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Last night, for the first time in its entire 42-season run, SNL was live all across the U.S. So let me say that it was quite surreal tuning in an hour earlier than usual from my home-state in the mid-west!

Jimmy Fallon seemed like a fitting enough choice to kick off this new schedule (regardless of how little reason there was to book him for the third time over other deserving talk-show hosts who haven't had a chance yet). If there's one thing he loves to do, it's entertain people...

That's why he and Justin Timberlake get along so well; Whenever either of them are on the show, they will do everything they can to please the crowd...On the upside, the show becomes bigger and more energetic...On the downside, it also becomes pandering...This has created a love-hate relationship with me and those two for a while now...Sometimes when either of them host, the big and energetic side wins out, other times it leans more towards pandering...

(Also, it's interesting that they would follow a week hosted by one of the most vulgar and offensive comedians out there with one that's hosted by one of the safest and most family-friendly comedians...It's like seeing a Pixar movie right after watching "Deadpool".)

So, was the show mostly big and energetic, or incredibly pandering...?

Honestly, it was kind of both...

I mean, don't get me wrong, I was quite entertained throughout the whole show! But on the other hand, was there that much to it that didn't rely on Jimmy or some other special guest being in the spotlight?

I don't have much to say about the individual sketches that others have not already said...The monologue was a very impressive SHOW, but lacked any kind of humor...Just felt like one of Fallon's many excuses to turn his hosting appearance into "The Tonight Show".

And of course, the singing didn't stop there...The Civil War sketch was another one that felt like it belonged on his talk-show, but I got enough enjoyment out of it not to complain...But probably the best sketch of the night was the love song one with the little twist that he was one of the guards from the recent United Airlines flight that's been flying (See what I did there?) around the news...And then it turns out that the new boyfriend is actually the well-meaning but incredibly misguided director of that recent Pepsi commercial we saw have a near-breakdown in a filmed sketch last week...

I also liked the filmed sketch with the bad basketball players, as simple of a premise as it was...The Turtle Shirt commercial didn't really do anything for me...

Everything else was kind of expected...We got yet another "Celebrity Family Feud" sketch that barely used anyone other than the musical guest's impression of Mick Jagger and the host's impression of John Travolta from the past and present (though I will give him props for switching back and forth between those two costumes). Sorry, but it's no "Celebrity Jeopardy", and it never will be...

The return of Sully and Denise was welcome in a very expected way, seeing that it's arguably Fallon's most well-known role from his time as a cast-member (though Nick Burns is pretty close). Dratch has barely aged save for a couple of wrinkles, and Kate playing their daughter was a nice touch and served as an interesting fast-forward in time from these characters' college years...

Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy generally did the same schtick as always (I mean, really, you don't have to have this character on every Jewish holiday...) And Bruce Chandling still had some funny non-jokes and sympathetic stories to keep the character's charm going...

Baldwin's Trump...Good impression...Has had some funny moments...But the character being portrayed is incredibly one-note! At this point, all I ask of our president, as one of the citizens of the country he runs, is to lay low for a while and give us all a break from him, and all of the jokes concerning him...His approval rating might rise a bit if he does so, and he'll get a break from seeing Baldwin beat this character into the ground...

Overall, for the cold opening, the only part that was interesting enough was the sendoff for Steve Bannon as he's dragged back to Hell...I'd say it's for the best, since Bannon being portrayed as this Grim Reaper caricature was pretty one-note as well...

McCarthy's third go as Spicer was serviceable enough, though like all of the other celebrity portrayals of political figures this season, it should probably also be retired after she hosts next month...

The age of One Direction is at an end, and so begins the age of the solo Harry Styles! And honestly, I have no complaints...His new songs, while not great or anything, are a huge step up from his former boyband's bland and vapid little love anthems for all of the young teen girls out there, and the performances were perfectly serviceable with a nice singing voice and decent stage presence...

I'd say he's on his way as the next Timberlake (since he almost seemed to stand in for Timberlake in some sketches, who couldn't make the show, much to many's annoyance), and could very well be both host and musical guest next time he releases an album...Granted, the screeching girls and all of the admirers on the internet fawning over him added a little bit of annoyance, but whatever...I just have to keep in mind that LCD Soundsystem is next!

I will say that in the end, I enjoyed the show, but acknowledge the criticisms that there was too much of the host and not enough of the cast...This creates an interesting contrast from all of the shows where I criticize the host for not starring in ENOUGH sketches...But while reliable favorites can become the bane of my existence a lot of the time, they at least make an impression...So while Jimmy could have stepped aside a little more, I will still likely give him a fair spot in my final ranking of hosts this season, especially since most of the hosts of the season were pretty unremarkable...

Overall Grade: B

Happy Easter, everyone!




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May 03, 2017
My thoughts:
+ If Alec's Trump impression suffers from being too broad, then Jimmy's laconic take on son-in-law/beneficiary of nepotism Jared Kushner is even more vitreous. The reality show-type elimination that pits "The Kush" against Mikey's Grim Reaper/Steve Bannon felt more like a MADtv sketch from the mid-2000s than anything truly topical or pointed. The whole thing was boilerplate.
+ There was no semblance of irony to the monologue, just an elaborate musical number. That might have flown in the 70s and 80s, but on SNL nowadays it feels like an odd fit. Tonight's show is historical on two levels: its the first to air live in the Pacific and Mountain time zones, and the first time the current host of "The Tonight Show" has hosted SNL. Even with the presence of Nile Rodgers, this felt like a blown opportunity.
+ Best sketch honors went to the "Serenade" blackout with Jimmy, Kyle, and Mikey. I won't elaborate further without spoiling the gag.
+ Sorry JM5K, but I don't think MelMac's take on Sean Spicer is going anywhere. As long as he plays Goofus to every former White House press secretary's Gallant, "Lil' Spicey" will remain in SNL's crosshairs, regardless of how repetitive it might be. The third Spicer sketch played upon some weird trivia (as a lower-ranking member of the Bush 43 administration, he had to do the bunny hop) and connected it to recent, ill-informed comments about the Holocaust.
+ After two or three so-so segments, Weekend Update tonight embraced the darkness and ran with it. The jokes about North Korea's latest failed missile launch segued into the uneasy conflict between Kim Jong-Un and President Trump, which transitioned seamlessly into Trump's hot mess of an interview on Fox News. (Of the non-political jokes, I also liked Cojo's twofer involving the 13-pound Australian baby.) Both commentaries were repeat appearances, and neither Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy nor Bruce Chandling were unwelcome.
+ Even the Boston Teens admit that their whole aesthetic isn't aging well. They avoided using the R-word (barely acceptable in 1999, reprehensible now) and Sully still walks around wearing the t-shirt of an oft-injured shortstop that retired nearly a decade ago. Worse yet, in an episode that was so light on Kate McKinnon, it was almost a waste to cast her as Denise Jr. It was almost like Fallon, Rachel Dratch, and Tina Fey looked at each other this week and thought, "hey, we're all here..."
+ At least one blogger suggested that Harry Styles was auditioning to pull double-duty on SNL one day, but his sketch work tonight left me underwhelmed. As for his two songs, "Sign of the Times" starts off daintily enough before morphing into a power ballad; from a distance, it sounds almost like Paul McCartney's "Backseat of My Car." "Ever Since New York," however was a decent adult contemporary track in the Ed Sheeran/Frank Turner vein.
+ When I first started reviewing SNL for this web site in Spring 2003 --yeah, its been almost 14 years-- Jimmy Fallon had inherited cast BMOC status from Will Ferrell. It was a default move, even though Fallon and Ferrell couldn't have been more disparate. Where Ferrell was the quirky everyman with frat-boy cred, Fallon was the boy wonder/heartthrob that could do a couple of good celebrity impressions. Where Ferrell became a movie star, Fallon spent some years in the wilderness before becoming host of "Late Night," and the rest is history. That is not to say Fallon has underachieved, but if you had to pick between him and Ferrell coming back to host, most people would probably go with Ron Burgundy. Where Ferrell was a team player with an almost superhuman ability to carry an otherwise mediocre sketch, Fallon could be showy, giggly, and a bit of a ballhog. This was a "cameo orgy" show and a ratings grab, but at heart a mild misfire in an otherwise strong season.

5/10
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Apr 19, 2017
"His approval rating might rise a bit if he does so, and he'll get a break from seeing Baldwin beat this character into the ground..."

SNL beats most President/characters into the ground.
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Apr 17, 2017
OK, but you only left out Fallon's best part of the show. He played 1977 John Travolta and 2017 John Travolta, LIVE in the same sketch! Regardless of how good his impressions were (and they were fine) that was a serious accomplishment. Sure the wigs got more crooked each time they slapped it on his head, but wow. That was some good TV, right there.
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Apr 17, 2017
Re-read the paragraph where I address that sketch, there is an acknowledgement of that which you must have missed...
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Apr 18, 2017
Huh. I must have. Good job!
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