Now that the Olympics are over, NBC has finally returned to its normal programming, which means that Saturday Night Live is back…with a bazinga! Emmy winner Jim Parsons, best known for playing practical jokes on The Big Bang Theory, tried to trade away his nerdy persona to host the show for the first time with musical guest Beck returning for his seventh time on the SNL stage. The show’s return also marked the debut of new Weekend Update anchor Colin Jost, who replaces current Late Night host Seth Meyers.
Well, actually I guess NBC is still obsessed with winter sports, because a hockey game delayed the start of the show. Rude. Anyway, the opening featured Kate McKinnon as this year’s Oscar host Ellen DeGeneres and made some uncomfortably dark jokes about her constant dancing and 12 Years a Slave. And that was just the first reference to the film of the night. Actually, there were a lot, maybe too many, sketches and jokes about the Oscars and this year’s nominated films (mocking Barkhad Abdi’s Captain Phillips character twice in one episode is a little much). Also, why are more and more hosts appearing in the opening now? Melissa McCarthy did in her latest outing as host, and Parsons’ first appearance of the night was as flamboyant figure skater Johnny Weir. Is it just me or is something lost in seeing the host before the monologue? It seemed like a weird sketch to open with anyway.
Parsons’ main issue in hosting would be whether he could break out of his Big Bang character Sheldon’s shell. He even addressed the elephant in the room right away with a funny enough song in his monologue appropriately titled “I’m Not That Guy.” Any opportunity to see Kenan Thompson as Bill Cosby is fine by me. You can’t say he wasn’t trying, but Parsons isn’t a great voice actor, meaning that he pretty much uses the same voice for all his characters. Even when he played a straight man on a murder mystery date, it seemed like he may have tried to use a deeper voice in the beginning of the sketch, but it quickly got away from him. But there’s always pressure for any celeb to host the show, and for a first go-round, Parsons did a respectable job.
Can Aidy Bryant do no wrong? Not in my opinion, as she absolutely killed it as Tonker Bell, Tinker Bell’s half sister. You barely even notice Parsons as Peter Pan in the sketch with Bryant’s great one-liners, like “For lost boys, they sure are good at finding my a–.” Also, does anyone else want a “You just got TONKED!” shirt too?
Though they weren’t all the best, the “Spotlightz: Acting Camp for Serious Kids” sketch, again about the Oscars, had some great moments, mostly from Vanessa Bayer. Though no child should ever play Jordan Belfort from The Wolf of Wall Street, Bayer does it with just enough unnecessary spunk that you can’t help but love it.
Though it had some nice ’80s flashback moments, “The Killer Files” sketch with Parsons as a “dance floor” killer felt a little flat. The joke can get old pretty fast when you kind of reveal the punch line right away. Parsons barely spoke at all in the sketch too and kind of just made me uncomfortable. Or maybe that was the point.
Best Musical Moment
Beck performed two songs from his new album Morning Phase, and his experience definitely showed in both. His second song, “Wave,” accompanied with a full string orchestra behind him, was a beautiful highlight of the night.
What Your DVR Missed
If you’re too cool to stay home on a Saturday night and watch the show live, your DVR may have missed the last sketch of the night because the hockey game on NBC before ran late and the show didn’t actually start till 11:41 p.m. ET. Well, you didn’t miss much except for this cowboy birthday party debate.
Ever since I saw 12 Years a Slave for the first time in movie theaters in the fall, I was curious if Taran Killam would ever get a chance to reprise his role from the film on SNL, though that would probably be too inappropriate. But this mock behind-the-scenes look at the casting process of the film’s smaller roles could have been a great opportunity for a meta-moment with Killam. In my opinion, missed opportunity. Also in my opinion, Saturday Night Live should stay away from any slavery-related sketches from now on.
OK, so he may have been looking at the wrong camera in the beginning, but Colin Jost definitely deserves the MVP of the night. New to the camera, the head writer is not new to the show in any way, so he seemed to get pretty comfortable behind the desk with Cecily Strong pretty quickly. There was one awkward moment with Jay Pharaoh as Shaquille O’Neal maybe forgetting a line, but overall it was a great Update debut.
Girls creator and star Lena Dunham hosts next week with musical guest The National.