SNL returned, coming off its SNL 40th anniversary extravaganza. How would SNL fare coming off such a huge event? Lets check out the review.
The Cold Open saw Rudy Giuliani (Taran Killam) on Fox News' Real Story W/ Gretchen Carlson (Vanessa Bayer). It then morphed to a Birdman parody, with Giuliani's birdman ego telling him that he used to be "america's mayor". This was a creative opening, although it did fall flat in some aspects.
Dakota Johnson's monologue turned into your typical Q&A from the audience. Besides cameos from her actual parents (Melanie Griffith & Don Johnson), there wasn't anything memorable here.
Next up was an ad that for sure will get a lot of people talking. It started off as a father (Killam) dropping off his daughter (Dakota), but then comes the twist.....he's dropping her off to ISIS, with the final slogan "ISIS, We'll take it from here dad". Parodying the stories of teens running away to the middle east to join the terrorist organization, I thought this was pretty great. Its always tough to poke fun at serious stuff like this, but this was a far better attempt than the shark tank sketch with Chris Rock. When it comes to edgy stuff like this, SNL is at its best.
The first sketch was "Cinderella".....featuring a bizarre recurring character in Cecily Strong's "Kathy Ann". I have no idea why they decided to bring this character back, and put it in the front of the show. It seems SNL is always wasting Cecily Strong's talents.
Following that was another short featuring Sara Bareilles' "Brave" (about a year late, but whatever), where the women of SNL were "Being Brave" and honest ("say what you want to say"). It took a while to get going, but there were a lot of great lines and moments here.
Next was a predictable "50 Shades Of Grey" press skit, featuring Dakota and a middle school reporter (Kyle Mooney), asking specific details about the graphic movie. Mooney saved this a bit, but overall the premise was just (as I said) incredibly predictable.
The following sketch was about "I can't even" and "literally"....literally. A group of young "hipsters" keep ragging on Margo (Aidy Bryant), whose arms are broken. This was a humorous concept (particularly because I'm finding this increasingly to be the way that some people talk), but it went on a bit long.
I'm featuring the musical guests again. This season has seen some great artists (Hozier, D'Angelo, Sia), but Alabama Shakes topped them all. Brittany Howard isn't just one of the great female rock vocalists today, but overall one of the top rock vocalists right now.
Don't Wanna Fight
Gimme All Your Love
There was a bit of an improved rapport between Colin Jost and Michael Che. Jost had a good line on batman's parents, while Che had a couple of pretty good deliveries on marijuana and Chris Brown. Slowly but surely, maybe this team is finding itself.
Kate McKinnon made an appearance as Ruth Bader Ginsburg, giving everyone a ginsburn. Kate Mckinnon is just great at everything she does.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Then Jay Pharoah appeared as Kanye West. Following his twitter "apology" to Beck, he appeared to apologize to everyone else....for everything. Pharoah was equally great here.
Finally, we saw Che's high school friend "Riblet" (Bobby Moynihan) return. Riblet could quickly become another great Update recurring character.
Following Update was a pretty odd skit; an emergency room featuring Kenan Thompson in cosplay as Star Trek's "Worf". The only thing that kept this from being a disaster was Kenan. He really played up this character well. The skit ended with a tribute to Leonard Nimoy, which was a nice touch.
Next was a sketch on Net Neutrality in a Bloomberg network-show. Sasheer Zamata may have played the host, but she just continues to get overshadowed in any skit she's in. I don't know how they originally casted her over Leslie Jones. All in all, the opening premise was amusing (poking fun at bloggers and the misunderstanding of the actual definition of net neutrality), but again, it went long and ran out of steam.
The closing "10 to 1" segment went to another Beck Bennett/Kyle Mooney digital short. These just aren't working for me. This was on various types of bullying, but it was just all kinds of "meh". I sense that bennett/mooney shorts will always be destined for the late night slot.
So all in all, SNL's return was a mixed bag. No live skits really stood out (there were even a couple of horrid ones), but there were a pair of good parody ads/shorts. The material just seemed lukewarm (and maybe that's just the writers coming off the hiatus from the SNL 40 special). We'll see if next week improves.
Avg. Score: 6.83 (each segment was scored out of 10, and averaged, including the musical act).
Bill Hader - 8.06
Martin Freeman - 7.56
Kevin Hart - 7.51
Chris Pratt - 7.50
Chris Pratt - 7.50
Woody Harrelson - 7.42
Amy Adams - 7.19
JK Simmons - 7.18
Sarah Silverman - 7.15
James Franco - 7.07
Jim Carrey - 7.01
Dakota Johnson - 6.83
Cameron Diaz - 6.81
Blake Shelton - 6.60
Chris Rock - 6.52