We open cold with the Lawrence Welk (Fred Armisen) take on Mother's Day, so many tiny bubbles and a tease to the Jugglettes: Rachel Dratch, Tina Fey and Molly Shannon. Not a reference to the Juggalos so far as I know. OK, audience, cool it. Stop applauding just because you see Betty White alive. Here she's mother to the sister act of Janice (Amy Poehler), Peggy (Maya Rudolph), Clara (Ana Gasteyer) and tiny-handed big-foreheaded Judice (Kristen Wiig), who sing with Will Forte. Look. They got all of the old ladies in the open with one of Wiig's crazy characters and gave White as little as possible to do. Don't get me wrong. It's cute and all. But this is a comedy entertainment show. Let's try to keep some perspective on it? Just showing up does not automatically warrant complete fawning. A little bit of fawning is expected, though. See? Perspective.
White makes it to center stage in a quicker time than either of my grandmothers did when they were 88 (especially since one never made it to that age). "It's great to be here for a number of reasons," White said. She reminds us that in the 1950s, they didn't want to go live, either, but they didn't know how to do it otherwise. She thanks Facebook, before mocking it. And let there be old people jokes. White does a nice aside while joking about poking. "Guess what? Jay-Z is here! If I had a dime for everytime I've said that, I'd have a dime!" Nicely played. Nicely executed.
MacGruber! Ready for the movie? Ready or not, MacGruber is working with his Nana (White) now, who keeps embarrassing him in front of Vicki (Wiig). As in past weeks, SNL has put the night's trilogy of MacGruber bits into one clip, which will roll at your convenience:
An NPR scene brings back "Delicious Dish," a recurring scene hosted by Gasteyer and Shannon -- and best known for their "Schweddy Balls" bit with then-host Alec Baldwin. Tonight they're celebrating dietary fiber. Their guest is Florence Dusty (White), and she is known for her muffin. "I can't wait to taste your muffin." And so on, and so forth. Dusty admits that bakers of her day may have dry, crusty or even yeasty muffins. Just ask her how long it has been since her muffin had a cherry. We dare you. So yes, you'll probably want to see this:
The first ad of the night is the Snickers Super Bowl ad with Betty White, and don't forget Abe Vigoda! The second ad is for the MacGruber movie. The third ad is for beer. The fourth ad is for Sex and the City 2, which you need to drink a lot of beer before deciding that's a good idea. The fifth ad is for an iPhone. The seventh ad is for Betty White's new TV Land sitcom.
With so many former cast members of Saturday Night Live returning to help out guest host Betty White, we knew we were in for a lot of reunions with old characters. And we were, but a few didn't make the final cut after last night's SNL dress rehearsal, including Rachel Dratch's "Debbie Downer," a new "Bronx Beat" with Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph, a "Joyologist" session with Ana Gasteyer and Molly Shannon, and a slightly misguided "press conference" for the failed Times Square car bomber Faisal Shahzad.
NBC has put these online, but should any of them made it onto the live show? Let's review.
Kristen Wiig's character tried to host a lingerie party with Tina Fey, Maya Rudolph, Molly Shannon, and Amy Poehler, Ana Gasteyer, and a latecomer to the party, Dratch's Debbie Downer.
Nobody lost it in the scene, but this did feature a flashback to when Debbie wasn't such a downer, but her grandma (Betty White) taught her everything she'd know. Oh, there was a dig at BP for the current Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
In Bronx Beat with Betty (Poehler) and Jodi (Rudolph), they talk about Betty's second pregnancy, pool noodles, and Mother's Day wishes. And White plays Betty's mother, retired to Florida. White plays the straight woman in this sketch. Andy Samberg also appears as White's yoga instructor and her boyfriend. Cougar alert! So if you hoped to hear White talk more about having sex, well, here is that chance.
OK. In "Joyologist," Ana Gasteyer brought back her character Gayle Gleason, host of a TV show called "Pretty Living" that now only appears in the backs of taxi cabs. And she welcomed back Helen Madden, Molly Shannon's renowned "joyologist." Two old characters in one new sketch. "I love it, I love it, I love it," Shannon's Madden said. What do you think? Do you like her new friend?
If they had put these sketches on the air, do you know that most of the current SNL cast could have taken the week off?!? Really.
And this sketch in which Faisal Shahzad (Fred Armisen) holds a press conference to express his displeasure with how the media has mocked his failed attempt to blow up an SUV in Times Square the previous Saturday, with translation from Maya Rudolph's character. It. Well. Hmmm. Doesn't Shahzad speak at least some English, anyhow? Roll it.
Tonight on NBC, Saturday Night Live went primetime with "A Very Gilly Christmas," with Kristen Wiig's Gilly character introducing clip packages and performing in small sketches with Will Forte as her principal foil. Some funny highlights from the vault. But here are two blasts from the past that really take the Christmas cake, courtesy of recurring guest host Alec Baldwin. First, they showed the Christmas spoof of "Glengarry Glen-Ross," with Baldwin showing up to give the elves in Santa's Workshop the business. This is from Season 31, Episode 8 (SNL #31.8), with Fred Armisen, Rachel Dratch, Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers as the elves, and watch for Baldwin to make a flub so great it's almost not a flub at all. Roll the clip!
Then, toward the very end of the two-hour special, Baldwin himself introduced this clip from Season 24, Episode 9 (SNL #24.9), in which Baldwin played Pete Schweddy, owner of a store called Season's Eatings, and guest on an NPR talk show with Ana Gasteyer and Molly Shannon. Yes. We're going to be hearing a lot about Pete's Schweddy balls. Roll the clip!
Good to see Chicago's mainstream and new media all take ample note of Second City's 50th anniversary celebration this weekend. I couldn't make it out there, but still feel like I could bear witness to some of the fun through all of the coverage. Chicago's two major daily newspapers, the Tribune and the Sun-Times, both covered it. Here's the Sun-Times report on the reunion shows. The Trib had a whole section of stories on Second City's 50th that kicked off last Sunday. Time Out Chicago has a large gallery of Second City snapshots, interviews and reviews, too. And The A.V. Club's Chicago bureau weighed in with some more Second City interviews. Dig in!
If you'd prefer your recaps by video, here's one Second City reunion sketch featuring Bonnie Hunt and Richard Kind, among others:
And here is the AP's overview, which opens on an old Second City sketch starring Tina Fey and Rachel Dratch that would end up becoming a recurring SNL bit on "wicked" Bostonians:
Last night's showcases also included an onstage reunion of Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert, plus Rachel Dratch, Bonnie Hunt, Jack McBrayer, Paul Dinello, Jeff Garlin and more (read the Trib's blog post or Time Out Chicago's lengthier recap). That followed Saturday morning's panel with "The Colbert Report," most all of whom were groomed for greatness at Second City.
Oh, also, thanks to intrepid legendary Chicago movie critic Roger Ebert for reminding me that NPR also talked to Second City about Second City this weekend. Here's the Morning Edition report on Second City's 50th:
Rachel Dratch stars and co-wrote Spring Breakdown, a comedy that has Dratch, Amy Poehler and Parker Posey getting mixed up with the shenanigans of spring break. It's been sitting on the shelf for a while, with little prospects for distribution, so Dratch got her film into Sundance, which ensured not only a live big-screen debut, but also a chance for some buzz and perhaps something more. Dratch, Poehler, Parker, Jane Lynch, Missi Pyle and director Ryan Shiraki took a few minutes this weekend to talk with the Sundance Channel about the film: