Call me a pessimist, but I always get skittish when Saturday Night Live airs new episodes three weeks in a row. And after solid back-to-back installments with Louis C.K. and Anna Kendrick as hosts, I couldn’t help but fret that Seth Rogen might be stuck with a gas gauge tilting toward the big red ‘E’ and setups more tired than a Kardashian in a camera-free zone.
I mean, Rogen’s a funny fella, no doubt, but when the first post-monologue sketch centered on Nasim Pedrad’s obnoxious grade-schooler Shallon — aka “The Recurring Character Who Leaves Laughter in a Dumpster Behind Studio 8H” — the aforementioned queasiness grew like the Grinch’s heart in the presence of Cindy Lou Who. (Plus, Zooey Deschanel and James Franco’s talents were essentially squandered in the opening monologue. Taylor Swift, at least, got one great zinger: “Whenever a man shows emotion, I appear.”)
Anyhow, I’d like to say things got better, but when I was a kid, my mother told me that lying can make your face freeze in a terrible position — kinda like Colin Jost grinning ghoulishly/vacuously at the end of every “Weekend Update” punch line. (Uh-huh, I went there!) Which is to say that this was a pretty tepid week for SNL, and that Rogen wasn’t given much of anything interesting to do.
Below are my picks for the week’s relative bests and soul-crushing worsts:
BEST: Blue River Dog Food
A married couple (Rogen and Cecily Strong) discusses making the switch from a leading brand to the smaller, healthier Blue River — until the guilt of previously having fed “chicken bypoduct meal” to their sad-eyed pooch Peanut sends Cecily into a full-blown, screaming crisis that ends with her admission, “Big-name brand dog foods: You won!”
BEST: Bar Mitzvah Boy Jacob
OK, so this didn’t vary that much from Vanessa Bayer’s previous outings as the painfully shy, script-reliant kiddo. But Jacob’s tears over Jeter’s retirement — and his mortification over a flirtation from co-anchor Cecily — had me chuckling.
SNL has gone to the well wayyy too many times with Pedrad’s ill-intentioned child and her attempts to distort the messages of her classroom’s guest speakers. I mean, if we’re gonna be subjected to Shallon, why not try a fresh setup where she’s outside the classroom or creating havoc in gym class or the cafeteria? Instead, all we get is a grown woman in wonky child drag extolling the virtues of crack. Also: Adding a ‘W’ to the end of ‘Just Say No’? There’s got to be somebody on SNL‘s writing staff who could’ve dug a little deeper, yes?
WORST: Undercover Sharpton
I know, I know, some folks like Kenan Thompson spoofing the Rev. Al Sharpton’s Politics Nation — for the record, I do not. But this bit imagining Sharpton in his recently revealed role an FBI informant back in the day was about as fresh as a carton of heavy cream in the back of your fridge dated Nov. 2013.
What did you think of Rogen’s SNL outing? Grade the installment in our poll below, then sound off in the comments with your picks for Best and Worst!