SNL: Jonah Hill and Future – Solid Miss (Review) [video]

SNL episode 14 of season 41 drew Jonah Hill as host, his fourth time to do so, and with an solid miss on the comedy front, Hill probably felt that he should have stopped after number three.

 Saturday Night Live - Season 41
SNL episode 14 of season 41 drew Jonah Hill as host, his fourth time to do so, and with an solid miss on the comedy front, Hill probably felt that he should have stopped after number three. The music guest was Future; the hip-hop artist responsible for DS2 who did the obligatory two songs and come out to join Hill’s opening monologue and took part in a quick gag for Weekend Update.

Speaking of “Weekend Update,” this portion of the show was the highlight with a strong comic presence that kept the episode from going completely down the toilet. (Since two of Hill’s skits dealt with his characters soiling themselves, pun intended.) Without Jost and Che, along with the Vanessa Bayer/Kate McKinnon who trumped the Cecily Strong skit where she, once again, presents a pale version of the late great Gilda Radner‘s character “Roseanne Roseannadanna.”

Strong is a performer, however, it is not her fault that Radner got here first…

The real star performance of the episode belonged to the vastly underused Jay Pharaoh who ran through rapid fire impressions of the creme de la creme of black comics. With speed and apparent ease, Pharaoh did Eddie Murphy, Kat Williams, Chris Rock (who was so spot on it was eerie), Chris Tucker and even the late Bernie Mac before admitting that the “secret” meeting he was reporting on was all made up.

Saturday Night Live - Season 41
Jay Pharaoh killing it…

Pharaoh was the best bit of the show and only the Bayer and McKinnon skit with Kate as 115 year-old Flossie Dickie as a most unwilling interviewee came close. Although that was mainly because of Bayer’s character trying to shove the microphone in “Flossie’s” mouth and Kate came dangerously close to corpsing as her grimace fought valiantly against an amused grin.

Saturday Night Live - Season 41
Vanessa Bayer and Kate McKinnon

The pre-taped Donald Trump advertisement was a glimpse back to SNL days of yore, where their “face” commercials were pithy, satirically perfect and, sometimes, with a hidden truth that was so funny it hurt. A great throwback to those pertinent ads of the 70s.

All of the sketches felt forced, un-funny and a little desperate. There were two “local” news skits; the first “Fond du Lac News” was a Wisconsin news program from, Fond du Lac…Where apparently the people who live in the “That ’70s Show state” all sound like they live in Fargo. The second was a “YouTube” type channel that felt completely flat as Jonah Hill played a “roving reporter” who visits a local “crush” who is having a breast reduction.

“The Champ” where Jonah Hill plays a high school wrestler who “wins” against a champion who has never lost before was interesting more than funny. The entire exercise felt like a very, not-so, sly dig at the MTV show Made, where
kids from high schools were “made” into “winning” versions of themselves.

 Saturday Night Live - Season 41
The Champ sketch could have been called “Un-Made.”

While the entire gag was clever, sly and poked fun at the concept that all the “players” in the MTV show were sincerely helping the high school wannabes it was not necessarily funny. It was, however, a great idea.

The Oakridge High student auction was, once again, a fine idea but it did just miss the mark. In a time when Google’s YouTube is more about subscribing to new channels and less about teenagers finding fame through “raw talent” the whole thing felt a bit, for lack of a better word, dated. Even Vine, which was the platform of the two “lads” in the skit, is being overtaken by Periscope.

Even Future made more of a splash than poor Hill who just missed the mark all the way around. It is not often that the musical guest does “double duty” and while the hip-hop artist was not overly involved, his brief comic bit, on the Weekend Update section, was funny.

McKinnon got three homers from her appearances as Flossie, Hilary and the cook with the odd and quirky (Northern?) English accent in the Clue, aka Cluedo scene. As another reviewer stated, “we are perfectly happy to sit and watch McKinnon mug for the camera and do what she does best.”

 Saturday Night Live - Season 41
Kate McKinnon (Maid in the middle) easily the best thing about this sketch…

And speaking of the “middle,” McKinnon got the highpoint of the political open where, as Hillary Clinton, she did the “stuck in the middle with you” gag. A close second to Kate’s win, was the reappearance of SNL alumnus Jason Sudeikis  as Mitt Romney.

Sadly, even though there were some comic moments in the show, Jonah Hill’s fourth time up was a clear miss. Mad props to Jay Pharaoh and Kate McKinnon for totally knocking it out of the park and kudos to Che and Jost for becoming such a consistent double act.

SNL is doing back-to-back airings , hopefully the second episode, aka number 15 does a better job of delivering the laughs.

 

Castle: The G.D.S. (Sneak Peek)

In Castle The G.D.S. (which stands for The Greatest Detective Society) Rick heads to Los Angeles to track down the mystery of his missing time.

NATHAN FILLION, GERALD MCRANEY, SUMMER GLAU
In Castle The G.D.S (which stands for The Greatest Detective Society) Rick heads to Los Angeles to track down the mystery of his missing time. After finding the clue in last week’s episode a’la OldBoy, Castle knows that Korea Town in LA was a clue.

He brings Alexis (Molly C. Quinn) and Hayley Vargas (Toks Olagundoye) with him and as seen in the first sneak peek, the ladies decide to drool over the delivery men while Richard gets an invite to The G.D.S.

Hayley tells Rick that the society is a sort of private detective fairy tale.

http://www.disneyabcpress.com/abc/video/ewssur3tia6_bwtggywfxkbcgkfa76ky/embed

Castle is recruited to help solve a murder and he, along with Hayley begin to follow the trail and Rick meets with an old acquaintance as part of his investigation. Things turn deadly once he agrees to look into the death.

The G.D.S. features Nathan Fillion’s old friend and cast-mate Summer Glau and former Longmire and Agent X actor Gerald McRaney

Summer Glau plays Kendall Frost, a stimulating and exciting private detective fromLos Angeles that tries to beat Rick to the punch at solving the murder. McRaney is Mason Wood, the head of the G.D.S. aka the Greatest Detective Society. Bad Boys II actor Jason Manual Olazabal is Detective Menendez.

In the second sneak peek Desperate Housewives actor Doug Savant appears as the new studio head that Castle has dealt with before; Victor Nigel, the man who brought “Heat Wave” to the screen and in the sneak peek below Nigel tells Rick, and Hayley that their showing up is “fate.”

http://www.disneyabcpress.com/abc/video/1mwgpvvtkiq_nn2jfeqdc6emmvzngu8_/embed?t=89

The G.D.S was written by Alexi Hawley and is directed by John Terlesky. The episode airs Monday on ABC.

Fresh Off the Boat: Michael Chang Fever – Checkmated at Tennis (Review)

Fresh Off the Boat: Michael Chang Fever proves that just when it seems that the Huang family comedy has peaked in terms of humor, this episode goes and knocks it out of the park. (Or more correctly, serves an ace with blazing comedic grace.)

CONSTANCE WU, RANDALL PARK

Fresh Off the Boat: Michael Chang Fever proves that just when it seems that the Huang family  comedy has peaked in terms of humor, this episode goes and  knocks it out of the park. (Or more correctly, serves an ace with blazing comedic grace.)  The episode opens with the Huang boys complaining about matching “Cool” backpacks and handing over the school’s career guidance letters.

Jessica (Constance Wu) informs her brood that it is her job to tell them what their jobs will be. In mid sentence she is amazed and excited to learn that Evan’s ideal job is surgeon general. Eddie reacts with derision.

Eddie: “Dang fool, even by Chinese standards you’re a nerd.”

Evan replies,”My backpack doesn’t agree with you.”

Mom is less thrilled at Emery’s ideal position; flight attendant. Jessica’s reaction is priceless:

“Flight attendants don’t even get a seat on the plane, they walk back and forth pushing a cart…They’re the homeless of the sky!”

Evan (Ian Chen) returns to the room back wearing a white coat and a toy stethoscope. He pokes Eddie and tells his big brother:

“Sir, your lab results are in. Your diagnosis–butt face.”

Eddie stares at the littlest Huang without expression.

This opening sets the comedic tone for the episode, where Lewis (Randall Park) rushes the family to the settee to watch Michael Chang play tennis in the Australian Open.  As he explains how luck the family are to have a proper Asian athlete to follow, Eddie and Evan manage to make good their escape. Only Emery stays to watch.

Later, after Lewis explains how much money can be made from being tennis professional, Jessica ordains that Emery will learn the game to keep him from becoming a flight attendant. At the local club, Emery (Forrest Wheeler) proves to be a natural, he is so adept at the sport that even tennis legend  Billie Jean King is impressed.

Emery is so good that Jessica puts him in Eddie’s room and forces the oldest Huang child to share with Evan. Eddie (Hudson Yang) learns that Evan is being bullied for Pogs and offers advice on how to “be a bear” and put the bully off.

As the middle son wins his way through the “Under 16” tennis tournament, Jessica and Lewis react with excitement until Emery fires them both and “hires” Ms. King to be his coach.  Eddie learns that the bear trick does not work and he steps in to help out Evan.

FORREST WHEELER, BILLIE JEAN KING
FORREST WHEELER, BILLIE JEAN KING

It is revealed that Evan is not being bullied, he owes the Pogs to a girl (a fifth grader) who keeps beating him at the game. Big brother actually helps Evan to win and it is revealed that the youngest sibling has a “gambling problem.”

Grandma (Lucille Soong) Huang is enlisted by Eddie to help him beat the fifth grader, Emery wins the “Under 16” tournament, and realizes that as much as he likes the winning, he really would rather be a flight attendant. 

Jessica plants a seed about becoming an astronaut instead. Evan and Eddie develop a great brotherly bond, although the eldest does rearrange the star stickers on the ceiling from Evan’s Equinox setting to spell out “Wu-Tang.”

Standout Moments:

Ian Chen, doing his Ken Jeong “Dr.  Ken” impression talking smack. Priceless.

Emery and Billie Jean King doing the “winner’s perm stroll.”

Lewis and Jessica’s reactions each time that Emery wins a match.

Billie Jean King’s temper tantrum.

Constance Wu’s line “checkmated at tennis…”

Constance Wu totally rocking it this week, easily becoming a firm favorite as more of her character is revealed. Wu is brilliant at understated comedy and this episode proves it.

Final Thoughts:

This was, perhaps, the best Fresh Off the Boat yet. The storyline, Billie Jean King (along with all those 90s tennis star references, Sampras, Becker, Agassi and of course Michael Chang) plus the pop culture reference to the 1998 video Wu-Tang; starring the band-members made this one especially brilliant.

Ian Chen just finished a “cross-over” role on Dr. Ken playing Dave Park’s decoy for the babysitter. Randall Park is due to play role on Jeong’s comedy series as well and “Dr. Ken” himself is also slated to appear on Fresh Off the Boat.  Both these Asian comedies, with very different approaches to the genre, are funny and addictive.

Fresh Off the Boat, with its basis in fact (a re-telling of the real Eddie Huang’s childhood) is not filmed in front of a studio audience and is more of a cultural comedy than Dr. Ken but both shows work very  well.  In each show, the family’s children; Molly and Dave Park and the three Huang boys, have young actors who kill it every week in terms of performance.

Fresh Off the Boat airs Tuesdays on ABC. Tune in and discover a great comedy that just keeps getting better and better.

 

 

The Walking Dead Episode 14: Dealing With the Elephant in the Room

The Walking Dead Episode 14: Dealing With the Elephant in the Room

In episode 14 of The Walking Dead the elephant in the room is finally dealt with. Although it could be said that the show dealt with two elephants in the room. The teaming of Tyreese and Carol, combined with the fact that this second half of season four has been broken into the various groups of survivors from the prison attack, has certainly cranked up the level of viewer tension.