Note: I’ve just realized before sending this review online that this is the 100th SNL episode that I’ve reviewed!!! Words cannot express how pleasantly surprised & proud I’m with this discovery. It only felt like yesterday when I established this blog, and now it has more than 1600+ visitors and 15,000+ views, all thanks to YOU, my dear readers. So, once again I say it: Thank you for the incredible support you’ve given me these past months, and hopefully you enjoy this and all of my coming reviews. Hopefully, for many more years to come. Now, let’s get this over with!
Cold Opening – Jeff Sessions Gump
- After debuting last episode, Kate’s Jeff Sessions officially becomes recurring.
- An interesting usage of the classic Forrest Gump movie as the setting for this cold open, but it already feels like a precursor to the typical annoying cold opens that this era will be doing more and more as it goes along.
- Already, this cold open showcases my biggest gripe with this impression of Kate, it’s too “cute” for me to work properly. And I’m more tolerant than some when it comes to Kate dressing in drag to portray political figures, yet that doesn’t hide how pandering this whole process is in the very first place.
- Ok, I did absolutely love the variation of the classic box of chocolate line from Forrest Gump.
- Pretty dull cold open so far, even with the setting & the way it is escalating.
- Ah, Octavia reprises her very memorable, Oscar-winning role as Minny Jackson, from The Help. And a good end to an otherwise weak open with the whole recreation of the famous pie scene from the same movie.
- Already, Octavia is coming off very likable and charismatic here, and is easily handling this monologue on her own.
- I love Octavia’s side look to the camera.
- Some good laughs from Octavia talking about his past roles, and I do love the montage of her playing nurses in movies.
- A good laugh from the title of Octavia’s movie, Hidden Fences, being messed up this badly, which is a spoof of how the movie’s name was messed up infamously at an awards show, IIRC.
- A pretty good, contained monologue that was carried easily by Octavia’s effortless charisma & natural stage presence.
Courage, Compassion, Country: The TBD Story
- It feels like ages since we had this type of fake movie trailer piece on SNL, and I don’t think that we got another one after this parody, unless I’m forgetting something.
- Great direction to this short, which makes it feel like an actual movie that’s soon to come out.
- Very funny “TBD” disclaimer that made me laugh harder than I should’ve, possibly because of how random it was.
- Ok, the “TBD” gag as the piece is continuing is suffering from diminishing returns, and its novelty is starting to worn off, yet there still laughs to be had from this otherwise solid & sharp piece.
- Hilarious Paul Ryan quote from Rolling Stone.
- A pretty good piece overall that made fun of conservatives in a way that wasn’t pandering nor preachy.
Drug Company Hearing
- Good to see Sasheer getting another lead role this season, and for the second consecutive episode too.
- Man, I’m not caring AT ALL for the very lame, hacky premise for this sketch. I guess that this sketch is trying to attempt urban humor, but SNL almost never did those right throughout the years, until future cast member Ego Nwodim came to the show to be frank that these pieces were better written and performed well.
- Octavia is doing a solid job here, fitting perfectly as a cast member, but the sketch is repeating its main “joke” to death as it goes along.
- Alex is a solid straight man in this sketch, at least. And it feels so good to see him getting solid airtime in this half of the season, considering how invisible he will be by season 45 and onwards.
Girl at a Bar
- Yet another piece this season that’s spoofing certain parts of the left, with this spoofing the so-called male “feminists”. Interesting to see this season of SNL taking some digs at liberals, in clever, creative ways.
- Ah, I love that we get a piece spoofing liberals, after a one earlier in the show spoofing conservatives.
- I love the moment where Beck showing Cecily his own feminist shirt, and his delivery of his line “I wear this shirt, you won’t even let me nut?!” Killed me.
- Good escalation to this short, even though the main gag is repeated to death, and it is hurting this short’s solid writing for me.
- Boy, does Kyle feel very invisible this season, and he’ll be having a pretty rough season next year, where he’s lucky if he has more than one appearance in an entire episode.
- Alex, who’s continuing his good season and the solid airtime he’s been having in the second half, looks hilarious in that outfit, and his scene gave me my biggest laugh in thus entire short.
- A solid, well-written piece in general, despite it repeating its gag too many times for me.
- Oh, I absolutely LOVE this bit with Kate impersonating Kellyanne’s infamous oval office photo from that week, remindinh me of the legendary Ken Starr runner back in season 23 with Will Ferrell subpoenaing people throughout the episode.
Zoo-opolis Voice Actors
- fyodoren: Here’s a premise we’ve seen countless times, but it’s cool to see an impression-fest done live! That shows a lot of confidence in Melissa, Alex, and even Octavia.
- Melissa’s J-Lo is solid, but everyone can do J-Lo, and she’ll really kick herself into high gear in a moment.
- Alex’s Hugh Grant isn’t earth-shattering but it’s very strong.
- Octavia’s holding her own! Not sure many of us know Viola Davis intimately enough to truly judge that one, but Octavia clearly had fun impersonating her friend. What’s more noteworthy is her dynamite take on Jodie Foster! Great voice in particular; she’s clearly practiced it, and she’s clearly getting into the flow here.
- Kenan with a KILLER Tracy Morgan! I know Tracy’s not THAT hard to do, but Kenan nailed it in a way few could. I love the way he passes it off as a quick, impulsive, two-second thing, satirizing Tracy’s wonderfully lazy/impulsive way of spitting out his words. A great, quick touch that successfully elevates things.
- Still, my GOD, can we just talk about Melissa’s impression-fest here and how SPOT-ON she is?! It’s even more impressive to see her inhabit these different celebrities when we consider just how goofy and distinctive her actual voice is.
- Obviously, the audience eats up Melissa’s take on Kristen Wiig. Hard to disagree – it’s essentially the first time we’ve ever seen Wiig impersonated, and it’s just un-fucking-canny. This is one of those great, great impressions that leave you thinking, “Wow, I didn’t know so-and-so could even be impersonated!” Melissa found a way to make that happen, which shows TALENT. Serious talent.
- Just as impressively, she then takes on Kate McKinnon and again knocks it out of the park. Yeesh, this woman is a SERIOUSLY gifted impressionist! The good ones always understand that celebrity impressions go WAY beyond nailing the looks or nailing the voice. The good ones capture the general essence of their subjects and play THAT up. Melissa just said (literally) four words as Kate and managed to sum up her friend and castmate in a way that’s both exaggerated and accurate, both cringey and hilarious. Spot fucking on!
- Then we hit the ending, which REALLY throttles things down and costs the sketch at least half a star in my eyes. After such dynamite work, and with the audience eating out of the palm of your hand, you bring in Beck from off-camera for the finale. And you decide to close things out with….. Javier Bardem? Beck does a nice, thoughtful impression, but it’s a very obscure choice for this piece, and very anticlimactic, taking most of the wind out of Melissa’s, Octavia’s, and Alex’s sails. The audience clearly felt it, too.
- In fact, almost all the male impressions in this sketch are pretty blah and underwhelming. Not for lack of trying, as Alex and Beck do solid work with them. But what percentage of the audience, after all, has enough of a knowing and loving relationship with Bill Walton or Javier Bardem (or even Hugh Grant, here in 2017) to crack up at these? Compared to names like Oprah, Wiig, and Julia-Louis Dreyfus – which the women absolutely feasted on – those made for odd choices that hurt the sketch’s momentum. All told, this piece may have worked EVEN better with just Kenan and the ladies.
- I vividly remember watching this live and thinking, “Well, there’s Melissa’s star turn – this is about to wind up plastered across the internet Monday.” Combined with her hilarious and well-regarded Update pieces in the episodes. As we all know, of course, that never happened. Unlike others who got their shot and ran like hell with it, Melissa got zero opportunity to build on that momentum; instead, she all but disappeared from the show. She was given ONE sketch with dialogue over the next FOUR episodes combined – and that one sketch was a host-dominated Family Feud piece over a month later. As a sketch performer, Melissa isn’t exactly Jan Hooks, but she deserved much better than that. Less talented comedians than her have been given chances to carve out their niches on SNL.
- Great look & atmosphere to this short, and it seems to be a solid, semi-dramatic showcase for Kenan.
- Kenan is very solid in his acting in this short, and the writing that he’s given is quite solid.
- A good laugh from Kenan using a Troll Doll as a chess piece, and trying to pass it off as such.
- Perfect pairing of Octavia with Kenan, and her interjections are great; a solid use of Octavia’s very strong dramatic skills.
- Man, the tone of this short is phenomenal, and the acting & direction only makes it even better.
- Pete is doing a pretty good job in this sketch, and much like the Kristen Stewart episode, he’a displaying a side that we barely of him on the show. I do know that he has acted in several dramatic movies that were acclaimed. I have yet to see them, though.
- Very strong & brilliant twist ending.
- This brilliant runner continues as we get another shot of Kate’s Kellyanne sitting at what I’m assuming is the musical guest’s stage.
Musical Performance – “Total Entertainment Forever”
- Jesse Nathan: Already off to a good start with the intro, and the guitar sounds great when mixed with the bongos.
- These are actually some pretty clever lyrics.
- I like Father John Misty’s vocals, and thankfully, the YouTube upload I’m watching does not drown them out.
- I dig the piano and the aforementioned bongos.
- The bass isn’t too audible, but from the brief glimpses of it I hear, it sounds good.
- The saxophones are a great addition.
- Good melody.
- I’m finding myself jamming to this the more it goes on.
- I’m surprised this is over already, but I don’t mind, given how much I enjoyed this performance.
- Ugh at those Trump tweets, even though Michael’s Trump voice never fails to amuse me.
- I LOVE Colin’s reaction/response to that ridiculous Steve Beshear response to Trump’s SOTU address. I mean, folks, you can’t make these stuff up.
- Ah, our very first Update commentary with the Trump brothers, and it feels so good seeing Alex & Mikey back behind the Update desk so soon, considering how much I enjoyed their previous work there.
- Already, we’re getting some good laughs from the contrast between Mikey’s Don Jr.’s calculated and clever personality & Alex’s Eric’s dimwitted & childlike demeanor.
- Alex is stealing this commentary, and his whole bit with the juice is just excellent.
- It is kinda charming in a way how the Trump brothers interact here, and Alex & Mikey’s chemistry and real-life friendship is obviously making these two impressions work so well.
- Oof at the Jared Fogle (*shudder*) joke…
- Ah, the return of Vanessa’s great Laura Parsons character. This ends up being her final appearance, as we’re nearing the end of Vanessa’s tenure.
- The usual, solid laughs from Vanessa’s Laura, and her commentaries are so good that I never feel their length.
- A very big, guilty laugh from Laura’s sudden blurting out “BEFORE NANA GETS RAPED!!!”
- And the brilliant Kellyanne Conway runner concludes as this Update edition is over. This was such a blast to watch as the episode originally aired, and it makes me wish SNL would do more runners like this more frequently.
- Solid straight man performance by Beck, and his subtle demeanor when reacting to the weird things he’s witnessing with a good smile is pulled of very well.
- It feels good seeing Melissa getting some good airtime throughout tonight’s episode, as this feels like her best in terms of actual comedic showcases.
- A charming, if not a bit repetitive of a sketch, yet I’m still enjoying it thus far, and the performances certainly help.
- A funny reveal at the end of the sketch.
- An interesting pairing of Octavia & Cecily as friends in this sketch, and the sketch seems to be more low-key and slice-of-life-esque so far.
- Ooops, I guess I spoke too soon, as this sketch seems to be our billionth Wackytown sketch that SNL has beaten to death since the early 00s onwards.
- Yeah, I’m not caring AT ALL for this sketch so far, which is a shame, as it feels more tolerable than the usual Cecily Strong dreck, and Octavia is coming off likable here, even moreso than usual.
- Aaaaand the sketch just ended, with me barely getting any actual enjoyment or laughs. I’d say that it wasn’t as disastrous as it could’ve been.
Musical Performance – “Pure Comedy”
- Jesse Nathan: And now we’re getting a slow piano song. However, this doesn’t seem as though it’s gonna be a ballad, judging from FJM’s pure demeanor.
- Boy, these are very deep lyrics. John’s selling them well with his facial expressions and vocals.
- I like the brief synth (?) going on in the background.
- I dig the piano, and it serves as a great accompaniment to the lyrics.
- Nice addition of French horns, and they further add to the dark vibe of the song.
- The faint cymbal sound is also a nice touch.
- I love how the horns get louder as the bridge nears its end, and the drums flourishing also sounds great.
- Now John is getting more and more crazy as the horns start sounding more and more whack. Awesome!
- John’s moves are very fun to watch.
- The drummer is killing it.
- I love how John’s facial expressions are getting more and more angry.
- I love the brief sigh between lines, and John’s execution of it was brilliant.
- Overall, my GOD, did I love this. This is pretty much everything Arcade Fire should have been. How I have never heard this guy’s music before while I did see this episode live, coupled with the fact that I am definitely familiar with the songs the next two or three musical guests perform, I’ll never figure out.
The Chocolate Man
- Hoo, boy. Here comes a pretty notorious SNL sketch that’s this episode is probably most known for, at least to hardcore SNL fans.
- Holy hell, is that Bobby’s first appearance of the night?! To reduce this great performer to this degree is inexcusable to me.
- This is an interesting premise to a sketch, and the darkness of the overall atmosphere could really give us a classic if done well. Yet, something about this sketch feels “off” and too quiet for me, like if it was a fugitive from the dreadful season 44 Steve Carell episode.
- Boy, this sketch is absolutely bombing with the studio audience, barely any laughs to be heard aside from some polite chuckles.
- The sketch feels like a bit of a trainwreck as it is goes along, and the uncomfortable moments of silence from the audience, and the aforementioned “off”, quiet feel to it is not helping it at all. It is not as disastrous as its reputation, but still pretty weak.
- A very rare instance of breaking from both Bobby & Vanessa here, which an example of how Beck can be Ferrell-esque at times and cause his castmates to crack up, and he does that again in a very fun CFT sketch from the season 44 finale.
- Such a lousy, lousy ending.
- Ah, Octavia to save the night, as the last two sketches were a bit of a mood whiplash to me.
- I absolutely love the meta, unique approach to this sketch, and Octavia is a natural in pulling off this premise.
- I love the very funny visual of Octavia wearing those glasses, and she is, yet again tonight, very fun and likable.
- Back when this episode originally aired, I was very confused regarding why Octavia is playing herself & thought that Spencer’s Gifts was really hers, yet not knowing the real intention of the sketch back then didn’t hurt my enjoyment of it. And learning afterwards what the reference was making fun of me appreciate it even more.
- Some solid, well-written absurdist humor with all of the random products here, and the detail of Octavia’s cup gave me a solid, cheap laugh..
- I enjoyed the ending of this sketch, and this was a solid say to end the night after the two weak sketches preceding this one. Octavia was perfect for this material, and felt once more like a cast member tonight.
Segments Ranked From Best to Worst
Zoo-opolis Voice Actors
Girl at a Bar
Courage, Compassion, Country: The TBD Story
Drug Company Hearing
Jeff Sessions Gump
The Chocolate Man
- Yet another good season 42 episode, and a better one than I recall, especially the first half, which contained a solid amount of great, memorable pieces. And while the quality cooled down for most of the post-Update half, the show ended with a great, meta sketch. Octavia Spencer, despite few line flubs here and there, was as fun & likable of a host as expected. Also, the great running gag throughout the night with Kate’s Kellyanne Conway was lots of fun. Also, adding to the episode’s quality is our musical guest Father John Misty, whose musical performances (especially the second) were absolutely outstanding, and stand out amongst my favorites of this season, and the 2010s as a whole.
- Thanks to the great fyodoren for his very thorough, yet fun review of the Zoo-opolis Voice Actors sketch, doing a much better job than me in analyzing that sketch in such fine detail, so thanks yet again.
- Scarlett Johansson joins the Five-Timers club.