Saturday Night Live: Jason Bateman & Morgan Wallen December 5, 2020

Saturday Night Live: Jason Bateman & Morgan Wallen December 5, 2020
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Oof, as is often the case after a few weeks off, Saturday Night Live limped back into production with an uneven episode where the strong stuff was good but the weak stuff was particularly weak. Jason Bateman, who can do no wrong, did his best and Morgan Wallen exemplified the polarity of the evening with a good song and not a good song. Here's everything that happened on SNL this week.

The cold open
 

The past week's cartoonishly embarrassing Michigan hearing about the presidential election, as initiated by the Trump campaign, was "sent up," but this was not really necessary, as it required no notes. At the actual hearing, Rudolph Giuliani loudly farted while speaking and his star witness was Melissa Carone, who behaved almost exactly like Cecily Strong's Weekend Update correspondent, The Girl You Wish You Hadn't Started A Conversation With At A Party, but blond, and so, Strong played her here. Other Trump witnesses were made to seem like idiotic lunatics as well, but again, all of this was not as funny — or amusingly sad — as real life, and, because it just wasn't necessary or possible to top the absurdity of the actual event, this cold open stayed cold the whole time.
 

The monologue

Jason Bateman made just his second appearance hosting SNL, and first in 15 years (conversely, John Mulaney has hosted twice in the year 2020 alone). He recalled that night and a bizarre encounter with a chimpanzee, which was featured on the show, and almost ripped Bateman's face off during curtain call. Using clips to back at it up, the bone-dry Bateman gave the tale his all and it was just amusing enough.
 

Meagan

At a sleepover for teenage girls, Bateman played a dad who tried to unravel a strange mystery. It seemed that one of the teens tried to cover up an embarrassing, perfectly natural accident but wound up destroying parts of the house. The show has done this bit before and, between Bateman and an unhinged Kate McKinnon, this iteration worked well.
 

Stanta

In this remarkable, if dated remote, letters to Santa take a dark turn, as members of the cast, led by Pete Davidson, as Stu, turn the exchange into a spoof on Eminem's "Stan." Really well-executed, if 20 odd years too late, with a brief assist from Slim Shady himself.
 
 

Duplex

Kind of a throwback to the show's early obsession with lounge singing, this showcase for Bowen Yang and Cecily Strong to sing, while Bateman pretended to play keyboards, sucked. Just five-to-one filler showing up way too early in the show.

The Christmas Conversation

In this remote, daughters tried to FaceTime their moms to tell them they won't be able to make it home for Christmas due to the pandemic but things do not go well. Written by some emotionally manipulated children, this hit some high-strung notes with precision but could've been funnier had it not ended with such schmaltz.
 

Ghosts of Morgan Wallen Future

Fascinatingly, SNL addressed its headline-making decision to withdraw their invitation to musician Morgan Wallen two months ago, after he was caught violating the show's (and all of society's) COVID protocols. Pretty clever concept, with Bateman and Bowen Yang playing future versions of Wallen, warning the real one about the consequences of partying with people at the University of Alabama. Bateman and Yang were funny in this though it didn't draw huge laughs. Still, it brought some closure to this strange moment in the show's history, and the real-life Wallen even sang a new song.
 

Morgan Wallen

Speak of the devil and he shall appear. Wallen, his band, and his mullet brought some Tennessee charm and twang to the stage, sunnily breezing through "7 Summers," a single from his forthcoming double-album. By the end, you could see the gratitude and relief on his face, as he finally got to make his SNL debut.



"Yikes," my wife said, as Wallen appeared on stage again, in a sleeveless plaid, collared shirt and his mullet, and began singing "Still Goin' Down," some bullshit country song about blue collar fantasies, drinking beer, and being in the country that seemed so obvious and pandering (and lacking in the musical sophistication of "7 Summers"), it might've been another sketch. Oh well, he smiled sweetly at the end, with a wink that suggested even he knew his performance was truly a "performance."



Weekend Update

Colin Jost went in on the Trump campaign's futile efforts to overturn the election, while Michael Che suggested he was lucky to work on a white show, which improves his chances of receiving the COVID vaccine in a timely manner.
 

Pete Davidson stopped by the desk to discuss Staten Island COVID restrictions and protests about it, and to exhibit the new Pete Davidson Vibrator.
 

Che made a funny joke about Drake's new line of scented candles, and Jost made a good Arby's joke that was no match for Che's joke about murdering a 102-year-old woman. Been a while since we heard from Heidi Gardner's disaffected teen film critic, Bailey Gismert, who, in isolation and reviewing older movies, worries that Forrest Gump isn't woke enough and that American Beauty is problematic for its plastic bag usage. Things take a dark turn when Gismert suggests that Buffalo Bill from The Silence of the Lambs is misunderstood and, as usual, this bleak realism is where Gardner truly shone.

Santa's Village

Donning a Santa suit for at least the second time during the show, Bateman and Cecily Strong played mall Clauses, who, for social distancing safety, are encased in those Wayne Coyne balls and have no control over them. This physical comedy bit generated zero laughs and audible groans from the in-studio audience who, rightly, assumed all of the awkward falls were painful. This was terrible.

Kills the Bit

In this remote, Kyle Mooney played an awkward friend who always tries to join in on a group joke a bit later than everyone else and after its momentum is lost. Rather elaborate and pretty brilliantly written and executed, Mooney again proved himself as the show's true master of socially awkward comedy.