Cold Opening – A Visit With Santa
- Fantastic to see a non-political cold opening for a change.
- Kate’s casting here as Santa’s Helper is a no-brainer.
- I love the use of actual kids instead of cast members playing them. Not only is it better for this cold open’s conceit, but it also adds a sense of realism to the lines themselves.
- The girl that asks about Trump here, Laurel Griggs, is the same girl from the Bank Breakers sketch earlier in the season, who would tragically pass away two years later at the age of 13. Seeing her here is honestly making me choke up.
- Ok, I do love the fist bump bit between Kate & Laurel here.
- Some of Kate’s comments aren’t really needed here, even though they are not hurting this cold open.
- An overall fairly solid, feel-good cold opening that represented a fresh change of pace from the hellscape cold opens with Trumpwin & co. which will only get worse as the season goes along. This is also the very first cold open this season that I gave a passing rating to, and we are nearly halfway through the season!
- It’s been a good while since we last had a Q & A monologue.
- Gary Richardson is pretty funny in his bit here, which steals the monologue for me.
- Our obligatory Seth Rogen cameo, with a VERY different looking Jonah Hill. This is probably the skinniest I think I ever saw him.
- Random Steve Martin cameo.
- Ah, I see that Steve is still his usual funny & lovable self here.
- An overall good monologue, and a step up from James’ frustrating & awful monologue from his previous hosting stint.
Sexual Harassment Charlie
- Okaaaay, needless to say, this sketch has aged pretty poorly considering who our host is. But, I’ll go into this sketch with an open mind, as I recall liking it from past viewings.
- Yet another sketch this season tackling the #MeToo movement.
- Interesting contrast with how both James & Kenan’s character are being perceived in a uneven manner by their co-workers. Kenan’s characterization here in particular is strong.
- An interesting twist with Kenan’s character being fired for a different reason.
- An overall solid, well-written satirical piece from this season regarding #MeToo.
- I believe this sketch will be revived for some odd reason in the season 45 Scarlett Johansson episode.
- I remember feeling that this sketch was very overrated back when this season originally aired. I’ll get into this sketch with an open mind at least.
- You could easily see the hose where the blood is going to come from when James raises his hand at the beginning of the sketch.
- A big laugh from the first cut that James suffers while wrapping the gift.
- When James spits the blood into Leslie’s face she starts gagging and coughing HARD. I recall reading that she almost chocked up from the fake blood here. Poor Leslie. You could see Kenan also looking a bit concerned as well.
- Did we need James breaking here while the torrents of blood are everywhere?
- Overall, not as weak as I remember it being, but it still doesn’t rise above being ok. If another host played the role of James, whose very unfocused and uncommitted performance hurt the sketch’s momentum took the role, I might’ve rated this a little higher.
- A pretty random, but interesting idea of Beck playing a modern-day Scrooge. Like I mentioned previously, A Christmas Carol is a favorite of mine, and this piece, unlike the horrific duds by Mr. Anderson (e.g Gay Frankenstein’s Monster, Gay Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, Gay Scrooge) treats the source material with a sense of respect & heart. And I bet that the story itself is a favorite of Beck & Kyle, as you could tell how cultured both are, and I’m sure it’s up there in their private libraries.
- Strong characterization & acting by Beck here, and he is nailing the smarmy, grumpy, and miserable demeanor of his character perfectly.
- Lots of annoying, smug line deliveries from Scrudge as he enters the party, Beck’s voice and accent especially are great here.
- Interesting usage of James, and I’m digging that white jacket he’s wearing.
- I love James calling Scrudge an asshole, and Beck’s response is hilarious.
- Solid dramatic turn with Beck’s Scrudge hearing the others mocking him behind his back, his facial reactions here are very well-done.
- Good reveal with James turning out to be an angel.
- A random ending with Beck’s Scrudge seemingly redeeming himself in front of others on Christmas, then nonchalantly exposing his butt, thus remaining an unrepentant jerk till the end.
- A very popular, beloved sketch from this season.
- I’m loving the very creative & silly concept of this sketch with James’ spelling bee moderator character injecting personal traumas into the words he’s asking the contestants to spell.
- I love Melissa’s facial reaction in response to James’ definition of the word “Berate”. She’s always been so underrated when it comes to getting laughs without saying a word.
- I’m really enjoying Alex & Kate’s scenes here, the chemistry between them as performers has always been underrated to me.
- Holy hell at the part with James quizzing Chris on the word “Urophiliac,” and if you don’t know what it means, a quick Google search will do.
- Ha at James being forced to drop “Urophiliac,” yet still slipping it into his description of “Adolescent.”
- James in general is doing a great job in selling this sketch, and this has to be (alongside a certain other famous sketch later on) amongst his very best performances on SNL.
- Ah, here comes the classic part with James quizzing Pete on “Little Pig Boy,” and then starting to crack up as he goes through describing it in detail.
- An overall true classic & widely deserving of its beloved status. Everything here from the very creative & solid concept, the writing, and the performances worked for me perfectly.
Musical Performance – “The Weekend”
- Jesse Nathan: I like SZA’s green dress.
- Interesting flute intro.
- I like how the stage is filled with TVs. I don’t exactly know what they mean, though.
- Interesting how the camera focuses on individual members of SZA’s orchestra (for lack of a better word).
- SZA’s in fine voice here.
- I’ll be honest, this chorus isn’t doing too much for me, and it doesn’t really progress.
- The flute is really overpowering SZA’s vocals.
- Wow, that performance left me with nothing. SZA’s voice was great, and the orchestra too, but honestly, there wasn’t anything else that this performance had going for it.
- I’m enjoying Colin’s whole breakdown of Trump & his doctor.
- Michael’s rant here is better & sharper than his centrist one from Chance the Rapper’s episode.
- Oh, god. Not another fucking Cathy Anne commentary, just seeing her, and in a James Franco-hosted episode is reminding me of that fucking wretched Magic Bridge sketch, which makes my soul a die little bit each time I remember it…
- Much like last time, the whole discourse regarding sexual harassment makes these Update editions feel more like a history book than actual entertainment.
- Not caring for any of Cathy Anne’s lines here, or that “funny” voice Cecily’s using.
- Oh, I’m loving this change of pace with the whole pretaped sequence with Michael going in disguise as “A White Woman Named Gretchen”.
- I love that Michael just wore liberal “white woman” clothes and a blonde wig to disguise himself, without even changing his skin tone or voice at all.
- Funny bit with the Cardi B song.
- Michael’s personality is so perfect for this short, and he’s giving me good laughs with practically everything he’s doing here.
- This piece is so good, and it feels like a sequel to Eddie Murphy’s White Like Me piece from his season 10 hosting stint.
- Another famous & beloved sketch from this season.
- I love the setup to the sketch early on, and knowing the whole silly & random concept of the sketch in advance makes it better.
- Great reveal of the sketch’s very silly & random concept: an extensive breakdown of the nickname “za” for pizza.
- Kinda funny hearing “za” being repeated over and over here considering the musical guest tonight…
- James is performing the HELL out of the material here. He’s killing me.
- Aaaand we now get the memorable part with James pulling up a freakin’ chart to break down the pronunciation, making this already hilarious & silly sketch even better.
- James is breaking a little right now, but he’s doing a solid job keeping the pace of the sketch.
- Great reveal that James had photographic evidence of Pete all along, after James’ whole rant turns out to be correct.
- An overall fantastically dumb sketch that I’ve always greatly enjoyed.
- I’m loving the color grading & general direction of this short, and the choice of having Cecily lead this one feels promising to me.
- This is being performed & played out straight so far, but I’m enjoying the feel of the piece, even when it’s not going for big laughs.
- Strong reveal that James himself was playing the homeless man here, in preparation for an upcoming role of his.
- Solid frustrated & slowburn reaction from Cecily, she’s always perfect in selling disdain or discomfort with total ease.
- Oof at the bit where James mentions his film, The Disaster Artist, and the whole Oscar buzz surrounding it which will only vanish after sexual harassment charges are made against Franco around a month after this episode.
- Solid ending, and I especially love Cecily’s delivery of her final lines.
- An overall strong & clever short, and I absolutely loved the solid turn in how it used the host.
Musical Performance – “Love Galore”
- Jesse Nathan: Not sure what to make of the choir’s strutting.
- The chorus to this song isn’t doing anything for me, and seems oddly-structured and incohesive.
- “Skrrt up”? Uh…was this meant to be Travis Scott’s part? Because that would make a lot more sense, as she’s not the right person to say something like “skrrt”.
- The bassist is moving harder than he should.
- SZA’s vocals on “love” sound great during the second chorus.
- It’s over already? Wow, these may be the shortest reviews I’ve written for S43 so far. These performances weren’t exactly bad, per se, but they left me with nothing.
- The debut of Heidi’s Mandy character, in her first of so far only two sketch appearances.
- Good conceit to this sketch, in a night filled with very fun & creative concepts. I’m enjoying the slice-of-life aspect to this sketch, and how James is playing himself here instead of a character.
- By the way, it feels great to see a sketch with a newly-hired player in it front-and-center.
- Solid characterization from Heidi, and I especially love the look of her character.
- I’m enjoying the back-and-forth between James & Heidi here, especially how realistic, semi-dramatic, and oddly sweet it feels at times.
- Love the whole bit about Heidi’s movie being released on crackle.com.
- Dave Franco cameo, which is kinda expected considering that he was mentioned just a minute or so beforehand.
- Such a heartwarming ending to the sketch with Dave expressing how proud he is of Mandy’s work.
Cut For Time: Hallmark Channel Christmas Promo
- It’s been a long while since I last saw this piece, but I do recall enjoying it in past viewings.
- I’ve never seen anything from the Hallmark Channel, but this piece is working just fine for me so far.
- Good bit with the whole fantasy gimmicks here, even when I don’t think that they’re that prevalent in these types of movies from what I’ve heard regarding them.
- An overall solid piece, and with a good, creative concept that was pulled off well & worked fine for me.
Segments Ranked From Best to Worst
Sexual Harassment Charlie
CFT: Hallmark Channel Christmas Promo
A Visit With Santa
- A very strong & flawless episode, with lots of memorable, great sketches all night long. I also absolutely love how this episode consisted entirely of nothing but solid, creative, one-off, and silly sketch concepts; a template for a perfect SNL show in my view. James Franco was also a surprisingly strong host tonight, who gave a number of very memorable performances, especially in both “Spelling Bee” & “Za”. This episode both serves as a palate cleanser from his wretched preceding episode & as a perfect capper to his involvement with the show, as this is the last time we’ll be seeing him in 8H.
- Michael Che & Colin Jost start their tenures as headwriters with the Kevin Hart & Foo Fighters Christmas episode.
2 Replies to “December 9, 2017 – James Franco / SZA (S43 E8)”
Sexual Harassment Charlie ****½
Great sketch Kenan sold this and made me crack up.
Gift Wrap ***½
Another sketch I live though to be fair I always like intense blood sketches.
A fine sketch nothing really noteworthy for me did like the butt towards the end lol.
Spelling Bee *****
James was hilarious in this and like Chris “damn man” and “you need help”.
Such a stupid sketch in fact so stupid that this us one of my favorite sketch in recent years.
Christmas Charity ***
Liked the random reveal that James is playing himself but besides that an ok piece.
CFT: Hallmark ***½
A nice parody Hallmark movies that’s all I can really say but still liked this.
Ah, here’s another episode I recall really enjoying when this aired, especially seeing as how I didn’t enjoy the Ronan episode at the time. Spelling Bee and Za in particular are two favorites of mine from this season, and I have such fond memories of watching them in 2017.
And as always, the averages:
Gosling – 6.8
Gadot – 6.3
Nanjiani – 7.0
David – 7.0
Haddish – 7.2
Chance – 7.1
Ronan – 7.3
Franco – 7.6