Cold Opening: Ooh, it's been a while since we've had a film parody for a cold opening, much less a Forrest Gump-related sketch. And it turns out to be a cinematic night at the studio, as Kate McKinnon's Jeff Sessions not only comes into contact with Vladimir Putin, but Octavia Spencer reprising her role from The Help. I didn't think the cold opening was very funny, but I liked seeing Kate debut a new impression.
Monologue: Does anyone really remember Red Band Society? I read about it after the initial trailers premiered and I'm pretty sure that it was only put back into production after the success of The Fault In Our Stars adaptation. In any case, I liked the brief joke about a mashup between Hidden Figures, Fences, and Moonlight, but the rest of the oddly-short monologue felt lackluster, similar to the cold opening.
Republican Movie Trailer: Now we're getting somewhere! That was the most blistering take down of the Republican party this season. At the same time being a pitch-perfect parody of inspirational film trailers and depressingly apt in terms of the real world, it's definitely going to make headlines.
Drug Company Hearing: So, apparently, almost every drug in the world is actually named after the family of Octavia Spencer's character. Sadly, I found a lot of the jokes to be predictable. As odd as this is to say, I wish that it did more with the inherent weirdness in the premise. Due to the Oscars happening just six days ago, I almost want to say that it was a reference to the controversy about Jimmy Kimmel making fun of Mahershala Ali, but that didn't seem apparent.
Girl At A Bar: The sudden shift in tone worked so well. As much as I dislike the term 'nice guy,' this sketch perfectly exemplifies them, showing a bar crawling with them cornering Michelle (Cecily Strong), all in a row. The less subtle it gets, the funnier it becomes.
Zoo-opalis Voice Actors: More excuses to show off the cast member's various impressions? Sign me up! I'll take any chance I can get to admire their vocal talent. Fun fact: Melissa Villaseñor has made impressions of Kristen Wiig, Jennifer Lopez, Kathy Griffin, and all the rest. I especially liked her Kate McKinnon impression. If Kate ever has to leave and come back to host, I hope to see a contest between the cast members to see who can do the best impression of her. Finally, I would definitely see this Zootopia mockbuster.
Youngblood: Wow, three prerecorded pieces in one night. As someone who doesn't like chess, I really enjoy seeing it being made fun of. Also, keeping up with the cold opening, it also parodied a select film genre.
Father John Misty Musical Performance #1- "Total Entertainment Forever": Given the name of the song and the fact that I thought I heard him name-drop "Oculus Rift" when I was doing my laundry, I'm pretty sure this was about video games, movies, and other forms of media.
Weekend Update: The feed cut out twice when I was watching it on tv, so I missed a bit of it, but I managed to catch it later. By far, the highlight of this edition was the guest commentary from Donald Trump, Jr. and Eric Trump. It felt like a live remake of Dumb And Dumber. The Laura Parsons segment was equally wonderful, even if it could have gone on for longer. If the rumored Weekend Update spin-off does occur, then I'm rooting for Laura to get her own segment, maybe one that involves interacting with other Update characters.
Sticky Buns: I am not in customer relations, but I want to reach out to anyone in the position to see if they've had to deal with this. Similar to a sketch from the last season, it reminds me of Superstore in the best way possible. The ending jab at the quality of airport restaurants sold it.
Wine Bar: This could have been a really interesting sketch about racism and appropriation on the part of Cecily Strong's character and Black History Month. Unfortunately, it just came off as an irritating, short, and confusing sketch. I'm disappointed.
Father John Misty Musical Performance #2- "Pure Comedy": I don't know what that was, but it did not make me laugh. Zero out of ten stars.
Meeting: Beck Bennett, otherwise known as our new Launchpad, plays a disturbed office worker who tries to make things up with...ice cream. This is just weird and not in a funny way. Individual lines and actions were amusing, but when you put it all together, it just feels off.
Spencers Gifts HQ: What the heck was that? Okay, let me break it down. So, it had Octavia Spencer working as herself...but she's the head of a joke shop. And she needs to get joke ideas from her clients, but they're all hackneyed. I hesitate to call the sketch bad because that would mean that it was a fully-formed idea. It just felt like a stew made up of whatever leftover props the crew had. Was this part of the branded content deal?
Closing Thoughts: In all honesty, I'm disappointed. I thought that after a brief hiatus, the show would come charging back, ready to satirize the political and entertainment chaos of the week. Unfortunately, the episode was just bad, filled with sloppy sketches and dull punchlines. They had so much to work with, yet so little substance in the sketches.
It just feels like so much of a missed opportunity, especially when you take into account that so few African-American women have hosted the show before. Even if take that factor out, however, the fact reminds that the episode could have been much, much better. The recurring bit with Kate McKinnon as Kellyanne Conway kneeling on the set and texting is a great example of my gripes. I had hoped that it would lead to some kind of payoff, but it didn't. Instead, while funny the first time, the remaining instances felt awkward and out of place. I hope that next week's episode will be better.
Zachary Krishef is an evil genius. Do not question his knowledge of Saturday Night Live trivia or Harry Potter books.