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James Franco Hosted 'SNL' but Heidi Gardner May Be the Best Cast Member Since Kate

By Dustin Rowles | Saturday Night Live | December 10, 2017 |

By Dustin Rowles | Saturday Night Live | December 10, 2017 |

Cold Open — In tonight’s cold open, Kenan plays Santa and Kate plays his elf, Sugar Plum (“maybe in this environment, just call me ‘Amy’”). They receive a number of kid visitors, who are almost all adorably bad at reading off cue cards, but they all end up having political questions, which allows both Santa and the kids to deliver a number of topical zingers. It’s cute, and actually fairly funny. (Score: 6.5 out of 10)

James Franco Monologue — Franco answers questions from the audience, one of whom is Seth Rogen, who ends up asking most of the questions, and then skinny Jonah Hill shows up, and it mostly turns into an opportunity for Hill, Rogen, and Franco to make fun of each other, mostly delightfully. Also, Steve Martin shows up, because that’s what he does. It’s slight, but not without a couple of amusing moments. (Watch Here) (Score: 5.5 out of 10)

Workplace Sexual Harassment — Two employees fired for sexual harassment return to apologize to the women they harassed. Franco plays a executive type who is berated as a creep by the employees even as he offers sincere apologies, while Kenan plays a jolly old security guard who all the women in the office love even though he’s overt about his harassment. Because “that’s just Charlie being Charlie.” I’m not exactly sure what the point of the skit is, except to illustrate that dudes can get away with egregious sexual harassment if they’re funny and non-threatening? I don’t think it’s going to go over very well, though it’s probably not memorable enough to piss too many people off. (Watch here) (Score: 3.5 out of 10)

Gift-Wrappers — Franco and Kate play employees at a gift wrapping desk, and Franco cuts his finger, which sprays geysers and geysers of blood. It’s a dumb, one-joke old-school “just a flesh-wound” type SNL skit, but it gets a lot of laughs. (Score: 6 out of 10)

Kyle Mooney Scrooge Skit — Mooney brings his roommate to a holiday party, and his roommate is “Scrudge,” and Scrudge hates everything and everyone, but not nearly as much as I hate Kyle Mooney sketches. God. (Watch here) (Score: 3 out of 10)

Spelling Bee — Franco plays the moderator of middle-school spelling bee, and when asked to use the word in a sentence, he does so in deeply personal and uncomfortable ways. It’s funny. Just ask James Franco, who couldn’t keep it together. (Score: 7 out of 10)

Weekend Update — Pretty hit and miss with the headline jokes this week, and a some of the jokes have already been told three dozen times on Twitter, but it was a’ight. Cecily’s Kathy Anne is pretty good, too. Michael Che’s “Liberal White Woman named Gretchen,” however, is probably going to dominate discussion of this week’s episode. (Score: 7 out of 10?)

Za — An entire sketch in which two lawyers debate about whether “za” is slang for Lasagna or pizza. It’s a terrible sketch, but Franco really gets into it, and his passion somehow salvages it. (Watch here) (Score: 4.5 out of 10)

Christmas Charity — In a short video, Cecily finds a homeless man and gives him a makeover and brings him back to her apartment and I don’t want to ruin the ending, but it’s pretty good, so watch it. (Score: 7.5 out of 10)

Franco and his Cousin Mandy — Franco reunites with his blue-collar cousin, Mandy, who doesn’t really get Franco or his career. The sketch is OK, but Heidi Gardner is goddamn terrific. I fucking love her. She is the best cast member since Kate. (Dave Franco also makes a cameo). (Score: 7 out of 10)

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.