Well, Saturday Night Live's run of uneven-but-not-terrible shows came to an end this week with an experiment in nostalgia that didn't really pay off. Former cast member Dana Carvey returned to host and not promote anything except the fact that he used to be on the show. I was nervous that SNL would use the occasion to truck out a bunch of Carvey's old sketches, and my worst fears were quickly realized when the show opened with a "Wayne's World" sketch which also featured Mike Meyers (did anyone else think it seemed like those two don't really like each other? I've heard stories over the years, but it really seemed clear during the sketch). Carvey's former castmate Jon Lovitz showed up, too, once again to remind us that the show was once really funny. Unfortunately, everyone spent the rest of the episode proving that maybe those sketches we hold in such high regard aren't really so great after all. Or maybe they were funny in the late '80s and early '90s and just don't work anymore. Maybe we've all moved on. Or maybe the mix just didn't work -- the current cast and our current sense of humor and these old sketches that weren't updated in any way to make them still feel relevant. Or funny. It's like one of those mysteries that the Insane Clown Posses are always rapping about.
- "Cold Open: Wayne's World" - Yay for 1991! Two guys who used to be Mike Meyers and Dana Carvey opened the show with the first "Wayne's World" sketch in many, many years. And boy did we miss it! I get that everyone thought this was a good idea (because nostalgia), but all it really did was suggest that maybe "Wayne's World" was never quite as funny as we have collectively agreed to believe in the last two decades. That, or maybe our national sense of humor has changed in 20 years, and "monkeys flying out of my butt" just won't cut it anymore. (Watch the "Cold Open: Wayne's World" video)
- "Dana Carvey Monologue" - Sticking with the nostalgia theme, Dana Carvey performed a song (because monologue) about how his cast was the best in the show's history. He might be right, too. Jon Lovitz came out to agree with him. As a fan of the show and its history, there was a small thrill to be had from this moment. I can imagine younger or more casual fans who happened to tune in might not really care. They might be right. (Watch the "Dana Carvey Monologue" video)
- "Church Chat" - Yay for 1988! This wasn't really even very funny many, many years ago, so it doesn't stand much of a chance in our modern computer technology robot times. I still like The Kardashians (and still argue that they shouldn't speak any recognizable words, merely whine a series of noises) and Bobby Moynihan's Snookie kind of makes me laugh (did anyone else kind of forget about Bobby Moynihan in the last few weeks? Has he not been on much?), but I guess the big news out of this sketch was the appearance of Justin Bieber. It's not that I don't really care, it's that I don't really care. (Watch the "Church Chat" video)
- "Teen Crisis Hotline" - The week's requisite "Spot the Impression" sketch, because SNL can't get enough of those this season. It was fun to see Bill Hader bring back his Alan Alda, and Abby Elliot's Anna Faris is uncanny (if only more people knew who Anna Faris is). And Dana Carvey did Mickey Rooney! Because he hasn't learned a new impression since leaving the show 20 years ago? I'm pulling for Jay Pharoah, too, but he has yet to really do anything that will allow me to defend him. Maybe the show could have do more than impressions of black celebrities every week. JUST KIDDING, SNL. You guys know what's best. (Watch the "Teen Crisis Hotline" video)
- "Pageant Preview" - Yikes. I wasn't really digging on all the "greatest hits" sketches the show was trudging out to celebrate Dana Carvey hosting, but this "new" sketch was a pretty big step down even from those. Vanessa Bayer can make me laugh with just a look (I'm sure that will go away soon enough, as it so often does when the show overuses female cast members), but a lot of this sketch was kind of embarrassing. (Watch the "Pageant Preview" video)
- "The Roommate" - Sometimes, I question Saturday Night Live's choices to parody things that are barely in the pop culture zeitgeist. Take this week's spoof of the teen thriller The Roommate, which most of us don't know is a movie. Apparently, it is. Justin Bieber made his second appearance and Andy Samberg once again relies heavily on being a cartoonish nerd. Still, "Sir Ben Kingsley" and "Burn! The Roommate!" made me laugh, so it wasn't a total waste. (Watch the "Roommate" video)
- "Bad News Commercial" - Look, I'm predisposed to like this because it showcases Abby Elliot despite the fact that none of her characters seem to possess the nuance or confidence of more experienced cast members. Also, I think she's on to something here that never quite gels -- the way this character says a bunch of words but never actually says anything (what my friend John refers to as "word salad"). Oddly enough, this appears to have been taped for last week, because I'm pretty sure I saw Jesse Eisenberg sitting at the table in the opening shot.
- "Sports Bar" - Yikes? Yikes. The final sketch is always a gamble -- either a gem that someone is getting away with or a dumping ground. What's this one? (Watch the "Sports Bar" video)
- Original Air Date: 2/5/11
- Host: Dana Carvey
- Musical Guest: Linkin Park