Morning Joe Michael Wolff Cold Open
It’s the first show of 2018 and a fairly big week for Donald Trump with his “shithole” comment and apparent hush money pay-off to porn stars to keep their mouths shut. So I’m sure we were all expceting to see Alec Baldwin this week while taking bets to see how many times they’d get away with saying that word. And, surprise, the show opened with a spoof of MSNBC’s Morning Joe with an uncomfortably close Joe and Mika not letting one guest get a word in edgewise, and then welcoming “Fire and Fury” author Michael Wolff to the show, in the form of surprise guest Fred Armisen. But it got even better when the Grim Reaper Steve Bannon appeared and under the hood was … Bill Murray! There were some great lines but when Bannon spoke of other people he’ll help run for office, the YouTuber Logan Paul’s name got a huge gasp from the audience. And Leslie Jones was there as Oprah too. The open started a bit weak but it barreled forward with a lot of laughs to set up the night.
Sam Rockwell Monologue
Actor Sam Rockwell was this week’s host and he started off his monologue with a bit of self-deprecating humor by referring to himself as “that guy” you always see in a movie. But after enjoying thirty years of anonymous character work, Rockwell has found himself with a bit of a conundrum after recently winning an award — keep being the guy who disappears into his roles or become a leading man. He answers it all with a bit of song and dance. It seemed like he gave up on the song part, though, but he certainly can dance and the moves through the halls of 30 Rock had a few funny moments. So far so good. But then …
The first main sketch was a spoof of an old PBS kids show called “The Science Room with Mr. Science” and featured Rockwell as a sort of Mr. Wizard / Bill Nye TV host with a couple of the dimmest kids ever (played by Cecily Strong and Mikey Day). Attempting to do an experiment with oil and water, Mr. Science grew increasingly irritated with the kids, and perhaps Rockwell was getting too into character or wasn’t prepared for how dumb his co-stars were going to be but it got to him and out came the F-bomb. And here we were wondering how they show would get away with “shithole.” Day seemed pretty shocked but staying in character and the sketch continued but Rockwell seemed a bit rattled for the rest of the night. (Note: the offending word has been bleeped out of the online video.)
A pre-taped rap video with Lil Pump (Pete Davidson) and Sam Rockwell as Stanley Tucci, another actor whose face you know but can’t place the name. It’s weird and beware, the song is annoying enough to be ingrained in your head if you don’t watch or listen to something else immediately afterwards.
A spoof of an E! fashion review show, the panel of “The Look” is tasked with critiquing Golden Globes Red Carpet outfits in the climate of #MeToo and #TimesUp. It was amusing as the hosts tried to not sound sexist while trying to review dresses, and then special guest Frances McDormand (Kate McKinnon) joined the panel in the same dress she wore to the Globes, which also happened to be a costume she wore in a production of The Crucible. In a night when one word went unbleeped, they had a bit of fun unnecessarily bleeping McDormand as she was during her Globes speech.
My Drunk Boyfriend
In another pre-taped bit, this appeared to spoof those late night TV commercials like My Pillow but this one was for a life size human doll representing the drunk boyfriend every girl wishes she had. Pretty funny and … accurate as far as the drunk boyfriend’s programming.
Colin Jost and Michael Che have their mojo back and riffed hard on the “Fire and Fury” book, the “shithole” comment (and saying the word even though Jost said NBC asked them to say S-hole), the porn star payoff, Trump’s ironic desire for tougher libel laws, his recent health check up, and Steve Bannon among other topics. It was a full nigh and they were firing on all cyliders. Then Oprah and Steadman paid a visit to talk about Oprah not running but running but not running — we’ll let you know — for president in 2020. Aidy Bryant got a nice moment to shine with the topic of women’s rights and gender equality, and Kenan Thompson had a lot of fun once again as Lavar Ball. Overall, one of the best WU’s of the season.
Captain Hook (Rockwell) convinces the Lost Boys to stay with him on his ship so they can go off on adventures together, but then begins to question the optics of the situation — a grown man with eternally young boys galavanting around his ship. And then it got even more weird when Peter Pan showed up to engage in a sword fight with one too many double entendres for Hook. Yes, this was that weird, post “Weekend Update” sketch.
The topic of racism is addressed in this pre-taped bit with Rockwell as a man using an ATM in a sketchy neighborhood late at night and his panic when a black man follows him into the bank’s foyer. The white guy learns a lesson that not every black man is out to rob him and then … I question if it didn’t get a bit racist when the black man was actually confronted with a group of black men obviously out to rob him. But there was another punchline with Rockwell’s character and his female passenger.
Marcus Comes To Dinner
Tim (Alex Moffat) is bringing his boyfriend Marcus (Chris Redd) home to meet his parents. Outside the house, Marcus asks, “Did you tell your parents…” and I expected him to say “I’m black” perhaps as a play on the plot of Get Out, but no, he finished the sentence with “I’m a porn star.” Okay, let’s see how this plays out, especially when Tim’s father is convinced he’s seen Marcus somewhere. The gym? No. Oh wait! Rockwell had a lot of dialog in this short piece that he seemed to be rushing through as the clock ticked but he pulled it off.
But wait, the show’s not over yet. Another sketch finds a group touring a genetics lab where a team lead by Rockwell have created a dog head guy. Why? Because they can! Rockwell and Mikey Day lost it a bit when the dog head guy was eating a ham sandwich. It’s that last weird but oddly funny sketch to end the night. But wait, there’s more!
A pre-taped commercial for the smoking cessation drug featuring a real person, not an actor. Except the real person just happens to be an actor and tries to hijack the commercial to prove it. This one featured Cecily Strong and it was pretty good.
My apologies, but I am not a fan. I can’t understand about 90% of what she’s saying when I hear her music on the radio, and it wasn’t any different here. She did perform her hit “Bad at Love” and followed that up later with “Him & I” featuring her boyfriend G-Eazy (which is actually his song). The best thing I can say is she gave good performances and the music sounded great, but I still don’t know most of what came out of her mouth. Yes, I’m old, now get off my lawn!
SNL made a bold return in the new year with a consistently humorous episode. Sam Rockwell was game for anything, even if the slip seemed to have distracted him for the rest of the night. But will there be any fallout as there has been when a regular cast member let slip the dreaded F-word (anyone remember Charles Rocket and Jenny Slate)? It may be a long time before we see Sam Rockwell host the show again, if ever, so at least his first (and last?) shot wasn’t a total disaster.
Saturday Night Live airs live in every time zone coast-to-coast Saturdays starting at 11:30 PM Eastern time on NBC. On January 20, Jessica Chastain hosts with musical guest Troy Sivan.
What did you think of this episode? Tell us in the comments below!