Last night’s episode will never be considered a classic, and I’m not even sure any of the sketches will be remembered a year from now, but it was a fun episode anchored by Christina Applegate’s infectious, spirited performance as host. I love it when “SNL” hosts actually take it seriously, understand that they can’t rely on the rest of the cast to prop them up, and take some risks. Christina Applegate — hosting for the first time since 1993 — danced, she sang, and she danced some more, and she and Jason Sudeikis highlighted an episode with only one bad truly sketch, “The Californians,” which was really only funny the first time because Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig couldn’t keep a straight face. No one cracked the second time around, so it was just people reciting directions in California accents.
To the highlights! The cold open was a Vice Presidential debate sketch, natch, and Sudeikis killed it as Joe Biden, while Taran Killam did a nice job as Paul Ryan. The sketch was also fairly even handed in its digs: Biden was manic; Ryan was scary to small children.
I loved Christina Applegate’s monologue, not because it was particularly funny, but because she was clearly having a fantastic time with the not-holiday holiday song. Plus, once again, Sudeikis kills it as the off-brand Swedish Chef, a cooking Dane Cook.
Tech Talk was essentially a first-world problems sketch, and it pretty effectively skewered people’s incessant complaints about the iPhone 5.
The Taken plus Expendables parody trailer was another good showcase for Jay Pharoah’s Denzel impression.
If there was a huge weakness to last night’s episode, it was Weekend Update, which was short on jokes and way, way too long on Kenan Thompson’s Jean K. Here are the headlines.
My favorite sketch of the night actually isn’t embeddable, but it’s worth seeking out later today when it shows up on Hulu as part of the entire episode. It was simple, but hilarious: Sudeikis was Odysseus, trying to resist the Sirens who were singing bad 90s pop songs, eventually luring Odysseus in with TLC’s “Scrubs.”
In its stead, here’s Choreographer, where Applegate plays a dance instructor who specializes in Fosse. Not a great sketch, but Applegate’s enthusiasm is hard to resist.
At the end of the night, at the wrap, when Applegate — high on a successful show — exclaimed, “This has been the best night of my life,” after that performance, I sincerely believed her.