It’s been two weeks since the last new episode of Saturday Night Live and tonight’s episode, hosted by Paul Rudd, is the first of three new episodes in a row to end 2013.
Here’s a sketch-by-sketch recap of Rudd’s third time hosting SNL. One Direction served as the episode’s musical guest.
Cold open – Sound of Music Live condensed
The show tackled the NBC behemoth (18M+ viewers) that was Sound of Music Live. Kristen Wiig came back and her Judy was one of the Von Trapp kids. The cold opens have been so lacklustre this season that the show tackling something current, recent and popular was a surprise. Still, this sketch’s intention was never to really parody SOML; they let Wiig do what she does. This episode is starting on a high note, if only because of the surprise element of seeing Wiig back.
Charming, loveable Paul Rudd laments that he was overshadowed by musical guests during his first two SNL hosting gigs (first by Beyoncé, then by Paul McCartney). So naturally, One Direction shows up, and Rudd calls his bandmates over: enter Will Ferrell, David Koechner and Steve Carrell for an “Afternoon Delight.” Does Anchorman 2 have an $8-billion advertising budget? Relentless.
Politics Nation with Al Sharpton
A change of pace; this seems like a boring sketch following the first stunt-heavy openers. Kenan Thompson’s Al Sharpton impression is good, but there wasn’t much he had to work with here. Thankfully, this was a very short sketch.
Dan Charles – One Direction’s #1 Fan
A pre-recorded sketch: Paul Rudd is Dan Charles, a One Direction mega fan who is waiting for the band backstage among a large contingency of tween girls. Kind of a predictable sketch, but it worked because Paul Rudd was so game.
A soon-to-be divorced couple negotiates their divorce settlement in a diner. They get into heated arguments, but sit-dance and lose track of their fights when “their song” – Fleetwood Mac’s “I Don’t Want to Know” – comes on. Lousy sketch but cute execution by Rudd and Vanessa Bayer, who played the soon-to-be ex-wife.
Vanessa Bayer’s Jacob, the Jewish boy who treats his Update appearances like Bar Mitzvah speeches, has come back to tell Seth Meyers about Hanukkah. Bayer is getting so good with these. Jacob said he’s going to miss Seth and won’t see him for a long time, which suggests Cecily Strong will be at the helm of Update by herself when Meyers takes over Late Night. Jebidiah Atkinson was also back. As he said about his second appearance in a month: “It (his first appearance) was only three weeks ago. Run things into the ground, much?” Taran Killam has really landed the next Stefon with this character. In this week’s edition, Atkinson gives scathing reviews of Christmas movies and television specials.
Lorenzo, the model for The David
Michelangelo is confronted by Lorenzo, the man who was the model for his masterpiece, The David. Lorenzo has some issues with the way the artist sculpted his penis – specifically the size. The sketch could not end soon enough – predictable, but mostly unfunny.
“The first black holiday movie for a white audience.” Faux trailer for a holiday movie with an all-white cast whose all-white characters include pea-snapping women, colourful grandmas and a gospel choir.
Kate McKinnon steals this sketch. Reminded me of Kristen Wiig’s Shanna character. She’s Candace, Santa’s new girlfriend. He ditches Mrs. Claus (“we’re on a bit of a break”) after losing a bunch of weight on a four-month cleanse. Anyone else puzzled by why there are two Christmas sketches on this episode (so far) with two more new episodes next week and the week after?
And the rest …
First, a sketch about a woman (Cecily Strong) reminiscing on former flames – they’re suave, they’re smooth, they’re handsome … Then there’s Victor (Rudd), a Papa John’s employee who treated her to garlic knots. She doesn’t remember, or prefers not to. I liked seeing Strong in the sketch and I’m hoping that she continues to appear in most of the show even after she takes over all of Update. Rudd isn’t given much to work with; this sketch was DOA.
The final sketch of the night brought Ferrell and Koechner back for a Bill Brasky sketch, where men at a bar reminisce about a man – legend, really – named Bill Brasky. They drink, they get rowdy and share stories about Brasky, slipping in a few tidbits about their own life. This was the first Bill Brasky sketch in 15 years, a character created by Will Ferrell when he was on the show in the 90s.
It was almost impossible for the rest of the episode to live up to the energy and surprises of the cold open and monologue. There were some really great moments (Jibidiah Atkinson on Update, the White Christmas faux trailer, Dan Charles) but there were some unforgivably bad sketches this week: Skinny Santa, Lorenzo and Victor the Papa John’s guy. Paul Rudd is impossible to hate; it’s too bad there were so many duds tonight. The good stuff (and the fact that this was his third time hosting) prove he is game and good and funny. Fourth time’s the charm?
John Goodman hosts SNL next week with musical guest Kings of Leon. Jimmy Fallon hosts the following week with musical guest/BFF Justin Timberlake.