How much better can Saturday Night Live get. Well let’s just say it doesn’t get any better that Saturday night. You can watch the best 5 min of the show after you’ve digested this recap. The man behind this summer’s crassest character pulled off one of classier Saturday Night Live opening monologues since Joseph Gordon-Levvit channeled Singin’ in the Rain.
In the season 38 premiere, Seth MacFarlane used a song to acknowledge the strangeness of seeing him in the flesh when audiences were more used to hearing his voice in Ted or Family Guy and in doing so he brought some insanity to an already insane show.
MacFarlane brought his cartoon characters to life during the show’s monologue, which devolved into an argument between man and voice.
One moment Seth was speaking. And then mid-thought there’s man-child Peter Griffin, discussing the “knockers” on the woman in the front row. And then there’s diabolical baby genius Stewie, making fun of Seth’s voices. And family dog Brian trying to keep the peace.
“Hey, can anybody get on this?” resident pervert Quagmire chimes in.
Giggity indeed. The monologue also featured MacFarlane singing about his voices, with the song featuring impersonations of George Takai, Marty McFly from “Back to the Future” and an insensitive Kermit the Frog.
This weekend’s episode marked forward steps for the show, which lost longtime cast members Kristen Wiig and Andy Samberg at the end of last season. The torch-passing was symbolized during the episode’s opening skit, a campaign stop showing President Obama.
The show opened to Fred Armisen – who’d performed as Obama for the previous six seasons – introducing the “new” president, played by cast member Jay Pharoah.
Pharoah approached the stage. He and Armisen shook hands.
And then it was Jay’s turn, with the new Obama ahh…ing his way to a successful beginning as SNL’s POTUS, describing the “Sanford & Son” economy and singing bars to Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together,” something the real Obama actually did at the Apollo Theater in January.
Of course, Clint Eastwood had to be included in SNL’s first episode – that chair escapade at the Republican National Convention was too good to pass up. So a boiling Bill Hader pulled up his slacks to play Eastwood in the mock one-man show “Eastwood and Chair.” The skit showed Clint giving it to other politicians, including New York Mayor Bloomberg and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
“Just let people eat soda,” he seethed to invisible Bloomberg.
For Christie? “I think we’re going to need a bigger chair.”
The episode’s puppet class skit was … interesting, featuring the most gratuitous puppet-on-puppet love since “Team America: World Police.” The skit showed a Grenada war vet (Hader) sharing horrific stories using his mullet-haired, aviator-wearing, cigarette-smoking puppet.
The episode’s musical act, R&B singer Frank Ocean, provided highlights with his powerful, soulful falsetto, performing “Thinkin Bout You” and “Pyramids.” He also brought along a special guest – John Mayer on guitar. Ocean sang amid blue light, surrounded on-stage by arcade games. And when he was done singing on “Pyramids,” he stepped to one of the games and started playing with the joystick as Mayer shredded. At the end of the song, Ocean turned to the camera and smirked. Pretty cool, huh?
Another memorable moment involved the South Korean rapper Psy, who performed his viral “Gangnam Style” dance for a set of Lids hat store employees.
The episode featured its rough points. The mock talk show “Sex After 50” was crass and tawdry, showing a slovenly host (Armisen) berating guests, including a gay man with performance issues (MacFarlane).
Another quirky skit was the late-episode ad for Woodenspoonwarehouse.com (that website leads to SNL’s homepage, by the way). The spot features a fully-bearded MacFarlane as an Amish man hocking spoons … but the whole premise was shaky since most Amish people hide their faces from camera.
But this was a night for MacFarlane and his voices. Those voices re-appeared late in the show during a “blind date” skit with MacFarlane and cast member Nasim Pedrad, an arms race of “I was all like” stories and bad impersonations. Eventually, the “Family Guy” voices emerged.
“And I’m all like, giggity-giggity-goo,” MacFarlane’s character said, mimicking Quagmire once again.
“Oh, don’t do Family Guy,” his date responded. “We’re 30.”
“OK…” he recoiled, dejected, burying his voices for another time.
Of course, I have to mention the most memorable lines:
President Jimmy Carter: “Nice work on those hostages. That turned out great.”
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg: “Just let people eat soda.”
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie: “We’re going to need a bigger chair.”
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SNL is new next week with host Joseph Gordon-Levitt and musical guest Mumford & Sons.