Boy, Blake Shelton seemed out of his element last night. Here’s an SNL that featured only nine sketches, when the regular number is usually closer to twelve. And during the show, Shelton didn’t really show a lot of range (he played “a singer” twice). Look, SNL has been on a pretty good winning streak lately and a show like this was bound to happen. The cast did the best they could, but there wasn’t a lot to work with. You know, sometimes the most unlikely of hosts will step up and give us a wonderful show – Martin Freeman is a good example! – but, yeah, that didn’t happen this time. Off we go to a disappointed Scorecard…
Sketch of the Night
“Wishing Boot” (McKinnon, Shelton, Moynihan, Bryant, Pharoah) This was just weird enough to be good. It’s actually kind of great that it’s long enough to be an actual song, because why not? Shelton is a good singer and he certainly knows how to make a music video, so he was in his element here.
“Weekend Update” (Jost, Che, Moynihan, Davidson, Zamata) This was an exceptionally long “Update” with three segments, which one might think was done to eat up more time because there wasn’t a lot going on with the sketches. Pete Davidson is still pretty good at his monologues, though I thought this was one of his weaker entries (but still good!). Bobby Moynihan’s Riblet was first preformed during Kevin Hart’s dress rehearsal, but didn’t make the final show. It makes me so happy that Riblet has now been unleashed on live television (and it was pretty much the same script as what was cut last week), only this time Zamata was added to the equation, which made it even better. Long live Riblet.
“Blake Shelton Monologue” (Shelton, Ensemble) I’ve been pretty down on Shelton as host (I’m sure he’s a very nice man), but credit where it’s due: This was fun. Of course, Shelton’s just being himself, but he’s pretty charming as himself! And the riff on Hee-Haw was pretty great, even though almost nobody knows what a Hee-Haw is. (If you don’t know, please don’t try to find out. Use that time to call a parent or maybe go outside. It’s not worth it.)
“Cold Open: Patriots Press Conference ” (Thompson, Bennett, Killam, McKinnon, Zamata, Moynihan, Pharoah) After watching Tom Brady’s press conference on Thursday, there was very little chance that this wasn’t going to be this week’s cold open. And Taran Killam does a pretty nifty “shady” Tom Brady and Beck Bennett does a pretty solid grumpy Bill Belichick. Yes, the A Few Good Men joke was a little much. But, overall, this all seemed to work. On a night like this, I’ll take it. Also: “Science Computer.”
“Parole Board” (Thompson, Shelton, Moynihan, Strong) Again, this felt like something that was pretty hilarious at the pitch meeting and probably killed at read-throughs, but live … it just didn’t go much further than the initial joke. Regardless, Kenan Thompson’s monologue was pretty wonderful, as he channeled both Morgan Freeman and Anthony Hopkins.
“Celebrity Family Feud with Blake Shelton” (Thompson, Shelton, Ensemble) The Family Feud sketches are a little more hit and miss than, say. the old “Celebrity Jeopardy” sketches — and this installment just kind of went nowhere. Basically, it just exists. Everyone’s impressions were good (I’ll make a special mention of Kyle Mooney’s Steven Tyler, which was so bad that it was kind of wonderful), but there wasn’t much more than that.
“My Darlin’ Joan” (Shelton, Killam, Zamata, Moynihan) Hey, Blake Shelton is singing again. This is kind of a funny idea, but the joke was over pretty quickly, even though the song wasn’t. Maybe I’d be more forgiving of a sketch like this if I hadn’t seen Blake Shelton sing three other times tonight (including his actual musical performances). I just didn’t need any more.
“Magician” (Shelton, Killam, Thompson, Bryant, Bennett, McKinnon) I wanted to like this because Taran Killam really tries to sell it. But, by the fourth or fifth time, Shelton’s “Make me rich” demands come off more annoying than funny.
“Farm Hunk” (Shelton, Strong, Bayer, McKinnon, Zamata, Bryant, Jones) This isn’t the worst concept in the world, but it went nowhere and seemed to drag on forever. I’m not one to harp on hosts reading the cue cards because they are supposed to read the cue cards, but for some reason it stood out more than usual during this sketch.
Average Score for this Show: 5.58
· Martin Freeman 6.89
· Woody Harrelson 6.75
· Bill Hader 6.73
· Amy Adams 6.52
· Kevin Hart 6.39
· Chris Pratt 5.99
· Jim Carrey 5.94
· Cameron Diaz 5.92
· James Franco 5.89
· Sarah Silverman 5.86
·Blake Shelton 5.58
· Chris Rock 5.38
Mike Ryan has written for The Huffington Post, Wired, Vanity Fair and New York. He is senior entertainment writer at Uproxx. You can contact him directly on Twitter.