Posts Tagged ‘rachel dratch’


by Brendan Wahl

(Season 37, Episode 22)

The Show:

1. Cold Opening: The Lawrence Welk Show (5:01)

It’s time once again for Lawrence Welk (Armisen) to introduce another musical number from the sisters hailing from the Fingerlakes (Elliott, Pedrad, & Bayer) and their deformed sibling Dooneese (Wiig) as they attempt to seduce an Italian lothario (Jon Hamm!).

– A good choice for a cold open on Kristen Wiig’s final SNL. Everything worked here from Fred’s dependable Lawrence Welk, Jon Hamm’s surprise cameo and hilarious Italian accent, Kate McKinnon’s quick role, and of course Kristen as the gross deformed sister.
– I really liked Fred’s fingering joke at the beginning.
– The ending was perfect with Wiig finally finding her true love in Hamm’s character. I laughed a whole lot at Hamm sucking on her strange, disgusting hands. I think it almost made Kristen crack up as well.
Rating: *** 1/2

2. Monologue (3:10)

Mick answers some questions that he frequently receives from people every day.

– Jagger proved right away that he would be a fun host with his laid-back demeanour and funny delivery. His charisma really helped carry this otherwise-alright monologue.
– My favourite question that he answered was regarding the “I can’t hear you!” line that rock singers typically yell out at concerts.
Rating: ***

3. Secret Word (4:57)

Another round of the popular 60’s gameshow sees returning player Mindy Gracin (Wiig) and her teammate (Bayer) go up against “macho” film star Chaz Bragman (Jagger) and his teammate (Killam).

– Pretty strong Secret Word sketch for Kristen to finish off her amazing tenure on the show. Kristen had lots of great moments here (I particularly loved the canal/anal mix-up) but I thought Mick Jagger’s performance was very strong as well. Loved the voice he chose for the character.
– Hader’s birth control line was hilarious.
–  The “soft” secret word part was predictable but hilarious because of Jagger’s performance and Killam’s reactions.
Rating: *** 1/2

4. Karaoke Night (5:00)

A number of bar patrons (Jagger, Armisen, Moynihan, Wiig, Bayer, & Killam) witness each other attempt their best Jagger impressions while performing some of his hits, while one of them (Jagger) doesn’t feel that the over-the-top characterizations are that accurate.

– Funny sketch with another very fun performance from Jagger and a really, really good Mick Jagger impression from Fred Armisen in particular. This was a very good example of a simple premise executed really well
– The patrons thinking that Bobby Moynihan sleeping on the microphone was part of the impression was hilarious.
– Moynihan actually singing “Sympathy for the Devil” as part of the lyrics was great as well.
– I liked the ending with Mick’s soft singing.
Rating: *** 1/2

5. Digital Short: Lazy Sunday 2 (2:06)

Andy Samberg and Chris Parnell are back, this time rapping about the new Sister Act: The Musical on Broadway.

– Much like last week, I was blown away by the digital short. It was so fucking awesome that they did a sequel to the original hit as a way to say goodbye to one of the most beloved features of SNL for the last seven years.
– The best part about this sequel is that they didn’t repeat the first one but rather brought a new spin to this thing and the bit with Andy and Chris doing the new rap segment was terrific.
– “On these New York streets, I honed my fake rap penmanship; that’s how it began and that’s how I’m-a finish it!” was an absolutely perfect way for the digital shorts to come to an end. Absolutely brilliant.
Rating: *****

6. Politics Nation (4:16)

Al Sharpton (Thompson) brings on J.P. Morgan representative Colin McKechnie (Jagger), New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg (Armisen), and Peter Panache (Sudeikis) to discuss a huge financial loss for J.P. Morgan and job availability in the US.

– I was in the minority of really enjoying the first one of these sketches back on the Katy Perry episode and I enjoyed this one as well just as much as the first one. It was one of the highlights of the night actually.
– Mick looked like he was on the verge of cracking up at the end of his segment.
– Armisen announcing the available jobs for New Yorkers was a funny bit.
– The “salmon canary” mix-up was hilarious.
Rating: ****

7. Mick Jagger & Arcade Fire perform “The Last Time” (4:09)

– This was an awesome performance. Simply fantastic. Mick and Arcade Fire were a really unexpectedly great combination.

8. Weekend Update with Seth Meyers (8:43)
Guest: Stefon

Best Jokes: Obama: first gay president; Bloomberg commencement speech; anti-Obama Super-PAC; man candles; unsafe fish treatment; text message study

– Not much to say about the fantastic segment of Update this week. Stefon was the only guest and he was great like usual. Of course, he cracked up at one point and recovered somewhat and then continued on with his insane commentary. The highlights this time were the D-Bag Chopra, build-a-bear, roaming draggers, and human R2D2 comments.
Rating: **** 1/2

9. So You Think You Can Dance at an Outdoor Music Festival (4:01)

Dave Matthews (Hader) hosts a series in which people attempt to dance to songs at an outdoor music festival while guest judges Carlos Santana (Armisen), Jewel (Elliott), and Steven Tyler (Jagger) look on.

– Funny sketch. I love the music and the dancing was fairly accurate but Moynihan was easily the highlight. Then again, Killam’s segment was quite funny as well.
– I love Hader’s Dave Matthews impression. I also really enjoyed the appearances by Abby as Jewel, Fred as Santana, and Mick as Steven Tyler.
– The crowd seemed to REALLY like this sketch.
Rating: ***

10. Mick Jagger and the Foo Fighters perform “19th Nervous Breakdown” & “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll” (5:56)

– Another fantastic musical performance, this time of a medley involving two great Stones songs.
– Jagger is clearly the best musical guest of the season and there has been a lot of good ones this year.

11. The Californians (5:49)

More melodrama, convoluted driving directions, and strange character twists from this stereotypical batch of Californian residents.

– Much like Politics Nation, I was happy to see this come back and I know barely anyone else felt the same way.
– My favourite moments in this sketch came from Mick’s strange and slow-paced Californian accent, Kristen nearly coming to laughs when questioning Fred having a father, and the great appearance by Steve Martin as an amnesiac.
– Steve Martin’s cameo was hilarious and totally unexpected. He got a great reaction upon his entrance as well.
Rating: ***

12. Mick Jagger and Jeff Beck perform “Tea Party” (3:07)

– A wicked original song written about the 2012 election. Something tells me that if Jagger could vote, he probably wouldn’t cast one for Mitt Romney.
– Jagger dropped an S-bomb.

13. She’s a Rainbow (4:20)

Mick introduces Kristen Wiig as a “graduating” castmember while “She’s a Rainbow” and “Ruby Tuesday” play to honour her legacy on the show. All the castmembers dance with Kristen as well as she waves to everyone in the audience and the goodnights immediately follow.

– This was one of the classiest send-offs that any castmember has ever received on the show and a hell of a way to end the season. Say what you want about Kristen but she left a legacy that will be hard to follow and she was one of the best female castmembers of all time.
– The Lorne Michaels dance almost made me cry. That was an extremely nice gesture on Lorne’s part and it was a sweet moment.
– Hader, Moynihan, and Sudeikis looked particularly upset at the departure of Kristen Wiig.
– It was awesome to have Martin, Parnell and Hamm come back and that Chris Kattan, Rachel Dratch, Amy Poehler, and Will Forte came back to send off Kristen.
Rating: *****

 

OVERALL: What a season finale. Mick Jagger was a terrific host & musical guest and Arcade Fire and the Foo Fighters were excellent accompaniment as well. To say that I will miss Kristen Wiig is putting it lightly and I can’t state enough how much of a wonderful contribution she has made to the program over the last seven years. Excellent season-closer. I will have my year-end statistics posted tomorrow.

 

BREAKDOWN:

HOST: MICK JAGGER – 7 segments (Monologue; Secret Word; Karaoke Night; Politics Nation; So You Think You Can Dance at an Outdoor Music Festival; The Californians; She’s a Rainbow)

CAMEOS: RACHEL DRATCH – 1 segment (She’s a Rainbow)
WILL FORTE – 1 segment (She’s a Rainbow)
JON HAMM – 2 segments (The Lawrence Welk Show; She’s a Rainbow)
CHRIS KATTAN – 1 segment (She’s a Rainbow)
STEVE MARTIN – 2 segments (The Californians; She’s a Rainbow)
CHRIS PARNELL – 2 segments (Lazy Sunday 2; She’s a Rainbow)
AMY POEHLER – 1 segment (She’s a Rainbow)

FRED ARMISEN – 6 segments (The Lawrence Welk Show; Karaoke Night; Politics Nation; So You Think You Can Dance at an Outdoor Music Festival; The Californians; She’s a Rainbow)
ABBY ELLIOTT – 4 segments (The Lawrence Welk Show; So You Think You Can Dance at an Outdoor Music Festival; The Californians; She’s a Rainbow)
BILL HADER – 5 segments (Secret Word; Weekend Update; So You Think You Can Dance at an Outdoor Music Festival; The Californians; She’s a Rainbow)
SETH MEYERS – 2 segments (Weekend Update; She’s a Rainbow)
BOBBY MOYNIHAN – 3 segments (Karaoke Night; So You Think You Can Dance at an Outdoor Music Festival; She’s a Rainbow)
NASIM PEDRAD – 2 segments (The Lawrence Welk Show; She’s a Rainbow)
ANDY SAMBERG – 3 segments (Lazy Sunday 2; The Californians; She’s a Rainbow)
JASON SUDEIKIS – 2 segments (Politics Nation; She’s a Rainbow)
KENAN THOMPSON – 3 segments (Politics Nation; The Californians; She’s a Rainbow)
KRISTEN WIIG – 6 segments (The Lawrence Welk Show; Secret Word; Karaoke Night; So You Think You Can Dance at an Outdoor Music Festival; The Californians; She’s a Rainbow)

VANESSA BAYER – 5 segments (The Lawrence Welk Show; Secret Word; Karaoke Night; The Californians; She’s a Rainbow)
TARAN KILLAM – 4 segments (Secret Word; Karaoke Night; So You Think You Can Dance at an Outdoor Music Festival; She’s a Rainbow)
KATE MCKINNON – 2 segments (The Lawrence Welk Show; She’s a Rainbow)
JAY PHAROAH – 1 segments (She’s a Rainbow)

EPISODE MVPs: Mick Jagger/Kristen Wiig/Andy Samberg


by Brendan Wahl

(Season 37, Episode 10)

The Show:

1. Winter Formal (5:07)

The Boston Teens are back! Sully (Fallon) and Denise (Rachel Dratch!) wait to get into a formal and also interact with their friend, Patrice Donovan (Amy Poehler!) and then a man (Killam) that turns out to be a huge fan of their antics.

– It’s weird that I totally forgot about these recurring characters being brought back when it comes to Jimmy Fallon characters that he did while on the show. Absence makes the heart grow fonder though I guess because I really enjoyed seeing them back again.
– Amy Poehler was a huge surprise here, actually. She had a pretty funny small part though.
– I loved all the “retawded” moments the best and the moment where Fallon grabbed Amy’s boob was pretty damn funny.
– It looks like the picture quality was off. I’ve noticed before that whenever SNL does a fuzzy screen and cuts to someone, the picture looks a bit blurry but they usually seem to fix it quickly. This just seemed to linger. It wasn’t a huge mistake and it wasn’t super annoying or anything, but I did notice it.
– Awesome, super-energetic LFNY delivery from Fallon.
Rating: *** 1/2

2. Monologue (3:04)

Jimmy talks about how thankful he is to be back on the show, talks about all the sketches that he ruined by laughing the whole way through them, and then goes backstage and sings a Christmas song while the entire cast dances around him.

– Excellent stuff. Jimmy going around the whole studio and talking about the sketches he ruined by laughing was great, but I also loved him saying that Buble was doing cocaine and the final big dance number with him and all the castmembers on the stage except for Seth Meyers of course.
– Wow, Jimmy looks really, really happy to be there. He had a really infectious energy.
– Lorne’s first appearance of the season.
Rating: *****

3. Today (4:51)

Hoda Kotb (Pedrad) must deal with Kathie Lee’s (Wiig) antics and drunken behaviour on another episode of the morning gab-fest. Before things get too crazy though, Regis Philbin (Fallon) interrupts the show and joins Kathie Lee in bashing Hoda before ultimately taking her spot at the desk.

– It’s been quite a while since we’ve seen this sketch and I enjoyed this one quite a bit. Kristen seemed to tone down the mugging and obnoxious behaviour that she usually uses during these sketches. I personally never really found it annoying but I guess some people do.
– I think Nasim is definitely the best Hoda Kotb we’ve seen in this sketch so far.
– I never knew Jimmy Fallon could pull off a Regis Philbin impression but he did a pretty damn good job and reminded me of what a great impressionist he was while he was on the show.
Rating: *** 1/2

4. Michael Buble Christmas Duets (2:52)

After the success of Buble’s Christmas album, he releases another one featuring duets with other celebrities/singers including the girl from MIA (Pedrad), Sting (Fallon), Thom Yorke (Armisen), Ke$ha (Elliott), Russell Brand (Fallon again), Taylor Swift (Wiig), Scott McCreery (Killam), and Justin Bieber (Fallon yet again!).

– They’ve been doing a lot of these ensemble sketches lately and this was another terrific one. Buble played a great straight man to all the insanity going on around him.
– My favourite impressions were the three from Jimmy Fallon (he’s a house of fire tonight!), Fred’s insane Thom Yorke impression, Taran as Scott McCreery, and Pharoah as Kanye West.
– Although Kristen didn’t do an actual impression of Taylor Swift, her facial expressions were pretty damn accurate.
Rating: ****

5. Mirror Chat (3:26)

Jimmy waits for the next sketch in his dressing room and begins to talk to his reflection (Samberg) about what he should do throughout the night to keep the show moving along at a great pace. His reflection suggests old tried-and-true methods and some of which are not really of interest to Jimmy.

– This was hilarious and very reminiscent of the Mick Jagger/Jimmy Fallon mirror sketch from Year 27. This seems like it’ll probably be a future classic with a good impression of Fallon by Andy and great performances with twice.
– My favourite parts were Jimmy and Andy talking about how sad a certain song was, Andy telling Jimmy to do another impression other than Seinfeld because he couldn’t do one, and the part where they were both pressed up against the mirror.
Rating: **** 1/2

6. 1920’s Holiday Party (4:55)

Lilia (Wiig) begs fellow partygoers not to force her to have to sing even though all they’re concerned with is getting Maxwell (Samberg) to play them a piano song. Meanwhile, another man (Fallon) begs them not to force him to dance as well.

– I was going to dismiss this as an unnecessary sequel to this sketch from two years ago, but they did shake this up a bit with the addition of Jimmy Fallon’s character.
– I really liked the part with Jimmy dancing on top of the piano and a few of the times when Kristen missed her cue to sing along with Andy playing the piano. Andy’s deadpan delivery when saying that the song is over was pretty funny too.
– The ending with the raccoons was kinda dumb.
Rating: ***

7. Tommy Palmese (2:42)

An ad is shown for a new one-man show featuring Tommy Palmese (Armisen) telling his life story with a whole lot of neuroses much to the chagrin of anyone watching it.

– I liked this a lot more than I thought I would. Fred always does well playing these quirky types of roles.
– Bill Hader’s discomfort during the scene with Fred in his face was hilarious and probably my favourite part. I also liked Vanessa Bayer running out of the theatre.
Rating: *** 1/2

8. Season’s Greetings (2:15)

Jimmy, Horatio Sanz, Chris Kattan, and Tracy Morgan perform their old classic “Christmastime is Here”  for the very enthusiastic SNL audience that just eats it right up.

– I can’t really rate this but it was awesome to see these four doing their Christmas song again. A lot of people said Tracy seemed pissed off here but based on his smiles during the goodnights, I think this was just part of his character.
– Kattan sticking his head into the frame was hilarious.

9. Michael Buble sings “Holly Jolly Christmas” (2:02)

– Buble did a pretty good job here and it was nice to hear a nice traditional Christmas song with the audience clapping along as well for a while.

10. Weekend Update with Seth Meyers (9:23)
Guests: Nicolas Cage with Jude Law (and a director) and Jimmy Fallon, Tina Fey, & Amy Poehler

Best Jokes: the two Trump debate jokes; Romney attack; radioactive monkeys; Wolf Dad; toy drive

– The ‘Get in the Cage’ segment with Andy was pretty much the same as the other two that he did but I still love his Nic Cage impression. I really like his reasons why it was silly that he wasn’t included in the new Sherlock Holmes movie. Paul Brittain as the director was a good little addition. Not bad overall.
– The appearance of Jimmy Fallon was somewhat expected but certainly not Tina Fey! Amy also joins in and the two co-anchor teams go at it with a Joke-Off. My favourites were Jimmy’s joke about the crumpled-up $20 bill and “unlike the strippers, the toys must NOT be damaged.” Great segment that the crowd really dug.
Rating: ****

11. Beethoven’s Orchestra (5:52)

After a performance of Symphony No. 9, Beethoven (Fallon) takes the time to introduce each individual member of his orchestra much like an energetic bandleader might do between sets at a modern-day concert.

– This was a piece controlled by a nice steady performance by Jimmy as the charismatic Beethoven not even attempting to do a German accent, which made me laugh quite a bit.
– The Hitler joke was hilarious and Paul Brittain had a great moment with it.
– Wow, Andy has been dominating a lot tonight. He’s probably having one of his best nights performance-wise as well.
– Nice to see Horatio Sanz and Chris Kattan making another appearance, this time in a proper sketch. Kattan blowing on a jug was funny as was Horatio playing a Mozart song and then laughing about it.
– Random appearance by Wiig as Triangle Sally! That was awesome. Kenan as B.B. King was out of nowhere too.
Rating: *** 1/2

12. War Horse (4:39)

Two patrons (Hader & Wiig) get ready to watch a play with rave reviews called “War Horse,” but then quickly learn that the usual horse puppet has been replaced by a man (Fallon) doing a very unconvincing job. Halfway through the play, the boy (Samberg) is also replaced by a hand puppet.

– Wow, talk about a strange sketch but still highly enjoyable.
– There were many great parts here including Jimmy inexplicably dancing as the horse, Jason Sudeikis appearing at random points singing strange little musical interludes, the intermission starting after about a minute and ending almost as quickly, Kenan using a hand puppet in Andy’s role after the intermission, and the random “USA” chants to end the play.
– The bits with Hader & Wiig could’ve been trimmed down a bit as it seemed that they were just there to explain the joke for us as if we didn’t already get it ourselves.
Rating: ****

13. Michael Buble sings “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” (3:45)

– Another traditional Christmas song makes for another happy viewer, indeed. Buble did another great job here too.

14. Jesus Visits the Denver Broncos (4:00)

Tim Tebow (Killam), Matt Prater (Samberg), and co. (Thompson, Pharoah, & extras) receive a visit from Jesus (Sudeikis) who tells them that he helped them win the last six games but that they have to at least make an effort in the first half of the game so as to not make it look like a random miracle.

– Funny premise for a sketch and Jason turns in another fun performance here, this time as Jesus. Very funny execution.
– Special mention to Killam, who does a great job as Tebow and his constant overbearing love for Sudeikis was really funny and probably one of his best performances on the show so far. I’ve been so impressed with Taran for the little time that he’s been on the show.
– Surprised Jimmy wasn’t in this sketch but it wasn’t a damper or anything because it was a well-written and very well-acted sketch.
– Loved the mormon line at the end.
Rating: ****

15. Goodnights

– Rockefeller ice rink goodnights?! AWESOME! When’s the last time they did those? Like 2005 with Jack Black, I believe.

OVERALL: Another super-awesome show with a lot of great sketches and a fantastic host in Jimmy Fallon. I noticed that he didn’t break character at all during the entire show (he’s come a long way since 2003/2004) and his performances throughout the episode were more than stellar. Add to that two impressive performances by Michael Buble and a great Christmasy feel to the whole thing made this one a true winner. What an absolutely fantastic season we’ve had so far… and it’s only half-over.

BREAKDOWN:

HOST: JIMMY FALLON – 10 segments (Winter Formal; Monologue; Today; Michael Buble Christmas Duets [3 roles]; Mirror Chat; 1920’s Holiday Party; Season’s Greetings; Weekend Update; Beethoven’s Orchestra; War Horse)
MUSICAL GUEST: MICHAEL BUBLE – 2 segments (Monologue; Michael Buble Christmas Duets)

CAMEOS: RACHEL DRATCH – 1 segment (Winter Formal)
TINA FEY – 1 segment (Weekend Update)
CHRIS KATTAN – 2 segments (Season’s Greetings; Beethoven’s Orchestra)
JUDE LAW – 1 segment (Weekend Update)
TRACY MORGAN – 1 segment (Season’s Greetings)
AMY POEHLER – 2 segments (Winter Formal; Weekend Update)
HORATIO SANZ – 2 segments (Season’s Greetings; Beethoven’s Orchestra)

FRED ARMISEN – 5 segments (Monologue; Michael Buble Christmas Duets; 1920’s Holiday Party; Tommy Palmese; Beethoven’s Orchestra)
ABBY ELLIOTT – 5 segments (Winter Formal; Monologue; Michael Buble Christmas Duets; 1920’s Holiday Party; Beethoven’s Orchestra)
BILL HADER – 5 segments (Monologue; 1920’s Holiday Party; Tommy Palmese; Beethoven’s Orchestra; War Horse)
SETH MEYERS – 1 segment (Weekend Update)
BOBBY MOYNIHAN – 5 segments (Winter Formal; Monologue; Today; Tommy Palmese; Beethoven’s Orchestra)
NASIM PEDRAD – 4 segments (Monologue; Today; Michael Buble Christmas Duets; Beethoven’s Orchestra)
ANDY SAMBERG – 7 segments (Monologue; Mirror Chat; 1920’s Holiday Party; Weekend Update; Beethoven’s Orchestra; War Horse; Jesus Visits the Denver Broncos)
JASON SUDEIKIS – 4 segments (Monologue; Beethoven’s Orchestra; War Horse; Jesus Visits the Denver Broncos)
KENAN THOMPSON – 4 segments (Monologue; Beethoven’s Orchestra; War Horse; Jesus Visits the Denver Broncos)
KRISTEN WIIG – 6 segments (Monologue; Today; Michael Buble Christmas Duets; 1920’s Holiday Party; Beethoven’s Orchestra; War Horse)

VANESSA BAYER – 3 segments (Monologue; Tommy Palmese; Beethoven’s Orchestra)
PAUL BRITTAIN – 3 segments (Monologue; Weekend Update; Beethoven’s Orchestra)
TARAN KILLAM – 6 segments (Winter Formal; Monologue; Michael Buble Christmas Duets; Beethoven’s Orchestra; War Horse; Jesus Visits the Denver Broncos)
JAY PHAROAH – 3 segments (Monologue; Michael Buble Christmas Duets; Jesus Visits the Denver Broncos)

EPISODE MVPs: Jimmy Fallon/Andy Samberg


by Brendan Wahl

(Season 36, Episode 1)

SNL has had quite a summer. The first thing we discovered is that long-time castmember (since 2002), Will Forte, announced that he was leaving the show to care for his ailing sister in Los Angeles, five upcoming hosts were announced (Amy, Bryan Cranston, Jane Lynch, Emma Stone, and Jon Hamm), Jenny Slate was fired or quit (it was never confirmed either way, but it looks like the former), and finally… four new featured players were hired. Vanessa Bayer (a comedienne from Improv Olympic in Chi-Town) Paul Brittain (another iO Chicago player), Taran Killam (a former MADtv castmember for one season), and Jay Pharaoh (a very young stand-up comedian from Virginia) join the fairly large cast this season.

As mentioned by several people, this year is looking like its going to be a transitional year with several repertory players being cut next season (methinks it will be Fred and Kenan). However, that is in the future and for now, we look to this week’s show. Season premieres in general for the program can be iffy at best and drab at worst with a few notable exceptions (namely Damon/Springsteen and Cook/Killers come to mind). For the last few years, they haven’t always been the strongest choice (athletes, no-charisma divas) so that’s why when I heard that Poehler was set to be the first host of the season, I was definitely down for this.

Joining Poehler is Katy Perry, the gorgeous pop singer who apparently has been decidedly lukewarm when it comes to live performances. The songstress has been the source of a bit of controversy lately as her recent performance on Sesame Street with Elmo was pulled because of the very revealing clothing she wore on the program. Of course, this “controversy” is a rather silly situation and the hopes are that Katy will make reference to it in some way, shape or form.

Time to rumble!

The Show:

1. RNC Headquarters (5:43)

Republican candidate Christine O’Donnell (Wiig) meets with her advisors (Hader & Sudeikis) in the Delaware Senate campaign to discuss some of her recent controversial admissions like her dabbling in witchcraft when she was young and her anti-masturbation campaign. When O’Donnell admits that she initially confused masturbation with something else, her stance completely changes and the conversation turns lurid. Not to mention her history of running illegal dog-fights and her history of committing arson. This sketch works due to Kristen’s knack for comic timing and her chemistry with Hader and Suds. This was a great way to start the season with a fun target and some enjoyable writing. A-

2. Monologue (5:08)

Elated to be back, Amy promises to be a diva host and after announcing the arrival of the four new featured players, Poehler tells of her pre-show nightmare to the audience. The nightmare is mostly just an excuse to load up on cameos from the likes of Rachel Dratch, Jimmy Fallon, Tina Fey, and Justin Timberlake, but it was still a hilariously rapid-fire section of the monologue with everyone delivering on the laughs, particularly Nasim in Poehler’s old Caitlin get-up, Wiig explaining a complicated dance number very quickly, and Fallon and Fey retaking their spot at the Update desk. A

3. Bronx Beat (5:51)

Well, I guess this was inevitable. This talk-show bit has never been a favourite of mine mostly due to its repetitive nature despite the strong attempts by Poehler and Rudolph (another cameo!) on every occasion. I would imagine that Emily Spivey came back to write this sketch because it follows the same typical formula. This time, Betty & Jodi discuss the recent outbreak of bedbugs and the latter talks about her renewal of wedding vows with her “stupid husband.” Their guest is a librarian with an Elmo shirt (Katy in a cute reference to the Sesame Street incident), whose boobs are discussed for a majority of the sketch. That was probably the downside although there were some good lines here and there like Betty saying that she would go to France except she “can’t speak the language and [she] hates the people.” C+

4. Bosley Hair Restoration (1:30)

The first real gross-out piece of the show is all about fixing your bald spots by removing some hair from “down under” and placing your short ‘n’ curlies where your hair should be. The pube wigs are pretty funny and Suds works well as the spokesman. B+

5. Maternity Matters (4:13)

I could tell from the opening that this was another sketch featuring Roger Brush (Armisen), the producer of several women’s issues shows, who is forced to act as host when the regular female host is absent. Of course, his answers are sexist and he is clearly in desperate need of some PR. Equating Poehler’s self-confidence problems with the stress involved in missing his water bill payment is the highlight. I read somewhere that this character is supposedly based on someone and it really wouldn’t surprise me if it was because Fred acts like a typical ball-busting producer who needs to be behind the camera. B+

6. The Mosque at Ground Zero (1:17)

What starts off as a description of the perfect gay wedding day (between Poehler and Bayer) turns into a crazy rapid-fire commercial for the new mosque at Ground Zero. It doesn’t end there though. Every Republican irrational fear of the Mosque is elevated tenfold here as they advertise pregnancy termination and innocent add-ons like an espresso bar. Classic. A+

7. Katy Perry sings “California Girls” (3:45)

God, she is absolutely gorgeous. Just thought I should let that out right now. Although I and several others were warned of her tendency to dog it during live performances, I found her to be quite apt and a pleasant little distraction to look at and admire. At least she didn’t auto-tune her whole performance either. B

8. Weekend Update with Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler (15:17)

At first it seems like Seth is going solo, but after an early-on edition of “Really?!?”, Amy joins in and reports on the rest of the news with Mr. Meyers. Like all other editions of “Really?!?”, this one is a lot of fun like when Seth mentions the nonsense over the troops being supposedly “not at war with Iraq anymore” and the silly controversy over homosexuals in the military. There’s plenty of good material from both newscasters this week like Seth’s war with Blockbuster, Kim Jong Not Ill being the leading cadidate to take over North Korea, and my favourite: buying your subway tickets on a iPhone app. Will Smith (new kid Jay Pharaoh with an awesome impression) stops by to yell and shill for his son, Jayden, who he’s promptly whored out to movies like The Karate Kid. There’s also a funny 911 call re-enactment where Poehler admits to doing two of the voices afterwards in an amusing bit (“The third voice was Gene Hackman,” Seth ad-libs). Finally, Gov. David Paterson (Armisen) wheels in for some comments on the two new candidates for his replacements. The usual schtick occurs, but he is interrupted by the real deal (yes, Gov. Paterson himself) and the two engage in some amusing banter, which is particularly impressive for a blind governor who can’t see cue cards. The best line: “You’re still sporting the beard? I shaved that off a year ago. Are you blind?!” It was nice to see Paterson has a sense of humour, but the two Patersons stepping in front of the camera aimlessly was the icing on the cake. They really brought the house down. A+

9. The Lean Years (3:33)

Continuing with the Showtime tradition of “women with secrets,” Amy Poehler stars in a series called The Lean Years as her Amber character with one leg. The portion of the sketch that features Amy talking about the show in a very serious, philosophical tone is the best part of the sketch. Never thought I’d see an impression of Stanley Tucci on this show though. B-

10. Digital Short: Theme from ‘Boogerman’ (2:09)

Katy Perry performs the critically-acclaimed original song from the aforementioned film at some type of awards show while clips of the movie play on the screen in the background. Based on the clips, there is no way of figuring out the convoluted plot of the film, which only adds to this digital short’s charm. The dancing is amusing as well as the ending. A-

11. Chez Henri (3:38)

A woman (Wiig) is constantly one-upped by her friend, Trish (Poehler), in front of their mutual friends (Elliott & Bayer) with her tiny hats. It continues to escalate to ridiculous levels with Bill Hader effectively playing an effeminate passer-by who keeps score. At first, I really didn’t like this sketch but upon second viewing, I’ll admit that it’s got that ‘so ridiculous, it’s funny’ vibe to it and it doesn’t hurt that the reveals of the restaurant are hilarious as well. B+

12. Katy Perry sings “Teenage Dream” (4:12)

Another tune from Perry and a very revealing skirt. Good thing Russell Brand wasn’t around… B

13. Actor II Actor (1:07)

Andy Samberg sits down for a James Lipton-style interview with Justin Timberlake but it turns out to be a very quick one-joke sketch as Andy just wants to know why Justin isn’t singing anymore. Despite the brief length of this sketch, it still turns out to be pretty funny just based on the chemistry between the two. B+

14. The Even More Expendables (2:35)

Mocking the fact that The Expendables really only had about two stars in it, the sequels and spin-offs are announced with people like Steven Seagal (Hader), Chris Tucker (Pharaoh), and Brigitte Nielsen (Samberg). It gets even more obscure than that though as Brooke Hogan (Elliott), Kim Jong Il (Poehler), Hooch (of Turner & Hooch fame), and Steven Slater (Killam) of Jet Blue infamy are all slated to appear. Not to mention the return of Sudeikis’ Rod Blagojevich impression. Just an excuse for the cast and host to do their favourite impressions, but hell, I had fun watching it unfold. B+

Amy has about a bajillion people to thank due to all the cameos and then gets a big hug from Maya Rudolph as the cast and guests bid a goodnight to one and all. Yep, Saturday Night Live is back, folks.

So how was this premiere? Better than last year’s and a LOT better than the one two years prior. Amy was an energetic host as one would expect and despite being a former castmember, she didn’t try to dominate the broadcast like some have done (coughMollyShannoncough). She definitely had some great support though from a re-energized cast and a number of cameos from some willing participants.

The cast clearly had a lot of fun and enjoyed having one of their own back with them for their first week back. Jay Pharaoh shined the most out of the newbies and did a couple of fun impressions (Will Smith and Chris Tucker), while also having a small part in the digital short. Taran Killam was pretty funny in his brief bit in the ten-to-one sketch, but Bayer and Brittain were barely visible during their first episode. This is nothing to worry about, people, this is their very first episode.

What else to say? Fun start to what I am hoping is going to be a hell of a season!

Notes:

Has there ever been a really bad performance by a former castmember-turned host besides a few awkward moments with Chevy? Even David Spade was fun.

I think it’s only a matter of time before Fallon hosts…

Katy Perry addressing her Sesame Street incident with that sly little jab was funny because she wasn’t overt about the joke.

I’m sold on Pharaoh so far. Just waiting for the other three newbies to do something memorable now.

I gotta admit I giggled like a schoolgirl at all the cameos in the opening monologue.

It’s about time Bobby Moynihan got promoted.

Tell me: What is YOUR favourite season premiere?! Also, who is your favourite former castmember-turned-host?

Host Rating: B+

Musical Guest Rating: B

Show Rating: B+