"Saturday Night Live" once stood atop the trending food chain, inventing characters and those phrases that are now known as "memes." These characters or catch phrases would appear on the show one week and be part of the common culture the next.
The show began its 39th season this week with former cast member Tina Fey hosting [for the fourth time] and lots of "Breaking Bad."
So much for breaking new ground.
The "Breaking Bad" series finale, which airs on AMC Sunday night, eveloped the season-premier. "SNL"'s heavy use of the "Breaking Bad" card to appear culturally relevant might be the most telling sign of late how the show has slipped in that area these days.
Jesse Pinkman [Aaron Paul] stopped by to help President Obama [brilliantly brought to satirical life again this season by Jay Pharoah] sell "Obamacare."
Jesse stepped in to help the president after a series of regular Americans lamented about the pitfall's of the president's health care plan, including a dad [Bobby Moynihan] and his deadbeat son [rookie cast member Beck "AT&T Commercial Guy" Bennett] who doesn't have a job but remains on his dad's health care plan thanks to the fact that he was not over 26.
"If I'm such a bum, how come I have health care?" he asked.
A cigarette-smoking emergency room doctor passed along a bit of advice when it came to cost-containment in health care by telling the president that we could "save $8 billion in health care costs by not shoving things up our butts."
Pinkman and SNL rehashed a long-standing internet meme [I saw it on Facebook about four months ago] that says Walter White, the mild-mannered school teacher and "Breaking Bad" protagonist, would not have had to resort to making and selling meth and killing people to pay for his cancer treatments had he had health insurance that provided the coverage available through the soon-to-be-open "Obamacare" exchanges.
“I had this friend and he got sick. Like, cancer cancer sick. But because there wasn’t Obamcare, he couldn’t afford treatments. So he was like, backed into a corner,” said "Jesse from New Mexico."
“And keep in mind – this man was a teacher with a family,” Obama added.
“So, he did what any of us would have done. He started cooking meth. And soon it wasn’t just meth. It was murder. And not regular murder. Like, he blew half a guy’s face off.”
The president stepped in to stop the political carnage.
Then Pinkman asked if anyone wanted to know what happened to his friend before the entire crowd shouted "No!" in unison, echoing the millions of "Breaking Bad" viewers paranoid about spoilers.
"Breaking Bad"/SNL spoiler: Jesse Pinkman moves to Santa Fe, gets a job as an Affordable Care Act navigator.— Michael Roston (@michaelroston) September 29, 2013
In addition to the expected-in-our-preview "Breaking Bad" cameo, the very predicable Ted Cruz [Taran Killam] stopped by to deliver a few lines from "Green Eggs and Ham." Killam was a dead-ringer for the junior Texas senator and will likely be back in that role.
The opening produced plenty of laughs while both spoofing the president's plan and those who might not understand and/or support it. It was the kind of equal-opportunity-political satire that is lacking almost everywhere else on commercial television.
Paul returned in a hilarious filmed-commercial for "E-Meth."
"It lets me enjoy smoking but it's water vapor so I can ride the Ice Pony wherever."
And the best part, it contains no anti-freeze.
Cecily Strong joined Seth Meyers on the “Weekend Update” desk paying ode to all the female anchors who paved the way for her, evntually finally getting to this week's host.
Paul made his third appearance of the night as "Meth Nephew," joining "Drunk Uncle" [Moynihan] as he paid a visit to Meyers and Strong.
Fey, who said she needs to be on TV at least every three weeks or a "little part of her dies," carried a heavy load this week, along with Keenan Thompson, who appeared to be carrying an even heavier load this season.
She scored big laughs with her character "Blerta" on the new season of HBO's "Girls":
The show was faced with the challenge of replacing Bill Hader, Jason Sudeikis and Fred Armisen and all the characters they brought with them.
Bennett was one of six new featured players that were given minimal lines. The others are Brooks Wheelan, Kyle Mooney, John Milhisner, Noël Wells and Mike O’Brien.
Arcade Fire performed this week with a healthy sense of humor, as they found themselves being placed along side the rookie cast-members in "Arcade Fire or New Cast Member?" sketch poking fun at the anonymity of both.
"Arcade Fire" was also featured in a 30-minute musical special "Here Comes The Night Time" that aired live [portions pre-recorded] after the show.
The "SNL" foam finger points to Miley Cyrus hosting and singing next week. She’ll be followed by John McClane himself Bruce Willis on Oct. 12. Katy Perry is the musical guest that week.
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