***** = Excellent, a possible future classic
**** = Great
*** = Average
** = Meh
* = How'd this get past dress?
Cold Opening - The First Presidential Debate
• Chris Parnell returning as Jim Lehrer was a given. I wonder if they're gonna do like they did during the last elections in '08 where they brought Parnell back to play EVERY SINGLE moderator of the three presidential debates that year (Lehrer, Tom Brokaw, and Bob Schieffer).
• I was pleasantly surprised by the angle they took on this debate parody. Instead of just going the usual "each candidate takes turns saying silly things based on what was said at the actual debate" route, they instead did an original take on the debate with the whole "thought sequences" for Obama, Romney, and Lehrer. I was not expecting that.
• That being said, this was still hit-and-miss (i.e. were we really supposed to laugh at Obama not remembering Malia's name?), didn't hold a candle to some of the classic debate parodies from the past, and I can ALREADY imagine people complaining that SNL went way too soft on Obama in this (it IS a valid complaint, though). But this still certainly had its share of highlights and was at least much better than those forgettable Kerry/Bush debate parodies from '04.
• Some of my favorite parts of this opening were Jason's Romney giving that cold, silent, stone-faced stare at Obama during the first split-screen shot, Obama just carelessly telling the other two to go ahead after he was informed that Romney claimed to have killed Bin Laden, and the split-screen shot of Romney going over to wake Obama up.
• I was also glad this didn't go on for 10+ minutes like most debate sketches tend to.
• Very energetic LFNY from Parnell at the end.
• Anyone else notice that they sped up the theme song tonight? It was in a much faster tempo than in the first two episodes of the season, and it sounded MUCH better tonight. They must've heard people's complaints about the theme song being too slow before.
Monologue - Daniel Craig
• Not a bad monologue. Craig handled this very well with total ease and got a couple of funny remarks in. And during the "In Memoriam" montage, whenever the joke seemed like it was about to get old, they kept it funny by throwing in unexpected bits like the sound engineer part.
• I got a good laugh from "The Dog Who Saw Too Much".
Sketch - Construction Workers
• This is one of those sketches where the joke becomes really obvious a minute into the sketch, but this particular one was saved by Craig's fine performance and the ridiculousness of some of his awful pick-up lines.
• Bobby's clever reference to the "If You See Something, Say Something" campaign was hilarious, though if you don't live in New York, you probably didn't get that joke.
• Quite interesting having Aidy as one of the women being ogled by the guys. Maybe the SNL writers really won't be typecasting her in disgusting, unappealing roles based on her weight like some people are predicting.
• The great flashback sequence with Bill getting shot made this whole sketch.
Commercial - Lesser-Known Bond Girls
• A funny idea for the obligatory Bond parody of the night, and I usually always enjoy celebrity impression showcase segments like this.
• Vanessa's Diane Keaton was a nice change of pace from the usual type of roles she plays on the show.
• Nasim was much more suitable in the role of Lea Michele than Abby Elliott's weak impression of her in that Glee/Gilly crossover sketch from a few years ago.
• The fake Bond movie titles were pretty funny ("Hippopotopussy", "The Man Who Was a Gun", etc.).
• Kate stole this whole commercial, first with her funny scene as Jodie Foster, then later on with her very funny dead-on Ellen Degeneres bit. The jumpsuit-under-the-bikini was a nice touch as well.
• Yeah... Fred's Penny Marshall impression is officially not funny anymore. His appearance in this commercial was weak and went on too long; it actually almost derailed the momentum of this otherwise-funny commercial. The studio audience didn't seem to care much for his appearance, either; after a quick cheap laugh from the initial sight of Fred as Penny, they were noticeably silent for the rest of his scene.
Sketch - MSNBC: A Look Back at the Obama Debate Disaster
• Ha, second sketch in a row tonight with an Abby Elliott impression being replaced.
• I'm still amazed by how different Cecily looks from sketch-to-sketch. I always seem to have a hard time recognizing her the first few seconds she appears in a sketch. But I tend to be that way at times with some new castmembers until I get used to their face. I remember being like this when Seth Meyers first joined the cast.
• A good idea to parody MSNBC's reaction to Obama practically sleepwalking his way through the debate, but this wasn't as funny as it could've been. Several portions of this sketch came off pretty boring.
• Kenan's Al Sharpton had a few okay lines, and I got a good laugh from his theory about flushing being different in each time zone.
• Hmm, Sudeikis as Chris Matthews, eh? So Hammond wasn't available this week, I see. No problem with me, because I'm tired of Lorne always relying on former castmembers for a cameo anytime one of their trademark impressions is currently in the news, when he should be giving said impression to one of the current castmembers (I'll let Parnell-as-Jim-Lehrer slide, though, because...well, because he's Chris friggin Parnell, people!). Lorne needs to stop hanging onto the past and start letting the newer castmembers establish themselves.
• Jason's impression of Chris Matthews, while not exactly dead-on, still made me laugh a lot. His delivery was funny as hell, and his portions of this sketch was easily one of the best things this had going for it.
• Odd to see a host-less sketch so early in the episode, but obviously there was no way to work Daniel Craig into this sketch since there were no roles that he would've fit in.
• Kate was pretty funny as S.E. Cupp.
• Why did someone in the audience shout "SURPRISE!!!!" at the end after Cecily said "The answer might surprise you"?
Commercial - Long Island Medium
• I'm not familiar with this show at all, but I don't think that matters because I still found this sketch to be very funny.
• Kate did a fantastic job in the lead role here. She is on a roll tonight so far.
• Some of the funniest parts were the way Taran sounded during his crying outburst, Nasim revealing her whole family died rock-climbing, Cecily's casual reaction to Kate coming up to her out of nowhere, and Bobby's pissed-off "Fuck you" response.
Sketch - Kirby's Lil' Kitty Cat
• If I didn't know any better, I'd swear Bobby was intentionally doing a Chris Farley impression in this sketch. Everything from the wig, the facial expressions, the Chicago/Wisconsin accent, the screaming outburst towards the end when he thought the kitten died... all of this made me feel like I was watching a character that Farley would've played in his later seasons, from 93-94 and 94-95.
• That's pretty much the only interesting thing I can say about this sketch, because... well, what WAS this??? I don't really know what to say about this strange, strange sketch. The premise was way too thin (it seriously only consisted of Bobby just going on and on about how he misses his "lil' kitty kat"), the writing and jokes were very idiotic, and the resulting sketch just didn't make me laugh.
• As a cat lover, I have to admit that Bobby bringing out the real kitten at the end was a cute moment to me.
Weekend Update - Seth Meyers, featuring Big Bird, Cecilia Giminez
• Best jokes: Gravestones/comments section
• Seth's Winners/Losers rant started out very slow with lots of typical lame jokes, but he had a few clever lines in there towards the end: the 2-minutes bit with Jim Lehrer and the bit with Biden thinking it's up to him to get the lead back.
• Big Bird's appearance came as no surprise to me at all. A few days ago, I was thinking about how SNL would parody the presidential debate - specifically, how they would tackle Romney's much-talked about Big Bird reference. Then I said to myself "Hell, since Big Bird has been everywhere since that mention at the debate, he'll probably make a cameo on SNL, most likely on Weekend Update, with Seth asking him how different his life has been since Romney's mention." I swear, SNL can be so predictable sometimes...
• Anyway, it was certainly fun seeing Big Bird there and everything, but his Update commentary was actually a bit disappointing. His jokes here were not funny, to put it bluntly. It wasn't even funny in an endearingly corny way, either. I wanted so much more from his appearance.
• Wow, tonight is really Kate McKinnon's night. She's been all over the place in this episode. However, unlike other people, I'm not automatically taking this as a sign that this is the beginning of Kate taking over Kristen Wiig's place as the lead star of the show every week. Remember, everyone said that about Vanessa after she dominated the season premiere, but then her airtime decreased in the two episodes that followed. In the second episode of the season, Nasim was the female castmember who was given lots of airtime. And tonight in the third episode, Kate's the one who got to be the star. What SNL seems to be doing this season is giving the spotlight to a different female castmember each week, instead of just letting the same female castmember dominate every single week like they infamously did with Wiig. So I'm guessing that the next two weeks will belong to Cecily and Aidy.
• Anyway, Kate's commentary wasn't exactly something to write home about, but it was decent and she got enough laughs out of this. However, something confused me: if the lady she was playing is Spanish, then why was Kate doing a blatant ITALIAN accent? Was that an intentional joke? If so, what exactly was the point? And if not, then I'm starting to think Kate simply doesn't know how to do a Spanish accent, because in that sketch last season when she played Penelope Cruz, I remember someone on the board pointing out that Kate's accent sounded more Middle Eastern/Indian than Spanish. Hmm...
• Lately, Seth seems to have developed a bad habit of giggling really loudly off-camera whenever an Update guest is speaking to the camera. It used to only happen during most of Kristen Wiig's Update appearances, but now Seth seems to do it with practically every guest. I don't really get why he does this; it's not like he's seeing these guest commentaries for the first time like the audience is.
Sketch - A Sorry Lot We Are
• First, I have to point out how absolutely refreshing it is to see a long string of original non-recurring sketches back-to-back throughout the whole night. There hasn't been a single recurring character in this entire episode, and come to think of it, the first two episodes of the season were very light on recurring bits as well. See what happens when you finally get rid of Wiig, people? She takes a majority of this era's stock of annoying recurring characters with her. Good effing riddance.
• An interesting idea for a sketch, and it's somewhat rare to see SNL doing this type of British humor. However, there were a few parts of this sketch that may have been a little too dry for its own good.
• Any time someone angrily yells "Bollocks!" never fails to crack me up, and I got a good laugh from Craig doing that here.
• Figures Fred Armisen would be the castmember stuck playing the gay guy eagerly looking for the Poofter Convention.
• Speaking of the Poofter Convention bit, that whole part seemed to go right over the studio audience's heads. Have they seriously never heard of the word "poofter" before?
• As for Aidy Bryant's appearance as Saucy Maggie, this would be that aforementioned "disgusting unappealing role" that some people feared she would be typecast in. I didn't find her part in this sketch to be funny, to be honest. And sadly, this is the closest to a noteworthy role she's gotten so far. I know this is only her third episode, but compare her airtime to the other two newbies: Cecily's fitting in perfectly already and comes off like a professional who's been on SNL for years; Tim's showing some promise here and there & he's been able to get a few co-starring roles; Aidy, on the other hand, is a mysterious question mark. I'm very eager to see what she can really do.
Sketch - Snobby Intellectual Date
• Okay, I must be a friggin psychic, because right at the start of the sketch when Bill, Vanessa, Tim, and Aidy were talking about their friend and the mysterious new girlfriend he's going to be bringing over, I said to myself "This sounds like a set-up to those old 'I'm Carol' sketches Horatio Sanz used to do - I bet the girlfriend in THIS sketch is also gonna be one of the male castmembers in drag"... and sure enough, there entered Fred Armisen in a dress. Wonderful.
• Oh, and I can't resist pointing out that we've been "treated" to the sight of Fred in drag TWICE tonight... AND we got to see him play a gay guy in a sketch right before this. Like I said once last season, the man truly has turned into Chris Kattan version 2.0. The transformation is officially complete.
• This sketch ended up being just as terrible as I feared; an embarrassing waste of airtime. The only remotely amusing moments in this dreadful mess came from Tim Robinson saying "How the eff could I miss it?" and Hader's angry facial reaction after Fred said he doesn't want the drink anymore... but even those two moments weren't enough to make this sketch bearable.
• What exactly happened that made Fred and Bill almost crack up towards the end? Inside joke?
Commercial - Undecided Voter
• They're re-airing this ALREADY?? Didn't this just air in the last episode?
• The second half of tonight's show has felt kinda off and sluggishly-paced in general. Ever since Update ended, the remainder of the show just didn't feel right to me. I get the feeling that several planned sketches had to be cut at the last minute due to the show running longer than expected.
• Lesser-Known Bond Girls
• Long Island Medium
• Snobby Intellectual Date
• Kirby's Lil' Kitty Cat
Best Performer of the Night:
• Kate McKinnon
CASTMEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN
ARMISEN: 5 sketches (Monologue, Bond Girls, Long Island Medium, A Sorry Lot, Intellectual Date)
BAYER: 4 sketches (Construction Workers, Bond Girls, Long Island Medium, Intellectual Date)
HADER: 3 sketches (Construction Workers, A Sorry Lot, Intellectual Date)
KILLAM: 3 sketches (Bond Girls, Long Island Medium, Kitty Cat)
MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)
MOYNIHAN: 4 sketches (Construction Workers, Long Island Medium, Kitty Cat, A Sorry Lot)
PEDRAD: 3 sketches (Construction Workers, Bond Girls, Long Island Medium)
PHAROAH: 1 sketch (Presidential Debate)
SUDEIKIS: 3 sketches (Presidential Debate, Construction Workers, MSNBC)
THOMPSON: 3 sketches (Construction Workers, MSNBC, Kitty Cat)
BRYANT: 4 sketches (Construction Workers, Long Island Medium, A Sorry Lot, Intellectual Date)
MCKINNON: 6 sketches (Construction Workers, Bond Girls, MSNBC, Long Island Medium, Update, A Sorry Lot)
ROBINSON: 4 sketches (Construction Workers, Long Island Medium, A Sorry Lot, Intellectual Date)
STRONG: 4 sketches (Construction Workers, MSNBC, Long Island Medium, Kitty Cat)
DANIEL CRAIG: 7 sketches (Monologue, Construction Workers, Bond Girls, Long Island Medium, Kitty Cat, A Sorry Lot, Intellectual Date)