In the opening number of Maya Rudolph's self-titled variety show, which aired last night on NBC, Rudolph didn't pretend she was doing anything but sticking to an old format. In fact, she declared it. "There'll be cool special guests, and comedy sketches, outdated jokes that nobody catches," she sang as a dancer held a cue card with the words "that's what she said" on it. The beginning of the show featured three costume changes, the Laker girls, a flying Chris Parnell, a "gratuitous key change," and a moon upon which Rudolph sat for the confetti-filled final moment.
Does the kind of semi-wholesome spectacle Rudolph had in mind fit in today's media landscape? Probably not. But Rudolph knew that, so she made the show a self-conscious throwback.
Though, yes, one sketch—"The Garmyns" with Rudolph and Fred Armisen as parents who have the voices of GPS navigation system—focused on technology, most seemed to be plucked out of another era. There was one about a Password-like game show, and another with a Saturday Night Fever-style dance off. Another spoofed a 1940s movie and featured Kristen Bell and Craig Robinson as boardwalk vendors who dueled with innuendo. She shilled for "Pam's Clams" and he advertised "Dee's Nuts." It was cornily dirty, but intentionally so.