by Brendan Wahl
(Season 37, Episode 20)
1. Cold Open: Fox & Friends (5:13)
This edition of Fox & Friends sees Gretchen (Bayer), Steve (Killam), and Brian (Moynihan) discussing the one-year anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death and then kissing the ass of the owner of FOX News, Rupert Murdoch (Armisen).
- This was another terrific edition of this sketch. SNL has always been right on the money with this parody of that stupid and biased FOX morning show. It doesn’t hurt that this sketch is anchored by three of the newer castmembers.
- Moynihan was definitely the highlight this time, especially with his comment about finally taking down the Christmas tree, his Barack Obama comment that didn’t apply to the situation this time, his remark about Tupac not being dead because of the concert he had just the previous week, and the “panda on weightwatchers” joke that he goes back to later.
- Bayer’s highlight was her talking about Photoshop and how it made it look like a mountain had presidents’ faces on it.
- I liked Armisen and his accent while doing the Rupert Murdoch impression.
Rating: **** 1/2
2. Monologue (3:09)
Eli talks about being in New York and how he has already become a “classic New Yorker,” suggesting various hotspots to some audience members (Hader, Moynihan, Pedrad, Thompson, Bayer, & McKinnon) like the Olive Garden and SoHo and BeBo.
- Eli looks like a cross between his brother Peyton and Michael Phelps.
- Not a bad way to start and at least Eli seemed to be pretty chill and relaxed unlike a complete mess like we all feared. He still wasn’t as good as Peyton though.
- At the same time, the premise was a bit lacking despite a few amusing moments throughout like Eli getting stuck and saying, “fuhgeddabuddit!”
- The shoutout to Eli’s offensive line was a nice touch.
Rating: ** 1/2
3. amazon.com (1:31)
- Very funny commercial parody with some great performances from Jason, Kristen, and Vanessa in particular. Just the way Kristen freaked out after Jason and the kids walked in on her was golden as was her reaction to the kid singing into the vibrator, thinking it was a microphone.
- Vanessa having gloves on in the bathtub was a hilarious touch.
- I also really liked the part with Nasim humping the washing machine while staring at a picture of Joel McHale.
4. EA Sports Motion Capture (4:59)
Several football players like Tim Tebow (Killam), Ray Lewis (Thompson), Victor Cruz (Pharoah), and Troy Polamalu (Samberg) stop by to pose for their motion capture shots for the newest NFL game while Eli Manning has a hard time understanding the concept.
- This was pretty funny and a nice way to change up the “athlete has a hard time during a shoot” sketch by breaking it up a bit with different athletes besides Eli coming in every now and then.
- Killam was great as Tebow once again and I loved his pose and his “thy will be done” comment. Him double-checking with God was a great detail as well.
- What was with the rewinding sound effect during Jay Pharoah’s part?
- I really enjoyed Kenan coming out as Ray Lewis and not wanting to put the motion capture suit on (“those funky-ass pajamas”) plus his dance was great.
Rating: *** 1/2
5. Text Message Evidence (6:31)
A murder trial goes awry when the accused (Manning) has his text messages read out loud by his lawyer (Sudeikis) in an effort to prove that he was home the entire time during the night in question. The messages start to paint a picture of a less-than-savoury individual.
- I feel like this sketch isn’t getting the praise it deserves. It was a very clever satire about text messaging and the ridiculous way that our society has become so oversaturated with social media. That sounds pretty deep but I really feel like that’s where the sketch was headed.
- The whole part with Eli’s picture of him using the banana in a phallic representation was absolutely hilarious as it was handled in such a deadpan style.
- The text message to the coma patient was a very dark part but I laughed really hard.
- Eli had some pretty good comic timing here. I really like how he leaned over to the microphone every time he went to say something.
- The ending was great with Eli not wanting to hear his browsing history and just admitting to the murder.
6. Little Brothers (1:30)
- Much in the same style of Peyton’s United Way commercial parody but not quite as funny, this was still pretty good and Eli did a fine job.
- My favourite parts were the parts with Eli counting to five really quickly while pointing a bow and arrow at one of the older brothers and freaking out at Samberg’s character and calling him Peyton in a Freud-like manner.
Rating: *** 1/2
7. WXPD News New York (4:16)
- Pretty much the same old/same old but Hader is always a delight to watch in this role. Eli provided pretty good straight man foil here as well.
- I liked the detail of Herb still having the Ash Wednesday mark on his head. His insults towards Nasim were funnier than usual as well.
- I loved the video package that Herb put together.
- Vanessa gets another great part in this sketch and coupled with Herb’s comment, it was hilarious.
- They gotta get a new ending.
Rating: *** 1/2
- Whoa, that spider-web set is super-cool.
- Not a bad performance. I’m not a huge fan but she did fine. We have some pretty mainstream musical guests for the last three shows of the season but that’s okay because we were treated to a lot of indie darlings this season.
9. Weekend Update with Seth Meyers (10:00)
Guests: Patricia Krentcil and Admiral General Aladeen (with Martin Scorsese)
- Kristen did a good job with her commentary as the “tanning mom,” Patricia Krentcil. It wasn’t a GREAT piece but Kristen did the best she could do with it and the bread/toast gag at the end was hilarious.
- The appearance by Sacha Baron Cohen was hilarious and unexpected. He had some great lines as the dictator and then it got even crazier and funnier when Martin Scorsese appeared under duress and stated that the film was better than Raging Bull.
Rating: *** 1/2
10. What Is This? (4:39)
- Abby finally gets a non-impression lead role in a sketch and she did very well here.
- Besides the main point of the premise of the sketch, Bill Hader was also very funny with his nearly-correct answers that the judges accept anyway.
- The final round was quite funny too with Bayer just getting the same question every time and Manning being berated.
Rating: *** 1/2
11. Helga Lately (4:34)
- I enjoyed this for the most part. It wasn’t brilliant or anything but it was a clever way to attack the stupid, horrible Chelsea Lately show without doing a straight parody of it.
- My favourite part was Kate stirring her drink with a fish and seductively licking the wine off it. I also liked Kristen’s repeated remarks of “my vagina.”
- The brief message from the Kardashians was funny. The quick Top Chef joke was even better though.
- Eli REALLY looked like Peyton in this sketch.
- Again, this was a pretty impressive set. Another good performance. I liked this one a bit better than the first.
13. Miss Drag World (3:38)
After one drag queen (Manning) is declared third place in a contest, he/she goes apeshit and freaks out at the notion of losing, much to the annoyance of the other two contestants (Armisen & Moynihan) and the emcee (Thompson).
- This was really bad. Nothing funny about this one at all. Okay, I thought Kristen’s brief appearance was okay.
- The music at the beginning sounded like the beginning of What Up With That? I would’ve much preferred to have seen that sketch.
- Whoa, Samberg’s name was “Brendan Wallace.” That’s almost my name. Thanks for the shoutout, SNL!
14. The Essentials (4:00)
This week, Robert Osborne (Sudeikis) takes a look at Cheech (Armisen) & Chong’s (Hader) early work involving a third buddy named Richard Armstrong (Manning), a square who doesn’t want to stick around and do illegal activities.
- Well this was much better than the previous sketch. Still, the premise was kinda weak and was boosted by Fred and Bill’s great impressions of Cheech & Chong and Sudeikis’ mimicry of Robert Osborne.
- I thought the very idea of a third friend that leaves at the beginning of every Cheech & Chong movie was hilarious.
- Jason smoking the joint near the end was funny and I’m surprised they got away with it. I don’t remember the last time they had someone supposedly “smoking” a joint on the show.
- The Mitt Romney twist was funny.
OVERALL: An episode that I would place somewhere around the mid-point in terms of this season’s quality, which really says something about what a strong season we’ve had thus far. Eli was better than expected while not quite reaching the plateau that his brother did while Rihanna was a decent musical guest. Lots of above-average sketches with a few REALLY good ones and only one real stinker in the whole bunch.
HOST: ELI MANNING – 9 segments (Monologue; EA Sports Motion Capture; Text Message Evidence; Little Brothers; WXPD News New York; What Is This?; Helga Lately; Miss Drag World; The Essentials)
CAMEOS: DAVID BAAS – 1 segment (Monologue)
SACHA BARON COHEN – 1 segment (Weekend Update)
DAVID DIEHL - 1 segment (Monologue)
ABBY MCGREW - 1 segment (Monologue)
SHAUN O’HARA - 1 segment (Monologue)
MARTIN SCORSESE – 1 segment (Weekend Update)
CHRIS SNEE - 1 segment (Monologue)
FRED ARMISEN – 5 segments (Fox & Friends; WXPD News New York; Helga Lately; Miss Drag World; The Essentials)
ABBY ELLIOTT – 3 segments (Text Message Evidence; What Is This?; Helga Lately)
BILL HADER – 7 segments (Monologue; amazon.com; EA Sports Motion Capture; Text Message Evidence; WXPD News New York; What Is This?; The Essentials)
SETH MEYERS – 1 segment (Weekend Update)
BOBBY MOYNIHAN – 3 segments (Fox & Friends; Monologue; Miss Drag World)
NASIM PEDRAD – 4 segments (Monologue; amazon.com; WXPD News New York; Helga Lately)
ANDY SAMBERG – 4 segments (EA Sports Motion Capture; Little Brothers; WXPD News New York; Miss Drag World)
JASON SUDEIKIS – 5 segments (amazon.com; EA Sports Motion Capture; Text Message Evidence; WXPD News New York; The Essentials)
KENAN THOMPSON – 5 segments (Monologue; EA Sports Motion Capture; WXPD News New York; Helga Lately; Miss Drag World)
KRISTEN WIIG – 4 segments (amazon.com; Weekend Update; Helga Lately; Miss Drag World)
VANESSA BAYER – 6 segments (Fox & Friends; Monologue; amazon.com; WXPD News New York; What Is This?; Helga Lately)
TARAN KILLAM – 4 segments (Fox & Friends; amazon.com; EA Sports Motion Capture; Helga Lately)
KATE MCKINNON – 2 segments (Monologue; Helga Lately)
JAY PHAROAH – 1 segment (EA Sports Motion Capture)
EPISODE MVPs: Bill Hader/Jason Sudeikis