SNL 34.19: Seth Rogen / Phoenix

Obama from Europe Fred's voice is still too high for Obama but I don't mind him doing the impression.  This does seem to have Jim Downey's fingerprints all over it, from the gentle criticism of government interference to the length of the piece; the decisions about different industries stretched a little long despite a few funny bits.

Monologue Seth is pretty natural on the SNL stage and I like that they admitted the "Questions from audience" monologues are basically lazy writing; things improved once Bill and Bobby showed up.

The Fast and the Bi-Curious Another homoerotic Andy Samberg bit.  It would have worked better as a blackout-type gag, but I have to say this movie makes more sense than "Fast and Furious" ever will.

Save The Papers Using the same formula as the Broadway crisis sketch, right down to Jason as the slightly annoyed straightman and the repeat of the racism joke (come on, Kenan was playing THE EXACT SAME CHARACTER).  They at least kept things fresh in a few places.

Vinny Vedecci Bill Hader always manages to provide at least one moment of brilliance in these sketches; the question "You are in movies: why?" would be that.  Nice to see there's more use of the spaghetti eating producers.  The bit with Bobby had a bit less impact this time because I already knew what to expect from the John Malkovich Vedecci; same structure with the setup and payoff, even though Bear Man was a funny joke.

Digital Short: Like a Boss Some bizarre funny moments, nothing great.  It felt like Lonely-Island-by-numbers.

Cell Voices Once they moved from the guys sounding all whipped on the phone with their girlfriends this moved ahead.  The pacing really helped with this one as they had to keep moving forward with the different people answering the phone in different voices; they didn't linger to long on the calls or the concept itself.  Decent ending.

"Lizstomania"- Phoenix Interesting song and above average presentation. 

Weekend Update Seth has really got some snark on with the J Crew/Chrysler thing and the whole Queen/Obama gift exchange...I haven't seen as much bite to WU in years.  Jason returns as Rod Blagojevich; like Fred's David Patterson the impression works because of the attitude the performer cops.  Not thrilled about another Jean K. Jean bit; Kenan's role on the show is basically there to get a quick laugh and a bit of audience recognition but there's not much that's actually funny about the character.  Liked Kristen's Madonna impression and while I had a feeling they would bring Abby's Angelina Jolie back again, it got delightfully ridiculous; loved Angelina usurping Seth's line. 

The Project A bit underwritten but it was good to see the humor come from the reaction shots rather than lines or catchphrases.  Did not care for the ending.

Milestone High Didn't really go anywhere; it seemed to peter out after reveal that the basketball metaphor backfired and then degenerated into random stupidity references cobbled together 2006-07 style.

Bachlaratt and Snad A retread of last year's sketch with Jonah Hill but Seth's producer character works better than Jonah's because he isn't breaking character.  Kristen and Will are the only two that can sell material this ridiculous.  I'll admit the randomness isn't working as well as last time but there are a few good twists into the songs; they seem to get a lot of mileage out of random combinations of toddlers, jars of beer, model Ts and spaceships.  Unlike the last sketch the randomness works because of the absurdity involved; I would like to see them come up with four other things to combine though so it wouldn't be as blatant a retread.

"1901"- Phoenix Good song, good performance, particularly the energetic drumming.  Liked the touch at the end with the band all facing the drummer.

Muppet Bus Another retread but this was welcome and seemed to have more of a direction than the Rowlf and the Swedish Chef bit from the last Rogen show.  Part of the fun was seeing the cast's Muppet wigs/outfits; I particularly enjoyed the incredibly low-rent Kermit outfit they had Will Forte wear and the visual of Zoot holding the smoking gun with the deadpan expression just *works*.

"Too Young"- Phoenix This is the most bizarre choice for an end-of-show music performance; at least with Coldplay and U2 there was an epic sweep to the music and it felt more like an "event", and while Bon Jovi was a band that definitely didn't deserve to play over the credits, it was understandable that they would try to treat it like they were a big stunt (maybe for 1986, but 2007?).  Kudos for giving a lesser known band the chance.

Impressions Decent episode overall but marred by an overreliance on retreads.  Seth Rogen I don't mind having as a repeat host because he does show decent chemistry with the cast; there were a few weaker sketches tonight but most of that was writing issues, not performance.