Be that as it may, the episode promptly turned itself around some, ending up a more memorable outing than Kristen Wiig’s mediocre affair just two weeks ago. Unfortunately, little of what made it good was due to Stone who, despite being an excellent host, largely blended into the background (or was completely absent) during the episode’s best moments.
Of course, it was hard for the La La Land actress not to be overshadowed by the appearance of Jennifer Aniston, who first turned up during Weekend Update, then stuck around for an additional sketch which showcased why Kate McKinnon deserves her months-old Emmy.
Lo and behold, my picks for best and worst sketches:
BEST: JENNIFER ANISTON MEETS RACHEL GREEN
Vanessa Bayer’s impression of the Friends character has always been a delight, and the return of Rachel Green to Weekend Update would’ve been enough for me. Aniston’s arrival, however, elevated the segment to best of the night, as she both took umbrage with Bayer’s impersonation, then joined her in parodying the way her sitcom character spoke. It wasn’t exactly an original bit, but a great one nonetheless.
BEST: FILM SCREENING
When Debette Goldry first turned up in the season premiere, I didn’t think she merited mention — mainly because I saw her as a rehash of McKinnon’s “Close Encounter” character that famously left Ryan Gosling giggling like a young Jimmy Fallon. Well, I was wrong. This time around, Goldry partook in a panel about women in film, detailing how actresses were seen as literal props in her heyday. I initially wondered why the sketch was saved for the last half-hour — until Goldry made a sexually explicit joke about FDR’s “pickle.”
BEST: WELLS FOR BOYS
This commercial parody, about Fisher Price’s line of toys for sensitive young boys who “long to be understood,” was just the right amount of twisted. It worked less because of the writing, and more because of the visuals, as the young boy playing Stone’s son sat hunched over his plastic well, advertised as a toy to “wish upon, confide in, and reflect by” for kids who aren’t so into playtime, and are simply awaiting adulthood.
WORST: DONALD TRUMP COLD OPEN
Maybe we don’t need to see Alec Baldwin as the president-elect every week? The jokes about Trump have largely written themselves, but they’re clearly not as funny now that he’s been elected. And in a week where he not only spoke over the phone to the president of Taiwan without any regard for the U.S.’ relationship with China, but had a highly publicized dinner with potential Secretary of State pick Mitt Romney, basing a sketch around the fact that he retweeted a 16-year-old was not the way to go. (They could’ve even done something about Sarah Palin’s name circulating as a contender for Secretary of Veterans Affairs, had Tina Fey been available for a cameo.)
WORST: THE CHRISTMAS CANDLE
SNL‘s just going to keep trying to replicate the success of “(Do It On My) Twin Bed” until the end of days, isn’t it? Stone, Aidy Bryant and Kate McKinnon crooning about an unwanted, discount candle would’ve been funny if it were just one lyric in a song about the many possible items someone might regift. Instead, that was all the song was about, and the joke just wasn’t good enough to carry an entire music video.
What were your favorite sketches of the night? And what missed the mark? Grade the episode via our poll, then hit the comments and make your picks.