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‘SNL’ Scorecard: Ryan Gosling Wants Us To Know He Saved Jazz

Saturday Night Live began its 43rd season months after finishing what just might have been its most successful and important season to date. After a summer in which SNL tried an ill-fated primetime “Weekend Update” series (which just never caught traction), Ryan Gosling hosted its proper return. Alec Baldwin is back as Trump and it’s a little weird to directly compare his impression to what he was doing a year ago. What was an impression of a buffoon who wasn’t going to win is now something much more urgent and frightening as people are fighting for their lives in Puerto Rico as the president mocks them from his golf course.

On a lighter subject, Ryan Gosling laughed and laughed and laughed his way through this season premiere, which wound up being a pretty charming sight as the cast tried to keep him on track. And so begins the eighth year (I will obviously be doing these for eternity) of SNL Scorecard.

Sketch of the Night

“Papyrus” The only thing disappointing about this sketch featuring Ryan Gosling as a man obsessed with the font used on the Avatar logo is that we didn’t get to see the much longer version that was shown at dress rehearsal. It’s kind of amazing that they can even edit down prerecorded sketches at the last second for time, but that’s what happened here as the version we will never see delayed the “reveal” even longer, giving more time to Gosling’s paranoia. Not only do I hope we get to see the “director’s cut,” I think I’d rather see a movie based on this idea than I would three more Avatar sequels. (Actually, I have no idea why I wrote “I think I’d rather,” I’m fairly positive I’d rather see this story than find out what Jake Sully’s kids are up to.)

Also, I love that this has been a longtime obsession for SNL writer Julio Torres, who tweeted this back in May. We can only hope, now that this has aired, he can find the peace he’s been looking for.

Score: 9.0

Runner Up

“Weekend Update” The “Weekend Update” primetimes show was … odd. When they were announced near the end of last season, it was a pretty huge story. “Hey, SNL will be back this summer!” And that seemed to be the most promotion they’d get, because by the time they aired in August, most people didn’t even realize they were happening. There were supposed to be up to four episodes, but because of sagging ratings that fourth episode never happened. Looking back, taking “Update” out of its cocoon of sketches and putting it out on its own, it just becomes any other comedy news television program, only it’s once a week, while hosts like Seth Meyers and Trevor Noah are doing it four times a week. And with three shows in August, it never really had much of a chance to catch on as something people should watch.

And that’s why it was so refreshing to see it again in its own natural environment, because this week’s “Update” was very, very strong. Both Che and Jost seemed to have a chip on their shoulders. Maybe they still felt the sting of those summer shows and had something to prove (this is probably unlikely) or maybe they, like the rest of us, are fed up of this political climate and it’s all culminating with what we are witnessing now with Puerto Rico (probably a lot more likely). This is a “Weekend Update” in which Michael Che called the president a “cheap cracker.” But then we get Kate McKinnon’s wonderful Angela Merkel to kind of offset the pure anger. This was one of the best “Weekend Update”s of the Che and Jost era.

Score: 7.8

The Bronze

“Ryan Gosling Monologue” What’s great about this is Ryan Gosling and Streeter Seidell are listed as the writers, which means that this was most likely Gosling’s idea. Which makes sense, after months of reading posts that his character in La La Land “saved jazz.” So it was funny to watch him lean into that and just try to own the joke – especially with his know-it-all and wrong pronunciations of New Orleans and “NYC City,” which gave Gosling his first laugh of the night. I did hear that there was a much more elaborate version of this monologue that involved Harrison Ford and the cast of Moonlight, which was pretty clever, but they couldn’t get everyone together.

Score: 7.8

Werido of the Night

“Henrietta & The Fugitive” This sketch was fascinating because even though it’s about Ryan Gosling being in love with a chicken (Aidy Bryant) – and even though Gosling started laughing a few times during the sketch, it played out like a drama. What a weird sketch. I am fascinated by it. There are so few laughs, but that seems to be the intent. I honestly can’t believe this somehow made it to the final show.

Score: 7.8

***

Average Overall Score for this Show: 6.45

· Ryan Gosling 6.45

If you want more SNL, check out the Not Ready for Primetime SNL Podcast, with Mike Ryan and Rolling Stone’s Ryan McGee, right here:

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