Cold Opening – Fox and Friends
- The debut of Alex & Heidi’s Steve Doocy and Ainsley Earhardt impressions. It’s also interesting to see someone other than Bobby playing Brian Kilmeade, Beck’s doing a solid job with the impression.
- Good chemistry between the three performers here, even when the writing for them isn’t that good.
- The debut of Cecily’s short-lived Hope Hicks impression. She’s wearing a different wig than the one she’ll appear in during an Update commentary later in the season.
- A very dull cold open so far.
- Holy hell at the camera flop! Easily the biggest laugh that I got from this tired cold open so far.
- Ok, Chris is here to hopefully save this cold open for me.
- Good Louis Farrakhan impression from Chris & he’s thankfully trying to inject some energy into this lethargic cold open.
- Ah, here goes Chris’ stern look into the camera after blurting out a statement, which never fails to make me laugh. I think this is the very first time he’s used it into his tenure.
- OH, NO. A sudden Trumpwin appearance to hijack this cold opening. This open turned from tepid to worse.
- I assume that the burger Trumpwin’s chomping on is meant to be a “satirical” choice from SNL.
- Holy hell at the extreme mugging from Alec, absolutely painful to sit through.
- Overall, yeah, I got nothing left to say beside that these are the usual snooze-inducing lines from Alec’s Trump.
- I’m very excited to cover this monologue, as I recall it being very unique & ambitious in its execution.
- I LOVE the twist with Natalie’s monologue turning into an Olympics-like commentary, both the writing & execution here are excellent.
- Natalie is excellent here, and is doing a very good job handling this monologue.
- I love the instant replay portion, such an accurate & clever spoof of these sports-like commentaries.
- Fun involvement from Lenny!
- Great escalation with Leslie entering to do a report on how Natalie is doing in her monologue so far, Leslie switching between comforting Natalie & telling her that she’s doing well, before immediately telling us how horribly she’s doing is absolutely hilarious.
- Love Kate’s comment after Natalie’s favorable comment toward New York City.
- A fantastic & underrated monologue overall, and a true hidden gem, with a clever, well-written, and well-performed concept.
- I remember this sketch being very overhyped when this episode originally aired, but I’m one of those who found it to be extremely overrated.
- Very random Rachel Dratch cameo, I’m so happy to see her as I’ve always considered her to be amongst my personal favorite female cast members in SNL history.
- Luke is coming off very charming & fun in his role here; a damn shame that his natural charisma & likability was wasted throughout his notoriously short-lived tenure.
- Random Tina Fey cameo, and her presence here is making me dread having to review her hosting stint at the end of the season.
- I’m not caring AT ALL for all the discussion here about sports teams, even with the revolutionary setting. This type of humor doesn’t work for me at all, and feels like a precursor to the myriad of lame sketch concepts that would dominate the first half of the upcoming season.
- Didn’t care for this besides the fun performances. A waste of airtime for a lame Boston vs. Philadelphia bit.
Stranger Things 3
- Really SNL? Another Stranger Things parody for the second season in a row?
- UGH at Cecily farting each time she reads minds.
- I do love Luke’s scene here, and he’s coming off quite funny & charming. Easily the best part so far into the sketch.
- Aidy’s bit about doing a “really good” Borat impression that would cause her to go into a coma for two days was solid.
- This sketch is getting better as it goes along, especially after the rough start.
- Didn’t care for Kenan’s whole bit, and his hamminess is giving me unwanted flashbacks to the godawful acting coach sketch that I recently reviewed. A flat way to end this sketch with.
- A sequel to the beloved short from Natalie’s first hosting stint in season 31.
- Interesting to see Beck playing the role Chris Parnell played in the original short. I did hear that he couldn’t be available to do this sequel.
- Loved the part with Natalie dressed up as Queen Amidala forcing Alex at gunpoint to say nice things about the infamous Star Wars prequels.
- Great to see an Andy Samberg cameo, because unlike some, he seemed to have moved on from the show. So, that makes this rare cameo from him much more meaningful & fun.
- Solid back-and-forth between Beck & Natalie, and like last time, Natalie is surprisingly strong in alternating between both emotions throughout this short.
- An overall fairly solid sequel, even when it doesn’t measure up to the original.
Musical Performance – “New Rules”
- Jesse Nathan: A while ago, Blood asked me if I think Charli XCX is the finest-looking singer currently out there. I don’t entirely know for certain if she is the most fine-looking, but I’d just like to say: Dua Lipa comes pretty close.
- Back to the song, this gives me flashbacks to a time when this song was played constantly on the radio throughout the year 2018. Everywhere you went, you couldn’t escape this song. Hell, just a few hours before this episode aired, I myself came across it on the radio.
- The intro is rather poorly-executed here.
- Dua’s vocals are a bit off here, almost as if she’s struggling to find the right key.
- I know that we’re seeing backup singers doing the “out of my mind” bit, but I can’t shake the feeling that I’m hearing prerecorded vocals of Dua.
- Dua’s movements are a bit too stiff, and they make her come off as very green, which is a bit of a contrast to her S46 performances.
- Something about the prechorus feels a bit dead.
- Another instance of “why play the prerecorded vocals over the actual vocals?”.
- Not loving Dua’s moves during the chorus.
- What’s with Dua’s facial expression during “I do, I do, I do”?
- The final chorus is falling a bit flat.
- Loved the dig that Michael made about Colin’s family supposedly owning slaves in the past.
- That’s one distracting neck prosthetic on Kate’s Brigitte Bardot.
- Kate’s able to milk laughs from the audience from just staring into the abyss. I do admit getting laughs from her as well.
- Yup, after the initial laugh, this commentary is turning into white noise from me FAST.
- Some killer jokes from Colin & Michael throughout this Update.
- Loved Colin’s joke about The Passion of the Christ sequel. And his ad-libbing of “Nailed it!” afterwards was the icing on the cake.
- Another Pete Davidson commentary.
- Some good laughs throughout this commentary, especially with Pete’s whole bit about how poorly aged his ads about telling people to take their pants off were considering the climate of sexual assault allegations resurfacing around the industry.
- Willie! So happy to review him again.
- The usual dark lines & guilty laughs from this commentary.
- Holy hell at Willie’s “free boat trip” line regarding slavery. One of his darkest, which is saying something.
- Oh, I recall this sketch being kinda divisive when this episode aired, with some either loving it or hating it.
- Great makeup work on Beck & Natalie looks very beautiful in this costume.
- Wow, is SNL freakin’ kidding me with this sketch?! Look, I’m all in for as many diverse forms of humor on the show as possible, but this is a sketch that a kid would write while bored in class.
- Beck is going all in with his ass cheeks, but nothing is working for me here, despite the fun commitment from Beck.
- Aaaand we now get a desperate fart joke. How thrilling…
- Please, just end this sketch already SNL.
Kids’ Choice Awards Orange Carpet
- I’ve always confused this sketch with the one in the season 41 Ariana Grande episode. I barely remember this one, though.
- Not the wildest premise, with Natalie losing her voice during a kids’ show awards, but it seems like a good showcase for her comedic abilities.
- It goes without saying that Mikey is a natural as a typical cheesy kids’ show host.
- Decent laughs throughout the sketch from Natalie’s solid & funny delivery, she’s making an otherwise limited premise work better than it should.
- Good to see the return of Kate’s great Ellen DeGeneres impression, and she feels right at home in this kids’ awards setting.
- Good sketch, overall.
- I see that SNL’s very confused & muddy portrayal of Melania Trump continues as we got yet another one of those sympathetic sketches about her.
- Melissa’s appearance in this sketch, which could’ve been played by an extra, turns out to be her ONLY one in this entire episode.
- Solid Jackie Kennedy impression from Natalie, which shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering the movie she’s promoting with this hosting stint.
- This is reminding me of a online video years ago of a sketch with several former presidents advising Obama, which included mostly SNL cameos from Dana Carvey, Darrell Hammond, and Will Ferrell.
- Unlike her role as Omarosa, Leslie feels more fitting for the role of Michelle Obama. Even when Ego would’ve fit more in the role than her.
- And now we get a Hillary Clinton walk-on, which make this sketch feel more and more wandering & messy without a central joke to it, not to mention how it portrays Melania in a confused & muddy way that contrasts with the show’s previous depiction of her as an ally to her husband.
- Weak ending that fell flat hard with me.
Musical Performance – “Homesick”
- Jesse Nathan: Instance #5273 of the musical guests doing an upbeat song for the first set and a ballad for the second.
- Dua’s vocals sound better here than they did on the last track.
- Not loving Dua’s vocalizations.
- This chorus is okay, but nothing too great.
- Dua’s look at the camera during the second chorus is giving me feelings in my pants.
- Wait, there’s no bridge between the second and third choruses? Kinda odd.
- Overall, like most piano ballads, I barely had anything to say there (the key word being “most”, as I did love Gaga, Lorde, and Taylor’s piano ballads). Dua’s vocals and eyes were the only things holding my interest.
- I’m enjoying how the set & direction looks in this sketch.
- Strong characterization & performance by Aidy, and it feels good to see her getting a showcase after how invisible she was at times this year with barely any lead roles.
- Not a lot to say here, but I’m enjoying how low-key, character-driven this sketch is. It gives it an old school feel.
- Good ending with Kyle.
Cut For Time: My Little Stepchildren
- Jesse Nathan: Right off the bat, this ad feels like a hybrid of two classic SNL fake ads from this era: Asian American Doll and Wells for Boys, which makes sense in the latter’s case, as this was written by the same writer as that sketch: Julio Torres. The only difference is that this ad has a bit more of a macabre feel to it.
- Natalie’s testimonials are priceless. Every word that comes out of her mouth in this ad is not only a riot, but is perfectly detailed. Her delivery of her lines makes them even more hilarious, a testament to how strong a host she is.
- Every scene where the daughter enacts a scene with her doll is priceless.
- I have no idea how to feel about Cecily’s voiceover in this ad. It could work for these types of fake ads, but her voice feels a bit too light-hearted. However, it’s not enough to hurt this ad for me.
- Great exchange between Natalie and Beck: “So our daughter is married to this guy?” “Not for the right reasons.”
- Great bit with the son doing a scene of his own, where he shows an engagement ring to his doll.
- I love the ending tagline: “Hey, some kids live for the drama”.
- An overall strong fake ad, which is expected from both Torres and the 14-22 era of SNL. I honestly would’ve preferred this ad to appear in place of ANYTHING in this dull, frustrating episode. But if I had to pick one, I’d go for the sequel to Natalie’s Rap. Granted, that would lead to a lot of casual fans bitching on Reddit and Twitter that they didn’t do a sequel to Natalie’s Rap, and then start trashing the show because of that, but I digress.
Segments Ranked From Best to Worst
CFT: My Little Stepchildren
Kids’ Choice Awards Orange Carpet
Stranger Things 3
Fox and Friends
- An average episode and the weakest so far into this half of the season. While not without its highlights, there were lots of weak or baffling material that made it on the air this week. And there was a sense of lethargy & dullness throughout the night, much like the Kevin Hart & Jessica Chastain episodes before it (I do recall several other episodes later having that tired feel in them, such as the Chadwick Boseman, Bill Hader, and Donald Glover episodes). Despite all of that, Natalie Portman was a very solid & game host who was sadly underutilized compared to her first hosting stint. I’m still shocked that she only hosted SNL twice since 2006, she could’ve been in the Five-Timers Club by now.
- Charles Barkley / Migos.
2 Replies to “February 3, 2018 – Natalie Portman / Dua Lipa (S43 E13)”
Okay, so you already know how I feel about this episode, as I told you via direct message on Twitter. And since I’m kinda lazy to come up with anything, here’s the breakdown I wrote for everyone else to see:
Cold Open: The typical weak open. Alex, Heidi, and Beck aren’t as good in these roles as Vanessa, Bobby, and Taran were, though Alex’s smug delivery and facial expressions did make me chuckle. Chris’ whole bit was okay, but not too great or laugh-worthy. Not entirely sure if I needed Cecily’s Hope Hicks, and I was disappointed that the Archive version isn’t the live print, meaning that I won’t get to see a distracting camera gaffe that was present in that version. And then things took a turn for the worse once it got to Trumpwin, as he soon started taking over the open from there, and made it somehow worse.
Monologue: Didn’t care for Natalie’s opening V for Vendetta joke, but that doesn’t matter, as that wasn’t the main focus of the monologue. I actually like the concept of the monologue being treated like an Olympic sport. Granted, it’s not exactly the best usage of Natalie, but this still works, and Kenan and Kate were both solid as the commentators, as Kate had plenty of funny lines. The whole “instant replay” portion amuses me, as it’s pretty obvious that it’s not slow-mo. Also, during the field reporter segment with Leslie, I couldn’t help but notice the boom mic over Natalie.
Revolutionary War: Not too sure what to make of this sketch. The performances did amuse me and helped make this tolerable, but the material didn’t leave enough to be desired. Didn’t care much for Tina Fey’s walk-on, and did we really need Pete breaking? Also, during the ending, you could unintentionally see the boom mic hanging from above. This is also the moment where I realize that Natalie and Tina bear a slight resemblance. I also realized that the last time Natalie hosted was also Rachel and Tina’s last season. Make that of what you will, as that’s more interesting to me than what we got here.
Stranger Things 3: This was weak. The concept of all these mutants having downsides to their powers isn’t great, and the sketch just kept repeating itself. Pete’s purely Pete Davidson-esque bit didn’t work for me, and I didn’t need to hear farting. I didn’t care for the voice Kenan used in his walk-on, and the meta ending was weak and baffling. My biggest laughs came from Luke cooking chili, but that’s just more of a testament to how enjoyable he was in his one year.
Natalie’s Rap 2: Now, when you’re making a follow-up to a classic, the chances of it being as good are highly unlikely, and this is no exception. Natalie committed once again, but her rapping wasn’t as funny or shocking. Plus, it’s missing the DIY feel of the first one, mostly due to how much of a bigger budget SNL has with their short films nowadays compared to the budget they had in Season 31. Also, from a musical standpoint, the music here isn’t interesting to listen to, and Andy’s cameo was ruined by the fact that he was obviously autotuned. Boy, tonight’s episode isn’t off to a good start, is it?
Weekend Update: Plenty of strong jokes as expected, with some of my favorites being the Transformers quote, Colin being the slave owner (?), and the Jesus joke. However, aside from Willie, I wasn’t crazy about any of the guest commentaries. I didn’t like Kate and Aidy’s commentary at all, it went on too long, it was self-indulgent, and I didn’t like Kate’s prosthetics. Pete’s commentary also wasn’t too good, and it was kinda boring. Willie’s commentary may not have been as funny as other commentaries, but the lines “You had us at free boat trip” and “Your dog’s a puppy molester” are hilarious and have always stuck with me.
Alien Lover: Uh…how the hell did this make it past dress? This is a rather dumb and juvenile concept, and not even the good kind. In fact, parts of it give me unwanted flashbacks to that alien probing sketch from the Season 30 Johnny Knoxville episode. The only positive thing I can say here is that Natalie was solid in her performance. And hey, at least she looked great in that outfit.
Kids’ Choice Awards: I’m kinda shocked by how much I don’t remember from this sketch. For one thing, I didn’t catch the fact that all of Natalie’s screaming in the beginning was done in pre-taped flashbacks. Second, I don’t remember Pete’s part. Third, I don’t remember the ending. Anyways, back to the sketch, I will say that Natalie did a convincing job sounding hoarse, and she once again looked great tonight. That said, though, this was a rather flimsy premise for a sketch that kinda wore itself thin as it progressed. Also, I’m not sure if we needed to see Kate’s Ellen, since she hadn’t done it in four years.
First Ladies: The smoke was cued up a bit too early, and unfortunately, the sketch as a whole started to have a rather dead vibe to it. When it got to Aidy’s Martha Washington, I think Natalie might have been looking at the cue cards. In fact, I actually noticed that during one part of the Alien Lover sketch. Also, casting Leslie as Michelle Obama must be a sign of how SNL is short on black women this season, as she is NOTHING like Michelle. If this were the current season, Michelle probably would’ve been played by Ego.
Bunny: Unfortunately, the Archive print of this episode cuts off after the first minute-and-a-half of this sketch, so I had to watch it on YouTube. Anyways, the sketch wasn’t too great. I didn’t love Aidy’s characterization, and the humor was only mildly funny at best. However, it was still decent, and not too bad a way to end the night, at least compared to most of what we got in this second half.
Final Thoughts: Not too good an episode. Like Natalie’s last episode, there were some good moments, but they were few and far between, and they were outnumbered by the segments I didn’t care for too much, particularly in the second half, where I barely cared for anything, and the only good segment in that half being average. The fact that the My Little Step Children segment that was cut was better than anything tonight frustrates me even more. Natalie Portman is now 2-for-2 in terms of SNL episodes that aren’t too good or too bad. Speaking of Natalie, she was once again a solid and committed host (probably moreso than last time), but she really should’ve been given better material in both of her hosting stints.
And as always, the averages:
Gosling – 6.8
Gadot – 6.3
Nanjiani – 7.0
David – 7.0
Haddish – 7.2
Chance – 7.1
Ronan – 7.3
Franco – 7.6
Hart – 4.9
Rockwell – 6.9
Chastain – 6.0
Ferrell – 6.1
Portman – 5.6
Natalie’s Rap ***½
I prefer the first one but still frickin awesome.
Alien Lover ****½
Yet another Beck Bennett sketch that I love this was hilarious.
Kids Choice Awards ****
A nice sketch the scene with Pete was amazing.