***** = Excellent, a possible future classic
**** = Great
*** = Average
** = Meh
* = How'd this get past dress?
Cold Opening - Christmas Eve in Washington D.C.
• Well, this was certainly a unique cold opening and a very welcome change of pace. Overall, this is one of my favorite cold openings of the season so far, and they took a creative approach to this.
• Vanessa’s Hillary Clinton is really starting to come into its own. Loved her gleeful expression in reaction to the “pantsuits” headline.
• Jason as Biden made me laugh the most, just for the look on his face alone. Although the whole thing was almost ruined by that odd technical error where they cut to a black screen. I’m sure it’ll be fixed in reruns.
• And of course, the fact that Fred’s Obama had no lines was a bonus.
Monologue - Jeff Bridges
• They really need to stop with the “I must’ve done such a great job hosting last time that they waited _____ years to have me back!” joke with people who’ve hosted decades apart, because it’s officially gotten old.
• The comparisons at the beginning between himself and The Dude were predictable and went nowhere, but this picked up with Cookie Monster. This was a nice way for SNL to fulfill Cookie Monster’s SNL dream without actually having him host.
• I can forgive this being YET ANOTHER musical monologue because Christmas monologues in general tend to go this feel-good route anyway, although I wish they threw in some actual jokes during the song.
Sketch - A Message from Mark Zucke... oh wait, Julian Assange
• Okay, in my review of last week’s episode when I said “If they made these Julian Assange bits a weekly thing...”, I wasn’t being serious! You didn’t actually have to go through with that, SNL. Also, my full quote from last week was “If they made this a weekly thing, then think of all the bad recurring characters that can get interrupted mid-progress by these”. So if you’re going to cut off a sketch for another Julian Assange bit, can’t you have the cut-off sketch be something that NOBODY wants to see and that everyone would be relieved to have interrupted, like the “Thomas!” lady or something?
• That being said, these Julian Assange bits are still fine, but I’m afraid to say that the concept is getting tired. This was noticeably much shorter in material than last week’s bit, and the jokes didn’t hit quite as hard. There were still a few laughs, though, and Bill continues to be fantastic in this role. That creepy laugh from him never gets old with me.
Sketch - The Miley Cyrus Show
• They picked a week too late to parody the Miley bong incident, but if they had done this sketch last week when the incident was still all over the news, then we’d all be complaining about them bringing the Miley Cyrus Show back too soon after the previous Anne Hathaway installment. So it’s kind of a lose-lose situation. If SNL had to parody the incident, it would’ve been better to put Vanessa’s Miley into a different scenario outside of her talk show. How about a Weekend Update commentary or a cold opening?
• The banter between Miley and her dad has officially gotten old. How many times are we still supposed to laugh at Billy Ray saying “You’re mah role model!” every damn time?
• Despite my complaints, there were still a few laughs in this and at least them addressing the bong incident shook the format of the sketch up a little bit. The sketch is still way too formulaic, though, especially the movie clips they show of Miley.
• Jeff Bridges’ talents were completely wasted in this. Doing a Nick Nolte impression wasn’t exactly a stretch for him considering the similarities between them, and he was barely given anything to say.
• Can someone tell me what the point is of having Bobby play the drummer when he has no lines and the camera never shows him?
Digital Short - I Just Had Sex
• Even when watching this live, I could tell this was going to be a short that’s going to absolutely blow up and become the latest internet sensation. Hell, the video was ALREADY going viral before tonight’s episode even ended! I personally think this short was funny and made me laugh a lot, but it shouldn’t become a classic. This pales in comparison to previous Lonely Island hits like Jizz in My Pants. This also tried too hard to be another I’m on a Boat, only T-Pain being replaced by the less-inherently funny Akon.
• It’s always awesome to see Jorma, and the shots of Akiva as random characters was a nice treat as well.
• My favorite parts included the “best 30 seconds of my life” line, the shots of John MacEnroe, the line about one of the girls possibly being a racist (accompanied with a shot of Jorma staring at a KKK hood in the girl’s room), and the crotch firecrackers at the end.
• The Lonely Island sure likes having Blake Lively cameo in their digital shorts, don’t they? Jessica Alba was a surprise, though; it’s odd when you realize that she’s never hosted SNL. She seems like someone who would’ve already done that by now.
Sketch - Larry King Live
• Bah, I could tell this sketch would be a bomb as soon as it started; Fred’s Larry King is beyond played out. I did try to give this a chance, but the sketch ultimately went nowhere and had no big laughs.
• I can’t even think of anything else to say here. Well, I’ll admit the naked E.T. line gave me a chuckle.
Commercial - Crunkmas Karnival
• It wasn’t really necessary to do a follow-up to last season’s classic Underground Rock Festival commercial (they basically already followed that up with that sketch from the Ryan Phillippe episode, but at least that was taken into a different direction), but this one was still pretty funny in its own right. It doesn’t hold a candle to the original, though.
• I got some big laughs from the parts about “comedian Phil Spector”, the entire cast of Growing Pains appearing “minus everyone but the mom”, and the whole thing taking place at the infamous Metrodome.
• Love the running joke with Ass Dan always dying in each of these commercials.
• And at least they tried something a little different this time with the inclusion of Jay Pharoah as MC George Costanza. It’s getting kinda sad, though, when most of Jay’s recent appearances have been either pre-taped or in non-speaking roles.
Weekend Update - Seth Meyers, featuring Michael Steele, Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie, Gov. David Paterson/Stefon/Snooki
• Best jokes: Snooki
• Kenan played Michael Steele several times before, so it should’ve been obvious that SNL wasn’t going to just yank the impression away from him and rightfully give it to Jay who could probably do a more-accurate imitation. Anyway, I usually find myself being incredibly bored whenever Kenan does an Update commentary, and this was no different. Tonight’s commentary was absolutely pointless.
• Wow, Taran Killam did a great Tony Danza impression! Too bad he was supposed to be playing Brad Pitt. Hey, maybe if SNL lets Taran play Tony Danza sometime, then he’ll accidentally do a dead-on Brad Pitt! Seriously, what the hell was Taran going for with that voice? I was just lost during this. What was all of the “Bahhh”s supposed to be a dig at?
• Oh, and we get the return of Abby’s Angelina Jolie, which hasn’t been seen since the days when Michaela Watkins and Casey Wilson were still on SNL (*sigh* I miss those two). All the writers did here was just repeat the same old baby obsession they used to always do with Abby’s Angelina, which was the reason I was happy that SNL retired this one-note impression in the first place.
• The song at the end with the Weekend Update “All-Stars” (David Paterson, Stefon, and Snooki) reminded me of times when SNL did that on Update in the past, such as in Will Ferrell’s last show as a castmember when he, as Neil Diamond, sang with Drunk Girl, Gay Hitler, and Geraldo Rivera (Darrell Hammond); or in Tina Fey’s final Update when they brought out mentally-“special” characters like Frondi, Vasquez Gomez Vasquez, and Rachel Dratch’s deformed baby character to sing for Tina. Does that mean tonight is someone’s last show? Perhaps Fred? Nah, we know that ain’t happening.
• Could they make it any more obvious how much they’re pushing Stefon these days? This was the second week in a row with him making an Update apperance.
Sketch - Turner Classic Movies: This You Call a Wonderful Life?!
• SNL has done several It’s a Wonderful Life parodies in the past (the most memorable one being the classic alternate ending from the William Shatner episode in 1986), and, well, tonight’s parody doesn’t exactly rank near the top. This was still decent, though, and I always enjoy Jason’s impression of Jimmy Stewart.
• What was with the camera cutting to a close-up of the floor for no apparent reason? Very odd, and it almost threw the whole sketch off. There seems to be a lot of technical errors during this episode. People in the control room must’ve been drinking too much eggnog during the show.
• Did anyone notice Fred breaking character and laughing after Andy yelled in his face?
• Loved Bill’s line about the argument over a deli lasting for 43 minutes.
• Hey, nice quick “cameo appearance” from Jeff Bridges! I almost forgot this episode even HAD a host. It’s a shame how much they’re wasting Bridges tonight.
• Anyone else get the “Moishe Samberg” reference during the sketch’s end credits? It referred to the Ellis Island sketch with Justin Timberlake, where Andy played his own ancestor named Moishe. Interesting callback.
• The entire cast appeared in this sketch except for, of course, Kenan and Jay.
Sketch - Jeff’d
• Are you serious? A take-off of Punk’d? I-I-I’m sorry, is it 2003 again and nobody told me? SNL does realize that this is the year 20freakin10 and that Punk’d ended years ago and is no longer relevant, right?
• This sketch was just sad. And on top of all that, the premise of this Punk’d parody wasn’t even original! Remember that sketch with Tim McGraw, where he played a prank-calling radio show host whose “pranks” were actually very tame and he ended up having friendly conversations with the person he was pulling the prank on? Yep, exact same joke as in this sketch.
• Bridges tried his best (and this sadly ended up being the ONLY sketch all night that they allowed him to carry), but there was only so much he could do for the lame, outdated, unoriginal material.
• And if you’re gonna do a sketch featuring the cast doing celebrity impressions, then WHERE THE HELL WAS JAY PHAROAH???
• I liked seeing Jason’s Sam Elliott impression again, although they made him too “normal” this time. I prefer his bizarre, out-of-it take on Sam Elliott from last season’s Jude Law episode.
• Why does Paul Brittain only get used in generic straight man bit roles that anyone can play? I’m getting tired of this. Does anyone else realize that’s all Paul has done for the last several episodes starting with Jon Hamm? And that was back in October! So for three straight months, this is the only type of role he’s been given. Really, the Emma Stone episode was the only one where Paul was allowed to stand out and got unique roles. Other than that, he’s just playing Generic White Guy With Only One Line whenever he appears.
• My only laugh in this whole sketch came from Andy as Billy Bob Thornton. Despite not looking a damn thing like BBT, Andy does a fine vocal impression of him, and him getting angry and pulling out a gun had some humor to it.
• I also kinda liked Abby’s Maggie Gyllenhaal; Abby manages to score with yet another accurate impression.
Sketch - General Store Gift Wrappers
• I honestly tried giving this sketch an open-minded chance, but it’s hard to enjoy something that’s centered around two bad crutches that SNL loves relying on these days: a wacky Kristen Wiig character and a flamboyant gay stereotype. This just never had much going for it. Bridges did try his best to get some laughs out of the material with his facial expressions.
• Jason came close to saving this with his appearance. It’s always fun watching him play rowdy rugged cowboy roles like this.
• For some reason, Vanessa reminded me of Crista Flanagan from Mad TV during this sketch. Something about the way Vanessa looked in that wig.
Miscellaneous - A Holiday Message from The Kardashians
• Yeahhhhh... this wasn’t really necessary. They just did a Kardashians parody two weeks ago, and there’s only so much humor you can milk out of something with no substance like the Kardashian sisters. And this just came off like an end-of-the-show time killer or yet another excuse not to use tonight’s host (seriously, Jeff Bridges has got to be one of the most underused hosts in recent memory).
• I did laugh at least two times: the girls wishing a Happy Kwanzaa to their boyfriends, and Nasim’s “I got a rolex” line.
• Vanessa and Abby have surprisingly been in a majority of the sketches tonight. It’s getting more and more obvious that the show has finally taken the hint from the Wiig Burnout and have begun scaling Kristen’s airtime back and are now giving the newer girls a chance to break out.
• Christmas Eve in Washington D.C.
• Digital Short
• Crunkmas Karnival
• Larry King Live
• General Store Gift Wrappers
• most of Weekend Update
Best Performer of the Night:
• Jason Sudeikis
CASTMEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN
ARMISEN: 4 sketches (Christmas Eve, Larry King Live, Update, Turner Classic Movies)
ELLIOTT: 5 sketches (Larry King Live, Update, Turner Classic Movies, Jeff’d, Kardashians)
HADER: 4 sketches (Julian Assange, Update, Turner Classic Movies, Gift Wrappers)
MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)
MOYNIHAN: 5 sketches (Miley Cyrus Show, Crunkmas Karnival, Update, Turner Classic Movies, Gift Wrappers)
SAMBERG: 5 sketches (Christmas Eve, Julian Assange, Digital Short, Turner Classic Movies, Jeff’d)
SUDEIKIS: 6 sketches (Christmas Eve, Miley Cyrus Show, Crunkmas Karnival, Turner Classic Movies, Jeff’d, Gift Wrappers)
THOMPSON: 4 sketches (Christmas Eve, Larry King Live, Update, Jeff’d)
WIIG: 4 sketches (Christmas Eve, Larry King Live, Turner Classic Movies, Gift Wrappers)
BAYER: 5 sketches (Christmas Eve, Miley Cyrus Show, Turner Classic Movies, Gift Wrappers, Kardashians)
BRITTAIN: 3 sketches (Miley Cyrus Show, Turner Classic Movies, Jeff’d)
KILLAM: 3 sketches (Update, Turner Classic Movies, Jeff’d)
PEDRAD: 3 sketches (Crunkmas Karnival, Turner Classic Movies, Kardashians)
PHAROAH: 1 sketch (Crunkmas Karnival)
JEFF BRIDGES: 6 sketches (Monologue, Miley Cyrus Show, Larry King Live, Turner Classic Movies, Jeff’d, Gift Wrappers)