DAVID BIANCULLI

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"SNL" Casts Obama and Looks Forward, While the Oscars Hands Out Awards and Looks Backward
February 25, 2008  | By David Bianculli
 
Under unusual conditions and tough deadlines, both ABC's Oscar telecast and NBC's Saturday Night Live presented solid shows over the weekend. Both benefited greatly from their smartly chosen guest hosts - Jon Stewart and Tina Fey, respectively - both of whom were returning to familiar territory.

But it was mostly that the shows were there at all, rather than sidelined or crippled by a writers' strike, that mattered the most. The Oscars and SNL weren't just good. They were good to see.

jack-nicholson-at-2008-Osca.jpg

Just seeing Jack Nicholson on his usual Cheshire cat perch, enjoying and encouraging everyone in front of and around him, made the 80th annual Academy Awards telecast more enjoyable than it would have been without him. As for host Stewart, at least one of his one-liners was a home run - when he complimented eventual supporting actor winner Javier Bardem, in No Country for Old Men, for "combining Hannibal Lecter's murderousness with Dorothy Hamill's wedge cut."

One of last night's time-eating Oscar innovations, planned in case the strike was still on and the actors were absent, turned out to be welcome in any event - and ought to be an annual tradition from now on.

Prefacing the reading of the nominees in the categories of leading and supporting actor and actress were montages of previous winners in those categories. It was wall-to-wall glamour, excitement and fun, and put each new winner in an instantly understandable and valuable context. Even the montage showing a few seconds of each Best Picture winner since Wings nabbed the first one in 1927 was fun.

snl-fred-armisen-as-barack-.jpg

And back on Saturday Night Live, the speed with which the cast and writers turned Thursday's Democratic debate into Saturday's satirical fodder was very impressive - more so than the jokes themselves, which, in the opening skit, were a little less than sharp.

That skit did, though, introduce the comic who would be playing Barack Obama: Fred Armisen. He had little to do in this first appearance - not even one smile - but Armisen, who for years has brightened SNL with a pitch-perfect Prince, doubtlessly will evolve his Obama portrayal into another color-blind comedy classic.

 

 

1 Comment

 

Jeffrey said:

David,
I heard your review about the 2/23/08 SNL.
You left out the best part.
I knew it would happen, and stayed up until the very end of the show, because I just knew they had to honor Don Pardo.
There is no baby boomer alive today who did not grow up with Don. My first memory was The Price is Right with Bill Cullen, and then Jeopardy with Art Fleming.
I can't believe he actually blew out all of the candles.
Thanks for your comments.
Jeffrey

Comment posted on February 25, 2008 4:56 PM

 
 
 
 
 
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