This week's episode of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills opens up with Yolanda continuing to stay above it all without being a brat about it. She prepares for her daughter Gigi’s party after missing out on one of Lisa’s events for a family wedding. For a star of a reality show, she really has little interest in drama. Instead, her devotion to her husband and struggle with Lyme disease adds a humanizing element that seems like a part of a different show. Gross.
Kyle and Joy continue to bond, this time over their love of vacations and plan to go to Puerto Rico with their husbands. Hopefully Carlton will be too busy planning an event for her husband’s company to cast any spells on Kyle in the meantime. But in the world of the Real Housewives, being disinvited to Carlton’s party may as well be a curse.
While Joy exercised and said a lot of things that don’t make sense (“That looks like you’re gonna S&M me.”), everyone seems to be ganging up on Lisa. First it’s Lisa’s event competing with Yolanda’s family wedding. At Carlton’s party, Lisa attempts to calm her the hell down about her star tattoo and then has to deal with witch tears. Carlton is overly emotional about being called anti-Semitic because it’s "bad for her husband's business" ... and also a bunch of stuff about apartheid. However, she’s not worried about what day drinking, adulterous behavior, and spell casting will do to the family business.
Kim is still mad at Lisa for missing her daughter’s party but expresses her anger mostly by mocking Lisa’s accent. At Carlton’s event she teams up with Brandi to further trash their British frenemy. Brandi also cannot forgive Lisa for allowing Sur waitress and Vanderpump Rules star Scheana to work an event at Lisa’s house, after knowing she slept with Brandi’s ex-husband. What Brandi doesn’t seem to realize is that Bravo would let LeAnn Rimes wait on her if she'd take the job.
With an enlarged tongue and sense of importance (only one was an allergic reaction), Brandi brings her case against Lisa to Kyle, who has called Lisa calculating and manipulative in the past. They reflect on what Lisa is capable of with a tone that suggests she’d have them taken out. It is clear that the one weapon that can destroy all these women is Lisa’s intelligence. And somehow they are all still intelligent enough to know that. The best part is that the only woman who doesn’t seem to care about everyone turning against her is Lisa herself. She’s too busy running that town.
NBC Universal Media
Melissa McCarthy started off her third time hosting Saturday Night Live in a more theatrical than comical way. Referencing the Super Bowl to a broad audience that may not understand sporting specifics, the cold open focused on the halftime show. After Bruno Mars gets caught in the polar vortex, every Broadway musical has to fill time - totally plausible. But it was nice to see SNL and McCarthy not immediately play to her comedic strengths and show her as a legitimate actress. The sassy and sparkly version of Peyton Manning played by Taran Killam was just a bonus.
Not promoting any upcoming projects, McCarthy joked about hosting just because she was around supporting her husband Richard Sherman. Naturally hilarious, her monologue foreshadowed an episode of her leaning into the kind of characters that have already made her a beloved comedic actress: aggressive, physical, and hot tempered. Bobby Moynihan joined her on stage, seeking vengeance from the last time she hosted. Using McCarthy's gift for physical comedy and the show's harnesses, the monologue was more of an excuse for a kung fu battle.
The show hit topical points, including Valentines Day, Black History Month, and the Super Bowl (again). A Valentines Day commercial parody advises men to just get their girlfriends "Some Dumb Little Thing from CVS," including an 80% off Christmas stocking. Aidy Bryant's reaction to this is almost as hilarious as newcomer Sasheer Zamata's reaction to getting her face tickled. Zamata later joins Kenan Thompson and Jay Pharoah in a music video about Black History Month that elicits uncomfortable laughter about "28 reasons to hug a black guy." (Reasons 2-28: slavery) At the end of the show, newcomer Kyle Mooney was filmed doing some extremely awkward man-on-the-street Super Bowl interviews in the middle of Times Square.
Standout sketches included tempermental poltician Shelia Kelly (McCarthy, reprising a character from one of her earlier stints), playing off of Congressman Michael Grimm's threats to a reporter this week. It built nicely from Kelly threatening a reporter to stealing a cop car. SNL later featured favorite recurring sketch "Girlfriends Talk Show," with up-and-comers Bryant and Cecily Strong playing annoying yet endearing tweens. Their guest is "the divorced adult lady" that Bryant hangs out with, played by McCarthy. Bryant and Strong are so enjoyable together and adding McCarthy as a more mellow character than she tends to play on SNL gave a nice balance to the show. Their chemistry is no coincidence, as all three women got their start at Chicago's Second City.
The moment of the night and perhaps the season was Seth Meyers' last Weekend Update, which was both tear filled and cameo filled. Featuring Amy Poehler, Bill Hader (as Stefon!), Andy Samberg and Fred Armisen as former New York governor David Paterson, Meyers had a lot of support. His strongest joke was appropriately in the style of a late night monologue: "Florida Representative Trey Radel, who was convicted of cocaine posession, announced this week that he will resign from Congress. Radel says he wants to spend more time with whoever is still awake." Meyers showed the heart behind all the comedy he's brought to SNL in over 12 seasons, getting choked up with fellow co-anchors Strong and Poehler, genuinely thanking everyone at Saturday Night Live. The way he says "this is the job I've always wanted" makes it hard not to tear up as well. Like many Weekend Updates prior, it was the best part of the show.
NBC Universal Media
If you can remember a time when Jonah Hill was not an Oscar-nominated actor, it’s no surprise that this week’s Saturday Night Live was one of the season's most consistently funny episodes from start to finish. On his road to be taken seriously, Hill has hardly forgotten how to be hilarious. Accompanied by musical guest Bastille, this is an episode of SNL not to be missed.
The strong cold open provided further commentary on the Sochi Olympics and Putin’s anti-homosexual policies, with a team of heterosexual figure skaters who are terrible at it. Newcomer Beck Bennett holds his own during a couples skate as Deano, the handsy AutoZone employee/Olympian, faking injuries and stealing kisses from Kate McKinnon.
Hill’s monologue was derailed from audience inquiries about Leonardo DiCaprio, until DiCaprio himself appeared in a surprise cameo. What could have been an easy stunt to play off The Wolf of Wall Street took and undeniably funny turn when Hill requests to “do the thing we always did every day, the thing that made me feel safe?” before launching in to the best Titanic homage ever.
This episode of SNL continues to impress with simple, well-written and performed sketches, typically revolving around one bit - An old Jewish comedian who happens to be six, thugs who love snow, and a clogged toilet investigation on a couples game show. Each piece delivered so strong that the funniest is a matter of taste, but something about Kenan Thompson’s prosecutorial portrayal of the host of Couples Quiz is absurdly funny.
Seth Meyers’ departure became more real this week, with the announcement of head writer Colin Jost inheriting the Weekend Update desk. While it would have been awesome to see Meyer’s address this with Jost, Update instead did what they do best – topical, smart humor. Plus, SNL may still have a Meyers-Jost meet up in their back pocket. But Update overall held up to this already hilarious episode, with Thompson as the cop that arrested Justin Bieber, referring Bieber’s dad as “what you get if Ed Hardy released a line of people.”
The sketch of the night came later, with a trailer parody playing off of the popularity of the movie Her. From the makers of Her, Hill stars in Me, a story about falling in love with an Operating System because they’re just like you. SNL also went after the highly hyped movie’s high-waisted man-pants and capped it off with a Michael Cera cameo.
This week’s Saturday Night Live exhibited a high level of quality and confidence in the show’s ability to write for its host and cast. Hill brought his own talent to the table, and with coasting on it SNL could have gotten by with just being okay. But this episode did much more than that, amounting to perhaps the best show of the season.
FOX Broadcasting Co.
After getting dumped by Cliff (Glenn Howerton) on a technicality, Mindy is certain she will be exonerated like "Amanda Foxy Knoxy Knox." She has been faced with the mission of winning him back after getting caught at a party with her Pastor/DJ/Shoe Designer ex on last week's The Mindy Project. But as she gets ready to head home from Los Angeles, Danny (Chris Messina) who is arguably a more substantial and slow-burning love interest, needs Mindy for support meeting his estranged father (Dan Hedaya). Conflicted with the urge to stay or go, Mindy decides to return to New York to salvage her relationship with a guy who already dumped her.
Mindy instead gets stuck in the car with Danny headed to his dad's house, while Peter (Adam Pally) and Morgan (Ike Barinholtz) are trapped back at the practice under much different circumstances. Eager to leave work and rebound with a butterface, Party Boy Peter gives himself a bathroom mirror pep talk, saying "I hope you've got your life vest on, because we're about to go motorboating." After the bathroom door breaks, it's clear that Peter's motorboat options are now limited to Morgan, who is also trapped.
Missing her flight, Mindy still supports Danny and pushes him to visit with his Dad. They quickly meet Little Danny, Danny's half sister from his father's current marriage. As Danny realizes that the man he hates is now a good father, he handles it the manliest way possible: drinking and wandering in the desert. At this point Mindy has moved on, attempting to make her way to the airport and back into Cliff's heart. But Danny continues to test their bond, drunk dialing Mindy while lost, ultimately making her miss another flight.
More potential is revealed in the seemingly superficial relationship with Cliff, when Morgan and Peter hear him in his office while stuck in the bathroom. Sharing the same building, Morgan and Peter recognize Cliff's voice through the vent. Not knowing about the break up, they call for help before hearing Cliff launch into an epic session of cry-singing Jewel's "You Were Meant For Me." They decide they'd rather be trapped forever than acknowledge hearing that. Once freed they meet Cliff in the elevator, sporting a post-cry glow, and invite him out to a boys night. Party Boy Peter even cancels on a "Wisconsin nine" for the occasion, so it's pretty serious.
The more dire issue unfolding is Mindy reaching her breaking point with Danny. His unraveling over his father goes too far, and Mindy calls him out in a way that is harsh yet telling of a loving relationship. Danny and his dad finally have a heart to heart, that seems more informative than funny until we're reminded that Danny was once a skilled ballerina ("a primo ballerino"). The heart-to-hearts hardly stop there as Danny and Mindy finally find their way onto a plane home. They apologize and Danny helps Mindy draft a letter to win back Cliff. They seem to fall back into the platonic pattern they've settled into, until Mindy gets up for a tonic water. Possibly moved by literal turbulence, Danny seizes the moment and meets Mindy for a sexual tension breaking make-out session that will change the course of this Rom Sitcom. For those who've been following their relationship, the next new episode of The Mindy Project on April 1st can't come soon enough.
The first Saturday Night Live of 2014 came with a lot of anticipation. Not only was it the debut of new featured player Sasheer Zamata, who was cast after a highly publicized nation wide search for a black female, it was Drake's first time shouldering both host and musical guest roles, after not acting since he was a handicapped high schooler on Degrassi (unless you count his Anchorman 2 cameo). But both SNL and Drake showed confidence in his abilities, having him appear in the cold open as a delightfully delusional A-Rod ("I'm also suing steroids for being inside of me"). The "Piers Morgan Live" opener was also anchored by Taran Killam, Bobby Moynihan killing it as Chris Christie, along with Kate McKinnon doing a better impression of Justin Bieber than any male cast member could muster.
Drake's initial monologue seemed as if the rapper was dabbling in stand up comedy as he transitioned into a sketch about his black/Jewish/Canadian Bar Mitzvah. Using the monologue to do a sketch that could have gone anywhere in the show was an unorthodox move (pun intended) that paid off. It answered questions about whether Drake could deliver as a comedic performer, while giving an exaggerated illustration of his upbringing. It also gave newbie Zamata a chance to be seen earlier on, on the arm of Kenan Thompson, who's recently taken his foot out of his mouth about why SNL had not hired any black females until now.
The best sketch of the night came early, carried by Thompson who played rapper/reporter Sway, hosting "Hip Hop Classics: Before They Were Stars." This concept played off of Drake's transition as a wholesome child star into a hip hop artist, showing other famous rappers with that followed similar paths. Playing off equal parts nostalgia and absurdity, it featured Lil Wayne as Steve Urkel, Rick Ross as a Teletubbie, and Flava Flav as the voice of adult Kevin Arnold in The Wonder Years, among others that were funny even without knowing the references. The sketch appeared to be pretaped, aside from Thompson's spot-on live rendition of Sway ("I'm not saying there's a cat on my head, but if there is I have to feed it").
Weaker sketches throughout the show were mostly a result of risks being taken that didn't land. Freshman featured player Noël Wells tried her hand at Nancy Grace, a role comedic juggernaut Amy Poehler has nailed for years. The sketch had funny points, including McKinnon's commentary as a Colorado baker profiting off pot ("I'm Walter White and this is Baking Bad!") but to say Poehler's act is hard to follow would be an understatement. The "Slumber Party" sketch featured a great premise with Aidy Bryant as a girl at a sleepover who's too into her friend's dad. Bryant nails lines like "If you're looking for your dad he's in the palm of my hand." But the innocence that makes her depiction of a creepy gal pal so funny was compromised by taking it in a sexual direction before revealing she's really a disabled 25 year old. An aggressively flirtatious teen girl crushing on a dad would've been funny enough as is.
This highly anticipated episode of SNL was not the best episode, but it was also far from the worst and served a clear purpose. It put Drake on the map as a talented and naturally charismatic actor and entertainer, as he delivered in sketch after sketch with performances comparable to veteran cast members. Holding his own and even carrying several pieces, he merits a Justin Timberlake level of respect for being able to bring it from start to finish on Saturday Night Live. He will likely host again and perhaps rekindle his acting career.
FOX Broadcasting Co.
It's field trip season at Schulman and Associates, and everyone is heading to Los Angeles to learn about lip injections and vaginal rejuvenation. But Mindy (Mindy Kaling) is not about to leave town without dropping a few Entourage impressions and a bomb on her budding relationship, asking Cliff to move in with her. This all-too-soon proposition stops their chemistry instantly, as Mindy heads across the country with Danny (Chris Messina), Morgan (Ike Barinholtz) and Party Boy Peter (Adam Pally).
After a plane ride long enough to learn that Mindy is terrible at napping and Danny still has daddy issues, they arrive. Mindy and Peter pair up for the longest time since crushing a wedding earlier this season. Their bromance was more than worth the wait. It's almost harmonious how they're both equal parts girly girl and frat boy, as if they cancel out how annoying each other could be. On a sentimental level Mindy and Peter connect in their hopeless romanticism (and their love for Maria Menounos), adding depth to their hilarity.
Not long into a shopping spree for naked lady shoes, Mindy runs into her ex-fiance Casey. It initially looked like the Pastor/D.J. had pathetically moved on to retail, but Casey owns the trendy store "Dope Feet" where they sell shoes that are "ugly, but on purpose." Both boasting about their post break-up lives, Mindy shares she has a boyfriend while Casey just had an "adult onset growth spurt." Before parting Casey invites Mindy to a celebrity pool party, which she declines.
Mindy tells Cliff about running into Casey and he asks her not to go out with him. But as she consoles Peter about a broken heart, Mindy convinces herself she's going to the party for her friend's sake. Intentionally avoiding Casey, Mindy gets cornered in a recurring bit with Kevin Smith, where he addresses her as his overweight equal ("I'm like an ant hill and you're like a volcano."). Finally they reunite in the pool, where Mindy can't avoid Casey without ruining her hair and makeup underwater. Casey mistakes this for a "pool sex vibe," driving Mindy out of the party back to her hotel.
Meanwhile Morgan is getting Danny out of his hotel to face the fear of seeing his estranged father. This was brought up earlier in the season when Danny's brother visited New York. Just as Danny starts to have fun in Old West Town, Morgan confesses plans to reunite him with his dad. Danny storms off, stealing Morgan's room at the YMCA to drunk-dial the man in question. This secondary storyline was not resolved and is likely setting up a second episode in L.A., where we finally meet Danny's father.
Mindy's Los Angeles story seems to be heating up for a continued episode as well. Cliff breaks up with Mindy after seeing a picture of her and Casey on the Internet, leaving her single in a city with the man she thought she'd marry. Casey is charming enough to make Mindy and the audience miss him, yet with the kind of hubris that makes us want him to eventually go away. While they wont get back together, revisiting Mindy's feelings for Casey may make for some hilarious and heartbreaking moments next week, perfect for this rom-sitcom.
Since leaving The Mindy Project over the holidays, this week's episode picked up where it left off with Mindy and Cliff's budding relationship. Facing typical new relationship "firsts," Mindy finds out that slipping off satin sheets is nothing compared to getting in a bikini. But after Cliff suggests a romantic getaway featuring a jacuzzi, Mindy is left to do just that with her winter body ("Over the holiday I had five hams and a goose, like I am a wolf in a children's story!"). Though she and Cliff have reached a "UTI" level of intimacy, Mindy reveals that through a series of illusions she can have sex without being seen naked. ("I pretend that I'm really into blindfolds.") Tasked with getting in shape and prying her hand out of a coffee cake, Mindy briefly employs Morgan before upgrading to Danny as her personal trainer, setting the primary plot line in motion. There were only a few cheesy Tinder jokes along the way. ("I'm on Timber, that's an app for loggers looking for trouble.")
Meanwhile Dr. Reed has fallen ill with, as we find out later, a case of the threesomes. Dr. Party Boy Peter Prentice takes over as managing partner at the practice, raising the classic question, "What could possibly go wrong?" Well, besides everything, Dr. Prentice finds that being in charge comes with challenges that broing out can't solve. Between conflicts with Morgan and Tamara and a cameo from Owlie the owl, his work is more than cut out for him. But while Mindy and Danny are off doing sit ups in Fat Steps, this secondary storyline is setting up Dr. Prentice and Dr. Reed to gain a greater understanding of each other as characters. It only took a million rubber gloves to do it.
Mindy sums up her motives for getting fit best, saying "I want to be so hot that Cliff would date me even if I had a bad personality." This inspires Danny more than anything to treat her like the weight loss equivalent of a "Marine movie where a guy kills himself during basic." As these two have danced around each other for nearly two seasons, their relationship makes us question if Danny is a romantic interest or just a facilitator of romantic interests for Mindy. Their platonic dynamic during this episode suggests that Danny is the only one who understands Mindy enough to motivate her ("Michael Fassbender is trapped in a well!"). Their familiar and misguided sexual tension returns with a slightly forced yet enjoyable steam room scene, where Danny not only sees Mindy naked, but gets stuck to her that way.
Mindy endures a leg injury and an offer of constructive criticism from Danny about her body, before they return to a practice full of new Prentice-induced problems. The primary and secondary storylines meet when Mindy strips down in front of the mirror in her office, exposing herself to Owlie as Danny walks in. Misunderstanding his suggestion as criticism about her body, a fully-clothed Mindy unloads her insecurities on Danny ("I know that I have a scar on my back that looks like a swastika!") and fires him as her trainer. Danny clarifies and concludes the episode, only suggesting that she should not suck in her stomach so much. He offers further hope for a slow burn romance with Mindy, telling her she's got a body like a woman and should not change that.
It's Christmas and the only thing shining brighter than the tree at 30 Rock is SNL alum Jimmy Fallon. He didn't waste any time, appearing with Justin Timberlake in the cold open. It's like the show knew that the audience couldn't wait to see these two together. Before the monologue, Timberlake appears alongside Fallon as rapping and dancing presents alongside Aidy Bryant in Timberlake's signature "Bring it on down to _________-ville!" sketch. This high-energy opener set up expectations for Fallon and Timberlake to collaborate and SNL more than delivered. Unbelievably Fallon sang more than his musical guest, meriting consistent squeals of delight from the audience he got his start in front of.
This music-heavy episode, though centered around giving the crowd what they want (Fallon and Timberlake) also allowed the women of the cast to show off. The catchy and hilarious song "(Do It On My) Twin Bed" features the female cast killing it as they attempt to get laid in their childhood rooms, an all too familiar scenario during the holiday season. The sketch features expert rapping from Fallon, who "can't fully undress in case your parents come through. Just shirt, no pants like Winnie the Pooh."
Not to be outdone by last week's cameos from Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro, Fallon and Timberlake reprised their best Bee Gees impressions for "The Barry Gibb Talk Show," featuring appearances from Madonna and Barry Gibb himself. The singing, outfits, and Gibb fits are endlessly amusing, but unfortunately Madonna and Gibb's cameos did not add as much comedy as excitement from just seeing them. Fallon and Timberlake continued to commit but because the content had little to do with Christmas, revisiting this recurring sketch felt forced. (Not to mention that reprising the sketch after Robin Gibb's death seems a bit tacky.)
Weekend Update as usual showcased expert topical joke writing, going after Duck Dynasty, Kathie Lee and Hoda, and Kate McKinnon as tennis champion Billie Jean King, the newly-announced official U.S. delegate to the Sochi Olympics, . McKinnon's earnest intensity is what comedy is made of, especially lines like "There's no demographic in this world that gives less of a flip than 70 year-old lesbians. All I need to survive is a clean canteen and a sweater." Her air tennis swings don't hurt the hilarity either.
Prior to the episode, Late Night heir apparent Seth Meyers tweeted that this would not be his last SNL. Weekend Update still confirmed that there would be constant reminders of his departure, this week with Fallon and Mayor Bloomberg. The men in transition spoke of what's next, while there were few hints as to what is ahead for the Update desk. Having served as SNL's head-writer since 2006, Meyers has contributed to the show in ways the audience doesn't always see. Tina Fey credited him with writing the hit Palin sketches she starred in during the 2008 election. His success moving on from the show is no surprise, but his sharp news and political writing will be missed.
The show returned its focus to the holiday spirit with a Christmas-themed "Waking Up with Kimye," complete with a "Bound 2" parody. Fallon later appeared as a gay Ebenezer Scrooge who discovers his sexuality with the Ghost of Christmas Present. But SNL came festively full circle with a clingy counterpoint to the song "Baby It's Cold Outside," reversing the song's gender roles to explore what happens when the woman doesn't want to leave. Cecily Strong held her own as a performer next to Fallon in this episode favorite, a clever and sweet finale to a classic Christmas show.
With all the press this week about SNL casting, it seemed like the big reveal would be that the new black female cast member is John Goodman. Instead SNL did not let headlines dictate the show, and opted for a more classic holiday episode. Hosting with musical guest Kings of Leon, Goodman proved that 13 times on the show is definitely the charm. The show took off with the help of Kenan Thompson, first as the criticized interpreter at Nelson Mandela's funeral, then bringing it home with Goodman in the the soulful song "All I Want for Christmas is Booty." The memorable monologue foreshadowed the kind of episode that is SNL's forte: festive and really funny.
The momentum at the start was maintained throughout the show with strong sketches and cameo appearances from Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro. They joined Goodman as the "3 Wise Guys," a biblical sketch about a journey to see Baby Jesus from Long Island and New Jersey. With strong writing ("I hear the kid might not be his!") and a combination of characters that we could happily watch for hours, this piece was an instant holiday hit.
Weekend Update more than held up to the rest of this week's killer episode. The topical segment addressed this week's Santa controversy with Megyn Kelly's inappropriate references to a white Christmas. Thompson took this on as Santa saying, "Here's a secret for you. I'm black as hell." The laughs keep coming with a reprisal of Bobby Moynihan favorite Drunk Uncle, and just when his performance seems like it can't get better, Goodman joins in as Drunker Uncle. Their belligerent rendition of the Billy Ocean '80s classic "Get out of my glass, and into my mouth," was enjoyable enough to stomach yet another reminder that Seth Meyers will be leaving soon.
While this is not the last new episode before Christmas, SNL took this week to produce a show heavy on the holiday content. With the exception of the cold open, only two other sketches did not reference Christmas. One of the funniest of these had Goodman playing a 23-year-old woman, claiming she was fired for being too sexy. The sketch was anchored by Thompson's performance as a flirty judge and Taran Killam's deadpan delivery as a lawyer, but Goodman in drag stole the show. The simple and silly piece utilized Goodman's physical comedy and his overall gift of not taking himself too seriously.
Amid rumors of her leaving the cast, Nasim Pedrad returned as Shallon, a character that seems to be part kid, part hype-man with the sole purpose of frustrating adults. The sketch worked with support of Thompson, Moynihan and Aidy Bryant, but did not capitalize on Goodman's presence the way the rest of the episode did. Cast favorite Kate McKinnon returned at the end for one of the most bizzare yet funny make-out sessions ever seen covered in whipped cream. These moments helped to add variety and absurdity to this otherwise timeless episode of SNL that should go down in holiday history. John Goodman is the host equivalent of a Christmas miracle.
This week's SNL kicked off with a spoof of NBC's live broadcast of The Sound of Music. This cold open was what the show does best. Featuring a reprisal of Kristen Wiig's creepy character Dooneese, it was enjoyably self-indulgent and cameo crazy (Fred Armisen even stopped by). Cast favorites Kate McKinnon and Taran Killam capitalized on their chemistry as Maria and Captain Von Trapp. Opening with a piece this strong is a no-brainer. This sketch gets two tiny thumbs up.
When actor Paul Rudd was slated to host with musical guest One Direction, it raised two questions: Will One Direction play a comedic role on SNL? And how will the upcoming release of Anchorman 2 influence the show? These questions were immediately answered with One Direction already on stage with Rudd for his opening monologue. Having a history of being upstaged by SNL's musical guests, Rudd wasn't going to let a boy band keep him down. Instead he unveils his man band, composed of Anchorman 2 costars Will Ferrell, David Koechner, and Steve Carell. This builds to Rudd, his man band and One Direction all killing it with a heavily harmonized rendition of the classic "Afternoon Delight." Are we crying tears of joy yet?
The first 10 minutes of SNL featured appearances from five comedic giants, not including the host. This felt like the start of the best episode yet, that is, until it wasn't. Such an exciting start created a gap between the opener/monologue and subsequent sketches that could not compete. Instead of setting the tone for a great show, SNL shot their wad. Rudd is amusing to watch do almost anything, but instead of capitalizing on this they relied on it to carry weaker sketches like one where Rudd plays a soon to be divorcee who can't escape his song. The sketch was one of the few to not be released online (you can find it on the full episode), but it had a lot of angry chair-dancing as the only joke. Rudd's charm was more effective in the sketches "Michelangelo Unveils David," and the movie trailer parody "White Christmas," the most well-written pieces of the night.
Weekend Update would have been a stronger point if it wasn't for the character "Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy" amounting to almost no comedic gain. The short segment affected the momentum but did not totally derail the Update desk. Jebediah Atkinson (Taran Killam) returned, a hilarious critic character from the 1800s who debuted three weeks ago, to rip apart seasonal Christmas classics ("Charlie Brown, there's a pube on your forehead!"). This character is so enjoyable it makes sense to bring him back, even when the original appearance had more topical context (a retraction from that week from a Penn. newspaper).
This week's SNL ultimately amounted to an above average episode that could've been amazing. With Wiig, Armisen, Ferrell, Koechner, and Carell, along with Rudd and an already excellent cast, this episode had so much to work with that was not fully realized. Even when the Anchorman gang returned for the "Bill Brasky" sketch, the piece only landed because the people performing are so inarguably hilarious. Without that there wasn't much beyond four to five for the same character performing side by side. Comedy is the most impressive when a lot is accomplished with very little, but unfortunately the week's SNL did the opposite. Still, the cameos and high points alone make this episode worth watching.