***** = Excellent, a possible future classic
**** = Great
*** = Average
** = Meh
* = How'd this get past dress?
Cold Opening - Mitt Romney’s Long, Long Road to the White House
• While this was a very one-joke cold opening, I didn’t mind this too much overall. It did make me laugh a few times and some of the settings Romney was put in were quite funny, especially the cockfighting and piercing convention scenes (I got a big laugh from Romney’s line about having his taint pierced). Plus, the constant changes-of-scenery throughout this made it more interesting than the typical cold openings where one person gives a long boring speech to the camera from just one setting the whole time.
• However, as with most of SNL’s Romney cold openings, this still could’ve been so much better.
• Like some other people, I think it’s time for SNL to give Taran the Mitt Romney impression. But unlike others, I’m not really blaming Sudeikis for doing such a bland non-descript Romney impression, considering 1) Mitt Romney himself IS the epitome of bland and non-descript, and 2) the writing is mostly to blame for SNL’s Romney satire being so dull. However, I feel that Taran would be more successful at getting a lot of humor out of that impression; after all, Taran’s already proven to have the ability of making dull celebrities into funny impressions (Piers Morgan, Brad Pitt, and he even got some laughs out of a friggin Jon Huntsman impression). I’d love to see what Taran could do with the Romney role.
• Speaking of Jason Sudeikis, I’m hesitant to believe all these rumors about this being Jason’s final season (along with Kristen and Andy). Sorry, but I refuse to believe any of those recent rumors until it’s set in stone. I don’t want to get my hopes up about these alleged upcoming changes at SNL, only to have those rumors turn out to be false and all those castmembers end up staying on the show. Hate to be a spoilsport, but I would not be surprised at all if Jason and Kristen ended up returning for at least the first half of next season. None of the veterans ever seem to leave SNL nowadays... at least not without Lorne putting up a fight.
• Very nice meta-twist at the end of this cold opening. Having Jason’s Romney actually at SNL was unexpected and creative, and I really liked how they played with the usual “Live from New York...” ending. This reminded me a bit of how they would toy around with the LFNY endings in those McLaughlin Group cold openings with Dana Carvey (remember how he opened the show once with “Show show show, here we go”?).
• Welcome to the show, Kate McKinnon. I always find it exciting whenever SNL gets new blood in the cast.
Monologue - Sofia Vergara
• A decent harmless monologue, if a bit predictable. I can’t think of much else to say here.
• Props to Sofia for being able to handle her own monologue, which I wouldn’t have expected. Also, props to SNL for not going the usual “castmembers-interrupt-the-host” route.
Commercial - Just Friends Booty Shorts
• Much funnier than I would’ve expected.
• There were a lot of funny moments all throughout, particularly the bit with the “Not Gay” shirts where Andy was left alone with just his “Gay” shirt, which gave a whole bunch of guys the wrong impression about him.
• Could’ve done without the forced kiss at the end, especially considering the preceding episode just had a same-sex kiss (Stefon & Seth).
Sketch - Bein’ Quirky with Zooey Deschanel
• To no surprise at all, this is now recurring. In my review of the first installment, I said that I enjoyed the sketch but wouldn’t want it to become recurring because it seems exactly like the type of sketch that would quickly get stale and repetitive after only 2-3 installments (ala “The Miley Cyrus Show”, the Cee-Lo Green sketch, etc.) and that I would rather see Abby’s Zooey impression being put into different settings/formats. I still stand by those statements, although tonight’s second installment wasn’t TOO bad. There were still a few decent moments, but this overall was a definite huge step down from last time. I’m worried that this downhill slide will continue and by the next installment, this sketch will probably have been milked completely dry. Like I said, we saw the exact same quick downhill slide happen to the Miley Cyrus Show sketches.
• My biggest laughs in this continue to come from Taran’s Michael Cera, although his lines weren’t quite as funny this time. His impression still cracked me up, though.
• Sofia’s natural Spanish accent was still quite noticeable during her Fran Drescher “Nanny” impression, which made it come off sounding very odd.
• Kristen’s Drew Barrymore is one of her best impressions, and this was the first time in years that Kristen has played her. If I recall correctly, this impression was also one of the earliest things Kristen ever did on SNL, in that Prince Show sketch from 05-06 when she was a new featured player.
• The bit with Andy as Mayim “Blossom” Bialik wasn’t funny and felt very unnecessary. People give Fred Armisen a lot of crap for dressing in drag all the time, but I’m starting to notice lately that Andy Samberg’s been dressing in drag a lot this season, too. What’s up with that?
Commercial - Almost Pizza
• At first, this was dangerously bordering on becoming a rip-off of the “That’s Not Yogurt” fake ad SNL did in 1992. But thankfully, this ended up going in its own direction after a while and turned out to be a very funny commercial. This kept getting funnier and funnier as it went along.
• Besides the main jokes, there were also some quick little gags that made me laugh a lot as well, such as Kristen pretending to eat the pizza in the profile angle of her face, and the part where Bill said “Hell... NO!” It’s hard to explain why that “Hell... NO!” part made me laugh so much; I think it was simply because of the way Bill said it. I don’t think I’ve ever heard him deliver a line in that manner before.
Sketch - News Team Promo
• Didn’t care for this AT. ALL. I found this to be a very weak and unfunny sketch that went nowhere and got absolutely no laughs out of me. Terrible ending as well. Really, what was this sketch doing on so early in the show?
• Also, this felt like a cross between two sketches SNL’s done in the last few years: that finger-pointing news team promo sketch from Jack Black’s 2005 episode and that “Mitch, throw the rock!” sketch when Peyton Manning hosted. The way Peyton’s character in that sketch wouldn’t throw the rock whenever the cameras were rolling was very similar to the way Fred’s character in this sketch wouldn’t turn correctly whenever they were filming. I wonder if both sketches are from the same writer.
Sketch - Gilly
• Just when we thought we’d seen the last of the demon spawn known simply as... “Gilly”.
• I thought Kristen said in that interview last year that she retired Gilly and some other character (Penelope I think).
• While I still groaned my way through some parts of this installment like I usually do during these Gilly horrorfests, there were actually a few surprises this time. First off, the fantasy sequence featuring Gilly as an old lady on her deathbed came out of nowhere and actually took the sketch into a new direction. I don’t think anyone was expecting that. And also, they did something different and new at the end of this sketch with Gilly sort-of “dropping character” to give a wordy/lengthy apology at the end during the theme song. Does anyone else get the feeling that with those two aspects, this is intended this to be the final Gilly sketch ever? It felt to me like they did this sketch tonight only to give the character an official sense of closure. Hmmmmm...
• There was a genuinely funny moment with Bobby’s excited “reaction” to a sexual comment Sofia made.
• Overall, this feels strange to say, but this sketch actually wasn’t all that horrible all-in-all FOR GILLY STANDARDS. By no means am I saying this was a legitimately funny sketch in general. Not even close. At the end of the day, this sketch was still an unnecessary waste of time, BUT I give them credit for shaking the formula up a bit and for actually making me laugh once or twice, which I’ve never done during a Gilly sketch before.
• This also got me thinking about something: I mean, the fact that they un-retired Gilly simply to give her what felt like an official retirement sketch tonight when there are many rumors about this being Kristen’s final season on SNL... and then add in the fact that they also brought back one of her very first breakout impressions (Drew Barrymore). This all makes me wonder... are we witnessing the beginning of the Kristen Wiig Farewell Tour? Hmm, maybe I’m not so hesitant anymore to believe these rumors about her leaving in May.
Stars: ** (FOR GILLY STANDARDS)
Weekend Update - Seth Meyers, featuring Drunk Uncle
• Best jokes: Matt Lauer, NYC archery program, Lego master model builder
• While Drunk Uncle is pretty much the epitome of a one-joke character and while he does get less funnier in each appearance, his commentary tonight didn’t bother me TOO much. I still laughed a couple of times. It’s really Bobby’s delivery as this character that helps make it more tolerable, even when most of the lines themselves aren’t that funny. For example, they way he just moaned “Drroooiiidd” before drinking at one point tonight got me to laugh, and it’s kinda hard to explain why. It was all in Bobby’s delivery. There was also a fairly decent exchange between Bobby and Seth, where Bobby mumbled something mockingly and said “That’s not me” followed by Seth saying “That’s not ANYBODY.”
• However, the Drunk Uncle commentary ultimately suffered from being too damn long. Really, this should’ve been shortened by - at the very least - two minutes.
• Seth surprisingly had a rare decent night overall with a small handful of actual funny jokes this time. Nothing too amazing in general, but for Seth Meyers standards, it’s a miracle. AND they thankfully managed to keep tonight’s Update short, which is very rare nowadays. I wish SNL would realize that the typical insanely-long Updates that take up almost half the episode and feature 3-4 guest commentaries is actually hurting the show.
Sketch - The Manuel Ortiz Show
• No. Just... no.
• Wait, just one little observation I wanted to mention: am I crazy, or did one of those One Direction guys look exactly like Terry Sweeney with that wig and fake mustache along with those facial expressions he made?
Stars: *½ (the ½ is for Taran Killam managing to make me laugh with his delivery and performance here)
Commercial - Lil Poundcake
• Rerun. Sounds like they were having major audio problems at the beginning of this. Or was that just on my local affiliate?
Sketch - Watch What Happens Live
• And speaking of a funny performance from Taran, here is yet another one. I’m familiar enough with Andy Cohen to definitely get that Taran’s impression of him was very funny, being both accurate and exaggerated just enough to come off amusing at the same time. It cannot be said enough how much I enjoy Taran Killam. He reminds me a little of some of my favorite castmembers from the past. I honestly sometimes see a little bit of Dana Carvey and early-era Will Ferrell in him performance-wise, but I’m probably alone in feeling that way.
• As for this sketch itself, it was only okay. It had its moments, but there were a few parts that somewhat dragged and weren’t needed.
• Didn’t really care for Samberg’s appearance much, nor did I get any real laughs from the bits with Sofia and Nasim.
• Kenan was pretty funny playing an exuberant Desmond Tutu.
• It took me a few seconds to recognize the new girl Kate McKinnon in her appearance during this sketch, because up until this point, I was actually starting to FORGET there’s a new castmember, considering she hadn’t been seen since the cold opening (in which she just played a small background role). When she appeared during this Bravo sketch, I was like “Who is she?”, then I thought to myself “Is that Abby? She looks kinda different in that wig...”, then I realized it was Kate McKinnon.
• I can’t really say much about Kate’s scene in this sketch because I don’t know who she was impersonating, but her performance seemed fine to me and the concept of her harshly criticizing little girls running a lemonade stand was pretty funny.
Sketch - Pantene Commercial Shoot
• Wow, the new girl gets her own starring sketch in her debut episode. Congratulations! Meanwhile, Jay Pharoah - who is nowhere to be seen so far tonight - is probably weeping backstage. But, uh, I digress...
• I always appreciate the rare times a newbie gets a lead role in a sketch on their first episode. In fact, for this same reason, I can remember how back in 2008, I even went easy on Bobby Moynihan’s infamous “Peppuh” sketch from his first episode and didn’t realize until later just how bad that sketch truly was. Lol, I still remember how so many people were immediately ready to write Bobby off completely after his first episode thanks to that sketch.
• Kate did a really impressive job here and she already seems very professional and comfortable on live TV, most likely because she’s already had prior sketch comedy experience before joining SNL.
• This sketch itself was nothing special. Nothing too bad either, but the premise and direction the sketch was headed in was very obvious and wasn’t all that great.
• The bit with Sofia telling Kate how to pronounce “refrigerator” was a very funny surprise, though, and got a good laugh from me.
Sketch - 74th Annual Hunger Games
• A decent and topical parody of The Hunger Games, but this felt like it could’ve been much better. Still, this came off decent enough for a 10-to-1 sketch.
• Sofia’s performance here was dangerously bordering on being annoying. Could’ve done without all the loud yelling from her.
• The slogan they used for the Tylenol ad was hilarious: “Got a spear in your head? Tylenooollll!”
• Oh, and hey, nice “cameo appearance” tonight, Jay Pharoah! Seriously, a quick silent one-second appearance from him in the WHOLE SHOW? Sucks to be Jay. In fact, he hasn’t had a speaking role in a live sketch since the Maya Rudolph episode all the way back in February.
• Almost Pizza
• Just Friends Booty Shorts
• the meta-ending of the Cold Opening
• The Manuel Ortiz Show
• News Team Promo
• some portions of Gilly
Best Performer of the Night:
• Taran Killam
CASTMEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN
ARMISEN: 4 sketches (Bein’ Quirky, News Team, Manuel Ortiz, Hunger Games)
ELLIOTT: 4 sketches (Mitt Romney, Bein’ Quirky, Gilly, Hunger Games)
HADER: 4 sketches (Almost Pizza, News Team, Manuel Ortiz, Hunger Games)
MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)
MOYNIHAN: 4 sketches (Mitt Romney, Gilly, Update, Pantene)
PEDRAD: 6 sketches (Mitt Romney, Just Friends, Almost Pizza, Gilly, Watch What Happens, Hunger Games)
SAMBERG: 5 sketches (Just Friends, Bein’ Quirky, Gilly, Watch What Happens, Hunger Games)
SUDEIKIS: 4 sketches (Mitt Romney, Just Friends, News Team, Pantene)
THOMPSON: 4 sketches (Mitt Romney, Gilly, Manuel Ortiz, Watch What Happens)
WIIG: 5 sketches (Mitt Romney, Bein’ Quirky, Almost Pizza, Gilly, Manuel Ortiz)
BAYER: 2 sketches (Mitt Romney, Just Friends)
KILLAM: 6 sketches (Mitt Romney, Just Friends, Bein’ Quirky, Manuel Ortiz, Watch What Happens, Hunger Games)
MCKINNON: 3 sketches (Mitt Romney, Watch What Happens, Pantene)
PHAROAH: 1 sketch (Hunger Games)
SOFIA VERGARA: 8 sketches (Monologue, Bein’ Quirky, News Team, Gilly, Manuel Ortiz, Watch What Happens, Pantene, Hunger Games)