It was a weird closing episode of the 39th season. With too many cast members already, Andy Samberg ended up bringing back half the cast of the 2011 season, and the entire affair felt more like a reunion episode. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, except for the existing SNL cast, which was mostly pushed to the background.
It also ended up being a very good overall episode, even if there were no real huge stand-outs. Then again, there were only a couple of turkey sketches, and that’s an impressive feat this season. Samberg, naturally, brought back a couple of Digital Shorts, but neither one were the type that are going to go viral the next day.
Cold Open — We begin the last episode of the season with a message from Jay-Z and Solange. A semi-amusing sketch goes from a C to an B+ the second that Maya Rudolph arrives as Beyonce and Maya’s her Rudolph all over the screen. We’ve also got to appreciate that there are FOUR black people in the same SNL sketch. This, is turns out, would be a recurring theme tonight: Former cast members. (Score: 7/10)
Cold Open — Samberg, with an assist from Seth Meyers, attempts to break Bill Hader’s impressions records, and naturally, just as he does (comically badly), Bill Hader arrives to take it back. Bill Hader, Seth Meyers, and Andy Samberg in one sketch only makes us miss how much we miss that cast. It vaguely reminds me of how excited I used to get when Bill Clinton would make public appearances during George W.’s first term. (Score: 6.5/10)
Camp Wicawabe — Campers Cambria (Aidy Bryant) and Piper (Kate McKinnon) discuss what they’ve been doing without mom and dad around and rat out the campers who had to go home early. Not a very good sketch. At all. And this is the first one after the monologue? They’re clearly saving the good stuff for the (Score: 3/10) …
Digital Short — Oh yeah! Here we go. Samberg is DJ Davvinciii, a lampoon of EDM, and he’s gonna blow up with the joint with awesome cameos and a terrific concept, right? This is gonna be AWES … Oh. It was OK. Funny head-exploding twist, but certainly not the Digital Short you’d expect from the originator of Digital Shorts on his first time back. (Score: 6/10)
Confident Hunchback — Samberg plays the Hunchback of Notre Dame, with an inexplicable swagger, and it works only as far as Samberg’s daffy charm can take it. It’s definitely an OK sketch! (Score: 6/10)
Weekend Update — I remember that Cecily Strong’s first stab at being the Weekend Update anchor wasn’t great, but she got better fairly quickly. Colin Jost hasn’t. Also, the joke Jost made about those rare twins holding hands when they were delivered? They were monoamniotic twins, which is what my wife and I have. The reason they were holding hands is probably because their umbilical cords tied them together. But yeah, the hand holding makes a nice story.
Bruce Chandling — Kyle Mooney tells intentionally lame jokes about the summer for laughs, and then it gets really dark, and I don’t know if it works or not, honestly. It’s Mooney. It’s weird. He’s an acquired taste, and he’s not one I’ve really acquired yet. (Score: I have no idea).
Get in the Cage — Paul Rudd shows up to cameo opposite Andy Samberg’s Nic Cage impression, and as has happened every time Samberg brought in a cool cameo to play straight man opposite his Cage impression, the straight man is there only to make Samberg look good (including the time that Nic Cage actually cameo’d opposite Samberg’s Cage impression). It works. Again. Samberg’s Cage impression is infallible. (Score: 7/10)
The Vogelcheck Kissing Family — Both Fred Armisen and Kristen Wiig return to reprise their role as the overly-affectionate parents, along with Hader and Rudd as the overly affectionate brothers (Maya Rudolph also appears). Here, Samberg brings home his boyfriend (Taran Killam), who has to witness all the everyone in the sketch making out in the most disgusting ways imaginable. It’s spectacular, and with that old cast members, you knew someone would break. Armisen breaks first. (Score: 9/10)
Waking Up with Kimye — I’m not a fan of this recurring sketch, but Taran Killam rocks it (Score: 3/10 for the sketch, 10/10 for Taran Killam’s Bruce Jenner impression)
Digital Short 2 — This is the cameo-filled Digital Short we were hoping for, right? Well, there are a few, and I won’t give them away, except to say that fans of a certain BBC America show are gonna flip. The Digital Short itself, about Hugs, is not that funny, but it is catchy.
Legolas Orders Taco Bell — It’s short! (Score: 5/10)
Blizzard Man — Samberg plays a lame white rapper who 2 Chainz is inexplicably obsessed with. Samberg and 2 Chainz are terrific in the sketch. (Score: 7/10)
Porn Stars — Always reliable. Always funny. Always terribly inappropriate. This is the perfect way to end the season. (Score: 9/10)