***** = Excellent, a possible future classic
**** = Great
*** = Average
** = Meh
* = How'd this get past dress?
Cold Opening - Kim Jong Un Address
• I don't know what I'm more sick and tired of: C-SPAN cold openings or "translator" cold openings. So, you can tell I must've LOVED tonight's opening sketch!
• In all seriousness, this was very boring, a waste of Bobby's usually-funny Kim Jong Un impression, and these translator openings always feel exactly the same. In fact, this one was pretty much the same as the Moammar Gadhafi/United Nations cold opening from the 09-10 season premiere, even down to recycling the same joke of him asking "What else? What else?"
• Dennis Rodman's cameo was kinda interesting, at least. But man, did he mangle that delivery of LFNY! Sadly, that made me laugh more than most of the actual material in this cold opening.
Monologue - Melissa McCarthy
• I always appreciate whenever SNL does any kind of deviation from their usual formula, so I really enjoyed what they did here. Melissa's delayed entrance and her asking the SNL Band if the theme song tonight was shorter than usual, then making them play the theme song again while she struggled to walk down the stairs in those awkward shoes was great. This feels like something they would've done in the late 80s, back when they weren't afraid to mess with the formula every now and then.
• The physical comedy of Melissa trying to get around in those shoes was very funny as well. She did a fantastic job and pulled that routine off perfectly.
• Taran was funny in his own right, too, and I'd like to think the Broadway-type song was intended to be a subtle dig at the excessive amount of "song-and-danceologues" SNL does nowadays, but it still doesn't change the fact that this was yet ANOTHER monologue with a musical number.
Sketch - Outside the Lines
• A hilarious parody of Mike Rice's abusiveness, and Melissa McCarthy was perfect for this role. Unlike some of the following sketches tonight, I feel that this one utilized her talents the right way.
• Among the funniest parts of the sketch were the interview with Jay, Melissa firing a t-shirt gun up at the students hiding in the corner at the top of the bleachers, and Bobby repeatedly getting tasered.
Sketch - The Voice
• It was only a matter of time before SNL finally did a full-fledged parody of this show (not counting Adam Levine's The Voice-esque monologue from earlier this season).
• Taran seemed to be having trouble with his lines at the beginning.
• Bill's Adam Levine impression left a lot to be desired, and they didn't even give him anything funny to say; the writers breezed through his part of the sketch too quickly.
• Didn't care much for the part with Jay as Usher, although he had one or two funny lines.
• Jason, on the other hand, did much better as Blake Shelton, and Kate was excellent as Shakira.
• The "basement without a roof"/hole revelation was very funny.
• Ending could've been better.
Sketch - Ham Bake-Off 2013
• This sketch is kinda odd to review. While the premise was really dumb and pointless, the execution of it was still entertaining. So: writing-wise, this was mediocre, but performance-wise, it was okay overall.
• I couldn't help but laugh at how the songs were intersped with Melissa's voice simply saying "HAM." in a monotone voice every now and then.
• Could've used a better punchline at the end.
Commercial - Bathroom Businessman / Decency
• This started out as just a cheap, uncreative premise with the office-in-the-bathroom thing, then got a little funnier with the complicated procedure of setting up all the office equipment, then got really funny with the "decency ad" twist at the end. That was a brilliant twist that came out of nowhere.
• I also admit that Kenan's intentionally-cheesy exasperated delivery of the line "I'm flushing my career down the toilet!!!" made me laugh out loud for some reason.
Weekend Update - Seth Meyers, featuring Jacob, Charles Barkley, Drunk Uncle & Peter Drunklage
• Best jokes: Walmart, Target/offensive label
• I was one of the people who enjoyed Vanessa's first Update commentary as Jacob earlier this season, but I was underwhelmed by her second commentary tonight. This was just a lazy rewrite of the first one, and it didn't work quite as well this time around; the routine is already starting to get old. Vanessa is still adorable as this character and everything, but surely they can come up with other things for Jacob to do in each commentary than just the same "bar mitzvah roast" routine. The only thing I really liked in tonight's commentary was the "David Ben-Purrion" cat name.
• It's been a while since we've last seen Kenan's Barkley impression. The Barkley commentaries on Update are usually always pretty funny, and he was good tonight as well. While this was nothing outrageously hilarious or anything, he still had funny lines all throughout tonight's appearance and I enjoyed it overall.
• Drunk Uncle had his usual amusing random comments tonight (I especially liked "Huey Lewis and the Jews" and the anti-Native Americans rant) and Peter Dinklage's cameo was a welcome surprise, but man, tonight's commentary went on FOREVER! I know I always say that about every Drunk Uncle appearance, but it especially holds true for his commentary tonight; it felt longer than EVER. The lengthiness of these Drunk Uncle commentaries always hurts it more than helps it. And I could've done without the repeated singing of "I Want to Know What Love Is".
Sketch - Million Dollar Wheel
• Terrible sketch. Not even Melissa's best efforts could do anything to save this. I kept waiting for this to actually go somewhere interesting, but it just never happened.
• My only laugh came from Fred guessing the wrong answer even when the answer was clearly revealed.
• I didn't realize this until someone on another board pointed it out, but in that blonde wig and with that high-pitched voice and ditzy personality, it seemed almost as if Melissa was channeling a pre-crazy Victoria Jackson.
• Nasim Pedrad continues to "earn" her SNL paycheck with her forgettable bit roles in this sketch, the Bathroom commercial, and the Ham sketch. Geez, no wonder she's being shipped off to Mulaney's show.
• Couldn't they have given Tim one or two lines? Poor guy just stood there silently during this whole sketch.
Sketch - Pizza Business
• I'm starting to run out of new things to say in this review, because a lot of tonight's sketches are starting to feel very similar to each other. In fact, when Melissa first walked on in this sketch, I honestly thought she was playing the same character from the Ham sketch. It took me about a minute to even realize this was supposed to be an entirely different character. There were barely any noticeable differences between them.
• Here are some quotes from my review of Melissa McCarthy's 2011 episode that also sum up my thoughts on some of her characters in tonight's episode: "while I loved Melissa’s admirable effort and her devotion to going all out in trying to make everyone laugh, it just couldn’t hide the fact that the sketch itself had little-to-no actual funny material." ... "Most of this sketch just seemed like Melissa was repeating the same lines over and over again and it honestly got annoying after a while." ... "these two sketches were reminiscent of the worst aspects of Mad TV where they would often do sketches with spazzy loud characters just running around acting weird for 5 minutes while normal people around them just stare in horror."
• Those above quotes of mine also sum up my thoughts of this Pizza sketch perfectly. I do like how Melissa gave a very committed performance here as usual, but the material itself just wasn't that funny and this sketch really bored me after a while.
• I did get a good laugh from Jason's eventual outburst over Melissa handing him pens non-stop, and the way he started slapping the pens out of her hand. In fact, Jason was a very good straight man to Melissa in this whole sketch, which should come as no surprise considering Jason and Melissa previously played off of each other very well in that Arlene office sketch last time Melissa hosted.
Sketch - The Art of the Encounter
• At first, I thought this was going to be some kind of variation of those ex-porn stars sketches with Vanecily, but this ended up going in its own direction.
• This was a funny, solid sketch and a nice way to close the show. Cecily and Kate had several funny bizarre lines, and the amusing scenes with Melissa and Taran utilized Melissa's talents better than some of the last few sketches did.
• Knowing that Kevin McDonald is doing a stint as a guest writer, I wonder if he was the writer behind this sketch. Out of all the sketches that made it to air tonight, this one came the closest to feeling KITH-esque.
• Speaking of Kevin McDonald, I hope he can write some sketches showcasing Tim Robinson. I remember saying at the beginning of the season that I got a Monty Python/Kids in the Hall vibe from Tim Robinson in some of the pre-SNL comedy videos he has online, and out of all the five KITH members, Kevin McDonald is the one I find Tim most similar to. So I can definitely see Tim and Kevin collaborating behind-the-scenes at SNL. That could really help Tim finally get the airtime he needs.
• Outside the Lines
• The Art of the Encounter
• Kim Jong Un Address
• Million Dollar Wheel
• Pizza Business
Best Performer of the Night:
• Melissa McCarthy / Jason Sudeikis / Taran Killam
CASTMEMBER / HOST COUNT DOWN
ARMISEN: 2 sketches (Million Dollar Wheel, Pizza Business)
BAYER: 2 sketches (Outside the Lines, Update)
HADER: 3 sketches (Outside the Lines, The Voice, Million Dollar Wheel)
KILLAM: 4 sketches (Monologue, The Voice, Bake-Off, Art of the Encounter)
MEYERS: 1 sketch (Update)
MOYNIHAN: 5 sketches (Kim Jong Un, Outside the Lines, Bake-Off, Update, Art of the Encounter)
PEDRAD: 4 sketches (Outside the Lines, Bake-Off, Bathroom Businessman, Million Dollar Wheel)
PHAROAH: 2 sketches (Outside the Lines, The Voice)
SUDEIKIS: 3 sketches (The Voice, Bake-Off, Pizza Business)
THOMPSON: 4 sketches (The Voice, Bake-Off, Bathroom Businessman, Update)
BRYANT: 1 sketch (Outside the Lines)
MCKINNON: 4 sketches (Outside the Lines, The Voice, Pizza Business, Art of the Encounter)
ROBINSON: 3 sketches (Outside the Lines, Million Dollar Wheel, Art of the Encounter)
STRONG: 3 sketches (Outside the Lines, Bake-Off, Art of the Encounter)
MELISSA MCCARTHY: 7 sketches (Monologue, Outside the Lines, The Voice, Bake-Off, Million Dollar Wheel, Pizza Business, Art of the Encounter)