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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > TV on DVD Reviews > Saturday Night Live - The Best of Alec Baldwin

 

Saturday Night Live

The Best of Alec Baldwin (MCA Home Video-2006)

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Copyright ©2006   PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved.  Posted: February 6, 2006.

Who 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.

This 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.

Sure, 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.

What 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.”).

He 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.

A 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.

The 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.

Ron Sklar

Copyright ©2006 PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved.  Posted: February 6, 2006.