Sean Spicer Press Conference Cold Open
Well, after the success of last week’s surprise appearance by Melissa McCarthy as White House press secretary Sean Spicer, it’s no surprise this week that SNL brought her back to do it again, particularly since her portrayal reportedly rattled Trump so much (because it was a woman) that he took away one of Spicer’s titles. This week was more of the same as last week with the same angry little man, a nice reference to the real Spicer joking that McCarthy had too many pieces of gum in her mouth during the first outing, Kate McKinnon as Jeff Sessions, a leaf blower, Spicer hawking Ivanka Trump merchandise, “mild terrorism” from Nordstrom, and a motorized podium. All just as funny as the first time … but let’s not dip into this well too often. Unlike last week’s middle of the show appearance, this lead off gave the rest of the night a whole lot to live up to.
Alec Baldwin’s 17th Time Monologue
Being it’s his 17th time hosting, and his multiple appearances on the show this season already, what’s Baldwin going to do for a monologue? Banter with Pete Davidson, of course, who made one joke after another about Baldwin’s age and looks compared to when he first hosted (three years before Davidson was born). There seemed to be an ad lib in there about Baldwin’s head expanding, and a funny reference to Baldwin’s new movie, The Baby Boss, being animated so no one could actually see Baldwin. Not a home run, especially after the Cold Open, but an okay start.
A faux advertisement for Russell Stover chocolates just in time for Valentine’s Day. But the twist here is that the candy advertised is for Black History Month with hilariously inappropriate renditions of notable Black people from Harriet Tubman to Barack Obama. And Bill Clinton for some reason. The reactions from Leslie Jones and Sasheer Zamata made the whole thing work.
Two competing ad agencies pitch new ideas for a Cheetos Super Bowl ad (hey, timeliness!) with one pair doing riffs on the now infamous 84 Lumber ad featuring Trump’s Wall (which was not allowed to play in its entirety on Fox during the Big Game), with important messages from immigration to trangender people (imagine Chester the Cheetah now as Danielle). The other pair pitches traditional, fun ads but the fun ends when they catch on and start an ad pitch that definitely crosses the line. Unfortunately, the entire sketch was just mildly amusing.
Another pre-recorded piece with Jake Tapper and a crew member talking about not allowing Kellyanne Conway on his show because she can’t stop lying. But there’s a surprise at home when Jake discovers Kellyanne in full Glenn Close Fatal Attraction mode, right down to her famous “I will not be ignored” line. Kate McKinnon is working hard to score another Emmy nod with her Conway character, and this time she’s gone from the assured media manipulator of the amazing Chicago influenced musical number from a couple of weeks ago to a person who has basically teetered over the edge into insanity. After the Cold Open, the second best piece of the night.
Baldwin plays a military man of some rank making a surprise visit to a barracks where, it turns out, his son is one of the enlistees. As he yells at the other men, he shows his son too much unwanted attention. And that was pretty much it. Best part was when Baldwin blew the line “chili cook-off” saying “cookie chill-off” instead. And even that didn’t get a laugh.
“Weekend Update” made up for the mess that was last week’s show with a lot of digs at Trump (the image of Trump squeezing into a Batman costume was priceless) and Colin Jost referring to Attorney General Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions as our new Confederate General. The banter between Jost and Michael Che was minimal this week because the segment was jam-packed with guests. McKinnon as Elizabeth Warren made sense, and her questioning of Jost’s and Che’s full time cast member credit for ten minutes on air and the freebies they sometimes get was pretty funny. But then new guy Alex Moffat had to break in a new character, A Guy Who Just Bought a Boat, who just spoke in abbreviations and talked about his terrible penis. Not funny. Then Leslie Jones and Mikey Day rolled in as a couple talking about their experiences with S&M, with Day’s character obviously on the receiving end. Jones’ delivery and expressions brought some humor to the bit, but overall there was too much going on to let Jost and Che do their thing. And NBC is considering launching a 30 minute edition of “Weekend Update” in primetime in the fall?
Trump’s People’s Court
Not the usual game show spoof that occupies this spot, but close enough. Trump appears on the TV court show to sue the three judges who overturned his travel ban. (Interestingly, the Spicer Cold Open made reference to Trump going to court, The People’s Court.) There were some funny digs from Cecily Strong’s judge, but the sketch resorted to bringing in Putin, and having the Steve Bannon Grim Reaper sitting in the back of the room. Begging the question, who is playing him? Everyone assumed it was Mikey Day, but Day was present as Don Don Jr. Unfortunately, everyone’s dreams did not come true with Rosie O’Donnell revealing her take on Bannon under the mask, and there were relatively few laughs to be had. And then it went downhill from there.
Baldwin plays Beyoncé’s OB-GYN performing an ultrasound to check on her twins. Inside the lavish womb, Kenan Thompson and surprise guest Tracy Morgan played the babies. Unfortunately, not even Morgan could overcome the bland writing but it was great to see him again.
Leslie Wants To Play Trump
Another installment of the Leslie Jones story that began with the Kyle Mooney romance (he does make an appearance, so the relationship is still intact), this time finds Jones practicing to take over the Trump role because Baldwin must have other things to do over the next four years. Needless to say, her meeting with Lorne Michaels does not end well, and Jones finds another cast member has stabbed her in the back. The punchline is sure to upset the real Trump (and as I write this it’s about 3:30 AM so he must be tweeting right not).
Mikey Day plays a student who volunteers to do a series of sit-ups to break a school record with Baldwin as the gym teacher. Then the bit turns into one long fart joke.
I’m not a huge fan of Sheeran, but I was surprised to find out that a song I like is one of his. He did not do that song this week. Instead he performed “Shape of You” and “Castle on the Hill”, with the first number being the more catchy and upbeat song while the second one just bored me. But Sheeran can sing and has talent and I’m sure what he did was pleasing enough for his fans. But will it earn him any new ones?
Well, with Alec Baldwin hosting this episode should have been a home run. It certainly wasn’t the worst of the season — Felicity Jones, Casey Affleck and Benedict Cumberbatch are all in the running for that dishonor — but it wasn’t up to par and aside from Tracy Morgan, there were no other familiar faces to join in. No Steve Martin, no John Goodman, not even a visit from Pete Schweddy. If it hadn’t been for Melissa McCarthy and the Fatal Attraction bit, this one could have ended up in the trash heap. A real wasted opportunity for someone’s history making evening that ended with a fart joke.
What did you think of this week’s episode? Tell us in the comments below!