This week SNL was fine. There were some decently funny sketches and no real bombs, but for some reason it just felt flat. Maybe grinding out ten shows before the break took its toll on the cast and writers, but for some reason the show just was a little off. In years past the Christmas episode has always had an extra buzz about it. Whether it be a beloved former cast member back as host (Tina Fey & Amy Poehler last year, Jimmy Fallon in 2011 & 2013) or heavy hitters dropping in for cameos, the final episode before the Christmas Break always offered an added layer of electricity. Maybe this is me viewing the past through rose-colored glasses (or Poinsettia colored glasses as the case may be here – wow that was a terrible joke), but it seemed as though everyone was just going through the motions to get this one over with.
Now that’s not to say there was anything notably bad about last night’s show. Casey Affleck was actually pretty good in his hosting duties. When serious actors really commit to the material, the outcome is typically pretty great (John Malkovich and Christopher Walken’s stints as host immediately come to mind). Affleck was game and brought a level of intensity to his characters (whether it was a Massachusetts Dunkin Donuts fan or a Long Island Nativity humorist) that worked both theatrically and comedically. I don’t know, now it feels like I’m rambling. The show was fine. It wasn’t great. It definitely wasn’t bad. It was fine.
Hillary Clinton (Kate McKinnon) showing up with a boom box and cue cards at the doorstep of an elector, performing her own Love Actually scene, was tremendous. McKinnon and Strong were amazing in this one, displaying impeccable timing without ever having to utter a single word. That the cue card messages were hilarious, sad, and chilling only added to the impact of this sketch. Great stuff.
As mentioned earlier, there wasn’t a whole lot wrong with this show. Nothing really stood out as “The Worst”, as most everything was shades of “Ok”. I guess the monologue came up a little short, and not even second cameos from Alec Baldwin and John Goodman (they appeared in the cold open as Donald Trump and Rex Tillerson, respectively) could really turn it into anything interesting or memorable.
The “10 to 1” sketch left a little to be desired as well. The concept of “Christmas Bar” had Kyle Mooney and Affleck competing for Vanessa Bayer’s affection through passive aggressive (and then aggressive aggressive) attempts to assert dominance. It was a bit one note and probably didn’t need to be a whole sketch. Again, not terrible, just fine.
- Any time the camera cuts to a row of chairs and McKinnon is sitting there slouched, open-legged, expect fireworks. She did not disappoint last night.
- The pre-taped “Jingle Barack” was yet another humorous, yet terrifying reminder of what’s to come after Obama’s last Christmas. Kenan Thompson and Chance the Rapper (with a quick shout from Mr. DMC himself), were really great.
- Sneaky move from Amazon to get a commercial featuring Seth Myers immediately after a sketch. It definitely took me way too long (complete with some DVR rewind/fast-forward gymnastics) to figure out that it wasn’t part of the show.
LINES WITHOUT CONTEXT
- “It’s an “Elf on the Shelf”. It’s fun. You just put it right here, next to your Internet router.” – Beck Bennett
- “I’m in a new movie. It’s called Manchester by the Sea. It opened wide last night and it’s an incredibly depressing picture. It is. It’s really a downer.” – Casey Affleck
- “Now I’m spending Christmas morning in the back of a squad car with my grassy knoll and my gassy hole hanging out.” – Kate McKinnon
- “I’m not sure you’re gonna strike fear in the heart of an evil dictator with Uncle Joey’s catch phrase from Full House.” – Colin Jost
- “Taking the presidency away from Donald Trump now is like giving a monkey a machine gun and then trying to wrestle it back from him. At this point all we can do is pray he can’t figure out how it works, gets bored, and just puts it down, and walks away.” – Michael Che