The Manchester by the Sea actor made virtually no lasting impression during his hosting debut, save for a mildly amusing Dunkin Donuts commercial that came directly after the monologue. For the remainder of the evening, Affleck proved unremarkable in sketches where he was completely overshadowed by both repertory players and a bevy of special guests. Instead, the writing was where this episode excelled, at times flirting with a level not seen since Dave Chappelle lorded over Studio 8H in November.
The above-average affair relied heavily on Kate McKinnon, who not only put in a return appearance as alien-abduction survivor Ms. Rafferty, but reprised her role as Hillary Clinton in SNL‘s best post-election sketch. Meanwhile, the always-sublime John Goodman factored into the latest Donald Trump-centric cold open. Fred Armisen also stopped by, albeit in two segments barely worth mention, including Weekend Update.
Lo and behold, my picks for best and worst sketches:
BEST: HILLARY ACTUALLY
The Internet is home to far too many Love Actually think pieces, but that won’t stop the dozens of new ones that’ll surface once bloggers feast their eyes on this brilliant SNL spoof. Parodying the iconic “To me, you are perfect” scene, Hillary turns up at the door of an elector and uses an absurd number of note cards to ask that she reconsider casting her vote for Trump on Monday. Among the alternatives she suggests to write in: John Kasich, Tom Hanks, Zendaya, The Rock and a rock.
BEST: JINGLE BARACK
Kenan Thompson and musical guest Chance the Rapper fronted this top-notch music video about celebrating the last holiday before President Barack Obama leaves office. Throw in Run DMC’s Darryl McDaniels, Leslie Jones giving off Salt-N-Pepa vibes and a breakdancing Jesus, and you’ve got yourself the best music video since 2013’s “Do It On My (Twin Bed).”
BEST: CHRISTMAS MIRACLE
Ms. Rafferty, the character that famously sent Ryan Gosling into a Fallon-esque giggle fit, was back in all her glory. In this similarly hilarious follow-up, the chain-smoking loon detailed her run-in with one of Santa’s lesser-known helpers — a nine-foot tall goat man by the name of Crinklemouse (sp?) — and a Gollum-looking elf named Shart.
HONORABLE MENTION: DONALD TRUMP CHRISTMAS COLD OPEN
There was nothing particularly special about Alec Baldwin’s latest turn as the president-elect. Most enjoyable was the casting of 12-time SNL host Goodman as Secretary of State pick Rex Tillerson, who was especially funny during his interactions with Beck Bennett’s Vladimir Putin.
WORST: ROBOT PRESENTATION
Oh goodie, more branded content! [Insert shrug emoji guy.] Remember that godawful Honda Robotics sketch from the Emily Blunt episode? Well this was pretty much the same thing, only now it was a Microsoft event and the robots were engineered to function as walking, talking, antiquated gay stereotypes.
WORST: NEW YORK NOW
Affleck, Strong and McKinnon played three Long Islanders being interviewed about the world’s worst nativity pageant. There was nothing particularly chuckle-worthy about the highlights, or Affleck reciting some of his favorite lines lifted directly from Austin Powers and Borat. (Watch it here.)
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.