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Shoe Let the Dogs Out: Scoring the Season Premiere of 'Saturday Night Live'

By Dustin Rowles | TV Reviews | September 29, 2013 | Comments ()


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Cold Open — Not the strongest way to kick off the season, with a sketch about confusion and cynicism over Obama’s affordable healthcare act, which is both unfunny and not particularly helpful to the national conversation (sorry, bias. Bygones). It’s clearly designed to shoehorn something topical at the top of the show and feature Aaron Paul, who turns a Daily Beast post into a sketch joke: That the lack of Obamacare is why Walter White had to resort to selling meth. The sketch’s only real selling point is Paul’s cameo. 4/10

Opening Monologue — Tina Fey brings out the six new featured players — Beck Bennet, John Milhiser, Kyle Mooney, Mike O’Brien, Noel Wells, and Brooks Wheelan — and force them to go through an SNL rite of passage by humiliating themselves as back-up dancers to the host. 5/10

Girls Parody — The first good sketch of the season is a pre-taped Girls parody featuring a new “girl,” Tina Fey’s Blerta, a poor woman from Albania, who did a fantastic job of sending up Girls first-world problems. “My ex-girlfriend is an Internet millionaire,” Marnie complains. “My ex-boyfriend is buried in a shallow grave. On windy days, dirt blows away and you can see his skull,” Blerta responds. (8/10)

Boarding Process — One joke — about all the special classes of people who are boarded before regular coach passengers are — completely run into the ground. It’s a good 20-second joke. Unfortunately, the sketch is four minutes. This is the Saturday Night Live we know and love! It was not a good sketch, but I appreciate the nostalgia. (3.5/10)

Arcade Fire or New Featured Player? — A meta game show, in which contestant Tina Fey has to tell the difference between a member of Arcade Fire and one of SNL’s six new featured players. It’s more amusing than it has any right to be, mostly because of Kenan’s shame yelling and an appearance from Lorne Michaels. (6/10)

E-Meth Commercial — “Thanks to E-Meth, now I don’t even need to leave the bar to get my sweet shabu shabu. Mama can smoke that chunky white crunch anywhere.” Great meth lingo, plus a stronger cameo appearance from Aaron Paul. (8/10)

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Weekend Update — We get our first look at Cecily Strong as co-host of “Weekend Update.” She has a rough handle on her joke delivery, but she’ll get there. It doesn’t help that Meyers is so good that the contrast works to her detriment. It’s a tough assignment. Drunk Uncle shows up, along with yet another Aaron Paul cameo as Meth Nephew. 7/10

Cinema Classics — Stuffed animal gags? Well, taxidermists should love this sketch. Everyone else? Not so much. (2/10)

Rick’s Model Ts — The world’s very first used car commercial is more clever than it is funny. (6/10)

Manolo Blondicks — You might think it’s too soon to bring back this recurring sketch, and you may think that it can’t still be funny the fourth time they trot it out, but you’d be wrong. Tina Fey is the only weakness here, although she did deliver the night’s best line: “I saw you on House Hunters. You picked the wrong house, bitch!” The last sketch gets the best score of the night. These two are officially the best reason to stay up past “Weekend Update” now. (8.5/10)

Overall Score: 5.8 — It was not a great 39th season premiere, but it really had no business being as good as it was, really. With six new featured players, and several second year cast members who have only been elevated to regulars this year, it’s going to take a while for the chemistry of this cast to come together. Tina Fey felt more like a mentor than a host in this episode, and with all the losses SNL has suffered, the show actually felt like it belonged to Kenan Thompson and Bobby Moynihan, who are now the oldest serving cast members on the show (not counting Seth Meyers). The confidence of those two has never been more apparent than when they’re being contrasted with the new cast, who look nervous, overeager, and unsure of themselves, which is exactly how they should look right now.

It’s going to be a rough and uneven fall, but I think this cast will pull together around the time Seth Meyers’ departs during the Winter Olympics. In the meantime, Kate McKinnon and Cecily Strong are going to have to do a lot of the heavy lifting, and I think both are well equipped to carry the show.


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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • Jezzer

    I would start watching Girls again if Blerta were a real character. And if she promised to continue slapping anyone who says something stupid or self-involved. Which, let's just say it's a good thing she already has a rubber hand.

  • Wednesday

    I have no idea why it struck me as so hilarious, but Tina Fey in the car commercial had me howling with laughter as the depressed wife. "I gave all my babies to the well."

  • DominaNefret

    There are a whole lot of white people at P.G. Community College in that cold open. They also said "Prince George Community College". It is "Prince George's".

  • Joseph Howe

    Cold Open: Government sponsored propaganda is the only acceptable means to discuss Obamacare, any satire might actually be unhelpful toward my personal bias - there, fixed

  • The best sketch was the one where the new cast members did that bizarre parody of Talking Heads.

  • AvaLehra

    "You'll feel like you're walking on clown 9." That...made me snort.

  • billybobb

    the obamacare opening was the funniest thing snl was done in a long time.

  • L.O.V.E.

    I would add 1 point for the musical guest, then a minus .3 for adventures in sound mixing.

    (Oh, before I forget, then I'd probably jerk off and then go to sleep)

  • Sean

    I would think that Arcade Fire or New Featured Player? would be rated higher than a 6.

    Honestly, not a great show. Not horrible either. Just sorta...meh.

    The criticism of Strong, and Weekend Update is right on. Hopefully, she will get better by February when she has to fly solo.

  • AudioSuede

    What are you talking about?! That was the best episode of SNL I've seen in a long while. The only sketch that didn't make me laugh was the cold open, but that's almost always a shit-show. Bobby Moynihan's face in that airline sketch? Pure gold. And that Arcade Fire/New Cast Members bit was so perfect I was beside myself.

    As always, I love your recaps mostly because it gives me a chance to vehemently disagree with your taste in comedy.

  • apsutter

    Taran Killam got majorly ripped over the summer and I am not hating it! I loved Tina making fun of the fact that she didn't have any recurring characters and she was great in the arcade fire game sketch. I agree about the confidence coming off of Bobby and Kenan, it was palpable compared to the newbies...I would add Taran to those two tho

    Also, yay for Cecily's first time as co-anchor on Weekend Update. The girls are pretty strong right now and I'm loving it.

  • Ashley

    100% agree with adding Taran to the list.

  • I know one of the new guys! Well, not you know, personally, but he was in Parks and Rec, hilariously interviewing for Tom's job last season.

    I liked the Girls parody and the Manolo Blondicks had me rolling from start to finish, but those sketches always do.

    I feel like they didn't give Tina nearly enough to do, but it was an OK episode.

  • John G.

    girls sketch was funny, not because of the obvious "rich girl problems" main joke, but because that new cast member captures perfectly that throaty, half-wine of Lena Dunham.

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    Noel Wells, you guys. I'm telling you, she's going places.

    I mean, it doesn't help that I have a crush on her that's as massive as Pajiba's on Anna Kendrick, but still. Totally going places.

  • Strand

    As a non-American, whenever something SNL-related is brought up, I feel like an alien. I know what it is, I know the people through other touchstones like Wayne's World, I know Bill Haverchuck loves it but.... I just can't feel.

  • Bodhi

    The Girls spoof was HILARIOUS

  • I actually liked the cold open. McKinnon's smoking doctor, the guy with the lazy son, Bryant excited that she can get sick all the time. I dunno, it worked for me. Helps that I have almost no expectations for the opening skit anymore, though.

  • apsutter

    McKinnon is freaking awesome...I want to see more of her. She was good in the e-meth commercial too. Also her smoking doctor was great...that girl is funny

  • Green_Eggs_and_Hamster

    Smoking Doctor was the only good thing about the Cold Open. Want to save 15 Billion America, stop sticking things up your Ass.

  • Maddy

    Not available in your country .... oh well, I only wanted to watch it for Aaron Paul

  • ExUSA

    Go download Media Hint as a Chrome extension

  • SabrinaHatesDisqus

    These two are officially the best reason to stay up past “Weekend Update” now.

    Aside from meth.

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