SNL with Ed Helms: Best and Worst Skits?

SNL often feels like The Hangover Part II; fun and nervy, yes, but an unnecessary retread of ideas we already enjoyed years ago. This week was no exception, as host Ed Helms led a night of half-baked sketches and under-utilized ladies, begging the question, “What up with that?” (Yes, Kenan Thompson reiterated the sentiment in song several times.) Luckily, the best two skits of the night were undeniable successes. Let’s review:

Best: The Ambiguously Gay Duo
Ace and Gary, the animated twosome with enough questionable affection to light up a superhero-themed discotheque, haven’t graced our screen in years. This week, the Robert Smigel “TV Funhouse” bit graduated to a new level of cool, becoming a live-action adventure starring Jon Hamm and Jimmy Fallon as the titular crusaders, Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert (Ace and Gary’s original voices) as their wicked foes, and one highly suggestive eel. The flashy innuendo was electric! Or a moray?

Best: Ann-Margret Tries to Throw Away a Wad of Paper in a Trashcan
We all saw Bridesmaids this weekend, right? Because we’re great people who love all-lady ensembles and the vaudevillian prowess of Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph (not to mention the Damages-grade ferocity of Rose Byrne)? Wiig’s spirited thrusting and jiving as ’60s sexpot Ann-Margret topped off a night of tepid sketches with a surprise blip of greatness, proving that every so often, SNL can overcome its bland reputation and show off a little carnal knowledge.

Worst: Generic Republican Advertisement
Have you heard that Republicans hoping to compete against Obama in 2012 are mostly white males between the ages of 45-60? Good. You could’ve written this sketch. Ed Helms’ one moment to hog the camera (besides his equally drippy monologue) was a flat commentary on the G.O.P.’s chances next year. Schlock-‘n-yawn.

What did you think of this week’s episode? Could you believe the real Lindsey Buckingham (and Chris Colfer, oddly) showed up for “What Up With That”? Were you angry that the “Corn Syrup Producers of America” short — a rerun — was replayed so early in the episode? Were Paul Simon’s musical performances the night’s best moments? Sound off below, follow me on Twitter at @louisvirtel, and read me regularly at Movieline.com!