SNL40 Wrap-Up Extravaganza!

Overall Thoughts on the Season:

Season 40, in general, was a great season for SNL, not only as a milestone year for the comedy institution, but as a great year to start the modern era with a bang. What made this season stand out in comparison the mostly-dull previous season, is the new direction its writing took. This season began to have a new, distinct, unique approach to humor with premise-driven, conceptual, one-off, solid, silly, and pretty funny sketch concepts that dominated many episodes from this season and made them quintessential to the era & classics to be watched for years to come, the Jim Carrey, Woody Harrelson, Martin Freeman, J.K. Simmons, Dwayne Johnson, and the Michael Keaton episodes are prime examples of that.

As with such highs, there were some lows due to experimentation and establishing the tone of the new era, those lows were especially BRUTAL, and stand are some of the worst sketches of this era, and some of them are amongst the show’s worst. Yet, the highs most definitely outweigh the lows. This season, in my view, contains some of the finest episodes, sketches, and moments in recent SNL history. Some incredible highs were reached this season that haven’t been reached since the late 90s/early 00s era. And those highs more than make up for the lows which are a natural product of experimentation, and the Highest-Ranked Sketches segment below will show the many high highs that were achieved this year. These sketches, like mentioned previously were conceptual in format, and felt like a throwback to an earlier SNL era with such diverse comedic format between an epic dance-off like the classic and widely-beloved Office Costume Contest, and or enthrallingly dark & unsettling like Ad Agency and Toby’s House, and or the most absurd, charming, and fun like A Magical Christmas and Spaceship. All of those, with the brilliant & sharp shorts that comment on social issues with the most biting takes like the classics The Dudley Asian American Doll, Totino’s, and the daring Neurotology pretapes, or the more absurd and fun like the Jay-Z Story & Serial, many shorts like the aforementioned ones and others sat the tone of the new era effectively, and most importantly, perfectly.

Contributing to the season’s quality is our new Update team, Colin Jost and Michael Che, in their first year made Update a must-watch and raised it from the slump that it was in for most of the last several years, with strong stand-up style commentaries and great improvement when it comes to jokes and Update commentaries, this made this new era of Weekend Update a true renaissance for the venerable fake news segment of the show. As well as the shorts made by writer Mike O’Brien that were incredible highlights and sometimes a bright spot in rough parts of some episodes, those combined both sentimentality and humor in the finest way, with sense of pathos and heart to them making them era-defining highlights. As well as the great Matt & Oz team with their solid shorts such as the excellent Bushwick, Brooklyn 2015 piece amongst others. All of those factors paved the way for the current SNL era, and contributed to the renaissance that SNL experienced for several years in the mid 2010s which all thanks to our milestone 40th season.

Hot Takes:

  • The first half of the season in general turning out to better than I remember, aside from three episodes, the rest ranged from average to phenomenal. I do recall some claiming it to be worse than it is, but aside from the Pratt, Rock, and Franco episodes, there’s a lot to love in the first ten episodes when you break them down episode-by-episode.
  • Michael Keaton’s episode turning out to be somehow even stronger than I remember it being, particularly the Ad Agency and An Easter Message sketches. While I was, like most other fans, very high on that episode, rewatching it for the review made it even better than before.
  • Season 40 in general being stronger than I remember, particularly the string of excellent episodes from Blake Shelton (minus Dakota Johnson), till Michael Keaton which contained an impressively large amount of excellent segments that stand now as bonafide classics for years to come.

And Now Some Data:

Episode Averages:

Chris Pratt / Ariana Grande – 5.3

Sarah Silverman / Maroon 5 – 6.2

Bill Hader / Hozier – 6.4

Jim Carrey / Iggy Azalea – 7.2

Chris Rock / Prince – 5.3

Woody Harrelson / Kendrick Lamar – 8.4

Cameron Diaz / Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars – 6.0

James Franco / Nicki Minaj – 4.8

Martin Freeman / Charlie XCX – 8.0

Amy Adams / One Direction – 6.0

Kevin Hart / Sia – 5.9

Blake Shelton – 6.8

J.K. Simmons / D’Angelo – 7.9

Dakota Johnson / Alabama Shakes – 4.8

Chris Hemsworth / Zac Brown Band – 6.7

Dwayne Johnson / George Ezra – 8.0

Michael Keaton / Carly Rae Jepsen – 8.2

Taraji P. Henson / Mumford & Sons – 6.2

Scarlett Johansson / Wiz Khalifa – 5.6

Reese Witherspoon / Florence + The Machine – 5.8

Louis C.K. / Rihanna – 7.3

Best Episode: Woody Harrelson – 8.4 (Runner-up: Michael Keaton – 8.2)
Worst Episode: James Franco & Dakota Johnson – 4.8 (tie) (Runner-ups: Chris Pratt & Chris Rock – 5.3)
Season Average: 6.5

Highest-Rated Sketches:

5 Stars:

HelpFund (Bill Hader)

AllState/Lincoln (Jim Carrey)

Office Costume Contest (Jim Carrey)

The Dudleys (Woody Harrelson)

Match’d (Woody Harrelson)

New Marijuana Policy (Woody Harrelson)

CFT: Rise and Smile St. Louis (James Franco)

Sump’n Claus (Martin Freeman)

The Office: Middle Earth (Martin Freeman)

Asian American Doll (Amy Adams)

Serial (Amy Adams)

Wishin’ Boot (Blake Shelton)

Totino’s Super Bowl Activity Pack For Women! (J.K. Simmons)

The Jay-Z Story (J.K. Simmons)

Career Day (J.K. Simmons)

WrestleMania Promo (Dwayne Johnson)

Prom Queen (Michael Keaton)

Neurotology (Michael Keaton)

An Easter Message (Michael Keaton)

CFT: Toby’s House (Michael Keaton)

Monologue (Reese Witherspoon)

Monologue (Louis C.K.)

4.5 Stars:

Monologue (Sarah Silverman)

Cat (Bill Hader)

CFT: The Kids (Jim Carrey)

Football Halftime Show (Woody Harrelson)

Last Call (Woody Harrelson)

Grow-A-Guy (James Franco)

Wedding Objections (Martin Freeman)

St. Joseph’s Christmas Mass Spectacular (Martin Freeman)

A Magical Christmas (Amy Adams)

Bushwick, Brooklyn 2015 (Kevin Hart)

Cinema Classics (J.K. Simmons)

Spaceship (Chris Hemsworth)

Weekend Update (Chris Hemsworth)

Reality House (Chris Hemsworth)

Bambi (Dwayne Johnson)

Improv Show (Dwayne Johnson)

Interrogation (Dwayne Johnson)

The Circus With Kyle (Dwayne Johnson)

Monologue (Michael Keaton)

Ad Agency (Michael Keaton)

Weekend Update (Michael Keaton)

Blazer (Scarlett Johansson)

Mr. Westerberg (Reese Witherspoon)

CFT: Inner White Girl (Reese Witherspoon)

Sprint Store (Louis C.K.)

Weekend Update (Louis C.K.)

Actor Line-Up (Louis C.K.)

4 Stars:

The Fault In Our Stars 2: The Ebola In Our Everything (Sarah Silverman) 

Whites (Sarah Silverman)

Poem (Sarah Silverman)

The Group Hopper (Bill Hader)

Lincoln (Jim Carrey)

Carrey Family Reunion (Jim Carrey)

Lincoln (Jim Carrey)

Graveyard Song (Jim Carrey)

Geoff’s Halloween Emporium (Jim

Swiftamine (Chris Rock)

Drink at The White House (Woody Harrelson)

Monologue (Woody Harrelson)

Weekend Update (Woody Harrelson) 

Old New York (Woody Harrelson)

CFT: Pentagon Briefing (Woody Harrelson)

Schoolhouse Rock! (Cameron Diaz)

Nest-Spresso (Cameron Diaz)

The Fight (Cameron Diaz)

Ted Rankin (James Franco)

Charlie Rose (Martin Freeman)

Assembly Line (Martin Freeman)

Waterbed Warehouse (Martin Freeman)

CFT: Comedy Club (Kevin Hart)

Parole Board (Blake Shelton)

Topeka Today (Blake Shelton)

Weekend Update (J.K. Simmons)

Microsoft Assistant (J.K. Simmons)

Giuliani Birdman (Dakota Johnson)

Mr. Riot Films (Dakota Johnson)

A Message From Hillary Clinton (Chris Hemsworth)

The Rock Obama (Dwayne Johnson)

Monologue (Dwayne Johnson)

Pep Boys (Dwayne Johnson)

Weekend Update (Dwayne Johnson)

Call Your Grandparents (Michael Keaton)

Weekend Update (Taraji P. Henson)

Sesame Street (Taraji P. Henson)

Weekend Update (Reese Witherspoon)

Theater Showcase (Reese Witherspoon)

Summertime (Louis C.K.)

The Woodworkers Association of America (Louis C.K.)

The Woodworkers Association of America (Louis C.K.)

CFT: Rooftop Party (Louis C.K.)

Lowest-Rated Sketches:

2 Stars:

60 Minutes (Sarah Silverman)

Hollywood Game Night (Bill Hader)

CFT: Coal Miners (Bill Hader)

Ghosts: Facts or Fiction? (Jim Carrey)

High School (Jim Carrey)

Monologue (Cameron Diaz)

HBO First Look – Annie (Cameron Diaz)

Sunseeker Yachts (James Franco)

Monologue (Amy Adams)

Girlfriends Talk Show (Amy Adams)

Whiskers R’ We (Amy Adams)

Monologue (Dakota Johnson)

Net Effect (Dakota Johnson)

CFT: New Playroom (Dakota Johnson)

Movie Set (Chris Hemsworth)

Connectatron (Taraji P. Henson)

Monologue (Scarlett Johansson)

Girlfriends Talk Show (Scarlett Johansson)

Jingle Writers (Scarlett Johansson)

The Southern Republican Leadership Conference! (Reese Witherspoon)

Water Slide (Reese Witherspoon)

Couples Retreat (Louis C.K.) 

1.5 Stars:

Cialis Turnt (Chris Pratt)

Booty Rap (Chris Pratt)

Kim Jong-Un (Bill Hader)

Monologue (Bill Hader)

Night Murmurs (Cameron Diaz)

Monologue (James Franco)

Peter Pan Live! (James Franco)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (James Franco)

Jingle Ballerz (James Franco)

A Very Cuban Christmas (Amy Adams)

The Journey (Kevin Hart)

ISIS (Dakota Johnson)

I Can’t (Dakota Johnson)

The Iggy Azalea Show (Chris Hemsworth)

Smart Home (Michael Keaton)

The Shoemaker and the Elves (Louis C.K.)

1 Star:

Animal Hospital (Chris Pratt)

River Cruise (Sarah Silverman)

Shark Tank (Chris Rock)

The Couple (Chris Rock)

Magic Bridge (James Franco)

Nancy (Kevin Hart)

Cinderella (Dakota Johnson)

Emergency Room (Dakota Johnson)

QVC (Taraji P. Henson) 

Dino Bones (Scarlett Johansson) 

Be Scene in L.A. (Reese Witherspoon)

Picture Perfect (Reese Witherspoon)

Final Thoughts:-

  • And thus ends my second wrap-up post. Much like last time, I would like to thank fellow reviewer & frequent commenter Jesse Nathan for generously calculating the averages of reviews, and for his insightful commentaries. Also, his great musical performance reviews were a great addition to my reviews, and helped make them feel complete even more than before, and proved to be a fun part to both read and compare with episode’s quality as a whole. I also would like to thank all of the great readers & frequent commenters on my blog. Thanks to you all, this blog has achieved incredible growth last month, and it more than made it worth it for me to review this fun season for your enjoyments, thanks again.
  • We’re now two seasons down in my blog!!!

Up Next:-

  • Season 47 returns with host Benedict Cumberbatch and musical guest Arcade Fire.

2 Replies to “SNL40 Wrap-Up Extravaganza!”

  1. No problem Blood Meridian cant wait for your S41 reviews but until then I can’t wait for Saturday’s episode until next time see ya!

  2. It’s been very fun to follow along with these reviews. I find myself mostly agreeing with pretty much everything you said in your final thoughts. However, I don’t feel this era starts to hit its stride until the next season, before hitting a peak with 42, and the first half of 43 (to a lesser extent). Also, it’s been fun DM’ing with you on Twitter, and I love how we’ve been able to connect in a way.

    As for Matt & Oz, yes, they’ve made plenty of great shorts. Too bad that Matt passed away at the tragic age of 39. If he were still alive by 42, who knows what we could’ve gotten? Then again, 42 had plenty of great shorts as well, thanks mostly to Julio Torres.

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