I know this blog has become the "Saturday Night Live" all-recap all-the-time site -- and we'll get to some other stuff soon -- but in this political season, "SNL" has reasserted itself as the preeminent source of political satire in Pop Culture America today. No apologies for my microscopic focus on the doings over there at 30 Rock.
Before I get to Thursday's "SNL" special, please indulge me in a little horn tooting. I'll just go ahead and quote myself from back on the 17th of October: "If 'SNL' is going to keep bringing Tina Fey back to do Palin, howzabout putting in a call to Will Ferrell and get the best George W. Bush impression back on the show in these final days of his administration?"
Obviously Lorne Michaels reads this blog regularly.
George W. Bush Endorsement -- Will Ferrell returns to the Oval Office as our still-President to throw all the force of his popularity and political influence to the McCain-Palin team. What Ferrell gets with Bush that neither Will Forte nor Jason Sudeikis have been able to capture is the casual frat-boy what-the-hell joie de vivre. Even when the world is burning down around him, he's up for the party.
Tina Fey's take on Sarah Palin retains her edge, even after being symbolically spayed by the Governor's appearance on last Saturday's show. Fey even gives away the secret of her impression here: "I'm one part practiced folksy, one part sassy, and a little dash of high school bitchy." Watch her strike adorable cheesecake poses at the photo ops.
As for Darrell Hammond's John McCain, much like the real candidate these days, he looks like he'd rather be doing anything other than running for President. He especially wants nothing to do with Bush's strong, unqualified (!) endorsement.
Even with Ferrell tripping over a line or two, this is a magnificent return to form after Saturday's brief (semi-obligatory) hiccup. 4 stars.
Weekend Update I -- Seth Meyers and Amy Shouldn't-She-Be-In-Maternity-Delivering-Already Poehler make with the fake news like always. Amy's heads-up for terrorists scores. Seth heralds the Afghani space program. Then Fred Armisen gets to play with one of those ridiculous over-teched-up maps that they love on the news channels. You can even draw a cat face on it! Later, Kenan Thompson returns as financial analyst Oscar Rogers to reiterate his demand from two weeks ago that someone address the economic situation and "FIX IT!" Fred's map is a riot but why they let Kenan repeat a miserably useless character is beyond me. He must have a primetime guarantee in his contract. I love Princess Nudelman! Seth and Amy 3 stars. Fred and his map 3 1/2 stars. Oscar Rogers 1/2 star.
Weekend Update II -- After a few more news jokes from the anchors -- including a marvelous recreation of the first cell-phone call -- Andy Samberg appears to Jam the Vote! Unfortunately the spicy hot link he eats in order to make a point starts repeating on him. And repeating. Oh and the deadline for voter registration was two weeks ago. I know I always complain about juvenile one-note jokes here (witness last Saturday's awful Fartface sketch), but Andy barfing on Manhattanites cracks me up. As do the camel named Moses and the pony named Cocoa. Seth and Amy 3 stars. Jam the Vote 3 stars.
Then Will and Tina return to say good night and plug next week's season debut of two-time Best Comedy Emmy Winner, the ratings-challenged "30 Rock" and all of its many guest appearances. We'll see if ratings powerhouse Megan Mullaly can pull the show out of the Nielsen crapper.
And we'll be back here Sunday morning for a look at the Jon Hamm/Coldplay episode of "SNL" on -- oddly -- Saturday Night.