Poor Taylor Lautner. He showed up on the set of Saturday Night Live ready to go all-out and commit himself to whatever the writers threw his way. Unfortunately, they ended up throwing a bunch of duds in his direction.
Every week, when I recap SNL, I find myself typing something along the lines of "the host did the best they could with the material they were given." It seems to be a common theme this season: the host tries, the writing fails. It isn't just that the skits are bad, it's that the show has increasingly started to resort to cheap shots and Seth MacFarlane-style jokes in order to get a few laughs. Maybe next week we should watch the show with SNL bingo cards: gay joke, Fred Armisen taking on his role as "guy who plays all ethnicities," Kenan in drag, etc. But for now, let's concentrate on last night.
The show was not lacking in Tiger Woods jokes last night; after the controversy that sprung up around the domestic violence-based skit the show put forward last week, the writers apparently decided to take a different direction, concentrating on Woods' sponsors and the affair-having spotlight he's "stolen" from politicians such as John Edwards, Mark Sanford, and John Ensign:
Taylor Lautner then appeared for his monologue, which focused mainly on his girlfriend, Taylor Swift, and her experiences with Kanye West at the MTV VMAs. While the story is a bit stale and played out at this point, I'll say this about Lautner: he really committed 100% to whatever they asked him to do. He was enthusiastic and willing to look silly, and though he could have just sat there and clipped his toenails and 50% of the viewing audience would have squealed happily, he was willing to mock his own shirtless werewolf image and make people laugh:
Kristen Wiig has a few characters that fall under the love/hate category: Gilly, Target Lady, and Penelope seem to either be people's favorites or the reason they change the channel. Sue, the aunt who can't control her excitement, is another one of those characters:
Jason Sudeikis did a series of sketches based around the fallout from the Tiger Woods scandal; while the jokes got a bit old after the first time, it was hard not to laugh as Sudeikis deteriorated into desperation. He's been excellent all season, as has much of the cast. It's one of the reasons the writing is so frustrating; there's a lot of talent on the stage, but it's being wasted on stupid skits.
It has become an SNL requirement, of course, to build a skit around gay jokes, and this show choir sketch was this week's entry:
I'm still not sure what to make of this doorbell sketch (I started out confused but ended up laughing at the absurdity of it), though I will say it was nice to see Jenny Slate, Nasim Pedrad, and Abby Elliott get so much screen time this week:
The entire show seemed pretty tired and a bit off; it was surprising that "Jon Bovi" didn't make an appearance on Weekend Update, though Fred Armisen's "Native American" comedian did. The cast ended up participating in a bunch of high school or teeny bopper skits, much like they did with Swift (and to a certain extent, Megan Fox), though it just felt obligatory due to Lautner's inclusion, which is understandable considering his age and the majority of his fan base. This seems to be another issue this season; the hosts are all very young, and for the most part, aimed at a specific audience (Blake Lively, Taylor Swift, Taylor Lautner, January Jones, Megan Fox). Maybe I'm just a cranky old lady, but it would be nice to have a host show up once in a while who doesn't have to explain who they are and where they come from. ("That woman from Gossip Girl/Mad Men" or "That guy from Twilight.")
On the other hand, Lautner, Swift, and Lively all did their best and were decent hosts; it was the skits that were terrible. James Franco is the host next week, and though I don't doubt he'll do a good job, I'm not sure it really matters anymore who hosts the show (well, with the exception of the January Jones episode), or even the cast of the show (which is really great, if you think about it) as long as they commit 100%, they can't really be faulted for doing the best with the material they've been given. It would just be nice if they were given better material once in a while. I know it's a decades-old tradition to bitch about the quality of SNL, but this season seems to be bad in the worst kind of way, and ultimately, it has been completely forgettable.