“Saturday Night Live” rocked it like it was 1991 with host Dana Carvey. Old characters, familiar faces and a classic, let’s-dump-the-iffy-stuff-after-“Weekend Update” structure gave Saturday’s (Feb. 5) show a vintage feel.
Not every sketch worked, but those that did brought some good laughs. Some of the highlights from the night:
Cold open: It’s Friday, it’s 10:30
You’re watching Cable 10, Aurora … which means “Wayne’s World”! Mike Myers joined Carvey to reprise their most famous characters from their previous time on the show as Wayne and Garth break down the Oscar race. Unsurprisingly, their favorite film of the year is “Winter’s Bone” (snigger, snigger). Carvey also lets loose with a spectacularly filthy line about “Black Swan”: “Natalie Portman’s so hot, I could make a Mila out of her Kunis.” We’re with Wayne on this one: Do you kiss your mother with that mouth, Garth? Still, a nice, nostalgic start to the show.
Dana Carvey’s monologue
Carvey reminisces about his time as a cast member, then launches into a little ditty about how the 1986-93 cast was the best ever. (And short of the original cast, he’s got a strong case: Carvey, Phil Hartman, Jan Hooks, Dennis Miller, Nora Dunn, Jon Lovitz, Myers, Kevin Nealon, Chris Rock in the latter years — they were pretty fantastic.) As part of the bit, he calls Kristen Wiig “Karen Wong” and Bill Hader “Rainn Wilson” (big thumbs for the latter), then did the big finish with Lovitz. Acting!
The nostalgia train continues with “Church Chat,” and given the state of pop culture these days — “The most popular comedy on TV is ‘One and a Half Men and a Whoremonger,'” she notes — Church Lady has a lot to demonize. It begins with the Kardashians (“the holy trinity of sluts”) and continues with Snooki (complete with failed exorcism). Guest No. 3 is Justin Bieber, and Church Lady feels something — and it’s not the holy spirit.
After a celebrity impression-filled quickie called “VH1 Celebrity Teen Crisis Center” (Hader’s Alan Alda, Jay Pharaoh‘s Eddie Murphy and Carvey’s Mickey Rooney good, Fred Armisen‘s Ice-T and Abby Elliott‘s Anna Faris bad), we get a subpar filmed piece goofing on “The Roommate” with Andy Samberg and Bieber. Too on the nose.
Musical guest Linkin Park
The band performed “Waiting for the End” and “When They Come for Me” — the latter of which was for some reason shown in black and white. We’re not big Linkin Park fans, but they sounded fine.
Seth Meyers is his usual solid self on “Update.” We like the Egypt winners and losers bit (“You cannot punch the handsome off Anderson Cooper”) and his Charlie Sheen joke, in which Meyers notes that “Two and Half Men” crew members are wondering if Sheen will pay them for the downtime he caused by entering rehab: “Be careful, crew: He expects a lot of things when he’s paying you.”
Meyers and Paul Brittain absolutely nail a running bit with the movie-starring, Oscar-hosting, class-teaching, documentary-making James Franco, however. After he explains to Meyers that “I like having jobs!” and details his plans to play in the Super Bowl, then go to Disney World to work on Space Mountain, he starts reading Meyers’ next item. Then a moment later he’s holding the cue cards. And as “Update” ends he comes in to wipe off the desk. It wasn’t big, but it clicked, and it was one of the funnier moments of the night for us.
Everything after ‘Update’
There was junk — what, exactly, was the point of the pageant coordinators sketch? There were good moments buried in longer, less funny sketches, such as Carvey’s Regis Philbin telling Kelly Ripa (Nasim Pedrad) and Gelman (Taran Killam) that when he leaves “Live,” he’s starting his own network: “I’m calling it REGIS! It’s gonna have everything! TD Bank commercials, Joey Bishop reruns and a reality show called ‘So You Think You Can Shout!'”
And there were a couple goofy-but-sort of charming sketches too. Carvey and Armisen’s New Wave band drives a bunch of Packer fans out of a bar before the game starts gave us a couple chuckles, and Elliott’s fake ad for Deirdra Wurtz, downsizing expert, made us laugh probably more than it should have, thanks to her slightly slurry delivery and not-quite-focused eyes.
What did you think of “SNL” this week? Were you digging the retro vibe?