***** = Excellent, a possible future classic
**** = Great
*** = Average
** = Meh
* = How'd this get past dress?
Cold Opening - Silent Night
• A beautiful, sentimental, and classy opening, especially considering they only had a day to put this together. This was the perfect way of addressing the tragedy without being too blatant about it. Very well-done.
• At the end of the song when the camera slowly faded to black (which was a nice somber touch), I thought at first that the cold opening would just end like that and would cut to the opening credits without anyone saying the LFNY tagline (which hasn't happened since... when, the Francis Ford Coppola/George Wendt episode in 1986?), but then they cut back to the children delivering an exuberant LFNY.
Song-and-Danceologue - Martin Short
• A very fun monologue, and Martin was his usual hilarious & energetic self. He had some great antics and one-liners here, particularly his brief Ed Grimley reference, him stepping over Paul Shaffer's hands to get up on the piano, and his line "How does a man sit on the piano?"
• I enjoy pretty much any monologue that involves the host going backstage, and the cavalcade of cameos here had a couple that I really liked seeing such as Tom Hanks and Jimmy Fallon (and how adorable was it when Hanks & Fallon jumped up and down in the background afterwards like little girls?)
• Martin's unexpected run-in with the llama was a funny unscripted moment. BTW, I always like SNL's running gag of every backstage sketch having an Abe Lincoln, a llama, and several showgirls hanging out in the background.
Sketch - A Tony Bennett Christmas
• A pleasant surprise to see this sketch & Alec Baldwin pop up tonight. Coincidentally, the last time they did a Tony Bennett Show sketch was in Alec's '06 episode where Martin Short and Paul McCartney both made a cameo during the Platinum Lounge sketch.
• Martin was a nice addition as the hug-crazed Bennett brother, and he played nicely off of Alec.
• I consider Jay's Kanye to be one of his less-accurate impressions, but he was pretty funny in this sketch, and it was a nice touch having him wear Kanye's infamous skirt from the Hurricane Sandy relief concert.
• The suppositories promo was very funny, especially Alec's line about how not even a stick of dynamite could cure his constipation. Jay's disgusted reaction to all of that made me laugh as well.
• Sketch seemed a bit short, but I'm not complaining.
Sketch - Royal Family Doctor
• After about half a minute into this, I could tell this was going to be a "try to make Hader break" sketch, which is almost starting to become a weekly feature on SNL.
• I have to wonder if this sketch was written by John Mulaney, because if you pay attention to Bill's facial reactions after some of Martin's various euphemisms for "the Royal *ahem*", notice that Bill isn't just stifling his laughter - he has a genuine surprised reaction on his face as if he's never heard those lines before. I'm guessing Mulaney wrote this and used his "Stefon Method" of changing several lines in the script right before airtime to make Bill crack up on camera.
• Martin was simply hilarious in this sketch and his delivery of all the funny euphemisms for "the Royal *ahem*" were excellent, my favorite being the Downton Abbey one.
• The joke with Bobby suddenly appearing out of nowhere as the palace guard was ruined by the fact that you could see him sneaking onto the set right before he "magically appeared" next to Bill.
• The less said about Fred's unnecessary appearance as the Queen, the better.
Commercial - You're a Rat Bastard, Charlie Brown
• A great impressions showcase piece that ended up being better than I thought it would be. When this started with just Bill's Pacino and Jason's Phillip Seymour Hoffman, I thought this would be filled with impressions we've already seen this cast do 100 times before and I was worried this would be kinda boring. But luckily, there were lots of great & funny new impressions introduced in this and there were some nice surprises thrown in.
• Martin's Larry David was so uncanny that at first glance, I actually thought it was really Larry David making a cameo, until I noticed how tiny "Larry" looked next to Bill Hader, which made me realize it was Martin Short playing him.
• Taran's hilarious Michael Keaton impression had me laughing my ass off, and the facial expression was absolutely dead-on.
• Even Kenan's very brief Forest Whitaker appearance cracked me up, simply because of him overexaggerating Forest's lazy eye.
• Only part I didn't care for was Nasim as Kristen Chenoweth. Why does Nasim always get stuck with the worst parts in these pre-taped impressions showcase sketches? Same thing happened to her in the Bond Girls Auditions one from earlier this season where she was given completely forgettable material in her scene as Lea Michele.
• There seems to have been some portions of this that were cut out at the last minute, because at one point, you can briefly see Fred dressed up as Snoopy and you can also see Bobby dressed up as a character even though the commercial never said which celebrities those two were playing.
Weekend Update - Seth Meyers, featuring Jacob, The Girl You Wish etc.
• Best jokes: Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame, Born on 12-12-12
• Interesting that they brought back Vanessa's Jacob character from that Bar Mitzvah sketch in the Gwyneth Paltrow/Cee-Lo episode. That's definitely a character I don't think anyone could've predicted would get spun-off into its own Update segment.
• Vanessa's commentary was a very accurate & cute parody of a typical speech given at a bar mitzvah. Anyone who's ever sat through a bar mitzvah speech would get what this Update commentary was going for. There was lots of nice attention-to-detail here, and Vanessa played this well. Also, I found her absolutely adorable during the parts where she would look up at the audience with that facial expression each time she told a cheesy joke.
• Cecily's Girl At A Party appearance tonight was an improvement over her second appearance. She had funnier lines tonight and made me laugh a little more, although this character's appearances are all very formulaic and they need to change it up more. She still reminds me a bit of Bobby's Drunk Uncle, in how both characters ramble about random issues currently in the news and how they both abruptly jump from one topic to another. Anyone else think it might be kinda interesting if they did an actual sketch outside of Update where Drunk Uncle and Girl At At Party try having a conversation with each other?
Sketch - What Up With That?
• It goes without saying that this sketch has been milked completely dry, but it's hard for me to complain too much about WUWT when 1) it always has a fun infectious energy, and 2) they've been using this sketch very sparingly these last three seasons, compared to the 09-10 season where it felt like there was a WUWT every two episodes.
• I was very happy to see Martin's Jackie Rogers Jr. appear tonight. I was hoping before tonight's episode started that he'd get his own sketch tonight, but this was still a fairly clever way to use him.
• Am I the only one who got confused when Nasim walked on as the female Grinch? Nasim usually plays one of the backup singers in every WUWT sketch, so naturally I assumed that was her standing alongside Vanessa as the other backup singer in tonight's installment. But then when the female Grinch walked on, I said to myself "Huh??? If THAT'S Nasim, then who's the backup singer next to Vanessa?", then I looked over and realized that was actually Cecily standing next to Vanessa.
• Tim Robinson cracked me up in his quick walk-ons as a Hawaiian shirt-wearing dancing Santa... and of course, this ended up being his ONLY appearance all night. *sigh* I'm really getting frustrated with how badly they've been underusing poor Tim lately. Are they gonna keep relegating him to only playing these "glorified extra" bit roles for the rest of the season? It feels like it's been forever since the last time he got a meaty role in a sketch.
• And now we arrive at Samuel L. Jackson unexpectedly dropping half an f-bomb and throwing in an additional "bullshit!" for good measure. This gave me my biggest laugh of the whole night. Even when watching this episode live, that incident had me immediately rewinding my DVR over and over again to make sure I heard what I thought I heard. Funny as hell! Did someone at SNL forget to tell Samuel that this isn't dress rehearsal anymore and that he's on live TV? Either way, this gave us a classic moment. Then Kenan got me laughing even more afterwards with his brilliant ad-lib "That costs money!", which may be one of the funniest ad-libs in SNL history.
Sketch - Old Friends
• This was Fred's first lead role this season where he wasn't doing a recurring character or a variation of a role he'd already done before. If you're familiar with my recent reviews, you'll know that my biggest complaint about Fred this season ISN'T that he's been on the show for so long, but that he hadn't done anything new or original at all this season up until tonight. So I was pleasantly surprised to see him starring in a lead role that felt truly original and didn't come off like something he had done in previous seasons.
• I think the above fact alone made me enjoy this sketch a little more than most people did. But honestly, I did get a couple of laughs from some of the silly lines in this sketch, and I liked how the premise had a low-key "calmly absurd" style, which reminds me a bit of that Hotel Fees sketch with Louis C.K. and Bobby Moynihan. Though like that sketch, this Old Friends sketch felt like it was missing something and needed to be more fleshed-out.
• The ending seemed kinda abrupt. Why did Taran suddenly get cut off mid-sentence like that?
Sketch - Holiday Pageant
• I should've known that Paul McCartney would appear in a sketch tonight. He and Martin made a funny pair in this sketch, and Martin's angry ranting at Paul cracked me up.
• I figured that Paul would eventually get to sing during the sketch after his character kept begging to, but I did not expect it to be an actual full-out musical performance on SNL's musical guest stage. That was a very creative segue that I really enjoyed, as I love any time that SNL does an out-of-the-ordinary introduction to a musical guest performance.
• It would've been a funny touch if after the musical performance was over, the camera would've cut back to the two judges (Jason & Cecily) for their critique and have them simply tell McCartney "No."
• You're a Rat Bastard, Charlie Brown
• Samuel L. Jackson's F and S-bomb & Kenan's ad-libbed response
• A Tony Bennett Christmas
• the ending of Royal Family Doctor
Best Performer of the Night:
• Martin Short
CASTMEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN
ARMISEN: 5 sketches (Royal Doctor, Charlie Brown, WUWT, Old Friends, Holiday Pageant)
BAYER: 2 sketches (Update, WUWT)
HADER: 3 sketches (Royal Doctor, Charlie Brown, WUWT)
KILLAM: 3 sketches (Charlie Brown, WUWT, Old Friends)
MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)
MOYNIHAN: 3 sketches (Royal Doctor, Charlie Brown, WUWT)
PEDRAD: 3 sketches (Royal Doctor, Charlie Brown, WUWT)
PHAROAH: 1 sketch (Tony Bennett)
SUDEIKIS: 3 sketches (Charlie Brown, WUWT, Holiday Pageant)
THOMPSON: 4 sketches (Charlie Brown, WUWT, Old Friends, Holiday Pageant)
BRYANT: 1 sketch (Songologue)
MCKINNON: 2 sketches (Songologue, Charlie Brown)
ROBINSON: 1 sketch (WUWT)
STRONG: 5 sketches (Songologue, Charlie Brown, Update, WUWT, Holiday Pageant)
MARTIN SHORT: 7 sketches (Songologue, Tony Bennett, Royal Doctor, Charlie Brown, WUWT, Old Friends, Holiday Pageant)