Like a supermarket shopper eyeing the half-priced sushi on a Monday night, I approached this week’s Saturday Night Live with some concerns about its freshness.
After all, the Matthew McConaughey-hosted episode represented the third consecutive SNL installment in three weeks — leaving me to wonder if (following Donald Trump and Elizabeth Banks’ outings) the show’s writing staff might run dry solid punchlines and inventive ideas.
The good news? Things started out strong with an excellent cold open, a cute (if not hilarious) monologue and an pre-taped Adele-centric Thanksgiving interlude that was damn near perfect. Also, while we’re on the subject of the British chanteuse/musical guest, her renditions this week of “Hello” and “When We Were Young” were breathtaking.
Unfortunately, the episode fizzled out in the final third — even though we were spared a dubious Kyle Mooney short. Whether or not you felt the same way, let’s dive into my picks for the week’s best and worst (sorry, the Star Wars screen test didn’t make the cut for me — too many promising cameos and setups, not nearly enough payoff):
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BEST: ADELE THANKSGIVING
A little girl keeps the peace at Thanksgiving by playing Adele’s “Hello” every time an argument begins to percolate — an act that sends them all into sepia-hued, eyelash-tastic fits of lip synching. Here’s hoping the group ballad means Aunt Kathy’s racist remark to visiting boyfriend Jay Pharoah (“Why do your friends keep antagonizing the police?!”) doesn’t get revisited ’til Christmas.
BEST: FOX & FRIENDS COLD OPEN
I’ll admit I was a little bummed we didn’t get the usual fast-foward laundry list of corrections in this spoof of Fox News Channel’s a.m. talker. But no matter, as this sketch featured stinging punch lines (“All Fridays matter!” yelled Vanessa Bayer, portraying an Elisabeth Hasselbeck offended by the mention of Black Friday) and unabashed goofballery (“Hey, Syria, locate the nearest bathroom!” bumbled Bobby Monynihan’s wonderfully dim Brian Kilmeade into his iPhone).
WORST: SHOULD YOU CHIME IN ON THIS?
Ugh… once again, SNL leaned on its overused crutch — the faux game show — and this time with utterly uninspired results. Kenan Thompson drifted his way through the sketch as host Allen DeGeneres, presenting conversationally charged topics to a trio of doltish adults, then seeing if any of ’em would correctly answer “No” to the titular question. Too bad the writers forgot to include even a single clever or unpredictable tweak to this low-concept bit.
WORST: AMTRAK TRAIN PROPOSAL
McConaughey didn’t bring much oomph to the night’s closing sketch, in which his village-idiot character berated a town board for considering an Amtrak high-speed train in their village. Maybe this sketch was designed to send us all to sleep?
Your turn. What did you think of this week’s SNL? Take our poll below, then sound off in the comments! (We’ll post video as soon as it’s available on Sunday a.m.)