Cold Open - Firstly, I’d like to express how glad I was that the show opted to poke fun at a figure like O’Donnell as opposed to Obama. O’Donnell is such an absurd political figure and basically everything she has ever said is ripe for satire and I thought this sketch was pointed and funny. Was the masturbation schtick a little juvenile? Yes. And was the payoff at the end where O’Donnell flew on her broom silly? Yes. But the premise was well-executed and I thought Kristen did a great job as O’Donnell. 8/10
Monologue - This was just plain wonderful. The beginning maybe felt an eency bit awkward but this awkwardness disappeared quickly and Amy was terrific. The “stress dream” was such a great sketch device and of course it gave our favourite alumni a reason to return! My favourite cameo? That would be Jimmy and Tina returning to tease Amy. “BECAUSE THEY’RE BACK!” All in all, super fun and well-done. 9/10
Bronx Beat - Okay, controversial opinion alert - I wasn’t super psyched to see this back. I love Bronx Beat as much as the next person and I adore Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph on-screen together. But I feel like the novelty of the sketch kind of wore off after the Betty White dress rehearsal installment, which NBC posted online. And the fact is, this just wasn’t as funny as the White edition. Katy Perry’s appearance, while an amusing sight gag, was kind of ill-conceived and just didn’t have as great a pay off as I would have liked. And the rest was basically the same Bronx banter we’re all used to now. It’s a shame, because as I said, I love these ladies. I just didn’t think this was up to par. 6/10
Bosley Hair Treatment - This was amusing, I guess. Although I’m beginning to think that SNL should retire the hair-oriented commercial parody. We’ve had enough of these and while this elicited a guffaw or two, I thought it was a little obvious? I don’t know. 7/10
Maternity Matters - Okay, I know that this is basically the same joke each time, but something about these sketches just make me laugh. Armisen is so funny as the obnoxious hearing-impaired substitute host who offers terrible advice to audience members. I think my favourite piece of counsel was, “Why don’t you get a flowery dress, put on a bunch of make-up, walk into your husband’s room and say ‘I’m sorry, honey, this is what you get.’”Also, the music used in this sketch is the theme music to a morning show here. 7.5/10
Ground Zero Mosque - This was probably my favourite moment of the night? Like the cold open, it was super pointed and I’m glad SNL offered its two cents on this subject matter that dominated the headlines this summer. The pay-off at the end - “Paid for by the RNC. And 70% of the DNC.” - was spectacular. Well done to whoever wrote this. 10/10
Weekend Update - What a fabulous edition of WU. Not only did we have Amy back, but we had Really?!?, a killer appearance from newbie Jay Pharoah as Will Smith and Governor David A. Paterson coming face to face with SNL’s David Paterson - a staple of Weekend Update for the last season or two. Paterson was such a great sport and certainly proved he had a sense of humour about the whole thing and I think he deserves major kudos for his performance. Jay Pharoah proved why he’s a cast member and I could not be more excited that he killed his first major SNL appearance. I had been hoping that his flawless Will Smith impression would be featured and boy, am I glad it was. Now all we need is his Jay-Z. Really?!? was delightful and on-point as per usual. And the jokes this week were particularly sharp. Favourites? American Idol “Coffin Nails 1, 2 and 3”, Christine O’Donnell’s Witchcraft and Blockbuster Filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. Also, the ending where Amy’s would-be tribute to Jeff Zucker was interrupted was priceless. 9/10
The Lean Years - I really enjoyed this and I thought the idea of a Showtime TV show was a fabulous way to bring back Amber. The interviews with Amy Poehler were probably my favourite part - I don’t think the sketch capitalised fully on the idea of Amber in a TV show and I feel like it could have been even funnier. As it was though, it was a great vehicle for Amy and thoroughly entertaining. 8/10
Digital Short - Eh, I didn’t enjoy it. Was this supposed to be Andy Samberg’s response to Randy Newman beating him at the Emmys this year for Best Original Music & Lyrics? It just didn’t work for me - the interspersed video clips were quite funny but the ballet piece and just the general premise were lacking. 5.5/10
Trish’s Tiny Hats - Oh my goodness, I loved this. So absurd and non-sequitur but perfectly executed and timed. Loved Kristen, Amy and Bill, loved the ridiculousness of the tiny hats, loved the $4 million microscopic hat, loved the restaurant title cards- just loved the whole shebang. I understand that a lot of people didn’t enjoy this sketch, but I just love this silliness and I thought it was a great vehicle for everybody. Kudos to Vanessa Bayer also! 9/10
Actor II Actor - Called the Timberlake cameo! Anyway, this was a nice filler and I loved that the only question asked was about Justin’s music career. I wouldn’t call it great or whatever, but it was a really fun moment! 7/10
The Expendables Sequels - I’m a sucker for sketches with lots of impressions, so this was right up my alley. The premise was so simple but again, it was perfectly timed and executed and everybody brought their A-game. My favourite moments? Kenan Thompson as Tracy Chapman and newbie Taran Killam as Jet Blu flight attendant Steven Slater. Oodles of fun and a great way to end the show! 8/10
OVERALL - Overall, this was a terrific way to start the season and put an end to the recent tradition of middling season premieres. Amy Poehler was terrific throughout and it was clear that everybody was having a great time. There was a nice balance between original sketches and recurring characters and there was barely a moment where I wasn’t smiling or laughing. Particular notice ought to be paid to Jay Pharoah and Vanessa Bayer who made their presence felt this week. Taran Killam maybe got the biggest laugh of the night from me with his impression of Steven Slater and I really hope Paul Brittain is featured more next week! Of the regulars, Kristen Wiig had a great night, but for me, the MVP of the show was Amy Poehler who solidified her status as one of SNL’s greatest ever cast members. Love you, Poehler-Bear!
GRADE - 8/10
Stray Observations -
- So excited that Bobby was upgraded to a regular player. Hopefully, our fill of Moynihan will now be increased!
- Not enough Jason Sudeikis tonight!
- Jonathan Krisel now a credited writer.
- We all kind of missed Will Forte, right?