For a show featuring the return of Bill Hader, last night’s Saturday Night Live felt a little on the underwhelming side. It was a good episode, but not as good as those in which Amy Poehler or Jimmy Fallon host, and part of that is because Fallon brings Timberlake, Poehler brings Fey, and Hader brings Kristen Wiig, who we all love, but we never really loved her all that much on SNL.
There are a few must see highlights, however. Stefon returns to Weekend Update, Hollywood Game Night was probably the funniest sketch of the night, and Anthony Coleman was my favorite sketch of the night. More than anything, however, watch the Jan Hooks tribute. It’s perfect.
Cold Open — Bobby Moynihan’s Kim Jong-un with gout makes absolutely no sense, and that’s kind of why he’s amazing, although in no way does it make the sketch itself amazing. Because it is not. (Score: 4/10)
Bill Hader Monologue — It’s actually kind of strange to see Bill Hader when he’s not playing a character. Kristen Wiig shows up to encourage Hader to do what he’s never had the nerve to do: Sing. Bad idea. Never do that again. I have NO idea why Harvey Feirstein makes a cameo, but that badness of it all works perfectly. (Score: 7/10)
Herb Welch: Virginity Pledge Rally — Hader trots out his first recurring character, the old half-senile news reporter Herb Welch, and the irony is that, the character is appearing this season around the same time that he’d have appeared had Hader not left the cast. He’s as good as ever in the character, which is to say: The sketch is decidedly OK. Might have worked a little better if we’d had some time to develop some nostalgia for it. (Score: 6/10)
The Group Hopper — The parody of YA adaptations is something akin to a Friedberg/Seltzer trailer only slightly better, salvaged only by Hader’s amazing Effie Trinket. It also goes weirdly way too long for an SNL trailer parody. (Score: 5/10)
Hollywood Game Night — Becks Bennett does an amazing Nick Offerman impression, and that is all you need to know to understand that this sketch must be watched. Nick Offerman is officially big enough to warrant an SNL impression now! Hader’s Pacino is also reliably excellent, and Cecily Strong has a surprisingly killer Sofia Vergara impression, as well. Nobody cares about Kristen Wiig’s Kathie Lee (why are you even here, Wiig? HADER IS HOSTING). I was going to give the sketch a 7/10, but I’m going to have to make it an 8 after the Pacino prostitute joke.
Help Fund — I don’t know how to describe this sketch in a way that would do it justice, but it’s amusing and it probably has the largest number of black people we’ve ever seen in a single SNL sketch. (Score: 7/10)
Jan Hooks Tribute — Hader and Wiig introduce a wonderful old Jan Hooks and Phil Hartman sketch that’s just about perfect. Classy as hell. RIP Jan Hooks. (Score 10,000 Streaming Tears)
Weekend Update — This week, Che was so good that the contrast with Jost just made me angry. Like, making fun of how awful Jost is was fun for a while, but now, he’s just weighing down what would otherwise be the absolute best part of the show, and the fact that he’s there instead of Cecily Strong legit pisses me off. (Score: 7/10)
Pete Davidson — Davidson does a thing on gold chains that doesn’t really work. (Score: 4/10)
Stefon — What do you think? Of course it’s amazing, although you are of course allowed to think that they should’ve left perfect alone. (Score: 10/10)
Anthony Peter Coleman — War vet Anthony Peter Coleman (Hader) has a hard time keeping things light while performing with his puppet, Tony. “Here’s a joke: God.” My favorite sketch of the night, strangely. (Score: 8/10)
Inside SoCal — It’s an entire night of recurring sketches. The authenticity of this sketch is brilliant. The level of humor is not. It’s basically the biggest inside joke sketch in the history of SNL, and if you’re in on the joke, you’ll love it, but like so many Kyle Mooney sketches, if you’re not in on the joke, it fails badly. (Score: 4/10)Cat in the Hat — Hader’s weirdly perfect Cat in the Hat and Killam’s Thing 2 end up in a sketch fighting over a Cecily Strong character. Slightly better than average final sketch. (Score: 6/10)