First things first. I had to take last week off. Pulling up the cold open for the December 2nd show only to see Trump and Kelly Anne and Michael Flynn and Hillary, complete with Roy Moore jokes, was just a little too much. I didn’t want to have to write about how bad the Trump/political sketches have been for the 3,184th week in a row. So I punted. It’s a strategy I thought SNL should take, although I understand why they can’t.
It’s too bad, because the rest of the show was pretty fun. Saoirse Ronan was really good as host (and her “Saoirse like Inertia” monologue was not only funny, but super helpful for pronunciation). The music video “Welcome to Hell” was especially great while also being frustrating and sad for its real life implications.
While I still enjoyed the episode, the bitter taste from the cold open just lingered for the duration.
Luckily, this week they punted.
With James Franco hosting, the show found creative ways to hit on all the issues of the day, without being tired re-treads of the same sketches. On a side note, Franco is just awesome at hosting SNL. He takes even the most ridiculous premises so seriously, but almost always eventually breaks, and it just looks like he’s having the best time. It’s infectious.
This week was no different from his previous three outings as host. His monologue brought superstar cameos from Steve Martin, Seth Rogan, and skinny Jonah Hill, and Franco was able to maintain that momentum and crazy high energy for the remainder of the show.
Everything else is terrible. This show was fun. It’s nice when things that are supposed to be fun are, in fact, fun.
There are two surefire ways for me to be all in on a sketch. First, do something really weird and strange (recently, this has usually been of the Mikey Day or Kyle Mooney variety) and different. On the other hand, I’m a sucker for the really over-the-top sketches that typically result in one or more cast members breaking from the sheer insanity on stage. “Gift Wrap” would definitely fall into the latter category. A clear homage to Dan Aykroyd’s classic Julia Child character, this one was so much fun. RIP Leslie Jones’s mouth.
THE WORST SUPPLEMENTAL BEST
I really enjoyed this week’s cold open as a way to hit on the scandal of the day without having the sketch once again take place in the Oval Office. The child actors were super cute, and it was equal parts adorable and heart wrenching to see a couple of them succumb to apparent stage fright and nerves.
- I legit LOL’d at Franco’s courtroom explanation of whether “Za” should be acceptable slang to refer to pizza, as opposed to lasagna (an excerpt from my notes: “THIS IS SO STUPID I FUCKING LOVE IT”).
- “Christmas Charity” was a great digital short playing off Hallmark movies and Cecily Strong really sells the punchline when it turns out that the homeless man she’s helping is just, well, James Franco.
- It was a strong episode overall from, um, Strong, whose Cathy Anne character might be the best recurring Weekend Update character in the mix.
- Also from last week: Mooney and Beck Bennett’s “Office Runner” was hysterical as a dry, weird digital short. Love.
LINES WITHOUT CONTEXT
- “This is my fourth time hosting, which is the most you can do without it being special.” – James Franco
- “It’s not really a list, it’s more like a registry.” – Kate McKinnon
- “I learned that if you admit you did something wrong, you get in trouble. If you deny it, you get to keep your job.” – Little Jessica
- “You know I’m a wild bitch.” – Michael Che
SEASON 43 POWER RANKINGS
- James Franco
- Chance the Rapper
- Tiffany Haddish
- Saoirse Ronan
- Larry David