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!