Thoughts on the Season Thus Far:
- Since I’ve already done my midseason thoughts during my coverage of the first season I’ve done live recaps of (21-22), I’ll probably continue doing these for the seasons ahead.
- This season has already garnered much division at times from the fan community in general, in particular when it comes to the weaker elements in it (overfamiliar concepts, overuse of older cast members, aversion to conceptual writing at times, brand sketches, etc.) but the good in this season as whole vastly outnumbers the bad so far. And, even the weaker shows to me this season (Teller, MTS, Palmer) had a few pretty good highlights in them to not make them total duds. And we also got a good number of pretty solid, offbeat, writerly sketch concepts hidden in several episodes this season (e.g. Gleeson, Schumer, Chappelle, and Butler), and a good number of them stood as fairly strong & refreshing, which is making me hope, in particular after Cecily’s departure, that we might be getting more of them throughout this half as well.
- The cast use has been pretty up-and-down this season as well. I’ve noticed (as well did a number of fellow fans too), that the weaker shows this season has been the ones dominated mainly by a few select “stars”, such as the season premiere & the Keke Palmer episode. And, even with the cast’s wobbly use, we still got decent showcases for our newbies, especially by how Michael Longfellow has fit more and more into the show’s format (even when it feels that Andrew’s lack of airtime is partly due to that), as well as carving a niche for himself with Update pieces & great straight man abilities. Aside from him, Marcello seems to also get good roles & also fun Updates. I have yet to see more of Molly (who’s built a good niche for themself with pretapes), and Devon.
- Also, there are three cast members this season I’ve been keeping my eyes on more than others: Andrew, Chloe, and Sarah. The first one is a performer I believe has so much spark & energy that it’s actually so noticeable when he’s not used much in episodes. Each time when Andrew’s patented style of comedy is nowhere to be seen in a show, I feel said show is lesser in some ways, especially in terms of genuine danger & adventurous, unique energy. This season started out fine for him, in the first two months to be exact, but as soon as the November run of shows was concluding, Andrew was basically both cut to the bone alongside his patented sketches, as well other sketches and being replaced in many roles by newbie Michael Longfellow, in particular in straight roles. And, to a lesser extent by Marcello. I’m hoping this second half, much like his one from last season, be the half where Andrew & his style of comedy truly shines, as he’s been greatly missing so far this year.
- Sarah & Chloe are quite similar in terms of their path this season: to the “stardom” of the show. One is savvy, calculated and very committed to her new role (Chloe), yet feels at times too detached in her comedy, and the other is simply doing what she loves to do and getting to become a new & surprising backbone to the show (Sarah). While I feel that Chloe has what it takes to take a much bigger role on the show, I do hope she does more than celebrity impressions and Update pieces, as these have been a little hit or miss for me so far, and if she can do some character work that uses her talents more that would be for the best. Sarah, on the other hand, I’m absolutely pleasantly surprised by the very strong year she’s having, with four patented sketches getting on the air and two great pieces behind the Update desk. I remember discussing her with several online fans before this season and predicting a strong year for her, but one where she’s used much like last year, for then to be completely & delightfully surprised at how much of a backbone and a spark plug she’s been on the show this season.
- Hopefully, our three performers do more of what’s stated above. And for now, let’s get to the review!
Cold Opening – The NFL on Fox
- Thank goodness we’re getting a non-political cold opening for a change. Although, I’m not the biggest sports fan out there.
- It feels good to see James debuting a new impression given how surprisingly few impressions he debuted this season.
- While I’m not laughing out loud so far into this cold opening, it feels at least better paced & with smoother flow than some of the opens we’ve gotten earlier in the season.
- Bowen being cast as George Santos somehow feels appropriate. His very Bowen-esque impression of him is giving me some decent laughs.
- The turn with the cutting back to Bowen’s Santos wearing that drag outfit was predictable to me, but I’ll admit Bowen’s mere stare cracked me up.
- All-in-all, aside from being a minute or two longer than needed, this was fine as a whole.
- Right out of the gate, Aubrey’s very Aubrey Plaza-esque demeanor is giving me some good laughs.
- The photo shown of Aubrey back as an NBC page feels like a strangely perfect picture of hers.
- The cutaway to Aubrey’s “normal daughter and normal childhood” being a tomb statue and a voodoo doll is hilarious.
- Ok, is that “cameo” from the real President Biden or not? [ADDENDUM: Wow, it apparently is the President!]
- Interesting to see the monologue transitioning into a backstage one. And it’s cool to see Aubrey taking a trip down memory lane by going to the area where she once worked before.
- The whole Starbucks bit with Aubrey is solid.
- Amy Poehler! What a welcomed, if not obligatory cameo from her. I could see that she wanted to be here for Aubrey’s SNL hosting debut as she’s clearly moved on from SNL several years ago.
- Really sweet ending bit with Aubrey & Amy. It brings back to me fun memories of watching Parks & Recreation many years ago.
- (*sigh*) We get Kenan breaking character right from the jumpstart, AND, as usual, with no reason whatsoever. Let’s just continue with the sketch…
- I already can tell that this is spoofing that viral Miss France video that I saw circulating online a while ago.
- The ladies are doing a dead-on impression of how the contestants delivered their answer about which country each of them represent.
- I know it was coming, but Aubrey’s “France!” yell practically killed me right now, complete with a perfectly crazy facial reaction from her.
- This sketch seems a little one-note with the contestants yelling their answers, but the energy and fun performances (especially from Heidi, Molly, Chloe, and of course Aubrey), are making it come off harmless.
- Am I supposed to know the two Property Brothers & Tony Hawk? I actually have no frame of reference for the three of them. These cameos are at least fitting with the sketch’s vibes.
- Aubrey’s chosen words when crowned being about not taking the vaccine was funnier than it had to be thanks to her hilarious delivery. She’s generally great in this sketch.
- An overall ok leadoff sketch, actually better than I expected.
The Black Lotus
- I could’ve done it without Chloe’s Jennifer Coolidge appearing for the second episode in a row. I know it is a popular impression of hers, but some variety from Chloe would be nice.
- I have yet to see this show (yes, I’m that backward, pop culture-wise), but I do know that it’s supposedly pretty good. I should’ve known that it is a given that it would be parodied due to Aubrey starring in it.
- James’ look as the rich douchebag is hilarious, especially that hair. I’m assuming him, as well as the other cast members are impersonating characters on the show.
- Aubrey’s scenes are the best in this short. Her characterization is bringing tons of energy and providing me my biggest laughs.
- Second consecutive episode with a sketch revolving around a group of friends playing a game.
- A good laugh from the reveal that acid is the first thing Mikey drinks in the morning.
- Solid rapid fire back-and-forth between Mikey & Aubrey as they play the game, even the initial reaction shots are working (and the audience is pretty responsive here). The sketch’s subtle, ever growing darkness is well-executed.
- Aubrey getting increasingly horny as she’s playing the game is cracking me the hell up & she’s performing the hell out of this portion as one would expect; a great utilization of Aubrey’s intensity.
- Wow, the sketch is over already? After only three minutes? I’d like to know if this was edited to the bone before air, but I did really enjoy what I saw from it.
- Great to see Molly starring in a live sketch and their performance as an upbeat Catholic nun is fun.
- Oh, I’m loving the dark turn with Aubrey’s Sister Cecelia confessing that she died for two minutes and then came back to life questioning everything. This is a solid sketch concept & I’m enjoying how it’s been executed.
- The question about the Easter Bunny being Jesus’ pet or boyfriend is hilarious.
- The Irish accents are adding to the humor, especially from how Molly & Aubrey are delivering their lines in a different pace.
- The whole turn with both nuns singing Lady Gaga’s song is odd but is fitting with the sketch’s offbeat atmosphere.
- I guess this is our weekly Chloe Fineman pretaped showcase of the night. This is another film that I haven’t seen yet, but I’m most definitely familiar with in order to *get* this short.
- As usual with SNL, very dead-on recreation of the movie’s look & style, even Chloe and Aubrey look a bit uncanny to the eponyms character in certain scenes.
- The twist with Aubrey’s M3GAN being well-versed in gay culture is funny & is being executed well; the performances in general are carrying this one for me.
- So many little details here that are working for me, it also helps that this pretape is spoofing those corporations/brands that try and pander to minority communities. While this is nowhere near as strong as some previous similarly biting pieces, it’s working fine.
- Random Allison Williams cameo, but the Girls twist with her was funny.
- Some pretty solid jokes to welcome back Che & Jost for the second half of the season.
- Good lord at the joke about Marjorie Taylor Greene being another drag performer who’s “slaying” in congress. It took a bit for me to get it and I’m still laughing hard right now.
- Here we get another Bowen Update piece, for the second episode in a row. I know he’s a major presence behind the desk, but couldn’t we spread these out?
- Surprisingly, I’m actually cracking up at some of Bowen’s lines as George Santos, and this commentary is certainly funnier than whatever his last one, or in particular, the (painful) one he did in the season premiere were going for.
- The Anne Frank line is absolutely hilarious and for the wrong reasons.
- I know it was somewhat predictable, but I feel bad for practically being on the floor due to the punchline of the joke about the solution of China’s population decline is to import Nick Cannon there. There have been some hilarious jokes throughout this Update in general.
- Awesome seeing not only our host behind the Update desk, but also having Aubrey reprising April Ludgate!
- I see that Aubrey is as funny as ever here, as she hasn’t lost a touch playing this character after many years.
- Fun return of Amy’s Leslie Knope, and she as well remains as funny as always playing her.
- I absolutely LOVED Amy’s line about being used to watch SNL when Seth Meyers did Update with no one else; a fun quick bit about erasing Amy from Update history.
- All-in-all, my favorite Update so far into the season.
- Much like Bowen & Chloe, I’ve been starting to (hesitantly) sour on Heidi Gardner this season, especially after being such a champion of hers in the past (in fact, she used to be my favorite cast member through seasons 44 to 46). But between how invisible she was last year, and the desperate, flat-out sad vibes I’ve been getting from her showcases this season, I cannot help but feel so disappointed.
- I’ll say that Mikey’s delivery about the two female lieutenants being “two butch ladies from Arizona” was the first time I cracked me up during this sketch.
- This sketch is pretty painful so far, and, yes, it’s sad to see Heidi doing such a wacky, obnoxious character after so many wonderful semi-dramatic, slice-of-life pieces by her during the first two thirds of her tenure.
- The tail electrocution bit was completely laughless and this sketch in general is falling flat. Not even Aubrey is able to save it.
- The heck with that ending? Was this mess cut at the last minute before going on the air?
- I usually don’t comment on musical performances, but holy hell at the cameo by Sharon Freakin’ Stone! I would’ve never thought of seeing her back at 30 Rock after thirty years. The cameos in general tonight are getting insane, but surprisingly not taking airtime from the cast.
- This sketch seems to be one of those “commercial shooting gone wrong” sketches. These range from awful (Commercial Shoot) to all time classic (Del Taco Shoot). Hopefully, with Aubrey, it will work fine for me.
- Great delivery from Devon about getting HIV from a girl in what’s supposed to be a gay-centric commercial.
- Aubrey’s fantastic deadpan abilities are being used perfectly here; her reactions as well as line deliveries about Devon’s screwups & Mikey’s lame dancing are quite funny.
- The whole semi-recurring hot salad bit with Aubrey is providing bigger laughs than it should’ve, thanks to Aubrey’s always great delivery.
- Good ending with Mikey also being fired due to his lame dancing; Mikey’s bewildered reaction was a perfect capper to the sketch.
- Ah, not only are we getting a black-and-white sketch, but one that has James in the lead role! Words cannot express how happy I am to see him making more and more of a progress ever since the November/December run this season. Hopefully, he continues to build on that and for SNL to utilize this fantastic performer in the way that it should’ve been since the start.
- Coming as no surprise, James’ old-timey characterization is fantastic, especially the great voice he’s using. I’m getting major late 80s era SNL in general from this sketch, which is making me so onboard with it. James’ role in particular could’ve been played by Kevin or especially Phil (doing Chick Hazard). These vibes make me an ever bigger champion of James than I already am.
- Solid delivery & back-and-forth between James & Aubrey, even when I can tell the sketch is being rushed a bit so it can be completed before the show runs out of time. That impressively doesn’t lessen its quality, which tells you a lot about how well-written it is. The lines in general about desiring an old man, as quickly delivered by Aubrey contain tons of jokes in them.
- Great seeing Sharon Stone participating in a sketch tonight, and she’s perfect for a 1940s’ noir spoof.
- Great self deprecating line from James about having a rhinoplasty; he’s a good sport to make fun of his distinctive nose.
- Good twist ending & great final lines delivered by JAJ’s voice-over narration. Such a strong first showcase for his character skills. Hopefully the first of many to come.
Segments Ranked From Best to Worst
The Black Lotus
The NFL on Fox
- A very good episode. We got a solid number of great sketches, some pretty good stuff, and barely anything subpar overall tonight. Nothing much to complain about. Aubrey Plaza was a strong host who fit SNL’s format easily (which shouldn’t come as a surprise, given her improv background) and was given roles that fit her personality and comedic talents like a glove. I enjoyed this episode so much that the MANY cameos throughout it didn’t even suffocate its vibes and we actually got some solid cast use, especially for the featured players.
- With this being my very first review since the one-year anniversary of my blog (January 10th), I just wanted to say it’s been such an incredible journey doing these reviews of past and current seasons, and, for this blog of mine, which I originally expected to have very few readers & niche audience, to grow more and more, and in a rapid pace over just one single year and assemble quite an impressive following of devoted readers and frequent commenters. Words cannot express how very proud I am and eternally grateful to you all for supporting & trusting me since the very start. Deserving particular mention are the group of wonderful regular commenters here and at other venues who gave me so much courage and made me feel that my work is valued and enjoyed, and I hope I’ll never let you down in the future.
- Michael B. Jordan / Lil Baby.
9 Replies to “January 21, 2023 – Aubrey Plaza / Sam Smith (S48 E10)”
When I first saw Molly part of me said this is gonna be good. Devon’s Strahan impression cracked me up. Everyone I thought did good jobs in their impressions. I wished Marcello instead of Bowen played Santos as you already know what I think about Bowen at this point of his tenure. Bowen did however make me chuckle with the various lies from him.
Great delivery from Aubrey who looked stunning in that dress. The cutaway to her parents was hilarious. Amy in her cameo was fun and loved that don’t call people old joke. Akira appearing as well as his joke was fun.
This was one note for me but man, I kept laughing at it so many things just cracked me up in this. The cameos were unnecessary but I didn’t mind Tony was great.
I’m glad I’m not the only one who hasn’t seen The White Lotus. Maybe I need to see the show to maybe get it but from what I saw this was fine. James was great however in his role.
I still don’t neccesarily know what I think but it seems like this is the typical “popular sketch that I don’t like that everyone else loves” but unlike most this was awful a few funny lines here and there but fir now I’ll just say this was ok.
Great seeing Molly in something wish it focused more on Molly but still a good job from Kearney. Unfortunately I didn’t care for this not even sure why I guess part of me just thought it was boring and not even Sarah or Andrew did anything for me nor the Lady Gaga song.
BLAH. Like the screaming lady I was not familiar with Megan and this was something’s that just left me confused. The Alison Williams cameo was fun and funny though.
Update was your usual solid jokes it seems like there were more awwws from the audience than usual which I love. I did not need to see Bowen commentary as Santos again. The commentary he did was good liked the phone bit. This commentary was fine I guess I need to watch more Parks and Recreation and less Office lol. Amy doing a joke as well as her and Aubrey signing off was good.
Yeah I’m not at all sure what this was or was it was going for so to quote you (*yawn*) next please.
Yet another sketch I didn’t care for Devon was funny in some lines. The bit with Aubrey and her salad was funny. Mikey was pretty good too but aside from what. I mean this was a load of nothing.
Good sketch. I cared more for the performances because WOW did James give me Phil Hartman vibes with this, he was excellent in this. Also, with him being the only cast member in this shows the show has a lot of faith in him. And I guess I never seen what Sharon Stone looks like today as I didn’t recognize her at all. Some funny lines from Aubrey throughout this.
Sam Smith’s performance were awesome by the way!
Well all I can say is Michael B Jordan hopefully next week you’ll show us what you got!
I’m not as hard on Avatar as most fans seem to be, but it’s still a really rough sketch. It seems they chose to write it because they missed the boat on Avatar rather than truly have something there.
Also, congratulations one year of reviews. Always a pleasure reading them and I hope to read many more.
Thanks for the support!
Just finished watching it, some 22 ish hours after it aired, managed to stay entirely spoiler free, so, all the cameos (Of which I think Amy was the only one I recognised, and Biden, of course) were surprises to me.
So, I liked this episode. There were a couple of misses (Avatar for sure, and I wasn’t really in love with the M3GAN 2.0) but the rest was super fun.
Aubrey Plaza could easily have been a cast member, and she was a joy to have on the show. It’s a shame it took so long. if she’d been on during her P&R days she could be a 5-timer by now.
So, controversially, even though I should have seen it coming a mile away, when Aubrey said “France” I just about lost it. And every time she repeated it. I think I’m becoming a sucker for repeated silly words in a sketch (see; Joker). I don’t know that it would have been as funny had I not seen the original, but I should have seen it coming.
I also liked the Taboo sketch. It seemed short, but it was long enough to get the jokes across and not outstay its welcome.
I think the HIV/Davato commercial was Devon’s high point of the season so far, he had a decent episode. Molly also.
So, I’m with Rich Tackenberg here. The Amy Poehler WU appearance would have been better had she not been in the Monologue.
And Sam Smith was the best MG of the season so far…
The streak continues five straight awesome snl episodes can snl keep it up next week?? Also I’m not the biggest fan of cameos but it worked this time around
Pretty decent episode I’d say. Devon proved himself to be a great cast member. Love Aubrey to death and I think she killed it. April and Leslie update piece made me tear up a little. The White Lotus sketch was kinda lazy and not really funny BUT as someone who is obsessed with the White Lotus I did love the cast’s perfect impressions of the characters. Btw, you NEED to watch the White Lotus. I actually wrote a whole essay type thing about why it’s so good. Was gonna make it into a YouTube video or something but idk if I can be bothered.
Well, you were understandably higher on M3GAN 2.0 and Dovato than I was but other than that, I think we see pretty much eye to eye on this episode. Good job and thanks again for contributing to my blogs’ 10th anniversary!
Thanks for allowing me the honor! And glad you enjoyed the review.