Larry David returns to host for a second time and revive his Bernie Sanders impression, Alec Baldwin continues to be treated as a cast member, and the show struggles to find footing with its new cast. Here's everything that happened on Saturday Night Live this week.
The Cold Open
Unable to shy away from the week's indictment news, Alec Baldwin's Trump opens the show by revealing to former campaign manager Paul Manafort (Alex Moffat) that he's secretly not going on his two-week trip to Asia. In a cutaway, Melania (Cecily Strong) is seen enjoying her time with a blowup doll Trump that's getting along better with world leaders than usual. We cut back to find Trump and Manafort in the shower — in order to prove no one is wearing a wire — when Mike Pence (Beck Bennett) comes in to wash everyone's back. Jeff Sessions (Kate McKinnon) shows up in a striped period bathing suit from his favourite era, the 1890s. About par for the course in the Baldwin/Trump era of cold opens; competent but almost never surprising.
Larry David, on the back of a Curb Your Enthusiasm revival, returns to host for the second time in as many seasons, even as his signature political impression Bernie Sanders has made a slight return to the news. He wasn't shy in his monologue, starting with Quasimodo having surprisingly high dating standards before diving into his discomfort that many of those recently accused of sexual assault have turned out to be Jewish. His own attempts to be a good Jew are sometimes hindered by his interest in women, he says, before acting out being a pickup artist in a concentration camp. Kudos for taking the ride right up to the edge without flinching, even if not all of it worked.
The Price Is Right
More a parade of brief celebrity cameos than an actual Price is Right sketch, Beck Bennett plays host Drew Carey, who introduces a "celebrity paired with regular person" version of the game. When Kate McKinnon's Tilda Swinton is weird and distant, her partner (Lesley Jones) asks for a new celebrity. Bernie Sanders (David) objects to the whole exercise as, rightly, an absurd celebration of capitalism, while Alec Baldwin appears repeatedly as Tony Bennett hawking a series of laxative products. When Mikey Day's Chris Hemsworth gets confused and wants to "phone a friend" for help, he gets it from brother Liam (Cyrus's fiancé), because otherwise why is Day trying to do a Hemsworth impression? Other than Swinton trying to bid David Bowie's soul (because, wink, she has it), this series of impressions didn't add up to a game show, nor much of a comedy sketch. And here's Tony Bennett again.
White House press conference
Aidy Bryant is on stage as Sarah Huckabee Sanders, casually deflecting off troubling questions about Trump/Russian, John Kelly's remarks on the civil war and other controversies while she fantasy-sings Demi Lovato's "Confident." It's a funny bit on Sanders' seeming ability to shuck off any moral dilemma — including calling all of Trump's accusers liars — that sustains on the energy of Bryant's performance than the strength of the gag. Ironically, in the video being parodied, Lovato is in prison.
Ad Council Award Dinner
A lifetime achievement award is being given to longtime ad exec Martin Hamill (David). They show some of his groundbreaking early work against drug use and bullying, which all end with inappropriate tag likes like "No way, that's gay" or calling making fun of someone with disabilities "retarded." A good, simple bit that ends with introducing his groundbreaking pudding pops ad with Bill Cosby.
The Baby Step
What starts as another ensemble hip-hop posse cut parody, "The Baby Step," which is all about keeping it crib, features Pete Davidson as "Soft Spot" and Miley Cyrus as "Baby Snack." Dressed as babies, the video keeps cutting to David in his dressing room, insisting that he will not be involved in such stupid shenanigans. David finally storms onto the stage to confront Kenan Thompson, who should know better than to be wearing a diaper at this stage of his SNL career, even though "Carl" (Davidson) doesn't know any better cuz he's a rookie. (It's his third season.)
Miley Cyrus jumped from "Baby Snack" right into "Bad Mood," her current rocker single. It's a pretty strong song that highlights her powerful vocal pipes and it seems like she's in a bad mood because… feminism? Slightly distracting was her very prominent one fishnet-clad leg, which looked at times like a novelty lamp trying to make a break for it.
Second song, "I Would Die For You," finds her back in the family business with a slower country-tinged song that cements the end of her short-lived hip-hop period.
Colin Jost and Michael Che get off a round of Trump jokes that border on angry ranting more than one-liners before Eric (Moffat) and Don Jr. (Day) show up to explain how there's nothing to any of these allegations. Eric struggles to imitate all of Don Jr.'s hand gestures, blurts out guilty confessions and then gets distracted when Don Jr. shows him how Fun Dip works.
Heidi Gardner appeared as "every boxer's girlfriend from every boxing movie," praying that her boyfriend won't die in the ring tonight and insisting that if something doesn't change, she's taking the kids to her sister's. A good character bit that gets the most mileage out of the "taking the kids to her sister's" gag.
Finally, new baseball fan Leslie Jones describes her journey cheering for the Yankees before Astros players George Springer, Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman join her to celebrate their world series win. It ends as she invites diminutive Altuve to sit on her lap.
"Fresh Takes" TV Show
The freshmen at a high school host their TV segment on internal school news, including solving the mystery of who beefed during first period, before history teach Mr. Burton (David) gives very explicit and inappropriate updates on the sex lives of various students. They cut live to the nurse's office for updates on who has scoliosis, but David is the only funny one here.
Vincent's Wedding Party
Vincent (David) is an aging Elvis impersonator type who's throwing a party to celebrate his wedding to Cecily Strong's club promoter character, who's an expert in gay culture. After namedropping various gay sub-cultures, she breaks into song surrounded by shirtless dancers. As David defends her against "the haters and the trolls," and delights in the fact that he can't tell if she's 18 or 55, David finally cracks and can't get through the rest of the sketch, struggling particularly to get the line "thirsty bottom feeders" out.
Kyle Mooney and Beck Bennett star in an '80s sitcom parody involving their "cousin CJ" (David), who comes over to babysit their fish while they go out and ride bikes. CJ turns out to be a terrible influence, pounding beers and playing guitar solos instead of caring for their pet. It ends with a dramatic stabbing when he's confronted.