Bill Hader was on Saturday Night Live for eight years before he left at the end of the 2012-13 season, earning two Emmy nominations and creating countless memorable characters – and nailing impersonations of James Carville, Vincent Price and Al Pacino – during his run.
He’s back tonight, and we can expect that he’ll reprise his most famous characters (at the very least Stefon, who’ll descend upon the Weekend Update desk, heartbroken that his boo Seth Meyers is no longer there). Hozier will provide the music tonight, whose alt-rock hit “Take Me To Church” I once Shazamed during an episode of HBO’s The Leftovers.
There’s been no announcement of who’ll host the next episode of SNL, so that’ll be one thing to look out for tonight! As always, you can come back after the show for a full recap of what worked and what didn’t, and check out past SNL recaps.
Cold open: Bobby Moynihan is Kim Jong Un, addressing his subjects about his rumoured illnesses. The sketch lives and dies with Moynihan’s theatrics, and he’s so good at the physical comedy stuff that it almost distracts from the fact that the cold open had no jokes: Fact is indeed stranger than fiction. C
Monologue: Pleasantries, niceties, Bill’s nervous, yadi-yada, Kristen Wiig!!! It’s Bill’s dream to sing on SNL but his singing voice is low, like Harvey Fierstein low, and Wiig is his supposed hype man. Damn, is Wiig gonna steal this from Hader already? And there’s Fierstein! Hader’s likeable and this is a nice homecoming for him. He’ll have his chance to shine tonight. Right? B-
Herb Welch: The first of many, I am sure, returning characters for Hader. Welch is the jaded, cynical New York TV reporter who’s terrible at interviews and with people, and can barely report. Kinda great. A
The Group Hooper: A trailer for a teen movie that combines every teen-movie trope. It’s the joke version of all those terrible Jason Friedberg/Aaron Seltzer films. B+
Ohhhh, Jim Carrey will host the Oct. 25 episode.
Hollywood Game Night: I kinda love that the contestants are put together based on who the SNL cast can impersonate: Morgan Freeman, Al Pacino, Kathie Lee Gifford, Nick Offerman, Christoph Waltz and Sofia Vergara. Host Jane Lynch was played by the brilliant Kate McKinnon. The problem with these impersonation-heavy sketches is they rely on ticks, outbursts and over-the-topness for laughs, instead of, you know, jokes, plot and kooky situations. Wiig stealing it again, though, as Gifford. C
Help Fund: You know those commercials that tell people that “for 39 cents a day,” they can help a poor African village survive? Now imagine African villagers looked on and asked for more money. Like, why do you start so low, one asks. Instead of the price of a cup of coffee, why don’t you ask for 99 cents, the price of a can of Arizona Iced Tea, asks another. B-
Love Is A Dream/Jan Hooks tribute: So sweet, so nice, so classy. A
Hozier, “Take Me To Church”: It’s pronounced Ho-zier, like Hozier Daddy. I don’t know any other song by him, but this one’s pretty great. I first heard it on an episode of The Leftovers, which seriously did not get enough love this past summer. A
Weekend Update: The Update desk is really coming into its own. Three episodes in, the chemistry between Colin Jost and Michael Che hasn’t improved, per se, but it’s more because it doesn’t really exist. But each host is delivering; Che continues to get some killer lines, Jost gets more likeable every week. Pete Davidson had a great shot at delivering another winning sorta-monologue like he did in the season première, but he flubbed a few lines and seemed just a tad too pleased with himself when some of his jokes landed. The rest of Update was … was there any doubt? … Stefon, of course! Stefon doesn’t really do it for me as a character, but I do love Bill Hader as Stefon, especially since he’s said in interviews that the things he reads on air, he’s reading for the first time. It’s only Hader’s second homerun, though, and we’re at the halfway mark of the episode. B+
Puppets: Holy weirdness, Batman. A puppetry class taught by a happy-go-lucky instructor has a student who maybe needs therapy. Hader plays a Vietnam vet who’s obviously seen some things and is using his puppet (who looks and sounds just like him) to get by. B
Inside SoCal: If these Kyle Mooney videos are gonna be the new Digital Shorts, they’ll probably need to be more like this. I find these widely inconsistent week to week, but I loved this week’s. (But, hey, how about instead of having Cecily Strong, whom I love, play two Latinas this week, maybe …….. get a Latina on the show, Lorne). B+
Cat in the Hat: I’m gonna blame the elaborate costume and makeup for why this sketch is the last one of the night. Two bored kids summon the Cat in the Hat, who shows up and realizes their mom Linda is his ex. A
Etc.: Where was Vanessa Bayer tonight?; For real, Cecily Strong playing two Latinas this week highlights another diversity problem on the show; With Jim Carrey hosting the next new episode, it’ll be 3/4 hosts who were cast-members at one point – this makes it hard for new cast-members and characters to get chances to shine.