With just a few days until Christmas, it’s time for the last episode of “Saturday Night Live” in 2014, and as usual, it culminates in the special holiday episode that brings some fun guest stars (one particularly huge, surprising cameo) and plenty of fun. This time it’s Amy Adams hosting the episode, and while it didn’t quite measure up to last year’s Jimmy Fallon hosted bonanza, there was still some really great stuff here. So let’s get down to it.
Asian American Doll – There were plenty of snide remarks on Twitter about the lack of an Asian American cast member on “SNL,” but that doesn’t take away the fact that this sketch is absolutely hilarious. It pokes fun at how carefully company’s have to tread so as not to offend anyone with their products, and the voiceover from Cecily Strong representing the toy and explaining it’s features (or lack thereof) had me laughing out loud really hard. And whoever that kid is who questions whether or not the doll is going to eat the dog deserves a bonus.
The Tenderfields – Sadly this sketch isn’t online due to the use of the backtrack for Will Smith’s hit song “Miami,” but this parody of the real viral video from The Holderness Family that made the rounds last year was amazing. The raps were hilarious and the degradation of the family after their newfound fame just kept getting better and better. If you’re really itching to see this sketch, you might be able to find it right here.
Sam Smith/Dr. Evil – It’s not often that Mike Myers returns to “Saturday Night Live,” and this was more the a welcome surprise guest appearance by an old cast member. It was also an epic return for Austin Powers villain Dr. Evil, berating North Korea and Sony Pictures battle due to the Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg comedy The Interview. Not only is this perfect because Dr. Evil is based on Lorne Michaels, but just having a fictional villain who is no more ridiculous than the real Kim Jong-un just puts in perspective just how much of an insane madman the leader of North Korea really is.
Christmas Serial – It was so hard for me not to put this in “The Best” category only because it’s such a perfect parody of the popular podcast “Serial,” that it’s almost more fascinating and impressive than it is funny. In addition, while the sketch doesn’t mock the real tragedy at the heart of the podcast, the laughs are a little uncomfortable because much of the parody takes cues from the various subjects and interviewees on the episodic story as well. But Cecily Strong is incredible with her Sarah Koenig impression. The Christmas angle is cute, but not hilarious, and that’s probably why this is ultimately good but not great.
Office Christmas Party – Well, Pete Davidson and Jay Pharoah aren’t quite as clever in their rapping as The Lonely Island, but the spirit is there, and the music video style really adds some flare to make this a fun holiday sketch. Everyone who has ever worked in an office has been to a Christmas party like this, so it should hit pretty close to home.
Cat Rescue Commercial – The first time this sketch debuted with host Charlize Theron last year, it was “The Weird” sketch, but now I’m used to it, and I’m all for Kate McKinnon doing plenty more animal rescue episodes in the future, especially with more cats. Bonus for Amy Adams feeling up on McKinnon as her lesbian lover and getting all awkward about it because the cats don’t need to know their business.
Girlfriends Talk Show – This has never been a favorite recurring sketch of mine, and while Aidy Bryant always gives it everything she’s got, it just never seems to land for me. Making things worse this time was the awkward addition of One Direction, who really have no concept of timing in their presence, though that’s not surprising. Is there a way we can get Cecily Strong and Aidy Bryant to do a different recurring sketch together?
A Very Cuban Christmas – Wow. This was just a mess. I’m betting since the Cuba news came in the middle of the week, it didn’t get as much development and polishing as other sketches, and that’s why it just doesn’t work very well. The impressions just aren’t fun characters to lampoon, and a couple of them are just decades old references to pop culture figures that no one really remembers. That just goes to show you how irrelevant Cuba had become to Americans, which maybe was part of the comedy, but it fell flat.
Singing Sisters – This is one of those weird sketches that also deserves to be in “The Best” category because it’s original, odd, but perplexingly entertaining. You have no idea what’s going on in this sketch or why these three singing sisters are acting like this, but that makes it that much funnier. Combine that with that super weird ending, and you’ve got an absolutely great sketch.
The extended time spent on the Kim Jong-un situation was great, but having Michael Che reference the heat he’s received on the internet for certain jokes without any context felt a little weird. But kudos to the joke at Colin Jost’s expense and also his interaction with Bobby Moynihan as he begins his turn as Kim Jong-un with great confidence, only to fall away from it quick.
Michael’s Neighbor Willie – Well, Kenan Thompson didn’t have much to do this episode. There was his hilarious appearance at the end of The Tenderfields sketch, and this Weekend Update segment. Thankfully, this bit with Thompson made up for his absence as a guy who has the worst luck and experiences but always looks on the bright side of life during the holidays.
Kim Jong-un – Short and sweet, this was an easy but amusing way to handle the new fear that show business suddenly has about touching Kim Jong-un and the North Korea situation with Sony Pictures. Seth Rogen, everybody!
Garth & Kat Sing Hanukkah Songs – It’s hard to top Mike Myers appearing to open the show, but if you’re going to have a couple veterans return, I’m glad it was Fred Armisen and Kristen Wiig bringing back this folk music duo playing an always-hilarious improv game live on the air. This sketch always works so well because anything can happen with Fred Armisen making up a song on the spot.
Though the monologue was a little too cutesy, Amy Adams had some great fun this episode, complete with plenty of singing for the star of Enchanted, and some impressive rapping as well. Since this wasn’t her first rodeo (she was interrupted by Kristen Wiig in a previous monologue too), she was clearly comfortable with the show, and didn’t have a problem with the cue cards or going with the flow of each sketch. Adams really should be doing more comedies.
Cecily Strong & Kate McKinnon – Both of these ladies were all over this episode, elevating even the worse sketches of the night (mainly the Cuba Christmas special) with their spot-on characters. Individually, Strong was great in that voiceover for Asian American Doll, not to mention rocking that Christmas Serial sketch (which McKinnon also appeared in). Meanwhile, McKinnon’s creepy expression during The Tenderfields sketch combined with her dancing worked perfectly, and her cat rescue character is a real gem. But they both take the cake with the Singing Sisters sketch. Great job, ladies.
The Final Word
The Christmas episode is always an exciting one, and Amy Adams definitely made this a solid episode to end 2014. It seems like there’s been some consistency in quality this season, despite the fact that there’s still been some growth and development with Michael Che, Pete Davidson and Leslie Jones joining the cast this season. They seem to be getting into their groove, even though there’s been a couple really bad episodes. Writers are finally starting to put forth more original and creative sketches and not just more easy talk show format sketches.
Here’s hoping they can keep it up when the show returns on January 17th with comedian Kevin Hart returning to host.