Saturday Night Live got off to a rocky season premiere, starting with its choice of host. There was no way Lorne Michaels and company could have known, when they booked Fox, that Jennifer’s Body would be a box-office disappointment. (Which doesn’t also mean it’s a bad movie — I don’t know; haven’t seen it.) But the fact that Fox didn’t even mention Jennifer as part of her resume in introducing herself at the top of the show suggests how much distance she wants to put herself from the film already. It was distractingly awkward.
Whether by her choice or the show’s, Fox was used primarily as — well, as a body. She matched Wiig’s Southern accent in the early flight-attendant sketch, and did some nice acting opposite Will Forte in a well-written Digital Short that was primarily a showcase for Forte’s beautifully calibrated sensitive-nerd SWAT team leader. But in playing a beautiful Russian bride, a cynical chat-line spokesmodel, and a curvy stooge for Kenan Thompson’s terrific Grady-Wilson-teaches-you-sexual-positions commercial, Fox was fine, but she didn’t really stretch her comedy muscles.
New cast members Jenny Slate and Nasim Pedrad didn’t appear much, although Slate may get some unwanted attention for apparently using the f-word by accident during a sketch called “Biker Chick Chat.” Please don’t punish Slate, and back off, FCC — it was clearly an accident.
Wiig, by contrast, was over-worked, popping up all over to little effect, reprising her “Judy Grimes” character, who says, “Just kidding!” a lot, and in an unfortunately long final sketch with a long title: “Your Mom Talks To Megan Fox While You’re Getting Ready.”
Kenan Thompson was really funny as the Sanford and Son character Grady in the Burnin’ Up The Bedsheets DVD sketch mentioned above, and he almost singlehandedly saved a rather drab “Weekend Update” segment with a fresh version of his recurring character Jean K. Jean (“Bon to the jour, Seth!”). Also on the plus-side, Forte (sporting a nice just-joined-the-armed-forces-style haircut) and Bill Hader managed to wring laughs from even weak sketches on the strength of their intonation and delivery.
And: U2 sounded strong, in its usual, overblown way.
Did you watch Saturday Night Live? What did you think?