There’s only a few more episodes of “Saturday Night Live” left in the sketch show’s landmark 40th season, and unfortunately, with last weekend’s episode featuring “Empire” star Taraji P. Henson in her hosting debut, you can tell that the cast and writers are getting tired. Perhaps not putting in their best for this last show before taking a couple weeks off, before the final round of episodes begins in May, this episode was just messy and far from impressive, despite Henson bringing a huge amount of energy to the stage. So let’s see how the sketches panned out.
Their Own League
– Easily the best sketch of the night, this was a great send-up of A League of Their Own
with a nice touch of racial humor. I always love these Turner Classic Movies sketches where Kenan Thompson hosts a segment, because his character always adds some laughs. But this was just great all around, from Bobby Moynihan in drag to all the female cast members’ great reactions, even if it wasn’t the most timely of sketches.
– There’s a part of me that feels guilty for laughing at this, and there’s plenty of times jokes about students sleeping with their teachers aren’t that tasteful, but this sketch just worked perfectly. Pete Davidson listing his nicknames is what cracked me up the most.
Hillary Clinton Election Video
– We’re going to be seeing plenty of Hillary Clinton sketches over the next year and a half as the lead-up to the 2016 Presidential Election continues, but if that means we get quality sketches like this with Kate McKinnon as a great new Hillary Clinton and Darrell Hammond returning as Bill Clinton occasionally
Sesame Street Promo
– While it’s always cool to see “Sesame Street” characters pop up on “SNL,” especially with an amusing tie-in such as Taraji P. Henson’s character Cookie from “Empire,” the humor always seems held back by the fact that you can’t have the kid-friendly characters do much in the vein of mature comedy. So while this was adorable, it just wasn’t quite as good as it could have been.
– “SNL” will probably never do a Depends commercial better than “Oops, I Crapped My Pants
,” this was still a solid ad. And honestly, if kids’ diapers can have cartoon characters and whatnot on them, why can’t adult diapers have Clark Gable on their ass?
Game of Thrones
– A lot of effort went into this recorded sketch, and while the concept is very funny, I can’t help but feel like Key & Peele would have done this better. There weren’t many big laughs, and it just seemed like wasted production value, especially with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau there.
– In one of two cavalcades of celebrity impressions this episode, this was the funnier one, but it still wasn’t all that special. But Henson’s energy is on full display with a pretty fantastic Nicki Minaj impression, even if everyone else left something to be desired.
Vlog with Taraji P. Henson
– I’m glad Sasheer Zamata has her own recurring sketch now, but I just wish it was better. The main character just isn’t one I want to see over and over again, and while the main source of humor usually comes from the people who enter the room while the vlog is recording, it just never seems to land
– Here’s another fun idea wasted on a poor punchline. The vibe of “Voltron” was right on the money, from the editing to the costume design, but the joke of not being able to complete the giant robot felt like something more suited for a kids sketch show, and not “SNL.”
Hollywood Game Night
– Here’s the second parade of celebrity impressions, and despite another fantastic piece of work by Henson as comedienne Wanda Skyes, this one fell flat on its face. It was boring and lazy.
– Not only was this the weirdest sketch of the night, but it was the absolute worst. It felt like it went on forever, and it made no damn sense at all. It was such a weak joke to begin with, and then it just kept going. The silence from the audience most of the time is deafening and it just feels awkward as hell.
This was an average Weekend Update segment, with one glaring problem. The bit where “SNL” uses a picture that isn’t Maya Angelou in a story about an inaccurate Maya Angelou stamp, just to trick the audience into realizing their own ignorance, has been done a couple times on “Last Week Tonight” with John Oliver, but to much greater effect. I feel like far more people know what Maya Angelou looks like than “SNL” anticipated, which didn’t help matters any.
Cecilia Gimenez On Lucille Ball Statue
– Who would have though that Cecilia Gimenez would be back on Weekend Update, but there’s no better reason to bring her back than to comment on that horrifying Lucille Ball statue
everyone has been talking about. This is just further evidence that Kate McKinnon is the best cast member on “SNL” right now.
Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy Explains Passover With His Dad
– Vanessa Bayer’s character is always adorable, even if I think its run its course a bit, but this one was made interesting with a surprise cameo by Billy Crystal as Jacob’s father, doing a great job of complimenting Bayer’s signature character. Now can we get Crystal to come back and host again?
Taraji P. Henson is enjoying a wave of rave reviews and acclaim for her role as Cookie in “Empire” on Fox, and considering how few black actors and actresses traditionally end up hosting “SNL,” this was undoubtedly something special for the actress. Thankfully, she put every bit of herself into every sketch, bringing so much energy and some solid comedic chops. Henson certainly didn’t hold the show back, and she even did some great impressions herself. It’s just a shame the writers weren’t up to task to make this a good episode for her.
Kate McKinnon – Plain and simple, McKinnon seemed to be the only cast member who was memorable in her sketches and gave us something worthwhile to watch, even in the terrible sketches. That’s all there really is to say for an episode that was lackluster at best.
The Final Word
Well, let’s hope the next couple weeks that the “SNL” cast and crew has off gives them time to recharge and deliver a great final round of episodes. It’s just a shame that a host like Taraji P. Henson wasn’t able to be part of a higher quality show for her hosting debut, because she was clearly ready to have a lot of fun. But she at least brought her A-game to elevate things a little bit.
We’ll be back in a few weeks after Scarlett Johansson hosts “SNL” on May 2nd.
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Some of his favorite films include Ghostbusters, The Empire Strikes Back and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, while his favorite TV series include LOST, Mad Men, 30 Rock, Parks & Recreation, Arrested Development and Saturday Night Live.