Jimmy Fallon took the reins of Saturday Night Live this week, and with a team of special guests — Jude Law, Rachel Dratch, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Tracy Morgan, Chris Kattan, and Horatio Sanz among them — delivered a fun, funny episode in which even the jokes that didn’t work were buoyed by an innate zaniness and a willingness to try something fresh and unexpected. [Update: The show scored its best overnight ratings since last May’s season finale.]
Here are my picks for the night’s best — hard to narrow it to just two — and worst sketches:
Best: Weekend Update Joke-Off
In a stroke of comic genius, Poehler, Fey, and Fallon got behind the anchor’s desk with Seth Meyers and lobbed punch line after punch line about a strip club offering free lap dances to patrons who donate gifts for needy children. (The buzzer sound-effects were pretty amazing, too.) SNL should be required to wrangle guests for a joke-off every single week, no? My personal fave (from Fallon): “Unlike the strippers, the toys must not be damaged.”
Best: Today Show With Regis Philbin
Kristen Wiig was hilarious as usual as Kathie Lee Gifford in the fourth hour and 45th minute of NBC’s boozy morning-fest, brutally mocking costar Hoda Kotb’s sex life — “We need a price check on Double-A batteries! Winning!” shouted Kathie Lee (who followed with a self-amused, whispered “Charlie Sheen”), speculating that Hoda’s new beau was strictly mechanical. Things only got better when Fallon’s spot-on Regis Philbin joined the action, and ended long before the jokes had run out of steam. That’s winning, indeed.
Honorable Mention: Jimmy’s Mirror
Fallon looking into a mirror and speaking to his younger, more toussled self (Andy Samberg). I loved the way Fallon gamely mocked his talk-show persona and the way that gig requires him to be a fan of everything from Steven Segal to loaves of bread, and the “Rainbow Connection” duet was pure magic.
Worst: 1920s Holiday Party
Hey, they can’t all be winners, right? And this bit about a married couple tormenting their party guests with their “singing” and “dancing” skills was a dual failure of concept and execution. Luckily for SNL, Fallon’s sheer gameness helped elevate the similarly weak setup in the War Horse sketch.
What did you think of this week’s SNL? What are your picks for best and worst skit? And how would you grade Fallon as host? Sound off below, and for all my TV recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!