Well! Last night was the 34th season premiere of "Saturday Night Live," and perhaps the most eagerly-anticipated opener in the show's long and storied history. The reason: This wild and wacky election season, and particular the most recent addition to the storyline, Alaska governor Sarah Palin. — well-known first as the Republican vice-presidential nominee, and second as a dead-ringer for Tina Fey. Fey, the "30 Rock" creator and former SNL star, returned triumphantly to the show last night to play Palin in a brilliant impersonation, knocking it out of the park and proving me dead wrong. She joined Amy Poehler who returned with her Hillary Clinton impression, her eight-months-old baby-bump carefully hidden by a podium.
Please note that, though Fey stole the show with her Palin (never mind the look, wow did she ever nail the voice!), the best line of the entire show belonged to Poehler's Hillary: "In conclusion, I invite the media to grow a pair. And if you can't, I will lend you mine." BRAVA!
Before launching into the vids (oh yes! We have vids!), a note on the opener as a whole: Really, really strong, not only in the opening political sketch (which, face it, was what everyone had been waiting for), but also in the supporting evergreen material: Two strong commercial parodies ("Jar-Glove" and a T-Mobile Fave Five spoof) plus a great game show opener that included many in the cast (including facetime for newbies Casey Wilson and Bobby Moynihan), which was obviously inspired by the recent FDLS cult scandal in Texas (without the ick overtones). I wish it was one of the sketches SNL provided the embed codes for, because not only was it tightly written and well-performed, it showcased host Michael Phelps in his best moment in the show (as one of three blandly blonde home-schooled kids, Zebediah, Zebediah and Zachariah).
Speaking of Phelps, he's gotten some criticism for not being as sparkling on screen as he was in the pool, but frankly I think that's overly harsh; apart from some stumbles, he acquitted himself competently and, more importantly, committed to the material. You could tell he was trying, he was into it, and that the cast was into it with him — that's the kind of thing that translates to the screen. Expectations for him may have been too high; the monologue was good, with Amy Poehler as his mother plus a cameo from his mother (awww), and he delivered the key line perfectly: "This is seriously, like, the ninth greatest moment of my life." So go easy on the kid! Look at those abs!
Here are some sketches for those of you who are far too popular to be home on a Saturday night; some choice Twitter commentary below, because you know you want it.
- Amy: "I believe that diplomacy should be the cornerstone of any foreign policy." Tina: "I can see Russia from my house!"
- "Just look at how far we've come! Hillary Clinton, who came so close to the White House, and me, Sarah Palin, who is even closer."
- "I scratched and clawed through mud + barbed wire, and you just glided in on a dogsled wearing your pageant sash and your Tina Fey glasses!"
- WHOOO! William Shatner cameo! Aaaaaaah Captain Kirk! (And Priceline ad.)
- Ooh my, opening photo of Phelps, shirtless, Greek God-ish. Rawr. (NB: The photos were great.)