Chris Hemsworth returned to host SNL last night, and it was one of those shows that wildly succeeds on the whole in spite of the fact that many of the individual sketches failed. Hemsworth is so likable, so enthusiastic, so infectious and so willing to make fun of himself that it’s easy to overlook some of the weaker sketches.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Will Ferrell put us all in a good mood in the cold open, nor that SNL decided to get political and spend much of the episode thrashing the man who hosted SNL only a month ago.
George W. Bush Cold Open — President George W. Bush (Will Ferrell) announces he’s entering the presidential race and assesses the current crop of GOP candidates. Not only is this the best cold open of 2015, it’s a reminder that no matter how bad George W. Bush was, it can always be worse. I could also listen to Will Ferrell’s George Bush make fun of Donald Trump for hours — it was the rare cold open where I was actually sad when it ended. (Score: 9.5/10)
Chris Hemsworth Returns Monologue — I feel like Hemsworth is a cast favorite, someone who the rest of the cast likes to have around because he’s cool to them. I also think this monologue — where he roughly kids around with the rest of the cast — is a slightly exaggerated version of the truth. (Score: 6/10)
Star Wars Toy Commercial — This Star Wars toy commercial — which contrasts the kids who want to play with the action figures and the adult collectors who only want to keep them in the packages and display them — is funny because it’s true. Nerds. (Score: 7/10)
On the Record — Greta Van Susteren (Kate McKinnon) asks Sen. Ted Cruz (Taran Killam), Gov. Chris Christie (Bobby Moynihan) and Dr. Ben Carson (Jay Pharoah) to weigh in on Donald Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims. It’s not a great sketch, except for one like delivered by Christie: Donald Trump’s beliefs “do not reflect those of the Republican party. Only those of people who vote for the Republican party.” Yup. (Score: 4/10)
Time To Bleed — Sgt. Polaski (Chris Hemsworth) doesn’t have time to bleed, or see a doctor. You knew exactly where this pre-taped sketch would end up, and it still works because it’s exactly where you want it to go. (Score: 7/5/10)
Brother 2 Brother: Wrestling Match — Marky (Taran Killam) tries to take Matty’s (Chris Hemsworth) place at the big wrestling meet, but everyone immediately tells them apart. I bet Hemsworth loved this idea at the pitch meeting. “How about a sketch where we talk about how awesome and hot you are, and make fun of Taran because he’s not?” SOLD. (Score: 5/10)
Christmas Sing-a-long — A couple (Chris Hemsworth, Cecily Strong) forces their friends (Sasheer Zamata, Kenan Thompson, Kate McKinnon, Taran Killam) to sing along to “Debra’s Time.” Cecily has some pipes, and this sketch is bizarre but not bad. (Score: 6/10)
Weekend Update — “Update” was back to form, and worth it just to watch Jost and Che debate whether Donald Trump is actually racist or if he’s just soullessly pandering to the GOP voters. McKinnon’s Angela Merkel also drops by, and she’s always good for a few laughs (plus, a really good dig at Trump), and Leslie Jones also stops in to flirt with Colin Jost and denounce Skylar White from Breaking Bad for not “juggling [Walter White’s] balls” enough. (Score: 8/10)
Brunch — Four friends (Aidy Bryant, Kate McKinnon, Vanessa Bayer, Cecily Strong) suspect their friend Claire might actually be Chris Hemsworth. (Spoiler: It is Chris Hemsworth). (Score: 5/10)
Pirate Ship — Three fearsome pirates (Chris Hemsworth, Taran Killam, Kenan Thompson) employ Mark (Jon Rudnitsky) to keep things light. Terrible sketch, but somehow, still fun. (Score: 4/10)
Male Strippers — Hunk Junktion’s new hires (Jay Pharoah, Taran Killam, Beck Bennett, Chris Hemsworth) put on a different kind of show, one in which they don’t show their penis, to the disappointment of the crowd. Again, not a great sketch, but still weirdly enjoyable. (Score: 4/10)