ZOË RICE: A thinly veiled metaphor – an alumni hero is back in town, and the cast is letting him in through the back door to party. I think it’s apropos to open with a nostalgic sketch, and it’s nice to see Dratch back.
HOWARD MEGDAL: Enjoyable enough, though the major issue for me here is how little nostalgia I have for this period of SNL.
ZOË RICE: I find Jimmy Fallon charming and likable, and his monologue felt enjoyably muppety – lots of good cheer, ending with happily frantic dancing. My favorite part came after Samberg and Bayer’s adorable request for Jew-love, when you could see them in the hallway behind Fallon sneak-running back into position for next cue.
HOWARD MEGDAL: I’d echo these sentiments, and a Lorne cameo is always worthwhile. The balance between how much of Jimmy Fallon’s appeal comes from seeming like a decent guy, and how much from being genuinely funny, has always interested me.
HODA and KATHIE LEE
ZOË RICE: This sketch would work better if anyone even tried to do a decent Hoda impression. There were some giggles – and some other moments where I just felt bad for the real Hoda Kotb – but overall I think the bit needs freshening up. Can they get Hoda to actually appear on it? Really someone has to do the poor woman some justice. Fallon is friends with them both – I wonder how he can face Hoda after they tease her so badly!
HOWARD MEGDAL: Fallon’s Regis is really good, though. See previous comment- that’s how Regis had such a long career, too.
BUBLE’S XMAS DUETS
ZOË RICE: There have been many impression-heavy sketches this season, and this was one of the better ones. Fallon’s forte was well showcased here; his Russell Brand was epic. And if anyone watched Scotty McCreery’s American Idol season and saw Killam’s impression, I dare them not to guffaw out loud. Kudos as well to Armisen, the Gaga tree, and Kanye’s “Jesus I’m so much better than you.” A stand-out (though tough to top the awesome “Hamm and Buble”).
HOWARD MEGDAL: Exactly. This is no Hamm and Buble, but that is, to my mind, a pantheon sketch.
ZOË RICE: And…not a stand-out. I could understand this concept better if Andy Samberg actually did a Jimmy Fallon impression. It’d be great, for instance, with Fallon and Seinfeld. Instead, this was something of a throwaway, I think.
HOWARD MEGDAL: Why is Jimmy Fallon’s mirror Jewish?
DON’T MAKE ME SING
ZOË RICE: And don’t make me watch this again. The same joke (is it even a joke?), over and over. How was there anything to repeat? The only redeemable part came at the end, with the “acting,” so if they must repeat this again (but please don’t), I hope the writers realize that they need another activity. Painting?
HOWARD MEGDAL: Don’t make me mime… This one is past its sell-by date.
HALF JEWISH HALF ITALIAN
ZOË RICE: Good work here from Armisen – he has completely captured the self-conscious acting in off-broadway autobiographical one man shows.
HOWARD MEGDAL: Very funny, and with a contemporary, understandable target. Well done here, SNL.
ZOË RICE: I’m glad they got the band back together. They all seem a bit older and a bit slower, but Tracy Morgan will always be funny even to just look at. I dug the nostalgia.
HOWARD MEGDAL: Again, I think the problem here is my lack of nostalgia for this time. For me, this dragged.
ZOË RICE: Some nice Christmas crooning.
HOWARD MEGDAL: Between his voice, his 60 Minutes interview, and Hamm and Buble, he’s won me over.
ZOË RICE: Seth started off strong, Get in the Cage proved that good writing can keep a recurring character fresh and funny, and Tina + Jimmy + Seth + Amy = Updategasm. Very enjoyable start to finish.
HOWARD MEGDAL: Exactly. Get in the Cage is not repetition of the same joke delivered the same way. Agree on all counts, loved the foursome Update sketch, which relied on being funny instead of just memories.
ZOË RICE: A quirky little idea that I found amusing and cute. I could have done without the anachronistic Triangle Sally.
HOWARD MEGDAL: Okay, but nothing spectacular here.
ZOË RICE: I couldn’t help but giggle at Jimmy’s horsie. Something of a bizarre concept, but I liked it.
HOWARD MEGDAL: I do wonder if I’d have liked this more if I’d seen War Horse. And that is a potential problem for a national show, of course.
ZOË RICE: There’s something in Buble’s style I’ve never responded to, and he’s missing the vulnerability of Judy Garland, who made this song so poignant. But I like the song, and he sounded perfectly nice.
HOWARD MEGDAL: I think he’s obviously not where Sinatra is in our minds, but remember this: Buble is 36. When Sinatra was 36, he hadn’t even begun recording for Capitol yet (that came the following year). Buble may have his prime ahead of him. Not saying Sinatra is the likely outcome, but he’s a baby in great crooner years.
ZOË RICE: A completely fresh take on all the Tim Tebow prayer jokes. I imagine this would be even funnier if I knew anything about football. A strong finish with one of the best sketches of the night, if not the very best.
HOWARD MEGDAL: Simply marvelous, and great zeitgeist humor. A strong episode, SNL, with a stronger finish.