TV

‘SNL’ Scorecard: Octavia Spencer Baked A Special Pie For Jeff Sessions


The Trump-era SNL cold opens have been an interesting thing to watch. Normally, a sketch idea is pitched Monday, written Tuesday, then read-through and selected for the show on Wednesday. But the non-stop news has changed this. (It’s kind of crazy that the news has changed so much, so fast that we didn’t get an Oscars sketch of any kind. The Oscars seem like they were a month ago.)

A few times over the last shows, the cold open has just been left blank – as in, why even bother trying to come up with something that will be old news by the time it airs later in the week. (This has even been a problem for the daily late night shows. For instance, Seth Meyers will record “A Closer Look” a little after 6 p.m. eastern, and by the time it airs, something else crazy has happened.) There was almost a false calm this week after Trump’s address to a joint session of congress. As in, maybe it was safe to write a piece of political comedy earlier in the week? I heard rumblings early the cold open would be a sketch about the media’s reaction to Trump’s speech. Well, as you saw, the cold open turned out to be Jeff Sessions as Forrest Gump. Oh well.

Though, I do wonder if this is just the way it’s going to be over there for the foreseeable future. I just assume yes.

Octavia Spenser hosted a pretty solid, serviceable show (which includes Kate McKinnon’s pretty wonderful non-sequitur Kellyanne Conway bumpers), but there seemed to be an energy missing. The brutal early schedule now is giving us sporadic shows. After next week, SNL is off again until two shows in April, then three more in May. It just turned March and there are only six shows left. It’s going to be tough to sustain momentum.

Anyway, let’s get to the Scorecard:

Sketch of the Night

“Girl at a Bar” This is a perfect representation of dialogue I’ve seen play out with my own eyes online. When a “chill guy” doesn’t get the response he’s looking for from a woman and goes nuclear. It really does go zero to insane like this way too often. Actually, what we see here is tame in comparison because this was aired on network television. This sketch should be taught during “how to be a normal human being” classes at high schools around the country under the “don’t do this” section. (I just assume that class exists in high school now. If not, maybe it should.)

Score: 8.6

Other Highlights

“Republican Movie Trailer” In a way, this is a frustrating piece of comedy because there’s so much truth in it, it’s almost infuriating. The mantle of “national hero” is just waiting for someone in the Republican party and no one seems to want to take it. The way things are spiraling out of control with this Russia story, whatever Republican stands up to Trump first has a good shot at being the next elected president. (I say “elected” because I just kind of assume at this point Mike Pence will be the 46th president.) Sure, a few Republicans have talked a big game, but no one has really done anything yet. This trailer is for you! This will be your reality, whoever you are! It’s true, you will get a statue. It will be a nice statue.

Score: 8.0

“Youngblood” This has really one joke: that Kenan Thompson doesn’t know how to play chess. Yet I laughed and laughed and laughed. The setup was perfect: with Kenan’s wise old man trying to teach a kid (Pete Davidson) some lessons about life through chess. We’ve seen this trope many times and usually it does involve those outdoor chess boards. (I’ve never played on one of those and now I kind of want to. It looks fun. Maybe I should really get into chess?) But it got me! I wasn’t expecting Kenan’s character to be bad at chess and lose! I just love that this idea is so simple yet they made a little movie out of it.

Score: 7.8

***

Average Overall Score for this Show: 6.77

· Dave Chappelle 7.44
· Kristen Stewart 7.38
· Tom Hanks 7.35
· Lin-Manuel Miranda 6.99
· Margot Robbie 6.95
· Alec Baldwin 6.89
· Aziz Ansari 6.82
· Octavia Spencer 6.77
· Emma Stone 6.46
· Casey Affleck 6.37
· John Cena 6.17
· Kristen Wiig 6.12
· Felicity Jones 5.97
· Benedict Cumberbatch 5.73
· Emily Blunt 5.45

You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.

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