Well, there’s no getting past the fact this was a sloppy show – the tempo of Emily Blunt’s monologue seemed rushed and “Weekend Update” felt slow. This felt like a show where someone decided, “What would happen if we didn’t rehearse this week?” (This is where I add that the fact SNL is a very difficult show to make and the fact it airs at all each week is a minor miracle.) And it’s the third show in a row to start the season, so of course there were bound to be some hiccups – only this year SNL is doing four shows in a row to start the season because of the election. So, anyway, this is not an easy stretch for them.
Some observations so far:
Mikey Day and Alex Moffat are both getting a lot of airtime for brand new featured players. I guess this isn’t a huge surprise because Mikey Day co-wrote last year’s brilliant “Space Pants” sketch and “Kevin Roberts” sketch, so now he can just write himself into sketches.
I think we finally saw some of those “branded content sketches” we had heard so much about. They were not good.
And, if nothing else, at least SNL managed to make Trump mad this morning.
Watched Saturday Night Live hit job on me.Time to retire the boring and unfunny show. Alec Baldwin portrayal stinks. Media rigging election!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 16, 2016
Here is a very sloppy Scorecard:
Sketch of the Night
“Chonk” I want Cecily Strong saying “CHONK!” to be my ringtone.
Other Highlights and Lowlights
“Short Film” I have spent the last six weeks covering the Toronto Film Festival, followed by the New York Film Festival. This sketch is my life right now. Every big screening is followed by a Q&A and this is what they are like. There’s always so many people on stage! And they are always awkward! And I always feel like I’m the only one in the audience and everyone is staring at me to ask a question. (They even nailed “passing the mic.”) I do know the co-head writer Chris Kelly has been on a non-stop festival tour since Sundance with his film Other People and has been through this many times over the last few months. So, I have a feeling that’s why some of these little details were so accurate. Anyway: my point is this is a very accurate sketch.
“Cold Open: Donald Trump Vs. Hillary Clinton Town Hall Debate” This was disappointing. You know, it’s easy to say. “Well, with everything that happened this week, how hard could it be?” Well, keep in mind: everything that happened is unprecedented. Usually a political comedy sketch is there to take some small thing and exaggerate it until it’s funny. The Clinton and Gore sketches are good examples of this. (And I still maintain those sketchers were much more damaging to Gore than they were to Bush.) What do you do with the kind of real life events we’re living through now? It’s kind of impossible to exaggerate them anymore than they already are. So, instead, they are just kind of “presented.” And this is why we get a sketch that comes off as a sort of “greatest hits” of the week. And a “greatest hits” isn’t as good as straight satire. But this is the hand that’s been dealt. (Also: The Hillary Clinton “victory lap” jokes are making me nervous.)
“Honda Robotics” I don’t have any conformation yet, but right now I’m assuming that this sketch, coupled with “Drive-Thru Window” (which prominently featured Burger King) are the branded content sketches that was reported back in April. (If they aren’t branded content, someone at the show must really like Honda and Burger King.) Yes, these are bad. Of course they are bad. I’m sure some corporate stooge at Honda or Burger King has to approve these sketches and we all know how funny corporate stooges are. I think this is a bad idea. From what I understand these won’t be on every show, but it’s still annoying. I’m sure the people who have to write these find them annoying. “Oh, I get to write a comedy sketch for Burger King and then have a corporate stooge at Burger King tell me if it’s good or not? Yeah, sign me up!” I wonder how that conversation went. I bet the both the Burger King rep and the Honda rep both told someone at SNL, “you know, my friends tell me I’m pretty funny, too.” For the record, the Burger King sketch was at least passable. The Honda sketch was a disaster. (And if for some reason it turns out these weren’t branded content, well, then I’ll add this disclaimer that, boy, they both sure felt like it. And just the fact that announcement is out there makes me wary that now everything is branded content. This all feels like a really lousy idea.)
Average Overall Score for this Show: 5.54
Mike Ryan lives in New York City and has written for The Huffington Post, Wired, Vanity Fair and New York magazine. He is senior entertainment writer at Uproxx. You can contact him directly on Twitter.