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©2017/Will Heath/NBC

©2017/Will Heath/NBC

By Ellen O’Brien, Glenbard West

This episode marked the 2017 debut of “Saturday Night Live”, with host Felicity Jones. I was excited – a whole new year of the show, starting out with an Oscar-nominated movie star! My hopes were too high apparently, because even with weeks between the last episode of 2016 and this one, “SNL” didn’t produce an impressive episode. In fact, it leaned towards one of the worst of the season, with only a few redeeming factors scattered throughout.

THE BEST

“BEARD HUNK”

I’m clued in enough to “The Bachelor” this season to appreciate a good parody of it. The current beard hunk, aptly named Nick, was as dull and insincere as this year’s bachelor, sounding like a broken record with every girl he talked to. Each contestant was more ditzy and ridiculous than the next, but “SNL” could’ve done more with different types of characters here. Still, the ending, as Nick escorted a woman who only brought a one-piece swimsuit away, was awesome.

“SHONDRA & MALIK”

This pre-taped sketch began so serious, as Leslie Jones’s Shondra and Kenan Thompson’s Malik argued, looking like something right out of an HBO drama. But this stopped just short of a dramatic exit, as Malik faced some car trouble, an interruption no drama would ever have. Factor in a smoking engine and a possible heart attack, which finally allowed the two to put aside their differences…until they met their unfortunate, but hilarious, ends.

“THE PRINCESS AND THE CURSE”

Another pre-recorded bit ensured that Felicity Jones’s forte is anything but live television; cue cards are her kryptonite, but I’ll touch on that later. In this sketch, she delivered, playing a princess who was cursed with something rather unusual: transforming every night into a fifteen pounds heavier version of herself, much to her prince’s disgust. However shallow he was, this was funny stuff.

“WEEKEND UPDATE”

And now, my weekly love letter to “Update”. This installment consisted of the predictable, but knee-slapping Donald Trump jokes, yet my favorite part was still co-anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che laughing at their own punchlines. Adorable. Their non-political jokes were refreshing, and I admired Che’s views on the Chicago police. Beck Bennett joined in on “Update” as himself – well, his pop sensation self – for some comic relief. But the highlight of this was Pete Davidson’s First Impressions, in which he basically roasted every potential member of Trump’s cabinet. I’d like to see more of this.

“MOVIE INTERVIEW”

In this interview, the stars and writer/director of a new movie sat down to discuss Trump, the importance of artists’ voices, and the future of America. And what made this “SNL” worthy, you ask? Their film was titled Hot Robot 3: Journey to Boob Mountain. This sketch was stupid, at first glance. But it actually showed how un-respected people of Hollywood are speaking out about politics. It’s an oxymoron, since they, in this case, didn’t qualify as artists – I mean, look at the title of their movie again. This was a bold statement for “SNL” to make, especially since most of what they create doesn’t have much artistic merit. So, bravo, “SNL”, for essentially calling yourselves out.

THE WORST

“COLD OPEN”

Maybe I’m just sick of our president-elect, but this sketch was more depressing than impressive, since it was only a slightly more exaggerated version of his recent press conference. There were some great jokes, like when Alec Baldwin’s Trump implied that many celebrities will be at his inauguration…in the form of wax figures. But there were plenty of obvious jokes, too, such as the tiresome pee puns. Appearances by Putin and Trump’s sons were funny, but predictable. It’d be nice for “SNL” to try something new with all of this Trump material; simply replaying reality isn’t enough for the next four years.

“MONOLOGUE”

Here’s where I’ll talk about the cue cards: Felicity Jones’s darting eyes make it all too obvious that her words are written down in front of her. Not only that, but her delivery was off, making some solid lines fall flat. Of course, I know that everyone on the show reads from cue cards, but would it hurt to keep up the illusion? And trust me, it physically pains me to put something with a cameo from Tina Fey in the worst sketches. Fey was a delight, but the only positive contribution to the monologue. This was a rough start.

“THEATRE DONOR”

To keep it simple, this sketch featured an uncooperative, old man (Mikey Day) and his nurse (host Jones) repeatedly interrupting a dramatic play. The man’s messy attempts to eat his food and the constant disruptions were cheap. This could’ve been much more successful if the distractions coincided more with the play, showing parallels between the elderly man and his caregiver and the two stars of the show. But alas, this was very surface level.

“SUSAN B. ANTHONY”

What would happen if Susan B. Anthony hung out with a bunch of modern women? Haven’t you always wondered? Me neither! Props to “SNL” for originality, but this sketch was a definite eh. The group of women just humored Susan for a while, but it didn’t amount to much more than that. It was as if the show was trying to express that we take women’s rights for granted, but the message wasn’t all that clear. One thing’s certain – Kate McKinnon does a good Susan B.

“CORPORATE RETREAT”

It wouldn’t be “SNL” if there wasn’t one sketch that made you think, “What the [fill in the blank]?” And this is the one! In it, three women tell uncomfortably sexual jokes at their corporate retreat. That’s it, that’s the sketch. I didn’t know NBC could air this kind of content. Good to know, I guess?

“Saturday Night Live”

10:30 p.m., Saturday, NBC

2 out of 4 stars

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