***** = Excellent, a possible future classic
**** = Great
*** = Average
** = Meh
* = How'd this get past dress?
Cold Opening - Obama Sequester Conference
• A bit odd how this just went right into the start without a voice-over announcing "And now, a message from..." or the usual C-SPAN intro setting up the sketch.
• A decent cold opening, mostly helped by the various walk-ons from the people affected by the cuts. There were some funny moments from them, mainly Bill's line about letting every 10th Mexican run across the border, Bobby as the meat inspector, Aidy's joy at being let go from teaching, and the way Taran made his exit.
• They couldn't find a part for Vanessa or Nasim? Those were the only two castmembers who didn't appear in this.
• Ah, I see Lorne called up Darrell Hammond to fill in for Don Pardo this week. I recognized Darrell's voice because he previously filled in for Pardo a couple of times in the late 90s/early 00s and his impression of Pardo's voice sounded the same back then as it did tonight. I can't help but wonder what SNL's going to do when Pardo retires full-time from the show. Would they just have Darrell impersonate him every single week, or would they actually hire a brand-new original announcer?
Monologue - Kevin Hart
• I've never really been a fan of Kevin Hart's stand-up comedy, but I've always been partial to when SNL does stand-up monologues. So I'm a bit torn on this one. While I didn't laugh all that much at this overall, there were still small parts that I enjoyed and at this point, I think I'll take even a subpar stand-up monologue over yet another damn song-and-dance number.
• The sandwich story went on too long and featured little-to-no laughs from me, but this picked up with the bit about his SNL audition. I especially liked his "impression" of Denzel's performance in Training Day.
Sketch - Steve Harvey
• Wow, this was boring as hell. Who's decision was it to lead the night off with something like this? This is the type of sketch that might've been somewhat-acceptable if it was placed much later in the show around the 10-to-1 slot, but certainly not as the lead sketch of the night.
• I was one of the few people who kinda liked the earlier Steve Harvey sketch from the Seth MacFarlane episode because at least that one had actual, you know, JOKES and HUMOR, which is more than I can say for tonight's installment.
• I was very bored watching this. It went nowhere, and after a while, I was wondering where the heck the comedy was supposed to be coming from. Also, that "fake horse neigh" prank at the end - that was supposed to be a PUNCHLINE??? Weak.
Sketch - The Situation Room
• Jason's Blitzer impression is always good for a couple of laughs.
• A creative premise having Quvenzhane Wallis (thank god for the copy-and-paste function) as the new pope, and this featured a couple of laughs. However, I felt this should've been taken further beyond her just dancing. I rarely complain about an SNL sketch being too SHORT, but they could've taken the time to do more with the premise.
• Best line: "Horsey-rides in the Vatican, that's gotta be a first... but probably isn't."
• What's with the last name "Carbonal" being used for fictional female reporters on SNL? There's Cecily's character here, as well as Ana Gasteyer's Diane Carbonal character from various NBC News sketches in the late 90s.
• I kept expecting Kevin's half-wig to fall off any second, and it looks like it almost did at one point before the camera cut to Jason.
Commercial - Starbucks Verismo
Sketch - Barnes & Noble Firing
• Oh, no... I can't believe they're bringing back Bobby & Cecily's annoying characters from the McDonald's Firing sketch. I shouldn't be that surprised since I know SNL usually makes recurring sketches out of literally ANYTHING these days, but I honestly thought we'd be safe from this particular sketch ever coming back.
• At least they moved the characters to a new setting this time instead of just having them working at McDonald's again, but this was still basically the EXACT same as the first installment, even down to reusing the same twist of Tim's old man character being the one who's getting fired instead of Bobby & Cecily.
• And who's bright idea was it to place this sketch right after the Starbucks Verismo fake ad, thus making us have to hear Cecily do the exact same "loud sassy ghetto voice" in two back-to-back segments.
• I said it before and I'll say it again: simply saying "bitch" over and over is not inherently funny, no matter how many variations Bobby & Cecily try to do with their "bitch" insults.
• Only highlights for me were 1) Bill's smile when he was complimented on the size of his "ding-dong", 2) the return of Taran's creepy-stare character (that look on his face gets me every time), and 3) the return of Tim's old man character, who was even funnier this time than he was in the first installment. Hell, even Kevin couldn't help cracking up at him.
Weekend Update - Seth Meyers, featuring Dennis Rodman & Kim Jong-Un, Kevin Hart
• Best jokes: Dog Shoots Man
• That "911/cheeseburger" joke may be one of the worst Weekend Update jokes I've EVER heard, and apparently the studio audience agreed with me, judging from their non-response. Did an 8-year old write that joke?
• The Rodman/Kim Jong-Un commentary was pretty good. Bobby was especially funny in it as Kim Jong-Un, and I liked the observation about him having the same haircut as Macklemore.
• Did anyone notice that Jay was way too early on his cue to act offended by Bobby saying "tigger"? He reacted long before Bobby even said the word.
• I'm sure I said this before, but the "Really" segment is long past its expiration date and needs to be put to rest, and tonight that was more evident than ever. A lot of the lines in tonight's "Really" edition were not only weak, they received absolute silence from the studio audience. Ouch. And not even the inclusion of Kevin Hart could salvage this; he added nothing to this but awkward delivery & line-flubbing.
Sketch - The Walking Dead
• An overall disappointing parody. As soon as Kevin's character showed up, I was hoping the premise wouldn't be centered around him being black, yet that's EXACTLY where the sketch ended up going. Figures. Most of the "race card" jokes used in this sketch were just plain tired and clichéd.
• It also didn't help that this sketch was executed too awkwardly with lots of timing issues, particularly from the camera people. The camerawork was a real mess during this, frequently cutting to the wrong shot or cutting to someone a few seconds too late (this was also a problem during some other sketches tonight). Reminds me of how awkwardly they botched that Avengers sketch from the Renner episode.
• Was that Tim as the zombie that bit Kevin? It was hard to tell since they showed him so briefly (thanks to a delayed camera switch).
• This got slightly better towards the end with a few okay jokes. I laughed at the "diabetes" remark and Bobby's appearance as Kevin's friend.
Sketch - Shark Tank
• Terrible, terrible sketch. It seemed like it could've had promise at first, but the resulting sketch completely flopped. Almost none of the jokes worked and I found myself becoming really bored with this after a while.
• My only laugh in the whole thing came from the part with Tim showing off his "slest".
• Was that Nasim as the assistant who set up Kevin's props next to him? Again, it was hard to tell since they showed her so briefly.
• That "shork box" ending was awful.
Commercial - Z-Shirt
• The look, set-up, and camera angles in this was a funny & dead-on spoof of those types of "cool" kiddie commercials.
• This was something I could picture Tim doing before he joined the cast (judging from his online pre-SNL videos), so I wonder if that means he wrote this himself. His performance in this as the increasingly-frustrated friend was very good, by the way.
• At first when this ended, I was left wondering why this commercial seemed pointless, but my question was later answered during the funeral sketch. So looking back at this commercial in retrospect, it was a great set-up to a later punchline.
Sketch - Recording Session
• Nothing much to say about this. This wasn't horrible, but wasn't all that funny, either. And the premise felt too derivative of other SNL sketches - for example, that sketch with Matt Dillon playing a loud tough guy doing an audio recording for a relaxation tape.
• Loved Vanessa's voice here; she sounded EXACTLY like the calm female voice-overs you hear in these types of commercials in real life. And my main laughs in this sketch came from the little "eh?"s that Vanessa would randomly throw in during her readings.
• Two GD-bombs from Kevin in one night? Did Norm MacDonald give him hosting tips before the show?
• The ending was predictable but still got a laugh from me.
Mini-Sketch - Funeral
• Brilliant and completely unexpected! This was fantastic. I love the rare times SNL does that type of thing, where right in the middle of a sketch, it suddenly turns into a continuation of a completely unrelated sketch from earlier in the same episode. I think the last time this happened was in Zach Galifianakis' episode from the 09-10 season where they did the "Zach Drops By the Set" short film and then continued the gag later that night in the middle of a Today Show sketch where Zach (playing himself) suddenly "dropped by" the Today set in the same manner as in the short film.
Sketch - 360 News
• A decent 10-to-1 sketch that thankfully managed to keep from getting stale despite having a thin premise.
• When they first showed Kevin's character in the neck brace at the beginning, I thought he was going to reveal that he got whiplash from constantly turning his head to each camera, which I think would've been funnier than them just saying he was in a car accident.
• The cutaways to the various people behind-the-cameras were executed too awkwardly (they'll probably fix that in reruns), but I laughed at Kenan yelling "The show sucks, man!" as well as Jay hanging from the ceiling saying "I hate this show!"
• Z-Shirt / Funeral
• a few parts of the cold opening
• Steve Harvey
• Shark Tank
• the "Really" segment on Update
• Barnes & Noble Firing
Best Performer of the Night:
• Tim Robinson
CASTMEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN
ARMISEN: 5 sketches (Sequester Conference, Situation Room, Barnes & Noble, Recording Session, 360 News)
BAYER: 2 sketches (Barnes & Noble, Recording Session)
HADER: 5 sketches (Sequester Conference, Barnes & Noble, Walking Dead, Shark Tank, Recording Session)
KILLAM: 5 sketches (Sequester Conference, Situation Room, Barnes & Noble, Walking Dead, 360 News)
MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)
MOYNIHAN: 5 sketches (Sequester Conference, Situation Room, Barnes & Noble, Update, 360 News)
PEDRAD: 6 sketches (Steve Harvey, Barnes & Noble, Walking Dead, Shark Tank [???], Recording Session, 360 News)
PHAROAH: 5 sketches (Sequester Conference, Barnes & Noble, Update, Funeral, 360 News)
SUDEIKIS: 4 sketches (Sequester Conference, Situation Room, Barnes & Noble, Shark Tank)
THOMPSON: 6 sketches (Sequester Conference, Steve Harvey, Situation Room, Barnes & Noble, Shark Tank, 360 News)
BRYANT: 2 sketches (Sequester Conference, Barnes & Noble)
MCKINNON: 4 sketches (Sequester Conference, Barnes & Noble, Walking Dead, Shark Tank)
ROBINSON: 7 sketches (Sequester Conference, Barnes & Noble, Walking Dead [???], Shark Tank, Z-Shirt, Funeral, 360 News)
STRONG: 3 sketches (Sequester Conference, Situation Room, Barnes & Noble)
KEVIN HART: 11 sketches (Monologue, Steve Harvey, Situation Room, Barnes & Noble, Update, Walking Dead, Shark Tank, Z-Shirt, Recording Session, Funeral, 360 News)