From Movieline.com‘s tube-obsessed Louis Virtel….
Saturday Night Live uncovered a major problem with “just being Miley” last night: The 17-year-old took to the Studio 8H stage with signature chutzpah, but lacked the versatility to effectively skewer her contemporaries (Justin Bieber, Fergie, and Lindsay Lohan), the terrifying Disney Channel (in a so-so instructional sketch with Kenan Thompson as Raven Simone), or herself (in a grim monologue number we’ll call “The Bong Song”). The cast rallied — especially Vanessa Bayer with her killer Miley takeoff, yet again — but history will remember Ms. Cyrus’s hosting stint as a collapsed rung on “The Climb.”
Best Skit: Seth Meyers Reclaims “Winning”
Seth Meyers conquered a ballistic news week with trenchant stabs at Charlie Sheen, Muammar Gaddafi, and, uh, Charlie Sheen again during a tight Weekend Update. Should I be upset that he outclassed Bill Hader, whose tepid impersonation of the Two and a Half Mensch opened the show? I vote no: Meyers’s rundown of the “winners and losers” surrounding Charlie Sheen’s spiral concluded with a perfect note: “The biggest loser? ‘Winning.’ Doesn’t seem to mean the same thing anymore.” Plus, Jason Sudeikis’s cameo as The Devil earns a half-chuckle.
Best Skit: The Miley Cyrus Show
Forgiving the real Miley, whose Justin Bieber impression needed oodles more back-to-school swagger, the newest edition of The Miley Cyrus Show scintillated. “So you’re growin’ up!” the fake Cyrus hooted at Bieber. “Like me, doin’ Salvia! Did you know I smoked Salvia?” Bayer’s riff on Miley Cyrus combines the asthmatic glee of So You Think You Can Dance‘s Mary Murphy and the cock-a-doodle-doo vocals of some ancient Laraine Newman character. That’s my lifeblood, right there. Plus, in an artistic triumph, Sudeikis’s Billy Ray wins a full chuckle.
Worst Skit: Les Jeunes de Paris
This worked during Emma Stone’s week, but last night’s version was pas magnifique. The ridiculous French dance-off featured wacky music, wild gesticulations, and then… nothing. Why bring back such a dada conceit, Lorne Michaels? The “randomness” can’t succeed if we’ve seen it before, right? By definition?
Worst Skit: SS Canada Star
Hey, SNL: Mean-spirited humor doesn’t work when the targets are lovable caricatures. The night’s final live sketch centered on Miley, who played a cruise ship singer with a chip on her shoulder, and the patrons she kept offending. Kristen Wiig played a pink-panted cat lady, and I chose to adore her while Miley improvised songs about her “gross”-ness. Hush up, Hannah! Please watch helplessly as many of your favorite cast members are given nothing to do.
How did you feel about this week’s SNL? Was Miley effective, or should she hire Vanessa Bayer to play her full-time? And speaking of Bayer, could you handle that she looked exactly like Molly Shannon during the cruise sketch? Vote below, holler in the comments, follow me on Twitter (@louisvirtel), and read me regularly at TVLine’s sister site Movieline.com.