***** = Excellent, a possible future classic
**** = Great
*** = Average
** = Meh
* = How'd this get past dress?
Cold Opening - State of the Union
• An okay parody of the State of the Union address, but this could have been much shorter. Although these State of the Union parodies are usually pretty long; I remember one from the early 90's with Carvey as Bush Sr. and Michael J. Fox as Dan Quayle that seemed to go on for about 10 minutes.
• Most of the humor came from the various cutaways to real footage of people in the audience of the real State of the Union, especially the one of McCain and the random shot of Brendan Fraser laughing weird at the Golden Globes.
• Fred had a few funny lines, like his comments to Martha Coakley (especially “You stunk up the joint”) and him complaining about the messy condition the White House was left in when he first arrived.
• Fourth episode in a row with Fred saying LFNY.
Monologue - Jon Hamm
• Probably one of my favorite monologues of the season. Hamm did an excellent job in this as expected. I liked his comment at the beginning about him hosting SNL a second time “just for the paycheck”.
• The various clips of his earlier roles were all funny, especially the Def Jam one at the end.
Sketch - 1920's Party
• Oh boy, here it is... Kristen Wiig + hammy character + unfunny one-joke script = you know how it goes.
Digital Short - The Curse
• This was hilarious. All the various random appearances of Hamm as “Sergio” were classic, especially the fake-out with the breeze coming from Jason opening the window and Andy being relieved, then Jason suddenly exploding and Sergio appearing again.
• I also loved the ending with Sergio coming out of the womb while playing the sax while being covered in “birth goo” (for lack of a better term), scaring the other characters.
Sketch - New Senator
• This was pretty good. Hamm was great as Scott Brown and the various things he was doing in the little “thought bubble fantasies” were funny.
• Anyone could see the Barney Frank twist coming from a mile away (although Fred's facial expressions were priceless), but the following part with Robert Byrd fantasizing about Hamm in black-and-white dressed as a 1920's flapper girl was brilliant and came out of nowhere. Bill's facial reaction to that also cracked me up.
Weekend Update - Seth Meyers, featuring Justice Sonia Sotamayor, Snooki
• Best jokes: Gore, Obama/GOP, Octomom, Priest arrested, surfing
• I swear I remember reading from someone who went to the dress rehearsal of one of the Weekend Update Thursdays at the beginning of the season that Jenny did a commentary as Sonia Sotamayor but it got cut from the live show that night. Yet it was NASIM who played Sotamayor tonight. Did SNL switch the impression from one new girl to the other, or was it Nasim all along who played Sotamayor back in the WU Thursday dress rehearsal and the person who reported that just got Jenny and Nasim mixed up? People seem to often confuse those two girls for each other.
• I was happy to see Nasim get a big role again after being practically invisible for the last few episodes. She did a good job in yet another Update commentary (this is, what, Nasim's fourth Update appearance in just half a season?), and her comments about the Supreme Court's lack of diversity were good, especially the line about one of the Supreme Court members making Pat Sajak look like a Dominican drag queen.
• I always love Bobby as Snooki, and I like how his skin progressively gets more and more orange each time he plays her. He got his usual laughs, and I loved the “spaulding” comparison at the end.
• The sudden re-appearance of Bill as The Situation and the introduction of Jenny as his mom The Predicament were great as well.
Sketch - Game Time with Randy and Greg
• This is a recurring sketch I don't mind seeing, although I wish they'd stick with their original plan of using Greg the Alien in different TV show settings each time (they were gonna do one last season with Greg co-hosting a children's show, but it got cut from the live show even though several people who were at dress said the sketch was really funny) instead of always going back to the old Game Time setting.
• Hamm being turned into a Greg clone was a funny twist, and them multiplying into many different Greg clones (played by Will, Jason, and several of SNL's writers) took this sketch into a new unexpected direction. I think it would've been funnier, though, if Greg multiplied so many times to the point where they would eventually use the entire SNL cast (including the ladies) to play all of the multiple Greg clones, similar to the time-traveling installment of The Falconer when Kevin Spacey hosted where everyone in the cast played The Falconer at different points back in time.
• Seth must write these Game Time sketches, because he ALWAYS plays one of the callers in each installment. I liked his “Classic alien” line regarding the two Gregs looking at the globe and whispering to each other.
Sketch - Hamm & Buble
• When I realized this was gonna be a follow-up to the Jon Hamm's John Ham sketch from Hamm's first episode, I groaned a bit at first, but this actually turned out to be pretty clever and they took this into a creatively different, original direction.
• Buble nervously singing about how the whole situation happened with him being held hostage, and Hamm's creepy demeanor along with his intimidating glances at Buble all made this work. I also laughed a lot for some reason at Hamm sternly saying to him “You are on the thinnest of ice”.
Commercial - Closet Organizer
• A terrific commercial parody. This kinda felt like an actual funny version of that Jar Glove ad from last season (it had a similar black-and-white “dramatization” beginning with Kristen & the announcer, and both commercials used the exact same font-style/graphics at the end).
• Will in that blue costume already had me laughing out loud from the start, and this just kept getting funnier and funnier with all the various bizarre stuff they would throw at him. The two meals-a-day and the bucket for him to “do his business in” just capped it off perfectly.
• Another great part was Hamm's testimonial talking about having sex with a black girl who had a moustache, and I loved how that had absolutely nothing to do with the rest of this ad. That had me laughing so much. He also looked funny in that goatee and wig.
Sketch - Alinda the Stenographer
• This reminded me of that sketch from the Zach Braff episode in '07, where Fred played “Melissa”, a nerdy annoying office secretary who bared a strong resemblance to Ugly Betty. I wasn't crazy about that sketch and I didn't like this either. I'm starting to get tired of Fred playing these types of dorky unlikable female characters, just like I'm also sick of seeing him cast in gay roles. I mean, I still have some faith in Fred; I know he still has steam left in him in his 8th season and he does try his best to save terrible material like this, but I don't like how the writers have been using him for most of this season. I want to see more creative original stuff from Fred, similar to the Woman-to-Woman sketch from the Joseph Gordon-Levitt episode, and less nonsense like Alinda and Riley. Fred's much better than crap like this.
• The only thing that made this sketch slightly tolerable was imagining how even worse it would have been if Wiig played this role instead.
Sketch - Tarkie Fenzington, the Closet Organizer Guy
• This started out as a funny little oddball sketch with a lot of good non-sequitur lines between Forte and Hamm, like Will's random “I'm not gay” when introducing himself and Hamm saying he graduated from a high school in Israel. Then the sudden callback to the Closet Organizer commercial from earlier in this same episode came completely out of nowhere and had me laughing a lot.
• This was a great idea for a sketch, and it worked out perfectly. Connecting one sketch to a completely different, unrelated sketch later in the same night as a running joke is something that SNL doesn't do nearly as often as they should.
• I'm betting Will himself probably wrote this whole thing since this certainly seems like his type of humor. The show always benefits from a “Bizarre Will Forte Sketch of the Night”.
Sketch - American Enterprise: Barnes and Noble
• A nice, funny quick sketch to end the show with. No complaints about this at all.
• I especially enjoyed the revelation/twist at the end that Barnes and Noble opening a bookstore was just a quick afterthought after their main “homeless bathrooms” idea.
• Closet Organizer
• Digital Short
• Tarkie Fenzington
• parts of Weekend Update
• 1920's Party
• Alinda the Stenographer
Best Performer of the Night:
• Jon Hamm
A great episode, and easily the best of the season so far. Almost a flawless show from beginning to end, with only two sketches I didn't like. I haven't been too thrilled with the direction SNL has been going in this season, so a strong episode like this was a breath of fresh air. It felt like it's been a long time since this season has had an above average/truly outstanding episode, and I knew Jon Hamm would (temporarily) help SNL out of the rut it's been in.
The first time Hamm hosted last season, I remember saying in my review that his overall performance reminded me of the very first time Alec Baldwin hosted in 1990. Well, now, after tonight's episode, I think it's definitely safe to officially call Hamm the new young Alec Baldwin of SNL. There are a lot of similarities between those two, and also just like Baldwin's first few times hosting in the early 90's, Hamm's presence seems to automatically snap the writers into shape and we can always expect a strong inspired episode with him hosting, even in a very shaky season like this.
Another refreshing thing about this episode is that unlike most of this season, there were almost NO recurring characters at all, and the only recurring character we got (Greg the Alien) was actually a GOOD one!
CASTMEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN
ARMISEN: 5 sketches (State of the Union, 1920's Party, Digital Short, New Senator, Stenographer)
FORTE: 6 sketches (1920's Party, New Senator, Game Time, Closet Organizer, Stenographer, Tarkie Fenzington)
HADER: 7 sketches (1920's Party, Digital Short, New Senator, Update, Game Time, Hamm & Buble, American Enterprise)
MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)
SAMBERG: 2 sketches (Monologue, Digital Short)
SUDEIKIS: 3 sketches (State of the Union, Digital Short, Game Time)
THOMPSON: 2 sketches (Game Time, Stenographer)
WIIG: 7 sketches (State of the Union, Monologue, 1920's Party, Digital Short, New Senator, Closet Organizer, Stenographer)
ELLIOTT: 2 sketches (Monologue, 1920's Party)
MOYNIHAN: 3 sketches (Update, Stenographer, Tarkie Fenzington)
PEDRAD: 3 sketches (New Senator, Update, Hamm & Buble)
SLATE: 2 sketches (Digital Short, Update)
JON HAMM: 10 sketches (Monologue, 1920's Party, Digital Short, New Senator, Game Time, Hamm & Buble, Closet Organizer, Stenographer, Tarkie Fenzington, American Enterprise)