Last night's Saturday Night Live should have been great. It had all the makings of a triumphant season finale that would send the show off into the summer with good feelings all around. There was a veteran host. The show was coming off one of its best episodes in ages. And the writers were preparing to take a five-month break, meaning this was their last chance to be professionally funny until the fall. So, did the the stars align and allow SNL to finish the season with a win?
Not exactly. But it wasn't a fail, either. It was a middle-of-the-road episode that could easily serve as a microcosm for the season: funny in parts, groan-worthy in others, and confusing enough at times to make you look at the person you're watching with (or your cat if you're a loner) and shake your head.
As usual, blame for the mediocrity doesn't fall to the host. Baldwin was a pro. He rolled around on the floor yelling nonsense, wore socks with sandals, and put his insanely hairy arms on display. But it was hard not to get the sense that he'd been there before. Maybe it's because he's so damn cool, but sometimes Baldwin can't help but come off as so damn cool. Speaking of being cool, Tom Petty isn't. Why in the world were TP and the Heartbreakers playing SNL? Was it to make up for booking Bieber earlier this season?
On to the sketches!
For the second-straight week the cold open wasn't Fred Armisen as Barack Obama, which is a victory in and of itself. And it was nice to see SNL stick it to those responsible for the Gulf Coast oil spill, a broad target if there ever was one. After a forgettable monologue with a sorta-cameo by Steve Martin, it was on to the last Digital Short of the year. When it comes to Andy Samberg music man (which is all he is these days, right?), we're much more in favor of the joke rap than the goofy show-tune voice. His turn as a coke-faced deadbeat dad wasn't all bad, though — that matrix thing was pretty funny. Baldwin as a mean swim coach was passable (Lutz from 30 Rock sitting in the background made it better), Grady Wilson has seen better days and the sniper-school sketch missed the mark. Which brings us to the best sketch of the night.
As much as we love Stefon and his ridiculous tips for families visiting New York (though we think our mom would love to see human bath mats), his appearance last night was just like his appearance a few weeks ago. Nasim Pedrad's Bedilia was back again this week as the enjoyable teenager who totally admires her parents, and the Timecrowave infomercial was nicely absurd. But the best sketch of the night was "Some Big Shot." The setup was looooong, but well worth it. Just when you thought Baldwin was going to help out Candy, the hooker who wanted to be a dental hygienist, he asks for a hand job! And then he asks a few more times.
There's a whole bunch of people out there who hate everything Kristen Wiig does. We're not those people, but we hated "Starfish." It was yet another clueless Wiig character who talked out of the side of her mouth. Yawn. Not even Baldwin's constant references to Starfish's teeth could save this one.