BC Review

"SNL" Scores With Palin Spoof Again -- And Then Some

10/05/2008 12:28:34 AM

The weekend before launching its new prime-time live mini-spinoff for October, NBC’s Saturday Night Live delivered its latest super-strong political opening sketch. And this time, for a change, some funny stuff followed.

Tina Fey, as Sarah Palin, was nothing short of pitch-perfect, once again, as the Alaska governor. She smiled widely, dropped her final consonants, even played the flute (alluding to a popular YouTube video from Palin’s pageant talent competition days).

Fey’s Palin is the biggest, hottest SNL breakout character in years – and the writing, recreating Thursday’s vice presidential debate, was every bit as sharp as Fey’s performance.

When special guest Queen Latifah, sitting in as debate moderator Gwen Ifill, asked a question about whether the candidates supported gay marriage, Fey’s Palin said no.

“I believe,” she said, “marriage is meant to be a sacred institution between two unwilling teenagers.”

Jason Sudeikis stood in for Joe Biden, but didn’t really nail the voice or mannerisms. Not like Fred Armisen did in the next sketch, playing Barney Frank in a bailout-bill sketch also featuring Kristen Wiig as Nancy Pelosi and Sudeikis, again (and much better) as George W. Bush.

Wiig scored hugely, too, playing one of four Andrews-type sisters in a Lawrence Welk Show spoof – but hers was a physically and mentally abnormal one. It called for a lot of musical ability from guest host Anne Hathaway and others, as did an unusual ly high number of the other sketches. Hathaway’s disease-spreading Mary Poppins was another highlight, musically and comically.

 Whether SNL has enough in its tank to do double duty this month is an open question – one that will be answered soon enough. For the first time this season, though, the show managed to entertain in more than just its opening sketch. That bodes well – and the talented Hathaway deserves a generous portion of the credit.