Yikes. Back for their first episode of 2017, Saturday Night Live was rough, with many ill-conceived and clumsily concluded sketches for host Felicity Jones to star in, while musical guest Sturgill Simpson seemed hell-bent on blasting a crater through the stage. Here's everything that went down.
The Cold Open
Donald Trump's infamous trainwreck of a news conference from this past week was lampooned from almost every possible angle. Trump's lackluster celebrity guest list for his inauguration was briefly mentioned before the phrase "big Russian pee pee party" was invoked and released a golden stream of urine puns. Virtually every other political story of the week (i.e. Republicans attacking the Affordable Care Act; revelations about Russia's alleged interference in the U.S. election) was touched upon and produced solid jokes.
Felicity Jones seemed nervous but was game to make fun of her role in Rogue One. Tina Fey made a cameo as a Leia-eseque hologram to offer some sketch survival tips and lightly roast SNL itself (and the press and President-Elects who scrutinize it), which was amusing.
What could've been a takedown of The Bachelor was mostly invested in making all of the ladies competing for Beck Bennett's "beard hunk" seem like desperate, stupid nymphomaniacs. They've staged this kind of thing before but again, why just make the women seem like morons? The whole premise and structure of these shows is worth an SNL treatment that's at least better than Burning Love.
Shondra & Malik
This half-baked remote's joke was that two tough-talking gangstas, played by Kenan Thompson (Malik) and Leslie Jones (Shondra), are at each other's throats about who rules a block. Malik rolls up in a car and every time he tries to leave after a kiss-off threat, his car breaks down, forcing Shondra to help him. There wasn't much to this dramatic piece and it ended just because it had to.
Mikey Day played Albee Durberry, a wealthy, 100-year-old benefactor who attends a play he financed, but his medical ailments cause him, and Jones as his nurse, to be a massive distraction during the production. A bit of physical comedy, there wasn't anything memorable about this.
The Princess and the Curse
Jones plays Princess Viola, who was cursed by a witch (McKinnon) as a baby to spend her nights 15 pounds heavier than she usually is. This upsets her lover, a Prince played by Beck Bennett. The thin premise was highlighted by its sudden, dumb conclusion, which was a small penis joke. The already shaky episode seemed to hits its nadir.
Susan B. Anthony's House
This wasn't as insipid as previous sketches but it was still lacking in any real structure or point. McKinnon plays Anthony, who is conjured by a group of young women touring her home, but after a brief interaction, squabble over whether or not to cab or subway home. Its goal seemed to be highlighting the relative ease of modern day struggles compared to those of suffragettes like Anthony. But it didn't execute this in any kind of clever way.
With a drawl somewhere between Bob Seger and Dwight Yoakam, Sturgill Simpson was backed by a full-on soul band and clearly put his all into trying to rock his way through his two songs on his SNL debut. Nominated for an album of the year Grammy for A Sailor's Guide to Earth, Simpson's lyrics were quite indecipherable, as he barked them out into his mic. Singing seemed like an obligation while ripping it up on his guitar and having extended jam sessions with his band looked like a vicious, necessary release. Smashing his Tele down to the ground, Simpson likely made some new fans after this energetic appearance.
Colin Jost and Michael Che took us back to the cold open, which was the episode's last time tackling anything topical or political. They ridiculed the golden shower we all got soaked in, Trump's news conference, which Che couldn't help but express genuine admiration for, just for Trump's dismissal of CNN as "fake news." Pete Davidson did a pretty soft desk piece about Trump's cabinet picks but the most memorable bits include Jost celebrating the 10th anniversary of the iPhone. and Che tying the re-launch of the Ford Bronco with O.J. Simpson's eligibility for parole in 2020.
Hot Robot 3: Journey to Boob Mountain
In his first and only appearance of the night, Kyle Mooney plays writer/director Adam Perkins, who's being interviewed about his outspoken political statements. And yet, he's the director of a mindless, teen softcore porn comedy that he and his actors, played by Jones and Bennett, must talk about seriously. Sort of funny.
Crowd Work at The Resort
A trio of soft-spoken women is called upon to participate in some resort entertainment. They each tell a joke and, while they seem like pretty harmless middle-aged women, it turns out they all want to tell sex jokes about loose orifices. Odd idea but the dirty jokes were good.