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©2017/Will Heath/NBC

©2017/Will Heath/NBC

By Ellen O’Brien, Glenbard West

I love Jimmy Fallon. There, I said it! He just so happened to be the host of “Saturday Night Live” this week, and boy, did he make my admiration grow even more. He was the star of this episode, although he did occasionally share his spotlight with musical guest Harry Styles (a welcome surprise), and he carried the sketches, as a true “SNL” alum should. Sure, a few bits and pieces fell flat, but Fallon didn’t falter in the slightest. Was this the first episode he didn’t break in?!

THE BEST

“COLD OPEN”

I am happy to say that this week’s “Open” was well-executed, which is rare, as of late. It began with an obvious reflection of how often Donald Trump isn’t at the White House, especially when he makes big decisions, such as, I don’t know, bombing Syria. Unexpected parallels were drawn between funny-haired leaders Trump and Kim Jong-Un, and a Grim Reaper-reminiscent Steve Bannon showed up, alongside Fallon’s Jared Kushner, who was adorably shy. Alec Baldwin’s (who else?!) Trump channeled his inner Tyra Banks for an “America’s Next Top Model”-esque competition. This “Cold Open” was more creative than usual – let’s keep that going for these last few episodes, okay?

“CELEBRITY FAMILY FEUD”

I’ll admit that I’m a sucker for a good celebrity impression, so this Celebrity Family Feud sketch, with the ever-reliable Kenan Thompson as Steve Harvey, was like Christmas to me. But it’s important to note that this segment was the Time Traveler’s Edition, meaning that celebrities from 1977 and 2017 competed against each other. Highlights include Cecily Strong’s over-the-top Liza Minnelli, Harry Styles’s self-aware Mick Jagger, and, the best of the best, Jimmy Fallon’s 1977 John Travolta and 2017 John Travolta! I’m still trying to figure out how he maneuvered such speedy costume changes…

“BEFORE THE SHOW”

Everyone knows that middle school theatre is the most cringe-worthy thing ever, but “SNL” just took it to a whole new level. This sketch was pre-taped, switching between the preteen cast of “Legally Blonde: The Musical” before the show, when their hopes were high, and during the show, where they appeared ready to throw up on stage. Their singing was nearly too quiet to hear, their choreography was awkward, and their on-stage interactions were laughable. Well, that’s what happens when you put kids on the uncomfortable cusp of puberty in the spotlight.

“TAKE ME BACK”

This was one of the many, many times Fallon sang during this episode. But I’m not complaining! He’s talented and hilarious. In this sketch, Fallon’s character, Doug, begged his girlfriend to give him another chance with a huge romantic gesture – that’s right, he serenaded her, complete with pathetic choreography and even backup singers and dancers. But if that wasn’t enough for you, the punchline was the real kicker; wondering what he was apologizing for? Dragging a man off of a United flight.

“EASTER MESSAGE FROM SEAN SPICER”

Melissa McCarthy made a long-awaited return as Sean Spicer in what started as a friendly Easter message from the White House, but inevitably became an anti-Semitic, politically incorrect rant. That’s Spicer for you! Even dressed up in an Easter bunny costume, Spicer wasn’t the least bit likable. He attempted an apology, and attempted to demonstrate what Passover is by utilizing his trusty props, which, of course, didn’t work out well. What I loved about this was that it pushed the boundaries persistently, and McCarthy never backed down or doubted it. “SNL” was actually edgy for once!

“CIVIL WAR SOLDIERS”

I’ve used the term “dumb-funny” a lot, and this sketch was the perfect model for that. The average historical sketch, according to me, is rather snooze-worthy, but this one was an exception. In it, soldiers tried to raise morale by singing a traditional song. But it wasn’t traditional for long, because Fallon’s character chimed in with a modern, annoyingly catchy song instead that was hard to listen to without cracking up. Fallon does annoying so well – and that’s not an insult. An appearance from Harry Styles, with a surprisingly convincing American accent, was the cherry on top of this dumb-funny sketch.

“BASKETBALL SCENE”

The premise of this pre-recorded sketch revolved around very uncoordinated extras in the background of a dramatic film about basketball. At first, I was hooked on the intense dialogue…that is, until I looked behind the “main focus” of the scene to spot two extras, played by Fallon and Mikey Day, passing around a basketball very unnaturally. And that was only the start! What followed included hugging, getting hit in the face, fighting, you name it. Slapstick comedy is always a safe choice, “SNL”.

THE WORST

“MONOLOGUE”

Apparently, this show’s writers have really given up on the monologues. In fact, this one was a poor excuse for a monologue! It was a musical one, as expected with a host like Fallon, but it wasn’t funny. I gathered that it was focused on this being the first episode to be live all across the country, but the song was about dancing. No jokes. Just dancing. I didn’t see the connection, but it looked like everyone was having fun. But it wasn’t fun to watch.

“WEEKEND UPDATE”

Another less than satisfactory week for “Update”! It started out as promising, with jabs at Trump, Mike Pence, and Fox News, or as I like to call them, the un-Holy Trinity. Co-anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che poked fun at Trump’s interview mishaps and made funny, albeit expected, United Airlines jokes. But something I’ve noticed is that the duo is getting way too apologetic after a poorly-received punchline. Toughen up! It’s comedy; it’s supposed to be risky. There was a somewhat disappointing cameo from Vanessa Bayer’s Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy (not as comical as usual!), and from Kyle Mooney’s Bruce Chandling, a depressing, unfunny comedian. Eh.

“TURTLE SHIRT”

The Turtle Shirt, marketed to the easily embarrassed in this faux commercial, is a shirt that allows you to sink inside of it to hide. It helps you to avoid awkward situations. With a better fake ad, this could’ve been something revolutionary on “SNL,” but alas, here it is in the worst sketches of the night, because I was bored by it. I’ll hide in my own Turtle Shirt if anybody who works at “SNL” ever confronts me about my reviews.

“SULLY & DENISE”

Yeah, yeah, I know, Fallon, alongside fellow “SNL” alum Rachel Dratch, was reprising an old character from his glory days in this sketch, but it didn’t do well for me. These characters were before my time, but I could’ve still appreciated them if this sketch was good! While the gross making out and the Boston accents were comical, the rest of the sketch didn’t get any laughs out of me. I don’t know, maybe I’m too young, but there was too much yelling for my liking.

“Saturday Night Live”

10:30 p.m., Saturday, NBC

3.5 out of 4 stars

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