“I’m hosting SNL for the fourth time. For no reason!” the NBA legend declared during his monologue. “Lorne Michaels just wanted someone to talk to about Black Panther.”
It’s hard to wrap your head around the fact that Barkley is just one hosting stint away from being inducted into SNL‘s Five-Timers’ Club — this despite the fact that he’s usually, ahem, “turrible,” and his latest turn proved no exception. Case in point: He earned his biggest laugh of the night during a sketch where he was hesitant to fully commit to the material.
Overall, it wasn’t a great first episode back from the Olympics. On the bright side, we’re just one week away from Sterling K. Brown’s hosting debut, so yay! In the meantime, scroll down for my picks for the best and worst sketches…
BEST: HOPE HICKS on WEEKEND UPDATE
Cecily Strong was barely given the chance to develop a character when she appeared ever-so-briefly as President Trump’s communications director during the Feb. 3 cold open. Here, in what was likely her second and final go at it, she shared an amusing letter about her “semester abroad at the White House.” Unfortunately, I’ll never be able to unlearn what it means for POTUS to be “slongry.”
BEST: ROACH PRODUCT
The best political satire of the evening came in this ad, which found Barkley playing a socially conservative pitchman with an alternative solution to gun contr— err, pest control. And wouldn’t ya know, it involved arming a bunch of roaches to go in and shoot all the other roaches! If you’re anything like me, you were at the very least tickled by the visual of those creepy crawlers holding tiny machine guns.
BEST: LAST CALL
An oldie but a goodie. This frequent 12:55 am sketch, featuring a desperate bar patron played by Kate McKinnon, was a welcome relief following a series of dead-on-arrival skits after Update. Funniest of all was how grossed out Barkley seemed by the whole thing, which forced McKinnon to commit that much harder.
HONORABLE MENTION: HARRASSMENT AWARDS
This, in many ways, felt like a half-assed follow-up to the Aziz Ansari sketch. It was yet another piece of commentary about Hollywood’s many sexual misconduct scandals — only this one, just one day out from the Oscars, was too afraid to call out any actual celebrities by name.
WORST: HOMEWORK HOTLINE
Mr. Leonard’s efforts to help children finish their homework were thwarted by a series of prank phone calls. The bit got old real quick, then culminated in a puppet named Bobo being tricked into fondling the well-intentioned educator. No one needed to see that.
WORST: THE CHAMPIONS
Football might be war, but this sketch was pure agony. And you know who won’t be hosting SNL anytime soon? New York Yankees champ Alex Rodriguez, who spent the entirety of the sketch giggling to himself like a member of the studio audience. (The episode’s other cameo came during Update, when Leslie Jones was joined by Olympic gold medalist Hilary Knight.)
What were your favorite sketches this week? And what missed the mark? Grade the episode via the following poll, then hit the comments to flesh out your thoughts.