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Remember When Jimmy Fallon Could Be Relied Upon to Be a Good 'SNL' Host?

By Dustin Rowles | Saturday Night Live | April 16, 2017 |

By Dustin Rowles | Saturday Night Live | April 16, 2017 |

The episode improved marginally near the end, but other than an appearance by Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer (which has lost some of its novelty), there was nothing memorable about the first SNL episode to air live coast to coast. It was Fallon being Fallon: A puppy dog in an era that needs a pit bull.

Cold Open — Alec Baldwin returns as Donald Trump to recount his first 100 Days of his Presidency before bringing in Stephen Bannon (played by the Grim Reaper, per usual) and Jared Kushner, who is perfectly played by that twit Jimmy Fallon. Trump turns it into an America’s Top Model elimination night, and one has to go. Loser joins Kellyanne Conway in the basement. Kushner prevails and takes over Trump’s desk. “Jared, you’re an inspiration. You prove that if you are born rich and marry my daughter, you can do anything you want.” Fallon never utters a word. Pretty generic Trump sketch, and why did Trump/Baldwin call Kushner a “cute little twink”? Twink? Kushner? What? (Score: 4 out of 10)

Fallon Monologue — In lieu of a traditional monologue, Fallon does an expertly choreographed, fairly amusing song-and-dance number of David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance.” It’s typical Fallon: Fun, spirited, and completely empty. Fallon continues to act as though there’s nothing wrong with our country, but hey! He’s having a good time, so “Let’s Dance!” (Score: 5 out of 10)

Celebrity Family Feud - Time Travel Edition — It’s 2017 vs. 1977, which gives SNL cast members a chance to do impressions of old stars. Harry Styles does Jagger, and Fallon does a pretty mediocre John Travolta circa Saturday Night Fever. On the 2017 side, it’s Kristen Stewart, David Blaine, Gwen Stefani, and Fallon as … 2017 John Travolta. A+ for effort and the novelty of playing two characters in one sketch, but C- for impression. Kenan, as usual, keeps the sketch afloat. (Watch here) (Score: 5.5 out of 10)

Middle School Musical — This sketch screams Kyle Mooney. A group of middle schoolers backstage talk about how awesome their performance is going to be, and it’s juxtaposed with the absolute disaster of a play they put on. The premise — that middle schoolers are deluded about their actual talent — rings true, but the actual sketch is a disaster. (Watch Here) (Score: 3 out of 10)

Doug, The Ex-Boyfriend — Doug (Fallon) breaks up his ex-girlfriend’s date and tries to win her back by singing “Truly, Madly, Deeply,” to her. The sketch fails, but the punchline at the end is kinda funny. (Watch Here) (Score: 4 out of 10)

Sean Spicer/Easter Bunny - Melissa McCarthy returns as Sean Spicer in an Easter Bunny costume angrily defending himself for his Hitler “gaffe.” As you might imagine, he makes it worse. So much worse. Then, using props, tells the greatest/worst Passover story ever. Funny sketch, but man, it gets dark. (Watch Here)
(Score: 6.5 out of 10)

Weekend Update: OK, Che’s “First of all, you don’t know what cakes I’ve seen” was hilarious. The rest of the jokes weren’t nearly so, but you couldn’t tell given how often that Che and Jost laughed at their own goddamn jokes. It says something about “Update” these days that usually the hardest I laugh is at how bad the jokes are.

Vanessa Bryant’s Jason the Bar Mitzvah boy also returns, and it’s terrible. Ditto with Kyle Mooney’s Bruce Chandling. Dear God, I hate Chandling. (Score: 3 out of 10)

Update: Part 1. Update: Part 2

Civil War Songs — Union soldiers sing “Old New York,” some sort of traditional-sounding Civil War song. Fallon interjects by updating the song to make it sound like a modern, catchy top 40 song (I have no idea if it’s based on an actual song or not, but it sounds familiar). Harry Styles is in this one, too, as it appears that Fallon is trying to turn him into his new Fallon. It’s not working. (Watch Here) (Score: 4 out of 10)

Turtle Shirt — Who knew that a commercial for a product that allows embarrassed people to hide inside of their shirt would be the funniest sketch of the night (so far). It’s not saying much, but at this point, I’ll take what we can get. (Score: 6 out of 10)

Sully and Denise — OK, this is great. Fallon brings back his old Bah-ston character, Pat Sullivan, and his girlfriend, Denise (Rachel Dratch!). They’re married now, and they have a kid, who is taking a tour of Harvard. NOMAR! It’s not a great sketch, but goddamnit, I appreciate the nostalgia (and McKinnon’s Boston accent). (Score: 5.5 out of 10)

Film Shoot — During an intense exchange between a coach and a player, two extras on the basketball court keep screwing up the shoot because they don’t know how to play basketball. It’s dumb as hell, but fine; it’s funny. Are you happy now, Mat? I said it. It’s funny, OK? I laughed. Multiple times. Is this score high enough for you, Mat? Huh? (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.

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