Saturday Night Live S42, E1: Margot, Leslie, And Kate All Make The Premiere Fantastically Funny

Tear yourself away from Luke Cage, Saturday Night Live has finally returned! I’ve been really excited for it to come back, and not just because the election parodies help to make the horrifying potential of Trump becoming president slightly less painful. Hey, speaking of parodying Trump, Lorne Michaels recently gave away some details for why Alec Baldwin was chosen to portray The Great Cheeto in an interview. (Spoilers: It involves a 30 Rock cast member!) He also discusses the new cast members for this year and the process of satirizing this election in the new season. If, like me, you’re interested in the process of making Saturday Night Live, I’d say it’s well worth a read.

Cold Opening: Firstly, I’m happy to see Michael Che making a rare appearance outside of Weekend Update. I appreciate it because he gets to show off more of his comedy skills, similar to his short tenure on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart. As for my thoughts on Alec Baldwin’s debut as Donald Trump, I have no complaints. He’s as great as Darrell Hammond was, with the added bonus of bearing a striking resemblance to the Grinch. Something about his face and pushed-out lip just made me think of the Grinch’s evil smile.

And his Twitter mentions grew three sizes that night...
Right from the start, Kate McKinnon’s Hillary Clinton nails it, stumbling in with a cane and coughing before doing a flip. She brings a slapsticky physicality to the role that is sorely missed in comedy these days. While she pointed to Trump as he just spouting more and more deluded ramblings, I just kept thinking of the animated style (pun not intended) of the Looney Tunes. I think that Kate’s matter-of-fact delivery of “I think I’m going to be president!” is one of the classic SNL political moments.

Monologue: I am glad that we didn’t have to deal with another musical monologue. As premises go, I don’t think we’ve had a fact-checked monologue before, so that’s fairly unique. I wish that there was more to the Suicide Squad joke, preferably with a light crack at the expense of DC Comic’s theatrical success, but the Jared Leto insult almost made up for it. You can watch it here.

Action News: Ah, Beck Bennett, I’ve missed your jokes. Normally, I wouldn’t like the joke about people wondering why an attractive woman and a nerdy guy would date, but some of the little touches made up for it. Kenan’s shocked statements and the guy’s increasingly more pathetic actions made it pretty good.

The Librarian: The prerecorded shorts are so underrated. It’s fascinating seeing how a simple concept is slowly exaggerated until it turns into a nightmare. Case in point, “The Librarian.” What goes from a simple parody of a teen boy’s librarian fantasy turns into a disturbing slice of horror. Margot Robbie’s character goes from a librarian who makes questionable tattoo choices to a straight-up murderer out of a horror movie. Seriously, it’s like Harley Quinn and the Enchantress fused. I wish that I knew who wrote this so I could thank them for creating such a bizarre and subversive piece.

Family Feud- Political Edition: Finally, after Donald’s awful hosting attempt back in the third episode of the last season, they’re taking more time to make fun of him, and pulling no punches, at that. They get a lot of great digs in at him, especially from Bobby Moynihan’s Chris Christie and Beck Bennett's Vladimir Putin. On Hillary Clinton’s team, I was grateful to see Darrell Hammond reprise his role as Bill Clinton, joyful to see Larry David as Bernie Sanders again, and elated to see Melissa Villaseñor reprise her role as Sarah Silverman from the Más Mejor comedy sketch.

If Lin-Manuel Miranda doesn't interact with Cecily Strong's version of him next week, that'll be a huge missed opportunity.
It was interesting to see Cecily Strong impersonate Lin-Manuel Miranda a week before he hosts the show. Overall, it was a well-balanced ensemble piece because everyone got one moment to show off their skills and deliver a really good line. I do wish that Cecily and Melissa had more screentime, but, hey, that’s the double-edged sword of an ensemble sketch.

The Weeknd- “Starboy”: I’m not a good judge of music, but the background music didn’t irritate me. You can watch it here.

Weekend Update: I’ve missed Colin and Michael’s rapport. Even with the Weekend Update specials at the RNC and the DNC, I still found myself missing their back-and-forth. Speaking of which, they had two great riffs on Colin Kaepernick and the stop and frisk controversy. This edition had two mock interview segments. The first one was with Cecily Strong playing Cathy Anne, an undecided voter. Fun fact: Cathy Anne appears to be the same character from a sketch in 2014. Similar to Stefon, she’s been transplanted to the Update desk. I found her to be slightly hard to understand, but generally amusing. In the second interview, Kenan’s Big Papi impression still isn’t one of my favorites, but he had a couple of good lines. You can watch it here and here.

The Hunch Bunch: This sketch is a Scooby-Doo parody where Margot Robbie’s character goes on a date with the Fred analogue and interrupts everyone. Aidy and Kyle were great in their respective roles as not-Velma and not-Shaggy. I think that the sketch could have used a greater dose of the dark humor shown in the end, but it still made me laugh. I am reminded of the "Muppet Bus" sketch where a classic scene goes horribly wrong in the best way possible. It’s not one of the best sketches in the episode, but I wouldn’t mind seeing it again in the future. Weirder things have become recurring sketches. You can watch it here.

Melania Moments: There wasn’t a lot of content to this bit, just Melania Trump’s bizarre mind, but it was okay. I’m reminded of a more political version of the classic Jack Handy’s Deep Thoughts segment, just without the stock footage. You can watch it here.

Women In Film Round Table: Kate McKinnon is a treasure. The voice that she used for her character combined with more comedic physicality heightened the sketch to new levels of greatness. I think that this one might be the best of the night, mostly for the way that SNL combines feminism with humor, but also just for the quirky characters. It was also wonderful to see Sasheer Zamata play a supporting role, as she didn’t really show up in the earlier moments.

The Weeknd- “False Alarm”: This time, I actually do have some thoughts on the song. I enjoyed the haunting melody in the background, but the strobe light irritated me. I’ve never liked strobe lights. The flashing irritates me at best, and gives me a headache at worst. You can watch it here.

Mr. Robot: I thought that the vile attacks on Leslie Jones would be mentioned on the show, but I thought it would have been shown through her delivering a monologue on Weekend Update. Even so, it was still brilliant. Based on the setup, I thought it would be a standard parody, but as soon as Leslie revealed that she was playing herself, I knew what they were going to do. The entire thing is glorious, especially the Ghostbusters reference.

Overall Thoughts: I’m not really sure how well the branded format is working, mostly because I didn’t see any obvious product placement in the episode. Maybe the Family Feud sketch counted, but I doubt it. So far, the sketches do seem to be slightly longer, partially shoving the second musical performance closer to the end of the show. The format still worked for me, so I don’t have any issues with it. So far, Alex Moffat, Mikey Day, and Melissa Villaseñor all seem to be making promising debuts on the show.

I was surprised by the seeming lack of Margot Robbie in the episode. She appeared in most of the sketches, but didn’t have a lot of variety in her roles, mostly cast as supporting characters. I also had hoped for a full sketch based on Suicide Squad, rather than a token reference, but parts of the movie were a comedy sketch already.

Saturday Night Live is off to a very strong start with the season premiere. I have high hopes for the season and I can’t wait for next week’s episode.

Zachary Krishef is an evil genius. Do not question his knowledge of Saturday Night Live trivia or Harry Potter books.