Published Apr 16, 2017Looking tired and uninspired, medium talent Jimmy Fallon hosted a flat, generally unfunny episode of the show that first made him famous. Here's everything that happened.
The Cold Open
Sporting a Russian flag pin, Alec Baldwin's Donald Trump sat in his office with Vice President Mike Pence, contemplating his first 100 days of accomplishments and worrying about North Korea. Jimmy Fallon appeared as a mute Jared Kushner and a hooded skeleton represented Steve Bannon, the two White House power players who are allegedly at odds with each other. The competing advisors face off in an Apprentice- style competition judged by Trump. This never took off; Baldwin seemed to be going through the motions for this stunt-casting gig. The writers even recycled an older joke about Trump using a tiny kiddie desk while his minions run things in his office. This was rather bad and useless.
Introducing the first-ever coast-to-coast live simulcast in SNL history, Fallon didn't tell a single joke. Instead, he simply sang most of "Let's Dance" by David Bowie, roving around the studio space, backed up by many dancers, the show's cast, Harry Styles and Nile Rodgers. This was easy filler and not worth the effort it took to stage or watch.
Celebrity Family Feud Time Travel Edition
Stars from 1977 and 2017 competed against each other in this excuse for a chintzy celebrity impressions sketch. The role call: Cecily Strong as Liza Minnelli, Sasheer Zamata as Diana Ross, Harry Styles as Mick Jagger, Kate McKinnon as Kristen Stewart, Melissa Villaseñor as Gwen Stefani, Pete Davidson as David Blaine and Jimmy Fallon as John Travolta from both eras. The only notable aspect of this was that, instead of pre-taping one of the impressions, they got Fallon to play both Travoltas live. He had to run across the set and wear makeshift props to resemble each Travolta. Neat trick but not funny.
Legally Blonde: The Musical
A play on delusion, this remote cut between high school students backstage, raving about each other in their production of a musical and the reality of their amateurish, occasionally disastrous performance. Not really sure what this was trying to say. Are theatre students too high on themselves? Should we expect much from awkward high school musicals? Was this supposed to be funny?
Cecily Strong and Beck Bennett play a couple on a date in her apartment when her ex-boyfriend (Fallon) shows up to try to win her back. She seems disgusted by him, which pays off with the sketch's commentary on the United Airlines fiasco.
The White House Easter Bunny
Melissa McCarthy returned to play Sean Spicer, dressed as the Easter bunny. Ostensibly designed as an imaginary address in which Spicer might apologize for his recent Hitler/Assad comments, the show's writers went particularly dark. Their Spicer is not the hapless buffoon the real one seems to be. In their conception, he's wilfully evil and shitty and says and does reprehensibly stupid things with purposeful indifference. It's more shocking than amusing and this bit was the least satisfying of the Spicey segments yet.
Based on his first performance, the One Direction star sounds like he's been deep listening to Pink Floyd's The Wall and/or screening A Clockwork Orange. His "Sign of the Times" basks in the bleakness of its content, which might be a cheeky, anthemic thing about the end of the world. For his second song, "Ever Since New York," he seemed a bit nervous, strapping on an electric Gibson and casting reassuring glances at his bandmates behind him. Maybe he was uncertain about his stuff. There was a slight quality to the songs, like they shot for profundity but, in their simplicity and repetition, really had nothing to say.
On a somewhat short WU, Michael Che and Colin Jost ridiculed Trump's bizarre "chocolate cake" interview on Fox and made some solid United jabs too. Some miscellaneous headline jokes didn't fare as well, with Jost sheepishly trying to upsell a childish "down under" one about a woman in Australia giving birth to a large baby. Vanessa Bayer's normally charming, squeamish Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy didn't really land, while Kyle Mooney should consider retiring his emotionally manipulative "bad stand-up" character, Bruce Chandling. We know Bruce's awkward deal and the twist his appearances always take. Nothing more can be revealed.
Civil War Union Army Camp
To rally morale, a soldier suggests troops sing a traditional service song together. Fallon plays a guy who inserts an annoying, contemporary hook into the arrangement. The amusing premise was relatively well-executed, with Fallon adopting a teenaged girl's excitement for having "a party at my parents' house."
The Turtle Shirt
A too-long fake ad for a shirt you can hide in during awkward situations. A one-note joke got stretched into too many circumstantial scenarios, killing the silliness of it all.
Pat Sullivan and Denise
Back when they were cast members, Fallon and Rachel Dratch used to play these loudmouth Boston characters who were loutish and prone to intense arguing and make-out sessions. They reprised their roles tonight, attending a group tour of Harvard with their daughter, played by Kate McKinnon. There was no real buzz for these as recurring roles in the first place but they showed up now and then anyway. Here, with spiritless, obligatory performances and weak material, apparently co-written by Dratch and Tina Fey, they really fizzled.
Background basketball players
A surprisingly funny remote, Fallon and Mikey Day are extras on a dramatic film who are tasked with playing basketball in the background of a key scene. Trouble is, they suck at acting and cannot play basketball, which leads to all manner of distracting physical tomfoolery.