Cold Opening – Erin Burnett OutFront
- Another CNN cold open this season.
- An interesting mention that Hillary Clinton’s support has been dropping these past few weeks, which is a departure from SNL’s smug, sure-to-be-president portrayal of Hillary in the episodes before this one. Yet, I’m sure that SNL, like many others, foolishly thought that Hillary is going to win no matter what.
- An ok running gag with the constant mention of Hillary Clinton’s emails by Cecily’s Erin Burnett (hey, remember when this was the biggest scandal?), and Kate’s frustrated reactions are selling this bit well.
- Some good laughs here and there, but this open is feeling a bit longer than needed.
- A memorable, fourth wall-breaking ending with the whole pretaped footage of Alec & Kate in Times Square hugging different people, and trying to raise people’s hopes and bringing them together. While I get that this feel-good, good-natured moment from SNL meant well, it aged like milk, and much like some of the material in the previous episodes this season, and especially during Trump’s presidency will age very poorly, and will make these years very hard to watch in retrospect due to the constant need from SNL to REACT to Trump and his policies throughout his presidency, instead of making the best show possible. It makes an episode from 2018 far more dated than an episode from 2001, and that’s not a good thing for me AT ALL. Yet, we’ll get there when I cover the Trumpwin era which is about to start.
- Already, Benedict is coming off such a natural on the SNL stage, it feels like he was born to do the show. Which is not a surprise for UK-born & theatre-trained hosts in general.
- Another musical monologue this season, and this one makes this season 1-for-5 in terms of actual host-only monologue. Even though I’m sure Benedict will make this one work.
- A pretty funny moment with Leslie & the whole “Cumberbitches”, which I never knew was actually a thing before this episode.
The Koohl Toilet
- Great stern, authoritative performance from Mikey as the Big Brother-esque leader.
- I do recall reading that this commercial is parodying a famous ad from the 1980s, but I forgot which one.
- Solid sudden entrance from Benedict, and I do love the tone shift as soon as he enters the scene.
- Very good flustered reactions from Mikey, as he faces the new threat posed by Benedict.
- Some pretty big, yet cheap laughs from all the “cool” and “sexy” things you can do while sitting on the Koohl toilet, and Benedict’s natural charisma is selling the HELL out of the material.
- Love the ending line delivery from Benedict & the tagline.
- An overall great & memorable ad, even when I personally prefer the 2nd one a little bit more than this one, it is still very fun & deservedly well-known amongst SNL fans.
Why is Benedict Cumberbatch Hot?
- A great reveal of the meta, fourth wall-breaking game show title, and this is a role that Beck is so perfect at.
- Some good laughs from Aidy & Vanessa’s descriptions about why they find Benedict attractive. Vanessa, in particular, is just perfect in selling her fangirl-y, coy descriptions of Benedict.
- I’m enjoying how more and more Beck seems to be baffled about how he, a very attractive man, is seen as less attractive than Benedict by Aidy & Vanessa, and the photo comparisons behind him are adding to the humor.
- Solid, fun ending with Beck eventually being charmed by Benedict’s personality.
- Ugh, Chad officially becomes recurring.
- Like last time, the host is the only thing that’s adding anything of quality to this otherwise dull, one-note, bland, waste-of-time of a sketch.
- Can those who enjoy these pieces tell me why? I’m now around two minutes in & I’m pretty much zoning out of this, even Benedict is not able to save this for me. In fact, I’m rating this half-a-star higher for his utter commitment to this dull piece.
- And now we’re getting a fart gag? The season 20-esque feel of these pieces feels almost complete.
Surprise Bachelorette Party
- A pretty funny, silly entrance from Mikey & Benedict in these outfits.
- I’m enjoying the subtle dark tone in this sketch, with how the others are oblivious to Aidy’s character’s death.
- Great “dead body” acting from Aidy throughout this sketch, and especially for not breaking in the slightest as Benedict & Mikey do all of THAT to her as she’s playing dead.
Musical Performance – “Cranes in the Sky”
- Jesse Nathan: Nice violin intro.
- What’s the deal with the odd swaying from Solange and co?
- Not loving Solange’s voice.
- The bass is very audible throughout the song, and it’s standing out more than the vocals.
- Not caring too much for Solange’s moves.
- Not too sure what was the point of adding a saxophone if it ended up being very brief.
- I feel like this song is one continuous loop, never sticking with you, and not exactly something that I’d want to listen to.
- The moves aren’t really doing too much for me the more this performance goes on. They feel kinda unnecessary.
- Solange’s vocalizations are kinda flat.
- Pretty solid laugh from Michael’s KKK newspaper joke, especially his comment about the sports section.
- Oof at the “Hillary Clinton planning celebrations” joke that did NOT age well.
- A very random Dana Carvey cameo as Church Lady. After the previous fucking horrible alumni cameo on Update, I’m worried how will this one turn out, although I can always trust the reliable Dana Carvey (even though this cameo takes valuable airtime from cast members, a precursor to more modern seasons).
- An interesting mention of Westworld, the then-super hot new HBO show, as it is not only a time capsule to how popular the first season was, but serves as a nice coincidence due to the fourth season airing this next Sunday.
- Man, this commentary feels like it’s going on FOREVER.
- And now Church Lady breaks into a song, yet I’m getting some decent laughs from the accompanying visuals moreso than the lyrics.
- The cameofests continue, as we get BILL MURRAY now closing this Update edition with his song about the Chicago Cubs.
- A charming, cute song for the Cubs, even though I’m not a sports person at all, and this piece, as well as Dana’s, if we’re being honest, has no business being on Update instead of actual cast members.
Gemma & Ricky
- OH, NO.
- Man, what is happening with Cecily this season?! After a fairly solid, consistent year last season, she returns to the usual awfulness from seasons 39 & 40. She has been averaging one horrible, lazy, downright unwatchable sketch on weekly basis since the Emily Blunt episode. Not only these sketches are the usual lazy dreck that wastes valuable airtime, but are both a major waste of the host of the episode, and especially Cecily’s talents. I know that I said this at least in other venues about Cecily, but seeing these wretched sketches throughout her tenure (and we have a really horrendous sketch awaiting us in the Casey Affleck episode too), I don’t only blame the writers here, but also Cecily, whose comedic styling is obviously, from what we’ve seen throughout her long tenure, is PURE DEATH.
- Back to the sketch, as usual I’m being bored to death, and sitting STONE-FACED as I watch this very lazy, by-the-numbers sketch go on and on.
- Man, as much as I love Benedict, and he has been a pretty solid host so far tonight, he can’t even elevate the material in this sketch despite his committed performance.
- Holy hell at that singing from Cecily, particularly that high note which is both abusing my eardrums AND lowering my I.Q. each time she sings it.
- What a lame-ass ending.
- A pretty good, old-school-feeling sketch concept.
- Benedict is, as expected, pretty much perfect in his role as a mischievous, criminal mastermind. With lived-in characterization, and excellent line deliveries.
- Adding to the whole old-school feel of the sketch is Benedict’s puzzled reactions to how easily Beck & Alex can solve his supposedly complex puzzles, Benedict is a solid straight man here, and his subtle performance is adding freshness to what other hosts might cause to eventually become a stale, tired sketch.
- Some good laughs from Kyle’s idiotic contributions, even when it feels like a role that Kyle has played to death so far into his tenure, he’s making it work in this specific sketch.
- I would’ve preferred a better ending, but this was an enjoyable, solid sketch, led by a strong Benedict Cumberbatch performance.
Musical Performance – “Don’t Touch My Hair”
- Jesse Nathan: Jesus, Solange, could you not look anymore like your sister?
- Thankfully, Solange’s voice is better here than it was on the last track.
- I see those bassists are still doing those weird sways that I didn’t really care for the first time.
- Not loving this instrumental. It’s a little too boring for me, and kinda limp.
- During one portion, a faint synth can be heard in the background. Maybe not a lot, but it still sounds good.
- Did she just say “shit” on live TV?
- It bothers me that Solange and co are trying to bust a move to this very limp beat, trying to make it seem exciting. It really isn’t that exciting.
- Nice horns, but they feel kinda out of place.
- And now she just censored herself. I’m guessing she caught on to that s-bomb right after performing it, so now she’s acting like it didn’t happen.
- Okay, now the song is starting to get better.
- Still not loving this dancing.
- Meh, now the song’s starting to annoy me due to the repetitiveness of the final chorus.
Meeting With Mr. Shaw
- Man, I’m already LOVING this random, creative, Monty Python-esque sketch concept, which is fitting due to who our host is.
- Great initial reveal of Mr. Shaw.
- Good straight man reactions from both Beck and Kenan, especially that they are not overdoing it like some other sketches would’ve done with such concept.
- I love the whole watch bit with Mr. Shaw. Benedict’s facial expressions were the icing on the cake as well.
- Funny visuals with the various celebrities that have spent some time with Mr. Shaw in the past, even when I’m getting some unwanted flashback to that absolutely wretched & shameful Bezos puff piece in the dreadful Steve Carell episode, but we’ll get there when we get there…
- Great dramatic turn with Benedict’s character slowly realizing that he’s being fired from his job, the whole buildup about the “subtext” is very well done, enhanced even more by Benedict’s utter commitment.
- Even the moment where Benedict is collecting his belongings is adding to the very strong absurdist, Monty Python-esque style of this sketch.
- I absolutely LOVE Vanessa’s mock-coy delivery of her final line “Oh, Mr. Shaw!” just a perfect ending to a true hidden SNL gem.
In Memoriam – a photo of stagehand John Homer marks his passing
Segments Ranked From Best to Worst
Meeting With Mr. Shaw
Why is Benedict Cumberbatch Hot?
The Koohl Toilet
Surprise Bachelorette Party
Erin Burnett OutFront
Gemma & Ricky
- A fairly solid episode, aside from two flops (by both Cecily Strong & Pete Davidson, unsurprisingly, have we reached the point where they are pretty much regarded as SNL poison?). This episode had a low-key, fun atmosphere bolstered of how fantastic of a host Benedict Cumberbatch was, from his fun presence, to his utter commitment to his roles, and I do love that we got some unique sketch concepts that felt old-school, and Monty Python-esque for him to lead, such as the Criminal Mastermind and Meeting With Mr. Shaw sketches. While I think his season 47 hosting stint is just a little bit better, this one is still of solid quality, with several standout, great segments within it.
- Dave Chappelle hosts the very first post-election episode, with A Tribe Called Quest as the musical guest.