You can tout the “Californians” and “Celebrity Jeopardy!” sketches, but for me, the “SNL40” special peaked with a Weekend Update jam session with Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Jane Curtin, plus a big handful of guests.
Fey and Poehler are so trustworthy at that desk. You know they're cool and smart enough to mock the news thoroughly and fairly. Jane Curtin, meanwhile, has always been an underrated revolutionary force whose gritty, straightforward delivery was a much-needed cynical edge on “SNL.” Before her, funny women on TV were primary kooks, doting wives, and ditzes. Curtin was a businesslike wisecracker who wasn't afraid to snarl.
Not every moment of this sketch works; for instance, Emma Stone's well-intentioned Gilda Radner tribute lacked the late legend's goofiness and sheer guilelessness. But Melissa McCarthy's Chris Farley toast was sensational and Edward Norton's Stefon impression was nothing if not memorable.