'Saturday Night Live' Review: "Eli Manning"

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Following in big brother Peyton Manning's footsteps, football star Eli Manning hosts this week's episode with musical guest Rihanna (who also stars in the upcoming 'Battleship'). But can a football player bring the funny? Let's find out in this week's review of 'SNL'!

Fox and Friends

The opening this week features Taran Killam, Vanessa Bayer, and Bobby Moynihan as the conservative Republican hosts of 'Fox and Friends,' complete with conspiracy theories, Obama slams, and general idiocy. Fred Armisen pops up as Rupert Murdoch.

Did it work? When 'SNL' gets  topical, they usually get it right, and their political opens are almost always spot-on. "Fox and Friends" is no exception; Bayer, Killam, and Moynihan each nail that patented Fox News moronic cockiness with zeal. Moynihan's bad joke about a panda on Weight Watchers lands well, and the scrolling list of corrections at the end takes the sketch to its peak.

Quote it: "You can do a lot with Photoshop. You can make glaciers look like they're melting. I once saw a picture of a mountain with four president's faces on it."

"I for one hope Hologram Tupac doesn't turn to a life of crime because he would be impossible to catch."

"Hakuna Matata!"

Opening Monologue

The running joke is Manning giving audience members advice on things to do in New York, like going to eat at Olive Garden (but you'll have to go to New Jersey) or standing outside 'The Today Show' to spot celebrities.

Did it work? Manning is clunky with mechanical line delivery. Let's hope he improves as the show goes on, or we're in for a long episode.

Mother's Day Gift

A fake commercial shows men surprising their wives and mothers with Mother's Day gifts from Amazon.com, only to find the women reading noted "mommy porn" book '50 Shades of Grey' while sexually pleasing themselves. Jason Sudeikis plays husband to Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader is paired with Vanessa Bayer, and Taran Killam plays son to Nasim Pedrad.

Did it work? So far 'SNL' is playing it pretty safe tonight, with reliable sketches like the political open and this commercial spoof. Wiig's agitated reaction, the rubber glove on Bayer's hand in the bathtub, and Pedrad in a dog collar while humping a washing machine with a picture of Joel McHale on top were all fantastic touches.

Quote it: "Cool! A microphone!" (Yeah, totally not a microphone, kiddo.)

Madden Motion Capture

Hader and Sudeikis are directing a motion capture for a Madden video game with Killam, Jay Pharaoh, Kenan Thompson, Andy Samberg, and Manning wearing mo-cap suits. Manning has to strike a touchdown pose, but they're all terrible.

http://www.hulu.com/watch/358363/saturday-night-live-motion-capture

Did it work? If this first sketch starring Manning is any indication, 'SNL' is using him wisely -- if a little too safe -- by letting him play a fictional version of himself. Between the cast members doing ridiculous touchdown moves (Pharaoh's is especially great), Manning's absurd pantomimes are quite funny, though it runs out of steam near the end, rescued by Samberg (as always).

Quote it:

"I'm not wearin' them funky ass pajamas."

Bananagram Murder Trial

Sudeikis plays a lawyer interrogating Manning, who has been accused of murder, while Hader plays the presiding judge. Sudeikis goes over several booty call texts Manning sent to women in the middle of the night, ending with a picture of him holding a bananas as if it were his penis.

Did it work? Manning is limited in this sketch, but having him give a facial representation of an emoticon and pronounce "kewl" works pretty well. The sketch does skew a bit too long, with the text message jokes becoming redundant and Hader relegate to the background.

Quote it:

"Kewl."

"Elderly butts."

Little Brothers

This sketch is a follow-up to Peyton Manning's United Way promo. In this one, Eli Manning is a big brother to a group of kids and uses the program as therapy for his own issues with big brother Peyton, by helping kids torture their biological big brothers.

Did it work? It gets right to the point, and a special appearance by Samberg works in some added magic.

Quote it:

"Nope. I'm your worst f--king nightmare."

WXPD News

Sudeikis and Pedrad play local news hosts with Herb Welch reporting from an Occupy Wall Street rally. Manning plays an organizer, and Thompson and Samberg play drum-beating hippies. Bayer pops up as a feminist.

Did it work? Hader as Herb Welch is guaranteed hilarity, especially when he inevitably "dies" and comes back. Hippie types are the perfect foil for Herb, too. Manning doesn't stand out in a good or bad way, which is fine, I suppose.

Quote it:

"Trying to press two for English."

"This year is my vagina, not your talking point!" "Can I interview that woman?"

Rihanna Performs "Talk That Talk"

Rihanna shows up in a sexy Atlantic City grandma Halloween costume. I'm pretty sure she keeps referring to her vagina as cake as she slaps it. Yes, Rihanna was slapping her (covered) vagina on television. Not sure this is the progress the suffrage movement was going for, but maybe Rihanna just read '50 Shades of Grey' in the green room.

Weekend Update

Kristen Wiig pops in as Patricia Krentcil, the mother addicted to fake tanning who imposed tanning on her five year old daughter. Sasha Baron Cohen makes a surprise appearance as General Aladeen from his upcoming film 'The Dictator,' with special hostage guest Martin Scorsese.

http://www.hulu.com/watch/358342/saturday-night-live-weekend-update-admiral-general-aladeen

Did it work? Wiig explaining her nightly beauty routine which involves her oiling up, sticking a baseball in her mouth and sleeping with her head under the mattress (like a baseball glove) is a highlight, but the real surprise is Baron Cohen, whose 'Dictator' bit is, admittedly, enjoyable. Another nice touch: Baron Cohen holds up a blood-smeared review from New York Times critic A.O. Scott. And it's really difficult to screw up with a cameo from Scorsese.

Quote it:

"There are plenty of men in New Jersey who would love to slap into this Slim Jim."

"You look like a baseball glove."

"You think this is torture? I had to sit through 'The Aviator.'"

"Silence, Rabbi Meyer!"

The greatest moment of the evening, without a doubt: 'SNL' airs a clip of the Beastie Boys performing "Sure Shot," with perhaps the greatest Adam Yauch/MCA lyric of all time: "I want to say a little something that's long overdue. The disrespect to women has got to be through. To all the mothers and the sisters and the wives and friends, I want to offer my love and respect to the end." Right back at you, MCA. Rest in peace.

What is This?

It's kind of hard to come back from that memorial clip, but Abby Elliott plays a game show host for "What is This?" Bayer, Hader, and Manning play contestants who have to guess what something is from a picture. Manning's character is also Elliott's boyfriend, whom she puts on the spot.

Did it work? Elliott's portrayal of a woman wanting answers from a non-committal boyfriend is so terrific. Bayer and Hader exist merely as peripheral supporting goofballs, and Manning is suitably aloof, owing largely to his natural demeanor. Elliott just really nails the slip from cheesy game show host to a serious (and kinda pushy) woman who may be a bit more into her boyfriend than vice versa.

Quote it:

"What is this? No, what is this? We've been seeing each other for six months."

Helga Lately!

Newcomer Kate McKinnon plays Helga Handler, the Swedish answer to Chelsea Handler in a sketch that spoofs 'Chelsea Lately.' Killam plays a sassy gay man -- sort of like a Swedish Perez Hilton, Wiig plays a blogger who can't stop talking about her vagina, and Thompson plays... well, that's unclear. Armisen plays the Chuy-like dwarf character and Manning is the special guest. Elliott, Bayer, and Pedrad show up as Swedish Kardashian sisters.

http://www.hulu.com/watch/358353/saturday-night-live-helga-lately

Did it work? If you're familiar with 'Chelsea Lately' then this sketch kind of works. If not, you're probably going to want to skip it. Worth noting is Kate McKinnon's ability to somehow pull off a perfect Swedish Chelsea Handler.

Quote it:

The Swedish 'Top Chef' is hosted by Swedish Chef of 'The Muppets,' because of course it is.

"Girl With the Dragon Tattoo."

Rihanna Performs "Where Have You Been"

Rihanna is back with "Where Have You Been." This time she's traded the spidery Atlantic City theme for Egypt and Cleopatra. Thankfully, she does not slap her vagina again.

Miss Drag World

Kenan Thompson hosts "Miss Drag World," with Andy Samberg as a DJ. Fred Armisen, Bobby Moynihan, and Eli Manning play the finalists.

Did it work? Men in women's clothing is easy comedy, but Manning is pretty awful and the sketch lacks any real comedic cohesion. It's just a dud.

Quote it:

Not really.

TCM: The Essentials

The works of Cheech and Chong are this week's TCM Essential, with special lost footage that shows Eli Manning as a third, totally square character named Richard to Bill Hader's Chong and Fred Armisen's Cheech.

Did it work? The general concept is laughable, and Chong's increasingly huge joints are a great sight gag. Manning only works slightly better here than the "Miss Drag World" sketch. Armisen's Cheech is quite perfect.

Quote it:

"Ride this big space joint."

Filed Under: Eli Manning, Rihanna, SNL
Categories: TV Reviews
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