ZOË RICE: Howard asks for more Sudeikis as Mitt, and we get it. Howard, can you also ask for a #1 Mets starting pitcher? Sudeikis got the rigidity right, and Romney’s distance from the common man. The firing jokes were on point. A solid open.
HOWARD MEGDAL: This was a solid opener, and captured the zeitgeist of politics perfectly. SNL is hopefully getting its election year fastball back.
ZOË RICE: Take some Harry Potter adult fan jokes, sprinkle in a vintage Rachel Dratch as Radcliffe screen shot, and I say you get Enjoyable.
HOWARD MEGDAL: Yes, this moved quickly and effectively.
RICKY GERVAIS, HOST
ZOË RICE: A fun concept – Ricky Gervais hosting other event shows. Starts strong and only gets better. Nice to have more Sudeikis this episode than last week. So far, he’s bringing it.
HOWARD MEGDAL: He always brings it. Solid skit.
ZOË RICE: I wondered, would a long hiatus from this character make her feel fresh? And I think it did. There’s something endearing about this lady’s love for Target, and her nutty dialogue kept the sketch from feeling stale. Daniel Radcliffe likes to be Equus-sy naked, doesn’t he? Button up, Potter.
HOWARD MEGDAL: You tell him, McGonagall! This skit bores the hell out of me, but a long hiatus made it bore me slightly less.
YOU CAN DO ANYTHING
ZOË RICE: An awesomely ripe target: The YouTube generation. The jokes were a little on the obvious side, but who cares – I laughed, and I nodded appreciatively. I imagine anyone who starts an op-ed blog and then reviews established TV shows might also get a seat on this program. Howard, will you drive?
HOWARD MEGDAL: Certainly. But the reason I didn’t care for this is that the writing didn’t even bother to set up the hosts properly, as either legitimately into the guests, or openly mocking them. No center of gravity, and the overall punchlines suffered as a result.
SPIN THE BOTTLE
ZOË RICE: There’s always a gross-out humor sketch, and it’s never my favorite.
HOWARD MEGDAL: Agreed, and I’m pretty much always pro-hobo.
ZOË RICE: Cute – but Biden and the voiceover were the best part.
HOWARD MEGDAL: And the only thing that kept this from initial laugh, then diminishing returns.
ZOË RICE: A decent idea – Harry hangs around where he had his finest glory and will always be Big Man on Campus. My mind wasn’t blown, but I think there was more hit here than miss.
HOWARD MEGDAL: Really liked this, actually. Not too long, captured a larger satirical idea perfectly.
LANA DEL REY
ZOË RICE: Who? I don’t know if it’s because of the dress and the hair, or because of the weird facial expressions and the swaying, the long nails, the dress… But she looked to me like one of the classier (are there any?) Real Housewives trying to sing. Is she supposed to be like Adele? Is the key too low for her? The whole performance had an off vibe for me.
HOWARD MEGDAL: I defer to Brian Williams on this one.
ZOË RICE: Still loving Seth. Whoever’s been writing his Update jokes this season deserves a pat on the back. Kim Jong Un’s 2 best friends: Oh no! I stupidly assumed that once Qaddafi bit it, his 2 best friends would too. Too optimistic. The outfit change was cute, but the material was so the damn same. Casey Anthony’s Dog: Radcliffe does cute and sarcastic just fine, but perhaps the real star here was the wig and facial hair.
HOWARD MEGDAL: Man, two best friends is rinse-repeat humor at its worst. Enough already! Very much enjoyed Casey Anthony’ Dog, however. Clever, timely and original.
ZOË RICE: A creative idea: a play about the present from 100 years in future. Not the best sketch of the night, but not a clunker either. Some quirky moments – my favorite was New Zealand.
HOWARD MEGDAL: Yes, not too long, long enough to deliver some solid anachronistic ideas. Between this and last week’s Mayan Calendar skit, someone on staff is clearly thinking about playing with temporal humor, and I’m all for it. This worked better than the Mayan bit, mostly due to timing and execution.
ZOË RICE: Part 1: A self-attack political ad. An amusing concept, but satire-wise the content didn’t quite hit the political sweet spot.
Part 2: Amped up and funnier.
Part 3: One beat too much, or at least too much without going somewhere relevant.
HOWARD MEGDAL: No thanks. This doesn’t manage to have a single target, but tries to pretend it does.
THE JAY PHAROAH SHOW
ZOË RICE: Oh dear. This sketch literally throws Jay Pharoah’s limitations in our faces: He can do great impressions, and he can play himself (though not even that well). And if that’s that’s all he can do, then we’ve seen his whole deal and what’s left? This was an awkward vehicle for impressions, no matter how skilled they are. A clunker.
HOWARD MEGDAL: Really! This skit seemed to be subtitled, “We’re not sure why we hired Jay Pharoah”. I don’t think this is fair to him- they sure haven’t written him into much, and I liked him in White People Problems last week.
LANA DEL REY
ZOË RICE: If I heard her songs I might like them, but just based on this performance, she looks like Kristen Wiig spoofing a lower register singer. I do like this song better than the first, but not because of her singing style. And doesn’t she look like the wife in Parenthood mixed with a touch of Julia Roberts?
HOWARD MEGDAL: Nothing in this song changed my original Brian Williams opinion.
ZOË RICE: Wiig sold this well – I giggled. Makes me wish she did random characters (as opposed to her recurring staples) more often.
HOWARD MEGDAL: Yes, Really solid Wiig work here. Good straight man stuff from Radcliffe, too.
ZOË RICE: Love it – from the use of z in the app name to the concept of virtual reality helping to negotiate real-time reality. Sharp, current, clever.
HOWARD MEGDAL: Again, zeitgeist-y. Solid episode, SNL!