Saturday Night Live Episodes

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Saturday Night Live Episode: "Ben Affleck; David Cook"

Season 34, Episode 7
Episode Synopsis: Ben Affleck hosts. David Cook is the music guest. Appearing: John McCain and Tina Fey.
Original Air Date: Nov 1, 2008
Guest Cast John McCain Ben Affleck David Cook
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Season 34, Episode 7
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Aired: 11/1/2008
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Saturday Night Live Episode Recap: Ben Affleck Hosts, David Cook Performs Season 34, Episode 7

Behind the strength of Tina Fey's Sarah Palin impression and multiple big-name cameos, this season of SNL has turned the election into ratings gold again and again. With a scheduled appearance by Sen. John McCain set for this episode, could the gang do it one more time on the final live broadcast before America heads to the polls? Let's find out!

Cold Open
They wasted no time putting McCain to use, as he was joined by Tina as Palin (!) to make their last-minute plea to voters while hawking products on QVC. Apparently the campaign, as Tina points out, spent a little too much money on Palin's clothes and couldn't afford to match Sen. Obama's three-network infomercial. McCain got in on the fun as well, saying he was a "true maverick — a Republican without money." The duo sells items like a set of commemorative plates to remember the ten town hall debates between McCain and Obama (they're blank because they never happened) and the complete line of Joe Action Figures, featuring Joe the Plumber, Joe Six-Pack, and Joe Biden, who if you pull his string "talks for 45 minutes." Ha! McCain's wife Cindy was also there selling "fine gold" (a take on the McCain-Feingold bill), Palin is selling "Ayers Fresheners" and McCain endorses "pork knives." Palin then goes "rogue," pushing "Palin 2012" T-shirts and saying she's not going anywhere after Tuesday, especially back to Alaska. "I'm running in four years or I will be white Oprah. I'm fine either way," Fey says. The sketch is pretty much brilliant, and I am glad McCain is committed to the bit. (The real Palin didn't really do much in the way of participation during her visit. Of course, McCain, having hosted before, is an old pro.) Nice job by McCain and Tina for a hilarious opening. (Rewatch the opening in our Online Video Guide.)

Monologue
I honestly haven't heard about Ben Affleck doing anything in so long that I'm baffled at his being chosen to host. Even so, his monologue is mercifully short, speaking mostly about his volunteer efforts in many democratic campaigns... unfortunately, it's been all of the losing ones. Realizing his support has the opposite effect, he officially endorses McCain. "I'm sure he'll be thrilled," Ben says. Not as thrilled as I was to see Affleck shake McCain's hand awkwardly at the end of the night!

Fake Commercial
They again run Kristen Wiig's "Jar Glove" ad that we first saw a few weeks back. It's kinda funny, but a bit too long and over the top. (An omen of things to come?)

The View Sketch
I really don't know where to begin with this. I will definitely say that everyone did a decent job with their impressions, particularly Affleck as Alec Baldwin and Casey Wilson as Jennifer Aniston. Kristen played Elisabeth Hasselbeck, and Keenan and Fred were in drag for Whoopi and Joy Behar respectively. The sketch was basically highlighting the recent feuding among the cast members and Hasselbeck's right-wing views. "I found it online," was the repeated punch line in the sketch, and it, like the sketch itself really wasn't very funny.

Countdown with Keith Olbermann
This sketch would have been brilliant (ok, at least funny) if it had ended after two minutes. But the thing ran for just under 10 minutes. Seriously. Affleck was nailing Olbermann's mannerisms and the writing was doing a nice job of lampooning his biases, but come on. First he pegs President Bush as a racist for referring to Al Qaeda as "these folks," then links McCain with the Nazis, then goes on a five-minute tear about how his cat kept him from being accepted into a new co-op building on the Upper West Side. Again, it awesomely made Olbermann look ridiculous, but brevity is always your friend, guys.

Target Sketch
Aside from the cold open, this might be my favorite sketch from the night. It's one of Kristen's recurring characters, the Target cashier. It's the same bit we're used to (crazy voice and ridiculous hyper mannerisms), but Affleck as the wacky UPS man who finds himself intrigued by the cashier is hilarious. He describes her voice as sounding like a "sexy frog" and says he "wants to get his palms up in that red vest." He also buys a few products to show his interest, including champagne, chocolate sauce, a sensuality candle and couples lubricant. (Which Kristen uses for her "squeaky birdcage" and to cure "dry, cracked winter hands." But the best line by far was Affleck running the scanner by Kristen and saying, "Just as I thought...priceless." Stupid? Sure. But I laughed, which is more than I can say for what preceded this sketch.

Staten Island Zoo Sketch
Jason Sudeikis is brings a special word from the Staten Island Zoo about giraffes. To help get his point across, he uses a tape created by the local technical high school. The video starts off nice and innocent before turning into a heavy-metal, vampire-reference-laden song about our long-necked friends. The thing reeks of Andy Samberg (it feels like his digital shorts, which we didn't have tonight) and I shared Jason's look of horror at the end of the sketch.

David Cook
Ah, Mr. American Idol himself. I will comment on both of his performances here, since they were both remarkably similar (in terms of song structure, anyway.) David seems to have bought himself a new guitar, and I definitely hear Chris Cornell all over the first song "Light On," which Cornell wrote and which is Cook's first single. The second song, "Declaration" is definitely hard-rockin', and it's clear Cook made the kind of album he wanted. Though the second number was a little screamy for my taste (and more so even than what we heard him do on Idol), I am still glad he beat out Archuleta.

Weekend Update
We learned this week that Seth would be doing Weekend Update solo from now on, since Amy had her baby. I'm sure it was rushed last week, and I think Seth was much better alone tonight than he was a week ago. The best punch lines:

• While Republicans have Joe the Plumber at rallies, the Democrats are sticking with their mascot, Joe the Bummer (over a picture of Joe Biden)
• The Phillies won the World Series, the annual contest to see whose city will be set on fire by drunks.
• Daylight savings time starts this weekend (don't forget to set your clocks back!), but McCain is criticizing it as the "redistribution of sunlight."
• Sopranos wine is hitting stores, soon to be followed by Entourage douche bags.

Senator McCain popped back up to explain his last-minute strategies for the final three days of the campaign. They are:

The Reverse Maverick: He does what anybody tells him to do
The Double Maverick: He"goes totally berserkers and freaks everybody out"
The Sad Grandpa: He tells America, "Come on, Obama is young and will have plenty of chances. It's my turn"
The Charleston: He campaigns exclusively in Charleston, South Carolina
The Forrest Gump: He jogs across America, and it all just works out
The Rocky IV: He lives in the wilderness and drags a sled through the snow until he's in peak physical condition, just so if he has to fight Vladimir Putin, he'll be ready

Ultimately, he's going to stick with what he's doing, but if all else fails, he'll go with the "Double Maverick". Again, very well played by McCain. Kudos. Then, Kristen gives TV reviews as Amy's Aunt Linda. The highlights are Life on Mars, which she thought would be about Martians, should be called "Crap on TV," and her complaints that Knight Rider is a "rip-off of an '80s show staring David Hassell-hoof."

Night School Musical: Senior Year Equivalent
The gang pokes a little fun at the success of the High School Musical franchise with a musical-movie about middle-aged people going to night school to get their high school equivalency. The main couple worries how their relationship will make it once Andy is an expert in forklift operating and Casey has her degree in framing. Oh, and Affleck plays a crazy dude who broke in  to rob the vending machine, but became valedictorian. A couple chuckles here and there. (Also, does anyone else think SNL has been musical number-heavy this season?)

Grady Wilson's Sex Improvement DVD
Keenan plays Grady Wilson, who's trying to sell his new "Put the Fire Back in Your Marriage" DVD. He hopes to improve sexual relations for older couples, because "the quality of lovemaking shouldn't suffer" with age. The bit consists of weird and wacky names, which Keenan then acts out. Since describing all of Keenan's actions would be long and boring (again like the sketch), I will share my favorite names, which were the highlights: "The Whipped Butter, The Yeah, That's Good, The Peek-a-Boo, The Bumble Bee, The You Can't Hide From Me, The Stormin' Normandy and The Gotcha."

Movie Pitch Sketch
Affleck and Bill Hader play brothers who apparently have worked on movies in the past, reuniting for a new film. In their meeting with the studio, however, they have quite different ideas. Affleck, the clean-cut brother, details a coming-of-age story about a boy and his grandfather. Hade hasn't slept in three days and envisions shots of "Newsies fantasies, effed up leprechauns, sloppy cuts of mascara running down faces and ripped midgets." The movie guys buy Affleck's "Bad News Bears meets Little Miss Sunshine and pass on Hader's "half-remembered gay nightmare," but offer him the chance to direct Wall-E 2. It's weird, but has more laughs than many sketches that pop up this late in the show, mostly attributable to Hader, who I think is the show's most foolishly neglected talent.

Bierhoff Bros. Coats
Fred and Affleck play  the Bierhoff brothers, who sell German coats to German families visiting New York. The new model, the "Times Square Coat" is for Germans on vacation and "looks sensible" It has reflective strips to keep taxis from hitting you, as well as one that helps you hail cabs. It also has detachable sleeves, a hood for rain (and a second hood for harder rain) and pouches for salami, sausage, and secret souvenirs. Finally, it has a red flag you can raise if you get separated from your family (despite the bright orange color) and a yelling cone to find your loved ones. The accents are ridiculous, but kind of funny, and the best line is the company slogan: "We believe in no-nonsense jackets because it's the only thing that makes sense to us." (P.S. All catchy slogans, like insensible coats) belong in the garbage.)

Overall, I have to give all the credit for this episode to Sen. McCain and (shocker) Tina Fey. Affleck didn't annoy me, but the material just wasn't there tonight. Plus, with this being the final show before the election, I was expecting a lot (or even just some) more political sketches. We didn't even see Obama, and he put on a 30-minute infomercial this week! Beating a dead horse? Maybe, but it's been bread and butter all season, so why abandon it now?

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts on McCain and the rest of the show (plus your favorite lines) in the comments below! And check back in two weeks when Erin is back from vacation with the next new episode, and presumably, a new president to lampoon!

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Behind the strength of Tina Fey's Sarah Palin impression and multiple big-name cameos, this season of SNL has turned the election into ratings gold again and again. With a scheduled appearance by Sen. John McCain set for this episode, could the gang do it one more time on the final live broadcast before America heads to the polls? Let's find out! read more

Do you think McCain's good-humored appearance on SNL might help him close the gap on Election Day?

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