memoriam tribute. Suddenly, hundreds of messages popped up on my feed that amounted to "Damn, Brittany!"

  • MissAmynae

    She got an approving nod and smile from Mavis effing Staples- yeah, she's the real effing deal. Love dem Shakes.

  • Melody Be Watson

    Haven't seen them on AMA's but will check it out. :). I've seen them twice in concert now, both were small venues and she blew the room away. She wails like Janis and has an Otis Redding crackle to her voice that is just heartbreaking. Love them and so happy for their future successes.

  • kilmo

    I really enjoy these recaps. I actually thought this was a weak episodes, obvs not Bieber bad, but he tried.

    It was mostly really awkward for me, especially the 'Regine' sketch. Although, when I fast fowarding I noticed Hader LOSING it and had to rewind and watch the whole thng.

    Anyone else notice how they've completely ignored Beyonce these past few weeks? The jokes are there and write themselves. Maybe they need a black woman host/cast member. Have they ever had one, other than Maya Rudolph?

  • Bert_McGurt

    Ellen Cleghorne, circa twenty years ago.

  • Tracer Bullet

    Somewhere, Danitra Vance cries hot, bitter tears. Then gets my order of fries.

  • sean

    She died a long time ago. Mid 90s. That said, there has to be a few smart, funny black women of appropriate age in the US or Canada to be a SNL cast member. Somewhere...

  • e jerry powell

    Wanda Sykes is too old, alas, plus which it would far exceed the lesbian quota now that Kate McKinnon is there.

    There are no people of color at all at The Groundlings. Second City has an active diversity program for the Chicago company one black woman on the e.t.c. stage, one black man in the Chicago main stage ensemble, one black man in the Toronto main stage ensemble, four black women and two black men (one of which is Keegan-Michael Key) in the Hollywood Studio Theatre, and an Indian guy at the DeMaat theatre, and two black guys and an Indian woman in the touring ensemble.

    That makes me a little depressed. Not so many non-white people seem all that interested in training in sketch/improv.

  • Gavin S.

    Bill Hader losing it is so common it's lost its luster. It's part of the show, now.

  • [A]

    too bad that HULU stuff is US only, though

  • Maguita NYC

    This is exactly why SNL pisses me off!

    It sucks for so long that you even change the channel during promos, let alone remember to tune in come Saturday night... And miss the only worthy performance of the season.

    I so love Christopher Waltz, that I am kicking myself right now for having missed yesterday's show. UURGH SNL!

  • phase10

    Easy. Get a Season Pass if you can, and just the delete the ones you don't want to watch.

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