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SNL: The Season So Far 2007

Seth Rogen and Kristen Wiig as nerdy kids.

Comedy fans like to make a sport of critiquing Saturday Night Live, and Jester is no exception (see last year's "Season So Far" review). A great deal of this can be just taste, but I try to look at it with a universal but informed point of view. This season has generally been stronger and less uneven so far than the first episodes of last year.

The season opener, featuring LeBron James, did not yield anything as hilarious as the Peyton Manning short last year of him lambasting kids as a youth league coach. In fact, the opening monologue that segued into a sketch was a bit muddled and didn't really get its point across. But James did a nice job as straight man to two recurring characters, first attention junkie Penelope played by Kristen Wiig, and later cocky video production assistant Mike Underballs, played by Jason Sudeikis. The Penelope sketch this time had much more variety to it, and was better written. The duds of the episode were "The Lyle Kane Show" and "106th and Park." A very good sketch -- "Great Moments In Guidance Counseling," that played off the hypothetical guidance counselor who advised James to skip college for the NBA, was buried way too late in the show. Grade: B minus.

The next episode, featuring hot comedic actor Seth Rogen, as host, came pretty close to being everything an SNL episode should be. No out and out dud sketches -- and a lot of strong memorable material. The recurring MacGyver parody (MacGruber) throughout the episode definitely grew on you. Rogen's monologue, reading from a note to himself as a teenager, worked well; his appearances as a quirky, nerdy and weird child in one sketch and a stoner colonist in another were letter perfect. Bill Hader's appearance as Animal from the Muppets was priceless. Grade: A.

Most recently, Jon Bon Jovi appeared as host, and nearly pushed the Foo Fighters off the show completely as musical guests (they only played one song, while Bon Jovi turned the monologue into a song, and also did another at the end). Again, no out and out terrible sketches as in the LeBron James episode, but overall nothing as strong as the Rogen episode, and not totally as consistent as that one either. The highlights were the cold open of a teenage Amy Poehler dreaming about Bon Jovi himself stepping out of the poster on her wall, circa 1986. Kristen Wiig, who can be very hit or miss -- the Target Lady character has never been all that great -- did a better job than usual as a starship captain becoming obsessed with a lost purse as invaders capture the ship. Of course, people were talking immediately about Andy Samberg’s short, “People Getting Punched Just Before Eating,” which like last year’s “Andy Popping Into Frame,” rides its musical soundtrack momentum and editing into making you laugh. Grade: B.

We’ll try to get back to you later in the season with another set of reviews.




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