knew? Alec Baldwin – a guy this good-looking, opinionated and once-married
to a Hollywood beauty – should be so easy to hate, and yet he is one of the
funniest and most likable people on television.
Saturday Night Live retrospective on Baldwin’s best bits over the last two decades brings to light the
miracle of his unlikely versatility. This collection shows how collected he
is – and cool and calm as well. The audience seems to ride his every word,
the writers actually write for him, and he joins that exclusive club
of oft-returning hosts who add rich flavor to the show instead of flat
window-dressing or shameless self-promotion.
like most all hosts, he sneaks peeks at the cue cards, but Baldwin hits it
out of the park on every pitch, from dead-on celebrity impersonation (Tony
Bennett, Robert DeNiro and even Charles Nelson Reilly) to interesting
original characters done with clear-eyed cheerfulness and unforced
enthusiasm, for instance a British aristocrat falling in love with everybody
he greets at Greenhilly Manor. In short, he gets it.
he is remembered and admired for most is overrated (Schwetty Balls,
anyone?); take a look instead at his performance as a persistent and perky
high-school French teacher or as a cowboy ordering food in a diner (played
against the also-brilliant Jan Hooks, who observes, “Look at him sittin’ on
that stool like he’s doin’ it a favor.”).
often brings up the cast a notch or two (sometimes an amazing feat); in an
ironic turn against guest-host tradition, they often support him.
good many of the sketches seem to be curiously gay-themed (the infamous
Canteen Boy with Adam Sandler, as well as a voicemail that records messages
in a lispy voice, an on-screen kiss between Baldwin and Phil Hartman, a
press conference about Prince Charles’ alleged homosexuality, and a visit
with Liza Minelli and then-husband David Gest). Not that there’s anything
wrong with that.
DVD itself is easy to maneuver, with never-before-seen dress rehearsal
sketches that never made it to the air, and an enjoyable photo gallery.
Seamless editing of twenty years of work makes it appear as if Baldwin’s
contributions are summed up in one well-written episode.
Baldwin is bawdy in the fun audio commentary (“This is the most disgusting
sketch we have ever done,” he claims at one point, and then adds, “let’s
watch, shall we?”) He is joined by SNL producer Marci Klein (“a lot
of your stuff is dirty,” she observes), and we get a small but polite taste
of insider stories (back stabbing, whatever happened to’s) that has become
SNL cliché but, like Baldwin himself, never ceases to be interesting.
Copyright ©2006 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
Posted: February 6, 2006.