SNL Weekly Review: December 17 by Dylan Zsigray ’18

Casey Affleck hosted an average episode of Saturday Night Live last night.  It was definitely an improvement from last week’s terrible episode hosted by John Cena.  Last night’s episode had a lot of good moments and a couple bad, which made it average.  The high points were spread throughout the episode, opposed to most of them being stacked towards the first half, which is sometimes a common trend with the showrunners. It surely was not one of the episodes that will stick with us as one of the top from this season, but it was a solid way to send SNL into their Christmas break before they return in mid-January.  Below is my review of last night’s episode of SNL.

“SUPERSTAR!” (The Best Sketch of the Night)

“Hillary Actually”: I absolutely loved this sketch!  It was so great to see Kate McKinnon take on her role of Hillary Clinton again as it’s been over a month since we last saw her.  It is hard to believe that tomorrow marks the day when all the electors vote for the next President.  Although there is an infinitesimally small change that the result will change, this sketch was a nice testament to what a lot of voters and citizens around America are feeling.  My favorite part of the sketch was McKinnon’s facial expressions as she showed the cards, especially when showing why Donald Trump is crazy.  This sketch is one that I will remember for a while.

“I gotta have more cowbell!” (Good Sketches)

“Christmas Miracle”: They constantly do sketches with McKinnon and Cecily Strong’s characters, accompanied by a third guest.  Each time this kind of sketch is in the show, I cheer.  I never get tired of McKinnon’s character, who has to go through an unfortunate series of events while those around her are in paradise.  Perhaps this rendition was not as strong as those in the past, but it was funny and enjoyable to watch.  The ending was solid as well.  

“Donald Trump Christmas Cold Open”: Last week I mentioned that the quality of the Trump-centric sketches seems to flip-flop each week.  One week it’s excellent, while the next it’s horrible.  Last week’s cold open was not good, but last night’s was actually funny.  As people on Twitter were saying, it’s was like watching Trump in real life.  I certainly agree and it seems like Alec Baldwin has nailed his Trump impression and how he makes decisions.  I mean, why does it not raise any red flags that the Department of Energy Head that Trump wants is literally in business with Russia and Putin.  McKinnon’s Kellyanne Conway also rebounded this week, which I think is solely because of the higher quality writing that was done for this sketch.

“Jingle Barack”: This sketch was not as funny as it was original, which is the main reason I included it in this category.  This was a great farewell sketch from SNL to Barack, as the next time the snow airs will mark that last week Obama is in office.  I loved the enthusiasm of this sketch, especially with Leslie Jones rapping in Santa’s sleigh.   Plus, it was nice to see Kenan Thompson have a main role in a sketch.  He’s been noticeably absent from the show a lot this year and I think that it has a lot to do with him being such an old-timer.

“Mrs. Claus & The Elves”: I am pretty sure that this is the second or third time we’ve been treated to the elf trio who are not the most innocent creatures.  The writing is what makes this sketch work, coupled with the delivery and gestures made by the actors.  I think I laugh more through this sketch because of how uncomfortable it makes me, but nevertheless it is funny and a sad image of what elves might actually be like.

“Weekend Update”: Once again, I thoroughly enjoyed Weekend Update last night.  The jokes about Russia and Trump were spot on and were delivered perfectly by Michael Che and Colin Jost.  Differing from the majority of episodes, only one character duo was at the Weekend Update desk last night.  This duo was comprised of Fred Armisen and Vanessa Bayer, who played Vladimir Putin’s childhood friends.  Armisen and Bayer’s characters were hilarious and their stories about how Putin acts in private were funny yet insightful.  There’s always that awkward moment when an invite says to not bring gifts, but then the host expects that you do bring them.  I’m so pleased to see the momentum that Weekend Update has accumulated and I am looking forward to how next year will be with Che and Jost behind the desk.

“Well, isn’t that special” (Hit or Miss Sketches)

“Casey Affleck Monologue”: Affleck here was funny, but he sort of just stood in front of the camera the entire time and only briefly interacted with Baldwin and John Goodman, who appeared in the cold open.  Luckily though, Affleck kept his monologue short, so it was not unbearable to sit through.  It definitely set a positive tone for the rest of the episode.

“Dunkin’ Donuts”: There’s always that one guy in Dunkin’ Donuts who causes trouble.  This sketch highlighted that one guy perfectly, although I’m not entirely sure if it was necessary to devote a sketch block for this.  Although this sketch was funny, I did not see a firm point to it and I’m still a bit confused by its placement in the show.

“Buh-bye” (Bad Sketches)

“Christmas Bar”: Because I watched the show live last night, I could not fast forward through this sketch.  Had I DVR’d it, I would have fast forwarded through it.  There was no plot here and the acting was way off.  It was just awkward and weird to watch.  I scrolled through Twitter during the running of this sketch instead of watching it in displeasure.

“New York Now”: I literally did not laugh once during this whole sketch and was in fact displeased at the sketch overall.  What was the sketch about?  It was literally nonsense on the screen.  There was no plot and it seemed like it was not even rehearsed before last night.  If anyone figures out what this sketch was truly about, feel free to let me know.

“Robot Presentation”: So they did a sketch like this earlier in the season with Honda robots and it was not funny then nor was it funny last night.  I felt like the writers were trying to add a “gotcha” detail to each of the robots, but it just made the sketch more uncomfortable to sit through.  

Casey Affleck hosted an average and decently funny episode of SNL last night.  SNL is off until January 14 for Christmas, which is when the show will welcome Felicity Jones as host.  Maybe they’ll do a Star Wars themed sketch!

Dylan’s Ranking of the Episodes:

  1. Dave Chappelle
  2. Emma Stone
  3. Tom Hanks
  4. Kristen Wiig
  5. Lin-Manuel Miranda
  6. Casey Affleck
  7. Margot Robbie
  8. John Cena
  9. Benedict Cumberbatch
  10. Emily Blunt

 

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