***** = Excellent, a possible future classic
**** = Great
*** = Average
** = Meh
* = How'd this get past dress?
Cold Opening - Ask Gloria Allred
• Quite a creative idea for a politial cold opening as opposed to the usual standard address-the-nation or press conference bits.
• Bonus points for SNL not automatically giving the Allred impression to Kristen Wiig like I was expecting.
• Nasim Pedrad continues to impress. She gave a very good performance here, and it was nice to see her front-and-center in a solo cold opening.
• The increasingly hateful letters were pretty funny; I particularly liked the one asking if there’s ever been a more disgusting creature that walked the earth than Allred.
• I know I say this A LOT, but I still get a big Rachel Dratch vibe from Nasim. I mean this in a good way, in case there’s anyone who mistakenly thinks I’m putting Nasim down. I liked Rachel a lot back when she was on SNL (personally, I found her even better than Amy, Maya, and Tina, even though those three were the ones who got all the glory), and I like that Nasim has some of her traits.
Monologue - Jane Lynch
• It was obligatory that they’d do a song-and-dance monologue with Jane Lynch and I was prepared to hate it, especially after we just got a musical monologue last week. But Lynch’s was actually better than I expected.
• The material itself was far from outstanding, but Lynch performed the song very well and made it entertaining enough. Certainly more watchable than Bryan Cranston’s monologue, which unfairly treated him as if he were any run-of-the-mill host.
Commercial - Damn It, My Mom is on Facebook Filter
• A pretty funny idea for a commercial and Andy was the perfect person to pull this off. Jane Lynch also gave a good performance as your typical cloying suburban mother.
• Also, bonus points for SNL not giving the mom role to Kristen Wiig.
• My favorite part was the picture substitutions, like changing a picture of Andy smoking a bong to make it look like he’s playing the sax.
Sketch - Glee
• Aaaaaand after a pretty hopeful start, tonight’s episode falls apart with the arrival of THIS sketch.
• First off, since I can proudly say I’ve never watched Glee, I was pretty much completely lost during the beginning half of this sketch. There were obviously a lot of in-jokes directed at Glee followers that would go completely over the heads of non-Glee watchers. Though I’ve seen enough from the promos/commercials on FOX to know that Taran Killam eerily looked exactly like the guy he was playing, while Abby looked absolutely NOTHING like Lea Michele (please everyone, don’t ask how I’m familiar with her name). Couldn’t they have at least put a prosthetic nose on Abby or something?
• My only minor chuckles were all from Jason, who’s always able to get humor out of bewildered straight man roles. I liked him asking “You guys take actual classes, right?”
• Then to make an already dull sketch even more unwatchable, we get the return of... GILLY. Why? Why? Whyyyy??!!? I think we all knew during Lynch’s intro statement about “the new student” that it was gonna be some character played by Kristen Wiig, but it wasn’t until the slushee got thrown at Sudeikis that I knew specifically that the character in question would be that wonderful young lady known as Gilly.
• The optimist in me could give SNL credit for at least shaking the Gilly formula up a little with this sketch and doing something different with her, but the pessimist in me would rather turn the TV off so I don’t have to watch any more of this wretchedly unfunny sketch. And SNL’s not pleasing anybody by turning this into a Gilly crossover: any Glee fans watching tonight will be disappointed that SNL didn’t just do a straight parody of the show, and regular SNL fans will be pissed because it’s fucking Gilly. Nobody wins.
Sketch - The New Boyfriend Talk Show
• An excellent, inspired, and creative concept, and the overall sketch turned out to be very strong. Easily my favorite sketch of the season so far.
• This also benefited from casting Andy in the lead role; like the Facebook commercial, this was another role he was able to pull off perfectly.
• Loved Jason’s performance as the boyfriend, especially his reaction to this being the 100th episode and when he saw the scrolling list of ex-boyfriends serving overseas.
• The celebrity greetings clips were hit-or-miss, and pretty much the only thing keeping this from being a perfect 5-star sketch. Fred’s Gene Simmons is always good for a laugh and his 'moist' line was great, but Bobby’s Verne Troyer was nothing special at all (I also don’t get why he crossed his eyes), and I especially could’ve done without Kenan’s horrific Magic Johnson... I guess SNL forgot they now have a black male castmember who can actually DO impressions.
Commercial - Christine O’Donnell 2010
• Not horrible, but nothing special at all either. Not sure what else to say about this. Some of her ways of denying being a witch got a few laughs from me.
Sketch - Secret Word
• Okay, what the hell is with SNL’s obsession these days with doing GSN retro-gameshow parodies? This is the second episode IN A ROW with one. If you’re gonna do frequent gameshow sketches, what’s wrong with setting it in present time?
• And I never liked this Secret Word sketch to begin with. It gets less and less funny every time, and Kristen’s theater ham character was unbearable enough the first time.
• Only laugh in the whole 5 minutes came from Bill’s angry “I am NOT full of bananas” line.
• Also a complete waste of Paul Brittain, who’s only appearance all night was in this sketch, and he only had one measly line. I want to see more of what this guy can bring.
Digital Short - Relaxation Therapy
• This wasn’t terrible by any means, but felt very restrained and tame for Lonely Island standards. They could’ve made the fantasy sequences REALLY insane, bizarre, and memorable, but it felt like they held back for some reason.
• In fact, ALL three of the digital shorts this season so far have felt this way: not bad but also nothing outstanding or Viral Hit-worthy. Where are the 'Sergio's? The 'On the Ground's? The 'Great Day's? The 'Two Worlds Collide's? As much as some people complain about Lonely Island doing music video/rap shorts too often, let’s face it - those hit a homerun more often than not.
Sketch - Denzel the Returns Department Employee
• There seems to be much more sketches than usual in the pre-Update half of tonight’s episode. By the time Weekend Update ends, there’s probably only gonna be time left for just 2 sketches.
• A quote from my season premiere review: “I can’t wait to see more from Jay’s arsenal of impressions. They’ve GOTTA find a way to use his Denzel and Jay Z in their own sketches.” Thank you for listening, SNL. I assume that Jay Z sketch will be coming in the next month or so, right?
• Jay Pharoah’s Denzel impression is simply FANTASTIC, even better than his Will Smith. And I was also very excited to see Jay get to star in an entire sketch in only his third episode. They could’ve just lazily stuck his Denzel into a Weekend Update commentary like they did with his Will Smith, but I’m glad they were wise to showcase the impression in its own sketch and to give Jay some major airtime.
• Something about the actual writing for the sketch wasn’t quite up to par. Most of the lines themselves weren’t too great, but Jay performed the hell out of this and was still able to get laughs out of the material.
• My main problem with the writing was the ending... what the hell happened there??? Talk about anti-climactic and abrupt. I get the feeling that the ending was different at dress rehearsal and that they re-wrote it between dress and live. I guess we’ll find out when we read Jamie Klein’s Adventure Story for this episode.
• This sketch just shows how far the quality of SNL’s writing has fallen these last two seasons. If this sketch with Jay’s Denzel was done even just a few years ago during the 2006-2009 years when the current writing staff were on their game, this would’ve turned out to be an undeniable classic. Instead, we’re left with a sketch that stars an excellent impression and has an interesting premise but is hurt by undeveloped writing. Jay deserved better than this.
Weekend Update - Seth Meyers, featuring Mark Zuckerberg, Miguel Conjeros
• Best jokes: New gun law
• Andy’s commentary as the Facebook founder was pretty good. He had several funny lines, such as the hoverboard money bit and his complaints about being played by Jesse Eisenberg.
• Fred’s commentary was nothing but one stupid joke, stretched out for three entire minutes. That’s all the whole segment was. And as expected, this character just felt like an amalgamation of every single Mexican character Fred has played over the years. Nothing new at all. Fred is clearly past his prime this season (it’s especially sad when you remember how great he used to be on SNL), and this “new” character did nothing to change that perception.
Sketch - The Suze Orman Show
• Yep, it’s official: they’re definitely trying to make up for the lack of Wiig last week by bombarding us tonight with a plethora of her deadlock annoying recurring characters/impressions. Whoo, lucky for us!
• Unlike Gilly and the Secret Word lady, at least Kristen’s Suze Orman impression USED TO BE funny back in the day when it first started out... sadly, that ship has sailed and it’s all fizzled away to oblivion. The Suze Orman sketches have now devolved into nothing more than just an endless string of weak, obvious lesbian puns. You can thank writer Paula Pell for that. Has she forgotten that these Suze Orman sketches used to have ACTUAL material and ACTUAL jokes besides just lesbian references?
• And Jane Lynch playing Suze Orman’s lesbian partner? Wow, what a stretch! Who didn't see this coming as soon as this sketch showed up on tonight’s episode?
• In addition to Fred, I think it’s safe to now declare Bill Hader as a castmember who’s typecast into gay roles all the time by the current writers who are completely obsessed with gay humor. I’m sure everyone will compare Bill’s appearance in this sketch to his gay character from the Tiny Hats sketch in the season premiere, but it actually reminded me more of the gay character he played in the Pageant Talk sketch from last season.
Sketch - Sunday Night Football
• The premise wasn’t original at all: this was like a cross between Maya Rudolph’s national anthem sketch (Bill and Jason even play the sports anchors in both sketches) and any given sketch where a theme song goes on non-stop (most obvious example being What Up With That). But Lynch DID try her best, and the part with her randomly singing a nacho recipe for no reason and the anchors calling her out on it was legitimately funny. Not many other laughs, though.
• I also got some amusement from Bill’s strange deep voice and the drugged-out look on his face.
Sketch - Tax Masters
• I’m happy to see Jason getting plenty of airtime tonight. He certainly deserves it, especially after having no lines at all in last week’s episode and after receiving minimal airtime in the season premiere.
• Remember what I said earlier about how the pre-Update half of tonight’s episode has more sketches than usual and that there’s only gonna be room left for 2 sketches AFTER Update? I was surprised when a third sketch started, especially considering how late it was (12:57). You can tell they were really rushing through this sketch before time ran out; I kept expecting them to pull a “Barkley’s Bank” and cut the sketch off mid-progress. They barely made it in on time, and abruptly cut to Jane Lynch’s SNL bumper picture just as soon as Fred finished his ending line. I still get the feeling we may have missed something and that they might show the dress version of this in reruns.
• The premise of the Tax Masters guy having a half-formed twin brother on the other side of his face was both creative AND funny, and Jason performed this sketch perfectly. I always love seeing him pull off these bizarre Will Ferrell-esque roles (can’t you picture Ferrell doing this same sketch 10 years ago?). SNL truly doesn’t realize often enough what they have with Sudeikis, and that’s a shame. Like I always say, dude should’ve been the friggin star of SNL by now.
• I like how during the goodnights after this sketch, Jason was not only still wearing his costume from this sketch, but he stood with his side to the camera the whole time so we could see the twin on the side of his face.
• The ending with Fred fell flat, and I couldn’t even understand what he said. It sounded like his mic was turned off, or like someone else was speaking over his line. Either way, something seemed to go wrong there.
• The New Boyfriend Talk Show
• Jay Pharoah’s Denzel Washington impression
• Ask Gloria Allred
• Tax Masters, minus the ending
• Damn It, My Mom is on Facebook Filter
• Glee / Gilly
• Secret Word
• The Suze Orman Show
• most of Weekend Update, minus Andy Samberg’s commentary
• Sunday Night Football
• the ending of the Denzel sketch
Best Performer of the Night:
• Jason Sudeikis / Andy Samberg
A slight improvement over last week. There were some encouraging ups in tonight’s show and it had a pretty strong start, but the episode was hurt by the overabundance of Kristen Wiig’s beyond-tired one-note sketches. It’s sad, because if you take all that Wiig nonsense out, there’s actually some clever material in this episode, but ultimately it gets buried and overshadowed amongst the domination of shit like Gilly, Secret Word, (insert anything else from Kristen Wiig’s myriad of sketch-killing characters). I honestly DO see signs of hope for SNL - stuff like the New Boyfriend Talk Show and Tax Masters is exactly the kind of humor and writing this season needs more of - but SNL’s constantly being outweighed by their current problems and crutches that the writers are relying way too much on.
CASTMEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN
ARMISEN: 6 sketches (Monologue, Glee, New Boyfriend Talk Show, Secret Word, Update, Tax Masters)
ELLIOTT: 1 sketch (Glee)
HADER: 4 sketches (Facebook Filter, Secret Word, Suze Orman, Sunday Night Football)
MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)
MOYNIHAN: 4 sketches (Glee, New Boyfriend Talk Show, Denzel, Tax Masters)
SAMBERG: 5 sketches (Facebook Filter, Glee, New Boyfriend Talk Show, Digital Short, Update)
SUDEIKIS: 5 sketches (Monologue, Glee, New Boyfriend Talk Show, Sunday Night Football, Tax Masters)
THOMPSON: 3 sketches (Glee, New Boyfriend Talk Show, Tax Masters)
WIIG: 4 sketches (Glee, Christine O’Donnell, Secret Word, Suze Orman)
BAYER: 3 sketches (Glee, Denzel, Tax Masters)
BRITTAIN: 1 sketch (Secret Word)
KILLAM: 3 sketches (Facebook Filter, Glee, Tax Masters)
PEDRAD: 1 sketch (Gloria Allred)
PHAROAH: 1 sketch (Denzel)
JANE LYNCH: 10 sketches (Monologue, Facebook Filter, Glee, New Boyfriend Talk Show, Secret Word, Digital Short, Denzel, Suze Orman, Sunday Night Football, Tax Masters)