***** = Excellent, a possible future classic
**** = Great
*** = Average
** = Meh
* = How'd this get past dress?
Cold Opening - Mitt Romney on a Balcony
• I was hoping tonight's post-election cold opening would be something more exciting and creative, but this one was still decent.
• Some good lines included "Donald Trump is doing a very amusing thing where he's racist..." and Jason's Romney saying he'd like to see Paul Ryan try to carry Wisconsin.
• I enjoyed the return of Taran as Angry Tagg Romney. And the joke with him also playing Romney's other sons without even changing his appearance made me laugh because I can't tell the difference between any of his sons either.
• I was hoping they'd do more with the appearance of Bobby as Karl Rove, but I liked him casually asking for 300 million dollars.
• The beer can-opening sound effect whenever Mitt opened a milk carton was a creative touch.
• The romantic ending with Mitt and Ann was completely random and ended this on a strange note. What was the point of that?
• This is most likely the final appearance ever of Jason's Mitt Romney. Honestly, I can't say it will be missed all that much as it wasn't exactly a memorable impression, but Jason certainly did what he could with it. Frankly, I think Kate's Ann Romney has a bigger chance of being missed, and she only made about 3 appearances, yet that great Update commentary she did was more memorable than anything Jason's Mitt was ever given to do.
Monologue - Anne Hathaway
• I said this in my review of Hathaway's last monologue from 2010, but it bears repeating so I'll copy-and-paste this quote from my review of her 2010 episode: "Anne’s genuine joy and enthusiasm for hosting the show is very infectious and encouraging."
• At first, the premise of tonight's monologue was fairly reminiscent of Alan Cumming's monologue from 2000, but this came into its own after a while and overall, this wasn't a bad musical number. I always appreciate whenever SNL uses meta humor that mostly only us hardcore internet SNL fans would get, and tonight's monologue had lots of that. A good example is Jason's joke about being on the show for "8 seasons... two as a writer". That line didn't get much a reaction from the casual fans in the studio audience who probably didn't even know that Jason started on SNL as a writer, but us internet fans would get what he's talking about.
• Another nice meta joke was Aidy and Tim's self-deprecating line about having most Saturdays off because they aren't used much. That was funny, true, AND reminiscent of two things: 1) Tim Meadows' part in the classic "Not Gonna Phone It In Tonight" musical number ("I don't have any lines, I'm not in the show..."), and 2) the part in the "So Long, Farewell" piece from the 93-94 season finale where Norm MacDonald, Jay Mohr, and Sarah Silverman sang about not being on the show a lot because they're featured players.
• When seeing the whole cast together towards the end of tonight's monologue, I couldn't help but notice how out-of-place Fred looked compared to the other castmembers. He's almost starting to remind me of Darrell Hammond in his later seasons where he didn't fit in with the rest of the cast at all anymore. Remember SNL even used to joke about that, like in the Grease parody from Jimmy Fallon's final episode where Darrell just stood silently in the background the whole time not even participating in the musical number.
Sketch - Girlfriends Talk Show
• Oh, this has "future recurring sketch" written all over it. You know you were probably thinking the same thing, too. I'll try my best to enjoy it before SNL inevitably runs it into the ground.
• The "new best friend overshadowing the other best friend" premise is nothing original and they just HAD to resort to the tired old "talk show format" crutch, didn't they? I would overlook this sketch's derivative "new best friend" premise if they had done without the unnecessary TV show format and just put this a sketch in a normal everyday setting, like in Cecily's character's room or at a cafe or something.
• What helped this sketch was Aidy's solid performance as the neglected best friend. She did a great job selling her role, and I got a good laugh from her character's genuine surprise when she delivered the line "You have a basement???"
Film - The Legend of Mokiki and the Sloppy Swish
• I absolutely loved this short. This had the type of bizarre random humor I always appreciate seeing on SNL, and just about anything centered around Taran Killam dancing is bound to be funny. Taran's absurd performance here killed me and he did an excellent job pulling off another Will Ferrell-esque role.
• Anne was very good as the hypnotized girl-on-the-street character, especially when she morphed into a female clone of Taran's character.
• While this was fairly similar to the Lonely Island Digital Shorts' humor, this film still felt refreshing because we actually got to see the main comedic character being played by somebody other than Andy Samberg. If this were a Digital Short done last season, you just know Andy would've played Taran's role and it probably wouldn't have been quite as funny. I think that's one of the many reasons why Andy's Digital Shorts started to become stale his final two seasons; it got tiring seeing him play the main characters in them all the time. When Andy's Digital Shorts started out, they actually did a few that had other castmembers in the lead role, such as "The Tangent" short starring Fred or "Body Fuzion" starring Drew Barrymore & the female cast.
• Tonight's short film raises the question: since the Lonely Island obviously didn't make this, who DID? And even though I really enjoyed this and can tell this will likely become a viral hit, I hope SNL doesn't just have the rest of the short films this season all be Lonely Island-esque like tonight's. What we've gotten so far with this season's films is a nice wide variety: a slice-of-life sentimental piece (Sad Mouse), a satrical & witty TV show parody (Lincoln), and a bizarre music video (The Legend of Mokiki). I really like that fact, and they should continue doing a variety of experimental shorts from various writers/directors and approach different genres each time like they've been doing so far this season.
Sketch - Homeland
• I'm aware of this show and it's popularity, but I've never actually watched an episode. Despite that, I still found this sketch to be pretty funny, even though I obviously didn't get some of the references. What made this sketch for me was Anne and Taran's funny performances; they cracked me up and kept me entertained throughout the sketch.
• Kenan and Bill were also very good in supporting roles.
• Both this sketch and the "Long Island Medium" spoof from earlier this season proves that it IS still possible to find a sketch amusing even if you've never seen what it's parodying.
Sketch - McDonald's Firing
• I said earlier this season that aside from Mark Payne (the "it smells like peppuh up in here" character), Bobby playing wiggers is usually always funny... however, this sketch is an exception, as I wasn't all that amused by his wigger character here. In fact, he actually came off a bit Mark Payne-esque at times.
• Most of this sketch just went on and on with not many laughs from me, and Bobby and Cecily's constant utterances of "bitch!" got annoying.
• Usually I love when they work the entire cast into a sketch, but I felt that it actually hampered this particular sketch. Why, you ask? Because it meant we had to sit through every single castmember getting called out by Bobby and Cecily, which made the sketch drag on much longer than it should have.
• Another problem I had was Bobby and Cecily staring directly towards the camera for the entire sketch when they were supposed to be addressing the other characters. I don't understand; were they just blatantly reading off the cue cards? Normally that doesn't bother me, but it distracted me here because it didn't look right regarding the sketch - Bobby and Cecily are staring straight ahead while talking to the co-workers who are standing TO THE SIDE OF THEM. They didn't even come close to facing the direction of the characters they were addressing, and that came off looking very stupid.
• Despite all my complaints, there were still a few funny parts in this sketch, such as Kate informing them that her leg actually WAS burned which left Bobby and Cecily speechless for a moment.
• Funniest part, however, was easily Taran as the serial killer-looking guy with the creepy frozen grin. Taran is on fire tonight; dude has stolen almost every sketch in this episode so far.
• The weak ending where it was revealed that Bobby and Cecily AREN'T getting fired was a very cliche punchline and could be seen coming from a mile away.
Weekend Update - Seth Meyers, featuring President Barack Obama, Gay Couple from Maine, Drunk Uncle
• Best jokes: David Petraeus/"All In"
• Similar to what I said about Jason's Romney appearing on last week's Update, it's a refreshing change of pace to see Jay's Obama doing an Update commentary. Aside from Darrell Hammond as Clinton, have there been any other times in the past where someone played a current president as a Weekend Update guest?
• Jay's Obama commentary was pretty funny, and his laid-back demeanor in this reminded me of a statement I made in my review of his very first Obama appearance in the season premiere: "you can tell that unlike with Fred, we'll be seeing Jay doing much more fun, loose things with the impression every time he plays him." Tonight's commentary certainly proved that, as he was loose, fun-loving, and relaxed as hell. Can you picture Fred's Obama doing all the things that Jay did here? Didn't think so.
• Really? They're resurrecting the old "A Gay Couple from ______" bits with Bill and Fred? They've been doing this stupid bit since 2006 and it's NEVER been funny, not even back when it started out. And tonight's commentary was absolutely pointless and unfunny. What exactly was the purpose of bringing it back? To me, this is yet another sign that Fred Armisen needs to get the hell off the show. I wouldn't be complaining much about Fred nowadays if he at least TRIED doing new stuff, but that's the problem, people - he's not doing anything original this season at all! He's just rehashing the same-old tired stuff he's been doing for the last 10 years. And even the only "new" character he's come up with this year, the Pretentious Date thing with Daniel Craig, was derivative of characters that Fred did much better during his earlier days. In a season like this current one where SNL is clearly moving forward by focusing more on establishing newer talent and doing mostly original non-recurring material, Fred's work sticks out badly like a sore thumb. He clearly has nothing new to offer the show anymore. You know, I often compare Fred nowadays to how Chris Kattan was in his later seasons (where Kattan overstayed his welcome and turned into an annoying, embarrassing caricature of himself), but hell, even KATTAN did something original in his final season: those funny Buddy Mills/casino sketches that were completely different from anything else Kattan had done on the show before. Couldn't Fred follow suit and try something inspired & original himself to validate his continued presence in the cast?
• Sorry for that long, long rant about Fred, but I had been waiting quite a while to say all of that. Moving on...
• Before tonight, I was honestly getting tired of Drunk Uncle, but now I've come to accept him. While this character IS one-note, I have to admit that he comes up with quite a lot of amusing comments in each appearance, and he had some particularly funny ones tonight regarding the election. So, yeah, I don't mind this character anymore; he's okay. However, I still feel that his commentaries go on far too long, which kinda hurts the overall bit. It would work better if they kept the time length of every Drunk Uncle appearance to a certain minimum.
Sketch - Ellen
• Kate's Ellen impression is still spot-on, but I didn't find it quite as funny in this sketch. I'm starting to think this impression works better in smaller doses; it was much funnier in the James Bond fake ad.
• This sketch was pretty forgettable and didn't seem to go much of anyplace besides the constant dancing.
• Vanessa & Nasim were funny and adorable as the two child performers.
• I enjoyed seeing the return of Anne's dead-on Katie Holmes impression, but they really wasted it in this sketch. Why did they wait until the last 45 seconds of the sketch to bring her on, and then end the sketch after she barely did anything?
Sketch - The Making of American Gothic
• First, I want to just say that I am loving the amount of original sketches this season. Tonight is yet another episode where none of the sketches are recurring. That used to be a rarity; now it's becoming almost the norm this season and I truly appreciate that.
• The beginning with Kenan and the Japanese tourists had some funny racial humor with Kenan mentioning the stereotype of Asians taking lots of pictures, then saying "Then again, I *was* 20 minutes late to work today..."
• An original idea to show the story behind the American Gothic painting. While the premise seemed like it could've easily been boring and too simplistic, they avoided that and the sketch managed to work thanks to the performances, particularly from Jason. Jason's always had a knack for making this type of everyday, relatable, jokey humor funny.
Commercial - Flaritin
• I'm assuming a live sketch planned for this time slot must've got cut at the last minute; they don't usually debut a new pre-taped fake ad at the end of an episode.
• The premise was really a stretch and didn't make much sense, in my opinion. However, this commercial still had its moments: the mention of "squirrel dander" and "small penises" among the list of fake allergies, Nasim's line about shitting her pants after eating some bread, and Vanessa's nasty sneeze onto Kenan's face.
• The Legend of Mokiki and the Sloppy Swish
• parts of Homeland
• Gay Couple from Maine
• McDonald's Firing
Best Performer of the Night:
• Taran Killam / Anne Hathaway
CASTMEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN
ARMISEN: 5 sketches (Monologue, Homeland, McDonald's, Update, Flaritin)
BAYER: 4 sketches (Monologue, McDonald's, Ellen, Flaritin)
HADER: 5 sketches (Monologue, Homeland, McDonald's, Update, Flaritin)
KILLAM: 6 sketches (Romney, Monologue, Legend of Mokiki, Homeland, McDonald's, Ellen)
MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)
MOYNIHAN: 6 sketches (Romney, Monologue, Legend of Mokiki, McDonald's, Update, Flaritin)
PEDRAD: 5 sketches (Monologue, Homeland, McDonald's, Ellen, Flaritin)
PHAROAH: 3 sketches (Monologue, McDonald's, Update)
SUDEIKIS: 5 sketches (Romney, Monologue, McDonald's, American Gothic, Flaritin)
THOMPSON: 7 sketches (Monologue, Legend of Mokiki, Homeland, McDonald's, Ellen, American Gothic, Flaritin)
BRYANT: 4 sketches (Monologue, Girlfriends, McDonald's, Ellen)
MCKINNON: 5 sketches (Romney, Monologue, Legend of Mokiki, McDonald's, Ellen)
ROBINSON: 2 sketches (Monologue, McDonald's)
STRONG: 4 sketches (Monologue, Girlfriends, McDonald's, Ellen)
ANNE HATHAWAY: 7 sketches (Monologue, Girlfriends, Legend of Mokiki, Homeland, McDonald's, Ellen, American Gothic)