The cold open (with Jay Pharoah replacing Fred Armisen as Barack Obama) and opening monologue (with MacFarlane nailing a wide range of voices in a cute musical number) were promising appetizers to an episode that scored laughs in pretty much every sketch — right down to the final (and very brief) bit with McFarlane and cast newcomer Tim Robinson as Amish spoon makers.
Without further ado, my picks for the night’s best and worst:
Best: Intro to Puppetry
MacFarlane did a nice job of anchoring a hilarious skit about an amateur puppet class, but Bill Hader stole the show as a disturbed war vet working through his dark past with his plush doppelganger. Warning: You’ll say “TTYL to your innocence” watching sexually active and murderous puppet behaviors.
Best: Ryan Lochte’s Fall TV Preview
MacFarlane dropped by Weekend Update to do his best impersonation of the dim Olympic swimmer, and he had me hooked right from his awesome pronunciation of the title of Matthew Perry’s new sitcom. “Soup yourself” and press play. You won’t regret it.
Best: Eastwood & Chair
Hader’s Eastwood (and his hiked-up pants) is already the stuff of SNL legend, but you’ve never seen him eat a whole rotisserie chicken while standing in the background for 45 minutes, have you?
Worst: Rodger Brush
Armisen proved more crass than comedic as a producer for a show called “Sex After 50″ forced to sub for its ailing host. If someone saying “erection” out loud sends you into fits of laughter, then this sketch is all for you.
What did you think of SNL’s Season 38 premiere? Were you as impressed as I was by MacFarlane’s hosting skills? Hit the comments with your thoughts!