White House Christmas Cold Open
We’re a couple of weeks away from the season’s Christmas episode, but there was so much political news this week that we got the return of Alec Baldwin in an Oval Office version of A Christmas Carol as Trump is visited by the spirits of Mike Flynn, Billy Bush, Putin and then got a real surprise when the Grim Reaper-ish spirit of the future was not Steve Bannon. A pretty solid effort to kick off the episode.
Saoirse Ronan Monologue
A lot of people probably don’t know who Saoirse Ronan is. She is currently winning all kinds of critical acclaim for her performance in Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird. Most people don’t know how to pronounce her name either, so she used her monologue to give us a little song about that with the help of a few cast members. This usually signifies the writers have no idea what to do with the host, but this time it actually worked.
Yes, this is an actual show now on MTV and this pre-taped bit (in which Ronan appeared), pretty much hit all the notes of what this Jersey Shore-inspired show is about. Plus there was the added bit of drama as the show was filmed during Hurricane Irma, and only one cast member had any sense to want to leave. A nice bit with a shocking punchline, and the overly spray tanned Aidy Bryant was a hoot.
American Girl Store
An explosion at an American Girl Store at a mall brings out a news reporter to interview various patrons who were there when it happened, including one man who seems to have a very odd attraction to the dolls. I think we’ve seen a different take on this where Mikey Day plays a “misunderstood” character, but it seems that this character is bordering on being a pedophile so while everyone makes fun of his compunction towards the doll, it still comes off as a bit creepy and distasteful. Not the best sketch of the night but the reactions from the news anchors (Beck Bennett and Cecily Strong) were pretty funny.
Welcome to Hell
Another pre-taped bit (and again with participation from the host), this was one of those girl group music videos the show has been doing so well. This time it’s not a girl group, they just travel together for protection and the song was about all of the sexual harassment women have to endure on a daily basis. This made a strong statement wrapped up in a Katy Perry-ish candy colored package.
Mikey Day works the Kmart returns counter and various cast members come in and out with various outrageous return items including magnum condums that are supposedly too small for Kyle Mooney’s character, a female fur muff when the customer wanted one for a man, ill fitting baby diapers (because they’re for adults), etc. The best was the couple having an argument about the boyfriend not fighting someone who spilled a little wine on his girlfriend’s shoe, and Kate McKinnon’s old lady on a scooter. An odd sketch but I laughed a few times.
This bizarre (and overly long) pre-taped piece — and again also including the host, which is rare to see them in every taped piece — put the spotlight on Beck Bennett and Kyle Mooney so I can only assume this was one of their writing jobs (because most of their things are bizarre and overly self-indulgent). The two play office rivals, one who used to be the fastest runner in the office and the other the newly crowned fastest runner. A young co-worker (Ronan) convinces the previous title holder that he can reclaim his title, and then things take a really weird twist. In addition to Ronan, the sketch also featured actress and Lady Bird director Greta Gerwig as the boss who gets the funniest lines at the end. And the whole thing apparently set in the 1980s judging by the hair and wardrobe.
“WU” anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che had a lot of great material to work with this week — Mike Flynn, the tax cut bill, Trump’s tweets — but something seemed off with Che. He stumbled over a lot of his dialog and really seemed distracted throughout most of the segment. There was an odd vibe. In addition to the news, there was a visit from Great Britian’s PM Theresa May (McKinnon) to talk about how she “owned” Trump during their Twitter war (funny) and a return from Shelly and Greg Duncan to talk about how they’ve tried every position of the Kama Sutra (although they often weren’t on the same page which led to bodily trauma to Greg) and presented some new positions of their own (which resulted in more bodily trauma for Greg). Not the worst “WU” ever, and while there was some material just ripe for the picking, it just felt a little off. Did Jost and Che have a little spat?
Pete Davidson’s Chad character returns, this time as the unexpected and highly desired object of the affections of the women bidding at a tennis club charity bachelor auction. The women’s reactions were pretty funny, but the punchline was hysterical. And then John McEnroe cameoed as the next bachelor in line and just could not live up to Chad … but there was a second, hysterical punchline. The last time we saw Chad, it was a pre-taped dud of a sketch but this time around it actually worked.
Late for Class
New featured cast member Luke Null, who has mostly been in the background so far this season, finally gets a sketch putting him front and center as an obnoxious high school student who barges into class late and offends everyone in the process. The whole thing seemed to be verging on disaster as you could pretty much hear crickets in the audience during the character’s tirade, but there was a twist and Kenan Thompson saved the sketch by nearly cracking up during his verbal takedown of the student followed by some funny responses from the class members he offended. This one started out as a “what were they thinking, oh my gosh, Luke Null is going to get fired” sketch but it redeemed itself in the end.
The end of the night throwaway sketch finally allowed Ronan to speak in her regular Irish accent as one of two flight attendants on the Irish airliner. Of course there were a few jokes about what the name of the company actually sounds like and, for some reason, there were a lot of dogs on the flight. It was weird and a bit humorous but not awful as so many final sketches tend to be.
U2 was this week’s musical guest, which made Ronan’s monologue comment about her hosting the St. Patrick’s Day episode … a few months early … all the more humorous. The rockers performed two songs from their latest album, “American Soul” and “Get Out of Your Own Way”, accompanied by some pretty cool animated backdrops. Both songs had an unmistakable U2 sound so fans should be pleased by the performances.
This week’s episode had a lot of laughs and it’s share of head scratchers but overall did not feel like a complete waste of time. Ronan appeared in every sketch and pre-taped segment outside of the Cold Open and Weekend Update, a feat most hosts never accomplish so kudos to her. She brought a lot of charm to the monologue and gave each character she played their own personality. Dare I say she could and should be considered for an Emmy nomination? As side from a few minor missteps and the odd WU chemistry, this was a fairly solid episode.
Saturday Night Live airs live in every time zone coast-to-coast Saturdays starting at 11:30 PM Eastern time on NBC. On December 9, James Franco hosts with musical guest Sza.
What did you think of this episode? Tell us in the comments below!