Cold Opening – A Message From Hillary Clinton
- It feels like I’ve just reviewed a Hillary Clinton cold open a few days ago. Yet, I cannot complain whenever I have to review Kate’s excellent portrayal.
- Some good laughs from Kate’s Hillary admissions of her losing streak against Bernie Sanders, and the ways she’s trying to pander to New Yorkers here are hilarious.
- The subway video is absolutely priceless, and is easily the best part of this whole cold open.
- Yet another Game of Thrones mention this season, showing how rapidly successful the show was becoming around that time, after growing steadily over the last few seasons.
- So, Russell Crowe… is an interesting personality to say the least. Believe it or not, like many people, I’m actually a big fan of Russell’s movies, so many terrific films to choose from, but the person? Well, the well-documented horror stories about how difficult he is to work with on movie sets made many SNL fans in 2016 (including me) very worried about his booking as host, as we feared that he would be difficult to work with. And I recall hearing that he indeed was difficult behind the scenes at SNL. It is so sad in hindsight to have the poor cast suffer with TWO nightmare hosts in one season (no need to say who the other is), and all of that makes this season’s reputation (and the next) of toxic backstage drama even more obvious in hindsight.
- Back to the monologue, ugh at Russell calling Ryan Gosling, his co-star in The Nice Guys “a beautiful young woman“ and his earlier joke about his family living in Australia telling him that he did great ALREADY. I’m rolling my eyes and groaning and we aren’t even a full minute into this monologue.
- WTF at the “hilarious” demonstration of Russell’s comedic talents with them showing us that Gladiator scene? Was that supposed to be amusing?
- Bah, they are now repeating the boring joke with dramatic scenes of Russell’s presented as comedic, this monologue is epically lame.
- (*groan*) Oh, and now we’re getting juvenile and desperate, with the whole bit with the calculator spelling “BOOBS” and it being made somehow even worse by having Russell LITERALLY POINTING IT OUT to us.
- Overall, one of the absolute worst SNL monologues in a very long time.
Preparation H Advanced Gel
- A good, cheap laugh from the product’s initial reveal.
- Some solid laughs from Beck’s character talking loudly about Taran’s hemorrhoid problems, causing Taran’s friends to hear about it.
- This ad is starting to get a little repetitive and long to me, but Beck’s funny performance and energy makes it work.
- Oh, I love the part near the ending where Beck interrupts the commercial’s announcer to plug the product himself.
- Where’s Russell? Why are we doing a host-less sketch as our very first sketch post-monologue? I’m assuming that this is a subtle FU to Russell due to how much of a nightmare he was during the week.
- (*yawn*) I’m not caring AT ALL for this sketch so far, they’ve been beating this sketch to death before this installment even came on. How many times am I supposed to laugh at Kenan’s Al Sharpton various mispronunciations?
- A pretty boring sketch so far, despite Kenan’s commitment.
- And now we have the real Al Sharpton to hopefully give this recurring sketch a close.
- This whole part about the algorithm that represents how the black voters perceive the candidates was promising initially, but it was executed in a dull way.
Henry VIII: The Experience
- UH-OH. Here comes a very notorious SNL sketch, and the sketch that this episode is probably most remembered by.
- Aaaaaaand here goes Russell blurting out his first “BEAR ME A SON!” which will be the only “joke” in this whole sketch.
- (*sigh*) The sketch keeps going on and on and on and on… and the audience is becoming more and more quiet as this sketch plays out.
- Kenan tries to inject some energy into this sketch, but his whole scene is so predictable to me.
- Jesus christ at the whole scene with Aidy, the skeeviness here is absolutely uncomfortable for me to watch.
- AWFUL ending.
- This sketch is now finally over. All that I’ll say about is that it most definitely deserved the very negative reputation around it. Possibly bottom 10 sketches from this entire era.
- Aren’t there any cast members other than Kenan that can play a game show host? Where’s Taran?
- Cecily’s doing a good job in her bland characterization of the bachelorette.
- WTF? Will EVERY SINGLE SKETCH that Russell will be in tonight have him talking crudely and using sexual terms?! Just UGH.
- Holy shit at the uncomfortable skeeviness of this sketch. The whole “three holes” bit with Russell was fucking TORTURE to listen to, made even worse by Russell’s slow, annoying, hard-to-understand German accent.
- The audience is kinda quiet at various parts here, I guess the previous sketch sucked their souls for good.
- What’s with Russell’s awkward pauses? Did he even bother to do rehearsals for this sketch?
- Aside from Kenan’s funny straight man work & Cecily’s characterization, NOTHING ELSE is working for me in this god-awful sketch.
- And now we’re getting even more offensive with the cheap digs at Michael Douglas’ throat cancer. Really SNL?! We’re doing THIS now?!
- This sketch will later be replaced with the dress rehearsal version, which is the one posted on YouTube, as that one got much better audience reaction, and it had a female audience member with a very infectious and loud laugh that actually makes the sketch a bit more tolerable.
Musical Performance – “Hurtin’ (On the Bottle)”
- Blood Meridian: Ah, Margo please save me from tonight’s laughless hell of an episode!
- Jesse Nathan: If I was watching this performance in the context of the episode, I’d probably find myself saying “Margo Price, save me from this episode!”. However, I’m watching this with no context or knowledge of this episode, so chances are Blood is finding himself saying it at this point. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he preceded this portion with that very statement. We’ll see.
- Only a few seconds in, and already, we’ve been hit full force with both the instruments and the vocals.
- Margo Price actually sounds great here. Believe it or not, this is the first time I’ve ever heard her voice.
- Speaking of her voice, if I’m being completely honest, that is not the voice I expected to come out of that woman.
- By the way, I like how this so far sounds like actual country music and not the kind I dislike, which is part of the reason why I really enjoyed Chris Stapleton earlier this season.
- I dig the guitar to this song.
- Good chorus, and I like the addition of the harmonica.
- The piano line sounds incredible.
- Margo’s high notes are wonderful to listen to, and she’s selling them very well without accidentally going a tad bit off-key.
- This band is killing it on the instrumental bridge, particularly the guitarist, and I love Margo’s interactions with him.
- Hell yeah! Now the pianist gets a solo, and he too is killing it, and it gives the song a nice old-school vibe that I love. In fact, for some reason, it kinda reminds me of a Billy Joel song.
- Speaking of band members killing it, the harmonicist is also killing it.
- I love the way the bridge builds back up to the chorus.
- Now Margo’s vocals are hitting full force as the song nears its end, and I’m all for it.
- Great ending.
- That was epic! Not at all what I was expecting!
In Memoriam – a photo of Merle Haggard marks his passing
- Great stand-up-esque rant from Michael about the subway, and that photo of Ted Cruz gave me easily the biggest laugh of the night.
- Kate’s Deenie character returns for her second & final Update commentary.
- Like last time, Kate is coming off very likable as this character, and is thankfully not breaking her way through the commentary. Yet, I can barely understand half of what she’s saying while she’s gorging on all that food.
- A hilarious video of Charles Barkley, yet too bad the comment by Colin after it is nowhere near as funny as it was.
- Kyle’s Bruce Chandling returns once more to the Update desk.
- The usual Bruce Chandling commentary, and the laughs here aren’t as many as in his previous ones. Yet, Kyle’s doing a great job, especially in getting the audience on Bruce’s side, and how engaged they are after his mood swing to being happy again.
100 Days In The Jungle
- Well, I should be pleased that Russell is playing this laid-back character instead of a crazed, tyrannical king or a German sex pervert.
- I’m not really caring for this sketch so far, which is a shame as I really want to enjoy Russell’s likable character here, but it is probably the dialogue or Russell’s characterization that’s ruining the sketch for me.
- Pete’s is a surprisingly solid straight man here, and easily the biggest highlight of the sketch.
- Not caring about the part where Russell’s character eats the disgusting food, as it was so predictable to me.
- Russell seemed to have a problem in delivering his final lines, which is understandable due to the food that he’s probably not even done chewing.
- Great to see a Good Neighbor short getting on air, after the several terrific ones that were unjustifiably cut throughout the season.
- Beck & Kyle are both hilarious and adorable as these two dorky new hires who are just too excited to work in their new place.
- Leslie’s a solid straight man here, especially with her deadpan reaction to Beck & Kyle.
- I absolutely LOVE the visual of Beck & Kyle’s exploding heads with confetti.
- Great ending with the in memoriam montage of Beck & Kyle’s characters, especially the very brief time that they worked in the place.
Musical Performance – “Since You Put Me Down”
- Jesse Nathan: After the uptempo song that we got last time, we now get a serious-sounding, more slow ballad. I once again ask: why do musical guests always feel the need to adhere to this rule?!
- Nice opening guitar.
- Once again, Margo sounds great on the vocals.
- Similar to Chris Stapleton’s “Nobody to Blame”, the tone I’m getting here is someone at a bar drinking their sorrows away, which puts the song in a whole new context. Unlike “Nobody to Blame”, however, I’m not entirely sure if that context sounds right.
- Okay, seems like this is gonna go someplace different from where I thought it would, as now the rest of the band starts joining in.
- Much like what I said about Chris Stapleton’s band, Margo’s band is so talented that hearing this song just sounds like heaven.
- Boy, these are rather deep lyrics.
- “I’d kill the angel on my shoulder.” Damn!
- Oh, okay, so that line is part of the chorus. In that case, then this is actually a good chorus.
- Nice guitar-picking from the guitarist.
- What instrument is the guy on Margo’s left playing? I don’t think I’ve ever seen something like that before.
- Judging from Margo’s facial expressions, you can tell that this song is coming somewhere from the heart, and that this means a lot to her. And she’s selling all of this very well.
- Nice guitar holding from Margo at the end.
- While this performance didn’t leave me with too much to say, it was still a rather strong performance, and it leaves me wondering why I’ve never heard this woman’s music before now, because this is some strong stuff.
Shanice Goodwin: Ninja
- A pretty fun, silly concept of Leslie playing a trained ninja.
- What in the WORLD with that Russian accent on Russell??
- Very funny physical comedy from Leslie as she enters the scene in the background.
- Leslie’s ways of hiding are providing some good laughs, as well as her ways of attacking the mobsters.
- Vanessa’s mock-cloy delivery of her lines are absolutely adorable. Especially when she says that there is a ninja in their hideout.
- A pretty great sketch overall, and quite possibly my favorite thing that Leslie did so far into her tenure. I look forward to covering her major highlights in future seasons, particularly in her final year on the show, where she would do some really great work.
Oprah Winfrey: A Life of Love
- (*sigh*) Sadly, this is our second & final Mike O’Brien short this season, as this is also Mike’s last season at SNL.
- A variation of the classic The Jay-Z Story from last season; the inaccurate Oprah biography seems very promising.
- Kyle’s Michael Jackson impression is having me on the floor right now.
- Very funny “Before/After” photos of Mike’s Oprah.
- Mike is very spot-on in how he’s impersonating Oprah’s demeanor and personality here, especially the dance that he’s doing with Beck.
- Jason! Great to see him back so soon.
- I love the ending with Mike’s Oprah insisting on being on the cover of her magazines, as well the visual of the cover next to Mike.
- Overall, another very solid Mike O’Brien short film, Mike has had one of the strongest track records of a regular SNL filmmakers. I’ll sure miss these films, so thanks for the laughs Mike.
Cut For Time: Bad News Bears
- A promising sketch concept with Russell’s drunk coach being bad at pep talk.
- What’s with Russell’s accent? It slips between American & his native Australian in various parts throughout the sketch.
- The cast members are trying their best with the material so far, as Russell’s characterization is ruining the comedic lines that he’s given.
- Ugh, once again tonight, as Russell’s character is now rambling about the players’ moms and using subtle sexual terms, this sketch is starting to really lose me now.
- Freaking UGH at the balls & Discovery Channel lines, not even Bobby’s straight man work could save the latter.
- And now we end the sketch with a very random Leslie Shout?
Segments Ranked From Best to Worst
Oprah Winfrey: A Life of Love
Shanice Goodwin: Ninja
A Message From Hillary Clinton
Preparation H Advanced Gel
100 Days In The Jungle
CFT: Bad News Bears
Monologue / Henry VIII: The Experience (tie)
- A mixed episode, that while not as bad as its very negative reputation, it was mostly underwhelming and frustrating. The pre-Weekend Update half of the show was mostly fucking HORRIBLE. And what was weak in this episode was not only just weak, but it was fucking BRUTAL.
- Also, any solid highlights that this episode had in it are in no thanks to Russell Crowe who was a terrible, obnoxious host, and the sketches that relied on him to show how “funny” he is throughout the night, especially in the first half of the episode were absolutely WRETCHED. Mercifully, the show did the right thing by limiting his airtime throughout the night which prevented this episode from turning into an outright disaster, and the great string of sketches after that jungle sketch will give this episode a big boost in the average, and prevent it from reaching trainwreck status in quality.
- I would say that the most constant highlight of the entire episode was musical guest Margo Price, who gave two terrific, emotional performances and is easily one of my favorite musical guests this entire season. I hope she returns as musical guest in the near future, as she certainly deserves to be back at 8H.
- Julia Louis-Dreyfus returns to host for the third time with musical guest Nick Jonas.
3 Replies to “April 9, 2016 – Russell Crowe / Margo Price (S41 E17)”
I have to disagree on this one turning itself around post-Update. I just see garbage all the way through. I’d call Oprah the best piece by far at ***1/2 – I love Mike’s films, but this is a shot-for-shot and inferior rehash of the Jay-Z masterpiece from 40.
Pogie Pepperoni’s could also get ***1/2, but that’s a hard hard max. And nothing else over ** for me. This and Donnie’s are fairly evenly matched in my mind as the two worst episodes of the era.
Tomorrow’s a great one, though!
While I’m not too familiar with Crowe’s work, I don’t have a hard time believing that he was a nightmare to work with behind the scenes, as he certainly seems like the guy who you would expect to be unlikable. In fact, I kinda get that vibe from him in the things I actually have seen him in. Not to mention how bad his singing voice in Les Mis is.
Ah yes, I do enjoy those last three segments, though I don’t know if I’m as high on those as you and Stooge are. Don’t get me wrong, they’re all strong, but I’m not in love with them, if that makes any sense.
I gotta be honest, I remember really liking that Preparation H sketch at the time, even though I was only 13 and had no knowledge of the subject matter (which I still don’t).
And as always, the averages:
Cyrus – 5.5
Schumer – 6.6
Morgan – 8.2
Trump – 4.2
Banks – 8.3
McConaughey – 5.8
Gosling – 7.2
Hemsworth – 6.0
Fey and Poehler – 7.1
Driver – 7.7
Rousey – 6.5
David – 7.8
McCarthy – 6.6
Hill – 5.0
Grande – 6.3
Dinklage – 8.3
Crowe – 5.5
Preparation H ***½
The type of Beck Bennett humor I always love
Henry VIII: **
I liked this a tiny bit more than most people but this was still pretty dull
100 Days in the Jungle **½
Ehh could’ve been ALOT better
Pogie’s Pepperoni’s *****
Just incredible and always love Beck and Kyle together in sketches