Saturday Night Live Season Premiere With Alec Baldwin: Best and Worst Skits

Get More: Commentary, Recaps

Saturday Night Live‘s 37th season premiere, with Alec Baldwin making a record 16th appearance as host, took us on a journey from the sublimely ridiculous to the thuddingly awful. But as is the case with SNL nowadays, if you get a chuckle from, say, one out of every three skits, then it’s pretty much a passing grade.

The amusing if not uproarious opening monologue focused on Baldwin boasting of surpassing Steve Martin as the No. 1 most frequent host, and dissing Martin for moonlighting with “the round guitar thing Kermit the Frog plays.” Martin then showed up (with drug expert Seth Rogen, sadly underutilized) to test Baldwin’s urine for steroids, and I’ll admit to gagging and guffawing when he sipped and swished the amber liquid like a sommelier, detecting only niacin, B-12, linguine vongole, and Cialis. After the monologue, though, it was feast or famine. Here are my picks for best and worst skit.

Best: Top Gun Screen Tests
An opportunity for some keen-eyed impersonations of unlikely auditions — DeNiro, Prince, Paula Abdul — as a “bonus” in a 25th anniversary DVD. Bill Hader’s turns as Alan Alda and Harvey Fierstein were particularly genius.

Best: Who’s on Top
An infantile concept — a game-show that sexually pairs up male celebrities and asks contestants which is the “top” and which is the “bottom” — made funnier by the randomness of its choices (Billy Joel vs. Springsteen; Roberto Benigni vs Gerard Depardieu, who’s French and therefore a bottom) and Baldwin’s enthusiastic-bordering-on-creepy delivery.

Worst: All My Children Wrap Party
The Buffalo news segment (with Kristen Wiig suffering through satellite delays, insect attacks, and an absence of punch lines in Costa Rica) almost took home worst in show, but the fact that the show’s writers trained an eye on All My Children‘s demise — without seemingly ever having watched a soap opera in the history of ever — was the evening’s biggest missed opportunity. Really, evil-twin and amnesia jokes are the freshest you can come up with, SNL? And I almost called 911 to report a crime over that pitiable Susan Lucci impersonation.

What did you think of the SNL season opener? What are your picks for best and worsrt skit? Sound off in the comments!

Comments (50)

  • Best sketch: Closing Credits

    Worst sketch: The sketches.

    Most memorable moment: Thom Yorke rocking out to a three note sequence during the opening seconds of Radiohead’s second song.

    Comment by essequemodeia – September 25, 2011 09:54 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • You condemn the All My Children sketch because they fell back on amnesia and evil tiwn jokes…but soaps are still using these recycled plot devices all the time…along with long lost children and back from the dead characters. Admittedly it wasn’t a great sketch but it sounds like you think soaps are out there doing some daring, cutting edge stories.

    Comment by Buff Freak – September 25, 2011 10:01 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Actually, evil twin and amnesia plots are not used that much nowadays. I can tell you don’t watch soaps often at all.

      Comment by Angela – September 25, 2011 11:02 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Actually I watch OLTL every day and watched AMC and GH regularly up til a couple of years ago…Right now on OLT Natalie and Jack both have amnesia of some sort. Nora had it after being kidnapped. Marty had it. Todd had it, though he was technically brainwashed. And ok maybe not the evil twin…but the long-lost twins? Todd/Victor, Natalie/Jessica. And don’t get me started on the long-lost child bit…Rex, David, Skyler (sp?) have all had their parentage changed a couple of times and that’s just off the top of my head. I read that on AMC David developed a serum that brought people back to life…my point is they still fall back on these overdone soap cliches all the time…

        Comment by Buff Freak – September 25, 2011 11:22 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • Completely agree. Me and my mom having a running joke. If a girl sleeps with two guys in the same week, she’s pregnant. Soaps are about as predictable as they come. They’ve used the same cliches for years. I’ve watched General Hospital every day for 6 years now and it’s gottent o the point where I can pretty much write the story before the twists are revealed. Dante going out on a police mission while LuLu waits to accept his proposal? He’s gettin shot.

          Comment by Captain – September 25, 2011 12:28 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • The whole point to the all my children sketch is that not only did each of the people have one of the tired cliched plot devices but that it was the CREW that had it.. kind of like they were drawing on their own experiences when writing the show.. That was funny!!

      and come on.. when jason sudeikis came out and crossed his eyes and said ” i do the fans…or do i?” you had to have a laugh out loud moment!!! I know i did

      Comment by janie – September 26, 2011 08:39 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • The whole show was a huge dissapointment for being the fall premiere.

    Did like the Top Gun skit the best – on that we agree.

    And Radiohead sucked – OMG.

    Comment by dontblameme – September 25, 2011 10:04 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I was disappointed as well. I miss the days of Tina Fey, Amy, Maya and the crew. They were my favorite seasons although I’ve been watching from the beginning. Top Gun was also my top skit choice. The rest was just not that funny. :(

      Comment by Kim R – September 26, 2011 02:22 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • It was bad. Like, really bad.

    And I’ve even been defending SNL these past few years.

    Comment by Chmarin – September 25, 2011 10:13 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • No it wasn’t, it really wasn’t. Red Flag commercial was good enough to carry the 90 minutes. There were good chuckles. SNL has been and always will have bad sketches. Seriously, watch some from the ever beloved 70′s era. Tell me honestly every sketch of every episode was genius. You won’t be able to do so. Laugh when it’s funny (often) and politely sit through the unfunny (happens a lot). It’s SNL, they last and make us laugh somehow.

      Comment by oansun – September 25, 2011 11:02 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Ugh, any time you start off an impression with “I’m [Name of actor] and I play [Name of most famous character]“, you know your impression is horrible.

    Comment by Ryan – September 25, 2011 10:17 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I thought the point of her saying that was because she’s such a diva that she is totally unaware of the crew….

      Comment by Buffy Freak – September 25, 2011 10:50 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • If she hadn’t told me who she was, I would never have known. Nothing about her even smelled of “La Lucci”.

        Comment by robert – September 25, 2011 01:20 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • That’s exactly what I was going to say. I’m a theatre kid and every improv workshop I’ve ever been to has said the same thing, never start an impression by saying “Hello, I’m Susan Lucci…” If you have to do that to let people know who you’re suppose to be, it’s not a good impression.

      Comment by Captain – September 25, 2011 12:30 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Well even if the impression had been spot on, a lot of people have no idea who Susan Lucci is, so the intro did make sense. And really of all the people in the world, LaLucci is not really on the top of most people’s list, so I can”t knock it too much.

        Comment by Amy – September 26, 2011 10:55 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I thought your choice for “worst” was funnier than your choice for “best” (Who’s on Top)

    They’ve done the “lost auditions” before an it’s always good. They did a GREAT for Star Wars years ago w/Kevin Spacey. Brilliant

    Comment by Roy Munson – September 25, 2011 10:33 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Oh, and Tosh has already done the bit of giving someone a drug test and then “drinking” the results

    Comment by Roy Munson – September 25, 2011 10:35 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I wasn’t expecting much from Alec Baldwin at all. Didn’t score many laughs from me at all.
    Agree with the best sketches and worst sketch. I found myself laughing at the news sketch because of how cheesy it was. Plus Abby’s face at times was priceless.
    I was slightly disappointed at the fact that Weekend Update was so short. There were some pretty good jokes (Americans confused by medium and small). Wish Kristen would have done the movie review instead of Alec.
    Hoping for better writing next week.

    Comment by Taylor – September 25, 2011 10:37 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • May I please ask, as someone living outside of the United States who can’t view the video, that the videos that are uploaded or embedded are videos that are available to all regions of the world. I am a frequent visitor of this website and a huge SNL fan. It would be greatly appreciated, thank you.

    Comment by Ivy – September 25, 2011 10:42 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Why should American TV be given for free to foreigners? Is your TV available for free to us? No. Then stop expecting us to give it away.

      Comment by Amanda – September 25, 2011 11:03 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • American TV is free for us, you elitist, xenophobic snob. Or at least ad-supported and the NBC streaming subjects viewers to those as well.

        Comment by TigerNightmare – September 25, 2011 11:47 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • It’s called an Internet bill. Accessing the Internet costs me money. So it wouldn’t be coming free as it is. NBC is a free-to-air channel anyway. I’m not “expecting” anything, I just kindly asked. Thank you TigerNightmare for your comment.

        Comment by Ivy – September 25, 2011 12:30 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • People can be so awful. Two suggestions. The easiest would be to use an American proxy to access the online streaming. The other way is to download the show, although the legality of this may vary.

          Comment by TigerNightmare – September 25, 2011 12:39 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Foreign TV basically is free for Americans since they steal all of our shows.

        Comment by Kris – September 25, 2011 12:31 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • You can have X-Factor back.

          Comment by TigerNightmare – September 25, 2011 12:40 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
          • ZING!!!

            Comment by Taylor – September 25, 2011 10:15 PM PDT  
  • It wasn’t really a sketch but the funniest joke was during the monologue when Baldwin talked about the uproar over Ben & Jerry’s Schweddy Balls ice cream, saying there was a new flavor coming out for its critics called Go Fudge Yourself The phrase was even trending on Twitter for a while.

    I was disappointed that the repub debate skit wasn’t funnier. SNL usually does well during election seasons.

    Comment by Lisie – September 25, 2011 10:49 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Bill Hader. That. Is. All.

    Comment by Logistics – September 25, 2011 10:55 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I’m still shocked at how messy Radiohead were! They’re usually so tight live – maybe it was the setting or the fact that they hadn’t played to an audience in a while, I don’t wanna make excuses for them – but that performance of Lotus Flower was not good. They were better with the second song.
    But can we all agree that the best days of SNL are long gone and that we’re crazy to think that things are going to SUDDENLY improve with big-name guest stars?

    Comment by Alex – September 25, 2011 11:00 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • The video’s are copyrighted to NBC which is why they are embedded from the NBC player. Sorry you live outside the states but I am pretty sure there is nothing this site can do without risking being in trouble from NBC to show you those videos. Believe me you are not missing much.

    Comment by JC – September 25, 2011 11:01 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Last night’s season premiere gets a C+ from me. Not bad but not a big deal. Why was Seth Rogen even there? If he and Steve Martin are around, put them in sketches! I like Vanessa Bayer a lot and she is as good as the writing will allow. Same applies to everybody. My problem with SNL these days is that the sketches rarely go anywhere. They start out with a decent premise and fall into irrelevance after two minutes most of the time. Hey, Lorne, get some new writers! As for Radiohead: was the front man actually singing real words??

    Comment by Gary M – September 25, 2011 11:05 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Lorne actually did get some new writers! The premiere, to me, was a marked improvement over season 36. They had a lot of creative ideas going on last night. Still work to be done, though.

      Comment by TigerNightmare – September 25, 2011 11:50 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I liked the kid psychologist one. I’m so glad Nasim Pedrad is one of the main cast members now. Thought the AMC one was brutal. Weekend update always good. “come at me faster, other people’s sonograms!” LOL!!

    Comment by Nina – September 25, 2011 11:23 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • While overall the sketch was so-so, I immediately thought when she was on top of the cabinet – “oh, she’s planking”.

      Comment by Snsetblaze – September 26, 2011 10:51 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I give it a B-. Baldwin’s Tony Bennet impression – Best!

    Comment by that gurl – September 25, 2011 01:14 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Everybody does that. Coach Hines from MadTV also did. It’s not a Tosh original.

    Comment by Nick – September 25, 2011 01:22 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I hope next with, with Melissa McCarthy is better; was very disappointed in this episode.

    Comment by Jennifer – September 25, 2011 02:11 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • the whole show was based on stupid and infantile humor. i miss the days with tina fey where there were more high brow skits. i would like some dumb funny skits, and some highbrow funny skits.

    Comment by cj – September 25, 2011 03:08 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • That was awful. I usually find SNL funny even when others don’t ad had high hopes for Alec, but wow it was so bad. I hope they write better stuff for Melissa McCarthy next week! And Seth Meyers, your opening joke on Weekend Update? You stole it from an episode of the Daily Show this week.

    Comment by Mandy – September 25, 2011 03:21 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I’ve watched SNL since the 70′s and still enjoy it. Love Alex Baldwin, but thought last night’s show was weak. Also, love much of the contemporary music but Radio Head – yuck! I would suggest that SNL loose the immature humor and write some better skits. Did like the Top Gun skit, but expect more from this show.

    Comment by Frances Foster – September 25, 2011 03:24 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I actually thought last night’s episode was fairly funny, and quite enjoyed the AMC skit. In my opinion, the most unfunny skit was by far the Delayed Newscast with Baldwin, Abby Elliot, and Kristen Wiig.

    Also, just an inaccuracy, you note an impression of De Niro in the Lost Auditions sketch, but it was Pacino.

    Comment by DL – September 25, 2011 03:31 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I wish they would have new cast members. Seth, Jason & Kristen are kinda played out. I have wondered for a while what the show would be like if Andy Samberg was the head writer.

    Comment by Jill – September 25, 2011 06:14 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I liked the cold open with the Republican debate – nothing new, but some funny lines – and I absolutely loved the skit late in the episode with the child psychologist’s troubled daughter, played by Nasim Pedrad. I have a child with special needs, and to quote Homer Simpson: “It’s funny because it’s true.”

    Comment by Chuck in Boston – September 25, 2011 07:37 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Honestly, Baldwin’s impression of Tony bennett is the funniest thing i have seen on TV in quite a while. Loved it

    Comment by DrewZ – September 26, 2011 01:12 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I gagged at the drinking of urine in the monologue and then didn’t laugh for the rest of the show. I have begun to get excited for Weekend Update alone over the last year or two, but even that was lame. Epic Fail SNL!

    Comment by MIbe – September 26, 2011 06:35 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I was soooooo looking forward to Alec’s hosting the season opener but man what a mess! The urine thing was the most disgusting thing I’ve seen in years on SNL, and they have had some really yucky moments over the years. So, having set the tone for the evening, it went down hill so quickly it was a blur. The debate was a very weak ok for me, the delayed responses segment was impossible to watch and then there was Radiohead! What the hell was that about? Don’t recall ever hearing one song from them, but it was more like a skit about a down-and-out rock group than a real group. Wasn’t there a rehearsal for this show? I guess “Shweaty Balls” could never be duplicated, but Alec deserves so much better. One really bad show. Lorne, start using Andy much, much more. He is a true shining light, both by his writing and delivery. It’s his time now.

      Comment by Selbs – September 26, 2011 12:01 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I agree with the best and worst. As I watched I kept thinking with how after months to prepare for the premiere episode and Alec Baldwin hosting, this was the best SNL could come up with? Doesn’t bode well for the rest of the season.

    Comment by Jack – September 26, 2011 08:46 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I loved the opening debate! That and the Top Gun screen tests make my best list.

    Comment by Volcfom – September 26, 2011 09:59 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I am still in awe that Vanessa Bayer was asked to come back, was even made a cast member in the first place. She has more of a vacant stare than Michele Bachman. I don’t know of anyone past or present who has such a severe case of “I’m Totally Reading Off Cue Cards”-itis than here.

    Comment by Stephanie – September 26, 2011 12:52 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • What I found lame about the All My Children sketch wasn’t even the tired soap opera writing cliches, but the tired soap opera acting cliches. I couldn’t help flashing back to when Susan Lucci hosted the show and did a much, much funnier parody of the style.

    Comment by Teresa – September 26, 2011 02:54 PM PDT  Reply To This Post

Leave a Reply

Comments on are monitored. So don't go off topic, don't frakkin' curse, and be gone with your offers of discount leather goods. Talk smart about TV!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s