SNL came off another mini-hiatus, starting what'll be a 3- week run of new shows. So......did you smell what "The Rock" was cooking? (sorry). Lets get to the review.
The cold open saw President Obama (Jay Pharoah) talking to Sen. Cotton (Kyle Mooney), Speaker Boehner (Taran Killam) and Sen. Cruz (Bobby Moynihan) about Israel, the letter to Iran and the like. Obama then transformed to "The Rock" Obama (Dwayne Johnson), and went on to toss Boehner out the window, and rip off Cotton's hand. Leslie Jones made an appearance as Michelle Obama transformed after hearing that the secret service had wrecked her garden. All in all, this was one of the better cold opens this season.
The monologue was your typical singing one, with The Rock explaining how he enhances movie franchises. It wasn't original in any sense, but it was humorous enough.
Next was SNL's take on Starbuck's #RaceTogether campaign, with Pep Boy's #GenderReflect...with your mechanic talking to you about gender and sexual identity. This was pretty good, but it felt like it could have been better. It seemed a little safe.
The first skit was a wrestlemania promo featuring Moynihan and "The Rock" (as made-up wrestlers). This whole thing was hilarious. The Rock's character "Coco" went on to mock Moynihan about his herpes...his estranged daughter......and his catfished girlfriend. "I catfished your ass" "That was so intricate". Just terrific writing and well performed.
With Disney's Cinderella being a hit, why not have more live-action Disney movies? Like Bambi for instance? In this trailer we saw Dwayne Johnson as "Bambi", and Killam (while doing a terrific Vin Diesel impersonation) as Thumper, looking for revenge. This was hilarious.....and I would actually love to see this.
Following that was a skit about an anniversary dinner with Kenan Thompson/Vanessa Bayer, as they meet up with Dwayne Johnson and Cecily Strong with a British accent. There didn't seem to be a point behind this, beside a bunch of good 1-liners. It was a lot of good writing without much of a general idea.
The next skit was a scene from a movie "Escape From The Jungle", featuring The Rock, Kate Mckinnon and Pete Davidson. After being hit by darts, The Rock and Pete had to suck the poison out of each other's necks....chest...and you get the picture. Meanwhile, McKinnon's character can do nothing but watch, as she really wants The Rock. The whole premise could have gone south, but it actually worked (if nothing more than for The Rock ushering the line "cartwheel up to me"). Mckinnon's reaction shots were also pretty terrific.
Next was a parody ad featuring Beck Bennett and Mooney for "Brogaine". Besides The Rock's character, this whole thing just fell flat. Kind of surprising that a Bennett/Mooney piece (especially this) made it to the first half of the show.
Weekend Update saw a step back from where we left off. Colin Jost just doesn't seem to have it. He had a little moment with a run on HBO's "The Jinx" opening music, but that was pretty much it.
The first guest brought back McKinnon's Olya Povlotsky (a woman from a small Russian village). This has become a pretty great recurring Update guest.
Then Michael Che's neighbor Willie (Kenan) returned. I'm not sure this works as a recurring character. It was just alright.
The post Update saw an ill-conceived "Cooking With Paul" show, where Paul (Kenan) was a registered sex offender, cooking with his parole officer ("The Rock"). This just didn't work at all. The only thing that remotely saved it from being the worst skit of the season was the end where Kenan runs/sneaks by the camera.
Next was an Improv show skit...where the person they pull out of the audience was none other than Robert Durst (played shockingly well by Kate McKinnon). This seemed too short, because it did look like it was going somewhere (especially McKinnon's closing line).
The last live skit was an interrogation, featuring good cop/bad cop duo Vanessa Bayer and Dwayne Johnson, along with Killam as the criminal. There wasn't much of a point here besides Johnson's one-liners and how he backed up Bayer, but there were some good moments here.
The 10 to 1 spot went to Kyle Mooney's awkward interview series. This one was one of his better ones, as he went to the circus. What made this work were that the kids he was interviewing were just as awkward when on camera.
This was an odd up and down show, where the 1st half outpaced the 2nd, but it was a solid show none than less. However, it really looked like it was going to be one of the best shows of the season after the first 25-30 minutes.
Avg. Score: 7.16 (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
Chris Hemsworth - 7.44
Woody Harrelson - 7.42
Amy Adams - 7.19
JK Simmons - 7.18
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson - 7.16
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