'Saturday Night Live' season finale: Will Ferrell, comedy comfort food and weirdness

Will Ferrell’s return to Saturday Night Live last night may not have contained the comic high points of last week’s Justin Timberlake edition, but it was a lot of fun to see Ferrell and a number of guest stars roll out familiar SNL signature characters, starting in the cold-opening reunion of Ferrell as George W. Bush with Darrell Hammond as Dick Cheney.

Ferrell later summoned the late Harry Caray from heaven for a “Weekend Update” segment, which also returned Amy Poehler to the co-anchor chair. Not all the jokes were great, but her enthusiasm with Seth Meyers was.

An otherwise-deadly funeral sketch was saved by a Maya Rudolph cameo. Similarly, the inevitable Jeopardy! parody, with Ferrell as a long-suffering Alex Trebek, was helped as much by Norm Macdonald playing Burt Reynolds as it was by Hammond as the always-abusive Sean Connery (“Take that, ya poltroon!”) and Tom Hanks as a dumb version of Tom Hanks. (BTW, did you see Norm on Letterman recently? He killed.)

This was one of those SNLs in which the odder sketches were the most interesting. The Lawrence Welk Show parody, Fred Armisen’s ongoing nod to the baby boomers in the audience, was nicely surreal, with Kristen Wiig as the singer with doll-hands that creeped out Ferrell playing a singer. Ferrell specializes in the comedy of awkwardness and oddity, something few other current cast members aim for. Thus his opening monologue, which morphed into a dramatic reading in which he repeated asked the audience not to laugh, was both strange and compelling.

So was the late-in-the-show sketch that turned into a muscial production number. Ferrell sang Billy Joel’s bombastic “Goodnight Saigon” and showcased a slowly-increasing back-up band that eventually included not just the comedy guest stars and the regular cast, but also actors such as Mad Men‘s Elizabeth Moss, Paul Rudd on violin, and Anne Hathaway on guitar.

Like I said, not roll around on the floor funny, but always worth watching. It was a nostalgic, eccentric way to end Saturday Night Lives season.

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  • derek

    just pondering on an issue here, seeing the show last night and watching the so long for the season end credits the way the spotlight was thrusted upon darrell hammond by way of ferrell mentioning his presence tonight and actually seeing hammond in a lot of sketchs last night which is uncommon lately for him, i can only speculate that this was the 14th and final season for the great impersonator…….. so was it

  • Marty

    Tha Jeopardy sketch had me crying of lauhgter! That was the highlight of the show last night :)

  • jen

    i really loved the familiarity and nostalgia of this episode. the Jeopardy sketch (my Will Farell favorite), Amy back on Update, Tom Hanks in his umpteenth appearance on the show, and ALL those other former cast member and host cameos, especially at the end. that was a musical number to rival the 30 Rock season finale.

  • susan

    It was okay but they should have saved Timberlake for the season finale. His episode was alot funnier.

  • Adam

    It was an ok episode, but after last week’s with J.T., I was left sort of disappointed. It was great to see Phoeler back behind the desk though.
    I was kinda left wanting more.
    “That’s what your mama said!”
    - Sean Connery

    http://tvdonewright.com/2009/05/16/tv-tonight-sunday-may-17th-2009/

  • Daniel Hammish

    “Will Ferrell’s return to Saturday Night Live last night may not have contained the comic high points of last week’s Justin Timberlake edition,”
    “An otherwise-deadly funeral sketch was saved by a Maya Rudolph cameo”
    Are you putting us on? Ferrell was MILES funnier than Timberlake, and Maya Rudolph has traditionally ruined any sketch she steps into. The funeral was DOA because it was a rewrite of a Christmas sketch from last December, but Rudolph’s cameo certainly did little to “save” it. Cameo of the night goes to Tom Hanks and Norm MacDonald for the Jeopardy sketch. Maya Rudolph should stick with her day job — as food for bed bugs!

  • Syd

    I loved it, it was a massive improvement from the stale Timberlake episode(even though most people seem to disagree). The Harry Carey bit in particular had me in tears when he started talking about the predator-monster.
    Ferrell is a great host and I really hope he’ll come back soon(a Goulet revival would be most welcome).
    I’d also like to add that I thought the “Mark”-sketch was very funny and odd.
    Where the Timberlake episode was desperately trying to please the audience with obvious jokes and “funny” whigs this episode managed to please whilst also surprising and actually being funny.

  • Mixxy

    You totally forgot to mention the cameo by the great Artie Lange!

  • Mixxy

    You totally forgot to mention the cameo by the great Artie Lange!

  • Ian Phillips

    does anyone know if that was darrel hammond’s last show?

  • Casey

    Artie Lange was horrible. His “Hey, look at me” goofing around on camera nearly ruined the “Goodnight Saigon” sketch.
    I agree that it sure looked like they were saying goodbye to Darrell Hammond.

  • Ron

    During the final credits it seemed pretty clear Darrell hammond was leaving. Historically the show has never really “announced” someone was leaving during their final episode unless it was made known ahead of time

  • joine

    The show was not funny and the Lawrence Welk sketch was tasteless and stupid. SNL better get with it – I turned off the TV and read my book.

  • Norm

    ARtie Lange is a fat, drug-riddled nobody. He is not funny, never has been. You have all been brainwashed by Stern and Company to think everything he does is funny. Overdose already since you want to be Belushi

  • joine

    The show was not funny and the Lawrence Welk sketch was tasteless and stupid. SNL better get with it – I turned off the TV and read my book.

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