This season of Saturday Night Live has been full of reunions. Unfortunately, one of the most anticipated — the return of three-time host Will Ferrell — didn’t take Studio 8H by storm like previous SNL grads Jimmy Fallon and Maya Rudolph. But while Ferrell’s opening monologue and a number of skits failed to highlight his usual comedic style, we did, however, see him bring back a few favorite characters and surprise guests. Here are my picks for best and worst of the night.
Best: Cold Open
To kick off the night, Ferrell reprised his role of George W. Bush in one of the best political cold opens we’ve seen this season. The scene opened with Jason Sudeikis’ Joe Biden (as a pouty teenager) getting upset with Fred Armisen’s President Obama (as an understanding father) for stealing his idea about gay marriage. This led to meeting Biden’s “imaginary friend” George, the man who actually lives in his closet because he got lost chasing a butterfly. Ferrell’s Bush played well off of Sudeikis’ Biden, and the pair ranting about how “politics aren’t fair” was a nice way to kick off the show.
Best: Alternative Prom
Ferrell was two for two as he brought back another fan favorite — Marty Culp. Performing at a high school’s LGBT event alongside his wife Bobbie (Ana Gasteyer), the pair jumped right back into their usual banter, which included Glee and Hunger Games jokes. And then they did what they do best by launching into a painfully hip medley of Adele’s “Rumor Has It”, One Direction (“you are gay and beautiful!”), Nicki Minaj (“super gay!”), Justin Bieber’s “Boyfriend”, LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It”, and finally, “YMCA” — or as they put it, “LGBT”.
Best: 100th Digital Short
The Lonely Island sure knows how to celebrate. Justin Bieber joined Jorma and Andy in a fun combination of their best digital shorts. Justin Timberlake (box included) and Natalie Portman (rapping about her baby) were the most notable returns, but we also saw Jon Hamm, Michael Bolton, Julian Casablancas, Usher and Will Ferrell pop up — all of whom annoyed Justin Bieber by singing about self-administered oral sex.
Worst: Broadway Sizzle
The basic premise of the sketch was aspiring Broadway stars auditioning for a quarreling divorced couple (Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig), but neither the auditions nor the commentary from the “judges” was chuckle-worthy. Kenan Thompson made train noises, Ferrell got embarrassed when he realized he was singing songs meant for women and Bobby Moynihan’s audition was bumped so Ferrell could sing again. Let’s just say this: Smash‘s Ellis would have poisoned all of them by now.
Worst: Happy 25th Anniversary
Apparently this sketch was a follow-up to 2009’s “Wedding Toast,” with Sudekis trying to stop a chain of bizarre, unrelated guests. While the couple unfortunately wasn’t the same — which would have made this outdated skit more relevant — we did see a few encores: Fred Armisen making uncomfortable sexual advances, Wiig with an oxygen tank, Moynahan dropping the mic and Will Forte — who also reprised his role of Greg Stink earlier in the show — whispering anti-Obama comments. Ferrell’s addition of a chef-turned-psychic looking to solve crimes and Taran Killam’s flamboyant model bit weren’t enough to save it though, ending the night on a flat note.
What did you think of this week’s SNL? Which of Ferrell’s characters were you most excited to see return? And what were your picks for best and worst sketches? Sound off in the comments!Follow @AlyseWhitney