Three weeks into the 42nd season, and SNL has dropped its first egg. Emily Blunt was game all night, but the writing wasn’t there for her. There are a few worthy sketches — “Melanianade,” “Chonk,” and Laura Parsons — but the rest should be avoided.
Cold Open: “Please welcome to the second and worst ever Presidential Debate,” the cold open begins, before Martha Raddatz (Cecily Strong) and Anderson Cooper (new guy) down a couple of shots, appropriately. Funny, in another election year, Kate McKinnon’s take on Clinton — cold, steely, robotic, scripted to within an inch of her life — might be devastating, but when the alternative is stalking, assaulting, bigoted loon-cake Donald Trump, all those characteristics are positives. OH NO, SHE HAS HER SHIT TOGETHER. LOCK HER UP.
As for the cold open itself? McKinnon steals it again, but the writers were cornered by a reality that could never, ever be properly satirized. If the real debate were an SNL skit, it’d be a 10 out of 10. This? (Score: 5 out of 10)
Emily Blunt Monologue: Blunt takes a crack at a musical monologue, and she has a surprisingly great voice, but not even the puppies can save this. It’s cute but woefully bland. Watch here. (Score: 4 out of 10)
Elegant Evenings — Two guys — who look like the Trump sons — spend the entire sketch going over an increasingly absurd set of ground rules with two high-class escorts (Blunt, Leslie Jones) before they have sex. It’s not a good sketch, but Blunt is adorable when she breaks character late in the sketch. Watch here. (Score: 2 out of 10) Here’s the only highlight of that sketch:
Melanianade — In a pre-taped music video, Melania, Ivanka, Tiffany, et. al,
do a Trump-themed rendition of Beyonce’s “Sorry,” and it’s … OK. It’s not that funny, but it is an impressive copy of Beyonce’s video. (Score: 7 out of 10)
Ann Arbor Short Film Festival — Basically, the sketch is this: After a meaningless, pretentious 15-second short film, the cast and crew of the short is called to the stage, leaving only one person left in the audience (Vanessa Bayer) to ask questions. It’s slightly amusing to the extent that it’s probably an exaggerated version of a Q&A at a local short film festival. Watch here. (Score: 3 out of 10)
Chonk — A TV ad for a women’s clothing store for “unique” women called CHONK. It’s surprisingly spectacular, and easily the best bit of the night, so far. (Score: 8 out of 10)
Weekend Update — Once again, the lack of a female anchor behind the desk on “Weekend Update” has never been more noticeable than now. The jokes from Che and Jost about Trump and sexual assault feel bland, like the guys aren’t invested because they aren’t. Also, Che can go f*ck himself for that liberals/think pieces joke (which was not inaccurate). A pretty tepid “Update,” somewhat salvaged by the return of Vanessa Bayer’s Newscaster of Tomorrow, Laura Parsons. (Score: 5 out of 10)
Burger King Drive-Thru — This is absolutely terrible. I think this is the first 1 of the season. Someone wasted a lot of time on set design for this. Miserable. Watch here. (Score: 1 out of 10)
The Sink — Uh, I don’t even know anymore. It’s a commercial about a large sink with a sentient voice who … just don’t bother. Watch here. (Score: 2 out of 10)
Honda Robotics — Robot waiters! That can’t pronounce quesadilla! And malfunction! It’s clear the writers spent all their time in a futile attempt to crack the cold open, and they had nothing left in the tank. Jesus. Watch here. (Score: 2 out of 10)
The Great British Bake Off — A crass team of bakers come in and upset the genteel Bake Off apple cart. Blunt and Cecily Strong do some strong accent work, but there’s not much to the sketch. (Score: 4 out of 10)
Hamsters — Two 1 out of 10 sketches on the night. I don’t remember an episode this bad since Charlize Theron and Jim Parsons two years back. Watch here. (Score 1 out of 10)