Saturday Night Live Season 38, Episode 8 Review: “Jeremy Renner”

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Awesome person Jeremy Renner hosts average show Saturday Night Live with mediocre guest Maroon 5. Does the episode live up to that lineup? Wonder no longer!

Cold Open: It was obvious that Saturday Night Live would address the elephant in the room, and for a cold open, which is usually terrible, this did an okay job at it. Having Petraeus’ book read like 50 Shades of Grey was a good idea, but as is usual with SNL, the joke had run its course before the sketch was over. Fred Armisen creepily sitting alone at the end was funny, though. Score: 6 out of 10.

Monologue: Well that was awkward. Saturday Night Live completely cut the sound to Jeremy Renner’s piano as he was playing. I feel sorry for the sound operator who is going to be thrown off the top of 30 Rock this morning. For someone like Renner, who is not a master comedian, I’m impressed that they actually did a fun idea like letting him play some theme songs for his movies. That said, it didn’t translate to being very funny. Renner handled the sound snafu well, but was still slightly off his game afterwards. Score: 4 out of 10.

Childhood Home: This was a clever idea for a sketch that actually improved as it went along. As the commercial moved away from unoriginal ideas like “your parents working out into your room” and started getting sillier I began to really enjoy it. And if the start of this episode is any indication, this might be a highlight. Score: 8 out of 10.

The Californians: Oh boy. We just got one of these sketches a few episodes ago and now Saturday Night Live is already dragging it back out. This sketch needs to be thrown off the top of 30 Rock along with that sound guy. Bill Hader and Fred Armisen are having fun drawing their words out and looking stupid, but that doesn’t warrant a ten minute sketch. Jeremy Renner was fine, but a little stiff. Tim Robinson wasn’t even trying in this sketch and it was hilarious. Score: 2 out of 10.

The Situation Room: Hey, Jeremy Renner actually got to act goofy here! However brief and pointless this sketch was, I kind of enjoyed it. Repeating the same footage over and over and even making a reenactment provided a short detour away from what is quickly turning into a disappointing episode. This continues the “Jason Sudekis Goodbye Tour” of running his greatest hits sketches before he leaves in January. Score: 7 out of 10.

The Stand Off: It’s not a surprise that the funniest thing so far tonight is another sans-Lonely Island digital short. In fact, I’m going to go ahead and drop the “sans-Lonely Island” part, because Saturday Night Live has proven they don’t need them and made four great ones in a row. Jeremy Renner is at his most relaxed and funniest holding a gun, and this increased the funny as it went along. Score: 9 out of 10.

Weekend Update: The David Petreaus fallout gave Seth Meyers a shot of adrenaline, which he showed in “Winners & Losers.” Jay Pharoah premiered another great impression in Katt Williams, who has evidently lost his mind. And then, boom – Chris Christie. Christie was a lot of fun here making fun of his anger and fleece and I hope he’ll pop back up one day. Score: 7 out of 10.

The AvengersThis was a good idea and Renner had some fun, but the execution left a lot to be desired. It all felt clumsily put together and there just weren’t many laughs. Oh, and the Bobby Moynihan Hulk is the stuff of nightmares. Score: 5 out of 10.

Renner & Fuel: That was awful. I’m glad Sudekis had fun playing a Vin Diesel-knock-off because he was the only one enjoying the sketch. Score: 1 out of 10.

Cool Drones: This was one of the weirdest things Saturday Night Live has done in a while. This felt like a Robert Smigel “TV Funhouse” but played like an acid trip. There was some really funny parts and it was close to being so bizarre that it worked, but sadly it stops short of being great and ends up just being insane. Score: 4 out of 10.

Coroner: This was certainly a better final sketch than the show has had in a while. It started off weak but the increasing silliness ended up winning me over. Jeremy Renner was relaxed here and did a good job, and Bill Hader drummed on a corpse. Score: 7 out of 10.

Final Thoughts: What a disappointing birthday present for Lorne Michaels. This was a very uneven Saturday Night Live that fluctuated between enjoyable and cringe-inducing. Jeremy Renner had a hard time adapting to the show’s groove, but did a good job in some parts. Overall though, he’s sadly one of the weakest hosts we’ve had this season. Maybe if he ever comes back he and the writers will be better prepared for the show. We’re off for two weeks but come back on December 8th for Jamie Foxx.

Sketch of the Night:  The Stand Off

MVP: No one stood out tonight so I’ll say Tim Robinson, who made me laugh with bit parts.