NewsCult Entertainment Editor Jeffrey Malone watches every new episode of Saturday Night Live and then organizes the sketches into the following categories: “Love It” (potentially Best of the Season-worthy), “Keep It” (perfectly adequate), or “Leave It” (in need of a rewrite, to say the least). Then he concludes with assessments of the host and musical guest.
Office Phone Call – Potty humor will never get old, for nature never stops calling. More often than not this brand is used for cheap laughs, but occasionally an ingenious idea is built around those laughs and those bowels. Kevin Hart’s desperate energy is put to its finest use as he struggles to hold it in and insists on crafting a cover story about a family emergency to hide the truth. The ending, in which his co-workers play along with the cover story, is as inspiring as a slow-clap sports movie finale.
Pandora – Are Pandora pendant charms the new fruitcake? If so, this is news to me, but now that this sketch exists, I’ve learned something. Anyway, the observations about clueless husbands here are so-so, but the enthusiastically stated bland observations like “I noticed you wear dresses” and “This is a dog” are worth a few chuckles.
Kevin Hart’s Monologue covers the exhaustion of raising 2-year-olds, and I will certainly remember the comparison of toddlers to loose basketballs…SNL is sure enjoying its alternative conceptions of Batman lately, and on that score, Captain Shadow and the Cardinal has a few germs of some ideas, but I am never quite sure what it is going for. (Is “energy dust” actually just cocaine?)…SNL’s Inside the NBA parody does not need to be, and really shouldn’t be, as messy as the actual show is, but I’ll give it an okay rating, because of the latest “Charles Barkley makes an extremely ill-considered bet” joke and for the fact that Kevin Hart-as-Shaq looks like one of the Martians from Mars Attacks!…Of all Michael and Colin’s jokes this week, the one I most remember is the bit about Colin’s vacation braids, which, like: huh?…I’ve been pretty harsh on the Guy Who Bought a Boat in his past appearances, and I still don’t think he’s a good (let alone great) character, despite Alex Moffat’s spirited performance, but this time, I at least appreciate that he is just focuses on a run of puns (many of them Colin Jost-based).
Nativity Play – The SNL llama finally gets a chance to shine! The trouble is, he’s completely wrong for the role. He’s supposed to be playing a wild beast, but instead he is perfectly well-behaved. Perhaps that incongruity could be overcome, but the shepherds freaking out over his mahood isn’t going to cut it. Props to audience member Leslie Jones, though, for getting into it and for her inexplicable dislike of the narrator girl.
If the Christmas Message from the White House is going to trot out all the show’s current major political impressions, it must give them something new to do, instead of just being a parade of “Hey, it’s me!”…I’ll give Kevin Hart credit for really going at that teddy bear in the Christmas Party and for the reveal that he is being embarrassed in front of his employees, but he and Leslie Jones struggle to simply establish the tone of their relationship…Active Jack just runs (and then walks) through the motions, though the randomness of “Hey, white girls” is worth remembering.
On a scale of 3-time hosts, it is time to start wondering if there is a typical “Kevin Hart SNL episode” or if he is just a guy who occasionally hosts SNL. He certainly does inject his unbridled energy and willingness to be embarrassed into every sketch, but I’m not sure there’s any sketch in this particular episode that could not be performed with any other host. But I do feel fairly confident saying that not too many hosts will resemble a Martian from Mars Attacks! or a black Carl Sagan at totally unexpected moments.
On a scale of rock royalty, are Foo Fighters the most royal of rock deities currently at SNL’s disposal? The only competition would be Tommy Petty and the Heartbreakers, but they’re now in the legacy division (RIP). Anyway, the Foos sound great, they always sound great, they’ve cracked the code of the SNL stage’s tricky acoustics. I am concerned, though about them wearing Christmas sweaters during their second performance. There’s no way they’re not overheating.
I’ll be back in four weeks to let you know what I’m loving, keeping, and leaving from host Sam Rockwell and musical guest Halsey!