Sunday, May 9, 2010

No, thank YOU for being our friend, Betty White. And for saving SNL.

Considering how much I've been down on Saturday Night Live this season, I was honestly hoping that they didn't manage to mess up what should have been a slam dunk. After all, my anticipation was high, since I had been following the "Betty White for host!" movement in two different posts, here and here. Plus, Jay-Z was the musical guest, and I love Jay-Z! (You know, in a ghetto thug way, because I'm street.)

There was electricity in the air from the opening skit, as Betty White got such a reaction from the studio audience that she could barely sputter out her first line. This, and the digital short that closed the show, were moments that brought a smile to my face. Similar to the Super Bowl or the clinching game of a World Series or election night, you just got the feeling that you were watching something special. The episode probably did a great rating - I'm going to guess the highest of the season for a kind of mediocre one for Saturday Night Live.

With that as background, this episode was... pretty average. Unfortunately, there were a slew of rehashed skits, like the spoof of Lawrence Whelk and the dancing Spanish language sketch, that left Betty with small cameo roles. Most of her humor derived from saying dirty words in sketches, like one that consisted of her saying "Lesbian!" about a dozen times.

The two best sketches, outside of the always good Weekend Update, were rehashes. It was the prison outreach sketch, with Kenan and Betty yelling at kids to stay straight. It wasn't original in the slightest, but Betty got plenty of lines, unlike a lot of the other sketches. In the skit before the goodbyes, Tina Fey played a census taker, a funny re-do of a skit from a couple years ago featuring Tim Meadows and Christopher Walken.

Spicing up a lot of the show were a slew of guest appearances by former female cast members. I spotted Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Molly Shannon, Ana Gasteyer, Rachel Dratch and Maya Rudolph, who pregnancy has been very, very good to. In fact, the only person I was surprised not to see was Cheri Oteri; I would have figured her as a participant. And while I was really hoping for a super-special-surprising cameo, like Julia-Louis Dreyfus or Sarah Silverman, it wasn't meant to be.

Oh, and by the way, Jay-Z performed! His first "song" was actually a shockingly long medley of several songs that lasted about six or seven minutes. I'm for it, since I'm a big fan. The second song was merely average though, and the dedication at the end to Betty White felt a bit cheesy. Plus, hey, no Beyonce? C'mon Jay, pull out all the stops!

All in all, this was one of the better episodes of the season, which is like being the beauty queen of Bumfuk, Indiana. However, the reaction Betty got made it worth watching and experiencing.

Grade: B

The bumper picture from SNL is from this review of the show.

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