***** = Excellent, a possible future classic
**** = Great
*** = Average
** = Meh
* = How'd this get past dress?
Cold Opening - Fox News: Embracing Civility
• A pretty strong sketch, and a big improvement over the second Greta Van Susteren installment last season.
• As usual, Jason’s Glenn Beck steals the sketch and it was interesting seeing him as a panelist this time. Bill’s James Carville was also a welcome addition and it was refreshing to finally see him away from the Update desk.
• The reaction shot of Bobby angrily frothing at the mouth was hilarious.
• The bit with Abby’s Rachel Maddow was just okay. I don’t understand why Abby always pronounces “Maddow” in that weird way, though; it’s kinda annoying and sounds nothing like how Rachel Maddow says her name.
Monologue - Gwyneth Paltrow
• The monologues this season are now getting to the point where we should start a betting pool each week on whether the monologue will involve the host either singing a song or speaking to fake audience members. Seriously, these are the only two types of monologues we get these days. In that case, I predict Jesse Eisenberg will get a Q&A monologue.
• Jason as Kenny Rogers was decent enough for a chuckle or two. Everything else in this monologue - BAH.
Commercial - The Cape promos
• A hit-and-miss jab at the ridiculousness of NBC’s current programming. Some parts of this worked, others parts fell completely flat.
• My biggest laughs came from the Smock and Scrunchy promos.
Sketch - Secret Word
• No. Just... no.
Digital Short - Andy and Pee Wee’s Night Out
• A very good Digital Short that I enjoyed a lot, and of course, Pee Wee Herman was a great surprise.
• This felt like a nice change of pace from the formula of the last few Digital Shorts, had a lot of good plot twists, and made fun use of Pee Wee as well as Anderson Cooper.
Sketch - Bar Mitzvah Special Guests
• At first, I thought this was going to be that sketch cut from last week’s Jim Carrey episode where various crazy people give a speech at a party, but this turned out to be completely different.
• I’m all for having celebrity impression-showcase sketches which are usually a favorite of mine, but this one was pretty disappointing. This literally just felt like a cheap excuse to drag out impression-after-impression without enough actual funny material for them to work with.
• The premise of having singers change the lyrics of one of their popular songs to have a Hebrew theme reminded me of when Jimmy Fallon would do guitar songs on Update and change lyrics of current hit songs to reflect the subject/holiday he sang about. I remember also making that comparison earlier this season when Jay Pharoah did that Thanksgiving songs bit on Update.
• Speaking of Jay Pharoah, I really enjoyed seeing his Jay-Z again and it was one of the highlights of this sketch. And I had to laugh at the ridiculousness of Nasim playing Alicia Keys, although it’s just further proof of how much SNL desperately needs a black female castmember.
• Cee Lo’s number at the end was an okay way to end the sketch.
Sketch - Record Meeting
• I was confused when this started. Shouldn’t the first musical performance be on at this point of the episode? I can’t remember the last time a sketch followed the third commercial break in the show.
• Is Cee Lo co-hosting tonight’s episode, because he’s appearing more than most of the cast and almost as much as Gwyneth. I’m not complaining, though, since this sure beats Justin Bieber hogging all the airtime when Tina Fey hosted.
• I wasn’t crazy about the premise of using fake swear words, which got old pretty fast. Someone in the Live Discussion thread said this premise felt very 80-81, and that may actually be a good point.
• Gwyneth seemed to have trouble delivering her angry “forgetting” rant to Paul Brittain, but at least Gwyneth didn’t pull a “Jenny Slate” and say the actual swear word by accident.
• One part I did get a good laugh from was the “You’re my Nintendo” bit with Cee Lo and Jason.
• Very interesting transition/segue to Cee Lo’s on-stage musical performance. SNL rarely breaks from the standard format like that these days. So this explains why a sketch followed the third commercial break instead of the usual musical performance. The last time I can remember SNL breaking format this much for a musical guest intro is in the 2005 Steve Carell episode with the backstage Kanye West/Mike Myers bit that segued into Kanye’s musical performance.
Weekend Update - Seth Meyers, featuring Jimmy McMillan, Vanessa Bayer, Christina Aguilera, Cher & Chaz Bono, Garth & Kat & Kim
• Best jokes: Pet skunk, new dessert
• Seth’s gun rant was surprisingly pretty decent. I know a lot of people liked his “Come On, Dictionary” rant from a few months ago, but I personally felt that was just a bland unfunny “Really” knock-off. Tonight’s gun rant, however, was pretty inspired and Seth actually gave a decent performance. This wasn’t anything amazing or too outstanding overall, but it was fairly strong for Seth’s current standards.
• Kenan as “The Rent is Too Damn High” guy again? Didn’t that guy’s 15 minutes already end by now? Nobody even talks about him anymore. This commentary wasn’t really necessary at all, although I did get a chuckle from one or two of Kenan’s crazy comments.
• Did I just hear Seth say “Vanessa BUYER” instead of “Vanessa Bayer” when he introduced her remote segment? Anyone else catch that slip-up? And what was with Seth’s odd “Thanks you” at the end of that commentary? Not to mention he also stumbled through the Facebook joke earlier. Was Seth literally tongue-tied during this Update or what? He needs to slow down when he talks.
• Nasim as Christina Aguilera? Huh? What happened to Abby? Last season in the Bunny Business sketch, Abby did a far-superior Christina impression so why would they yank the role away from her and give it to Nasim, who’s Christina impression isn’t even good and left a lot to be desired? Poor Abby gets the shaft once again. Seriously, what’s going on between her and the writers?
• At least Bill as Cher provided a few laughs during the mostly-pointless Bayer/Aguilera/Cher/Chaz Bono segment.
• Garth and Kat - no, just... no.
Sketch - Globe Theater / False History
• A pretty funny and creative premise, and the sketch was executed well, especially the movie trailer enactments.
• Some funny little jokes throughout the sketch were Jason silencing the squawking falcon, and Kenan as the painter “recording” the play onto his canvas.
• Jay’s “Oh, hell nay!” made me laugh a lot more than it probably should have. It was mostly his delivery that made the line work.
• The ending was very disappointing and a complete cop-out. When will the writers finally realize that epilogue/story-scroll endings almost NEVER work? Although I have to say, the look on Andy’s face during that freeze-frame was priceless.
Sketch - Fresh Prince Lost Episodes
• As someone who’s a huge fan of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, I enjoyed this sketch probably more than other people did. As soon as this sketch started when I realized it would be a Fresh Prince parody, I immediately smiled in eager anticipation not only because I’m a regular Fresh Prince viewer but because Jay Pharoah’s Will Smith impression always cracks me up and I was happy that Jay was going to star in his own sketch.
• At first, I thought this was going to make fun of actual scenes from “Very Special Episodes” of Fresh Prince, although I think the only time that show ever had a Very Special Episode was the one where Carlton unknowingly takes speed pills.
• The “Cha-ching!” and Scooby Doo “Aroo?” parts were dead-on, because Will Smith really did often say things like that into the camera right before the show would go to commercial. And I got a huge laugh from the *pow* “Welcome to Earth!” Independence Day reference.
• My only nitpick of this sketch is that Kenan was badly miscast as Carlton. His half-assed imitation of Carlton’s voice was terrible, and he was too tall to play him. They could’ve at least had him stand on his knees, or had Jay wear the same tall shoes he wore as Kevin Garnett in the following sketch, to make Kenan look short by comparison. If they had to have Kenan play a Fresh Prince character, he would’ve been better off playing Uncle Phil. Oh well, these are the perils of SNL having only two black castmembers.
Sketch - Sportscenter Deportes
• A very “meh” sketch; nothing special at all and not exactly the most original premise either. It feels like SNL already used this same joke in several past sketches.
• Most of my amusement came from the end of the beer ad with Bobby’s cheesy Spanish kid character. See, everyone - Bobby Moynihan CAN be funny when used in the right way.
• Wow, there’s Jay again. Looks like this was the week that Lorne finally remembered this guy’s in the cast. This has to be the most appearances Jay has made in a single episode so far.
Sketch - Parker/Spitzer Auditions
• Another impression-showcase sketch tonight? I’m not complaining, though, and this came off a little better than the earlier Bar Mitzvah sketch.
• Bill’s Spitzer impression is always funny and I love that creepy/sleazy laugh he does. Between this and his Julian Assange, Bill Hader is becoming this current cast’s King of Creepy Laughs.
• As tired as I am of Fred’s long-expired David Paterson impression, I didn’t mind his appearance at the end of this sketch. He and Spitzer are always quite an amusing team (remember the Update commentary they did together?) and the high-five bit at the end was okay.
• It felt like there were supposed to be more celebrities brought on to audition. I wonder if they had to shorten this sketch at the last minute due to the show running a bit long.
• Digital Short
• Fox News
• Globe Theater
• Fresh Prince Lost Episodes
• the creative segue from the end of the Record Meeting sketch to Cee Lo’s musical performance
• Garth and Kat on Weekend Update
• Secret Word
• Sportscenter Deportes
• the ending of Globe Theater
Best Performer of the Night:
• Bill Hader
CASTMEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN
ARMISEN: 7 sketches (The Cape, Digital Short, Bar Mitzvah, Update, Globe Theater, Sportscenter, Spitzer Auditions)
ELLIOTT: 2 sketches (Fox News, Bar Mitzvah)
HADER: 6 sketches (Fox News, The Cape, Secret Word, Update, Globe Theater, Spitzer Auditions)
MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)
MOYNIHAN: 5 sketches (Fox News, The Cape, Update, Globe Theater, Sportscenter)
SAMBERG: 4 sketches (The Cape, Digital Short, Record Meeting, Globe Theater)
SUDEIKIS: 5 sketches (Fox News, Monologue, The Cape, Record Meeting, Globe Theater)
THOMPSON: 6 sketches (The Cape, Secret Word, Digital Short, Update, Globe Theater, Fresh Prince)
WIIG: 7 sketches (Fox News, Monologue, The Cape, Secret Word, Digital Short, Update, Globe Theater)
BAYER: 3 sketches (Bar Mitzvah, Update, Globe Theater)
BRITTAIN: 2 sketches (Record Meeting, Sportscenter)
KILLAM: 4 sketches (Secret Word, Globe Theater, Sportscenter, Spitzer Auditions)
PEDRAD: 6 sketches (Fox News, The Cape, Bar Mitzvah, Update, Sportscenter, Spitzer Auditions)
PHAROAH: 4 sketches (Bar Mitzvah, Globe Theater, Fresh Prince, Sportscenter)
GWYNETH PALTROW: 9 sketches (Monologue, Secret Word, Bar Mitzvah, Record Meeting, Update, Globe Theater, Fresh Prince, Sportscenter, Spitzer Auditions)